Just a thought....

Posted by Tandarin Nike Wednesday, August 15, 2012 1:01 AM 1 comments
The most important technology during the next hundred years will be the high speed Internet for ocean vessels.

Once that technology becomes widely available, you'll see people abandoning their failed land-based countries and forming independent nations on the sea.

The rich will be the first to move to the sea to escape confiscatory levels of taxation in their countries of origin. The tax savings alone could be enough to pay for floating island homes for the wealthy.

Perhaps the most compelling reason for taking to the sea is climate change. It might someday become necessary to live on moveable ocean structures just to avoid hurricanes, floods, droughts, blizzards, earthquakes, and tsunamis.

I can imagine security being better at sea too.

You'd have pirate problems, but that might seem manageable compared to the risk of nuclear war, traditional war, terror attacks, violent crime, and civil wars.

Traditional armies and even terrorists rarely attack anyone without one of these reasons that wouldn't apply to floating islands:

Hey, you're on my land!

Hey, you're defiling my holy land

I want your oil

You're harboring terrorists!

In the first phase of human migration back to the sea, floating islands will be comprised of vacation condos and second homes.

Over time, the island homes will be built larger until some are mansion estates. At that point, the islands will become primary residences for the wealthy, and they will abandon their bankrupt countries of origin, leaving the debt problems to the unfortunates who remain.

Each floating island could become its own nation with its own laws. Some floating islands might be corporate headquarters. Some might be formed around lifestyle preferences, such as Vegan Island, Gay Island, Gay Vegan Island, and that sort of thing.

And you'll have all sorts of island alliances to promote health, security, and economics.

This reminds me a bit of the migration from mainframe computing to personal computing and now to cloud computing.

Land-based nations will be abandoned (to a degree) for independent micro nations at first. But over time, the floating islands will form virtual "cloud" nations, independent of location.

Does anyone think the rich won't someday migrate to floating islands?

Am a forever Optimist....:)

Posted by Tandarin Nike Saturday, August 11, 2012 2:01 AM 1 comments
Some doctors will predict the worst possible outcome for their patients.

Whenever I go to my doctor, I try to envision the worst-case scenario for my latest injury. For a neck issue, I went with paralysis.

For my shoulder, I opted for amputation. And I make a habit of telling my doctor that I’ll see her the next time my body falls apart, unless I’m dead.

My doctor seems to find these predictions alarming and rushes to assure me that the surgeon is not going to amputate, or that my cold is not lethal. But I find it comforting to know the worst that can happen and to verbalize it.

Sure, I probably just have a sore throat - but what if it's an early indicator of Bubonic Plague? Or what if that slight headache really is a brain tumour?

The optimist would say that you should look on the bright side. See the positive aspects of any situation and hope for the best. I do consider myself an optimist. To me, the glass is always half full. But I wouldn't drink it because it could be laced with cyanide.

My method of hoping for the best is to realistically consider the worst. Then things can only get better from there. And if things are as bad as I predict, I have the satisfaction of being right, which always feels good.

For example, maybe amputation is an extreme outcome for a sore shoulder. But what if the injury takes a long time to heal? Or what if it requires surgery, which can have risks and complications?

These would be unfortunate to one simply hoping for the best. But in my world, they’re not so bad compared to hauling out the bone saw and hacking off the limb.

With me, doctors will clearly outline the bleakest possibilities for patients. For example, doctor might say, “You appear to have a cough, Mr. Naik. This may just be the cold that is going around, but it could also be the beginning stages of any number of terminal diseases.

You should put your affairs in order just in case. See you next time, unless you’re dead.

Sure, these consultations might be a bit of a shock at first. But imagine, after each illness recedes, how wonderful you’ll feel just to be alive.

Until the last one.... of course.

Who are you anyway??

Posted by Tandarin Nike Thursday, October 20, 2011 10:46 PM 2 comments

Sometimes a blogger's job is to say what people are thinking, but say it better than they are thinking it.

Watch me do that now.


