Tom and Jerry

I was having lunch with my mother yesterday, and to avoid the silence, she decided to turn on the TV. I was surprised a little because she stopped at Cartoon Network: and at that moment they were showing episodes from Tom & Jerry. She mentioned she liked the cartoon a lot, and even remembered a few episodes. I guess it’s natural to hear people saying they like Tom & Jerry. I like them too: they show such funny moments and have outstanding sound effects. Never mind all this, I could finally detect a thing that is bugging me about this cartoon.

The episode that was running was about a baby elephant that falls out of a train and ends up in Tom’s house. The elephant drinks all of Tom’s milk, and Tom suspects Jerry of drinking it, and the chasing starts. A little after that, Jerry finds out about the elephant and befriends it. He decides to paint the elephant in order to look like a maximized version of himself. The result is that Tom is thorn apart with dealing with both Jerries, and resorts to using a gun. Eventually the mother of the elephant shows up, and Jerry paints her to look like a mouse as well. Tom is terrified, and is shown to break neighborhood fences while running away from the ‘mice’.

The episode was really fun. The situations and sound effects  were great as always, but this very episode demonstrated what I really disliked about the cartoon: Tom almost always ends up being outsmarten.

Some episodes start showing Tom threatening Jerry, or just slightly humiliating him, but that’s only from the start: after that Jerry always pulls worse pranks on Tom. Other episodes start by showing Tom resting on his cat bed, doing nothing: then Jerry shows up and ruins all the harmony and makes Tom chase him. It’s really fun to watch all the face expressions and hyperbolized feelings, but I’m a bit let down because of the usual absence of justice (at least Tom’s justice.)

When I was younger and really eager to watch it, I still was a bit disappointed that Tom almost never ‘wins’, because I liked him better. However, I said to myself “Naah, the producers must have had some reasons to make Tom the usual loser.” A bigger number of the kids I knew liked Jerry better, and back then I started to consider Jerry as a representation of youthfulness and playfulness, and that he usually “won” because the jolly and the free-spirited characters are preferred by the kids.

Now back to the episode with the baby elephant. Why does Tom get his ass kicked by Jerry and the intruder? I can understand that the two might have and advantage over Tom, but at least in the end, I think, Tom should have been victorious. From what I understand from this episode, somebody may enter your house, leave everything in chaos, have fun on your expenses, and then make you the bad guy, just because you wanted to restore the peace that has been ruptured (oh!, and get kicked of your own home in the end.)

So generally this cartoon teaches me that it’s okay to be playful and have fun pulling pranks on others… and expect to get away with it.

Some of my classmates would say “Oh my God, why are so irritated by something so minor? Those are just children, and they don’t care about it. They just have some quality time watching the show.”

As I stated above, I like the show very much: I, kind of, grew up with it in a way or another, but the fact that it irritated me in some little way means that I care. I don’t, in any way, want to say that children should be all serious and not have fun. I merely guess that the exhibited excessive free-mindedness could instill some selfish feelings, for example that pulling pranks on your friends is justified as long as you have fun, no matter if your friend is not having such a nice time.

Dogs & Cows

In this post I try to explain in what I believe (religion) and why.

I’ll get it straight – I think believing in any kind of religion is nonsensical. I don’t want to persuade anyone that I’m right, but however, I don’t wish to be persuaded in believing in something that makes no sense to me. Neither I, nor some religious person has proof of who is right. Everyone chooses his belief according to what makes sense to him most, or in some cases what is most comfortable. So why should people be taught in the ways of a religion? Isn’t it better to instill moral and virtue in a person without making him believe in an idea that is not necessarily truth?

If I’m a conscious and considered person, and wish to do no harm to others, will I still go to hell if I do not believe in the notion of an almighty puppeteer? From what I know about Christianity, it is about being good to others and having a pure heart. I believe I come close to that model. Of course, I have done mistakes towards some people, and I have felt hatred for others, but in general I believe I’m a good person. I do not believe in God, but I’m not the best person to illustrate the following example, so I’ll consider a hypothetical atheist: the main difference between an atheist and a believer is that if the atheist makes a mistake, he’ll acknowledge that he’s responsible for it and try to correct it, while I think a believer is going to be sorry for his weakness and pray to God to give him strength to correct his mistake or overcome his obstacle. However, I’m talking about people who are conscious of their belief and have a reason, no matter adequate or not, to believe in something. Also the example may vary according to people, as character is separate from religious affiliation.

