Archive for the ‘Misc’ Category.

Thoughts On Recent Events

Here are a few thoughts about some recent political events.

First off, James Mattis resigned as Secretary of Defense.

He has been lauded as the “adult in the room.” I think this is bad. There are a few issues with Mattis. Just as there were with John McCain, and George HW Bush. We need to stop letting people off the hook (even for minor infractions) just because they are not as bad as Donald Trump or anyone else in his orbit.

For one thing, I do not think he should have been defense secretary. He has not been out of the military long enough . If civilian control of the military is that important, there should not be any waivers. Granted, nobody else wanted the job. And he is not as crazy as John Bolton. But being more sane that Bolton is like being younger than dirt: That is a broad range.

At least Mattis is not a total tool like John Kelly. He lied about a speech given by representative Frederica Wilson, even after a video surfaced proving she was right and he was wrong. Nothing says you are part of a cult like doubling down on a lie even when the evidence is there for all to see. I don’t think Mattis looks down upon people who were never in the military, like Kelly seems to, or spout nonsense like, “In fact, in a way we’re a little bit sorry because you’ll never have experienced the wonderful joy you get in your heart when you do the kinds of things our servicemen and -women do.” Does John Kelly have any idea who he was working for? Has anyone in the Trump family ever cared about anyone but themselves? And if Kelly took not just one, but two jobs from Trump, then what does that say about him and his feelings about service? Enjoy your retirement in Virginia, jackass. But again, not getting sucked into Neo-Confederate BS is a low bar to clear.

Mattis was involved in Theranos, both during his time in the military, and was on the board afterwards. So he is a bit swampy.  And he seems too eager to go after Iran, even though a lot of Saudis have done some shady things in the US and gotten help from the Saudi government getting out on several occasions and they are spreading Wahhabism through out the Middle East. And let’s not forget our good friend Mohammad Bone Saw.

Working for Trump has been a black mark for everyone else who has done it. Why should Mattis get a pass? He is not some 18-year old out of boot camp who probably only knows the chain of command a few levels up from his sergeant. When you are offered a Cabinet-level position, you know who is offering it to you.

His resignation letter contrasted the US to Russia and China. Did he just realize that he is working for the new POTUS? (These days, “POTUS” does not mean “President of the United States”, but “Putin’s Operative in the United States.) Trump bad mouths Democrats, half of his constituents, many foreign leaders, but gives dictators a pass. Trump has a presumption of guilt for most Americans, and a presumption of innocence for foreign authoritarians. I don’t know what those geniuses at the Hoover Institute talk about all day, but roughly 65,853,514 people could have told him how this was going to work out.

The Trump administration is a disaster. He lost the popular vote, but acts like he is god-emperor. Let’s not use Mattis or anyone else as a contrast. Let’s not let people off the hook for their own misdeeds simply because they are not the worse person in the world (that would be Donald Trump). The President should not need an adult in the room. The room should be full of adults. Seriously, Mr Smarty Pants General, what did you think was going to happen?

In other news, Elizabeth Warren has started an exploratory committee to run for President in 2020 (the old kind of POTUS, not the Russian kind we have now). And, predictable, Trump called her “Pocahontas”. Again. For a guy who is supposed to be soooo smart, he doesn’t display much capacity for thought.

Elizabeth Warren thought she was part Native American because her grandmother told her she was. When you grow up in Oklahoma, and your grandmother tells you that you are part Native American, that is a good reason for thinking you are Native American. DNA was first discovered in 1953. Elizabeth Warren was born in 1949. So all these conservative wack-jobs insisting she take a DNA test are a bit unfair. DNA was not a household term when Elizabeth Warren was growing up. Heck, her grandmother was probably born in the 1800s. Using DNA in court is a recent thing. To expect Elizabeth Warren’s grandmother to have known things about DNA then that we know now is just sloppy thinking. Pro tip: When you challenge someone for evidence, and the evidence gives you an answer you do not like, admit you were wrong. Don’t reject the test as fake like the MAGA crowd did. Just admit you don’t like her and leave it at that. And seriously, is that all you got?