Have you ever wondered who you are?

You're not your body, because living cells come and go and are generally outside of your control. You're not your location, because that can change.

You aren't your DNA because that simply defines the boundaries of your playing field. You aren't your upbringing because siblings routinely go in different directions no matter how similar their start.

My best answer to my own question is this:

You are what you learn.

If all you know is how to be a gang member, that's what you'll be, at least until you learn something else. If you become a soldier, you'll learn to control fear. If you go to law school, you'll see the world as a competition.

If you study engineering, you'll start to see the world as a complicated machine that needs tweaking all the time.

I'm fascinated by the way a person changes at a fundamental level as he or she merges with a particular field of knowledge. People who study economics come out the other side thinking a different way from people who study nursing.

And learning becomes a fairly permanent part of a person even as the cells in the body come and go and the circumstances of life change.

You can easily take apart my definition of self by arguing that you are actually many things, including your DNA, your body, your mind, you environment and more. By that view, you're more of a soup than a single ingredient. I'll grant you the validity of that view.

But I'll still argue that the most powerful point of view is that you are what you learn.

It's easy to feel trapped in your own life. Circumstances can sometimes feel as if they form a jail around you. But there's almost nothing you can't learn your way out of.

If you don't like who you are, you have the option of learning until you become someone else. Life is like a jail with an unlocked, heavy door. You're free the minute you realize the door will open if you simply lean into it.

Suppose you don't like your social life. You can learn how to be the sort of person that attracts better friends.

Don't like your body? You can learn how to eat right and exercise until you have a new one. You can even learn how to dress better and speak in more interesting ways.

I credit my late mother for my view of learning. She raised me to believe I could become whatever I bothered to learn.

No single idea has served me better.

you are someone else's avatar..

Posted by Tandarin Nike Saturday, October 8, 2011 7:00 AM 0 comments
When professional cyclists were told they were racing against their own best times, they tended to match those times, even when the times were faster than they had ever raced. I wonder how useful that sort of influence would be if we applied it to other areas.

In a few years it will be feasible to create a virtual version of yourself - an avatar - that lives a better lifestyle in the digital world than you do in the real world.

The avatar would have a healthier diet, exercises more, be less shy in social settings, more assertive at work, and perhaps have a more perfect batting skills. If you spent a few minutes every day observing your avatar doing what you wished you could do, would the peer pressure motivate you to higher achievement?

I think it might. In a way, this would be the high tech version of writing down your goals every day and visualizing success. 

The avatar would simply make the visualization easier.

Perhaps calling this effect peer pressure is not doing it justice. It might be more of a case of unlocking your potential in the same way that the first runner to break the four-minute mile unlocked the potential of those who followed. For any given task, we all seem to have a mental switch that is stuck in the "yes you can" or "no you can't" position.

Sometimes you need to use mental tricks to flip the switch from no to yes. I wonder if your avatar could help.

Very often, successful people seem to have had meaningful interactions with other successful people prior to making it big themselves. That could be a case of coincidence or selective reporting, but I suspect causation.

When you get to know a famous person, your mind says, "If that idiot can succeed, how hard can it be?" That flips the switch in your mind to "yes I can."

I also wonder if programming your avatar to smile or laugh would immediately put you in a good mood. I think it would. I think your avatar could also improve your table manners, help your posture, and move you in the right direction a hundred different ways.

At some point in the future of humanity our avatars will be so well-programmed with our preferences and memories that they will live on after our deaths and have no idea they are not the real us.

And since that future will last forever for the avatar, perhaps in a continuous loop, while your mortal life is limited in years, the statistical reality suggests it already happened and you are an avatar of someone who went before.

Yes, you knew I was going there.

Am having a reasonable start to a expected good holiday..

Posted by Tandarin Nike Wednesday, September 7, 2011 7:02 AM 5 comments
Feeling rather peckish the other evening, and having some time to spare between a trip to the dentist and an evening visit to a family friend, I popped into an speciality North Indian restaurant in Mangalore and was pondering the menu when a waitress came up and asked me how I was today.

