The Blog – Anonymous

No man deserves to be punished for his thoughts

Transitioning to the Times

Today, I had the joy of being in an unusually long weekend four days in length. Usually, I’d begin such weekends as a couch potato, proceed through it as a couch potato, and end it as a mad crammer. Instead, I began it by making a short walk to my grandma’s house. This short visit meant more than just afternoon tea, however, as I went there to begin a series of Facebook tutorials for her. Four hours of button mashing later, she typed her first Facebook status at the age of 76. Despite having no vintage, that event has shot up to become one of the proudest moments of my life.

However, let us not focus on how that event gave me immense joy. Let us focus on my pupil, my grandma. She is defying the years to learn Facebook, the means of communication today. The old dog’s willingness to learn new tricks might be down to her natural intelligence, but it’s much more than that. She is perfectly blending in with the 21st century by transitioning herself to the changes of the times.

Let’s take a closer look and put ourselves into her shoes. At seventy-six, people normally begin a sad rot towards depression, ignorance, poor health and senility. My other grandmothers are a testament to this sad reality. One is struggling to remember names, the other battling depression and only meeting her children when she needs hospital care, and another recently passing away due to ill health. (Bless her soul) They are all of almost similar age, yet they let themselves be idle and lonely for so many years, and resign themselves to the fact that they are old and simply cannot do what they used to do.

The grandmother I just visited, however, realized the need to combat the ever-changing circumstances. She realizes that being left idle and lonely could be the most fatal decision one could ever make. She realizes that resignation to your age would be like resignation to your inevitable passing. Thus, she refuses to let age get to her. She requests us, her family, to take her whenever we do trips to the beach. She continues to be an active member for her church choir, to give herself just the right amount of work. She continues to commute to the supermarket on a tricycle like any teenager would do. She faithfully goes to the doctor every month to keep her health in check. She spends her idle time answering crossword puzzles and Sudoku to keep her mind ticking. Finally, like a figurative cherry on the cake, she became a student of modern communication to keep in touch with the young members of the family like me. At 76, she is the only lady of her age that I know who maintains a cellular phone, a Facebook account, and a FaceTime account. It really feels as if she was just one of her daughters, commenting and liking funny memes at will.

My time with my grandmother last weekend was a lesson for both of us. While she learned Facebook, I left her home with a valuable lesson that I should keep in heart as I transition towards adulthood. Never be idle, and always transition yourself to the changing world. You’d live up to a hundred with that mindset, and I confidently believe my grandmother would certainly reach 100.

Tradition

Yesterday, a friend of mine mentioned a curious statement. He said, “Culture is a shackle that allows useless or harmful traditions to be kept and which prevents progress and change from being realized.” One will probably find this proclamation a little bit too cynical for one’s liking, but I’d like to dissect it and deconstruct it. I think he’s onto something here.

Let’s first try to see where my friend is coming from. When I asked him why he thinks that way, he mentioned currently popular issues such as the RH Law, the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF or more informally, the pork barrel) and the acceptance of gay marriage and the LGBT community. All of these are considered issues because there seems to be a polar division with regards to the stands – meaning, there is a strong enough opposition to match the supporting side. And where is the opposition coming from? In the case of the RH Law, the opposition is primarily the Catholic Church which opposes the idea of artificial contraception based on the belief that the sanctity of our sexuality must be preserved. For the PDAF, it is the lawmakers and the politicians who claim that they are free from the taint of corruption when handling public funds. Finally, regarding gay marriage and the LGBT community, it is the Catholic Church and other conservative groups that have argued that it is unnatural to have people of the same sex be partnered with each other.

Other issues root themselves in the prevalence of tradition. For example, the issue of the national language – which one should be given priority, English or Filipino? Where should the nation’s capital be – Manila or in a more southern location such as Cebu? Should our country engage in national industrialization (and thus, start creating our own machines and equipment) or should we stick to our method of importing goods and capital from other countries?

