Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Abraham Maslow.

I learned about Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs in Psychology the other day.

In essence, Maslow argued that certain needs must be satisfied in order to achieve other needs. For example, one would not be looking for a loving relationship if one were literally starving to death, or suffocating to death. Their immediate concern would be to find food, or to continue breathing, in order to continue living. This seems pretty natural.

What got me thinking was the top layer of the pyramid, usually referred to as "Self-actualization needs". This subject remains a bit fuzzy, although Maslow provided a few ideas of what he meant for someone to be "self-actualized". Among them were a "need to live up to one's fullest and unique potential". He said that such self-actualized people should have "acquired enough courage to be unpopular, to be unashamed about being openly virtuous". In the website linked above, the author talks about Maslow's examples of self-actualized people: "The self-actualizers also had a different way of relating to others. First, they enjoyed solitude, and were comfortable being alone... They enjoyed autonomy, a relative independence from physical and social needs."

Now, for me, these qualities seem to conflict with some of the needs necessary to achieve any self-actualization. Many of the examples were "solitary" people, which tends to go against the fulfillment of "belongingness and love needs" in the third level of the pyramid. Also, Maslow's comment that the self-actualized acquiring "enough courage to be unpopular" seems to openly contradict his level of esteem needs, which describes "recognition and respect from others".

I'm sure there is a rational explanation for this, but at this time I choose to formulate some of my own. Perhaps when one reaches this ultimate need for "self-actualization," one would not need the lower levels of the pyramid. Perhaps this person would transcend the very boundaries of the pyramid, and be willing to go without the respect or companionship of others. Perhaps, when someone is self-actualized, they are prepared for death (they do not even need the lowest level of the pyramid ["physiological needs"]).

Or maybe self-actualization is just an extension of the pyramid. Perhaps Maslow had a pessimistic view of society and believed that for someone to be self-actualized they would necessarily have to reject the opinions of the masses, in an attempt at real "virtue". Nevertheless, Maslow has outlined many driving factors in human existence... and made them into a nicely colored flow chart.

But I still have my doubts about his method of thinking. I mean, what about Thoreau? He isolated himself from everyone. Was he becoming self-actualized then? Or was he just a nutcase?

Sunday, September 26, 2004

A Mythology of Death.

I found this webpage when I searched for a quote from Calvin and Hobbes:

A Mythology of Death

(By the way, the quote was "Dad, how do soldiers killing each other solve the world's
problems?" -Calvin)

Although the author of this essay does not really analyze modern attitudes toward death, she does compare a variety of views in ancient mythology. I've always been interested in this sort of thing.

I went fishing with some friends last summer and I caught an average sized fish. Now, I had been fishing dozens of times before with my father, but this was the first time I can remember grabbing the fish (to try to get it off the hook that it swallowed) and feeling its heartbeat pulsating in my hand. It shocked me. It made me reconsider fishing and hunting (especially after reading an article about trouts feeling pain in their lips) and realize that I was holding a living entity in my hands. Coupled with a book I read last year, Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal, it almost had me going vegetarian. Luckily, my healthy appetite had me digesting chicken stir-fry again in no time.


I witnessed my first automobile accident today. I was heading south on Monroe St. and had just passed an intersection (at Sixth) when I saw a car in front of me and in the left lane come to a complete stop. At first, I was confused; I was in the right lane and saw the green car stop short and all this shrapnel fly in a cloud in front of the car. My initial thought was that a bomb had set off (from my angle, I did not see an obstruction in front of the car). It wasn't until I pulled into a parking lot onto my right and got out that I realized it was a car crash. Apparently, a white Grand Marquis had pulled out of the parking lot I was in, and the green car had hit the left back side of it.

Many cars (I think 7, including me) had stopped to see if everyone was okay. Both drivers seemed fine, but they eventually took the passenger of the green car out on a stretcher. Someone was already on the line with the police when I noticed that the green car was leaking a lot of fluid (also green) onto the street. This did not stop most people from driving past the accident in the right lane. One of the people who stopped seemed to be a retired paramedic- he was short and stout and had big, long white hair, and a huge white beard. He was, in no time, in the street talking to the passengers and seeing if they were okay. I felt a little bad for him, because when the officers arrived (close to five minutes after someone called, I believe) they kept ordering him to stay on the side of the road.

I stuck around for fifteen minutes or so, but no one approaced me for my account, so I left.

It was a very strange ordeal. Right when it happened, things did seem to slow down a little. I was mostly confused because I had not seen the car pull out into traffic, and I did not hear any squealing tires, just saw the cloud of metal explode in front of the car. I had one of those shocking moments where I just stood in awe, taking it in, while slightly disturbed that the traffic continued to flow around the scene as if nothing had happened. People had places to go, places to be.

As I drove away, I looked into my rearview mirror and saw something close to what is portrayed in so many movies, but happening right behind me. Three cop cars, an ambulance, and a firetruck all with lights spinning, flashing. Three men with gloves pushing the stretcher to the ambulance. Metal strewn across the street. Needless to say, I took extra care to pay attention to my surroundings and driving on the way home.

