29 December 2007

For 4!

I brush my teeth for at least four minutes, most often a bit longer. That is too long. In fact it's about this long, and about that boring as well, but not nearly as frustrating. It's the compulsion of mine that I am most aware of. (Apparently I occasionally breathe in sharply through my teeth, but I very rarely am aware of it and certainly do not intend it. Not a compulsion then, is it? Right; hence the parentheses.)

My mouth is tingly and bubbly afterwards, no matter how much I rinse. I've recently begun incorporating a super-rinse where I start a run of the mill rinse, but don't spit it out until a few minutes later. Holllld it. Holllld it. I'll do something in the meantime such as put on deodorant (not antiperspirant) and jeans (not shorts) and read morning email. This has been effective. I intend to continue. Less bubbles — I cannot figure out why this works.

Please leave a comment to identify my compulsion of which you find yourself to be most aware. And even throw in your own compulsion as well if you like. Let me stress that I would like comments on this post. With a response to the question, not just with a comment. A question and a comment (2' mark) would also be welcome. Once more — please comment. Yep; a yes to comments. Thanks.

(I labeled this post quirky. It took me 40 minutes to write it.)

25 December 2007

Seems a bit early, though I'm a bit late

The seasonal classic A Christmas Story was made the same year I was. So how is it already in the public domain?

17 December 2007

The beginning of The End of America

Posting about books can be disastrous. I'll do a before and after; we'll see how it goes.

Naomi Wolf visited the Report to publicize The End of America. She claims to identify the ten steps for converting a democracy into a dictatorship. She further notes that the US is already part way down that very path. Colbert's satire derailed this interview a bit, but she certainly piqued my interest with a strong final statement.

Within the first couple chapters, Wolf's choice of hooks raises red flags. "American citizens have been forced to drink their own breast milk at airports. Mussolini made people drink vomit-inducers! The German SS made people drink castor oil and urine! Coincidence? I think not." (I paraphrase... heavily.) Such comparisons are too disparate to be meaningful; they are just loud and catchy. She does, on the other hand, deliver some winners. Consider that Rice and Cheney originated the phrase war footing (that'd be tough to prove). Nazi leaders similarly used kriegsfusz, which literally translates to war footing. Coincidence? I think creepy and scary.

If the sensationalism doesn't subside, I'll be putting the book down. Thankfully, there is much promise that more sturdy content awaits.
These echoes [à la the two mentioned above] are worth noticing–but are not ultimately that important. What is important are the structural echoes you will see: the way dictators take over democracies or crush pro-democracy uprisings by invoking emergency decrees to close down civil liberties; creating military tribunals; and criminalizing dissent. ¶ Those echoes are important.

16 December 2007

Because complex discomforts just doesn't roll off the tongue

Before ignorance is OK, there was simple pleasures. One contemplative night at Steak n Shake with Jennifer Gunby, I spelled out a new intent. This was waaay back in the early aughts. She probably doesn't remember anything but the malt, and I certainly don't remember my words. I'll try my best.

What is a simple pleasure? Quick. Direct. Immediate. Easy. Inexpensive. Natural. It's what drug addicts would do if there were no psycho-actives. Not basic needs, basic wants.

Examples include chocolate, hot chocolate, cold chocolate, disc golf (or whatever you like even though you should like disc golf), temperate chocolate, that feeling you get after a good long run (note that you get the feeling, I haven't had it in a while), picking up something an old lady dropped (rhymes perhaps?), watching the leaves fall from the trees, writing a haiku (seriously), free performances at KU, and tempting your little nephew with cheese!

Don't get so caught up in achieving the big goals that you forget to be happy now. Have to study? Find a nice view or a cohort that smells nice. Have to work? ... tough it out? (I don't have all the answers.) But if something quick and easy presents itself, go for it—the sky probably won't fall during your indulgence. Seek these out.

As always, implementation is a matter of finding balance. Linderman carves out the spectrum, and now we must find our point on it.

13 December 2007


Homicidal mayhem, and no one cares.

A stunning photo.

Great commercial. "Earhole" is certainly under-appreciated.

Ben Affleck is charming? Who new?

One quarter! I knew nothing of this.

I just found a shared post! This one isn't the perfect archetype, but it was fun to realize what I was reading.

A close second for photos. (Hat tip to Garrin.)

Both found at Overcoming Bias: Dunbar's number, we wei.

Maybe that is why it tastes different. "For instance, soft drink makers like Coca-Cola use sugar internationally but use high-fructose corn syrup in their U.S. products."

11 December 2007

Puberty is awkward even for a superpower

ushistory.org preserves Thomas Paine's prominent works. In The Crisis (1776), one particular remark quivers with applicability in an otherwise dated paragraph.
Not a place upon earth might be so happy as America. Her situation is remote from all the wrangling world, and she has nothing to do but to trade with them.
Ain't youth great? Every clean slate whispers promises of greatnesshaving nothing to regret afforded America and her founders such hope! Two hundred and thirty years later, she's effected the very opposite situation.

Were her regrettable actions benevolent? Malevolent? Unforeseeable? Short-sighted? All of the above for the aggregate. Certainly, all were encumbered by ignorance. But action is for the courageous, and inaction the weak. (Or was it the wise?)

I regret that the gravest decisions must be the burden of so few.

05 December 2007

1 blog + 1 blog = 3 blogs?

Note: pressing enter at the wrong time immediately publishes a blog! This is truly an atrocious interface. It is obvious that I'm struggling with it.

