Here are some bullet points that apply to my life right now:
- I live in Calgary
- I’ve been keeping a daily record of my life for the past 8.75 years
- I have a math degree
- I have someone wonderful to love (and who loves me back)
- I’m still in school
- I am in a graduate program for statistics
- I like teaching (statistics)
- I like walking for exercise/pleasure
Ten years ago, I was in the midst of my junior year of high school. If you had told me even one of these bullet points was going to apply to me in ten years, I would never have believed you. If you had told me all of them were going to apply to me at the same time, I probably would have just laughed at you. But here I am, ten years later, and they all apply.
Hell, if you would have told me any portion of these points even five years ago, I probably wouldn’t have believed you.
Life is weird.
UGH I hate days where I’m hung up on comparing myself to others and feeling super petty for doing so.
I mean, it’s so freaking pointless. I sit here looking at everyone else who has loads of smarts or who has a family or who has tons of friends or who is just super enjoyable to be around and I feel so freaking insignificant.
I have to stop and just say shut up, Claudia. You are not insignificant. You are made of universe. You are not insignificant. The people you’re comparing yourself to? They are made of universe. They are not insignificant. We are all made of universe. We are all equal. The universe comprises all of us.
It just seems so dumb to be hung up on trivial comparisons when in 70 years or so (or less) I’ll be feeding worms and maggots and in 70 million years I might be part of a star. The same thing could be said of others, too.
But then I think, well, wait a minute. These feelings of inadequacy and jealousy and pettiness and whatnot—should they be embraced? Are they not part of the whole “hey, I’m a human being for a stint” package? Are these feelings part of the universe as well? Should I be glad I’m in such a quandary about this stuff because maybe, when part of me is a small section of a comet being sucked into a black hole, it won’t be privy to such emotion, so I should embrace it while I can?
Or maybe they’re not—maybe comets and stars and gaseous nebulae experience “emotion” too, but just differently. Like maybe they don’t have jealousy or pity or anger, but maybe they have some sort of similar subjective conscious-like experiences that could be analogous to human emotion. Or maybe their “emotion” is unique to them and something human-formed universe stuff can’t experience.
Ya just gotta wonder.
(Ha, and now I’m not feeling petty at all. Thanks, universe!)
So I’ve been thinking about that video I posted yesterday. I think the reason I liked it so much is because that video basically shows all the reasons why I believe in hylozoism. Something so incredibly vast and beyond comprehension like our universe cannot, in my opinion, be devoid of life itself. It doesn’t just contain bits of life like us and trees and turtles and dogs. It is life. Every infinitesimal bit of the universe holds “life” in my opinion. It may not be life in the way we’re able to see it like we’re able to see the life of a person or the life of an elephant, but I think that in order for atoms and electrical impulses and chemical reactions to come together to every so often create life as we define it, there must be something that’s present in all matter that holds some form of life on its own. It seems too implausible that only very specific combinations of the universe’s material can attain life and can only do so when amassed with just the right selections of other materials.
When the narrator talks about us “answering” the universe with respect to knowing what the universe is, in my opinion that’s a very potent expression of this idea. We are the universe. We are clumps of it that, for a VERY brief time, happen to take on an existence that is aware of itself, that is aware of the ridiculous distances between everything, even down to the relatively extreme distance between a nucleus of an atom and its cloud of electrons, but is also able to bridge this distance by acknowledging it. We know that our own little galaxy is vast beyond the human mind’s capability of understanding distance. We know that the relative distance between the nucleus of an oxygen atom and the inner most electrons is incredible. And yet we still function within the universe, a universe that allows for such extremes to exist but yet also allows for everything on all scales to work as a cohesive, living, thriving unit.
I see it as evidence that everything in the universe contains life when I see such extremes—the very large and the very small and the distance at both levels—working as one. How can we deny the universe a life of its own when we witness the effect of the smallest building blocks of our universe, quarks and leptons and whatnot, on the grandest events we’ve had privilege to witness: super novas and black holes and stars consuming one another? How can we say that the individual components of our universe exist as lifeless “things” when things so seemingly different have such a great effect on one another and the culmination of all these effects is existence itself?
That is how I define this “life.” The fact that things exist and the fact that they keep on existing shows that every component of our universe is responsive to every other component. And again, I don’t mean “responsive” necessarily in the way that humans respond to one another or the way a bee responds to pollen. The response could be chemical, it could be electrical, it could be in ways we can’t even witness because we don’t know what we’re looking for.
