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Friday, July 30, 2010

Philosophy is Phun Podcast # 31 - Motivation

This episode I am joined by Tommy Wyderko IN PERSON as we discuss motivation and what makes us do what we do. We talk about is it possible to make yourself feel pumped and want to accomplish whatever task you come across or are there certain situations where no matter what, even with incentives, you won't want to do certain things. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Allan’s Advice # 3 – Time Sensitive Decisions

Hey guys! I felt like I was neglecting this column for a bit since I haven’t written another post for Allan’s Answers in about 4 months. I couldn’t really think of anything to advise people about until this thought came across my mind today. Some decision happened where I was weighing two possible options and heard the phrase “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity” to describe and try to convince me to do one of the options. This got me thinking “wow since I will only be able to do this one time in my life I probably should do it now because I won’t ever get the chance to do it again.” Decisions like these and my advice on how to deal with them are what this post will be about.

Everybody has their own decisions and ideologies on how they should live their lives but nobody can really tell you the right or wrong way on how to do it. Of course there are certain things you should stay away from like illegal activities and certain things we all should do like get an education, but for the most part nobody can tell you the right or wrong way on how to live your own life. There are however certain situations where you are met with multiple options to choose in a decision making process. A lot of times they will be tough decisions to make with no choice being seemingly better than the other. One way to better this is through time sensitivity and relevancy. These though can usually only be determined through personal perspective.

Two important things to be judged and considered when making a time sensitive decision is what needs to be done now vs. what can only be done now. These are two separate things but can overlap at times. For instance, if you can only work on your history project now and it needs to be done by tomorrow you definitely should work on it instead of going out to play. When looked at separately, what needs to be done now gets overriding priority over everything else. Because of the need for completion, failure to do something right now and not getting it done within an allotted amount of time will most likely be met with punishments and consequences. Things that can only be done now aren’t required to be done and should be treated with less urgency but are still nonetheless important on their own. These things are like Haley’s Comet or other rare events that you don’t normally see on a day to day basis. Unless you get lucky and you are like 10 the first time you see the comet, you may be able to see it more than once in your lifetime but since it only comes around about every 75 to 76 years, I would consider it something you could only do now or whenever it comes around. Events like these require careful planning and consideration. At any given time there are usually more than one thing you can be doing. Whether it is watching TV, going on Facebook or to school or a job or even to sleep, there really isn’t any time when we aren’t doing anything even when we think so. Because of this we need to make decisions on what we should spend our time on because not everything can be done right now and something’s can only be done right now.

This leads me to my next point about priorities and the different levels of importance. Priorities are things established in the past and determine to have a high amount of precedence in your future actions the higher they are ranked. For instance, your first priority will get almost all of your attention and resources directed towards it until it is satisfactorily accomplished. When you talk about time sensitive decisions, they represent decisions that need to be done within a certain amount of time and the window of opportunity constantly closes as time progresses. You need to be organized and keep your priorities realistic to be able to accomplish the most within and ever diminishing time frame. Priorities help you keep straight what needs and can only be done now and maximize your output for the limited amount of time we are all given in life.

Living here and now in the present is also a huge part of time sensitive decisions. Most of the time in our busy lives we don’t spend much time living mentally in the present. Like the note I wrote about time zones, most of our time is either spent looking back and reflecting on what we’ve done or looking towards the future and planning what we will do next with our lives down the road. Living here and now means that you can completely recognize the time constraints set by each option which gives you a better perspective on what you should do and when you should do it. Living in the present means you pay extra attention to your current surroundings. You surroundings play a huge role in determining the different restrictions when it comes to completing something. If your work environment needs to have a report done by tonight, then being extra aware of your surroundings means you will be conscious of this and set it as your number one priority if it needs to be done in the quickest amount of time. A lot of time it does take being future conscious because if you are aware of deadlines before they come to crunch time, you can better prepare and have the report done way before it becomes an urgent concern. Relevancy can also be a part of time sensitive decisions because how closely related it is to the current situation means how much present conscious views it will be given because your mind will be more focused on it because it has a lot to do with how you are currently living your life.

This note also has a lot to do with the saying that there’s never enough time in the day to do everything that you want to do. There is almost infinite different things you can do throughout a single day and each require time. Because of the way we define time, there is way too much that we can’t fit a whole lot within the 24 hour restrictions we have each and every day. We have to organize and plan accordingly and have the flexibility to be somewhat prepared for whatever life throws at us. There will inevitably be some times when someone comes to you with a last minute job or request that you must oblige to and put down whatever you are currently working on. Having this built in flexibility allows you to still be able to keep up with your time sensitive ordeals as well as complete whatever other task is at hand.

The important thing about knowing the current situation when it comes to options that have time constraints is the fact that once you miss it you can’t go back and get a redo or a chance to do it again, especially if it’s a once in a lifetime thing. There are so many variables that go into any given situation that it is almost impossible to recreate them. It is much easier just to be involved the first and probably only go around before you face the consequences or the opportunity just flies right by you. By not taking advantage of opportunities you wish you had, you will most likely develop feelings of regret. Regrets are all based on the past because it is looking at what you did or didn’t do and wishing things had turned out differently. I love this quote from Zachary Scott and feel like it is a good way to handle situations where regret might ensue if you don’t participate in them; "As you grow older, you'll find that the only things you regret are the things you didn't do." Having regrets for what you didn’t do will only turn into a vicious cycle; as you will be so sad about what you missed you will just continue to miss more and more. You need to move on and leave those missed opportunities in the past because there is nothing you can do about it now. You need to be ever aware of the current opportunities and know important information that pertains to them like deadlines. You also need to look towards the future and plan accordingly for opportunities you may want be a part of and you will be able to accomplish almost whatever you set your mind to.

