Life Philosophy Science

Zombie Reality

I have given them the last rites, now you do what you will. You are stronger than us, but soon I think they be stronger than you. – Dawn of the Dead (1978)

Today’s blog is actually a thought exercise I’ve been mulling over for quite some time.  There has been such a massive focus on the Zombie Apocalypse scenario over the past ten years, it makes me think that if Zombies have become such a pop icon, how close are we to making this a reality?  What spurred this thought today was a recent news story I heard about some gun ranges now setting up Zombie targets for Zombie themed shooting events.  While this seems very amusing, and I did giggle when I heard it, it is also a bit disturbing on many levels.

Zombies, as defined in the iconic Night of the Living Dead, were meant to be commentary on the capitalist society we live in.  Zombies are mindless wandering automatons who exist to consume.  Mr. George Romero is a visionary director, and his films paint a very disturbing fate for the human race, one which none of us can truly escape.  If the dead are rising up from the grave, and all of us will eventually die, then all of us would eventually become zombies, which is quite frightening. 

But back to the thought exercise.  We as humans have an amazing ability to make a dream into a reality.  I think back to some of the early science fiction works from the early 20th century, and how many of those concepts are now a reality.  Fahrenheit 451 talked of wall sized TVs, and we have made that a reality.  Asimov talked about robots, which have become a reality, though still in its infancy. There are so many of these instances that I can cite to punctuate the tenacity of humans to make things a reality.  What makes a zombie apocalypse any different? If you think about it, all one needs to do is create a virus that numbs the mind and removes reason and emotion.  This could be accomplished any number of ways, and in a world where biological warfare is a constant threat, who is to say that we have not already set this wheel in motion.  It would be highly desirable for an enemy to infect us with a virus that not only damages the host, but causes the host to kill those around them.  All one would need to do is introduce the virus and watch their enemy destroy themselves from within.

I personally know many people who seriously believe that the zombie apocalypse is a real possibility.  The power of the human mind is astounding.  It has the ability to make things come into reality by sheer force of will.  This is not to say that we can conjure things out of thin air, but if someone wants something badly enough, it can happen.  It was believed man would never be able to fly, now we can do it pretty much anytime we want.  We didn’t believe we could leave the planet, but we’ve had men walk on the moon.  So many wonderful and horrible things have come from our power of will.

So here is the thing to ponder, if we are obsessed with zombies, is it not possible that someone somewhere will be fueled by all the information we’ve provided on how zombies should be, and make it a reality?  With all the movies, shows, books and games on zombies, we have effectively given someone all the “research” they would need to actually create such a thing.  And if I were a betting man, I would bet on a zombie infection similar to 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later, as they seem the most viable candidates for a realistic disease that mimics the Romero vision of zombies.  It seems highly unlikely that people will “rise from the grave” without some sort of supernatural cause, but a virus that makes people mindless, blood-thirsty killers seems highly likely to me.

At the end of the day, we must always keep in mind, “Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it.”


Philosophy Politics

Change – Promised Yet Always Undelivered

Man’s yesterday may ne’er be like his morrow; Nought may endure but Mutability. – Percy Bysshe Shelley

Back under the frayed quilt of politics we go, listening to the heads bobble and talk.  Every single candidate heralds a change.  Change in taxes, change in jobs, change in our way of life, change in our dealings with other countries.  Words Words Words!  We never change, and it’s because we are resistant to change.  We feel change is unnerving and uncomfortable.  But the reality is, everything else is in a constant state of change.  It is a fundamental principle of the universe. All things change, and fight as we might, we cannot stop it.

I bring all this up because I’d like to start a new movement.  I don’t want to sit in a park and complain about the haves and the have-nots.  I don’t want someone to give me something for nothing.  I don’t want to protest. I don’t want to war.  I just want to commit to bringing about change, for better or worse.  We must change, and when I say “we” I mean every single living being on this planet.  We cannot continue forward in the manner we have been conducting ourselves.  We must find new ways of bringing about a global change, because if we dont the planet will do it for us — as it has countless times before.

A recent study I read, found here, has some extremely interesting and compelling arguments about the current state of the Earth’s Geomagnetic poleshift, which has already begun.  For those of you unfamiliar, a geomagnetic poleshift is the natural process of the magnetic poles, both north and south, moving from their current position to some other position on the planet.  This is caused by the constant churning and spinning of the molten iron that makes up the Earth’s core.  The magnetosphere is the most important aspect of the Earth’s geomagnetic processes because it is greatly responsible for reducing the harmful particles that are constantly stream from the Sun to the Earth.  Think of the solar winds as a very hot hairdryer, and the magnetosphere as a hat.  If you take your hat off, your head will get really hot if pointed at the same spot for too long.  But if you keep the hat on, the hat absorbs a great deal of the heat, allowing your head to get warm, but not too warm. 