One can also see issues in a more mundane setting. For instance, should the school uniform be kept or be replaced with a lighter, more comfortable one? Should a batch project like high school prom be continued for the sake of tradition or should a more socially relevant project replace it? In the workplace, should a process be kept because that’s how it has always been, or should employees find ways to make it more efficient and suitable to the present needs?

It now becomes clear to see that the prevalence of tradition within cultures has a lot of pitfalls. Tradition or stagnancy is viewed as a polar opposite to progress or improvement. One can engage in a thought experiment and ask oneself what our country would look like if we had only enacted a reproductive health law and sin tax law decades ago. Would we have had a healthier and more manageable population with more empowered women? Or consider the possibility of a nation with little or no discrimination or bias against the LGBT community. Would we have had a happier, more tolerating and peaceful, not to mention, more self-actualized citizenry by now?

Now we ask ourselves, why does tradition persist? It seems that tradition thrives because people who are in power (or at least, people who are in the position to perpetuate the culture) choose to abide by the adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Ergo, if it’s working, then why bother changing it? Supporters of the current culture also bank on the fact that they have the numbers. Normally, traditions persist because there is a base of powerful or numerous people from which it draws its support. Take for example the persistence of the PDAF: its supporters consist of powerful politicians who are in privileged positions. Or consider how the Catholic Church asserts itself by calling on thousands of believers to fight the opposition. Lastly, traditions are also kept because it is convenient or easy to do so. The system is already in place, so why exert painstaking effort to reform it? Why bother having to think of an innovative and socially relevant school project which would replace high school prom? Not only is the prom highly anticipated by students, the template for its preparations have been handed down from generation to generation of student council members. Breaking the mold is surely a lot more difficult and will readily be met with opposition because of these reasons.

Does the reader see the flaws in this manner of thinking? Put simply, it breeds close-mindedness. It renders actors of innovation impotent because the majority will oppose whatever appears new and unfamiliar or unpopular. Thus, there is a very real danger of stagnation: since nobody or only few are willing to challenge the status quo, the system will always tend to perpetuate itself. And as systems or traditions persist, time flies and generations go by, people start forgetting why the tradition was started in the first place. The objectives are disregarded and people begin to follow blindly and often, foolishly. Unfortunately, when somebody starts questioning and snooping around, he or she is often harshly and quickly silenced by the majority.

So is there any argument that is valid enough to allow for the perpetuation of a tradition within a culture? Well, it may not seem extraordinary, but traditions can be meaningful or enjoyable. Grand cathedrals were built to embody the staunch devotion of the laity to the divine. Colorful festivals are held to commemorate the founding of a community and to celebrate one’s affiliation with one’s family and friends. Gifts are given to show adoration and appreciation. And anniversaries are remembered to keep one’s memory afresh with the joy or sorrow of the event that has passed.

Opponents of traditions within cultures argue that ultimately, this is not a valid rationale for the perpetuation of the system.

To me, at least, the familiar ground of ages past is what makes living in a dynamic world feel safer and more fun.

A City Fueled by Greed

Just a few days ago, I found myself watching Top Gear illegally in a certain website that loves the color red. It was a special episode, with the presenters heading over to war-torn Middle East to “recreate” the journey of the three kings using secondhand sports cars. Despite being hampered by the inadequacy of their vehicles on desert terrain and the political (and real) minefields across the region, the Top Gear team nonetheless arrived at Bethlehem to reenact the nativity scene.

Although it was undoubtedly a good watch, it was the comments that struck me more than any of the realities shown in the film. “FUCK ISRAEL!” was a comment tied to so many different Muslim names, and it was an almighty, orchestrated chorus. It seemed as if they wanted to load up every page with that message. The presenters in the show had so many issues in crossing borders due to the political problems, and it is no doubt that Israel was the obvious target for most people.

Despite the hostile reception afforded to the Holy Land of the Abrahamic religions, another comment by a Muslim stood out, for contrasting reasons. Inserting the time of the scene where Jeremy Clarkson was overlooking the old city from the Mount of Olives, the comment read as follows:

“As an Arab, I long for the day wherein anyone – Muslim, Christian, Jew, Atheist or whoever – can go on top of the Mount of Olives and look at the Holy City in an independent Jerusalem that accepts any pilgrim regardless of race and religion.”

