Saturday, August 19, 2006

No great shakes on a plane

It never cease to amaze me what silly things can command great attention in humans. In my opionion Snakes On A Plane is a pretty good idea for a movie of around... say, twenty minutes' length, and that's about it. I don't see how anything about it at all explains the frenzy of attention it has gotten, even up to a year before it was released! Heck, even if it was the best thriller flick ever, I'd still not get it.

Join my announcement list

To make sure you don't get distracted by life and miss any of my grrrrrreat posts, join my announcement list. I won't abuse or share the list.
Thank you very much. :)

"Well-rounded" or effective?

As a follow-up on my earlier post on being well-rounded...
I used to be embarrassed by not having any higher education. Well, better make that "any formal higher education". But not any more. I make more money than most people I know with a university education, and I can talk about most things as intelligently as most people.
Not to mention people have told me that the enforced reading in college ruined their enjoyment of reading for many years. (!)
Is your goal to never in your life be embarrassed by your lack of knowledge, or is your goal to be effective and have fun?
From Barbara Sher:
This is my favorite excerpt from a book I loved in college: Barefoot Boy With Cheek by Max Shulman:

Asa Hearthrug, from Appalachia or some such place, has been accepted to college and is speaking to his freshman advisor to decide which classes he should take. The advisor has been telling him a story about a dinner party at the house of someone who didn't go to college, but became immensely successful and wealthy:

"...The house was filled with prominent people. A hundred-and-twenty-piece orchestra was playing. When we went in for dinner the table groaned with all sorts of expensive delicacies. And at the head of the table sat Kyrie, the monarch of all he surveyed.
"But during the course of the dinner a well-dressed young woman leaned over and said to Kyrie, 'Who was the eighth avatar of Vishnu?' and Kyrie, for all his wealth and power, did not know the answer!"
"How ghastly!" I cried, throwing up my hands.
"Yes," said Mr. Ingelbretsvold, "You will find that sort of thing all through life. People come up to you on the street and say, 'Does a paramecium beat its flagella?' or 'How many wheels has a fiacre?' or 'When does an oryx mate?' and if you have not been to college, you simply cannot answer them."
"But that cannot happen to me. I am going to the University," I said.
"Ah, but it can," Mr. Ingelbretsvold answered, "It happens to many who go to college."
"But how?"
"You see, my boy, a great many people go to college to learn how to *do* something. They study medicine or law or engineering, and when are are through they know how to trepan a skull or where to get a writ of estoppel or how to find the torque of a radial engine. but just come up to them and ask how many caliphs succeeded Mohammed or who wrote Baby Duncan's Whistling Lung and they stare at you blankly."

"I shuddered. 'Oh, please Mr. Ingelbretsvold," I begged, "what must I do?"

[Here's an edited list of what Mr. Ingelbrestvold told him to write down.]

"Ready. Here they are: Races and Cultures of Arabia, Egypt and North Africa; Ethnology of India; History of Architecture; Greek; Latin; Sixteenth-Century Literature; Seventeenth Century Literature; Eighteenth-Century Literature; Nineteenth-Century Literature; Twentieth Century Literature...American Government, British Government; Chinese Government...Lett Government...General Psychology; Pyschology of Learning; Psychology of Advertising...of Literature...of Art..of Behavior; Norwegian; Swedish; Danish..Statistical Sociology; Penology; Elocution; Speech Pathology; and Canoe Paddling.
"That will do for a start. As you go into these courses you will find others that will interest you too."

...[They discuss becoming 'well-rounded' and an irrelevant mystery story and finally, Asa asks an important question.]

"Just one more thing, Mr. Ingelbretsvold,"I said. "I don't know quite how to say this, but I think I would like to be a writer when I grow up. Will the program you made out for me help me to be a writer?"

"Why, bless you, child," Mr. Ingelbredtsvold said, "you follow that program and there's nothing else you can be."

"When I'm eighty-four"

If I can do this when I'm eighty-four, then... then I'll be doing better than when I was twenty-four.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Barbara Sher

Thanks to Merlin for recommending Barbara Sher and her philosophy of "scanners": people who have (or rather, are told they have) too diverse interests for their own good. It is awesome.
Turns out I actually own one of her earliest books, Wishcraft. It is not quite the same, but this one is available free on the web.

This blog is a good example of a "scanner's" (me) activity: I don't earn money from it, but it lets me use many different interests at once: writing, photography, drawing, talking about films, books, and philosophy...
I am not entirely convinced that scanners are exactly the type of person I was trying to define, but there certainly is at least a huge overlap.

Opposites and limited thinking

I am dropping the sheep/wolf dichotomy. It is a good picture, but a false dichotomy.

On the other hand, all dichotomies are false. Did you ever think of that? No two things are ever mutually exclusive, not to mention opposites. Black is not the opposite of white, it is just lack of light. Evil is not the opposite of good, it is just lack of empathy or perspective. Liberal is not the opposite of conservative. Green is not the opposite of red. Christian is not the opposite of Muslim. Sweet is not the opposite of sour. A man is not the opposite of a woman.

Thinking in opposites has been one of the most limiting trends in thinking to infect Western culture. It is so limiting it is actively damaging. When you think in opposites you can't learn or change you mind, because you believe that you would then have to change everything you believe about a given thing.