The most important lesson I learned from my LiveJournal account in high-school was that blogs are not the place to discuss relationships or relationship issues. A blog is not an actual journal. It should not be used as a therapeutic device for you, since you know other people are reading it! That compromises the privacy, which is essential to the positivity of therapy. The problem in high-school was the twinge of excitement associated with broadcasting feelings so personal. That sort of high comes at the expense of losing the confidence shared between you and the individuals in your audience.

For these reasons, I will never post on this blog about my relationships; it's simply antithetical. But relationships bring out the most important questions and characters--I want to share them! So what's a blogger to do? Let me share two wisdom nuggets (mmmm) before I make two suggestions.

First. In all relationships, I raise my concerns with the other person first and only then ask for others' thoughts. It demonstrates my respect for that person and my acknowledgment that it is only with them that I could ever act upon the issue. Accepting that fact is always the first step towards true resolution. (Such direct discussion is always my first suggestion when people ask for advice.) Consequence: relationship issues have no place on my blog.

Second. 1+1=3 is my favorite lesson from the controversial Human Sexuality course with Dennis Dailey. It says the relationship does not consume the two individuals (1+1=1). Instead they have created something new together (contrast with 1+1=2). (Marriage should not change a woman's last name.) Consequence: respect a relationship as you would an individual.

I see two options.
  • I can post reflections inspired by my relationships. These are my thoughts about me, and hence fair game. (This line seems a thin one.)

  • What if a relationship had its own blog? It'd be weird, yes, but it could be neat. The couple pair (friendships too, of course!) cooperates to write the posts after important conversations and decisions take place. Or they share happy things they did together. It'd be constructive, thoughtful, and wholesome. I am sure I would smile at my friends' blog.

Remember Thomas Paine?

I have found the words that I struggle to live by. This quote is featured on the walls at the delectable Mountain Rose Cafe (pic) in Winter Park, Colorado.
The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion.

Thomas Paine
I followed up at Wikipedia and discovered that I've neglected Thomas Paine all these years! He was both admirably ahead of his time and inspirational for his contemporaries.

(It is a bit disappointing that he did not write those exact words. The quote is derived from his Rights of Man (1791), "...; my country is the world, and my religion is to do good." I had no luck sourcing the brethren part.)

30 November 2007

Jolie Holland

Jolie Holland is the most enchanting folk singer I've ever heard. A few of you have enjoyed her work while held captive in my car. Your curious inquiries rang sweet in my ears.

"Crush in the Ghetto" is so bittersweet a song I almost wish I had reason to sing it. "Mexican Blue" puts me at peace without fail. And "Faded Coat of Blue" is my new favorite Civil War song!

I sometimes find myself listening to the drums instead of Jolie. That's a credit to Dave Mihaly, who was just as ensnaring heh heh when I saw Jolie et alia perform. The live show is almost as polished as the recordings.

28 November 2007

Oops... oops... oops

I apologize if my edits caused duplicates in your RSS feeds. I hope they didn't! Someone let me know either way with a comment?

Ignorance is OK, indeed

Ignorance is OK. My newest mantra. It's a refreshing thought. Obviously, it can be misconstrued, but it's memorable, eh?

The notion is intended to help you relax when making decisions of any kind. It is not intended to let you claim, for example, that purposefully not reading warning labels excuses feeding puppies drain cleaner (cf. Sarah Connor's technique, 0:30 mark). I'll elaborate while you rid yourself of that visual. (The puppies are happy. Wagging tails. So trusting.)

Donald Rumsfeld said it best, emphasis mine.
There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we now know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know.
I quote Rumsfeld just to paraphrase him. There are things that we know we don't know but we refuse to acknowledge it. There's so much pressure to make a decision nowadays. I'll take "WMDs" for the win, Peter. Take a moment and consider how awesome it would be if high ranking civil servants admitted to not know what was best for us all. Of course we ought to attempt policies, just stop assuring me that it's a sure shot.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb has two popular books, Fooled by Randomness (didn't read it) and The Black Swan (did read it). This is the first place I saw the notion presented on its own. Taleb's work is rooted in the stock market, where people are payed fat cash to make decisions. There is uncertainty à gogo, but people can't resist claiming to have conquered it. (... fat cash? Who am I?)

To be fair, sometimes it's tricky to know what we don't know even in simple situations. Daniel Gilbert writes in Stumbling on Happiness about results of psychology experiments related to making decisions, big and small. One notable result: we are hard-wired to be unaware of our ignorance (à la our blind spot) about some things. Not only is it a habit to make decisions, it's an instinct. I'm sure it's served us well for millennia, but I think it helps to be aware of that automatism.

Next time you're weighing the alternatives and it's looking too close to call and they're breathing down your neck, consider shrugging your shoulders and smiling. It could be the most professional, mature, honest choice.

What do other people title their first post?

I am inspired by o t h e r s. I would be remiss if I neglected to acknowledge the longevity of Dan.

Entries will be thematic.
  • research stuff that may bore everyone but me; maybe you'll see why I like it
  • lots of whining about various sorts of decision making (personal, finance, politicals, ...)
  • clever plans I probably won't remember to execute
  • thoughts I'd like to share (current events, music, lifestyle, ...)
And crafted.
  • brevity is key; I'd like to you read these after all
  • thoughtfulness over frequency
  • entries will be tagged according to theme, so you can easily find similar entries