Spore –The Selfish Gene

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If superior creatures from space ever visit earth, the first question they will ask, in order to assess the level of our civilization, is: ‘Have they discovered evolution yet?’ – Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene.

Recently, I hooked up on this one game called Spore(2008) developed by Maxis and licensed by Electronic Arts. It’s somewhat an interesting yet simple simulation game where you play as a (fully player-customized) creature starting as a single(herbivorous or carnivorous) cell that slowly climb up evolution ladder to be a more complex creature then ultimately embark on your journey to conquer galaxy.

I really hate meme, but I’ve quote Prof. Richard Dawkins above, so…

The game’s scientific accuracy, as pointed out by the guys at Wikipedia, might leave much to be desired. But, in my opinion, the gameplay is fun and easy to understand, the premise is creative and easy to swallow, and ultimately, the ability to completely customize your creature that is only limited by your own imagination make this game, all in all, pretty educating.

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It might not look much, but Phallicantropus floppitus is on the very top of evolution ladder. (Did I say that you can fully customized your creature? Because, you totally can.)

In the game, if you play it from the cell stage, first thing you see is a cut scene of a meteor falling to the planet of your choice. Later, said meteor cracks open and reveal your cell in to the world. Now your objective is to grow bigger and collect DNAs of different parts that you can later upgrade your body with, by killing another creature or stumbling into some random meteor by chance, just exactly like how evolution happens in real world.

By the way, just before you play the game, that is, when you choose your planet, you’ll be prompted to choose whether you want your cell to be herbivore or carnivore. And I will bet that most people will choose carnivore over herbivore every time. Why so? Well, aside from the obvious reason being carnivore is simply more awesome(I’m pretty sure that none of us, if given the chance to choose what we will be reincarnated as, will choose lame ass cow or obese manatee, those guys definitely got the short stick at reincarnation lot), we know for a fact that carnivores always placed higher at the food chain than their grass-munching counterparts by the virtue that carnivores eat their goddamned grass-munching asses.

Okay, now let’s talk about evolution.

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And the much known fact about how Spore actually isn’t that far off in the scientific accuracy department.

In my country, theory of evolution is being taught at mandatory school level. But even that being the case, I know several people who do not actually believe in it because it’s too “ridiculous”. Once in a blue moon, I got in a long-winded debate with them about this in a bar. We’d explain our well crafted arguments, throw some rhetorical questions, slam some goddamned table, ogle some fine waitresses’ ass, got derailed from the arguments and somehow it always ended up talking me down about how I should just get laid already and later I’d go home feeling dejected and then I cry into my hug pillow with anime preteen girl picture on it.

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Her name is Kaname Madoka, and we’ve been married for about three years now

So this time, without the interference of alcohol and eye-catching body parts of bar waitresses(their uniform really emphasis their boobs and hip), and while hugging my beloved Madoka pillow, I want to indulge in my sore loser personality in the internet once again.

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I might be a sore loser, but I’m a professional sore loser.

Before I write this article, I went around asking my friends whether they believe in the theory of evolution or not. Most of them (I asked, like, three people? I don’t have that many friends, I’m sorry.) said that they don’t believe in theory of evolution even though just like I’ve said earlier that theory of evolution is taught in school. Needless to say that they are religious person(though, only one of them is pious, I’ve rarely saw the other two pray) but most people(if not all) in my country are religious by birth, so that’s irrelevant. The funny thing is, two professors who taught me in school about the theory of evolution(and by extension, believe in it) are really pious person, so you can’t say that this is a case of religious ignorance.

Looking at it from a laymen’s perspective, belief in evolution is a rather remarkable phenomenon since it lacks any observable scientific evidence(because, it’s not like we’re seeing animals that are evolving right before our eyes or something, right? WRONG.), but if you really want to know the definite proof of the Theory of Evolution, you have to look no further than your own nipples(if you’re a dude, if you’re a dudette please don’t flash them to anyone except your spouse and in the comfort of your bedroom).

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Shit’s like, the number one cause of traffic accident or something.

Maybe I should make more elaborate explanation on this argument, lest I get that weird stare from all of those imaginary readers of this blog.

