Fletcher Kauffman

Los Angeles, CA, United States

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Fletcher Kauffman
Posted about 2 years ago
Would you eat "in vitro" meat?
I have given this a lot of thought in the past year. There is something about me (either memetically or biologically) that can not tolerate a vegetarian lifestyle. I am not one of those "I did not claw myself to the top of the food chain to.." people... but I am descended from them. There is clearly something important about meat in the diet of most people-- and there are certainly some compounds and amino acids (importance unknown) that are not available anywhere else. For me, my pull for vegetarianism is not so much about the animal (though I love animals, I also sadly admit that my ancestors have bred certain animals to aspire to be great food, and my ancestors have also left me with a genetic and memetic system optimized for those animals fulfilling on their destiny), but it is in recognition that one, we are eating far more meat than we need (to that point, I am beyond overweight, and I can have as much meat as my body demands and my wallet affords: a LOT of meat), and TWO the amount of meat I am eating is taking an extraordinary amount of energy to bring to my mouth. I happened upon the movie "Collapse" last year. Regardless of what you think of the guy in the film, or any of the other topics, seeing the film did stun me into realizing how many calories are BEHIND the calories I actually eat. And, done irresponsibly, the ratio is hundreds or thousands to one in terms of the calories you're actually using. Marry that up to one gallon of gasoline being about 30,000 calories-- and it starts to get awkwardly uncomfortable.
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Fletcher Kauffman
Posted about 2 years ago
On choice paralysis: Most people have no taste and thus cannot make a decision on their own
I love this topic, Gisela.. and I may have some interesting complications to it. 1) I can taste the difference between different kinds of water (I mean different varieties of bottled water, for example). 2) I really don't have any distinct taste. 3) I wholeheartedly agree-- often the things that I want are solely because I am aware that other people want them and, somehow, it says something about me that I am able to obtain them relative to that ability in others. 4) I'm very certain that choice is something we demand-- and don't really care about. It's only important to us that we've had the experience of choosing something, regardless of how that choice was made. 5) I am thoroughly uninfluenced by advertising-- I hate advertising and will, in fact, avoid products because of their advertising. 6) Things do not have any intrinsic value. Even gold only has a value because we all agree that it does. 7) Sociopaths get to high-ranking positions not because of their expedience in making decisions but because they lack sufficient empathy to worry about the impacts of their decisions, which our (forgive me) capitalist society values. With all of that out of the way, I more agree with you than disagree-- most people do not know why they choose what they choose-- and they will make up a reason to justify their choice very quickly.
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Fletcher Kauffman
Posted about 2 years ago
Can advertising be both a force for commerce AND a force for good?
In the interests of full disclosure, I have worked in an advertising agency, and currently work in a role in my current organization where I am responsible for a lot of advertising as part of our marketing efforts. I am of the view that advertising is inherently "not good"-- and I am referring to advertising in its more specific meaning (the one-way market-facing communication meaning) as opposed to all forms of marketing. I have always felt (since I was quite young), that advertising-- were I to assign a personality to it-- is, well, kind of date-rapey. Yes, I just said that. Advertising is that guy who comes into a party, isn't really interested in you at all (he's not even listening to what you're talking about), he just wants interrupt you to talk about himself and, by the way, almost nothing he says about himself in any way squares up with your actual experience of the guy. This is the same guy who told TiVo that their "commercial skip" button shouldn't skip commercials anymore-- because people will use it to skip commercials and we don't want them to be able to skip commercials. Yes, we want to force people to have to see things they do not want to see. I have been looking (off and on) for a decade for a way to, literally, end advertising-- while still providing a way for people with wants and needs a way to connect with businesses ready to meet those wants and needs, but on a more equal, open and honest footing. I will definitely allow that some advertising is relatively better than others-- although when I see an ad that touches me emotionally, I'm pretty immediately met with the thought "They just connected with me emotionally... to get my money." I mean, commerce is what's behind it all anyway-- they're not reaching out to me just to make sure I'm doin' okay.
