Do judge a book by its cover

Why not judge a book by its cover? Isn’t the cover there to show what’s in the book? Sure there are some idiots who ruined the true meaning and purpose of cover but that doesn’t change the fact that the cover is there for the single purpose of introducing the book.

One of my favorite comedians of all time, if not my most favorite one, is George Carlin. Carlin explains language and our fear of using straight language very well. He explains how we invent new words to satisfy or avoid our fears.

I think our way of thinking right now is very much influenced from our new fears. Media has a big impact on our way of thinking and media, I believe, is the biggest source of our fears. These fears have changed us a lot and one of its effects is our language.

The sole purpose of language is communication. When we change the meaning behind words, we change our way of communication. We change the way we interact and we change the way we live. This affects a lot of other parts of our lives as well.

Language can also deliver feelings and words are very much important in that matter. New language we’re speaking, the one with newly-invented mild words, fails to deliver our feelings correctly.

George Carlin gives a pretty good example about it. There’s a condition in combat, most people know about it, when a fighting person nervous system has been stressed to its absolute peak and maximum, can’t take any more input, the nervous system is either snapped or is about to snap, in the first world war that condition was called shell shock.

Simple honest direct language. Almost sounds like the guns themselves. Then a whole generation went by and the second world war came along, and the very same combat condition was called battle fatigue. Four syllables now. Takes a little longer to say. Doesn’t seem to hurt as much. Fatigue is a nicer word than shock. Shellshock! Battle fatigue.

Then again time passed an the very same combat condition was called operational exhaustion. Hey, we’re up to eight syllables now! And the humanity has been squeezed completely out of the phrase. It’s totally sterile now. Operational exhaustion. Sounds like something that might happen to your car.

The war in Vietnam, which has only been over for about sixteen or seventeen years (at the time Carlin was explaining), and thanks to the lies and deceits surrounding that war, I guess it’s no surprise that the very same condition was called post-traumatic stress disorder. Still eight syllables, but we’ve added a hyphen! And the pain is completely buried under jargon. Post-traumatic stress disorder. I’ll bet you if we’d have still been calling it shellshock, some of those Vietnam veterans might have gotten the attention they needed at the time.

Remind me again, why not judge a book by its cover? Isn’t that its whole purpose, to make it possible for us to make a judgement? What has changed and why it has changed? I truly miss the time that we put purpose in things we created and we valued them enough to stick to its good and only change it for the better!

Online debates

I’m sick and tired of online debates. I used to do them. I used to spend a lot of time trying to convince people of certain matter or trying to trigger them to become angry and explain certain things to me.

It’s not been so long since I’ve come to understanding that online debates are no more than a waste of time. For me, online debates always had trolling, misinformation, and intense deviation from the main subject. It’s needless to say that it is very rare for an online debate to end well or actually help some parties.

Real debates are moderated. The debaters actually agree on the context of the debate, agree on the major concepts and meanings on the subject of discussion, and they agree on definitions mostly. A debate will be moderated by a third party, supposedly neutral, and the moderator will handle the stream and direction of the debate.

That is very important. Often in online debates, parties end up somewhere far from the original subject of the debate. Most of the times, people find themselves arguing about definitions instead of the original subject. There are many trolls as well who only enjoy angering people or spend their time by wasting others’.

Real debates have dialogue. Every party will have a say and every party will be asked to behave with a good manner and intention to actually educate others while, at the same time, challenge others. Online debates are too much focused on challenging part or the illusion of winning the argument.

In a real debate, the parties involved in the argument are clear but in an online debate, everybody can hop in and throw a comment or get involved with no prior coordination. That makes the debate take/waste much more time.

A real debate has a point. There is a goal to reach in every debate but when it’s online, often on social networks, the goal is simply to show the other person is a loser. A real debate consists of educated people on a specific matter, while in online debates, people with any level of understanding on the subject just writes a comment and hits enter.

