"I'm Not Convinced We Know Anything"

A Spark

A Spark

It starts as a spark, like the bulb suddenly goes on and the room lights up. Behold an idea that will change the world forever. The innovator salivates, eyes wide open excited at the what can be accomplished. It feels like the ultimate step at transforming reality. This is it! It’s far better than the last one, far more exciting, far more practical and way more useful

Anything that stands in the way of execution is either tossed aside or thrashed with all might. Things that are usually distracting are no longer in sight. They become blurred tiny specks at the bottom of a pile of  tasks that are more exciting than anything else. The more challenging the more exciting. Everything else comes second. The stomach can wait a few more hours, the visit to the barber postponed indefinitely. And sleep? What sleep?

Every bit that works properly is followed by a eureka moment building up bit by bit to the final moment where the world changes forever. And then the moment comes , the climax, every piece coming up together to form a whole,  a wonderful creation, a step into the future…tears, satisfaction, and an eerily strong need to show love. And then the stomach rumbles, the urge to visit the barber comes back, and the bed looks more enticing now more than ever before.

The next day the appreciation is very encouraging. But looking around the world hasn’t changed yet: a reminder that that was just a step, more effort is needed, bigger ideas and a stronger will. So the innovator recoils back to reality…a moment passes…and then a spark!

It’s a New Day

It’s another day. Same places, same people but a different time. In reality no matter how similar it looks to yesterday and more days past, no matter how familiar the environ and the presence of bonds I have created with the people I interact with, the truth is I haven’t been here before. It’s a new day.
The matter looks the same but the interactions are all new to me. I’ve never seen that kid in those shoes, that shirt and holding a banana, walking that street while a white stray dog passes quick behind him being yelled at by Mama Steve all furious at 9.23am. And that moment potentially preceding layers of other moments each a new painting with a deep representation of a new reality. It’s a new day.
A series of billions perhaps trillions or more of interactions out of a possible infinite jungled up together by chance or whatever kind of god one envisions picking up billions of interactions stirring them in a magic pot into a fine unique mix. It’s a new day.
Anything is possible, some of the interactions not great, some extremely awesome, some might change my life forever. Every new second, new interactions, new possibilities. Am I going to keep my fears from yesterday or brush them aside replace them with new hopes, am I going to pull my dreams closer or push them further out into the future? And why does the future matter if it doesn’t exist? Why does yesterday matter when it no longer is? Why ignore today when it is all that is? Why not make that dream come true today? Why not live those dreams today? Isn’t a new day what we yearn for? Well, it’s a new day.

Who Am I

Am billions of cells arranged together by chance,
A multicellular organism like any other,
A product of evolution and nothing further,

Maybe a carefully crafted art piece by Father
A unique design in his spiritual image
Blessed, granted life, and a higher purpose

Perhaps just an expendable piece of several billions
Packed in a world with infinite copies
Each copy with a copy of me

Or am a variation of you in a different skin
Connected to you, part of whole
Might say I am you
Might ask who are you?

Beba beba – Kenya’s matatu life

Beba  beba, come on in, hurry hurry,
There’s a seat for you, for all of you, it’s a direct bus, it’s  only 30/-,
We leave in a minute, the seats are all taken, just squeeze there, but it’s only 50/- ,
We leave in a minute, just one more guy, and we are off.
We leave in a minute, after you pay your money, no refund, no matter what.
Off we go, no seat belts, hold on to something, it’s for your own good.

Yes, we’ll slow down in a minute, after we overtake that guy,
One more minute, two more, darn there’s a lot of them,
Sit tight, it’s a bumpy road, he said he’d fix, if we voted him in again,
We already did, that was four years ago, and he wants our votes again.

Oh look, it’s traffic police, is that a new guy? No, it’s Odhiambo and Macharia,
We’ll give them a hundred, they’ll split, they’ll let us through.
Jambo Odhiambo, Jambo Macharia, it’s a beautiful day, isn’t it?
Here’s a hundred, have a good one.

This is our stop, it’s okay , we’ll transfer you to a direct bus,
We’ll pay them your money, you’ll get a seat we promise,
Beba beba, your fare is paid, grab a seat, we leave in a minute,
Hold on, the road gets worse.
Where’s your money, who paid, when,
I don’t have your money, give me your money, or hit the road.

Oh look, passengers by the road, we have to stop for them, and the others further down,
Move move, a Kenyan needs your help, don’t be greedy, this space can fit more,
Hurry hurry, beba beba, come on in,
There’s a seat for you, it’s a direct bus, it’s only 30/-.