A disadvantage of religion is also the notion of heaven and hell. People may believe in something because it’s more pleasant and more comfortable. Heaven and hell, I think, are the best examples of stimulation through reward and punishment, respectively. A person may believe because he could like the idea of eternal divine leisure, are may be scared of the boiling ponds of melted rock, where his soul will burn for all eternity. So a person may not find a lot of sense in religion, but he may want something to happen (or not to happen) to him, so the real driving force is the notion of the two places, and not being good and honest.

I do not believe that God can help me, or anybody else, with anything. If something bad is about to happen to you, like get killed or get a limb severed, there won’t be any non-physical notion of an old man who is going to prevent this from happening – either you have to manage your way out on your own, or suffer the consequences. When I was little, I used to think that no matter what adversity I might face, there was going to be some kind of shield that is going to protect me, because I’m a good person. When I hear some stories on the news about how a group of children got killed, or how a suicide bomber annihilated innocent people, or even think of the people that live in conditions where they die of starvation on a regular basis. Not the magic shield I hoped for.

Another of my beliefs: I am really put off when I hear the question “Why, in your opinion, are we sent on Earth? I think each and every one of us is entrusted by God with something he has to fulfill during his lifetime. We are all here for a reason.” I have a response in the form of another question: Why are all the animals and living things sent on Earth? What is the greater purpose of their existence? Like say, the cow. We use it for milk, and after that we slaughter it, in order to eat it. Is that the greater purpose of being a cow? Well what if we, humans, were in the position of the cow but we still had our intelligence. Would we be satisfied with the fact that we are being devoured by some other specie, just because that’s the purpose of our existence?

I do not think there is any reason for us being here. I believe that our existence is just a random occurrence in a planet with living conditions. If God has created us, why do we see evidence of the existence of the modern man just a few thousand years back in history? Why didn’t God “invented” us with the advent of the universe? He could have simply used his unlimited set of unimaginable powers, to protect us from the unbearable heat.

Mt. Present

Two days ago, while browsing my ‘Most Recent’ on Facebook, I say a post containing a link to a lecture in a website called Techonomy. I liked the lecture a lot, because the host, Bill Gates, was discussing ways in which our global economy could improve from its current state. He was also giving examples of interesting readings he could recall at the moment, and I saw he is committed to the global welfare.

I decided to check all the lectures, and I stumbled upon one, called “Reinventing Intelligence”. The host, David Christian, discussed why we, humans, are the prevailing specie on Earth. He went through some ideas, such as the use of tools and the existence of common language, and showed that these ideas are rather incorrect, for other species like primates and crows have their similar ways. At last he stated his, which is collective learning. According to him, we were able to become dominant, because we are able to share and record other individuals’ experience.

The idea makes sense to me, and I hope the proofs he gave are genuine. The truth is I was really happy after the lecture finished, for I had an idea prior to watching the video. I didn’t relate it to human prevalence over other animals, but rather why we are ‘smarter’ than the people of ancient times.

The whole thing originates from a math class while I was in ninth grade. We were just writing down the Pythagorean Theorem and other his discoveries. Our teacher put a lot of emphasis on how crucial his findings are, and how many other important discoveries he had made. After the class was over, I was talking with a friend, and he said: “Well, I’m smarter than Pythagoras, because I know rules and formulas that were discovered after his death.” At that moment I didn’t respond, but I had the feeling that something doesn’t fit. Whenever I have nothing to do, I am thinking on matters more profound than my everyday concerns, and that week I was thinking a lot about my friend’s statement.

