Wednesday, May 24, 2017

How to Be a Stoic - 3:AM Magazine

3AM: What are the most compelling parts of Stoicism?

MP: I can’t speak for others, but I find the fundamental idea that a life worth living is one during which one strives every day to become a better person to be compelling. The Stoics do this by mindfully practicing four cardinal virtues: practical wisdom, the ability to navigate complex situations in the best way available; courage, to do the right thing; temperance, so to always act in proportion to the need of the situation; and justice, treating others with fairness, as fellow human beings.

I also find some of the Stoic techniques to be very useful. For instance, the evening philosophical diary, in which I interrogate myself about the difficult parts of my day, reflecting on what I did right, what I did wrong, and what I could do better the next time around. Or the exercises in mild self-denial, like occasional fasting, or even taking a cold shower. They remind me of just how good my life normally is, when I can count on things like hot water and a nice meal, which are definitely not a given for everyone on the planet. Think of them as exercises in gratitude, but in practice, not just words.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie (2016) **

Would have fit well as a couple of episodes in the series but suffers from cinema's inherent gravitas, as nearly all television shows turned movies do.

Monday, May 15, 2017

If Men Were Less Awful, Would SVU Be Wicked Boring?

I’ve been a man for 44 years. And many of my friends are men. And let me tell you what happens whenever women are not around. It becomes like a Mamet/Tarantino/Labute homage. Men think dirty things. About practically everyone and everything. And we are constantly thinking dirty things even when we’re not speaking about doing dirty things. When a man checks you out on the street he will then turn to the nearest other man on the street and give him a look like “Did you see that?” And you’ll shrug or smile sheepishly to him. Or possibly you’re too busy checking that same person out to even see that guy. Or checking out that guy. We’re always checking you out.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Excalibur (1981) **

The picture has not held up upon subsequent viewings, but remains a fine rendition of the Camelot myth. It's unfortunate it was released years after this.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

David Lynch Quits Movie Directing

Lynch confirmed that his last feature film will be 2006’s Inland Empire, which starred Laura Dern as an actress who loses grip with reality after she starts to inhabit her characters. Though he’s now back to working in television with the upcoming revival of his cult classic Twin Peaks, it’s yet to be seen whether Lynch will make a permanent move to television like many other influential mid-budget filmmakers.

Monday, May 08, 2017

Split (2016) **

Fairly well made take on the "psycho in the house" genre, a little talky at times, with nice performances. Really pushes the psycho-babble, seemingly to set up the sequel and/or to fit into Shyamalan's "universe".

Berkeley author George Lakoff says, 'Don't underestimate Trump' — Berkeleyside

But a worldview is exactly what Lakoff is talking about. “Ideas don’t float in the air, they live in your neuro-circuitry,” Lakoff said. Each time ideas in our neural circuits are activated, they get stronger. And over time, complexes of neural circuits create a frame through which we view the world. “The problem is, that frame is unconscious,” Lakoff said. “You aren’t aware of it because you don’t have access to your neural circuits.” So what happens when you hear facts that don’t fit in your worldview is that you can’t process them: you might ignore them, or reject or attack them, or literally not hear them.

This theory explains why even college-educated Trump voters could ignore so many facts about their candidate. And it also explains why progressives have been ignoring Lakoff’s findings for more than two decades. Progressives are still living in the world of Descartes and the Enlightenment, Lakoff said, a neat world governed by the rules of logic. Descartes said, “I think therefore I am,” but Lakoff claims that we are embodied beings and that 98 percent of thought is unconscious.

Our thoughts are chemical in nature, and occur within the confines of a physical body: we are not 100 percent rational beings.