Category Archives: Philosophy

Falling Behind?

From: Falling behind? by Jamie Varon

But, honestly, here’s the thing that nobody really talks about when it comes to success and motivation and willpower and

goals and productivity and all those little buzzwords that have come into popularity: you are as you are until you’re not.

You change when you want to change. You put your ideas into action in the timing that is best. That’s just how it happens.

falling behind
Jamie Varon on falling behind in life

And what I think we all need more than anything is this: permission to be wherever the fuck we are when we’re there.

You’re not a robot. You can’t just conjure up motivation when you don’t have it.

and

There’s a magic beyond us that works in ways we can’t understand. We can’t game it. We can’t 10-point list it. We can’t control it. We have to just let it be, to take a fucking step back for a moment, stop beating ourselves up into oblivion, and to let the cogs turn as they will. One day, this moment will make sense. Trust that.

Give yourself permission to trust that.

Full post on Medium by Jamie Varon is here:

Jamie Varon is a writer based out of Los Angeles. You can connect with her on Twitter, Instagram, and at her Facebook page. Because we all need candid smart and fearless thinkers in our lives. This one impresses me.

from the step’s of the Lincoln Memorial

A cross post from blog.tendenci.com on Dr. Martin Luther King day. Here’s to the Dreamers out there who won’t take no for an answer.


On 28 August, 1963, Martin Luther King delivered his magnificent “I have a dream speech” on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. Below is the full text of his speech.

Written excerpt from Dr. King’s speech from the BBC:

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair. I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

The dream

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed – we hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave-owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama little black boys and little black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I will go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.

With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day, this will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning: “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.” And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.
Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.
Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!
Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California.
But not only that.
Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.
Let freedom ring from every hill and every molehill of Mississippi, from every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: “Free at last! Free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

Proverbs 11:24-25

One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.

A generous person will prosper;  whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.

  • proverbs-11:24-25

Or to put it another way, via Dune-Micheli PattenA parable by an Unknown Author:

There once was a farmer who grew award-winning corn. Each year he entered his corn in the state fair where it won a blue ribbon.

One year a newspaper reporter interviewed him and learned something interesting about how he grew it. The reporter discovered that the farmer shared his seed corn with his neighbors.

“How can you afford to share your best seed corn with your neighbors when they are entering corn in competition with yours each year?” the reporter asked.

“Why sir,” said the farmer, “didn’t you know? The wind picks up pollen from the ripening corn and swirls it from field to field. If my neighbors grow inferior corn, cross-pollination will steadily degrade the quality of my corn. If I am to grow good corn, I must help my neighbors grow good corn.”

He is very much aware of the connectedness of life. His corn cannot improve unless his neighbor’s corn also improves.

So it is with our lives. Those who choose to live in peace must help their neighbors to live in peace. Those who choose to live well must help others to live well, for the value of a life is measured by the lives it touches. And those who choose to be happy must help others to find happiness, for the welfare of each is bound up with the welfare of all.

The lesson for each of us is this: if we are to grow good corn, we must help our neighbors grow good corn.

fecundity

smiley-face-against-the-badIt is easy to observe, notice, and complain about a problem. It is much much harder to find solutions.

Yet, if a solution is well researched and historically validated, only a fool would not work to solve it. Right? Hence my repost of a quote from a brilliant writer, a problem solver, a man who I also consider a friend.

In this complex clash of civilizations, evolutionary biology offers a multi-million-year-old lesson on how to stop death by social media: fecundity. The good guys must simply and decisively overwhelm the bad guys with good information. The good information must be programmed better than the bad information, and it must be propagated in overwhelming amounts. We can select the social media world we want to live in and social-engineer our way back to safety.

WARNING: A warning to the two or three people who read this blog –  the quote above is a positive quote. An excerpt. But the link to Shelly’s blog on death by social media is a link to a brutally frank post. I am quoting the solution Shelly is telling us because I agree with him. He is correct. Just be aware if you click over to his post it does contain some rather disturbing observations.

