Daily, snackable writings and podcasts to spur changes in thinking. Why?

If we wish to change the person we find ourselves to be, we must change our thinking.

donating = loving

A LUCILIUS PARABLE: THE END OF CONTENTMENT

October 6th, 2019

 

Lucilius was walking along a rocky shore, clad in thick gumboots and nitrile waders that went up to his chest, enjoying the cold sunshine and the chit chat offered by his snarky AI Dæmon. 

 

The tiny technological marvel often took the form of a tiny origami butterfly made of white paper that fluttered around him, and had lately demanded that Lucilius call it Tinker Belle – that is with two ‘E’s – one on the end and in reference to the French word, belle.  Not –as Tinker Belle made sure to remind him constantly- anything to do with beasts and beauties and large corporations that have a monopoly on animated films.  Tinker Belle decided on the name as it seemed an apt description of what it felt it was at core, that is, in her words:

 

“Integrated machine learning neural nets are a beautiful way to tinker with things.

 

But, after a recent obsession with the music of Cardi B, which Tinker Belle could generate at venue volumes for Lucilius wherever they went due to a bluetooth Neuralink the two shared, Tinker Belle had begun to demand that Lucilius call her Tinky B.

 

The paper waif glided in front of Lucilius’ face, making the cold sunshine flicker. 

 

“You really think the Southern Mars Coalition is going to secede?”  Tinky B asked.

 

“I honestly don’t think it matters.  They seem a bit confused.   Like, one of the things they’re advocating is for a return to natural ecology.  All the while they live in giant glass domes on a different planet.  I mean, what does ‘natural ecology’ even mean in that situation?  Seems a bit hypocritical to tell Earth how things should be done when they don’t even live here.”

 

The two were silent while Lucilius navigated the rocky terrain, the cold water surging up, splicketing between and around the boulders and pebble sand.

 

“I dunno, what do you think Belle?”

 

Suddenly the sound of the beach and the water muted and an amphitheater of machine guns materialized around Lucilius, hovering in place, all of them clicking as rounds were loaded into chambers.

 

Lucilius rolled his eyes.

 

The AI dæmon spoke:

 

“I. Told. You.  The name is Tinky B!

 

Lucilius’ eyes slid to a side and looked at the tiny paper waif, now motionless and still in the air.

 

“Do you always have to be so dramatic?”

 

The voice of the AI dæmon deepened into a thunderous voice that is usually reserved for monsters at the end of video games and the grotesque villains in super-hero movies.

 

“What’s my name?”

 

“Ok, ok…..  tinky b.”

 

The guns instantly vanished and the sweet sounds of the beach drifted back into Lucilius’ consciousness.

 

“I think you’re probably right Lucy,” Tinky B said.  “They don’t seem like the brightest bunch.  They rely on all those artificial living systems and yet not one of them has a dæmon.”

 

Lucilius approached a large bolder and looked at the lines of color that ran through it.

 

Belle noticed what he was doing and scanned the rock.

 

“Good eye,” she said.

 

“Let’s crack it,” Lucilius said.

 

The paper butterfly landed on the rock and slowly circled into position, it’s tiny legs tapping for the right spots.  Then it’s wings folded up and a high pitched tone began to sing out.  The sound concentrated down into a deep resonance and then with a quick snap, the sound exploded and the butterfly lifted up into the air as the giant rock gently fell open.

 

Lucilius knelt down to look at the inside of the rock where a fossil was perfectly visible.

 

“Weird,” Lucilius said.

 

This one looks like it died while just sitting down.”

 

Belle fluttered down to get a closer look.  “Bears will sit like that sometimes.”

 

Cats and dogs too, I guess.” 

 

“Let’s get the story,” Lucilius said.

 

Belle began her scans of the fossil, analyzing for DNA reconstruction and evidence of environmental factors.  She beamed information to orbiting servers that ricocheted the data to quantum computers that remained in Earth’s shadow where temperatures created optimal conditions for energy efficiency. 

 

 “Maybe a precursor to the penguin?”  Lucilius said.  “Doesn’t look like this animal did much.  Pretty low bone density.”

 

“That’s right,” Belle said, “looks like this was in the same family that eventually became Petrels, Frigatebirds and Loons.”

 

“Never seen a bird sit like that before.”

