Wednesday, November 7, 2007


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In the Long Run
Intelligence is probably an evolutionary dead-end. Enjoy it while it lasts.

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Conflicting Views

There is a schism between our idea civilization and our roots in the evolutionary process. Reconciling the two is impossible.

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Winning at all Costs
Empathy is an unnecessary and often unwanted attribute in this modern world. It can hold you back from the success that you crave.

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In Time
Bad karma accumulates from all ones misdeeds and poor behaviors. If enough is created, it will eventually catch up with you, no matter how hard you try to run away from it.

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If the Shoe Fits

People are byproducts of the evolutionary process. Why is it so surprising when we act like animals?

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Misfired Again

Creativity is a defect of the human mind – connecting unrelated subjects to form something non-existent. You can achieve success in this world if your brain puts two and two together and comes up with a clown riding a bicycle.

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Fame and Misfortune

Many of our most famous personalities have achieved a significant amount of their notoriety through disreputable behavior. We set forth to follow our principles, but often admire those who so callously disregard them.

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Dodge Ball
It is easier to play with an idea then it is to deal with a problem. You can bypass the issue with a compromise but then you are likely just ignoring the solution.

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Just a Cause
Foolishness is something that every person is guilty of at one time or another. It only becomes a problem if you are too proud to admit it.

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First Impulse

Evolution shaped our emotional responses and instincts -- intellect shapes our ideal behaviors. Relying on your gut feelings does not always produce the most civilized response.

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Look Around

The instinct for self-preservation is the driving evolutionary force behind self-centered behavior. You are achieving a higher degree of civilization when your concerns include not just yourself, but also those around you.

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Ready, Set, Go

Human intelligence is still only a small percentage of actual intelligence. Your life depends on the ongoing race between how fast we learn and how quickly we destroy.

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Suppressing strong core behaviors can lead to explosive results. You cannot bottle up your past and ignore it – you need to channel it into productive results.

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Knee Jerks

The true measure of a person is in their actions – of a company is in its reactions. Your employer is not acting in your best interest, no matter how hard they try to convince you otherwise.

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Group Think
A group of people coming together for a common purpose can be a powerful thing; it can also be exceedingly dangerous. Allowing yourself to follow someone’s will does not excuse you from responsibility for your actions.

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Within the Middle
Competition between our lofty ideals and our base nature often lead to self-destructive behaviours. Favouring one over the other only leads to trouble -- you must find a healthy balance between both great influences.

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Behaviour is composed of both pre-programmed instinct and personality-directed copying of examples in the environment, particularly focusing on those roles driven by elders. You see an awful lot of yourself in those people who were around you when you grew up – you see an awful lot of what you are about to become in those people that you associate with now.

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Computer software has such great potential, yet most often delivers such great disappointment. The moment you rely on any of these modern tools, you quickly learn how fragile they truly are.

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The Value of Answers
Primitive intelligence forces all people to seek simple answers to their existence. You’d surprised at just how much control you are willing to give up in order to satisfy this need for spirituality.

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Uncivilized Behaviour
The worst evil often comes from those who profess the most innocence. Don’t be fooled into accepting an apparently noble end as the justification for ignoble means.

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How Civilized is your Society?

Wherever we are in this world, many of us feel pride in our fortune to live in a highly civilized society. However, we need to clearly understand how to measure our society's progress and failures so that we are not only pretending to be enlighten, we truly are. Our evolutionary past defines the primal urges that we move towards instinctually. Our intellect sets forth ideas that directly conflict with our evolution but they do represent a higher degree of civilized behaviour to which we aspire. Idealistically our intellect has allowed us to create higher order concepts, such as honour, trust, loyalty and decency that reflect a nobler viewpoint of living. These ideals stand in sharp contrast to our built-in instincts – perhaps that is why when presented with examples, we are so awed by people with the ability to rise above their own nature.

This duality leads us into all sorts of trouble, as we are bound by our past to behave in a certain manner, but our own intellect pushes us to strive for a greater more civilized existence. We can measure our behaviour by taking into account both the ideas espoused by our society but also our ability to really live up to them. Collectively we must measure the society by what the bulk of the population achieves, there will always be individuals that raise or lower the organization by a notch or two. When we set forth ideas that lead to the betterment of the majority of people, we do so out of our need to hold the society together. To continue society must provide at least some value above and beyond the abilities of individuals. Thus, the more noble principles revolve around actions that are usually less self-centred. Selfishness is related to our instinct for self-preservation, one of our many evolutionary traits. Being more civilized is then oriented in the same direction of being less selfish. As individuals are willing to give up aspects for the good of the rest of society, they achieve a more civilized existence.

