…Without Your Opinion

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When something big is on the news, it catches your eye and you form opinions about it. You think about why it happened, how the world will be changed by it, and who could have made what steps to avoid the said event. Stop for a second and think about how much power and influence you have to change any of the things that were just listed. Can you change why it happened? Can you change how the world will react or respond to it? Most likely not. How about your friends, colleagues, or the people you talk to, can they? Most likely not.

For some reason, however, many arguments, conversations, discussions, and debates are about big stories and big topics. Topics that you cannot change. Why do we find discussing these things so interesting? To answer, lets go back to the very root of conversation.

Talking with someone is like making a drawing. The artist needs to figure out how to start. After they started well, they need to continue in excellence. Why would you start an artwork like a professional painter and finish the piece like a 1st grader with his brand new box of markers? In a conversation, you need to start with something and then keep it saturated. In business, you need to leave an impression. Something current, new, fresh, and relevant, even though you have no control over it makes you seem integrated with what’s going on and gives you a means to keep the conversation from going off a cliff.

Next time you talk about a big issue, remember that you probably aren’t going to change anything with that conversation. Know that the topic is probably irrelevant to your priorities unless, of course, it means something to you personally. However, by having that discussion, know that you’re telling that person that you have an opinion and you aren’t afraid to share it.

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We want more.

Think about it. They are so wealthy. They have ten cars, a football field, a baseball field, a grand piano, and enough bedrooms to house Manhattan. They bought a commercial cruise ship and made it a stylish addition to their house. They are the only ones in the world with a $400 million solid gold working helicopter. They are the insanely rich family on the other side of town that you pass by on your way home from work, immediately causing you sink into a miserable depression because your paycheck is pennies to theirs. The next week the news tells you that Mr. Bigshot and his wife were suspected of money laundering, insider trading, tax evasion, and perhaps even theft from their competitor’s inventory, giving them bad publicity that is slowly bankrupting their company. All of a sudden their nights went from king sized beds to prison bunks and their days from Olympic sized pools to sharing meals with convicted felons. What made them do it? Why did they risk all of their wealth for a few extra million dollars when they already had billions? The short answer is that they wanted more.

Unfortunately, the original factor causing a person to seek additional wealth is their realization that other, more fortunate people desire additional riches and monetary gain themselves. Think about it: when you see a wealthy person try to acquire more wealth, you start to think about why he is not content with what he already has. Various forms of media including TV and internet display the ventures and risks others take for money, sometimes even to the point of jeopardizing their own lives. This willingness to sacrifice so much for further wealth creates added psychological value to money and possessions, elevating the “importance” of personal possessions from being for personal enjoyment to items that establish one’s position and status in society. This widespread desire for wealth, along with the psychological value added to wealth because of this desire, causes people to treasure items bought with money that much more. Why? This effect is because most people hate to loose a valuable thing and in turn will assign equal value to whatever they bought with it, the very reason designer clothing is able to sell for unreasonable prices. Consequently, people then see how “happy” someone is with that item because they convinced themselves that it is valuable, and in turn desire this “happiness” themselves, are inclined to purchase it, and unknowingly continue the cycle. Another person will see them with the item, see the fake “happiness” they receive from it, get the item themselves, and so forth. Appropriately, this should beg the question: why should anyone care? The answer to that would be how the person chooses to apply this information. However, unless you make a personal step to not respond with jealousy to others’ fortunes, you will still be another link in the circular chain.

Our entire capitalistic society progresses mostly because of the reality of the consumer always wanting more. Capitalistic thinking, the mindset behind business, competition and marketing, and the structure of the commercial world is summed up in the ideas presented in the last two paragraphs. Lastly, the misaligned thinking of the market today both causes the most progressive age in the history of the earth, but is a moral hurdle for those who see the jealousy it causes between persons. Overall, the competitive world is a mess. However, just like recycling plastic bottles, you can make a personal decision to be one person out of a hundred that collectively make a difference in society.

You can’t stop rushing!

Time is something that cannot be avoided not only because it’s on your phone, the wall, and your wrist, but because everybody lives in line with it. Rushing is sometimes a result of not paying attention to the time and when finally doing so, noticing that you have an event that must take place and it is, or almost is, to late to prepare for or do it. Does this mean that we can eliminate rushing if we just pay more attention to the clock? Well, since the title of this article is you can’t stop rushing, obviously not.

