A Dictionary of New Epigrams – Judgment

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A Dictionary of New Epigrams

Judgment

Most people are educated to repeat what they have been taught, and few are shown how to think about what they know.

A thoughtful man thinks about what he knows and figures things out from observed facts.

To understand anything new you must think, but thinking means associating these new things to past experience, for we have no alternative but to judge the future by the past.

Nothing is wholly good or bad, so declaring something to be one or the other is bound to bring challenges and controversy, but no one can challenge your stated likes and dislikes.

The core of many people is fear, and that mostly the fear of abandonment by friends.

Judge people by the depth of their questions not the firmness of their answers.

Most people judge others by their superficial qualities, that is, by their clothes and their words, that is, their appearance of wealth and their saying of appealing things.

The more accepting we become of other people, the more kindly we treat ourselves.

People’s actions are judged more by their stated intentions than by their results.

Every word has a unique meaning to every person, and thus every sentence means something quite different to every person. We must blend others’ responses and actions to our words to discover what they really mean to them.

To be fair to another person you must judge their actions from their point of view.

Judge yourself of what you can do by what you have already done, the same for others.

The key moment of personal judgment is when a sudden emotion comes upon you, for it is in that instant that you can change your habitual response to do something better.

Doing and thinking generate habits. Therefore, generate good habits by doing things that will promote your and others’ well-being and abundance.

A politician asks people about their opinions, and then restates them as his opinion.

At the moment you are about to condemn another’s actions, restate his opinions to him as clearly as possible, and only then challenge the sticking points.

When you cultivate a habit toward another person you will apply that habit to yourself, and therefore you will treat yourself better if you treat others well.

State opinions in a way that is helpful to the people you are addressing.

 

 

 

How to make a vertical take-off and fast horizontal flight copterplane.

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I have decided not to pursue the construction of a vertical take off and horizontal flight system, so it seems reasonable to describe how a vertical take-off and fast horizontal system could be made. I posted some ideas on the uses of small systems six months ago under the title Quadcopter search and rescue system with multiple bases, based on a design for copters which I didn’t disclose fully. There are already some systems that do similar things, such as the United States Osprey, but that system can easily be superseded, because it uses an unnecessarily complicated system of rotating the wingtip mounted rotators while in flight. That system requires heavy and complicated mechanical systems and complicated balancing systems for maintaining control of the aircraft. These complex systems must work perfectly or the aircraft crashes. A much more reliable, more easily built  copterplane with faster horizontal flight can be built as follows.

Conceptually follow this: build a standard quadcopter, fly it to a comfortable altitude, then fly it horizontally to its top speed. Its speed and range are limited because the aircraft is being held aloft by its rotors, but if the rotors were mounted on wing tips with the wings at typical angle for horizontal flight, the wings would support the aircraft and all of the power used to lift the copter with rotors could be used for forward flight, so it would fly much faster. The vehicle described so far is rather like a quadcopter, but to convert it into an airplane it would need a tail assembly with vertical and horizontal control surfaces. These could have been built into our original conceptual vehicle and be part of the original copterplane from the takeoff position. The copter could have been sitting on the ground on its tail before takeoff. This copterplane could be built to any size from tiny to large passenger airplane.

There is an improvement that would increase its horizontal speed even more, and that is to make the wing rotors more powerful, and eliminate the equal size rotors that were mounted perpendicular to them as used in a quadcopter design. As just stated, without the two side rotors, the copter mode would lose stability. That stability could be regained by installing a smaller rotor on one side, usually called the top side when it is in horizontal flight. This copterplane would now look like an airplane, such as a DC-3, with a large tail assembly, but with large rotors on its wing tips, and a third engine with a rotor mounted above the fuselage. This third rotor is used for stability when in a vertical takeoff or landing mode of flight, but in airplane flight it wouldn’t be needed, so it could be shut down. It could be moved on its support rigging, like a cantilevered desk lamp, to the nose of the airplane and in this more symmetrical and streamlined position it could be used to add thrust to the forward flight. In vertical takeoff and landing, this third rotor’s engine would operate at a constant power and be used to control the aircraft by varying the pitch of the rotor. In this vertical mode the thrust of this third rotor could be directed from fully upward to fully downward, and would be used to maintain the stable vertical orientation of the aircraft. However, when shifted to airplane mode this rotor would not be used for flight control, but simply for forward thrust.

