adiaforon

Not essential to the faith

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Information glut

Sometimes I ponder the staying “ignorance is bliss.”  

In my 20s, I thought there was some truth to this.  I preferred to shut my eyes and ears to things that some people were saying.  Fortunately, in the case of former friends and some family members, doing this helped me avoid many bullets.  Being nerdy and somewhat uninterested with girls helped.  It kept me out of the living hell that is the life of guys who are involved with these women.  But, maybe someone told them not to get involved, and they didn’t listen.

Ignorance is bliss.  Or, is it?

I wished that the Manosphere had existed about 15 years ago, when I was still in my 20s.  Though it might not have helped me when it came to women and dating, it would have helped me concerning what to do with my life and maybe even starting a business.  Then again, since I was in Korea during the 1997 crisis, and having to deal with that shit, I’m not sure how much that would have helped.  Information was scant, and all of us have had to deal with the problems of working with scant information. 

Now, we live in a society of an overabundance of information.  But, information can still be scant if you don’t know how to separate the wheat from the chaff.

It’s still no excuse not to be informed.

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Return . . . yet again

Spring is in the air . . . finally.  After suffering through three months of bitter cold, gray skies, and more snow than this area usually gets, I can now feel things stirring in me to get back, yet again, on the horse or writing.   I can now go out for more walks and get my thoughts in order.

Of course, I’d be kidding you if I didn’t say that laziness and poor time management factor into this a lot.  The latter is something I’ve struggled with for as long as I can remember.  Many of us do, I’ll wager.

In any event, things might be looking up for more discipline this year.  And maybe I can write more clearly.

Return . . . again

Obviously, laziness has set in again.  No matter . . . it just comes with the territory, and I’ve been living life instead of writing about it.

This, I hope to change, now that we’re moving toward the end of the first month of 2014.

First, an update . . .

I finally settled into my new apartment around the first of October.  It was a hurried move, but one that I pulled off with some aplomb (and a few beers afterward).  I moved from one end of the city to another, to a near-burb with detached houses and not the non-nondescript and unimaginative 50s and 60s era houses that I was surrounded with.

The plus side is that I’m closer to the subway (just down the street).  Another plus is that I’m closer to retail and can walk to it if I want.  (But not in this, the aftermath of the “polar vortex” that descended on much of the US this month.)

Another plus is that it’s an area that I’m somewhat familiar with.  I used to live in the adjoining city to the north over ten years ago.  My new ‘hood hasn’t changed all that much, but there are new apartments coming in down the street.  Mixed-use, I hear.  There goes the neighborhood.

Work is about the same.  A boring job with a strong lack of intellectual stimulation.  I’ve been checked out for the better part of a year, and now I’m in waiting mode for a new opportunity elsewhere in the division.  It’s the best hope I have right now for kick-starting to something else.  The commute will be longer (via subway), but, hey, at least the new place has a great gym.

And, I’ve started some courses.  Project Management Professional cert track and, in March, something in digital marketing.  The latter is what I’m looking forward to.  

More to come.  Fortunately, I’ve been writing on forums and haven’t been completely dormant.  I just have to collect those — and my thoughts — and get back into the swing of things.

Return

Ah, dear readers, I’ve been away for a while.  Lots of things were happened this summer and I needed to take some time off to rest and recuperation, which is what all of us need to do now and again so that we’re not hitting the Zoloft.  

The big thing is that my landlord was selling the house where I was residing in the basement unit, and had to find new digs.  Those of you out there that have moved before know what a shitstorm this can turn into if you’re not careful with planning.  Fortunately, I know my city and choosing a place that was attractive, cozy, and convenient wasn’t too hard.  It was more a matter of acting fast on a place that I liked before some other schmuck got it.  I nailed one and settled down,.

I have yet to get the futon, though.  Next on my list.

I’m resuming my writing on this blog now that I have a chance to breath.  I’ve also asked to become a semi-regular contributor on Price’s blog and I’ll hit up Matt Forney again.  

Stay tuned.  More to come.

Ars liberalis

Again, quiet on my end. Still reading and still looking for other job opportunities. This takes up a lot of my time.

