April 23, 2018

"There is no moral to my life - I have none - except: 'Stand up and take it'. The rest is sentiment."
--Patricia Highsmith

April 22, 2018

So some jeans have label that could let the belt pass underneath, and so could act like a wide belt loop- SURVEY: should they? A. Of course! Support the belt and let the label be read B. Don't be ridiculous! Belts go over labels and only under actual loops.

"epistemology and morality is a game you play for unimaginably perilous, eternal stakes" ramble

April 21, 2018
Was fear of burning in hell forever a big part of your childhood? My church wasn't particularly fire-and-brimstone but I remember being scared witless at some point as a 10- or 11-year-old. It really set me to be uptight in certain ways - even after I gave up the supernatural belief, I think subconsciously the "do right or face the most dire imaginable (actually, literally unimaginably awful) consequences." sunk in deep. And in some ways its kept my behaviour on some good straight and narrow paths but, man, what a cost!

Anyway. I had a dialog tonight that reminded me "fear of eternal hellfire" isn't a universal feature of childhood / tween years, so now I'm wondering how many of my online buds had it?

I want to reiterate that my church didn't hammer hell home, or at least not frequently, and I'm very sure I didn't get it from my folks. (Though on a visit to DC I had a Sunday School class taught by my Aunt that emphasized the Tribulation, complete with a Christian in front of a firing squad, that seized my imagination. A terrifying pile of bullshit for a child. Not sure if that kind of scare is morally better or worse than "pre-tribulation" thinking (that uses a dubious reading of scriptures and a more optimistic and selfish view of God's protection for his flock to presume good Christians have a "Get Out of Jail" free card and will be whisked off before the excrement hits the ventilation system.))

One of my frustrations with my conversation last night was my discussion partner, who was blessed with a more wholesome set of one on one religious instructions as a child, kind of flaunted that wholesomeness over what I had picked up then, but as if my view then was what I overtly believed now, and as if I hadn't matured my own view. I have, but am aware that there's a subconscious underpinning - or even undermining - and that "epistemology and morality is a game you play for unimaginably perilous, eternal stakes" drives even my secular view (where the preponderance of SO MANY DIFFERENT faiths and corresponding supernatural explanations leads me to believe that none of them are as true as they claim, unless they go down a non-exclusive "many paths to the same destination" approach.)

It's funny how many years I ran from having a conversation about this with my Preacher Lady Mom. I mean, I still do. I see now that given my views about "Objective Truth that you can know but never be certain of your knowledge of, but other people's beliefs are important signposts as to the most likely Truth" I had a lot of anxiety about us not being able to pay attention to each other's signposts.

At one point maybe ten years ago when we had part of that conversation, she came back to a "and when I have doubts, I just realize that it's not such a bad way to live anyway." At the time I thought it was just a recapitulation of Pascal's Wager, but I realize now she might have been referring in an understated way to a lot of richness the Christian Preacher life has provided for her, really given her purpose and community and with all The Salvation Army's charity, many tangible and real-world proofs of the good she has done.

I shared my religious skepticism with Mr. Johnson (the man, a pharmacist and my part-time employer, who came closest to stepping as the father figure after my dad died during the beginning of my time in high school, and had many great man-to-boy talks over dinner - now he's up in Heaven too, to quote Vonnegut) and he said he was pretty assured I'd come back to religion/church some day. And now I wonder if the community and richness I find in activist bands counts - the parallels with my church upbringing (in particular with School of Honk - marching outside Sunday afternoons and constantly inviting people to join in) are tremendous, and I'm thinking I get many of the church-y benefits sociologists talk about through my 4 or 5 bands...

kirk is his own engima

April 20, 2018
As far as I can tell from my old quotes log, it was almost exactly 20 years ago when I recorded:
"Kirk is his own Enigma- 'I just don't understand myself'"
--Paul Morville
Paul was a work colleague who helped recruit me from Tufts where we both attended. He was teasing me about the navel gazing I was doing then. So two decades later, I finally do feel I have a pretty decent self-model, and it's interesting to have the evidence that I was once aware that I didn't have the whole picture of what my subconsciousness might be up to, at how incomplete my self-understanding was.
I've been trying to be mindful about throwing in fewer disclaimers and parenthetical remarks when I write or speak. I think of this scene from the film adaption "A River Runs Through It"

...So it was with my formal education as well. Each weekday, while my father worked on his Sunday sermon I attended the school of the Reverend Maclean. He taught nothing but reading and writing. And being a Scot-- believed that the art of writing lay in thrift.
"Half as long."
So while my friends spent their days at Missoula Elementary I stayed home and learned to write the American language.
"Again- Half as long."
"...Good. Now throw it away."

just have fewer opinions on things

April 19, 2018
Tonight I'll be leading a discussion at my UU reading group based on Sam Harris' Waking Up Podcast #119: Hidden Motives, a conversation with Robin Hanson.

One quote I remember liking was this:
Try to live your lives so that you don't have to rely TOO much on things that might not be true. One way, is honestly, just have fewer opinions on things. We're in a society where there's this norm that you're supposed to have an opinion on half of everything you hear. And just don't do that. Just be agnostic about things you haven't looked into, pick your specialty, learn about a few things and know that well, and then tell other people what you know and find somebody you can roughly trust on the other things, but stop having so many opinions.
(around 1:14:30)

That appeals to my desire for equanimity- living a life of constant helpless outrage is rough on a system, and I'm sad at seeing so much of that among my friends. On the other hand I contrast this stance with the adage "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

NY Times on the Restaurant Expediter as a criticial role - I've never worked in a restaurant, and sometimes I get reminded it must be so much more complex than I realize. I've never really cooked, but I've seen people try to time out multiple dishes for a Thanksgiving meal, say - this must be that times a dozen. Plus, the need to keep calm and collected during times if crazy stress reminds me of the airline pilot / flight controller thing I posted the other day...
I love the graphic design of the names on this...

school of honkin' tuba

April 18, 2018

--An old shot, but not sure it ever got on the site. A relatively rare tuba shot from the last few years in that I'm not playing Scheiny - trying out one of the School of Honk's polka dot horns.
The Calmness of Airline Pilots and, most recently, Tammi Jo Shultz, one of the first female Navy pilots. And also the demeanor of the flight controllers - makes me wanna watch "Pushing Tin" again.

April 17, 2018

--via Cracked.com The Best, Most Underrated Lines From Shows And Movies ("Nobody exists on purpose, nobody belongs anywhere, everybody's gonna die. Come watch tv." The "on purpose" part I especially dig.)