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Getting a job is so hard that one is forced into silliness. I just sent out a motivation letter composed as a children's birthday invitation - complete with centered Comic Sans writing, a gradient title and a clip art thumbs up in closing. If this is the one that gets me a job, my head asplode.

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You're not going for an accountant job or something, are you?

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Ysbreker: Yes, I just checked and sent you a PM. Thanks so much! I will commence dying in space immediately.

So I finished up my practicum on Friday, doing my very very best not to cry in front of a bunch of 6 year olds as they were hugging me and saying how much they'd miss me at the end of the day. According to my partner, I've been teaching in my sleep. She finds this cute, which I've told her to remember when it starts to become really annoying that I can't stop using my "teacher voice" when talking to her and our friends. I'll be going back to the school quite a bit over the next few weeks. Can't miss their play after I put so much time into helping the class rehearse, and they'll be building gingerbread houses on my birthday, so I pretty much need to be there for that. I'm going to miss going in every day though. I made a science unit based around getting magnets to complete various sporting events using knowledge of how attraction and repulsion work, and due to an extra play rehearsal, the final class of my "magnet olympics" got postponed to Monday, meaning I won't get to wrap up my own science unit with the class. That's a huge bummer for me, as they loved running the events so much and would run up to me to show me how high they could make a magnet jump or whatever. So good. The other two 1/2 teachers at the school even took my workbooks for that one off of my memory stick so that they could run the unit themselves, which is probably the biggest compliment I could ever receive as a student teacher. 4 more months and I drop that "student" part off of my job title. Excited as hell!

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Aww, that sounds amazing Miffy. Congratulations, and good luck for the rest of it! :)

In my life, I'm finding it difficult coming to terms with being a second year at University. It's odd, because I know there's a part of me that's like "You're still young, you shouldn't worry so much; you should go out and have more fun!" and then there's the other part that's reading all these academic papers, wanting to write in a similar style and depth, and finding myself massively constrained by word limits and personal standards. I'm attempting to answer the question "Why do humans cooperate?", am 2,800 words in (max 2,200) and still not entirely sure how best to prove my argument. The essay itself is OK; it's the rest of it that's psychologically taxing.

On top of that, I'm hosting Dr. Matt Ridley (some of you might have heard of him) this Wednesday at our University, and he's a pretty big deal. One of our university buildings was recently flooded, meaning all of the larger lecture theatres are unavailable, and we can only seat 150 in the one we've been assigned. It's super cool that he's coming, but it's frustrating that we won't be able to seat everyone who wants to come (I foresee around 200?).

In lighter news tho: I have applied to be a Conference Associate at GDC in March next year, and really really hope that I get it. It seems like the most exciting thing ever.

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I got my hair cut, car washed, played lots of timpani and won €1400 in the lotto. Pretty good weekend:D

Also, I'm m icing out of my parents into a pretty swish rented room in January, but I'll save that one for the rental market thread when I have some pictures to make y'all hate.

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there's a part of me that's like "You're still young, you shouldn't worry so much; you should go out and have more fun!" and then there's the other part that's reading all these academic papers, wanting to write in a similar style and depth, and finding myself massively constrained by word limits and personal standards.

That first part is the smart one.

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It all depends where you want to be in 10 or 15 years. That time will fly by and you will, at some point in your 30s think, "Hey! If I'd done X for the past 10 years, I'd be a master of it by now!". However doing something like that would require huge sacrifices and probably lots of misery as a result -- seeing how you're not naturally driven/energised to do it by yourself.

So why not just work at getting a good work/life balance instead? Set aside time for your studies, set aside time for fun.

I've said this to you before, Speedy, but it sounds like you're your own worst enemy. Life is difficult enough without self-flagellation. If you won't give yourself a break, who will?

