Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Income inequality report - A crushing cycle

LA TIMES:
The researchers, led by Stanford University sociologist Robb Willer, surmised that wealthy people embedded in a milieu where rich and poor live in starkly different circumstances may feel more entitled to their moneyed status, or more threatened by the prospective loss of privilege that would come if resources more evenly distributed. They may feel that the system whereby wealth is apportioned is fairer because they so rarely come into contact with the poor.
LA TIMES:
The findings, published in Friday's edition of the journal Science, indicate that an urgent need — making rent, getting money for food — tugs at the attention so much that it can reduce the brainpower of anyone who experiences it, regardless of innate intelligence or personality. There's a widespread tendency to assume that poor people don't have money because they are lazy, unmotivated or just not that sharp, said study coauthor Sendhil Mullainathan, a behavioral economist at Harvard University. "That's a broad narrative that's pretty common," Mullainathan said. "Our intuition was quite different: It's not that poor people are any different than rich people, but that being poor in itself has an effect." "Almost like a computer that has some other process running the background, poverty creates this nagging background process and that could itself have an effect on actual cognitive capacity," Mullainathan said.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

He pities the plumage, but forgets the dying bird.

"Not one glance of compassion, not one commiserating reflection that I can find throughout his book, has he bestowed on those who lingered out the most wretched of lives, a life without hope in the most miserable of prisons. It is painful to behold a man employing his talents to corrupt himself. Nature has been kinder to Mr. Burke than he is to her. He is not affected by the reality of distress touching his heart, but by the showy resemblance of it striking his imagination. He pities the plumage, but forgets the dying bird. Accustomed to kiss the aristocratical hand that hath purloined him from himself, he degenerates into a composition of art, and the genuine soul of nature forsakes him. His hero or his heroine must be a tragedy-victim expiring in show, and not the real prisoner of misery, sliding into death in the silence of a dungeon."
Thomas Paine,
Answer to Mr. Burke's Attack on the French Revolution

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

John Gray - the silence of animals notes quotes

Freud – “In the realm of fiction we find the plurality of lives which we need.”
Tertullian – “Credo quia absurdum – I believe because it is absurd. “
Few human beings are as unhappy as those who have a gift that no one wants.
The myth of progress is the chief consolation of modern humankind.
Freud dying…Near the end of his illness, when he could no longer smoke, he described life as “a small island of pain floating in an ocean of indifference.”
“The rest is silence.”
“All philosophy is a critique of language.” Wittgenstein
If human life requires repression, it also needs myth.
Denying reality in order to preserve a view of the world is not a practice confined to cults. Cognitive dissonance is the normal human condition.

Friday, October 16, 2015

David Foster Wallace on Toxic Postmodernism

I have revisited David Foster Wallace and what I appreciate about him is that he critiques the postmodern hyper sarcasm and cynicism...too much of it can be a paralyzing force... it makes me think of the era of the Simpsons, Family Guy, and South Park where nothing is real, genuine, sacred, or meaningful...
“What passes for hip cynical transcendence of sentiment is really some kind of fear of being really human, since to be really human [...] is probably to be unavoidably sentimental and naïve and goo-prone and generally pathetic.” ― David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest
"Postmodern irony and cynicism's become an end in itself, a measure of hip sophistication and literary savvy. Few artists dare to try to talk about ways of working toward redeeming what's wrong, because they'll look sentimental and naive to all the weary ironists. Irony's gone from liberating to enslaving. There's some great essay somewhere that has a line about irony being the song of the prisoner who's come to love his cage… The postmodern founders' patricidal work was great, but patricide produces orphans, and no amount of revelry can make up for the fact that writers my age have been literary orphans throughout our formative years."
“There's good self-consciousness, and then there's toxic, paralyzing, raped-by-psychic-Bedouins self-consciousness.”
David Foster Wallace

Monday, September 7, 2015

On the heights of Despair in Damascus دمشق

“We were fond together because of the sweep of open places, the taste of wide winds, the sunlight, and the hopes in which we worked. The morning freshness of the world-to-be intoxicated us. We were wrought up with ideas inexpressible and vaporous, but to be fought for. We lived many lives in those whirling campaigns, never sparing ourselves: yet when we achieved and the new world dawned, the old men came out again and took our victory to remake in the likeness of the former world they knew. Youth could win, but had not learned to keep, and was pitiably weak against age. We stammered that we had worked for a new heaven and a new earth, and they thanked us kindly and made their peace.”
T.E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph
Picture of Lawrence in Damascus on the height of success in the Arab Revolt. There is something haunting about it. Getting to the top and realizing there is something like an abyss.
The philosopher Cioran wrote a book of essays called "on the heights of despair"

