Nov 19

This. This poem. THIS!


1. How much poison are you willing
to eat for the success of the free
market and global trade? Please
name your preferred poisons.

2. For the sake of goodness, how much
evil are you willing to do?
Fill in the following blanks
with the names of your favorite
evils and acts of hatred.

3. What sacrifices are you prepared
to make for culture and civilization?
Please list the monuments, shrines,
and works of art you would
most willingly destroy.

4. In the name of patriotism and
the flag, how much of our beloved
land are you willing to desecrate?
List in the following spaces
the mountains, rivers, towns, farms
you could most readily do without.

5. State briefly the ideas, ideals, or hopes,
the energy sources, the kinds of security,
for which you would kill a child.
Name, please, the children whom
you would be willing to kill. 

Author: Wendell Berry
Issue Title: Money and Morals after the Crash
Issue Year: 2010

found here: https://reflections.yale.edu/article/money-and-morals-after-crash/questionnaire

Nov 19

The Johari Model heuristic exercise

The Johari model is a useful mental model/exercise.

Made (in)famous in 2002 by Donald Rumsfeld’s “there are known knowns…” statement.

Wikipedia entry: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johari_window

Some examples of definite utility:

And here is a handy conceptual diagram:

Nov 19

Aldous Huxley On Silence

“The twentieth century is, among other things, the Age of Noise.
Physical noise, mental noise and noise of desire – we hold history’s record for all of them. And no wonder; for all the resources of our almost miraculous technology have been thrown into the current assault against silence. That most popular and influential of all recent inventions, the radio is nothing but a conduit through which pre-fabricated din can flow into our homes. And this din goes far deeper, of course, than the eardrums. It penetrates the mind, filling it with a babel of distractions, blasts of corybantic or sentimental music, continually repeated doses of drama that bring no catharsis, but usually create a craving for daily or even hourly emotional enemas.
And where, as in most countries, the broadcasting stations support themselves by selling time to advertisers, the noise is carried from the ear, through the realms of phantasy, knowledge and feeling to the ego’s core of wish and desire. Spoken or printed, broadcast over the ether or on wood-pulp, all advertising copy has but one purpose — to prevent the will from ever achieving silence.
Desirelessness is the condition of deliverance and illumination. The condition of an expanding and technologically progressive system of mass production is universal craving. Advertising is the organized effort to extend and intensify the workings of that force, which (as all the saints and teachers of all the higher religions have always taught) is the principal cause of suffering and wrong-doing and the greatest obstacle between the human soul and its Divine Ground.”

— Aldous Huxley, from Silence, Liberty, and Peace (1946)

May 19

A Sense Of Meaning In Life Is Linked To Health

The NPR article is an Interesting read and, while it intuitively seems obvious, the core premise of meaning radiating out to positive health benefits is wonderful.

Core idea the article: “People who didn’t have a strong life purpose — which was defined as “a self-organizing life aim that stimulates goals” — were more likely to die than those who did, and specifically more likely to die of cardiovascular diseases.”

And this bombshell: “This association between a low level of purpose in life and death remained true despite how rich or poor participants were, and regardless of gender, race, or education level. The researchers also found the association to be so powerful that having a life purpose appeared to be more important for decreasing risk of death than drinking, smoking or exercising regularly.”


Grateful for the reminder.

Jun 13

How proximate is animal consciousness to our own?

Just read a moving story in the NY Times about how chimps deal with mortality.
It’s pretty hard to deny that animals have some sort of consciousness; I’m not even sure I would want to meet someone who denies this, let alone debate this subject/conjecture with them. There’s been mounting evidence for decades now that may animals may have some sort of ‘advanced consciousness’ — actual awareness of their existence beyond impulse and instinct — when you hear about empathic responses like what is described in the Times article above…it gets even harder to deny, for me anyway.
If you’ve ever spent extended time with any animals you probably are aware of animal personality, choice and maybe even consciousness, on some level. I’ve anthromoporphized some animals myself, especially with the dogs I have loved, but this is something on a whole other order. Rational thinking on the subject calls into question my key beliefs about nature and my relationship to it — especially whether one can see nature (and most importantly animals) as a resource, as human tools and/or fodder in particular.

Related reading: the announcement of the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness.