Saturday, June 29, 2013

Medium chill beats the bitch-goddess

In 1906 William James wrote to H.G.Wells of

“The moral flabbiness born of the exclusive worship of the bitch-goddess SUCCESS. That, with the squalid cash interpretation put on the word 'success' - is our national disease.”

He was a century ahead of David Roberts, who says the way to subdue the bitch-goddess is with an attitude and behavior he calls "medium chill":
"Medium chill" has become something of a slogan for my wife and me....We now have a smallish house in a nondescript working class Seattle neighborhood with no sidewalks. We have one car, a battered old minivan with a large dent on one side where you have to bang it with your hip to make the door shut. Our boys go to public schools. Our jobs pay enough to support our lifestyle, mostly anyway. If we wanted, we could both do the "next thing" on our respective career paths. She could move to a bigger company. I could freelance more, angle to write for a bigger publications, write a book, hire a publicist, whatever. We could try to make more money. Then we could fix the water pressure in our shower, redo the back patio, get a second car, or hell, buy a bigger house closer in to town. Maybe get the kids in private schools. All that stuff people with more money than us do. But ... meh..."
What Careerist Americans Can Learn From Ike, Dorothy Day and Jimmy Buffett - Conor Friedersdorf - The Atlantic

And here's one of the ways I achieve medium chill:

is a hammock, a mild June Sunday, & a good friend alongside.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Smile for the camera

The pale blue dot's about to get an update!
On July 19, 2013, the Cassini cameras will be turned to image Saturn and its entire ring system during the planet's eclipse of the sun. In the lower right, among the outer diffuse rings that encircle Saturn, will be a small speck of blue light with all of us on it. A mosaic of  images covering the rings from one end to the other, some taken in those filters that are used to make a natural color scene -- that looks like what human eyes would see -- will be taken at this time.  Also to be recorded: an image of the highest resolution that we are capable of taking, in which we will find Earth and its moon.  One will be a colorless, star-like point of light.  The other, of course, will be a pale blue dot... Carolyn Porco
RDFRS: July 19, 2013: A Day To Celebrate the Pale Blue Dot

Friday, June 14, 2013

Light beats darkness

Dedicated to the overheated sunburned ecstasy-seekers at Bonnaroo '13, including Older Daughter. Enjoy the mystery tour, kids. Say hello to Paul.

The Laughing Heart

your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.
-- by Charles Bukowski

Friday, June 7, 2013

Left Right Left Right

The greatest possible health care reform would be achieved if we'd just finally listen to George Macauley Trevelyan.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

How we walk

Americans don’t often stray into in-depth discussions of walking these days, except in the context of how to avoid it, just as we don’t talk about spatterdashes or the many uses of borax. That’s not to say we’ve lost the vocabulary: there’s shamble, shuffle, stroll, tramp, tromp, slog, saunter, amble, trudge, plod, dawdle, march, stride, traipse, and mosey. But they tend to exist now in a sort of vocabulary ghetto, employed chiefly by hard-up novelists looking for a shortcut to describe two things at once: mood and mobility. (“Marching toward Bethlehem” is a much different proposition than “slouching toward Bethlehem.”) Since society abandoned walking en mass for riding in upholstered comfort atop a metal box harnessed to a series of small explosions, we hardly pay attention to how we walk...
The Smart Set: Walk This Way - January 21, 2013

Philosophy's not like counting beans

In Britain the academic-administative beancounters call it "impact," in Tennessee they call it "learning outcomes assessment," but Nigel Warburton calls it absurd. I agree.
One of the most disturbing things about academic philosophy today is the way that so many supposed gadflies and rebels in philosophy have just rolled over in the face of the ["accountability movement"] – particularly by going along with the idea of measuring and quantifying impact,” he says, making inverted commas with his fingers, “a technical notion which was constructed for completely different disciplines. I’m not even sure what research means in philosophy. Philosophers are struggling to find ways of describing what they do as having impact as defined by people who don’t seem to appreciate what sort of things they do. This is absurd. Why are you wasting your time? Why aren’t you standing up and saying philosophy’s not like that?
How can you call yourselves philosophers? | Talking Philosophy Accelerating Intelligence News