Saturday, May 31, 2014

What will people think?

If they have nothing better to do
Than to speak about you
They don't matter.

And if they have better things to do
As most people really should
Then it doesn't matter.

And besides, haven't you better things to do
Than to think about what other people think
About the little aspects of your life?

Think about it.

Consider also that no one ever became great without
Offending a few people and breaking down the doors
Of their closed minds.

Wouldn't you rather be talked about than forgotten?
Wouldn't you rather be thought different
Than make no difference at all?

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Escape

Wouldn't you give anything
To forget for just a day all your troubles
To escape from this world and live once again
Carefree as a child?

And so you drown out the noise inside your head
With the noise outside
So all you can think about anymore
Is nothing at all

As you drink away your problems
Your mind becomes numb
At least you don't feel the pain anymore
In fact, you don't feel anything at all

Go ahead, take the coward's way out
And run until you cannot run anymore
Life with all its misery will still be here tomorrow, waiting
Wouldn't you rather face it head-on - wide awake and fearless?

Photographs

Let's take a picture
It'll be a memory
Now let's take another
For the world to see
Just how much  fun we're having
And how happy we all are

Later then we'll have the photographs
But memories only of pretended joy
Of smiling fake smiles into the lens
The beauty around forgotten
And then we do it all over again
A different place, different people, same old story



“I've become like one of those people I hate, the sort who go to the museum and, instead of looking at the magnificent Brueghel, take a picture of it, reducing it from art to proof. It's not "Look what Brueghel did, painted this masterpiece" but "Look what I did, went to Rotterdam and stood in front of a Brueghel painting!” 
― David SedarisLet's Explore Diabetes with Owls

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Superstition

If there's one thing that truly irks me (oh, very well, it's one of many), it is when otherwise sane people -people of science at that- say something astonishingly ignorant. You've met them. They're the ones who discuss calculus and numerology (no, your lucky number plate does not make you a better driver) in the same breath. Ones who understand astrophysics, and then go ahead and use astrology to make important life decisions (have you heard of horoscope matching? No? Thank your lucky stars!)

And you're not really allowed to laugh in their faces, because that would be socially incorrect. Voicing your scientifically incorrect opinions in public, however, is absolutely fine.

So we have the apologists who say superstition is harmless. I (not so) respectfully disagree. What happens when you decide not to get your child treated in a hospital and instead try ineffective alternative "medicine"? Your child pays for your "harmless" decision. And just how long is the road between witch-doctors and witch-burning?

Then there's the pascal's wager form of superstitious folk. Here's an example:

"Someone said that if I change my name to X, that I'll be more successful in life. Now he could be wrong, but why risk it?"

Let us assume that a name could affect your success. Then it may well be that your current name, Y, was really your lucky name, and changing it would make you even more of a failure. So why risk it? (Isn't it fun when an argument defeats itself?) Even if there was a name, say Banana, which would make people successful, once everyone changed their name, we'd all still be just the same, except we'd go around calling each other bananas and that would simply defeat the purpose of having a name (not to mention, grocery shopping for your pet monkey would become far more challenging!).
Oh, and by the way, success is relative, so everybody becoming more successful by the same factor would essentially mean there would be no change whatsoever.

Now that we all agree (if you don't, feel free to get back to reading your daily horoscope) that no good comes from superstition, let's try and surmise reasons as to why people are superstitious. The usual suspects are fear and ignorance, but there could be more to it.

Ever notice how successful sportsmen and movie stars seem to be, as a population, more superstitious? This may well be because they are successful and famous which makes their beliefs and thoughts more well-known than those of the average person, but let us suppose that it is not. I have a theory which tries to explain why such people may be superstitious (no, it hasn't been proven, and yes I could be wrong, but conjectures can be fun sometimes). I think it may come from a sense of humility - the fact that they do not feel like they deserve their success because there are people out there doing far more important work, and so, there must be other forces at play. Let me know if you can come up with other reasons for superstitious thinking.

I once heard someone say that we are all superstitious and that what we call a fact today could well be disproved as superstition tomorrow. And that is true. But the difference is that once science proves a theory to be false, scientific minded people will discard it and accept the new truth. Superstition would be clinging on to that which has been proved wrong.

In summary, to not know is sad but can be corrected. However, to know better, and yet to choose to remain ignorant, that is the tragedy of humanity.

Besides, it's just dishonest (yet another thing that irks me, but that's another post).


Also check out this fascinating article on why astrology isn't harmless.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

In pursuit of happiness?

It is said that happiness is the true goal of life. That no matter what you claim your true purpose is, it always comes back to the same thing- we're all just looking for happiness.

So you find people working hard all their life, doing things they do not like in the belief that at the end of all the misery, they will find happiness. Like life is a treasure map and when you finally dig up the chest and unlock it, you will find true joy. That, of course, never happens. There is no treasure chest at the end of life, there is only a casket.

And then there are those, who run from place to place, and party to party, desperately searching for every moment of joy and so afraid of missing out that they miss the point.

You see, happiness doesn't quite work that way. It isn't lost that it must be found. It hasn't escaped that it must be pursued. It is within you...this hidden potential just waiting to be unlocked. And only you hold the key.

And so I say, happiness isn't the goal of life, it is a way of life.


Update: Also see this video where Alan Watts speaks about money and happiness.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Bread and Circuses


"Power to the people!", to the poor you say
But who cares about policy when they cannot say
If they'll live to see another day

To them you give as a sop
Promises of a brighter tomorrow
But who was it that darkened their yesterday?

Then there are those of us who are luckier
The educated elite - we walk about proudly
Oh so very informed are we.

We talk politics, and offer our opinions
It's time to wield our vote, to change the nation!
Just like last time, yeah?

You speak your lies, and veil our eyes
Distract us enough with ad hominem arguments
And if that doesn't work -there's always hate and fear

"Give me power, and I'll bring about change!"
That's all well and good sir,
But just how will you go about it?

What do you stand for truly?
What do you plan to do?
How qualified, exactly, to lead us are you?

Oh, but who are we to complain
When we aren't brave enough to provide an alternative
And when we don't have the answers ourselves?

So let's get on with the games once more
We'll pick between Scylla and Charybdis
And next time we'll do it all over again