Military Spending

we spend 63% of our federal individual income tax on the department of defense (29% of the entire federal revenue). that $716 billion represents 42% of the world’s military spending. i think it is immoral for an advanced society, deeply in debt, to spend that much on the military (a 133% increase in the last 12 years).

Just say NO to oppression

Sometimes it is up to the oppressed to stop the oppressor…by just saying NO. Whether it is a stranger, whether it is your father, whether it is your husband…just say NO. Say that you won’t tolerate it anymore. Say that no relationship is worth if it is oppressive. Just say NO.

Scientific misconduct

UntitledThis paper was published today in the journal mBio. Moral of the story – men should stop lying. 228 cases of academic misconduct in the past 18 years is a very low number. As a scientist, I do wish that number was ZERO. And I also accept that vast cases of misconduct is not reported. I think every student who chooses any scientific field as their major in college should take an oath not to lie in their work. And anyone ever caught lying or committing academic misconduct should be barred forever from conducting scientific investigations. Science is built on truth, data, and facts. Even slightly modifying it brings in bias and falsehood, and therefore it is no longer science.

Who is a scholar?

A person can study one topic or field their entire life, but I wouldn’t call such a person a scholar. For example, I can study how the arbitrary location of stars visible to the naked eye, at the time of a person’s birth, might affect that person’s behavior or personality. But no one can, or should, call such lifelong study scholarly work. For me, the definition of a scholar is not only someone who is knowledgeable in multiple fields, but one who must be able to synthesize knowledge across multiple fields into one overarching, logical, and rational. For example, a scholar would be someone who has training in neuroscience, but who can synthesize the actions the neurons and neuroplasticity with anthropological behavior and use those two fields to explain the actions of individuals/societies throughout history. I believe such synthesizing of multiple fields to produce one big idea or explanation is not only possible, but inevitable.

Intellectualism is beauty

Beauty is directly proportional to intellectualism. I don’t believe stupidity is a lack of intelligence, but intellectual laziness. For me, the most attractive girl is an independent thinker who possesses intellectual curiosity. And my biggest turn off is when someone says “you are ____, therefore you are supposed to do/not do ____.” No thank you, my only identity is a homo sapien and I prefer using my own brain. On a side note, it is sad that when I see someone extremely beautiful and highly intelligent, I freeze up like Dr. Raj Koothrappalli…

A baseball season

A baseball season has a story. It has drama. It has failure. It has redemption. It has collapses and comebacks. April and September can feel an eternity apart. Players and teams can be unrecognizable at the beginning and at the end of those six months. Football is fun. Baseball is love. It is a game for the hopeless romantics. An individual game might not matter as much, but the entire season feels like a novel. It is not a date that comes once a week for four months. It is a love which is there with you every evening. You enjoy that date which comes once a week, but you appreciate the love which is present every day. You might take it out to the stadium once a month, maybe even less. But you check up on it every night or every morning. It is not three hours of fun on a weekend. It is something that goes on in the background every evening while you are doing something else at home. The hopes start building in February. You are excited about the beginning in April. By July you might feel its not going where you want it to go. Yet by September you are once again nervous and excited. And when October comes around, you think back to February and wonder how far you have come. By the end of it all, you are either dancing in front of the bars Second Avenue with friends and strangers, or you feel like your heart has been ripped out from your chest. The emotions and the energy you invested in it either results in a ticker-tape parade on Broadway, or you are drained and left in despair at the failure of it all. But with time you wait for the coldness of winter to pass away, and with the sound of the ball hitting the glove you know that warm weather and sunny days aren’t far away. And then, everyday for eight months you fall in love all over again.

Urban folks vs rural folks

New York metropolitan population – 19 million. In big cities like this, you cannot survive without government. It is needed everywhere – from security to sanitation to public transportation to education…you name it. Try libertarian-ism in these cities and you will have anarchy. On the flip side, take the case of Wyoming – population half a million. For anyone living in a small town or rural area, government is an abstract idea located in state capitals or DC which only passes restrictions and rules and takes away your money. And you do not even see much or any benefits coming out of government in your daily life. These people have known individualism most or all their lives and therefore government is just onerous. Same thing with conservatism vs progressiveness when it comes to cities vs rural areas. For someone earning minimum wage in NYC, you can work 80 hours a week and be barely able to pay rent. For someone in rural Montana or Wyoming, if someone is dependent on government help it means that person is lazy and not working hard. $40000 salary will earn a person some comfort in Pittsburgh. That same salary in NYC will make you choose between staying with your parents and buying a car, or renting your own place and commuting 3 hours each day. And conservatives are right to gripe about those who abuse government help, which truly exists but in a small quantity. And liberals are also right to gripe about social conservatism from people who have never met anyone different or experienced anything different. And these are two diametrically opposing ways of life and viewpoints and both sides feels that the other side lives in an alternate reality. But a harmonious society can only exist when both sides see the other’s point of view and see where the other side is coming from. For example, the city progressives can show their rural friends that being socially liberal is not immoral, but having learned to accept new ideas by being exposed to such people who are just as good as themselves. Similarly, a rural conservative can tell the city person that restricting deadly weapons in a densely populated area might make sense, but making it applicable to someone in a ranch or in the countryside is pointless. The best way to learn the other side’s point of view is by living in their shoes for a while. Have a conversation why the other side thinks the way they do. Do not demonize them. In the end, folks on both sides of an ideological debate are good people.

Heart of Gold or Heart of Iron

When you dig a little into the ground you will find gold. And if you are happy at your place, the heart of the Earth would be made up of gold. But if you keep pursuing your curiosity and dig further and further, you will find nothing but iron. That heart of gold is actually molten iron. Staying near the surface will give you blissful ignorance, but reaching the core will give you peaceful (or bitter) truth.

Hall of fame vote – Bonds and Clemens

The day baseball Hall of Fame results are announced is supposed to be the most auspicious day in American sports. Today was also the day where a select group of voters would judge the greatest living hitter and pitcher, both of whom who have been accused of using steroids. I don’t think a Hall of Fame that is missing Pete Rose, Barry Bonds, and Roger Clemens is representative of baseball. I have come a long way in the last 10 years as far as using steroids are concerned. The only way to solve this problem is divide the Hall of Fame into each era – dead ball era, segregation era, steroids era etc etc. 10 years back I did not think Bonds belonged in the Hall. But now I do. He hit against pitchers and fielders who used steroids. Clemens pitched against hitters who used steroids. In an institution where testing did not exist, it is not fair to presume someone is guilty or innocence. Mike Piazza belongs in the Hall and he never tested positive for steroids, but the voters “believe” he did. Yes this is a big screw up and everyone is to be blamed – owners, players, and fans. As Barry said it perfectly – I am just an entertainer. They come to see home runs and be entertained. As far as cheating is concerned, what is the difference between steroids and Derek Jeter faking being hit in the batter’s box? If steroids are performance enhancers, is getting platelet-rich plasma therapy in Germany a performance enhancement? Hundreds used steroids, but they did not hit or pitch anywhere close to Bonds or Clemens. Can adderall or caffeine be called a performance-enhancer? For some people it would. I get the other side, without steroids Barry Bonds would not have hit 73 home runs or 762 home runs. I think he got about 100 extra home runs in his career because of steroids. If he was the only one, or one of a tiny group of players, I would have been against it. But he was not and there is no empirical way to find out who used and who didn’t. If Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens do not get into the Hall of Fame, then anyone who played between 1985 and 2005 should not get into the Hall either. Personally, I think both will be in the Hall before the end of this decade, and so will Pete Rose.