We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Thursday, August 22. 2019
When I was younger, I discovered stoicism. At first I was put off by their slogan, Amor fati, because hey, no fat chicks. Then I dug a little deeper. I got out my Rosetta stone, and translated from Latin into Greek, and then into Demotic, and back into Latin because my cuneiform is pretty rusty, and finally back into English. That's when I discovered Amor fati only tangentially refers to dating plus-size girls. A closer reading of the texts resulted in a truer meaning: "Sh*t happens." I decided right then and there that this was a worldview I could get behind, if not walk behind.
So I'm a stoic now. I'm in good company. Shakespeare said that there was nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so. Or maybe it was Rodney Dangerfield. In any case, there are a lot of us stoics out there. For instance, often I'll say something extremely stoic, if that's even possible, and people will remark that stoics are really out there.
To get you in the stoic swing, I've decided to invite the granddaddy of all the stoic scribblers, Marcus Aurelius, to weigh in on today's news items.
"The man who has a house everywhere has a home nowhere"
"Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth."
"The opinion of 10,000 men is of no value if none of them know anything about the subject."
"If you are pained by any external thing, it is not this that disturbs you, but your own judgment about it."
"Never act without purpose and resolve, or without the means to finish the job."
"Begin the morning by saying to thyself, I shall meet with the busy-body, THE ungrateful, arrogant, deceitful, envious, unsocial"
"A wrongdoer is often a man who has left something undone, not always one who has done something."
"Nothing has such power to broaden the mind as the ability to investigate systematically and truly all that comes under thy observation in life."
"He who eats my bread, does my will."
"...if a man comes to his fortieth year, and has any understanding at all, he has virtually seen - thanks to their similarity - all possible happenings, both past and to come."
"The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane."
Have a modestly successful Thursday, everyone, whether you want to or not. That's how stoics do it. I hope you enjoyed Ol' Mark's take on today's news. Remember, don't get down in the mouth about today's events. To quote the two most famous stoic philosophers:
"Everything that happens happens as it should, and if you observe carefully, you will find this to be so." -Marcus Aurelius
"They don't think it be like it is but it do." - Oscar Gamble
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Sorry, Off Topic, I know, but wanted to draw attention to this reference on Insty: " DEIRDRE MCCLOSKEY: Slavery Did Not Make America Rich. “Slavery made a few Southerners rich; a few Northerners, too. But it was ingenuity and innovation that enriched Americans generally, including at last the descendants of the slaves.”"
The article itself is not detailed and doesn't make the case itself; it refers you to other works. Nevertheless, there is a reasonable case to be made. The assumption of collective guilt, inherited guilt, and the allegation that the southern plantation culture underpins the modern American economy is greatly overstated and has gone unchallenged far too long. It is particularly irksome, if your ancestors arrived in time to fight in the civil war and then returned to eking out a living, the case for most of us. I don't think the Southern plantation economy has the hallmarks of capitalism at all. I see it as stagnant and backward, almost the antithesis of capitalism. Where was the continuous improvement, the new products, the innovations in organization, materials, distribution, processes......, the specialization, a robust middle class; where were the entrepreneurs? Anyone? I agree that the beneficiaries of the Southern plantation system were a minority, both North and South, the 1%ers, if you will, and so it has ever been. Our Elites excel at privatizing any gain and socializing the costs and the burden. It is their MO. Recall the beneficiaries of the 2008 economic crisis.
...as well as Africans. Don't forget it was fellow Africans that sold their brethren to the slave traders.
In fact within Africa the Muslims (African Muslims) ran the slavery racket. They bought and traded slaves from black tribal leaders and the black tribal leaders waged wars against other tribes to capture slaves for the trade. African Muslims traded in white slaves too. They would raid up the coast of Europe and Great Britain to get white slave AND there were more white slaves in Africa than black slaves brought to the U.S.
Interesting use of the past tense there, considering the thriving nature of the present day slave trade on that particular continent.
