Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Biological Clock, Happiness and Nations

I have been trying to construct the complete picture since my last post. I think I'll just put down what I have so far, particularly encouraged by the comments on my previous post.

Happiness describes a personal experience; the perception and even the observation of an event varies among individuals. However, the fact that we all use the same word(happiness) to describe something means that there's something that we feel like expressing, and the reason that would happen is because we believe that others would have the same response (would like to feel happy) and we want others to know about it. This then requires that there is something fundamental that is common amongst individuals and I feel that this common element could be the effect of the circadian clock on our existence. The state that is described by being happy actually allows us to ignore the dictates of the 'clock', which is most probably controlled by the chemical processes of life.

Now, I have argued in a previous post that machines and thus the industrial revolution signifies the beginning of our attempts to control physical time and that we have not yet evolved enough to adapt with this socially. Incidentally, the 10-12 yr kids that I find in the various talent competitions in Indian television are clearly much better adapted than me. Adapting to machines also defines what is developed and what's not. Then, if we consider what it takes to adapt to instruments that gives us control over physical time, I see it as being able to think in the positive direction of the time axis. Incidentally, thinking about history is slow, thinking about the future doesn't have a speed limit. Science fictions are invariably thrilling although they may have many other negative aspects; to watch a period drama on the other hand you (atleast I do) need to create the right ambiance. Therefore, being able to predict the future is not necessary. What counts is, are we spending our time analyzing our history and trying to understand our present or are we trying to look into the future? If I have the fundamentals of my sustenance available I can afford to spend my time to look at the future, which may or may not even be relevant to my own life. If not, I'm forced to dwell on my history and understand my present.

These are characteristics of individuals. In the context of the collective behavior of citizens, leaders have historically played decisive roles, which is quite intuitive. In our modern policy making system, we still need the right people at the top. A much more striking realization is that you can't create a 'flat organization' anyrandomwhere; the organization needs to be comprised of multi-skilled people, for it to work.

I guess we need to define what comprises the positive axis of time to be able to establish that cure and prevention are actually relative terms, which I have to do in another post. But what I meant while writing it in the previous post was the existence of the knowledge of what comprises a prevention in the population; then if we inquire as to who knows about the prevention, we will find atleast one mind that has been thinking ahead, relative to the rest in the population. But everyday life in India is not made so exciting (becasue I'm not in a mood to use negatives today) by subtleties like this. We have localities comprising of people who will give you several flavors of possible preventions within a city.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Biological Clock and Happiness or some other word

I notice that I had used 'dislike' at the very beginning and then while trying to link it to something observable, I used 'happiness'. This is significant because in the commentaries I had linked, 'want' and 'like' were used to describe the psychological state.

For me, a psychological state is registered definitively when the term 'happy' is used to describe it, while the experience described by 'like' can always be debated. For example, we spent two consecutive Christmas at the Yosemite NP. We liked both. But the second visit was a 'happy' experience. The whole park was under more than a foot of snow and I still remember the taste of the fillet mignon dinner on the 25th. I didn't feel like coming back to town. Similarly, the one night planned stay at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon that we extended to two nights. In both instances, we stayed in cottages in fairly wooded areas. You get terribly hungry but who wants to eat; the fresh breeze and the cool temperature and those water droplets constantly condensing and making that sound as they fall on the dry leaves below will drive anyone to sleep in a city but who wants to sleep and waste off the experience there, then.

For me to 'like' represents description of experiences over fractions of time while, the cumulative positive effect is 'happiness'. I may like something and try to go and do the next step and end up disliking it. The net information then is inconclusive and I need to explore some more if circumstances permit.

But irrespective of what the right choice of word is to describe the psychological state, what I'm really interested in, is exploring if there's any merit in the hypothesis that we are not really very adapted to this time coordinate. It gets reflected in our social behavior too.