Interesting fact: The current Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation is only about 3% Cherokee.

And finally, there is the shutdown. The Trump Shutdown. Let’s stop blaming both sides. This is the Trump Shutdown. Make America grind to a halt.

He had a GOP House and a GOP Senate for two years to get this wall started. If it such an important campaign promise to his base, why did he wait until he knew he was going to get a Democratic House that would not give him everything that he wants? He made these threats while the GOP still had the House. Why wait? They had no problem getting a bunch of corporate judges in, or tax cuts for the wealthy that do not do anything for anybody else. I guess the wall is just like repealing the ACA: They can’t really do it because then they can’t use it to score points with voters.

I have read a few articles that some conservatives are hoping to use this to permanently shrink the government. If so, then why was this not mentioned during the campaign? I do not think Trump started this shutdown with any long-term plan. People may not like the idea, but I think the government is a bigger part of our lives than people think, and before too long, this shutdown will start to hurt a lot of people. The feds are involved in things like air traffic control and food inspection. I didn’t sign up to spend every day putting my life in the hands of fate and acting like the past 5,000 years never happened. A lot of economic data comes from the Department of Commerce, which is currently shut down. I think big business is going to want to see all that data keep coming in. IPOs are on hold. I wonder if dividends will still come through since the SEC is shut down.

Another thing that the federal government funds is scientific research. So while China is growing plants on the far side of the moon, our government is run by a carnival barker who kills everything he touches. I think one of the Founding Fathers said the USA was more likely to be destroyed from within that from without. That is what we are seeing.

Big Jim is starting to think that some people actually want to be taken advantage of.

“The Immaculate Conception”, one of many by Francisco de Zurbarán (1598-1664) at the El Paso Museum of Art; assumed allowed under Fair Use.

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Thoughts On Dogs In Stores

I am adding an item to my list of “Signs That Someone is an Asshole“: Bringing a dog into a store.

I have been seeing more people bringing dogs into stores and even restaurants. I always thought that was a violation of health codes. I have blogged about this before. Airlines are cracking down on “emotional support animals“.

Most of the times that I have seen people bring dogs into businesses, they have been women. Usually low class women. Low class, high crass and total trash. Sometimes they are older women who wear too much makeup, tight pants that might have looked okay on them decades ago, or leopard print. Sometimes all three. Call it the trash-fecta.

If they are younger, usually they are fat, with blue hair and tattoos. Three bad things that do not add up to a good thing.

I don’t think any of these people are actually suffering from PTSD. Like I wrote before, some people are allergic to dogs. If you really cannot leave home without your dog, solve your problems on your own. Or stay home.

Big Jim is against class discrimination, unless you act like trash, or put people at risk.

“Female Nude with a Dog (Portrait of Leotine Renaude)” by Gustave Courbet (1819-1877) , at Musee d’Orsay, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

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Organizations I Could Donate To

I realized I should probably start supporting some of the free stuff that I use. So here is a list of organizations that I will start donating some money to. I might do one of these a month.

  1. AdoptOpenJDK
  2. CFI Austin
  3. Freedom From Religion Foundation
  4. Maraposa Sangha
  5. Poetry In Translation
  6. RationalWiki
  7. Science Friday
  8. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  9. Wikipedia

Big Jim like helping others who help others.

“The Adoration of the Shepherds” by El Greco (1541 – 7 April 1614), at El Greco’s site, assumed allowed under Fair Use. According to Wikimedia, there are other paintings by El Greco about this topic.

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Some Prompted Writing

Recently I went to a Meetup group called Just This: Zen Writing. It took place at the Austin Zen Center.

There was a few minutes of meditation, then there was a prompt, then we all wrote something based on the prompt, then we took turns reading out loud what we wrote and commenting on each others’ writing.

The prompt was from the Diamond Sutra:

All conditioned dharmas
Are like dreams, illusions, bubbles, or shadows;
Like drops of dew, or like flashes of lightning;
Thusly should they be contemplated.

