Arrogance, Competition, Friends, Human Nature, Intelligence, Judgementalism, Life, Loyalty, Self, Self Identity, Self Image, Self-Knowledge

The Death of an Arrogant King

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Paul describes the strategy he used to beat a far brighter and more favored boy in order to become his high school’s chess champion.

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THE CRITICS IGNITE! “In ‘Death of an Arrogant King’ de Hunne of blogging, Paul Sunstone professes himself to be a grandmaster of chess.  Shame! Shame!  In sincerity, he is ein Hun who has pushed boredom to new and astonishing levels.  He has made boredom a form of  barbarism. He has weaponized it.  An orderly society would crucify Sunstone.  Crucify de Hunne just as he himself shamelessly crucifies human decency in the process of excreting his innumerable boring posts upon the world.” — Johanna Meyer, Der Blogkritiker, “Die Fussen-Welt”, Fussen, Germany.

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Abuse, Abusive Relationships, Attached Love, Bad Ideas, Emotional Dependency, Intelligence, Relationships, Resilience, Tomoko

My Fateful Tears

(About a 2 minute read)

My second wife was brilliant, the daughter of an award-winning quality control engineer, and she had most — or more than most — of his genius in her own brains.

Her executive father played a key role in his company’s race be the first manufacturer in the world to reach the fabled Sigma 6 level of quality control.

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Bad Ideas, Belief, Creative Thinking, Cultural Traits, Culture, Education, Friends, Human Nature, Ideas, Intelligence, Knowledge, Learning, Life, Living, Love, Lovers, Memes, Poetry, Quality of Life, Society, Teaching, Thinking, Truth

A Flock of Sparrows for Majel: “The Walls of All My Boxes are Brown”

A Flock of Sparrows for Majel

(About a 2 minute read)

I’ve come to believe most of my “thinking”
Is nothing much more than exploring
the insides of my boxes.

The boxes my mother, my teachers, my peers,
My friends, my culture, and that old guy
Who lived up on the hill in the Victorian,
Gave me mostly when I was growing up,
Something fun to play around inside of.
Something fun for me to play around inside of.

Continue reading “A Flock of Sparrows for Majel: “The Walls of All My Boxes are Brown””

Authenticity, Being True To Yourself, Community, Creativity, Culture, Environment, Ethics, Freedom, Goals, Happiness, Human Nature, Idealism, Ideas, Ideologies, Intelligence, Life, Living, Meaning, Morality, Morals, Obligations to Society, Political Ideologies, Purpose, Quality of Life, Reason, Self, Self-determination, Self-Integration, Self-Realization, Society, Spirituality, Talents and Skills, Values

My Ideal Adult Human

(About a 9 minute read)

Now and then, I ask people on the internet what their ideal adult human is.  Almost inevitably, at least one or two people respond by asking me why there should be an ideal adult human.  It’s a good question.

There seem to be three major reasons — and possibly a fourth — for thinking about what one’s ideal adult human would be.  The first is to get a clearer and perhaps more insightful view of what one thinks would by the best possible society to live in — the good society, so to speak.

For instance, it would be inconsistent to hold optimizing personal freedoms as the hallmark of a good society if you also thought the ideal adult human was a mindless cog slaving away to support and grow the economy.  One of those would not lead to the other in any practical scheme of things.

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Adolescent Sexuality, Drug Abuse, Erotic Love, Horniness, Human Nature, Infatuation, Intelligence, Life, People, Relationships, Sex, Sexuality, Sexualization

The Janet I knew, and the Real Janet

(About an 8 minute read)

As nearly every adult knows, adolescence — whatever else it is — is a time of confusion and heartache.  I think our memories of the heartache can stick with us for life.  At 61, they are still almost vivid to me.

The confusion is another matter though.  It is quite easy enough to recall being confused, but it can be just as difficult to recall precisely how we were confused.  Perhaps that’s because our current clarity has simply crowded out our years of confusion.

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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.

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Competence, Cultural Traits, Culture, Emotions, Intelligence, Logic, Mental and Emotional Health, Neuroscience, Psychology, Quality of Life, Reason, Thinking

Could Star Trek’s Mr. Spock Really Exist?

