I hate to quote Jeff Goldblum but…

Regarding the new “Flame” malware:

“Yeah but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

– Jeff Goldblum, aka Dr. Ian Malcolm, Jurassic Park

Incidentally one of my best friend’s favorite and oft used quotes. Certainly applies to say, the Manhattan Project.

On Meekness

“meekness is power under control”

– Steven W. Thomas (aka “stevenwthomasvia Salon comments)

Ambition like fashion…

“Ambition like fashion is best left to the youthful and immature.”

– Me

My point is that if you’re over say 30 and still wearing “costumes” and/or chasing after the dream of owning Porche’s then maybe, just maybe, you have a maturity problem.

I think a significant portion of the “1%” suffer from this – even though they have it all, it’s never enough. If they were mature, they would have cast off this particular demon. Instead they suffer from “arrested development” and the endless need to pursue ghosts. Unfortunately we all suffer from their shortcomings.

That’s not to say a healthy degree of ambition is a bad thing (or fashion), but if you remain pathologically driven through your entire life, you’ve got to ask – what are you running from or running to?

Ultimately the Buddhists have a point here. And if you don’t know what that means, maybe you should consider reading up on Buddhism.


Stolen from Brad Delong:

“Uncertainty is not a statement about the limits of measurement, it’s a statement about the limits of reality. Asking for the precise position and momentum of a particle doesn’t even make sense, because those quantities do not exist.

– Chad Orzel, “How to Teach Physics to Your Dog”

You know who she is…

“Uh, Lord, hallowed be Thy name. May our feet be swift; may our bats be mighty; may our balls… be plentiful. Lord, I’d just like to thank You for that waitress in South Bend. You know who she is — she kept calling your name.”

– Jimmy Dugan (aka Tom Hanks)

I’m sick and tired…

“I think that all right-thinking people in this country are sick and tired of being told that ordinary, decent people are fed up in this country with being sick and tired. I’m certainly not! But I’m sick and tired of being told that I am!”

– Monty Python

Working the C-level…

When you partner with C-level management it can feel a lot like this:

“Now the guy’s got Paulie as a partner. Any problems, he goes to Paulie. Trouble with the bill? He can go to Paulie. Trouble with the cops, deliveries, Tommy, he can call Paulie. But now the guy’s gotta come up with Paulie’s money every week, no matter what. Business bad? Fuck you, pay me. Oh, you had a fire? Fuck you, pay me. Place got hit by lightning, huh? Fuck you, pay me.”

– Henry Hill (aka Ray Liotta), Goodfellas

Oklahoma kid. That’s me. I’m the Oklahoma kid. You fuckin’ varmint! Dance. Dance. YAHOO, YA MOTHERFUCKER!

And now for a completely different subject…

If you’re ever in Puerto Villarta, look up:


Great Mexican food, particularly if you like fish (I don’t but I loved it anyway). Also, they don’t mess around with their Margaritas!

The Fallacy of “Free Will”

Most people believe in "free will", that is the idea of "self determination" or that our lives are not "fated" from conception until death. In many ways this is a core and necessary belief – to believe otherwise is at a minimum disconcerting and for most, enormously threatening to one’s sense of self.

However, while the idea that we have “free will” is desirable or even compelling, it is also unfortunately as noted in the title, a fallacy. In fact it takes very simple logic to show how flawed the concept is.

Now before I continue I should note that quite possibly there are things that are beyond my conception. Perhaps there is a God, and there are things like “souls” and perhaps I just cannot fathom some natural or supernatural construct that would allow true “free will”. I readily admit that I could be missing something. In fact I rather hope I am.

However, again unfortunately, I doubt I am.

So let’s start with a simple example:

My son’s favorite color is “red”. As fine of a choice as any color and one could say my son “used his ‘free will’ to choose ‘red’”. At a basic level I cannot argue – it was his choice and no one compelled him to do it.

At another level though one has to ask, “What made him choose the color ‘red’?” Did he “choose” to “choose” the color “red”? Did he magically decide before he was born that “red” was the color in his future life he’d pick as favorite and thus act in his “free will” in advance of his birth? If so, back “heaven” or wherever his “soul” came from, what made him want to choose to choose “red” as his favorite color?

Rather confusing isn’t it.

The point is, at some point back in his history, whether by God or by nature he was “wired” to think “red” was his favorite color. He did not choose, and thus exercise his “free will”, it was somehow chosen for him. He had no choice that “red” would by fate become his favorite color.