Apple's iTunes service has added many TV shows (at the great price of two bucks per show, no ads), amongst them the biography channel.
I have not watched TV now for a couple of years, and I love not having it. Even with TiVo, you're still a bit slave of it.
One of the few things (that you can't get on DVD) I miss though is the biography channel. I am just watching the bio of Michelangelo.
Talking about Renaissance, it is not just a hard word to spell, it is also an interesting concept. Why would a renaissance occur? I doubt anybody knows.
But I think we are having one right now. Possibly an even greater one than the one half a millennium ago. It is harder to spot, because it is planetary rather than limited to a small spot in Italy, but I really think we have unprecedented expansion spiritually, intellectually, and artistically right now for humankind. It is indeed Interesting Times, in all the ways that term can be understood.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Show biz

Joe was working in the circus, shoveling up the dung after the elephants.
Joe complained. He complained loudly, and continuously. On and on and on and on. Finally a friend said to him: "Joe, you never quit whining. If you don't like shoveling dung, why don't you get another job?"
"What!?" said Joe, "and quit showbusiness?!"

A type of people

The card above is from here, and is only tangentially related to the post below.
I've noticed a certain kind of people who are really rare. They:
1: are multi-creative.
2: are intelligent.
3: think a lot.
4: have perceptions others usually don't.
5: need a lot of time alone; the bulk of the time every day.
6: don't sleep well, at least at this point in history.
7: have a strong drive for production and communication, and if it fails they often get depressed.
8: they may seem lazy because of this, or because they think a lot.
9: have problems getting along with others because others don't get them.
10: are interested in abstract ideas.

I know several of them. Do you know any? Are you one? What are they? What could we call them?

Monday, August 14, 2006


After the retirement of Watterson and Gary Larson and the death of Schulz, Doonesbury is just about the only great strip left. But occasionally you'll find one day of a strip which is really funny.
Also, while humor is thin on the ground, some of them are wonderfully drawn, like Get Fuzzy, 9 Chickweed Lane, and Liberty Meadows.
I've realized that for some reason great writers are much more scarce than great visual artists. It's a weird thing. I notice it both in comics and in films.

A spell

(Written by Silvia Hartmann)
Silvia's 60 Second Wealth Boosters!
58. Understanding Money
This is a spell. Read it out ALOUD, three times is the charm.
Snap your fingers, tap your feet or clap your hands to find the rhythm; that makes it much more powerful still!

A powerful force
in the world of man
I open myself
to learn all that I can
I now lay aside
all I thought that I knew
and I learn all there is
bright and true,
fresh and new.

I don't judge any longer
free myself of the old
and I call on the force
and the power of gold
tell and teach me
and reach me
so that I might
use this power for all
that is good, that is right

By the future and past
by the sun and the rain
by the stars and the sunrise
that will come yet again,
let my knowledge and wisdom
of money now grow
this is my will,
so now, make it so.
Silvia Hartmann

MindMillion - Earn More, Spend Wisely And Succeed!
The Spirit Specialists Await!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

The publishing revolution

Talking about that "long tail" again, a very important aspect is the self-publishing revolution with print-on-demand. Believe it or not, I wrote this article in 1999!


I've decided to finally start reading some comics on the web.
Here are some of my faves.
Do you know other good ones?

Eu and US

I love Europe, and the USA currently seem rather hostile to liberally minded people. (By liberal I don't mean left-wing, I mean progressive, the basic definition.)

But one thing pisses me off... well two things:
1: Taxes are twice as high here.
2: Prices on everything are about 50% higher on average.

Even the most successful people in Europe live only in moderate comfort, whereas a merely average lawyer or whatever in the USA earns filthy money, pays half the tax, and pays much less for what he buys.
What is this about? How does it happen?

I am suspecting the reason is that Europe is so much more socialistic than the USA. Supporting all the big non-productive population has to be paid for somehow, and taxes in various shapes pervade everything and drives up cost of living for everybody.

Socialism seems to be the price for civilization and empathy in a population. I hope we get over it some day.

Freedom, trains, and David Bowie

Following up on a comment on the last post: some people prefer trains running on time over freedom. This is in my view one of the biggest problems mankind has.
(I think they have been unfree for so long they no longer would have any clue what they would use freedom for.)

A Danish friend of mine, unaware that it was An Expression, back in the eighties was very impressed that Margareth Thatcher "had made the trains run on time". He thought it was a literal statement.

Talking about Expressions, is "it gets you a table in restaurants" one?
David Bowie said it in an interview, about fame of course. (He added that this was about the only thing to be said for it.)
Even if it is an expression, I am sure it is literally true also.
And so my question is: if a restaurant is actually full, and David Bowie or George Stephanopoulos comes around, what does the manager do? Does he go up to one of his loyal customers and say "sorry, but you're out of here"? Does he say "This meal and your next ten are free if you'll leave right away"? What does he do?

Celebrity is such a strange thing. Why are people so deeply interested in somebody's private life just because they are famous? (And I notice they are only interested in their private life, not in what these people actually do that may actually be important.)

Freedom and quality

"The price of freedom of religion, or of speech, or of the press, is that we must put up with a good deal of rubbish."
-- Robert Jackson

... Indeed yes. On the other hand, while less freedom certainly diminishes the amount of rubbish, the funny thing is that it has never diminished the percentage of rubbish! (The logical conclusion is that less freedom immediately cuts down on the quality offerings of anything.) - Eolake Stobblehouse

The "long tail"

Thanks to my friend David for reminding me of "The Long Tail", which, similar to my last post describes a wonderful development which could only happen with the Internet. (I remember when there were people who said that the Net was a gimmick without cultural significance. What a riot.) Basically where before the economics of mass production forced everybody to experience the same culture (the big hits), this is becoming less and less true, the culture is diversifying even more every year as both production and distribution is becoming easier and cheaper. I think in the long run this is invaluable for our cultural and spiritual development.
"The freedom of the press belongs to he who has one." Well, today everybody has one. This blog is not costing me a dime, and I have an audience of a few thousand readers five seconds after I type in any thought that occurs to me. Ya gotter love it.