Yeah, it’s probably an old subject but it’s a worthwhile one. I’ve realized this in the past, but not to the degree that this week has revealed. Mind you, I am well aware that I live in Northeastern United States in an industrialized nation of individual freedoms that are noble in their cause and extensive in their nature. I am well aware that I drive a Hyundai Elantra that is a fuel efficient car, I am capable of writing this blog (so I have both of my tangible limbs), I can see, smell, hear, taste, and talk, I don’t have a terminal illness, I don’t have bills because I live with my parents, I have a smart phone, I have food, shelter, and essentially a good life.

I get it. That being said, stress is still a benefactor in even the best lives, so what better way to vent than to write a giant blog post acknowledging your ignorance and still illustrating a perfectly beautiful picture of human turmoil that reeks?

Well, that’s what I’m about to do.

I got a speeding ticket a little under a month ago and just paid it off about a week ago. I felt good doing it. I thought: “I broke the law by going 70 on the highway,” and then in a burst of spiteful subconscious thought, “even though everyone fucking goes 70 on the highway,” but then continued, “so I ought to pay this fine to show that I acknowledge the laws and acknowledge my infraction.” Fair enough. I paid it, $100 down the drain. The next day I got a letter from the RMV. Those letters, capitalized, and in that sequence send chills down everyone’s back. But, this time, I thought, “Well, looky here, they’re sending me a letter of recognition that I was a good Samaritan and paid my dues for breaking the law, how kind!” Nope.

In the most formal way and with the most formal font, the letter read, “You are hereby notified that the Registry of Motor Vehicles intends to suspend your license,” the rest of the letter really isn’t necessary to read. You can see the natural disparity in thought: “I paid my $100 dollar ticket, so they want to suspend my license?!” Oh, but it makes perfect sense, see, if I had known the laws and recollected on the past two years of my driving, I would have found that I had three surcharges within a two-year period. They give me two options to get out of this suspension of license that are nice.
1) Take a driver’s retraining course for a measly $125 for eight hours one day or four hours split between two days

2) Commit suicide
(this wasn’t a formal option, but the other option was to go to a hearing in which the only thing disputed would be the charges and since they’ve already convicted me on the charges over the past two years, the option they’re really giving you is figurative suicide)

So, I chose the first option. This past week I spent $350 on a parking pass at school. So, that’s two weeks of pay down the drain between a parking pass, a speeding ticket, and a driver’s retraining course. Sweet.

There are two other issues that are largely a reason why I’m writing this post, but half way through this post, I realized something. Humanity sucks precisely because of posts like this.

EDIT: The funniest part about this is that I decided against publishing this post until now when I had initially written this post about two years earlier.

First off, showers are seemingly the greatest place to conduct thoughts. It’s as though your thoughts, apparently electric, conduct the water in a brainstorm above your head.

Anyway, the point of this post is to address what I think is at the heart of contention in the religious sphere of our society: authenticity. What I mean by this, is that currently in the United States (and really, the world over), there is deeply rooted sentiment that there is “one true religion.” Essentially, that, every religion thinks that all other religions got it wrong; the God, the principles, how to pray, what is right about marriage, and how to treat someone that is different than you. Then, there is the atheist’s stance, which I think was nicely displayed in a meme on Facebook the other day, so rather than typing one thousand words, here you are:

UniverseMeme.

Which, at the time of sharing it, I liked it. I liked it, but I didn’t love it – because, as you can see, subtlety, the atheist is taking his piece of the pie. There is condescension in the post. The words, “insignificant, little, fighting, scribbled, coolest,” and the phrases, “Middle Eastern desert sect,” and “fairy tales,” are all designated words to captivate the selective crowd (atheists) in an echo chamber of superiority. Recognize that the atheist’s failure here is the same as the devout religious person’s failure, which is attempting to claim a truth higher than their truth. These are attempts at desperate self-righteousness, in all their humor.