Stunning words from someone I wouldn’t expect it from. As a Christian, I had lived in a world of bias and bigotry, and the image of the initial angry mob is what I was trained to expect whenever I hear a Muslim talk about Jerusalem. Instead, I was shown a message with such vision, and it gave me enough curiosity to embark on a dip on history of the city in a tug of war.

Perhaps, the Jews were the original people to inhabit the land, hence the accepted western notion that they should hold the keys to the great city. The very cornerstone of their religion and race is there – the Temple of Solomon. Soon, a certain man named Jesus committed his ultimate sacrifice in the city, which was, at that time, in control of the Romans. This engraved the city in the history of the new Christian faith, which went on to amazingly conquer the might and glory of Rome in the face of persecution. A Christian-Jewish stranglehold of the city was then in place, until the rise of an unexpected foe from a previously neglected desert. Muhammad and Islam soon swept the lands, driving off the crumbling Roman and Byzantine rule and grabbing the rights to the Holy City.

However, it was what they did next that would remain hidden in the view of most in our side of the coin. They actually opened the city, allowing any man from any religion to pay his due pilgrimage to it. It was a time of peace for the region, something which sadly may be hard to reenact under modern circumstances. No wonder Muslims have visionaries like that YouTube commenter!

How I wish that peace and respect for beliefs stayed that way, where anyone can go to a Jerusalem with gates open. However, as it was technically still in Arabic hands, the impetus was there for the Christians to mount their greed-driven Crusades. That wrecked the stability in the region for good, and following more conquests and political mind games up to the 20th century, Jerusalem would soon be in Jewish hands under an independent Jewish nation.

This rocked the Arab world. How can a race with a history of diaspora, persecution and lack of military might eventually take the reins in their promised land without force?  They obviously cried foul, and until this day, the tensions have hardly cooled. A majority of the Arab World refused to recognize the state that took over through mere historical claims and political influence.

Today, the city is still as divided as a pumpkin pie. It’s a cycle powered by greed alone. It’s a toy being pulled on three sides by three kids, all wanting to have the right to play with it. Each of the Abrahamic religions simply want it under their jurisdiction. In an era of cooperation and peace, why can’t we just put this city under it’s own jurisdiction? Why can’t we emulate the Arab occupants of old that allowed any man to pay his dues to the Lord? Why can’t we drop this insatiable greed, one that drives barbaric Crusades and endless wars?

It’s the city that acts as the cradle for all religions, and yet it somehow cannot be in a state of peace. It’s still entrenched in the political and actual minefields that act as a virtual wall that divides religions that call for unity. What a great irony for three tribes that claim to be the one and true way to achieve peace and goodness. It makes me wonder, like the Muslim poster…

“When can we all overlook Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives in peace?”

Five Reasons I Still Go to Mass

Call me hipster, but I still enjoy going to Sunday and sometimes even weekday masses. While many people shrug it off as a hassle and insignificant, I still believe that going to mass is relevant and important. I still go to mass despite the mountain of work I have and the sleep I want to catch up on. How come? Here are my five reasons.

1) It helps me unwind.
Sometimes things just get so hectic that mass actually helps me relax. The one hour where I don’t have to answer my phone and think about work-related tasks is greatly satisfying and lifting. It helps me refocus myself on the more important things in my life such as my faith and my family.

2) It’s a one-stop shop for daily or weekly wisdoms.
The readings in mass are full of wisdom on human experiences. Whether it be about material possesions, relationships, or love, the Bible and the homilies are there to teach us how to live our lives. Sermons and biblical interpretations do not have to be about technical theological concepts. They can be as down-to-earth as like guides on how to live our lives.

3) It makes me happy.
It’s still fun to sing songs like in youth club days, to see kids hugging their parents, and to observe how loving families can be. It makes me feel warm inside and I cannot help but smile. During the lazy times that I don’t feel like going to mass, I remind myself that blessings cannot be found at the beginning of the mass, but at the end.