As for "Why humans co-operate?", surely the answer is simply this: Without co-operation, we wouldn't be here. There undoubtedly were groups of humans that didn't co-operate with others, and those groups died off, along with their genes, when they were all eaten by lions for stubbornly refusing to help each other out. (Dickhead Dawkins mentions something like this quite early on in The Selfish Gene.) 2200 words? pffft! 2200 characters more like ;)

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Hah! Don't push it... ;)

Largely speaking: yes, all cooperation occurs because we are selfish and we are rewarded by cooperating with others. The tricky part is proving it for the various different types of cooperation by way of ethnographic examples. Altruistic cooperation, mutualistic cooperation and reciprocal altruism are all cooperative, not /actually/ altruistic, and require proof. :P

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Hah! Don't push it... ;)

Largely speaking: yes, all cooperation occurs because we are selfish and we are rewarded by cooperating with others. The tricky part is proving it for the various different types of cooperation by way of ethnographic examples. Altruistic cooperation, mutualistic cooperation and reciprocal altruism are all cooperative, not /actually/ altruistic, and require proof. :P

Yeah, that sounds boring. And difficult. Good luck! :)

Also, we're not really "selfish". Dick Dawkins goes to great lengths to try and make people aware that just because our genes want to survive doesn't mean that all human actions are motivated by selfishness. We thwart our gene's wishes all the time. Birth control is a great example.

Here's an altruistic act that I'd like you to explain to me how it isn't actually altruistic: People who run into a burning building to save people they don't know -- e.g. The firefighters at the Twin Towers. They were going beyond what they were expected to do for their jobs, and many died as a result.

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No, not all human action is motivated by selfishness, but the vast vast majority have selfish rewards. You're suggesting that genes are sentient, obviously that isn't the case. Birth control is often used by many until they're in a place where they're financially stable or w/e and able to increase their offspring's fitness by raising them in a stable environment.

With the burning thing, there are always anomalies in rules. That being said, if there is genetic material that codes for altruistic tendencies, then the Price equation shows how that is selected for and spreads over time. If something is a product of selection then it's not truly, philosophically, altruistic, because you're predisposed to it by your genetic material. You can also argue that those who do survive saving people from a fire are more sexually attractive in the eyes of potential partners etc.

There is also a huge dichotomy between what the biological self and the social self wants.

It really does turn into a semantics argument, and a philosophical one at that.

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Huh, you can't use the existence of a reward as proof for lack of altruism. It's an easy claim to make because it sounds so cynical and realistic, but mere opinion that rises from the argument you want to make: you still don't know the actual motivation. This is especially true when you try to use rewards that were at the moment of action fuzzy, distant and not certain as the original motivation, when they only materialized later. Everything looks certain when it has happened, but you'd be hard pressed to prove that the potential rewards ever occurred to the altruistic people in question. And if they did occur to them, you would still have to prove they weighed their options and chose to pursue that reward.

That gene argument is really strange. Predisposed compared to what? You can't ever find the universal (were talking genes, so universal) neutral disposition for altruistic action, so you can't claim altruistic people are predisposed to it. You could just as easily say some people are neutrally altruistic, but the rest of us are bastards you are too cowardly to go save people. And that's presuming you can trace personality traits directly to biology which you bloody can't. Of course our genetic material affects us, we are born with it and it has an effect on our activity from the start, but you can't look at a person and deduce which parts of his personality were caused by biology and which by his life history and social activity. Our particular traits affect our activity from the start, but our activity is in the social world which responds to it, changing us. The personality forms through continuous activity, and our activity depends on context, past activity, whatever predispositions we may have, etc. You can't just look at a personality in its current state and determine why exactly a person has some trait, separate the biological from the rest.

I can sense the hair on TP's neck bristle as he reads this, because we've talked about a similar subject before.

You can't separate a 'biological self' from a 'social self' either, even though people may categorize different wants they have in such a manner.

