Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Year in Review: Sunday Sites Nine

The final Sunday Sites of the year brings these sites, which go with today's post. Best of 2008, for the realm of gaming. My personal year in review for my photography The theme of this final post is clear after seeing these URLs
Scott Young was one of my favorite bloggers on "Life Hacking", until I discovered this blogger thanks to my brother.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sunday Sites Eight

The penultimate Sunday Sites post comes with these sites.
The Yes on 8 campaign took it too far, now they seek to take it even further. There was an article in last week's Chronicle about how bloggers are the new rebels and revolutionaries in the context of Vietnam, which censors our blogs.
Just recently I have discovered this site, a question-and-answer site regarding philosophy. There is good stuff in there, consider it.
Another blogger/ethicist writes here.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Random Picture

True that...

(Thanks GraphJam!)

Sunday Sites Seven

The usual... Can we consider video games as art? It is a question that has sparked some fun debate. With no doubt, it will take a while for such to gain acceptance by the general public as art. Just like photography and film. Barack's back, and wiser than ever.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ten Books to Save the World

Every few decades, there comes a book that completely and fundamentally changes the lives of its readers forever if not the world. In this post, I will expand that to include books that do not just change the world, but save it. Now, it was incredibly difficult to make this list. While I have many, many, favorite books, very few have the potential to save the world.

10. Happier - Tal Ben-Shahar
Happier is a self-help masterpiece. Many of the questions in this blog were directly inspired by many of the ideas in this book. With scientific, psychological explanations, philosophical meditations and objective answers, in no way is this book dogmatic. Life-changing is a word to describe it.

9. The Alchemist - Paulo Cohelo
An annual read for me, Cohelo's allegorical novel put's intense emphasis on the importance of having meaning and purpose in one's life. It's premise states that the journey towards a goal is more pleasurable than the attained goal itself. A premise that I strongly agree with. However, its choppy translation may put off some readers initially.

8. The Republic - Plato
The Allegory of the Cave is reason enough for inclusion in this world-saving list. In a nutshell, The Cave is about truth and questioning the answers (which, happens to be the premise of this blog). Upon analysis, one comes to question the truth and validity of all things. Should all people question everything, verifiable truth will be a far more commonplace thing in the world.

7. The Fountainhead - Ayn Rand
The importance of the ego makes the premise of this novel. A philosophically challenging tome, The Fountainhead puts forth fascinating questions about creativity and individuality. This is one of my favorite books, and one to save the world from falling into a dark age of creative conservatism caused by caring too much about what others think.

6. Capital - Karl Marx
All of you must be wondering how in ******* hell can Karl Marx and Ayn Rand can be on the same list of books to save the world, but, still, both philosophers make intensely convincing arguments and have very valid points, I like both. Now, in no way do I support regulation over how affluent an individual can be, however, his meditations on alienated labor and safety-nets are fascinating, especially in tough, contemporary times. There is a lot to take away from this and some to leave there for economic freedom's sake. Also, I find that many, many preconceptions held by people about Marx are absolutely untrue. For starters, there is no government regulation over the economy in Communism, power over the economy is held by the people.

5. Being and Nothingness - Jean-Paul Sarte
The pioneer of existantialism, Being and Nothingness has the potential to save the world by putting an end to dogma. Concrete, objective examples are needed for true education, rather than subjective, dogmatic and confusing preachery. In addition, this book also pioneered authenticity.

4. Everything Bad is Good for You - Stephen Johnson
In The Times they are A-Changing, Bob Dylan told concerned parents to not "criticize what you can't understand". I find that most criticism of new forms of art come out of ignorance and an unwillingness to accept change. (Photography was considered a toy in the mid ninteenth-century, film took a long time to be accepted in the twentieth, and video games are still being debated on their artistic merit). This book has the potential to save the world from an unwillingness to accept new forms of art and entertainment. Yet, another piece that can combat a cultural "dark-age".

3. Utilitarianism - John Stuart Mill
Ethics... one of my favorite topics to write about. Mill, an ethical philosopher, was the creator of Utilitarianism, the ethical theory that what is moral is what causes the most happiness for the greatest number of people. A controversial book throughout its history, the ideas within hold great potential for debates. The philosophy is clear, fun and fascinating as well as life-changing, holding strong potential to save the world.

2. Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand
Another Ayn Rand novel up here, and simply one of the most powerful. Virtually everything libertarian is covered here, from economic philosophy to ethics. Now, while I tend to disagree with some of its ideas, I find that those I do agree with have very strong potential to save the world from mediocrity caused by altruism. It's a great read.

1. The Blogosphere - You
A great diversity of topics can be found in the blogosphere. Social commentary by independent writers is in great abundance within the wires and servers of the web. Best of all, it is open for anyone to write in, letting anyone in into the thought-sharing. Constantly growing, the book grows with new chapters and illustrations. Some chapters are life-changing, some are just crappy and some are plain ignorant. But with no doubt, there exists chapters in The Blogosphere that hold the potential to save the world.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Sunday Sites - 6

Sorry for being late with Sunday Sites this week. There will be no unifying theme this week The Newspaper of my school, a relatively small, but well done publication. Ginger Kids... one of the most accepted, most ignored and oddest forms of discrimination in existence.
It's hard to classify this website. Whether or not it is an abusive, trolling website or a satirical site making fun of itself and making social commentary. In a way, its premise is similar to the band "Spinal Tap", which made heavy-metal music while simultaneously mocking it.
This is one of the funniest blogs that I have ever seen. Even funnier because it is true. If Barack Obama is a Muslim, so what?! Most opposition to both candidates came out of pure ignorance.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Animals as Food (For Thought)

It is ironic that I am writing this article on the morning of Thanksgiving, where, soon, I will be feasting on a big-ass meal that will put Morgan Spurlock to shame. Just recently, California's Proposition 2 was passed, which posed standards on farm animal containment and garnered great support from anti-animal-cruelty organizations such as PETA and the Humane Society. Giving standards to farm animal containment promoted the use of free range meat. The passing of this proposition marks the beginning of a shift to more ethical means of farming.

The most commonly heard argument for free-range meat is that the happiness of farm animals is just as important as that of our pets. Ethical philosophers such as Peter Singer and Randy Cohen still hold this powerful point. Behind the scenes, we are unaware of the acts of cruelty that are a part of the process of making meat. Veal cows are cramped into pens so small that they are unable to move, leading their muscle to atrophy and collapse under their own weight. Foie Gras ducks are force-fed to soften their liver. How do we justify such means of farming? Simple. We like how they taste after undergoing these processes. This is not to say that all meat is immoral, but that to place farm animals under these conditions is immoral.

While many of the arguments in favor of Proposition 2 are saturated with pathos, a logical conclusion can still be drawn from those premises. Looking at this argument through a Utilitarian point of view, stating that all sentient things can suffer, placing them in cruel conditions is intensely unethical. To cause something to suffer is immoral, and, since we are causing animals to suffer by confining them, animal confinement is immoral. Thus, allowing animals to roam free on the pasture offers a far more ethical means of farming.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Fourteen Posts?!

All I have to say is that I am impressed at myself. Whereas in previous months, I added new content to this site at around twice a month, this month raised the bar to a whopping (for my standards) fourteen posts in one month. (The Election of 2008 and the introduction of Sunday Sites is partly responsible for this).