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Ideas & Opinions People Watching

Dante

In the SF doghouse with Burt
SF Pro
SF Supporter
#1
This is just a little random place for OVER THE TOP in depth thoughts about the nature of mankind, I have these occasionally and it felt wrong to just occasionally pepper them into random threads.
If anyone else has a similar level of overly-in-depth thought about the nature of people, feel free to message, or ask each other questions.


Programming the Mind
Your mind is programmable like a computer, but the code is stored in hardware, the structure and development of the neurons ARE the code, thats why it takes time or a huge life-altering event to change patterns of behaviour, because it takes time for new pathways to develop and old ones to atrophy, this is the basis of Neuroplasticity, and also the basis behind CBT, repetition of preferable thought patterns and behaviours and avoidance of damaging ones is essentially slowly programming yourself, thats why the longer you have been depressed the harder it is to undo.

My thought is that if we could speed up neuronal development by many times for a short period, we could far easier program ourselves into new behaviours, but if we were to speed up the process of old pathways atrophying in an attempt to wipe old ones it would mean losing skills, competencies and behaviours we don't actively use in the short "programming" period. Furthermore, if you develop any new pathway, it can strengthen or weaken, but any healthily developed pathway never seems to truly die, meaning as time goes on our minds get cluttered up will all sorts of "code" we either have no use for anymore or simply dont want, like a PC who's hard drive never gets cleaned out or defragmented. Its just interesting to me that unlike most things in life, our minds are a place where it is far easier to create than destroy.
 

Dante

In the SF doghouse with Burt
SF Pro
SF Supporter
#2
Doomed to Misunderstand.
There is a fun little part of set theory that states that no finite set can ever contain itself, this is true for all things that can classify as a set. It is not possible for the mind, a finite set of neurons and electrical signals, to contain within itself a perfect image of itself, so when looking at ourselves or others (assuming for a moment that the complexity of one mind is roughly equal to another) we can never form an image of a mind so complete as to understand entirely what is going on, we can only create simplified models, but no matter how complex and well considered the model is, considering the vast array of functions our brain has to be responsible for and thus the comparatively tiny space left over for our model, our model, far from being "a little lacking" is an almost farcical oversimplification, meaning that any assumptions we have about ourselves or others will ALWAYS have ample room for behaviours or processes that our model cannot hope to predict or understand.

The practical upshot of the above is that no matter how well we think we know a person, ourselves or others, we will never KNOW everything and will always have room left over for surprise. This isnt a bad thing, it is good to be surprised every now and then, and it certainly isnt an oversight on your part, you are constrained by the limit of physics "you cant contain a box within a box of equal size".

I guess the best model we can create is one which charts mainly their most rigid and fundamental drives and motivations, that way, though we wont be able to predict everything ourselves or another person can do, we can at least guess the rough path they are going to follow, but never forget, even if we managed to make a perfect model of another person, that model will always be coloured by our own prejudices and perceptions.

We can never completely understand anyone, the best we can do is continue to continuously refine our model and accept that sometimes it will be wrong.
 

Dante

In the SF doghouse with Burt
SF Pro
SF Supporter
#3
External Validation
As a relatively negative person let me tell you, you can be pretty down on yourself, convinced of your own inferiority, and even try to convince others of it, but if anyone ever actually AGREES with you, then it is a crushing blow. We are a very social species, our self-worth is deeply tied into what others think of us, as long as people we value in turn have opinions of us that are higher than our own, we can draw strength from that, and hearing these same people having an opinion of us that is lower than our own is hugely demoralising. If you are surrounded by others, even people you dont care about, who think highly of you, it can be such a tremendous daily validation and a drive to live up to that opinion, but if those same people think poorly of you, the effect is equally draining.

As an example, my boss looks down on me, he expects me to need babysitting all the time and as such he has never afforded me a chance to prove otherwise when working directly under him, but one of our clients seems to think I walk on water and will specifically request me when he absolutely NEEDS a job done well, and you know what, I do try harder to not ruin that belief he has in me, and so far I have never failed him even when going into the job I had no idea how to succeed, I found a way.

So in a way, our opinions of others are self-fulfilling, if we dont expect anything from someone, we are unlikely to be surprised, but if we believe them to be great people, we also are unlikely to be let down by them, so in order to raise others up, and receive the best out of everyone, we should help them, value them and believe in them, and in this way, support them to be what we believe them to be.
 

Dante

In the SF doghouse with Burt
SF Pro
SF Supporter
#4
People are Bastards
Occam's razor is a principle of philosophy, a great thinker once said that given any 2 explanations for an event, the simplest explanation is usually the right one. Did the cookie somehow evaporate or did the fat bastard standing near the cookie jar with crumbs around his mouth proclaiming his innocence actually eat it? In this example Occam's razor suggests the latter. Though this great thinker is praised for his great insight, we ALL follow this simple principle without thinking anyway.

