Tuesday, April 24, 2012


            I liked 1984 for a multitude of reasons. Firstly, who doesn’t enjoy a bit of thought crime? It’s not a concept we’re familiar with because we do not have the limitations concerning every aspect of our lives. But will Winston bite the hand that feeds him? Problem with that is they aren’t doing that good of a job feeding him. To fix this problem there are a few safeguards put into practice. The political philosophy INGSOC is totalitarian. And their motto is “Big Brother is Watching You.” Totalitarianism is a major theme and aspect of “Big Brothers” political indoctrination. This philosophy is explored early on in the book setting the foundation for controversy. All of the party slogans are contradictory. Maintaining that war is peace creates a paradox. This and the statement “two and two makes five” is part of the party’s concept of “double think”.  
Back to the main point, The Telescreens watch almost every single aspect of the people’s lives. This is one method of ensuring that everyone is staying in line. The second way they control the masses is by indoctrination is by writing history as they see fit. It’s clear that whoever controls the past controls the present. What I like is that they channel everyone’s emotions, fears, and energy towards one directive: Goldstein. This is one way they remove any opposition.  The newspeak language reminds me of The Giver in the fact that its purpose is to remove any emotion or “unnecessary” words from the diction. This is another means of controlling the people. If they can’t think of the concept or idea of what a words means, how can they convey that feeling? We know what a tree is merely by hearing the word. The word itself is only a conjunction of letters. It’s the idea it conjures that we focus on. 1984 is one of my favorite books because of the dystopian society. I think that Orwell wrote it in 1948 after the war to illustrate some of his fears for what a post war world could have looked like. Besides, there were more than enough types of governments present in that era and I think he saw the possibility of a new world order so to speak. Propaganda is probably the most prevalent part of the book. After all, all of the nations in that time used some tailored for to provoke a response. 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

More overpopulation

Global over-population is the real issue

By Boris Johnson

I think the question of overpopulation is relevant as the article states. Figuring out what to do about it is the bigger problem. Ethical and implementation problems arise. It is like eugenics. In theory, it works out pretty well, however, when it is put into practice, is where the problems begin. The same goes for prohibition.

            An idea crossed my mind while sitting in zoo learning about advances in medical treatment. People living longer are an obvious result. From this, we have more people living longer and this is a factor in overpopulation I would think. Naturally, over the decades we have eliminated or greatly reduced the “limiting factors” of population such as diseases, plagues, etc.  It doesn’t seem feasible, but scaling back extreme measures to keep people alive such as using life support and reducing medical services for terminal people. There are definite ethical issues surrounding this idea.

            Back to the article, Johnson says that population control is the biggest question. I was annoyed that he never gives any opinion on how he thinks the problem should be fixed until the end. His solution seemed vague as well. I think that education is probably the least controversial solution because education is inherently beneficial. One child policies are to invasive into the lives of people. I think the government has an obligation to protect and keep its people best interests foremost. Education should be that solution to using a one-child policy. Because by doing so they are not intruding into the lives of families in a way that does not directly, benefit them. Yes, they are being used as a means to their own end, but they benefit and it should be universally applicable. Notice the Kantian undertones.

            A close topic to population is quality of population. Eugenics – a good idea with a bad way to utilize. This however fails Kant’s theory pretty clearly. I only bring up the topic because with the one-child policy a problem that came about was which gender is more desirable to have? In China the son normally takes care of the family when the parents get older. With most families wanting boys, I’m assuming from the problem, girls were in short supply so to speak. It created this desirable child almost the way eugenics was based on desirable traits. From the two, issues with who chooses who gets to live and what traits are best make for a difficult implementation. I think the reason the one child policy has worked so far is because there is a greater sense of patriotism that Asian cultures have. A focus on what is best for the country supersedes any individual needs.

            These topics get pretty spread out as you look at them from different aspects. As far as the articles discussion of the issues, I think that a carrying capacity is an issue that we should work on. I'll add more thoughts as they develop.