Caution must be used in this type of analysis, since it might accidentally lead someone to assume that some ideas such as communism are more civilized than ideas like capitalism. On the surface, there could be trouble with comparing the idealistic nature of the two different sets of rules. One sets a desire for equality, while the other rewards those who push the bounds. From that individual perspective there is a clear winner, but if the same logic is inverted one set of rules heavily limits the individual to the capabilities of their peers, where the other provides nearly limitless rewards and options. Not arbitrarily constraining members of a society is important in allowing them to achieve their maximum abilities and reaping the rewards for such. While it does seem inherently selfish, it offers the possibly for success, which gives each individual the most freedoms. A society that actively promotes its members to excel to their maximum capacity must be more civilized than one that arbitrarily holds them back. The collective group cannot overshadow the individual, or vice versa. A balance must exist so that each can prosper.

Within a reasonably civilized society, we can bring down the level of civilization quickly by institutionalizing our own base natures. Evolution focuses on reacting, while intellect pushes us to understand first. From this we tell ourselves that we should not judge a book by its cover. As noble as an idea like that is, it is so easy for us to cave into our own fears and hype and quickly abandon this type of idea. A simple example is the province of Ontario’s implementation of a law that condemns all pit bulls as being dangerous. Reacting to a large number of newspaper articles on various dog attacks, few of which were pit bulls, the law bans that unlucky breed of domesticated dog from being brought into Ontario. It does so based on no known facts and mounting evidence that this technique has failed to work whenever else it has been applied. The media found that pit bulls sounded deadly and dangerous, articles on which helped to catch peoples attention and sell newspapers. Those newly in power found it easy to quickly discard their principles in an attempt to easily placate the general population with quick legislative action and look like they were being proactive. This may fool the general public for a while, but the type of discontent that this type of legislative abuse fosters will ultimately harm those responsible. Obviously, it brings down the level of civilization as the society puts forth one set of lofty ideas, but then cannot live up to them.

Even when it’s not at the organizational level, we can still find our ideas being quickly dropped in favour of expediency. In any city that has seen a massive increase in automobiles, they have no doubt encounter the same types of transportation problems as Toronto. With more cars on the road, the drivers grow more frustrated and less polite. Rude, mean and selfish behaviour becomes the norm as more and more people justify their decent into being rude because other people do it. Collectively, the aggressive and rude driving style of a few becomes codified into the society as more and more people justify their own bad behaviours. It is a vicious circle, with each new round producing only more bad drivers and more traffic congestion. Oddly enough, bad driving itself helps to reduce the effectiveness of the roadways for all, even if it might save a couple of minutes for one driver. While there were always a few individuals with excessively bad driving behaviour, the whole of civilization descends a notch or two as more and more people justify this to be acceptable. Road rage and primitive aggressive angry behaviour when practiced by everyone should never be considered civilized.

Our own selfish desires to consume push the need to lower the prices of the items we buy, so we can buy more. In turn, the manufacturers get less quality and the items become more disposable, meaning we must replace them more often. We want this constant change, so the quality of the things in our lives is affected. To accelerate the change, we go to bulk consumer stores to save small percentages off the items we buy, but we still pick things of low quality and we reward the manufactures for producing low quality and selling it to these discount stores so we can buy more of this stuff and store it in the basement of our houses. Like some early cultures, we seem to be able to give up an awful lot just for a handful of beads. Our own selfish desire to purchase more beads, more often fuels our industrial needs to create more cheap stuff faster and for a lower price. Commerce may seem good for a society until you realize that we are surrounded by ever growing amounts of defective junk that simply complicate our lives and require constant replacing. As we build more on this fragile house of cards, we force ourselves to focus more on our possessions and less on our principles. Feeding our new material addiction forms the justification for such issues as the destruction of the surrounding environment.