What is Mr. Palmer’s point?  Briefly, that you and I are doing it wrong, And we have the power fix it..

We must overwhelm the world with positivity. Forget the world of “if it bleeds it leads” which is so prevalent. Those media channels advertising shows won’t change, but we can and should overwhelm them with the positive.

Thus, even though it is disturbing post on the brutal reality of social media and it’s sometimes deadly outcomes, hopefully you will click over. Because we need to do this. Because it is real. Because the current reality must stop. Because the positive must prevail.

let us not plot against others….so by benefiting them we benefit ourselves

“Let us not plot against others, lest we injure ourselves. When we supplant the reputation of others, let us consider that we injure ourselves, it is against ourselves that we plot. For perchance with men we do him harm, if we have power, but ourselves in the sight of God, by provoking him against us. Let us not, then, injure ourselves. For as we injure ourselves when we injure our neighbors, so by benefiting them we benefit ourselves” (‘Hom. 14, in Phil.,’ Oxford transl.).

Source: http://biblehub.com/proverbs/26-27.htm

Decline in Crime 43% Since 1990 (yes really – so stop watching advertising shows!)

Serious crime has DROPPED 43% since 1990.

FORTY THREE PERCENT
43 PERCENT
43 PERCENT DROP IN CRIME AND THE MEDIA HAS CONVINCED YOU IT’S UP
BECAUSE THERE IS NO MEDIA, THERE ARE ONLY ADVERTISING COMPANIES. SORRY. #TRUTH

43% Drop in Crime in US Since 1990

See that HUGE decline since 1990. Those are the facts. Please Stop, just stop, stop being a tool to “the man.” Just stop.

I ask people. You should ask people to. “Is crime up or down in the US since 1990? They will say “up”. Then ask “by how much do you think it’s up?” They will say anything from 5 to 50%. They think crime is up. I ask “can you google it for us” (try duckduckgo for search too. Google isn’t God. Really people?) and I get nothing. Blank stares.

They look at the actual crime data and their minds can’t grasp it. The lie is so big we’ve all come to believe it to be true.

STOP IT!

Stop, just stop. Sorry to burst everyone’s paranoid bubble (insert pot-kettle cliche here) with facts. I know, we all hate it when someone drops facts on a good ghost story. Sadly it is true – you are safer now in the US than ever.

With a BS in Political Science (a BS in BS?) I frequently hear people parroting advertising companies that run search engines or web sites or TV shows or Newspapers. Note the first phrase – “ADVERTISING COMPANIES” – they need to sell advertising. Nothing more nothing less.

IF IT BLEEDS IT LEADS

If you sell advertising, how do you make more money? Simple, follow a very old formula and scare the life out of people. It boils down to, what if it bleeds less than before but nobody notices?

Gun Homicide Rates Drop 49% per 1000 people

What’s old is still new again – “If it bleeds, it leads.”

Stop, just stop. No more fear mongering to weak minds. And if you don’t have a weak mind, then educate and empower those around you. Advertising companies make money from page views, not from facts. They do not have your best interests at heart. But you know that. So tell your kids! Tell them! It’s not a conspiracy, it’s the system and it’s YOUR responsibility to educate your children and your community that what is in your best interest is different from what sells the most ads.

It’s all about the money….

Yes…

Example: “OK, yea, we are selling banner ads and we decided to just lie on our rate sheets that 5000 people picked up the paper in the Doctor’s office and it should be a 5000x multiple of subscribers.” (an exaggeration for the sake of drawing eyeballs… and no, the irony is not lost on money, but I don’t sell advertising and I’m not paid for this so wahtev…. )

Insiders Game

For those not in the Advertising Business, which thankfully despite the resolute ethical souls leading the Houston Advertising community (disclaimer: I was formerly a board member of AAF-Houston) the rate sheet dictates the “ad buy” rate. So the more people who view an advertisement the more you can charge. If you can convince people that your business journal is subscribed to once (1) and viewed by an additional twenty (20) people (um.. not on this planet anyway so unless aliens are spiriting it away in the night and buying online then I call BS (zOMG so (recursive(recursive(nerd-humor, *args, *kwargs))) then you can sell advertisements at a higher rates. Thus it sells ads (*cough* chron.com *cough*.)