Describing this craft in words leaves a lot to the reader’s visual imagination, but when built this craft would be faster than other converta-planes because it is always delivering its power to the mode of operation, either vertical or horizontal. It is more efficient in both modes and therefore is better in both modes, and more aircraft weight can be given over to other needs, either more fuel for longer flying range, more ruggedness of the airplane itself, or more cargo capacity.

The copterplane would go much faster and further than a helicopter.

Doing something worthwhile makes you feel good.

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These blog posts have been encouraging socially worthwhile accomplishment. But  there have been some statements made here that have annoyed, perhaps outraged people, such as, “I’m opposed to education” and “To believe the propaganda, ‘Art for Art’s sake’ is a distraction and a waste of your time” and similar things.

What I have been proposing is that human time, effort, and other resources should be put toward a positive accomplishment, and that the definition of accomplishment should be productive of human welfare, or at least living nature’s welfare. Art of any sort needn’t be done for the art itself, because the painting, the music, the movie, whatever, doesn’t feel anything. Those things exist as physical reality in their various forms, but matter outside of a living being doesn’t feel anything, and therefore it doesn’t care. Ava, the beautiful android in the movie Ex Machina, would disagree, but she is still a fictional machine, although perhaps it won’t be long until feelings are built into machines, like Jeopardy! winner Watson … then I must revisit this idea? For the moment it is people who feel, and they are influenced by these various worldly things and they do care, so it is for them that these things are created. It’s human beings that give meaning to the artfully refined matter filled with poetry of emotion.

The flip side of doing things for a purpose is being prevented from doing things that you feel are important. It is a punishment to be prevented from using your abilities and being deprived of opportunities, because it leads to frustration, futility and despair. This need for accomplishment is what makes people into living zombies when they become deprived of possibilities for being productive, like the Unabomber, a brilliant mathematician now permanently isolated in prison. He wasted his own life and others’ lives too.

Do something worthwhile for other people, not something destructive and hurtful.

 

 

Fear can be a good emotion or very bad.

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Fear is an emotion that has been bred into our genetic being because our ancestors who possessed the right degree of fear for the summation of their lifelong situation had the children that themselves became our ancestors too. Those situations where the emotion of fear will promote our survival should be respected, and wherever there are situations where fear is counterproductive and where it will interfere with our best actions, we should ignore the emotion. Therefore, we need some analysis of how to use our fear wisely. Watch this Dean Potter YouTube documentary to observe how a physically gifted man copes with his fear, doing extremely risky things that are well beyond the abilities of every other human on Earth. Last week he miscalculated and got himself killed without leaving any children, and therefore he will get a Darwin Award for taking himself and his genes out of the human gene pool. This type of fear is conquered by this kind of person with thoughts like, Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will allow my fear to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone I will turn my inner eye to see its path. And where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain. Frank Herbert – Dune

There are other people equally driven by fear of a very different sort, and one of them, Kelsey Collins, was a friend of mine, until she took her own life a few weeks ago. She and Potter both had seemingly ideal lives. They had a multitude of admirers, they were greatly respected in their chosen occupation, they had beautiful homes and no debts, both were self-professed loners, and both had lost their loved ones a few years previously.

There are other people who live more ordinary lives than those two, but they live with constant anxiety that prevents them from rising above the most mundane of life activities. That is more common; they are unadventurous, and avoid even speaking before a group of a few people, because of their fear of being censored. They take their fear in small doses, but they become afflicted with stomach ulcers  and high blood pressure. It’s like the fear of wild things that lurk in the night, which long ago were very real, but today those predators are gone, and only the anxiety remains. We need to face our fears directly, because when we do so nearly all of them will vanish, and only the real ones will remain. When we see those clearly we can spend our energy coping realistically with them, and live more contented lives. Fear can be a good emotion or very bad, because it drives you to be sensible.

Don’t take unnecessary risks, and don’t ignore real ones.

How can I promote tranquility fairly?

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I’ve had some conversations about tranquility this week and some problems arose, such as isn’t my promoting tranquility in another person’s habits manipulating their right to be themselves? To which I responded that, yes, it is manipulating them, but in a way that in the longer view those persons would say that it was okay, and they want it. It was surprising to me that the question arose, because our society is immersed in various forms of mind manipulation that are clearly intended to take away your money, your time, your soul, and not for your personal benefit but for the benefit of those providers. That is what commercial advertising is, that is what employment is, that is what religion is, and yet those institutions are only occasionally given a timid chastisement for controlling others’ behavior and minds. It is strange that my stated goal of helping other people “to be more tranquil with themselves and content with the world around them” is challenged as being some form of moral subversion. Most people are okay with comics trying to make them temporarily happy, but even suggesting that you want to help them become long-term tranquil with themselves seems strangely offensive. Why?