Now, I want you all to take a good look of your nipples. Have you feel weird yet? You freaks. If you have feel weird but still don’t get my point, try this, now look at the corner of your eyes that is close to your nose, notice something weird? And then, there are parts of your body that while you can’t see directly, still doesn’t make any sense in the context of your daily life or Genesis. Case in point: Appendix, Wisdom teeth, Mammary glands in male mammals, Coccyx(Tailbone in human), Erector pili(the muscle that makes your hair stand up when you have goose bumps) and most of hair in human body(yes, you can see your body hair, shut up!). Ask yourself if Adam and Eve have all these vestigial organs and if so, why do they have them? Why do we have them now?

Those are the remnant of our ancestor, plain and simple. Now, for most people who don’t believe in Theory of Evolution, the idea that we came from ape-like ancestor is insulting at the very least. But it really isn’t even touching the insulting part. You see, while our direct ancestor are ape-men, if you go back sufficiently farther you’ll find that before we became ape-like we looked more like a rodent, go back much further, you’ll find fish-lizard, yet further, worms. Ad infinitum ‘till you find single-celled micro-organism as our ancestor. Yes, YOU are, and by extension, humanity and all of it’s glory came from a damn protozoa. Is there any more humbling epiphany than that? I don’t know. Maybe there are several more. But that completely missed the point I’m gonna make. I don’t even know why I brought it up.

Let’s backtrack a bit, because I kind of forgot what point I was going to make.

Is it really possible that complex creature like ourselves actually came from simple microorganism? Then, if we’re evolved from them, why are those lesser creature still around to this day? In short, if we came from monkey, why are those still around today?

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if you find yourself asking that question, you really don’t deserve a monkey butler. And, get out of here!

Though, since I still can’t answer that question, I’ll end this post right here for now while I try to find the answer. There’ll be another post about Theory of Evolution in the future, so look forward to it!

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Gauguin

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Preposterous Wings – The Flight of Icarus

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Led astray by insatiable ambition to conquer the sky, the man met his own tragic demise in the gentle cradle of  vast, limitless ocean. There lies, the reflection of  his dream.

The story of Icarus has a clear moral messages. It was about consequence of personal over-ambition. It was about how you have to obey your elder. It was about fascination for fire(really?), enuresis, high ambition, and ascensionism(is this even word? my word processor underlined it though).[*] Icarus was young, narcissistic and have a far-fetched imaginary cognition. In short, he was a snotty brat who didn’t know his place. He deserved his punishment for not obeying his father and doing thing no one ever thought before. But, were those all there is to it?

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I know that this picture has some problem with proportion, but why Daedalus have only half pair of boobs??

The story of Icarus served as precautionary tale for people not to be blinded by desire and meet a tragic demise like what happened to Icarus. They even named a sea after him. This hold true back in the time, when being different means you’re a witch, when doing things differently means you’re challenging God. It was a time when people by religious dogma and strict social rules. Are all those still hold true now? Maybe, may be not.

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Pictured: Icarus, retrieved from the depth of Icarian Sea. Also pictured: Fabulousness.

What’s interesting from the tale of Icarus is, that it has another implication that maybe even the story maker didn’t intend to make.

Icarus of ancient Greece. Formed his wings of bird feathers and wax. Worn on both arms, he took flight. Beyond the clouds, and farther more. With nothing but a piece of courage in him. Slowly, the hills began to fade. Underneath was the vast blue sea. Flapping his wing, he flies towards the Sun. With nothing but a piece of courage in him.

For once, if we change our focus in the story from what happen with Icarus to what in the eternal burning hell he was thinking when he made that decision, that was one big question left unanswered in the story. What was he thinking?

What was happening right at that moment in his life? Icarus was the son of a mere(albeit famous) craftsman, and at that time, your father’s profession was what describes you. So, with a background like that, and the fact that he was never stood out on his own before the story, what was he thinking when he suddenly gained the ability to fly? What will YOU do if you suddenly gained the ability to fly?

Icarus’s answer was “I’ll meet Apollo”. It’s not explicitly stated in the story, but those (expert)people who said that he has an infatuation towards fire maybe have mistook it for this.

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‘this’ being ‘joining the Flying Exhibitionist fest’.

