How Complacent Are you?

There’s a book coming out by Tyler Cowen called The Complacent Class. Cowen argues that Americans have gotten so comfortable to the point where they are complacent.  We’ve sheltered ourselves to the point where we avoid change. In a way, we’re taking on our own privileges but don’t reach out because it’s too uncomfortable.

It may be over-simplistic, but Cowen has developed a quiz to see how complacent you are or too comfortable with your life. It has 27 questions and most of them are thought-provoking in that it takes into perspective as to whether you’re too comfortable.  However, some questions didn’t take things into context.  For example, I’m in grad school and so it’s really hard for me to be mobile and reach out to a community. At the same time, one of the questions is asking whether you’ve lived in a neighborhood where you were the racial minority? For me, I’m always the racial minority so that gives me an automatic pass. Nevertheless, I took the quiz and I got “comfortable.” It makes sense given where I’m at in life, and it gives you a push to see how you should avoid complacency and push for change.

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Is 2017 Going to be Better?

With 2016 dying off and 2017 already starting, I’ve already been bombarded with a couple big deaths that happened in the New Year. Moreover, I’m also getting news about upcoming political challenges for the upcoming Trump Administration. But wasn’t this turmoil and sadness supposed to end in 2016? Wasn’t 2016 the shitty year and 2017 the year of new beginnings? Toward the end of 2016, I saw and heard a lot of social media and memes looking forward to the end of 2016 along with the idea that 2017 would bring forth a fresh start. I, however, remain pessimistic.  Why? Let’s consider the reasons why many people considered 2016 to be really shitty. I can’t delve into the personal lives of people, but I’d imagine that it had to do with the huge amount of deaths of major celebrities and the political fallout of Brexit and Trump winning the American election. There were many indirect hits too such as racial tensions being very high, sexist remarks being rampant, and immigration thoughts on automatically closing the borders. The last three reflects the political climate which is related to Brexit and Trump. I won’t say what caused what, but there is likely a feedback loop of these events causing each other.

For now, I will mention the huge amount of the celebrities’ deaths and the political climate.  Starting with the political climate, many progressives will consider these events as a backward step. Specifically with Trump, many conservatives find him troublesome. I consider Trump a major problem because he’s such a wild card and unpredictable. Yes, I understand that many people had problems with Clinton. But with Clinton, you knew what you were getting into: the status quo. I’m not a fan of the status quo, but I’ll take it over wild unpredictability, especially when it’s from someone with the temperament who can’t handle criticism. With the various people on his cabinet, his friendly relations with Putin, his total ignorance of worldly affairs, and his rhetoric about women, Muslims, disabled people, homosexuals, and the Black community, we have someone who is a different kind of politician.  2016 was also strange with the political campaigns and hardly anyone predicted that Trump would make it this far, let alone winning the election. At least with 2016, you had someone in charge and we know what we have, even if you disagree with it.  With 2017 starting, it’s just the beginning of a total unpredictable chaos, and with chaos, you get fear, and with fear, you will get more racial tensions, traditional hegemony, and populist anger. All of this will affect everyone’s personal lives, either directly or indirectly.

With the celebrities’ deaths, I think what made this surprising is that there were so many of them. However, let’s consider why so. Most of the celebrities were in their old age. But think about when they were born. Most of these celebrities are baby boomers. With the baby boomers dying off, it should be no surprise that we would see so many of them dying just because there are a lot of baby boomers. And yet, there are a lot more baby boomers out there.  If the baby boomers are now coming of age where they are dying, then we’ve only just begun seeing the mass amount of deaths. 2016 may have been just the beginning of celebrities’ deaths.So much so that around Thanksgiving, I predicted that three more major celebrities would die before 2016 ended. I was right with the deaths of George Michael, Carrie Fisher, and Debbie Reynolds. 2017 and more years to follow will see a lot more.  I’m not sure when we’ll see a peak in the amount of celebrities’ deaths, but I’m thinking 2016 was not it.

For these reasons, 2016 may have been shitty, but I think 2017 is going to be worse.

I hope I’m wrong.