Often life can be too cruel to a person, over and over people will abuse them, and others will ignore their pain and still more will reject them when they cry out for help. In this situation they are presented with 2 possibilities: 1) Does everyone individually have some bone to pick with them, is every single instance a misunderstanding or coincidence, or 2) Is the one at fault the one who is being treated so badly?
In this situation, most people will eventually begin to believe the simpler answer, that rather than everyone else individually finding a reason to hurt them that is not the sufferer's fault, it must in fact be some fault of the sufferer that causes their own persecution, that they somehow deserve it, even if they dont understand why. This is a tragic and all too common trap which arises by failure to recognise the 3rd even simpler explanation for their harsh treatment: 3) Most people are simply bastards.

Most people are inconsiderate, abusive, manipulative pricks who happily shit on anyone and everyone around them, and the people nice enough to not get revenge by reflex are singled out as easy targets. This is not the fault of the victim, because fault implies that they are somehow wrong. It is NOT in any way wrong to be a good person. Fuck the pricks who hurt you, fuck the filth who spawned them, and fuck this society for backing them up.

If you find yourself abused and persecuted on all sides to the point where you cant stand it anymore, and you find yourself on here as a result, remember Occam's razor. People are simply bastards, and YOU are the exception. You are the good one.
 

Dante

In the SF doghouse with Burt
SF Pro
SF Supporter
#5
Inception, Advice, and Self-Esteem
Yes the movie. The idea in the film is that they need to implant a powerful idea into a person's mind by directly invading his dreams, however, the mind will always be able to trace the origin of that idea and reject it as it will realise it is not its own idea. What follows is of course a convoluted plot intentionally as complex as possible in order to try to confuse this poor guys mind into thinking the idea was his. This is actually quite a clever idea for a film because it is so true that we can always trace the origins of ideas we have had, which, funnily enough, makes it very hard for us to take our own advice.

First off, people who NEED advice are often in a rather unfavourable position, and if you find yourself in such a position it stands to reason that you dont have the tools on hand to escape it or you would never have found yourself in this situation to begin with.

Secondly, with the exception of the vapid and the arrogant most people are exceptionally critical of themselves, especially when they are struggling. It is common knowledge in psychology now that "we are all our own worst critic".

So when a person finds themselves in a predicament, they often try to find a solution, and sometimes potential bits of self-given advice present themselves, but because of the above are usually quite harshly dismissed. In situations of crisis we will take what we already know and recombine it and apply it to our problems and often come up with a workable idea, motivation, or plan, but we always know where these ideas came from, we will always see the painfully obvious and well known thoughts that spawned our plan and we will know it was us who ultimately devised our plan, the same us who got ourselves into the problem in the first place, and we will see all the flaws in this plan a mile away, and between self-criticism and self-doubt, and knowing just how unremarkable our idea was, we will talk ourselves out of what might have been our best shot for a solution, making it very hard for us to dig ourselves out of a genuine crisis without help.

However, when someone else brings us a piece of advice, we cant see their thought process so we cant assume they dont know something we dont, furthermore they arent currently in our predicament, so surely that means they could already have the answer to avoiding it, on top of this by their trying to help us, we already see them as a rescuer and are more willing to grasp onto what we see as a lifeline, for all these reasons and more, we can put a whole lot more weight behind advice given by others than advice we come up with on our own, especially if we already trust the person advising us, so if you are trying to help someone, it doesn't always hurt to give them seemingly obvious advice that you are sure they probably thought of already, because coming from you, it may convince them to give it a try.
 

Dante

In the SF doghouse with Burt
SF Pro
SF Supporter
#6
Mankind's Favourite Pastime: Politics
Lets be honest here, name ONE job which wouldn't be easier if not for the office politics, name one supposedly unbiased organisation which hasn't bent to political nonsense at least once, hell, even my boss's kids birthdays are a far reaching complex game of politics and manipulation. No matter how much we complain about it, we simply cant help ourselves and insist on putting politics into every aspect of our lives.
Some client wants work done but wants to improve their position at their workplace by getting us to do the work for a loss, we then try to show how great we are by accepting this and then charging them for every tiny nitty-gritty thing we would normally just let slide like how many screws we use to secure something to a wall, or exactly how many cables we needed to set up the IT room rather than a low-ball guestimate, the result is that everyone's time is wasted and the same money gets paid that we originally quoted them to do the work.
A school organises a fun competition for the kids, but also wants to make every kid's parent feel that their kid is valued and respected so rather than a trophy for the winner, they all get participation prizes (which in my book makes them ALL losers) so that everyone who didnt win feels patronised and the one kid who did feels cheated, and in the end it wasnt a competition, every kid feels worse off for it and the parents know it, but because they get to say their kid won a prize at a competition they pretend it was a great idea and the school pretends to care. Much time wasted, prizes that make people sad, and lies everyone knows are lies, but thats politics.

If you get right down to it though its not even something as grand and refined as "politics" its just the schoolyard popularity contest again only on a national scale. In every office the "kids" low on the totem pole want to get in good with the kids at the top so they can climb the ladder, every office leader is trying to make himself look cool with all the other office leaders so the rich kids at the top with all the money might share, every business is trying to convince everyone else that they are amazing whilst also trying to make as little actual effort as possible, so they work on their social media presence and some cool tricks whilst neglecting any actual quality in the things they make, and at the very top, all the certified "popular kids" sit in government arguing about what to make all the less popular kids do this year.