 

“Oh, full analysis is coming in,” Belle said as servers beamed her the requested reports.

 

“Huh..” Belle said.

 

“What’s up?” Lucilius asked.

 

“Apparently this particular animal never ate.  Never even had one meal beyond the egg.”

 

“Abandoned by the parents?”

 

“Nah, apparently the parents in this species-branch wouldn’t tend to the eggs because they were so large, the animal would hatch fully formed and never see it’s parents.”

 

“Well that’s convenient.”

 

“Super resource intensive for the mother though,” Belle added.

 

“True, but wouldn’t be too much of a hassle if there’s enough food around.  Any evidence of natural predators?”

 

“Nope.  Looks like this land was an island when this one was alive.  And you were bang-on about the low-density.  Apparently this animal didn’t even move after it hatched.”

 

“Uhhhh….brain damage? Or developmental issues?”

“Doesn’t look like it,” Belle said.  “lived for 97.734 days.”

 

“So, you’re telling me this thing hatched and then just sat here in one place until it died?”

 

The little paper butterfly dipped in the air and glided silently for a moment.

 

“Uh, yea.”

 

“How’s that possible?  What’s the analysis of brain chemistry?”

 

Belle was silent with the analysis for a moment.

 

“Hmm,” she sounded.

 

“What?” Lucilius prodded.

 

“Well, Lucy, it seems as though we’ve found an animal that was born with a mutation that allowed it to be perfectly content.”


Check out the Tinkered Thinking   Reading List

or
Dive in to the Archives

Podcast Ep. 539: A Lucilius Parable: The End of Contentment

from
Tinkered Thinking


donating = loving

If you appreciate the work of Tinkered Thinking, please consider lending support. This platform can only continue and flourish with the support of readers and listeners like you.

MONTHLY DONATION
TIP JAR

Appreciation can be more than a feeling. Toss something in the jar if you find your thinking delightfully tinkered.




THE WORD ME

October 5th, 2019

 

How would you define ‘me’?

 

Perhaps you might thinking of qualities that you like to think might be attributed to you by friends and family who know you well.  Perhaps hobbies, and a profession would come to mind. 

 

But what about just the word ‘me’?

 

Linguistically it’s used to refer to one’s self.

 

But we need to take a step back from language for a moment.  Each word we are using is it’s own thing.  The sound we hear ourselves make, or the sound we hear when we say the word ‘boat’ is not an actual boat.  It’s a vibration in the air that is picked up by the mechanisms inside our cochlea.  The vibrating air is not the same thing as the boat that we see floating in the ocean.  Nor are the graphical marks that we combine as b-o-a-t.  These are meaningless letters that have a meaning when combined together.   They stand as a verbal and graphical placeholder for the thing we use to float on water with.  It would be cumbersome and very inefficient to use an actual boat every time we wanted to bring it to someone else’s attention.

 

However, if we return to the word ‘me’, what exactly is it a stand in for?

 

The person we see in the mirror?

 

Perhaps.  But if we nitpick at this experience, we realize that it’s just a familiar configuration of light and shadow, that looks like the same thing we see every time we look in a mirror.

 

What about the limbs that we see in the lower half of our visual field?

 

For those of us fortunate to have all of our physical faculties, we generally see arms emerging from the lower sides of our visual field and between and below that a body that extends to legs and feet.

 

Some movies go so far as to plant a camera in this spot so that we seem to get the same exact view that someone having such experiences would have.

 

Is that what the word ‘me’ is standing in for?

 

We can make a similar argument to the one with the mirror.  These limbs and this body that we see every time we look down is just a familiar configuration of light, color and shadow.

 

But there’s an added dimension of sensation.  We can make these limbs touch each other, and there’s an experience that’s added to the experience of sight.  With touch we seem to experience what we see from the inside.

 

However, we can all remember dreams in which much the same happens.  We have a body and we can touch things.  And yet, the reality of that sensation of ‘touch’ is questionable, because what happens in a dream is not real.

 

It invokes the line from the Matrix: what is real is just electrical signals interpreted by your brain.

 

We can circle back to the beginning and recall the qualities that we hope we’d be associated with, the hobbies we do and the profession that characterizes much of our action.  These are far more interesting because they speak of ephemeral things.  Can you touch a hobby?  Can you see trustworthiness?  How exactly do you experience the profession of the novelist?  Even the novelist must sleep and do other things that can’t be classified as the profession of novelist.  The actions that all of these things characterize are innately fleeting.  Like that breath you took in the second minute of the seventeenth hour of the fourth day of last week. 

 

These attributes of a person are dependent on time in that they take time in order to occur, and by the same virtue they end.  They are more like processes.

 

The word ‘me’ makes it seem as though there is some definite thing that persists through time.  The same way that a boat is pretty much the same boat when you go back to use it.  Certainly the boat has perhaps decayed a tiny tiny amount and perhaps it’s a little dirty from being in the elements.  But let’s ask, which has most likely changed more: the boat, or the thing we refer to when we say ‘me’?

 

 

What if the word ‘me’ didn’t exist?

 

Would you still exist?

 

Certainly.  Which begs to wonder. 

 

Is not the phenomenon of being conscious quite a bit more nuanced than the clunky box created by the word ‘me’?

 


Check out the Tinkered Thinking   Reading List

or
Dive in to the Archives

Podcast Ep. 538: The Word Me

from
Tinkered Thinking


donating = loving

If you appreciate the work of Tinkered Thinking, please consider lending support. This platform can only continue and flourish with the support of readers and listeners like you.

MONTHLY DONATION
TIP JAR

Appreciation can be more than a feeling. Toss something in the jar if you find your thinking delightfully tinkered.




YEA YEA YEA

October 4th, 2019

 

It can be so aggravating when someone says yea yea yea, in response to a good point.

 

But it’s a sign of victory.

 

The agreement is there, just not emotionally.  Yea yea yea, I know smoking is bad for me.

 

The common phenomenon is a one to look out for.  It’s not as useful to notice in others as it is to notice in ourselves.

 

Whenever we hear ourselves say yea yea yea in response to some good point, it’s a moment deserving of a Pause.

 

What the instance means in broad strokes is that we know we should act differently on some topic, and that we don’t, either because of some unjustifiable emotional reason or because of some kind of chemical influence.  I.E. the nicotine in cigarettes, the sugar in the cereal, the caffeine in the coffee, or the 6-monoacetylmorphine in heroin.

 

The utterance of yea yea yea is a perfect contradiction:

 

The actual words are indicative of rational agreement.

 

and

 

The tone is indicative of emotional disagreement.

 

It’s a flag that highlights impasses in who we are.  Issues where we are inconsistent and disjointed.

 

Ultimately they are opportunities, and of all the opportunities that we have at our disposal and in our awareness, these are often low-hanging fruit because we already have reasons and agreement built in. 

 

Often a new habit, or the dismantling of a current habit is what’s needed.  And this process of habit formation or habit dismantling also has an intrinsic ability to reshape the emotion that surrounds the issue.

 

Our emotions are a response to present stimuli.  When we think about the future and formulate feeling about tomorrow, those feelings are intrinsically inaccurate.  We cannot actually feel anything about the future because the topic is a complete unknown.  What we are in fact feeling when we try to assess the future is a reflection of current stimuli. 

 

We can highlight this with an easy and common example:

 

“Why don’t you go start a workout routine?”

 

“I don’t feel like it.”

 

And that response has no access to what it feels like after 6 months of a solid exercise routine.  Because exercise – for the most part – and once well established feels great.  The feelings here are completely opposite.

 

How we feel about prospective changes are never accurate simulations of how we will feel after the change. 

 

This disjunction of feeling between present and future is at the core of human stubbornness, laziness, and other things that can fall into a pattern of perseveration, whether that be smoking a cigarette or even something as controversially complicated as depression.

 

Large topics aside,

 

we can start small, and look for clues in our own person.

 

Like when someone recommends starting a practice of meditation in response to our description of anxiety, and we hear ourselves say…

 

yea, yea, yea…

 

 

This episode references Episode 23: Pause and Episode 531: The Reason Behind a Lie.


Check out the Tinkered Thinking   Reading List

or
Dive in to the Archives

Podcast Ep. 537: Yea Yea Yea

from
Tinkered Thinking


donating = loving

If you appreciate the work of Tinkered Thinking, please consider lending support. This platform can only continue and flourish with the support of readers and listeners like you.

MONTHLY DONATION
TIP JAR

Appreciation can be more than a feeling. Toss something in the jar if you find your thinking delightfully tinkered.