Monday, August 31, 2015

Game of Thrones quotes

Love is poison. A sweet poison, yes, but it will kill you all the same.
Cersei Lannister
A Clash of Kings
I rose too high, loved too hard, dared too much. I tried to grasp a star, overreached, and fell.
A Dance with Dragons, George R. Martin
I never wanted to see half the things I’ve seen, and I’ve never seen half the things I wanted to.
A Feast for Crows, George R. Martin
He may not look as tall or strong as some, but he is worth more than all of them.
A Storm of Swords
There are no heroes…In life, the monsters win.
A Game of Thrones, Sansa Stark
How much can a crown be worth, when a crow can dine upon a king?
A Feast for Crows
The brightest flame casts the darkest shadow.
George R. Martin
My skin has turned to porcelain, to ivory, to steel.
Sansa Stark, A Storm of Swords

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Living Wage News: Restaurant pays waiters $25 an hour

"I think that restaurants will have to do this,” said Ms. Cohen, who pays servers at Dirt Candy $25 an hour, well above the $7.50 for tipped workers that will go into effect in New York at the end of the year. “How else do you compensate for this extra money you’ll have to pay?”
Like many owners, Ms. Cohen has long wanted to close the yawning earnings gap between those who prepare the food and those who serve it. Tips are not shared with the kitchen staff, whereas the revenue from certain types of surcharges and higher menu prices can be distributed to everyone. Restaurateurs tick off a long list of reasons for being drawn to the idea. In some cities like New York, where tipping is subject to a confusing welter of federal, state and local regulations and tax laws, eliminating it would simplify bookkeeping. Managers say it would also allow them to better calibrate wages to reward employees based on the length of their service and the complexity of their jobs.
NY Times Article

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Nations are born in the hearts of poets, they prosper and die in the hands of politicians

"Nations are born in the hearts of poets, they prosper and die in the hands of politicians." Muhammad Iqbal
TE Lawrence after the Arab revolt and how the politicians of France and Great Britain took over the process: “…the old men came out again and took our victory to re-make in the likeness of the former world they knew.”

Fallen Leaves

I imagine leaves must feel like this after they have fallen from their tree,” Lawrence wrote a friend one week before the motorcycle accident that killed him.

Monday, August 10, 2015

The ridiculous and the sublime/ the provincial and the universal/ the trivial and the titanic

What is consciousness in a perishable universe? What is consciousness on top of a meat stick? A flicker. A spark. A moment. We have to navigate the trivial and provincial to get to a point where we can actually think on the big picture and the universal themes. From the sublime to the ridiculous there is only one step the saying goes. And we humans fluctuate between these states of mind hour by hour and day by day. One moment we can study the stars... the other moment our stomach demands food and our eyes grow tired.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Quote of the day

"The cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness. Although the two are identical twins, man, as a rule, views the prenatal abyss with more calm than the one he is heading for (at some forty-five hundred heartbeats an hour)."
Vladimir Nabokov, Speak, Memory

Friday, July 31, 2015

In the overwhelming ocean of life

Transcendent ideas keep humans mentally alfloat while alive but the reality is we all sink into physiological oblivion. Our ability to be smug about the Universe has a purpose to keep a person mentally stable. In the overwhelming ocean of life we grab onto transcendent ideas to keep afloat and with faith we walk on water. Nature catches up though and despite our bravado of human language the decomposition of the body rolls on.
Humans need to anchor themselves in some transcendence. We demand answers now when in reality we have to wait. We demand a final solution to problems that are beyond our ability to solve. That is the magic of faith it takes away the burden and limits of human knowledge and takes away the question mark. Are bad answers better than no answers?

When Opportunity mates with the Prepared, Success is born.

When Opportunity mates with the Prepared, Success is born.

The sea washed my follies and my vanities away

"Young I was, and vain, but the sea washed my follies and my vanities away. That man drowned, nephew. His lungs filled with seawater, and the fish ate the scales off his eyes. When I rose again, I saw clearly."
George Martin, A Clash of Kings

Stolen Valor

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Lucretius quote

Atoms and Evolution not Adam and Eve

A shark eating a man is better explained from biological evolution than the sin of Adam and Eve. The human being and the shark come from the guts of stars and the deep evolutionary process that has played out over millions of years. Atoms and Evolution not Adam and Eve. Viruses and bacteria do not treat the human species as sacred. The other organisms on Earth operate with little regard to the human species or its claims.
"Humans are not the end result of predictable evolutionary progress, but rather a fortuitous cosmic afterthought, a tiny little twig on the enormously arborescent bush of life, which if replanted from seed, would almost surely not grow this twig again...But, you see, you don't see that unless you're willing to look at the history of life as the full range of its variation through time. I mean, it is true the most complex thing has gotten more complex. Once there were only bacteria. Now there are humans, but that's not the result of an intrinsic defining central drive. It's just a kind of random movement away from a necessary beginning at maximal bacterial simplicity. That's all it is.
The human mind delights in finding pattern—so much so that we often mistake coincidence or forced analogy for profound meaning. No other habit of thought lies so deeply within the soul of a small creature trying to make sense of a complex world not constructed for it... We are here because one odd group of fishes had a peculiar fin anatomy that could transform into legs for terrestrial creatures; because the earth never froze entirely during an ice age; because a small and tenuous species, arising in Africa a quarter of a million years ago, has managed, so far, to survive by hook and by crook. We may yearn for a 'higher' answer---but none exists."
Stephen Jay Gould
"That there is much suffering in the world no one disputes. Which is more likely, that pain and evil are the result of an all-powerful and good God, or the product of uncaring natural forces? The presence of much suffering agrees well with the view that all organic beings have been developed through variation and natural selection."
Charles Darwin

Once you label me you negate me

"Once you label me you negate me."
Soren Kierkegaard
People will constantly be trying to put you in a box. A box of race, gender, age, and job. The key is for you not to limit yourself to their boxes. They want to put limits on you with no reciprocity. Remember that it is about rhetorical influence and power and always has been in the game of society. If they can keep you in that box they can better control you.

Monday, July 20, 2015

The tyrant of time has pushed me away from you

The tyrant of time has pushed me away from you and though my heart desires to reach back I can only look back with longing at what might have been. No longer the same man I was. You could of loved me then in my youth. Now I am dying and the energy that hope brings has left my body. Even you must face this fate my beloved. We creatures that fall apart in love with other beings that fall apart.

Infinite Purpose - War forever

Carlos Lozada:
Coates wrote in the earlier memoir. “All the great wars had been fought, and I was left to rummage through the myths of my fathers.” Coates has found his new wars, mainly by realizing that the old ones never really went away. And now “Between the World and Me” seeks to impart that consciousness not just to his son but to all of us.
Khalil Gibran:
The people are the slaves of Life, and it is slavery which fills their days with misery and distress, and floods their night with tears and anguish…I have followed man from Babylon to Cairo, and from Ain Dour to Baghdad, and observed the marks of his chains on the sand. I heard the sad echoes of the fickle ages… she is an everlasting ailment bequeathed by each generation unto its successor. I found the blind slavery, which ties the people’s present with their parents past, and urges them to yield to their traditions and customs, placing ancient spirits in the new bodies.
"The potency of myth is that it allows us to make sense of mayhem and violent death. It gives a justification to what is often nothing more than gross human cruelty and stupidity. It allows us to believe we have achieved our place in human society because of a long chain of heroic endeavors, rather than accept the sad reality that we stumble along a dimly lit corridor of disasters. It disguises our powerlessness.”
― Chris Hedges, War Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning

Sunday, July 19, 2015

TE Lawrence - Still remain always unsatisfied

This is an idiot letter, and amounts to nothing except cry for a further change which is idiocy, for I change my abode every day, and my job every two days, and my language every three days, and still remain always unsatisfied. I hate being in front, and I hate being back and I don't like responsibility, and I don't obey orders. Altogether no good just now. A long quiet like a purge and then a contemplation and decision of future roads, that is what is to look forward to.
You want apparently some vivid colouring of an Arab costume, or of a flying Turk, and we have it all, for that is part of the mise en scene of the successful raider, and hitherto I am that. My bodyguard of fifty Arab tribesmen, picked riders from the young men of the deserts, are more splendid than a tulip garden, and we ride like lunatics and with our Beduins pounce on unsuspecting Turks and destroy them in heaps: and it is all very gory and nasty after we close grips. I love the preparation, and the journey, and loathe the physical fighting. Disguises, and prices on one's head, and fancy exploits are all part of the pose: how to reconcile it with the Oxford pose I know not.
TE Lawrence letter to V. W. Richards, July 15 1917

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Tjololo - The one that stands alone

Of the leopard, naturalist Maitland Edey wrote, “He is an animal of darkness, and even in the dark he travels alone.”
Tjololo, a melding of words from the Swazi and Shangaan languages, which means “the one that stands alone.”

Death is nothing to us.

Those who are keenly aware of the demands of the mortal body do not look at death as an enemy but rather as a strange friend. Or nothing at all. You can be free of that mortal master now. No more serving that master of time. That master of place. No more hunger, or lack, or the eyes of other creatures upon your body.
You can now be free from the view and grasp of other mortals, their superstitions, their judgments, their racism, their eyes can no longer prey on you and their economics can no longer enslave you. Meta body. The Nirvana the Buddha knew to pursue.
Montaigne wrote,
It seemed to me that my life was hanging only by the tip of my lips; I closed my eyes in order, it seemed to me, to help push it out, and took pleasure in growing languid and letting myself go. It was an idea that was only floating on the surface of my soul, as delicate and feeble as all the rest, but in truth not only free from distress but mingled with that sweet feeling that people have who let themselves slide into sleep...If you don’t know how to die, don’t worry; Nature will tell you what to do on the spot, fully and adequately. Nature compels us to it. "Go out of this world," says she, "as you entered into it; the same pass you made from death to life, without passion or fear, the same, after the same manner, repeat from life to death. Your death is a part of the order of the universe, 'tis a part of the life of the world.
Life is violent. Death is gentle.