Friends, please be careful while driving...

Friday, September 24, 2004

Cake "I Bombed Korea" lyrics

I bombed Korea every night.
My engine sang into the salty sky.
I didn't know if I would live or die.
I bombed Korea every night.

I bombed Korea every night.
I bombed Korea every night.
Red flowers bursting down below us.
Those people didn't even know us.
We didn't know if we would live or die.
We didn't know if it was wrong or right.
I bombed Korea every night.

And so I sit here at this bar.
I'm not a hero.
I'm not a movie star.
I've got my beer,
I've got my stories to tell.
But they won't tell you what it's like in hell.

Red flowers bursting down below us.
Those people didn't even know us.
We didn't know if we would live or die.
We didn't know if it was wrong or right.
We didn't know if we would live or die.
I bombed Korea every night.

-From Cake's debut album, Motorcade of Generosity.
Lyrics found at Lyrics Directory.

TV Advertisements.

How sad is it when I see professional rap stars selling themselves for a cell phone commercial? I just saw Kanye West and what I think was "Ludacris" being all hip and cool... advertising a Boost Mobile commercial? What is that? The moment I see Rivers Cuomo selling his favorite toothpaste, I will burn all of my Weezer CDs in effigy.

...but is this worse? I don't think so... I don't think a cover of Island in the Sun by some band with vocals by Mary and Ashley-Kate is on the level of the rapper sell-out mentioned above...

but I could just be a hypocrite.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Bush says "Stay the Course".

1) October 28th, 2003. "President Bush said the US would "stay the course" in Iraq yesterday as the latest wave of violence raised questions about America's timetable for withdrawal of its forces."

"It's in the national interest of the United States that a peaceful Iraq emerges, and we will stay the course in order to achieve this."

This article (linked above in "stay the course") also mentions that "The Bush administration wants to scale down its presence in Iraq - possibly reducing its force of 130,000 troops to just 50,000 - in the next year."

However, in an article dated May 5th, 2004: "Defense officials had expected to reduce the level of U.S. troops in Iraq to about 115,000 this year and about half that by the summer of 2005. Now, they are preparing to maintain a force of 138,000 for at least the next 18 months as they have seen violence rise over the past few weeks."

2) April 13th, 2004. The President's National Address. The first question from the press and The President's response follows.

"Thank you, Mr. President. Mr. President, April is turning into the deadliest month in Iraq since the fall of Baghdad, and some people are comparing Iraq to Vietnam and talking about a quagmire. Polls show that support for your policy is declining and that fewer than half Americans now support it. What does that say to you and how do you answer the Vietnam comparison?"

"THE PRESIDENT: I think the analogy is false. I also happen to think that analogy sends the wrong message to our troops, and sends the wrong message to the enemy. Look, this is hard work. It's hard to advance freedom in a country that has been strangled by tyranny. And, yet, we must stay the course, because the end result is in our nation's interest."

3) September 23rd, 2004.

"President Bush said on Thursday that he and Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi would "stay the course" in Iraq and insisted national elections will be held there in January despite a worsening insurgency."

This article was the one that spurred my mission to find a few "stay the course" comments and assemble them next to each other. Also, in this article, Donald Rumsfeld comments on possible Iraqi elections to be held in January:

" He [Rumsfeld] said an election could perhaps be held in "three-quarters or four-fifths of the country. But in some places you couldn't because the violence was too great."

Later in the article, Allawi states "The Iraqi elections may not be perfect ... But they will take place and they will be free and fair."


(Except for those peaceful people located within the regions planned to be excluded from voting due to "pockets of terrorists".)

And, in closing, the funniest line of the article reads "Allawi, who said he receives death threats daily, tried to play down the negative in Iraq."

Monday, September 13, 2004


My new favorite, completely grammatical sentence is "Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo." Let me break it down for you- a similar sentence would be something like "The tiny animals that tigers eat often eat other tiny animals." American bison from Buffalo, New York can be called “Buffalo buffalo.” (adjective, noun) So, replacing every noun (and adjective) in the sentence with “Buffalo buffalo,” then “The Buffalo buffalo that Buffalo buffalo eat often eat other Buffalo buffalo.” Now, “buffalo” can also be a verb (“to overwhelm, to intimidate”). So, replacing the verbs with buffalo, “The Buffalo buffalo that Buffalo buffalo buffalo often buffalo other Buffalo buffalo.” Now, removing unnecessary words (like in “Tiny animals tigers eat eat tiny animals”) we have “Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.”

For more amusing language tricks, consult “The Language Instinct,” by Steven Pinker.

A Meaningful Life, or a lack thereof?

Today I will approach the ever-lasting question of life (most likely in a sloppy, unorganized fashion).