Oddly enough, a check-out maid at 'Big Brother' had asked me exactly the same thing only a few days ago and for some reason had looked less than interested when I told her of the problems I was having with my heels and ankles, particularly on the left foot.

So this time, I decided to start at the other end of my body.

"Interesting that you should ask," I said, "for I have just emerged from a visit to my very expensive dentist who has, I hope, finally succeeded in putting right a problem that he performed last year."

"It had started wobbling dramatically, and not for the first time", I hasten to add, "and I would not have made a fuss but for the fact that I have a temporary filling on the other side of my mouth and had been advised not to bite on anything harder than a scrambled egg."

"So what with the filling and the problem, both sides of my mouth had become no-food zones, and I feared that I was in danger of starving."

She tried to draw my attention back to the menu, but I thought I ought to fill her in on a few more details.

"When he first put the implant in," I said, "he had been unable to locate the right titanium screw, so I think he used another one that had been left by the builders."

"Not long after, my crown fell out and he had to replace it, but then the screw developed a wobble and he had to take the whole thing out and start again."

"By the time that was done, he thought the problem was solved, but as I said, it recently began to wobble again and he could not get the crown off to tighten it, so he drilled a narrow hole through the crown just so that he could get the screwdriver in it."

"Frankly, I don't see why they can't have some sort of powerful X-ray electromagnetic screwdriver that can do the job through the crown."

"But the dentist said that was impossible, so he did it the hard way and has now tightened the screw and left an access hole in case he has to do it again."

"I'm sorry to hear.." she began, but I thought I ought to mention the huge dentist's bill I had paid to undergo all this inconvenience.

"You know," I said, "my builder, who is not the sort of fellow to leave screws behind, recently put in a whole new extra-large window extending down two storeys and a new door for the same price as the dentist charged for just one tooth."

"And neither window nor door has wobbled at all."

"I'm sure that with a bit of Polyfilla, he could have furnished me with an implant that would have done the job perfectly well, though I am not so sure I would have trusted him to do the earlier extraction with a pair of pliers."

"I'll have the Sheesh Kabab, please."

She hastily scribbled down the order and rushed off.

I really don't see why she asked how I was today if she wasn't interested.

And I hadn't even started telling her about my strained calf muscles and other ailments.

Is creativity the next debacle?

Posted by Tandarin Nike Sunday, July 17, 2011 11:58 AM 2 comments
I read someplace that the brain needs some boredom during the day to process thoughts and generate creativity. That sounds right. My best ideas always bubble up when I'm bored. And my period of greatest creative output was during my early living abroad when I had very few friends.

So what would happen if everyone in the world stopped being bored? You might be there already. I know I am. If I have access to my phone, or my computer, I'm never bored. If I'm watching TV, I can fast-forward through commercials.

If I'm standing in line at the store, I can check email or play Angry Birds. When I go for my daily walks, I listen to my mini player cum radio (MPCR). I wake up in the morning and walk straight to my MPCR to browse the headlines while my coffee is brewing. The last thing I do before shutting my eyes at night is browse the news again on my MPCR.

As recently as a year ago I would drive my car in silence and cook up all sorts of ideas on the go. Now I have satellite radio and can always find some auditory diversion. The only reliable place to be bored these days is in the shower.

Now let's suppose that the people who are leaders and innovators around the world are experiencing a similar lack of boredom. I think it's fair to say they are. What change would you expect to see in a world with declining boredom and therefore declining creativity?

I'll take some guesses.

For starters, you might see people acting more dogmatic than usual. If you don't have time to think for yourself, and think creatively, the easiest opinion to adopt is the default position of your political party, religion, or culture. Check.

You might see more movies that seem derivative or based on sequels. Check.

You might see more reality shows and fewer scripted shows. Check.

You might see the bestseller lists dominated by fiction "factories" where ghost writers churn out work under the brand of someone famous. Check.

