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Archive for the ‘myth’ Category

Apparently a lot of people want to live forever.

Last week I read an article about cryonics company, Alcor, and their founder.  Apparently he passed away. A couple of years ago I read the book “Frozen”.   (Alcor has been fighting that book for some time.)   I’ve also read / watched stuff from Aubrey De Grey and all the stuff from Ray Kurzweil.   I’ve had conversations face to face with “singularists”.   And, of course, the efforts to get humans to mars I watch with extreme curiosity.

All of these are modern equivalents of the search for the fountain of youth, religious salvation and belief in the afterlife.

Do you, dear reader, want to live forever?  Do you want to preserve some specific way of life, your way of life, humanity?   It’s maddening to me that a large number of humans want to make some basic version of this existence go on forever.   It seems insane to me to want to promote this specific way of life considering how little we actually know and how frequently we kill each other and the planet.

Personally I’d find it miserable to live forever or to be reanimated in the future with my current form.   One lifetime, as a human, is enough.   A couple of years ago I read this book, Forever, by Pete Hamill.  It depressed me a great deal.   The main character lives forever.  He watches many generations and friends live, suffer and die.   All the joy and up moments were dwarfed by knowing it was an endless cycle – living forever wasn’t all there was!  It was a similar lesson I pulled from Man from Earth and Moon.  Maybe I need to read and watch more hopeful views of living forever.

Chasing immortality strikes me more as fear than some aspirational ideal.  If not the fear of death or regret over something not done in the life time, it must be some ridiculous belief that one or humanity SHOULD live forever and promote this particular formation of life.   Whether it’s fear or some anthropocentric imperative the pursuit of immortality seems like a big fat cop out.

People die.  Species go extinct.  We have limited time and resources at our disposal.  We should stop looking for infinite sources of energy and life and start learning to live better (in whatever way you take that) with less.   Stop damaging other things in pursuit of a cop out.  It’s a waste.  In fact, it appears to me to be a HORRIBLE strategy for ultimate survival of whatever it is we’re trying to protect.

But is the pull of survival of genes, the body, the species so great we can’t help ourselves but to spread the human and our own gospel?  I don’t think so.  Thousands of other species of life execute a variety of other strategies that don’t seem so damn selfish and fated.   Insects, fish and the dinosaurs have about 100x+ the longevity as humanity and as far as history suggests, none of the creatures in those phylums chased immortality.

Could “intelligence” be at the root of this?  Hard to give a truthful argument for this idea.   I conjecture that it’s actually a horrible side effect of “intelligence” in the same vein as the illusion of free will.   Intelligence conjures these things up by accident and they seem to fit conveniently into a world view that keeps the intelligent being going – being fruitful and multiplying.   It might also be the case that this is an evolutionary mutation where a strategy extinguishes itself.

We’ll never know… or maybe some will find a path to immortality and they will come to know.  or maybe we’re actually creating these immortal versions of ourselves in all these Web based things we keep inventing.  If any of that comes to pass I hope whatever carries on has a far better grasp of reality and what’s worth carrying on.

And please oh please don’t let immortality be born out of freezing our heads and reanimating them in some weird duct taped, half baked future.  It’s just creepy.

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Dr. Tim Maudin posits in his “BIGTHINK.COM” article, that there is not much procedural difference between how one arrives at philosophical axioms for life and scientific ones.

However, let’s not wax Pollyannaic to the gods of ‘blog’; there are major processes that are different.   The philosophical axioms of life that one distills along the way are private and not amiable to testing or any type of validation or falsification.  That’s good for the individual according to those that traffic in concepts, metaphors, mysticism and similes, but it is not so relatively good for the species and the universe.  Those philosophical interpretations, rules, axioms and beliefs die with the owner.

Scientific ones may have, but don’t necessarily have, a similar etiology.   But scientific content is converted from private to public by the bridging of communication that can be scanned for a value proposition by anyone exposed who is attending to it and, in so doing, gets to tests the content in their reality as well as the public reality that science serves.