-Allan Nicholas

Philosophy is Phun Podcast # 30 - Who Are You

This episode Rithwik and I discuss what makes us exactly who we are. We are human but we are all unique in that respect. We are traditionally know as having three fundamental parts, mind, body, and soul. We also discuss how internal views affect your life like with self esteem and also the public's perspective on you can determine what you are capable of. Hope you enjoy and comment and ;subscribe!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Philosophy is Phun Podcast # 29 - What is Reality Part 1

This episode I am joined by Abdus Khan and Rithwik Vedati as we have a discussion inspired by the movie Inception. We try and try to define exactly what reality is and how it can be perceived. Listen to the interesting and philosophical conversation unfold now! Enjoy!

Philosophy is Phun Podcast # 29 - What is Reality Part 2

This episode I am joined by Abdus Khan and Rithwik Vedati as we have a discussion inspired by the movie Inception. We try and try to define exactly what reality is and how it can be perceived. Listen to the interesting and philosophical conversation unfold now! Enjoy!

Playing with My Cousin Elijah

I was over at my Granddad's this weekend and got to visit my little cousin Elijah. This was just a little footage of me playing with him. P.S. the blaster he's using is a water gun replica of Han Solo's blaster so you know this kid is cool and ruthless as this video shows. ;

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Philosophy on Facebook # 46 – Temptations

So as I recently wrote about cheating I think a good place to go from here is to discuss the preliminary cause of cheating, and that is temptations. So I believe that one of the major things we are told in life, especially in our early years in our upbringings, is to live a life of the straight and narrow. There is extra reinforcement and basically incentives to make people want to follow a life of the straight and narrow and they come in the form of consequences and punishments for not following such a lifestyle. In school if you don’t act like a model student or go outside of the basic rules, you will receive punishment for your actions in the form of detentions, referrals, and if it is extreme enough, maybe even expulsion.

Failure to comply with a straight and narrow lifestyle may have negative consequences but with a realistic expectation of how to live needs to be taken into consideration every time something goes wrong. We are all humans and we all will make mistakes and situations that we go through might not always allow for us to comply with the rules. We are expected to abide by a general code of conduct and standards that apply over basically all spectrums of life. In the way we should carry out our lives in regards to living with other people and being a part of society as a whole, the government sets up standards for which we all must abide by called laws. They were set up in the constitution to describe how everyone should be treated and basic rights people are afforded if they follow the laws. Once you have violated a law you may or may not be given certain rights depending on how serious the offense was. There are certain things that will stay will you for as long as you are an American citizen like freedom from cruel and unusual punishment but if you are a prisoner on death row you obviously won’t be given the right to bear arms. These can be taken away and the determination of when you will have such rights is all based on moral and ethics which I don’t really want to get into now but I might do a post later about them. The main thing that applies with laws is the fact that if a temptation is the cause for not complying with the basic codes of conduct, then there will surely be negative consequences in your future. One of the benefits of living a life of the straight and narrow is that it will allow you to become more successful because you will meet less interference in trying to reach your goal. If you want to make money but are doing so illegally like smuggling or drug dealing you obviously have to be pretty careful before the law restricts your ability to increase your income not that I am condoning such behavior.

I think one of the main things about temptations is the fact that they try to diverge our progress off our intended paths and pop up almost everywhere and in almost limitless forms. Temptations mainly influence our own judgment and try to curb it to something that isn’t necessarily the right or ethical thing to do. There are many forces that can act as temptations and are both internal and external. Externally one of the biggest temptations is peer pressure and the temptations and urge to fit in with your friends is a strong influencer and can make a lot of people do things they wouldn’t normally do. I think the solution to this would be to not have friends. : P Realistically speaking though, it is almost impossible to avoid such temptations and you just need to learn and adapt and resist such urges. Internally, one of the biggest temptations comes in the form of your desires and things that you really want. You may not always be able to explain why you have such desires but the problem with them is that they may conflict with what you are supposed to do. When your wants and duties crash together, bad things are bound to happen.

With so many temptations that each of us faces in our daily lives, it can be hard not to give in to at least one of them. In a lot of situations we may just not be tough enough to resist everything that gets thrown at us. Sometimes we even do it by choice because the perceived benefits at the time are more appealing than the consequences you will potentially face in the future. Doing so can affect your life in a myriad of ways. The severity of your actions when you give in to temptations is a major factor in the results because the implications of your actions can be terrible depending on what you did. The consequences will be much greater if you commit a felony that can get you arrested compared to giving in and breaking your diet by eating a donut. A donut, while it may prevent you from losing some weight, won’t make you lose 10 years of your life by going to prison. This is where abiding by the general code of conduct comes into play. Everybody sets their own personal code of conduct for almost all their actions and each with different consequences for breaking such rules. If you set in your rules that you can’t eat a donut during your diet and you break it, the consequence could be running an extra 30 minutes the next day depending on how strict your mentality is.

The best way to prevent negative consequences is to stay strong and avoid the distractions and temptations that come up in your daily life. Of course there will be exceptions where following a temptation can lead to great benefits but I think the main aspect of temptations is that they try to skew and distort your perspective thus making it hard to make an accurate decision. Temptations are designed to make you only see something great that you can do know and usually hide the unintended negative consequences that are accompanied with it. In reference to the last note about cheating, it may seem like to good to pass up at the time to cheat on someone, but you will most likely regret it later on and it will put your whole relationship in jeopardy. Situations like this are what I call heat of the moment situations and usually never turn out positively if you give in to them. This is because you are too biased to one side of a decision and won’t accurately weigh the action’s effects on your future and without careful consideration. Major decisions can make or break your life if made a certain way. There are substances like drugs that further impede your ability to clearly weigh your options and will result in terrible consequences if you give into these temptations.

On the other hand of the spectrum, while avoiding temptations may seem like it is always the best choice, there are some situations where it is acceptable and possibly even better to give in to them. We all only have one life to live and while I’m not saying it is good to give into major temptations like cheating, there are plenty of situations that occur in life that provide a sense of excitement if you give into them without any major detriments. Breaking the rules can cause your life to be miserable but also give you an adrenaline rush knowing you aren’t doing what you are supposed to be doing. If you do something that isn’t a huge impact on how you will live your life down the road, it can be beneficial to give into your temptations every once in a while. Eating that donut and breaking the diet may be less harmful to your health than it is more beneficial for your taste buds and sense of satisfaction. An important part of temptations and judging how to deal with them is your risk assessment. Risk assessment is an important but often overlooked part of temptations. Risk assessment is usually an unreliable determinant of the best decision to make when faced by a temptation because like I said before your risks seem to be distorted because temptations make you forget the long term affects.

