Paglia on postmodernism

I became curious about this social critic, Camille Paglia, as she spoke about characteristics of dwindling civilisations at some point.

Here is her interview with the celebrity-academic-provocateur Jordan Peterson. She speaks about her subject with impressive passion. Some of what she says seems arrogant and self-congratulatory but some parts of it are refreshing.

I have it set to the point where she talked about the 1960s and went straight into the no true Scotsman fallacy – which very nearly put me off watching the rest of it along with her body language that doesn’t quite match her words (psychedelics that she identifies with “totally” while also pushing them away with both hands).

But if you soldier on, she says some interesting stuff from 8:00.

 

Roger Scruton on modern art

I came across this philosopher, Roger Scruton.

There are a number of things that scare me about him, not least his appetite for listing his awards on his landing page. The man who claims to be a philosopher has prioritised telling his visitors who has handed him medals and ribbons and when – over telling us what he believes. Oh well.

He has produced this interesting video on modern art. I believe that some of what is created today is art. Some of it is, in my view, so vacuous, and it is soul-destroying to see it being put on a pedestal.

Image: Tracey Emin, My Bed, 1998 via the Tate

 

Inci-dental findings

I have found 2 phenomenal dental things recently even though I wasn’t really looking:

Tepe easy picks

They’re basically like floss, only you can dip them into mouthwash, they don’t hurt and they clean really well. I use the orange ones because my teeth are a lil crowded.

These things are much better than their flagship interdental brushes that stick right into your gums if they’re not perfectly aligned (which is very hard if you’re cleaning the 7 and 8s). Even the smallest calibre of these is too big for me 😦

I also like dental harps. Basically, anything other than the Oral B Satin floss that all dentists seem to love, but I find really unpleasant.

Colgate’s deep clean toothpaste

Definitely the best commonly available toothpaste I’ve ever used.

As an aside, I also used this toothpaste from India that contains some magical herb – which seems to have had good results for me after my teeth faced a bit of a chemical/laziness attack.*

*Basically, I used to live in an apartment in Dublin city centre and work in a busy hospital. After a year of that, I went to the dentist to discover I needed a ridiculous amount of work. I couldn’t figure out why that was.

Fair enough, going around the hospital eating Milk Tray and Celebrations that patients kindly bring in to thank us the nurses isn’t helpful. I had to be up very early for work and I think I neglected to brush my teeth quite as diligently because coffee was a higher priority. But still, it just didn’t seem to explain the extent of my troubles.

So, I decided I wanted to measure the pH of the water supply. The easiest available method for me was a urine dipstick, so I went right ahead and dipped it. 5.5! No wonder my teeth were melting away!

Water pH has to be no less than 6.5 to be safe. Obviously, my measurement may have been artefact, because urine and water aren’t really all that similar. I asked my rocket scientist friends who work in labs if they had access to a way to measure pH. Those came back at around 7 and they gave me rocket-sciency explanations that basically when pH is around 7, you have to use some other method to measure pH to see how close it is to being deionised. A commercially available lab charged something like 400 euro, so I didn’t go with that.

I contacted the official water people with my concerns anyway. They got back to me quickly, to be fair, and told me that they have arranged to flush the area.

So, in line with the scientific method, I went back to my original testing method after the intervention. I urine-dipped it after the flushing – and it came back at pH of 7 – not 5.5. Go figure.

Anyway, I haven’t had any problems since – is that due to better water or to the magical Indian herbs? We will probably never know.

I am trying to figure out why it occurred to me to blog about teeth. Not the sort of subject that lends itself to producing a good long read. I think the reason is that my Image Experiment has demanded discipline. I have the work ethic of a horse, but my discipline may not be so so stellar. Who knew they were different things – and what you can discover when you have to put creme on your face everyday.

 

 

Being motivated isn’t pleasant

“It’s never as good as it looks and it’s never as bad as it seems.”

The 16-17 year old students I work with often ask me how to get more motivation.  They believe that it is some kind of fairy dust capable of turning you an accomplishment-machine, realising all your potential and aiding you in changing the world.

Perhaps. They forget that motivation resembles hunger. You may feel energetic but also increasingly agitated, nauseous and sore. Your mind is focused on getting your gullet filled, that’s it. You feel unsettled and uncomfortable. You feel anxious as you mightn’t last long enough to find food. You think of all the different ways to satisfy the hunger – doing nothing is just not an option.

Being motivated isn’t pleasant.

Sometimes, we all feel excitement at a new beginning, at how much we are going to accomplish. This pleasant sensation differs from what I would call motivation. We all need such an elated state sometimes to carry us through, but we borrow it from the emotional bank and will have to pay it back with interest. This loan covers over the obstacles that will get in our way and helps us to get started. If you want to feel elated, all you need to do is ignore reality.

Not a sustainable solution.

I think all productive people oscillate between feeling hungry and transiently being satisfied with what they accomplished.

Follow @astalderea for more original words and mindful musings

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The Bed of Procrustes: 15 highlights

  1. Studying neurobiology to understand humans is like studying ink to understand literature.
  2. People reveal much more about themselves while lying than when they tell the truth.
  3. Mental clarity is the child of courage, not the other way around.
  4. Most info-Webmedia-newspaper types have a hard time swallowing the idea that knowledge is reached (mostly) by removing junk from people’s heads.
  5. Supposedly, if you are uncompromising or intolerant with BS you lose friends. But you will also make friends, better friends.
  6. True humility is when you can surprise yourself more than others; the rest is either shyness or good marketing.
  7. Another marker for charlatans: they don’t voice opinions that can get them in trouble.
  8. You can only convince people who think they can benefit from being convinced.
  9. Even the cheapest misers can be generous with advice.
  10. Trust those who are greedy for money a thousand times more than those who are greedy for credentials. [Curious what people think about this. In some cases credentials can mean reputation.]
  11. When conflicted between two choices, take neither.*
  12. They think that intelligence is about noticing things are relevant (detecting patterns); in a complex world, intelligence consists in ignoring things that are irrelevant (avoiding false patterns).
  13. In twenty-five centuries, no human came along with the brilliance, depth, elegance, wit, and imagination to match Plato—to protect us from his legacy.
  14. For the classics, philosophical insight was the product of a life of leisure; for me, a life of leisure is the product of philosophical insight.
  15. The first, and hardest, step to wisdom: avert the standard assumption that people know what they want.

More from Taleb’s own website

A little thought experiment

You’re about to open results of psychological tests comparing atheists and agnostics. What do you expect to find?

I wonder if agnostics are more conflict averse, better at abstract thinking and have a sense of humour.

Also, how do atheists who have children deal with the concept of Santa? Santa is a real world conspiracy theory – and possibly a much more pagan one than a Christian one. I imagine that there has to be a “herd immunity” for the concept of Santa to survive in creches and primary schools. Do religious parents arrive at the door step of atheists and be like, stop your child from spreading heresy!..

P.S. It is snowing in Ireland. I was in the Midlands today and it’s a Winter Wonderland.

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