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Monthly Archives: June 2013

Find the center  §

Find the center. Recover.

Find the center. Recover.

Don’t get so knocked off track.

— § —

My wife says that I’m hypersensitive to my environment and context.

I don’t know if I’m “hyper” in this sense or just how one goes about measuring and quantifying sensitivity, but I do know that I am—at the very least—sensitive.

— § —

If I was 10 percent less sensitive to peoples’ moods and comments, to the light in the room or the temperature outside, to the national and international news, I’d have been a hundred or a thousand percent more productive in my life.

Being unable to compartmentalize and transcend adequately has been my biggest life weakness for a very long time, one that has altered the course of my life more times than I care to remember or count.

— § —

Strangely enough, this is different from the need to be “thick skinned” in the sense that many public figures use the term.

I’m pretty thick skinned. I routinely get people complaining bitterly and personally about things that I write that have been for public consumption. Often they have a position or an opinion on an issue that doesn’t match mine, or that they feel must not match mine based on what I wrote.

Back when I used to write about Linux, I even had some death threats. In one case, someone sent me a death threat along with my home address to let me know just how serious they were.

All over open source software.

Did it bother me?

Not at all. Still doesn’t. When it comes to the general public, I have a massively thick skin.

— § —

But when it comes to home, or personal relationships that acually matter to me, or the space immediately around my body—these I am very, very sensitive to.

Dependent upon.

If I don’t have the right equipment or seating, or someone that matters to me doesn’t have the right look on their face, I struggle to work, even to think—at times, depending on the situation, even to breathe.

I think that’s part of what it means to be “an introvert but not shy.” It means that you internalize things—your body, your environment, the people that are close to you; they are pulled inward to become a part of the self, rather than the self turning outward to join them in the world.

Then, when all of these interalized parts of the self don’t harmonize properly with one another, the self becomes fragmented, difficult to manage or dwell within.

As Yeats said, the center fails to hold; it is emptied; everyone and everything becomes a miasma of relatedness, interdependency, conflict, and ambiguity.

— § —

I was supposed to get more work done than this today.

Curses, foiled again.

— § —

Ugh.

Maybe someday I’ll win this battle.

Just as soon as I learn to find and hold on to the center.

Busy days, good people  §

Some days are busier than others. Today was very busy. Crazy busy. And now it is very late. Crazy late, at least for a parent of two. And I’m the one that’s “going to bed early.”

My wife is still up and watching “Arrested Development” on Netflix-via-Roku.

— § —

There are a great number of texts, sayings, and reflections on virtue in the human canon—on being “a good person” and living “a good and happy life.”

Zen and Taoist texts and wisdom are perhaps the most direct in relation to such pursuits, suggesting that, in fact, they are essentially a matter of “letting go.”

Sounds great, but in practice it is very difficult to avoid pursuing the immediate and impassioned interests and entitlements of the self, to which any parent can attest.

— § —

In Provo, Heineken is the absolute apex of beer culture.

— § —

A large capacity Swingline stapler makes a fine bottle opener.

— § —

When you love what you’re doing, it’s easy to work too much.

When you’re bored or bothered by what you’re doing, it’s difficult to work enough.

— § —

Car needs an oil change, badly.
It will have to wait another week.

— § —

The ascent is always both too slow and too fast, too difficult and too easy, interminable and short-lived, isolating and too public.

— § —

With every passing day, I’m more and more a writer. I don’t mean this to be an evaluation of my skill, but rather a reflection on the source of my paychecks.

When it all breaks down  §

Every now and then I carry out a little night time ritual that includes hopping in the station wagon, driving down the hill into the commercial district, and wandering around behind the wheel while I listen to a local radio program called “The Nightside” for no particular reason.

— § —

Tonight the radio show was interrupted by a test of the emergency alert system and a series of electronic tones, along with details about what the EAS does.

