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:

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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.

It’s an art being careless…

Most people just claim to “not give a fuck,” or “not give any fucks.” But, to truly not give a single fuck, is quite hard, it seems. And that’s what this post is all about.

Awhile ago, on a blog from a distant land, I had posted about two fellows that had sporadically popped into existence into my mind; one was named Mr. Blitzhoover and the other was named Mr. Junkhoward. I used them as archetypes for different kinds of people. The Blitzhoovers were capable of just moving with the rhythm of the world and not having conscious control over everything. The Junkhowards, on the other hand, constantly checked their watches (or cellphones, for modernity) to try to control their situation.

Ultimately, through a series of examples, I concluded that Blitzhoover, in his lack of control, finds much more control in his life. While, Junkhoward, in his relentlessness to control, lacks control entirely.

And, so, for an anecdotal story, because that’s really what this blog post was about anyway. Recently, I was driving my car to go to the gym while I was eating a peach. I had not eaten a peach in quite some time so I had forgotten how juicy the suckers were. I sank right in. *Crhhhhssssz* (approximately the noise my mouth made when delving in; intense) The first bite generated a fair amount of peach ooziness dripping down my arm. I thought for a little bit about it: Was I, to my rational self, indebted to cleaning this mess up before taking another bite? Or, was I, to my primal self, indebted to enjoying this peach to the fullest and allowing it to ooze all over me?

I’d define more with the Blitzhoovers’ and so I resonated with the latter. I rolled my windows down, turned my music up, put my shades on and sank into the peach again. *Crhhhhssssz* It oozed all over me. My hand was dripping onto my white t-shirt and my blue shorts. Heat rays attempted to absorb the peach through my windshield, $6 dollar shades shielded my eyes and the music didn’t matter much because in my head I was singing The Presidents of the United States (peaches come from a can, they were put there by a man!) The peach aroma and stickiness amplified the car ride.

Now, not to get too philosophical but I had thought about the idea of everything as an extension of oneself and how the peach became one with me, as I became one with the peach. We were conjoined in a sort of disgusting and cannibalistic means to an end. I didn’t merely use the peach as an end. I let it fulfill it’s life-long aspiration of satisfying one of us beautiful human beings. Some peaches will grow old and never have our splendid canines sink into them, but this one did. It can thoughtfully turn inward, become a rind, and do so with pride.

A few days later, I was with some friends and decided to wildly pull a peach out from my kitchen and explain to them the aforementioned story. However, before doing so, I sunk into the peach and let it drip down my arm. I looked at them very solemnly and said, “Become one with the peach.”

And these are the perks of giving the least amount of fucks in life – cheers to those who can!

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