Monday, January 26, 2015

Locke, Empiricism and Scottish Enlightenment

English philosopher John Locke was the father of British Empiricism. Locke  greatly influced the works of Scottish Enligtenment philosophers who succeeded him, David Hume, Adam Smith, Adam Ferguson and Francis Hutcheson.

Empiricism is a theory which state that knowledge comes only or primarily from sensory experience. Undoubtedly the idea of Empiricism was revolutionary at the time of Locke.

Empiricism is the central tool of Enlightenment. David Hume was a staunch proponent of Empiricism and Skepticism.


John Locke (Wikipedia)

David Hume (Wikipedia)

Empiricism (Wikipedia)

Scottish Enlightenment (Wikipedia)

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Deal

I have the right to disrespect your religion, just as you have the right to disrespect my conviction of not believing supernatural. I have the right to mock your religion, just as the right you have to mock Science and Atheism. Drawing Charles Darwin as a Chimpanzee, or mocking Richard Dawkins as a pig do not offend me at all, I expect drawing your prophet in funny ways should not offend you either. In your case I know you are not trying to offend me personally, in my case you should know I don’t intend to offend you personally. Regardless of your faith I may like or dislike you for the things you do as a human, similarly you should judge me for the things I do as a human. I think this is a fair deal.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Stick

Tolerance is a stick with two ends

Majority of population in Western countries are disillusioned by the fact that Muslim population living in their country are mostly secular, peaceful people who do not harm others. Being a minority minding their business, they gain natural sympathy of the majority. This is acceptable and nothing is wrong with that, however it reflects a partial truth.

When numbers are reversed, and muslims become majority, they become part of political power granted by their religion. One good example to support this argument is Turkey. In the past decade or so the Islamist political party in power started to challenge and erode secularism, established a police state with biased judiciary and began to jail or intimidate seculars. Islam is a political ideology as well as a religion, therefore this shouldn't surprise us.

However this view also explains why non-religious populations, who were trapped in those countries are worried. Lets be clear, we cannot call this Islamophobia, as this is not an irrational fear we can mock.

If you are a non-religious person, living in a religious country is demoralising and degrading to say the least, because you will be oppressed one way or another if you choose to express yourself.

If you express your disinterest in religion and don’t abide by its restrictions in ways to draw attention, you can be intimidated or punished by mobs, you could even be prosecuted for that. This is true for countries such as Sauidi Arabia, Iran and Turkey. Penalties are different but principles are the same.

Majority in religious countries show less tolerance to you than we show to them in the West where they are in minority. Numbers matter.

Ultimately this is the bit Western liberals are missing, they have partial perspective because either they don't have first hand experience of living in a religious society or they lack deeper knowledge on history and on the nature of religions, or they don't push their intellectual capacity hard enough to see the big picture, because they focus on their lives in the West.

Saturday, January 10, 2015


REFA - Reforastation of Australian Continent
The Author: Ergun Çoruh, 10 January 2015

The Problem
We crossed the critical threshold of 350 ppm CO2 concentration in the Earth atmosphere around 1990s. We are now at 400 ppm and it gets worse every year. Beyond this threshold global temperature will continue to grow. Science predicted (1), transforming all of the energy production companies to use zero-emission technologies would not be sufficient to save the planet. We need to discover ways to reduce CO2 concentration in the atmosphere, and return it below 350 ppm, in addition to migrating energy production to zero emission technologies. This may only be possible by sucking CO2 from the atmosphere and storing the carbon away. One of proposed methods is to use re-forestation as a carbon sink.

Author’s Note
The author sees himself as an amateur futurist, he is not an expert in any of the fields that might be relevant for this concept. He likes daydreaming, stirring ideas, asking odd questions, and getting people solve problems rather than himself solving them. Thankfully he does not claim he is right all the time. In fact most often than not he wishes to be wrong to learn the truth. It is evolving ideas, human creativity and learning excite him most. Hence the author’s elaboration of the idea shall be limited by his imagination, and he happily accepts it.

The Idea
This paper discusses the possibility of re-forestation in the Australian continent as a carbon sink to reduce C02 concentration in the atmosphere.

This idea needs calculations and a goal on how much sinking effect should be aimed. My wild question is, with deployment strategy that spans 50 years, can this solution alone reduce the CO2 concentration by 10 ppm by the year 2150? We can play with numbers, but my gut feeling is, this solution alone may not be enough to go below 350 ppm. We would need more disruptive technologies, and other ideas to contribute to the global aim of going below 350 ppm. In other words we don’t have a magic bullet, we probably shouldn’t seek one.

Australia is a vast continent (7,686,850 km2) with unique geography, climate, and ecology.  It has low population density of 3 people per square kilometre. Its desert areas constitute 35% of total land area. That is a lot of empty area, with enormous potential to help us solve the climate problem.