Ultimately, however, we might find that, for the religious person, rather than the Judeo-Christian God being the only one in Heaven (because this is the current mode of thought in the United States), maybe Heaven is a big enough place to accompany all of the Gods of all of the religions, the world over. And the takeaway point for the atheist here, is that at the very least, what we can recognize from religion and ourselves is that scrambling to be correct about something, especially one of such an abstract degree (and in all fairness, even multiple universes can’t outright deny the potential existence of a place such as Heaven, and actually probably promotes it) is worthless except for attempting to pursue a greater condition or moral value in the world. Therefore, maybe we should all recognize that every religion or religion-less person has a way of identifying their spirituality or relation to the world and be okay with the fact that we all do so differently.

 nailbitingOften, in our lives, we are presented with challenging circumstances that we feel compelled to overcome. Usually, there is some direct, linear way to overcome these obstacles. However, one circumstance that generates myself (and I’m assuming many others) a fair deal of anxiety is overgrown nails or hangnails. This, obviously, with modern technology, can be solved simply with a pair of nail clippers. The dilemma is presented when one is without nail clippers attempting to hurdle the obstacle of an overgrown or hangnail. The problem with an overgrown nail or hangnail is the discomfort it brings to your life. The initial intent of anyone biting their nails is to reduce them to make them less sharp or jagged, and less painful to the touch.

So, the scenario presents itself: you’re driving your car and suddenly your overgrown, scraggly nail with dirt encrusting the bottom half hits the steering wheel. You take a quick glance at it and think, “I wish I cut my nails…” and pay no more mind to it. Until, your thumb begins rubbing your index finger nail and you realize how sharp the bastard is. Again, you think, “I really wish I cut my nails…” but you put it out of your mind because that index finger nail has the last two weeks of germs accumulated underneath it and biting it down to a reasonable size is going to be a task in itself. You find yourself looking outside, trying to keep your mind off the disgusting, sharp, scraggly, filthy, index finger nail but to no avail, you find your thumb creepily rubbing your index finger again. You begin trying to telepathically dislocate your thumb from your hand to quit the constant reminder. Yet, as though you have no control of your hand, your thumb rubs your index finger more quickly and with seemingly more fascination. It seems as if the entire universe is conspiring against you to just bite your damn nail off and get it over with. And so, you give in, start biting your nail, and the dilemma begins –

Initially, it seems purely logical; your nail is long and sharp, so biting it will reduce and smooth it, therefore, no more discomfort. Suddenly, though, a huge hangnail is created through your nibbling. This sucker is buried under your lateral nail fold meaning if you’re going to get it off, it’ll hurt and probably bleed. Yet, you’ve already begun biting, so what the heck? You sink your central incisor and lateral incisor onto the hangnail and tug. It hurts, you can feel it pulling up the skin and you can see blood forming. You’re so close though, so you pull a bit more – and, dammit, you ripped the hangnail in half. Half of the hangnail is still underneath your lateral nail fold. So, you dig in deeper, you grip your lateral incisor firmly and pull steadily with great force, and you can taste blood. Finally, you’ve got it, the hangnail releases, your lateral nail fold is in shambles, but you’ve won the battle. You’re bleeding, so you mend it with your tongue and try to clean up the side of your nail by biting off some of the skin on the lateral nail fold, which in turn only causes more blood. You turn back to the free edge of your nail and begin working on that because that was the original intent. You bite and rip some of the free edge. You bite and rip some more while tending to the bleeding hangnail and lateral nail fold. You repeat this process of biting and ripping occasionally checking to see the progress. Finally, you believe your work is done and so you rub it again with your thumb to see how it feels: sharper than ever before. Small, sharp, jagged edges scratch your thumb’s smooth skin.

Ultimately, the nail-biter’s dilemma is a larger analogy for challenging circumstances in our lives. An unprepared attempt at fixing an impromptu problem will usually create a larger problem or make the problem worse. The more the nail biter bites, the worse the problem becomes. Not only does the nail become worse, but your overall hygiene becomes worse, i.e., your teeth corrode from biting, you’re literally ingesting germs residing underneath your fingernail, and your nail’s health is becoming worse (not just physically). However, with some simple preparation or presence of mind to have the tools on-hand, the problem is solved in a matter of seconds. And this goes for anything, for example, while the fastest human ever is roughly 28 mph and the fastest land animal, a cheetah, can reach speeds of 64 mph, we can just get into a car and blow the doors off of a cheetah. Our species has traditionally relied on tools as a way of enhancing ourselves.

cognitive
d i s s o n a n c e
plays the role of
m e s s e n g e r
ignorant and spiteful
toward the recipient of its
t r a v e l s
the peculiar
f a s h i o n
it walks
a i m l e s s l y
toward the recipient of its
ignorant and spiteful
t r a v e l s

- n.v.

The age-old debate. The alpha and omega. The quintessential question we yearn to know. We want to know, because, we think in light of this, we’d better live our lives. But, here is a wrench in the proverbial gears:

Let’s assume that,

  • Fate is defined as “not choice”
  • Free Will is defined as “choice”

If you’re not willing to make these assumptions, then you should read no further.