First, it struck me how odd it was to hear this message. I don’t think I’ve heard anything like it for at least a decade—to me, it belongs to the era of OTA (over-the-air) broadcast television, something that seems like a hazy relic from my present life perspective.

Second, it led me to picture what an emergency might be like in this area—say, a series of warnings and an evacuation order.

— § —

This mental picture stopped me cold; I lost track of what I was hearing and, I’ll admit, drove on autopilot all the way home.

— § —

Thing is, I was out of these endless suburbs, these hundreds of miles of suburbs, for a long time before coming back. I’ve experienced stressful and semi-emergency public situations in other places, and come to take the experience of them in these other places for granted.

But an emergency situation here? In the suburbs? It wouldn’t be tense, it would be menacing. Frightening. Wild.

In non-car-based metropolitan areas with reasonably high density, what happens in an emergency is that everyone hears about it at about the same time. You can hear your neighbor’s radio, or the ambient level of talk amongst pedestrians outside your window. Even if you don’t here these things, your neighbors will come to ask you if you’ve heard “what’s going on.”

Then, everyone makes for the subway, or for their cars, together—in the former case because there are only a limited number of stations, so you all converge on the same point as a community, and walk together on the way there, or in the latter case because there’s so little free parking space and such high density that wherever you do happen to park, there are fifty other neighbors’ cars, bumper-to-bumper, on the same block, and you chat on the way to your vehicles, then stand 10 feet apart at each of your respective open car doors and chat some more, an assortment of drivers making conversation amongst themselves before leaving together, likely taking the same path (there are limited major streets, most of them only one or two lanes) toward the same freeway exits.

In the suburbs?

(1) You wouldn’t find out, and nobody would come to tell you. The silence surrounding your house would remain the same as it ever was. Anyone that does know is preparing “indoors,” and this isn’t a shared “indoors” like an apartment building or an apartment lobby, it’s an isolated “indoors” in which neighbors have no idea what the other is doing. You simply wouldn’t find out unless there was a door-to-door.

(2) Even if you did find out, you’d do all the prep alone. Your house is attached to your driveway, both in the center of your yard. No matter how frenetic the preparation, you wouldn’t have occasion to encounter another human soul as you prepared unless you specifically sought them out and then traveled the distance necessary to interrupt their preparations, something that’s probably fuzzy with respect to social norms in an emergency situation. So you’d be alone.

(3) You’d get into your car and drive. You, the atom. Perhaps with your family. You managed to hear about the emergency, you got your stuff packed without making contact with anyone else in the neighborhood, and you ventured out in your vehicle. All of the other drivers are now your competitors—for gasoline, for freeway access, for the right-of-way to escape whatever emergency it is.

(4) Once you managed to get on the interstate, there’s darkness in all directions. Say you had to leave the metropolitan area. There is nothing but desert and mountains all around, for hundreds of miles until the next suburban-metropolitan area. It’s not like the eastern seaboard or the west coast. It’s the great middle.

— § —

This is really scary stuff. To recap, in a major emergency that required that you escape the metropolitan area, in a middle-American suburban city, you’d:

(1) Never know and simply die or get caught up in the event.
(2) Not encounter another soul to talk about or comiserate with.
(3) Head out in your car alone, knowing that it’s you against the other cars.
(4) Achieve success when you are even more isolated and essentially disconnected from civilization altogether.

— § —

In short, hearing the EAS message sent a shock of foreboding and awareness through my system—awareness of just where I was, and recall of all those messages of “self-reliance” and “preparedness” that I got as a young person growing up here.

They don’t want you to be prepared so that you can help others, as they suggest. They want you to be prepared because they know very well that nobody is going to help you.

— § —

When I got out of the car after arriving home, the scent of the air outside was strangely out of place, unusual, yet unmistakable.

Anyone that has ever lived in an alpine area knows the scent of either morning or evening air near a high-altitude stream, nestled amongst pine trees and filled with fish.

That was the scent—only down here, not up on the mountain, in the burbs, surrounded by Wal-Marts and chain fast food restaurants.