And we’re part of this! It’s common to look up at the vastness that is our universe and think of how insignificant we are. But we ARE significant! We are but for a brief moment a mass of “universe stuff” that happens to take the form of “human.” But in the blink of an eye, in the smallest fraction of a second on the time scale of the universe, we won’t be anymore! Maybe in 30 million years a part of me will be a part of a newly forming star. Maybe in 23 billion years a part of me will be a part of a meteor that splits a planet into fragments. Maybe in 80 billion centuries a part of me will be part of another thing that is also aware of the ridiculous distances between everything, from the galaxies to the components of an atom, and is able to bridge this distance by acknowledging it, just as I am as a human today. But regardless of what my parts become, they will retain this “life” that, in my opinion, is present in everything everywhere, always.
And that’s COOL.
Do you guys wonder if the course of one’s life kind of follows the same pattern as the course of human history? Like, do we each of us have our own Dark Ages? Our own Age of Enlightenment? A Post-Modern era? If so, do we pass through these stages in generally the same order that humanity did? My own life has some strong parallels in terms of “periods” and general sequence, but that just might be me and my overanalyzing.
OH, and here’s something to brighten your day:
This is DJ Earworm’s mashup of the top 25 Billboard hits of 2011 (I was going to post this at the beginning of the year, but nooooo). He’s been doing these since 2007, so if this kind of stuff appeals to you, check out the rest of his YouTube channel. He’s fantastic.
When you think about death, does it excite you? I think it should. Death is, in my opinion, a pretty amazing thing.
Why? Think about it: we go through most of our daily life never giving it a thought—maybe being reminded of it only when a family member succumbs to it or we hear about a fatal accident on the news. But it’s there somewhere in each of our futures and there’s no escaping it. As abstract and distant as it may seem, it’s still going to happen. There’s no escape. We’re all going to get to experience it.
Isn’t that exciting? Seriously. No two deaths are the same, regardless of what the ultimate causes are. Two guys on the same block may die from fatal heart attacks, but that doesn’t mean that their deaths are anywhere close to comparable. We each get our own individual way of leaving the (known) world. How cool is that? Individual, personal exits to whatever’s after human consciousness. Personally, I’m excited to see what mine will be.
Today I drove a car for the first time since summer 2010.
Also, since today was Friday the 13th, my mom and I went to Safeway to buy lotto tickets, as neither of us was feeling particularly unlucky and hey—slight possibility for big bucks. On the way home, we theorized what we’d do with $66 million (that’s what the Powerball is up to as of tonight, I think).
Here’s what I’d do with $66 million:
- Pay my parents back for all their monetary help over the past year (moving to/back from London, plus various other expenses).
- Provide each of my good friends with a substantial sum of money with which they can do what they wish.
- Go back to school! Forever! I’d get all the undergraduate degrees I could, then write about them in a book I’d call Degrees of Freedom. Because I’m awesome like that.
- Donate to The Humane Society. Or adopt a metric crap ton of cats and just live on a giant cat farm.
- Give my mom a large enough amount of money so that she could retire.
- Start a foundation/program to help with homelessness, as described in this blog.
- Get a car. Preferably of this variety.
- Acquire tons of clay, tons of clay tools, a pottery wheel, a kiln, and a bunch of glaze. Sculpt to my heart’s content.
- Get a new iPod, haha.
- Get a ticket to Burning Man.
- Donate to the Vandal Marching Band.
- Donate to the Moscow High School Band.
Probably a bunch of other stuff, too. $66 million is a LOT of money.
What would you do with it?
How weird would our world be if the majority of random variables did NOT follow the Gaussian (or normal or bell-curve) distribution? Think
about it. Take human height, for example. It follows a curve like the one shown in this post. Normal, right? What if that curve were of an exponential
distribution or a gamma distribution? How weird we’d all look.
Now let’s disregard distribution shapes for a minute and think about percentiles instead. Specifically, would you rather always be in
the 5th percentile for everything or the 95th percentile for everything? By everything, I mean everything: height, weight, intelligence, blood pressure,
running speed, test scores, etc.
There are obviously upsides and downsides to both extremes, but that’s what makes it so interesting, eh?
Sorry for the weird blog. Been busy with thesis stuff and if I see the acronym “CFI” one more time today I’m going to start stabbing people.
Warning: this blog may piss you off.
(Though I guess it’s rather unfair to preface this blog with a warning when I fail to do so for 99% of all my other blogs, though they may piss you off as well. Though I don’t know how a graph showing a breakdown of song genres per month could piss you off, but there are some freaky dudes out there.
Claudia, shut up and blog.
