Thursday, February 19, 2009

A cure for seasonal affective disorder

Those of you reading this in the southern hemisphere can still empathize I suspect. When the days are getting longer and the vernal equinox is nearing I always have this thought: Why don't we celebrate the Vernal Equinox? For that matter, why not make both the vernal and autumnal equinoxes national holidays? I have trouble with the holidays we have now, 50% of them seem geared to make us uberconsumers, and the other 50 have meaning to only a select few. Why not institute a holiday that has planet wide implications and meaning for everyone. Dionysian revelry late at night with friends and strangers would be appropriate for the vernal and the autumnal could be centered around home an hearth. All kinds of possibilities are inherent in such a celebration because it is inherently natural for us to be excited about the change of seasons. As an avid gardener, I am always chomping at the bit this time of year when the days are approaching 11 hrs long and moving towards twelve. Why not dance the night away this march 19th wherever you are, stay up late and greet the sunrise knowing that it marks the transition of a remarkable event you may only witness another 50 or so times before you die? Any takers?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Religious Fanatacism

Even if we bend over backwards to concede that scientific truth is no more than that which enables you to pilot your way reliably, safely and predictably around the real universe, it is in exactly this sense that – at the very least – evolution is true. Evolutionary theory pilots us around biology reliably and predictively, with a detailed and unblemished success that rivals anything in science. -- Richard Dawkins
I could not have said it better, and I know because I've tried. I'd like all of you who have ever said "it's just a theory" to read this quote seventeen times and then say a Hail Mary.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Porcine equality

Pig, its whats for dinner. Not quite the same ring really. However, pork is much consumed all over the world and the United States and Britain are leaders in pork consumption. I have always liked pigs, both their inquisitive natures and their funny language of grunts and squeals. Now there is a real push to farm pigs and not pork. I like the idea of raising pigs in an environment that mimics, as far as possible, their natural ecological niche. I remember all too well the overcrowding, torn up, treeless, stretches where we raised pigs when I was young. Free range pigs aren't likely to be worth the immense trouble of prohibiting their wanderlust from overwhelming their appreciation of home sweet home, but we have all heard that pigs are smarter than dogs (scientists have even found that pigs have regio-specific dialects). Why not try the collar shock buried electric fence thing that has so many lab owners jumping for joy? I think it will happen sooner than you think, but only if you are willing to pay a premium for humanely and sustainably raised pork chops and hams. Americans spend a far lower percentage of their annual income on food than citizens of other developed nations, particularly those in the EU. Isn't it cool to imagine that this will change over the next ten or fifteen years? It would solve many more problems than it would create. DON"T SHOP FOR GROCERIES AT WAL-MART.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Trains of ideation

"If...we wish our trains of ideation and volition to be copious and varied and effective, we must form the habit of freeing them from the inhibitive influence of reflection upon them, of egoistic preoccupation about their results."
-William James, from "The Gospel of Relaxation."
The Correspondence theory of truth tells of a relation between representations and objective states of affairs, and James was a fan to say the least. My argument against this particular line (in the context of the text it is taken from) is mystical and not remotely pragmatic. I don't want that to seem a qualifier or a cop out, I disagree with Kant and most of the "penny for your thoughts" philosophical snake oil salesman who rode his coattails in attempts to be darlings of pretentious and debauched drawing rooms at the turn of the 20th.
Inhibitive influence of reflection upon them (our trains of ideation and volition)? We are essentially the psychological offspring of those who raised us through the formative years 1-5 and as such; applying the benefits of hindsight to what we will here call our volitionary reaction mechanisms is necessary to free ourselves in any sense from the hang-ups and tortures wrought by the abuses in their pasts and our own. In order to effectively accomplish this without leaving emotional callouses or even gaping psychic wounds we MUST reflect upon the causes and nature of our thoughts habitually. We must follow them down myriad paths and explore a variety of applications in order to gain some skill and diminish some temerity that is in a real sense hard-wired into our philosophies by physiology. This applies to Memes in all forms, sexual, artistic, philosophical, and other. We are, I think, past the point where leaving the Eastern modes out of our explorations of conciousness (mystic and other) can be argued to be beneficial.