Online debates seem like a competition to convince people that some party is right or the others are wrong. The good feeling of so-called owning people makes people do whatever they can to win the fight. I’ve seen people spend hours to research a matter, while they’ve already made up their mind, to win an argument. It is good to get educated on a subject but I don’t think that’s a healthy way to do it.

Online debates are waste of time. They are no good for anything but for trolls to spend time and satisfy their need to be seen. I try to avoid them, and I try to simply not get involved with them as much as I can. I also have been blocking and avoiding interaction with people who I see as trolls so I don’t unintentionally entrap myself in a meaningless conversation with them.

Assumptions

There’s a story about a little kid who keeps shredding paper and his parents take him to all kinds of doctors to get him to stop shredding paper. And finally, they take him to the most expensive doctor in the world.

The doctor turns to the kid and says “kid, if you stop shredding paper, your parents will stop dragging you to doctors.” The kid turns to his parents and says “why didn’t you just say so?”

Sometimes I realize the most rational solution to many of conflicts I have is to just let go of my assumptions and ask for what I just assumed to be true or the case. Sometimes I just take some assumptions as evidence for my conclusions.

What those parents needed to do was to simply ask the kid to stop and that would make the process of ending the paper-shredding much easier. What I do need to do is to take a rest and give a fresh eye to problems and conflicts I have. Some of those for sure have much simpler and easier solutions I haven’t thought of.

Of course sometimes it’s needed to see the most expensive doctor, that’s even needed so we get reminded of the story, but that’s not always the case, I’m pretty sure about that.

Continuous passing and going

Once upon a time, there was a Persian king who received a beautiful ring from a famous jeweler. The ring was a special gift for the king and it had a beautiful stone on it which the king loved. One day, the king ordered a prize to be set for a particular sentence. The sentence shall make the king happy when he’s sad and it shall make the king sad when he’s happy.

Many men came and suggested sentences to claim the reward but none was accepted by the king. Until a day that an old man was brought to king for a matter and the old man was asked about the sentence. The old man suggested one that revolutionized the king’s life. The sentence read “this too shall pass.”

Whenever the king was happy, he used to read the sentence and remember that the happiness won’t last and whenever he was sad, he remembered that the sadness won’t last forever as well.

Since I’ve adopted that in my life, passing through the problems and living in general is much easier. Now, when I face a difficulty in my life, I repeat with myself that this too shall pass and when I find myself in a happy situation, I remember to enjoy it all as this too shall pass.

Memories are sweeter too. Sad memories remind me that no pain will last and happy memories just put an smile on me and make me wait for new ones to come as every moment too shall pass. Nothing is permanent and that is a wonderful thing.

I now live in a continuous passing and going. I’m not stuck in any moment or any memory. I live the best of it I can in any moment and I try to make best for everyone. That doesn’t mean I don’t put effort or I don’t get sad or happy, of course I’m not a machine, I just learned to control my emotions and learn from life.

I wish I had that ring, but even without it, when I find myself impatient, I remember that these moments too shall pass. When I find myself too excited or too depressed, I remember that these moments too shall pass. In fact, any moment, any up and down too shall pass.

I imagine myself in the unstoppable train of life which is passing moment and going through no matter it’s snowing or raining or if it’s sunny and clear. No matter of where we’re going, up or down, I know the train may sometimes go slower and sometimes faster, but it won’t stop until it reaches its destination.

This is written with a smile on my lips while listening to my favorite music tracks knowing this happy moment too shall pass in my continuous passing and going.

Little things in life

The last two years were difficult for everybody. Well not everybody, many capitalists got richer because of the situation and many lived an easy life because of their wealth. But it was pretty hard for rest of us. The crisis is still ongoing and many still are in danger or face restrictions.

Honestly, my life hasn’t been much changed much. I spend most of my time alone and I don’t have much to do with people. Socializing is not my thing and I have a very small circle of friends. I’ve traveled during this time and I have spent some time with my family, like I always did. So not much changes here.