Our belief frame out behavior and when those beliefs don’t have any course correction available they can lead to good and less good consequences for the owner and the community that owner inhabits.  We all are stuck with some very outdated concepts; mostly tied to the Judeo-Christian-Newtonian World view, as some have pointed out responding to philosopher Maudlin’s article. No attempt or clue is offered how we all have these albatross’ of folk science, folk psychology and folk folklore and that, for some, make this Dr. Maudin’s video an opinion piece rather than an information piece.

What is unbounded is the need for explanation of relationships in ways that are general or conditional.  Private or covert neural patterns that equal what we call “cognitive” is not been a productive place to look to find out what the heck is going on in the world.  It is unbounded because of the complexity.   Staring at our belly button is one relationship that, while interesting to many philosophically, medically or technically, is not particularly relevant scientifically other than how it fits into existing context of those who value understanding a broader set of relationships. A scientific “explanatory crisis” is critical only because there is so much to do and behavior is complex. The philosophical procedures that have been around for 2500 years have left us wondering and wanting.  Scientific approaches have provided the Gore-Tex to suit the astronauts on the moon, if you get the difference in meaning. The differences are literally mind boggling because we’ve spent so much time in the ‘mind’ idiom that is marginal if not, blatantly unfruitful.  Current philosophical journals and entries validate this one-liner’s contributions to “our ordinary life”.

in starts and sputters science handles the changes in content understanding.  Philosophical approaches hang on using the metaphors and mysticism that was oh, so trendy in 1200 BC (interesting way to reference, ah!?). Thus, we have a similar explanatory crisis in our individual daily lives right now.  It could be called a dichotomy between those that ‘Get it” and those that “Don’t Get it” concerning myth, gods, premonitions, intuitions, feelings, motivations and the private axioms we treat as real (reification).  These reified concepts keep us ginned up recycling tattered messages rather than focused on the infinite simple relationships that make up the complex relationships that contribute to figuring out what the heck is going on out there.  Many people just gave up, are giving up, to become atheists, agnostics or vaccumists musing the antics of the “–isms” which are the stock and trade of philosophy as well.  But the quest to make sense of things is valuable and will find a course it finds rather than one based on ‘should-ought,’ or truth, beauty, right, wrong, etc., ad nauseum.

It is ironical that those that want to disagree with this piece are right now looking for a scientific-looking way to frame their Judeo-Christian-Newtonian folklore arguments to make them so strong that it will launch their careers… as philosophers.   Lol.

  1. Thursday, June 23, 2011; http://bigthink.com/ideas/24170

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I had a great weekend with my family in Chicago. It’s always enjoyable to haunt your old stomping grounds and relive the old stories, hopes, heartbreaks, jobs, dinners, and strolls.

For this trip I really want to soak in a lot of the experience even though our time was limited. This post is a little brain dump of things I found amusing, interesting or otherwise notable.

American airlines at ohare is way more enjoyable than the united airlines experience.

A city with abundant taxis is a luxury I really appreciate.

Holy cow is there a big difference between 33 degrees in Austin,Tx and 15 degrees in Chicago wind!

It’s amazing when a restaurant you used to love is as good as you remember it almost a decade later.

It seems 8 years is the limit at which 90% of your old social circle moves on or moves away. 4 years ago a visit to Chicago was filled with visits to parties and friends still in the area. Only a handful this time around.

Kids go with snow way better than adults.

Downtown Chicago on a Sunday morning is so quiet. You can own the place. It’s great.

Why does a town always build the awesome stuff after you leave? Hahahah

Man is it great to talk math and the business of math with my pal John Boller. He’s got a deep knowledge of math and is such a great communicator!

Watching kids at a great museum demonstrates the value of these cultural institutions. Also, it’s hard to create a great museum. The field museum is one of the best.

I spoke to at least 5 guys at the bears game that came alone, travelled hundreds of miles for this really big game. One guy taking pictures of the old soldier field structure almost teared up. He’d driven himself in from s. Carolina and had just enough money for one ticket. Ya, it’s just football, right? I spent the first part of a day with a gentleman from Eugene, oregon. His family sent him solo because they could only afford one ticket and this was something they really wanted for him. He showed me the texts and pics of his family prepping for the game. We took pictures with him and the Chicago police and outside of all the soldier field displays. Ya, its clearly just football.