Free Will: The grand illusion

A guy walks into a bar. He heads over to the counter to order a drink. The waiter asks him what he will have. He takes half a dozen seconds to think about. He chooses to have a Bond 7 whiskey from 16 other options. He sees a woman sitting alone at the end of the counter, and a couple of his drinking buddies at a table at the corner. He chooses to head over to the girl to say hi and probably offer her a drink hoping to get lucky. But he is not sure how to approach the girl, whether to play vulnerable and humble or cocky and rich unaware of the girl’s taste in men. He goes with the former. Our guy is called Sam. Sam gets lucky tonight. Sam lives in a world where things can take any direction depending on the choices one makes. At least that is what he is taught to believe.

Free will is defined as the ability of agents to make choices free from certain kinds of constraints. Sam appears to have made the choice to have a Bond 7 Whiskey from the 17 drinks that were available. He chose to make a move on the girl instead of going to talk football and drinking with his friends. He also chose to go with the approach he thought would give him the highest chances of getting lucky with the girl. And it all worked out. Question is, did Sam actually make these choices of his own free will? Isn’t it possible that every choice he made were determined by chemical reactions in his body, his genetic makeup, his environment; factors which are beyond his control?

Can it still be said to be one’s choice when there are determinants at play, beyond the subject’s control? Consider this: scientists have found that about 1 in every 2 people have a gene – DRD4 or the thrill-seeking gene – which makes them more likely to cheat on their partners or be involved in gambling and alcohol addictions. There have been a number of other genes associated with other behaviors that have long been thought to be people’s own choices, like a gene that gives people a religious predisposition, the alleged gay gene etc. Although scientists are still divided on some of them what is becoming clear is that at least some of our choices are made at the genetic level. We practically made them as soon as we were conceived.

And it’s not just the genes that determine our choices, it is the environment we grow up in, level of intelligence, the moral code implanted by the parents and guardians, every one of them beyond our control. That’s why a kid brought up in the middle of Saudi Arabia will naturally become a Muslim even unto old age when he thinks it’s his own choice, a way of living that gives him a completely different moral code from what he would get if he was born in a mostly Christian nation like the USA or a secular nation like Sweden. So naturally we would ask if we can hold people responsible for their moral positions. Is it possible that we have no control of who we are? Is it possible that everything can be determined from equations?

Since Einstein, scientists have been in search of a theory that describes everything – literally called the Theory of Everything. This theory would be able to give us a picture of everything from the tiniest building block of matter to the universe itself. The possibility of such a theory existing might shove us back to the drawing board on the very meaning of life. Given that humans are just biochemical entities, the ability to reduce everything to an equation makes everything deterministic.

There’s some sort of security that accompanies the feeling that we are the makers of our own destiny, that our choices have direct consequences on the paths our lives take, that we are completely in charge of our lives. So it becomes very unsettling when it appears that human behavior, his actions and inactions can be sought from equations. The idea that all it takes is a good calculation to figure someone out and tell what they will do next or even chart the course of their lives with good precision puts an asterisk on life itself. What is the point, if it is all figured out? And yet my mind is made up on this. I know, it probably doesn’t matter what I decide , because I may not be actually making a decision in the strictest philosophical sense of the word. From the way my human mind works, and it’s limitation to process time one second per second I think of a past, a present and a future and think that I have a hand in how the future manifests. Perhaps that is a greater illusion than that of free will.

When to strike and Why I agree with McCain on Syria

BASHAR AL-ASSAD, BARBARA WALTERS

BASHAR AL-ASSAD, BARBARA WALTERSOne of the biggest arguments I had with a good friend recently was on how to treat sovereignty of countries. They believed that societies should be left to evolve and achieve balance on their own without external influence even from more civilized societies and even if the members of the society are being treated inhumanely by their leaders. Now being a beneficiary of western education, something I value very much and having lived through a regime of a dictator who ruled Kenya for 24 years never ready to quit it is obvious that I didn’t agree with them.  Today Koffi Annan heads to Syria for talks with Assad. Koffi Annan who is the special envoy for UN and the Arab League over the almost one year old crisis is expected to mediate between the Syrian opposition and the president.

But is it still okay to talk to Assad? Well it’s not going to be first time that diplomacy has been attempted with Assad and yet the death toll is approaching 10,000. That’s 10,000 human lives sacrificed because one man wants to stay in power? What a shame for our civilization. How do the talks and the sanctions help? Sanctions have very little effect when it comes to leaders determined to stay on. There are many dictatorships that have survived sanctions before.

China and Russia remain to be a stumbling block in change. While they position themselves as respecting countries’ sovereignty their whole point is just to stand against America and other western countries on influencing regime change no matter how inhuman the said regime is. They’ve vetoed two UN resolutions calling for Assad to step down. They also stood against action in Libya and against Kenyan post-election violence being referred to the ICC.  What an embarrassment Russia and China is. But their action this time over Syria is actually not favored by the Arab region. They’re messing up their own diplomatic ties.

