Saturday, April 29, 2017

Look beyond Greece?

The earliest civilization to seek answers seems to be The Greek. And much of thier questions are about the conduct of life, especially the most fundamental activity of life, day to day living. That is what we can gather from the nature of available remnants of Greek culture.
Is it that there is no civilization earlier to Greece? Or, is it that there were, but these settlements were quite self-contained, prosperous and happy, and had no problems with life? The latter is quite a possibility. We have been seeing that almost all of ancient records, either refer to the extensive quest behind life's pitfalls, or offer fresh opportunities of entertaining one.  Whichever way the Greek acquired these answers, whether by traveling to Africa for studying with the wise men of ancient Egypt, as suggested by some experts, or by their own vision, they created what we call, the Greek Golden Era of world culture.
Greek Golden Era is thus the record of the efforts to ward off the failures and the oppositions they faced. Isn't it then possible, there were civilizations before The Greek, and the people in those settlements did not face any issues? They were so successful and contended with life that there was nobody looking for 'wasteful' occupations like sculpting, painting, etc., to fill time? They also wouldn't have felt the need to leave records, since there wouldn't have been a necessity or an occasion to leave tips for the future.
I think we need to study, how people before the Greek lived.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

New 'Hub"

The present turbulence in our societies clearly indicates that something is amiss. Perhaps this is where the causes lie. We need the wisdom of a new philosophy and its sub-sets, to create fresh standards of morals, ethics, and all.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Ores of Life

In nature, things are never found in its natural form. Perhaps few gases and noble metals are found thus, but in combination with other things. The air we breathe, along with much of the matter around us, is nothing but mixtures of compounds.  Since many elements are very reactive, they tend to combine with other elements to form compounds and are not found in their pure, elemental form. 
What about the most reactive entity, life? Can't we think that the life we see in various moving and non-moving objects are in fact mixtures or compounds of life? Say, the 'ores' of life? And we are yet to devise a technique of separating life from its 'ore', each and every such 'ore' needing vastly different methods of extracting life from it?
I think we are reaching many conclusions about life by examining extensively it's ore, that too when life is not present in it. Like the difficulty we face in establishing simultaneously, the position and velocity of a particle, life also must be showing certain nonintuitive peculiarity. Like, having a property of not being subject to measurements, showing a tendency to go against predictions, an affinity to the unexpected, etc.
Can't we think of  living beings as 'ores' of Life?

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Book Review: Where Are We and Where Do We Go from Here?

'INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AND THE U.S. WORKFORCE' - Where Are We and Where Do We Go from Here?
A study by National Academy of Sciences:

Six general findings emerge from this study.
1. Advances in IT are far from over, and some of the biggest improvements in areas like AI are likely still to come. Improvements are expected in some areas and entirely new capabilities may emerge in others.
2. These advances in technology will result in automation of some jobs, augmentation of workers’ abilities to perform others, and the creation of still others. The ultimate effects of information technology are determined not just by technical capabilities, but also by how the technology is used and how individuals, organizations, and policy makers
prepare for or respond to associated shifts in the economic or social landscape.
3. The recent increase in income inequality in the United States is due to multiple forces, including advances in IT and its diffusion, globalization, and economic policy.
4. IT is enabling new work relationships, including a new form of ondemand employment. Although current digital platforms for on-demand work directly involve less than 1 percent of the workforce, they display significant growth potential.
5. As IT continues to complement or substitute for many work tasks, workers will require skills that increasingly emphasize creativity, adaptability, and interpersonal skills over routine information processing and manual tasks. The education system will need to adapt to prepare individuals for the changing labor market. At the same time, recent IT advances offer new and potentially more widely accessible ways to access education.
6. Policy makers and researchers would benefit significantly from a better understanding of evolving IT options and their implications for the workforce. In particular, (1) sustained, integrated, multidisciplinary research and (2) improved, ongoing tracking of workforce and technology developments would be of great value for informing public policies, organizational choices, and education and training strategies.
It needs to be noted that future changes in especially technological domain is largely unpredictable. Hence, a deep understanding of emerging changes in technology and the workforce is needed, and the society to show a greater degree of resilience.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Book Review: Skilful Thinking