If you peer deeply into your society, looking for acceptable acts of selfishness in individuals it is surprising how many of them you can find. If you look for acts of selflessness, our forefathers may have established some strong principles of behaviour, but in practice, we have so few examples of truly noble acts. We talk about and pride ourselves in being civilized, but in truth, overall collectively we don’t even come close to living up to the ideas that we push on our children. For some places in the world, their descent from being civilized is more obvious, but in all cases, it is generally based around the actions of the individuals. To be more civilized we must understand what this really means and only then can we start to influence the world around us to try to reach a higher level. We may be products of evolution, but our intellect provides us the means by which we can escape the bounds of our past.

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Push and Pull
Selfishness is both our instinctive root reaction and our least acceptable idealistic behavior. Sometimes you must choose between pushing the boundaries of your existence and pulling those who are drawn towards your presence.

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Rude can often be a by-product of self-centeredness and lack of empathy – people want their actions to be anonymous. You are surrounded by many more people than you are willing to accept or admin to yourself.

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Can’t or Won’t?
Not all goals are obtainable – sometimes its limitations, sometimes its just luck. Success is about giving up what we want to allow a chance to get what we need.

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Misinformation Age
Universal truth is not something that one would expect to encounter as of late. If it’s not an outright lie, it’s spun, misdirected or distorted. We are surround by so much, so little of which is not of dubious quality. Not only are we bombarded with misinformation at every turn; even those many tangible items in our lives are achieving an ever-diminishing standard of quality. Our unquenchable thirst for material goods allows them to feed us with a steady stream of material junk. Our insatiable hunger for knowledge elicits them to feed us with a steady stream of informational junk.

Should you really believe that a financial institution is your friend, or that a politician has your best interests at heart? Will whiter teeth help with that promotion or does owning a bigger car really prove you are successful? Does a government act for the benefit of humanity or will an oil company change the world? We are bombarded by false messages backed up by questionable testimonies and doctored statistics. We are bombarded by entertainment knowledge, trivial facts, frequently incorrect -- pushed on us for the purpose of entertainment or marketing. We are bombarded by the false wisdom of the ages, pushed out by experts trying to sells books, products and even themselves.

We live in the age of misinformation were we are surrounded by facts, myths, urban legends, advice, propaganda, opinions, research and any other type of information that helps support someone somewhere with the desire to control us or sell us something. When information became a commodity, we all lost out on its true value. When there is so much false information, how can one ever distinguish the truth? We live in the misinformation age, where we may know the answer, but we may never know if it is correct….

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We are driven to find answers. Our very existence is unstable without them. In this eternal quest we are drawn to sources that purport to provide us with the answers for our purpose in life and how we should live out the remainder of our days. In this we are extremely vulnerable, and history has shown again and again how easy it is to manipulate a large number of people by way of their spirituality.

From an evolutionary point of view, life is about procreation and the survival of the species. In that sense, we are but one step on a long pathway to some greater organism. From an idealistic point of view, life is our only shot at existence, so we need to maximize our very limited time. Ideally, while maximizing it, we should try not to forget that there are other people around us, and so hopefully find a more civilized level of interaction. The next evolutionary step likely depends on our ability to rise above our own self-absorption and interact with the world around us at a much higher level. Intelligence may have given us a leg up, but unless we can leverage it to achieve a better over-all behavior, it is not enough to save us from our own undoing. Intelligence is as deadly as it is liberating.

Life, then has two very different meanings – one coming from where we originated – the other coming from were we would like to be headed. Any set of answers that is not based around this inherent duality provides an incomplete picture of our world. We must accept our past origins, but also move forward towards a more enlightened future. Much of our sorrow and strife is self-inflicted and as such is not necessary for us to continue.

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Over Stuffed
Bureaucracies constantly build up process and rules until the system no longer works – adding a new regulation might be a quick and easy fix, but ultimately it is just contributing to the problem. Once it has gone too far, your only viable strategies to fix it are aggregation and simplification.

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Digging In.
It doesn’t matter which side is mostly right, when both sides are very wrong. Admitting to your mistakes is a much harder path than denying them.

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Over Stuffed Again

Cheap products fuel our disposable wants and needs – quality has become secondary and optional. You get what you pay for, and they only give you want you want.

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Causable Indignation
The justness of any cause can be undone by only a few of its underlying principles or by any of the actions of the people behind it. You can't accept a cause by its intentions alone -- actions are the only real universal measure.

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My Set is Easier
The right ideas at the wrong time cannot justify themselves. We tend to believe that we are above the rules because we need to feel special – is this a confidence problem?