Heavily marketing beer cutoff at end of third quarter seems to encourage fans to pound beers at halftime. Stadium folks might consider changing that marketing a bit depending on their objectives. As for me, it was so freaking cold pounding beers seemed more like punishment than the normal enjoyment it might bring. I actually drank a coffee and ate nachos cause cheese was warm.

I laughed so hard when I went to the bathroom cause there was a beer man selling.

I did order an Mgd in the stands and the guy next to me asked if I was still in college. He was drinking a miller lite. What am I missing?

The national anthem and jet flyover was quite possibly one of the coolest things ive ever experienced.

There was a moment in the third quarter when I was so cold and dejected for a brief moment I considered leaving. I fought myself back up to my seat and pulled a haine! Glad I did. That was about to an epic comeback.

Several people yelled at me via txt that I stopped txting. My hands outside of gloves could not operate these stinking phones. Sorry folks, I’m a good txter, but I couldn’t do it!

Anticipation is the best state to be in. Once the adrenaline fades you get very cold. Lucky for me after the game all I had to do was walk ocer to the she’d aquarium to meet my family. That was awesome.

Chicago is the kind of place where you don’t need a plan before wandering the streets for some decent food. Had to the feed the family after the game and all the obvious places were jammed. Found some pizza and wings on state.

Who’s idea was it to order all that food at seven at night?

Indoor swimming pools on a cold night in Chicago are awesome for kids.

Dani and i feel asleep last night watching “inside 9/11” on nat geo. Um, wow. Almost ten years ago we were living in Chicago down the street from our hotel. Watching that show brought my 25th birthday to the forefront of my memories. What a day. Hard to remember all that unfolding in real time. That show plus all the sausage and pizza during the day generated some strange dreams indeed.

Note to self, never ever stick your hand into cab seat looking for the belt connector the morning after a city hosts a big event. I do not know what got on my hand but the fistful of baby wipes did not clean my hand and brain to my satisfaction.

Traveling with our girls is getting more fun as they age. They really get excited by trips now and seem to appreciate “cool” things.

Reese said she was mad the packers won and all those people were shouting go pack go. But she wanted to know how to spell packers. Bella called me a wolf because I howl at football games. I think they have the basics of bears packers down.

Thanks to dani for doing this ! Man, what a weekend!

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Find the edge

Only where there is struggle is there progress.  I don’t mean struggle in the battle type sense, I mean the struggle between order and chaos, status quo and innovation, all info known and no info known.

Natural selection, the internet, your business, the universe…   the edge of chaos is where there is something instead of nothing.   Nothing is almost equivalent to no interesting thing (complete order) and no understandible thing (complete chaos).  The stuff of life is in the middle!

I like to talk about happy accidents… those seridipitis tangets that one happens into if they venture into struggle and keep their senses open and opprtunistic.   These branches of opportunity only come about when there’s a clash between the wellknown and the unknown.

Be mindful of history but venture forth into uncertainty.  Struggle to find the edge and don’t fall off.

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The 5th in a 5-Part Series…

To start, the goal is not to be an ‘elite’ athlete…

(5)   Your actions are the consequences of – and an impetus for – action

When a golfer golfs, there is an intention that is enacted by the hitter when the club makes contact with the ball. To the frustration of all levels of golfers, it is not directly related to the trajectory of the ball.  Such is it for a lot of business as well.  Intention only ‘seems’ related to action… but that is an illusion. Cognitive gymnastics are NOT related to the physics involved in action.  Intention is inferred, and the physics of the ball, in this case, is tangibly real.  A history of training practice, trial and error, and mirror neurons interacting with consequences has guided the body to perform. As an elite athlete has said over and over,

It’s not the racquet. It’s not the shoes.  It’s not the ball, the court or the noise.  It’s the mechanics and muscle memory – that’s means ‘me’.”

The result:

The golfer is left with any delta between their inferences and their behavior to rationalize his or her actions.  Good or bad results (both relative terms) contribute to adjustments that confirm or frustrate the golfer’s next set of actions. Don’t make adjustment, don’t whine about the shots you take.  Same for business, isn’t it!