I came across this article just now.

This is a summary of the article:

1. The liberal arts are in trouble.

2. The US government, and particularly Obama, has been focusing too much on science education.

3. The current attitude is that liberal arts is a “waste of time.” And, so much so, that the governor of Florida proposed increasing tuition on such subjects.because they’re less likely to lead to jobs.

Now, my thoughts:

Having been a liberal arts major (philosophy) myself, and going as far as getting a master’s in the subject before I sunk into a mini-depression at the thought ot being unemployable and then changing course in my life, I have mixed opinions on the subject. On the one hand, had I not had the liberal arts background, I might not have been as motivated as I was to “learn how to learn,” and to hone my research skills to find information quickly and readily, especially when the Net came into being. Since many of my undergrad professors were either incompetent, farily competent but too busy, or a bit too comfortable in their positions where they couldn’t point me in the right direction regarding research, I had to start using the library more than what I had been doing at the age of 17, when I started my freshman year in college. I needed to read, not sit in a classroom with subject matter geared toward the average learner. Learning how to learn set me up for the graduate program and in learning how to work in the real world insofar as I had to learn how to do research on companies and the jobs that they were offered. This was a skill that took time, and wasn’t a skill that I learned well in high school because most everything was spoonfed to me.

I found the liberal arts interesting, by and large. Being intellectually inclined, this matched well with my personality. I was also one of those kids who withdrew into himself because he wasn’t successful in the world of sports, drinking, girls, etc. I was serious about my education, and it was a source of pride for many years. I don’t have the same pride as I did back in my 20s because I’ve lived more and have experienced more as an older man. You can’t avoid this in life. Where I still have pride is that, looking at life with the glasses of a ‘spherian, being a bit of an egghead kept me out of trouble with marriage and date rape accusations, marriage and divorce, having kids with mentally unstable women, and fostering an anti-motivation to immediately go for those soul-sucking corporate jobs the sheeple feel they have to get before they turn 25. Sure, if would have been nice to have been gainfully employed early on, but without those bouts of unemployment, I wouldn’t have had the time to read, relax, and figure things out for myself. As the metaphor goes with the Matrix, you, the still-jacked-in, have to first sense that something is amiss. Only then can you go down the rabbit hole and see where it takes you.

Now, with (1) above, I have mixed feelings. The liberal arts might be in trouble in a formalized academic setting, but the subject matter seems to be doing fine. As I said above, there were more than a few professors that I considered incompetent in philosophy. (One that comes to mind was a trumpeter in a big band. His professorship was more of a side gig to him.) Okay, so no matter. Just read more and ask more intelligent quesitons when the opportunities present themselves. Really, speaking from the perspective of a 40-something guy, this is how you have to do it anymore. Time is of the essence. If you want to learn about Kant, read a summary on Wikipedia and then try to read Kant yourself. There are many commentaries out there, starting all the way back to the 19th century. Get the critical take on him, too, from different sources. Nietzsche was highly critical of Kant, yet Schopenhauer couldn’t have existed without Kant. Then, you follow the rabbit hole from here. But, always read critically with something in mind.

With (2), this isn’t anything new. I’ve known people who were in college in the 40s and 50s saying that science had its place and science education was good. There was math, chemistry, physics, biology, botany, and some of the softer sciences like sociology. All part of the standard curriculum, which was based on the liberal arts curriculum to make one more well-rounded as an educated human being. In the 60s, science education really took off, but wasn’t motivated by making more well-rounded human beings. Instead, as an 80-something guy once told me some years ago, the motivation was to compete with the USSR. Sputnik scared the shit out of us, so then the money flowed. All well and good. At least the money flowed. Now, it just trickles if we’re lucky. Of course, we know where the money goes, really.

Where the problem truly lies with (2) is with standardized testing. I still both laugh and shake my head whenever I hear about this. As James Howard Kunstler has said about suburbia, the suburban project was the biggest mis-allocation of resources the US has ever known. The same sentiment can be applied to standardized testing. Over ten years after No Child Left Behind, some test scores have risen, and the schools can keep their doors open. Fail to get test scores up? Bye-bye school, and then the students get fucked in the end. But, they already are being fucked with focusing on the test. So, one wonders about all this focus on “science.” Seems justified to have some hand-wringing about the lack of, and eventual loss of, liberal arts education.

