Your time and attention are your most precious possessions.

Tags

, ,

Your time and attention are your most precious possessions. Use your time well! Without time you can do nothing, and without your attention everything is meaningless. Occasionally one hears people claim they don’t have enough time to do what they need to do, and yet the average American supposedly spends six hours a day watching TV. TV can be wonderful, and very enlightening too, but it can also be a bottomless pit of bad advice and bad habit formation.

Not so often do we hear people complain of not having enough attention, and I’m not just sure if there is any good terminology for describing that mental state. The word “bored” comes to mind, but implies one has plenty of attention available, but is somehow trapped in some situation that doesn’t permit doing something that is more engaging of the attention. Or perhaps one has something to attend to that is important and has the time to engage fully in the activity, but there are distractions which can not be ignored, like someone blasting a TV in your periphery.

Your paying attention to something is your mind telling your brain that the something is important to you, to your core self, and it primes all of your brain to make the necessary adjustments to make the things that are related to that attention to be brought to the fore for that module of your brain. Almost all of these things will be invisible to the conscious mind, but because they are attending to the particular things the relevant mental actions will be prepared to come to the conscious attention when  necessary, even before they are necessary. Without your attention everything is meaningless, everything is just random happenings waiting for some directing force to make a composite mental construct to be worked with; the mind is designed to make sense of things, and when there is nothing to make sense of it sends out the unpleasant sensation of boredom. The directing force is what is usually thought of as the conscious mind, but what is that but the thing that happens to challenge the current situation seeking a pattern of sense, and that can be as little as making sense of an unexpected noisy bang that demands attention. That is the consciousness for a moment, but it is the directed consciousness, some problem being solved, that is generally thought of as consciousness. But is that any more than the bang? Isn’t it just what the directive energy of the moment is concentrating the consciousness on, because something more demanding isn’t apparent at the moment? To think about complex things requires that the rest of one’s environment be relatively safe, but then there needs to be a problem that one is willing to focus one’s attention upon.

So to return the core idea:

Without time you can do nothing, and without your attention everything is meaningless.

 

Now is a wonderful time for action.

Now is a wonderful time for action, if you have a goal, if you are prepared, and if you are practiced. Now is a terrible time to accomplish anything, and you can do nothing, if you don’t know your goal, are unprepared and unskilled.

That was a passing thought several months ago, at least in that exact written form, but on looking it over is seems like a fine world view. It encourages action and it is only action that accomplishes anything. Also, it encourages preparation, and preparation itself is a form of action, so intentionally doing this is a perfect preparation for the later action that will accomplish the grander things in a more expansive form. Also, being practiced in the activity at which you will later expect to be doing prepares you in many ways for the action.

All of this is so obvious in something like competitive sports, and of course they carry those concepts and others to much greater lengths, especially the motivational parts, and enduring the expected pain parts, and the disappointment parts. So, it seems one should get on the A team if one expects to ever play at that level of a sport, or an activity of any kind.

Are confidence, optimism and kindness mutually exclusive?

Tags

, , ,

I like the idea of staying flexible in my thoughts and actions, and it seems like the goals of being confident, optimistic and kind at all times shouldn’t conflict with each other. So I will compare those concepts and consider if they are independent and can be fully manifest without conflicting.

Is there an aspect of confidence that somehow conflicts with optimism, or kindness? Obviously there are troubles in this world that are beyond our ability to cope with, and it seems that maintaining confidence has some limits. So what are the limits of confidence? Perhaps it should be thought of as an attitude of confidence to cope with those things that are within our power at the moment, but also we need confidence to let those things be as they are, that are beyond our power to influence. We are compelled to recognize that almost everything is outside of our control, or even influence, because the world and the universe are very big. Thus confidence accepts that the world is what it is and we are what we are and the two don’t necessarily always have identical ways of behaving but they can exist in harmony. So confidence becomes an attitude of existence that things that can be dealt with will be, and there is no need to fall into despair when they are outside of our influence. I will do what I can when things present themselves to be acted upon, and come what may, that new state will be what it is. I will maintain my attitude of confidence that I can do what I can do, and be at peace with the results.

Optimism seems to go tightly with confidence; it has the aspect of maintaining the attitude that ultimately the local world and the whole universe will get along just fine, with or without my existence or input. I have goals that I will pursue, but even if they are unfulfilled there will still be a whole world of things that will present themselves to me that I can participate with; it is the participation with the world and everything available within it that makes life satisfying.

Kindness is the ultimate of these life actions because kind acts involve other people and living things. When we help others to achieve their aspirations we are helping the universe to fulfill a latent life force. This idea implies that I value living and proceeding toward living goals as the ultimate ideal, and those goals are not only my personal ones, but they include all others’ goals too. Those closest to me will be the greatest recipients of my striving to fulfill this universal drive toward living, but I can have an effect on life that is distant from me, even if it will remain totally unknown to me. Confidence and optimism don’t seem to be in conflict with kindness, in this view; they are aids to fulfilling kindness; they are part of the attitude which permits personal kindness to become a reality in personal actions.

