Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Rats! Mother Nature's dearest children

I asked my daughter to help with the bait for the rat traps. She smeared peanut butter on Italian cheese. It actually looked like a fairly tasty treat, but I was simply going to smear it on the trigger of a rat trap, hoping not to snap my fingers.

ssttt! little baby-mouse, sleeping on my hand

We have rats in our attic. It is gross, a 6'1" 260 lb dude scrabbling all up in the rafters of the attic, praying he (me) will not fall through the ceiling, me scrabbling amongst the rat dropping, setting rat traps with my shaky arthritic hands.

But I admire rats. Nobody takes care of them, they have to take care of themselves. But after humans kill themselves with climate change or nuclear war or both, rats will still be scurrying. And squeaking.

That is a FINE DESIGN. Rats never put on airs, they just be stuffing their face with cheese and pooping in my attic.

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

No right to the outcome, only a right to the work

Carpenter at work on Douglas Dam, Tennessee (T...Image by The Library of Congress via Flickr
Copying from my urinal journal...

I want to write about not having the right to the desired outcome - only having the right to the requisite work to reasonably expect that outcome.

So if you want to date a supermodel, and you plainly see that earning many millions of dollars per year will allow you to date a supermodel, then you have no right to the *outcome* of dating a supermodel, you only have the right to the *work* required so that you can reasonably expect to earn many millions of dollars per year.  And that is quite a bit of work of very high quality, to earn that much.

The desired outcome is only there to inform your choice and fuel your very early commitment, but after that you must rely on a moral drive that makes the full scope of work its own reward.

Or else you can expect only bitterness at the end, and tears.  Because the world cannot guarantee the outcome - you do not have to travel far to find someone who ran down a path that turned into a dead end pitfall at the very last moment.

The moral emotion that can do this can be developed by acting consistent with its presence.  "Fake it before you make it."  Activating the muscles actually grows the sympathetic thoughts, and then, after training, the thoughts then cause the activity itself.  So, act as if you already believe that the full scope of work is its own reward (and that amount of work may be staggering).  Act in accordance with the idea that the work is its own reward, and the moral emotion will be developed and that moral emotion will then drive the authentic action.
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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Positive Things to Embrace, for Perspective for Choice

I noticed that in my post yesterday:

Before attempt Rational Living - First Cast Aside Anxiety, Irritation, Negative Judgement

positiveImage by sdminor81 via Flickr
was completely stated negatively!  I only mentioned what I wanted to avoid, which is exactly the worst way to go about changing your focus.

So, stated *positively* I have:

Before attempt Rational Living - First Embrace --
  • Philosophical Security
  • Epicurean Delight
  • Graciousness - Tolerance - Accommodation
  • Being Informed by Honest Work.
Embrace these before, as a prerequisite for attempting Rational Effective Living -- attempting --
  • analysis
  • decision
  • commitment
  • action
  • rinse & repeat.
In detail:

Embrace Philosophical Security - this is the peace and security of the Stoic philosophers, such as found in Epictetus
Show me someone who is sick, and yet happy; in danger, and yet happy; dying, and yet happy; exiled, and yet happy; disgraced, and yet happy.  Show him to me, for, by the gods, I long to see a Stoic.
Embrace Epicurean Delight - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aponia
As with the other Hellenistic schools of philosophy, the Epicureans believed that the goal of human life is happiness. This was to be found in the tranquillity of spirit which resulted from aponia, suppression of physical pain, and ataraxia, elimination of mental disturbances.
In my mind it is taking enthralling happiness from the commonest of physical experiences, like a breath of morning air, or a sip of cold pure water.

Gracious/UngraciousImage by TheGiantVermin via Flickr
Embrace Graciousness - Tolerance - Accommodation - for other people and outside things, offer them all graciousness, tolerance, accommodation.

Embrace Being Informed by Honest Work - how wonderful to enter a situation being informed by honest work.  You can speak with understanding, assurance, and earned confidence.