 'Skilful Thinking - An Introduction to Philosophical Skills' edited by GJ Rossouw, is to guide people in better understanding philosophical texts. The book begins by describing the basic attitude we need, as well as the virtues required to allow critical and creative thinking to develop. Quite applicable to present world, intellectual tolerance, as well as fairness and honesty of thought, are specified as some of the necessary attributes.
Discuusion then veers around the essential need of thinking clearly - unambiguous, neat, simple words. Specifics of appreciating philosophical texts with good comprehension are then covered. For example  "If one studies the work, of say, a philosopher, the first question one asks oneself is: “What problem is he trying to solve?” This may sound obvious, but in my experience most students of philosophy are not taught to ask this question and do not think to ask it themselves.
Rather they ask: “What is he trying to say?” As a result they commonly have the experience of thinking they understand what he is saying without seeing the point of saying it."
An insight is given into the salient features of reading philosophical text, which consists of, identification of the subject, relating that to oneself, costructing on one's own, the arguements, and ctitically evaluating it. Reader is then made aware of the many fallacies that can creep in, like hasty generalization, inadequate evidence, etc.
This is an excellent discussion of learning in general, which I wish I read much earlier! Very simple, elegant expressions convey the essence of book, quite effectively. For example, while reminding the reader of the importance of beginning a work, the author says, "It is simply the case that a half-finished task is a better motivator than a task on which you have not yet begun". Another very useful thought with holistic appeal is to establish the good things to do, as habits. Still another gem is, "Making your intention known aloud and in public strengthens your motivation and commitment because you know that other people now have certain expectations of you".
Anyone and everyone can truly benefit from this book.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017



And is an interesting look at a human trait that is quite widespread. It introduces us to procrastination, 'a voluntary delay to intended action'. It goes on to examine the ways humans have identified to put off things, how such methods affect them in other things, and what techniques they have developed to do this surreptitiously.
The author comes up with a brilliant question, What good the early humans gained by postponement? He then proceeds with a theory, which justify the tendency to procrastinate citing certain fundamental benefits.
Next chapter is about the effects of procrastination, how self sustaining it can become. The triggers of procrastination comes next. With the help of an action grid, the book enables one to analyze the activating signals and separate out the ones that affect the most. It then describes different ways to overcome such discouraging elements.
Finally it says that the habit of procrastination is self-fulfiling as the act of putting off something difficult and doing something more enjoyable instead will always provide an immediate reward. By admitting this, one can encounter this in a more effective manner.

I find this a rewarding discussion. The author has used many techniques of presentation, like use of diagrams, letter styles etc., effectively, and the book occupied my attention completely, while I was with it. I find the approach good, procrastination can be removed, only when we find what we gain from it, and manage it by some other means.

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Lazy Species

Humans I think are the laziest of all forms of life. One area where this is quite evident is institutional laziness. And government, an essential institution for all humans, happens to be the place, where it permeates the most.
It is a fact. All institutions on some issues and some institutions on all issues are lazy.
Take for example, freedom of speech.
Doesn't freedom of speech mean that there are no consequences?
Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from the consequences of that speech.
Doesn’t it mean, as long as I am willing to face the consequences, there is no limit what I can say?
Yes, that is why we have states. And, is it not incumbent on the state to protect me from those consequences, whether I am willing to face that or not?
But that doesn’t happen. Quite subtly the state is spreading the message that freedom of speech exists, to get a place of honor among the fellow states. But the state is lazy, and it does not do anything to ensure the unhindered spread of such a lofty ideal. Even though, it knows fully well, the possible repercussions of its inaction. Quite conveniently, pre-empting people’s anger I think, a message is always aired, to the effect that the victim is as much responsible for the consequence, as the wrongdoer.
And this has permeated into all other aspects of human life as well. The one carrying something valuable is as much responsible to its theft, as the thief. Or, a woman is as much responsible to her violation, as the rapist.
Who else is the beneficiary, but the state?

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