Author Archives: TCW
Last year I mentioned here a book called “Islam and the Future of Tolerance: A Dialogue.”
A documentary film based on that book is now in production, and the authors just launched a KickStarter crowdfunding campaign to finance it.
I personally chipped in with a donation, because I find this topic extremely important and I applaud Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz for engaging in their conversations.
If you want to check the film’s KickStarter page, here is the link:
Islam and the Future of Tolerance: The Movie
One of the more important books that came out last year was a book collaboration between Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz, titled “Islam and the Future of Tolerance: A Dialogue.”
Sam Harris, a famous atheist, and Maajid Nawaz, a former radical Islamist, joined forces in order to have a conversation about Islam without “devolving into bigotry or caricature.”
The video below presents a few clips from a Harvard forum, a panel discussion with the authors.
I recently had an opportunity to peak into the mind of an attractive woman – let’s call her Lorraine – who honestly discussed with me the issues she is getting around men.
I met her on a hospitality exchange website and spent some time hanging out with her. We had a take-away meal together, took a walk, and went for a coffee/ice cream over the course of two days. It definitely wasn’t just a quick chat.
She confessed that men she meets on that website are frequently falling in love with her, which expresses itself in an odd behavior such as trying to give her frequent (unwanted) massages, crawling into her bed to snuggle, or just generally going gaga over her. She said that none of those men she considered dangerous, nonetheless I can understand why she is averse to that kind of behavior. It can be pretty annoying if someone you barely know is constantly all over you.
Attractive women inevitably get trained from a young age on how to deal with stuff like that and acquire a sixth sense for the bullshit. She said she knew within walking into someone’s home if he will bother her like that or not.
I said to Lorraine that I’m not surprised that she has that kind of effect on men, because she obviously is attractive, but I acknowledged that they shouldn’t be doing that to her. I mean, there is nothing wrong if someone just tries to flirt with another person, however it becomes objectionable if that leads then to harassment. Especially uncool is to do that as a host and harass a guest of yours.
She couldn’t understand, though, why a man would fall for a woman he has only just met, even though she is attractive. What about first establishing a connection with a person? Obviously, that was her female brain speaking. On the other hand, men are primarily visually stimulated, and although looks are not everything, they can give an attractive woman a huge initial advantage, partially due to the halo effect.
The halo effect is a cognitive bias that induces you to have a positive predisposition toward a certain thing if you happen to like one aspect of it. For example, if you find someone attractive, you may also perceive them to be trustworthy and friendly, even though you don’t know anything about them.
I guess that somewhat explains the origin of the so–called “bitch shield”, a front women will sometimes put up in the presence of men, if they don’t want to be hit on. They will act like cold bitches in an effort to neutralize the halo effect and be left alone. Not that any of them is normally aware of what they are doing – they have just internalized appropriate behavior by trial-and-error and watching how other women deal with men.
Lorraine didn’t act bitchy toward me at all (it would make little sense to do that in a hospitality exchange, and could potentially lead to a bad reference on her profile), but she did eventually confess to me that she was being a little stand-offish toward me, as she didn’t want me to fall in love with her like so many others. I found that quite amusing.
She has another challenge, though. In addition to many men who are acting obsessive when in her presence, some of the men out there are being emotionally indifferent toward her. She lamented that it just doesn’t seem that a healthy middle ground exists.
I don’t know enough about Lorraine to speculate whether or not she has a pattern of being attracted to the wrong people – i.e. players who have no desire of being in a relationship – or whether she just has a bad luck with men. Or something else entirely.
She said that she can never know if guys really want her because of her or because of how she looks. She thinks that less physically attractive women are better-off, as they don’t have to deal with this kind of problems.
Maybe she has a valid point here, I don’t know. I certainly don’t agree that unattractive women have an advantage over attractive ones (quite the opposite), but maybe being a cute, average looking woman is in fact emotionally healthier than being a super hot one.