Strange capper on a strange evening.

— § —

Oh, and we’re out of beer.

Split personalities  §

I forget why I miss New York.

Or, in fact, I stop missing it. It’s an easy thing to do, out here in suburban America. The common sense shifts; the reality shifts; the ontology shifts. The world is a different world. Not just the places you are in, but the places you aren’t.

New York becomes something other than New York when you are in Utah.

But in today’s world, you can catch whiffs of New York across a distance, thanks in large part to the ‘net.

When this happens to me, I miss New York again, and I remember why.

— § —

Only in New York have I ever felt human. Only in New York was I able to sense, at a visceral level, the existence of other humans.

The quantity of “sociability” is a purely theoretical, conjectural one—one that cannot be experienced in real life. Unless you happen to be in New York, in which case you experience it every day. Every hour. Every moment.

In New York, everyone is with everyone else in one place; the others in the room, or even in the neighborhood, are interacting with you at all times. You are aware of them; they are aware of you. You are open to one another; you respect their humanity and they respect yours. You value them, even if you disagree with or hate them, as other human beings.

Everywhere else I’ve ever had an address or visited for weeks or more at a time—Salt Lake City, Portland, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, even Krakow—this was not the case.

The fundamental question is the question of what you are, not the question of what those around you are. In New York, you are part of a functioning, integral, sociable collective. Everwhere else, you are you, and you are in competition with the others.

If in New York, everyone is with everyone else in one place, experiencing togetherness, even if uncomfortable, everywhere else I’ve lived, everyone is alone together in one place, isolated, disconnected, venturing nothing, defending the ramparts, forming alliances.

I’m not sure this is true for everyone; strongly extroverted people, for example, may feel that New York is overwhelming, while suburbia is nicely sociable.

But for me—a strong, though not at all shy interovert—the suburbs are a way of being isolated, of forgetting what it is to be human.

I lived thirty years of my life with a hole in my head and heart before I got to New York, and I never once knew or understood what was meant to fill that space, or even that something could.

Two weeks in New York, and I knew exactly what went in that space: just other people. Everybody else in the world.

But the “knowledge” isn’t enough. Two years back in Utah, and most days I don’t remember at all. I walk around the same hole and the ignorance of it, no idea at all that it’s there, gaping, or that it can be filled.

Until a bit of New York floats over the network and lands in my lap.

Then, I choke back the tears.

— § —

I’ll be teaching tomorrow again.

I still don’t know whether this will be my last sememster or not. I need to make a decision quickly.

There are times when I long to be free of this grind—the same one or two courses (since I’m an adjunct and those are the dues) over and over again, for no money, with no office, spending time that could otherwise go toward—you know—feeding my family and building my future.

At other times, when I think of leaving academic work beind, or even leaving the classroom behind, I become terrified, paralyzed, despondent at what else awaits.

What is the meaning of life when you are working in the broader economy? What, at the level of one’s self and one’s own existence, is there to care about?

I feel as though at these moments the reason that I went into academics to begin with was so that I could be something more than a bank account for my children.

Don’t get me wrong; it’s great to feed the kids, and nothing could be a higher priority in my life.

But I also want to exist as me. I often still don’t see any way to do that “out there.” The world is full of not-mes outside the academy. Even if the academy is oppressive, it is one of the least alienated forms of labor going, worse now though it may be than it was twenty or even ten years ago.

— § —

Personal peeve:

“Soshiology.”
“Assoshiation.”
“Soshiability.”

It’s a Utah accent thing, and I just heard it again on a radio ad:

“Join the … assoshiation.”

Every time I hear someone replace the ‘s’ after a vowel sound with an ‘sh’ it makes my eardrums bleed.

Grrrr.

— § —

Right now I am one of those people with a hopelessly split personality or (it feels) nationality. I don’t like the thought of leaving Utah again. But I miss New York terribly as well. On the other hand, if I was in New York right now, I wouldn’t like the thought of leaving—but I’d miss Utah terribly.

