Philosophical Multicore

Sometimes controversial, sometimes fallacious, sometimes thought-provoking, and always fun.

Archive for the ‘Fun’ Category

What It’s Like to Be a Baby

Posted by Michael Dickens on August 19, 2010

Earlier today, I was tapping my toe. I was tapping it as fast as I could; at a point, I was hardly even controlling its movement, just trying to get it to vibrate as fast as possible. I started making smaller movements in order to be able to vibrate faster. After a little while, my toe stopped moving entirely — but a muscle was still vibrating.

How was that possible?

I could feel a muscle vibrating, and I could see movement on my foot. But it wasn’t on my toe: it was underneath the bridge of skin between my ankle and the top of my foot. I had been inadvertently vibrating this muscle all along, but previously my attention had been focused on my toe.

After some practice, I found that I was able to control this new muscle. I could not just vibrate it, but flex and unflex it independently of any other muscle. Sometimes I would accidentally flex other muscles (and I still do), but I was generally able to make this muscle move on its own.

The trippiest part was that I didn’t really know what I was doing to move the muscle. When we move our arms or legs, we understand exactly what will happen when we have a certain thought. We think to move our arm or leg, and a chemical reaction sends a message through our nerves and down to the muscle, causing it to twitch. But with this new discovery, I hardly knew what thought to think. The hardest part isn’t the movement itself; that’s not hard at all. No, the most difficult part is knowing what to think in order to will the movement. I believe that the best technique is to imagine that the skin on the top of your foot is moving upward and then will it to happen; but seeing as how this muscle is in effect still very young, I’m not sure.

I practiced flexing this muscle for about a half hour. After all that time, I still have trouble getting it to flex for the first time. And I can only do it on my right foot: on my left, the muscle might as well not exist.

Some time during those thirty minutes, I came to a realization:

This is what it’s like for babies all the time.

Babies are new. They, unlike us, are not used to using their muscles. It takes a lot of practice to figure out what they do and why, and how to work the controls. I at least have the advantage of already knowing how to use many of my muscles, so I know what to look out for; babies don’t have any such luxury. And for babies, it’s not just one muscle that they have to learn how to use: it’s all of them.

Perhaps the reason why learning to use this muscle was so mesmerizing is because we have a deep-seated instinct for learning new muscles. It’s simply irresistible. Such an instinct would drive us to become master puppeteers of our physical beings.

Now I feel like I understand babies better, if only a little. If you’ll allow me to offer some advice, I suggest that everyone try to learn how to use a new muscle today. Find a muscle that you didn’t know existed, and practice with it. It will change your life.

Posted in Fun, Psychology | 1 Comment »

Why Advertizing Is Awesome

Posted by Michael Dickens on August 13, 2010

Advertising has a bad reputation. It has been labeled “lies”, “manipulation”, and “corruption leading to the downfall of humanity.” While some or all of these are true, I think the bad reputation is unwarranted. Advertising is very useful, and I would go so far as to say that it is awesome.

Advertising isn’t awesome because of how it manipulates people into buying a product. Rather, what makes it awesome is the good that it can make possible. To me, advertising means freedom.

Often, in order to get access to goods, we have to pay money. Even information costs money. But this is where advertising comes in handy: it allows us to access goods that would otherwise be inaccessible. Many websites that I love are entirely advertising-funded, and would not be possible if it weren’t for ad revenue. One of the world’s biggest companies, which provides dozens of invaluable services, is entirely funded by ad revenue. (I’m talking about Google.)

When you put ads on your website or associate them with your service, companies are willing to pay you money just so that you will tell people about them. This is easier than requiring that people pay money, and people prefer it. Everyone benefits.

And that’s why advertising is awesome.

Posted in Fun | 2 Comments »

I really like that rose.

Posted by Michael Dickens on January 30, 2010

Another experiment.

So I was walking through the park one day, and this strange little man came up to me. He was barefoot, and had curly little old man toes. He pointed with a shaky finger and said to me, “I really like that rose.”

At the time, I didn’t really think much of it. I tried to avoid eye contact and kept walking. But now that I think about it, that one little sentence changed my life more than anything else I’ve ever heard. It was such a profound expression that only a man like that could express. He found something in that moment that he appreciated more than anything else in the world, and he expressed it to me. He was such a simple man, but he appreciated that rose just so much. If only we could all learn to be like that man.

Posted in Fun | 1 Comment »

Miles Davis: the Electric Years

Posted by Michael Dickens on January 26, 2010

This is a new blogging experiment. I got a friend to type in the title. I will be doing nothing other than sitting down and writing this topic, based only on the title. No research, no talking. Only writing. We’ll see how it goes.

Who is Miles Davis? Honestly, I don’t know. I presume he’s a musician of some sort. I’ve heard his name before, but I don’t really know much about him.

So then, what is there for me to say about his “Electric Years”? Well, they were electric, certainly. It was a time in which he was very successful. He was like lightning. He blew people away with this jazzy stylings, and today is still regarded as one of the greatest musicians of the era. He was actually the inspiration for the entire genre of hip hop. He has something of a cult following; in fact, there is a group called the Electric Miles Davis Coalition, where they run through suburban neighborhoods and knock on doors. When you answer the door, they blast Miles Davis music and dance to it. What’s the point of all this? They really just want people to hear the greatness that is Miles Davis.

Posted in Fun | 5 Comments »

Is there an app for that? Not yet — but there could be!

Posted by Michael Dickens on January 3, 2010

Do you have an idea for an iPhone app that you just wish you could have? Well, now is your chance. See, I’m the kind of guy who likes money. So if you have an iPhone app that you wish existed and you’d be willing to pay 99 cents for, let me know and it just might magick itself into existence. (No guarantees, but you never know!)

Posted in Computer Science, Fun, Programming | 1 Comment »

One One Ten

Posted by Michael Dickens on January 1, 2010

In case you didn’t notice, it’s 2010 now.

Posted in Fun | 5 Comments »

Exercise in Readability

Posted by Michael Dickens on December 23, 2009

The following text is from a previous post of mine, with many of the words removed. See how well you can still understand what is being said. For bonus points, fill in the missing words and see how close you can get.

I watching Bones, about Dr. Temperance “Bones” Brennan, leader forensics. brilliant, lacks social skills. think she objective. show based real life, but must loosely based since so wrong.

Brennan think objective. But if she brilliant as seems, must realize is not humanly to be objective.

She talks terms few understand, says “normally” directly after. example, “He has cortoscopic endicular psychosis. . . a brain tumor.” understands people not know what she is talking when says first term. But, why saying term at all? The possible answer she wants to sound smart. is not as socially as would like think, but instead has some problems ego. But that might not be it; she talks to baby in baby-talk-voice, “you like spacial disorientation, don’t you?” while spinning baby. no reason to try to impress baby. why bother talking that? It’s not necessarily more than “normal” baby talk, but it no more descriptive “you like being dizzy” and longer more complicated. Occam’s Razor, she should “you like being dizzy” and if as smart as thinks she is, have realized that.

avoid emotions, illogical or something. not. frequently logical, just different perspective than think. Emotion evolutionary tool to accomplish certain, works rather well. So why deny it? Sure, emotion perfect; sometimes gets way. But why deny it all time? no real logical reason avoid all.

So in this episode, Brennan she wants a baby. She it will “fulfilling”. How is fulfilling? A baby a huge amount of time effort, not to mention personal sacrifice. not I call fulfilling. No, sense in baby is fulfilling is emotional sense. And example of case where emotions are evolutionarily useful: by logic alone, child is not a rational decision individual standpoint. maybe Brennan understands. But, why try to emotion in all other? children not only scenario in emotion is more rational individualistic logic.

conclusion, Brennon not only illogical and subjective but highly fallible, even with “objective” analyses. going to be a writer on every show like this ever written so they get right. You know what show gets it right? Numb3rs. They know what doing.

Posted in Fun, Rant | Leave a Comment »

To Inspire the World

Posted by Michael Dickens on December 21, 2009

Lately, I’ve been feeling very inspired. I feel like I can change my life and the world. I can’t explain why I feel it, but it certainly does make me think. How can I — how can we — improve the world? That raises an even more fundamental question: what does an improved world look like?

This post, however, is not about that. This post is about why I am inspired. So here I will be posting some of the most inspiring things that I’ve found online. Inspiration cannot be completely found on the internet, but it’s a great place to start.

The Last Lecture is a lecture by terminal cancer patient Randy Pausch, filmed last year. It is about how to achieve your dreams. Randy talks about how, although he is terminal, he is a deeply happy person, and he shares his own happiness with the world.

The Five Things I’d Tell My 21-Year Old Entrepreneurial Self, not just for entrepreneurs! This page has five very useful bits of advice that I recommend that everyone read.

TED: David Logan on Tribal Leadership. This presentation speaks for itself.

Look at these presentations and get yourself inspired. Then go out there and do something.

Posted in Fun | 4 Comments »

Awesome Website of the Day

Posted by Michael Dickens on December 7, 2009

How to discover your life’s purpose. The website mostly speaks for itself. In essence, it presents seven questions with which to discover your purpose in life:

1. What do you love to do?
2. What do you do in your free time?
3. What do you notice?
4. What do you love to learn about?
5. What sparks your creativity?
6. What do people compliment you on?
7. What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?

Some of these are rather predictable, but some are very interesting. What do I notice? Perhaps surprisingly, I found this question difficult to answer. I can certainly get somewhere though. Today, I noticed multiple grammatical errors by people speaking (I have by now learned that people don’t like it too much when you point out their mistakes), but I failed to notice that my shirt was inside out all day. And when someone asked me the solution to the N=NP problem, I responded by saying, “No, you mean P=NP.” That shows where my priorities lie. What about you? Whatever your answers, this website will certainly provoke some thought.

Posted in Fun | Leave a Comment »

Why can’t my teachers do this kind of stuff?

Posted by Michael Dickens on November 10, 2009

Considering how at least two of my teachers read this blog, they can. (My teachers are great.)

Posted in Education, Fun | Leave a Comment »

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