Do you have to be intelligent to be evil?


A question like “do you have to be intelligent to be evil” can seem philosophical and vague, but it becomes less theoretical when you apply it to a death penalty court case like the one that has played out in Georgia. Must there be a conniving, Machiavellian mind behind evil, or is it something inherent in anyone — or everyone?

…..At the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s department of cognitive science, a research team explored the logic of evil by programming a computer character named “E” that “acted on” or was motivated by a definition of evil. The Rensselaer crew defined an evil person as one who decided to commit an immoral act without prompting and carry out the plan with the expectation of considerable harm. When reflecting on those deeds, the person would either find incoherent reasons for his or her actions or think the damage caused was good.

….Trying to get an objective answer about evil or intelligence is never going to work. We all have too many inherent prejudices and biases to ever get a response that satisfies us. But looking at something like Dr. Welner’s Depravity Scale does lead me to believe that critical thinking about intelligence and evil does have a purpose in our society: if we’re ever asked to use our own definitions of what is evil and intelligent to judge someone’s actions, we better have a compelling reason to believe our own opinions.

Hakone Open Air Museum

Intelligence and Evil

 

That was an excerpt from an article I read the other day, and though it goes on to talk about insanity pleas and so on, it reminded me of what weighs on all our minds.

Like a lot of us, I’ve been watching Gaza, and also the Malaysian plane shot down in Ukraine.

Since I can’t do anything else to help this world gone mad, where children are murdered (while they play on a beach or fly 33,000 ft above the earth towards a vacation or their homes), I try to gather positive energies. If the world goes negative, the only thing in my small, insignificant hands is to be positive. I can only add myself to the sum total of positive energies in this world, and thus stand against the negatives.

But somehow, I wonder whether the intelligence that has given us humans such an advantage in evolution would one day be our undoing. (Even in the animal world, it is the dolphins who rape, the chimpanzees who murder– is evil a function of intelligence quotient, after all?)

What do you think? Is what’s happening in the war-torn areas of the world a result of intelligence gone mad? Other than ranting and fighting virtual wars on Facebook, how can we as human beings help undo this horrific situation?

Are You Really Dead When They Say You Are?


The Evolution of Death

The Evolution of Death

What is the one certainty of life? Death, right? But it is the least discussed of topics. People call you morbid, negative, depressed if you talk about it.

To me, since we’ve all got to face it some day, what’s the harm in touching on it once in a while?

I recently came across an article that talks about the moment of death, and what fascinated me was that the scientific community is still uncertain about the exact moment of death:

 “Most of us would agree that King Tut and the other mummified ancient Egyptians are dead, and that you and I are alive. Somewhere in between these two states lies the moment of death. But where is that? The old standby — and not such a bad standard — is the stopping of the heart. But the stopping of a heart is anything but irreversible. We’ve seen hearts start up again on their own inside the body, outside the body, even in someone else’s body. Christian Barnard was the first to show us that a heart could stop in one body and be fired up in another.

As I went on to read it, I was intrigued by the concept of life residing in various parts of the human body, not just in the brain or heart: (Warning: this gets a little gory)

“What’s alive and what’s dead breaks down when we get above the cellular level,” Sorenson says. “Pathologists don’t feel comfortable that a brain is dead until the cell walls break down. True cell death is a daylong process.”

…Cell death is far removed from brain death. As shown, brain death can be declared when only a few brain cells have actually died. Cells in the remainder of the body are alive and kicking. Brain-dead patients being sustained as beating-heart cadavers are still supplying most of their body’s cells with blood and thus oxygen, so total cell death is nowhere in sight. Cell death begins in earnest when the heart stops beating and the lungs cease to breathe. No longer being pumped through the body, the blood will drain from the blood vessels at the top of the body and collect in the lower part. The upper body will become pale, the lower body turning much darker, looking bruised. This is livor mortis.

