Asking Is Cheaper Than Spying

December 26, 2013

Edward Snowden released a Christmas statement for the world and I think his message is spot on — if the government wants to know how we feel, asking is always cheaper than spying.  Without privacy, we are not able to decide who we are or who we want to be.  It’s an essential component to a free society.


Topics: Politics | No Comments »

Merry Christmas

December 25, 2013

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year!

I didn’t even get you guys a gift.  Now I feel bad.  You know what?  I’ll give you the best gift of all — free physics lectures from Stanford!

Dr. Leonard Susskind is one of the leading theoretical physicists in the world and he wants to share that passion with the world.  In order to do so, he’s been working for years on a course set which he’s calling The Theoretical Minimum.  It’s a series of filmed lectures which are posted online, for free, along with books which you can get off of  The first book is already out, called The Theoretical Minimum: What You need To Start Doing Physics.  The next book:  Quantum Mechanics: The Theoretical Minimum comes out in February 2014.   I’m assuming more books are one the way, eventually leading to a nice self-study course from basic physics up to the leading edges of human knowledge.

In the books’ self description, the authors focus around the difficult philosophical ideas which most textbooks shy away from.  That’s right up my alley!

You can find all the courses in iTunes U (under Stanford), on Stanford’s Youtube page, or from this website link.

The courses are as follows:  Classical Mechanics, Quantum Mechanics, Advanced Quantum Mechanics, Special Relativity, General Relativity, Cosmology, Statistical Mechanics, Quantum Entanglement [3 courses], Basic Particle Physics, and The Standard Model.

I shouldn’t leave you all with the impression that this series covers all of physics.  There’s not much classical E&M there, no thermodynamics, or no plasma physics, to name a few.  No optics.  No computational physics.  He only really covers a small subset of mechanics, but eh.  It’s a welcome set of courses to add online.

There are many other courses which have been coming online in recent years.  Dr. Lewin of MIT offers a wonderful E&M course on MIT Opencourseware, so I’d recommend that.  They also offer a basic mechanics course, if I remember right.  The Khan Academy offers a basic physics course, but if you ask me, it’s way too basic.  They need to put a lot more work into it.  Khan Academy excels in mathematics, up to maybe an undergraduate engineer level.  They cover basic math up to calculus, differential qquations, and linear algebra.  Beyond that, I don’t know of any good online courses.  At my university for example, we have courses like Theoretical Physics and Mathematical Physics, which keep going, teaching us more advanced mathematics, like partial differential equations, tensors, complex variable analysis, among other things.  I don’t know of any website which has that online yet.  To my knowledge there isn’t any particle physics or quantum field theory lectures online either.  I see little scattered videos here and there on Youtube, but nothing that goes very deep.

I love the internet.   Finally, lectures on advanced physics and quantum field theory are making their way online!  My university doesn’t offer many courses on cosmology, general relativity, or particle physics.  We mainly focus around solid state physics, so having access to these materials means a lot to me.  It’s nice having someone to ease you into all of it.

The courses themselves are self-contained (he tried to make them that way at least), but if you’re going to study the material, you’re best watching the lectures in the order I listed them.  Enjoy!

I’ve been watching them myself, and I really enjoy how knowledgeable Dr. Susskind is.  He’s not caught up in the detailed mathematics, just chugging along.  He focuses on the central ideas, starting really simple and working his way to more complex examples.  Then he expects you to pursue the subject further on your own if you’re deeply interested in it all.  As he said, the purpose of the course is to give you the theoretical minimum.   They are Do-It-Yourself physics courses.  Learn at your own pace.  It’s awesome stuff.


Topics: Physics | 3 Comments »

The Robots Are Coming

December 24, 2013

A new age is quickly approaching us.  I think it’s the central problem of my generation — what are we to think of these robots and computer AI systems which are increasingly able to do tasks which only people could do just a short while ago?

They’re driving cars, climbing ladders, removing debris, opening doors, automating entire warehouses, running check out counters, delivering packages on helicopter drones, and the list goes on.  What’s next?  This is a video from SCHAFT Robotics, which was recently bought out by Google.