You might see almost no humor books on the bestseller lists except for ones built around a celebrity. Check.

You might see the economy flatline for lack of industry-changing innovation. Check.

You might see the news headlines start to repeat, with nothing but the names changed. Check.

You might find that bloggers are spending most of their energy writing about other bloggers. Check.

You might find that people seem almost incapable of even understanding new ideas. Check.

To be fair, there might be lots of reasons why the world appears to have less creativity. Some of it is simple economics. A movie studio can make more money with a sequel than with something creative. A similar dynamic is true in every industry.

And also to be fair, sometimes things seem to be getting worse when in fact you're only noticing it more. It seems as if folks are more dogmatic than ever, but maybe that's not the case.

Still, it's worth keeping an eye on the link between our vanishing boredom and innovation. It's the sort of thing that could literally destroy the world without anyone realizing what the hell is going wrong. If it reaches critical proportions, we probably won't recognize the root cause of the problem. A lack of creativity always looks like some other problem.

Do you think the world is becoming less creative?

Too much of winning could kill you

Posted by Tandarin Nike Friday, July 8, 2011 7:50 AM 2 comments
Research shows that winning, especially on the home field, boosts your testosterone levels. And research shows that high levels of testosterone can cause health problems such as raising your bad cholesterol, accelerating some types of cancer, and increasing cardiovascular disease.

Hypothetically, too much winning could kill you.

Okay, okay, I know that the testosterone boost one gets from winning is temporary. And I know most of the people who compete and win are young whereas the people most at risk for cancer and heart attacks are old.

But could it be true that modern society creates too many opportunities for winning, which in turn boosts the average testosterone levels of both men and women to ranges that humans haven't yet evolved to handle?

If so, what's the downside?

In cave-dwelling days, I'm guessing that only the chief of the clan had high testosterone. Research shows that leaders generally have a bit extra. In those times, when survival was the main agenda item, the rest of the clan had few opportunities to do anything that felt like "winning." And no one was worried about cancer and heart attacks because the life expectancy then was 25.

Fast-forward to today. We surround ourselves with artificial situations that cause us to feel like winners. School kids get medals for simply participating. Parents praise kids for any little success. Childhood is designed to build high self-esteem.

Throughout life, almost everyone plays some sort of game or sport. And we gravitate toward the competitions we win more than we lose. If you golf, your handicap is designed to allow you to win against better players. If video games are your game of choice, you can play at whatever level that ensures you will win more than you lose.

In modern times we don't have just one leader. You can be the president of a club, the captain of your team, the manager of your department, or run your own business. The options for being in charge of one thing or another are endless.

And being in charge of just about anything boosts testosterone.

If being in charge isn't your thing, you can acquire a sort of symbolic power by getting lots of Facebook friends or lots of Twitter followers. Any sort of status, and any sort of special attention, no matter how trivial in real importance, probably boosts testosterone. Society has accidentally evolved into a testosterone delivery system. That makes sense because higher levels of testosterone have been associated with feelings of well-being.

Perhaps humans are literally addicted to the hormone.

If we assume that nature has distributed testosterone normally across humans, with some people having too little, most people having just the right amount, and some folks having too much, what is the impact of so many temporary boosts in testosterone? Are the people who already have plenty of testosterone getting poisoned?

Doctors can test for testosterone deficiency, but does anyone test for testosterone overload? And how important is it anyway? If you Google "testosterone behavior” you can see a number of experts weighing in on the question of how testosterone influences behavior.

I've recently learned that lots of educated people believe biology doesn't have a decisive influence on human behavior because we have the power of reason.

To others, that view falls somewhere between superstition and ignorance. To be fair, sometimes the biology-doesn't-count view is more of an advocacy-based position, which is entirely reasonable to the degree that it helps accomplish something useful to society, such as reducing crime.

We humans have an instinct for sorting things into categories. We like clean boundaries. For example, we like to imagine that all of our thinking is done by our brains.

But I wonder if it would be more accurate to extend our definition of "brain" to include the endocrine system.