Thursday, July 31, 2008

General aspects on human interpretation of the world

Watch, listen and observe, but never conclude

Humans are endowed with sensory organs, which have been put to an extensive use of in our bid of trying to figure out, explain and describe the world. Early humans, due to lack of knowledge and understanding, deployed view, touch and feel to understand and describe natural phenomena. It was however not until Socrates that the systematized reasoning and subsequent rationalization became not only widespread, but also the only norm for explaining away every event and development on the Earth. His theory, immortalized by his pupil Plato (Academy) and latter’s meticulous but decadent apprentice Aristotle (Lyceum), became what now is considered the only approach for understanding various aspects of world evolution. It is easy to understand why this happened. Rationalization is what allows a systematic and logical way of connecting dots and arriving to a line of reasoning, which is easy to grasp and therefore enormously appealing to every human.

Humans must watch, listen and observe but never conclude because there is so much we don’t perceive nor understand and which is off the range of our sensory organs that concluding and generalizing based on what small amount of biased information we receive will undeniably lead to wrong outcomes.

What we think is true because of conclusions of our sciences and religions is not necessarily the truth. It is a human truth, not the truth.

Don’t judge or otherwise infuse meaning

Nothing has meaning. It is our judgments and interpretations which infuse meaning in otherwise meaningless things, events and phenomena. Humans feel the urge of knowing and understanding. Seeing meaning, objective, or intention is easing this urge by satisfying our inner physiological need to understand. That is why we seek and “find” meanings and intentions in everything around and affecting us.

Assigning meaning and intention is only natural for humans. But we mustn’t forget this because if we do, we will start living in an illusionary world – my guess is that 99% of humanity does so – but we will think that it is the only true world.

Interpret from viewpoint of self-preservation

Humans like the rest of creatures walking this world have always been and still are driven by self-preservation instinct. Every explanation or interpretations else must be based on this viewpoint. Sense of beauty and attraction all have their roots in self-preservation.

Our everyday and long-term choices all count self-preservation to one degree or another and we have to remember that.

Loose the illusion of control

Because of trying to explain, conclude and therefore necessarily oversimplifying the world, we think that we are in possession of all knowledge and information and therefore are able to control and influence outcomes and developments.

Nicolas Taleb has written an excellent book called "Fooled by Randomness," which gives a rather exhaustive explanation of how much we are not in control. The recent movie "Kung Fu Panda" is also basing some of its turnkey ideas on this concept.

Consider power struggle as the main objective

What happens when more than one creature of the same species (let alone, many species) are put together in one place, which has limited resources? Power struggle ensues. Creatures try to appropriate resources in proportion to their physical capacity and mental agility. There is no idea or sense of democracy, equal rights or apathy – all of these being recent human inventions for social coherence and unity. Nature pure and raw designates and rewards the strongest.

Humans are no exception and human history is the most solid testimony to this. What is taught in schools is a retrospective and delusionary interpretation of world evolution full of heroes, their (incumbent) good intentions and higher feelings. Needless to say that we couldn’t be farther off the mark. Neither Alexander the Great embarked on his military campaign to spread democracy nor Otto von Bismarck (during the Congress of Berlin in 1878) decided to let Ottoman Empire in one piece for sake of peace and unity. History books teach us what looks like a logical and rational line of developments aimed at proving how humans evolved from barbarian, insensitive, blood-lusty creatures into higher species full of apathy, compassion and awareness of global issues.

Many believe us to be so. Unfortunately, there is no basis for this belief.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

25 signs that you lived too long in Egypt

1. You stop needing “green light” and “zebra lines” to cross streets. You dodge cars, donkey chariots and horses like Leo (from Matrix) dodges bullets of Matrix agents.

2. You start drinking all kinds of water, be it highly chlorified (thus poisonous to stomach) and widely drunk water as in most of Egypt or from the river Nile (yes, you read correctly, from the river itself) and best of it all is that YOU DON’T GET SICK.

