Thursday, December 17, 2020

Bored With Everything

“One of the most ironic paradoxes of our time is this great availability of leisure that somehow fails to be translated into enjoyment,” wrote psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in Flow

“Compared to people living only a few generations ago, we have enormously greater opportunities to have a good time, yet there is no indication that we actually enjoy life more than our ancestors did.

“Opportunities alone, however, are not enough. We also need the skills to make use of them. And we need to know how to control consciousness — a skill that most people have not learned to cultivate.

“Surrounded by an astonishing panoply of recreational gadgets and leisure choices, most of us go on being bored and vaguely frustrated."

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Spoiler Alert: The Morons Win

Watching a half-century-old discussion between Rod Serling and James Dickey about the problematic lack of intellectual quality on network television. 

Like a visitor from the future, I can now answer their questions for them: TV’s abdication of its public responsibility was ultimately even more disastrous than they feared.

Stupidity and ignorance won the day, electing an insane clown as president of the United States by appealing to citizens who snarl at scientific fact and prefer to believe whatever ugly supernatural fantasy coddles their vacuity and scratches the itch of their nastiest prejudices. 

Corporate executives and government officials might not have been able to stop all this from happening, but they could have tried. 

Instead, they did quite the reverse.

The Worst Is Yet to Come

People will endure or destroy anything on the promise of not having to think and make decisions for themselves.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Monotasking: Attention Must Be Paid

“ ‘So you’re telling me that I can’t multitask?’ I asked as we sat down for an interview.

“ ‘It’s not me telling you,’ she said. ‘It’s neuroscience that would say that our capacity to multitask is virtually nonexistent. Multitasking is a computer-derived term. We have one processor. We can’t do it.’

“ ‘I think that when I’m sitting at my desk feverishly doing several things at once that I’m being clever and efficient, but you’re saying I’m actually wasting my time?’

“ ‘Yes, because when you’re moving from this project to this project, your mind flits back to the original project, and it can’t pick up where it left off. So it has to take a few steps back and then ramp up again, and that’s where the productivity loss is.’

“This problem was, of course, exacerbated in the age of what had been dubbed the ‘info-blitzkrieg,’ where it took superhuman strength to ignore the siren call of the latest tweet, or the blinking red light on the Blackberry. Scientists had even come up with a term for this condition: ‘continual partial attention.’”

— Dan Harris, Ten Percent Happier

Sunday, December 6, 2020

To Hell With 'Unity'

 The corporate media requires that only one side "compromise" in American politics.

And can you tell me which side that is, boys and girls?

And why?

Saturday, December 5, 2020

The Answer Is Not Enough

Snuffles, who is utterly and metaphysically fulfilled by a dog biscuit

“In cartoons, when the characters slurp down some delicious food or drink, they smack their lips and seem totally sated,” Dan Harris wrote. “But in the real world, it doesn’t work that way.

“Even if we were handed everything we wanted, would it really make us sustainably happy? How many times have we heard from people who got rich or famous and it wasn’t enough? Rock stars with drug problems. Lottery winners who kill themselves.

“There’s actually a term for this — ‘hedonic adaptation.’ When good things happen, we bake them very quickly into our baseline expectations, and yet the primordial void goes unfilled.”

Friday, December 4, 2020

Would You Like Your Happiness Gift-Wrapped?

He’s talking about the power of desire in our minds, and how our culture conditions us to believe that the more pleasant experiences we have — sex, the movies, food, shopping trips, etc. — the happier we’ll be. He reads out some advertising slogans he’s collected over the years.
‘Instant gratification just got faster. Shop’
Everyone laughs.
‘Another slogan says, ‘I don’t let anything stand in the way of my pleasure.’
‘The best one of all,’ he says, pausing for effect, in a wait-for-it kind of way, chuckling to himself as he lets our curiosity build.
‘To be one with everything … you need one of everything.’”
— Dan Harris, Ten Percent Happier

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Aristotle Had Some Funny Ideas

In other words, sacred cows generally provide tainted meat, and many truths are said in jest.