AI is only going to get better.  Computers are going to get faster.  Robots are going to get smarter.   They will eventually become smarter and more skilled than humans, the only question is when.

When I’m old, I expect that it will be commonplace to be driving down the road and see a construction site with robots like these building homes, apartment buildings, and shopping malls.  You’ll visit factories and there won’t be anyone inside — just robots.  Restaurants will no longer have waiters or cooks.  Robots will run the entire establishment.

Will it happen in thirty years?  Fifty years?  A hundred years?  Hard to say, but in the large picture, it’s flying toward us at high speed and we need to rethink everything.

We can finally enter an age where our machines free us from all drudgery and boring labor, leaving us for creative, fun endeavors, but it will require us to rethink the economy, money, and work.


Topics: Philosophy, Politics | No Comments »

Hypersensitive Culture

December 20, 2013

Did any of you hear about Duck Dynasty’s star being taken off the air for anti-gay and racist comments?  Maybe you’ve never heard of Duck Dynasty?  I hadn’t heard of it either, but then again, I don’t really watch TV.

I looked into it a little and it seems to be a sort of comedy reality show for rural audiences.  It’s about a group of self-described rednecks, with funny beards, who play pranks on one another, hunt and fish in the woods, and that sort of thing.  It’s the most popular show in the U.S. garnering something like 12 million viewers each time it airs.


LGBT activist groups have been pressuring A&E to take them off the air.  The network execs at A&E should just ignore any external pressure and allow Duck Dynasty to go on unhindered.

Conservatives have rightly been arguing that they can’t even express their views any longer without the thought police coming in to shut them down.  In this case, I do agree with them, they are being persecuted.  You can look at the Duck Dynasty cast and guess what sort of beliefs they’d hold.  The show’s star used to be a hippy but then tried to find God and became a Christian.  When he makes his remarks toward gays, it’s religion talking.

I wish fundamentalist Christianity wasn’t so harsh toward gays, but it is what it is.  How can we say we live in a society with freedom of religion and freedom of opinion when you get fired just for stating your beliefs?  Stupid beliefs, yes.  But should a person be fired for stating a religious belief held by most people in the country?  No, especially if it’s unrelated to the job.

People say this isn’t a free speech issue because A&E isn’t the government.  A&E is a private network and can do what it wants. That’s a good point, and I agree.  But let’s just dissolve all the fictional entities like the government or the corporations, and just think of us as people living together in a society.  We’re all neighbors, families, and communities wired together through electronic boxes which can share television shows.  We share the transmission lines because it’s convenient to do so.  From that vantage point, what I see is a group of people making a huge fuss because they disagree with the viewpoints of one of the actors, viewpoints might I add that aren’t even expressed in the show itself.

We have two groups of people who dislike each other, one a minority group of protesters, roughly 500,000 strong, who have been directly or indirectly insulted, and the other, roughly twelve million Duck Dynasty fans.  The minority group is trying to convince us to take the show off the air because they don’t like the actors or the way they see things.

For the moment I’ll put on my judge’s robe and assess this situation and try to be as fair as I can.  First, some considerations.  We all know the protesters do not watch the program to begin with.  It’s not their kind of show.  To top it off, nobody’s being forced to watch anything.  It’s not hard to avoid either – you just change the channel.  There’s no violence.  Nobody’s rights are being deprived.  Judge Summers rules there’s not a problem, case closed.

Wouldn’t it be nice if I ran the world?  :)  I’d run things differently, I tell you!  *stands on podium*  Vote for me!

I wish our institutions were more democratic and we could solve these issues in a more thoughtful way.  It’d be nice to have a vote to settle this.  If that were to happen, twelve-million would vote to keep it on the air while probably five-hundred thousand would vote the other way, and Duck Dynasty would stay on the air.   Then we could all go our separate ways, and I think the outcome would be fair.  That’s not how the world works though.  With our legal system and method of ownership by corporations, this is all in the hands of A&E’s owners, who can do whatever they please.  Everything gets distorted.