4) It keeps me strong.
Solitude and prayer help me stay strong. It helps to recharge myself during mass for the work ahead of me. I still value the experience of a good prayer session where I am able to relax and examine myself. It helps me see where I have gone, where I am at the present, and where I plan to go in the near future. Through this, I am able to prepare myself for any challenges I have to face.

5) I still love God.
There’s still something special about going to mass. The love for life and God still burns within me and gets rekindled every time I go to mass. I still respect the beauty of the world and recognize the power and majesty behind it. I go to mass and humble myself to pay homage to the splendor of creation and the one who created all of it.

Catching a Glimpse of the Divine

It is easy to lose oneself in the humdrum of everyday life. Work, studies, heartache, passion, entertainment, competition – there are so many distractions present in a typical person’s day; it’s amazing how he or she can still manage to go home, get himself or herself dressed for bed and think about the next day’s endeavors. We have somehow managed to convince ourselves that a productive life is one that involves round-the-clock activity: at this hour, I should be doing this, at this minute, I should be doing that. Everything passes by so quickly that the experience of the present rapidly fades into history and is jotted down as a footnote in our memories.

It is in this context that the homo contemplatio has become a rare, if not extinct, species. To contemplate, according to Random House Webster’s Dictionary (4th edition) is to observe thoughtfully or to consider deliberately. Contemplation is all but a forgotten skill in today’s world where there seems to be a need to always get things done quickly and efficiently. A break from work or extra hours during the weekend is spent indulging oneself in television, music or some other form of stimuli. Little or no time at all is left for a person to consider deliberately or to thoughtfully observe the day before him or the days that have passed. Is it any wonder that we always manage to say things we are not supposed to say, or do things haphazardly and without much regard for the consequences of our actions?

But this perspective pits activity against passiveness. People argue that there really is little time for faith, for religion or for any sort of contemplation to fit itself in the regular schedule of their lives. Perhaps the key to having the best of both worlds – an active one and a contemplative one – is to do both things at the same time.

This seems both counterintuitive and counterproductive. It seems like we’ve been trained to specialize in our labor – to focus on one task so that all of our energies are devoted to achieving a relatively high performance in that particular task. But I think that it is possible to do both things at the same time and still have some energy to be channelled to other things. The key is to always look for the root of one’s action – the purpose, the objective and its ultimate place in your general scheme of things. It is easy to forget about why we do things simply because we lose ourselves in the how. Deconstructing our experiences, our actions and our plans allows us to focus on the importance or the value of these things. The reason for doing this is that we become motivated and driven when we see the bigger picture and find that our actions actually fit in quite nicely like pieces in a puzzle.

But of course, a panoramic view of the entire scheme of things is not always a privilege that we can enjoy. Worries can sometimes capture all of our energy and traps us to consider only the present moment. The remedy to this dilemma is to think of every situation that you find yourself in and find a way to love any particular aspect of it. For anything done out of love is sure to breed some form of excellence. If one loves what one is doing, it ceases to become work. That’s how the time-tested adage goes, and that’s how it will always be.

So take a moment to deliberate, to consider and to think why you’re doing something. Or you can go ahead and take a loving look at the real and just maybe, you can catch a glimpse of the divine.

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Snow

A couple of weeks ago, I talked about how great the internet was. I talked about how wonderful it was as it served to be a platform that anyone could use without restrictions. I touched a bit on the dangers that freedom brings, but I sort of let the issue go. Now that I have another opportunity to talk about it, here’s what makes the internet not so great.

It’s funny that the thing which makes the internet so great is the same thing that brings the worst out of people – the freedom to share information under the protection of anonymity. Okay, I admit it’s a bit hypocritical to rag on anonymity considering who I (we?) am. But, as far as I know, I’m (we’re) not trying to hurt anyone. Unfortunately, there are some very sick people in this world that have done things that they never would have done if they were identified. It’s like that legend Plato talked about, the Ring of Gyges. What are people really capable of when they know they’re not going to get caught? I understand the thrill of doing something forbidden or naughty, but there’s a line you’re not supposed to cross. And people cross that line every day online.

