Archive for August, 2008

Pick Up Line

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

If I were to ask you for sex, would your answer be the same as the answer to this question?

Atheist Prayer

Tuesday, August 12th, 2008

Atheist Prayer

Our brains, which art in our heads, treasured be thy name. Thy reasoning come. Thy best you can do be done on earth as it is. Give us this day new insight to help us resolve conflicts and ease pain. And lead us not into supernatural explanations, but deliver us from denial of logic. For thine is the kingdom of reason, and even though thy powers are limited, and you’re not always glorious, you are the best evolutionary adaptations we have for helping this earth now and forever and ever. So be it.

Objective Reality

Wednesday, August 6th, 2008

This subject was all the rage back in the early days of the GW Bush Presidency. One of his aides differentiated his position from the “Reality-based” position, implying that they work according to their own beliefs and that shapes the world to the way they believe it is. I always had a big problem with that, and apparently Penn Gillette has a problem with it too.

From Crackle: Penn Says: Objective Reality

BTW. Penn is one of my heroes. Atheist Libertarian Musician Magician.

Chronic

Tuesday, August 5th, 2008

I was doing pretty good this year. Last year I got sick 8 times, but so far this year I’d only been sick once.

Until last week.

Last week I got a sinus explosion. It wasn’t bad. It actually reminded me of times when I was sick in elementary school, when I could stay home and work on things that I wanted to work on instead of going to school and endure the ridicule of my peers. Fond memories.

Then on Thursday Saranya got the pukes. That was a scary time. We weren’t sure what was wrong with her or how serious it was, and we stayed alert for signs that she was getting worse or that the vomiting was a sign of a more serious condition like meningitis or a bowel obstruction. Fortunately, she recovered fairly quickly and we were able to relax a little.

Yesterday, Sangeeta and I got whatever it was Saranya had last week. We didn’t puke, but for 2 days we were pretty sure we were about to let loose. It was awful. We had to lie down all day just to take the edge off. Oh it sucked. That was not a pleasant illness like the one I had last week. This one was incapacitating. I found myself wishing for time to pass; wishing to sleep for 48 hours and let my immune system do the cleanup without having to experience the altered consciousness of the disease.

Coming out the other side of it, I see that I wouldn’t have a weight problem if I always reacted this way to food. A little food is all I can handle, and eating more than that makes me feel nauseated. Usually, however, eating a little food makes me want to eat a lot of food, and I can’t stop until I feel uncomfortably full. Hmm, feels like a poorly adjusted regulator in my brain…

Specialization

Sunday, August 3rd, 2008

I’ve realized that becoming a father has caused real changes in me.

  • I’m much more security-conscious
  • I’m willing to sacrifice sleep in order to have time to myself
  • I’m more worried about death

I’ve been sick for a few days now. Nothing serious, just some congestion. Well, a lot of congestion. In fact, I’m a snot factory. A booger explosion. Keep clear.

I had a nap yesterday afternoon, and while waking up from that sleep I had not so much a dream but a fear. I was afraid of being dead. Writing it down now makes it seem so trivial, but I felt a deep fear of never having access to memories or sensations again. What else is life but memory and sensation?

Oh yes: anticipation, plans, and goals. These seem to be important components of life, or at least of staying alive and being successful as a reproducing organism and/or a member of a society. We have goals relating to whatever our function is, we make plans to achieve those goals, and we try to anticipate the consequences of our actions in order to formulate the steps of our plans. Unless of course we’re stupid, in which case we take steps that aren’t likely to take us to our goals.

There’s a popular saying that insanity is defined as expecting different results from the same repeated action. I have a problem with this, and not just at the superficial level where there are hidden variables or probability waves or whatever that can really cause different results from repeated actions. My problem is that this isn’t what I think of as insanity – it’s more like stupidity. More generally, stupidity is choosing actions that are not likely to bring about the achievement of your goals, whatever those might really be.

Addiction is a sort of hard-wired stupidity. We get locked into a feedback loop with our rewards system. Normally, we assess our progress with our emotions. When we’re doing well, we feel good. When things are going poorly, we become angry, depressed, sad, frustrated, etc. Ideally, these negative feelings should motivate us to make changes and adapt to our new environment. Unfortunately, there are ways to suppress them and bring about positive emotions without making progressive changes. Drugs are a prime example. Use a drug and you feel good. Now the system that normally works to guide you to your goals has been sabotaged, and now your goal is to keep tricking it for as long as possible. Other things can do this as well, and they’re all things associated with addiction. Eating, drinking, sex, gambling, masturbation, etc. All of them are ways of managing feelings, but they all have potential negative consequences. When you get into the negative consequences but you maintain the behaviors anyway, that’s when the addiction becomes apparent.