The idea involves several components:
  • Research
    — Identify potential areas of reforestation. Not all areas would be suitable.
    — Observe water from space and identify reservoirs.
    — Analyse and aggregate geographic, ecological and climate data including sporadic bushfire patterns.
    — Analyse and re-assess the project’s goal.
  • Technology
    — Invent re-use a plant type, use genetic engineering as required.
    — The plant should not have detrimental impact on continental flora and fauna.
    — The plant should grow slowly (1–3 years), should have high longevity, its dead-form should have properties for becoming a versatile re-cycle material.
    — The plant should be durable against bushfires.
    — Plantations should be controllable, i.e. the plant should not be a macro “weed”.
    — The plant in its dead form should have economic and scalable properties, such as elasticity, strength and weight that would allow it to be harvested and easily transported to become raw material for 3D printers, structures or buildings.
    — A plant that can replace plastic in many areas would be the holly-grail technology.
    — Desirable: A plant with reflective leaves can produce green energy. This is a crazy idea we can at least talk about.
  • Deployment
    — Survey vast areas using spontenous wi-fi technology and drones before, during and after deployment. Spontenous wi-fi using multi-hop routing would allow drone squadrons to travel and cover vast areas of land in close proximity for surveying and controlling things like water dispatching and distribution. Also make drones to use solar energy. Deploy and distribute solar energy sub-stations for drones to land and re-charge their batteries.
    — Use self assembled 3D printing to assemble small water pipes. They will weave themselves like spider webs, they will form large lattices. Harness water reservoirs identified during initial survey or even use seawater as water source.
  • Economy
    — Get Energy Companies to invest initially 10% of their time on this, make them shareholders. The raw output (the plant’s trunk), the technologies invented and its side industries will be their return on investment, through direct ownership or partnership. There is no reason for Energy Companies not to diversify their portfolio with high tech innovations such as spontenous drone squadrons, self assembling pipes and so on. In the end They may start calling themselves as “Carbon Sink” companies as well as Energy Producers.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Liberty In The Age of Terror

In his book, Liberty In the Age of Terror, “Our societies are under attack”, says A.C. Grayling, “not only from the threat of terrorism, but also from our governments’ attempts to fight that threat by reducing freedom in our own societies- think the 42-day detention controversy, CCTV surveillance, increasing invasion of privacy, ID Cards, …”

Freedom to criticise or ridicule religions remains in governments’ or media’s watch list.
In the aftermath of Charlie Hebdo massacre, many news outlets shy away from publishing the controversial images of the paper’s satirical cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

Joining the bandwagon, we see progressive apologists, some of them being non-religious, claiming religion based terror is nothing to do with religions, but caused by “environment”, “discrimination” or “mind loss” therefore we should continue to respect religions.

Any criticism against religions, particularly Islam, is sneered upon with “Islamophobia” or “hate speech” suspicion. The issue has almost become a taboo, and the architect of this taboo is nobody but us.

We became victims of our own fears, in the end we let hard-won liberties our ancestors built with centuries long struggle demolished. Is this really who we are?

I hope Humanity regains its sanity and remembers the idea that matters most, freedom of expression. Loosing that would mean loosing everything.

Now grab your pen, and show the world, people who sacrificed their lives for Liberty mattered.

Je Suis Charlie

Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Bad News

Sometimes despite our effort to curb unpleasant news, we cannot avoid them entirely. Recently I came across this dreadful news of a couple were said to have had sex, went shopping and ate pizza as their 3 year old toddler Scott McMillan lay dying on 4 November after alleged incidents of escalating violence by the pair including, it is claimed, beating him with a frying pan and hanging him upside down by his feet.

Regardless of statistical rarity of such incidents we, great majority, are all deeply distressed by such news.

On the one hand as a society we should know about bad news, knowing is the only way to start thinking about what went wrong and accordingly develop ways to start improving.

On the other hand media outlets love breaking bad news, simply because it is the cheapest way for them to increase their circulation.

I think avoiding media, not watching TV, not following media outlets on the Internet is not the solution.

We need a balanced approach.

Sure we want to have a pleasant weekend, with family spending the afternoon in a grand park, strolling and enjoying a cone of ice-cream, followed by a visit to a nearby museum. We want nothing to ruin such experience. We know, our remembering self will give precedence to bad experiences, they are the ones in our memories persist into the future.

But life comes as a package, there can be perfect moments and we should seize them. But life itself in its entirety, is far from being perfect. Hence looking at a compromise, and developing a wisdom to balance bad news with positive approaches seems to be a good strategy.

We cannot do anything for the poor boy. Capital punishment of his parents may provide temporary relief, our primordial instincts will come into play, however it won’t let the problem go away.