In the end, what’s his true intention? I’ll say, it’s the same thing that drive our civilization up to this point, that is, Curiosity. Is that a bad thing? Well, back in the day, Curiosity is a dangerous thing for those in power. Kings, Aristocrats, Government, they all depended on silent obedient consent. Kind of like ‘V for Vendetta’ all over again. So we got stories like, Pandora, where a girl screw up for every one else, all because of unsuppressed curiosity.

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“I was just mistook it for my wardrobe.” – Pandora, at some point apparently.

In retrospect, neither Icarus nor Pandora did what they do out of malice, the fact that Pandora immediately put the lid on back shows she meant no harm. And despite what those psychologist listed on Wikipedia said, I believe Icarus doesn’t really fond of fire(and water and height and whatever the hell they said) as he is of God(i.e. Apollo). They just couldn’t think too far ahead.

As far as the aftermaths goes, if to some degree this really happen in real life, in Pandora’s case, the plagues and diseases released sure do the damage to humanity. But aren’t they one of the reason we reached this point in our civilization? Human history is ugly, it’s full of war and betrayal that caused by the darkness within the heart. Darkness that caused by their own imperfectness. Imperfectness that, in fact, made up all reality. respectively, there’s nothing perfect in this world.

Rhetorically, what kind of world is the world of perfect humans? For example, a world where there’s no evil, where everyone acts properly, a world full of people with strong minds and hearts, a world without battle or uncertainty, a world in harmony. Seems wonderful, in a world like that there would be no happiness or sympathy anymore. People ‘feel’ because they’re imperfect. In a perfect world, there would be no advancement anymore. Humanity would stand still instead of move forward. Imperfect is the ideal world.

Even Icarus, who was symbolize the tragic fate for those who dare to harass God, now used as the name of Space Aeronautics Programs in 1967, 2009 and March 2009. It’s as if people of Greece forgot their own irony, or the guy who submitted the name was actually wanted to be sarcastic.

Jokes aside, it seems like that modern Greece accept the fact that Icarus is the mirror of humanity in its deepest core. It’s a romance humans’ dreams and curiosity, that is, the ability to fly to the unknown part of universe as we will soon to realize. And as the wise often said, the wonder of science, is the universal romance of humanity. And as we know, the romantic guy gets all the girls.

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“Please don’t get boner, Please don’t get boner, Please don’t get boner” – Icarus, at the moment.

Icarus showed us our destiny as humanity in the most humane way. Just like how curiosity drove Icarus to his tragic demise, we often let our curiosity get the best of us and left collateral damage to the environment. Pollution, Global Warming, extinction of some species, and all other unintended effect of technological progress, Icarus reminds us the dream of humanity as well as the possibility of something go wrong so that we can take precaution.

We each exist for but a short time, and in that time explore but a small part of the whole universe. But humans are a curious species. We wonder, We seek answer. Living in this vast world that is by turns kind and cruel, and gazing at the immense heavens above. – Stephen Hawking, The Grand Design.

Symposium of Drunken Salary-Men (Prologue)

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Wisdom, benevolence, and fortitude are the universal virtue of all.

Then I shall assemble the three here.

Believe it or not, bars are the best place out there to hold a discussion about almost everything: Science, Religion, Humanity, Economy, you name it. Just make sure your friends are too smashed to actually comprehend your rambling about “Theory of Everything” you heard secondhand on the internet this afternoon, and you’ll be the smartest guy alive(just for that fleeting moment, though) for them. Thus, I sneaked some of my own agenda in our usual weekend hangout last time.

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Your studying for finals ain’t got nearly a thing with my booze-gulping party preparations.

So, like usual my friends ordered a pitcher of the cheapest beer the can serve without mixing it with piss out of hatred for their loyal customers who always pay only after they hire street thugs as debt collectors. We’re taking it slow.

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In our defense, it’s because their waiters sometimes feel a bit ‘plastic’.

When the orders came around, one of my friend upon realizing that I ordered Oolong tea instead of the same cheap-dirt piss-solution they called beer, sneered at me, 「Oh, so what are we gonna discuss tonight, Mr. Einstein?」 My ruse was spotted even before I did anything, were they didn’t get drunk enough last time when I do this? (last time it was when the science community announce the “God Particle”, there was a live feed on the press conference if memory serves right) ::W-what are you talking about? Nothing special, really.:: I said bashfully while maiden-slapping their skulls one by one with the waiter’s tray that for whatever reason was within my reach, thus effectively rendered them as smashed as unicorn piñata spewing diabetes-coated teeth-cavity inducer. Not actually the original plan, but now they’re ready for the Symposium.