Humans like to plan everything to be in order so that we do not have to rush. We may even plan months ahead and follow schedules so that things will be on time and structured properly. However, we never factor in time for situations that we do not anticipate. New projects, events, and meetings must happen, sometimes on short notice, causing even those who plan months ahead to have to rush in order to make these events take place or to be there on time. Rushing causes stress and is therefore presumably unhealthy to have in life. If it cannot be eliminated, what can be done?

While rushing cannot be eliminated, it its toll on a person can be diminished. Leaving time in your schedule for unanticipated events is an effective way to prevent against surprise obligations, but isn’t bulletproof. While keeping this technique in mind, set reminders on your phone or tablet at specific times. Once in a while review and edit these reminders and remember to update them including events that you’ve put on your phone’s calendar. Also, you should prepare items ahead of events. For example, put projects and presentations that you’ve prepared for work in the car or near the door the day before and the clothing you will wear that day should be washed, steamed or ironed, and placed in a convenient place ahead of time. Lastly, keeping a positive outlook and a calm composure goes a long way in eliminating superfluous stress. Nevertheless, having said all this, you still can’t stop rushing.

Trick Questions Begone

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“Trick questions” can be a pain and a bothersome annoyance of the kind that you would expect from small children. There are still, nevertheless those adults who like to have a little fun, even when the second party is bad mood. For the few times that you will have to deal with people in such circumstances, here is a little philosophical remedy to your annoyed self.

“What color is this car?” would ask the first party with nefarious intent to make you have the wrong answer every time. Your answer would be “blue” seeing logically that the car is predominately blue. The car however has silver handles and black tires and the asker laughingly tells you the answer is, “blue, silver, and black.” They are wrong for an number of reasons. The first obvious one is that there are probably more colors of the car: for example the numbers on the speedometer could be white, the digital clock teal, and the car’s make logo could be red. The real reason they are wrong is because they asked for the color, singular, of the car. So this means that you were right since you listed one color, singular, right? Not a chance.

This is where the entire question falls apart. The question must match the answer. If there are 15 shirts in your closet, and someone asks you, “what is the color of the shirt in your closet?” one day, you would ask intently, “which shirt?” Same goes for, “what is the color of your car?”… “Which color?”, you should say, “there are many colors on this vehicle which include,” and then list some of the colors. Or if they have no business knowing about your shirts, you can call them a stalker and walk away.

While the car example, which is used throughout this article was specific, it can be translated to a variety of applications. One of the keys to being victorious in a “trick” question situation is reversing the roles by being the asker yourself, essentially answering a question with a question. If you cannot find a way to do this or are put in a position in which you must answer, be very specific and use phrases such as, “predominantly,” “for the most part,” and “if there is an answer.” Lastly remember that the most common type of “trick” question has no answer, for example: “what is the third album of the band so-and-so,” to which the answer is, “so-and-so did not have a third album,” so be wary of those. We realize that this article will not come in handy very often, but when it does, you will certainly embarrass the person who thinks they’ve got you in a trap… which is usually fun. We also apologize to our readers in the United Kingdom for spelling it “color,” as opposed to “colour” as they, we know, do there.

You Don’t Know What Color Your Shirt Is…

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                Many people are familiar with the question, “do all people see the same color the same way?” What brought up this question is not a scientific discovery claiming to give proof that we do not all see the same color the same way, but rather the sheer fact that no human device, invention, or scientific observation can answer the question. The issue is this: since we cannot describe a color, except by saying that it is bright or dull, we cannot compare one person’s description of a color to another’s to see if they are seeing the same thing. The words bright and dull also cannot be defined. Try it!

                If we did not all see the same colors, but our colors were switched, such as my red is your blue, and your green is my purple, then blending would be an issue. For example, the colors purple and green blending to be yellow or red would be difficult for us to understand. Blending familiar to ourselves makes sense somewhat, and we can understand to a certain extent why two colors blend to be another. However, we would have trouble understanding how humans that see colors differently can make sense of blending that would not make sense to us, and vise versa. People have been seeing colors the way they see them since infancy and have never known a different way. People just accept that a certain color is how it is and blends how it does because in their eyes (literally) it always has.