We never escape the tribal bullshit we had in school, we just find a posher and more "dignified" name for the same old crap. "This politician said this", "This business leader did that", "rich kid A did such and such to even richer kid B", "some loser no one likes stole my ice cream, get him." It is just a never ending web of lies, deceit and bargaining of everyone trying to be the one sitting on the top of the pile, and the world would be a better place if we all just stopped and put the effort into something useful. But that's not how people work.
 

Dante

In the SF doghouse with Burt
SF Pro
SF Supporter
#7
Pain and Perception
I have a headache, and I have had it all day, and at some point during the day I noticed something about my headache, the worse it got the more the world faded away.

I have had kidney stones at least 3 times now, so I can fairly confidently state that I understand what it feels like to be in a reasonably unsustainable level of pain, quite recently I went to A&E because the pain I was feeling was simply not right, it was rapidly approaching the all time number 1 spot on "Dante's ouchiest ouches" and by the time I made it there, it had taken the crown and was soaring ever higher. By this point I was starting to lose focus on the world around me, I couldnt even tell you what the nurses who gave me the painkillers looked like, not even general "at a glance" things like height or race, and they asked me plenty of questions before giving me painkillers, so I was with them for some time, but still no idea. In the end I had relatively good doses of 3 different painkillers before the pain dipped back to bearable levels, but even with all of that in my system, I think I was more blind to the world around me when I was in pain.

The interesting part of the above is that it wasnt because I simply wasnt paying attention, it was just harder to focus on the world around me, and I dont think this is exclusive to physical pain. I think any kind of pain makes us involuntarily tune out the world around us, when we experience pain our minds snap to it like a floodlight aimed at a single point, and that may be as true for mental or emotional pain as anything else, making it hard for us to grasp onto anything else, and if that pain doesnt lessen, we will just spiral into it and lose ourselves, blind to all but that pain. It would take a great intervention by the outside world to catch such a person's attention again, to me this sounds like depression, which if I am right just further strengthens the idea that depression isnt some malfunction of a crazy mind, but just what happens when a mind is pushed too far and healthy coping and adaptive mechanisms mean for the short term sustained so long that normal function breaks down and we become a prisoner to our own suffering blind to all that could save us.
 

Dante

In the SF doghouse with Burt
SF Pro
SF Supporter
#8
We Are a Caricature of Ourselves.
In time gone by 2 people would have a child, and that child would watch and learn how to be a human from it's parents, because its parents were the dominant human example, if they talked a certain way, we talked a certain way, if they worked hard, we worked hard, if they were tough builder types, well, we made sure we followed in their footsteps because they were what a human was supposed to be like. Then in comes Big Media

In magazines photos of people would be touched up to look as perfect as possible, on TV and in Cinemas people would try to act like other people, or at least how they thought people acted like, and on the radio presenters became wilder and louder to keep out attention, all these things are not real life, but an impression of it, a fakery based on the real thing, but these things began to overtake out parents as the dominant example of what people are supposed to be, we would model our appearance on pictures that weren't real, our behaviour and body language on people pretending to feel and our voices on presenters being as noticeable as possible, and then the next generation made their interpretation on that, an interpretation of an interpretation of an interpretation of people. Each new generation would base themselves on an impression of the previous generation rather than the actual previous generation, becoming more and more stylised and exaggerated, and then the final nail in the coffin: Social media.

On social media we all pretend to be better and more interesting than we are, we shout as loudly as we can about how amazing or interesting our lives are and listen intently to everyone else's pretence on how we should be living, turning the caricaturisation of ourselves from something that happens between generations to something that happens between meals, a perpetual feedback loop of self-adjustment based on the lies and pretence we tell each other, using the same smiles and laughs and intonation as our favourite TV characters growing up, which were all fake to begin with.

Is it any wonder that our culture is so stylised, over the top and warped as it is? And would we even recognise anything familiar in "NORMAL" human beings who grew up learning how to be human from their parents like our ancestors long ago?
 

Dante

In the SF doghouse with Burt
SF Pro
SF Supporter
#9
The Dilution of Expression
Back in the times of posh toffs and high society (back when rich people took half the morning and 3 servants to put on 15 layers of the worlds most elaborate suit) society, etiquette and language was regulated, not by an official body, but by the propriety and society of the day, and perhaps loosely by the royalty they emulated, reservation and decorum were the height of society so grandiose expression was used sparingly, giving any such expression great meaning and power.