Still, I’m of the opinion that this veil of anonymity brings more good than bad, even if we get the bad in big chunks. No, I think the worst thing the internet does to us is that it’s slowly killing us.

I’m serious.

This isn’t even some philosophical approach to the issue. While I do agree that we lose a lot of the humanity in communication when it is done online, I’m talking about how we just get so worn out from sitting around all day with our faces glued to the screen. When we’re sitting or lying down, I think our body expects us to be resting. Instead, we’re taking in way more input than our body wants us to. In our everyday suburban life, we probably don’t even take in as much as we do online. Too many sounds, too many colors, too many words, too much information, too much noise.

Too much noise. Just watch. At the pace we’re going, it’s just gonna keep getting worse. And then, without you knowing it.

Nothing.

How YouTube Ate My Life

Today, is the fourth Monday of July. Like most Filipinos, I waited patiently for the clock to ring four chimes for 4:00pm, when the president would deliver his State of the Nation Address. It would be just like all the other SONA’s I’ve watched – a two-hour sermon of lionized government achievements that evades pressing problems like a ninja in a fur ball.

Except there’s one major change – I’d be bidding a farewell to TV Remotes and watch it on YouTube for the very first time. And unless I soon figure out how to get YouTube on my TV running, the TV might as well stay frozen asset for long.

If you told me back in the turn of the millennium that I’d be giving up my longtime ally in the television, I’d have refuted you with childish tantrums, squeals and screams. The TV was just so central to my carefree childhood of all playing and less working. From Mr. Bean to the BBC, Spongebob Squarepants to Studio 23 – the television just seemed like a Swiss Army knife at that time. It had everything, for everyone, every time.

These Swiss knife characteristics of the TV seemed to set the tone for the future, with most technological advances being able to do more things. You can now have cars who would carry more songs than a jukebox could ever dream of and phones who could throw in a camera and web browser along with that jukebox feature. It was only a matter of time before the TV, ironically, would fall victim to this multi functionality that it perhaps pioneered, and soon it became a reality with YouTube’s arrival to the family in 2005.

However, 2005 was still the era of the dial up connection in my place. Connection breakdowns and a speed that would make the tortoise proud lead to a grade five kid banging the laptop keys in frustration as I attempted to load even the simplest Yahoo search. It wasn’t until the arrival of 1 Mbps DSL to my home in around 2007 that I would soon realize what a powerful tool it could be. Despite seeing its unquestionable capabilities at last, I was still firmly in the era of the TV and couch potatoes, and YouTube remained a relatively untapped oil field for some time.

Soon, however, practically everything started to set up shop in the Internet. Facebook and YM suddenly opened an avenue for me to chat with buddies even when at home, and that soon became the object of my attention. Going with the Swiss Knife mentality of kids of new, TV finally became too tiresome to run alongside the computer that stole my life. I began to look for ways to transfer my gaming and entertainment into one system, and only the computer could have provided that. With that, the TV began to collect dust as my YouTube bond tightened to new heights.

Now in 2013, after all that, YouTube has completely possessed me enough to deem it as a better option than the TV to watch the most important annual report that every good citizen must watch. In fact, it has completely taken over so many other roles as well, one I couldn’t have envisioned long ago. Here are some:

1. Entertainment – As mentioned, the TV used to be the leading shareholder in this department. However, as soon as all of my old and new programs began to prop up legally and illegally in YouTube, I found TV to be redundant and slow to update.

2. Teacher – Amazingly, YouTube has succeeded on winning over a sector where TV was long a target for flak and criticism – the educational institutions. People soon realized what a wonderful tool YouTube could be to deliver educational tutorials that could be accessed by anyone, in anytime, anywhere. Pioneers like Salman Khan churned out videos by the thousands, and people like them have now confidently claimed that YouTube education could be the future, given its accessible and one-on-one nature. As a massive advocate, it’s hard to say otherwise.