Even at this point, however, most cells are still not dead. After the heart stops, brain cells will die in a few minutes. Muscle cells can hold on for several hours, and skin and bone cells can stay alive for days. Cells switch from aerobic (with oxygen) respiration to anaerobic (without oxygen) when the blood stops circulating. A by-product of anaerobic respiration is lactic acid, which is what makes your arm muscles hurt during arm wrestling or your legs hurt during a hard run. When you are alive, your blood flow clears out the acid, but in a dead person the body stiffens. This is rigor mortis. Rigor mortis usually begins about three hours after the heart stops and lasts thirty-six hours. Eventually all of the cells die. After rigor mortis come initial decay, putrefaction, black putrefaction, and butyric fermentation. Somewhere in these processes — taking as long as a year, depending on the conditions and the weather — is a moment of death. Where that is may be impossible to determine.

To get a better picture of what I’m talking about, read the article– because it talks not just about the moment of death, but the question of selfhood, and how important human beings really are, are we the ultimate in evolution?

Do you ever wonder about death? Do we think more about death as we grow older? What is death, really? What is the moment of death? Are you really dead when they say you are?

Are Mistakes Such Terrible Things?


I’m taking a break from my blog, and in the time I’m away, Kate McManus has kindly offered to write me a post. This blog talks about questions surrounding life and writing, and I think the questions she asks in this post fit in neatly with my take on writing, life, and everything else in between.

Take it away, Kate!

——————

“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honourable but more useful than a life spent doing nothing”

George Bernard Shaw

Mistakes in Writing

Mistakes in Writing

We don’t like them and twist ourselves inside out to avoid them. But are mistakes such terrible things ? It goes back to early conditioning in childhood. We are told there is a right and a wrong way to approach a task. It’s a simple framework our society provides to keep us from the stress and chaos of having to make our own decisions before we have developed that capacity. It’s something we need to outgrow and as we mature, come to appreciate that everything is multifaceted and can be both wrong and right at the same time.

“Why did I do that? I knew it wasn’t going to work out” A friend once exclaimed to me after going on a holiday- which produced another destructive romantic fling.To heal deep patterns in our life, it’s sometimes necessary to repeat them in order to gain the clarity and consciousness which will manifest permanent change. Most of our patterns are built unconsciously over time and so require this deep level of commitment to awareness of the triggers which produce the mistakes or errors of judgement. In this case, a repetitive mistake can become a healing tool, a portal to new life

To fully access our creative imagination, we have to let go of the right/wrong, rational /linear paradigm. Writing is one big mistake to which we apply the remedy of editing so that it can make sense to our readers. As Ernest Hemingway perspicaciously once said “The first draft of anything is shit.” Struggling for perfection in the early stages of writing is sadomasochistic and ultimately unproductive. Let the mistakes flow! Can you imagine the first draft of James Joyce “Ulysses” ?

Mistakes when you travel can produce fortunate adventures; It’s the mistake which makes your journey unique. That time when you wandered away from the planned route and discovered a completely different part of a city. Mistakes are a large part of the road less travelled.

Is life itself a mistake? Cosmologists now advise us us about the serendipitous evolution of human life; it’s inherent impossibility and fragility which evolved into the dominant life force on the planet.What a happy accident for all of us on planet earth!

Kate McManus travel blogger

Kate McManus

Kate is a blogger, writer, astrologer and healer, who travels around Australia doing house sitting. As an animal lover, she enjoys the companionship of all kinds of pets as she explores different parts of the country. Kate applies an understanding of the Astrological Archetypes to her life and travels. In between house sits, she likes to visit her family and two grandchildren in Canberra.

You can visit her blog at http://www.lightravellerkate.wordpress.com and Facebook page “The Conscious Cosmic Traveller “

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So, what’s your reaction when you realize you’ve made a mistake? How do you treat someone who’s made a mistake– a friend, a partner, a spoude, a sibling, a child, a parent? Is there a mistake you’re glad you made?

Do You Swim Free?


Swimming free of the hourglass

Breaking out of the Hourglass

I don’t know about other parts of my life, but when it comes to writing, I hate comfort zones.

I like to swim free, break the bounds of my aquarium.

The minute I’ve figured out a way to say something, a bit of craft or technique, I start searching for other ways. When I think I know enough about a character, I let him or her go in search of new ones.

I’ve read authors who hash the same thing over and over, who keep milking a premise or an idea till I know I don’t need to read any more of their books. I know what their next book would be about, and the next. While there is comfort in familiarity, there is no excitement. And my sedate self likes adventure when it comes to reading and writing.

