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pain is a problem-solving thermostat Apr. 21st, 2010 @ 12:52 am
Pain is a problem-solving thermostat. If you feel good enough, you have no reason to solve problems. In fact, a good mood makes people more generous with their resources, which most people would still feel they needed to solve real problems. If you feel bad enough, you see so many problems you think you're drowning. Somewhere in the middle everyday stuff gets done. But the filtering is imperfect, and normal people overlook problems that become the science of future generations.

how to read awful difficult stuff Apr. 21st, 2010 @ 12:05 am
Take things reading by the smooth handle. Break linearity if you have to. I like reading backwards. If you get bored or frustrated, skip ahead. Look at pictures. Remind yourself of the outline. The more difficult bits fall into place after you've understood the easy bits. Some things you won't understand are errors. Nothing is perfectly written, and there is little reason to suppose that the ordering given is the one that will allow you to understand best. "Pillage," as an advice page at Duke University gives it.

loyalties Apr. 20th, 2010 @ 11:56 pm
I feel a lot of loyalty to people who are more depressed than I am. Sometimes when I've been doing better for a while, I start to see them the way most of the world does, and I think they are somehow bringing their misery on themselves. I feel I am on the edge of a 1, 2, 3 that will dispel depression for anyone, and they just don't know about it yet. It only takes a later reintroduction to the pain to see how wrong I was. The cycle has repeated itself countlessly, and over time, I've come to learn this more constantly, and I feel a sense of loyalty to those who suffer. By the same token I think I understand people who do not understand.

Apr. 20th, 2010 @ 10:42 pm
Tantalus could have closed his eyes, swallowed, and taken a deep breath. Sisyphus could have stuck out his middle finger at the rock, turned around, and walked away. A benevolent dictator knowing the game and its score (having created it) would have admired each man's personality and independence, would have searched His Soul for a moment and said, "You have passed my test, son. Either answer is correct. I wanted to show you the responsibility of creation."

Apr. 8th, 2010 @ 07:35 pm
I wonder if I have a mood disorder so much as I'm always in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Other entries
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"Too many sheep and not enough shepherds. Let's all sit back and have a long hard think, then make something different! We can all do it, surely?"
Aphex Twin
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My mother is looking for her flash drive again. At least she's being nice about it this time. Baby steps.
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Sure you have a right to a false belief, but are you sure you want to shut down when someone tells you why it's false? Isn't that just talking? Isn't it just like saying bud, that used car deal sounds okay, but I know a much better place? Why would you freak out unless you were heavily invested, and if you were heavily invested why wouldn't you want to know?

Because the deal on the car wasn't okay. Because if it's really a howling rip-off and you fell for a monkeyshine, you're a big old sucker. That's the part you can't handle, you who like to think yourself selfless.

Actually I think it runs a little deeper than that to an advanced calculus of feeling. If you say something and then I feel bad, you're bad.

Let's make a videogame called "Shoot the Messenger." It will be like Whack-A-Mole, but more justified and more complex in design.

I'm pretty serious.
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Well, I've read 1.5 chapters out of 3 for tomorrow, and I have much of tomorrow to do the rest. That's a lot better than zipola.

I got in a good workout, the health bill seems to have passed, I got to snag some healthy groceries, the insanity around the house is at a minor ebb, and I overheard some of a Bill Maher standup routine last night. I love that guy. He's both hilarious and unusually sharp.
» caring too little or too much
I put myself in this weird catch-22 with social situations. When I don't really care, it doesn't seem worth putting myself through all the mess. And when I do care, I tend to get so anxious that I won't. There are many times somewhere in between: I want to do something, but then I get really anxious, I think it would be pretty embarrassing and humiliating to show this level of anxiety about something so small, and then I don't do anything.

For example, a few weeks ago, I had something I wanted to say in class. I was looking for a good moment to jump in, but as I did this, my heart rate went up, I started feeling sweaty and like I couldn't get enough air, and I knew that if I spoke I would stammer and my voice would sound shaky and weird. Considering what I was actually going to say, I thought that I really didn't want to be associated with sounding like that while saying that. It would have embarrassed me, I thought, which generally is pretty harmless, except when it's the cause of the whole problem.

On balance, I would have been better off if I'd spoken up. I think.

The ultimate balance is how I'm going to feel later. Would I rather be harassing myself about how everyone saw me, or about why I can't or won't do something as simple as speak up? I'm pretty used to both. Both tend to make me upset and mopey. But I do get kind of a rush from pushing through, even though I'm still going to be upset and mopey and kind of mortified.

The embarrassment gradually wears off, but I still remember a number of occasions when I embarrassed myself just by being anxious, and I tend to forget the occasions when I just do nothing. In summer of 2007 I tried to get a job at a health store and I still feel embarrassed about how stupid I was when I talked to the manager. Or when I tried to tell my boss at the tutoring job that I had signed up for a class and needed to change my schedule on short notice--I stammered so badly it was like I was asking her out. She couldn't understand what I was saying and we went into her office where I took a deep breath and then just handed her my schedule print-out. Now, she was Korean, and Koreans seem to have a lot of very shy people. But I'm still embarrassed about that even though it was a year ago or so.

But how embarrassed? Do I really even give a shit about these people? I mean sure, I wish them well and everything, but at this point, rationally, can I say that I care how they saw me? Many a tiny bit? One iota. Ok. I'll go with that. I care one iota. One fucking iota is controlling my life.

In the end, like all social mechanisms, the thing boils down to self. I care how I see myself, but I see myself through other people. There can be a certain tranquility in being alone, as long as there's enough social contact to feel normal. We've evolved so that that feeling of what we are generally has to do with someone else other than just ourselves. It's a loop that seems hard to break because it's built in; but it doesn't flow perfectly.

This morning I was thinking again that people with social anxiety have a prejudice applied to them, if most jobs are given out through connections. Is that true, though? Is that a merit issue or a prejudice? There are plenty of jobs that I think I'd do no worse at being socially anxious. And there are plenty of jobs that involve socializing where I think the fact that I'm generally pleasant to people would outweigh the other stuff. There definitely appears to be a broad stigma against people with psychological problems. I often think that something as basic as a more intelligent way of assigning or allocating people to work would not only help me and people like me, it would also help the world economy.

Do we really believe that there isn't enough to be done on this planet? Is it really true that a substantial proportion of people in any given time and place don't have anything they can do that needs to be done? Just as humans are not the end of biological evolution, modern first-world social structure is not the end of social evolution.

Until those issues are fixed on a large scale, assuming I'm right and they need to be seen to, I still have the problem of carrying my own weight. As I've said before, this is my priority for the year, and I'm considering it by provision to be in my complete control. This is what I call a Yoda perspective, the same sort of thing as "There is no try" or Miles Davis' "There are no mistakes." The main feature of these things is that they describe or induce a frame of mind, and that frame of mind tends to create a reality more like what's described. It's a funny self-consuming or self-generating process. Like mathematical induction, only a little fuzzier, noisier, more psychological, more like Hinduism's Lila.
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