I don’t know if there’s any way out of this state of affairs, once it’s infected you.

Tao  §

“Have faith in the basic benevolance of the universe.”

–Derek Lin

Progression / Regression  §

The dissertation is moving daily once again. Making this happen has been one of my top priorities for months. Daily progress in dissertation-land was lost months ago when I essentially reinvented my work life.

That change restored career and financial progress, but it put academic progress in jeopardy.

Now, hopefully, we have both. And, hopefully, it is not too late.

— § —

Some of this, of course, depends on other kinds of progress, or at least on avoiding other kinds of regression.

Personal life springs to mind.

I’m not that great at compartmentalizing. In fact, I suck at it. My work life, my relationship life, and my inner personal life have always been completely inseparable facets of the same person.

If my personal life is a mess, I can’t work. If my work life is a mess, my personal life suffers. And in either case, I become completely catatonic and confused.

Not ideal for modern, highly rationalized life, but it seems to be the way I’m wired.

— § —

Sometimes, for no reason that I can articulate, I find myself reading histories of the Soviet Union and in particular, of the last decade and last few months of the Soviet Union.

I don’t know where this impulse or this remaining fascination comes from.

Perhaps from the radical destabilization of the world that the collapse of the Soviet Union represented—not of the geopolitical one, but of the ontological one.

When I was young, there were three certainites in human existence: death, taxes, and the bipolar geopolitical earth of the Cold War.

The cyclical tug, counter-tug of the United States vs. Soviet Union nexus was like the tides, ebb and flow, a fundamental part of the known human universe. It had always been there, since time immemorial, part of the landscape into which I was born.

Then, it disappeared.

How is that possible? It represented an ontological epistemological, and ethnomethodological break for people in my generation, a strange rupture in the fabric of space-time.

— § —

Oh, I don’t know. Maybe I exaggerate. Hard to say.

— § —

Time is marching. June is almost over. June 2013.

I still have motivational crap from 2011 hanging on my walls that feels fresh, indexed to a coming sphere of endless possibilities—that has not only passed into history already, but that is largely forgotten in most everyone’s daily life already. Except, apparently, in mine.

— § —

Some people talk about working on their laptops in bed.

I’ve never mastered this feat.

I’d love to—it would revolutionize my life—but somehow I think, if for no reason other than that of my own physiology, that I never will.

Pity.

Nothing but the latest night in weeks  §

Busy day. Most days for the last several years have been busy days. In fact, all of them have. If there’s one defining characteristic of parenthood, it’s the fact that as a parent you’ll live through the largest unbroken block of “busy days” you’ll have in your life.

No, it’s not the same thing that workaholics experience, because there are no days off, nor is there any possibility of days off during the entire period.

— § —

When I was small, I often had trouble going to sleep. I remember laying around for hours in some cases, eventually getting back out of bed again to wander the house alone or to eventually (and accidentally) wake up my mother, who’d give me a stern talking-to and route me right back to the bedroom.

— § —

These days, the moment I get horizontal, my body decides it’s time to sleep, even if I’m still needing to be awake and still working on something—like, say, a blog entry.

(I’ve already fallen asleep twice while trying to write this.)
(I guess that’s a strong hint to wrap up for the night.)

Late nights  §

I can’t remember the last time I didn’t think, at around 10:00 in the morning, that tonight will be different—tonight I’ll go to bed early and get something more than the four or five hours of sleep I’ve been getting for the last several years.

I have failed again.

It’s 12:18 in the morning. It’s likely that the kids will have me up well before 6:00, not to mention interruptions for coughing, bad dreams, potty needs, drinks of water, or other things along the way.

— § —

Not being able to get to bed earlier is emblematic of one of the larger themes in my life right now: a sense of helplessness married to a distinct lack of self-mastry and change skills.

This has to change.

It is the number one problem in my life right now: I am not my own master, or rather, the wrong facets of my self are my masters.

