Rafa\’s Corner of Nonsense, Part Deux

… where Rafa\’s thoughts see the light of day…

What makes you… you?

As almost all good philosophical arguments, this one was borne out of watching TV, “Battlestar Galactica” to be precise.

For those of you who are not watching this truly awesome show (you know who you are… and shame on you!), let me recap the basics: humans created the Cylons, a race of robots meant to serve mankind. They (of course), rebelled, and turned against humanity. Here’s the twist: the Cylons created human-looking Cylons that are indistinguishable from flesh-and-blood humans: they look, feel and sound human, have the same biological components and behavior as humans, seem to experiment human emotions, and some of them truly believe themselves to be human.

My first question is: why would they not be considered human, then? If they experiment human emotions (whether these are part of some “software” they are programmed to run, or the result of some electrical activity in neurons), doesn’t that make them human? If they truly believe they are having these feelings, and act accordingly, how are they any different from flesh-and-blood humans?

Another plot point of the show is that there are multiple copies of the same human-looking Cylon: some of them believe themselves to be the “real one.” So, the second question that arises from this is: what makes us who we are? Is it our memories? Is it our behavior? Is it our reactions to stimuli?

For instance, let’s say you have a friend who is 25 years old; if you could travel back in time and meet him when he was 8, and discarding any physical resemblance, how could you “tell” it’s the same person? Your friend at 8 years of age has different memories, different behavior, different reactions to stimuli than your 25-year-old friend. Is there any set of tests, quantitative or even qualitative, that you could administer to his 8-year-old self, that would yield the same result if you administered it to his 25-year-old self?

Is the 8-year-old version of your friend, then, a different person? If so, when are we ever “the same person,” if we are constantly gaining new memories, and being shaped by our experiences? Are we just a continuum of ever-changing selves that travel in time, shedding our previous incarnations at every infinitesimal moment, forever destined to being ourselves for only an instant?

Ok, I think I just wore out my keyboard’s question mark: now it’s time to hear your thoughts on this matter (knowing full well, of course, that once you reply you’ll be a different person than when you started writing). ūüėÄ

August 24, 2005 Posted by | Thinker | 10 Comments

New term: “Str8jacket”

In my never-ending quest to coin a phrase (see my previous, and seemingly failed, attempt at coining the term “booger argument“), here I come again (like Whitesnake, but with less drug-induced brain damage) to introduce the term:

str8jacket: n. self-imposed constraint that prevents heterosexual men from showing emotion, feelings for anything other than sports, or affinity towards cleanliness or fashion

Case in point: the straight-man hug. Have you ever seen two heterosexual guys hug? It’s a delicious exercise in awkwardness and unintentional entertainment factor. The chests, if they touch, must be separated by the arm they keep in front of themselves; the pelvis juts out to prevent any kind of potentially sexual groin-area contact; the arm on the other guy’s back must never hold tight, but only pat the back in a pattern that, if you listen closely, seems to be Morse code for “I like poon-tang.”

Another good example is the organic impossibility of straight men of admitting they find other guys attractive because if they did I can only assume they think they’d automatically become rabid pillow-biters and would have to like flavored coffees and listen to Erasure. How is it that gay men can objectively find beauty in women, having grown up, after all, in the same society and having the same “ideals” of beauty reinforced throughout their lives, while straight men are unable to?

At least now there is this concept of “metrosexuality” (whose origin and etymology I find somewhat mysterious), which is some modern men’s outlet for expressing their appreciation for cleanliness, fashion and grooming without having people assume that they watch baseball just for the tight uniforms. Metrosexual men have truly broken free of their str8jackets (more likely than not to further confuse most gay men’s gaydar)!

Anyhoo, if any of you can think of other examples of men confined to their str8jackets, please post them! ūüėÄ

PS. I spelled it “str8jacket” instead of “straightjacket” because:

(a) It’s shorter and I’m lazy, damnit
(b) It can be considered “l337” and thus, immediately cooler to geeks, and I’m a geek, damnit
(c) I felt like it, and it’s my blog, damnit

August 24, 2005 Posted by | New term | 3 Comments