3. You start eating any kind of food and your stomach and intestines get used to pretty much everything that might be dubbed food, although 90% of which would not be even considered by poor in developed European countries.

4. Your intake of nicotine rises to levels which are lethal if sustained for moderate time-periods. This is due to compelling and incontrovertible urge to join the predominant majority of Egyptians who smoke daily all kinds of Shishas (from most popular Apple Shisha to Lemon to Coke Shisha to Coffee Shisha).

5. You start appreciating healthy food however ridiculous it might appear to look like (think Egyptian ful or kosheri).

6. You start going to and enjoying all kinds of toilets (as long as one can do what one might in those places) and your habits of using toilet paper become completely optional, while the accepted and usual way is to use floating (of course highly chlorified) water.

7. Even if you were coming from an extremely well-bred and ethical country such as Switzerland (my case), where manners, politeness and tolerance are bywords of everyday life of everyone, you end up being rather indifferent, unpolite (not yet), unsmiling and completely blunt in expressing yourself.

8. You stop being offended by all street beggars, retards, crazy and just seemingly smart locals who try to cheat, lie and get their way into your pocket (everyone from taxi drivers to coke sellers).

9. You start thinking that having bad service or no service in restaurants, bars, and other such places is normal and you will have to leave a tip.

10. You loose all sense of apathy and compassion (this requires time and you have to stay at least 6 months or so). Reason for that is that you end up giving money, tips, BAKSHISH to so many people that you get broke.

11. You are not angry when a car almost crashes you or even when it slightly runs over you. In one month, you will get so many such occasions that you will either have a heart attack or get used to just smile and continue what you were doing before.

12. You get used to drinking lemon juice with mint (best ever, in Europe people have no idea).

13. You get to eat some of best chocolate pastry out there (Egyptians are inventors of chocolate cake) and all things chocolate, even in cheap places, are really good (even compared to Switzerland).

14. You are not surprised when a soldier or someone stops you on a street and for no reason asks for money in exchange for wishing you a good and successful year (sometimes I give them some money).

15. You never tire of hearing people say “Welcome to Egypt” even after you tell them you have been living in the country for a year. They still welcome you and treat you (mostly) like a stupid and ignorant tourist.

16. You take pleasure in making happy Egyptians when you utter few words (or more) in Arabic. Everyone without exclusion starts thinking of you not just as an ignorant, filthy and stupid foreigner but a rather humanoid-looking creature with some culture (that is derived from the fact that you speak Arabic). When you show that you care about their country, culture and indeed the language (my case) they slowly but steadily take you as one of them. Egyptians happen to think that Arabic is so difficult to learn that any foreigner with even a scarce vocabulary in Arabic must be someone deserving respect.

17. You become so relaxed and take-it-easy in being punctual that a 30-mins late arrival for a meeting draws nothing more than a smile and a “Welcome to Egypt” from you.

18. At some point, you start thinking that all foreign tourists – especially those who walk around with LonelyPlanet guides – are stupid (my case).

19. You get comfortable in knowing that you (not necessarily very knowledgeable about Egypt) know more about Egypt than most of Egyptians.

20. (At work)You get used to the fact that almost no deadline is respected and people need multiple reminders and nagging sessions to deliver even the smallest of results.

21. Your sense of humor gets more refined and subtler by day. Egyptians are famous for their sense of humor.

22. You get used to the sight of young Egyptian men fighting (jokingly) and touching, pushing and pulling each other regardless of their environment and time, on streets, in restaurants, in cinemas, etc.

23. You standard of beauty (if you are a guy) goes way up because there are many beautiful Egyptian women out there, worth noting that majority of them are veiled (thus Muslim).

24. You stop being angry at asking direction on a street to five different people about a rather famous and well-frequented place and getting as many different answers.

25. You become very direct, cutting-through-bullshit, very forthcoming and marginally polite (my case) when dealing with Egyptians on streets, shops and restaurants.

