Word of the Day #1

When things happen, you act.

When things don’t happen, you want to act.

When things happen and you don’t act, you fail.

Advertisements

The Absurdity Principle

The moon is made of cheese.

The cow jumped over the moon.

Penguins taste just like chickens.

Most of us have heard the above before sometime in our lives (maybe not the last one, but it’s a novelty anyway). What is it that causes us to dismiss them as utterly ridiculous and unfound before we’ve even heard any evidence? Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, the absurdity principle. While most would call it the absurdity rule, I call it a principle. The reason I call it a principle is because it differs slightly from philosophy to science.

In philosophy, it’s a bit more loose. Mostly revolving around grammar and how things are said. A statement can still be technically logical, but at the same time not be completely contradictory. I’ll site some examples used in wikipedia. (I know, but bear with me. The examples they use are standard to demonstrate this)

“I went to the pictures last Tuesday but I don’t believe it” can be true, are (logically) consistent, and are not (obviously) contradictions.

Whether anyone in their right mind would actually speak like that is anyone’s guess -not that I wouldn’t like to see it of course. However it’s about the principle of the thing.

Now I was reading an article earlier today in the Popular Science magazine. One of the scientist featured in it was talking about how the moon ~could~ be made of cheese. He was asking questions to himself about how it could be, and answering them with as much seriousness as one might come to expect from someone who is a master of the scientific method… When he began to talk about how the dense nature of the moon simply could mean that below the meters of dust there was dense “lunar cheese”… but his point was to demonstrate how our minds so quickly react to things that seem obvious, but are they? Of course when he did mention that he highly doubted a cow could obtain escape velocity without multiphase rockets and escape the atmosphere to fly over the moon. In that respect, I think we can all agree.

So the next time you hear something and your mind screams that it’s ridiculous, try to prove it. You might find it harder then you had thought.

The Pen is Mightier… isn’t it?

Times have been changing faster then society can learn to accept. Ever said “I knew I should have written that down”? Well, welcome to the age of “I should have emailed it to myself”.

Internet

Internet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Society has become dependent on the internet, and this has lead to a mistaken perception that Americans are devolving intellectually due to ease of information access. The reason this idea has taken shape is due to the stigma associated with this age of easy information. The idea behind easy information is that you don’t have to walk ALL the way to your front door for the newspaper. Instead of searching through the shelves of a library, we just type in keywords in Google (Ever been told to “google it”?).Instead of driving to bookstores, we just buy a digital copy of the book online.

The time saved is said to be detrimental because it makes the thoughtfulness needed to obtain information obsolete in the face of the world wide web -Except when math is involved. This is a concern that has blinded some people to the fact that the internet is a tool. It isn’t something that causes action unless someone actually uses it. It’s like me telling you “D’oh! My lawnmower causes me to be tired man.” In that way, it isn’t fair to say that the internet is to blame for an apparent lack of critical thought in society. We’ve been brought into modern times thanks to the internet. How could it be the cause of critical thinking problems? We are in this age where the utility of cyberspace is only limited by what we haven’t thought of yet.

Some would argue that the internet is crippling us. They claim that slowly but surely we are coming to rely on the internet for all of our thinking. This is said to be the case because of the very blessing of fast information that it provides. Instead of memorizing things, people look it up on the internet. Instead of using a dictionary to find a word one doesn’t know, they just go to dictionary.com (Shameless endorsement, but when was the last time you picked up a dictionary to look something up, honestly?).

These conveniences are popularly, because people love to be conspiratorial,  thought to damage the critical thinking skills of people. Is this a sustainable arrangement? In order to be sustainable, it has to allow us to adapt and evolve to changing circumstances. The internet is an excellent example of a tool that allows people to continuously evolve by interacting with one another and sharing ideas –though trolls ruin the experience a bit. It gives us the convenience of direct communication to complete tasks more quickly to accommodate the rapid pace of an industrialized society. This speed, in turn, helps our society evolve technologically and socially.

Now the internet isn’t all pretty rainbows, unicorns, and other disturbing images of the like (Maybe not rainbows, but if I saw a unicorn in real life? That’s just creepy.). It can be a nasty place. Worse then the halls of any highschool, more terrible then being told you’re fired, and it might even trump the IRS (I get a cold shiver if I get a letter from them, because they are never mailing me to ask me how I’m doing.). It’s made people more bold, but… maybe things were better when people were afraid of retribution?

With that, I leave you with a question. In South Korea (yes that’s right. South Korea.) they have a rather glorious… okay maybe more crazy then glorious, but the bottom line is that they use this censorship against the citizens. So the question is: Does the internet make the South Koreans stupid, or is this purely an American way of thinking?

Maybe it would have been easier if we had continued writing things down.

Imagination in Motion: English Majors

In college, what is the one major that is given the most grief for supposedly being the least “helpful” in terms of obtaining a career? I’ve heard of several, but none of them compare to the one on so many people’s lips. Then let me tell you now that most people will tell you it’s English. Why major or minor in it? People don’t seem to understand it very well. They come to me and say “You won’t make money with English”. It’s when they tell me this that I wonder if that’s what society has become.

I recently read a study that was posted last week in the Houston Chronicle about the passing scores of different subjects in Texas schoolsl. Would it surprise you that the math and sciences are on the rise? Both of these being over 85% each surprised me a little, but my real shock was yet to come. Reading and writing passing rate was just above 35%. My mouth dropped, and indeed I almost dropped the paper. That few? That means out of 10 students only 3-4 pass reading and writing. I’m not even talking about getting good grades in it, this is just passing the class period. That my friends, is a disturbing thing.