If you ever saw Pride and Prejudice, the old BBC mini-series starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth (dont judge me, also spoiler alert) the moment where Ms Bennet tells Mr Darcey that she loves him is so insanely subtle that the first time I watched it, I missed it. She didnt get a band to play some music to set the mood and then scream it from horseback, she didnt slay a dragon and dedicate the kill to him, and she certainly didnt should "I fucking love you so fucking much it hurts babe!". No, just calmly told him in plain terms, and let the meaning of the confession stand on its own, and to celebrate this did he run naked through the streets with "Darcy 4 Bennet" tattooed on his chest or collapse to his knees and scream "Im so fucking happy I could shit!", no, he simply smiled gently to himself, walked a little taller, and let a moment pass in pleasant silence together. The 2nd time I watched the series through (still dont judge me) I didnt miss it, and I was struck with just how powerful that simple exchange was, so subtle I missed it the first time, but bursting with meaning.

After the first world war and all those posh toffs and hard working men got home from killing each other in a damp, oppressive and never-ending forsaken hellscape called Belgium they simply couldnt see any meaning in ensuring their coat tails were still the height of fashion or that their top hats remained immaculate, they loosened up and let themselves express themselves a little more, they let go the reigns and society has been a runaway train of exaggeration and escalation ever since. One man wants to tell his sweetheart how much he loved her when he got home, and damn the posh reserve, he burst in and shouted "I love this woman" much to the startled surprise of anyone watching and the embarrassed joy of his sweetheart, but then that became common enough and if anyone wanted to really express themselves they had to go one further, and then another, and then another, until we reach today when a guy gets a lukewarm beer and shouts "Fucking hell, I'll kill whichever prick didn't put the fucking cooler on!" to no one's surprise. Now every word has been used for less and less and every powerful word has lost its meaning there is no true way for anyone to express themselves with words, we are forced to use actions, which I suppose in a way has its upsides, but I for have always kept certain words and phrases sacrosanct, I can count on 1 hand how many people I have told that I love them, INCLUDING parents, and on only 1 finger how many people I have said it to that weren't my family. (I think its 3 people total, actually, my mum out of duty, my sister once just to let her know, and 1 other person) I keep the word love, among others, because I want to hold onto that little meaning that everybody else has abandoned so that when I DO want to express myself, I can. But the fact remains that it is a basic behaviour of all people that when they really want to express themselves they can only attempt to one up everyone else in order to show the depth of their feeling, and everyone, deep down, wants to express themselves.

In todays society, with everyone expressing how they feel at the top of their lungs, we are probably ironically the least able to truly express anything with any power behind it, you could tell someone that you plan to kill yourself and they will think you probably just got less Instagram followers than you hoped. I think it would be good to return to more reserved times, when a simple exchange of words whilst taking a stole could be the most powerful and meaningful moment of your life.

But thats just me.
 

Dante

In the SF doghouse with Burt
SF Pro
SF Supporter
#10
The Trap of Friendship.
Say something happens to you, a friend dies or you let someone down in the most terrible way, and you break inside, but as a good person you try not to burden your friends and family too much with your pain, your friends are there to help support them, but when you have something painful or shameful enough to really need them, you cant lean on them because then your friendship would be changed by the knowledge, you just care too much about how they think of you to let them know your darker secrets.

So you go and find help from a stranger, either therapy, a random encounter or a forum like here, and you begin relying on this person who helps you but you have no emotional investment in. They are kind and really try to help you, and then you start to like this person. It is only natural that we form feelings of gratitude and affection for the people who help us, sometimes even an almost romantic attachment, and we suddenly really care what they think of us, and then we cant open up, we have turned our help into another friend, and again we are alone with our problems.

We need to be aware of this trap and always remember WHY we met someone in the first place, why we began talking to them, and what the relationship is based on. If we met them in a place of total honesty we should proceed from that place. They already know so much about us that there is no point in hiding any more, and the whole reason you like them so much is because they have already accepted all sides of you and still help. This is something that members of SF should really look out for in my opinion.
 

Dante

In the SF doghouse with Burt
SF Pro
SF Supporter
#11
Specialised Pathways
Our brains are very good at doing a lot of things, but we dont start out that way, it starts out as a rather useless lump of neurons inside a rather useless lump of flesh, entirely uncoordinated and helpless, we cant even swallow without throwing up again, we have 0 skills, but for each thing we try like moving our body or making sounds when we breath, we develop generalised pathways in our brain to deal with it, then as we keep doing very specific processes like eating, walking, talking, recognising faces, etc, our brains develop very specialised pathways for those actions, we do them with extreme precision and speed with almost no effort because a tiny section of our mind is now entirely dedicated to performing that function and nothing else. The rapid, complex, and precise movements of your mouth when speaking is easily on par with Martial Arts masters and world class surgeons, but thats because you spend such an incredible amount of time practicing and building up those specialised pathways in your brain. This development of specialised pathways isnt just for when you are a child, however, it just develops faster when you are younger, you can still develop specialised pathways for pretty much anything all through your life.

The effect of specialised pathways for specific actions can be frightening, I have seen a whole class of 10 year olds taught to do speed-maths in their heads, multiplying 2 digit and 3 digit numbers together in under a second, there is no way in HELL a university maths graduate like me could even compete, this is because they were given a very motivating style of teaching and hours a week to practice doing a very narrow and specific task, now when they see the numbers a tiny part of their minds which has been refined and honed over time immediately jumps into the only action is is designed to perform, the quick multiplication of 2-3 digit numbers, and gives the answer, whereas the rest of us will see the numbers and engage a far more generalise "maths" part of our mind, which, given its greater complexity as it caters to a much broader range of tasks, takes longer and is a little less reliable and accurate.