I know, crazy, right?

Worst headline ever:

CRIME DROPS 40+ PERCENT IN LAST 20 YEARS REGARDLESS OF POLITICAL PARTY IN PWER

Facts and all that “stuff“. Those silly facts get in the way of our preconceived ideology.

Oh, and gun violence is down as well.

wolfram-alpha

It’s not all good news as death by gun is stupid. And a shame. We can continue to do better. One tragic fact not discussed in the media is that more people die from self inflicted gunshot wounds than are victims of homicides involving a gun.
Homicides vs Suicides

http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2013/05/07/gun-violence-in-america/st_13-05-02_ss_guncrimes_06_suicide/

As a true friend has been reminding me lately:

“When is the best time to plant a tree? 20 years ago. And right now.”

PROGRESS. It’s a journey. It will take time. But these are huge improvements the media has no incentive to tell us about because they don’t sell advertisements.

Isn’t the question really “what gives you meaning?”

Isn’t the question really “what gives you meaning?” Happiness is so ephemeral.

Is a new mother happy with the pain of childbirth? No. And yet is she not fulfilled with the creation of life?

Or an artist who struggles for 20 years to create a piece that meets their own expectations. You have the eye before the skill, which is what is so frustrating. This is why we tear up our work. And delete entire photo shoots from our CF cards. Or rip the roll of film out of the Mamiya to expose it to light, killing it like a vampire thrown into daylight.

It is that our creation lacks fails to meet our vision. This is not happiness.

But do you want to live in a world where people, where you, don’t strive outside of your bounds? I don’t. I don’t need the happiness project. If I wanted that, there is some drug I can take surely. No, the brutal truth of reality, and frequently failed “creation,” is the reality I wish to live in. It gives meaning.

Meaning trumps happiness. Even with a tip of the hat to the “Holographic Universe” and Fraankl’s work. Meaning is meaning.

“60-something years to transform to a more optimistic state of mind”

Kenan Branan
Kenan Branan

I was drilled for surviving nuclear apocalypse as a “duck-and-cover” teenager, believing that the world might end before I reached adulthood. But I suspect my personal perspective was the biggest factor: I didn’t like the world the way it was and wanted to “figure out” how I could make it better. I was hurting and scared. Survival instinct pure and simple!

It’s taken me 60-something years to transform to a more optimistic state of mind, actually a passionate state of mind. Maybe through the wisdom of my varied experiences and learning, I have not only figured out what a better world can be, but more significantly, through the media of the Web, I have discovered “signs” of a large community of likeminded people. For the first time in my life, I can justify hope and faith in the future of humanity.

- Kenan Doyle Branam (source)

and

“In retrospect, I have always had the temperment of an artist, looking at the world with curiosity and sensitivity—sometimes, so much that the beauty of nature overwhelms me.

Like Pecos Bill, I was raised by a pack of dogs. I thought I was one… until they started to chase, kill, and eat squirrels. I guess I will always be a pacifist. I still love running in the woods.”

- Kenan Doyle Branam

we’re not completely not termites

family

From the article:

The first dreams we ever had were to be held. And loved. And to explore this amazing world with love in our lives.

We dreamed of seeing, touching, and experiencing the world around us, with the happiness and comfort that comes from family.

As adults, many of us dream of building a family, and do so.

It’s the day-to-day realities that don’t always feel so dreamy. We get busy, exhausted, and overwhelmed. We’re changing diapers, cleaning up spills, searching for a jolt of caffeine to keep our eyes propped open until we can fall face first into a pillow.