It may be that even within the strange world of improv comedy, such as is seen in Saturday Night Live, it is possible to be self-confident, optimistic and kind even while playing various characters that require being disciplinary or even criminal. Or an elementary school teacher might still manifest an attitude of confidence, optimism and kindness while compelling a wayward student to behave properly. Perhaps even in a destructive combat situation where another’s life is being destroyed, it has the goal of helping all life to a better satisfaction, and not just personally involved local life.

The attitudes of confidence and optimism are supportive of kindness; they all support each other and they are mutually inclusive, but kindness is in the actions.

Participate in your world !!!

Tags

,

Participate in your world. Make the best use of what is within your power, and be contented with the rest as it happens. Pursue the wisdom of the Seven Sages of Ancient Greece, and that list begins with pursuing goodness. Of course the philosophers have chased the idea of goodness around like a crazy dog pursuing its tail, but ultimately the answer to that question is built into our DNA, and every normal child raised in a reasonably functioning social situation knows what good behavior consists of and what bad behavior consists of too. The ability to learn proper social behavior is built into our genes; it is an automatic process, as is our ability to easily learn a language when exposed to it in our youth.

To participate in your world is also a natural trait; it is naturally available to all living things, but with us humans there comes a problem of social restrictions which come with our childhood socialization. There are a multitude of things that we are taught not to do, actions not to perform, things not to say, categories of people to reflexively obey, and roles to play. If we are unlucky and are raised with a multitude of negative childhood experiences our lives will be plagued with problems because we haven’t learned good coping skills, and conversely if our childhood was filled with a multitude of positive childhood experiences our lives will be easier because we have learned what works to produce good results. We will easily participate in our world because it is a comfortable place to be, because it is understandable and predictable.

People are naturally gregarious, and will seek out what they feel is the appropriate amount of human contact, and that varies a lot, but everyone is totally immersed in their personal world, and it is that world that they must live within. What works best for any individual will be unique to their personality, but it is there that they will thrive. To thrive requires participating in what is available, and to withdraw from one’s own personal world is to wither.

My friends don’t know what their brain is to be used for.

Tags

, ,

This has been a problem all my life: how do I convince my friends not to take serious chances with their life and health? The people I am talking about are not the vast numbers of humanity over whom I have no control, or even remote responsibility, they are people I care for personally; these are people I share conversations with, and sometimes we eat meals together. How do I convince people not to live directly on an earthquake fault, but a couple of miles to the side? How to suggest to someone not to live in a high crime area, when a short distance away it would be much safer? How to even suggest that using a motorcycle as daily transportation is likely to get them badly injured or killed? How to mention to someone that is more than a hundred pounds beyond obesity that it isn’t a good idea? Or even mention to a person who sneaks out to an alley to have a cigarette that every minute they smoke takes a minute off of their life expectancy, and equals a couple weeks’ vacation every year? How about not hiking alone into the wilderness without even a cell phone, or mountain biking alone, or blah blah blah, and I won’t get into base jumping, or watching TV, etc.? The list is near infinite so why am I carping?

I carp because I want my friends to live long and healthy lives, and I want to communicate to them the function of their brain and of their intelligence is to promote a long and healthy life. What apparently isn’t obvious is that silly little risks, those one in a thousand chances, catch up with you if you do them a thousand times.

 

Escape from Evil by Ernest Becker – book review

Tags

,

Escape from Evil is a book about the mental mindset of societies and how their mindset puts the people of that society into a condition of subservience to their generally accepted world view. The view that has brought humanity from its pre-agricultural existence up to our modern world is the concept of the hero, which Becker claims dramatizes personal power and exploitation of the members of the group for its aggrandizement over other groups. By exalting a hero the group gains cohesion, develops an identity of self, defines the enemy, and gives the individuals absolute rights over the lives and bodies of the alien groups. Also it gives protection of the group’s people to walk among enemies, because those others will be afraid of the power of retribution of that person’s potent backup group. The blow-back of this style of social formation is that the individual becomes a slave to their group and must endure its constrictions and punishments. On average the members of groups consider it a good bargain, but it is at a price of incursions into their personal liberties.

The individual’s fear of personal injury and death is soothed by being a member of a grandiose social entity, because they become more than their own perception of a puny self, they are an entity of great respect. This identification forms an unending quest for safety of body, security of selfhood and ultimate meaning of the universe while living within an apparently uncaring world. Try as we might to create an emotionally satisfying being out of the vastness of the Universe it remains obdurately consistent to its own obscure principles of behavior. Our supplications to it are not even met with a cold stare of conscious contempt; they are met with complex rules of actions and reactions that soon become so intertwined as to appear malicious and unpredictable, in other words our supplications are met with reality.