The Earth’s magnetosphere becomes very weak when it is in the process of switching.  This means that we will received larger amounts of harmful solar radiation than normal, and this has detrimental affects on the planet, such as increased volcanic activity, bizarre weather patterns, increased earthquake activity and even social impacts as all living things on the planet are attuned to this magnetic field.  There is no question of “if” this will happening, it “is” happening now, and I think if everyone stops for a moment and looks around, you’ll realize that things are changing on the planet, but we are too absorbed in our petty lives and differences to see the forest through the trees.

There are so many other reasons for us to begin entertaining a Movement of Change.  The gaps between the middle class and the upper class are growing at alarming rates.  Wars and discontent breed and fester like a global virus.  We have become lazy.  We have become greedy.  And all the while, we have run ahead foolishly without pay attention to the cliff up ahead. We must begin now, and all of us have a responsibility to get the word out. 

As humans, we crave social acceptance, but also want to remain individuals — there is nothing wrong with that as long as we keep in mind that we need balance. However, we should not only do things for social acceptance, because that is not the “right” mindset.  We should do things that make us feel good about ourselves, yet also improve the world around us.  For instance, one very small thing that we all tend to forget is the simple principle of causality, or cause and effect.  It is at work every single moment of your day.  Everything cause you initiate has some sort of effect.  I have seen this principle at work when I am at my office.  I have seen how one person’s mood, particularly a bad mood, slowly affects everyone’s mood.  One simple word said in anger, can cause a chain reaction that eventually spreads like wildfire from the office, to the gas station, to the restaurant and finally back to one’s home.  Thinking that your mood is your own is a foolish assumption.  Each of us is a ripple in the pond of spacetime.  So one form of change is to be more cognizant of how you treat others daily, and how you are treated.  If someone is in a bad mood, it is always your choice to be affected, or try to reverse the process.

But this is something we should all know, and we do, we just allow other things to keep us from being sucked in.  I have found that when I wake up in the morning and remind myself, “People are going to try to affect you today”, I am able to remain in a good mood all day, despite how people act towards me.  It is so easy to get frustrated.  But also, I have to constantly remind myself of the things that truly matter, and the things that are truly a problem.  When I start to feel myself fall into a melancholy state, I stop and say, “Hmm, is this really a significant problem?”  and more times than not, I find that what I was worrying about was really quite silly.  This is not to say that there are not real problems in the world, and we are all facing difficult times.  The only way we can change the world is to focus on the things that really are a problem.

It’s no surprise that we are so upset all the time.  Just watch ten minutes of the news and you’ll see how we are constantly and relentlessly bombarded by bad news.  Here’s a neat little experiment you can try for yourself — next time you are watching the news, count the number of “negative” stories you hear versus the “positive” stories you hear.  When I tried this, I found that for every 5 or 6 negative stories, there was only 1 or 2 positive stories.  Also, the negative stories were much more emphasized in dramatic, for example one negative story was a triple homicide and the only positive story was a local restaurant opening.  Bad news sells so much better than good news and for the life of me I do not understand why. So it makes me wonder, can we really ever trust any of the stories we hear on the news — is our world really this depressive?  I don’t think so.

So how do we change all this?  First we have to start with ourselves.  From now until November we are going to be bombarded with ads, debates, speeches and road shows centered on the Presidency.  We’re going to hear all sorts of promises that will be broken — yes, they are always broken.  We want to believe, and they know we want to believe, so it all comes down to who is more of a “glad-handed-dandy”.  In the end, it is painfully obvious that the politicians we elect are only interested in one thing — status quo.  So we have to begin by taking a long hard look at ourselves, are we reflected in the mirror of our own politics?  Yes, unfortunately we are.  But the good news here is that we can break that mirror and get us a whole new way of looking at ourselves.    Its time to vote “none of the above”, because we dont’ have any good choices this time around.  Let us stop praying for someone to save us and focus on saving ourselves.

In my opinion, change starts with me and it starts with you.  After you read this, be nice to the next person you see — tell them you value them as a friend, buy them a cup of coffee, tell them a joke or anything you can think of.  I guarantee the rest of your day will feel great because you’ve started an effect, that while fleeting, will travel far and wide.  Its more than “pay it forward”, because you’re not just anonymously doing something nice.  Do something nice because you want the world to be better, not because you’ll get a pat on the back.