I have a lot of practicing to do, to learn this skill!
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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Before attempt Rational Living - First Cast Aside Anxiety, Irritation, Negative Judgement

Tu Na - RespiraçãoImage via Wikipedia
I was thinking, as I got into the car, that, as a prerequisite for attempting Rational Effective Living -- attempting analysis, decision, commitment, action, rinse & repeat -- I must rid myself in appearence and rid myself in substance of:
  • Anxiety
  • Irritation
  • Negative Judgment of Others or Outside Things
... stated this way because casting away these debilitating things in substance follows casting away these debilitating things in appearance.  The appearance of calm and centeredness leads to fundamental integrity to the core with calm and centeredness.

I don't know if this is fundamental to everyone, but, for myself, Anxiety, Irritation, and Negative Judgment puts me in an incapable state.  These are the only things standing in my way, usually, in holding fast to calm and centeredness.

Negative Judgment of myself should not be chronic, because that, also, would lead to an incapable state.  I can use negative judgment of myself as a trigger -- as a part of the Analysis step of Rational Effective Living, because it will inform decisions about how to take action to improve myself, with moral emotional energy to maintain commitment.

Light Bulb Teapot, Variation #6, 1984, fired c...Image by cliff1066™ via Flickr
So, I will practice the skill of interrupting incapable states, using psychological techniques and techniques about physicality, to rid myself of Anxiety, Irritation, and Negative Judgment of Other or Outside Things.  And, then, I have the Space to perform Analysis, Decision, Commitment, Action.
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Sensory substitution, plasticity, and extended consciousness

Image via Wikipedia
Paper by Julian Kiverstein & Mirko Farina - University of Edinburgh

Sensory substitution, plasticity, and extended consciousness

{{de|Phrenologie}}Consider for instance a blind perceiver that has undergone training with a TVSS device so that he can use the device to perceive objects in his surrounding environment. The TVSS device produces activation in somatosensory cortex. After training however the perceiver doesn’t consciously feel the tactile stimulation the device is producing. Instead he undergoes experiences that in some way resemble vision.
We will argue that the perceiver does undergo some change in experience as a consequence of using the sensory substitution device (SSD), but we agree that is may be problematic to call it visual. Instead we will argue that SSDs make possible a new variety of experience only available to a perceiver trained up to use a sensory substitution device. ...

My excited (and probably naive) comment:

Astonishing. Could this be a way to study how new perception systems can come into being? An intermediary evolutionary step, for instance? First there was smell, then touch, then hearing, then vision, etc. Is this a framework to study how these each came online as a full featured system of perception?

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I'm assumed to be the leader, I just want to nap

"Explain why you'd rather pave the path or walk in it?" I just want to nap. But I am assumed to be the leader, usually. Why?

WUHAN, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 20:  A Tibetan mastif...Image by Getty Images via Daylife
1) I am Tall and meaty. I am built like a fullback. People are lazy and assign leadership to the tallest guy around, because the top of his head is easy to track, even with bobbing and weaving. Follow that tall dude!

2) I am Very surly. I always have a poopie-face on, so people assign leadership to me, just so that they don't have to deal with my surly poopie-face when I shout down their attempt to give me an order. If I am shouting out orders, at least they get some relief when I eventually leave the room.

3) I am a Bullshit artist. I begin almost all my spoken sentences without any knowledge of my eventual point. I am a fount of infinite plausible bullshit.

4) I am the Child of an Alcoholic, so I can tolerate extremely provoking, shocking, uncomfortable, and violent situations. I just storm into every situation, and raise the anxiety levels with abuse until I am the only one who can still bear to string a sentence together. That is my Super Power.

