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[ Erasmus of Rotterdam, writing.... ]
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Aphorisms for a human[e] world
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Everything that's obvious is begging to be investigated....
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Lux et Vanitas. Like much other human cultural effort, when I die or cease paying my monthly Internet Service Provider fee, or my ISP gets driven out of business, or the Internet itself changes to discriminate in some new way against "personal web pages", etc., all I have done here will almost surely be lost.
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[ ] THINK [ ] [ Notice what's hiding in plain sight! ]
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Caveat: If the shoe doesn't fit, please don't think I'm trying to make you wear it.
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 1I once knew a man who told me his God's commandment to people was: "Be kind to one another."
 2Seen on the wall of a shoe repair shop: "One man's dreamboat has often turned out to be another person's destroyer."
3aA first step to help stop cheating is to eliminate competition, or at least make the stakes inconsequential.[fn.33[ Go to footnote! ]]
3bTo be "the best" simply means to be less worse than all the other competitors who happened to turn up for the contest.[fn.30[ Go to footnote! ]]
A possible improvement: Award the biggest prizes to the losers, since they are out of the competition, need a salve for their disappointment, and, by giving their all to this thankless task of losing, they have successfully laid the social groundwork which alone enables the winners to be winners.
Win or lose, pass or fail, just by competing, all the competitors (you and me...) help make the world safe for democracy competition. The first law of physics is that you have to pass Physics 101. The earth may be round one day and flat the next, but no one who does not give the right answers on the final exam will ever get to be a physicist.
"Go Spirit of Competition! Beat Spirit of Cooperation!" "Yea, System!"....
 Read more about competition vs cooperation[ Read more about competition's effects on our lives! ]
 See how competition can be constructive[ See how competition can be constructive! ]
Percentiles? We can imagine possible worlds in which persons who can run a 4 minute mile are in the bottom 10 percentile, and in which persons who can limp with a cane are in the top 10 percentile.
3cNo person can run so fast that one cannot turn the speed on a treadmill up high enough to make them fall off.[fn.34[ Go to footnote! ]]
Alternate version: If you did the crossword puzzle ["passed the bar", etc.] it's because they didn't make it too hard for you.
3dWhenever a test is administered, everybody has been failed (but some even worse than others).
Liberal arts education. How does being tested and being graded qualify as a liberal art? Indeed, what makes it be not just a liberal art, but the center of the curriculum?
When a teacher gives a student a grade, the right answer -- which, of course, the student is not permitted to give -- is: "Who, [teacher's name], do you think you are to treat me like that? Why are you doing this to me?"[fn.5a[ Go to footnote! ]]
Let's be realistic: The depersonalization caused by overpopulation may make testing a bureaucratic necessity. There is a right time to administer a test: When everybody is confident the person will pass by a wide margin. (Do testers really have to always be so immature that they always have to be in a rush to test prematurely? Can't they learn to delay their gratification?)[fn.40[ Go to footnote! ]: Brilliance is based on experience.]
3eHappy the person who can find genuine interest and satisfaction in something nobody else wants -- for then (s)he has a better chance of being allowed to have it.
 4Now let us deconstruct postmodernists and deconstructionists! (Especially: how they make money from doing postmodernism and deconstruction, whether they employ wage labor, etc.)
Can anyone explain to me how today's highly-touted "reduced product development cycle times" have overcome the problem of haste making waste? And how is "just in time" (aka "JIT") better and safer than "just in case"? [See example[ See example of 'just in time' failing! ]]
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[ ]Note: "Just in time" logically presupposes: On demand[ See how IBM enables just in time/on demand to work reliably! ]
Riddle: JIT - 1 = ???  
Deadlines kill. ~ Beepers are heart-attack triggers.[fn.37a[ Go to footnote! ]] Overtime should normally vary inversely with closeness to project due date. Key design considerations of any nontrivial system: slack and redundancy.[fn.8[ Go to footnote! ],10[ Go to footnote! ]. But, yes, deadlines can also motivate: fn.119a(row 2: 27Jun06)[ Go to footnote! ]]
Once a deadline expires, it can still continue to exhaust us even longer, by being: extended!
Panta rhei. -- Rush! Rush! Everybody's panting <[ 24 / 7 :: What makes it tick? ]>.... ("Rah-rah!"?)
