November 30, 2008

Old, wise

Reading parts of Reveries and taking Rousseau's feeling for plants at face value, getting that they're the old, wise ones. It's probably not what he meant, but why not think it for a while?

November 29, 2008

Over and gone

four stroke
Everything depends on opinion; ambition, luxury, greed, hark back to opinion. It is according to opinion that we suffer. A man is as wretched as he has convinced himself that he is. I hold that we should do away with complaint about past sufferings and with all language like this: “None has ever been worse off than I. What sufferings, what evils have I endured! No one has thought that I shall recover. How often have my family bewailed me, and the physicians given me over! Men who are placed on the rack are not torn asunder with such agony!” However, even if all this is true, it is over and gone. What benefit is there in reviewing past sufferings, and in being unhappy, just because once you were unhappy? Besides, every one adds much to his own ills, and tells lies to himself. And that which was bitter to bear is pleasant to have borne; it is natural to rejoice at the ending of one’s ills.

November 25, 2008

The same life as Napoleon

Joe Rogan and friend watch people get extreme kicks

What counts is perhaps the feeling and the thought.

I'm not an extreme sports guy. I get my thrills elsewhere, with the point being that I still get them. I think I have a low threshold for the onset of certain sensations. I am easily amused.

There are many traps to fall into simply by doing what feels good and then doing it again, twice as much. Possibly this is starting from mistaken first principles. The goal is not the act itself, but the feeling and the thought.

Another angle. I live the same life as Napoleon or anyone else, different in only trivial aspects.

Related post: Hard, and then harder

November 24, 2008

Hands on misery

Mean squares 3.3

Seeing parents with children usually makes me feel sad. It looks like another deal that doesn't work as advertised, and both sides of it seem like a nightmare. People like me are not supposed to start a family.

November 21, 2008

Magical thinking vs. narrative fallacy

Mean Squares 3.1

If I was more inclined to shamanic thought I'd write about how this year it's often just been necessary to think something for it happen, but I know that isn't true.

Still, my last day at work was planned for December 19th, and then I was hoping that I'd get taken off the schedule and asked to leave early, since I'm tired of the show and also my thinking about getting more proofreading has lead to a stack of papers and files to go through. Then I find out that my last day will be November 30th, and the three weeks before my UK trip will be relative ease and swimming and things.

From then on out it's no boss and no outside schedule for as long as possible, and I've been training for the early starts and finishes and bursts of productivity that I want to have, getting the habits down so that little thought / opposition is involved. It appears to take a certain amount of submission to be free.
But Sisyphus teaches the higher fidelity that negates the gods and raises rocks. He too concludes that all is well. This universe henceforth without a master seems to him neither sterile nor futile. Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night-filled mountain, in itself forms a world. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.
Albert Camus, The Myth of Sysiphus [pdf version]
Meanwhile, I know a guy who's tormented by a desire to free of any yoke and servitude, and yet, or consequently, cannot work at any job long enough or hard enough to set in motion any plans that'd a) in the short-term, end his paycheck to paycheck existence, and b) in the longer-term, have enough f***-you $ to go home and rest after quitting his job again, instead of starting a panicky search for another one.

Related post: The same guy in Misdirected anger

November 19, 2008

Create your own world

Mean Squares 1.0

Douglas Rushkoff gives a talk at the Institute of General Semantics, Don't Change Your Self, Change the World, basically a riff on this line from an earlier post:
All the people that created traditions, that created countries, and created rules. All them fuckers are dead. Why don't you create your own world while you got the chance?
Bill Hicks, dressed as Elvis, here.

November 17, 2008

Big fat lie

...if researchers seek to study something less costly and more controllable, they end up studying experimental situations so oversimplified that their results may have nothing to do with reality. This then leads to a research literature so vast that it's possible to find at least some published research to support virtually any theory.
Gary Taubes What if it's all been a big fat lie? [2002 NY Times article on low carb beating low fat]
Good interview on the writing, publishing and aftermath of the article
I like the fact that the primal / paleo lifestyle is based on asserting affinity with our early ancestors. Back to the first hominids and back to the first life of all. We are family - the genetic potential of a long series of lucky individuals playing out against the blades of the environment.

Related link: What's the difference between Primal and Paleo? at Mark's Daily Apple

November 13, 2008

The smartest man in the world

I am closer to absolute truth than any man has been before me

I'm not a tall man, not even up to average, just 165cm in socks. I'm one of those oblivious little men, like a small dog that doesn't understand it's appears ridiculous snapping at heels and trotting fast to keep up, and it's much the same with my limited intelligence and application.