Rather Scary DudeImage by Rebecca L. Daily via Flickr
5) I actually care about Fairness and Fulfilling Human Potential and Validating Authentic Feelings. The other things make me a Good Leader, but this thing is why I am a Bad Leader. I actually care about Fairness and Fulfilling Human Potential and Validating Authentic Feelings, like a Girly-Man. Leaders should be complete psychopaths and sociopaths. People prefer psychopaths and sociopaths as leaders, and in that regard I always disappoint. When I open my fool mouth about Fairness and Fulfilling Human Potential and Validating Authentic Feelings, people know they can relax, because I will not be the leader for long. People hate hearing about Fairness and Fulfilling Human Potential and Validating Authentic Feelings because it is even more BORING than filling out a tax form. People actually prefer people who bulldoze over everyone, because then everyone is relieved of the burden of thoughtful consideration and honest heartfelt expression. Shut that BORING GIRLY-MAN up!

Taken all together, this is why I am constantly interrupted when I am just looking for a soft place to lie down, even though I don't want to lead, and nobody really wants me to lead. Put on the ol' poopie-face >:-{

Aside: what do I think is Human Potential?
About human potential - I am the rare breed of idiot that thinks people are entitled to the positive outcome based on their human potential - the potential from following a rational, moral, & emotionally honest strategy - probably while being dragged into it kicking and screaming and resisting it every step of the way -- a strategy that is likely to lead to dignity, fulfillment, mutually strengthening human relations, and inner peace.

In the past, this kind of idiot was tarred, feathered, drawn & quartered, because hanging was too good for them.

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Friday, February 12, 2010

Andrew Gelman and Climate Change Concern Trolling

New Troll and Old Troll (Front)Image by Dunechaser via Flickr
Andrew Gelman's blog [ http://www.stat.columbia.edu/~cook/movabletype/mlm/ ] has some of the best writing on climate change when Phillip Price submits a post [ see http://manuelmoeg.blogspot.com/2009/12/talking-about-climate-change-publishing.html ] and has some of the worst writing when Andrew Gelman himself posts.

Andrew Gelman seems to be sympathetic to conspiratorial thinking about the scientific culture around climate change.  My feeling is that in his own field of statistics, Bayesian techniques have been actively suppressed and misrepresented, so Gelman is open to the idea that investigators who don't see human global warming could be actively suppressed and misrepresented too.

Which is fine, if the arguments were not so lame.

(Anonymous concern troll says any paper contradicting Arrhenius' 1896 climate model is likely to be self suppressed. And if this is not the point of the anonymous question, what is?)
(Before Andrew Gelman steps onto a subway train, he ponders that the civil engineers that designed the train might be laboring under thoughts so stupid that they can only come from some aspect of the civil engineering consensus in a particularly ugly undigested form. And he is paralyzed by fits of panic. And if this is not the point of Gelman's "Beyond my limited sphere of scientific compresension, I dunno", what is?)

It could be more convincingly argued that:

(1) human activity is making an ice age less likely

(2) global warming skepticism and preference for inaction plays a semi-rational role in the debate, not because of the poor quality of their arguments, but as a brake against premature solutions:

365 Days - Day 71 - Hippy Tree HuggersImage by Auntie P via Flickr
Al Gore holding up a mercury light bulb in "An Inconvenient Truth",
Ed Begley, Jr. installing semiconductor solar panels to all exposed surfaces of his home,
the US government giving loans to Tesla electric cars

... all of which are very likely contributing to burning *more* fossil fuels, not less, because the total costs over those product's entire lifetime (including manufacturing plants that themselves burn fossil fuels, including safe disposal of wastes) are unrepresented by the relatively small price charged to consumers.  Better to tax fossil fuels in rich countries and spend that money on research placed in the public domain so even the poorest countries can benefit.  At a gradual rate of increase, so as to have minimum harm to productivity.

But, instead, we get lame concern trolling about scientific conspiracies.  I get the tiresome feeling that the global warming skeptics need to be saved from themselves, to have the people convinced by the scientific consensus to make their best arguments for them, because they cannon help but simply echo the last thing they heard from someone with a direct financial link to oil companies.  Tiresome.

My reply to the anonymous concern troll:

> If the prediction of a climate model is very much outside the consensus predictions, it is not likely to be published.