Desires are one of the major temptations anyone will ever have and are usually the hardest to resist when it seems like those desires are easily attainable and if they aren’t, they are easy and within grasp. Your desires make you want to seize the opportunity to attain them and don’t make you consider the effects of your actions to others around you. This is why the way people deal with their desires is such an important part of life. Society makes it seem like a terrible thing accompanied by terrible consequences if you give into desires that have negative repercussions on those around you. If you give in to tempting things then you are threatened by becoming just another statistic especially if your desires include illegal actions. I think things that break the rules are especially tempting because of the adrenaline rush knowing you are doing something you aren’t supposed to be doing it. Some people live for this rush and will do anything to get it again. That’s why people do stupid and reckless things because of the rush knowing you just risked your life or your future doing something crazy. If you can exercise self control and not give into such feelings, you can become much more successful in life. Society rewards those who can stay strong and preserve down a path without become distracted or diverting from the intended path because of temptations.

One thing to think about though when it comes to this mentality is the fact that we all make mistakes and will inevitably give into a temptation that pressures us with its immediate satisfaction. In one shape or form, and maybe without realization at the time, we will fall to the pressures of external forces around us. It may also come from within ourselves that make us eventually give in and quit fighting at least one thing that we encounter. Similar to our desires, it all matters in how we choose to deal with them. It is also important to look at how these mistakes come about. Is it completely the temptations fault? Is it just not humanely possible to resist the urges and impulses that temptations make us feel? Is it just easier to give in and not fight it or do we not make an effort at all to fend off those feelings that can get us into trouble?

While all these questions are important there is one path that you can follow to help you dig yourself out of the mess that temptations can get you in. This path leads to redemption. Redemption is basically the actions that make up for your past mistakes. You attempt to create a good standing between you and those you might have hurt in the past by making mistakes and being lured into a temptation. You ultimately try to mend things and erase the negative remainders of what you probably regret doing. The effort in trying to reach redemption varies depending on the severity of the mistakes you made in the past. If you do something small you may be let off the hook and not forced to pay back for your mistakes where as a rather large mistake might require punishment and facing up to the consequences.

I guess the only thing left is to determine if temptations are good for us. This is more of a personal decision but in my case I believe that they should be taken with a grain of salt each time you face one, but are a vital part of a successful life. If nothing else, facing a temptation provides practices in self control and allows you to realize your weaknesses and thus build up defenses to prevent yourself from giving in to temptations in the future. Another thing that could be seen as a positive of temptations is the fact that it widens your perspective. Remember that this perspective will be skewed because temptations are designed to seem irresistible by making it seem as if only positives are accompanied by giving in. The thing is though that not all temptations will take you down a path of evil. If you slip up once you aren’t going to be a criminal or a bad guy and the thing is that the direction temptations take you may even be a better choice. Temptations can present opportunities you may have never considered and you might write them off just because they seem shady and too good to be true. Just be careful. Make sure you determine all the possible outcomes associated with a temptation because you don’t want to make the wrong choice. Temptations exist everywhere and it is impossible to avoid them, just be ever vigilant and aware of them and temptations can be a very beneficial part of your life.

-Allan Nicholas

Philosophy on Facebook #45 - Cheating

Hey guys! I hope you are enjoying the increased amount of philosophical content that I have been able to produce recently. The Network, officially called Human Powered Podcasts, is under way and is pretty close to fruition. I have pretty much got down the first wave of hosts and will be announcing them soon. If you are still interested in joining please fill out an application now or I won’t be able to accommodate you into the network until a little later. It’s best to do it now while nothing is official than later when I am busy with managing the rest of the shows. I can't wait to get this under way and thank you guys for watching and helping make this possible!

Back to the post, I decided to write a note about cheating. If feel like this will be a long one so brace yourself. Cheating is basically the premise that you aren't doing what you're supposed to do. I always turn to Google's definitions of terms whenever I can so they say that cheating (in terms of this post) means violating accepted standards or rules. Note that this post doesn't exclusively relate to cheating relationship-wise but all other types of cheating as well. I find cheating such an interesting topic to write about because it is an intriguing human habit. It is something that basically transcends time and can be seen in some of the earliest records of human behavior. One behavior that is very similar to cheating is lying. It is interesting to watch little kids cheat or lie in games because they don’t really understand morals or ethics and sometimes don’t know what to do when they get caught. I think the natural reaction is to want to hide the bad deeds you do until you recognize or decide if it is better to own up to your actions. Making these decisions can be a pretty hard task but it all starts with the interesting process that takes place when deciding whether to cheat or not in the first place.

Cheating basically revolves around not doing what you are supposed to be and I generally believe that it is done for reasons that don’t justify executing some action that is deemed as cheating. What I mean is that the reasons behind cheating generally won’t back up or be an excuse for why someone cheated. I say generally because there are almost infinite reasons why someone would decide to cheat. There are so many motives for cheating and some of the times it happens the person who cheats may not even know why they did it. I think one of the underlying reasoning behind cheating, at the very least subconsciously, is thinking that if you cheat you will reap the max benefits for the least amount of work. Another is that you may not be happy with your current situation and feel it is the quickest and easiest way to better yourself. Cheating at its very core is a selfish act because you are doing it usually solely because you want to improve your current situation regardless of others around you. One of the negatives of this mentality is that is usually involved stepping on others or taking advantage of them. In relationships, it is taking advantage of your partner. In competitions, you may unworthily achieve a goal by cheating that other competitors deserved more. On a test for instance, you can cheat off someone who studied hard and get a good grade without having to learn all the material. This is only one example as cheating comes in many forms depending on the situation. It can be applied to almost any situation. If there is a different way that a task can be accomplished, then it can probably be accomplished by cheating. When it comes to relationships, or on a test, or almost anything you can think of, it is probably possible to cheat on to achieve the result you want faster, easier, etc. One situation that usually inspires cheating is if you can take the easy way out or get immediate satisfaction and not having to complete all the work associated or usually necessary in order to complete a goal regularly. Cheating relates to temptations or compulsions you may feel that basically pull you down a path of cheating. With all the opportunities and choices that can pop up in life you with be faced with many temptations and sometimes you may not even realize that you are cheating. The hard part about cheating is trying to make a decision on what to do. Not everyone has the same moral code and because of this people don’t always agree on the right ways to deal with situations. Because nobody can predict the future, it is hard for anyone to really know the best choice in every situation but it is important to at least take into consideration all the outcomes and especially how your actions now will affect you in the future.