Men behave as human beings, but that includes the possibility, in the long run the inevitability, that some of their actions will be hideously inhumane. And yet, we humans seek solace in the workings of the universe and propitiate postulated gods in an effort to ease our fears, but it is, and should be, fears of other humans where our concern for malice should be placed. And thus it is we generate our heroes whom we hope and expect to protect us and guide us to a happier new world, even one of an uncaring world populated with enemies.

Becker’s book “Escape from Evil” was an effort to transcend his “Denial of Death.”

The Tao Teh Ching – #4 – Revealed by Lao Tzu – Rendered by Charles Scamahorn

Tags

, ,

4

The way to do these things
Is to perfect your ability to create voids.
All things are born of voids, and
All things are drawn to voids.

Sharpness is created and blunted,
Knots are made and untangled,
Light is given and absorbed, yet
The void is more lowly than dust.

Through it all, your personal void remains,
Like a clear deep pond, and
You alone can see into its depths.
It is a void that exists, and
From its depths you create the existence you live within.

5

How should we respond to people we know are wrong?

Tags

,

Occasionally we encounter people who make statements that we know are factually wrong. A guy asked the sage Nasrudin, “What is two plus two?” and he replied, “six.” Then the guy said, “You’re wrong! Two plus two is four.” And Nasrudin said, “No, I’m right. We do math differently where I come from. By the way, if you knew the answer in your system why did you ask me in the first place?” In the Spanish language we call that number quatro. Aren’t all these names for numbers arbitrary? Well, yes, the names are largely arbitrary across languages, and some numbers are avoided in some languages, like the number four sounds like “death” in Cantonese, Chinese so it is considered a bad number. Not to get too much into number theory, but we must be aware that the names and the shapes of the numerals are largely arbitrary, but the underlying concepts are fixed. Nasrudin was exercising his bizarre wisdom in his answer to the question. He commonly does things like that in his folk tales, and frequently there appears to be a deep meaning in his seeming stupidity.

But my more common question is, How should we respond to people we know are wrong? How, when we know positively they are wrong, at least by the conventions of the common language that is being spoken at the moment? I believe this should be approached from the Trustworthiness of Information Chart which has 15 levels of trustworthiness defined. Trustworthiness ScaleClick chart for a bigger view. Most information we deal with on a daily basis is in the mid range, near TST-7 and is trustworthy for daily social interactions; the material that is near TST-0 has no testable proofs and no accountability, but offers considerable comfort when considering unsolvable problems that generate fear. The high numbers like TST-11 and above are where the persons presenting the information will be held personally accountable for the accuracy, and therefore the information is probably accurate. So when we are encountering problems with trustworthiness in the high numbers we should offer clear-cut testable proofs for the accuracy of our information. When we are in daily conversation and our interlocutor makes an error of fact, or even  of judgment, most of the time we should respond with our personal knowledge of the facts as we understand them to be, without recourse to documentation or scientific deniability tests. However, when dealing with the lowest assertions of truth based on ancient hearsay statements that have been spun into good stories, we should doubt the truthfulness of the facts of the story and pay attention to the message being communicated by the story. With these we should consider and challenge the applicability of the message to our present situation, and avoid the questions of fact, because there is no fact that can be discussed, only the application of the story.

Probaway Person of the Year – 2015 – contender David Deamer

From out of deep time and deep outer space David Deamer comes into my life to contend for my Probaway Person of the Year title of 500 year memorability. I had previously published Probaway person of the year – 2015 – contender Alan Guth, and considered nothing capable of displacing his accomplishment. Even if former winners, 2011 – Craig Venter, or 2014 – Jennifer Doudna, succeeded in creating the complete life package from nonliving materials, I didn’t think they should displace the first trillionth of a second creation of the universe revelation as a memorable personal accomplishment of the previous year.

Dave Deamer lecturing to an overflow audience at Bend, Oregon

David Deamer lecturing to an overflow audience at the Tower Theater in Bend, Oregon

But then, David Deamer comes to Bend, Oregon, USA, such a tiny place that I have to put the state name added to the city name for Americans to even have a clue where it is, and probably have to put the country name USA on the address for most people of the world to even know where Oregon is located.

Deamer came here and gave what was a perfect lecture spanning acceptable science to a crowd of mostly retirees and a taste of the latest cutting-edge discoveries on the path to the creation of life. Not just the process for creating life on Earth but of life anywhere in the universe. It is a far more complex process than inserting known, albeit manufactured, DNA inside of a cell wall as Venter did, or of generating any DNA code and inserting it exactly where it is wanted in DNA, as did Doudna. Those are obviously incredible feats, but what Deamer is doing is successfully duplicating nature’s processes at each of many steps between nonliving matter and self-reproducing cells. He demonstrated exactly how he found critical places in space and here on Earth where the needed processes could occur. He then did experiments to demonstrate they would occur when he put the right ingredients into those previously existing types of places.