More arguing that climate science is a nonesuch science.  Taken to the logical extreme, we can argue that Einstein's papers on Special and General Relativity are not likely to be published (and that is why we still use epicycles today).  Taken to the logical extreme, we can posit that Alex Rodriguez is not likely to swing for the fences.  The blockbuster behavior of the players in the 99.999% percentile is poorly predicted by the tentative behavior of the average player.

Secondly, science publishing is not the only market for climate modeling.  Commodities traders and the reinsurance market for hedging risk on multi-year massive construction projects have a need for accurate climate modeling, because on those time scales a long range weather report would be worthless.  Those players are willing to leave millions on the table just so their hired gun scientists can parrot safe results that are unlikely to rattle tea cups at the next faculty function?  Unlikely.

I beg your forgiveness for the following snarkiness.  Can your anonymous concern troll name a single branch of science that has remained on a strictly linear trajectory since 1896?  Besides phrenology.

[ Edit 2/15/10 ]

The goalposts have been moved in the comments is Andrew Gelman's post on February 12.  It moved to always having the models subjected to a growing set of data, never casting out past data (good, good).  It moved to meta-analysis of all available models, over time (good, good).  It moved to the variance of published models compared to the subjective guessed distributions of the individual practicing scientists (fine, fine).  But where happened to the original claim "If the prediction of a climate model is very much outside the consensus predictions, it is not likely to be published."?

My comment submitted:
Marc Levy

> They find that if you ask climate experts to characterize their subjective best guess as to the distribution of key climate change parameters, you observe far more variance ... than you observe when you look at the distribution of all the climate model outputs.

This is to be expected, because no one would represent *any* model as perfectly describing reality - if it was perfect, it would no longer be a model, anymore.  Only pure mathematics has the benefit of being able to switch the analysis to a proved isomorphism that is easier to compute.  Every model is an adequate simplification, over a domain, and it is hoped the failure modes are understood so the model is not misused.  But the option of "proving" the model a perfect representation of reality is not available.

Useful scientific models typically give sharp results - sharper results than field readings, even counting for input precision or rounding in iteration, etc.  The models are useful *because* they give sharp results - or else you would have the perverse consequence of improving the usefulness of a model by adding slop into it to increase the variance.  A bound on the error is useful to track, but no one would actually mix in slop in a model to force the variance wider, even if the model's variance doesn't match field readings.

Any expert would know very well all the possible failure modes and other limitations of a particular model, that so their subjective guessed distribution would have greater variance than the considered model because of that knowledge.  The scientist possess what humans value as knowledge, the documented model cannot (and so scientists cannot be replaced with the models of their creation).  Why else might the variance be greater?  -- perhaps the scientist is in possession of they consider to be a better model, not yet published.  Or perhaps, the scientist is simply aware of the possibility of a better model.

The relatively uncontroversial model of satellite orbits is informative.  They are tighter because they, of course, consider fewer particles than Mother Nature is able to consider.  So they can consider events in the future, because they run faster than reality, and so they can run on economically available hardware.  No one would consider their tighter variance than the variance of observatory readings to be surprising, much less consider it a failure of the model.  Only if there was misrepresentation of best knowledge of the model's error bound, or failure modes, or applicable domain, and then, it would not be a failure of the model, it would be a misapplication by a human agent.

Can I note that the goalposts have been moved?  The original issue was "stabilizing feedback" and the original question contained the assertion "If the prediction of a climate model is very much outside the consensus predictions, it is not likely to be published."  There are other interesting issues to consider, but only after the parties admit that the goalposts have been moved and the focus of the argument shifted.
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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Anxiety and Coping Vs. Intention, Decision, Action

I have been in a peculiar state recently.  One of the things you notice after treatment of depression is that moods that would have completely left me incapacitated turn into moods that "merely" leave me in a unproductive state.  It is frustrating, because I have responsibilities that are being throttled down, and I am getting to practically nothing done.  But people, from the outside, cannot see much evidence anything is wrong.