Monday, March 19, 2012

National Geographic and Over Population

I think that population growth can be a problem in the future. I see the whole issue of what to do as very problematic. First off, in the article is says in a few places that demographers were taken off guard by drops or booms in population e.g. baby boomers. So this means that there are other things affecting population. War, disease, science, and conceptual ideas as it stated all play a role. Let’s say for arguments sake that war and disease had no effect and conceptual ideas were a fad that faded.  Notice I left out science. If we have a population that is naturally inclined to facilitate life expectancy, science is the tool for the job. It has proved that way so far.
I have two ideas or hypothesis’s for this. One being that the carrying capacity would be reached and we would come to a point that would require alternative resources. It is possible those resources would be synthetic foods to artificially increase the carry capacity of earth.
My second idea and probably less likely choice is that we would see a population increase. However, we might hit a “Breaking point” that after the increase of longer living people we would balance out in a sense that the new live to be 75 might average at about 100. And the population birth/death rate might equalize. Don’t forget that the population booms and slow downs are most likely going to be in there sometime.
 This second idea is based on the book, The Singularity is Near, by Ray Kurzweil. My idea isn’t actually in the book but that’s why it’s an idea. The singularity is in essence the fusion of technology with the soma. Our intelligence and creativity will combine to produce essentially bionic humans. I’d love to be around to see this. This would lead to increased population size as well.
However, both ideas produce ethical dilemmas. In the first one, creating artificial animals is questionable. I don’t have any specific comments at the moment. But more importantly the second one creates longer living people. This is problematic. Is there a certain point when the quality of life is defiled and it’d be better for a person to depart? I believe its ok to use means necessary to keep people alive but to what extent?  These kinds of questions are pretty big in regards to the permissibility of the actions taken.  I will be discussing, I imagine, some of these issues in the next paper. Clearly with the amount of literature and arguments behind the questioned posed, there will be substantial work put into the paper. Later on, i may put more thoughts on here. Most likely asuming ones at that and related to the article read.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Hero/ Villain paper thoughts

Unit II Essay Hero/Villain

Bernstein’s article tries to dissect what exactly a hero might be. In doing so he divides the group into physical and intellectual heroes. Aside from the group the person is placed in, it is agreed that said person is held to a higher standard.  The traditional idea of a hero is one whom has great physical strengths e.g. the Spartans, Hercules, Superman, etc. I think that defining intellectual heroism is difficult because it does not always produce quantifiable characteristics. His definition four-pronged criterion for heroism includes “moral greatness, ability or prowess, action in the face of opposition, and triumph in at least a spiritual, if not a physical, form.”

 I am going to use this definition with minor tweaks and explanations to qualify my character. I choose C.S. Lewis for his contributions to literature and thought as an intellectual giant of the twentieth century. However, pending research, I may use the same criterion, apply it towards William F. Buckley Jr., and use him as my character. Both people possess some of the same characteristics that put them into the group of intellectual heroes.

Thursday, February 23, 2012



By Dr. Andrew Bernstein

Bernstein defines whom we would generally give the title of “Hero”. This makes me think of all the books I have read recently. The first name that came to mind was “Yossarian” However; I would not define his struggles with staying alive by going to the hospital as heroic. I think he had a flaw that made him relatable. The idea of heroes, such as Achilles having a susceptible heal, makes me think that the fictional heroes like batman, superman, etc have a fatal flaw that shows they have some human quality to them. Superman’s weakness was Kryptonite and batman had no parents. I think some of these qualities are meant to serve as an example showing that; Hero’s as well have struggles, internally or externally. Another example of a Hero of sorts would be Hamlet. Yes, by being mad he in one way or another, he was able to remove Claudius from the throne. But his fatal flaw was the ability to think in great depth about his actions and not be able to act on them. I fell that we occasionally have his mindset about things: we know how to give other people advice about what to do about their problems and yet cannot always figure out what to do about ours.

            A major idea I got from this reading was the question of defining heroism. Are there qualitative or quantitative measures of one’s heroism? I should think so. The military defines heroism with two examples, a Purple Heart, and a Medal of Honor. These two elicit quantitative requirements.