If it doesn’t change, things will not only not get better, but may get very much worse.
I suppose this is the classic life-long struggle: delf-discipline.

I deeply admire those that have it in spades. Me, I don’t even have it in a sieve.

— § —

The office is a disaster area. It must . be . cleaned . immediately if I am to stay productive on all fronts. Only problem—there is no alotted or possible time for it.

Just like everything else.

— § —

I had a BBS period.I had an IRC period.I had a LISTSERV period.I had a Slashdot period.I had a DailyKos period.

All are over now, for years.But sometimes I miss them.

— § —

It is startling to think of how long it has been since I was a “serious gamer.”

It is also startling to realize that I have no desire whatsoever to play video games of any kind ever again.

The Zen of it all; the Tao of it all; the nonsense of it all  §

Too much crap in my life.
I can’t see the forest for the trees.
Stuff has to go.
Funny thing: it takes wayyyy too much courage to simplify.
But I have to simplify.

When you can’t even tell what you enjoy and don’t enjoy any more, what you do for a living, what you need and what you don’t need, it’s time to simplify.

The strange and the idiotic  §

Have just seen Arrested Development for the first time and watched about four or five episodes.

What’s most striking about the show is the way in which it absolutely nails the “Los Angeles thing,” that weird, petulant insanity that seems to have infected so much of the population in the region.

During my entire time living in and spending time in the area, I don’t think I knew more than one or two people that I’d consider fundamentally “normal” or “sane.” Though I have some dear friends in and from the area, I don’t think I’ve ever known anyone from the greater Los Angeles metropolitan region, “sane” or not, that didn’t have a deep hole somewhere in their being or that weren’t in some way negatively shaped by the place.

It’s a strange and peculiar poison, southern California, one that I look back at with a combination of fear and perplexity.

— § —

Separate note: Somehow people imagine that writers don’t actually do work—that “writing” is some sort of inborn capability or facility in the same way that flight is for seagulls, and is thus in some sense effortless.

“It shouldn’t take you too long to write that. I mean, you’re a writer, right? And everything that I’ve seen that you wrote has been fantastic, so this should be easy, not much time at all.”

Um, it was fantastic becuase so much time was invested in it. Writing isn’t like breathing just becuase I happen to do it for a living. It’s labor. Otherwise, you’d see a lot more millionaire writers.

If I really could chuck out a publication-ready article every five minutes, why exactly wouldn’t I do so? I could get paid for writing 96 articles in a workday, or a novel every week. Who in their right mind would stop after the first five or ten minutes and say “My work for the day is done, I guess” when they could earn two orders of magnitude more simply by working through the day like everyone else?

Okay, dead horse beaten. It just gets me sometimes.

— § —

I really, really want to go wireless with my input peripherals so that when I’m not computing, I can move them off of my desk easily and entirely and use the space for other kinds of work.

I’ve considered Apple’s Magic Trackpad but I’m not sure I can get used to that, or even if I do that its performance and usability ceiling is such that it won’t be a compromise for me.

Problem is, I hate mice. That leaves me with the Logitech M570 trackball by default. Only my experiences with recent vintage Logitech devices have given me reason to believe that quality is not what it was in the ’90s, and the reviews on this device with respect to quality and longevity are particularly troubling and describe some of the same issues I’ve seen on other Logitech devices, only worse, and more quickly following purchase.

— § —

Love technology, hate technology.

As always.

— § —

Gotta get me some discipline.
There is no other way at the end of the day.

Luau  §

So we’re at a luau for the local football team. Hundreds of attendees and a big stage up front. The Polynesian dance troupe from local U is on stage dancing and, at some point, doing the Haka. You know, the Haka. Shirtless, pantsless, muscular guys in paint screaming, chanting, and making faces as they prepare for war.

Then, they invite the football team and anyone in the crowd to come up on stage and try to learn/join in. So who goes running up on stage with a big smile?

M, of course.

Best 2-year-old girl Haka in pink check shorts you’ll ever see, though it was hard to hear her over the Poly guys and the football team on stage behind her.

