Finish what you started… :-

I have started reading a new book.

Just like the last paragraph, I have complete thoughts, so far, about the book, but I set out to achieve so much more. I am not above gimmicks. And I suffer from disorder. And scattered thoughts.

Sometimes I feel like a moth, circling a light, believing it’s the moon, just fulfilling instinctual movements. These evolved senses guided us forever, and now there are cinnamon buns in airports that will give us diabetes, and make us obese, somehow in that order, or backwards, but the damned smell of cinnamon is known to make peoplefolks get hungry, and spendy. You get it, right? We are fallible, now (not just now), because our evolution didn’t prepare us for this world. These flashing lights! And abundant sources of pornography! And vodka in energy drinks! We’re fucked!

And this is a problem. I started a new book, but I didn’t finish the last one, and not because it wasn’t compelling, or interesting, but because I wanted to know the stuff in the new book, and it came along more recently. And all of a sudden new shit was pooping in my head.

It’s not the first time, it won’t be the last. The issue is: what happens if I never finish these books? I will never be like Tai Lopez.

Routines can save us. I have had them in the past, and some work wonders. Lifting weights, great routine. But they also suck time. And they have to be worth it. Lifting weights is worth it. I’m not sure finishing all the books is worth it.

But how to identify…?

Lifting weights is easy to rationalise. Before/after photos. Past personal experiments. But watching statistics lectures online…that one is hard to know. What if I don’t need to know statistics? And really, theory classes don’t really give you a working knowledge, that comes with skin in the game.

Could it hurt, spending time finishing books? Absolutely. Opportunity cost, bro. Everything you do comes at the cost of not doing the next best thing, but…that is already language that just racks on the guilt. What if you take opportunity cost to be the most fundamental concern at all times? You can’t know the best, most optimal use of your time, all of the time…At best you can get away with some sex-panther logic, and in that case, just try to have as few doubts in yourself as possible. And if you really vanquish your doubts, maybe you can become a self-help guru.

I live with doubts. I have low confidence, and it used to result in crippling anxiety. Now, I have confidence in select things.

  1. People with a lot of confidence are fools
  2. I am not a fool, but…Dunning-Kruger
  3. Fuck it, people forget things easily

Anyway, there is a logic that ties this all together…Oh yeah, I don’t finish things. And it is attention span. I now realise I don’t have one. It lasts about a month. Then something comes along and I lose it. So a new, whole new, world philosophy is what I get into…Is there something special about the month? “Flavour of the month” is a saying. Maybe it is more profound than what meets the eye…ear?…eye? We’re fucked.

However, sometimes I look back, and the one-month sprees add up to knowing some things. Like…about half finished books worth of knowledge…Ok you can get a Lambo for ~ a quarter million.

Which means…if I read half books, I can get half of what Tai Lopez gets with full books. So…maybe I’ll make some YouTube videos in my late-thirties with some Lexus cars or Caddilacs or something, and I wont be in the Hollywood hills, but maybe a nice neighbourhood of a second rate city. I can’t wait.

Dead foreign children

A friend emailed me this news article today. It’s about Canadian politicians and the currently famous picture of the drowned Syrian refugee boy.

I have one strong case to defend the conservatives…overload. They have a lot of cases to deal with, many of them tragic. But people don’t like that excuse. I don’t envy the government officials, this is an issue that really demonstrates the difficulty of governing, at a personal level. Most of us are glad to be free of that burden.

Overall, I am most offended by the opportunism of Trudeau in this context than the conservative’s policies. What’s the quote? “You can’t decide you have compassion after the fact…etc..”(something along those lines). Mulcair’s response was much more subtle and much more palatable, but still opportunist. Harper’s response pissed me off, too. But I think it comes from a solid, respectable conviction, a conviction I disagree with, but one that is useful for the moral debate, at any rate…because it is consistent, it has merits as well as severe problems. Ultimately, I don’t know if politicians can turn that opportunistic part of their personality off, when you have been campaigning aggressively night and day, you lose sight of reality.
Yet…what I actually see in this story is the moral ineptness of our people. This is a case in which I would say, people read about it, blame someone else, and go back to their lives. If you were to bring up the refugee crisis before this photo was published, and before this story was published, people would assign it a low priority in the overall election debate. Now that the international community can blame Canada for inaction, all of a sudden it is a priority (or not, we shall see). But the problem is that I have a longer memory than the news cycle. I know from my personal experience that people don’t care until they have something tangible. A big reason is the lack of imagination and the lack of committing time to thinking about the suffering of others, and an abundance of time thinking about which beach resort to trot off to next, or which streams to go a-fishing on.
If we entered this conversation with the acknowledgement that our real set of values in this life do not place human lives above our own amusements, then we can go somewhere. But people find this appalling. So I’ll admit it, that I don’t universally value human lives above my own pains and pleasures, and this is a moral failure. This is why I feel qualified in saying that we are a morally inept people, I have to look no further than my own life. It upsets me that this is a condition of modern life, but there are reasons: lack of power to change anything; lack of information to remind me of this problem. Etc… Perhaps if society were structured differently, I would not be such a failure.
Many of those who get involved in the ’cause’ will find this position frustrating, no doubt. I have been in both sets of shoes, as an activist in certain causes and as the myopic worker bee. There are very marginal expressions of power available to people (Canadians in this case), perhaps starting with who you vote for. However, these marginal expressions of power do not produce the feedback needed to incentivise an individual to remain vigilant and committed to a cause. Rather it is the acknowledgement of like-minded peers that matters.
This is what leads me to my conclusion that these types of injustice will be a fact of life until someone comes along with a mechanism to express power, or a mechanism to sustain commitment to a cause. I would imagine a currency of some sort, ‘freedom points’ if you will, a way to contribute to the overall good of humanity in a measurable, publicly displayable fashion. The closest thing I am aware of are the works of Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum…things like the happiness index. But these are macro-societal initiatives that do not communicate to individual “morality” balances.
Another interesting observation I can draw from this article is the power and real world value of art. Call a photo what you will. The narrative of this newspaper is a work of art, it is not a scientific report. It selects the facts that might compel the readers to act. If you ever doubt the fundamental power and primacy of the humanities (maybe not in an academic setting, but in the real world), here is your evidence. It’s not a scientific narrative, it’s a moral and philosophical one that is being reported.
But to focus on art. It serves the purpose of communicating emotion. And what we need in this world is a ‘free market’ of emotion. We need to obliterate emotional distance and the best tools we have, at the moment, are works of art. The sad reality is that arts in commercial settings are too often used to fuel our lust for materials, what else is pop music? It is not something I will ever really feel spiritual about, I can basically guarantee that much. If you want more evidence of our moral ineptness, turn on any television, and remember the statistic that in the time use surveys conducted recently, television is still the number one way people pass time. How many moralistic programs can you find? Well, a bit of a trick question, but the morality of the television is highly consumerist. And is a TV mirror or a window?
Anyway…Adorno basically wrote all of these ideas 50+ years ago. Nothing has changed. Thoroeau wrote this same thing 150+ years ago. Who else in history? Marcus Aurelius? The stoics?┬áThe difference is that we have technology to viably communicate these things, and most people don’t even feel guilty for wasting the opportunity.