            There is a distinction made between intellectual and physical heroes’. Ayn Rand is an intellectual for her perseverance in maintaining her philosophy of Objectivism. I have only read some of her work on the theory. I like the idea of turning a metaphysical idea into a physical form such as art.

            The idea of a person reaching the zenith of human morality seems to parallel someone attaining nirvana. I would call this idea crap other than the fact that a definition is given “an undeviating commitment to rational values, in action, in the teeth of opposition that would dismay a lesser man.”Morality is subjective to the person interpreting its meaning.  Hitler is referenced in the article. Hitler had his own view of morality I am assuming. The definition gives the term a criterion.

            The article was interesting in the fact that it tried to dissect the whole concept of heroism. I think that there are varying levels of heroism. Particularly in defining how one is deemed heroic.

            There is much more that can be added to the topic. The most striking feature of the intellectual hero is the concept of standing on the shoulders of giants, but not just any giants: intellectual giants. The most defining idea of physical heroes is their perseverance to overcome all obstacles.

Monday, February 13, 2012

I remember reading about the invention of the steam horse. It was quite a new technology. One concern was that of the speeds it traveled. Could humans survive or be able to function at those speeds? Thinking now that my car cruises on the highway at a mere 75mph, it almost seems farfetched that one would think speed is a factor.

            Moving on, I started to get the idea that information, whatever it is, can have no intrinsic value. Its like the importance is not in the information, but in the fact that we can obtain “information” as needed. I wonder if the readily availability of information via Google, Wikipedia, YouTube, etc have , what some researchers think, caused a degradation of memory in adolescences.  Why learn something when you can just learn where to find the information? While watching a video about technology called “Did you know; Shift happens” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljbI-363A2Q&feature=fvst  not only is the technology expanding exponentially by some accounts, that a week’s worth of New York times contained more information than a person living in the 1800s was likely to come across in a lifetime.

            I think the metaphor of “water everywhere and not a drop to drink” illustrates essentially the whole chapter. I think the only information I use from the news regards traffic and weather, after that, it only serves to provide prompts for dinner time conversations. Which makes me wonder, has the amount of information dwarfed the importance of it?

            With the progression from word of mouth, radio, print, and television, wouldn’t the pass less advanced mode of communication be obsolete? Did video kill the radio star? Perhaps that even with the loss in quality and information there is still underlying pieces of a general form of communication between people that have kept all these mediums intact. It’s arguable the extent to which these mediums have shifted.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Postman Chapter: 1

While reading the chapter from amusing ourselves to death, I wondered, “Will I be (fill in the blank) to death?”  This got me pointed in the direct of topicality. They use the wording “to death” instead of “‘til death” which prompted me to think that it is somewhat our fault.

            I noticed that this first chapter goes in a few directions off the start. The idea that the printed word and digital word aren’t compatible in this day and age makes me think of a few phenomena. One being that with the use of printers and computers to shift the medium to electronics means, in effect, made it even easier to use paper. Instead of copying notes by hand, we can mass print and distribute. Our paper usage increased significantly. This may have been an unforeseen consequence. Secondly, newspapers seem to be obsolete. However, the content is still there, it has just evolved to stay in the game. New apps and online outlets have taken the place.

            A lot of the chapter talks about the shifting mediums. Postman says that Reagan was president while writing this so I assume that while writing one of the big improvements in home tech was Betamax and VHS. I don’t imagine that technology was as cheap as it is today. The price and availability is what put more electronic devices in people’s hands.

            The medium is the metaphor is an interesting concept. The last page describes how a watch recreates time under its own volition in a precise manner. This relays the notion that in every tool created has associated schemas or constructs that we all understand. What this conveys, is an idea that the metaphor is a literary term to describe a similarity that we already understand but need a way to understand what one another means. Today, if I were to say “I’ll text you later” or “ttyl”, people would understand the concept. I had one final thought: