Saturday, February 29, 2020
..........................................................the new killer app.
It's called Off. You've probably heard of it. It's been around for a while. Remarkably, it's already built into everything. Off has been included, free of charge, on most of the devices vying for your mind-time. You don't need to watch a video tutorial to take advantage of Off. But you do need to practice.
The improver of natural knowledge absolutely refuses to acknowledge authority, as such. For him, scepticism is the highest of duties; blind faith the one unpardonable sin. And it cannot be otherwise, for every great advance in natural knowledge has involved the absolute rejection of authority, the cherishing of the keenest scepticism, the annihilation of the spirit of blind faith; and the most ardent votary of science holds his firmest convictions, not because the men he most venerates hold them; not because their verity is testified by portents and wonders; but because his experience teaches him that whenever he chooses to bring these convictions into contact with their primary source, Nature — whenever he thinks fit to test them by appealing to experiment and to observation — Nature will confirm them. The man of science has learned to believe in justification, not by faith, but by verification.
Science has taught... me to be careful how I adopt a view which jumps with my preconceptions, and to require stronger evidence for such belief than for one to which I was previously hostile. My business is to teach my aspirations to conform themselves to fact, not to try and make facts harmonise with my aspirations.
Science seems to me to teach in the highest and strongest manner the great truth which is embodied in the Christian conception of entire surrender to the will of God. Sit down before fact as a little child, be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever and to whatever abysses nature leads, or you shall learn nothing. I have only begun to learn content and peace of mind since I have resolved at all risks to do this.
The great tragedy of Science — the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact.
The only medicine for suffering, crime, and all the other woes of mankind, is wisdom.
-These quotes, and more, from Thomas Henry Huxley are available to all here
Simply put, cultures that do not cherish their best selves die by their own hand. We protect what we are grateful for. That which we resent, we leave out for the trash man or let rot and decay in the elements, as the termites of human nature gnaw away at it. Ingratitude is the spirit that inebriates us with despair and, in our dark moments, makes suicide seem heroic.
"From whence shall we expect the approach of danger?" asked Abraham Lincoln. "Shall some trans-Atlantic military giant step the earth and crush us at a blow? Never. All the armies of Europe and Asia . . . could not by force take a drink from the Ohio River or make a track in the Blue Ridge in the trial of a thousand years. No, if destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of free men we will live forever or die by suicide."
-Jonah Goldberg, Suicide Of The West: How The Rebirth Of Tribalism, Populism, Nationalism, And Identity Politics Is Destroying American Democracy
Professor C. John Sommerville, author of How the News Makes Us Dumb: The Death of Wisdom in an Information Society, saw this coming two decades ago, in 1999, when "tweeting" was still something only birds did: "If news were just one of many things we read each day, it wouldn't have the same impact. If we would read science, the classics, history, theology or political theory at any length, we would make much better sense of today's events."
-Ben Sasse, Them: Why We Hate Each Other—And How To Heal
Ed. Note: A short cut to all that reading would be to just check in regularly with these nice folks
Thursday, February 27, 2020
Cicero says that to philosophize is nothing else but to prepare for death. This is because study and
contemplation draw our soul out of us to some extent and keep it busy outside the body, which is a sort of apprenticeship and semblance of death. Or else because all the wisdom and reasoning in the world boils down finally to this point: to teach us not to be afraid to die. In truth, either reason is a mockery, or it must aim solely at our contentment, and the sum of its labors must tend to make us live well and at our ease, as the Holy Scripture says. All the opinions in the world agree on this—that pleasure is our goal—though they choose different means to it. Otherwise they would be thrown out right away; for who would listen to a man who would set up our pain and discomfort as his goal?
-Michel De Montaigne, The Complete Works, Book 1, Chapter 20
Wednesday, February 26, 2020
Our upbringing was also filled with the hazards of an unconventional life. Our parents never set out to put us in danger, of course; they would have defended us from anything, died before they let us be harmed. But they would not shelter us. To shelter us where we grew up would have been to fail to prepare us. They walked that line as best they could, and all too often they got it wrong. But in the end we survived all we ever faced, and we came out strong and largely unafraid of life, with the full knowledge of its dangers.
-Boyd Varty, Cathedral of the Wild
You’re Likely to Get the Coronavirus
Most cases are not life-threatening, which is also what makes the virus a historic challenge to contain.
-The headline to this James Hamblin, MD article in The Atlantic
When I think the politics of nominating a president in the United States are crazy, I mean institutionally crazy. This is not “revolt of the public” crazy. It’s institutionally crazy. It’s kind of hard to get a sense of what the hell actually is happening there. But if I were to make a guess, that’s exactly right. I think many layers of the public want a disruptor; they don’t like the elite class to feel comfortable and smug. So they elect people like Trump, who that seems to be his job in life, or they settle on somebody like Bernie, who’s a real disruptor. I mean, God help us. He’s what he is and has always been so. Warren is much more of a . . . Well, I think for this election, this is who I’m going to be. And the public can sniff that out in a minute, I think, in this environment.
-As culled from this conversation with Arnold Kling
The Skirball Cultural Center sits just off the 405 Freeway, on the northern edge of Los Angeles. Built atop the thin spin of the Santa Monica Mountains, the Center offers spectacular views in nearly every direction, except for the freeway below—which is bumper-to-bumper for miles on end.
Of course it is.
In 2018, for the sixth straight year, Los Angeles earned the dubious honor of being the most gridlocked metropolis in the world, where the average driver spends two-and-a-half working weeks a year trapped in traffic. Yet help may be on its way. In May 2018, the Skirball Center was ground zero for Uber Elevate, the ridesharing company's radical plan for solving this traffic: their second annual flying car conference.
-Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler, The Future Is Faster Than You Think: How Converging Technologies Are Transforming Business, Industries, and Our Lives
Ed. Note: For what it's worth, a traffic jam in our fair city is when the traffic signal cycles twice before you get through it. It is likely that we all define the "quality of life" differently.
Sunday, February 23, 2020
Keep constant guard over your perceptions, for it is no small thing you are protecting, but your respect, trustworthiness and steadiness, peace of mind, freedom from pain and fear, in a word your freedom. For what would you sell these things?
-Epictetus, Discourses, 4.3
He is as quiet and unassuming as ever, a true still life, yet he reminds me that most true acts of heroism—reflections of one's deepest nature—remain unknown to the hero.
Boyd Varty, Cathedral of the Wild: An African Journey Home
Every great, successful person I know shares the capacity to remain centered, clear and powerful in the midst of emotional "storms." How do they accomplish this? Most of them have a fundamental rule: In life, never spend more than 10 percent of your time on the problem, and spend at least 90 percent of your time on the solution.
-Anthony Robbins, Awaken The Giant Within