As I have already said, the difference between using generalised pathways to perform any action or mental process and specialised pathways is like night and day, so when you first try something, you shouldn't judge your ability based on how well you perform that task for the first time, your ability and potential will entirely rely on the time spent practicing, how many similar pathways you have that can help speed up development of a new one, (like guitar being similar to ukulele), and how quickly you can develop new specialised pathways in that area (i.e. talent). So NEVER get discouraged when you are rubbish when trying something new, we are all capable of vast improvement at anything we try, if we simply give ourselves enough time for our minds to specialise.
 

Dante

In the SF doghouse with Burt
SF Pro
SF Supporter
#12
Ideas are Infectious.
I strongly believe that there are no ideas which you dont take onboard. You hear it, and you react to it, that reaction is how you assimilate it. Do I believe in my Mum's husband's special magic water? Of COURSE I don't, I'm not an idiot, but it doesnt mean I havent taken the idea into my mind, assimilated it, and even allowed it to affect my prejudices, albeit in an overall "anyone who believes this is an idiot and anything else they believe is likely also stupid" kind of way. But it goes deeper than that, the information is always stored, we may have marked the information as wrong, but it is still there, in my mind is the secret method to making hexagonal water and all the benefits it has, and such information can leak out in unexpected and unwanted ways.
I am not a racist (always a good start to a sentence), not REALLY, but since taking on board the idea of race and racism I will never truly NOT be a racist ever again. I remember the exact hour I learned that "black people are different to everyone else". I was a small kid in my back garden with my family and some sparklers celebrating new years eve, when the next door neighbours poked their heads out their window and said hi. Upon seeing them I didnt hesitate in including them in new years eve, I hoisted my sparkler like a sword and shouted INTRUDERS! and charged at the fence joking about how this was our new years! and fully intending to challenge them to a sparkler duel household to household over the rights to new years. I was then dragged inside and thoroughly told off for being racist and told in no uncertain terms that I cant say stuff like that to black people. Thus I was taught that they were different in my parent's efforts to teach me to treat them the same.
Awareness of and intentionally avoiding any barriers is, in itself, an enforcement of those barriers, constantly drawing those lines and reminding yourself where they are so you can remember to intentionally avoid avoiding them, sometimes altering what you would have done anyway to make sure you are seen not avoiding them. ANy idea once put into a mind is there forever, and any idea in 1 mind can spread simply by the sharing of its knowledge of by other minds observing and deciphering our altered behaviours. There are some things people say that you "cant unsee", well, unless you completely forget something, I say you "cant unsee" anything, or unthink anything, or unknow anything, not once you are infected by the idea, and I see the evidence of this every single day in my interactions with others and my observation of their interactions with each other.
 

Dante

In the SF doghouse with Burt
SF Pro
SF Supporter
#13
Compassion Deficit
I noticed something recently, that we all put a whole lot more effort into being liked than to liking others (lets face it, a lot of the time people can be hard work) meaning that there is a HUGE deficit that can never be addressed as demand for being liked is WAY higher than supply, meaning mankind's general laziness when it comes to getting along has doomed us all to being desperate attention seekers.

I also noticed this self defeating tendency continues throughout a lot of what we do, but actually goes further, that we are not only geared to horde and withhold in equal measure, but that this tendency becomes ever stronger the more desperately someone needs us to be generous. Take employment as an obvious example.
It is MUCH easier to get employed by someone if you already are employed somewhere else, and especially if you are doing well in your current job, but the more you struggled in your job, the less willing anyone will be to let you find a different one, and the longer you have been WITHOUT work, the more aggressively you are avoided by employers. Those who really NEED work are considered more or less lepers when it comes to employment. There are obvious excuses for why this is, if they are employed and doing well in one job they are likely to do well in another, and if they havent had a job for a while, maybe there is a reason, and sure this makes sense, but the trend goes on:

- We withhold companionship from those who are lonely, seeking to avoid them and find someone who doesnt need us as much.
- We withhold approval from those who crave it, instead showing endless approval to those who seem not to care or take success in their stride.
- We lend money only to those who dont need it, people who already have a decent income or large savings.
- We help only those who dont need that much help, if anyone looks like they are really in need we keep our distance

The list goes on and on, whatever someone needs, we dont let them have it, and whatever someone already has in abundance, we shower them with more. We only give to those who have, only help those who are fine on their own and only work for those who dont need us, and in doing so we endlessly invalidate all that we do, an as such, our entire lives, as at best surplus to requirements, and at worst completely worthless.

They each have their own rationalisations for why we do it, but the result is the same counterintuitive insanity that is rife within the human condition, that we make our efforts worthless and our fellow man suffer.
 

