We the Ancients
It is odd that we consider ourselves modern rather than ancient. What are the chances that we live closer to the end of time than to its beginning? It is a strange conceit to consider ourselves the culmination of history. Would it not make more sense to assume ourselves to be living, largely, in the deep past, with all the attendant problems of having learned so little?
Here we are hidden in the deep recesses of time, blithely making our way through the confusing fog of not knowing where we really live and never having left our own planet.
We spend too much time enthralled by even numbers. We can instantly tell if a number is even or odd and often have preferences in the matter. In grade school we memorize rules like
An even plus an even is an even An odd plus an odd is an even An even plus an odd is and odd And so forth to rules of multiplication. But this magical quality of numbers really just means evenly divisible by 2.
The Art of Thinking
I am not an expert on thinking. It is something that I do a lot of, but most of the time I do it badly. Thinking isn’t, in itself, the most important thing we do. The most important thing is that we respond appropriately to any given situation.
Most of our responses to people, things, and situations are determined by, what we call in programming, a look-up table. This just means that our response is preconditioned.
So You Think You Are Smart
Maybe you don’t think you are terribly clever and for that I congratulate you for seeing the truth so clearly. By that I mean that none of us are terribly good at this thinking business and a little humility about the matter is on point. This isn’t to say that I think humans are dumb, quite the opposite, but usually when we think of people being smart or not so smart, we are thinking in relation to other people.
Love Your Enemies
I first noticed an alarming trend nearly 20 years ago with a rise of rhetoric surrounding “bullies.” Bullies it seemed were everywhere and suddenly it was imperative that we hit them. Looking at trends on Google NGrams, suggesting violence against bullies has blown through levels not seen since the run up to world war 2.
I am not entirely sure what this means. It could be that we mention bullies far more than in the past.
Why Blog Badly
The world doesn’t need another blog, and it certainly doesn’t need one as low effort as mine. So why bother at all? It’s not about the world. It’s me. You see, I have many thoughts on many things. These thoughts have the bad habit of turning into firmly held opinions, opinions I’ve no business being so sure of, having never subjected them to careful critique.
Writing things down, where others might see them, forces me think more carefully.
One thing that became quite clear with last month’s trucker convoy in Ottawa, is that idea smuggling is alive and well. The concept probably has an official term, but I am going to call it Idea Smuggling because it sounds catchy and secretive. In fact it has all the ingredients I need to lower the core concept’s barrier to entry into your mind! OK not really, but that is what idea smuggling is; finding a path into our minds that is unguarded and using that to get ideas into our heads without subjecting them to the usual scrutiny.
Why Am I Seeing Propaganda?
One remarkable difference between the war in the Ukraine and past conflicts is how we get our information. In second gulf war, I would head to the Graduate Student Center and watch solemn anchors, embedded with the troops, report live on the events of the day. I in turn would nod sadly as they related the heroic deeds of our all American soldiers righting the terrible wrongs of an insane and evil dictator.
How to Think About War
For me, it is impossible to understand the distant situation between Russia and the Ukraine. The best I can manage is understanding my own mind as it reacts to news out of eastern Europe. I have certain tendencies that mirror what I have seen online from other people and organizations. I am not sure my inclinations are always worthwhile, but they can at least serve as a starting point for thinking more deeply about war in general and the war in Ukraine in particular.