When I don't fully acknowledge that I am in an incapable state, I often put the cart before the horse.  Recently, that means I have been contemplating "Intention, Decision, Action" when I should have been more honestly grappling with "Anxiety and Coping Vs. Intention, Decision, Action".

It has not been taking very much to put me into the teeth of anxiety, and I waste my day with coping mechanisms, like web surfing and being an indulgent nurse-maid to my own sinus headaches.

MALIBU, CA - MAY 23: Comedian Adam Carolla and...Serendipitously, the Adam Carolla Podcast with Marc Maron ended with a very interesting segment.


There was a caller who asked the basic question of "How do you get off your ass and do what you are supposed to do?"

Adam approached the problem as "this is a skill I don't yet possess, and I will develop it by continually challenging myself".

So, using that mentality, I should apply that to "Anxiety and Coping Vs. Intention, Decision, Action".

Breaking it down a bit:

* Acceptance of the anxiety I feel - even to the point of taking time to experience the full depth of it, so that I waste no energy on a persistent draining state of fruitless avoidance.
Acceptance and commitment therapy

  • Accept your reactions and be present
  • Choose a valued direction
  • Take action
ACT commonly employs six core principles to help clients develop psychological flexibility:
  1. Cognitive de-fusion: Learning to perceive thoughts, images, emotions, and memories as what they are, not what they appear to be.
  2. Acceptance: Allowing them to come and go without struggling with them.
  3. Contact with the present moment: Awareness of the here and now, experienced with openness, interest, and receptiveness.
  4. Observing the self: Accessing a transcendent sense of self, a continuity of consciousness which is changing.
  5. Values: Discovering what is most important to one's true self.
  6. Committed action: Setting goals according to values and carrying them out responsibly.
Horses on Bianditz mountain, in Navarre, Spain...

* practicing the skill of dialing down the anxiety level

* practicing the skill of interrupting the coping habitual wasteful activities

* practicing the skill of substituting in "Intention, Decision, Action"
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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Messy Haired Boy and the Un-Kicked Ass

Day 218: Messy hairImage by Brymo via Flickr
There was a boy, with messy hair. Too many fears, not many friends. Stuck in his head, crazy thoughts.

He needed an ass-kicking.

He got an education, of a sort. He avoided women and work and women.

He needed an ass-kicking.

The Universe saw he needed an ass-kicking. And stuck a shoe in.

The boy rubbed his ass, sobbing.

The boy has changed a bit, ass hurts a bunch, but yet some messy hair,
but yet some too many fears,
but yet some not many friends,
but yet some stuck in head,
but yet some crazy thoughts,
but yet some avoid women,
but yet some avoid work,
but yet some avoid women.

kick ass bootsImage by bunchofpants via Flickr
Boy is better, but not much better.

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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

How to screw in anything without jamming the threads

I learned this from the Adam Carolla Car Podcast


some poor guy jammed and stripped the threads of his oil drain plug. Here is how to screw in anything (works great for lightbulbs) without jamming the threads.

"Righty Tighty - Lefty Loosey"
First think "Righty Tighty - Lefty Loosey" so you remember how screws and bolts work.

Turn backworks in hole first "Lefty Loosey"
Don't use a tool at first, just with your hand make your first turn *backwards*. You are spinning the screw or nut backwards first, to make sure the threads are mating straight. You will feel the screw or nut rise up then "pop" back down - that is the exact place where the threads will mate perfectly. Now you are ready to screw.

Now screw forwards - hand tight first
Now that you found the place for the screws to mate by spinning backwards, now turn forwards "Righty Tighty" just hand tight. Don't use any tools. Turn it hand tight

Now use tool for final tightening
Finally, use a tool for the final tightening, and lock the screw or nut in place with the final 1/4 turn.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Forget the baby, happiness of Mommy & Daddy comes first

Err, take this with a grain of salt. I am not 100% what kind of frame of mind I am in, looking back at what I wrote.

Lovers embracing on the beach at sundown / sunset on Morro Strand State Beach 10 Jan 2010

A piece of paper that reads "Permission Granted to be happy - Happiness of parents trumps 'needs' of kids."

