Category: Noteworthy

The body as the yardstick for meaning

| May 8, 2016 | Reply

Mark Johnson (of “Metaphors we live By,” written with George Lakoff) gave this excellent talk destroying the notion that meaning is something ethereal and disembodied. Instead, the body is the yardstick for meaning. This talk turns much of traditional epistemology upside down.

Johnson opens the talk with a Billy Collins talk titled “Purity.”


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Quotes on dangers of materialism

| May 5, 2016 | 1 Reply

I offer these quotes as a hypocrite who strives to live less in the world of things.  I found many of these on a site called Tentmaker.

It is preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, that prevents us from living freely and nobly. –Thoreau 

Any so-called material thing that you want is merely a symbol: you want it not for itself, but because it will content your spirit for the moment. –Mark Twain

An object in possession seldom retains the same charm that it had in pursuit. –Pliny the Younger

Many go fishing all their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.— Thoreau

Possessions are usually diminished by possession. –Nietzsche

The saddest thing I can imagine is to get used to luxury. –Charlie Chaplin

Most of the luxuries and many of the so-called comforts of life are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind. –Thoreau

The man who pets a lion may tame it, but the man who coddles the body makes it ravenous.– John Climacus

The most terrible thing about materialism, even more terrible than its proneness to violence, is its boredom, from which sex, alcohol, drugs, all devices for putting out the accusing light of reason and suppressing the unrealizable aspirations of love, offer a prospect of deliverance. –Malcolm Muggeridge

All earthly joy begins pleasantly, but at the end it gnaws and kills. –Thomas a’Kempis

You say, ‘If I had a little more, I should be very satisfied.’ You make a mistake. If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled. –Charles Haddon Spurgeon 

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.–Mahatma Gandhi 

Thousands upon thousands are yearly brought into a state of real poverty by their great anxiety not to be thought of as poor.—Robert Mallett

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. –Jim Elliot

The be-all and end-all of life should not be to get rich, but to enrich the world. — B. C. Forbes

A man has made at least a start on discovering the meaning of human life when he plants shade trees under which he knows full well he will never sit.–D. Elton Trueblood 

Learn to live a life of honest poverty, if you must, and turn to more important matters than transporting gold to your grave. – Credenda

That man is the richest whose pleasures are the cheapest. — Thoreau


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On Being Primed For Worse

| November 25, 2014 | 1 Reply
On Being Primed For Worse

Haven’t we been gearing up for some kind of O.K. Corral showdown pretty much since the announcement that there would be a grand jury? Haven’t we been gearing up for some kind of O.K. Corral showdown pretty much since the announcement that there would be a grand jury? Sure looked like we expected what we got. [More . . . ]


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Guided meditation Video

| October 7, 2014 | Reply

I’ve soured on Sam Harris over the years, but I still find him to be highly articular and engaging.

In recent weeks, some friends have indicated that I look absorbed and even anxious, even though my life is filled with joys and possibilities. I have been told that I have tied myself in knots, and I have heard, “You need to get out of your own way.” For the umpteenth time, it has been suggested that I consider meditation in order to clear my mind.

You can learn about meditation in many places. I’ve read articles and even a book on meditation. Today, I stumbled across this video by Sam Harris, who has long been an advocate of meditation. The fact that he is also well versed in cognitive science caused me to be interested in his approach to meditation. This is a 26 minute guided meditation. I found myself surprisingly able to hang onto the process and to escape some of the things that have been distracting me as I viewed this video. I’m going to come back to this several more times, while I continue to explore personal meditation.


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Race Day

| August 23, 2014 | 2 Replies

I just finished running a 5K in downtown St. Louis, finishing at 26:12.

My concern is that there are people running the race who have runners’ physiques–they have long legs and they glide like they aren’t even touching the ground.  An even bigger concern is that some of the people they allow to enter the race are able to run much faster than me.  For instance, the man that won my age bracket finished in 19 min.  It’s not fair that they let people like that enter the race. Even worse, the race was filled with morning people–They walk around annoying owls like me by being chipper at 7am.  I’m going to propose that they begin their next 5K annual race at 10pm, that they screen out all of the larks, and that they ban all of the people who are unfairly fast.


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Myths of Authority in Practice

| August 22, 2014 | 2 Replies
Myths of Authority in Practice

I’ve been trying to come to terms with Ferguson since it began. The shooting of Michael Browne sparked a response that surprised many people and the counter responses have been equally surprising among certain people, not so much among certain others. Every time I start to write something I find what I intended to say had already been said better elsewhere. [More . . . ]


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Rambo, the name and the apple and the name

| August 2, 2014 | Reply

Last night at an art gallery, I met a woman named Jan, who mentioned that her middle name was “Rambo.” Guaranteed conversation piece. I bit. “Any relation to the Sylvester Stallone movie?” She explained that her great great great . . . . grandfather was a neighbor of William Penn, and was somewhat famous for developing the “Rambo” apple, quickly a prized species that can still be bought today.

Fast forward to recent times, and I’m quoting from Wikipedia now: “According to author David Morrell, the apple provided the name for the hero of his novel, First Blood, which gave rise to the Rambo film franchise. The novelist’s wife brought home a supply of the fruit as he was trying to come up with a suitable name for the protagonist.” Who would have seen that path from the name Rambo to the movie character.


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True war heroes

| March 29, 2014 | Reply

Many of us “Support the U.S. Troops” in the Middle East even though we have no idea what they are doing on a day to day basis. There is no significant news reporting from the areas where the soldiers do whatever they do, so many Americans fills this vacuum with hopeful imagination. I don’t. I assume the worst. Sunshine is the best disinfectant, and there is no sunshine where the U.S. military is operating in the Middle East. At any time over the past ten years, you could read 100 consecutive days of most any local newspaper, and you wouldn’t know anything about the day to day conduct of members of the U.S. military. You would barely know that we were at war. There have been no meaningful photos and no stories to advise us of what is really going on, where our heavily armed military encounters civilians.

Nonetheless, in our ignorance, we declare ALL troops to be heroes, clapping for them at baseball games and other social events, having no idea what they are actually doing. Imagine honoring any other profession, not having any self-critical information with regard to that person’s activities. “Ladies and Gentlemen, let me hear a round of applause for Joe, who is a great musician,”imagine everyone in the room clapping, even though none of them had ever heard of Joe, and none of them have heard him play even one note.

Sometimes we do learn what a soldier has actually done, and sometimes it is a actually the story of a hero. Take the case of Hugh Thompson, who stepped up to do what was right, at his own risk:

Returning to the My Lai area at around 0900 after refueling, he noticed that the people he had marked were now dead. Out in a paddy field beside a dike 200 metres (660 ft) south of the village, he marked the location of a wounded young Vietnamese woman. Thompson and his crew watched from a low hover as Captain Ernest Medina (commanding officer of C Company, 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment) came up to the woman, prodded her with his foot, and then shot and killed her.

[More . . . ]


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How to eat a lightbulb

| January 18, 2014 | 1 Reply

You can really eat a light bulb. I saw this done at a fair a few years ago. Fascinating. The instructor says, “Don’t try this at home.”


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