Moving at the speed of business.... is like trying to run a marathon anaerobically [i.e., sprinting all the way].
I once had a manager who actually said: "I want to see asses and elbows!"
Do it yesterday! If something is needed or desired ASAP, then we should already have been told about it and started doing it.
A watched pot eventually will boil: But if one watches intently enough, one may not recognize when it does. (The price of eternal vigilance is stupefaction.)
Leisure is the basis of culture.
 6a"And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil...." Job? --Yes, G-d, this we pray! [Please read stmt from a 21st c. Job: fn.102[ Go to footnote! ]]
I wonder: What brand of cognac did G-d offer His friend Satan, when they met at the Yale Club to discuss "testing" Job, and to make their gentlemen's wager how he'd do?
(On the other hand, so-called "conservatives" would have us believe:) Temptations are good for us, because they "give" us opportunities to build and test character! ("We shouldn't make life too easy for young people", etc. -- E.g.: Providing teenagers with access to contraceptives enables them to avoid the penalties of teenage pregnancy without requiring them to "exercise self-control".)
Perhaps the best we can hope for vis-à-vis God is that He take no notice of us.[fn.69[ Go to footnote! ]; fn.102[ Go to footnote! ]]
6b"Mr. Abraham! Why were you going to kill your son, Isaac?" "Your Honor, I was obeying orders." [See also: Abraham and Isaac 2004.] ~ Better: "As best I can determine, G-d has just ordered me to kill my son Isaac. Was it really G-d that gave the order, or might it have been The Great Deciever, or an hallucination, or? Even if it was in fact G-d that gave the order, should I obey it? Let me collect all the information I can, and think about how I should respond to this situation, in consultation with Isaac, who is the one most affected...." [Abraham and Isaac might decide that the order should be obeyed, e.g., if G-d makes it clear to them that otherwise He will make Isaac live in unbearable pain ever after.]
"Mr. MultinationalCorp CEO! Why did you lay off all those workers?" "Your Honor, The Invisible Hand made me do it."
6cConcerning the relation between G-d, man and the world: "Mankind is not the master of all the stuff that exists, but Everyman (woman, child) is a judge of the world."
Once you realize it, you know that even every perception is an act of judgment.
Freedom comes from following rules? Of course: If I get to freely define the rules, and exploratorially and provisionally follow them.
Every person is properly a ruler: a measurer of all things.
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[ Prove all things; hold fast that which is good! ]
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How well does your world -- the persons, social institutions, customs and things around you, the body you live in, etc. -- measure up?
7Conservatorship as a model for caring and respect. Example: "Honor thy father and mother ['God, country, Yale', etc.]" -- by critiquing rigorously each of their directives before "following" the good ones and helping them do better about the rest.
"Prove all things; hold fast [only] that which is good." (1 Thes 5:21; emphasis and bracketed text added) -- and, before we're finished, start all over again, forever!
A thing of beauty is a responsibility forever.
Would that all conservatives were transformed into conservators!
 8Gravitation is universal, but it affects a pasha differently than those who carry him around in his sedan chair.
 9[ This space available. ]
USA Today. Our motto should be: "We paved over the earth, and drove around." Our national anthem: "Running on empty" (Jackson Browne, 1977).
[ Vote! ]
{Ø} Voting illustrates the mathematical notion that the limit of 1 divided by n, as n approaches infinity, is zero. (See, e.g., November 2000 U.S. Presidential election.)
The more of anything [e.g., people] there are, the less each is worth.
Representative democracy is primarily a democracy of the representatives.
 11I have always been unable to understand how anyone could rise to be a General (CEO, etc.) in the short span of years before mandatory retirement age.
 12Regarding "daily life": I would find it less discouraging to clean a floor if both: (1) the floor had an enduring place in the history of art [I once swept the floor of Daisen-in temple, Kyoto], and (2) I owned (better: was a principal co-owner of) it. Then the activity, even though still not emphatically creative, at least would be neither: (1) lacking in historical significance (wasted time), nor (2) extractive (alienated labor, where the benefits accrue to someone else).
13aHow difficult a problem is to solve generally has no relation to the value of solving the problem.