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How to Write Well

When it comes to academic work, I can read voraciously, learn new ideas happily, and teach proficiently.  Writing, however, is something that I usually struggle with.  However, writing helps with the previous three features of academia I just mentioned. For starters, writing helps one get his or her ideas across.  Secondly, writing helps clarify what one believes, or at least what one should believe.  Thirdly, writing helps me what to highlight when I teach and how to make the dense materials into something that young students can understand.  What is striking is that I never had a formal class to help me with writing philosophically.  So I have looked at various sources to help improve my writing.  After wading through some sources along with my own personal experiences, I have some general tips that I think will help anyone improve his or her writing.  I should note that this has helped me personally.  If you don’t find this working for you, you can skip it.  But regard this post as something to consider.

Getting Started

  • You are not too busy to write!  The reason why you’re too busy to write is simply because you don’t write.  Being busy is an excuse for not writing.  You always have time to write.  Indeed, to say that you’re too busy is a way to explain why you’re not writing.  If writing is going to be part of your job, then like any job, you must make a plan for writing.
  • Don’t wait for the motivation to “kick in.”  Writing and thinking has a nice feedback loop.  Thinking leads to writing, but writing also leads to thinking.  Often, I write and that helps me what I think about.  Just do it.
  • Don’t confuse motivation with action.  Procrastination comes in because of this confusion.  If you’re not in the mood to do something, then you won’t act on it.  However, don’t be fooled into thinking that motivation has to come first, and then you can act.  Most often, you have to act and then the motivation kicks in.  You’d be amazed that you may not be in the mood to so something, but once you start, you can get into the zone of that activity.
  • Schedule writing like you do with your other scheduled routines.  The common excuse many people don’t write is because they say that can’t find the time.  Of course, people always “find the time” to teach, read, research, watch TV, exercise, etc.  Take teaching for example.  I have a teaching schedule (as most academics do), and I cannot miss it.  The same is true with reading, watching TV, exercising, etc.  We’ve allotted some time for these activities.  The same should be true with writing.  Allot your time to writing in the same way you schedule your other activities.  I usually spend my writing about late morning.  It could change based on teaching schedules ever semester.
  • Like other schedules, you can’t be disturbed This means no visiting students, no looking at emails, and no grading papers.  As an analogy, I wouldn’t do any of these activities while teaching.  Make writing the same.  By setting out a time slot for writing, you eventually see writing not as something that you just happen to do, but as something that is essential to your scheduled routine (in the same way as eating, teaching, or exercising are essential to your scheduled routine).
  • Write regularly.  Great writers write because they write regularly, usually everyday.  Don’t write because you’re not “in the mood.”  There are many days where I’m not “in the mood” to teach or to exercise, but I still do it because it’s part of my scheduled routine.  Keyes says, “Serious writers write, inspired or not.  Over time they discover that routine is a better friend to them than inspiration” (taken from Silvia, p. 27).  You don’t wait for inspiration, nor do you wait until you’re “not busy.”  You plan to write much like any other activity in your life.
  • Form concrete goals.  Some goals are worthy of accomplishing, but don’t make the goal a huge project such as “finish dissertation” or “write this book by next year.”  Take up the project by breaking it up into chunks.  Here are some that have worked for me:
    • Write at least 300 words.
    • Write for at least half an hour.
    • Revise your draft.  This means to fix your paper based on the comments of your editor.
    • Turn that paragraph into a page.
    • Outline your next argument.
    • Re-read certain articles to get a better understanding of the material, and incorporate that into your writing.
  • Start writing first, then research.  This is something that I have a hard time doing because I generally start with the literature.  However, by writing first, you get a clear sense of what you are trying to argue for, or what you’re topic is.  If you research first, you have all the information you need, but then there’s hardly any original input from you.  Write first about the topic, on your own terms.  This will force you to think about the topic.  If you can’t think of anything more to write, then start researching.  Here are some great tips through your research taken from Martinich (p.75):
    1. If something you have written has been written before by someone else, footnote it.
    2. If something you have written has been written better, quote and footnote it.
    3. If something you have written has been written in more detail, adapt it to you essay and footnote it.
    4. If someone has said something else and is wrong, use his view as an objection to yours, footnote and refute it.
  • Remember, writing is hard.  Writing a lot doesn’t mean that you’ll enjoy it more.  You’ll have your pleasant days and unpleasant days.  The same could be said with teaching or exercising.  Nevertheless, you still go out there and do those activities.  How do you deal with it?  You just show up.  The same is true with writing.

