FAQ About The Meaning of Life

For all the important questions.

3.5: Isn’t “happiness” the meaning of life?


What is happiness? What’s it made of? Where’s it come from?

To over-simplify things down to the basic evolutionary origin, happiness is what we feel when we achieve a goal. It’s the indicator of success. (The actual emotion of happiness is far more complex in rats, never mind humans, but let’s start with the simplest possible case.) By seeking “happiness” as a pure thing, independent of any goals, we are in essence short-circuiting the system. I mean, let’s say there’s an AI (Artificial Intelligence) with a little number that indicates how “happy” it is at any given time. Increasing this number to infinity, or the largest floating-point number that can be stored in available RAM – is that meaningful?

Or to put it another way, how do you know you’re happy? Because you think you’re happy, right? So thinking you’re happy is the indicator of happiness? Maybe you should actually try to spend your life thinking you’re happy, instead of being happy.

This is one of those meta-level confusions (19). Once you place the indicator of success on the same logical level as the goal, you’ve opened the gates of chaos. That’s the basic paradox of “wireheading”, the science-fictional term for sticking a wire into the brain’s pleasure center and spending your days in artificial bliss. Once you say that you should take the indicator of success and treat that as success, why not go another step and trick yourself into just thinking that you’re happy? Or thinking that you think you’re happy? The fact that evolution has reified the success-indicator into a cognitively independent module doesn’t make it logically independent.

Chef Quits South Park

Who is the man that would quit his job for his spaceman religion?

Isaac Hayes has quit “South Park,” where he voices Chef, saying he can no longer stomach its take on religion.

Hayes, who has played the ladies’ man/school cook in the animated Comedy Central satire since 1997, said in a statement Monday that he feels a line has been crossed.

“There is a place in this world for satire, but there is a time when satire ends and intolerance and bigotry towards religious beliefs of others begins,” the 63-year-old soul singer and outspoken Scientologist said.

“Religious beliefs are sacred to people, and at all times should be respected and honored,” he continued. “As a civil rights activist of the past 40 years, I cannot support a show that disrespects those beliefs and practices.”

“South Park” co-creator Matt Stone responded sharply in an interview with The Associated Press Monday, saying, “This is 100 percent having to do with his faith of Scientology… He has no problem — and he’s cashed plenty of checks — with our show making fun of Christians.”

A Dash of North Korean Videos on a Rainy Boring Monday

A few videos from inside North Korea from YouTube and Google Video:

Five minutes of hate in Pyongyang

Kim Jong Il. It’s just labeled “video from North Korean TV”. Feels a bit like the 1930s.

Propaganda film of North Korea’s alleged satellite, Kwangmyongsong 1:

A short (3 minute) documentary on Kim Jong Il’s bodyguards.

And lastly, a short propaganda film about Kim Jong Il(embedded .mov)

(via SomethingAwful Forums)

While Americans Slept


WASHINGTON Reporters who write about government surveillance could be prosecuted under proposed legislation that would solidify the administration’s eavesdropping authority, according to some legal analysts who are concerned about dramatic changes in U.S. law.

But an aide to the bill’s chief author, Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, said that is not the intention of the legislation.

“It in no way applies to reporters — in any way, shape or form,” said Mike Dawson, a senior policy adviser to DeWine, responding to an inquiry Friday afternoon. “If a technical fix is necessary, it will be made.”

The Associated Press obtained a copy of the draft of the legislation, which could be introduced as soon as next week.

The draft would add to the criminal penalties for anyone who “intentionally discloses information identifying or describing” the Bush administration’s terrorist surveillance program or any other eavesdropping program conducted under a 1978 surveillance law.

Under the boosted penalties, those found guilty could face fines of up to $1 million, 15 years in jail or both.

Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies, said the measure is broader than any existing laws. She said, for example, the language does not specify that the information has to be harmful to national security or classified.

The bill would make it a crime to tell the American people that the president is breaking the law, and the bill could make it a crime for the newspapers to publish that fact,” said Martin, a civil liberties advocate.



Canstruction® combines the competitive spirit of a design/build competition with a unique way to help feed hungry people. Competing teams, lead by architects and engineers, showcase their talents by designing giant sculptures made entirely out of canned foods. At the close of the exhibitions all of the food used in the structures is donated to local food banks for distribution to pantries, shelters, soup kitchens, elderly and day care centers.

(via Bibi’s Box)