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  • Doug Belshaw 6:46 am on December 6, 2019 Permalink | Reply
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    Many of us with anxiety don’t look like we’ve got a problem because outwardly we function ludicrously well. Or so the merry story goes. Our anxiety sees us make industrious lists and plans, run purposefully from one thing to the net, and move fast up stairs and across traffic intersections. We are a picture of efficiency and energy, always on the move, always doing. We’re Rabbit from Winnie the Pooh, always flitting about convinced everyone depends on us to make things happen and to be there when they do. And to generally attend to happenings. But beneath the veneer we’re being pushed by fear and doubt and a voice that tells us we’re a bad husband, an insufficient sister, we’re wasting time, we’re not producing enough, that we turn everything into a clusterfuck. Sure, we look busy, but mostly we’re busy avoiding things. So we tie ourselves up in stupid paper-shuffling tasks that shield us from ever getting around to the important stuff. Or the tough stuff. Sarah Wilson, First, We Make The Beast Beautiful
  • Doug Belshaw 6:40 am on December 6, 2019 Permalink | Reply
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    Either once only, or every day. If you do something once it’s exciting, and if you do it every day it’s exciting. but if you do it… almost every day, its not good any more.

    Andy Warhol
  • Doug Belshaw 1:08 pm on September 1, 2019 Permalink | Reply
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    Even the most hardened sociopath, in the most viciously Darwinian of domains (like, say, a Wall Street trader, or an academic studying “critical theory”), has a self-image with a precious-snowflake aspect to it. This is the part of you that you see most clearly when you stare into a mirror. You see yourself as you were when you were a child. You don’t notice the extra chins and jowls that come with age, or the extra padding in the wrong places. You don’t notice the stray gray hairs, the tiredness in the eyes, or the wrinkles. You stare into the mirror, and the face of the child you once were stares back, through the worn shell of the adult. You might even strike a pose or make an expression that exaggerates the illusion. The child is not idealized or romanticized, however. It is the real past-you,whether you were the resentful and angry kind of kid, or the happy-go-lucky kind. It takes conscious effort to snap back to reality and see and feel yourself as you are now. This is why it is particularly jarring to watch video footage of yourself. Unlike the image in the mirror, the person on the video playback screen is not a puppet you can control. Video playback breaks the illusion of being the child within, because it is footage of you at a different time, performing adulthood without the child on display, or active in awareness.

    So you think, do I really look and sound like that? Or if you’re in a more maudlin mood, is this who I’ve become? It’s not just in-head acoustics versus how you are heard, or the posture you feel versus the posture you strike. It’s the fact that the person out there, performing, is not the person you feel when you look inside. There is something it is like to be you, on the inside, and it is not that person out there. This child — a sort of Freudian id++ — embodies the precious snowflake.

    It must be killed periodically if you are to keep on living. It will almost always come back to life, so it must be killed every few years, as it steadily regains strength. So long as you do this with disciplined regularity, the precious snowflake part of you will remain a valuable part of your psyche, but never in control. But if you let it grow unchecked, it will consume the rest of you, driving you to clueless, self-absorbed, uncreative narcissism.

    Venkatesh Rao, Crash Early, Crash Often
  • Doug Belshaw 8:28 pm on August 15, 2019 Permalink | Reply
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    One of the things you have to recognize about the road to socialism is that it will be messy. You have to figure out checks and balances. If it’s democratic then people may say they don’t like it after a point. You have to keep winning people over, and you might lose for a while. We’re talking about a world-historic event, about creating something that’s never existed before, people actually saying we’re not just moving with history, we’re making history. And you’re constantly discovering, learning, inventing, and that’s what makes it exciting.

    Sam Gindin, ‘What a Socialist Society Could Actually Look Like’
  • Doug Belshaw 8:19 pm on August 15, 2019 Permalink | Reply
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    Our current politics doesn’t seem to offer much if a future at all. The choice before us appears to be between, on the one hand, a technocratic neoliberalism that embraces the rhetoric of social inclusion but not equality and, on the other, a right-wing populism channeling anger into the worst directions. To be a socialist today is to believe that more, not less, democracy will help solve social ills —and to believe that ordinary people can shape the systems that shape their lives. (Bhaskar Sunkara, ‘The Socialist Manifesto: The Case for Radical Politics in an Era of Extreme Inequality’)
  • Doug Belshaw 1:08 pm on April 1, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Eva Wiseman, quotation, web   

    Suddenly the impermanence of the web has become terrifyingly clear, and with that realisation, an awareness of how much of our selves – our pictures of dead friends, our diaries and voice memos and music and love letters, the intangible ephemera that make up our memories and identities – we store online. But in a safe that strangers can empty, on a beach that a strong tide can wash away. The most precious parts of us, the things we’d save in a fire, could be burning without anybody even smelling smoke.

    Eva Wiseman)
  • Doug Belshaw 8:51 pm on July 10, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , governance, , quotation   

    The problem of governance in a world of cascading tweets 

    Aside from the fact that flash mobs are actually an offline thing (the author is almost painfully un-hip), this paragraph from page 380 of Niall Ferguson’s The Square and the Tower does a good job of explaining why we’re in the mess we’re in.

    As Ferguson notes, the main problem is getting people’s attention and sustaining it on important issues. The news cycle, a constant barrage of celebrity gossip, and good old-fashioned nosy neighbourliness drowns out most engagement with serious problems.

  • Doug Belshaw 8:31 am on May 12, 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    What’s interesting about our our contemporary period is that we’re now saying schools can respond to problems of achievement and that we don’t need to address any of these larger structural issues. When you think about these larger questions—what causes economic inequality? What causes economic insecurity? How are resources distributed? Who has access to what?—they’ve been put off to the side. We’re not doing anything to address these questions at all.

    Harvey Kantor (Education Can’t Fix Poverty. So Why Keep Insisting that It Can?)
  • Doug Belshaw 8:16 am on May 10, 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Doug Belshaw 12:33 pm on April 14, 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    My suspicion – especially if you’ve been following along – is that processes are alluring for a number of reasons. They relieve the burden of decision-making, which in general we like because thinking is hard and expends energy. They also relieve us of the burden of fault: us humans are a fickle bunch and it’s easy for something to make us feel guilty (when we haven’t lived up to our own standards), or ashamed (when we don’t live up to others’ standards) or angry (when we’re stopped from achieving an outcome that we desire). The existence of process can be an emotional shield that means that we don’t have to be responsible. In Bezos’ example above, the junior leader who defends a bad outcome with “Well, we followed the process” is also someone who is able to defend an attack on their character and also of their self worth, if their sense of self worth is weighted to include the outcome of their actions.

    dan hon, s4e12: End of Process
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