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Artful Encounters

Emotion is the key ingredient that elevates craft into art. When we are truly moved by our feelings, that impact stays with us for a long time.

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Rules and Regulations

A bureaucratic entanglement only ever grows larger – making new rules is easy. We fear making mistakes, admitting mistakes and most of all, cleaning up mistakes.

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The Internet has fragmented our culture by making it easy to set up so many new and distinct areas of interaction. We can now disseminate any of our experiences and opinions but only as big fish in a multitude of little ponds.

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Boiling Point
Mass effect has a tolerance – that is why so many are oppressed by so few. We are willing to turn away, so long as it suits our own being.

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Half-wits, Half Nitwits
Human intelligence is a limited subset of something higher – in the same way that dog logic is a twisted subset of human logic. We are merely fools, at least until we are foolish enough to be able to admit it.

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When understood, everything is simple. We like to make most things difficult, either by trying not to think about them or by thinking about them for too long.

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The steady state of the planet is war, poverty and confusion – a consequence of our evolutionary roots. We may wish for world peace, but we should consider ourselves lucky if we manage to keep the planet in one piece.

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Real facts are indisputable, 
but these days
they can still easily
be spun out

of existence.
If you think you've been fooled – again – your probably right

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Voting and Stability
The common wisdom in a democracy, is that all of the members of society should exercise their right to vote. While this idea retains a certain charm about it, likely this principle is neither necessary, nor good for a stable society. Like many older philosophies, this one assumes that human behavior on mass is reasonable. In practice, the majority of people are either too self-consumed with trying to survive, or just generally not interested in the process, so long as it is working correctly. Voting, from members in a society, based around a sense of obligation but not from real knowledge and understanding of the issues, tends toward making the election nothing more than a shallow popularity contest. This puts no guarantees on the suitability of the candidate, the general political direction and in all likelihood skews the results towards voting in the lesser of the contestants.

In established democracies, this leads to many disappointing placements of politicians – a frequent result until the vast bulk of the society has been affected enough in order for them to get informed and make a better choice. In struggling economies, particularly where the education level is significantly less for the voting masses, the results are a significant increase in instability and corruption. Actors and sport stars may have noticeable charisma, and on occasion some may actually be great leaders, however they should only be voted into government with great care and knowledge of who they really are.

This is not an argument to limit the right to vote. Democracies depend on all people having the right to exercise their vote at any time – a principle that is important in making the citizens feel empowered to control their own destiny. This is an argument to suggest that a) low voter turn out isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and b) there should be less pressure placed on people to feel obligated to vote. If a lot of people skipped the elections, most of the time, that might actually help to produce a more stable governing body.

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Why the world isn’t sane and probably never will be…
People may know the truth, but they won’t necessarily accept it, and will rarely act on it. By now, we know how to fix most problems within our own government, company, world, etc. However, truthful correct ideas do not necessary percolate to the top. In fact, worse than that, the ideas that generally make it to the top are the negative ones that are more likely to be based on control, fear and selfishness than on the truth. The human tendency towards self-preservation dominates our lives and it also dominates our organizational arrangements. Those at the top would rather choose a solution that empowers them to maintain their position, than one that ends up fixing the problems or helping others.

Of course, when you think about it, the reasoning for it becomes obvious. If you are the CEO of a major company why would you deliberately choose an idea that would lead towards you loosing that job? You won’t, that would be crazy. Why would you choose an idea that would favor one of your henchlings with the ability to take over the company? Again, you wouldn’t, that would also be crazy. Depending on your confidence, the ideas that would most appeal to you are the ones that keep the status quo and thus protect your valuable position. What is true for the CEO is also true for all of the other managers all of the way down the chain. While at the top, your self-centered choices percolate down towards the masses and are the root cause for creating the environment in which all of the inefficiencies thrive and grow. A radical new idea to compress the management structure and make it more efficient for example could never get past those people in the company that would potentially lose their jobs because of it. Changing the direction of the company, as an idea is one that could only come in from outside pressure – internally most people would fear that type of shift immensely.

The same rules apply to any type of organization. If you are politician, does it make sense in the beginning of your career to embark upon a risky set of fiddling with the underlying structure or is it more reasonable to slap a few Band-Aids over the most visible wounds and than call it a major success. If you are a country do you really want those third world countries to be successful and then steal your mojo? The control structure protects itself, even if that enshrines its inefficiencies directly into the process.