One complaint was that they believed that if they were tranquil they wouldn’t get anything done; that is, they were motivated by being displeased with something and wanting to change it. To which I would say, “Can you change the past?”, to which the obvious answer is no, but they can be upset with it. But, who is upset, the past or you? It’s gone, and it will never return. You are here now, and you can choose to be angry or to be tranquil, which would you prefer? Obviously, you are only alive in the living moment, and your life is made up of living moments. So the question becomes, “Do you want to live the moments of your life in anger? Then why be motivated to challenge the things you don’t like about the past? How many things are there that you don’t like, and would voluntarily generate anger so you would have the energy to change them?”

Isn’t it possible to do things you would like to get done, but all the while be feeling really good and tranquil? Look at the physical reality of things and the ways they relate to one another, and respond to what you can do with those things, and ask yourself, “Can I be effective in changing those things without being angry?” Some sports competitors intentionally insult their opponents to make them angry, because they know that an angry person doesn’t think or even react with their best abilities. Doing something from an angry place will put those competitors at a disadvantage.

When you have inner tranquility you can use your abilities to their limits. When one knows that they are competent to do what they set out to do, then the inner state most likely to be most effective is that of tranquility.

People are who they are and creating tranquility in them is aided by accepting them as they are, a vast array of self-promoting habits.

 

A quiet day, but memorable for me

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Today I read yesterday’s prayer for tranquility and contentment to my human development group. It’s a first for such a reading for me. That post was intended only as an outline for creating a sonnet, but as it included the basic ideas I wanted to express it seemed reasonable to let some friends hear it and get some feedback. Although it is a bit long, and rambling too, the concluding couplet idea generated the most keen commentary.

To treat other people in a way that will maximize their tranquility with themselves and support their contentment with the world around them.

There are several professional healers in our group, and the idea of creating tranquility in their patients, some of whom are dying in hospice situations, struck a positive chord with them. It was what they were trying to do, and doing, but they liked the idea of a clear statement at the end of a poem. I wrote several sonnets twenty-some years ago, in a group named Armageddon, one of which I attempted to quote from memory, but only stumbled through.

It’s quite a pleasure having people respond positively to something I’ve done, because it is such a rare event.

A prayer for tranquility and contentment

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Outline for a prayer using a standard Shakespearean sonnet form: iambic pentameter with a rhyming pattern, four opening lines of a proposition, four more lines with a counter proposition, four lines of synthesis of the two propositions and a couplet of resolution and completion. The first four are a statement of the ideal being sought, the second four about the things to be avoided, the third four about resolving the struggle between the opposing forces, and the couplet a statement of ideal actions and their results.

I turn to the core of my whole historical being for the source of my guidance, because that is the source from which I arose, it is the summation of my living ancestry and of the physical nonliving matter from which all life arose. It is this basic stuff that brings me to this moment, and it is from this material stuff and this transient moment that I must proceed; it is from this that I must mold the future that is available to me.

I have no choice but to begin from here and now, and thus to follow in that path created by my constantly flowing moments of consciousness and of free choice. I am the result of a vast number of self-created habits that are only visible to me when they manifest in my response to stimuli with actions, that are themselves reactions to my environment. All of this is based on the DNA coming from my parents and their ancestors, who themselves were immersed in the process of our Earth, which itself was born of the stars, and those of the time, space, matter and energy of the inflation to our reality. All of this in fine detail is what made me what I am, here and now, and it is that which I seek to obey.

The second idea is to develop the wisdom to flee from the absurd, to not strive for what is clearly impossible, to put no thought, energy, or time into pursuing things that are physically impossible. I strive to acknowledge that I am a product of physical reality, and that I must confine my thoughts and actions to exist within this knowable reality. I strive to see absurdity as non-workable and counterproductive of all well-being. I seek for the health and vigor of all life, and that includes the complexities of some life forms consuming other life forms.

