Sunday, October 25, 2020

the infinite permutations of life....................

 "While we can never render complexity simple, we could embrace it as an adventure, calling us to investigate the infinite permutations of life that it contains. Surrendering agency, action and adventure for convenience is a miserable bargain. In the uncharted world, who is content to be left hugging the shore when we could use our freedom to explore."

-Margeret Heffernan, Uncharted:  How To Navigate The Future

via

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Opening paragraphs.....................

      I am an invisible man.  No.  I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allan Poe; nor am I one of your Hollywood-movie ectoplasms.  I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids—and I might even be said to possess a mind.  I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.  Like the bodiless heads you sometimes see in circus sideshows, it is as though I have been surrounded by mirrors of hard, distorting glass.  When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination—indeed, everything and anything except me.

-Ralph Ellison, from the Prologue to Invisible Man


selective attention test


Did you see the person dressed in the gorilla suit who enters the picture, walks slowly across the screen, thumps her chest, and moves off the screen after about nine seconds?  If you did not, you are not alone - about 70% of the subjects in the experiments did not notice the appearance of the gorilla.  And most were astonished to discover that they had missed the gorilla when the video was replayed to them.  Kahneman argues that the experiment reveals that humans are 'blind to the obvious, and we are also blind to our blindness.'  But how should we interpret the result?  Is it the result of a human failing?  Or a human strength?  Surely it is sensible when asked to carry out a specific task to blot out any extraneous observations irrelevant to the task, and the experiment demonstrated the power of human capacity for concentration.
     When confronted by the challenges of living in a complex world, we know that there are many stimuli that we would do well to ignore in order to concentrate on the matter at hand.  Indeed, the phenomenon of 'blindness', far from being a failing, may be regarded as a positive virtue.  The Hungarian-American psychologist Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi has found that individuals are happiest when in 'flow', completely focused on difficult but rewarding activities.

Differently the same...................

 "The imperfect is our paradise," Wallace Stevens wrote.  If the entry of genetics into the human world carried one immediate lesson, it was this: the imperfect was not just our paradise; it was also, inextricably, our mortal world.  The degree of human genetic variation—and the depth of its influence on human pathology—was unexpected and surprising.  The world was vast and various.  Genetic diversity was our natural state—not just in isolated pockets in faraway places, but everywhere around us.  Seemingly homogeneous populations were, in fact, strikingly heterogeneous.  We had seen the mutants—and they were us.

-Siddhartha Mukherjee,  The Gene: An Intimate History

Monday, October 19, 2020

Can I get an Amen..................................?

 "If lockdown were a treatment undergoing a clinical trial, the trial would be halted because of the side effects. "

-as excerpted from this letter

It's a good thing "social" media hadn't.................

 ................................been invented yet, or things might have gotten really nasty:

"At the beginning of the contest the Progress had declared that Huey would not resort to criticism of his enemies but would discuss issues.  Then, with a fine disregard for logic or consistency, the paper predicted that his speeches would be a welcome contrast to the 'tawdry howls of his senile, asinine, scurrilous' foes."

-T. Harry Williams, Huey Long

Ed. Notes: The contest was for a seat in the U. S. Senate.  The Progress was a newspaper controlled by Huey.  The year was 1930.

It's good to remember.............................

 











via

Yeah, what he said....................

“I am not absentminded. It is the presence of mind that makes me unaware of everything else.”

-G.K. Chesterton

A few morsels.................................

"The idea is that you have to take risk to get ahead, but no risk that can wipe you out is ever worth taking."

"You can plan for every risk except the things that are too crazy to cross your mind."

"A good rule of thumb for a lot of things in life is that everything that can break will eventually break."

"In fact, the most important part of every plan is planning on your plan not going according to plan."

-Morgan Housel, from the chapter Room for Error in his The Psychology of Money:  Timeless Lessons On Wealth, Greed, and Happiness


Friday, October 16, 2020

It's Miller Time.................................


On persistence..............

 The important thing is how we work with something that isn't working.  Being pig-headed and repeatedly doing the same thing over and over again is not the answer.  Persistence should be coupled with the ability to adjust how you approach your challenge.  Trying multiple angles is the key to making your persistence work for you.

-Ben Aldridge, How to Be Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable

Stop it..............................

 “You are not a failure until you start blaming others for your mistakes”

-John Wooden

good ideas/bad ideas.........................

"History is littered with good ideas taken too far, which are indistinguishable from bad ideas."

-Morgan Housel

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Wishing and hoping..........................

 When we agree to live simply, we have little to protect and no desire for acquisition, even for acquisition of any “moral capital.” When we imagine that we are better, holier, higher, more important to God than others, it is a very short step to “justified” arrogance or violence toward those others. It is almost inevitable, in fact, and we are witnessing today how it manifests itself at every level of our societies. If we could eliminate such manufactured and desired superiority, religion might finally become nonviolent in thought, word, and deed. 

-Richard Rohr, as cut-and-pasted from here


Even 93,000,000 miles away...............

 ..........don't you think it has something to say about our climate?














From the wondrous Astronomy Picture of the Day site, where you can learn lots of cool stuff.

Fun with numbers...........................

 NPR’s “Weekend Edition” tried to illustrate the US national debt by saying, “If you stack up 14.3 trillion dollar bills, the pile would stretch to the moon and back twice.”

That does not help. Indeed, it is triply unhelpful, since most of us lack an intuitive grasp either of how far away the moon is or of how many dollar bills there are to the yard, and even if we had both we would still be stuck with the question of whether $14.3tn was a worryingly large debt or not.

More useful is to think of the debt as a sum per person. At the end of 2019, US federal debt was nearly $23tn, which is about $70,000 per US resident. I don’t know whether that is more or less alarming than trying to measure it out in trips to the moon but it is certainly vastly more informative.

-Tim Harford, as lifted from here