This might just be me and I might be a horrible monster for it, but every time I read something along the lines of “scientists and doctors have worked together to discover [insert something phenomenal here] that might aid in the elimination of [cancer/AIDS/malaria/some disease-related death/heart disease-related death/diabetes-related death] by the year [insert fairly close date here],” I think, “that’s great, but won’t this contribute to overpopulation in some sense?”
I know it may make me sound mean/heartless/cruel/whatever, but whenever I hear of a new medical breakthrough that promises to save millions of lives, I can’t help but think of the fact that that means a million more people still living while the population continues to grow at an insane rate. We’re not 6 billion strong anymore. That was back in 1999. We’re up to 6.8 billion now and are estimated to hit 7 billion by next year (source: CENSUS BUREAU, BITCHES!). If this keeps up we’re going to be screwed pretty soon, if we’re not to that point already.
I’m no population expert (duh), and I think a good argument against what I’m saying is that regardless of how ever many diseases/ailments we cure or lessen the effects of, the lifespan of the majority of people will still be < 100 years, so it’s not a big deal.
I’d counter-argue with the fact that, with advances in medicine that may at some point eliminate such things as cancer, AIDS, and malaria, people may not be living much past 100 (if at all), but a large proportion of them—those that may have succumbed to the effects of such diseases/illnesses—will certainly be living longer, and therefore will take up more resources.
In short, I don’t see some sort of Bicentennial Man insanity where we’re all going to be living to 200 years old or something (and become Robin Williams robots), I see people who would have perished due to these ailments living a somewhat average lifespan, using resources they obviously wouldn’t have used if the ailments hadn’t been cured. Thus, resources will be stretched more than they would be if these ailments, pardon my language, “removed” a portion of the population.
Another argument against what I’m saying could be the argument of “well, let the population expand. Resources will become scarce, but the fight for said resources will even things out as some people get a hold of them and others are left to die without them.” I say, though this may be the case, I don’t think some sort of resource-war would be something anyone would really want to look forward to. You see how insane we can be with oil. How would we act if we had to fight with the entire rest of the world for fresh water?
I’m NOT saying that certain people have less of a “right” to live than others. It might be assumed from what I’ve said so far that I’m insinuating that all those people in, say, Africa, who are affected by AIDS should just be left to die without treatment. That’s not what I’m saying.
I’m just saying we should watch what we’re doing. So say some scientists found a cure for AIDS. Great, awesome, rock on. Distribute the vaccine/pill/whatever to those who need it. But for the love of god, at least help slow the ever-increasing-upward line of the human population by educating people on some freaking birth control. I don’t know if this is true anymore, but like seven years ago I was reading this report on how it was very common in a large proportion of sub-Saharan African families to have a crap-ton of kids to help with farming and food production, mainly because many family members fell ill due to various problems and the help of many children was needed to keep farms going.
If someday there were a cure for AIDS and it was distributed in such areas as described, I think some sort of “balance” could be achieved by discussing the idea of birth control and the idea that the fewer the individuals, the more resources would be available for everyone to have so that things wouldn’t have to be stretched so far.
I don’t think I’m making sense anymore, as it’s about 3 in the morning and I didn’t really sleep last night. I hope I don’t come off as heartless, ‘cause I’m not, but I do think the population issue is a problem and I think we need to find some way of curbing it while still being able to develop drugs/treatments that help cure/lessen the effect of large-spread and common ailments.
Today’s song: Superman by Lazlo Bane
There are few things weirder than math, I think. It’s systematic, but it’s also really creepy.
Take calculus. Given some curve y = f(x) for some equation x, you’re able to find the slope of the tangent line to that curve at any given point just by finding the derivative f’(x). How do you find the derivative? There are like five main rules you need to know to be able to find it for any equation x (ignoring e and all that crazy natural log stuff for now).
I know I’ve blogged about this before, but does anyone else find that incredibly…convenient? The fact that many mathematical problems can be reduced, in some form or another, to addition, multiplication, subtraction, and division is kind of frightening.
And the fact that nearly all problems we’ve come across have some sort of mathematical explanation to them—and not only a mathematical explanation, but a mathematical explanation that works with the way we’ve defined mathematics on this little planet hurtling through space, this infinitesimally small rock in the whole expanse of the universe? Insanity!
It freaks me out that we’re able to explain things like space phenomena using our math. I’m probably just a simpleton, but it freaks me out. How has (nearly) everything we’ve found conformed to our little system of manipulating numbers? How is it that the formulae and procedures we’ve developed coincide so nicely with the workings of what we’ve seen of the universe? I really don’t know what to think of it anymore. As I’ve said, I think if there were any plausible explanation for a god, it would lie in math.