We don’t fix things when there is no personal benefit to getting them fixed. Unless it has reached a crisis point, then there is no need to fix it. And if it has reached a crisis point, then it is too late to fix it properly. This is written in our DNA as human logic and in some way, shape or form it is the essence behind almost all human suffering. Our evolutionary roots bind us to the chaos and disorder that make up our daily existence. Perhaps the next evolutionary step will allow us to break free of our past limitations. For now, I’ll just try and ignore it…

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Another Rotation
Spin is making you look at one hand, while the other one gives away the farm. We tend towards believing what we want to, instead of what is true.

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Lost, Again
Those that distinguish between themselves and the little people often find that they are on the wrong side. We need to see ourselves at the center, even if we are well off the beaten track.

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Human-oriented Systems
Designing the perfect system for any human-based endeavor such as government is bound to failure. We are still tied to our evolutionary roots, but we tend towards designing systems based on our lofty ideas. As such, the realities of human nature bend towards ugly and messy systems that really work. Clean and simple ones may match our idealistic views, but they ignore the fact that we are not particularly evolved.

An easy example is communism. Such a lofty goal: to each according to his need – this fails spectacularly because it does not compensate those who work harder. As such, it not only doesn’t inspire, but it actively demotivates people. It is a system that cannot work, because people need to feel special, they need to compete with each other, and they need to see that they can win it all. Capitalism is an ugly system, one that seems mean and cruel, yet it works because it allows those few to succeed. It gives people a reason to wake up in the morning and push it as hard as they can. The leaders may not be the idea cream of society, but for most of them they put in the effort. Even after success, there is always someone itching to take their place – to remain on top they need to maintain their effort. That drives us forward.

Continuously in the media, you see examples of people putting very idealistic systems into effect and then being “shocked” when they fail. We have this blind spot to our own nature and the general unfairness in the world -- that causes us to naively believe that people will only operate using their good qualities. Nope. Bad qualities abound, and are often precisely the ones necessary for success. Try climbing your way up the corporate latter if you are consumed with any empathy for your fellow employees. You need the ability to execute ruthless, but effective career enhancing maneuvers. That is the only way to break out of middle management. We all have an inherent instinctual drive for self-preservation – for some that means acquiring more money or power.

Trusting or requiring that humans will act on their best behavior is an easy way to construct a system guaranteed to fail. Any reasonable design must account for our darker behaviors as well as our good qualities. A well-balanced system understands that good doesn’t necessarily persevere over evil and that unless the system itself embodies some degree of fairness, it is unlikely that the players will act that way on their own. The system needs to assume that people will cheat, and that checks and balances must be enforced, and that if possible the real problems will always be ignored. Until such time that we really evolve, any system we put into effect that we would like to see become successful must accept the reality of our true nature, not our idealistic one. Someday that may change, but not in my lifetime.

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Fame has a way of making others take note of your opinions. Wisdom doesn’t care who is famous.

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That Ship has Sailed...
The majority of humanity’s problems are fixable. The sad truth is that it will probably never happen for this species or even the next one because we are all too self-consumed.

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Market Forces
Free markets are not sustainable: ultimately, like power they will succumb to some form of corruption (oligopoly, monopoly. etc.). If you can’t admit this by now, its only because you don’t want to see it; history has already produced enough evidence.

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Jungle Fever
Only by seeing the forest, can the right path be found through the trees. If you are having trouble you may need to take one step back in order to move two steps forward.

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Crossing that Line
Mankind straddles the fence between human and animal -- individual judgment should be solely based on words, actions and influence. Any cause, no matter how noble, can never justify the primitive behavior we see from so many of the creatures in our world.

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The Spirit of the Season
Dangerous and recklessly impatient car drivers, probably on their way to visit friends they'd rather have ignored or to pick up last minute gifts or food. The sounds of agony at the mall as the crowds push and shove each other looking for some type of last minute shopping deal-of-the-century on more useless stuff. The grocery store jam-packed with shoppers grumpily loading up on copious quantities of fats and sweets they know they shouldn't eat but will anyways. Kids panicked and crying with fear that they won't receive that all important piece of plastic this year, the one that all of the other popular kids are getting. The smell of sweat and fear as the retailers play a dangerous game with their prices and their reputations, hoping to cash in on the greed, or at very least just survive until next year.