If you think you will be able to put your kid's needs before the happiness of you and your hubby-type, you are sadly mistaken, you are fooling yourself, you are setting your kid up to pay the price for your foolishness.

When you attempt to put somebody's else before your own happiness, it just builds resentment inside yourself that will spill out somewhere else. Putting someone else first - humans are just not wired that way. And when you act out of resentment from attempting to squash your own identity, your selfishness will burst out into something horrific and passive-aggressive and spiteful. Blech. Think about it - some of the most hideously self-centered people will not shut up about how "giving" they are - but it is always twisted and ultimately all done to feed their self-absorption.

Better to do some soul searching to find out what *really* gives you happiness and fulfillment. It will probably have nothing to do with the bullshit you see on Tee-Vee and the movies. Then you have a basis to build a parenting relationship upon.

Hey, forget the private school tuition if it will just lead to bottled-up resentment that will explode negatively. Have a more realistic view of your own human nature - being a parent does not make the laws of human nature disappear.

I may have to come back to this - I have a bad feeling I did not communicate well here. The relationship that my wife and I share with our daughter is based on pretty cool stuff - we can fall back on warmth and human care and interest. I hope no negative vibes are being bottled up.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Metacognition - thinking about thinking

Rendering of human brain.Image via Wikipedia
How to avoid temptation - impossible without practice in Metacognition - thinking about thinking; being aware of how your own mind works.

Sex Ed : Jonah Lehrer - The Frontal Cortex: "
The point is that we've been arming our kids with the wrong mental tools. Instead of giving them statistics, we need to provide them with the cognitive tools to deal with temptation. Instead of urging them to abstain, we need to show them how to abstain. There is no secret recipe for overcoming our 'hottest' urges, like sexual desire. But you could do worse than giving kids a short lesson in metacognition. I think Walter Mischel's work with four-year olds and marshmallows is relevant here:
At the time, psychologists assumed that children's ability to wait [to delay gratification for a second marshmallow] depended on how badly they wanted the marshmallow. But it soon became obvious that every child craved the extra treat. What, then, determined self-control? Mischel's conclusion, based on hundreds of hours of observation, was that the crucial skill was the 'strategic allocation of attention.' Instead of getting obsessed with the marshmallow--the 'hot stimulus'--the patient children distracted themselves by covering their eyes, pretending to play hide-and-seek underneath the desk, or singing songs from 'Sesame Street.' Their desire wasn't defeated--it was merely forgotten. 'If you're thinking about the marshmallow and how delicious it is, then you're going to eat it,' Mischel says. 'The key is to avoid thinking about it in the first place.'

Kurdish Children in SulaimaniaImage via Wikipedia

In adults, this skill is often referred to as metacognition, or thinking about thinking, and it's what allows people to outsmart their shortcomings. (When Odysseus had himself tied to the ship's mast, he was using some of the skills of metacognition: knowing he wouldn't be able to resist the Sirens' song, he made it impossible to give in.) Mischel's large data set from various studies allowed him to see that children with a more accurate understanding of the workings of self-control were better able to delay gratification. 'What's interesting about four-year-olds is that they're just figuring out the rules of thinking,' Mischel says. 'The kids who couldn't delay would often have the rules backwards. They would think that the best way to resist the marshmallow is to stare right at it, to keep a close eye on the goal. But that's a terrible idea. If you do that, you're going to ring the bell before I leave the room.'
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Patron Saint of Lost Causes - Cause for Hope

Jude the ApostleImage via Wikipedia
[ Jude the Apostle: Patron Saint of Lost Causes ]

Very interesting article in the Economist Jan 28th 2010

Scarcity and globalisation
A needier era
The politics of global disruption, and how they may change

The 2010s, it is sometimes said, will be an age of scarcity. The warning signs of change are said to be the food-price spike of 2007-08, the bid by China and others to grab access to oil, iron ore and farmland and the global recession. The main problems of scarcity are water and food shortages, demographic change and state failure. How will that change politics?


