Coping: Reading at the Exit

Let’s start with a reader’s write from Tom in Illinois:


“….Your digital madness novel is a great idea, do it if you have the time. However, may have a mildly rhyming plotline, in an old sci fi book, written back in -58 by a guy named Miller, can’t remember the first name. Anyway, without revealing ANY of the plot line, may I recommend “ A Canticle for Liebowitz”, superbly written, and touches on many of the idiocies of mankind, including the absurdity of religion, the insanity of nuclear weaponry, and the propensity of man to keep sticking his weenie in the meat grinder. If you can find it, and have not read it yet, I guarantee you will love it. “


I actually (in a vague sense) remember reading it!  Perhaps the plotline was somehow embedded, since when I wasn’t memorizing everything I could get my hands on about electronics as a kid, I was sucking up everything I could in the way of science fiction.


The two reasons it jogs something? The name Liebowitz and it was the first time I had run into the world “canticle.”  A Canticle for Leibowitz is still available in paperback from Amazon, by the way.

Speaking of writings and readings:  I keep thinking that if I ever get to the point of retiring, it would sure be fun to go back and reread a lot of the books I read as a kid.  A kind of reboot of data files before the Big Sleep.


I remember long ago when I interviewed Louis L’Amour and he told me about how he’d worked as a merchant seaman, reading pocket collections of great literature to other merchant mariners in the focsle at night.


Well, that got me to looking into such mini pocketbooks and you can still find the Everyman’s Library on Amazon with a fairly wide assortment of readings.  One, for example is The Stories of Ray Bradbury (Everyman’s Library (Cloth)) while another is Three Novels: Journey to the Center of the Earth, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Round the World in Eighty Days (Everyman’s Library (Cloth)).


Mind you, there’s a great many of the older classic books available on Project Gutenberg website; simple enough to download classics and then .PDF them and forward them to a Kindle, or toss them onto a ‘droid and read ’em as text files there.


As a Man Thinks

Most people don’t realize the extent to which their thinking is “bounded” by their inputs.  In other words, the number of new thoughts and ideas you’ll have is directly related to how much raw material you pack into your brain.


Creativity, seems, may be something of a matrix; which is one of my favorite topics to discuss.  Thus, the more fresh raw material you put in to your head, the more new ideas come out.  Which is why I try to devote an hour or two every day to reading something.


Readers have generously sent me a wide selection of readings, which I take up as time allow:  I’m presently parsing in “Astro-Economics: A study of astrology and the Business Cycle” by LCDR David Williams, which fits in many ways with one I’ve been working through from my personal stack (which you can get from Amazon): The Unified Cycle Theory: How Cycles Dominate the Structure of the Universe and Influence Life on Earth


That book by Peutz ain’t cheap, by the way:  A shade under $50-bucks.  But the rare booklet by Williams (1958) can still be found occasionally for $20-something from Amazon’s bevvy of used book sellers.

One footnote about those mini pocket books:  The fonts are small, so they’d be something to read before your eyes get too old.

Which get’s me to a very interesting thought about reading.  Seems to me there are two ways a person could look at the topic and structure your life which distills down to two paths:


1.  One path would be to “read like hell” until age 30 or so (whenever an advanced degree of some kind is nailed) and then quit reading everything except readings in your field of expertise for the rest of your life.


This is easy on the eyes, inexpensive, and minimizes time consumption for inputs.  Toss in the fact that 90% of news is useless in terms of personal action (what are you going to do in your life about last night’s latest Trayvon demonstration, for example?) and you can save all kinds of time to devote to either staying absolutely current in your area of expertise.


2.  The OTHER path would be to progress as above, until you have enough knowledge about  something to make a good wage, but then portion off some part of each day to your continued general education beyond what’s in your specialty. 


To this kind of approach, last night’s latest demonstrations (Zimmerman) do mean something, and reflecting upon news of such events might lead to insights which, although not specifically useful in a specialty/income area (outside of HR, perhaps) do reveal the current state of affairs in the “hearts of men.”


Eventually, one comes to the ponder about whether there’s some kind of existence of a human “essence” after Life as we know it ends.  Since most professional specialties only work in the physical here & now, if there is some kind of after-life, then going there, which is presumably another dimension or way of existing as spirit/essence/whatever, with specialized knowledge about how things “used to work on that plane” would be pointless.


What seems more likely to transcend the boundary of death would be the “affairs in the hearts of men” and in this regard, the more general information about the operating habits of other spirit/essences/whatevers would become the entire point.


Arguably, no one knows what happens beyond the grave, but there’s been enough information coming back, as documented originally in Dr. Raymond Moody’s Life After Life: The Investigation of a Phenomenon–Survival of Bodily Death wherein a lot of heart attack victims and others who’ve been dead, but just for a while, come back with amazing tales to tell.