Part I

Symposium of Drunken men on Zisi of “Doctrine of the Mean”

Remorseless Sociopath Instigator (Henceforth Me)

So, today I assemble you all here is but for one thing, that is to discuss about the implication brought upon by Science and Religion throughout history of mankind.

Plot-conveniently Drunk A (Henceforth A-kun)

………………………………………………………………………… (Out cold)

Plot-conveniently Drunk B (Henceforth B-kun)

………………………………………………………………………… (Out cold)

Me

What the…

To be continued…!?

Visions – A God by Definition

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Recently IRL, one of my friends(yes, I have friends IRL. Shut it!) saw me (re)reading Michio Kaku’s “Physics of the Future” and then we had a little chat about it. He’s quite unique of a person if I may say, in a good sense certainly, but that’s for another talk. Anyway that time, he made a point by saying: “… you might think that I’m stupid, but I think, all great things have already been discovered by now …”

My answer was a vague yes. well, I’m not that skilled in real-life communication so forgive me. That said, I still regret my inability to express what was in my mind, because actually I want to say more. So, please accompany me while I become an everyday sore loser on the internet I am. What I love most from written one-way communication is that I can take my time thinking the most appropriate answer knowing that people won’t expect me to answer so quickly, that’s why I’ll take my time to write this post.

Come to think of it, I guess it’s not only my friend that thinks the age of physics has come to an end (he don’t actually said that, but this is more plot convenient). In a story written by ZUN titled ‘Magical Astronomy‘, which set on Earth in the near future where as he narrates it: “Physics is coming to an end. Our world was already rapidly progressing into an age of explanations and philosophy.” I guess there’s a lot more people that think this way, and in fact, they might as well be true. Looking around, there seems isn’t much place for further groundbreaking discovery in society, and it is hard to get thrilled by ‘breakthrough’ like iPhone5 if it comes out every other year without many distinguishable difference from the recent older one. I mean, when was the last time you rushed to TV to watch the launching of another spacecraft that’s done several times a year?

So, is the age of physics really coming to a close? Well, with the most fundamental laws that govern most of visible universe have already firmly established, it is rather save to say that indeed, the age of ‘Discovery’ is slowly closing it’s door on us. But that certainly is not to say that the age of physics is going anywhere near the end. It merely means the end of one great chapter in the history of science. I recently quoted a line from Jacques Yves Cousteau: “The happiness of the bee and the dolphin is to exist. For man it is to know and to wonder at it” For me, it means that our sole purpose to come to existence is to unravel the mystery of life and universe. It is in our nature to seek out novelty in every aspect of life. Thus, the end of age of physics will very well be the end of humanity.

Then, what’s the meaning of ‘the age of discovery is coming to a close’? Let’s make an analogy —

— scratch that, I’ll take one from Visions by Michio Kaku, Kaku explained a metaphor by Sheldon Glashow, a Nobel Laureate in physics:

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「“Arthur [is] an intelligent alien from a distant planet who arrives at Washington Square [in New York City] and observes two old codgers playing chess. Curious, Arthur gives himself two task: to learn the rules of the game, and to become a grand master.” By carefully watching the moves, Arthur is gradually able to reconstruct the rules of the game: how pawns advance, how queens capture knights, and how vulnerable kings are. However, just knowing the rules does not mean that Arthur has become a grand master! As Glashow adds: “Both kinds of endeavors are important–one more ‘relevant,’ the other more ‘fundamental.’ Both represent immense challenges to the human intellect.”」

Meaning, understanding fundamental laws is by no means a finish line in the race of human’s novelty. It’s just mean that we’re opening a new great chapter of scientific advance, one that will unravel yet another wonder of universe before us. This is but the beginning of the Romance of Science, a scientific milestone that marks a significant break with the ancient past, when nature was interpreted through the prism of animism, mysticism, and spiritualism.

The age of discovery is closing its door before us which ended the first great phase in the history of science. We’re now heading toward a new exciting development of the next chapter. An infinite of possibilities is now unfold before us, with our understanding about the fundamental underlying most of the disciplines of science has already been firmly established, we’re now making transition from a passive bystander to a creative choreographer of matter; life and intelligence. the next centuries will witness an even more far-reaching scientific revolution, as we claim our place as the master of Nature, a ‘God by Definition.’