Writing Itself

  • Scope what you’re trying to do In philosophy, most articles are about bringing up a problem or a question, or how to solve a problem.  Bringing up a problem or question identifies a certain field that you want to investigate and you’re showing that this deserves more attention.  Solving a problem proposes a new solution (such as a new theory, interpretation, or research).  Here are some possible routes that you could do:
    • Theory X is wrong.  Here’s why.
    • Theory X is correct.  Here’s an objection to theory X.  Here is my response to that objection.
    • Idea X can be applied to Y.  Here’s a way to do it.
    • Here’s a new way to think about idea X.
  • Structure is helpful.  Here’s a good structure of a philosophical essay (taken from Martinich (p. 50-53)):
    1. State the proposition to be proved.
      • Show what you’re trying to do by giving a thesis, or showing the motivations of your project.  This means get a topic to write about, and get specific about it.
    2. Give the argument for that proposition.  Commit to some position.
      • Show why any rational person ought to believe in your position by defending it.
      • Don’t say I feel; instead, say I argue.
    3. Show that the argument is valid.
    4. Show that the premises are true.
      • Give evidence for the premises.
      • Raise objections and respond to them.
    5. State the upshot of what has been proven.
  • If you’re stuck… either outline your project, or expand a paragraph to explain your argument by analyzing the premises or terms.
  • Certain words are unnecessary Silvia points this out by taking out the words very, quitebasically, actually, virtually, extremely, remarkably, completely, at all.  These words are weeds, or parasitic intensifiers.
    • Certain words are redundant, get rid of them.  Things such as bright light sourcedisgusting in natureintellectual process.
  • Replace long phrases with shorter words.
    • For example, the reason for, for the reason that, due to the fact that, owing to the fact that, in light of the fact that, considering the fact that, on the grounds that this is why can all be replaced with because, since, or why.  This is taken from Williams, 94-95.
  • Be clear, precise, ordered, and simple.
    • Being clear means that the reader can understand what you’re getting at.
    • Being precise means that you aren’t vague or being ambiguous.
    • Being ordered means that the structure of the essay is easy to follow through and the reader doesn’t have to guess at where you’re going next.
    • Being simple means that your sentence structure doesn’t need to be elaborate or profound.
  • In every sentence, there has to be new information, as well as old.  Each sentence has to have old and new information.  New and old information has to be in each sentence.  Notice how these sentences are effectively the same.  You can understand them, but it doesn’t do anything because they didn’t give you anything new.  At the same time, if a sentence states everything new, you can’t rely on familiar information from previous sentences.  Make some links between old information and new information.  (Taken from Williams, 118).
  • Along with this, try to say your important stuff toward the end of the sentence.  Observe (taken from Williams, 152):
    1. “Sociobiologists make the provocative claim that our genes determine our social behavior.”
    2. “Sociobiologists make the provocative claim that our social behavior is determined by our genes.”
    • Sentence one leads us to believe that the next sentence will talk about social behavior; sentence two leads us to believe that the next sentence will talk about genes.
  • If you can, simplify relative clauses by deleting who/that/which.  This is to help with the flow of the sentence instead of making it sound choppy.  Observe (taken from Williams, 166):
    1. “Work that is not done on time must be submitted on a date which will be set by those who are responsible for scheduling.”
    2. “Work not done on time must be submitted on a date set by those responsible for scheduling.”
  • Write like a lawyer and not like a detective.  Lawyers make arguments; detectives collect data and file a report.  In other words, lawyers bring in evidence to help support a case and cross-examine evidence that does not support a case.  Lawyers also ignore data that has nothing to do with the case.  When you make an argument that helps persuade a jury, then you’ve got an argument.  If you have data and it doesn’t do anything to drive an argument forward, you’ve got to do something with the data to persuade the jury.