I appreciate being alive and I appreciate every big and small thing happened in my life which formed the current me. However, I’ve been thinking about how I’m here where I am and found out that every small thing happened in my life were as effective as every major one. Every small thing changed me a little and directed me to where I’m standing.

In fact, if it wasn’t for those small things, I wouldn’t be here. I appreciate small joys of my life. I appreciate them as much as I appreciate every other small major happiness or sadness I experienced or am going to experience.

For example, since 2012 when I got familiar with free software, I admired what Richard Stallman does and now I get the chance of working with him in GNU Project, directly. Or since about a year ago, Alexandre Oliva follows me on a social network I’m in.

I love the happiness I feel when I buy new clothes. I love the happiness I feel when I but a new accessory for myself. I feel alive when I eat a new food. I feel joy when someone thanks me for what I did for them. Like, every week, I get few messages from people who are new in free software movement and they tell me they’re contributing to the movement because my work inspired them; that makes me feel I’m the coolest person alive.

I enjoy my life with these little things. Small things that may not matter for anybody else. I enjoy being alive exactly for these little stuff. I know the day I don’t get happy for these small stupid stuff, I’m not alive any more.

I’m very happy that I can write a blog. I’m very happy that I can talk to people I love. I’m very happy to have few very good friends. I’m very happy I own my own business and I work with people I like.

I’m very happy because I can go to beach. I’m very happy because I give love to people. I’m very happy because I help those in need. I’m very happy because I have no regrets, I know I did what I could, maybe I could do better, maybe not, but I have no regrets.

I’m happy, I’m hopeful, and I’m alive.

Logic and statistics

As you see in the picture, murder rate in U.S. has a direct relationship with use of the Internet Explorer. Judging based on the picture and stats provided in it, I can assume using Firefox decreases the murder rate in U.S. and is helpful for people’s security and health.

You could say this is bullshit, but I presented stats and you can’t prove what I’m saying is wrong. You may say it’s completely unrelated and there are many many other really influential factors about amount of murder, but I can simply deny all the facts you present and stick with my own stats and judgement.

You can’t convince me, I have the stats, I have all those articles presented with these stats, and I can see the relationship between them. The lack of proper knowledge and reasoning in me will prevent me from having a proper discussion or debate with you.

The problem with many of us who enter endless discussions is that we’re filled with wrong set of ideas about the discussion and the person we’re debating. We don’t accept any fact or idea unless it supports our mindset. We don’t accept anything that may suggest we’re wrong.

We pick sides and we get filled with ideas of people on our side, while we can’t see anything on the other side(s). I don’t know what is that, pride, false confidence, desire for power and dominance, or else, but I can see that in myself and many many other people, and it’s wrong.

Maybe one day we change this, or maybe we don’t. Whatever we do, I’m sure ones we can trust and talk to won’t relate murder rate with Internet Explorer, or maybe they will?

Public health insurance and my COVID experience

I’m not sure which variant of COVID I got. For past two weeks, I’ve been experiencing worst feelings I’ve ever known. I was/am constantly tired, full of pain and unable to taste or smell stuff. I’ve been hospitalized for past four days and it’s the first day I’m off of hospital.

I’m better now. I got Remdesivir as medical treatment and doctors took a good care of me. Currently, I get tired after few minutes of activity but doctors say it’s normal. They ask me to drink liquids a lot, specially juice and water, and get Vitamin C.

They also asked me to get rest a lot and eat food (even if I’m not hungry because of the virus) because it’s essential to regain my energy.

One thing that helped me a lot during this time was my health insurance. My previous insurance was expired starting this year (Persian Jalali calendar) and I was not insured. The previous one was from family company but starting this year I was not eligible for it and I forgot to get public insurance until I was about to get hospitalized.

However, lucky us, there’s a great insurance system in this country. Every person is eligible to get medically insured by government. There are different types of insurance and people can choose between them, paying different fees based on your need but the basic plan which covers all public hospitals is free.