One determining factor of what is considered to be cheating arises from the basic rules of a given situation. With life in society, it is frowned upon to do anything cheating related if it would hurt another being which usually is the case in almost all occurrences of cheating. With that said, depending on the rules of the situation, there may be a legitimate reason to cheat. If the rules are so strict that nothing can be accomplished without taking shortcuts, bending the rules, or cheating, you just need to be prepared for the consequences accompanied by your actions. Believe it or not, there are some times when it is acceptable to cheat in life depending on the situation. There are actually situations where bad things will happen if you don’t cheat. If you have ever cheated death, you have bent the rules of life and death, and if you didn’t cheat death you would have died. In reference to my mood and emotions notes, the word cheating has been given a negative connotation and while I do agree in the majority of situations you will face you probably shouldn’t cheat, but that doesn’t mean it automatically rules out cheating as an option. You just need to apply your best judgment in the decisions making process to figure out if you should cheat or not, but you need to be extra careful and completely sure if you do decide to cheat.

While cheating may be seen as a way to improve your life in a very efficient manner, it is in no way the best possible way of accomplishing it. Through hard work and determination you can accomplish almost anything you put your mind to and you get the satisfaction of knowing you actually worked for something. Cheating may seem like the best choice at the time but it won’t as time progresses. The positive effect may seem immediate, but in almost any cheating circumstance the negatives usually outweigh the positives. You may not be able to see them all at the time and sometimes the negatives will never show themselves but I don’t think it is normally a good chance to take.

Every time cheating occurs, the outcome needs to be looked at. The outcome can be fantastic for you if you get away with it or terrible for you if you get caught. It will almost never be positive for those on the receiving end of cheating. Getting caught is when you will face the consequences for you actions, cheating or not. If you do cheat however, they will almost always be bad in some way. Like the podcast Tommy and I did about the silver lining in every situation, there is an optimistic way you can think about the consequences you will face by seeing them as a learning experience and an opportunity to be taught a valuable lesson, even if it was probably done the hard way. The other end of the spectrum is if you don't ever get caught. If that ends up happening you usually have two options. One is to keep it sealed up and never reveal your cheating ways and the other is to eventually own up to your actions and admit to them. If you decide to keep it to yourself, then if you have any care towards those you cheated on, a feeling of guilt will most likely build up. Another thing that can happen when you refuse to admit what happened is the feeling of denial. You may be too afraid to own up and face the consequences and this may continue on forever. A situation where you cheated will probably be forgotten if it wasn’t too traumatic or ever realized by other parties, but you always are at risk for being discovered of your actions in the past and always vulnerable to the guilt. I believe that eventually your past actions will catch up to you and if the situation is still relevant or applicable to what you did in the past, it is still possible for you face the consequences. For instance, if you cheated on your wife and you guys are still together and she eventually find out what happened way back when it will probably put your relationship in jeopardy. While the consequences and ramifications of your actions may be lessened by time, it still can’t reverse the damage done by knowing what happened.

I feel like people are very susceptible to cheating at almost all times in life. There are so many opportunities to do things differently than expected and some of them can be what you aren’t supposed to do. Emotions are a great part of our lives but they can also pose a great weakness if put into a certain situation. When pushed to the extremes, almost everyone will cheat if the situation forces them to and is drastic enough. For instance, if a situation puts your loved ones into harm’s way or anything else that you really care about, people will usually do almost anything to get them back or ensure their safety. For this reason, people may cheat even if they don’t want to. There are so many variables in a given situation that it is hard to determine what is a driving factor in why someone might want to cheat.

There’s this saying that once a cheater always a cheater and I don’t think it’s true. I think that people will always make mistakes and even if they were intentional at the time, people learn and adapt over time and will eventually realize what their actions did to those around them. The way they deal with this however is all based on an individual’s personality. They may get a feeling of guilt or just forget about it and ignore the effects of their actions. If they do the latter than it is more likely they will continue down their cheating path because they don’t fully realize what their actions have done to those around them. Getting cheated on or out of something will never evoke feelings of happiness and if the cheater realized they made other people feel terrible they would change their ways if they felt any empathy at all.

Cheating is a tricky subject to write about because of its many forms. It is so complex like in the reasoning behind it and the justification for it occurring that it is sometimes better just to let a situation that involves cheating go and all the trouble that accompanies it. I’m not saying that those who cheat shouldn’t be punished but I feel like it is sometimes better to be ignorant and ignore it because of the possible repercussions. It is inevitable that in some situations people will hurt you and sometimes you just need to continue on with your life as best as possible or risk putting your whole life and future in jeopardy like when Stanley raped Blanche but Stella had to ignore it in Street Car named Desire. This is one of the terrible parts about cheating but I do believe that eventually karma will catch up to those who cheat and it might be best just to let things take their own course. Remember, you can’t get ahead in life if you just keep trying to get even.