Finishing Up

  • Re-read the whole thing to yourself.  You may think it unnecessary, but after reading it out loud to yourself, you’ll be surprised that you’ll catch some things that sound funny.  Re-word or re-organize once you find the funny spot.
  • If you have time, don’t touch it for a week, then go back to it.  Because you’ve researched this project extensively, you are somewhat knowledgeable or an expert at the field.  But because your focus has been zoomed in, your readers may not know what you’re talking about.  In fact, when you re-look at your paper for revisions, you are usually reinforcing what you mean.  By giving yourself some time off, your mind is distracted and you can somewhat forget about your project.  When you return, you’ll approach your paper closer to an ignorant, yet educated reader.
  • Talk it out with someone.  This will help you explain your ideas to someone who is not familiar with your project, yet wants to know.  This way, you won’t be just spilling out your ideas on paper; rather, you’re trying to explain and perhaps convince the listener of your project.
  • Don’t be hard on yourself if you get rejected.  If you do, just reedit and resubmit.  It’s part of the process.  Resend it to another journal if you have to.  Harsh criticism can stop you, but if you keep going, you’ll see that those criticisms were helpful in making you into a better writer.
  • Reward yourself after a big project goal.  Did you finish a mid-term?  Final?  Go out and celebrate, or buy yourself that new book that you’ve always wanted.  This is a great way to have positive reinforcement.  Other things may be getting a more expensive drink, going out for lunch, or going out for a movie.  Finally accomplishing that project is a way to further motivate your next project.  However, don’t skip writing the next day.  Again with teaching or exercising as an analogy.  You wouldn’t skip teaching or exercising just because you’ve accomplished a milestone.  The same is true with writing.  Don’t reward yourself by not writing.  As Silvia puts it, “Rewarding writing by abandoning your schedule is like rewarding yourself for quitting smoking by having a cigarette” (p. 44-45).  Don’t lose that habit.

Any other tips you’d want to share?


Belcher, Wendy Laura.  Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks: A Guide to Academic Publishing Success.  Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc., 2009.  This is an excellent resource on revising and updating a an article that you want to submit for a journal.  It’s also a workbook and the advice is extremely practical and informative.  I highly recommend simply buying it so that you can refer to it.  She even has a website where you can download the worksheets so that the book can be kept clean.

Martinich, A.P.  Philosophical Writing: An Introduction.  Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2005.  Perfect book specifically aimed toward philosophical writing, especially toward those who have never experienced writing a philosophical paper.

Silvia, Paul J.  How to Write a Lot.  Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association, 2007.  This is a great book, but it’s mainly geared toward psychologists.  Nevertheless, the first few chapters are immensely helpful.

Williams, Joseph M.  Style: Ten Lessons in Clarity & Grace.  NY: HarperCollins, 1994.  This book is pretty good in trying to make your paper have coherence, clarity, and style.  It focuses on grammar at the beginning, and it takes advantage of it in later chapters.

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We are All Criminals

There’s been a lot of turmoil lately with gun violence and shooting, particularly with an emphasis on police officers shooting black people. Here is a very interesting, very informative website about criminality, punishment, and how it all relates to class.  1 in 4 people in the US have a criminal record.  But does that mean that 75% of Americans are therefore law-abiding citizens?  Maybe there’s a good portion of them who are criminals, but they just never got caught.  But who are those who are typically seen as suspicious?  It’s usually people of color.  Sure, there’s more white people in prison, but black people make up almost 38% of the prison population.  Yet, black people make about 13% of the US population.  They are mostly seen as “thugs” or “criminals.”  It’s a self-fulfilling prophesy, and yet, everyone has done something criminal.

It relates to what John Oliver said about municipal violations:

Overall, if we are all criminals, we typically don’t think that we are, or we shrug it off because whatever action we did in the past is “in the past” or it was something that I did and I’m not a criminal.  But it’s those people who are criminals.  But what if we look at crime at a new angle, where we see it not as something that only bad people do, but as something that everyone has done?  Of course, this isn’t meant to say we should undermine all crimes, but it does suggest that committing a crime and getting caught are distinct which has class, race, and socioeconomic factors that should be taken into account.