Dante

In the SF doghouse with Burt
SF Pro
SF Supporter
#14
The Hidden Battle
It just occurred to me today. I was dismantling some boxes so I could fit more in the recycle bin and they were stubbornly over-engineered and strong boxes so I ended up just grabbing two handfuls and pulling until they tore apart, and on the 2nd box I felt a slight click from my left wrist and just as my wrist clicked so did this idea. I was using close to my full (meagre) strength to pull that box apart which means I had off-headedly pitted the strength and durability of my body against a random irritating object and said "Lets see which breaks first", applying as much pressure as I could to the system and seeing which one gave way, my tendons or the box. Before you claim "your muscles would get tired first" muscles strengthen far faster than tendons or bones, so it is entirely possible that, when exerting your full strength, your muscles will tear your tendons apart, or even break your bones. It just seems ridiculous how easily and offhandedly I made that choice, especially given the fact I lost that bet once before and my wrist has never been the same.

But then it goes even further. Your body is made largely of cells. Each individual cell is laughably weak, but we still put the entire weight of a human being on a thin layer of then when we sit down, and what happens to those cells? They are destroyed by the millions. Even pressing a finger against the keys on a keyboard kills cells in your skin. In fact, "Shin Splints" is the result of the shin bones cracking under the weight of impacts with the floor as we run. Our bodies are a unfathomably enormous mass of uncountable tiny delicate parts and yet we thrash them around like they are unbreakable, exerting forces on the whole that no individual part could ever dream of withstanding. The only way this impractically built machine survives is by repairing itself faster than we can break it, it is a constant way going on in our bodies to keep it from falling apart from the punishment it recieves just by walking or sitting, and yet when asked "can you help move these 50 20KG bags" I dont say "but my delicate form! No!" I pick them up and with each bad feel my muscles and tendons grow weaker, I am shredding myself, causing untold damage and betting that I will finish my work before my body can no longer withstand the damage, and though it will repair in time, It is just an interesting thought how easily we shrug off just how absurdly delicate our form is and pit our durability, yes the durability of something that loses thousands of components every time I press on the keys on my keyboard, against random annoying crap in our environment.

Our body is a constant battlefield, when we stand the cells on the bottom of our feet begin dying from the sheer crushing force, our tendons scream and they too start losing component cells to the strain, all to stay upright, then we walk and the muscles and tendons all begin their self destructive dance as the bones in our legs creak and crack from our weight and the joints in our hips grind against the protective cartilage within. Our body slowly dying from the punishment of merely walking to the TV because you lost the remote, and equally quickly these broken parts are repaired or replaced, and we only hope that our bodies can keep up with the punishment we cause, and what do we think of this never ending war of attrition? We dont think of it at all...
 

Dante

In the SF doghouse with Burt
SF Pro
SF Supporter
#15
The Monkeysphere
Hardly original, I'm just going to be rehashing what has been already talked about by smarter minds, but here goes. The "Monkeysphere" is the name for the theoretical limit for how many people a human mind can empathise with at one time. When we empathise, we create a simplified model of a human mind inside our own, we add what we know about them, their likes dislikes, behaviour etc, and though it is all heavily based on our own prejudices and perceptions and extremely simplified, it allows us to put ourselves in another person's shoes, to imagine that behind the skin and skull of their face, beyond the squidgy mass of their brain, lies a mind as rich and as real as our own, and to feel the happiness, excitement, warmth, fear, pain and grief that they do.
To empathise isnt as simple as "there is a person, lets make a model of their mind... zap " we have to work at it, it takes time, so whenever we have a friend, they perminently take a slot in our finite "monkeysphere". (permanently until we grow so distant that you lose any sense of real empathy for that person), meaning there is a limit to the number of beings you can realistically be friends with at any one time (yes animals count), and that number is anywhere from 100-300 depending on the person. (300 is a very distant upper limit, you almost certainly dont have that many).

This limitation is because we didnt NEED any more, our communities used to be small, but now they arent, in this globalised world we can have semi-regular interaction with hundreds, even thousands of people, so what do we do? We generalise. We take 1 slot and assign it to a group of people, ranging in size from a family group that we do interact with occasionally, but not enough for them to warrant 1 slot each, to an entire culture. This worked in a way, it allowed us to empathise and "understand" other cultures and groups, but the model had to be SO oversimplified in order to encompass an entire culture that they became caricatured, and gave birth to racism and bigotry, we honestly believed all Black people were the same, all Gay people were the same, all Jews were the same, because in our heads they all occupied just the 1 slot in our monkeysphere. Then of course came slavery and we stopped empathising at all, but thats a different story.

If you ever wondered what it looks like when you run out of space in your monkeysphere, think about those TV appeals for money for the starving kids in Africa. You see them just skeletons, clearly in pain, clearly in need, and if it were anyone you knew you would be down there in a heartbeat to demand they get help and take them home and let them live with you until as long as they needed, but then the advert ends, and you do nothing. THAT is a lack of empathy, not because you are heartless, but because you dont have the brain space left to make yourself see them as a person as real as you, it is merely a lack of mental resources, not a fault in your character. Of course some people then go on to assign "Starving Kids in Africa" to a slot in their monkeysphere and they are the people who raise money and go abroad to put up schools etc.