There are still so many things to talk about with cheating but I think the best way to end would be with this situation that I found from Julie Rose's status.*Rafiki hits Simba* SIMBA: "Ow jeez what was that for?!" RAFIKI: "It doesn't matter! It's in the past!" I feel like this is a good end to this note and while it can apply to many situations, I think it is a good policy when dealing with cheating. Another quote that fits into what I’m getting at is when Victor Dimaria wrote about how "Time heals all wounds, but it doesn't dull the sword." When it comes to cheating, you will obviously get hurt if you are on the receiving end of it. It is an intense feeling of betrayal if someone you know cheats and takes advantage of you. But the thing with this situation is that time will always go on. Like I said before about people learning and adapting and realizing their mistakes, you can’t consider or judge someone for what they were in the past. While it does have a definite impact on their reputation and what others think of them, it won’t necessarily determine how they will act for the rest of their lives. If people are more prone to certain behaviors than others you can start to expect things but don’t expect your judgments of others to be correct, especially if your basis for judgment happened a long time ago. If someone cheated you in some shape or form, that doesn’t necessarily mean they will do it again. You need to practice forgiveness or else you will have a tough time finding people that you can trust 100% of the time because I’m pretty sure that isn’t even humanely possible. I know I am using a lot of quotes here but the Bob Marley quote about how everyone will hurt you in life; you just gotta find the ones worth suffering for fits well here too. You need to be aware of what people have done but that doesn’t mean they should lose all trust from you till the end of time, unless what they did was drastic enough. There will be time before that trust can be rebuilt but you need to be able to move on and you need to continue on with your life, regardless of the situation. Practicing this may be hard, but if you can master it you can get almost anywhere in life no matter what people have done to you.

-Allan Nicholas

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Philosophy is Phun Podcast #28 - Curiosity Killed the Cat

This episode Rithwik and I discuss curiosity and why people question their surroundings and want to know more. It seems like we are never satisfied and our brains always quench more knowledge. Find out the answer in this episode!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Philosophy is Phun Podcast - 26 - NASA's Future Part 2

This episode I am joined by own of my other colleagues, Christine Redmond, at NASA Goddard as we discuss NASA's future. Obama recently cut the shuttle program and it changes the whole landscape of NASA's future and we discuss our views on this situations and would love to hear from you as well! Comment and enjoy!

Philosophy is Phun Podcast - 26 - NASA's Future Part 1

This episode I am joined by own of my other colleagues, Christine Redmond, at NASA Goddard as we discuss NASA's future. Obama recently cut the shuttle program and it changes the whole landscape of NASA's future and we discuss our views on this situations and would love to hear from you as well! Comment and enjoy!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Philosophy is Phun Podcast # 26 - One Culture Part 2

This episode Abdus Khan and I talk about what the world would be like if there was one culture. We ponder if there would be any less war and conflict in the world is everyone were similar in so many ways. We believe that there will still be just as many problems in the world but new venues for the problems to be carried out. We believe diversity if beneficial to the human race because it allows people to get many different perspectives on life, better than being confined to just one viewpoint. Hope you guys enjoy and if you have any suggestions or future show ideas just comment! Thanks!

Philosophy is Phun Podcast # 26 - One Culture Part 1

This episode Abdus Khan and I talk about what the world would be like if there was one culture. We ponder if there would be any less war and conflict in the world is everyone were similar in so many ways. We believe that there will still be just as many problems in the world but new venues for the problems to be carried out. We believe diversity if beneficial to the human race because it allows people to get many different perspectives on life, better than being confined to just one viewpoint. Hope you guys enjoy and if you have any suggestions or future show ideas just comment! Thanks!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Philosophy is Phun Podcast # 25 - Originality

This episode I am joined by my two friends Rithwik and Abdus again as we discuss originality. As time progresses it seems like there is less and less that things can be original one because everything has been done already? Is this the case? Find out in this episode and comment with your own philosophical thoughts and requests for future episodes! Thanks and enjoy!

Philosophy is Phun Podcast # 24 - Sleeping and Dreams Part 2

Hey guys! This is the second part in the episode where we discuss sleeping and dreams. We discuss what the world would be like if we didn't have to sleep and the purpose of our dreams. We analyze them to see if they have any significance in our lives like foreshadowing. Hope you enjoy and post in the comments some of your weirdest dreams and We'll try and analyze them! Thanks!

Philosophy is Phun Podcast # 24 - Sleeping and Dreams Part 1

Hey guys! This is the first part in the episode where we discuss sleeping and dreams. We discuss what the world would be like if we didn't have to sleep and the purpose of our dreams. We analyze them to see if they have any significance in our lives like foreshadowing. Hope you enjoy and post in the comments some of your weirdest dreams and We'll try and analyze them! Thanks!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Philosophy on Facebook # 44 – Hope

Hope you guys enjoyed my last philosophy post and I hope you enjoy this post too. I also hope that you will sign up to become a member of my podcast network that I am forming. I can only hold a limited slot of future hosts and it is nearing that mark so fill out an application as soon as you can. I’ve been really busy will work and personal ventures that I haven’t had much time to work on the other projects but I will start constructing the new site and YouTube channel as soon as I can. Get in on this opportunity while you still can! One way that will definitely get you approved to become a part of the network is to sign up to do a comedy show with funny sketches and videos! I am looking to do something funny and I know I have some funny friends out there so sign up if you think you are!

Now back to this note which is about… you guessed it… hope! Hope is in essence an abstract feeling that you get when you feel like your wants or needs will be satisfied in the future. It might not necessarily ever happen but the feeling you have just believing that it will happen, can motivate people to the greatest extremes of actions. Just the hope of being free from the British caused the Revolution that made this country what it is today. Hope is one of the most important emotions one can feel, next to happiness that will possess people to try and strive to achieve anything, even when matched against unthinkable odds. It is the best way to view the future in my opinion because it is the optimistic point of view that no matter what happens, better days will come and through that belief, any of your dreams or wishes can become possible. On the other end of the spectrum, despair is the complete opposite of hope. Just like cold is a lack of heat, despair is a lack of hope.

One of the most popular examples that I view as being a form of hope is wishing. Wishing is an act of hope because by wishing to make something possible means that you have some belief that it is achievable. You may be wishing because you believe that you can’t personally achieve it but through the help of things like divine powers or outside forces it will be possible that your wishes will come true.