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Jeremy Bentham Hinted that Jesus was a Homosexual

Jeremy Bentham is well-known for promulgating utilitarianism.  Through this ethic, Bentham endorsed many things such as equality for women, abolishment of slavery, and opposing capital punishment.  He also applied utilitarianism when it came to sexual matters.  For example, an early work defending homosexuality comes from Bentham with the argument that if the people involved are consenting and no one else is harmed by the action, then the action is morally permissible.

To give biblical evidence for this sexual ethic, Bentham wrote a piece that was never published until 2013!  The work is called “Not Paul, but Jesus Vol. III.”  Obviously, he couldn’t publish any of his work on homosexuality in his lifetime, and the work itself is quite long.  However, Bentham argues that Jesus may have had a homosexual relationship with the apostle John and Bentham hints that Jesus may have been crucified because of his practice of homosexuality.  I’m in the process of reading bits and pieces of it.  Thankfully, there is a post that sketches Bentham’s piece.

As a side note, check out the eccentricities of Bentham.

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Coping Mechanisms

People will go through major stresses in life.  I’m not talking about typical stresses that are considered “normal” and expected such as work, drama within family, drama among friends, deadlines, school, etc.  These activities are just the norms of daily living and although they are stressful, they are activities that one gets used to and one can find a somewhat equilibrium to balance these activities within one’s life and still function as a normal human being.  I find this akin to riding a bike.  You know how to ride one, but to stay balanced, you just have to keep riding and keep working to function as a rider and your equilibrium is settled.  Let’s call these mundane stressors.

The stress I’m talking about has to do with the major upsets that throws one of balance, where the equilibrium is so off kilter that one is lost in terms of what to do.  These stressors are not just certain moods, but they throw you off where you have to formulate a new equilibrium and a new balance just to function.  These major stressors would include: a breakup, divorce, moving to a new city, starting a new job, getting fired from a job, realizing that one is going to be a parent, the death of a loved one (and the more unexpected the death, the more stressful it is), working on a major project that can make or break your career, moving in with a partner, getting kicked out of your own home, being publicly shamed for some activity, etc.  With all of these activities, they don’t happen as often as mundane stressors.  The major stressors are so infrequent that it’s hard to see how one can “pick up the pieces” because one isn’t sure what to do.  The balance is off kilter; the equilibrium seems unrecoverable.  Going back to my bike analogy, it’s as if you’re riding your bike and all of the sudden, the front wheel pops off.  You will most likely crash and once you get back up, you will have to learn how to ride this new bike with just the back wheel, which is something that is a new experience and that it almost seems impossible to do at first.  Of course, after one gets their bearings and learns how to cope with this new situation, one can find a new equilibrium and learn how to ride a bike with one wheel.  A new balance is formed and one can ride out one’s life more or less effortlessly.

But how do people learn to get through these major stressors?  Analogously, how does one learn how to ride the bike with one wheel?  Of course, the bike rider may realize that she will have to ride the bike with one wheel, but the process of not only learning how to ride this bike, but also lamenting the fact that the front wheel is gone is something that she still must cope with.  In other words, the bike rider had learned how to ride a bike with two wheels, and she now realizes that she has to learn how to ride a bike with one wheel, but the process to get from A to B is going to be tough.

Likewise, the person who just went through a major stress realizes that one will eventually recover and learn how to find an equilibrium, but the process is going to be difficult.  Going from A to B is going to be hard; one does not just gain a balance automatically.  It’s going to take some time and the process is going to be hard.  One must cope and deal with the new situation and so there are certain mechanisms to help one cope, and to help deal with the stressful situation.  One must figure out the process to “unlearn” A so that one can move forward toward B.  These processes are coping mechanisms.

This post is an investigation into these coping mechanisms.  Typically, one goes through a coping mechanism, gains ones bearings so that one can gain a new equilibrium, and then one can move on.  What does it mean to cope?  How does one cope?  As I see it, there are two broad forms: internal and external.