Along the way, we sometimes see some work dreams take a back seat. We worry they may slip away, that we may never get back to them.

There are tough tradeoffs that moms and dads have to make every day. But since my son’s birth, I’ve stopped seeing those tradeoffs as sacrifice.

Because when we give up something for a time to make sure we’re putting enough focus into our families, we’re not giving up dreams. We’re committing to our biggest, deepest ones.

We’re prioritizing the dreams that make up who we are.

And “be the cups and ice” which is truly amazing.

Monica, in her usual fashion, takes over completely, leaving Phoebe in charge of only cups and ice. Phoebe decides to make the most of it; she makes everything imaginable out of cups, and serves every kind of ice.

So the next time Monica gives you cups and ice, just ask yourself, what would Phoebe do, and do that. It’s the hard way out. But worth it.

(Note: video added and minor edits Jan 18, 2016 while writing this post about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – EGS)

those who remain determined “mouse-avores” starve

“IV. At the same time, living systems adapt themselves to changes in their environment they learn, grow, develop, evolve. When the mouse population in a region suddenly declines because of an epidemic, the predators who adapt to a new prey survive; those who remain determined snake bit“mouse-avores” starve. Life events affect us and change us, and we can see these changes reflected in the nevertheless familiar faces of our friends. The ability of living systems to adapt and self-organize allows them to defy the second law of thermodynamics, which insists that everything runs down and returns to a state of disorganization and homogeneity. Not so for living systems! They continuously reorganize themselves into ever more complex patterns and interrelationships.”

Molly Young Brown, Patterns, Flows and Interrelationships

On Hegel’s Dialetic and Husserl’s Epoché

Woke up thinking about this stuff from days gone by, so consider these notes to myself.

From a Simple Explanation of Hegel’s (1770 – 1831) Dialetic by Tanasije Gjorgoski

The analogy would work with the notions of “Left” and “Right”…. There is nothing that distinguishes them internally. The half-space that we named Left can be Right, and the half-space that we named Right can be also Left.

It is in this abstract symmetry where different notions become equal. (or more general produce a contradiction of some kind)

But for sure Left and Right as notions are not equal, they have different meaning. So, we are brought to a contradiction, they are different, but also they are equal.

This contradiction is resolved by externalities;

The resolution is based on really simple principle – if the distinction between two universals is not in them taken alone, then their difference is something outside of them.

Hence the role of an external “observer” to break the symmetry.

On phenomenology from the Edmund Husserl (1859-1938) entry on Wikipedia.

Husserl made some key conceptual elaborations which led him to assert that in order to study the structure of consciousness, one would have to distinguish between the act of consciousness and the phenomena at which it is directed (the objects as intended). Knowledge of essences would only be possible by “bracketing” all assumptions about the existence of an external world. This procedure he called epoché.

And Stanford’s entry on Phenomenology continues

We are to practice phenomenology, Husserl proposed, by “bracketing” the question of the existence of the natural world around us….

Consider my visual experience wherein I see a tree across the square. In phenomenological reflection, we need not concern ourselves with whether the tree exists: my experience is of a tree whether or not such a tree exists. However, we do need to concern ourselves with how the object is meant or intended. I see a Eucalyptus tree, not a Yucca tree; I see that object as a Eucalyptus, with a certain shape, with bark stripping off, etc. Thus, bracketing the tree itself, we turn our attention to my experience of the tree, and specifically to the content or meaning in my experience.

Which, in pop-culture, is probably best explained by The Matrix

Spoon boy: Do not try and bend the spoon. That’s impossible. Instead… only try to realize the truth.
Neo: What truth?
Spoon boy: There is no spoon.
Neo: There is no spoon?
Spoon boy: Then you’ll see, that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.

It’s incredibly selfish if you think about it. If I imagine the spoon bending, it is bending because I am the external observer of said spoon. Or Eucalyptus tree if you wish.