I'm at Minecon in Las Vegas. Minecon is a celebration of a single game, Minecraft, which allows you to shape a private world and then lose your works to exploding monsters. This in itself requires a stoic outlook! The convention is also a testbed of all the sage advice I've written about on Stoic Saturdays past. 5000 attendees plus the rest of Vegas makes for many um...social situations that need to be navigated.
I hope to write a longer post about this weekend's adventures. Today I'm limited by time and the phone on which I'm typing this. All I can say is, stoicism has shaped this event into something fun, lively, and instructive. Also, Minecraft nerds rule.
Today I have got out of all trouble, or rather I have cast out all trouble, for it was not outside, but within and in my opinions.-Marcus Aurelius
My emotions are indifferent when they are not coupled with my opinions. This is completely my own thought, I can't back it up with Stoic quotes and such (maybe I'll be able to in the future). Still, look at this Aurelius quote: Today I have got out of all trouble, or rather I have cast out all trouble, for it was not outside, but within and in my opinions. Opinions come up a lot in Stoicism. This makes sense, opinions are formed by all the aspects of our mind that Stoics find important, like the will and reason. So the question becomes, where do my emotions meet my opinions?
For we ought to have these two principles in readiness: that except the will nothing is good nor bad; and that we ought not to lead events, but to follow them. "My brother ought not to have behaved thus to me." No; but he will see to that: and, however he may behave, I will conduct myself toward him as I ought. For this is my own business: that belongs to another; no man can prevent this, the other thing can be hindered.
This Stoic Saturday post will be short. I usually write them early but this weekend has been about enjoying time with my wife, going to a great Amanda Palmer show and, today, brewing an American Stout.
In the Discourses, particularly in Book Three, Epictetus really pushes constant attention to principle one. Over and over, he asks his students to apply a simple rule to every situation, is this thing before me independent of the will, or dependent? If it's independent, he says to "throw it away." As I understand it, Epictetus is telling me to toss these things into the Indifferent category. That concept was covered well by Michael Daw in a recent post, I suggest checking it out. If something is dependent on the will, then I'm given a choice. Will I act with virtue, the only good? Or will I act out of vice, the only bad? This way of approaching situations is on the face of it, simple, and also very powerful. I find that performing stoic triage on events frees me to apply my energy towards fixable problems. I could say a lot about that, but I seriously need to start brewing. Happy Saturday, all.
...we can't afford to simply indulge the passion of our differences. Not anymore.
- Lawrence Lessig
An analysis of networked relationships between 43,000 transnational corporations finds that 147 super-connected companies control 40% of the planet's wealth. This does not surprise me, understanding how networks work, but it is fascinating to see a reality based map of the process.
You ought when you are alone to call this condition tranquility and freedom, and to think yourself like the gods; and when you are with many, you ought not call it a crowd, nor trouble, nor uneasiness, but festival and assembly, and so accept all contentedly.
But what is most important here is not the consequences of algorithms, it is our emerging and powerful faith in them.-Tarleton Gillespie
I agree. Gillespie's full reasoning can be found in his article. In part, he highlights a divide between the perception of what the Trends list is showing and the real algorithm behind that list. I feel that an persistent recognition of that divide is an essential part of a modern human's mental tool-kit.
There are 4.2 billion texters in the world. That's 3 out of 5 humans on earth.-MBA Online
Created by: MBA Online
But if you suppose that only to be your own which is your own, and what belongs to others such as it really is, then no one will ever compel you or restrain you. Further, you will find fault with no one or accuse no one. You will do nothing against your will. No one will hurt you, you will have no enemies, and you will not be harmed.-Epictetus
Some things are in our control and others not. Things in our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever are our own actions. Things not in our control are body, property, reputation, command, and, in one word, whatever are not our own actions.
I do not bind myself to some particular one of the Stoic masters. I too have a right to form an opinion.-Seneca
Chance favors the connected mind- Steven Johnson
I want my ideas to have sex. That's what I took from the talk. Specifically, I want my ideas to have crazy unprotected sex that leads to unexpected bundles of joy. Don't blame me for the metaphor, Johnson attributes it to Matt Ridley. In his presentation, Johnson brings up the coffeehouse as a "conjugal bed" for ideas. At least, it was that in 18th century England. At that time the coffeehouse was the perfect mix of stimulants and stimulating conversations. Great ideas were born as people from various walks of life intermingled.