Internal coping mechanisms deal with the agent’s own internal structures so that the internal aspects are ordered and coherent.  The agent is an internal mess, and so the way to fix this is to “go within” and fix this mess so that things can be made coherent again.  I consider certain internal mechanisms including meditation, counseling, journal writing, and perhaps stoic exercises.  Notice that these mechanisms deals with the agents own internal structures.  It’s as if the agent can go into one’s own “inner citadel” to “get away from it all.”  The outside world is too messy, too chaotic, too unstructured.  So what can one do?  Go within.  Although the internal structures are also chaotic, at least they are  trustworthy and—more importantly—they can be controlled.   The goal is to work through the problem by changing the internal structure from within so that one gains control of oneself.  By working through the problem, one gains a sense of a coherent self again, where one finds an equilibrium.  When that happens, one can then move forward in life and the coping is no longer needed.  In short, this coping mechanism is to help the self heal by “smoothing out” the troublesome spots about the self.  Sure there may be a few wrinkles here and there, but as time goes on, these wrinkles get less and less noticeable.

External coping mechanisms are ways where the agent wants to get away from the self.  The agent does this because the internal structures are so chaotic and messy.  Indeed, confronting the internal mess can be too painful, too stressful, or overwhelming.  Thus, the agent does certain activities to make the self have less pain, less stress, and controllable.  Since the problem was looking within, the agent looks to activities that can change the self so that the self is, in a sense, a different kind of self.  The self is troubled, and so the self engages in activities to relieve the troublesome spots and these external things “smooths out” the self.  It’s as if the self is a passive entity and the external activities are the iron.  Certain external activities can range from being social (hanging out with friends and family members, or simply just being around people so that one is not alone), engaging in sex (which could mean one night stands or simply increasing the frequency of sexual activity with a partner), exercising, watching TV, sleeping, volunteering, and overconsumption of food, drugs, and/or alcohol.  I include the last one because even though it does change the internal structure, it does so from an external source.  What is the strategy with external coping mechanisms?  Well, if one has major stressors, dwelling on certain thoughts or memories is not a remedy.  If anything, it could make things worse.  Imagine having a fight with a loved one, but you had to stop the argument shortly because you had to study.  I don’t know about you, but if I’m in the middle of a fight, I can’t study.  My thoughts immediately go back to the fight and I’m forced to reflect on the fight.  My mind wonders and I’m just replaying certain thoughts and memories.  Thus, for the externalist, any internal coping mechanisms just don’t work. If anything, the internal coping mechanisms seem crazy because the agent wants to think about something else.  The last thing the agent wants to think about is the major stressors again.  What does this tell us?  The agent is using external coping mechanisms to get away from these thoughts that are bothering him/her.  The goal is distraction.  Internal aspects forces one to reflect, which is exactly what the externalist wants to avoid.  This isn’t to say this is a bad thing.  Of course, it takes some time to get past the major stressor.  It’s not as if the externalist is using some activity to get away from the stress as a permanent thing.  There is the saying that “time heals all wounds.”  The internalist may use that time to reflect to formulate a new equilibrium.  But the same is true with the externalist.  The externalist realizes—perhaps even subconsciously—that s/he will get past this.  It’s just that these external activities are ways to make the time pass quicker.  In other words, these activities are not just simply distractions so that the agent has to face the stress later.  These distractions are the healing process so that time is being used up.  Since the externalist doesn’t want to think on the major stressors, the externalist must use up the time somehow.

There is a risk with externalism however.  One can be consumed in dangerous or risky activity.  Drugs and alcohol are ways to distract oneself, but they can form into a new equilibrium that includes these activities as a permanent structure of the agent’s character.  On the other hand, another external activity (such as volunteering) could also inform the agent’s equilibrium to form a new character.  It really depends on the activity, the major stressor, and how much the agent realizes that one will get past this.

Now that we have set up the distinction between external and internal coping mechanisms, what can we do with this information?  Which is better?  Which one helps the agent to heal?  I don’t think this is an easy answer because it really depends on one’s personality and history.  Is it possible to do both?

I don’t have the empirical data, but I would think that the internalist is good for getting the inner self aligned and balanced, but the external stuff helps with the distraction that the self just can’t bear.  Does the internal and external coping mechanisms contradict each other?  Not necessarily.  However, the goals of each are hard to achieve simultaneously.  After all, the internalist needs to think about self whereas the externalist wants to get away from the self.  Maybe another way to think about it is that the internalist wants to reconnect with the self whereas the externalist finds a relationship with the self problematic.  They both want to form a new self, but they have different ways to get there.

