............................when Doug Fine is doing his blogging thing.
Saturday, June 2, 2018
Friday, June 1, 2018
“You see," he explained, "I consider that a man's brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things, so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it. Now the skilled workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work, but of these he has a large assortment, and all in the most perfect order. It is a mistake to think that that little room has elastic walls and can distend to any extent. Depend upon it there comes a time when for every addition of knowledge you forget something that you knew before. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones.”
-Arthur Conan Doyle, channeling Sherlock Holmes in A Study in Scarlet
That evolution should select for larger brains may seem to us like, well, a no-brainer. ...
The fact is that a jumbo brain is a jumbo drain on the body. It's not easy to carry around, especially when encased inside a massive skull. It's even harder to fuel. In Homo Sapiens, the brain accounts for about 2-3 per cent of total body weight, but it consumer 25 per cent of the body's energy when the body is at rest. By comparison, the brains of other apes require only 8 per cent of rest-time energy. Archaic humans paid for their large brains in two ways. Firstly, they spent more time in search of food. Secondly, their muscles atrophied. Like a government diverting money from defence to education, humans diverted energy from biceps to neurons. It's hardly a foregone conclusion that this is a good strategy for survival on the savannah. A chimpanzee can't win an argument with a Homo Sapiens, but the ape can rip the man apart like a rag doll.
Today our big brains pay off nicely, because we can produce cars and guns that enable us to move much faster than chimps, and shoot them from a distance instead of wrestling. But cars and guns are a recent phenomenon. For more than 2 million years, human neural networks kept growing and growing, but apart from some flint knives and pointed sticks, humans had precious little to show for it. What then drove forward the evolution of the massive human brain during those 2 million years? Frankly, we don't know.
-Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
Thursday, May 31, 2018
Experience in the markets is often overrated. Talent and intelligence are also overrated. Temperament, patience, self-awareness, humility, discipline and process are all extremely underrated.
-Ben Carlson, as taken from here
For such is the stuff that man is made of: in principle and in practice, in a right track and in a wrong one, the rarest of all human qualities is consistency.
-Jeremy Bentham, from An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, Chapter 1:12
Ernest was at first in doubt whether it would be right for him to assist at religious services more than he was actually compelled to do, but the pleasure of playing the organ, and the privileges which the post involved, made him see excellent reasons for not riding consistency to death. Having, then, once introduced an element of inconsistency into his system, he was far too consistent not to be inconsistent consistently, and he lapsed ere long into an amiable indifferentism...
-Samuel Butler, as lifted from Chapter 68 in The Way Of All Flesh
A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. — 'Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.' — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson, from his essay Self-Reliance
Wednesday, May 30, 2018
It is our good fortune to live in an age when philosophy is thought to be a harmless affair. As the autumn of 1676 approached, however, Baruch de Spinoza had ample reason to fear for his safety. One of his friends had recently been executed, and another had died in prison. His efforts to publish his definitive work, the Ethics, had come to an end amid threats of criminal prosecution. A leading French theologian named him "the most impious and the most dangerous man of the century." A powerful bishop denounced him as "that insane and evil man, who deserves to be covered with chains and whipped with a rod." To the general public, he was known simple as "the atheist Jew."
Among those who seemed eager to bring the infidel philosopher to justice was a young courtier and polymath named Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. In a personal letter to that same French theologian, Leibniz described Spinoza's work as "horrible" and "terrifying." To a famous professor, he called it "intolerably impudent." To a friend he confided, "I deplore that a man of such evident culture should have fallen so low."
-Matthew Steward, Courtier and the Heretic: Leibniz, Spinoza, and the Fate of God in the Modern World
“If you want the present to be different from the past, study the past.”
“The superstitious know how to reproach people for their vices better than they know how to teach them virtues, and they strive, not to guide men by reason, but to restrain them by fear, so that they flee the evil rather than love virtues. Such people aim only to make others as wretched as they themselves are, so it is no wonder that they are generally burdensome and hateful to men.”
“No matter how thin you slice it, there will always be two sides.”
“He who seeks to regulate everything by law is more likely to arouse vices than to reform them. It is best to grant what cannot be abolished, even though it be in itself harmful. How many evils spring from luxury, envy, avarice, drunkenness and the like, yet these are tolerated because they cannot be prevented by legal enactments.”
“The highest activity a human being can attain is learning for understanding, because to understand is to be free.”
“I do not know how to teach philosophy without becoming a disturber of the peace.”
-as culled from here
What are the chances that the busiest person you know is actually the most productive? We tend to associate busyness with goodness and believe that spending many hours at work should be rewarded.
Instead, evaluate what you are doing, why you are doing it, and where accomplishing it will take you. If you don't have a good answer, then stop.
-Ryan Holiday, from today's entry in The Daily Stoic
I have found triangulating with highly believable people who are willing to have thoughtful disagreements has never failed to enhance my learning and sharpen the quality of my decision making. It typically leads me to make better decisions than I could have otherwise and it typically provides me with thrilling learning. I urge you to do it.
To do it well, be sure to avoid the common perils of: 1) valuing your own believability more than is logical and 2) not distinguishing between who is more or less credible.
-Ray Dalio, Principles
Tuesday, May 29, 2018
Bob Dylan...........................................All Along The Watchtower
Dylan released his John Wesley Harding album in December of 1967. All Along The Watchtower, from that album, was a hit single in 1968. Jimi Hendrix made it his own, as has The Dave Matthews Band.
Clearly this video is much later in time than 1968, but beggars can't be choosers.
On a hike in East Africa 2 million years ago, you might well have encountered a familiar cast of human characters: anxious mothers cuddling their babies and clutches of carefree children playing in the mud; temperamental youths chafing against the dictates of society and weary elders who just wanted to be left in peace; chest-thumping machos trying to impress the local beauty and wise old matriarchs who had already seen it all. These archaic humans loved, played, formed close friendships and competed for status and power - but so did chimpanzees, baboons and elephants. There was nothing special about humans. Nobody, least of all humans themselves, had any inkling that their descendants would one day walk on the moon, split the atom, fathom the genetic code and write history books. The most important thing to know about prehistoric humans is that they were insignificant animals with no more impact on their environment than gorillas, fireflies or jellyfish.
-Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
Monday, May 28, 2018
"The first thing to do - don't get worked up. For everything happens according to the nature of all things, and in a short time you'll be nobody and nowhere, even as the great emperors Hadrian and Augustus are now. The next thing to do - consider the task at hand for what it is, while remembering that your purpose is to be a good human being. Get straight to doing what nature requires of you, and speak as you see most fitting - with kindness, modesty, and sincerity."
-Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
"The one thing I do know with reasonable certainty is this; no progress towards sanity can possibly be made if probing (meaning cognitively disturbing) out-of-the-box questions are not asked and an honest attempt made to answer."
-as culled from this "stupid is as stupid does" post