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Late Night Thoughts: Moonless Nights, Theism and Nontheism, Age Segregation, Ancient Reputations, and More (October 1, 2018)

(About a 5 minute read)

I once read that on a moonless night, no more than about 5,000 stars are visible to the naked eye.  Yet, to us that number might as well be a million, given how poor our judgement of numerical quantities is.

Apparently, most of us cannot instantly, without counting, recognize the difference between such a small quantity as eight and nine items — let alone the difference between 5,000 and 1,000,000.

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Can you imagine what a paradise this earth would be for (especially) young men if women did not need to fear getting to know them?  Not only would it be easy to get a first date, but you could take her just about anywhere.

You wouldn’t need to stick to public places.  You could, say, propose an overnight camping trip in confidence that — if she were interested — she’d readily grab her sleeping bag and be off with you.

One of the best things about getting older is women no longer see you as dangerous until proven innocent.

One of the worse things about getting older is women no longer see you as “dangerous” in the best sense of the word!

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“The difference between theism and nontheism is not whether one does or does not believe in God. . . Theism is a deep-seated conviction that there’s some hand to hold: if we just do the right things, someone will appreciate us and take care of us. . . Nontheism is relaxing with the ambiguity and uncertainty of the present moment without reaching for anything to protect ourselves.”  ― Pema Chodron

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I recently read that the segregation the ages — which seems to be increasing in America — has reached a point that it is now causing an alarming loss of knowledge, and possibly even wisdom. I recollect when I was a young man, old and young mixed more or less freely, but apparently that is no longer so.  At least not outside the workplaces.  Today, the ages are so segregated that elders have no one to pass down their life lessons to.

What is often overlooked in such stories is that young people have no one to pass up their enthusiasms and new ideas to.

My cleaning lady, Evelyn, was only half joking the other day when she told me she didn’t want her teenage daughters becoming more like her, but she wanted to become more like them — for they use less discriminatory and prejudicial language than she herself had been taught to use.

How much harder it will be for our society to preserve what is best while changing for the better if the ages become totally segregated?

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The oldest propaganda on the books?  One candidate for that noble distinction must surely be, “Today’s kids are lazy and have no respect for their elders”.

Years ago, I confess I was such a nerd that I kept a book of Egyptian and Sumerian literature on my bedside table.  I loved reading — over and over again — the stories, proverbs, and so forth from those two cultures.

If I recall, the Sumerian clay tablet was about 5,000 years old.  On it were written words to this effect, “The young scribes today do not want to study writing and have no respect for their teachers.”  The really funny part was, it was a tablet used in teaching young scribes to write.

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The ancient Greeks had a reputation for being unruly centuries before the Athenians suppressed the power of the nobles and invented democracy.

An Assyrian clay tablet of around 800 BC  speaks of a Greek man in one of the Assyrian provinces who had stirred up an independence movement by claiming (to put his claim in modern terms), “The king is no god but puts his pants on like everyone else.”

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In the first few years I lived in Colorado, I was stalked twice.  Once by a man, once by a woman.  The woman stalked me daily for two weeks — apparently because she wanted a date!  But she eventually lost interest and that was that.

The man was twice as persistent as her.  He stalked me for a month.  He had also staked his ex-wife.  She had a restraining order placed on him — which he had broken and then been arrested for.

The man began stalking me after losing to me in a chess game.  Took me a month to figure out that was his motive. Once I did, I arranged a rematch that I lost on purpose.  He promptly quit stalking me.

Wish all stalking could be resolved so simply as those two cases.

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“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”  — Often misattributed to Einstein, most likely from a 1981 pamphlet of the Narcotics Anonymous organization.

“Get knocked down seven times, get up eight.” — Japanese Proverb.

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” — British Proverb.

So which is true? Which is right?

I believe I can see how they can all be true.  Persistence is not just admirable, but in this world, all but absolutely necessary to accomplish much of anything.  But doing exactly the same thing over and over while expecting different results is indeed unwise in most instances.  But what do you think?

14 thoughts on “Late Night Thoughts: Moonless Nights, Theism and Nontheism, Age Segregation, Ancient Reputations, and More (October 1, 2018)”

  1. This is an aside, but some time ago you mentioned that according to modern neurology, the conscious mind is more or less a commentator, and that a similar idea was found in Hinduism, too. Do you remember what the Hindus say about it?

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    1. That’s a very tricky question because Hinduism contains six different schools of thought and a bazillion opinions about everything. So what you say is the case with some folks is going to be different with others.

      But at least some folks see the atman — the self or soul — as distinct from consciousness, while other people apparently don’t. Presumably those who see the self or soul as distinct from consciousness would be the ones most likely to consider consciousness little more than a commentator.

      I’ve been told there’s an oft told tale in India that describes the conscious mind as a small monkey perched on top of an elephant. The monkey chatters away, endlessly telling the elephant what to do and where to go. To the monkey, the elephant obeys it. But in reality, the elephant goes where it wants to go and the monkey is only commenting on its moves.

      I do not know how many Hindus agree with that story, but I’m told it’s well known. Yet, you know how that goes.

      I do know Jiddu Krishnamurti, who was a bit offbeat in his views in some ways, also saw the conscious mind as little more than a commentator. He sometimes called it “the editor”.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. ‘I recently read that the segregation the ages — which seems to be increasing in America — has reached a point that it is now causing an alarming loss of knowledge, and possibly even wisdom.’ Do you think this could be the fact that there is so little in common, be it the use of technology day in and day out, TV shows for that matter, life styles, and patience? Patience is a dwindling trait these days with most of my peers, be it waiting at a restaurant, or a package to be delivered for everything is just so instant while my parents, elders seem to happily swim about in a pool of patience.

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    1. I think you’re right that having so little in common could easily be one of the reasons for the segregation. There also seems to be increasing fear. Old fears young, young fears old. It’s getting pretty ridiculous here.

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  3. You said, “Can you imagine what a paradise this earth would be for (especially) young men if women did not need to fear getting to know them? Not only would it be easy to get a first date, but you could take her just about anywhere.” And I understand what you’re saying, Paul, but am tempted to write a bit about”…what a paradise this earth would be for young women if men did not need to fear getting to know them.” Not the same kind of fear, of course, and maybe the word ‘intimidate’ would be better used, and maybe it was just young Carla, rather than young women in general, who intimidated young men… but at any rate, it’s got me thinking. Which is what is good about your Late Nights Thoughts, Paul!

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    1. Excellent point, Carla! Absolutely spot on!

      When I was at university, I noticed that numerous young men preferred to sit around in their rooms endlessly daydreaming about some young woman they were attracted to rather than figure out some way to meet her. Sometimes they’d do it for a whole school year without ever getting up the nerve to approach her — even so much as say hello to her. I think it was the fear of rejection. Such an overwhelming fear.

      I was only a bit different. I was just as scared as they were of rejection, but I would make myself meet people. Whenever I was invited to a party, I would force myself to at the very least say hello to every unattached woman in the room. I wouldn’t leave until I had.

      Can you believe I got a reputation as a sophisticated and socially adept young man just for that? Just for being willing to strike up a conversation with anyone who’d let me?

      Young men can make dating about as hard as landing someone on the moon. You were probably the subject of some daydreams yourself — without ever knowing it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Great observations, Paul. In fact, it reminds me of a short essay I have in my archives, about a time I resolved to say ‘hello’ to young man in my college chemistry class and then lost my nerve…

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      2. I hear you, Carla! I certainly did not manage to screw up the courage to speak to every young woman I wanted to speak to back in the day. That makes it all the more ironic that I once had a rep for being sociable — it was all based on just now and then screwing up the courage! 😀

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