Although this is a sketch of coping mechanisms, I have a feeling that someone who is more inclined toward character, such as virtue ethics, and notions of autonomy as central to the self would find internalism a better route.  And those who are more inclined to empirical-based forms of the self may find externalism a better route.

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The Glass Slipper Effect and Gender Roles

In a recent article, authors Laurie A. Rudman and Jessica B. Heppen introduce a new concept called the “Glass Slipper Effect.”  This is how the authors describe it:

Romantic fairy tales… can be summed up as, “Once upon a time, a young maiden in dire straits was rescued by a wealthy man of royal birth.  After sufficient tests of the maiden’s love and patience, she was crowned the man’s princess and lived happily ever after.”

This happens more often to young women than men.  Now the problem is that this sort of thinking can lead to gender inequalities.  In the abstract, the authors note that those who hold on to these romantic fantasies:

implicit (but not explicit) romantic fantasies negatively predicted women’s interest in personal power, including projected income, education goal, interest in high-status jobs, and group leadership appeal. By contrast, men’s implicit romantic fantasies were not routinely linked to their interest in personal power. In concert, the findings are consistent with positing a “glass slipper” effect for women that may be an implicit barrier to gender equity.

In other words, giving up the romantic fantasies, then, seems to be a contribution to have gender equality.

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Tura Satana, a modern Kill Bill?

I stumbled upon this on Wikipedia.  It’s a woman named Tura Satana.   She was an American actress and an exotic dancer.  Her famous movie is the exploitation film Faster, Pussycat!  Kill!  Kill!  However, the most fascinating detail is this:

Walking home from school just before her 10th birthday she was reportedly gang raped by five men.  According to Satana, her attackers were never prosecuted and it was rumored that the judge had been paid off.

She tells how this prompted her to learn martial arts, such as aikido and karate. Over the next 15 years, she tracked down each rapist and exacted revenge.

Now this is from Wikipedia, and this comes from Satana herself so I don’t know the veracity of this story.  However, if this is true, then Wow, we’ve got a real Kill Bill situation here.

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The Future with Robots

Robots are coming.  It just seems inevitable that with the advancement of technology, we’re going to have sophisticated machines.  The question is this:

  • are they going to be extremely helpful, or
  • are they going to be humanity’s downfall?

Here’s a non-academic article summarizing the two questions by comparing R2-D2 and C-3PO.  It’s a couple years old, but still spot on, I think.  Here’s a great point:

R2-D2 excels in areas where humans are deficient: deep computation, endurance in extreme conditions, and selfless consciousness. R2-D2 is a computer that compensates for human deficiencies — it shines where humans fail.

C3-PO is the personification of the selfish human — cloying, rules-bound, and despotic. (Don’t forget, C3-PO let Ewoks worship him!) C3-PO is a factotum for human vanity — it engenders the worst human characteristics.

The chart is also humorous.

In short, the conclusion is that if we can a good future with robots, we shouldn’t anthropomorphize them.  Let the robots be robots.

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“Forgive and Forget”: A Scientific Study

An interesting study based on the adage “forgive and forget.”  Here are some key points:

  • They base the study on forgive first in order to forget.
  • Forgiving may be a coping strategy: to forget the upsetting memories of the bad transgression.

However, with the last one, I often wonder why some people hold grudges.  Is it because holding on to the bad memory is a way to keep one’s distance from that person?  Perhaps holding on to grudges is a way to still protect the self in a way.  Yet the article presents forgiveness as a form of control.  From the article itself:

From the perspective of cognitive science, overcoming strong negative emotions toward the person who did us wrong and quashing impulses for retribution or vengeance — processes that are critical to forgiveness — may be seen as a function of executive control.

And research suggests that this executive control is also involved in our ability to forget something when we’re motivated to forget it.

Still, could holding a grudge also be seen as a function of executive control.  After all, if this person wronged me, I hold a grudge in order to have executive control of the situation.  Or perhaps the grudge, and the transgression, is controlling me!

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