Perhaps the reverse experience is more intuitive, that every event has it's own time coordinate. All we do is generate a critical volume of information so that the event can take place. An example is Hillary Clinton's not becoming President; didn't she have everything, perfect, to become the President? It just wasn't the time; it was Obama's. And by this I mean the collective behavior of the World required Obama. I have examples even in my technical field that seem to conform to this idea. In India I notice these retrograde actions, consistently; almost everything seems like a cure and never prevention. A people that can't feel the pulse of time and therefore always acts in retrograde is then the characteristic of a developing Nation.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Biological Clock and Happiness

I think this biological clock keeps us together and lets us live as long as we do and therefore we fundamentally dislike it. My guess is, it originates from the equilibrium time scales of the various chemical reactions of life or something of that sort.

The description of the happiest moments of our lives always, irrespective of country and culture, come with a line to the effect that '.....wish it never ended.' It may be said casually, but unlike a lot more of these phrases, I believe there's always some element of truth in this one.

The reason anything ends is ultimately controlled by our individual biological clocks. When we are happy, we loose track of the clock. Then, how about, loosing track of the clock makes us happy? If you can do anything to loose track of the clock, you'll feel happy. I'm using 'the clock' purposely to distinguish it from mere time. Loosing track of time is very physical, in this case superficial is probably the right term whereas loosing track of the clock has a biochemical origin and mechanism. I think, although I can't meditate for any significant length of time, meditation would achieve something like this.

So, shutting down the process that keeps us alive makes us happy. Being happy is basically dying.
I had taken this post down for a while, because I had trouble defending it with a friend. Her point was that my usage of the term 'happiness' was too unscientific to the extent of being irresponsible. To which I sort of agree. I have no intention of corrupting this one sane thing left in our lives.

But today (August 15), I find Jonah Lehrer has written about our compulsion with electronic information and links Emily Yoffe's writeup on Panksepp's work. And, in Yoffe's commentary I find reference to ' our internal sense of time' in the context of an emotional state that Panksepp describes as 'Seeking'.

Monday, August 10, 2009

can It be done without a war....

Whats been missing from the whole scenario is wars. I feel, India is trying to break loose off all its colonial residues but can't quite get there because of this lack of a Nationalistic feeling. We do not really consider ourselves to be belonging to a single Nation. We haven't really done anything together after the Independence movement. I mean we do not feel it, like every moment of our lives. Once that is achieved, reforms will become much more smoother and effective. Lately, wars have been the only way to achieve this.

The previous military conflicts, for example the one at Kargil, almost immediately polarized the population. It didn't quite serve the purpose. But the reason, it couldn't be used by the state was a lack of effort or performance from the media. Now, the Bush43rd's Iraq adventure has shown how the media can be used to keep the public constantly talking about all the wrong aspects of Government function and so, once the Indian media matures sufficiently in covering up data and carrying people's attention over an extended period of time, India will go to war. Also, there weren't enough movies made on the Kargil war. The commercial aspects really need to change. The state has to raise the funds for the conflict. And, you cannot have power outages in the middle of a major mission, the TV needs to constantly transmit. Otherwise the audience will be lost. I mean people might get bored and go to work or something.

Actually, any crisis will do.

Friday, August 7, 2009


The H1N1 virus doesn't seem to know that Indians have not panicked. Infact we are at the forefront it seems, of coming up with a vaccine. In 2006, India was able to come up with a H5N1 vaccine but there weren't any manufacturer with safe laboratory conditions. This time there are like three private manufacturers. btw, what the heck does forefront mean?

The monsoon is now looking more like a draught. I mean, the eminent journalists are being able to see it now.

Will we atleast get the well-deserved (because we didn't panic) hindu growth rate?

Who cracks the jokes on India?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A State for the Second Lifers

I can't stop laughing ever since I heard about this second life/Avatar/3D virtual world stuff last evening :) which probably means I'll be in there soon. I was recently marveling at the blogger statistics from Calcutta; there's an incredibly large number of people blogging from here, most of it is like personal diaries and I guess some use it as their creative portfolio but in general women seem much more creative and original.....I spent some time trying to get an overall pic; yet I find that the internet connectivity is almost nonexistent in this rural-city; which led me to wonder, are these bloggers represented in our policy making process? Anyways the point is, what happens when India enters 'second life'. How many more states do we need to make? I can already see a demand for the bloggers and one for the second lifers coming up. Our lives are dependent on very sofisticated technology and India cannot afford to provide that kind of services to the whole nation, neither does it need to, so let us do it in our own state.