On the other hand, if the liberal arts includes feminist indoctrination, then I emphatically call for a swift and ignoble death. Looking back, I’m so very grateful that I never had to take wimminz studies courses as an undergraduate, or as a graduate student. The closet I ever came to that were two female professors. The one was in an introductory computer science course, and clearly hated her male students, and the other was a 30-something woman who specialized in philosophy of mathematics and science and got her Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh. No slouch. But, her last name was a hybrid name she created with her husband. Ugh . . . gimme a break.

Finally, with (3), with my ‘spherian glasses and Cappy’s book in the background, yes, going for the liberal arts is a waste of time, truly. Don’t go into debt for these subjects. If you have to go for training, then get training and keep it up. Learn a trade. If you feel you must go to college, then do it quickly and keep the debt under $10,000 if you possibly can. You, dear ‘spherian reader, have heard this before. Start with Cappy. I have nothing more to add except that you can learn the liberal arts subject on your own.

Oh, and the article mentioned how Obama and Mitt Romney were liberal arts majors. Puh-leeze. Do I really need to spend time on someone like Romney? Here it is in summary: rich and politically connected father, attended college in the 60s, Mormon, has worked in finance most of his life. Fini.

Soror in absentia

Danny’s latest post is a very good one. He’s talking about siblings and how you can tell how red-pillish a chick is by asking whether she has an older brother, or brothers in general. The theory is that said chick will have a much better understanding of what men are really like. Same for a guy who has sisters, but probably less so.

I have a sister, but my situation was quite different when I was growing up.

In many respects, I was a de facto only child. My sister is 12 years older than I am. She came along when my parents were in their early 20s and struggling to find their place in the world and their economic footing. That was the early 60s, and my parents would be the first to tell you that they were stupid and unwise to things like birth control. (Catholic upbringing . . . go figure.) But, on the flip side, at least having a kid back in those days meant that the father could work full-time and afford the basic necessities, and a few luxuries, on one salary for the first couple of years while the mother could stay home. When I came along in the early 70s, my mother did the same thing. But, both she and my father were better established economically and already had the experience of raising one child to the cusp of adolescence. I was still a “surprise” and my mother, to this day, believes that I was born for a reason. After I came along, my mother wised up and got a hysterectomy.

So, with me, I wanted for nothing. Luckily, my parents never (and have never, after 56+ years) divorced, so I never suffered that psychological blow. I was never abused, like so many kids are nowadays. I was never put on medication for hyperactivity because my pediatrician at the time — a wise man — thought it was complete bullshit and chalked it up to “being a boy,” with which my mother agreed. School was agreeable and I got what is now referred to, either nostalgically or derogatorily, as a “liberal arts” education. This set me up for later in life, but didn’t do me any good job-wise.

But, I never really have thought of myself as a “sibling” for a long time. As I said, my sister is 12 years older than I am. By the time I was old enough to start having some kind of regular sibling relationship with her, she was married and out of the house, living with her husband about 45 minutes away from my parents. We’d visit her now and again. I’d play pool on her pool table and play with her dogs in the acreage behind the house. Good times. But, again, she never was really a sister to me. She was more like just another relative, one you visit on holidays.

Then, some years later, she started acting funny and withdrew. No one could understand why. Then, around 2000, near complete radio silence. I’ve not talked to her since then. The last time I saw her was at my grandmother’s funeral in 2006, where I was a pall bearer. She came, sat in the back of the church, and left after the eulogy. Haven’t seen her since.

I’ve told this story to a few people over the years, and every one of them scratch their heads. They can’t comprehend it. It seems easier for them to understand divorce, of if a sibling had a drug problem, or if the sibling got knocked up in their teens and was a single mother. But, this far a gap between me and my sister, and she effectively estranged herself from the family? Silence. One of those rarities, obviously.