The thing with hope is that it isn’t in the present tense. This means that it doesn’t relate really to anything that you are doing now. While your current actions can contribute to the magnitude of the amount of hope you feel, hope is more or less independent from the here and now. If you are in a slump or things just never go your way, your hope will probably be crippled but if you don’t allow your hope to directly correlate with the amount of success or failure you have now, then what you’re doing now won’t matter when it comes to hope. I guess it is a kind of mentality you have based on your personality. If you are one of those people who have a negative view on life then you will most likely not hold the future in such high regards. If you are one of those people who get motivated more the less things go your way then your current predicament is inversely proportional to your hope. You believe that no matter how many times you get knocked down you will just get right back up and come back more stronger learning from the mistakes and misfortunes you have had in the past. It all depends on who you are and factors like your upbringing and your environment that all contribute to what your views on hope are and how likely you are to attain it.

Hope does one very important thing to those that have it. It provides a sense of comfort. I believe that one of hope’s main purposes is to soothe and inspire the minds of people. While you can’t just sit back and expect things to get better without trying hard to make things better yourself, it does still make it seem like your fate will be in good hands no matter what happens. This then brings me to some of the reactions you have to hope. One could be the reaction that you are personally responsible for your fate and with hope you will push your body and mind to the limits in order to achieve your goals. The other perspective could be the thought that if you have hope no matter what you do things will be good so you might not necessarily need to work to have the future you optimistically believe will happen. This in a sense relates to the chance vs. fate debate that I explained in the very first podcast I did.

Hope can also be viewed as being the last bastion of security. It represents the last place you can fall back on whenever you are in need. For this reasons you need to hold on to it at all times. When things are going great, you may not even recognize you have it or even think you need it. Regardless of the situations you are currently in never give up your faith that things will turn out for the best. Losing it is probably one of the worst things that you can do. Hope directly impacts your willpower and your want to continue on with life and your ventures even if things aren’t going your way. Holding on to it against all odds will overtime provide you will the strength and power to continue on even when you think you can’t. If you do happen to lose it though, it isn’t always hard to find it. While you may seem like all hope is lost and you will never make it out of your terrible situation, you can always find the light at the end of the tunnel if you look hard enough. The best way to find it is to try to see all the great things going on now and all the great things that will happen in the future. You need to envision a time in the future where everything will be ok and, while not completely necessary, it helps to see all the good things in life that make you want to preserve on in life. Detaching yourself from the negative situation allows you to better see that your life is going towards a positive direction. This viewpoint is the very definition of hope and I hope you enjoyed this note! Thanks and don’t forget to comment with your thoughts on hope as well!

-Allan Nicholas

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Philosophy is Phun Podcast # 23 - Sci Fi Tech Part 1

This is the first part of the 23 episode where Abdus and I talk sci fi. We are very interested in high tech things and for working at NASA, we have been inspired by all of the cool machines we work with to do this episode. Some of the things we talk about are robots taking over the world, teleportation, and the ethics of being a cyborg. The videos we reference about the quantum revolution can be found at

Philosophy is Phun Podcast # 23 - Sci Fi Tech Part 2

This is the second part of the 23 episode where Abdus and I talk sci fi. We are very interested in high tech things and for working at NASA, we have been inspired by all of the cool machines we work with to do this episode. Some of the things we talk about are robots taking over the world, teleportation, and the ethics of being a cyborg. The videos we reference about the quantum revolution can be found at

Philosophy is Phun Podcast # 22 - ESP Part 1

This is the first part of the 22 episode in the Philosophy is Phun series. Abdus Khan, Rithwik Vedati, and I talk about ESP and mind reading and its affects on life and what it would be like if it were completely real. We also tangent off into twins and a whole bunch of other stuff so take a listen and enjoy!

Philosophy is Phun Podcast # 22 - ESP Part 2

This is the second part of the 22 episode in the Philosophy is Phun series. Abdus Khan, Rithwik Vedati, and I talk about ESP and mind reading and its affects on life and what it would be like if it were completely real. We also tangent off into twins and a whole bunch of other stuff so take a listen and enjoy!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Have You Ever Wondered # 4 – Why things never go according to plan?

Hey guys! So I don’t know if you have heard the big news yet or not but I plan to create a podcast network of intriguing content and shows and you are all invited to join me. Just fill out the application in the notes of my profile or the group or fan page and you have the potential to make money off of this once in a lifetime experience. I will help you guys out along the way. All you need is a video camera and an idea and you could be on your way to creating the next big internet web show! Also I am trying to gauge the audience and how much reach these posts and podcasts have, so if you could, (PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE) like this post or comment with your thoughts. Thanks!

Anyways, I remembered about the two other columns I have, Allan’s Advice and Have You Ever Wondered (HYEW), and I felt like I haven’t been giving them enough love so here is another HYEW that I had occupied my thoughts for quite some time. The first issue I want to bring up is if you even agree with the statement things never go according to plan. There are always situations where you will have things go your way but just because they go your way does that mean they go exactly according to plan. And even if they do go exactly according to plan, do they always bring the intended result. Plans are in essence a way to achieve a certain goal. By having a plan, it means you have at least the intention of doing something. Very often those intentions and the actual outcome differ at least in some shape or form.

When I think of plans I immediately think of Freddy’s plans in Scooby doo where he sets up elaborate traps in attempts to capture the bad guy. Sometimes the plans work perfectly, sometimes there are… complications. This example shows you the different aspects involved in the plan making process. While you don’t actually hear Freddy going step by step to set up the perfect trap as that would probably be boring, we get to see the different parts that go into capturing the bad guy or whatever it may be for your situation. You may not be stopping monsters but it is inevitable that some actions in your life will require a plan. Plans are vital because they basically tell you or allow you to prepare for events that will occur in the future. The catch is that the future hasn’t happened yet and I believe that nothing is certain or set in stone. I believe in free will and I believe that because of this it is almost impossible to accurately predict the future. If you believe in destiny and predetermined fates then if you know the set out path for which everyone’s life will take place, you can then utilize that knowledge to your advantage in the present. For instance, a popular example of this is knowing how the lottery will turn out and thus picking the right numbers before the lottery actually takes place winning you tons of cash.