Tis the season for madness, greed, anger, recklessness, fear, hatred and most of all selfishness. Where we once started out with an entire season of giving, honesty and good behavior, most people now spend the weeks leading up to Christmas stressed out, depressed and annoyed. They over-spend and over-eat. The spirit of the season has become a ghoul from our darker side. We endure weeks of pain and anguish, so that we can celebrate a few fleeting moments were we delude ourselves that our reluctant gift-giving will somehow make up for all of the negative actions that we have bestowed upon the world to get to this point. And until its over, do we really even enjoy it? And once its over, do we not pack up all of our gifts and store them in the basement with the piles of other gifts from Christmases of the past? Why did we let this season slide into such a horrible state?

Funny enough, no gifts, kind words, patience and a few acts of charity are probably all it would take to restore some of the luster to the holidays. It once was about friends and family, food and conversations, good words and deeds, and it can be about these things again someday. We just need to let the selfishness go, and remember that its all about other people, not ourselves. It about any other people, including family, friends and most especially in the modern big cities, strangers. A simple act of politeness or kindness is not a hard gift to give, whether its appreciated or not. We are what we do.

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The Universe will never enforce our ideas for good and evil. We have two choices: we can abandon our decency and let the winners take the spoils, or we can rise above it -- choosing to be civilized, particularly when it is unnoticed, unappreciated or difficult.

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Tipping the Scales
The intangibles in business, such as reputation, morale or goodwill, can tip the balance between success and failure. We often see that arrogance and ignorance are very common reasons for leadership to underestimate what is really important for winning.

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Bio-organizational Science
A frequent problem comes from people setting up systems, processes, procedures, etc. for people, but basing the mechanics of the system on some underlying conceptual idea of a perfect human being. These systems fail because they are not constructed with respect to the reality of the underlying entities. This pattern repeats itself again and again in our societies, each time causing shock and frustration from watching the system collapse.

We need a new branch of science dedicated towards studying organizational issues for different lifeforms. A bio-organizational approach that models the effects of particular organizational systems with respect to a specific lifeform. For instance, communism failed miserably for human beings, but might work for a simpler form such as insects. Dogs have their own inherent logic -- different from ours, which is different from mathematical logic -- this effects their structures and how they work. Humans have a large number of imperfections, which are often ignored when people are constructing systems for us. We need a way to simulate how systems will react with respect to specific lifeforms before we put them into practice.

The base of bio-organization modeling might be to construct a model independently of the sub entities contained within it. It could consist of a set of defining rules and a set of parameters that represent lifeform attributes. When processed with respect to a specific species, does the system collapse due to internal issues, external ones or is it stable? What characteristics from a species cause a system to become unstable? How fast will this occur (is there even a real very of stable)? As the model is crunched through a series of iterations, does the output remain constant, decrees or increase.

Mathematically, I think the rules would be some set of equations. Maybe inequalities, but discrete calculus would be easier (linear programming would be fun, but possibly more than enough complexity). As more rules were added, the results of iterating them would increase relative the number of rules. Some type of projection function would bring the results down to a single floating point number. For example, two rules at the first iteration might evaluate to 200.0, while 8 rules would evaluate to 800.0. Each different group would consistent of a large number of individual parameters, mostly single numbers. Parameters would need to be objective, but there could be some leeway, for example, emotion might be a parameter. Insects would have 0 emotion, while people might normally have 8, and a mob of irate people might have 10. More parameters would be better, and they would need to be enough of them to at least separate out all of the known organisms, probably a lot more because they would need to account for different situations and different sized groups.

Iterating the rules, with respect to a parameter set would produce a consistent number for each round. If the number was decreasing, the system would be failing because of internal difficulties. If the number is increasing, external factors are a problem. For any interesting set, the expectation would be that the numbers would bounce all over, sometimes increasing and sometimes decreasing. For this type of system, taking a limit as the iterations tend towards infinity would resolve the final destiny. Knowing the speed of progression towards the limit would be interesting too.

With this type of modeling, we could look at organizational systems, such as bureaucracies, and determine which rules and processes were causing imbalances within the system. New legislation could be simulated before time was wasted implementing it. We could understand the side effects of adding new rules quickly and easily.

