Tuesday, January 19, 2010

What is luck? Is it a valid concept?

Luck is the relation between random occurrences and one's values.

Random occurrences in favor of one's values are "good luck" and random occurrences against one's values are "bad luck". The less probable the event the higher the "luck" is. When the event is fully predictable in under one's control the term "luck" no longer applies to the situation.

For example: If you walk in the street and an envelope full of money lands on your head - that is good luck. It is a random occurrence that you happened to be at that place at that specific time and the relation to your values is positive since money is a value.

If you win every single game you play in a gambling place that is an extremely good luck - but again, it is all random (putting aside whatever brain was required to win the games). What makes it "extremely good luck" is the relative rarity of the events (the length of the winning streak).

I think that people see "luck" as an actual spiritual entity, as some form of liquid running in one man's body at some time. Evaluations like "This man is lucky" tend to mean that the man himself actually has some quality about him that affects events around him. In fact, no man can be lucky in that sense. Such a concept is mystical.

The reality is that some people have more random occurrences in their favor than their disfavor and this changes nothing of the fact that random occurrences are random occurrences.

Wishing someone "good luck" is no more than letting them know that you wish them success, that you wish the conditions they would encounter outside their control would be in their favor.

So if you are feeling lucky, punk, better check your premises. A feeling of "luck" is not reality based, one cannot "feel" future occurrences outside one's control. :)

Monday, January 18, 2010

In the Dawn’s Early Light: Patrick Henry—Beacon for America

Link to watch the lecture

A fascinating and, to me, a very inspiring and emotional video lecture - by John Ridpath from the Ayn Rand Institute.

The lecture describes how one brave man passionate about the human spirit and the freedom it requires - inspired the creation of the United States of America.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Is there such a thing as too much money? Not for me.

If had earned a lot of money, practically unlimited amount to spend, here is what I would buy:

  1. An ice skating rink, all to myself.

  2. A beautiful house with a huge garden which I would design myself, with a lake, small river, lots of flowers, statues and hidden gardens where I could just sit by myself and think, read a book or have an interesting conversation. The house would have huge windows compromising no privacy since the house would be relatively secluded.

  3. Then, I would have an airplane. Why? Because it's darn nice to be able to fly to anywhere in the world, to visit a great restaurant, or shop for clothes at a great designer store abroad. Which brings me to number 4:

  4. Lots of clothes. I love shopping, I love clothes that emphasize the figure, can't get enough till I get enough. So shopping would be a great side activity, whenever the mood strikes.

  5. A good studio for my art.

  6. An art gallery where I would put up all my favorite works of art which I would collect.

  7. Restaurants and food. I can admire a good meal, and would gladly admire more of them.

  8. Some cool personal flying machine, whatever exists.

  9. A very powerful computer or two.

  10. It's hard to believe but I am running out of things. I would contribute to research that I think would come up with cool new technologies or medical products. I would also contribute to the Ayn Rand institute.

  11. Buy great presents for my family and friends. I would get my little brother a decent private tutor who would educate him correctly, unlike the crap he has to go through at school.

  12. All the music I want, and my private dance studio.

  13. A huge room full of small lamps and elegant decorations for ball dancing parties which I would throw sometimes.

  14. OK, I guess I would also require a car, with a driver. I don't think I will have a servant though, I like getting my own stuff and not having a stranger in my house.

OK, I can't think of more things, but given more time I'm sure I'd come up with them. Point is, money can provide a lot of pleasure, a lot of ways to enjoy yourself and express yourself.

Money also has to be earned to be enjoyed - earned by productive work (unlike just a boring job or just getting the money without doing anything to earn it).

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Thinking in principles

Some people only look at short term actions without relation to the ideas behind them to decide if they should trust somebody or not and if such action is good or not - and they get screwed.

One example is government financing. People think that because the government offers them free money - to finance their house, mortgage, education, healthcare (coming up - let's hope not) that the government is good and trustworthy. However, this is what the pig thinks too about the farmer that feeds it - and will continue to think it until the day it gets slaughtered. "I wake up today, he brings me food. I wake up tomorrow he brings me food - what could be wrong?".

Without long term vision, without thinking in principle and seeing what such actions mean in principle (in case of government financing: loss of freedom and individual rights) we are all like a pig led to the slaughter, led by the blindness of pigs who can see nothing beyond the immediate free cash they are getting at somebody else's expense.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

My thoughts about organic food

Well, I've been thinking about it a little bit since I started shopping at an organic food store conveniently located nearby.

For centuries, farmers have struggled to find ways to improve their product and production. From new irrigation systems to new manures, chemicals that protect the plants to chemicals that make them grow bigger and tastier - one generation building on top of the knowledge of the previous generation. Genetic engineers, chemical engineers, all joined the task of making produce better; And here comes the organic food farmer with one thing to say to these people: "You guys screwed it up. It's better without any of the improvements you guys have been adding".

Huh? This sounds bit bizarre to me. After thinking about it for a while, I see two options: One is that organic food provides better tasting products but in lower volumes.
In this option, it is filling the hole of a needed, yet otherwise unavailable product since by this hypothesis it cannot be found in traditional farming.
According to this idea, traditional farmers focus on volume at the expense of quality, and the many improvements over the years add little to the taste but more to the longevity, size and volume of the produce.

The second option is that organic food is a result of philosophical ideas, the philosophy that views man as a parasite on earth, as an animal with one too many ambitions, an animals that thinks it knows better than nature what is good for it. According to this view, modern medicine does not heal, it destroys, technology does not improve man's life but makes man miserable and destroys the earth. Science, especially genetic engineering is a sin because it attempts to change the way nature is.
Organic food by this option is just another instance of this view: "Respect nature and be humble", "man can never and should never improve upon nature", which means to live like our ancestors did, in a cave, and never try to rise above that level.

Which one is it? If you have an opinion with some facts to back it up, please leave it in a comment.

How can the organs of an organism cooperate so well?

I had an interesting thought about living things. We tend to think of living things as a single entity composed of "parts", each ...