The thing with free will that makes it unpredictable is the fact that there are so many variables involved in any given situation that involves plans or has any reference to the future. It is so hard to control and produce situations to exactly fit the plan you have constructed for how you think the future will play out. Maybe the monster in Scooby Doo doesn’t react the right way to the bait that Freddy laid out and therefore the whole plan gets messed up. Or maybe Scooby and Shaggy run into the trap and set it off instead of the monster. This is why the construction of plans is so important. Flexibility is a major part of plans and allowing leeway and adjustments will greatly increase the probability that the future will occur the way you intend it to. If your plan is set in stone and one little part messes up in the beginning then the whole plan is probably put into jeopardy and has less of a chance of happening. Another aspect of flexibility is revisions. Revising plans means that in mid execution of the plan something comes up but because of the leeway you’ve built into it, you have the room to develop changes to adapt to the changing environment. A lack of flexibility will cause your plans to fail and thus result in disappointment or unpreparedness on your part.

Another thing that contributes to why we are often sad or disappointed when things don’t go according to plan is because our ideas of what is feasible vs. what we want or imagine can happen. Most of us have very creative and vivid imaginations and have all heard the saying “anything is possible”, but some things are more possible than others. Our ideas and plans usually differ from concept to when they actually come to fruition. It is amazing to see the course and path of how everything grows and adapts as time progresses.

Plans are what we live by and live according to. While I don’t think it can ever really be known what determines whether a plan will go the way they should or could, I do believe that there are many ways to maximize the chances of them going right. One way is to dream big but take a dose of reality. It is very important to be imaginative because that is where the most innovative ideas come from but in order to make those plans see the light of day you need to be somewhat grounded into reality. Another way is to make sure you set up optimal environments for such plans to take course. If you plan to become a doctor, it would be a good idea in high school to take hard science classes, especially biology. If you don’t, you limit your potential as well as the potential of the plan to succeed. Finally, lighten up and leave room for the unexpected. It will kill you if you try so hard to maintain a strict guideline and accordance to your original plan. Things will inevitably come up to throw off your groove and if you place so much importance on keeping things 100% in line you will bring so much unnecessary stress down on your shoulders. You only get to live once and sticking to the plan without diverging means your life will become almost predictable and you leave no space for those random plans that pop up. Aside from things like weddings, it seems to me that the most memorable moments in life weren’t even planned. So live a little every once in a while and plan times where you don’t have a plan. Hope you enjoyed and don’t forget to like of comment please!


Monday, July 12, 2010

Philosophy on Facebook # 43 – Mood

Hey guys! I am really getting back on the ball with this philosophy stuff so this next note is about mood. I wanted to do this one next because it closely relates to the previous note I did about emotions. Just like with emotions, mood is also a major factor in happiness. Almost everything is done because of things like motivation which are determined by your emotions but also your mood as well. Your mood helps determine things like productivity because if you’re in a bad mood you won’t want to do anything and that is most likely associated with emotions such a sadness or in extreme cases, depression. Positive moods create a willingness not only to work but to do almost anything, even things you might have not done normally like be more adventurous when it comes to food or thrill rides. Happiness creates a positive mood and a mentality that is open to trying new things in my opinion.

This next part ties in closely with the last note I wrote about emotions. I feel like the world doesn’t really have any emotions and all actions, words, etc are neutral by nature but when associated with human contributions they gain meaning. Rain can be associated with many things ranging from fertility to gloominess when it reality it is just rain and completely natural. One of my favorite situations that exemplify these is the saying “it is only as awkward as you make it.” I find this saying holds truth in almost any context. The parties involved in an awkward situation are the ones making it awkward not the actual actions. It is the context and mentality of those individuals that make the event awkward when it really is just actions or words. The way humans create meaning and apply emotions into different situations are what set the mood. Peace of mind is also directly related to mood. Besides happiness, one of the other greatest motivators is the feeling of success. It I always felt successful in my mood after I did something I could go through life completely happy and would always be satisfied.

One important thing to realize is that fact that your mood is dictated by your actions but doesn’t actually personify your ability and what you did. The example I like to give is some performance like dance or band. If you practice and work so hard but mess up one little part you will probably feel bad. The thing of the matter is that the audience most likely didn’t realize that little error you made yet in your mind you feel worthless and like you wasted all your time. It can be true that you are your own critic. If someone could find a way to manipulate your mood and emotions to be happy, they would be so rich right now. With there might not be a one pill cure all kind of thing, even though many people resort to pills and medicine for happiness, everyone has their own methods and remedies to manipulate their own moods. One instance applies to me personally. Whenever I am pissed off or mad I resort to comedy to lighten the atmosphere and change my mood. South park is a great example because it makes me laugh and it is scientifically proven to make you feel better.

One huge factor in your mood is the relationships and connections you hold with others. Our interactions help set the stage for these emotions. Humans are very social creatures and our social lives dictate how happy we are. If we are hated by many we will feel worthless and a loser. That is only true however if you have low self esteem. Just like how your personality affects your emotions, it also affects the mood. If you have high self esteem you may wonder why people hate you and in turn hate them and think they are stupid for not liking you. Your responses to the different moods are all dependent upon your unique persona. These social interactions don’t necessarily have to be held exclusively with organic creatures are people hold many special relations with inanimate objects. While they are primarily one sided (if your toys started talking to you that would be scary) they still pose a unique role in our lives. One child may confide in their stuffed teddy bear their deepest secrets and just by having a figure, real or not, to listen to them can make all the difference in the world. Loneliness usually creates a mood of sadness but by having something there you can in a sense manipulate the mood through external forces.