The leader played a few minutes of some monks chanting the Diamond Sutra.

One thing I found interesting is that a few people wrote quite a bit, but a couple of people only wrote a few sentences.

Here is what I wrote:

Chanting, marching, motion.

Driving. Highways. Night. Sunrise.

Things are more fleeting for me that they really are. I speed by, they remain in place. Someone may see me speed by in a second. We exist only for a second to each other. The motionless destination gets closer, yet too slow for me.

Mountains, rivers, oceans sometimes visible for a few seconds before obscured by trees and distance, or the setting of the sun. Horses and trains in Alabama are replaced by horses and trains in Illinois. Georgia pines blend into Arkansas pines. Trucks and truck stops, unique yet interchangeable across state lines and times of day.

Machines, cars, tractors arise and pass away as do deer, horses and hills. Crossing Maryland for 12 minutes, crossing Tennessee for eight hours. Engines drone as sun shines and rain falls. People live and die, birds land and rise. North, south, east, west. Job, school, family, wandering, reunion, escape, new life. Everything arises in the horizon in front of me and passes away in the horizon behind. And to them you are someone roaring by to be seen same time next year, or never again.

Big Jim prefers Theravadan suttas, but he went with the program.

Dame Autumn has a mournful face” by John Atkinson Grimshaw (6 September 1836 – 13 October 1893),  assumed allowed under Fair Use.

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Thoughts On Photographing The Ladies

I don’t seem to get anywhere with women, but sometimes I have fantasized about photographing women.

It would probably be a great way to meet women and see lots of naked women. On the other hand, it would also be very expensive. I would need an actual camera, and a studio, and some lights.

When I was living in Chicago, I knew a guy who did a lot of photography, including women. A lot of the women were models who were glad he charged very little money. He may even have done it for free. Some of the women were a bit on the skanky side in my opinion. I do not find tattoos attractive at all. From what I could tell, his wife did not seem to mind him photographing all these other women.

He would also photograph Renaissance fairs and air shows. I do not know if he went to any air shows in Illinois, but he did go to a few in Wisconsin. Maybe he was at the Janesville Warbird Weekend (also see here). People really seem to like WWII aircraft. Is it because it was the last war we had no doubts about?

Instead of only taking pictures of women standing around, I would need to give them something to do. Using the famous “idea list” technique, here are a few possibilities:

  • Walking on a treadmill
  • Cleaning
  • Hanging clothes on a clothesline
  • Folding clothes (ironic, I know)
  • Changing a light bulb over and over and over again
  • Rearranging books on a shelf
  • Cleaning and shooting guns
  • Jumping rope
  • Yoga
  • Painting (art or painting a wall)
  • Cooking
  • Stuffing envelopes
  • Trying on different hats and boots
  • Writing on a white board
  • Cutting cake slices
  • Cleaning a glass door
  • Practicing with a sword
  • Adjusting her hair

Yes, a lot of these are “domestic” tasks. But I thought it would be nice to have some more variety that just a woman bending over while working on a spreadsheet.

Big Jim hates alcohol and loves women. He is the opposite of Brett Kavanaugh.

Eve” by Pantaleon Szyndler (26 July 1846, – 31 January 1905),  assumed allowed under Fair Use.

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Things You Never Hear

A list of things you never hear, with a few I wish I did hear.

  1. Daddy didn’t mean those harsh things he said. That was the meditation talking.
  2. I only wrapped my car around the tree because I was concentrating on my driving.
  3. I only had sex with that person because I was aware of what I was doing.
  4. I only lost my job because I was following the Five Precepts.
  5. My wife left me due to my skillfulness.
  6. I got into that fight due to right speech.
  7. I heard about this sangha with a lot of hot women. (I do wish this was more common.)
  8. I want a man who is serious about meditation. (I wish more women felt this way.)
  9. I am going to become an alcoholic because Buddhism ruined my life.
  10. I want a guy who meditates and wants lots of sex. (Again, I wish more women felt this way.)