— § —

Going to Dish on Monday.

DirecTV: No PAC12, no us.

— § —

Tomorrow: Wife is kickboxing.

The rest of us are going over the river and through the woods.

— § —

Gotta get this dissertation moving.

MOVING.

Morning regrets  §

This is an anti-intellectual public and nation.

For them, learning, education, wisdom, knowledge, etc. are only applicable to problems involve partial differential equations or arcane texts in Aramaic or some other dead language.

But it certainly “doesn’t take a professor” to know something about, say, ethics, climate change, or comparisons between Weimar Germany and other nations since then.

Those things are just matters of common sense and opinion, rather than fact. Any schmo can opine fruitfully, certainly.

— § —

So many things are broken in the human world.

So many things.

So many.

End. And Link.  §

As has happened so many times before, this is now the old blog.

The new blog is here, and you’ll probably notice the difference.

Thursdays, time management, life, and fish  §

It’s been a few days. It happens.

— § —

Mostly what’s been happening is life, in its messier and less appealing form. But things are straightening up; we’ve gone from horrific to okay to pretty good.

I’ll take it.

— § —

I’ll be back in the classroom in just over a week. The problem is, there’s just no time for it.

This will likely be the last class I teach for some time, perhaps until I get my Ph.D. and a TT gig at an R1 or a major private—if that ever happens. And right now, that’s a big question mark.

I’ve been a college instructor for nearly seven years, growing from just one course during my first semester as a lecturer to full-time teaching at some of the top New York schools for several semesters, then tapering off to one-per-semester again over the last couple of years.

I’ve met a great variety of fabulous, interesting students, and have fond memories of many particular names and faces. I’ll be sad to see it go, particularly since I don’t actually know if it will be the last time I ever grace the front of a classroom.

The sad fact, folks, is that it just doesn’t pay. I don’t mean that it doesn’t pay competitively, I mean that you have to do it as charity. If I were to teach a 4+4 at my current university appointment, which would be an absolutely full-time-plus job, I’d be earning $16,000 gross.

That’s McDonald’s wages, folks.

And the thing is, I can’t get a 4+4 because they don’t give those to adjuncts.

— § —

I recently made it to the “teaching demonstration and on-campus presentation” stage of the interview process for a TT position at one of the local community colleges.

I’m pretty sure I could have had it if I dug in and performed at level. But I bowed out.

It’s too bad.

Why did I bow out? Because even for full TT faculty, the salary range for a 5+5 paid less that what I am earning at one of several part-time, telecommuting consulting gigs right now.

My teaching scores and performance are, as the head of an NYU department once said, fabulous. Off the charts. I don’t say this to blow my own horn. Really.

I say it to mourn for what is being lost. There’s a generation of college-going kids at publics and communities who will sacrifice and scrimp and save and work hard to be taught by (and to get an education from) those who are only willing to take the pitiful money because they couldn’t find anything else to do—anything else that would let them, you know, buy groceries.

The higher education system is broken. It’s sweatshop labor now, like so many other things in this economy.

I’ve stuck it out for seven years purely on the strength and vapors of dedication to higher learning and free inquiry. But now I, as has been the case with so many others before me, am being tempted.

If I win the absolute lottery and get a TT job at an R1 or a major private and actually earn tenure, a decade after entry I’ll likely be earning a livable salary, but one that pales in comparison to what I easily could be making simply by abandoning academics and going to marketing meetings instead.

We’re talking differences that approach an order of magnitude by end of career.

My wife wants to kill me at times over this, and rightly so. We have kids and a retirement to think about, and the process of getting to the $100k-level TT salary is arduous, family killing, and all-consuming, even as it is fraught with risk, while the process of getting to the $500k-$1M level elsewhere is just about turning up for the meetings and being as smart and driven as you are.

She can’t help but wonder—constantly—where we’d been if I’d spent the last seven years doing something else instead.