[... A] report for the Brookings Institution, a think-tank in Washington, DC, and the Centre on International Co-operation at New York University looks at international politics in an age of want.

[ "Confronting the Long Crisis of Globalization". By Alex Evans, Bruce Jones and David Steven. Brookings/CIC. ]


The authors say that what is needed is not merely institutional tinkering but a different frame of mind. Governments, they say, should think more in terms of reducing risk and increasing resilience to shocks than about boosting sovereign power. This is because they think power may not be the best way for states to defend themselves against a new kind of threat: the sort that comes not from other states but networks of states and non-state actors, or from the unintended consequences of global flows of finance, technology and so on.
 I liked the quote at the end very much:

Milton Friedman: "[Our] basic function [is] to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes the politically inevitable."

With potential for securing a vibrant future being cast aside for so many short-term-thinking distractions and pathetic succour, to keep alive the key tools for the future is a heartening purpose.

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Monday, February 1, 2010

Where I am at right now

Hot metalwork from a blacksmith. The yellow-or...Image via Wikipedia
Where I am right now is... contemplating how each day my actions tell a story about what I really care about, and how fast I really am willing to work for my stated highest goals.

And the results are not pretty - I see behind me days full of wasting time, managing my level of anxiety, managing my mood, and indulging my petty desires over working on my stated highest goals.

Can I justify not having "having my actions, right now, be consistent with a priority informed by my stated highest goals" near the top of the hierarchy of values, goals, moral based priorities for thoughts and actions.

Repeat the phrase:
...having my actions, right now, be consistent with a priority informed by my stated highest goals - now, five minutes from now, ten minutes from now, stretching out to decades from now.

MatryoshkaImage via Wikipedia
Also, speaking of my hierarchy of values, goals, moral based priorities for thoughts and actions...

There are times when I realize that the comforting habitual action I am indulging in cannot be justified by any possible effective hierarchy of values, goals, moral based priorities for thoughts and actions.

So, practice interruptions in those comforting habitual actions and thoughts.  If the energy to start a more effective action is lacking, practice meditation, and if cannot manage that, try restful sleep for 20 minutes at most.

It is disturbing that during the morning of each day, I do not have a motivating expectation of that day's level of work toward my highest values and goals.  That is another thing to practice.

It is disturbing that during the late evening of each day, I do not have a motivating expectation of the next day's level of work toward my highest values and goals.  That is another thing to practice.

Love, Emotions, MotivationImage by Hamza Hydri via Flickr
If I cannot manage to sit down to formulate a motivating expection in the morning and in the late evening, then just write down a word or two, maybe a short sentence.

How is that?  Can I hold myself to this?  I must hold myself to this.  I will practice this, and improve.  I will come back to this, regularly.
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I am jealous of people who had sweet romances in their youth

EnvyImage by annalise.ellen via Flickr
Kinda cutting close to the bone, but I admit I am jealous of people who had sweet romances in their youth. My whole first quarter of a century of living was full of longing for romance. I can hardly blame the 3.4 billion women for my lack of romance- I was a very troubled boy with a head full of troubling thoughts. I am now sufficiently medicated for a relationship, and I have pulled my head out of my ass enough for a relationship - and, what do you know, I now have a relationship. So huzzah for modern pharmacology and pulling heads out of asses.
Young romance.Image by rpb1001 via Flickr

But adult relationships cannot have the same sweetness of young romances, and that is a downer. But indulging in long bouts of envy cannot lead to a better life, so reminding myself of this fact is how I stop indulging in envy.

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Personality: Nature or Nurture - Genetics < 50%, but Genetic Expression > 50%

Whatever knuckle-dragging racists consider genetics probably counts for less than 50% of your personality, but...