But what do I know?
Today’s song: Luna by Evgenij Anegin
Over the past few days, I’ve had one-on-one conversations with about eight people in various stages of their graduate education (we were going over problem set answers, talking about bitchy advisors, not wanting to do our work, etc.). In each of these conversations, we somehow got around to talking about how we felt about grad school in general, and in each case, every person said something to the effect of, “promise not to tell anyone, but…” and then proceeded to explain how inadequate and unworthy of grad school they felt, how stressed out they were, and how they thought everyone else was much further along in their research and doing much better in their programs then they were.
In short, I’ve deduced that we’re pretty much all neurotic, perfectionistic, school- and grade- and career-obsessed weirdos who have nothing better to do on a Friday night then get together and talk about the Regression problem sets (I kid you not).
I think it’s interesting how everyone, in their own way, has had that feeling of “oh shit, I shouldn’t be here, I’m so far behind all these other people…they’ve all probably got their thesis ideas in mind, their advisors probably love them, I want to quit…” etc., etc.
I think it’s even more interesting that no one seems to think that anyone else gets this way. “Promise not to tell anyone, but…” But what? You’ve felt the same inadequacies that it seems like everyone else here has?
It’s a very strange environment. And we voluntarily chose this insanity.
Today’s song: Remedy by Little Boots
Sometimes freewrites just have to happen.
If you let the words flow, they will. Right now I’m not letting them flow.
I’m charting out a structure in my mind for where this bit of writing will go.
Thus it is not a freewrite.
Sometimes I wish I was a brain in a vat, like in all those old philosophy and psychology questions that everyone has to reluctantly and hesitantly discuss in at least one college class. If I were a brain in a vat, if we were all brains in a vat, things would just happen. Causality would be illusory, as would free will. One thing would happen, and then the next. That’s it. A would not cause B, nor would my decision Q cause B. We wouldn’t be in control. Would that make things simpler or more difficult? I guess it would depend on whether or not we brains in vats argued about the goings on of our vat-populated universe.
I’m very lonely, even though my last typed IM said “kinda lonely.”
I miss you.
I bet we all, at least once in our lives, have wished for a “save” button, something that would freeze our lives in the moment, something that would grant us the safety net of going back and doing things over starting at that point if we decided we took the wrong path the first time.
Brains in vats don’t need save buttons, partially because they wouldn’t be able to physically press them.
If we have, in fact, been granted the power of free will, why does it operate so subconsciously? We only really think about choices when they’re big; otherwise, we seem to fly on automatic pilot.
(I don’t care about your Vista problems, please stop talking about your damn computer).
What was I going to say?
If I had a save button—if I could use it just once—I would use it now. I would press it, then walk away from this. “Goodbye, grad school,” I would say. Maybe then I would go back to Moscow. Or maybe I’d go wherever I desired at the time.
I would go see you and we’d figure something out where we could hang out for at least a few more years. Hopefully I wouldn’t screw things up.
That’s the problem with the idea of the save button. You can only use it once, and if you take option A and screw something up during your risk-taking, you’ll either have to go back to the life you had before and not attempt the risk at all, or attempt the risk and hope that option B will provide a better outcome.
I could get some menial job down at one of the research stations in Antarctica. I’ve always wanted to do that.
I wouldn’t mind washing dishes for a living for the rest of my life, I really wouldn’t.
And now I’m going to stop, because I just realized how much more appealing washing researchers’ dishes sounded than grad school.
Sometimes freewrites just have to happen.
Today’s song: Bad Romance by Lady GaGa (Lady GaGa always makes me feel better)
Guess what, kids? PHILOSOPHY TIME!
Panpsychism is the view that all matter possesses a soul (or has consciousness). There are a couple of different types of this view, though, and there are also different types of similar views that aren’t technically panpsychism.
Hylozoism, which is similar but not exactly the same, holds that all forms of matter posess life. It’s different from panpsychism because life and souls are obviously two different things, and it is different than animism because animism focuses more on things having consciousnesses. In other words, hylozoism is the doctrine that everything is alive, while panpsychism is the belief that everything is conscious.
So. You all may or may not believe this, but I’ve always been of this sort of belief, that all matter is, in some way, alive. I think that this belief is based on the fact that as a materialist, I don’t think consciousness in humans arises from anything but the physical components of the brain. That is, consciousness is due to the chemical and electrical interactions of the components that makeup the brain, rather than any sort of “extra” component, like a soul or some other special addition to the physical.
