Friday, March 6, 2020
I love the ability to think rationally and form my own opinions too much to expose myself to the drivel that comes from most of the main stream media these days. I swear listening to it too long or too hard can cause you to lose IQ points, especially when they start taking politics.
-as culled from here
Thursday, March 5, 2020
Wednesday, March 4, 2020
Your soul is oftentimes a battlefield, upon which your reason and your judgment wage war against your passion and your appetite.
Would that I could be the peacemaker in your soul, that I might turn the discord and the rivalry of your elements into oneness and melody,
But how shall I, unless you yourselves be also the peacemakers, nay, the lovers of all your elements?
-Kahlil Gibran, from his passage on Reason and Passion in The Prophet
If you want to summarize the changes in family structure over the past century, the truest thing to say is this: We've made life freer for individuals and more unstable for families. We've made life better for adults but worse for children. We've moved from big, interconnected, and extended families, which helped protect the most vulnerable people in society from the shocks of life, to smaller, detached nuclear families (a married couple with their children), which give the most privileged people in society room to maximize their talents and expand their options. The shift from bigger and interconnected extended families to smaller and detached nuclear families ultimately led to a familial system that liberates the rich and ravages the working-class and poor.
-David Brooks, from his recent essay, The Nuclear Family Was a Mistake
Being wrong and yet confident is a good description of the human condition. And it isn't hard to understand why we are this way. Our consistent wrongness has a lot to do with the fact that the world is a complicated place and it is hard to predict what will happen next. Yet we are continually forced to predict the future in both big and small ways because otherwise we wouldn't know what we should be doing at any given moment. We get the easy stuff right, such as knowing we'll want a beverage if we eat pretzels. But when it comes to big, complicated, long-term predictions, we're not equipped with the psychic powers required to know how the future turns out. We also can't stop ourselves from imagining we do know how things will work out. I'm not the exception. Neither are you.
-Scott Adams, Loserthink: How Untrained Brains Are Ruining America
Tuesday, March 3, 2020
56. Take it that you have died today, and your life's story is ended; and henceforward regard what further time may be given you as an uncovenanted surplus, and live it out in harmony with nature.
-Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Book Seven
Whatever the technological advances of modern society—and they're nearly miraculous—the individualized lifestyles that those technologies spawn seem to be deeply brutalizing to the human spirit.
"You'll have to be prepared to say that we are not a good society—that we are an antihuman society," anthropologist Sharon Abramowitz warned when I tried this idea out on her. Abramowitz was in Ivory Coast as a Peace Corps volunteer during the start of the civil war in 2002 and experienced firsthand the close bonds created by hardship and danger. "We are not good to each other. Our tribalism is to an extremely narrow group of people: our children, our spouse, maybe our parents. Our society is alienating, technical, cold, and mystifying. Our fundamental desire, as human beings, is to be close to others, and our society does not allow for that."
-Sebastian Junger, Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging
Monday, March 2, 2020
..................wasn't survival of the fittest, it was the survival of the most adaptable. For a long while now, us pesky humans have had the ability to adapt to most everything. Not sure why that won't continue.
The human brain evolved in an environment that was local and linear. Local, meaning most everything that we interacted with was less than a day's walk away. Linear, meaning the rate of change was exceptionally slow. Your great-great-great-grandfather's life was roughly the same as his great-great-grandson's life. But now we live in a world that is global and exponential. Global, meaning if it happens on the other side of the planet, we hear about it seconds later (and our computers hear about it only milliseconds later). Exponential, meanwhile, refers to today's blitzkrieg speed of development. Forget about the difference between generations, currently mere months can bring a revolution. Yet our brain—which hasn't really had a hardware update in two hundred thousand years—wasn't designed for this scale or speed.
-Peter H. Diamadis and Steven Kotler, The Future Is Faster Than You Think: How Converging Technologies Are Transforming Business, Industries, and Our Lives
In such a world, where truth routinely loses to emotion-based click-bait versions of reality, how can you know what is true and what is not? And more importantly, how can you act for the greater good—or even your own good—when you can't reliably sort the truth from the lies?
If you buy into the full-scary narratives promoted by either the political left or the political right, you're probably experiencing loserthink. A more useful way to think of the political news is that nearly every major story is exaggerated to the point of falsehood, with the intention of scaring the public. If you think the frightened feeling you are getting from the news is legitimate and appropriate, you probably don't understand how the business model of news has changed
-Scott Adams, Loserthink, How Untrained Brains Are Ruining America
It’s in our DNA to feel fear when threatened—but, we have to first recognize it, then control it before it controls us. Once we lose control, it’s game over.