When you want something in business life or in sport, recognize that successive approximations is the mode… the adaptation, the mobility, that exists to allow you to get closer to your goals or escape from a not-so-good conditions. It is NEVER EVER about some binary event. IT IS about hundreds of thousands of intricate, small tacitly known events leading up to some specific execution of an action.  Business success is NEVER EVER about making ‘THE deal.’  IT IS about the millions of tacitly known events that put one in position to execute some specific actions you are focused on.

Isn’t competition great!

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We’ve become a society that is afraid to break shit.

We wrap our phones in protective shells. We pay geek squad to install basic things. We go to jiffy lube to change the oil.

The world isn’t this fragile people. It’s all marketing.

What happened to figuring it out? Do it yourself? Hack it? Tweak it? Craft it? Open it up and put it back together?

Seriously.

I think all this technology and post 911 world is making us afraid to try. All the warnings, alerts, recommendations are making us afraid to get it done. We might be raising a generation of people who won’t move without a for dummies book or tutorial or specialist assistance.

Here’s a call to arms, in a very slight form of a blog post, to do something yourself today. Take your iPhone out of its sheath. Unbox your new tv. Change your own car oil. Replace your bike tire. Add new memory. Shake it, tweak it, beat it, break it. Put it back together.

The world isn’t as fragile as you think. Mankind has figured it out for a couple hundred thousand years………

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The case for behavioral strategy

Left unchecked, subconscious biases will undermine strategic decision making. Here’s how to counter them and improve corporate performance.

MARCH 2010 • Dan Lovallo and Olivier Sibony

Once heretical, behavioral economics is now mainstream. Money managers employ its insights about the limits of rationality in understanding investor behavior and exploiting stock-pricing anomalies. Policy makers use behavioral principles to boost participation in retirement-savings plans. Marketers now understand why some promotions entice consumers and others don’t.

Yet very few corporate strategists making important decisions consciously take into account the cognitive biases—systematic tendencies to deviate from rational calculations—revealed by behavioral economics. It’s easy to see why: unlike in fields such as finance and marketing, where executives can use psychology to make the most of the biases residing in others, in strategic decision making leaders need to recognize their own biases. So despite growing awareness of behavioral economics and numerous efforts by management writers, including ourselves, to make the case for its application, most executives have a justifiably difficult time knowing how to harness its power…

~~~~~~~~~~~

Here is the thing…

The subject of the article is the categorization of ‘biases’.

Like the other media forms, if you run out of new terms to use in business, your presentations die an agonizing death of disuse.  This paper provides a fine example of what lack of clarity and  misapplication of  the vernacular does: http://www.mckinseyquarterly.com/Strategy/Strategic_Thinking/The_case_for_behavioral_strategy_2551?gp=1

Put ‘Behavioral’ or ‘Neuro-‘in front of almost any expression, term or concept and it would appear that it is born anew.  Throw in a set of myths, superstitions or “common knowledge” as those found in the metaphysics of the ‘subconscious,’ and cognitive biases, then make up some new words, like “debias” and you have the makings of another mechanism that supports ignorance of behavior [corporate or personal] from slippery sound bites.   Lovallo and Sibony have done a story for the acclaimed McKinsey Group and packed it with metaphors, similes and analogies but missed the behavioral part of their article, that is:

  1. EMPIRICISM –
  2. OPERATIONAL DEFINITIONS  –
  3. SHUNNING OF MONOCAUSALITY –
  4. MEASUREMENT OF BEHAVIOR OF INDIVIDUALS, COMMITTEES, OR COMPANIES SUBSEQUENT TO ANTECEDENTS OR AS CONSEQUENCES

Biases are not new, empirical, behavioral or operationally defined and therefore constitute a rehash of psycho-babble that

  1. Doesn’t address how biases come to exist OR influence behavior like selection of options or decisions
  2. Doesn’t address how biases are maintained OR why they are negative, irrelevant or harmful
  3. Doesn’t address what to do to reduce their effects in business for some company benefit

McKinsey Group should move on and get some behavioral assessment partners to mull business approaches with these gentlemen.  With stuff like this being offered to the management of companies that can afford help, is it any wonder that businesses sometimes seem to be clueless on what is going on with customers, vendors, or partners?

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