Big Jim wishes more women were interested in meditation than alcohol.

 “Welcoming Descent of Amida Buddha” at the Metropolitan Museum, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

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Thoughts On Geoengineering

I listen to a lot of podcasts that have talked about geoengineering, or climate engineering.

It has been mentioned on Radio Ecoshock, Quirks and Quarks, Sea Change Radio, Science Friday, and probably a few others.

I think geoengineering is either not going to work as well as we need it to, or is a bad idea. We should focus on emitting less carbon.

Geoengineering strategies fall into two categories: solar radiation management and carbon dioxide removal.

I think the carbon dioxide removal methods are good ideas, but they are not as advanced as a lot of people think, and will probably not be enough to save us. We would have to plant a LOT of trees to make up for our emissions.

I think solar radiation management is a really bad idea. Putting chemicals in the atmosphere is what got us to this point in the first place. Maybe SRM should be called “counter-geoengineering” since climate change itself is the result of geoengineering. Granted, carbon emissions have allowed us to have nice things, but if nothing changes it will be the end of us. Not the end of the planet, not the end of life on earth, just the end of us. Or at least the end of most of us.

But instead of putting a second set of chemicals into the atmosphere to counteract the first set of chemicals we put into the atmosphere, let’s just put less of the first set in.

Big Jim wants to make the world a better place.

“Landscape Under A Stormy Sky” by Vincent van Gogh (March 30, 1853-July 29, 1890), assumed allowed under Fair Use.

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When The Pushing Is A Problem

Here is an idea list that I had.

A few days ago I was in the bathroom/restroom at work. I could hear someone grunting in the next stall while doing their business. I guess whatever they were pushing out was pushing back.

As I am a man of action, when I force it out, it comes out. No grunting, no struggling, no pushing back, no questions asked.

What made me really uncomfortable is that I could recognize who it was. I thought, “I really do not need to know this about you.”

So when it was time to do the daily idea list, I thought about what I should do.

  • Ask them to confess their sins
  • Play porn on my phone to compensate
  • Threaten to record and blackmail
  • Record it so if I hear them again in the future, I can hear it in stereo
  • Get all drill sergeant on their ass
  • Support them, talk them through it, tell them that together we will get through this
  • Grunt in support, or pretend you are grunting in code
  • Or make it a competition
  • When you see them later, look them in the eye and say: “I know what you did last summer”
  • Start preaching: Can I get an amen from somebody!

Big Jim is always there when you need him.

Ocean Greyness” by Jackson Pollock (January 28, 1912 – August 11, 1956), assumed allowed under Fair Use.

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Quotes About Idea Lists

Here are some miscellaneous quotes about Idea Lists from a few posts and comments on James Altucher’s site. None of this is original to me; I am simply gathering it in one place for my convenience.

From The Idea Matrix – What Changed Everyone’s Life After “Choose Yourself”:
Comment from James (responding to someone else) about ideal lists:
I will add one more thing to your list, and you even refer to it above, but it’s “Come up with Ideas for Others” , even if you don’t know them. Even if you never share them. It’s good practice. Antoher thing is: “10 things you’ve learned from XYZ” where XYZ could be another person, a book, or an event in your life. Because if you can find 10 things you learned from that person then chances are at least one is a good thing.

From How To Become An Idea Machine: Write down ten ideas. About anything. It doesn’t matter if they are business ideas, book ideas, ideas for surprising your spouse in bed, ideas for what you should do if you are arrested for shoplifting, ideas for how to make a better tennis racquet, anything you want. The key is that it has to be ten or more.
One possibility right now is to list ten ideas that are “too big for me” and what the next steps might be.

Check out Ideas For Ten Ideas A Day.