I have a choice in this moment, and in every moment that I am conscious, to choose my behavior, within the limitations fixed upon me. Although these are largely influenced by my past and my current perception of my present environment, I do have some control over this moment, and may at this time influence the situations that will come to me. Thus I ask this deeper self to choose those paths of action that are ideal for my well-being, and that of the expanding wave of other living beings that are affected by my actions, and of the Earth, and stars from which I arose, and to avoid the infinity of actions that will defeat my best intentions and violate that array of things I seek to obey.

The third group blends the ideal goal of what to strive for with the things that need to be avoided and points a way toward the path that will be more satisfying to all life, and to the greater intelligence and wisdom that is evolving into being. It mentions the impossibility of directly resetting one’s total internal bank of habits, but that one can change those individual habits that will manifest themselves when specific events happen. Thus we may develop ourselves to be more fully human, and more human beings.

My problem is, how to choose the right actions and avoid committing the wrong ones, so the new habits I cultivate within my array of existing habits will be supportive of the vast number of purposeful actions that made me who I am at this moment. It seems like a habit of voluntary confirmation bias, just a summation of my historical learning, or a succumbing to my weaknesses, and if so is it the best method for directing me toward proper actions? Or is it often a guide to non-conscious actions that must be guided by this moment of free will? It seems the most consistent guide is my inclination to treat others as I believe they should treat me. I do have a lifetime of personal experience of how I believe people should treat me, and so in every unique instant of time that I exist within, I can use my sum of experience to guide me. The thing I seek is tranquility within myself, and to gain this I must have contentment with the world, and thus my guiding principle would be:

The couplet offers the suggestion for how to achieve tranquility with oneself and contentment with the external world. Train yourself by entering new situations where your old habits will not be applicable, and while there you will encounter new moments of consciousness where you must approach new problems with an awareness that the way you respond to this new problem sets in motion a new habit. It is the new habit that sets the path for future behavior in this new situation.

To treat other people in a way that will maximize their tranquility with themselves and support their contentment with the world around them.

A typical Sunday for me

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I slept well, got up at my usual time, made my modest breakfast, then after chatting with Debbie a bit, and making arrangements for lunch I headed out to the UU to greet people. I have an ongoing job, since the opening of our newly built church, to welcome people at the front door. Here is a fine photo by Dale Clark of us greeters in action, taken for the Annual Meeting brochure. There are so many classic elements in just the right position to make this photo look like a Norman Rockwell style painting of 21st Century Americans going to a UU church.

Welcome to the UUFCO

A greeting at the Unitarian Universalists of Central Oregon (UUFCO) Bend, Oregon, on a typical Sunday morning.

That’s me, holding my hand out to a guy and his kids, silhouetted like a statue. The Sunday service was very pleasant, with a reading of a story to the kids and then singing them out to their Sunday school under an arch of upraised hands. The adults then heard a short meditative reading and then we had a couple of minutes of quiet meditation, then a couple of songs and a sermon. This particular sermon was light and friendly, perhaps because we were going to have the Annual Meeting with voting and such necessary fussing around after the service. During the half hour break for lunch between these two scheduled events I had a couple of short but meaningful conversations, including one with the THA chief architect Corey. He was here from Portland with an architectural photographer getting photos of his church ready for a publication. The whole experience was as pleasant as in the photo.

I departed as soon as possible, because of a time overlap conflict, to go to the Atheists of Central Oregon meeting at Dudley’s bookstore. This is a friendly group of thoughtful people, who get together and discuss various questions, such as what is the meaning of life, and how do atheists cope with various existential questions. Today it was epistemology, how do we know what we know, and how can we tell truth from fantasy. It was a lively discussion, but of course on these questions there can never have a rigid answer, and every situation must be judged on its own merits. I met Debbie there, and we went to lunch at a Thai restaurant named Wild Rose and had fine meal with a heat rating of 3 out of 5 and that is just about right. The last time we had a 4 and that was good but too hot, and we needed the cucumbers provided to cool down our mouths. We are hesitant to try a 5. After that we met Jim, as we often do, and had an excellent conversation as always, generally about legal generalized matters.

I drove home with the idea of taking a short nap, as I usually do in mid afternoon, and Debbie read to me while I dozed off. At present our readings are a Thesaurus word list with some commentary, then a short piece out of This Idea Must Die from Edge.org, and then a couple of pages from The Secret History of Kindness. I then got in a half hour of semi-snooze. Then off to the Spiritual Awareness Lecture. This group is a complete balance to the atheist group. It’s an emotional-huggy heart group versus the totally rationalizing heady group. I love and respect them both.