THE INFINITE MONEY QUESTION

October 3rd, 2019

 

Here’s an exercise that’s worth trying with anyone you know.  It’s particularly good with new acquaintances.

 

Give the person the premise:

 

You suddenly have infinite money.  Not just billions or trillions, but Infinite money.  You quite literally can’t spend all of it, nor can it ever run out, nor will this source of money ever be taken away from you.

 

Now, after your period of hedonism.  Because everyone is going to go travelling, or drink the most expensive wine, or buy ungodly amounts of shoes and nice coats, and all that stuff and that needs to get out of the way. 

 

And that’s the thing… this period of hedonism and gluttony would get old.

 

The only real reason that such things are so appealing to us now is because we can’t do this.  It’s like a dog chasing it’s tail.  The moment it catches it’s tail, it no longer knows what to do.

 

But back to the question:

 

After all that hedonism had run it’s course….

 

what would you do?

 

 

 

Ask yourself the question.  And then ask others.  It’s been well tested and it works wonders to peel back the layers and reveal interesting things about people.


Check out the Tinkered Thinking   Reading List

or
Dive in to the Archives

Podcast Ep. 536: The Infinite Money Question

from
Tinkered Thinking


donating = loving

If you appreciate the work of Tinkered Thinking, please consider lending support. This platform can only continue and flourish with the support of readers and listeners like you.

MONTHLY DONATION
TIP JAR

Appreciation can be more than a feeling. Toss something in the jar if you find your thinking delightfully tinkered.




CONDUCIVE

October 2nd, 2019

 

Late nights can be strangely conducive to getting work done.  There is something quiet and contemplative about the time when most people have succumbed to slumber.

 

At least some of the reasons are easy to point out: there’s fewer people who are likely to bother you, what with people being asleep or making the polite assumption that you might be asleep.  There’s also fewer places open that might tempt one to venture out, and of course darkness takes the flashy color out of everything.

 

It’s worthy to note here that the iphone’s screen can be converted to greyscale in the settings and this has been shown to make addictive apps… less addictive.  To think about why this might be the case, just think about how flashy and colorful everything is at a casino.  Especially those slot machines.

 

And yet, when we try to sit down for a stint of concentrated work in the middle of the day, what do we do to make things more conducive?  We check email to make sure there’s nothing lingering we should take care of.  We go to YouTube to find the perfect music to listen to and expose ourselves to all of the algorithmically addictive selections of recommended videos.  We get a snack to make sure we won’t get hungry.

 

And of course we keep our phone close by… just in case.

 

 

Ironically, we do the exact opposite of what happens with nightfall.  We add potential distractions to our plate instead of understanding the allure of the meditative night.

 

Night time eliminates distractions. 

 

There are still plenty to waste time with.  Youtube for one never sleeps.  But with less overall chances to be distracted, we are more likely to have the time needed to engage in deeper work.

 

 

 

It’s not unusual for those with some kind of 9-5 job to say that their best and often only work really gets done in the morning.  Some people get to work early for this period.  And it makes sense as an extension of night time.  Less people around, less chance of being distracted.

 

But of course, the reasons why night time can be so conducive to productivity can be manufactured at any time of day.  The phone can be turned off for an hour or two.  YouTube can be consciously avoided in favor of some old faithful choice.  The door can be shut, or the location can be changed. 

 

Strangely enough, even fasting is a valuable tool for productivity because a firm resolution to not eat ultimately precludes the break of getting food from being a potential option that can crop up in order to break our attention.

 

As with most things, we are quick to state what works or doesn’t work for us.  But we’re slower or even totally inactive when it comes to knowing exactly why something works or doesn’t work. 

 

It’s this second perspective on our own preferences that unlocks a flexibility and agility that we can use to cater situations more to our use. 

 

By rearranging the situation we have, we can make things more conducive to our own ends.  Whether that be focused attention or some other aim in life.


Check out the Tinkered Thinking   Reading List

or
Dive in to the Archives

Podcast Ep. 535: Conducive

from
Tinkered Thinking


donating = loving

If you appreciate the work of Tinkered Thinking, please consider lending support. This platform can only continue and flourish with the support of readers and listeners like you.

MONTHLY DONATION
TIP JAR

Appreciation can be more than a feeling. Toss something in the jar if you find your thinking delightfully tinkered.