3. Gaming – Before, I harbored dreams of becoming a proper gaming professional. Those were dreams when hope was high and life worth living however, and I soon gave up on such lofty and lazy ambitions. Instead, I watch “those who made it” do let’s plays, previews and tournaments galore – all in YouTube. In fact, my video gaming life has been cut considerably, and at times I’m more interested at watching YouTube’s finest gamers rather than try the games out myself.

4. Self-Expression – Well, I still am tied up to blogging like this. However, I soon opened up my own YouTube channel where I can paint a picture of my world to friends and strangers alike. It probably will never have as much emotion as a blog like this, but a new medium for speaking your mind just never goes amiss.

5. DIY Encyclopedia – I am an avid builder and fixer of things in real life, though I was never a bookworm to read boring instruction manuals. However, why bother for the yawn fest when you can have proper experts show you how it’s done in a YouTube clip, which you can replay whenever you need it? Maybe you’ll need the books and manuals for more complex items, though for the more common ones, it’s much easier to bank on watching and learning.

And that list goes on, and it grows with every passing day. YouTube has quite literally gobbled up so many personal needs and laid it out in a banquet before your eyes, in a very table accessible by the watching world. A simple click gives you the State of the Nation Address live, the answer to a calculus problem, the steps to beat the final boss in Pokemon, and a guide on losing weight.

It has all become too easy. All thanks to YouTube.

Standing Up for Technology

I love technology even though I am not a “techie” person. I suck at programming, having received some education in Visual Basic, and though I love drawing and art, I haven’t even tried Adobe Photoshop, not even once. I also frown at how people, including myself, have become slaves to technology: we have become dependent on the Internet as our source of social interaction, entertainment and information. We quickly replace our perfectly functional gadgets when new models come out. We substitute valuable time that should be spent with family and friends for additional hours online. Nevertheless, I believe in the awesome power of technology.

 

Technology is a driver of growth. And when I mean growth, I refer to increasingly more comfortable, enjoyable, convenient and efficient lifestyles coupled with economic prosperity. Entrepreneurs that create amazing new products probably don’t have an inkling of what their technology will create – more jobs, more opportunities, more applications and ultimately, more wealth. Growth in technology is what keeps the economy growing. Imagine a world where tractors, processing facilities or factories and related technology were not invented. People would still largely be living in the rural areas and toiling with more effort than what’s needed in the present day. Or imagine a world where personal computers were not invented and developed to become efficient multi-functional laptops and smartphones. Would you want to carry around your voice recorder, your CD player, your television, your telephone and your camera around? Not only does technology make everything more convenient – it also allows the quality of life to improve by introducing new things that were thought impossible before.

 

Growth in technology, if produced and scaled properly, reduces costs. History speaks for itself – we only need to look at the prices of computers, smartphones, cars, the Internet, appliances, medicines and even services and processes (like genetic sequencing, simulations, chemical manufacturing and map analysis). Once a piece of technology has been produced and firms eye it as an opportunity to be taken advantage of, innovation is bound to come, sometimes gradually and sometimes in leaps and bounds. Scientists and engineers will be hired and paid to improve upon the existing technology. These incremental or exponential improvements entail fewer materials being used, more efficient methods of accomplishing the same (or better) results which result into costs being driven down. Consider also how firms who compete in the same market (say, the market for cellphones) usually fiercely compete with each other to gain larger portions of the market. This competitive environment forces them to drive prices down to get consumers to buy their products. Innovation in technology reduces costs which can only be beneficial to the regular consumer.