Has any of this affected me? I’m sure it has, but it’s rather minor. I’m introverted and have been learning for many, many years how to be with myself and attend to my own needs. In light of Danny’s post, I do firmly believe that, had my sister been closer in age, then I’d have learned early on what women were really like and this would have saved me quite a bit of grief and would have shortened the learning curve (in the pre-Net and pre-‘sphere days). Oh, well . . . you can’t have everything.

Status of the blog

I’m now at the halfway point for this blog and I confess that I’ve not written all that much. Doing this blog is an idea, pure and simple, and someplace where I hope I can contribute something more worthwhile than other blogs out there.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been immersing myself in the subjects of peak oil, sustainability, and an uncertain future of diminishing energy. This takes time and I think I’ve found something where I can cut my teeth with new thoughts. Stay tuned.

Oh, I tell ya . . . if Cappy wasn’t doing his blog and dispensing (sane) economic advice, he could do stand-up or work on XM Satellite Radio on the 80s at 8.

I was listening to his one podcast here and loved what he had to say about “Boomer meat markets.” It’s a perfect moment to post this early 80s song by Asia. It’s quite the ‘sphere song for those of us “of a certain age.”

Key lines are the last stanza:

And when your looks are gone and you’re alone,
How many nights you sit beside the phone?
What were the things you wanted for yourself?
Teenager visions you remember well.

I’m sure, if ideology weren’t the way it is nowadays, this would be the vast majority of divorced Boomer women. You could even update it for we Gen Xers in ten years.

Girls (and everyone else in their lives) on film

This is a quickish post before I head out to hike on this gorgeous and sunny day . . .

Attention-whoring among modern-day girls and women is very well-known in the ‘sphere. We see it all the time on Facebook and its spinoffs, like Pinterest. There isn’t a day goes by when some of my Facebook female friends are posting some new pic, usually of themselves.

Philosopher that I am, I’ve often wondered about the female fascination with photos and taking photos of themselves, friends, and family. It might seem obvious, but as I’ve not really concentrated on this subject, it’s hard for me to come up with a cogent argument for or against.

Then, I found something from Sue Hindmarsh, and Australian philosopher. It hits the nail on the head beautifully.

Women love to keep mementos and souvenirs from past relationships, or events. Many of them place framed photos of their loved ones on every available surface, or hang them on their walls, or they’ve kept every doll they were ever given as a child, or they collect knick-knacks and fill cupboards and side-tables with them, or, like Elizabeth, they like to keep gifts from ex-boyfriends. All this ‘stuff’ surrounding them is a constant reminder of how special and wonderful their life really is. It also makes the transference from one object of desire to another object so much easier. She can still hang on to something before crossing over to the next.

It’s like they’re rock climbers, they never let go of one hand-hold before getting a grip on the next, otherwise they might fall; or in the case of women — disappear.

Reminders of how special they are. Bingo! I think she’s on to something here, by Jove!

My attitude towards and relationship to photos is more ambiguous. Sure, I’ve taken many photos in the past, especially when I was traveling, because I wanted a memento of what I had seen. It was more important in the days before digital cameras, when you had to buy film and then pay to get it developed. You were more concerned with getting that “perfect” shot so as to not waste film. Not anymore.

With that in mind, I wonder if it wasn’t Facebook but digital cameras that brought out the latent attention-whoring in women. Might be a good topic for a blog post another day.

Anyway, as I said, I think that Hindmarsh is definitely onto something here. You can read more of what she has to say here.

Now, off to hit the rocks.

“Achieving Our Country: Leftist Thought in Twentieth-Century America” by Richard Rorty

Richard Rorty (1931-2007) is known to professional philosophers and those in the humanities that care about things like cross-pollination in professional philosophy and comparative literature.  Rorty started his career as a member of the American analytic school, peopled by the intellectual progeny of Hans Reichenbach and Rudolf Carnap, with emphasis on philosophy of mind and language/semantics.  He changed his course in the late 1970s with the publication of Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature, which attempted to show that the analytic enterprise, fundamentally, was little more than splitting hairs in the manner of the medieval Scholastics.  In short, it was worthless in addressing larger societal problems.  Rorty became entranced with American pragmatism, especially John Dewey, and wrote shorter-form essays on a wide variety of philosophical topics, in a sense evangelizing a new form of pragmatism.  He began his career at Wellesley College and ended it at Stanford University, spending many years in in the interim at the University of Virginia, where he wasn’t a member of the philosophy department, which probably didn’t want him.