Computer programs are full of "sink holes of the mind": maddeningly difficult problems, the solution to which adds little to individual or social life -- or even to learning, since, once the source of the trouble is found, frequently it turns out to be yet another case of "something stupid"....
13bOften, the problem as stated is just one of the symptoms.
[ Notice what's hiding in plain sight! ]
When parents complain that a child isn't "listening", they usually are not hypothesizing that the child failed to acoustically register or semantically decode what they said. ("Excuse me. I didn't hear what you said." "You lie!")
When adults tell a child: "Behave!", what they generally are asking the child to do is to treat them better than their treatment of the child would merit. (Ditto rich countries vis-à-vis people they call: "terrorists".)
Parent: "Where did you go?" Child: "Out." Parent: "What did you do?" Child: "NothingProduce for you an audit trail of what I did." [Same or different occasion:] Parent: "Apologize! And mean it!" Child: "I am sincerely sorry for yourmy attitude."
"Don't tell me what I said! Why do I have to keep telling you what to do?" ~ Read more peremptory discourse of petty power[ Read more of this kind of discourse of power! ]
One piece of evidence that truth is not "merely relative", is the self-righteous vigor with which persons who stand to gain unfairly from it hide behind it ("disingenuousness"). ["Yes, logically I must admit you are right. But I still feel wronged."]
Dept. of wolves in sheep's clothing: Adult who says: "I only want [I'm only trying, etc.]..." is usually trying to impose a whole controvertial regime they desire on somebody whom they very well know would not like it, and to get away with it by tricking the person into not noticing they've been ripped off.
It is important that children learn "swear words", so that they can be punished for using them.
Big pitchers have big ears.
14b"Volunteer" is a transitive verb, as in: "We volunteer you to [do whatever]."
[ Where do you throw your used paper towels in the restroom? ]If you want me to clean up the mess you make, then make very little mess and [sincerely] apologize to me for making even that little bit. ("....But that takes all the fun out of it.")
14c"Future generations"? We are one (every generation is a future generation of all its previous generations). --As the saying goes: "If not us, who? If not now, when?"
14dNeither selfishness nor altruism. Organize social life to be comprised entirely of activities which both gratify oneself and benefit others. (Learn: a secret of the helping professions!)
Did you know? Martin Luther King liked silk shirts. Ghandi made other members of his family live in "voluntary" poverty. One of the Dalai Lama's favorite possessions is a gold Patek Philippe wristwatch.
When parents admonish a child not to be selfish, a good part (if not the entirety) of what they mean usually is: "Don't gratify yourself, but gratify ourself."
Do you advocate self-sacrifice? By all means, go ahead and sacrifice your self!
14eWhen the Zen master asks a student: "What is the sound of one hand clapping?", one answer would be for student to cut off one of the master's hands.
If you meet the Buddha on the road, greet him respectfully, and proceed according to how he responds to you.
14f Commodiousness breeds courteousness. In a traffic jam, people will glare at you and try to cut you off; when traffic is flowing smoothly, they'll smilingly wave you in. (See: Quote #3)
I enjoy being polite to persons who are properly deferential to me.
"Give him an inch, and he will take an ell"? Give me an ell, and then I'll have some inches to give to you!
 15Frequently, persons disappoint me. Often, the persons may be OK as they are: the problem is the relation in which society has placed us. High school and college, for instance, would have been less painful and disappointing, had I been a faculty member or independent scholar, instead of a: student.
"They put me off at the wrong stop when I was born." [I did not invent this: A former boss, who is a moral giant but who all his life has been treated badly by "the world" said it to me, about himself.]
 16Persons sometimes tell me I see everything in "black and white" (especially: too much black!); sometimes it seems to me that their whole range of possible distinctions is one-dimensional.
Persons often accuse me of using big words instead of expressing real feelings ("intellectualizing"). I ask: What is real education, if not the elevation of instinct to intellect? (As Masud Khan once told a patient who asked if Khan had read all the books in his library: "An educated person doesn't just read books, he [or she] lives with them.")
 17Roots. My roots are not ethnic: my roots are ethnological.
 18Myths. To each his own Oedipus. I have mine. Tell me about yours![ Email me your personal Oedipus myth! ]
19aWounded healers. If you were hurt or injured, would you rather be treated by: (1) a medical team in full possession of its faculties, or (2) a wounded healer?