We have so many erroneous views of one another as we have been told for a very long time that one person is better than another person for any number of reasons.  No one is better than anyone else.  We all come into the world the same way, and we will all leave the world in the same way.  All of us are scared and worried about things to come, and the uncertainty of the future.  We are all the same at the most fundamental level.  So really, the only thing you need to know to live a good life is to remember – I am you and you are me.

Let’s fix it together.


Life Philosophy Religion Science

A Programmer’s View of Religion and the Universe [Part 4]

“Science without Religion is lame.  Religion without Science is blind” – Einstein

This is the 4th installment of a 5 part series on Religion and the Universe.  You can read the previous articles by going to Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

Today we are going to discuss existence and what that means.  In programming terms, an object is created and lives for a certain amount of time, performing a function, then dies or is disposed of.  An object can be something as simple as a list of values, or array, or a complex object such as a database record.  Each object has a variety of attributes which comprise the object, such as a date, a name or a type.  As the programmer, I am the one who decides when the object will be created and when it will die, but I do this through a set of rules, or logical controls.  I do not monitor every instance of my program that is running and decide when objects will be created a users utilize my program.  So this can now be applied to the universe and the role of God as the programmer.

Many religions believe that God is watching all of us and deciding when we will live and when we will die, individually.  It is said that he achieves this through omnipresence and omnipotence.  So let us define these two terms before we continue:

  1. Omnipresence: continuously and simultaneously present throughout the whole of creation
  2. Omnipotence: possessing complete, unlimited, or universal power and authority

First of all, it is not at all impossible that God is omnipresent, existing at all corners of the universe.  It is a fundamental fact that all matter and energy in the universe are interconnected, through weird processes we do not quite understand.  Therefore, it is not all that hard to stretch that a fundamental intelligence permeates the whole of the universe.  From programmer’s terms, I would define this as the underlying Operating System in which the program runs, and the framework that defines the structure of the program. So the universe is the operating system, [Probably Windows :)] and programs could be individual solar systems, planets, or societies.  Objects would therefore be the lifeforms and processes that inhabit the system.  According to the God analogy, he would decide when everything lives or dies, reviewing each life form or process individually and continually.  Now, from my perspective, this would be more like a chess game, rather than a society of sentient, conscious beings.  Which would suggest to me that free will is a myth.  But when you throw Omnipotence in there, if he already knows the outcome of the chess game, what would be the point in playing.  And who is he playing against?

This, in my mind, leads me to believe that the more logical assertion is that God defined the program, according to a set of rules, or design, and merely observes the outcome of individual objects, working according to their functions and programming.  Even if I as the programmer could possibly monitor every aspect of every instance of my program running, I cannot for the life of me see any point to that.  Objects exist for their own sake, and interact with other objects to make the universe interesting.

And these leads us to the discussion on existence.  What exactly does it mean to exist?  The definition deceivingly simple – “the state of being real”.  What does it mean to be real? I would assume we say that it exists or interacts with the common reality, or a version there of.  In our programming example, the object exists for the life of its usefulness, then is gone.  Or as Shakespeare put it:

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. – MacBeth V.v

But then we get into the most contested aspect of life and existence: the soul or consciousness.  And here I will leave you, because the 5th and final installment in the series will deal with the complex concept of consciousness.

Philosophy Religion Science

A Programmer’s View of Religion and the Universe [Part 3]

“The infinite is in the finite of every instant.” – Zen Proverb

This is the my third installment in a series of posts expressing my view of religion and the universe, having been a programmer/analyst for the bulk of my adult life.  In the first post, I began by describing the similarities between the fundamental construction of the universe and how similar it is to the way software is designed.  The second post, I took a look at the concept of “purpose”.  Today I would like to talk about the concept of existence.

Existence is such a nebulous concept.  We can look at something sitting nearby, and it exists.  Or at least we think it exists.  But when we start to delve into the world of the really small, the quantum level, it becomes apparent that existence isn’t exactly what we thought it was.  Things only “tend” to be there — which returns us to the age-old question, “If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is there, does it still make a sound?”  Some schools of thought would suggest that it doesn’t fall, or make a sound.  This is possible, or I should say “probably”, because of the nature of the atoms that make up all matter in the universe.  Basically, an atom is composed of a cluster of neutrons and protons, orbited by 1 or more electrons.  Electrons, as observed scientifically, have a “probability wave”, which means there is an equation that governs all the possible positions it can be, everywhere in the universe and not just around the atom.  An electron has a probability, though very small, that it can exist anywhere in the known universe — though that probability may be some insanely small fraction of a percentage — e.g. a million billionths of a percentage point.  The idea is that it is possible, though very improbable.  But understanding this key concept, makes it possible to understand the other “weirdness” that governs our existence.