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Fletcher Kauffman
Posted about 2 years ago
Is neural activity truly the basis for thoughts, feelings, and perceptions?
I think Dr. Seung is allowing that neuroscience is just a view. And there are other views available. When you have the freedom to pick and choose views to look at something from and switch freely between them without trying to reconcile them to one another, you can really get closer to experiencing or knowing something. The trap we fall into (maybe this is the age we are in, or this is a Western problem) is to conflate a useful view or model of something with the idea that that view or model represents how it ~really~ is. To the child with a hammer, everything looks like a nail. To the neuroscientist, the brain looks like a neuroscience-based machine. So to answer the question you've asked directly: I choose not to champion that view in most cases, as that gives very little room for humanity. Although the brain as described in neuroscience is a learning and adaptable machine (and a wondrous one), it's still beholden to ideas of brain electrochemistry. If I were having some kind of issue with my brain, however, I'd certainly consult with someone who had tremendous facility with the neuroscience view.
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Fletcher Kauffman
Posted about 2 years ago
Which video game has challenged your perspective on the way you live your life and how?
(My second story) Within the last year, I played through Fable III (SPOILER ALERT), which is obviously the third in a series of fantasy role-playing games that have the added twist of a meta game (where in addition to roaming the countryside, killing monsters, you own property, get married, become king, rule and make decisions about how you will treat people and how you will govern). My play style in any game like this that provides moral choices is to play a paragon of good-- and, invariably, this leads me to the most rewarding outcome. In other words, most games of this design have a logical progression along this path-- make all the Good choices, achieve the Good ending/outcome of the game. Fable III however, forces the player into a counter-moral situation-- where there is no option that will let the good player conclude the game with everyone else happy with them-- so the player is forced to choose between two bad options. I found the experience jarring-- it wasn't the result of some earlier mistake I had made-- I had done everything right, and yet this no-win moral dilemma arose-- and the resulting outcome was regretful, but unavoidable. I saw how much my concern for being perceived as "Good" drove me. It does this a lot in my life, as well-- where I always want to find win-win situations and, sometimes, there aren't any immediately available. And, when that happens, it's also not the end of the world. Even the loss of half of the population of your kingdom is not the end of the kingdom. That had a big impact on me and how I view my own personal drive to being "Good".
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Fletcher Kauffman
Posted about 2 years ago
Which video game has challenged your perspective on the way you live your life and how?
I have a couple stories about this. I have been a gamer since there were video games (literally). So my first creative works were to design (on paper) videogames at a time when it wasn't plausible for an individual to make one. I was playing The Sims 3. For those who don't know what the game is, The Sims series puts you in control of a number of people who live virtual lives with much of the same banality and aspiration that real people do. They have jobs, dreams, etc. and your directing their actions (often against their impulses) is what has them get what they actually want out of life. I had a Sim who I wanted to be a novelist (which is something I've wanted at various times in my own life), but in the game, the Sim-- almost regardless of what activity she had just completed-- would go over to the computer, sit down and play videogames. I would become angrily frustrated-- I kept having to click on the Sim and order her to "Write novel". Again and again. And then I had that "a-haaa" moment-- where I realized that I, sitting in my chair, playing the Sims, was doing exactly the same thing the Sim was doing-- avoiding working on my novel to play video games. I have not played the Sims since.
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Fletcher Kauffman
Posted about 2 years ago
Is there any essential part of the "human self" that confers on a person human rights? Mind? DNA? Memory? Soul? What I do?
I would assert that such a thing exists obviously-- as we (generally) do not have any difficulty clearly defining who it is to whom human rights apply. I would also assert that the biological distinctions are a red herring-- and only matter to the extent that they give rise to language. In other words, I am asserting that what makes us special is our ability to use language. In other words, we implicitly agree that other entities with which we can reliably use language to the degree that we have the experience of another consciousness being present is the same threshold we use to determine what "human" is for the purposes of determining where human rights should apply. Obviously, this was not always the case, as arbitrary distinctions between races of men have been made for the purposes of subjugating one under another-- but even the ability to do that is a function of language.