Speaking of hotness: Mark Manson, a former dating coach, once wrote in his book that men should ditch any sort of rating scale for women (e.g. 1 to 10), as it is toxic, because it induces men to treat really beautiful women differently for superficial reasons. He recommended men to use a binary system: either you’re interested or not. Nothing else should matter.
His book got revised in 2016, but you can read my review of the book from the previous year. I highly recommend this book to anyone, man or woman. It is arguably the best book on dating on the market.
Click here for the review of his book “Models – Attract Women Through Honesty”.
There is no easy answer to this conundrum, though. Even if all men would internalize the principles laid out in this book and would be able to hold a normal conversation with a very attractive woman without reverting to obsessive behavior, the fact remains that she will still have more potential suitors than an average girl, due to the fact that more men find her attractive.
So, I guess attractive women will always be a little stand-offish for a simple reason that they can’t possibly give attention to all the men who would want to talk to them. There simply isn’t enough hours in a day. That’s the price of living in a high population density world of today.
But maybe we can all seek to understand each other better and not take things personally.
“Somebody should do it. If somebody doesn’t do it, then I think I should probably do it.”
– Elon Musk
I recently watched a very interesting interview with Elon Musk filmed at Code Conference 2016. The full interview is available on Youtube and is embedded below. Here is a short summary of the things Elon talked about:
He started by explaining why his company SpaceX needs drone ships in the Atlantic, for rocket launches from Cape Canaveral: these ships will serve as landing platforms for reusable first stages of their rockets, which are worth about 70% of the cost of the rockets. Here is a video of a successful Falcon 9 first-stage landing, filmed with an onboard camera (video is sped up):
At 13:43 mark into the interview Elon describes SpaceX’s plans for the future. In a few months they plan to start re-flying the landed first stages (which they now have 4 of them). Then, by the end of 2016 they want to launch Falcon Heavy, soon-to-be the most powerful rocket in the world.
In 2017 SpaceX will fly Dragon 2 spacecraft which is capable of taking up to 7 astronauts to International Space Station, as well as being able to fly to anywhere in the Solar system. In 2018 they intend to send one of them to Mars (on an unmanned mission). Elon said he will present the architecture for Mars colonization in September this year, but he gave us a little preview of the timing: if things go well, he wants to launch people to Mars in 2024, with arriving there the next year. Pretty ambitious, considering NASA is thinking about sending people to Mars in the 2030s.
At 24:10 the conversation shifts to the future of electric vehicles (EV) and autonomous driving. Tesla Motors, another Elon’s company, is working on scaling up the production – in 2018 they aim to make half a million vehicles in total and then a million per year by 2020. Their next model (Model 3) will have a starting price of $35,000, but it is important to note that operational costs will be lower compared to a gasoline powered car – electricity is cheaper than petrol, and EV maintenance costs are much lower. He also predicted that we are less than 2 years away from complete autonomous driving technology.
At 41:35 Elon gets asked about his views on artificial intelligence (AI). He is convinced that any AI we develop has to be friendly, and AI power has to be broadly distributed (not concentrated in the hands of a few people), otherwise the future may not be good.
The wackiest thing Elon talked about, when asked by a member of the audience, was his belief that it is likely that we live in a computer simulation. His reasoning goes like this: the technology is developing very fast, so relatively soon (on an evolutionary scale) we will have a virtual reality capabilities that will be indistinguishable from the reality itself, so if these kind of things are possible then we must also conclude that there is only a one in a billion chance that we are living in a base reality.
I don’t know how you can estimate the odds about that. Also, there is no evidence that we are living in a simulation, so I find pondering about these things pure speculation. But, if someone could devise an experiment that would either prove or disprove this hypothesis, it would be worth finding out.
During the interview Elon also talked about Hyperloop, American presidential elections 2016 (he didn’t want to answer questions directly), becoming a cyborg (merging with digital intelligence by having a direct brain-computer interface), direct democracy on Mars, his family life, and more.
Elon Musk at Code Conference 2016 – full interview.