(About a 5 minute read)

Like most sensible people, I am firmly convinced that around 2,400 years ago in Athens, Greece, Plato invented Mr. Spock.

Of course, I do not believe that Plato invented all the details of Mr. Spock right down to his curiously arched eyebrows and pointy ears.  So far as I know, those details were worked out by Gene Roddenberry, Leonard Nimoy, and their band.  But the essential notion that a hyper-rational person would have few or no emotions — that was Plato.

In Plato’s view, emotions and thought were clearly distinct, and the only connection between the two was that emotions could mess with thought.  That is, while emotions could cause us to reason poorly, they had little or no positive impact on reasoning.  Apparently, Plato was the first to come up with those ideas — ideas which went on to become commonplace assumptions of Western thought.  And Roddenberry, etc seized on those assumptions to create Mr. Spock.

Of course, there are some rather obvious ways in which Plato was right.  Most likely everyone has had some experience with their emotions overwhelming their capacity for reason.  Every child is cautioned not to act in anger or other strong emotional state, least they do something irrational.  And many of us — perhaps even most of us — know that we tend to be more gullible when listening to someone present their views with a great deal of passion than when listening to someone present their views coldly.  “I don’t think Snerkleson is quite right in his views, but he’s so passionate about them that he must honestly see some merit to them.  Maybe there’s at least some truth to what he says about dog turds replacing petroleum as the fuel of the future.”  There are clearly ways emotions can interfere with thought, as Plato knew.

As it happens, though, the notion that emotions only have a negative impact on thought is not borne out by the evidence.

In the early 1990s, a man — who has come to be known as “Elliot” — was referred to Antonio Damasio, a neuroscientist, by his doctors.  Elliot had applied for disability assistance despite the fact that, “[f]or all the world to see, Elliot was an intelligent, skilled, and able-bodied man who ought to come to this senses and return to work”.  His doctors wanted Damasio to find out if Elliot had a “real disease”.

Damasio found that Elliot tested well when given an IQ test and other measures of intelligence.  His long-term memory, short-term memory, language skills, perception, and handiness with math were unquestionably sound. He was not stupid. He was not ignorant.  Yet, when Damasio started digging into Elliot’s past job performance, he found that Elliot had often behaved as if he was indeed stupid and ignorant.

For instance, Elliot had at least once spent half a day trying to figure out how to categorize his documents.  Should he categorize them by size, date, subject, or some other rule?  Elliot couldn’t decide.  Moreover, he had been fired for leaving work incomplete or in need of correction.   And when Damasio studied what had happened to Elliot after his job loss, he found the same pattern of poor decision-making and incompetence.  Elliot had gotten divorced, then entered into a second marriage that quickly ended in another divorce.  He had then made some highly questionable investments that brought about his bankruptcy.  He couldn’t make plans for a few hours in advance, let alone months or years. Unable to live on his own, he was staying with a sibling. His life was in ruin.

When Damasio looked at Elliot’s medical history, he found that the turning point for Elliot had come about when he developed a brain tumor.   Before the tumor, Elliot had been highly successful in his business field.  He was even a role model for the junior executives.  And he had had a strong, thriving marriage.  Although the brain tumor had been successfully removed,  Elliot had suffered damage to some of the frontal lobe tissues of his brain having to do with the processing of emotions.

Damasio began testing Elliot for his emotional responses to things.  In test after test, Elliot showed little or no emotional response to anything.  He was, Damasio concluded, cognitively unaware of his own emotions.  Then Damasio had a revelation.  “I began to think that the cold-bloodedness of Elliot’s reasoning prevented him from assigning different values to different options,” Damasio wrote.

Damasio went on from Elliot to look at other case studies of people who had suffered brain injuries preventing them from being cognitively aware of their emotional states.  He found the same pattern over and over:  When emotions were impaired, so was decision-making.

The findings of Damasio and other scientists have largely revolutionized how scientists view the relationship between emotion and thought.  It now seems that emotions are, among other things, the means by which we sort out information: The relevant from the irrelevant, the high-priority from the low-priority, the valuable from the worthless.

And Mr. Spock?  Well, a real life Mr. Spock might spend hours trying to figure out whether to set his phaser to stun or kill.  Without emotions, decision-making becomes extraordinarily problematic.