Bad Ideas, Citizenship, Class War, Community, Competence, Cultural Change, Cultural Traits, Culture, Democracy, Education, Equality of Opportunity, Freedom and Liberty, Ideologies, Intellectual Honesty, Knowledge, Learning, Life, Living, Obligations to Society, People, Political Issues, Politics, Privilege, Quality of Life, Skeptical Thinking, Society, Talents and Skills, Teacher, Teaching, Thinking, Tomoko, Values

The Value of a Teacher

SUMMARY: Teachers in the US are poorly compensated for the work in comparison to teachers in Japan.  Outside of the best public schools and elite private schools, students are educated to become loyal, obedient citizens with adequate job skills.  This contrasts sharply with earlier educational goals in America.

(About an 8 minute read)

My second wife, Tomoko, spent her early years in Tokyo, Japan.  She attended an elite school whose students were mainly the sons and daughters of government and corporate leaders.

Tomoko’s father, for instance, was an American on loan from Motorola to Sony who headed up Sony’s East Asian quality control during the years Japanese goods became synonymous with “quality”.   Her cousin, who tutored her growing up, was at one point the head of North American sales for Toyota.  His major accomplishment was taking Toyota products from about 6% of the car market in the US to over 22%.

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Allies, Altruism, Anthropology, Bad Ideas, Behavioral Genetics, Community, Competence, Competition, Cultural Traits, Culture, Ethics, Evolution, Fairness, Human Nature, Hunter/Gatherers, Ideas, Justice, Life, Memes, Morality, Morals, Nature, Obligations to Society, Quality of Life, Science, Society, Values

Lessons About Human Nature Learned From a Spider

(About a 6 minute read)

The spider had been stalking the fly for minutes.  There didn’t seem to be anything on the barren patch of ground to attract a fly.  I expected it to finish its investigations and leave.  But it would only buzz away a few inches when the spider approached it, then in a minute or two return.

Sometimes it would allow the spider to get very close before flying off.

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Abuse, Bad Ideas, Competence, Cultural Change, Cultural Traits, Culture, Equality, Equality of Opportunity, Ethics, Fairness, Fantasy Based Community, Freedom and Liberty, Guilt, Honesty, Human Nature, Idealism, Ideas, Ideologies, Intellectual Honesty, Justice, Liars Lies and Lying, Morality, Morals, News and Current Events, Obligations to Society, Oppression, Political Ideologies, Political Issues, Politics, Privilege, Quality of Life, Racism, Reality Based Community, Reason, Shame, Skeptical Thinking, Society, Thinking, Truth, Values, Village Idiots, Work

Who is Privileged and Who Is Not?

(About  5 minute read)

Growing up, I had a keen sense that I could get away with a good amount of rule-breaking.  Not just little things, but some fairly sizeable offenses too.  I didn’t usually push things as far as I sensed I could, but I did have the perception I could get away with a whole lot of things — if only I wanted to.

The sense stayed with me when I got older, although it became a little vaguer.  When I was in my late teens, early twenties, majoring in philosophy I was aware that I wouldn’t have much trouble getting a good job upon graduation — despite some warnings that my major was impractical.

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Abuse, Bad Ideas, Competence, Fun, Human Nature, Life, Magic, Magical Thinking, People, Play, Poetry, Quality of Life, Reason, Science, Superstition, Thinking, Truth

Magic Got the Upper Hand in Her Calculations

(About a 2 minute read)

I once knew a woman, very pleasant.
Middle aged, a real estate agent.
She smiled and laughed easily but
She had no grasp of technology,
Let alone the principles of science,
Let alone the cosmic division
Between natural causes and the gods.

The world to her was still magical,
She was so like a child in that way.

And least you think she was a happy person
Or a good person to always be around,
Rather than merely visit now and then.
She couldn’t fathom why light bulbs
Must burn out someday, and would blame
You or the last person in the room,
For messing with her bulbs.

“Did you screw with my bulb”, she’d say.
Truly! She’d say that!
And she wasn’t kidding you.

It was like being blamed
When you were a kid for Steve’s misdeed.
No one believed you, you’ll recall,
Thought you were lying like a child
When you pointed out the true miscreant.
She wouldn’t believe you, you see.
She had it all wrong, and you were the child.

She’d take you back, back to kidhood,
In so many ways.

Magic once excited me but it grew up
Strong and brave to become the sciences.

Some of us still long for our youth
And the fun we had taming talking rabbits,
Or flying on the throw rugs of our dreams.
But I tell you it’s not really pretty
When an even pleasant, cheerful person
Blames you for the crisis in her life.

I suppose somewhere back of her mind
Was the prize winning Nobel knowledge
That her bulbs sometimes burnt out
For reasons lesser than your malice,
Your bad character, and ill-will.

But magic usually got the upper hand
In her intellectual calculations,

Much helped, I think, by our Age,
A frightening Age when all of us clearly see
That truth has become comfortably
Relative, and easy to access.

Just look deep inside, the deeper the best,
To check your proposition X
Against the movements
Of your intestinal gas
To see if X feels good to you.

“What’s true for you
Is not true for me
And you’re not my reality check.
I’ll consult my intestines for that,
Thank you kindly.”

Authenticity, Being True To Yourself, Competence, Cultural Traits, Culture, Happiness, Human Nature, Learning, Life, Quality of Life

How Not to Miss Out on More Than Half Your Life

I think it must have been Hollywood that began the cult of youth in this country — a cult that has now spread to most industrialized nations.   There is something about the medium of film that makes youth more attractive than it really is, and age much less attractive than it really is.

Much less attractive!

I’m pretty sure it works like this: Most of what makes age attractive is internal.  That is, the attractiveness lies chiefly in internal things such as intellectual, emotional, and spiritual maturity.  But film has a much harder time capturing those things than it does the attractiveness of youth, which lies chiefly (but not exclusively) in the beauty of youth — an external thing.

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Abuse, Adolescence, Adolescent Sexuality, Alienation, Art, Artist, Attached Love, Attachment, Celibacy, Competence, Erotic Love, Ethics, Free Spirit, Horniness, Human Nature, Lovers, People, Political Issues, Quality of Life, Relationships, Self, Self-Knowledge, Sex, Sexuality, Sexualization, Values, Wisdom

I Dumped Her When She Soaked Me With Buckets of Love

(About a 6 minute read)

Ask nearly anyone to sum up adolescence in a few words and most likely one of those words will be “confusing”.  Whatever else it is, that word is just as focused on a key truth as a teenage boy is focused on his friend’s suddenly perky nipples the very first time he espies them by the light of the werewolf moon.

What is often not mentioned, however, is how frequently adolescent confusions turn all manner of relationships into cruel ropes that jerk their victims back when they try to run from a bad situation.  Even blind or unintended abuse is magnified by the fact kids bond so quickly and firmly to each other.

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Belief, Competence, Education, Honesty, Intellectual Honesty, Intelligence, Learning, Logic, Reason, Skeptical Thinking, Thinking, Truth, Values

Mom Blinded Me with Logic!

(About a 4 minute read)

I find it curious how much it seems to be uniform worldwide that we fail to recognize and value the contributions our mothers make to our intellectual lives. Not so our fathers — we are often acutely aware of what they’ve done for us. But our mothers are almost universally another matter.

Few people I’ve heard say, “Mom taught me how to think”.  Instead, she has taught us just about everything but how to think.  She has especially taught us how to feel warm and fuzzy about people and things.  Which seems to me quite at odds with how to think — at least with how to think rationally.

Continue reading “Mom Blinded Me with Logic!”