Hello World!

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What’sMystery to you?

What you see with your eyes, you hear with your ears, you feel with your skin, everything you do. Isn’t it a mystery how things actually work? Though every each person on this planet might have come up with their own definition from the simplest, literal, to philosophical one about the topic. UFO, Alien, Circle Crop, Atlantis, Bermuda Triangle, Yeti, Vampire, What happened to Jennifer Connelly’s boobs, like, anything. Taken from Oxford Dictionary, Mystery (n) “something that is difficult or impossible to understand or explain.” In brief, those definitions sum up to one description, that is: “The Unknown”. There are so many things in this world that cannot be explained yet. Well, a good portion of them are just baseless rumors that have been disproved though. But even so, these things called mystery, whatever it is, have charmed humanity even before the beginning of history.

Quoted from Jacques Yves Cousteau: “The happiness of the bee and the dolphin is to exist. For man it is to know and to wonder at it”. Or like quoted from famous painter from French, Paul Gauguin: “D’oύ Venons Nous / Que Sommes Nous / Oύ Allons Nous” which translated to “Where do we come from, What are we, Where are we going”. At some point in our life, I’m pretty sure that some, if not all of us question the purpose of our existence, that is, what exactly is our role in nature as an intelligent being?

If the theory of evolution is right, then we are but intelligent apes who have only recently left the trees, living on the third planet from minor star in a minor galaxy. And if the inflation theory is correct, then our entire visible universe is but an infinitesimal bubble in a much larger cosmos. That describes just how small and insignificant our presence compared to the vastness of the universe. Yet, we question the meaning of something that literally outside of our current observation ability and put claim on everything.

Our ancestor worship stones, rivers, trees and practically everything in the name of Animism. Mayans worship the God of sun, among other Gods to protect them from calamity. Even today, we have Buddhism, Muslims, Christians, Pastafarianism and all other religions that worship their own God of their own belief because they conclude that all that ever come to existence have creator, that is, a concept named ‘God’. The detail may vary from one religion to another but the most known Creationism theory is that this God created everything by his omnipotent power in seven days and we are all the descendant of Adam and Eve, the first humans ever created in the image of God himself. (I encourage you to look into the topic further from credible source if you ever want to know the detailed explanation).

Scientist, however, take this to an another direction. They believe, there’s a mechanism that put us into existence. Triggered by Big Bang, universe as we currently know of come into existence. From the dust, galaxy and star systems inside created. Ultimately, by that logic we are created from the same compositions that make stars and other heaven bodies in the universe. We are literally made of star dust that in turn coalesced into intelligent being capable of understanding the universal laws governing universe.

Even up until now, there has been a tremendous amount of disagreement between science and religion, each side armed with its own obvious facts to refute the other. Historically, scientist have often been asked to debate the laws of nature with theologians.

But scientists usually are reluctant to engage in theological debates about God and creation. The problem is, as pointed out by Michio Kaku in his book “Hyperspace”, the word “God” means many things to many people, and the use of loaded words full of unspoken, hidden symbolism only cloud the issue. Furthermore in his book, he found it important to distinguish carefully two types of meanings for the word God. That is, “God of Miracle” (the one that universally referred by the creationists) and “God of Order” (the one that scientists usually refer to). So now we know that it’s not like scientists are atheist, like we usually led to believe. Heck, even Einstein, do believe in God.

Seems like the topic grew too big for one post, what I was trying to say is that we humans as
the intelligent being from somewhat insignificant corner of universe have no insignificant role in nature. We’re here to ponder the reason of our existence, then advance in accordingly.

[If] we do discover a complete theory, it should in time be understandable in broad principle by every one, not just a few scientist. then we shall all, philosophers, scientists, and just ordinary people, be able to take part in the discussion of the question of why it is that we and the universe exist. If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason – for then we would know the mind of God. [Stephen Hawking in “The Brief History of Time”]

That’s it for this time. As I am not an experienced writer, blogger, and less likely that I am an expert on science, do tell me if I got something wrong, or better, if you have any material to discuss for and with me. I will, with my utmost pleasure to accept it.