Sometimes I feel like a particle of sand trapped in an hourglass, rising and falling in the same confined space– and that’s when I break out, write in a different genre, try an experimental narrative structure, read an anthology of poetry from cover to cover.

So do you like breaking out of the hourglass? Do you believe in smoking new words for a different pipe dream?

Do You #Write Down Your Dreams?


Pablo Picasso's Woman Dreaming

Living in Your Dream 

Dreams pass into the reality of action. From the actions stems the dream again; and this interdependence produces the highest form of living.

—Anais Nin

I’ve talked about living my dreams before, and lately I’ve been doing a fair bit of dreaming on the page, where dreams pass into the reality of action. Writing fiction is the best form of daydreaming, but sometimes I find my dreams at night intriguing, too.

Last night I dreamed I was a teenager again, and beside me sat a small child, who was trying to be helpful.

I was trying to give her a ride on my bike, but the pedals wouldn’t move, so I took them apart (something I would never do in real life), and then, I took the plate in which the pedals sat and thought of (what I imagined) a wonderful idea.

I would put in cake batter, shut it, and as I pedaled away, the plate would warm up and at the end of a few miles, we would have this  cake to eat!

The child helped me break the eggs, whip the batter, and stir in raisins and  walnuts. And then off we went, but instead of the cake, of course we had goo pouring down the pedals and into my shoes.

I was so upset when I woke up. All that batter gone to waste, and that disappointed child at the end of the trip.

I know I have a little girl in a current WIP who doesn’t have much good in store for her, so my subconscious is possibly trying to make her happy in its own weird way, and failing miserably. It is my book leaking into my dreams, and now the dream has leaked into my day.

What do you dream most often about? Do you write down your dreams?

Sooner or Later You Face the World


When I was told in a comment this morning that I needed penis enlargement, it woke me up. My blog is being overtaken by spam, of all things. I spammed the comment, and opened my spam folder to find 1017 gems.

Face the world

Face the world

I would have deleted the whole enchilada but I saw a comment or two from names I recognized, trapped in as well. So, I trawled through the muck, and have just about got my head into normal breathing space now. One thing is clear: I need to stop hiding, and start writing, much as I’ve begun to do on my other blog.

I wonder who these people are, the spammers? Are they pimply teenage boys and girls looking to make that extra buck? Are they aliens with 4 eyes and 16 arms? Most likely they are enterprising souls who wear designer duds and party the night away, or sit holed up in their space-console-like dens and create these vicious little programs, which run on hundreds upon thousands of unsuspecting little computers, unaware that they are soldiers of an invisible army. For some reason they believe that spewing out tonnes of ungrammatical gibberish will help their cause.

I can’t resist quoting a few here for your enjoyment. Take care, all, and hopefully, this blog is now back to regular programming.

Only possible one warning, typically start with solitary two torpedoes.
Use alcohol to permit control the slugs in your garden by fashioning the beer trap.

Clothing is one of belly ways through which you’ll want to judge a woman. All the most up-to-date fashion their very outfits tools to look at these people.

Then test it on your little brown eyes by dropping an drop into personal eye.
They have many benefits due to actually their
working components.

Usually I don’t read article on blogs, but I wish to say that this write-up very pressured me to take a look at and do so! Your writing taste has been amazed me. Thanks, quite nice post.

What Do You Do When You Feel a Rant Coming?


I’ve come across quite a few blogs where the owners tell us a story from a day in their life. Most of the time, it is about how miserable they are, how life sucks, how folks upset them.
I understand the need to vent, but something tells me that venting in public, and often, may just be detrimental– we’re sending out angst and negativity to the world in general– is that the sort of energy we would like to receive?

Yes, the ranters get sympathy, ‘get well soon’, and ‘feel better’, ‘hope it works out’ — and that helps soothe ruffled feathers. But for how long?

I myself have ranted, a rare once in a while, but nowadays, even when I feel like ranting, I tend to think twice.

What am I ranting about? Is there something I can do to mend the situation? If it is out of my control, will ranting help? Most of the times, I find that my rant dissipates if I give it time.I find I’d rather watch my aquarium fish instead.

Here’s a video of my old aquarium:

Reminds me I have to make videos of my new ones.

Long story short, that’s all it takes to distract the moneky-brain. Find something that soothes you and your rant need not appear in print at all.

What do you do when you feel a rant coming?