Achieving Our Country is the book form of the Wililam E. Massey Sr. Lectures in the History of American Civilization that Rorty delivered at Harvard n 1997.  Though an academic for his entire professional career, the language in Achieving Our Country is accessible to the educated layperson — and those who can still read printed text in real dead-tree medium, not needing an app.

I recommend this book to bookworms (and former aspiring academics) like myself who are curious to know just what the fuck happened to the Left in the US since the 19th century.  Those of us who paid attention in American history class might remember the Progressive Era (1890s to 1920s), which was a long period of reforming social and political institutions in order to grant the common people greater voices and freedoms in their own lives and in the life of the nation.  It was a social experiment, and though we’re now just realizing the extent of the mess we’re in because of another social experiment (viz., the 1960s and early 70s), we can read the history books to get a better sense of what was going on back in those days.  What happened during the Progressive Era set the stage for the New Deal once the Great Depression set in in the 1920s.

In the first paragraph of the first lecture, “American National Pride: Whitman and Dewey,” Rorty says:

Emotional involvement with one’s country — feelings of intense shame or of glowing pride aroused by various parts of its history, and by various present-day national policies — is necessary if political deliberation is to be imaginative and productive.  Such deliberation will probably not occur unless pride outweighs shame. (p. 3)

Further down, Rorty continues:

In America, at the end of the twentieth century, few inspiring images and stories are being proffered.  The only version of national pride encouraged by American popular culture is a simpleminded militaristic chauvinism.  But such chauvinism is overshadowed by a widespread sense that national pride is no longer appropriate.  In both popular and elite culture, most descriptions of what America will be like in the twenty-first century are written in tones either of self-mockery or self-disgust. (p. 4)

1997 is when he said this, mind you.  Does any of it sound familiar?  We now have had more than 15 years to see if any of this rings true.  It does . . . it certainly does.  But, this state of affairs isn’t something that happened overnight.  Rorty places the blame on self-mockery and disgust squarely on the shoulders of what he calls, later on in the book, the “cultural Left” (and what I like to call the “kooky Left”).  This Left was born in the academy and retreated into the academy.  It had no interest in dealing with social problems, like the Progressive Left did.  Instead, it chose to see things through the lens of Foucault and Heidegger — and, later on, the feminists and cultural theorists.  In short, Progressive Leftists were, in Rorty’s words, agents who looked at the evils around them and tried to propose creative solutions, always trying to keep the flames of hope alive that things would get better.  Contemporary Leftists, in contrasts, are spectators.  The world is shit, the people in it are shit, and there’s nothing that can be done about it except get tenure and have money shoveled at them so that they can write article after article about postmodernism and, in our own age, feminism.  “The Academic Left has no projects to propose to America, no vision of a country to be achieved by building a consensus on the need for specific reforms,” says Rorty (p. 15).

Rorty continues the first lecture by focusing on Walt Whitman and John Dewey, both representatives of a view that the United States was “a finite, human, historical project, rather than in something eternal and nonhuman.”  (p. 17) Rather than go into the details, it suffices to say that both Whitman and Dewey tried to escape the European fixation on “knowledge” and finding a core, unchangeable human nature.  America needs no frame of reference, no “God’s-eye view.”  It is a constant project, infused with social hope.

Rory concludes the lecture by saying that contemporary, Foucauldian Leftists have an addiction to theory.  They wish to place everything within a theoretical framework, and are addicted to Marxian (pseudo) scientific rigor.  There is a distrust of humanism, retreating from practice to theory, and an abandonment of “the process of experimentation and decision that is an individual or a national life.” (p. 38)

I continue tomorrow with the other two lectures.

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