So what makes an electron “behave” or “tend” to be where you want it?  That is another source of great contention.  Some believe something doesn’t exist unless it is observed by someone, others believe it is there when it interacts with something else.  Either one of these concepts presents another problem.  Who was the first observer, or who was the first interactor?  Aristotle tried to explain this in his book The Metaphysics by introducing the concept of the Unmoved Mover — a primary cause or “mover” of all the motion in the universe.  It had not been moved by any other action, making it perfectly beautiful, indivisible and engaged in perfect contemplation of itself contemplating. 

There is therefore also something which moves it. And since that which moves and is moved is intermediate, there is something which moves without being moved, being eternal, substance, and actuality. – Aristotle The Metaphysics 12.7

 This very elegant philosophical concept allows the universe to exist without an observer, but it leaves the 13 billion year old elephant in the room — What was or is the unmoved mover? And how did it get there?  This question again introduces a plethora of concepts which you are probably already familiar with – creationism on one hand, the big bang on the other.  And unfortunately, this is where all human reason must end, as there is currently no known way to see beyond the moment of that our universe came into existence, because nothing was there to record those events.  Try as we may, spending billions of dollars to smash atoms together, hoping to get a glimpse of that first moment when the first particle formed, giving way to the universe.  But we have not discovered it yet, and I would have to say that we probably never will.  Not that we aren’t intelligent, and resourceful, but because the question and the answer are irrelevant.

We are so entirely wrapped up in the pursuit of finding the purpose to it all, we have forgotten that the moment is what matters.  We have existence, do we really need to understand why it is here?  Isn’t existence its own question and answer?  So back to the programmer’s perspective, do you need to know how your computer works internally to use and enjoy it?  Certainly not. We do not need to understand how the universe works to enjoy it, or utilize it.  We knew nothing about the universe, really, 2000 years ago and we survived, lived life and persisted. 

I write software using fundamental components.  I am the unmoved mover as far as my programs are concerned.  I am that which is programmed but programmed by myself and myself alone.  Do my bits of code wonder how they came into existence, while they await to perform their functions?  Who is to say.

Next time, we’ll explore the pinnacle of existence — life and the state of being.



Life Philosophy Religion Science

A Programmer’s View of Religion and the Universe [Part 2]

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy” – Hamlet I.v

In the first part of this post, I began by explaining the similarities between modern software programming and the fundamental design of the universe.  It is no coincidence that these similarities exist, because at the base of everything is the one unifying language — Mathematics.  All things can be discussed in terms of mathematics, and all things can be quantified, to some degree, using mathematics.  So in order to define the “design” we must look to mathematics.

From this we can draw the conclusion that the architect of the universe is most likely a mathematician, but this is not to say that the architect created mathematics.  Mathematics simply exists and does not require creation, just as the fundamental state of existence does not require creation.  Mathematics and existence simply “are”.  It is very difficult for us to grasp this concept, because everything we see around us was created in some form or fashion, or at least that is the way we see it. 

In software development, there arises a need before there is a plan.  A customer describes the need to solve a problem, and a program is architected, engineered and coded to meet the need.  In all my years as a programmer, I have never seen a program appear out of thin air to meet the need; someone must design it, create it and define its parameters.  If we look around us, we see any number of objects lying on the desk before us; pencil, monitor, keyboard, checkbook, house, building, car.  All these things we created to meet a need or serve a purpose, and we use them until they are broken or no longer needed.  We don’t usually keep things around us, or create things, that serve no purpose.  But what is purpose?

The word “purpose” is a very broad term because we can define it so many different ways in the context of day-to-day life.  For instance, look at the purpose of a fork as opposed to a work of art.  Some would say that a fork has a higher purpose than a work of art because art does not perform a necessary function.  We as humans assign purpose to everything, and if something has not collective purpose, we tend to disregard it.  So we should turn that discriminate eye on ourselves.  What purpose do we as humans serve?  This question is what has spurred the millenia long strife of religion.  We cannot truly assign a purpose to ourselves, as a result, God has become the purpose, as we identify ourselves as his children.  This is not to say that this is wrong, but we must then put ourselves in the same role with our own children.  At the base level, children are a drain on our existence.  Our time and resources are spent to care for them, to teach them, to prepare them to have their own children.  One could argue that a child is no more purposeful than the work of art I mentioned above.  However, with a different understanding of purpose, children and artwork provide some level of entertainment and joy.  They enrich our lives, allowing us to enjoy the act of existing.  But what is existence?