Furthermore, if in saying something like, “I love you,” you would agree that you could insert “choose to” before “love you,” and it should not change the content of that message. Essentially, you can do this with anything as long as it is in the first person. When you say, “I am going to work,” you’re saying, effectively: “I am choosing to go to work”. These two statements mean the same thing. Inserting “choosing to,” or “choose to,” does not change the statement you’re making, it is just redundant because the first person casts possessiveness on the direct object via the verb of the sentence.

Okay. If you say, “I think fate exists,” you have immediately negated your statement. If you add those two words, which we previously agreed do not alter the content of a statement at least in the first person, then you’ve said, “I choose to think fate exists.” And to replace “fate,” with “not choice,” you get: “I choose to think not choice (or choosing) exists.” In an attempt to claim that you believe in fate, you condemn fate. You logically contradict yourself.

So, we’re left with free will. It seems that it is must logically conclude that free will exists. However, this is not the case. Let’s use the same scenario that we have previously agreed to and replace free will with “choice”. If you say, “I think free will exists,” you have immediately negated your statement. The statement becomes “I choose to think free will exists,” or, “I choose to think choice exists.” This seems perfectly congruent with logic, until you recognize that there is no choice but to think choice exists. You cannot “choose,” to think that “not choice,” exists so if your only option is to choose to think choice exists, then you didn’t have an option at all. And, in having no option, you had no choice… that we had earlier agreed is equivalent to fate.

Therefore, in having no choice but to choose free will, because you cannot choose fate, then you must be fated to choose free will. The condition of fate, as we agreed upon earlier, is “not choice.” And, if the very fact that you talking in first person necessitates you to choose then you had no option to have free will, which means you are fated. But, talking in the first person negates fate, because of the ability to choose. This shows that you cannot argue fate or free will exists because in arguing for either side, you negate your argument and agree with the opposite.

I don’t know how familiar you are with the TV series Alphas as it only aired a few series and wasn’t particularly popular. However, the idea of the show is that there are super humans named, “alphas.” Alphas have different heightened senses or neurological deficiencies that usually act in their favor (one of them releases a pheromone when he’s anxious that causes everyone to go into a rage and fight each other, for example, which allows him to flee the scene).

Well, one of the alphas is named Stanton Parish and is the canonical villain of the series. His alpha ability? He never dies. He’s like a wolverine-zombie-without-the-adamantium. He gets shot in the head and a week later rises from the dead. His mission is to eventually wipe out the race of humans and repopulate it with a world of alphas because he believes that they are hyper-efficient human beings. And, he’s obsessed with the fact that he cannot die.

And then, there’s Larry Ellison who is the canonical villain of the technically inclined. His ultimate dream? Longevity. That’s why he drinks so much damned carrot juice. I’d be willing to bet that he has some computer system hooked up to his vital systems to shock him back to life if death were to befall him. His mission is to eventually control everything by being one of the largest conglomerate monopolies in today’s economy because he believes so heavily in Oracle’s mission statement as a company. And, he’s obsessed with his yacht.

If that weren’t enough parallels, then here’s the kicker for the disbelievers:

Image

Same facial hair? Same fucking person.

I had a dream last night. It began with me swimming in a wave pool at a run-down, nasty, filth-infested water amusement park (probably something like Water Country; there are better places to feel and be young, rest assured) and I see a scratch ticket floating in the water.

I picked it up and it must have just fallen in the water because I could still scratch it. So, I did and to my surprise, it had won millions of dollars. I was ecstatic, I thought of all the bills that I could pay down, how I could finally pay off all my college debt and how easy life would be without financial restraint. However, I looked around and saw not too far from my location a group of little kids, maybe 7-10 years old with their parents. All of the little kids had a scratch ticket in their hand except for one kid. Immediately, I felt guilty. But, I rationalized with myself; the money would help me.

As I began to secure the ticket, I heard a voice (presumably of a friend, but I don’t recall looking at my friend, so I couldn’t identify who it was or it was my conscience) say, “Aren’t you going to give it back to him?”

And so — I have presented this question to a few people. And this seems like a pretty decent philosophical dilemma. Why does morality go out the window with scratch tickets?

If you rephrase the story with it being a purse I found, most people would try to return it. If you rephrase it the story with it being a purse that has a scratch ticket in it, most people would try to return the purse with the scratch ticket intact. However, when you can visibly see the owner and you know it’s not yours but it’s a scratch ticket most people rationalize reasons to quantify why they should keep it, when in reality it’s merely greed.

Is that the condition of human morality? And if so, what does that say about us as “rational agents”?

Needlessly, a fun dilemma.