I signed up for the basic plan the day before I went to hospital and my insurance started the day I went to the hospital. All my bills were covered by government and I paid only 20% of the costs because of the insurance. The treatment was expensive and I would’ve face some difficulties paying all the bills without insurance.

Many people are facing a lot of difficulties during these times. The economic situation in whole world is pretty messed up and many are unemployed, facing trouble to live a normal life yet to be able to pay for expensive treatments for COVID.

I always advocated for public health insurance from government. I don’t care how some rich people may oppose it or how some people throw shitty “economic” reasons in the conversation but everybody deserves health insurance and nobody should be forced to pay a lot of money to get taken care of in hospital. Nobody should be full of stress about whether one can pay for one’s health or not.

I am proud that I live in a country with public health insurance and I will encourage everyone to vote for such system if there’s none where one lives. It’s basic human right and it’s needed for all.

Why I don’t support cases against vaccines

I read a post on Bill Gates’ blog about polio. It talks about how vaccines helped us survive the disease and easily walk. Thousands of people were infected with polio during time and lost ability to walk or even stand. The suggested cure for polio was a metal tank, an iron lung, a mechanical respirator.

Polio attacks the body’s nervous system, crippling patients. In the worst cases, the disease paralyzes their respiratory muscles and makes it difficult for them to breathe, sometimes resulting in death.

Using changes in air pressure, the iron lung pulls air in and out of a patient’s lungs, allowing them to breathe and stay alive. During the height of the polio epidemic in the U.S. in the 1940s and 1950s, rows of iron lungs filled hospital wards to treat thousands of polio patients, most of them children.

Today, we don’t need iron lungs anymore as there’s an effective vaccine for it. Every person now gets vaccinated against polio and, since 1988, the world decided to eradicate the disease. Polio cases dropped since then by nearly 100 percent.

Before vaccines, more than 350 thousand people were infected in a year, facing horrible consequences and difficulties in their life but now there’s fewer than 200 cases yearly only in two countries, Afghanistan and Pakistan, in which extremists force people to avoid vaccines using religious propaganda.

Today, some people are spreading false information about vaccines claiming a vaccine is a conspiracy to turn people to something other than a human or vaccines are tools to impose surveillance on people. Of course some vaccines are not effective, we’ve seen them, but to induce that vaccines in general are harming people, that makes no sense.

I’ve seen the effect of vaccines on people. From influenza to polio to tetanus and Meningococcal vaccines, I’ve seen how they help people live and be healthy and I’ve seen how without them people are harmed and face difficulties, even death.

I’m not yet vaccinated against coronavirus (COVID-19) but I will be when it’s time for people my age. My grandparents and some relatives are vaccinated. They didn’t face any aftereffects. One of my relatives was vaccinated while his family were not, and I’ve seen how all of his family members got sick but he were OK. All of them recovered, happily.

Vaccines are results of scientific works, and I believe in science. People say science is always changing and is not reliable but that’s one reason I support it. Science always changes and gets updated for better. That’s why I rely on it. When it comes to vaccines, science is proven to be always working to get better, from iron lungs to polio vaccines, it’s always working to help people.


Part of this post is taken from gatesnotes.com. Check their terms of use/copyright notice.

Not everything is about improvement or skill

One time I told a friend that I enjoy editing photos, and his response was “Oh yeah? Are you any good?” and I was stymied in the moment.

I just realized today why. Pretend instead of photo editing, I had said “I really enjoy going on walks” and then he had responded “Oh, are you a pretty skilled walker?” What? That doesn’t follow.

People go on walks to feel good, not to be good. Not everything is about improvement, or skill. If I wanted to be good at photo editing I’d have to worry about composition, color theory, texture, taking care of my tools, instead of just opening random program or using a random color pen that I find in one of my glasses on my desk.

I’m bored just listening that crap, let alone doing it. If I had to be good, I would quit. I edit photos because it takes me out of myself. The end result doesn’t even really matter.

I’m sure some of you relate. That’s why we get along.