So I pose a thought to you all. Perhaps American society as a whole, disrespects English majors/minors because the career fields are becoming more focused on a science and mathematics  based society rather then one based on… imagination and creativity.

There are few who acknowledge dreamers. Who dreams the greatest dreams? A writer, or a scientist? Both can have imagination, but who’s is more inspiring. Does anyone look into history and remember many scientist that impacted their childhood with their works? Personally, I’ve never done that. The authors that gave me a childhood filled with adventure was Arthur Conan Doyle, Terry Brooks, T.A. Barron, Brian Jacques, Charles Sheffield, J.R.R. Tolkien, Ray Bradbury, Howard Pyle, Issac Asimov, and oh so many more.

I love reading and writing dearly. I couldn’t live if I couldn’t do them both. For that reason, I feel saddened to see those scores from the Texas youth. I would ask parents why. “Oh parent of children. Why does your child fiddle with numbers? I see them as they do their homework. They complete the work and write the bare minimum, read only what they must, and then watch T.V. Why do you not take them to the library? Why are they always playing video games? Why have they never heard of Sherlock Holmes? Why do I have to explain to them in college why Issac Asimov was a genius? It makes my heart weep for that inspiration they never received but for time lost to frivolity.”

If one would say “Oh by the time they get into college it’s to late to be inspired by writings”, then I’d tell them they were wrong. In both of my English classes, there were, indeed, only 5-6 people in a class of over 20, that actually cared deeply about what they wrote. I count myself among them. To all English majors or minors I would tell you to be headstrong and know that you aren’t *in* your major to obtain capital at obscene rates… no, your real career is to inspire people with your work. To bring a smile to the face of someone who had never seen such a well thought perspective or piece of literature. THAT… my friends, sounds like a respectable career in my mind.

What You Never Heard

Question Mark

Question Mark (Photo credit: higgledy-piggledy)

To obtain knowledge is to have a key. Keys unlock doors, and thus the more keys you have, the more doors you can open. Behind those doors is opportunity to make one a more successful/fulfilled individual. The best way to obtain keys is going to the library. Unlocking doors should begin at a very young age and should never end. So here begs the question.

 

Were you ever told that  a book in a particular section was “to big” for you?

 

As a child, how did that make you feel? Were you offended, determined to prove them wrong, or did you accept it at face value? I visited the library yesterday, and a parent was leading their child through the books in the children’s library. Suddenly the child picked up a non-fiction book about the Egyptian culture. I smiled faintly, but it was short lived. The parent took the book, and told the child that it was “to big” for them. I was flabbergasted. The child’s disappointment was clear, but made no fuss.

I wanted to tell the parent; “You can read it if you feel that’s the case, but depriving a child of knowledge of culture at a young age devalues their appreciation for it.” Of course, as fitting human nature, I said nothing because it was appropriate to say nothing. I never heard those words as a child. When I went to a section in the childrens library wherever I was, any book was fair game. If I couldn’t read it, I tried my best anyway. To this day I think that determination helped me read, because my curiosity was so great. When I saw a book with a catchy title or a nice picture at the front, I *HAD* to have it.

It is much more prudent to say “that book is hard to read” rather then “it’s to big for you”. Why? Because it spreads the book’s *responsibility* of difficulty and lays a standard for fairness in saying just in general that it is hard to read. While the latter is a direct and clearly aimed gripe about the child’s ability, only barely concerning the book as “it’s”. There has been a steady drop in the reading and writing scores of children across the state, while math scores remain high and dry. Schools aren’t taking reading and writing as seriously as they used to, and I think that is an American dilemma. We love science, so of course the ability to read and write is redundant in regards to high mathematical prowess. Or… is it?

You’re thoughts ladies and gentlemen?

Oh Audience: A Cordial Intro

Hello Audience,

To some, I’m a familiar face. To those who recognize me, I tip my hat to you. It’s wonderful to see you here. My fellow writers have introduced themselves in their unique fashions, now I will introduce myself, briefly.

 

I have been writing, creatively, since I was a small child. I loved the thrill of imagination that I would rise whenever I created such a character that even I looked at and wished I could be. My writing grew more towards the analytically side of things. I like to take things apart, and see how many ways I can look at it before I arrive at my own. I love reading, I like video games, cycling, rollerblading, and tennis. I’m always interested in hearing how other people see the world. Meeting people who enjoy a bit of civil discourse is always a pleasure for me. It’s an opportunity, to see another angle. To think differently about things that seem obvious.

I have blogged for over a year, on and off as time permitted. I go to University of Houston and my major is in business. I had originally intended to major in history, as history is something I enjoy talking at length about and generally enjoy. However, as the tide changes through the day, so to do the plans of mankind. Circumstances led me to a place where it became prudent of me to major in business instead. My focus will either be marketing, or management. I haven’t decided. It it strange to me that I used to be so sure of what I could do, and suddenly the unexpected flashed in my vision. I saw an opportunity for adventure that wasn’t previously there. A lure of the uncertain that promised a tomorrow I had never thought about previously. How could I refuse?

 

I wasn’t very brief, but it’s much better then I expected myself to do. Audience, this blog is not just about the authors. It’s also about you. We like discussions, so we might comment in each other’s posts. I encourage anyone and everyone to do the same. One of our goals, is hearing your thoughts audience. To a brighter tomorrow, and the learning eternal. I will thoroughly enjoy being apart of this new thing. It will be my joy to captivate you.