One of these days, my friend Capt. Midnight has promised to write up a very personal experience with this phenomena of “touching other side” which is quite amazing, revealing, and I think important.  I’ll pass it along when it arrives (which I anxiously await).


Whatever IT is, seems to me that the more one reads, and the more one works on the “inner work” the better equipped one will be for whatever is next. 


Is television a help of hindrance?  We simply don’t know yet.  However, my personal choice has been to be very careful about that which goes into brain (from where it seeps into heart) which is why I don’t watch much horror or any gratuitous violence on television.


Not that the Way of the Peaceful Warrior precludes right action, it’s just that present society places lots of emphasis – too much – on the what can you do for me right now kind of life.  While the large problem is what do we take through the exit safely stowed in heart and consciousness.


If, perchance, the after-life is a restitching of all that’s in your head and heart right now, what would you put into it next as important raw materials?


I’m always shocked how few people grasp the question.


But with the weekend here, come five minutes past Miller-time this afternoon, might I suggest one hour this weekend for a well-chosen book?  One that won’t come back and bite you in the soul down the road? GIGO.  And maybe for eternity.


Sci-Fi Note

One other “perchance to dream” note in favor of sci-fi?  Mars Rover discovers more evidence that Mars was once habitable.


War on Planned Obsolescence

Reader Shelly has been following our discussion as we seek appliances that can “outlive us” and relates this:


“Hi, George: When my dishwasher died the cause was the electronic control board, which was toasted.  It would have been a very expensive repair, almost $300 just for the part.  Shocked, I asked the salesman what a new dishwasher would cost and was told that I could get a low end model for about $500.  Plus shipping and installation. The hell with that.  I dialed up craigslist and found a used Whirlpool for $50.  It was probably 40 years old.  I had it installed and was astonished and delighted with its performance.  This unit gets dishes clean.  I realized that the same PC mandated degradation-of-service that has afflicted toilets also hit dishwashers.  Go used!  This is the best dishwasher I’ve ever had.  Moreover, unlike the newer versions it is repairable.  If I move I am going to take it with me.  “


Hell yes! 


By the way, speaking of books as we are, a number of readers have given a thumbs up to Black & Decker The Complete Photo Guide to Home Repair: With 350 Projects and Over 2,000 Photos (Black & Decker Complete Photo Guide) which will only set you back about $20-bucks.


Take that book, then toss in a couple of Google searches for the replacement parts and presto!  You too can find the planned obsolescence monster.


The Problem with Green

If you’re a greenie, that’d be a fine and wonderful thing.  But here’s the reality of the economics:  If we actually made everything as well as SubZero and Jennaire and Craftsman tools (not that any is flawless, mind you) you do know the whole economy would implode, right?


Without things breaking – cars and such on down – then we actually could all have a higher standard of living, but there would be such social readjustment as we try to figure out how to distribute food (with so many people out of work) that it would make your head spin.


You see, what’s crazy about people is they are smart enough to figure out that a slavery-based economy using humans is a bad thing.  But they’re not quite bright enough to figure out how to use a slavery of machines and computers economy. 


But wait!  It’s only going to become more of a pressing issue as robotics show up…so go figure.  Displacement is displacement.


The only question to ponder this weekend is this:  How soon can I hire a robot to stand in for me and do real work?  Shouldn’t the workers who were replaced by robots on assembly lines have stepped up to own then and thus, reap a portion of their labor (replacement) output?


Can I train some kid in India to write my (far-out wacky) columns?  Would a random sentence program (with a widget for random typos) do the same job?  The mind reels.


Still, should government be bright enough to see that replaced workers should own the robotics, code, and hardware platforms that replaced them? 


Shouldn’t speech recognition software sales and royalties go to people who would otherwise work as transcriptionists?  Aha!  You see?  It’s always about owning the means of production. What ails modern society is that software and factory automation benefits only the (electro-mechanical) slave owners!


Ure has answers as always, though undoubtedly, they are the wrong ones.  But maybe those are at least the right questions to be asking, ya think?


So we’ll go ponder that for a while and get back to you Monday.  Or, tomorrow if you’re a Peoplenomics subscriber, in which case we’ll be explaining how algorithms and Big Data can criminalize anyone – at will! 


Gee, what fun that bit of research has been….


Oh, and coming up for subscribers in a couple of weeks:  We revisit George’s Drone School.  Quick show of hands here: How many remember my “How to Build a Remote Control Surveillance Video” from 2004 in which I laid out drones?  Well, here we are…9-years later….


Oh, also on Peoplenomics tomorrow our monthly “Port check” index.


Write when you get rich…


George Ure (george at ure dot net)


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The “Grim Oiler”

With our detailed synthesis of the future from Capt. Midnight wrapped up this week, is it time to reconsider the lost spectre of Peak Oil?  More important: Can we make (or save) a buck by timing our actions in response?

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