In Zimbabwe we have a leader who is 88 years old, been in power forever and is even blocking a change in the constitution that is overall good for the nation. Reason being that the new constitution would stop him from vying for the presidency again. This is a leader who has caused great economic woes to his people and his rule saw the Zimbabwean dollar inflate by humorously high levels of up to 231 million %. At the height of inflation 80% of the population was living on less than a Euro a day and 50% was malnourished. When did it become okay to stand back and watch in the name of respecting sovereignty while millions of people are tortured so one man can stay president?

John McCain a U.S republican senator for Arizona has come out boldly in support of air strikes on Syria. Many politicians have tried to dissociate themselves from him because military action is not very popular among American voters right now. It’s true that air strikes will definitely result in loss of innocent life so this may not be a good option. However, when Assad decided it was okay to sacrifice thousands of lives to stay president he became a terrorist. If Osama could be sought and killed in his hideout without casualties then Assad whose location is well known should be easier to deal with. I say let’s take the bastard out. Let’s respect our fellow humans’ lives. Talking to Assad will not take us anywhere. It didn’t work with Ghadaffi, it didn’t work with Bashir, it didn’t work with Gbagbo.

I say strike, influence, change. We are all humans, the reason we appear to be of different cultures is because of the silly boundaries we’ve created. The boundaries have resulted in the Arabs treating their women like second class citizens while elsewhere they’re empowered and free living their full potential. It has resulted in parts of Africa starving to death while other parts of the world die of obesity. It has led to leaders torturing their people and shutting them up making themselves gods while in other parts simple mistakes by leaders end their rule because its people’s voice is powerful enough to execute that change, and they have the freedom to do so.

What’s the point of boundaries, sovereignty, citizenships? How do they help us move forward as a species? Despite being the most evolved species we still live in packs like wolves. We are one society: humans. The sooner we recognize that the better off we’ll be. For we’ll no longer let the neighbor torture others and declare sovereignty. Sovereignty my ass.

 

 

Upcoming 2012 Sci-Fi Movies To Look Foward To

1. Resident Evil:Retribution
This is going to be the 5th episode of the Resident Evil series. Resident Evil 1 was awesome the next 3 were just okay. If they are going to continue producing with the story they should at least keep it as exciting as the first part. However, when all is said and done Resident Evil remains one of the best movies I’ve seen. Milla Jovovich – sassy as always – does a great job and her almost expressionless almost robotic face ironically adds more character to her character. Release date for retribution is set at September 14th 2012 – a few months before the world ends :) The trailer looks promising, hopefully this will be better than parts 2, 3 and 4.

2. G.I. Joe: Retaliation
After G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra I must say the producers of this series really know how to thrill. It is packed with cutting edge futuristic technology and is action tense all the way, oh and really nice shots of Paris. The only other time I was ever hooked to a movie from start to finish was watching “Eagle Eye”. I know, right? In this episode Cobra spy Zartan has most of the Joes assassinated, the remaining Joes band together to strike back.

3. Men In Black III
Yeah I know, it’s not the boldest science fiction film. However it has its moments and you’ll find it pretty entertaining if you ignore the terrible science. The aliens are pretty funny and its the same humorous crew: Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones.

4. Prometheus
You give any science fiction film a Greek name and I’ll watch it no matter how terrible it is. And this one doesn’t sound terrible at all: A team of explorers discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a journey to the darkest corners of the universe. There, they must fight a terrifying battle to save the future of the human race. Release date is set for 8th June 2012.

5. John Carter
If you enjoyed Avatar you’ll probably enjoy this. It has the same futuristic theme with a tint of fantasy. However this one looks more violent.
Transplanted to Mars, a Civil War vet discovers a lush planet inhabited by 12-foot tall barbarians. Finding himself a prisoner of these creatures, he escapes, only to encounter a princess who is in desperate need of a savior.

6. The Avengers
Okay am not the biggest fan of superhero movies but this one looks worth my time. The trailer had me go “Holy shit”. Release date is set for May 4th 2012.
Nick Fury and the international agency S.H.I.E.L.D. bring together a team of super humans to form The Avengers to help save the Earth from Loki & his various membered army.

7. Neighbourhood watch
Another fun Ben Stiller movie, this one with aliens too and Richard Ayoade(from IT Crowd UK). Advance ticket anyone? This is more comedy than science fiction but still… Release date 27th July 2012
Suburban dads form a neighborhood watch group to get time away from their families, only to discover a plot to destroy Earth.

8. Battleship
Am going to watch this despite the fact that Rihanna is in it. Release date set on 18th May 2012
A fleet of ships is forced to do battle with an armada of unknown origins in order to discover and thwart their destructive goals.

9. Total Recall
As the nation states Euromerica and New Shanghai vie for supremacy, a factory worker (Farrell) begins to suspect that he’s a spy, though he is unaware which side of the fight he’s on. – 3rd Release date is August 2012.