One cool thing I have noticed is that there are certain characteristics that are normal and help instigate certain moods. Heart pounding music gets your adrenaline pumping and can make you more likely to take risks… as demonstrated today by Abdus. : P Speeches usually have a way of emotionally inspiring their audiences and through such things we can manipulate the mood like by adding epic music to a speech it basically amplifies the epicness and can be applied to almost anything. Case and point: Hope you’ve enjoyed and look soon for the big news!


Philosophy on Facebook # 42 – Emotions

Hey guys! Sorry for the little delay between posts but I have been way busier than I thought I would be with work and my other endeavors. I am not yet ready to reveal the big news about my future plans but you will know soon and it could affect you, yes you, tremendously if you want it to. So I hope you will partake in my future but you probably have no idea what I am talking about so for now I will just get back to this note.

This is one note that I have wanted to write for a while and only recently remembered it after seeing Toy Story 3. These things that we have called emotions are what makes us “feel” and in a sense make us humans. They are in a way what drives us and motivate us down our paths and can have lasting impacts on our lives, both good and bad. These emotions are derived from our senses (hearing, touching, seeing, etc) just like the ways we increase our knowledge except emotions can work quite differently from knowledge. You can in sense progressively build up emotions like you do with your knowledge by learning more. With emotions you “feel” more. Through experience you end up feeling more and newer emotions that you then learn from and realize their effects on your life. A death of a loved one can show you the extremes of sadness and if you get a new promotion or get married you may experience a heightened sense of happiness you never had before.

With realizing these new and stronger emotions brings up the issue of self control. Strong emotions can be very hard to control. Probably two of the strongest ones are well known which are love and hate. I feel like it is very hard to experience these feelings “absolutely” as I think that true love or true hate result in building up these experiences of lesser emotions like having crushes or being annoyed with others. Love, as well all know, is in a sense the highest amount of admiration one can have for another being. You are willing to sacrifice and devote your own resources for the betterment of others and wish to experience life with them. Hate is the polar opposite. You would wish them out of your lives and possibly pain and punishment upon them depending how strong that feeling of hate is. Both emotions are so strong that they pretty much demand you take action. These emotions make us want to either propose to a loved one or want to kill another. It is amazing how much these emotions actually drive us through our lives. If you love someone you will be willing to do almost anything for them and hate motivates us to do anything to get away or exact revenge on someone. Life will almost inevitably place restrictions on us from actually completing such actions so self control is paramount in getting along and living a successful life in today’s society. Even though you might “hate” your boss, you still must put up with them in order to get that promotion you’ve always dreamed of.

Our emotions derived from the stimuli of our world are what make us who we are. In combination with our personalities, they help create the different feeling we get in certain situations. Your personality plays a major role in the emotions you feel. If you are a person who is shy, then you will develop the nervous “butterflies in your stomach” feeling compared to a charismatic individual who loves the limelight. Another example could be in a testing situation in your school. If you are a worrywart, then you will most likely be nervous regardless of how much studying you did prior to the test. If you continue down this path you might start pondering how your grade on the test will impact your future and then it sort of becomes a vicious cycle where you start to develop a sense of fear. This all escalates inside of you and it is sometimes hard to control. Here is where self control comes in again. Not only does self control apply to strong emotions such as love or hate but also to the multitude of other feeling we have in our day to day lives. It can be difficult to suppress the butterflies in your belly but by exhibiting some sense of control you then gain the ability to manage the way you feel. If you can accomplish such a feat you can then in a way feel the way you want to feel or at the very least, not feel the way you don’t want to feel. While you may not always be able to feel happy after you do badly on a test, it is much easier to control the anger or sadness that usually accompanies it. By doing so, you will end up living a happier life. On the test, if you can diminish the feeling of fear and calm down, you will probably do better on the test. It is very similar to the power of the mind podcast I recently did. The more you think you are going to do something, the more likely it will actually happen. If you can control your emotions and thoughts you can then use them to motivate yourself to do well. The same applies to negative emotions and thoughts however, like if you think about bad things the more likely you will get in a slump and are more likely to screw up.

Emotions are a monumental part of who we are. They let us feel alive but that isn’t always a good thing. While I do feel emotions are such an important part in our lives, I do want to recognize one quote that some of you may have heard before. It goes something like “I would rather hurt than feel nothing at all.” I want you guys to think about this and see if you agree with statement. I am leaning toward the side of never feeling at all. Pain can be a huge motivator to do certain actions but I feel like those resulting behaviors aren’t very productive. Just think of Star Wars where Anakin goes to the dark side because he doesn’t have control over his emotions. He lets hate and anger get the better of him and they result in him becoming Darth Vader, one of the greatest evils man has ever known. : P You may remember one of the first posts I did about the brain vs. the heart. Our heart is the organ most related to creating these emotions. Without it we would probably end up in a Terminator-like society where everything is driven by efficiency and no emotions are taken into consideration. I feel like this lifestyle isn’t truly “living” but I feel like it is better than the alternative, which is just feeling constant pain, wouldn’t be worth it because there would be no enjoyment and cherishment of the life you live. Random acts of kindness or goodwill would be thrown out the window because everyone is preoccupied with their own pain to feel any compassion towards others. I feel like balance is necessary in emotions. Much like the appreciation note I wrote about recognizing and being grateful for what you have only when you lose it, emotions work somewhat in the same way. You learn to savor the happiness once you become sad and then try to seek out more and even want to share the wealth and make others happy as well. Emotions are contagious. You will most likely want to be around a happy person because they will in turn rub off their happiness on you and lift your spirits. The same applies for sadness as being around someone depressed will most likely bum you out as well. Happiness is a great code to live by because it is where you are at your prime. You are more efficient and productive and by spreading such emotions, you play a vital role in improving the world’s morale and what they are capable of as well. So spread the wealth and make someone smile!


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Philosophy is Phun Podcast # 22 - ESP

This is the first episode coming from Goddard Space Flight Center. I am joined with my fellow interns Abdus Khan and Rithwik Vedati as we discuss ESP. We talk about if it exists today and how it could impact our futures as well as get sidetracked on robots and singularity. : ) Enjoy!