You become a little bit or more of Egyptian after more than few months!! I did!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Dead horse strategies for 21st century

According to the legend and the customary presentation of this item, the tribal wisdom of the Dakota Indians, presumably passed on from generation to generation, says that, "When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount."

An updated version of this approach applied to governments, NGOs, companies and institutions is here presented below.

1. Re-structuring the dead horse's reward scale to contain a performance-related element.

2. Suspending the horse's access to the executive grassy meadow until it improves its attitude and makes good all productivity shortfalls.

3. Finding a mentor or buddy for the dead horse.

4. Examining the cost-savings accruing from de-skilling the dead horse function.

5. Demanding equal rights and representation of the dead horse on all international councils, conferences and public appearances.

6. Denying the existence of the dead horse, until the story appears in the Drudge Report, upon which release ready-made PR featuring the dead horse 'in action', thus totally fooling everyone who thought the horse was dead (but it still is of course).

7. Review and revaluation of the dead horse structural performaces.

8. Re-aligning the organizational aims to better fit the needs of the dead horse.

9. Outsourcing the management and/or the riding of the dead horse to a specialist dead horse management company (offshore to “least developed” dead horses).

10. Bringing in a team of expensive external consultants to focus on dead horse optimization.

11. Re-branding the dead horse a “Fair Trade Horse”, and affixing prominent Fair Trade insignia to its hind-quarters and promoting its image and brand in African continent.

12. Scrutinizing and challenging the dead horse's expenses claims, and leaking baseless related accusations to the media and the dead horse transparency unit.

13. Asking Richard Branson if he'd be interested in running a Virgin Dead Horse joint venture (then asking Google to make a Google Dead Horse Reader killing application with RSS feeds coming from all dead horses).

14. Setting up a free-phone customer service hotline to handle complaints relating to the dead horse fiasco.

15. Re-designing the dead horse's shoes so that they can be made of bamboo and re-cycled.

16. Setting up an inquiry into the dead horse, preferably headed by a dead horse and answerable to other dead horses.

17. Forming a task force to investigate the dead horse's positive benefits on social enterprise.

18. Blaming the dead horse on the sub-prime credit crunch, thereby absolving (and enabling the obscenely generous rewarding of) those responsible for the decision to recruit an emaciated horse, starve it, and keep it in a frozen field (because the stables were sold to property developers years ago).

19. Appointing a top advertising agency to promote the benefits of the reduced carbon hoof-print of a dead horse compared to the ridiculously out-dated and unsustainable notion of a living horse.

20. Off-shoring the stabling and veterinary support of the dead horse to somewhere in the Indian sub-continent.

21. Sending the dead horse on an outward bound or log-carrying weekend with other dead horses.

22. Lobbying ministers and pressure groups for the extension of European standards to encompass the special qualities of dead horses.

23. Nationalizing the dead horse.

24. Making the dead horse redundant, giving it a hefty golden hoof-shake, and then retaining it as consultant at five times its previous annual cost.

For more of dead horse strategies click for example here.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Some blunt and risky insults

Does your face hurt, because it's killing me!

He's so dumb, he sits on the TV and watches the sofa.

You're so ugly, when you go into the bank they turn off the surveillance cameras.

In a battle of wits she's unarmed.

I haven't been ignoring you; I've been prioritizing you.

Since my last report, he has reached rock bottom and has started to dig.

His men would follow him anywhere, but only out of morbid curiosity.

He's a few clowns short of a circus.

She's a few fries short of a Happy Meal.

She's a few Cokes short of a six-pack.

He's a few peas short of a casserole.

She's one taco short of a combination plate.

She's a few feathers short of a whole duck.

He has an intellect rivaled only by garden tools.

She's as smart as bait.

This employee is really not so much of a has-been, but more of a definite won't be.

When she opens her mouth, it seems that this is only to change whichever foot was previously in there.

She sets low personal standards and then consistently fails to achieve them.

This employee should go far - and the sooner he starts, the better.

He's as bright as Alaska in December.

One-celled organisms out score him in IQ tests.