So if you have ever looked around and noticed just how cold and uncaring people are, how no one has any empathy for anyone else, how prejudice, bigotry and racism are somehow still around despite us having "dealt with them" long ago, this is the reason. In our modern culture we maintain connections with so many individuals on a day to day basis, neighbours, twitter friends, facebook friends, twitch friends, forum friends, gaming friends, work friends, holiday friends, distant family members in distant countries and THEIR friends, that our monkeyspheres are all full to bursting and we just cant squeeze a single extra person in and have to fall back on heavy generalisations and basic human kindness, the willingness to be patient and treat others well even when on an emotional level they are little better than automatons to us, and that takes a type of character that not everyone has. This doesnt make them bad people, just not great.
 

Dante

In the SF doghouse with Burt
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SF Supporter
#16
Empathy for Insects
As anyone who has ever heard of the monkeysphere knows, we have a limited capacity for empathy, its not a commentary on ourselves, it is a physical limitation of our brains, so when some mouth-breathing, trump-supporting, gormless fashion nazi gets on our bad side, then there is little incentive for us to treat these mere automatons with any care or consideration, and in order for us to feel comfortable in ourselves for dismissing these brain-dead pre-corpses we end up intentionally looking down on them, reducing them even further than they reduced themselves with their behaviour, so we can ignore them or be cruel to them with impunity.

This level of dismissal can be a problem in itself, it makes us grow ever more hateful of these unnecessary twats roaming around fucking things up, and can have a detrimental effect on our own stress and world view, constantly ruining our mood and making us "diminish" ever more people so we can feel less bad about venting our anger and stress onto them, but in the long term only exacerbating the problem. I call this effect "society".

So enter a little emotional experiment, deliberate acts of disproportionate empathy. I noticed an annoying fly-type-thing buzzing around my office today, I seriously considered swatting it until I noticed how it had landed on the wall RIGHT next to me and seemed entirely unafraid of me. So I (a monolithic titan by comparison to it) leaned down and watched. The insect looked like a black coloured Lacewing the size of a fruit fly, and was cleaning itself. As I watched it's pawing at its head reminded me of how a cat grooms itself and the effect was enormously cute. I decided to leave it alone. Yay me.

Then on the way home a REAL lacewing got onto the inside of my windscreen, it was VERY annoying but I resolved to just wait for a chance to pull over and let it out, I was on the motorway so it took over 20 minutes for the opportunity, most of which it sat perched RIGHT in the centre of my vision on the windscreen. When I finally did pull over I gently encouraged it onto my hand, another curiously fearless insect, and took it outside. It seemed quite reluctant to get off my hand now that it was on and looking close it seemed to be trying to eat me. I figured since I had been so disproportionately nice to it so far I wouldnt do anything mean spirited and spent the next few minutes finding some flowers and enticing it onto one. In that time watching the thing I did feel a pang of empathy for it. It clearly didnt like being pushed around and when it happened it felt safer staying where it was... which at the time was on my hand.

Anyway, long story short, that guy is alive and well and the whole experience gave me an idea. If, with some patience, you can elevate an insect to the level of a house-pet and feel genuine empathy are care for it, then perhaps, just MAYBE you can elevate some of the dregs of humanity to the level of an insect and find the same same empathy and understanding for them. They aren't evil automatons designed to make life worse, they are just dumb animals who dont know better, and because they don't know better, its not their fault.
 

Dante

In the SF doghouse with Burt
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#17
Visual Autofill
It is a fun little fact that I have never actually researched at all until now, that there is a big difference between what our eyes see, and what we see. I have always simply taken this knowledge for granted, but I saw something interesting yesterday, perhaps my horrendously sleep-deprived mind is having more hiccups recently but my brains mistake was far clearer than usual. I was passing a cement mixer and for an instant I saw a large, female, false widow spider hanging from it on a single strand of web, I saw its front legs articulating, I saw it spinning slowly on the free thread, I could even make out the distinctive patterns on its abdomen which identified the species, and then a moment later my mind corrected its mistake and I saw it was just 2 small bits of leaves on a strand of web. This isn't a rare phenomenon for anyone, If you have ever seen something moving in the dark or had to do a double take because you saw something impossible, taken another look and it was something else, this is just your brain jumping the gun when processing the visual information.

Your brain is wonderfully impatient and happy to help so when it receives visual information from the eyes it highlights bits, smooths out others, and anything its not sure of, it simply makes a guess and more or less has you see what it guesses is there until it is either proved right or wrong, and then resumes showing you what's actually there. Its like when you look at a photo and have no idea what it is until it dawns on you and the mass of colours suddenly become an objects. You're not seeing your world, you are seeing a heavily modified photoshopped and highlighted version of your world that your mind puts together in the effort to give you more useful information.

