Sunday, November 4, 2012

Bus Stop Thought Experiment

The bus that takes me to class is almost always late, and the other morning, it gave me some time to think. I started creating this scenario in my head, which I suppose turned into the following thought experiment:

A wizard casts a curse on all of mankind.

The curse will absorb something like 7 billion hours of life collectively from the people affected by the curse every year on a set date. Since there are close to 7 billion people on Earth, the curse would ideally absorb only about an hour of life from each person annually, which isn't very noticeable.

Here is the kicker--each individual gets to make a decision every year to accept the curse or not. If an individual does not accept the curse, it will not affect them in any way. The curse will only affect people who accept it; however, as less people accept the curse, the 7 billion hours is spread out over a smaller number of people.

For example, if 80% of the population chooses not to accept the curse, then the 1.4 billion people who did will share the 7 billion hour burden, which is roughly five hours of life for each person that year.

To ensure that his curse would plague mankind for as long as possible, the wizard included another special rule in his curse: if there is ever a year where NO people accept the curse, all of humanity will die.

At this point, I started to make theories about how society would deal with something like this.

Would it become something like a "civic duty" to accept the curse to spread the burden to reduce its effect? There would always be people who would not accept the curse for their own reasons. One reasoning could be that it seems pointless for any given individual accept the curse and receive the burden when it is highly likely that other people are going to accept it to prevent humankind from dying. Another rationale would be that an individual accepting the curse is only going to relieve the burden from the collective by tiny, tiny fractions of a second, while the personal cost would be measured in hours. It's a very small collective benefit for a larger personal sacrifice.

Another thought I had was how making each individuals decision known/unknown to the public would change things. If it were known, perhaps governments would require citizens to accept the curse and punish those who didn't. Perhaps governments would force certain individuals to accept the curse and all others to deny it as a form of useful execution. By spreading the curse to only a handful of individuals, they would each lose millions of hours, which would age them to the point of death.

I thought about it for a while before adding in another rule: if there is ever a year where only a SINGLE person accepts the curse (thus sacrificing themselves), and ALL OTHERS deny it, the curse would be lifted.

How would you organize that? Could you get 7 billion people to trust a single person with ALL of their lives? Could you ensure that a second person wouldn't panic or intentionally sabotage the effort?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Break

Yesterday, I finally solved the mystery of my broken computer. After replacing the mobo, the psu, the video card, and the ram twice, I finally discovered that I had a bad cpu.

On another note, I've noticed a bit of paranoia setting in during the night times. Creepy stuff.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Useless Talents

Can you name all 196 sovereign nations?

I've recently taken it upon myself to remember the names and locations of every country on this tiny blue planet of ours. As of today, I have finally remembered them all. Africa seems like it would be the hardest, but I found Oceania to be the most difficult because the names of the countries sound awkward in my head. I know you're saying to yourself "that man is so interesting and talented! I wonder what he'll come up with next!"

I'll just chalk this one up there with pen-spinning, Rubik's cubes, and sleight of hand tricks.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

You Are The Hunted King Uncrowned

Benjamin Button Plot Holes SPOILERS

As a quick note before I begin, last Thursday (Sep. 22) was the anniversary of my blog. I briefly considered making a celebratory post, but quickly realized that I was lazy and would not write a celebratory post.

I saw Benjamin Button for the first time with my girlfriend while it was on tv. For those of you that don't know, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a film starring Brad Pitt based on a short story of the same name. It's a story about a man (Benjamin) who is born as a wrinkly old-man baby and ages backwards. The entire premise of the film is that an old woman named Daisy, who was Benjamin's love interest, is in the hospital and is near death. She has her daughter, who is a grown woman at this point, read her Benjamin's diary. The film presents the diary entries as flashback scenes, similar to Forrest Gump, which are sometimes narrated over by Daisy's daughter, though in Benjamin's voice.

The plot hole comes during the flashback that tells the story of how Daisy, who was a famous ballerina, was hit by a car and lost the ability to dance. The film approaches it in an interesting way: it shows numerous interconnected, small, and devastatingly-unfortunate events which all coincide to make a taxi-cab drive down a road just as Daisy steps out in front of a car. It tells how a man's alarm clock didn't work, which starts a chain of events including a woman forgetting something and returning into her house, answering a phone call, and a woman who forgot to wrap an order at her job because she was upset about her boyfriend, among other things, which lead to the taxi-cab moving down Daisy's road at the exact time it did, and are all indirectly caused by the man's alarm clock. It's certainly a well-done scene and an excellent example of story telling, except for one thing: the flashback is from Benjamin's dairy. There is no way that Benjamin could have known about all of these random events in people's lives that caused the accident. Especially considering that the film shows shortly after that Benjamin wasn't even in the same country at the time.

Of course, it's still a good film with mostly positive reviews. It seems the writers for the film were so caught up in presenting Daisy's accident in an interesting way, that they forgot that the film is supposed to be told from Benjamin's dairy, or perhaps they did know, but figured the audience would overlook it.

Not me though.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Great Scott

Oh! what a tangled web we weave

Tuesday, September 6, 2011