Me, too. And for the first time in my life, I’m starting to waver in my commitment to academics in any form.

Turns out it’s nice to be able to pay the bills without martyrdom.

— § —

Meanwhile, I still have a Ph.D. that I want to finish.

If we count from my first entry into higher education, I’ve spent 22 years and counting and over a hundred thousand tuition dollars getting to this point. I’m 98 percent done. I’d hate to quit now.

Problem is that I simply don’t know where the hours are going to come from right now.

Priorities are:

1. Family
2. Bill-paying work
3. Academics

But by the time #1 and #2 are out of the way, there’s precious little time for anything else left over.

Yes, I do schedule what some would consider to be excessive family time. For example, I don’t work 40 hours at my “day jobs.” Put together, it works out to 25-35, tops.

I put in hours every week during the day with my family.

Some would say that I ought to cut puppet shows at the library, trips to the pool, music class, and other similar things out.

But in the interest of what? The 25-35 hours is paying the bills right now. I don’t need more. My kids are only young once.

Cutting out picnics at the park and story reading in the afternoon just to work on my dissertation?

Well, like I said—my kids are only young once, and my dissertation is never likely to earn me as much money as I can earn elsewhere in half the hours with half the stress.

This is becoming a motivation problem for me.

— § —

On a completely unrelated note, the goldfish are now nearly two years old. They were purchased as $0.28 feeder fish (five of them) under an inch long and about the size of a cough drop. They started life in a 5-gallon aquarium—all of them.

They’re now in a 55-gallon and the smallest of them is at least four inches long and about as big as my wallet. The largest is probably six or seven.

I know that a 55 isn’t enough for five common goldfish to live long, healthy lives. We’re planning to gradually adopt them out over time as they grow.

For the wary: the tank gets 35 percent water changes (they seem to tolearte it well) at least twice a week, and we have 265 gallons of multiple-format filtration capacity (two hanging, one submersible, one massive canister, all with a mix of Seachem Matrix and Seachem Purigen, plus tons and tons and tons of floss and charcoal) running on this 55 gallons.

But in time, they’ll outgrow.

I’ll be sorry to see them go, one by one, at some point in the future.

But they really probably do need a pond in the end.

— § —

Sad thing: I really love academics. Working on my dissertation for an hour and a half this morning, for the first time in well over a week, I felt that old excitement all over again.

I really do love the work.

Only now it’s tinged with sadness—that feeling that you get when you realize you may just sell the convertible and buy a minivan for the new wife and the kids you’re planning to have.

— § —

Football season: coming soon. I, frankly, can’t wait.

Hearth and home. Hearth and home.

Anyone that doesn’t see the link between football and hearth+home doesn’t understand either quantity.

Vexing and debilitating  §

A nasty, nasty day in every sense of the word.

Did . not . like .

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Nothing else to say. Too many more like this and nothing will ever get done. Gurgle.

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Pople vastly, catastrophically underestimate the power and variability of culture, and the degree to which those things that they take to be objective knowledge of the world are actually purely conventional and ideological.

This is why everything, from the environment to politics to the human body as a statistical aggregate, is increasingly broken.

All that it will take for human society to survive after all is for everyone to become an anthropologist. This will never happen, nobody takes anthrpology courses anyway, so nobody ever gains an empirical understanding of this problem complex, and from those few that do take anthropology courses, something more than half fully reject the empirical claims because they contradict cultural understandings.

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My dissertation chair is focused on elaborating the “social condition” of human life, but I think I can sum it up more succinctly:

The social condition is an evolutionary adaptation that enables organisms to coordinate their activity long enough to ensure their destruction and extinction following a very large population threshold, rather than the precarious existince of a smaller one.

Or—

The social condition is an evolutionary adaptation that enables organisms to coordinate their activity toward their own efficient destruction.

Or—

The social condition is the method by which humanity will eat itself, a cruel joke by which the universe proclaims that the only way you’ll be allowed to survive is to be certain not to in the end.