Existance of After-Life Unprovable

A few years ago I got fed up with the lack of knowledge about an after-life and existence of ghosts. In an effort to once and for all clear up this mystery, I made the decision that when I die, I would come back and unlike other “ghosts”, I would make it absolutely clear. That is, instead of moving an object when nobody is around or appearing to a single crazy person in the dark, or other such traditional manifestations, I would appear in say, Times Square among thousands of people and make a damn-big show. I would remove all doubt once and for all.

Of course, if there is no after-life after all, then I would not be able to show up. That part did not seem like a problem. I figured that it would just be the other half of the proof. If I do not show up, it means there is no after-life, if there is, then I would show up and make it clear that I have come back.

Unfortunately, in less than a minute of forming my plan, I realized that I would not be able to prove it after all. What happens if there is an after-life, but I am not able to immediately come back? What if what seems like a minute to me is 100 years in the living world? I would show up, but I had “disproved” the after-life 100 years ago. What if there is an after-life, but I am unable to come back and show myself? What if there is an after-life, but I am not allowed to come back and show myseld?

It dawned on me, that even if there is an after-life, there may be other forces at work that prevent me from proving it once and for all. In other words, the only way to determine whether or not there is an after-life once and for all is if I can come back, which would prove that there is. Not coming back proves nothing (not a surprise to scientists and logicians). The lack of proof is not proof in and of itself.

In summary, one of two things will happen when a person dies, either they do come back or they don’t, and only comeing back proves anything, but even then, their manifestation may be limited by various factors. Therefore, there really is no way to prove the existence of an after-life or ghosts, or rather, there is no way to disprove them.

Here is another article on the same subject that had occurred to me at another time , but with a different spin.

Tue-Sat Program Setting Required

Manufacturers of VCRs have always missed something important when they designed the programming ability of their products, and modern-day DVR manufacturers are no better. It may be the case that one or two products out there have already thought of it, but at least 99.99% of them do not. The design defect in question is the day range of the programming function.

Most products allow you to choose one time, every week on specified day, every day, and every weekday (Mon-Fri). What they forget to allow is every weekday (Tue-Sat). Why would you include a Tuesday to Saturday range?

Simple. Suppose that you have two programs that air each weeknight that you want to record. One is from 11:00pm to 12:00am on channel 3 and the other is from 12:00am to 01:00am on channel 4. Programming the first one is easy enough, you select M-F/12am/1am/3. What about the second? It may be Monday to Friday nights, but technically it is Tuesday to Saturday mornings since it begins after midnight! The only option here would be to select S-S/12am/1am/4 and remember to take the tape out on the weekend.

With a T-S option, it would simply be T-S/12am/1am/4 and no extra work trying to keep it from taping on the weekend is necessary. This is why these devices need a Tuesday to Saturday program option.

Well wonders never cease. It turns out that my very own VCRs (GE/RCA) have this exact functionality. I must never have created an early-morning, daily program because I have never seen this screen:
Daily A.M. Program Clarification Screen

Human Eras

Human history can be broken down into a small handful of eras which are defined by drastic changes in both civilization and development.

The first era was the one spanning some hundred thousand years from early cavemen who started using tools and lived in caves up to about 10,000-8,000BC. These early people were the first genetically modern humans. They began to communicate, albeit in a rudimentary way, but that communication, coupled with their use of tools would turn out to be the beginning of a break from the rest of the creatures on the planet, separating us further and further from the natural.

The second era started around the time that people began building their domiciles instead of just squatting in natural ones and goes until around 500AD. This era is marked by the rise and eventual fall of the great empires: Persian, Egyptian, Greek, Roman and so on. They built great cities, buildings, monuments, and statues. As it turns out, they would be the last of the large monoliths and statues as later eras had very few. These empires were turbulent and violent. The Earth was still quite uncharted and many lands were still uninhabited, and thus explorers set out to find, claim, and if necessary, conquer new lands. The empires pulsated, growing and shrinking and while they lasted thousands of years, they were eventually reduced to what are now small, relatively insignificant, stand-alone countries.

The third era started when the great empires fell. When literacy and education started becoming available to more and more people, communication allowed them to share information which led to less tolerance for the old ways. People were no longer willing to be slaves and build massive cities and tributes to a single person and hid family. They began revolting and standing up for themselves which eventually caused the great empires to die out. Ironically enough, even though this era began due to the spread of knowledge, it is actually better known better for its intolerance of knowledge. It is the one of the middle-ages, medieval times, or the apt term dark-ages. The millennium that followed was one where religion became all-important and led to great and bloody wars, like the Crusades, Witch Trials, and Spanish Inquisition in which horrible clashes of faith led to more deaths than even the frequent invasions of the previous era. This era condemned knowledge and gave rise to conspiracy, suspicion and superstition.