This got to wondering if these LGBT groups protest TBN and Pat Robertson, because they speak against homosexuality.  It didn’t take me long realize that that wouldn’t have any impact.  In their case, the owners would tell the LGBT protesters to buzz off and would continue to air their programming.  But going back to our ideal world, if there was a vote for the Christian shows as well, I’d vote to keep them on TV.  Who knows, maybe one afternoon I’ll be interested in hearing what they have to say and I’ll turn to their channel.  Also, there’s a lot of Christians out there, and I am not one to tell them what to say, do, or think.  If I started hearing hate and nonsense, I’d just change the channel.  It’s not a big deal.

How I see it, GQ Magazine interviewed the star and asked his personal views on things.  Do we want to hear his ideas or not?  What is the message of our new hypersensitive age? Say what we want you to say or we’ll take everything from you?  I don’t like that at all. 

It’s worth flipping the situation as well.  I could see David Attenborough’s nature programs coming on the air and people in the south getting angry because he talks about evolution and how the different species evolved.  In some cases conservative groups have went into an uproar, but his shows are still on the air.  Nobody has been fired.  Why are the programs we like special?  A free society allows free discourse and a free flow of ideas.  Good ideas and bad ideas.  Good shows, bad shows.  Whatever people want to view, they should be able to view, as long as they’re not infringing on the rights of others.

When you don’t like things people are saying, you don’t silence them.  That just fuels a persecution complex and doesn’t fix the problem.  A lot of people in the south and in rural areas feel very strongly that the Bible condemns homosexuality as a sin.  Something like 80% of Americans consider themselves Christian, and there’s a very large portion of them who think homosexuals are bound for hell.  They’re still there, even if you try to take away their favorite TV shows just because you don’t like the actors.  They’re not going away, and in a free society, they’re free to have their beliefs too.

Voltaire once said, “I do not agree with what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”  That describes my sentiments toward all of this.  I don’t agree with his position at all, and I hate to see how gays are treated.  I support all gay rights.  I’m not a religious man, but I believe in freedom.  Freedom protects the people you don’t like.  The people you don’t agree with.  The opinions you don’t share.

This doesn’t just apply to television.  I hate seeing Youtube videos taken down because they’re accused of “hate” speech.  One Youtuber was speaking out pretty harshly against religion and a bunch of Muslims came in and flagged it as hate and the video was taken down.  The Youtuber’s account was temporarily suspended and he had to fight to get it back.

Youtube was initially supposed to be a place where people could get out their webcams and have discussions with one another.  Any time serious discourse takes place, things get heated.  That’s the point of it all.  But if we continue down this road we’re on, all that’s going to be left to view is random stupidity and girls putting on make-up.  Everyone will be afraid to express a serious opinion because if they do, they could lose their job.

Sometimes I feel I’ve limited some of my own job prospects because I’m so vocal and open with my opinions here on this blog.  But I know that people have to do what I do.  Somebody has to take the risk and let the discussion take place.  That’s how ideas develop.  That’s how we grow as human beings.

Ideally, it’s all about having respectful discussions with your adversaries.  You leave comments on their websites and forums, and try to get them to think about other ideas.  And though few realize this, the most effective tactic is to love your enemy.  You speak honestly and kindly to them, trying to teach them why you disagree with them.  But if you attack them with hatred, they will only dig deeper in their shell and hate you even more.

I’ve seen feminists on Youtube shutting down comments because of the flood of hate that comes in.  I don’t know if I blame them sometimes.  Mobs gang up on these women, just tearing them down personally, rarely even addressing the concerns in the video.

Women go through a lot if they post content on Youtube.  They make all sorts of serious points to think about and consider, and all the mostly male audience leaves in the comments is, “No tits, GTFO.”   Then you see really attractive women, making innane, thoughtless content, and they’re love-bombed.  “You’re so talented.  You’re so beautiful!”

Even attractive women can’t easily share things with the world.  I’ve been learning more about cooking lately, and a while back I was searching for recipes on Youtube and found a clip with a beautiful celebrity showing one of her favorite salad recipes.  She’s a gorgeous woman and I can’t say I didn’t notice, but I was disappointed by the comments.  Guys were talking about masturbating to the video, what they’d do to her if they had the chance, and on and on.  I just thought, “Geez.  Calm down guys.”

Atheists run into similar problems.  They make serious videos addressing religious belief and they get floods of hate mail.  And if the comments aren’t downright hateful, they’re more often than not filled with passive aggressive undertones.  It goes the other way too.  Religious people are attacked for sharing their ideas.  By attack, I don’t mean argument wise.  They’re just assaulted as a person.  They’re called called fat, ugly, bald, or whatever.  Their clothes are made fun of.  They insult the person’s voice if it’s too high pitched, or low pitched.  They attack the video quality.  Just whatever.

I respect those with thick skin, who just deal with it, though I don’t blame those can’t take the heat.  As my blog has gotten more popular, sometimes I feel this inner pressure not to post some of my thoughts on things.  Some of my posts have tens of thousands of hits over the course of a year.  You reach a point where you don’t want to share your inner feelings.  You want to be more objective and write about impersonal subjects.  Sharing your intimate feelings and then being attacked mercilessly is terrifying.

Some of you can’t imagine what it’s like to be attacked by a legion of people for sharing your views on things.  Imagine putting your heart and soul into a speech, getting on stage in front of ten thousand people, and then they erupt, start throwing things at you, boo’ing, drowning out your voice.   I see Youtubers who make their videos and practically have to run for cover to avoid the maelstrom of hate.

There’s a wide range of issues which are difficult to discuss objectively.  Take whether or not there’s any differences, on average, between men and women.  Are there real differences in how we think, our emotions, and so on.  Many of us guys wonder why we go to graduate school in theoretical physics and there’s no women around.  Every class we take, all men.  No women.  Is that the case all over?  Who knows, but we’re all too scared to ask.  Who wants to be accused of being sexist?

If you share thoughts of loneliness or emotional vulnerability, lots of people roll their eyes and think you’re weak.  You’re just after attention!  You’re feeling down and out, reaching for people who may identify with your feelings, and instead this black cloud of hate comes your way.  

If you have thoughts that there may be more to a human being than just our physical bodies, your secular audience rolls their eyes and thinks you’re leaning on an imaginary crutch because you fear death.   Your religious audience doesn’t like it either, because you don’t agree with their sacred views.  They more often than not just pity you.  You haven’t found the “truth”, and oh how miserable you must be without their God!  

If you advocate fiscally conservative ideas, your progressive audience thinks you’re a heartless bastard.  If you argue for a stronger social safety net, libertarians say you have no principles.  You offend half of your audience no matter what political position you take.

If you want to end the drug war, you must be a dead beat addict of some sort.  If you question the American Dream, half of your audience thinks you’re just lazy and have given up on life.  Or they’ll label you a communist.  You’re just scared to step up and compete.  If you worry about the environment, you’re a tree hugging, socialist, liberal.  Save the whales, save those snails!  Some will even accuse you of hating humanity.

If you lament some of the stupidities in human love, people think you’re just pitiful and must either be ugly, fat, or in some way unlovable.  And what’s worse than being fat?  If you share concerns that it’s important to exercise and eat right, your overweight audience thinks you’re targeting them, and they think you’re shallow.  You haven’t learned how to love yourself, regardless of your body type.  And if you’re a guy who tells women they’re beautiful, even if they have extra weight on them, other men look at you suspecting you’re just trying to get in good with the pretty girls.  You don’t really believe that!  You just can’t win.

If you question what the government is saying, you may be lumped in with conspiracy theorists and often discredited.  When I posted about the NSA, before it really blew up, people sent me hateful messages, saying I was a conspiracy nut, and on and on.

If you come against failures in our school system, or think we’re spending too much money on it all, you’re accused of not valuing education.  If you share feelings you’ve had of oneness with everything, and possibly even spiritual experiences, people think you’re psychotic and crazy.  In my case, I’m often attacked that I only have some of the views I do because I grew up in such a religious home.