Example Manga ExpressionsImage by DML East Branch via Flickr
Lets consider a persons particular genetic expression of personality (personality features manifest in an individual, paying no mind to the massive variability if we only consider the genetic heritage of the parents). Now, considering this, we have something that has much more influence over personality than environment.
For example, the Big Five personality traits:


Quote: The Big five factors are Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism (OCEAN, or CANOE if rearranged)

These seem to be set at conception, visible soon after birth, stable for your whole life, and resistance to long term change due to environment or intervention.

Also, Jonathan Haidt's five Moral Foundations: Care/Protection, Fairness, Loyalty/Ingroup, Respect/Authority, Purity - also seems to be due to individual genetic expression, and resist change due to environment or intervention.


[ nice TED video by Haidt: http://www.ted.com/talks/jonathan_haidt_on_the_moral_mind.html ]

These other things, to me, seem to be true:
  • It is a good thing to believe that you have the ability, with work, to positively change your repertoire of moral thoughts and moral actions. And most people have this belief (thank goodness).
  • Over the time scale of 10 to 15 years, with daily work, a person can positively change the repertoire of moral thoughts and moral actions. (Most Americans can only conceive of time scales of months, at most. Bad Times if you actually wish to improve yourself morally. Please consider daily work toward a longer time horizon goal.)

  • Herma of Zeno of Citium. Cast in Pushkin museu...Image via Wikipedia
    There is no lack of Good Info on positively changing the your repertoire of moral thoughts and moral actions, over the time scale of 10 to 15 years. Start with the Stoics and the Neo-Confucian thinker Wang Yangming, take seriously the writings of the Epicureans, the Cynics, the Buddhists, and the Taoists to foster some philosophic perspective. If Jesus floats your boat, he'z a good'n too.
After Personality and Moral Foundations, there is IQ. IQ counts as a distant third to personality and moral foundations in a human.

OK, now for fun, I will figure out where I sit with regards to the Big Five Personality traits, and Haidt's Five Moral Foundations:

Openness - I am more inventive/curious, less cautious/conservative

Conscientiousness - more spontaneous/careless, less efficient/organized

Extroversion - more shy/withdrawn, less outgoing/energetic

Agreeableness - more suspicious/antagonistic/outspoken, less friendly/compassionate

neurotics not-so-anonymousImage by Malingering via Flickr
Neuroticism - more sensitive/depressed/anxious, less secure/confident
For the Moral Foundations, I will state my goal, and what I am willing to risk to secure that goal.

Care - moral emotion towards people being taken care of - risking burdening the most capable to provide care for the most vulnerable, risking a loss of prosperity, and risking losing a cherished way of life or standard of living

Fairness - moral emotion towards strict fairness - even to the point of handicapping the most privileged to avoid the possibility of unfairness, risking a loss of prosperity, and risking losing a cherished way of life or standard of living.

Loyalty - moral emotion to not exclude the out-group, - even to the point of denying the most privileged the freedom to forming a self-perpetuating in-group, risking a loss of prosperity, and risking losing a cherished way of life or standard of living.

Respect - moral emotion to never let tradition or authority stand in the way of a moral goal, even to the point of mocking or harassing privileged tradition or authority, risking losing a cherished way of life or standard of living.

Purity - moral emotion to never let the desire for purity to stand in the way of a moral goal, even to the point of purposely & spitefully soiling or desecrating a thing or a place, risking losing a cherished way of life or standard of living.

Twice the SweetnessImage by Mish Mish via Flickr
The only place where I might push back is with Agreeableness - I am often quiet nasty, but I have a strong streak of Sweetness. It pains me to think someone nearby might be suffering emotionally, and I owe them to go more than halfway to let them know that it is not hopeless and to validate their grief and validate their potential to shed that grief. Even if I am just setting myself up to be taken advantage of, it is worth it to take that chance, for what is right.

An actual 13th century picture of the Devil.Image via Wikipedia
And, I am not particularly impressed with my ability to put moral concerns before my own comfort. If I had to pick the most contemptible thing about me, it is that I often put my own comfort over my own moral concerns.

Hey, that worked out well. I never wrote that all out in one place before.
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