I'm not positive I have a coffeehouse. Not in that sense. My frequent visits to actual coffeehouses are solitary episodes. I do good work. I'm creative. But San Diego cafes are not built for mingling. I don't blame them for this, American society isn't really built for mingling either. Even at San Diego Red Cross headquarters, where I am privileged to serve with some very talented and creative people, the environment doesn't favor serendipitous idea-liaisons. Sometimes good things come out of meetings but, in general, meeting agendas don't promote the free atmosphere necessary for truly innovative thinking.
I want to find an idea brothel. Or found an idea brothel. I'm betting that my dealings on the internet will facilitate this goal, but I'm still looking for the right collaborative environments. Presently, I'm really good at sifting interesting tidbits out of the info-dump that is the web. Info-curation is an important modern skill, but it's not a substitute for collaboration. I'm lucky to have a large social network of smart, willing-to-chat-it-up people, but our worlds are so closely related that chances for out of the box input are reduced. The Trustocracy blog/twitter feed is partly an attempt to tap into a network of individuals that I don't know personally (yet). I'm also trying to use Google+ in a collaborative way. I've been playing around with Hangouts and such. G+ is definitely more useful to me than Facebook ever was, but that isn't saying much.
So that's that. I'm not ending this anywhere because I haven't ended my search for an idea brothel. Idea brothel, I'm going to drop that into a few conversations just to see the looks on people's faces. If anyone would like to recommend a modern equivalent of the 18th century coffeehouse, by all means comment. Or tweet it with #ideabrothel so I can laugh out loud when I see it.
To make my Friday fun, I made a t-shirt. 30th Street is my favorite strip of pavement in San Diego, mainly because it hosts some of the best pubs in the world. Toronado, Hamilton's, The Ritual, The Station...there are a lot. I get some of my best thinking done on 30th, at least during the first few hours I'm there.
I'm off to practice the politics of the public house. I hope you all have an amazing weekend.
For this is the paradox at the core of my argument: that even without sinning, we can do much more harm than the sinner.
Every morning for the last month I've begun the day with these words from Marcus Aurelius.
Today I will be meeting with interference, ingratitude, insolence, disloyalty, ill-will, and selfishness--all of them due to the offender's ignorance of what is good and what is evil.
Always to seek to conquer myself rather than fortune, to change my desires rather than the established order, and generally believe that nothing except our thoughts is wholly under our control, so that after we have done our best in external matters, what remains to be done is absolutely impossible, at least as far as we are concerned.
Realism maintains that universal moral principles cannot be applied to the actions of states
– Hans J. Morgenthau
When someone argues that sociopatic strategy gaming is a consequence of seeing the world like a State, it's my duty to post it. Jonathan McCalmont claims that the viewpoint presented by strategy games is the same high-level abstraction enjoyed by the State. The consequence is brutal gameplay. Read, "Seeing Like The State: Why Strategy Games Make Us Think and Behave Like Brutal Psychopaths." Then tell the tribunal you were just following Will Wright's orders.
All that to say, I'm a fan.
Any OpenLibrary.org account holder can borrow up to 5 eBooks at a time, for up to 2 weeks.
-Internet Archive Forums
If you want access to 80,000+ books for the price of logging on to a website, Open Library is the place for you. The Internet Archive and a few forward-thinking libraries have teamed up to create a virtual lending library. This is great news for everyone, but a particular boon for researchers. One more cut and paste quote, "Genealogists are some of our most enthusiastic users, and the Boston Public Library holds some genealogy books that exist nowhere else,” said Amy E. Ryan, President of the Boston Public Library. "This lending system allows our users to search for names in these books for the first time, and allows us to efficiently lend some of these books to visitors at distant libraries."
Here's the full press release. I suggest you bookmark Open Library and start borrowing.
We are sure that what is going on now in Libya is crimes against humanity and crimes of war.
Ibrahim O. Dabbashi - Libyan U.N. Representative
With powerful events happening every few minutes, like Muammar el-Qaddafi's own United Nations representatives abandoning the regime, I've been looking for the best spots to keep up with the news. I've found the Guardian's live news feed to be extremely helpful. Timely, succinct, and comprehensive. The most recent post: military aircraft being used against civilians. Horrifying.
I’m tired of being nice about this. That is such utter and total bullshit.
The Urbanophile has posted Yes There are Grocery Stores in Detroit, an informed article about Detroit's food situation. The author, Jim Griffioen, is tired of hearing that his city has no grocery stores. It's a myth that fits well with the media's potrayal of Detroit, but doesn't hold up to scrutiny. Griffioen maps the geography of Detroit's food in considerable detail while explaining that a lack of national chains does not mean 800,000 people have no access to food.
Like all cities, Detroit's story is complex. It's refreshing to read reporting that engages that complexity.