snow on dead branch, noble things are rare and difficult, kill your inner zombie

snow on dead branch

All noble things are as difficult as they are rare. ~ Spinoza

Is being able to reprogram skin cells to use to repair damaged heart cells, the biological singularity 2.0. There are many ways a heart can be damaged. Smoking is one, just experiencing life is another. Carson McCullers’ novel The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter is a classic example. Hearts have been known to become bitter and hateful. A condition which originates in the mind and spreads – Conservative Lou Dobbs Suggests New Black Panthers Party is Obama’s “Base”. The New Black Panther Party is listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group. They are kindred spirits of Mr. Dobbs. They have all looked inward at the base venal part of themselves, embraced and nurtured it. They have not reached and probably never will reach that moment of epiphany in which they embrace the soul. Sometimes what eats at people starts on the outside and works it’s way in. The smell of urine seems to work that way, Sick of sofa smelling of urine, woman sets it afire — and burns down her building (h/t).  Jill Samantha Wooten, 45 of Fort Myers spared her live in boyfriend the flame treatment, inflicting spits and kicks instead. Conservative Republican Phyllis Schlafly and her organization Eagle Forum says that minority births are ‘Not A Good Thing’ Because They ‘Don’t Share American Values’. If one assumes that blind hatred of people based on ethnicity is an American value. Those of us who are veterans of the intertubes know that when you push the little buttons with letters and numbers, on occasion can be seen and repeated by others – a lesson recently learned by George Tierney of Greenville South Carolina. Tierney’s feelings about women who think for themselves are funny, but they also reveal a disturbing level of hostility. In addition to learning so much about the internet and George Tierney of Greenville South Carolina I also recently learned that stealing, corruption, exploitation, greed, maliciousness, serial lying, cheating, sordid trashy behavior, spinning reality and supreme arrogance are solid conservative patriotic values – so a big thanks to Wall Street – Heist of the century: Wall Street’s role in the financial crisis, Mitt Romney, corporate America and  Eric at CNN. When their parents told them to find something to do and be good at it, those people listened. Maybe some parents should be more specific. Social media  and the Internet allowed young Arab women to play a central role in the Arab Spring uprisings. One hopes this is a tiny step toward modernity for Arabs in the Middle-East. A seed as it were. This old news story not a good example, but is there is some elements of self-determination and I ain’t taking no sh*t modern attitude, 16 January 1905, HAIR-PULLING WOMEN IN FLATBUSH COURT:
In the Flatbush court to-day was aired the quarrel of Mrs. Kate
CAMPBELL and Mrs. Bridget GRAHAM and Mrs. Helen LYNCH, all living at
1223 Atlantic avenue. Mrs. CAMPBELL was the complainant against the
other two women who were under arrest.  She said that on Dec. 28 Mrs.
GRAHAM had pulled her out of her apartment, kicked her and broke out a
tooth and that Mrs. LYNCH had pulled her hair, getting several bunches
of it. – Brooklyn Daily Standard Union.

Back in the day America was all unicorns and white picket fences, ” Last Saturday night, J. K. Tehan, a logging camp hand, drank over fifteen bottles of whiskey in two or three hours time and died.” Oregon,1891.  @TweetsofOld

coal miners, men and boys , circa 1900 USA.

Does anyone know how many boys and men it takes working ten hours a day to create one millionaire coal mine owner. Or how much coal they have to mine. Or how many will die of black lung or other respiratory problems. It is probably very anti-conservative version of capitalism to ponder such trivia.

This first paragraph is an overs simplification of some books that have come out in the last year or so on neuroscience and free will. Both the writer and the one he refers to at the NYT have taken the crest of a subject, done routinely over the centuries by writers and currently a specificity of bloggers, and given it the contrarian smartass treatment. Nothing wrong with that, just calling the phenomenon what it is, The Zombie Within  

The zombie within: the idea that we don’t know what we are doing, or where we are going, when we think we best know, is an old one. (The words I’ve just paraphrased are Emerson’s.)

James Atlas, in a recent New York Times article, is probably on to something when he notices that there has been an explosion recently of what he wittily calls Can’t-Help-Yourself Books. These are books that take as their starting point something like the idea that science now teaches us the “choices we make in day-to-day life are prompted by impulses lodged deep within the nervous system” and that, therefore, in some sense, we are not really the authors of our own actions, responses, choices.

That done we get on with the also slightly worn, though still thoughtful proposition that we do make, what appears to be conscious decisions, and should continue to try and act in our own rational self interests. Further, to immerse ourselves in mastering skills. The last part an interesting place to take the discussion.

Yes, athletes, musicians, drivers and chess players, when they are in the flow, can act fast without needing to make decisions about what to do. But this is not because they aren’t thinking. Nor is it because they are thinking really fast. It’s because they are thinking about what matters, such as the musical ideas or the traffic or the potential vulnerability of the King to attack. Mastery consists precisely in shifting attention from the mechanics of a task to, if you like, the task’s point.

Nothing illustrates this better than the case of language itself. We learn to decline and conjugate so that we can talk. The learner of a second language needs to give painstaking attention to grammatical choices and rules. But conversation — thoughtful participation in the parry and thrust, the give and take — requires that we stop focusing on the grammar and start focusing on what we are doing. What is required is not that we become automata, or forget the grammar; what is required is that we become masters of it.

An animated version of The Scream by Sebastian Cosor. This is one person’s interpretation of Edvard Munch’s painting. A little too dark and literal  an interpretation in my view, but still interesting and skillfully done.

“I was walking along a path with two friends – the sun was setting – suddenly the sky turned blood red – I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence – there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city – my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety – and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature.”
Edvard Munch, 1893