I read more of my Psychology textbook today. I read about statistics. The author spent some time debunking the myths of statistics. He writes about a woman who won the New Jersey State lottery two times, about the draw-three lottery for New York on September 11th, 2002 was 9-1-1, and about being dealt a royal flush in poker on the first hand. Though these events seem like monumental displays of good luck or strange breaks in randomly selected probabilities, Myers argues that any of these events, given the bigger picture, is perfectly reasonable. Given the number of people that play state lotteries, he writes that there should be a reasonable chance that five people daily should win the lottery twice. The probability of being dealt 10 through Ace of hearts on the first try is exactly the same as being dealt some hodgepodge of suits and numbers (1 in 2,598,960). His main point in this section was- do not generalize results (correlation does not equal causation and such) and do not be surprised by "perfectly" random results- most of the time while flipping a coin, you will get long streaks of heads or tails, but the 50-50 chance of things usually shows up in the number of times the pattern switches from one to the other (not a very good explanation, but deal with it). He also points out that many people allow statistical correlations to get the best of their mental processing- even New York Times reporters generalize the outcomes of experiments.

So, this brought me to the meaning of life. If I generally believe in evolution (the adaptation of animals to fit their environments or something along those lines) even in the slightest sense, then would it truly be a statistical miracle that humans developed such higher mental capacities? Perhaps we are not able to see the bigger picture that this could be a purely logical, random occurence of nature. Perhaps we invest in a supreme being and religion much in the same way that people identify with changes in the weather that "cause" their arthritis to "act up". Perhaps, given enough of a timeline, anything could happen.

"For your sake I hope heaven and hell are really there. But I wouldn't hold my breath."

Friday, September 10, 2004


Is time a man-made object? Is it really, as my high school history teacher put it, a deception by the Swiss just to sell their watches?

Nearly all cultures express time through their languages- if not with direct words for "yesterday," "today," or "tomorrow" then with concepts such as tense or mood, which describe things that have happened continuously in the past, are still happening know, or have yet to happen. For centuries, man has established lunar and solar calenders to map the progress of the Earth going about the sun. But even now, our calenders are not precisely correct ("there is a leap year every year divisible by four except for years which are both divisible by 100 and not divisible by 400")... so is it justified to split the natural behavior of our planet in the universe into well-proportioned segments of days, weeks, months, years, etc.? Time runs the modern world- deadlines, meetings, appointments... it has been used to measure the "pace of a society" in psychology (from my textbook, Psychology by David G. Myers Seventh Edition, copyright 2004- Page 30 "By operationally defining pace of life as walking speed, the speed with which postal clerks completed a simple request, and the accuracy of public clocks, they [Rober Levine and Ara Norenzayan (1999)] concluded that life is fastest paced in Japan and Western Europe, and slower paced in economically less developed countries."). The basic units of time build into calculating speeds and the second is the basic unit in the SI for science. But are these seconds as physical as grams or liters? Can all of nature, including the duration from the production of a life form to its complete end of existence, be reduced to numbers? Can mathematical formulas like Fibonacci's sequence apply to everything around us and can the fate of the universe depend on such mathematics? I hope not- because I really don't like Statistics.

I'm Bored

I am bored.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

The Movies.

Subtitle: "Why people gotta be obnoxious?"

I just composed a witty commentary on movie-going and the social inadequacies of the average audience for movies here on-campus. I did not save my progress- I lost everything and do not have any of the big words that were included last time, nor do I have the flowing prose (varied syntax, etc.), but... I don't enjoy movies when people are commenting throughout. No one cares if you can't follow the plot, or if you have a funny thing to say. You are not in the script. Now, believe me, I've been tempted to say some witty observations during movies. However, I do not. No matter what you do though, you cannot solve the problem of the blabbermouth sitting behind you. In every situation, he wins, and you lose.

You lose.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

"When We Were Young"

Due to overwhelming requests, I will start posting some of my writings. I will begin with some lyrics. This was written in an emotional adolescent stupor, but I managed to polish some of the lyrics to give it some hidden meaning.

When We Were Young

Rolling over, head over heels, with you
In fields of green all day.
I'm taking over, taking charge, gonna
Live life my own way.

When you and I were young...
Have I lost sight of whom you've become?
You were my best friend and I trusted you
Till the end.

If we were meant to be, then why'd you run away from me?
I'm sorry I burned you last night.
My curiosity has surely gotten the best of me.
And now I'm left with your sight.

Sprouting wings, gaining strength, I fly away- you're in dismay.
We disagree, you were content, but now I'm spent and
You're still in love with me.
I used to believe "It's better to have loved and lost,"
But I never subtracted the cost.
As your marginal loss- no, I'm not worth the cost.

If we were meant to be, then why'd you run away from me?
I'm sorry I burned you last night.
My curiosity has surely gotten the best of me.
And now I'm left with your sight.

You're a casualty. Not the one for me.
You were hit by arrows. You were hit by Eros' arrows,
When you and I were young.

The idea was to create a landscape of mixed emotions and confusion. My intentions were to have the verses reflect one point of view of a relationship, and the choruses would come from the opposite member of the relationship. I produced some parallels to the story of Eros and Psyche in the song.