So here I am typing this diary type blog, which I rarely do, just to have a remembrance of a typical Sunday. Now it’s time to watch the very last episode of Mad Men. It’s also the last week of David Letterman’s 33 year run of the Late Show, so I have been watching him condense all those years into fast-paced clips. Oh, I forgot to mention I did a few minutes in the garden, and because we were about to have a rain, I hosed off the car, and let the rain rinse it off cleaner with pure water.

A typical Sunday.

Prayers for the new millennium

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This morning for a few moments the conversation with my friends turned to my efforts to create a new form of prayer. It could be called prayers for the new millennium, because what I have in mind are meditations that incorporate humanity’s new thoughts about our relationship with the world.

Back when Jesus and, later, Mohammed created their prayers the world known to them was basically what was readily visible to the unaided eye. There were no telescopes or microscopes, or CERN high-energy scopes. Even much later, when Machiavelli was writing, the time horizon was either infinite with a gradual wearing away of visible history by attrition, as he thought it was, or perhaps rather brief, being not much beyond written records of the historical age, as most others thought. We now know that world history is six orders of magnitude larger than their imaginations suggested, and the Universe perhaps contains ten to the twenty-second orders of magnitude of planets more than our singular home planet Earth. Very few planets would be habitable, but with their numbers so vast, the number of planets with life forms must be vast. I mention these numbers to place us moderns within a totally new world from the one inhabited by the classic prophets.

Our new conception of the world requires a new world prayer. The prayer needs to be one that acknowledges our new world view of the ultimate vastness within which we are confined to a tiny, tiny speck of time and space. Asking an invisible, unknowable, and possibly nonexistent controlling being for guidance is bound to bring the realization that the responses we may feel we are getting are only projections of our personal hopes, and these are driven by our own self-confirming biases. We see what we hope to see, and we don’t want to see our selves and our whole human species and its problems as insignificant, as utterly insignificant.

All of that is considered obvious by modern people who have thought about the appalling extent of time and space, but what isn’t so obvious is how we are to relate to it and still retain a positive feeling of self-worth. We need a goal to have purpose, to feel comfortable with ourselves, with our universe. We can place our attention on the instantaneous events of the moment, and that will give some brief feelings of contentment, but we also need a grander purpose. Some people find that in watching sporting events, some need a greater meaning to life and find it in national pride, and some explore more existential meaning, but often all of these fail and the individual and his society sink into a stinking swamp of despair. What we now need are:

Prayers for the new millennium.

You can’t have the impossible.

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Last week in a list of thoughts condensed from the popular world I wrote, “Impossible is impossible, so concentrate on the possible and do it well.” As I wrote those words, I was thinking of the many impossible things that people are grasping after. To me the most hopeless grasping is paying some organization ten percent of everything you earn to provide you with a guaranteed place in heaven. It is strange because even the most casual observation demonstrates that these authorities have no tangible real-world proof of their assertions. If that is true, then a huge percentage of people are giving their money to frauds. Generally all these holy men can recommend is that you pray, keep working, and wait for your rewards in heaven … and of course keep paying them to intercede for you with their imaginary gods.

Another pathetic hope is that going into debt to the bank is a quick way to personal satisfaction. They tell you that you get to have your goodies sooner, and thus to enjoy them more, by going into debt, but that’s absurd, because the moment you buy something on credit its value drops precipitously, because it is now a used item, and you could have bought an identical used item for a lot less than you paid for the new one. The amount saved by purchasing a used item in the first place, and living with it for a while, would be enough to purchase a new one in a few years, and from that point on you could always have new items because you were not in constant debt to the creditors. The only reasonable advice is to never go into debt because you are giving away your money to the bank. That means you are giving your money to people who already have more money than they need.

The world is full of examples of people grasping after impossible items, but the kicker is that by going into debt in various ways you become a slave. Perhaps not a slave with a chain around your ankle, but there might as well be one, because if you miss a payment to your creditors they will start putting pressure on you to pay up, and if that doesn’t work they will take what you thought of as your possessions away from you, and as those go away so do your social connections and all those things you hold dear, and if you don’t conform to the obligations of your self-created slavery you are soon destitute and begging in the street. It’s all because of grasping after things that are not really available to you. The obvious truth is that you can’t have the impossible because the impossible is impossible.

“You can’t have the impossible” sounds like an obvious falsehood, but it’s an obvious truth.

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