                There is also the possibility that there are more colors. In fact, the most interesting activity to me when I pondered this question was attempting to imagine another color. A person cannot think of a color that is not already a color to them. This does not mean, though, that someone else cannot see colors that you cannot perceive. It is also possible that at birth, a person’s brain assigns a color to the wavelengths of light that their eyes sense. Maybe at or before birth, a child is able to imagine many colors and randomly assigns a color to objects with varying colors. Perhaps certain emotions are evoked with certain colors in the child’s head or imagination and the child matches that color to the color of the first object that gives the child the same emotion. For example, if the child matches the color red (which he/she had imagined in her head) with fear, and their older brother made them afraid by throwing a stuffed animal at them, the child could assign red to the color which that stuffed animal was because they were afraid for the first time while looking at the stuffed animal.

This process of assigning colors based on emotions is certainly plausible because emotions can sometimes be evoked by a color being overly present in a room. If a room is re-decorated and grey is the prevalent color, many people can feel sad or gloomy as a result. Likewise, if a room is light blue, people can feel happy. While giving reason to the emotion assigned color theory, the fact that color sometimes evokes emotion also causes harm to the theory for a different reason. Many people feel certain emotions from the same colors. For example, blue usually does not make one angry just as red usually doesn’t make one cheerful. The same colors evoke the same emotions for most people and it is unlikely that all people saw the same color for the first time with the same emotion for the first time. In other words, if the theory were true some children would see blue as their first color in accordance with fear, some, orange, some pink, and some red. However, people all across the board think of the same colors in accordance with fear: red or black. It is unlikely that all people saw red or black for the first time when they were afraid. This causes the theory to have problems and renders it unlikely to be true.

                The same thing applies to the other senses, but mainly the ones where it is most difficult to describe the different effects. Sound can be more accurately described: loud, shrill, high, low, distorted, etc. It can also trigger other senses: sound can visibly be interpreted on a computer and low, bass notes produces vibrations that can be felt by the body. However, attempt by yourself to describe a taste. Try to define the words sweet, sour, or spicy. Try to define a smell without comparing it to an object. The way we explain smells to others is by saying, “it smells like lavender,” or, “it smells like a garlic.” We cannot describe a smell without attributing it to an object or by saying that it is preferable or terrible. Because of our incapability to describe these categories of things that our senses differentiate between, we cannot know if what we are sensing is that same as what someone else would sense when exposed to the same object that we are sensing. Having said all that, you don’t what color your shirt is because its possible that its different for everyone. The bizarre thing is, we’d all call it the same color.

If a Tree Falls in the Forest and nobody… Yea… We Found the Answer!

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               The most well known philosophical question forbade knowledge of its answer to ancient thinkers, only to reveal its answer with a single invention. What is the answer? Yes, if a tree falls in the forest, it makes a sound regardless of a person present to sense it. Why? It is because we can remotely record it and play it back… Are there still problems with the answer? Of course, aren’t there always in philosophy? Ready? I don’t care…

                The first problem is the question that is being answered. The recording solution only replies to the question, “If a tree falls and nobody is around, does it ever make a sound?” In order to know if it always makes a sound, we would have to record the fall and as many times and at every time that a tree could fall or would fall. However, this differentiation is not a problem because of an assumption made by the asker. Although the asker is tackling the concept of inconsistency of a cause resulting in an effect depending on whether a person is present or not, they overlook the possibility of inconsistency when there is no person. In other words, although they explore the possibility of the tree not making a sound when there is nobody around, they don’t explore the possibility of it sometimes making a sound and sometimes not. For this reason the asker said, “does it make a sound?” It is also possible that they would accept the answer, “sometimes,” if it only make the sound sometimes… but then the question couldn’t be answered by this method without recording every instance a tree would fall with nobody near it… and who likes questions that can’t be answered? Oh yeah… ancient philosophers.

                There is also an issue with the physics of the sound an the recording. Since the microphone only senses the waves of air, which we hear as sound, it is possible that without anyone to hear it, no sound is produced, only air fluctuations. Maybe the resonating waves caused by the tree can only be called sound when there is someone to sense it with their ears. Then the question is not, “does it make a sound,” but “what is the dictionary definition of sound used by the asker?”

                The original purpose of this question was to provoke thought. Even now, with advances in technology, we still cannot answer the question. It is like asking, “if a comet passes in front of a star, does it still twinkle?” In fact, this question would be more exciting to answer because if gives more solid responses and is scientifically answerable. So a better likening would be to the question, “if a caterpillar enters a soap bubble (3 inches in diameter), is it still fuzzy?” Even if we got to feel the caterpillar in the bubble, we would still need to know the asker’s definition of the word “fuzzy.” But who likes questions that can’t be answered, anyway? Oh yeah… ancient philosophers. They would have hated microphones and dictionaries…