Friday, January 30, 2015

Moral Relativism

Tonight I am feeling rather philosophical, and I want to ask a deeply philosophical question that has been debated in philosophical circles for hundreds of years.

Is morality relative? That is, is morality a black-and-white issue? Is right right and wrong wrong, no matter what

Let's take circumstantial morality for example. Is theft always wrong? What about a person who's on the verge of starvation and shoplifts a loaf of bread from a store? 

Let's also take cultural morality into account. Something may be considered immoral in our culture, but completely normal in another. And vice versa, things that may seem completely normal to us can be considered immoral in another culture.

Is there any such thing as right and and wrong? Does everything depend completely on circumstance? What are your thoughts? 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

My Experience Flying

Pre-Flight Selfie

As someone who has always had a fear of heights, flying was always something that I dreaded. I had never been on a plane in my life until the first time I went to Germany last April. 

I am a relatively calm person in general, but flying has always been one of the few things I have been anxious about. Surprisingly though, I wasn't nervous leading up to the flight. In fact, I wasn't even nervous when I stepped on the plane. My excitement was temporarily outweighing my anxiety. 

When the plane took off however, and I felt the weightlessness for the first time as the wheels left the ground, I must admit that that was an anxious experience. I was seated next to a high school kid who was calm as can be, so I did my best to maintain any shred of dignity I have left. 

I quickly put my earphones in - trying to engross myself into a movie in order to take my mind off of the fact I was climbing thousands and thousands of feet up into the air. 

Rational me was thinking: "Flying is by far the safest way to travel so there is absolutely nothing to fear"

Irrational me was thinking "Oh my God we are going to free-fall out of the sky at any second"

Once we reached cruising altitude, and the seat-belt signs were turned off, rational me began to take control.

That lasted until I felt turbulence for the first time. I don't care how many times you have read about turbulence before your first flight, and how normal it is, and how harmless it is, yada yada yada, there is nothing more unsettling than feeling turbulence for the very first time.

"This could not be normal - is the plane coming apart?? Did one of the engines fall off?!" irrational me thought to myself. 

I frantically looked around and saw everybody either engrossed in the screens in front of them, asleep with gaped-mouths, or nonchalantly chatting with the people next to them. I regained my composure, hoping nobody noticed the scared middle-aged idiot who almost just peed his pants. 

Eventually I began to get less and less nervous each time I felt the turbulence. I began to pay more attention to the movies I was watching on the screen in front of me rather that thinking about the fact that we could plummet out of the sky at any given moment. 

There was nothing so sweet as the relief I felt upon landing! I'm alive!!! 
Since that first flight back in April, I have flown 7 more times. Even though I still am not a fan of turbulence (at all), my anxiety is lessening a bit each time :)
Are you a good flyer? A bad flyer? Have you had any scary flying experiences? 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Capitalism vs. Socialism

Recently, a friend of mine and I were good-naturedly debating about the merits of capitalism and socialism.
When taken to the extremes, both economic systems of course have pluses and minuses. One could argue that capitalism rewards prosperity and encourages free enterprise, but greatly widens the gap between the rich and the poor. Conversely, one could argue that socialism greatly minimizes poverty, but discourages free enterprise and unfairly redistributes wealth. 

Many of the Western European countries have adopted a "socialist-democracy" approach: Incorporating socialist and capitalist principles in order to maximize their effectiveness in unison. 

While the capitalism vs. socialism argument has turned into a liberal versus conservative one during the last 25 years, I often wonder why we pigeonhole ourselves into thinking of it that way. Why is a conservative unable to see the merits of Socialism? Why is a liberal unable to see the merits of capitalism?

Perhaps it's because of the pejorative way in which both terms are currently viewed. For instance, many people have unfairly equated socialism to communism because of Lenin's bastardization of Marx's theories. Similarly, many people unfairly equate capitalism with money-hungry Wall-Street tycoons. 
Of course, both stereotypes serve no purpose other than to denigrate the other in the same way one middle-school child would denigrate another middle-school child. 
So I would like to open this blog post to a mature discussion of the differences between the two philosophies. 
If you dare say, which way do you lean? Do you lean toward capitalism or socialism? Or somewhere in between? Or neither of the two? This is a completely open forum :-) I only ask that we keep all comments respectful. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Can People Truly Change?

I was inspired to write this post while watching 'A Christmas Carol' last month. I have always loved Charles Dickens' classic tale of Ebenezer Scrooge because it illustrates that we all have the capacity to change - that if we truly want to, we can change. 
I realize though that this goes against conventional wisdom. We are basically told, as illustrated in the quote above, that a leopard cannot change its spots. That people are who they are, and nothing will change who they fundamentally are as a person.

I however do not believe that at all. I believe that if we truly want to change, we can. People turn their lives around every single day. 

What do you think? Do you think people can truly change?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Internet Rules the Universe

Recently I was thinking about how reliant our society has become on the internet. It's amazing how the internet is woven into the fabric of every single aspect of our lives now. If the internet went down for entire day worldwide, it would have catastrophic effects on banking, transportation, security, productivity...literally everything

Isn't that a crazy thought?

What would we do if the internet went down for a day? Would anarchy ensue? Would there be rioting in the streets? Would it be the beginning of the zombie apocalypse

I gotta admit, that last one would be kinda cool.

It really makes one wonder about the days before the Internet. It's hard to even remember those days sometimes, isn't it? And it's hard for me myself to believe that the internet was in its beginning stages when I was in high school. 

Remember those days before the internet? When people actually interacted face-to-face? When kids went outside to play? 

Good times. 

I am certainly not saying that the internet is a bad thing. Heck I use it myself all the time just like everyone else does. Without the internet I wouldn't even have this blog and I wouldn't even know all of you wonderful people.

But still, the world is definitely too over-reliant on it. Don't you think? 

What are your thoughts on the pre-internet age versus the post-internet age?