It is based on an inherent assumption that the underlying behavior of any specific group is essentially deterministic, but then it seems to me from my life experience and reading way too many newspapers that the underlying behavior of any specific group is quite predicable. Certainly, there are patterns that play over and over again, endlessly, without people seemingly learning any valuable lessons from them. We should study and exploit these repeating patterns.

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Accelerated Degeneration
We have entered a new low for humanity; a fully disposable age. Everything we are, own or desire has been engineered to fail -- why make it last when you can just throw it away and get a new one -- even our relationships, values and politicians are not spared.

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No Justification, Whatsoever
Good and evil are absolute concepts; they are the same for all people in all places of the world; they do not change depending on your side. Any reasonable case that words or action are evil bears truth irregardless of the underlying excuses -- nothing can mitigate an act of evil, and only more evil comes from trying justify it.

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My Best Friend
Faking sincerity has become a staple for marketing campaigns. All organizations are inherently selfish, they can't care about you; but it seems profitable to try and make you believe that they might.

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Accumulating Negative Karma
A set of rules only works if most people follow them. You may think you've accomplished something if you've bypassed those pesky obstacles, but you need to be careful that you aren't causing more harm than good.

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Our Rights
Governments exist to serve their populations. They act as the collective will of a group of people which have come together. They should only enforce rules that are deemed beneficial to the overall health of the society. We form groups for our own mutual benefit. Because we all benefit, the society has an inherent and undeniable obligation to look after its weakest members. As such, governments may try to protect us from clearly preventable problems, such as forcing us to buckle our seat belts when we drive around in a car. However, they do not hold any inherent right to treat us like helpless babies. If they curtail our freedoms as an individual, they must first prove that what they are doing is just and reasonable. The onus is on the government to prove that their rules will help us, not on us to prove that they do not. Without real proof, governments should never be allowed to arbitrarily restrict our rights or freedoms; that is too much power for any organization that can easily lean towards taking advantage of its own role. We know better than to allow that kind of abuse.

A judge in Ontario has upheld a ban on the specific collection of dog breeds commonly known as "Pit Bulls". In this ruling Justice Thea Herman says that there is a "reasonable apprehension of harm" despite the fact that there was "inconclusive" evidence of danger. She also says that "dog ownership is not a right". While she did restrict the definition of "Pit Bull", she essentially ruled in favor of allowing a government to "manufacture cause" to justify removing our personal freedoms; putting the burden of proof unfairly onto the citizens. The original law was not based on fact. It was a reaction to newspapers that more often subscribe dog bites to "Pit Bulls" than other breeds, because that term is popular and helps to sell papers. Poodle bites just aren't news.

In this case, proving that any one subset of a domesticated species is consistently more dangerous than the other member is impossible. Most dogs are essentially mixed breeds, and poorly documented as such. The type of data needed for a proof of this magnitude is not easily captured. Most dog bites are unreported and when they are reported the breed information is rarely correct. Without real data, no honest scientist could ever commit to saying that one "type" of dog is more likely to bite than any other type. Even if they managed to get a small set of accurate numbers for a specific city for a couple of years, extrapolating those numbers to the millions of dogs currently in existence would be exceptionally questionable. This type of prejudiced distinction between any member of the same species can never proven with proper scientific reasoning and thus it can never be a proven fact. As the judge noted, it is inconclusive now and always will be.

Inconclusive evidence isn't nearly enough to justify taking away our rights. We have inherent rights and freedoms, many that existed long before we came together collectively and formed governments. The right to own a dog is absolutely one of them. Certainly historians could easily prove that man's symbiotic relationship with dogs predates our current social obligations. I'm sure my ancestors would have objected to joining any society at the expense of their rights to keep dogs. It has been there throughout history. It is why dogs are domesticated animals. If there has never been sufficient cause to take away those rights then we clearly still have them, particularly given that they predates our society by thousands of years. To own a dog is an inherent right that no reasonable government can just arbitrarily revoke; even if its not explicitly in a charter. And particularly if they have nothing but hearsay to back up their position.

We all lose when we allow our governments to go beyond their purpose. They exist to serve our needs, not to capitalize on our fears. I certainly realize that sense of morale responsibility that some people acquire when in their positions of apparent power, but we can so easily lose sight of that thin line that separates those helping us from those abusing us. Governments looking to exploit popular opinion are under pressure to be proactive, but it is sad when they turn a blind eye to the real problems that need solving and instead scan the newspapers for quick and easy hot-button topics. Humanity has enough problems that we don't need to let our governments manufacture artificial ones for us.