A meaningful discussion on how we can be aware of psychotic individuals in our communities, what services should be improved for prevention of abuse is a good start. Then as responsible fellow human beings we should look into ways to contribute to such solutions with our participation. By being mere observers we cannot cause change. We need to articulate change and participate to it.


Whitsunday Coast Guardian Article:

Friday, January 2, 2015

Mario's Sicilian Sauce

Disclaimer: This writing is purely Art, it does not necessarily reflect my own view. The protagonist is portrayed as a male character who swears a lot. Some readers may be offended by the language, if so they can stop reading it now. Reading is entirely voluntary.

Mario's Sicilian Sauce

Mario, a friend of mine, a true Sicilian, a painter, a natural born alchemist to the bone, once taught me how to cook the best pasta sauce.

- 10+ big Fresh juicy Roma Tomatoes (very ripe Truss tomatoes will do as well)
- Salt to taste
- Black pepper to taste
- Chillies to taste (cut fresh or dry)
- Handful of Fresh basils from the garden if possible or else from the supermarket
- Two cloves of fresh juicy garlic.
- Good olive oil to cover the base of pan up to 3-5 mm high.

Put olive oil into the pan, and start with high heat, don’t burn it, just break the lazy bone of oil. In the mean time fucking crush tomatoes in a blender, chuck them into the pan, add salt, black pepper, and chillies, crushed garlic, and basil, still high heat, lid open, wait until boiled.

Put the damn lid on. Reduce heat to mid, but let the thing to boil like crazy inside. Keep the man-made hell inside the pan intact for about an hour.

Then open the lid carefully. The water cumulated on the inner lid will come out, don’t burn yourself, will you? The idea is to steam cook tomatoes, with flavour trapped, in decent fire (my fucking idea, you like it fine, you don’t, I don’t give a shit).

Yeah, open the lid, stir and look. You should see oil escaped towards the inner wall of the pan. Leave the lid open for the rest of cooking.

Reduce heat. Just imagine you are a newly attended Devil in Hell and you have soft spot for people like Putin, Erdogan, or Murdoch. So you want them cooked very gently and slowly. Reduce the damn heat as such. Fucking lid is still open.

Go back to your Facebook, and Like shitty photos of friends. Every now and then, move your fucking ass, get up, check out the pan, stir Erdogan, Putin, and Murdoch mixture gently. Remember you are the good-hearted Devil. Do this shit for about an hour at least.

The sauce will burp every now and then during this time. The colour should kind of turn into Burgundy. The oil should have moved away totally to the edge.

Turn off the heat, chill out, put the lid back on, let it rest, sizzle off.

Your god damn Sicilian sauce is ready. No I don’t know how the hell you want to cook your damn pasta. Just mix it slowly and thoroughly with the sauce with respect. Open up a red with your loved one, and enjoy the meal.

Creativity and Divergence

In his article “Why Creative People Seem To Have The Messiest Minds”, published on Business Insider, Dec 29 2014 (1), Scott Barry Kaufman, talks about a new paper offering clues on how creative minds might work.

"Bringing together lots of different research threads over the years, they identified three "super-factors" of personality that predict creativity: Plasticity, Divergence, and Convergence."
This is a compelling theory, as I see evidence to support it in my own creative thinking.

I found Divergence a particularly interesting concept, ability to challenge the status quo, a burning desire to explore the truth, at the expense of being massively unpopular. Conformance kills creativity.

"Divergence consists of non-conformity, impulsivity, low agreeableness, and low conscientiousness. People high in divergence may seem like jerks, but they are often just very independent thinkers." 

In this Longreads article (2), Brian Eno, Musician and Composer says:

"'I think negative ambition is a big part of what motivates artists,' Eno told me. 'It’s the thing you’re pushing against. When I was a kid, my negative ambition was that I didn’t want to get a job.'"

Creative ambition brings great deal of risk-taking, at times a blind dive into big unknowns. You need to break your protective shell to find out your artistic truth, at the same time making yourself vulnerable to greater pain of being marginalised, the less you worry about such pains, the more likely you’ll reach your artistic identity.


(1) Business Insider Article:
Why Creative People Seem To Have The Messiest Minds
Read more:

(2) Longreads Article:
Brian Eno and the Power of Negative Ambition

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Desiring change

In my previous philosophical quest I asked:

”Why do we celebrate the New Year?”

I think I have an answer for that, today, on the 1st day of the year 2015.

We do need to celebrate the New Year.

We know the New Year will not be perfect, the misery, wars, injustice, poverty around the world will continue. We know we or our beloved ones can be struck by disease, or worst we may lost someone we love in the coming year.

But what we celebrate is marking the beginning of change. We simply celebrate fulfilling a unique quality of being human, ability to change for the better, for a better world, a better humanity.

We should never stop desiring change.

Happy New Year!