What I did, is compare the ways they had gain the knowledge in math, and that’s when the whole picture changed. Pythagoras, to have findings named after him, must have discovered them. He must have put a lot of work and brainpower in order to structure his work. On the other hand, my friend didn’t think of such things – he simply was told of their existence (as is every student in high school). The difference between them is in the amount of work each one of them did: Pythagoras put a lot of effort to actively discover something he wasn’t aware of, while my friend found out about those discoveries by sitting and being told by a teacher about some mathematician’s idea. If this friend of mine hadn’t seen it somewhere, he wouldn’t have bore any idea about its existence.

Pythagoras had been smarter, an awful lot smarter, than this friend of mine, my math teacher, I, and almost any other person. He just happened to be so smart in an age, with not as much developments as there are today. Today’s software and hardware makes a great deal of the process of calculating automatic, so Pythagoras wouldn’t have bothered to do the tedious work if he lived today and could collect information from other sources. My friend is not as intelligent as Pythagoras, but is able to use the technologies of the present day to obtain the information needed. Pythagoras couldn’t. I will try to illustrate the difference between him and my friend.

There are two humans: one is Pythagoras, and the other is Nicolas. Pythagoras is physically stronger than Nicolas. There are two heavy stones, each weighting 250 kilograms, and each tied around the ankle of the two humans. There are two mountains: one is Pythagoras’ mountain, called “Past”, and the other is Nicolas’, called “Present”. They are given a task: “Climb your mountain! The one who manages to climb his mountain first, will be declared stronger.” It is reasonable that Pythagoras wins, right? Well, the strength of the humans isn’t the only factor that varies: the mountains also differ. “Past” is a simple, rocky mountain, while “Present” is a mountain with technology like elevators, that could facilitate Nicolas’ climbing. Now guess who is going to win. Although Pythagoras is stronger, the stone’s weight will eventually enervate his body, while the mechanical strength of an elevator, on which Nicolas depends, will not change over time, meaning he will have climbed the mountain first. So Nicolas is stronger?

The association is simple: Pythagoras is Pythagoras, Nicolas is my friend, “Past” is the time Pythagoras lived, “Present” is the time my friend lives (with all advances and discoveries projected as elevators), and strength represents intelligence. You can see in the example that Pythagoras is stronger, but loses to Nicolas, because of the advantages of “Present”. It is not Nicolas who is stronger – it is Pythagoras who is screwed up to have to climb “Past”.

So the conclusion is simple: Pythagoras is smarter than my friend. However, I draw another conclusion: less smart or not, a person today is able to use the discoveries made by others, just as efficiently as the ones who discovered them. When a person is shown how to do something, he will eventually do it right. It is because of the work of people like Pythagoras that we have collectively learnt formulas and methods, which we otherwise wouldn’t be able to think of ourselves. That is the reason I think the idea behind collective learning is truthful.

I Love Brands?

Today I’d like to talk about brands. What I want to share is some things concerning my liking for certain brands. As I think of it now, it could be pretty strange. Is a brand something supposed to be liked or disliked? – I think everything in this world can receive some form of love/hate, so yes, it is. The strange aspect of my liking is, perhaps, the reason I like or hate a brand.

In my previous post I tried to outline my understanding of the relationship customer-company. There I explained how I think companies look on users. Now I’ll try to do the opposite, but I’ll only share how I look on a brand (the face of the company), for I have no idea if other people might think like me.

I’ve formulated a thought the day before I started writing this post: looks like companies are my equivalent of football teams. I don’t watch football and am not a fan of any club. While I was in kinder garden, kids once asked me which club (Levski and CSKA) I like better, and I didn’t know how to decide, and I said CSKA, because I thought of them as ‘the good guys’. Even today I prefer CSKA, but my reason, as you can see, is totally inadequate. And there are a lot of people like me that are fans of a football team, but can’t explain why. However, I know people who quite keen on football and have a favorite team for serious reasons. If I associate my eagerness of brands as other people’s eagerness in football, I think I am a serious fan of one brand, and moderately keen on several others.