Indeed. However, in the present day, forced labor extends well beyond Africa; it is pervasive worldwide. Sometimes it looks like chattel slavery but more often it resembles indentured servitude, by any other name. It's fair to say that, Western consumers, who purchased consumer goods, over the last 30 years, have inadvertently or indirectly supported some form of coerced labor. The coercion isn't necessarily by force; it may be by fraud or extortion.
there's a lot of stoicism in Christianity, to the point where I wonder who influenced who more. Mr. Aurelius, however seems to have had a hang-up about that whole "delight in your adversity" idea; he seems to have equated it to seeking to bring bad fortune upon yourself.
St. Paul really seems to have been well-versed in the ideas. It's hard to read both he and Aurelius without hearing echoes of the other.
It is clear Paul was well educated in the Greek philosophers as well as being a leading Jewish Pharisee. Remember that he debated the Athenian philosophers at Mars Hill.
Paul on Mars Hill
As the apostle to the Gentiles, he would have tried to communicate the Gospel in ways that his Graeco-Roman audience would have understood. Paul was a Roman citizen by birth, which indicates his family would have been bi-cultural.
Here's an article on Paul's references to Greek philosophy in his writings and speeches:
Paul and his use of Greek Phiosophy
"ἀνέχου καὶ ἀπέχου" -- Epictetus
You just keep thinking RdH, that's what you're good at. h/t Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
"San Francisco homeless stats soar: city blames big business, residents blame officials"
You get more of what you subsidize - less of what you tax.
Tax (or make it prohibitively expensive and time consuming) new construction, you get fewer apartments and houses.
Subsidize (through many pathologically based altruistic tendencies, which normally involve spending other people's money so YOU can feel good about how you're 'helping' people) more homeless people - you're going to get them.
It's like pouring out honey in the path of ants, expecting them to just take a little and go away.
It's remarkable how supposedly 'smart' people never seem to get this.
A lot of the homeless belong in state mental hospitals. But those were emptied out and closed due to politics.
Fellow aspiring Stoic. It was Tom Wolfe's book "A Man in Full" which is a story of a man who discovers Stoicism which transforms his life that started my journey into Stoicism. As a previous poster mentioned, Christianity and Stoicism have lots of parallels.
Darwin caused most of the controversy over his explanation by naming his book "Origin of Species". He should have called it -- How Species Change. Comes closer to his theory. "Origin" was a challenge to Biblical understanding: ( which is not material/naturalist science )
Darwin did a good job of explaining how we were able to breed wolves into dogs. But they are still genetically wolves. Darwinism has no plausible explanation on how genetically distinct species evolve.
Mr. Musk is nothing more than the reincarnation of P.T Barnum, but with more money and less ethics.
Marcus Aurelius is one of my favorite thinkers.
"Receive the gifts of fortune without pride, and part with them without reluctance."
- Marcus Aurelius
I second the recommendation of "A Man in Full" by Tom Wolfe. Good book.
"Everything that happens happens as it should, and if you observe carefully, you will find this to be so."
This reminds me of Douglas Adams: "Anything that happens, happens." Explained in his talk "Is There an Artificial God?" available online here. Also published (posthumously) in The Salmon of Doubt.
Coincidentally (or perhaps not?), it is almost 50 years to the day since Oscar Gamble made his debut in the Major Leagues.
August 27, 1969.
His baseball card was one of my favorites.
#1--Sothern plantations were agrarian, not capitalistic.
#4: WHAT?? Businesses aren't hiring the bums in Frisco? The HORROR!! The horror...
Stoicism is the norm. Most animals are stoic and humans are animals. The difference is we can teach our children to expect to be happy and fulfilled and they can then never accept misfortune.
AT&T story. When we pulled the cable plug, we signed up with their DirectTV Now streaming service, primarily because it was the only streaming that then offered a DVR. The price went up and then the channel selection went down and streaming hung up a lot. Sounds like the new product is even worse, which is sort of hard to believe.
FWIW, we're now with PSVue streaming and like it much better.
Good news is that few of the streaming services require a long-term contract.
"A man would be a fool to balance a lima bean on a weathervane." - Dick Cavett