Now, whether you care for my arguments or not, just finish the essay as it is, cut out the chaff so it's closer to the length it's supposed to be and just give it to your professor. You're a second year student, which means you have all the time in the world to refine your arguments or change your entire theoretical disposition three or four times.

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No, not all human action is motivated by selfishness, but the vast vast majority have selfish rewards. You're suggesting that genes are sentient, obviously that isn't the case.

What, no I'm not, but my genes have a desire to survive. As do yours. My body and personality are just a vehicle for my genes. Human genes survive through the reproduction process, but we often thwart the impulses of our genes. For example, when we satisfy carnal desires but use birth control. Or we run into a burning building to save someone who isn't related to us. Or we foster someone else's children. We're programmed by our genes to desire certain things and react in certain ways, but humans can overcome them. And we do.

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Is that what you tell the cheerleader squad chained up in your basement. You will desire me....YOU WILL OVERCOME :P

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It is really conceptually dangerous to talk about genes in terms of being agents rather than carriers. It's a great mental shortcut in some cases but in general the much more accurate and safe way to say this sort of thing is that behaviour X will result in the propagation of gene Y.

Not saying you don't understand this but I feel this sort of thing needs to be emphasised now and then.

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What, no I'm not, but my genes have a desire to survive. As do yours. My body and personality are just a vehicle for my genes. Human genes survive through the reproduction process, but we often thwart the impulses of our genes. For example, when we satisfy carnal desires but use birth control. Or we run into a burning building to save someone who isn't related to us. Or we foster someone else's children. We're programmed by our genes to desire certain things and react in certain ways, but humans can overcome them. And we do.

You're not suggesting that genes are sentient, but they do have a desire? Anthropomorphising things is a tricky road to lead down...

I understand exactly what you're saying, because I understand a little bit about selfish gene theory. It is a part of the essay I'm writing, after all!

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Is that what you tell the cheerleader squad chained up in your basement. You will desire me....YOU WILL OVERCOME :P

Stockholm Syndrome rules.

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What, no I'm not, but my genes have a desire to survive. As do yours. My body and personality are just a vehicle for my genes.

Interesting homunculus. So is it possible to rigorously demonstrate that this understanding is more consistently useful and accurate in describing the behavior of life, or is it just intuition?

If something is a product of selection then it's not truly, philosophically, altruistic, because you're predisposed to it by your genetic material.

Walks like a duck, quacks like a duck. Philosophically, nothing can fit into any definition unless you define your axioms to allow it. In my opinion this gives far too much credence to kook idealism in far too many cases to be useful (take, for just one example, Morrissey's opinion that the British Crown is, by definition, tyrranical. Of course it bloody is if you write a definition to say so). In general, it doesn't seem very useful to take such a loaded term as Altruism and try and give it a definition that makes it nonexistent. It might be more helpful to figure out what altruism, as we understand it, actually is and entails.

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So shitty moral dilemma. One of the artists in the company is having a baby soon and we are all required to purchase $20 giftcards each by the end of the week. She was the art director on one of our projects and I absolutely hated working under her. She was just really slow and bad at her job, as well as just having poor grasps of things like anatomy and color. I also can't stand her on a personal level for various reasons, but mostly she's the product of an extremely sheltered Christian family. She also gets paid over one and a half times my salary.

Am I just making stupid justifications and should just pay up, or should I bother saying no? It's just $20 but the principle of the thing is kind of bugging me.

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So shitty moral dilemma. One of the artists in the company is having a baby soon and we are all required to purchase $20 giftcards each by the end of the week. She was the art director on one of our projects and I absolutely hated working under her. She was just really slow and bad at her job, as well as just having poor grasps of things like anatomy and color. I also can't stand her on a personal level for various reasons, but mostly she's the product of an extremely sheltered Christian family. She also gets paid over one and a half times my salary.

Am I just making stupid justifications and should just pay up, or should I bother saying no? It's just $20 but the principle of the thing is kind of bugging me.

Gift card to a store she'll never shop at!

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