“But wait,” you say, “he could choose another color as his favorite at any time! He could still exercise his ‘free will’!”

True, no argument there, sort of. The problem is, what made him choose this new color? Let’s say in response to reading this diatribe he makes a conscious decision to select a new color, say “green” just to show me up.

Fine, but what made him choose to be so dang independent little tike that he would go out of his way to show me up? Did he “choose” to be uppity?

No, he was born wired, or influenced by outside events, to be headstrong and uppity (and he is!). He had no choice, it was chosen for him, whether by fate, or by God, or whatever to be uppity. That uppity-ness in turn compelled him to select “green” just to show his dear old “Dah” up.

In fact just about every so called “decision” in life can be linked back this way (actually, not “just about”, absolutely every decision can be linked back this way). In the end we do not choose to be how we are, we are wired to be how we are. And how we are wired to be how we are in turn predisposes us, outright defines frankly, the choices we make.

To change this “loop”, that is to break out of it, would require nearly literal time travel and the ability to influence the electrochemical reactions of the previous “you” that existed. To go back and change the “you” that made you decide to make the decisions you made. In fact even then it doesn’t even solve the causality issues. Every action and decision you make is based on prior events within and without you and those events you have no control of.

You may read the above drivel and think that you will respond or you may read it and think that there is no point, or a thousand other possible reactions. You might then say to myself, I “choose” to respond or not, therefore I “exercise free will”.

At a momentary level it would seem as such, however why did you decide to respond or not? Did you decide at some prior date that if you read a post per above that you would respond, or did you have some immediate reaction. If so, were you in control of that immediate reaction, or did it just come to you because “that’s who you are?”

More likely the later of course. We just react to the stimulus around us and how we react is essentially the sum of our “initial wiring” plus the re-wiring that experience gives each of us. Since we can neither control the initial wiring nor at some fundamental level the events that make up our experience, logically we cannot actually control how we react – we have no free will.

I know this isn’t exactly a pleasant thought when you come down to it. No one wants to believe that who they are and their future are essentially pre-ordained for them, but that is what I believe the truth is.

Some who I have talked about this with have reacted negatively not so much because we are “fated” to a path, but because they feel it implies that there’s no reason to try to better oneself. You may as well just be a lump.

Well here’s my answer – the only way you’ll be a lump is the sum of your initial “self”, plus your life experience, plus the input of this theory interact together to make you decide to be a lump. Again, you have no control of this, no “free will”. You will either do it in reaction or you won’t. Moreover if you don’t, then don’t feel all high and mighty above those that might, you’re choice not to be a lump is driven not by some great “free will” desire to better yourself regardless, but rather by again your initial programming followed by life experience followed by the reaction to this theory. Again, if you follow it all back through all the recursions of, “but what made you choose do that?”, you get down to you didn’t choose at all. You’re just lucky enough to be wired by fate to not want to be a lump.

Again, fundamentally this isn’t pleasant, so what does one do with it:

  1. Ignore it. I know it, but it doesn’t stop me from living life like I actually make the decisions. But of course, that’s how I’m wired!
  2. Give yourself a break for who you are and who you aren’t. The honest truth is you really can’t control it. Those who aren’t up to “snuff” as it were, will either have the will and ability to change themselves for the better, or they won’t. The fact that they (or maybe you) don’t, is ultimately out of your control. The truth is not that you don’t – it’s that you literally can’t. The sum of who you are won’t allow you (if it would, then you would change!)(or perhaps you will – there’s always the possibility that the addition of future “input” of experience will finally enable, or drive, you to change).
  3. Find holes in the proposition, either logical, philosophical, or religious. Again, maybe I’m full of crap.

Finally, if you doubt that bettering oneself or not bettering oneself as I apply above is ultimately out of your control, then consider  someone with a 80 IQ versus someone with a 160 IQ. Can a 80 IQ will themselves to be 160 IQ? Can they do exercises to make themselves 160 IQ? No, as you can see, some things are quite obviously not within the purvey of free will. We don’t question those, but it’s funny we question a lot of other things (like praising those who are successful while denigrating those who aren’t – I would argue the exact same constraints on success or non-success exist as the IQ example, just in more complex and less obvious forms).

One of my favorite quotes…

“Excuse me sir. Seeing as how the VP is such a VIP, shouldn’t we keep the PC on the QT, because if it leaks to the VC, he could end up an MIA, and then we’d all be put on KP.

– Adrian Cronauer as channeled by Robin Williams in “Good Morning Vietnam”.