19bContra Nietzsche: What doesn't kill me [you] may make me [you] weaker (i.e., permanently diminish and/or impair us).
 20Anxiety about one's thoughts being monitored [by G-d, one's parents, aliens, the CIA...] is solipsism's bad conscience.
 21[ Study French middle-class 21st century folkways! ]Want to lose weight? Start disdaining junk food: Dunkin Donuts, McDonald's, CocaCola....
Need even stronger medicine? "Just say no!"
Remember: "Only you can prevent junk food!"
 22[ This item moved to Aphorism #92. ]
 23Browning is to meat, as suntan is to our own flesh: fashionably carcinogenic.
The same people as don't want white skin do want white teeth: They don't appreciate: patina.
 24 The Eight deadly sins: Pride. Envy. Gluttony. Lust. Anger. Greed. Sloth. Body odor.
The Eleventh Commandment: Thou shalt use underarm deodorant. (Learn more[ Learn the origin of The Eleventh Commandment! ])
 25What are people always eager to share with us? Their germs: "Cough! Cough!"
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Conversation overheard in reality (02Sep03): Person-A to person-B: "You have a cold too?" -- Followed by cheerful chuckle by person-A.
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Conversation overheard in reality (15Mar05): Employee-A to employee-B entering Manager's office (Manager -- who has a bad case of the flu or "something" -- is ca. 35' away talking with someone else): "Here we are in the plague ward."
 26Big problem: How to avoid wasting one's life to earn one's living.
When will we advance to a level where not just owning persons (slavery) but also renting them (wage labor) is outlawed and abolished?
Free markets. No market is free in which persons feel under economic pressure to participate (e.g. to "earn a living").
Freedom of enterprise? I seek freedom from enterprise (so I can devote my time to higher, more honorifically human[e] activities).
 27 Brephocentrism. To what extent is persons' obsession with biological procreation due to their lack of gratification in [artistic, cultural] creation?
Adoption: How to have children without having to feel guilty about having brought them into this world -- and without increasing the world's population.... [Note, 23Dec01: I am practicing what I here preach.]
 27a Nobody should be allowed to procreate (aka "have") a child unless they first post a surety bond for the child's upbringing and college education.
 28Nobody should be allowed to do anything dangerous (like climbing a mountain...) unless they first post a surety bond to cover the cost of rescuing them if they get in trouble, since otherwise our sense of social responsibility will make us pay for their unnecessary risktaking.
If you cannot rein in your urge to go on an adventure, please at least don't take any risks! [Be an Amundsen if you must, but never a Scott or a Shackleton!]
 29The justification for private property is stewardship. The justification for power over another person is trusteeship insofar as the person is unable to take care of themself.
That some have wealth [beauty, etc.] is good; what is bad is that others do not have it. But power over others is intrinsically bad, because one can have it only by depriving others of power over even themselves.
 30Doceo, docere, docui, doctus. If physicians treated patients the way teachers treat students, they would exclude from treatment all who did not or could not follow instructions, and any patient who failed to get well would be presumed to have brought it on themself unless the patient could provide a valid excuse signed by some authority figure.
Ordinary persons generally have no choice. But why do the wealthy subject their children to such degradations as taking SAT [Scholastic Aptitude college entrance Test] exams?
 31[ This item moved to Aphorism #60. ]
 32"Non carborundum legitimi!" (Don't let the duly constituted authorities grind you down!) [See also Aphorism #77.]
The best are not always the strongest. Example: Charles Darwin survived only because of inherited wealth and the ministrations of a devoted wife.
 33(A friend once told me:) If you want something, ask for it. You can't complain about people not giving you something, unless you've let them know you want it.
 34[ Where do you throw your used paper towels in the restroom? ]No person rises so high that they cannot reach a hand down to help another person up. (This aphorism is dedicated to L.B. and D.H.)
»35There is no last word on any subject....
Conversation has no end (conversation is open-ended...); conversation is ended by misfortunate impingements of finitude and death.
 Go to more aphorisms[ Go to more aphorisms! ]
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 [ Leisure: Luxe, calme et volupte is the basis of culture! ]

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