Because I’m a materialist, I think that human consciousness arises, then, solely out of the physical. Because of this, I don’t believe that certain physical “components” are capable of coming together and achieving human consciousness—or any other consciousness/life/etc.—if others aren’t.
That’s a bit difficult to understand; let me put it another way. There’s a metric ton (not literally, shut up) of atoms that make up the human body, right? And a lot of those atoms go into making up the brain—in which, according to materialists, the consciousness originates and exists.
Now we can take this in two directions (still assuming materialism):
1. Either consciousness arises out of only a set of specific arrangements of atoms, or
2. All atoms/smallest particles in the universe (obviously not atoms, but ‘atom’ is familiar and easiest to conceptualize) are capable of maintaining a sort of consciousness on their own.
It seems odd to me that only certain atoms in certain arrangements are capable of bringing about any sort of consciousness without the additional condition that consciousness is a potential property of all atoms. Why would only specific combinations lead to consciousness, and what would make certain that the “right” atoms would be chosen in the first place? I think that a variation of consciousness—certainly not human consciousness or any type we can recognize—exists in every atom in the universe. I think culminations of these atomic consciousnesses can lead to other variations, uncluding human consciousness, but I think that there must exist some sort of basal form of it in everything.
Does that make sense?
Anyway, it’s how I’ve always seen it.
Why do a lot of us automatically see doing something “because of love” as a bad thing? Like suppose a person decided to abandon their current job (or whatever) and move across the country to follow someone they love. Why do we tend to look down on that, especially in comparison to someone who abandoned their current job and moved across the country to follow some other passion, like a passion to become a photographer or something?
I mean, I understand the fickleness of humanity, so I guess that’s part of it. Your passion for photography will not change its mind—the only reason it wouldn’t be important to you would be if you decided it wasn’t. Your boyfriend/girlfriend, on the other hand…
But still, when you think about it, a lot of our unhappiness comes from love-/relationship-related stuff, doesn’t it? So doesn’t that indicate that it is at least somewhat important for the human condition? I say yes. So I also say we should stop looking down on love.
Sorry, it’s like 5 AM and this is coming out of nowhere.
I’ve graduated in the Kibbie Dome a total of three times (our high school graduated there, too).
I’m the “transition girlfriend.” Only once has this not been a problem.
I’m twenty-one years old. That is terrifying.
I don’t know if I’m ready for grad school. I have a feeling I’ll miss the freedom of undergrad (but not the U of I).
It’s so weird to think that we’re all under the same moon tonight, isn’t it?
I mean, my mom, dad, Sean, and a bunch of other people I know are way up in Moscow, Idaho. Aaron is in Boise.
And we’re down here in Hawaii.
But we’re all under the same moon, on the same planet, in the same universe.
It just makes things seem weird sometimes.
“Logic and emotion are the complimentary entities that, when properly combined, subscribe the individual the full spectrum of human experience.”
More on this in a later blog. Haven’t fully figured out how I’m to support this claim yet. But here it is.
Oh, the anticipation!
Question 1: Do you pronounce the word “route” as “rowt” or “root”?
Question 2 (much more important): So the main reason I’m so interested in psychometrics (aside from the awesomeness of item-analysis and such) is to improve how we measure and test for intelligence. I personally think that what we measure to determine “intelligence” does not account for a lot of important things—especially if we redefine intelligence (which I think we should) to relate more to actions and mental states that aim to advance the species (not in that way, you sickos!).
So on to the actual question, something I’ve been mulling over for a while now: is motivation a component of intelligence? I’m not asking if motivation brings about intelligence, I’m asking whether or not two people with equal IQs (let’s just use the IQ number as the definition of what we call intelligence today, just for simplicity’s sake) are actually of different intelligence if one is more motivated than the other. In other words, if we had one person with an IQ of 130 and another person with an IQ of 130, and one of them had little motivation and the other had a lot of motivation, would the one with more motivation be more “intelligent”? What do you all think?
Of course, there are other concepts than just motivation that should be considered when trying to create a new measure for intelligence. So how about you guys tell me what you think should constitute intelligence, so I can see how other people see this topic. Also, do you think such a concept as intelligence can be quantified?
This blog hath two sides.
Some of you may have heard me talking about my old friend from first grade who I’d lost track of for years and years. After many, many futile attempts to find her, I’d given up.
Well, she found me yesterday here on MySpace.
It freaking rocks.
I really need to stop being such a loser, you know? I need to stop confusing people and ruining times that would otherwise be good.
Forgive my unpredictability.
Forgive my inability to be a good source of entertainment (at least, the fun kind) when you want me to.
It’s just been a crappy month.