I live in Asia, so often I'll meet a man shorter than me and I'll flash, primate style, he's barely human. A lot less often I'll meet someone who is obviously much dumber than I am, and I'll be amazed at how their mind works / doesn't work, and this is exactly how people who are smarter feel when they meet me.

Now, the next person who is smarter than me is no genius, and nor is the next person smarter than them. The person after the next person after the person after the person after the next person after the person after that, well they might be something special, but Chris Langan is still likely to view them as a mental midget. Mr Langan is billed as the smartest man in the world, with the hook being that he's held a series of blue collar jobs and has no widely recognized achievements commensurate with his high IQ [around 200]. The videos embedded here are the Errol Morris profile, and as usual, he does well. There's a creeping sense of horror as the movie runs on, and whatever it sets out to do I think it does, but I don't want to give away the ending.

What makes you think I want to be in these environments?


November 08, 2008

Why I am so chaste, revisited

December 19th is my last day at work, then a three week vacation in England, then back and working alone in my own time. Down from 3+ hrs a day paid top dog / social exchange with young women to zero, with prediction #1 being that I should see a rapid descent into pathetic lechery, and possibly something of a less glossy coat.

The brain sits enclosed in silence and darkness, but the last thing it'll flash with as I'm hit by a vehicle will be a woman I can't believe.

Prediction #2 is that I make some effort to fill the social gap, although unsure in what form, and possibly I'll find there's no gap to be filled.

I've found my niche, and while a dung beetle has one too, there's no arguing with such things. If it works the only thing to do is embed, but still ready to shift when the time comes and things begin to fall, not apart, but into another place.

Meanwhile, our cat recovers from an illness and continues to grow old gracefully.

Related posts:
Why I am so chaste
Monkey in a man suit top dog = glossy coat

The Onion:
I finally figured out how to impress high school girls

November 06, 2008

The Book of Disquiet, text 30

Mean Squares 3.4

Yesterday they told me that the assistant in the tobacconist's had committed suicide, I couldn't believe it. Poor lad, so he had existed too!
No, other people don't exist... It is for me alone that the setting sun holds out its heavy wings of harsh, misty colors. It is for me alone, even though I cannot see its waters flowing, that the wide river glitters beneath the sunset. It is for me alone that this open square was built looking out over the river and its turning tide. Was it today that the tobacconist's assistant was buried in a common grave? Today's sunset is not for him. But, even as I'm thinking that, quite against my will I suddenly understand that it's not for me either.
More from Pessoa's The Book of Disquiet.

November 04, 2008

More than impulse and caprice

Burst 1.0
We think of intelligence as a deliberate, conscious activity guided by the laws of logic. Yet much of our mental life is unconscious, based on processes alien to logic: gut feelings, or intuitions. In his lecture Dr Gigerenzer argues that intuition is more than impulse and caprice; it has its own rationale. This can be described by fast and frugal heuristics, which exploit evolved abilities in our brain. Heuristics ignore information and try to focus on the few important reasons. He shows that biased minds that intuitively rely of heuristics can make better inferences about the world than information-greedy statistical algorithms. More information, more time, even more thinking, are not always better, and less can be more.
Full talk by Dr Gigerenzer at the London School of Economics here.
A good talk, if only [but not only] for explaining how outfielders run and catch the ball.

November 02, 2008

The Book of Disquiet, text 191

It isn't true that life is painful, or that it's painful to think about life. What is true is that our pain is only as serious and important as we pretend it to be. If we lived naturally, it would pass as quickly as it came, it would fade as quickly as it bloomed. Everything is nothing, and our pain is no exception.
More from Pessoa's The Book of Disquiet.
A while ago I was in a restaurant having lunch, and nearby was a table with four American girls in their early twenties, really lively and fun, and there was nothing about them I didn't like. And I realized that it had been a long time since I'd been sitting at table like that, and I couldn't remember the last time I'd had a long or lively conversation in English with anyone who wasn't a student. But I think that'll change in the new year, because I can feel the current system underlying things starting to give way, and it feels good to be easing into another, as yet unknown, way of being / critical state.

I don't believe in magical thinking, but rather in attention and forgetfulness, things unfolding and then more comes along. There's a certain level of idiocy that comes with this, but I've plenty of down time to dwell on random things. Like the idea that we're closely related to ragworms.

What works at the moment is health, frugality, attention and forgetfulness.