From The Ultimate Guide for Becoming an Idea Machine: IDEA SEX. Combine two ideas to come up with a better idea. Don’t forget that idea evolution works much faster than human evolution. You will ALWAYS come up with better ideas after generations of idea sex. This is the DNA of all idea generation.
OLD TO NEW: 10 old ideas I can make new. (Dorothy, Wall Street, etc). Similar to idea sex.
10 ridiculous things I would invent (the smart toilet, etc).
10 books I can write (The Choose Yourself Guide to an Alternative Education, etc).
10 business ideas for Google / Amazon / Twitter / you
10 people I can send ideas to
10 podcast ideas I can do. Or videos I can shoot. (“Lunch with James”, a video podcast where I just have lunch with people over Skype and we chat).
10 industries I can remove the middleman.
10 Things I Disagree With that everyone else assumes is religion (college, home ownership, voting, doctors). Or, for any one of those ideas. 10 ideas why!
10 ways to make old posts of mine and make books out of them
10 ways I can surprise Claudia. (Actually, more like 100 ways. That’s hard work!)
10 items I can put on my “10 list ideas I usually write” list
10 people I want to be friends with and I figure out what the next steps are to contact them (Azaelia Banks, I’m coming after you! Larry Page better watch out also.)
10 things I learned yesterday.
10 things I can do differently today. Right down my entire routine from beginning to end as detailed as possible and change one thing and make it better.
10 chapters for my next book
10 ways I can save time. For instance, don’t watch TV, drink, have stupid business calls, don’t play chess during the day, don’t have dinner (I definitely will not starve), don’t go into the city to meet one person for coffee, don’t waste time being angry at that person who did X, Y, and Z to you, and so on.
10 Things I Learned from X. Where X is someone I’ve spoke to recently or read a book by recently. I’ve written posts on this about the Beatles, Mick Jagger, Steve Jobs, Bukowski, the Dalai Lama, Superman, Freakonomics, etc.
Random: 10 Things Women Totally Don’t Know About Men. (that turned into a list of 100 and Claudia said to me, “uhhh, I don’t think you should publish this”).
Today’s list: 10 More Alternative to College I can Add to my book: “40 Alternatives to College”.
10 Things I’m Interested in Getting Better At (and then 10 ways I can get better at each one).
10 things I was interested in as a kid that might be fun to explore now. (Like, maybe I can write that “Son of Dr. Strange” comic I’ve always been planning. And now I need 10 plot ideas).
A problem I have and ten ways I might try and solve it. This has saved me with the IRS countless times. Unfortunately, the Department of Motor Vehicles is impervious to my super powers.
10 ways I can release more endorphins into my body
10 ways I can help people build their idea machine
10 Ways I can turn my next book into a webinar for Oprah
10 things I can talk about in my next talk on May 3
SCAMPER is a mnemonic that stands for:
Substitute.
Combine.
Adapt.
Modify.
Put to another use.
Eliminate.
Reverse.

Big Jim has some big ideas to change the world.

Obłok by Ferdynand Ruszczyc (1870-1936), assumed allowed under Fair Use.

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Buddhism from non-Buddhists

This page will collect quotes that I come across that (in my opinion) express thoughts related to Buddhism by people or authors that I think are/were not Buddhist.

This page will be updated on an irregular basis as I encounter more quotes.

She has an illusion and you have reality. May you find your way as pleasant.

– The Keeper, Star Trek: The Cage, after restoring Vina’s beauty (as well as creating an illusory Christopher Pike to keep her company)

 

If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs…
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting…
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim…
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you…
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it.

– lines from Rudyard Kipling’s If

 

Seek freedom and become captive of your desires. Seek discipline and find your liberty.

― Frank Herbert, Chapterhouse: Dune

 

All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone

– Blaise Pascal

 

Too many people dream of places they’ll never go, wish for things they’ll never have, instead of paying adequate attention to their real lives.

– Odo, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, “If Wishes Were Horses”

 

Big Jim wants all people to be enlightened.

Standing Bodhisattva Maitreya (Buddha of the Future), ca. 3rd–4th century Pakistan (ancient region of Gandhara) at the Metropolitan Museum, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

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