I used to have a pretty sharp mind, particularly when it came to simple arithmetic. I think age has begun to dull it. Case in point: recently I had to check a friend’s pulse rate. So I felt his pulse for 15 seconds and got 17 beats. At that point, I wanted to call out the heart beats per minute. And at that point, my mind suddenly went blank. It started going through this chain, “Ok, I got 17 for 15 seconds. So what is it for a minute? It should be, what, 60 seconds over 15 times 17. Hold it, where is my iPhone? I need a calculator. No wait, it is 17 for a quarter of a minute. So 17 times 4. Where is my calculator, dammit?!” Granted, it was a slightly stressful situation. But this is not at all the way my mind used to work.
In the last post, I gave vent to all my left-wing righteousness against the growing income disparity. Then it occurred to me — a totally uniform wealth distribution is stochastically unlikely. In fact, it is over seven billion times less likely than one person in the whole world holding all the wealth in the world. That brings me to the topic of this post – what is the most likely wealth distribution?
I read on BBC yesterday that the richest 62 people in the world now earn as much as the poorest half, which would be about 3.5 billion people! Although there is some confusion about the methodology, it is clear that the wealth and income have been getting more and more polarized. The rich are certainly getting richer. Income inequality is more acute than ever.
Most religions believe that we have a soul. They don’t quite define what it is, but they are all quite sure that we have it.
A bit of reading in philosophy will lead us to the notion that the soul holds the key to our personal identity. In other words, if I put your soul in my body, then you would find yourself trapped in my body. My body would not be going around feeling that there is a strange something inside me. So your soul is expected to be the key to your personal identity.
2001: A Space Odyssey is one of the iconic movies that figures in all the must-see and best movies lists. I watched it in 1981 because a friend of mine recommended it . It turned that this friend was pulling a fast one on me, and I was the only person in the whole movie theater. So I sat alone at the center of the hall to enjoy the movie. I could barely follow spoken English then, especially when spoken with a non-Indian accent. (Or, I should say, when spoken without an Indian accent). The lack of English didn’t matter in the beginning part of the movie, of course. But then I got progressively and completely baffled by the dancing colors and stuff.
I read somewhere that what Descartes really said was, “I think, therefor I am French.” Or may be, “I think in French, therefore I am.” Ok, that was in a phrasebook called Wicked French. In reality, the phrase was originally written in Latin, I believe — Cogito Ergo Sum. It introduced us to the beautiful geeky word Ergo. But what does the statement really mean?
I haven’t heard many concrete arguments against the conspiracy theories except those based on the belief that the government wouldn’t do it, and some emotional ones. The latter boils down to name-calling and accusing the conspiracy theorists of insensitivity, lack of compassion for the victims and their loved ones, lack of patriotism etc.
It has been a while since I posted a new article in this series on 9/11. Recent terror events have made it unpalatable to dwell on the 9/11 conspiracy theme. Nevertheless, one has stand up for what one believes to be true, even when the stance is unpopular. So I will press on with the series, and wrap it up with two more articles, despite the warning from a friend that I will never be able to visit the US again without risking a lengthy interview at the airport. Or worse. However, some truths have to be told, even when they are too true.
It is a sensible question: What does it feel like to be a bat? Although we can never really know the answer (because we can never be bats), we know that there is an answer. It feels like something to be a bat. Well, at least we think it does. We think bats have consciousness and conscious feelings. On the other hand, it is not a sensible question to ask what it feels like to be brick or a table. It doesn’t feel like anything to be an inanimate object.