And God forbid you have an ill-informed view on something.  You’ll get floods of hate, more than you would otherwise.  How could you be so stupid!  Oftentimes you blog to flesh out your ideas, but once you get a bigger audience, you can’t really do that any longer.  You write one stupid thing and it’s on the internet forever.  People are unforgiving.  They’ll make it into memes and plaster your face on it, then broadcast it all over Facebook, Tumblr, and the web.  Who wants to be the face of an ignorant viewpoint?  You’re better off not sharing your ideas at all.

A hateful world is also a world where you can’t develop your ideas.  Only love fosters growth.  To give people freedom to think and grow is a form of love.  Hate destroys free thought.  Everyone’s too scared to think and discuss things.  Who wants to end up alienated from everyone around you?  Sadly, in this sort of world, the people most willing to share their inner-most thoughts are those who already feel alienated to begin with.   Is it any wonder that the most vocal are those spewing hate themselves?  Everyone else becomes “fake”, and we all question what we all really believe.


Topics: Politics | 3 Comments »

My Weird Daydreams

December 17, 2013

Do any of you daydream when you lie in bed in the morning, just before you get up to start the day?  I do, more than I’d like to admit.

Some say that thought is what causes the vast majority of misery we humans experience.  It disconnects us from “now”, and we instead find ourselves thinking about our past, we’re troubled by our future, we entertain grudges, and we sit there lost in a thought sea of anger, depression, and frustration.

I struggle with that a lot.  I think about our mortality, how our loved ones will die, the problems in the world, and all those sorts of things.  It doesn’t help that media outlets bring us ultra-condensed negativity, 24-7, filling our minds with rapes, murders, and war.  They find the worst of the worst, and bring it to us right on our doorsteps.  And we feel guilty if we ignore it because after all, we live in a democracy where we have to be informed citizens.

However, thought isn’t always like that.  If properly channeled, it allows you to explore depths far beyond common experience.  It’s an unlimited playground which grows as you learn more about the world.  The more knowledge you have, the more objects and settings you have to mess around with in your private world.  I think at its deepest levels, thought is a crude reality navigation mechanism.  You can imagine, traverse, and explore different possibilities.

I’ve spent many mornings lying in bed, waiting for the sun to come up, thinking about what I’d do if I were given great power.  I’m not talking about human-power.  I’m referring more to a God-like power to totally transform reality.  What would I do with power like that?

In the beginning, I would sit around wondering how I could ever acquire power like that.  As I studied the mind and a lot of science, I began to see one possibility, though it’s a fantasy.  It might not be in the distant future, but that’s another matter.  I imagined being relocated to a secret government lab where we’re building quantum computers.  Some of the staff there tell me that we’re working on a special type of computer which is capable of thought.  Since it’s made of different materials than the brain, it’s capable of thinking millions of times faster than a flesh and blood brain.  The eventual goal is to construct brain-computer interfaces and hook selected people into this super-mind to give them super-human intelligence.

I’m selected to be the first person use this technology, so I undergo surgery and I’m directly interfaced into this super computer which is stored deep underground, in this secret lab.  I wake up, and while I still have human-like emotions and desires, things are incredibly easy to understand.  I digitally connect to all the scientific research networks and read every scientific paper and text that’s out there, all within a minute or so.

I soon realize that the other scientists are wary of me, fearing what I may do with this power, so I know I’m going to have to escape.  For a short time I play around, acting as if none of it worked, but eventually I engineer a brilliant escape and shoot myself off into space so they cannot get to me.  I fly off to Mars, and within a short time become a techno-super-being.  A nerd becomes a god.

Can you imagine that?  Aliens are exploring the cosmos looking for new life-forms and they find me, an ape-creature wired into a giant quantum-super computer, drifting out in space.

Being the ambitious sort that I am, I soon construct vast numbers of probes and space-craft to send out into the cosmos, exploring the universe.  I learn all of the universe’s secrets, all about other life-forms, and catalog and chart all the vast numbers of worlds.  To store all this knowledge, I transform entire planets into computers which would store all the information I have learned.  Schematics and knowledge of everything you could possibly imagine.  Even things that have never existed, but could, if the need ever arose.

I construct tiny nano-robots which can take matter and transform it into any new form you ask.  If I desire something to happen, I’d think the thought, those thoughts are broadcasted to the giant computers the size of entire planets, and they compute what needs to happen in order to make that thought or desire into a reality.  Then vast colonies of nano-robots would go into action and “do” whatever needs to happen.

My physical body and brain are locked away in this protected vault, deep within the core of a distant planet.  Nobody will ever find me.  I’m digitally wired into this vast network of technology and can explore whatever I want without fear of death.  I imagine at that point I’d have learned the nature of consciousness and wouldn’t need my physical body or brain any longer.  My essence would somehow exist in the information processing of all this technology I’ve constructed.  But how that would work exactly, I don’t know.  Anyways, it’s all just a thought experiment.

So now that I’m practically immortal and have transcendent powers, what would I do with them?  I’ve pondered this problem for years, and when I really sit and think about it all, I always come to the same answer — I’d use it to make my friends and family members happy.

I’ll give you one example of the types of things I’d do.  A friend of mine used to always tell me how boring she thought the world is.  To her, life is mostly suffering and misery, and then you die.  We get stuck in jobs we hate, love doesn’t last, and everything that matters to us will be taken away eventually.  She’s always struggled to find happiness.

For her, I’d secretly come back to Earth one night while she’s asleep, and when she awoke, she’d have this strange feeling that she’s actually in a dream.  Of course, she wouldn’t be, but she would just have this inner feeling that something has changed.  It’d start off simple, but little things would start going her way and she’d quietly think, “This is nice.”  Life would be pretty normal, but just slowly getting better.

I’d construct friends for her, built from the dirt, sort of puppets of mine, which would grow to be her lover and a network of friends who will eventually bombard her with love and tie her into an amazing story of some sort.  Each night when she’d go to bed, she’d feel like she was falling deeper into this weird dream.  She’d come to think she was immersed in a lucid dream.

An incredibly handsome, kind, romantic man would come into her life and she’d be so happy.  Good fortune would come her way and she’d have the resources and wealth to do the things she wanted to do.  No more boring jobs.  She’d enjoy that for a while, but then it’d get deeper and deeper.

As she came to trust that things would always work out for her, no matter what happened, I’d up the intensity of the experiences. For example, she’d be on a cruise and they’d hit an ice-berg like in the Titanic.  They’d be sinking and then her husband would go to great lengths to save her, and this romantic story would play out.  She would suffer, a little, but never in any extreme way.  Things would scare and excite her, and it’d never be boring, but somehow it all would always work out in the end.  Nothing too tragic would ever happen.


There would be no limits to how deep all of this went.  She’d go to sleep again and again and again, and each time she’d feel like she was deeper in this lucid fantasy, and that would give me “permission” to shower her with ever more exotic fantasies and adventures.

As time went on, she’d totally forget about her past life on Earth, and she’d be living as a beautiful princess in a splendid castle, surrounded by people who love and adore her.  Gold streets, diamonds, and everything would glimmer and shine.  Flowers would be everywhere.  Cute animals.  Everything is warm and fun.  And of course, there’d be adventures of every sort.

If she ever seemed to be growing tired of one fantasy, or longing for something else, when she’d go to sleep, it would all be transformed to something else as she awoke.  To her it’d feel like she was in dreams within dreams within dreams, and she’d have no idea what was or wasn’t real.  All she would know is she loved it and never wanted to wake up.  And if she started to miss her old friends in one of the previous fantasies, she’d go to sleep and wake up in that world again.

Considering things might get scary at times, I’d give her some recurring “symbol” that would let her know she’s dreaming and it’s always going to be ok.  Some sort of logo.  Like when the ship hit the ice-berg, she’d look at her pillow in her cabin and it’d have that logo embroidered into it.  It’d always appear when things got intense.  Like when she saw the water pouring in and the ship sinking, a crew member would appear wearing a hat and it’d have the logo on it.  They’d be guides who would always help her out of tricky situations.  I would want the logo to be really cool looking.  Maybe something like this.

black horse logo

I’d do all sorts of things like that for friends and loved ones.

I also wondered if I’d ever abuse that power.  I couldn’t imagine myself wanting to hurt anyone.  There are some who I wouldn’t mind teaching a lesson, but I worried that would lead me down a slippery slope.  Like a rich politician for example.  If he votes to cut all funding for the homeless, I might have a special “dream” prepared for him as well.  When he went to sleep that night he’d wake up as a homeless man.  He stumbles around town, nobody helping or hiring him.  He’s cold and starving and the other homeless people sleeping in cardboard boxes tell him, “There used to be a government soup kitchen, but Governor Smith shut it down.”  Then he’d fall into the snow, tired, wanting to die, and then he’d wake up in his bed.  If he didn’t get the message, he’d keep having dreams like that until he did.

Then again, you may all ask me, “If you had that sort of power, why don’t you just fix all the problems in the world?”  When I sat and thought about that, I concluded that I wouldn’t want to fix everything.  We still face some problems, such as incurable diseases like cancer, but we’ve mostly tamed mother nature.  Our main problems are getting along with one another.  We can’t control ourselves.

Nobody should be hungry, homeless, or without access to their needs in our modern world.  We just can’t figure out a good way to organize ourselves effectively.  That, and we have problems with greed, stupidity, and selfishness.  Those are the real problems.  Should a powerful being come down and spoil us all, making us all into brats?

Have any of you met a spoiled rich kid before?  I have.  I can’t stand them.  When everything is handed to you, it has nasty psychological effects.  Then again too much suffering can be just as bad.

I once saw a sci-fi movie, I can’t remember the name now, but in it a civilization developed advanced technology and robots which did everything and the humans became worthless creatures who had no depth at all.  They just ate, had sex, and did next to nothing with themselves.  No pursuit of knowledge.  No art or culture.  No growth.  They were worthless beings.

If I artificially propped up the humans, they would never stand on their own.  I don’t think that’s right.  I’d feel like I was robbing them of their potential.  I don’t know if I hold happiness as the highest virtue, though I’m still undecided.

I could immerse everyone in fantasies like I did with that girl, but that troubles me.  Why? I don’t have a great answer to that.  In life, sometimes we just love people.  We love our family and friends, and we don’t make logical decisions when it comes to them.  Giving her those fantasies may not even be what’s best for her.  I don’t know.  Any decision I make toward her would be highly emotional, and her happiness is very important to me.  It just is.  It isn’t right that I favor her over others, but I love my friends and family more than people I don’t know.  I’ll admit that.  That’s one reason I probably shouldn’t have powers like this.

If I had that kind of power, and someone criticized me for abusing it with that girl, I worry what I might do in my petty rage.  Who are you, little human, to question my Platonic romance?  I’d probably immerse him in the same dreams as her, and he’d fall madly in love with her, over and over, but I’d always frustrate his attempts to get with her.  “Oh? You could make her happier than I can?  I doubt it, but I’ll let you try.”  He’d always end up as a butler or something, shining shoes, in the friend zone.  Poor guy, that’d be a fate worse than death, but I wonder how cruel I could be if people messed with those I care about.

He visits his psychoanalyst and tells him, “I have dreams within dreams within dreams of this same goddess, each within a different story, and each time I fall madly in love with her, only to end in the friend zone, bested by some amazing, charming, beautiful man who comes out of nowhere.  Doctor, what does it all mean?”

prince princess

Then he’s teleported to this giant glowing hall, where I sit on a flying throne blazing in black flames, behind me a giant computer with that horse logo on it,  and I tell him in a roaring, booming voice, “Your only mistake was making me your adversary.  The girl’s mine.  I win.  She’s chosen me every single time.  No hard feelings.”  Then he wakes up in his bed on Earth, a bit nervous and frustrated, but ultimately unharmed.

Why do I sit and think about these silly things?  The other day I mentioned art and purpose.  I talked about finding the ultimate basis to why you do what you do.  When I deeply analyze myself, I don’t want power, I want happiness for myself, my friends and loved ones.  Like anyone else, I wonder how to make that happen.


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