Saturday, September 30, 2017
Friday, September 29, 2017
One of the most influential ethical theories, developed initially by the great Enlightenment philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), says (among other things) that you should always treat people, including yourself, with the utmost respect, and never merely as a tool to get something you want. If you treat someone merely as a tool, according to Kant, then you fail to treat them as a reasoning, self-directed person, and that is ethically wrong. This is an ethical theory, or a proposal about what makes actions good or bad. Roughly, an action is good only when it is respectful and bad when it is disrespectful. For example, failing to pay someone for their work is bad because is fails to respect them and treats them as a mere tool.
-Nick Riggle, On Being Awesome: A Unified Theory of How Not to Suck
Despite our relatively poor investment performance, 1988 was a great year for Bridgewater, because by reflecting on and learning from our poor performance, we made systematic improvements. I have come to realize that bad times coupled with good reflections provide some of the best lessons, and not just about business but also about relationships.
-Ray Dalio, Principles
We can ask ourselves: "When was I ever trained in the techniques of emotional self-healing? When I went to school, did they teach me courses on consciousness? Did anybody ever tell me that I had the freedom to choose what went into my mind? Was I ever taught that I could refuse all of the negative programming? Did anybody ever tell me about the laws of consciousness?" If not, why beat ourselves up about having innocently believed certain things? Why not stop beating ourselves up right now?
We all did what we thought was best in the moment. "It seemed like a good idea at the time" is what we can say about our past actions and those of others. Out of our confusion, ignorance, and naiveté, we bought into the negative programs. We can choose a different direction. We can choose to become more aware, more conscious, more responsible, and more discerning. We can refuse to sit there like a blank tape recorder, taking in every program the world hands us. The world is only too willing to exploit our naiveté and play upon our smallness, with all its vanities and fears.
-David R. Hawkins, Letting Go: The Pathway of Surrender
Religions rose and fell as they spread across Eurasia, fighting with each other for audiences, loyalty and moral authority. Communication with the divine was more than a matter of seeking intervention in daily life: it became a matter of salvation or damnation. The jostling became violent. The first four centuries of the first millennium, which saw Christianity explode from a small base in Palestine to sweep through the Mediterranean and across Asia, were a maelstrom of faith wars.
-Peter Frankopan, The Silk Roads: A New History Of The World
... surfing a wave has a distinctive kind of value. Being adaptively attuned to a changing natural phenomenon, in part, by not needing to control it, is at once a kind of freedom, self-transcendence, and happiness. Or so I will argue in later chapters. To a surprising degree, I submit, what is valuable in human life is a matter of being adaptively attuned - a way of "surfing," in an extended sense.
To surf, in general, is to be adaptively attuned to a changing pheomenon beyond oneself, for its own sake. In a social form of adaptive attunement, you could "surf" through a conversation, a meeting at work, or a crowded street, going along with the flow of conversational or meeting dynamics, by staying attuned to other people and responding fluently in each new moment of cooperation. Whatever else you might hope to achieve, you'd do that purposefully, with a certain awareness of its intrinsic value, partly for its own sake. You'd give up seeking control, perhaps in order to keep cooperative relations sweet, for the feelings of harmonious social connection and the consequent sense of peace.
-Aaron James, Surfing With Sartre: An Aquatic Inquiry Into A Life Of Meaning
Thursday, September 28, 2017
What follows is a truthful account, as best I am able to provide it, of my role in the British deception operation, codenamed Windfall, that was mounted against the East German Intelligence Service (Stasi) in the late nineteen fifties and early sixties, and resulted in the death of the best British secret agent I ever worked with, and of the innocent woman for whom he gave his life.
-John Le Carré, A Legacy Of Spies
Before I begin telling you what I think, I want to establish that I'm a "dumb shit" who doesn't know much relative to what I need to know. Whatever success I've had in life has had more to do with my knowing how to deal with my not knowing than anything I know. The most important thing I learned is an approach to life based on principles that helps me find out what's true and what to do about it.
Ray Dalio, from the opening paragraph to his introduction to Principles
The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.
-Albert Einstein, as culled from here
Wednesday, September 27, 2017
...............................................................in slow motion:
Tuesday, September 26, 2017
Monday, September 25, 2017
At magic hour, when the sun has gone but the light has not, armies of flying foxes unhinge themselves from the Banyan trees in the old graveyard and drift across the city like smoke. When the bats leave, the crows come home. Not all the din of their homecoming fills the silence left by the sparrows that have gone missing, and the old white-backed vultures, custodians of the dead for more than a hundred million years, that have been wiped out. The vultures died of diclofenac poisoning. Diclofenac, cow aspirin, given to cattle as a muscle relaxant, to ease pain and increase the production of milk, works - worked - like nerve gas on white-backed vultures. Each chemically relaxed, milk-producing cow or buffalo that died became poisoned vulture bait. As cattle turned into better dairy machines, as the city ate more ice cream, butterscotch-crunch, nutty-buddy and chocolate-chip, as it drank more mango milkshake, vultures' necks began to droop as though they were tired and simply couldn't stay awake. Silver beards of saliva dripped from their beaks, and one by one they tumbled off their branches, dead.
Not many noticed the passing of the friendly old birds. There was so much else to look forward to.
-Arundhati Roy, the prelude to The Ministry of Utmost Happiness
She lived in the graveyard like a tree. At dawn she saw the crows off and welcomed the bats home. At dusk she did the opposite. Between shifts she conferred with the ghosts of vultures that loomed in her high branches. She felt the gentle grip of their talons like an ache in an amputated limb. She gathered they weren't altogether unhappy at having excused themselves and exited from the story.
-Arundhati Roy, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness
...................................................of our age. Do follow the link, and, please, take the time to read Sullivan's essay. I'd call it mighty important. A few wee excerpts:
The project of American democracy — to live beyond such tribal identities, to construct a society based on the individual, to see ourselves as citizens of a people’s republic, to place religion off-limits, and even in recent years to embrace a multiracial and post-religious society — was always an extremely precarious endeavor.
Tribalism, it’s always worth remembering, is not one aspect of human experience. It’s the default human experience. It comes more naturally to us than any other way of life. For the overwhelming majority of our time on this planet, the tribe was the only form of human society.
Perhaps I’m biased because I’m an individual by default. I’m gay but Catholic, conservative but independent, a Brit but American, religious but secular. What tribe would ever have me? I may be an extreme case, but we all are nonconformist to some degree. Nurturing your difference or dissent from your own group is difficult; appreciating the individuality of those in other tribes is even harder. It takes effort and imagination, openness to dissent, even an occasional embrace of blasphemy.
And, at some point, we also need mutual forgiveness.
Sunday, September 24, 2017
Out through the fields and the woods
And over the walls I have wended;
I have climbed the hills of view
And looked at the world, and descended;
I have come by the highway home,
And lo, it is ended.
The leaves are all dead on the ground,
Save those that the oak is keeping
To ravel them one by one
And let them go scraping and creeping
Out over the crusted snow,
When others are sleeping.
And the dead leaves lie huddled and still,
No longer blown hither and thither;
The last lone aster is gone;
The flowers of the witch hazel wither;
The heart is still aching to seek,
But the feet question "Whither?"
Ah, when to the heart of man
Was it ever less than a treason
To go with the drift of things,
To yield with a grace to reason,
And bow and accept the end
Of a love or a season?
-Robert Frost, Reluctance