The fourth era overlapped the previous era a little as some people resisted the dread and constant fear caused by the ignorance of the previous era. Contrasting to the resistance to knowledge of the recent past, people attempted to live in an age of enlightenment in which knowledge and education would once again prevail. This era gave rise to the Renaissance and was marked most significantly by the advancement of art and artists throughout these few centures such as some of the most famous painters, sculptors, composers, and musicians of all time. It also advanced and sparked new life in the study of science with new theories most notably in physics helped bring about the next era.

The fifth era was the start of modern technology. It began with a more thorough study of electricity which led to better understanding it and eventually the generation of power. The harnessing and use of electricity caused the largest and fastest change to the world than ever in the history of the planet. Because of electricity, industry and technology took off and changed everything in every field. This era started out innocently enough, using the new-found power to make life better, but a lack of true understanding would lead to many problems. We currently live in this era and are trying to fix the mistakes of the recent-past. We are also both advancing quickly as well as reaching a plateau.

It is interesting to note that each era was shorter than the previous one. Advancement and development progressed at an accelerating rate. If this pattern holds up, future eras should be even shorter. It could however break down, possibly even in our current era and lead to stagnation. What could the next era(s) be like? Reasonable expectations of the next two follow.

The sixth era will likely start very soon, in many of our lifetimes. The previous era was about 300 years long and this one is already more than half that length. It will probably be the era of space. As we mess up our own planet, the push to leave it and find another grows stronger. Space travel is already possible and going farther is only a matter of time. In the next era we will likely begin using the moon, Mars, and possibly other planets as mines, landfills, and new homes. We will create bigger and better ships and weapons to take us further and kill ourselves more effectively. This and the next era are the realms of science fiction, the hope of progress and exploration as in Star Trek.

The seventh era, assuming that humankind has survived will probably be the last. It will have two or three possible outcomes. One is that humans will finally meet other creatures, making contact (although probably never meeting) aliens. If we do make contact with aliens, it probably won’t come to pass until the eighth era, if that ever occurs. With or without the aliens, we may become so enlightened and knowledgeable that we repair the planet, unite, and turn the world into paradise, a true utopia. The final option, and unfortunately the most probably outcome is that we will get so out of control, so selfish and apathetic that all empathy, fairness, and justice will be gone. Humans will have evolved to be cold, heartless people who only think of themselves, and using their advanced knowledge and technology will ignite wars unlike any the world has ever seen. The death and destruction will be so vast and devastating that if any humans (or animals or plants for that matter) survive, they will regress so far back—possibly due to mutation—that the world will once again be back at the first, or possibly even the 0th era.

All of human history can indeed be split into a few distinct blocks where great shifts occurred, usually due to a shift in thinking. It is truly amazing how far humans have come, specifically because of their brains. They really are special in some ways, but the road to here has been an unbelievably bloody one, and the path yet to come does not look any cleaner or dryer.

Rule of Thumb Can Do More Harm Than Good

I just read the following line in an article in a security focues issue of NetworkLife magazine about novice computer users and firewalls:

A good rule of thumb: “If an alert occurs when users are launching any kind of Internet action, such as connecting to their mail servers, downloading programs, connecting to a Web server, or updating software, then they should accept it”

And to be honest, that has been the general consensus on this matter for pretty much ever. Unfortunately, while it is quite logical, it is not a very good rule of thumb. What happens when a piece of software, say their anti-virus app, tries to check for an update while the user is typing a paper? An alert pops up telling them that a program is trying to connect, and they think “hmmm, I’m just typing a paper; I didn’t initiate anything, so I’m supposed to block it”. They click Deny Access. The next day it tries to check while they’re playing Solitaire, so they click Deny Access again. The day after, it happens while they were in the bathroom, so they get tired of this and just click Deny Access And Remember. Now their anti-virus is never updated again.

The opposite can occur as well. They open an email and see a message from someone they don’t know and click the attachment to see the greeting card. An alert pops up telling them that a program is trying to access the Internet. They think “hmmm, I’m viewing email and I just clicked a Web-card, so it’s safe to allow it”. Now they are infected with a trojan and their zombie computer will begin sending out infected spam.

Truly, the best rule of thumb is to just educate the users in even a rudimentary fashion. If you go to the trouble of installing a firewall on grandma’s computer and telling her a rule of thumb as the above, then you may as well just give her a better, crash course instead.