 

The reduction in costs and more efficient performance as well as delivery of goods and services result in the most wonderful effect of a change in technology – spillover effects. Consumers who couldn’t benefit from technology before can now enjoy the effects of these innovations. Ever since the Internet was created, information has been spreading like wildfire, allowing consumers to communicate this information to people who need it the most – the poor and the underprivileged in society. Improvements in the processing of chemicals and wastes result into a healthier environment, allowing everyone to enjoy the cleaner air and water. Advances in technology can also facilitate better learning among students, and when students are learned, they can grow up to be productive, ethical citizens who can further improve the existing technologies and the social situation of the country. Or consider how improvements in weather forecasting has allowed our famers to better plan their planting and harvest, resulting in greater food production, lower food shortages, stable market prices and a relatively satisfied consumer. Who knew that a single change in technology can have such far-reaching effects?

 

Of course, this optimism in technology should be contextualized. Technology improves in the very long run. No invention happens overnight and it would be absurd to assume that technology can easily solve our problems overnight. Critics of technology also argue that technology has created for us the most pressing problems of our world today: global warming, pollution, biological extinction, inequality and social stratification, a devaluation of cultural identities and the profiteering tendencies of multinational corporations. I admit that technology has its pitfalls – it has countless, and I don’t pretend that sometimes, it has created more problems than it has fixed.

 

But consider a world where technology did not advance much or did not advance at all. Would we be able to enjoy airplane rides that allow us to visit other regions of the world where we indulge ourselves in new experiences, new people we meet, new food we taste and new cultures we encounter? Would we be able to grab a cup of coffee or buy a cone of ice cream without having to undergo the tedious process of producing these from the raw materials of cocoa and milk? Would we even be able to read and write this essay of mine, which is posted online?

 

This deconstructive perspective is not very helpful if we are to consider the bigger picture. Technology is one of the most powerful tools mankind has created. It can be used to solve problems if it is only harnessed properly. The science and engineering can be improved – scientists, engineers and venture capitalists will be more than willing to jump at an opportunity to create better things. The challenge is to change the behavior of the people who use this technology and direct their uses to more productive, more socially beneficial and more efficient channels. And this is where other empirical and normative disciplines can come in: economics, psychology, sociology, anthropology, literature, philosophy and political science. Each discipline has a say on how our species should use these tools.

 

I am a firm believer in the power of technology to shape the life of a nation. It can, and, given the proper incentives, will solve our most pressing problems today.

I Know I’m Fat

What’s annoying about health and fitness is that people assume that just because you’re fat that you’re not doing anything about it. They say, “Aren’t you afraid of how fat you are?” or “Are you trying to lose weight?” or worse, “You should be afraid of what’s going to happen to you in the future.” They think, “Oh, you just need to focus more,” or “You just need more willpower.”

Guess what? We fat people, at least those who are obviously fat, know that we’re fat. For crying out loud, we’re not denying it. Do you actually think that telling us to lose weight will be some magical trigger and that you’ll be responsible for “changing our lives”? We don’t need your help realizing that we’re fat. It’s pretty clear to us and if it’s not, then they probably haven’t seen a mirror.

You’d think that someone who’s also fat or someone who used to be fat would be more sensitive or would even be able to help, but that’s not actually the case, at least not all the time. They can sometimes be worse in terms of how annoying they are with regard to trying to convince you to lose weight. They assume that they automatically understand what it is you’re going through because they’ve “been the same way.” The thing is, how I feel about myself and how you felt/feel are different.

My situation’s completely different from yours. Who are you to say that you understand how I feel? People could be over eating for completely different reasons. There’s not one reason for it. People eat because they’re stressed, because they’re sad, because they just want to, and for many other reasons.

People don’t even lose weight the same way. Take a look at all the different diets that people have developed and tried. Why do you think there are so many? You’d hear success stories from people who’ve tried each of them, but then you’d also hear stories of people trying the same diets, doing the exact same things as those who’ve succeeded, but they fail. Why do you think that is? It’s not just because they “lacked willpower” or they probably “cheated” That’s not it. People have different metabolisms and different reactions to diets.

Don’t henpeck me with your ideas on how I should lose weight. For crying out loud, I’m doing all that I can. It might not be working, but that doesn’t mean I’m not trying. I look for different ways to lose weight, but nothing seems to stick. I don’t lack willpower. What I lack is a method that works for me and me alone.

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