Is pure altruism possible?

On altruism, Professor Judith Lichtenberg (Philosophy at Georgetown University) explains…

Common sense tells us that some people are more altruistic than others. Egoism’s claim that these differences are illusory — that deep down, everybody acts only to further their own interests — contradicts our observations and deep-seated human practices of moral evaluation.

Altruists should not be confused with people who automatically sacrifice their own interests for others. We admire Paul Rusesabagina, the hotel manager who saved over 1,000 Tutsis and Hutus during the 1994 Rwandan genocide; we admire health workers who give up comfortable lives to treat sick people in hard places. But we don’t admire people who let others walk all over them; that amounts to lack of self-respect, not altruism.

Altruism is possible and altruism is real, although in healthy people it intertwines subtly with the well-being of the agent who does good. And this is crucial for seeing how to increase the amount of altruism in the world. Aristotle had it right in his “Nicomachean Ethics”: we have to raise people from their “very youth” and educate them “so as both to delight in and to be pained by the things that we ought.”

Source: New York Times

How to opt-out of behavioral advertising

Don’t want advertisers to track your behavior and delivery effective advertising to you? Use the NAI Opt-out tool.

The NAI Opt-out Tool was developed in conjunction with our members for the express purpose of allowing consumers to “opt out” of the behavioral advertising delivered by our member companies.

Using the Tool below, you can examine your computer to identify those member companies that have placed an advertising cookie file on your computer.

To opt out of an NAI member’s behavioral advertising program, simply check the box that corresponds to the company from which you wish to opt out. Alternatively, you can check the box labeled “Select All” and each member’s opt-out box will be checked for you. Next click the “Submit” button. The Tool will automatically replace the specified advertising cookie(s) and verify your opt-out status.

Opting out of a network does not mean you will no longer receive online advertising. It does mean that the network from which you opted out will no longer deliver ads tailored to your Web preferences and usage patterns.

How to use playlists in iPod Shuffle

Two weeks ago, I got myself an Apple iPod Shuffle 4th generation that looks like this:

Apple iPod Shuffle Fourth Generation.
Apple iPod Shuffle Fourth Generation.

I got the silver color one.

The moment I bought it I opened it up and threw away the instructions and casing as I was walking forgetting the need to ever return to the store should it not be working. Thankfully I don’t need to but I didn’t get to read the instructions too.

It is until today that I (just) realized that, hey, it supports playlists. I never knew I would want a playlist till I got my 100th song in the iPod Shuffle.

How to navigate through playlists in iPod Shuffle

I learnt that if you want to navigate through your playlists, you press and hold your iPod Shuffle’s VoiceOver button till you can hear it say “All Songs…” and whatever playlists you have. You can now press the forward and backward buttons to navigate through your playlists. Hear the name of the right playlist? Press the VoiceOver button again to select that playlist.

You are welcome.

Promising changes in IE9

Microsoft Internet Explorer 9 actually looks promising.

Welcome To A More Beautiful Web – Welcome To A More Beautiful Web – Internet Explorer 9

While the internet has kept up with every changing needs, however the way we experience hasn’t, until now! Welcome to a more beautiful web with Internet Explorer 9. Internet Explorer delivers a more beautiful Web by using the full capabilities of Windows and PC hardware so your Web sites and applications are as immersive as the native applications running on your PC.

Short return from reservist

I just returned from national service reservist. Singapore practices conscription for abled men. The reservist programme aims to train military personnel to become operational ready should there be a need in time to come.

The disruption of my daily routine irks me. The regimentation and senseless babbling of army commanders returns. To kick start the commander phase of battalion, one of my commanders proclaimed something along the lines of “You guys are not a reservist unit, you are an active unit.” That discourages and puzzles me to a good extend (since we are a reservist unit). The overzealous nature of that commander gave me a bitter preview of what is to come.

Today is October 16, it’s the 6th day. This programme will end on the October 29 if nothing goes wrong. That’s 13 days to go.

Fined for lighting candles

I saw this in the TODAY paper:

NEA fine overly harsh?

05:55 AM Oct 09, 2010

About two weeks ago, my sister and her group of friends gathered at the East Coast Park to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival.

They lit candles on a park table but their guileless fun cost them a fine of $500 by two officers from the National Environment Agency. In my opinion, these youngsters should have been let off with a warning as they were first-time offenders. The group cleaned the table afterwards. Was there a need for such a harsh punishment to be meted out?

Letter from Joyce Koh

[via TODAY]

While it is indeed wrong to light candles on a park table, a $500 fine is a little too much. It’s nothing to do with the offenders being youngsters, there shouldn’t be a student subsidy for fines. Lighting candles in park during Mid-Autumn Festival is no longer a common occurrence as compared to, say, ten years ago. Either people are less interested in the Festival or that they’re understanding that they are vandalizing public property.

I wouldn’t want someone to light candles on the table in my house. I would be even more offended if someone lights candles on my wooden table and leave the melted wax for me to clean. Incidentally most people do not clean up the candle wax after they are done having fun watching the candles melt in the parks. No one brings a utility knife for such occasions to scrap the wax off. Perhaps the authorities are concerned over this form of littering.

A punishment is justifiable but $500 probably isn’t. Perhaps some sort of mandatory community work would be a better punishment. As for the wax on the table, yes, get them to clean them up with a electrical iron and some paper.

Setting up wireless in Ubuntu terminal

The following steps aims to set up wireless with WPA configuration for Linksys WUSB54G on Ubuntu using command line. They have worked for me and I’m just taking notes and sharing what I did. Hopefully you’ll find it helpful if you need to go through the same process. My Ubuntu version is 9.04 but this should work in newer versions too.


You’ll need to have wpasupplicant If you don’t already have wpasupplicant:

[code lang=”bash”]sudo apt-get install wpasupplicant[/code]

Obtaining your WPA psk in /etc/wpa_supplicant.conf

You can use wpa_passphrase to generate a configuration file for your /etc/wpa_supplicant.conf. In the following example, my wireless SSID is ‘MySSID’ and my passphrase is ‘text passphrase’. Continue reading “Setting up wireless in Ubuntu terminal”