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Average Anchor
Stability only comes from the middle class. We all benefit if the course set does not bend to the whims of those who think their views are superior to everyone else.

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Cause du Jour
Reasonably successful guilt at a low level is an exploitable commodity; giving back to society should be an unscripted act of generosity. We tolerate, and even turn a blind eye toward those that seek to diminish acts of good faith, by excessively enriching themselves from our weaknesses.

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Follow the Leader
Greed drives the economies of the world. We want to believe that our existence is somehow noble, yet faced with our own destructive and selfish nature we try to cloak our realizations in idealism.

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Quick Drop!
Congratulations humanity; we've sunk to a new all-time low, now that we've just celebrated a special day based on junk-food branding. Way to go.

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Sell Me Another...
Marketing increases with necessity. The more they try to convince you, the more skeptical you should become.

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Three Monkeys
Most people commit themselves fully to their believes. Blinders help to block out any potential disturbances, doubts, or facts that would otherwise force a reassessment of the underlying truths.

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Steering Problems
Control is the critical struggle, fought by our species. Those who have it, want to keep it, and those that don't want it, give it away too cheaply.

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Pushing the Envelope
The greatest problem faced by humanity is ... humanity. We have become so welded to our desires and beliefs that we cannot see the true effect of our presence.

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History Rules
Newspapers report humanity's continuous failure to learn from history. You see the same patterns repeat themselves over and over again in those articles; each time leaving the subjects oddly surprised about the outcome, as if they'd never read a newspaper before.

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Blue Screen of Frustration
If it wasn't for people, our technology might actually work. Our problems arise not from our ability to think up new innovative solutions, but from our ability to implement those solutions on any scale larger than trivial.

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Drive Me Crazy
Judging humanity based on the way we drive our cars -- most notably in a big city like Toronto -- results in a serious lack of faith in our species. So many people regress to their very worst behavior when they think that their actions are anonymous and won't be called into question; we should all find this very disappointing.

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After You
Never believe anyone who does not at least try to followed their own advice. We are easy prey for those whose stated intention is not their real intention, but make it sound convincing anyways.

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Favorite Sucker
Most companies offer some type of special customer reward program. Don't be deceived, they'll do something to help you, but only if it really helps themselves; we live in an age of duplicitous weasels.

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Can't or Won't Change
Bureaucracy is entirely self imposed. The only reason you have to follow those stupid rules is because you follow those stupid rules; so whose fault is it?

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Distribution Problem
Amassing too much power promotes abuse and is always bad for everyone. The state wields a lot of power over you, so do organized religions; combining these is way more than dangerous.

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Shifting Quicksand
We have become increasingly dependent on increasingly undependable software. You may have access to more information than ever before, but it is more likely to be incorrect.

BTW: I've moved my technical writings to a new blog: The Programmer's Paradox. It is directed towards software developers, but it might also be of interest to anyone who interacts with a computer frequently.

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Broken Intentions
Most problems -- if we focused on them -- could be fixed if that was really what people wanted. We do, however, prefer to wallow in the very depths, then to drag ourselves ashore.

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Lawsuit Lotteries
By allowing frivolous legal gambling you pay the ultimate price with your society: fear and instability. The protective mechanisms that get created, destroy the ability to get things done.

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Should I stay or should I go?
360 is ok, but if I move over to Blogger I can monitor my traffic and "monitize" my site (litter it with ads and whatnot). I get a steady flow of visitors here, but I'm not really sure who or why.

When you've got a moment: should I stay here or go to Blogger? What do you think?

Having trouble posting with 360? You can send me email at:

If you don't tell me, I am going to assume that your not real -- possibly just a spider or spam engine or something clicking on my page :-)

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Hanging Out
Ok, there doesn't seem to be much interest one way or the other as to where I hang my shingle. If that's the case I'd definitely prefer being able to monitor traffic. Blogger, AdSense and FeedBurner are great tools for blogging.

For now, if your looking for my next posts, you'll find them at: Irrational Focus

If you want to read any of my writings on Software Development try: The Programmer's Paradox

And, at some point I'll add my old posts in RANT as a PDF you can download in my Lulu store: Storefront

Still, if you've got a moment, a comment would be nice :-)

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