-from this blog post reminding us it is never time to panic
...............an interesting essay from Robert D. Kaplan about trade, the Silk Road, the Indian Ocean and the durability of imperialism. His happy conclusion:
Moreover, Al-Duqm was built in the expectation that the U.S. 5th Fleet soon will want a more secure harbor than those available inside the Gulf. Al-Duqm, which shrinks the Eurasian trading system down to one port complex, is a monument to pessimism: It assumes future conflict and the instability that comes with connectivity.
Sunday, March 1, 2020
The technological change that broke the news business was our ability to measure audience reaction to every headline and every variation of every story. Once you can reliably measure the income potential of different approaches to the news, people who manage the news have to do what works best for profitability or else they are abandoning their responsibilities to shareholders. On top of that, executive compensation is determined by profit performance. From the moment technology allowed us to know which kinds of content influenced viewership the most, the old business model of the news industry was dead media walking. From that point through today, the business model of the press changed from presenting information to manipulating brains.
-Scott Adams, Loserthink: How Untrained Brains Are Ruining America
Curiously, and overstating the point in order to make it, the pursuit of success can be a catalyst for failure. Put another way, success can distract us from focusing on the essential things that produce success in the first place.
We can see this everywhere around us. In his book How The Mighty Fall, Jim Collins explores what went wrong in companies that were once darlings of Wall Street but later collapsed. He finds that for many, falling into the "undisciplined pursuit of more" was a key reason for failure.
-Greg McKeown, essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
We, as human beings, are landed with memories which have fallibilities, frailties, and imperfections—but also great flexibility and creativity. Confusion over sources or indifference to them can be a paradoxical strength: if we could tag the sources of all our knowledge, we would be overwhelmed with often irrelevant information. Indifference to source allows us to assimilate what we read, what we are told, what others say and thing and write and paint, as intensely and richly as if they were primary experiences. It allows us to see and hear with other eyes and ears, to enter into other minds, to assimilate the art and science and religion of the whole culture, to enter into and contribute to the common mind. Memory arises not only from experience but from the intercourse of many minds.
-Oliver Sacks, The River Of Consciousness, from the chapter The Fallibility of Memory
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.
-From the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer (as read aloud here by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry)
Huis clos made Sartre famous, and it is another instance of the unrivaled power of the theatre to project ideas. But, oddly enough, it was through the old-fashioned forum of the public lecture that Sartre became world-famous, indeed notorious, a monstre sacré. Within a year of the play's opening France was at peace. Everyone, especially youth, was catching up greedily on the lost cultural years and searching for the post-war elixir of truth. The Communists and the new-born Catholic Social Democrats (MRP) were fighting a fierce battle for paramountcy on the campus. Sartre used his new philosophy to offer an alternative: not a church or a party but a challenging doctrine of individualism in which each human being is seen as the absolute master of his soul if he chooses to follow the path of action and courage. It was a message of liberty after the totalitarian nightmare. . . .
Nothing is so powerful, Victor Hugo had laid down, as an idea whose time has come. Sartre's time had come in two distinct ways. He was preaching freedom to people who were hungry and waiting for it. But it was not an easy freedom. "Existentialism," says Sartre, "defines man by his actions . . . It tells him that hope lies only in action, and that the only thing that allows man to live is action." So, "Man commits himself to his life, and thereby draws his image, beyond which there is nothing." The new European of 1945, Sartre said, was the new existentialist individual—"alone, without excuses. This is what I mean when I say we are condemned to be free." So Sartre's new existential freedom was immensely attractive to a disillusioned generation: lonely, austere, noble, slightly aggressive, not to say violent, and anti-elitist, popular—no one was excluded. Anyone, but especially the young, could be an existentialist.
-Paul Johnson, Intellectuals: From Marx And Tolstoy To Sartre And Chomsky
The world was entering a period of environmental change. In Europe, this was evidenced by rising sea levels and the emergence of malaria in the North Sea region. While in Asia from the start of the fourth century sharply reduced salinity in the Aral Sea, markedly different vegetation on the steppes (evident from high-resolution pollen analyses) and new patterns of glacier advances in Tian Shan range all show fundamental shifts in global climatic change.
-Peter Frankopa, The Silk Roads: A New History Of The World