He's so fat, his car's seat belts have stretch marks.

He's so dense, light bends around him.

If he were any more stupid, he'd have to be watered twice a week.

If you stand close enough to him, you can hear the ocean.

He would argue with a signpost.

He's a couple of bricks short of a hod.

He's a couple of dilithium crystals short of a warp core.

He's a couple of knights short of a Crusade.

He's a few ears short of a bushel.

He's a few tomatoes short of a thick sauce.

He's got a room temperature IQ.

He's about a half a bubble off plumb.

He's all lime and salt, but no tequila.

He's an experiment in Artificial Stupidity.

His antenna doesn't pick up all the channels.

He was born during low tide in the gene pool.

He has both oars in the water, but they're on the same side of the boat!

He can't find his ass with two hands and a periscope.

He is diagonally parked in a parallel universe.

God might still use him for miracle practice.

Answering Machine messages

Looking for some smart message to put on your telephone answering machine?
Here are some real examples .............

My wife and I can’t come to the phone right now, but if you’ll leave your name and number, we’ll get back to you just as soon as we’re finished.

A is for Academics ... B is for Beer. One of those reasons is why we’re not here. Please leave a message.

Hi. This is John.
If you’re the phone company, I already sent the money.
If you’re my parents, please send me money.
If you are my financial aid institution, you didn’t lend me enough money.
If you are a friend, you owe me money.
If you are a female, I have plenty of money.
Leave your message after the beep.

(Narrator’s voice)
There Dale sits, reading a magazine. Suddenly, the telephone rings! The bathroom explodes into a veritable maelstrom of toilet paper, with Dale in the middle of it, his arms wind-milling at incredible speeds. Will he make it in time? Alas, no. His valiant effort is in vain. The bell hath sounded. Thou must leave a message. Hi. Now you say something.

Hi. I’m not home right now, but my answering machine is. So you can talk to it instead. Wait for the beep.

Hello, I’m David’s answering machine. What are you?

Hi! John’s answering machine is broken. This is his refrigerator. Please speak very slowly and I’ll stick your message to myself with one of these little magnets.

Hello, this is Sally’s microwave. Her answering machine just eloped with a tape deck, so I’m stuck with taking her calls. Say... if you want anything cooked while you’re leaving your message, just hold it up to the phone.

Hello. You are talking to a machine. I am capable of receiving messages. My owners do not need replacement windows or a hot tub, and their carpets are clean. They give to charity through their office and do not need their picture taken. If you’re still with me, leave your name and number after the beep and they will get back to you.

This is not an answering machine. It is a telepathic thought-recording device. After the tone, think about your name, your reason for calling and the number where I can reach you. I’ll think about returning your call.

Hi. I’m probably home. I’m just avoiding talking with someone I don’t like. Leave me a message, and if I don’t call back, it’s you.

Hi! This is Anna's disembodied voice, she can't come to the phone right now, leave a message or try another plane of existance.

Hi. This is George. Sorry I can’t come to the phone right now. Leave your name and number, then wait by your phone until I call you back.

Hello. If you’re a burglar, then we are probably at home cleaning our weapons right now and can’t come to the phone. Otherwise, we are probably not at home and it is safe to leave us a message.

You’re growing tired. Your eyelids are becoming very heavy. You feel sleepy now. You are gradually losing your will power and your ability to resist suggestions. When you hear the tone, you will feel helplessly compelled to leave your name, telephone number and a brief message.

At the sound of the tone, you may leave a message. You have the right to remain silent. However, anything you say will be recorded and may be used by us.

Hello. You’ve reached Jim and Sonya. We can’t come to the phone right now because we’re doing something we really enjoy. Sonya likes to do it up and down, and I like doing it left to right ... very slowly. So leave a message, and when we’re done brushing our teeth, we’ll get back to you!

Psychiatric Hotline

Hello, Welcome to the Psychiatric Hotline

If you are obsessive-compulsive, please press 1 repeatedly.