Existence, like mathematics, just “is”.  And that is all we know at this point since we cannot define, or unable to ever define, why something like the universe would exist at all.  According to everything we know about science, it would have been much easier had nothing ever existed at all — a universe of tranquility, energy in a perpetual state of oneness and still. Everything around us all the time is trying to return to this state of stillness, only instead of becoming more still, it becomes more chaotic and more disorganized.  And unfortunately, once you’ve disorganized something, in the perspective of space AND time, you cannot reorganize it.  Time disallows us to ever return something to its exact state.  How is this, you might ask?  That is the realm of entropy.

For today, I leave you with these words to ponder, and I would love to hear comments or observations.

Life Philosophy Religion Science

A Programmer’s View of Religion and the Universe [Part 1]

“Far away, across the field, the tolling of the iron bell, calls the faithful to their knees to hear the softly spoken magic spells”- Pink Floyd

Religion has been a source of tension in our world since we first looked up at the sky and declared the sun and the moon to be gods.  We have all struggled with the search for purpose, wondering why we are here and who put us here.  Its amazing to me that we have come to the point we have in our world, where we are so disjointed in our belief systems, that we have resorted to death and violence in the name of God.  Does anyone else see this as a fundamental problem?

I must be clear that I am not in any way, shape or form proselytizing.  My own religious beliefs are exactly that — my own.  Being human, I think it is necessary for me to impart my own personal findings, as I reach mid-life.  I have spent a great deal of time studying other religions, and will continue to do so, because finding a common religion that we can all accept is the only true way we will reach global peace.  We all know this to be true, because we are constantly trying to get others to believe in the same thing we do.  World peace has become a cliche, or philosophical chimera — which is really quite sad.

I dont’ really need to speak about any religion in particular.  Each religion exists for a purpose, and obviously people who follow a particular faith have found their own purpose within that faith.  We do need to understand the importance of coexistence.  Without coexistence, we never have a hope of overcoming the disparity of thought surrounding the creation and purpose of the universe.  We must overcome our urge to disparage someone else’s belief system, because if you really think about it, every religion has its imperfections.  Imperfections exist because we are all human, and if we were perfect we wouldn’t have any issues in the world.  So obviously we are not perfect, and no religion is perfect if it does not appeal to everyone equally so. 

So I have come to several personal conclusions that I would like to share, perhaps helping you in your own explorations of the mysteries of the universe.  There are so many things that I cannot comprehend.  The vastness of the universe is overwhelming and we are just a tiny, beautiful jewel floating around a luminescent ball of pure undulating energy — one star among trillions of other stars.  It sustains everything that exists on our planet.  There is not one creature, big or small that does not get its nourishment and life from the sun; directly or indirectly.  Without the sun, there is only darkness and cold, which makes me think that the sun and others like it, are a significant aspect of existence.  A significant part of the design. 

I have approached this problem the only way I know.  I have been programming software solutions since the mid 1990s.  Object Oriented Programming shares a striking resemblance to the way that our universe functions.  What is strange is that when you really think about it, the universe really is very similar to the Matrix.  It all begins with the fundamental equations and constants.  We have constants in programming and in the universe — Gravity, Speed of Light, Planks Constant.  We have variables: mass, energy, acceleration.  We have a toolbox of elementary particles, or objects, to build from: strings, quarks, nucleus, protons, electrons.  We have functions assigned to each of the objects we build: attract, repel, fuse.

As a programmer and software architect, it would be silly for me to think if I just throw a bunch of code together it will just work.  There must always be a design.  Even the simplest life-form, or program, is a symphony of interactions that allow the life-form to exist.  Then the question becomes, “Who’s design?”

If you strip away the layers of dogma we’ve created for ourselves, it comes down to two simple concepts: Either there is a design, or there isn’t.  The “intelligent design” we have assigned to God, because we as humans must anthropomorphize  that which we revere.  With the multitudes of possibilities of configuration, it would be silly for me to say that the design comes from something that has been humanized.  God, in my opinion, is most likely something we cannot at all comprehend, because we are very limited in our experience and understanding of the universe.  The entirety of human history hasn’t even been a twinkle in the eye of the Universe.  We are only just getting started.

Looking back to the sun we see that its function is not only to provide use with the energy we need to survive, but through complex interactions, its creates the very stuff we are made of.  This one fact is something that a great many people simply do not understand.  Every thing you are made of came as the result of the fusion happening in stars, and stars that have long since died.  The carbon, the iron, the oxygen we breathe, all came from the death of a star.  Even new stars are formed from the death of other stars.  But the sun is not god, as we learned long ago.  So where do we even start to look for the design?

That is an enormous amount of information to grock in one sitting.  I will continue this article, after the holidays.  I hope you return to read the rest, and provide critique of my conclusions.