Your mind also does the same with audio and touch information, really any information. With audio im sure you have had moments where someone says something and you dont catch it and have them repeat it but for some reason your mind just isnt getting it and it is just noise, until it clicks, thats just a moment where your brain hiccups and cant figure out the word interestingly until it does figure it out, the sounds youre hearing are actually the REAL sounds the person is making, hearing the words as easily as we usually do is almost a hallucination in and of itself. As for touch information, ever had someone poke your back and you have to identify how many fingers they are using? Its actually not that easy as the nerve endings on your back are rather sparse, so its got limited information to work with and if 2 fingers are just a little close together you wont be able to distinguish them as being more than 1 finger... until he TELLS you, or you see it in a mirror, and your mind fills in the information and you clearly FEEL the fingers poking you, again your mind is making it up based on guesswork and any other available information.

Interestingly this puts a different spin on mental illness involving hallucinations, it isnt the sign that your mind has broken and is doing something wholly wrong, but more than it is getting more creative with processes it already does all the time as part of a healthy mind's functioning. Your mind is just "adding more information" this could be a perceived danger from the subconscious represented as an archetypal form of the danger (You feel fear of attack, you see a monster attacking you, you fear your mind coming apart, you see the world coming apart, you fear death you see death etc) or you could simply be hearing voices, your mind using a new platform to convey information it feels is significant but otherwise ignored.

We all have not only the capacity, but regular experience hallucinating, we rarely, if ever, see a completely real image of what is in front of us, or hear the sounds around us unaltered by our minds, we all live in a hallucination meant to help us deal with the world around us, our sensory information on "easy mode" with handy hints and highlighted sections, so seeing anyone suffering dysfunctional hallucinations as defective or broken or anything other than a normal person whose mind is getting its wires a bit crossed is just not true. We all hallucinate, yesterday, I hallucinated a spider.
 

Dante

In the SF doghouse with Burt
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#18
Redemptive Stupidity
When we are young we are invincible, any injury would heal, any minor injury would heal practically overnight, our bodies were building themselves so fast that a little repair job here and there just got rolled into the construction plan, because of this we live free and damn the damage. As time goes on we finish growing but we are still enjoying the tail end of the construction plan, we still heal pretty fast and think this is just how it is, then we receive our first real damage, usually a thrown out back or twisted joint, and we become more careful, and then we become grown-ups and have an image to maintain and become even more careful, we never push ourselves except in safely controlled environments, we become restrained and cautious, and this is bad for the soul. We FEEL old because we ACT old. Scared of getting hurt, scared of looking dumb, scared of damaging something that will never heal. It is a genuine and warranted concern, but diminishing for the spirit none-the-less.

However, if when advancing in years you allow yourself moments of reckless stupidity, and do get lightly hurt for the privilege, it is such a powerful shock to the system, a moment of unrestricted behaviour and youthful freedom. I was reckless and stupid today, I acted without thinking with my full strength and ended up on my arse in front of a client with a grazed palm, aching wrist and shoulder and sharing a genuine almost redemptive laugh with the guy. I could feel the years falling off my heart, I couldn't remember the last time I picked myself off the ground and bushed engraved gravel and a bit of blood out of my palms. I felt young, and I felt that way because for a short time I stopped worrying and just acted, stupidly, rashly and freely. To be uninhibited is to be young, and though I have a laundry list of minor permanent injuries (5 joints so far are sub par now) I can be childish with the best of them :D

It is the silliest and most reckless which seem most alive isnt it?
 

Dante

In the SF doghouse with Burt
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#19
Gentle Reminder
This wasn't meant to be my personal diary, if anyone actually does bother reading any of this and finds it remotely interesting and has ideas of their own about people in general; how they work, odd habits you have seen etc, then feel free to post them.
 

Dante

In the SF doghouse with Burt
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SF Supporter
#20
The Boop Test
This one started as just an excuse to poke people on the nose, but actually developed into something a little interesting. I would "boop" people's noses and when they asked why I would say it was a personality test, and it turns out the excuse was right. When receiving an attempted "boop" a person will almost invariably have 1 of 3 responses, these responces actually seem to telling about 2 things; their personality and their attitude towards you (The booper). The responses are as follows:
1) Avoidant (Dodge)
2) Passive (Let it happen)
3) Combative (deflect the unwanted boop)
It is worth noting that the results of the boop test varies depending on who administers it to the intended target meaning the result is a mixture of their natural tendency towards being booped and their relationship with you, so it is more of a test of their personality with regards to you. Here is what I have discerned so far from the boop test:

1) Avoidant
These people will tend to be accepting of you, they adapt to you and will be a good friend, unless of course their dodge is particularly jumpy, then they simply just dont like people getting too close.
2) Passive
These are supremely comfortable, either with themselves, you or both, they allow things to happen and simply experience the results, not overly controlling, but also not too eager to please, just generally pleasant and their own person.
3) Compative
These are the people most likely to try to take a leadership role in your relationship, they are more controlling and uncompromising, more prone to adjusting their surroundings to suit them than the other way around.
4) Unique
VERY occasionally someone will do something different, these are true oddballs and originals, for example, one person I booped immediately booped me back, and another turned being booped into a performance with odd noises. These people are worth watching, they may be interesting.
 

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