New life could come into existence spontaneously at present but it wouldn’t survive in the wild because it would immediately be eaten by our modern advanced organisms. He showed us a movie of his pouring a porridge of common pre-biotic chemicals into a hot volcanic freshwater pond and having a scum form that was very similar to what was needed in a pre-biotic world to form life and it came very close to generating living cells, even today. It included layering processes which would protect polymerase formations forming from monomers, and a cyclic drying processes that would tighten into layers and form containers. There needed to be methods for cell walls to form, and to form passages, but these would be naturally occurring events in the cracks at junction lines of the cells, and ways for RNA to grow inside a cell and stretch the cell into two similar entities. There were demonstrations in movies of these things happening.

It turns out that all of the processes he discussed were easy to understand as naturally occurring phenomena, and these special things are still happening almost continuously in many places here on early Earth and in outer space. Early life needed to occur only once to get started but there was an ocean dense with opportunities for it to happen as soon as early Earth cooled enough to have liquid water. It probably began frequently and continuously at the beginning, and the best adapted to their local environment survived best and soon they spread and covered the early Earth with stuff that was reproducing itself and evolving, and that’s a definition of life. Once this first cell was growing and pinching off because of excess length, an ongoing struggle would ensue to fill the many unusual new environments that came into existence. That has been going on for billions of years and it brought life through to the Neanderthals, but then one night something very ordinary but very special happened. See – Selection processes – Natural, Sexual, Artificial and Eveish.

Here is the complete up-to-present list of – Probaway Person of the Year:

  • 2014 – Jennifer Doudna created a method for insertion of designed DNA precisely into existing DNA.
  • 2013 – Plague Inc. is a computer game that explores the problems of creating a disease that will kill every last human being on Earth.
  • 2012 – Zebrafish research-technique advances made it possible to observe drug interactions within living animals.
  • 2011 – Craig Venter  laid the groundwork for creating entirely new forms of life (greater than species) out of computer-generated DNA sequences.
  • 2010 – Nadya Suleman (Octomom) and the society that created this travesty of good sense will be remembered into the distant future by many hungry people.
  • 2009 – Jimmy Wales for Wikipedia, which will be still be used after our current computer operating systems are surpassed and forgotten.
  • 2008 – Cesar Millan (the dog whisperer) because he shows people how to relate to dogs and people much better than anyone else. His videos and techniques will be remembered and used as long as there are people and dogs.

Why do people think I am boring?

Tags

Maybe everyone has the problem of perceiving themselves as being boring, and it is especially true when they are not with their friends talking about mutually relevant things. Why would Steven Colbert develop such a peculiar personality if he wasn’t boring as a kid? He was trying to learn how to be interesting, and failed again and again. Probably his problem revolved around the obvious fact that he was smarter than nearly everyone he encountered and it was nearly impossible for ordinary people to keep up with him and have an ordinary conversation.

So, to make things interesting young Colbert would cultivate his weird personality in an attempt to be interesting to the people he met. Now on the TV stage, his six-minute interviews with some of the smartest people alive are certainly challenging for them, and if he treats common people like that he would be instantly disliked, even hated, and what we are seeing is the result of his childhood attempts not to be boring. In fact he was digging himself deeper into the hole of being a bizarre weirdo, and most people simply won’t tolerate anyone out of the ordinary, except on stage, and then bizarre is accepted as a fantasy – it’s a suspension of disbelief kind of thing. But, in ordinary conversation with friends, the suspension of disbelief isn’t in play, and everyone expects the person they are talking to to be absolutely honest.

Most if not all of the late night comics have conspicuous personality problems; that is what makes them interesting. Or is it that those comics have serious trouble with interpersonal relationships so they respond by talking about public personalities, instead of cultivating real personal friends,and that works because those people and names are known to their audiences? The celebrities have become the family of the audience, but those fantasy celebrity families are surprisingly dysfunctional, which makes them interesting.

Well, I’m no TV personality, and not much of a comic either, although I do get a laugh in a conversation once in a while, but I have had a problem of being boring to some other people. It probably arises from my penchant of intellectualizing about whatever the situation is at present. It is because of that problem that I have sought out a weekly two-hour improv class. It is a wholly different way of relating to the world; it is additive to a conversation rather than subtractive, and thus people become more involved instead of being shut out.

Intellectualizing is a bore to others, but talking about mundane personal problems is delightful because that is where they live, in their personal problems.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 85 other followers