Now comes the question “Why I am even keen on such thing as a brand?” Well, I’m not sure if even I can explain it. Maybe I start to consider some brand as a person with whom I interact, and thus, I judge the brand as I would probably judge a person. So the brand must have some traits that don’t irritate me. The brand definitely should treat the customers well, and by ‘well’ I mean not try to extract too much money without reason, and if it does, at least not try to deny it. The brand could have something in their products that stands out, something that shows that some thought has gone into creating them. Other than those two criteria, my other reasons for liking may vary for some brand.

My favorite brand is Google, and other that I like are Zappos, Skype, HTC, Alcatel, Puma, and for a little time now – Microsoft.

I like Google for its unique nature. When I first started to search information for it, I was pretty surprised to find out that it was founded early as of 1998 (that’s the year I started attending school); such a young company, and yet such a serious player. I like their products quite a lot: Search, Maps, Translate, Reader, Wave, Gmail, etc. Their products are so good, because an idea as simple as searching for a picture or writing an e-mail or searching for directions is made so easy and pleasant. For instance, Google Translate can give you an idea what is written in Chinese website, not as accurate as you may wish, but still you may be able to get the idea. And don’t even let me start talking about the Maps application. There are Satellite photos, viewer photos, 3D view, street view, labels showing every street and landmark, an option that tells you the shortest distance between two points and gives you the directions needed to reach either. It could be said that I started admiring Google because of the Maps. Again the idea is as simple as that – a map, but boy, what a map! However, there is one more product that makes me like them so much – Android.

Android is and Operating System for hand-held devices, created by a startup company (Android, Inc.) that later has been acquired by Google. Android is installed on devices developed by companies that participate in a business alliance called The Open Handset Alliance (OHA). Companies like Motorola, HTC, LG, Samsung, Dell, etc, that manufacture mobile devices, put Android on some of their devices. I have seen the enormous growth Android had in the last two years, and I only hope it continues. People are not obliged to choose whether they should write software for other operating systems, such as Symbian, Windows Mobile, Linux, and others that I’m not familiar with, which varied among cell phone manufacturers; they can simply create one for Android, knowing that it will be available too much broader public, since all major players in the industry use it, except for Nokia and, of course, Apple.

Now I’d like to share views on a little bit older fish. I started liking Microsoft more, perhaps because I started liking Apple less. In my previous posts on Apple, I have expressed my feeling about them and their actions, so I won’t do it in this one, too. It’s just that I don’t seem to hear complaints towards Microsoft similar to those towards Apple. I also used to dislike Microsoft, Windows in particular, because it is inferior to OS X when it comes to eye candy. This may be true, but sooner or later, all visual effects start to get less important to the user. I don’t give a damn if Windows looks like crap, but by the way, it doesn’t.

OS X is advertised as the most advanced OS on the market, but can someone explain to me what it has that surpasses Windows? They are generally the same thing. If I shut the visual effects of OS X, what am I going to be left with – I guess, an operating system that does operation as good as Windows.

I don’t know if OS X is better in openness and freedom than Windows, but I can’t say I feel restricted in any single way using Windows (XP), and from what I hear about Apple managing the availability of some apps in the AppStore, some doubts pop up in my head. However, everything is just a blind guess, for now.

I also started to like Microsoft a bit more, when I recently understood that Bill Gates gives away large amounts of money for charity through his own Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Only recently I kindled my interest in Microsoft. I used to dislike them, because of the fuzz, that they have stolen original ideas from Apple. In addition, every now and then my father used to tell me how Microsoft stole ideas from Apple and used them in their products. After that there was some movie called “Pirates of silicon valley”, which I don’t remember very well, but remember that it was about the start of both Apple and Microsoft. Gradually, I started to build some resentment against Microsoft: the guys have stolen something that doesn’t belong to them, and benefited from it more than the original creators did. As I think about it now, I don’t have a single argument against the doings of Microsoft. I don’t know what they have done or stolen from Apple. My disliking is based only on mere chatter! I think of starting gathering information about the history between both companies, to take a side and to have decent arguments in order to substantiate my opinion.

Those are my most vivid examples of reasons why I may and may not like a certain brand. All the other examples I have listed above are brands that either I feel have more ethical approach toward users, and sometimes in addition to this, really good products