If you are co-dependent, please ask someone to press 2.

If you have multiple personalities, please press 3, 4, 5 and 6.

If you are paranoid, we know who you are and what you want. Just stay on the line so we can trace the call.

If you are schizophrenic, listen carefully and a little voice will tell you which number to press.

If you are manic-depressive, it doesn't matter which number you press. No one will answer.

20 Amazing Facts About Voting in the US

1. 80% of all votes in America are counted by only two companies: Diebold and ES&S.

2. There is no federal agency with regulatory authority or oversight of the U.S. voting machine industry.

3. The vice-president of Diebold and the president of ES&S are brothers.

4. The chairman and CEO of Diebold is a major Bush campaign organizer and donor who wrote in 2003 that he was "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year."

5. Republican Senator Chuck Hagel used to be chairman of ES&S. He became Senator based on votes counted by ES&S machines.

6. Republican Senator Chuck Hagel, long-connected with the Bush family, was recently caught lying about his ownership of ES&S by the Senate Ethics Committee.

7. Senator Chuck Hagel was on a short list of George W. Bush's vice-presidential candidates.

8. ES&S is the largest voting machine manufacturer in the U.S. and counts almost 60% of all U.S. votes.

9. Diebold's new touch screen voting machines have no paper trail of any votes. In other words, there is no way to verify that the data coming out of the machine is the same as what was legitimately put in by voters.

10. Diebold also makes ATMs, checkout scanners, and ticket machines, all of which log each transaction and can generate a paper trail.

For the rest please see here.

Friday, July 4, 2008

London Tube announced

1) "Ladies and Gentlemen, I do apologise for the delay to your service. I know you're all dying to get home, unless, of course, you happen to be married to my ex-wife, in which case you'll want to cross over to the Westbound and go in the opposite direction."

2) "Your delay this evening is caused by the line controller suffering from E & B syndrome: not knowing his elbow from his backside. I'll let you know any further information as soon as I'm given any."

3) "Do you want the good news first or the bad news? The good news is that last Friday was my birthday and I hit the town and had a great time. The bad news is that there is a points failure somewhere between Stratford and East Ham, which means we probably won't reach our destination."

4) "Ladies and gentlemen, we apologise for the delay, but there is a security alert at Victoria station and we are therefore stuck here for the foreseeable future, so let's take our minds off it and pass some time together. All together now.... 'Ten green bottles, hanging on a wall.....'."

5) "We are now travelling through Baker Street... As you can see, Baker Street is closed. It would have been nice if they had actually told me, so I could tell you earlier, but no, they don't think about things like that".

6) "Beggars are operating on this train. Please do NOT encourage these professional beggars. If you have any spare change, please give it to a registered charity. Failing that, give it to me."

7) During an extremely hot rush hour on the Central Line, the driver announced in a West Indian drawl: "Step right this way for the sauna, ladies and gentleman... unfortunately, towels are not provided."

8) "Let the passengers off the train FIRST!" (Pause.) "Oh go on then, stuff yourselves in like sardines, see if I care - I'm going home...."

9) "Please allow the doors to close. Try not to confuse this with 'Please hold the doors open.' The two are distinct and separate instructions."

10) "Please note that the beeping noise coming from the doors means that the doors are about to close. It does not mean throw yourself or your bags into the doors."

11) "We can't move off because some idiot has their hand stuck in the door."

12) "To the gentleman wearing the long grey coat trying to get on the second carriage - what part of 'stand clear of the doors' don't you understand?"

13) "Please move all baggage away from the doors." (Pause..) "Please move ALL belongings away from the doors." (Pause...) "This is a personal message to the man in the brown suit wearing glasses at the rear of the train: Put the pie down, Four-eyes, and move your bl**dy golf clubs away from the door before I come down there and shove them up your a**e sideways!"

14) "May I remind all passengers that there is strictly no smoking allowed on any part of the Underground. However, if you are smoking a joint, it's only fair that you pass it round the rest of the carriage."