Tuesday, April 16, 2013

better late than never

I'm beginning to believe that I may, in my old age, actually welcome death, to make room for the next generation; too stuck in my ways, my mind replaying golden memories, unable to accept the changes brought before me. I mean, that's a while from now I hope but I can sense its faint approach. Even now, as in years of late, I am haunted by the ills and trespasses of my younger self; it is an ever-growing mountain, diminished only through the dimness of forgetting. I shall fall to the wind of a thousand inward sighs.

But ha, no, I am not nearly so melancholy for most of my day. I'll play a little catch-up, while I wait for my phone to charge. Several nights back MJ and I enjoyed Word Wars, a documentary about Scrabble players. The documentary wasn't particularly compelling, but the characters are fascinating enough, in their fringe-of-society way, to have kept our interest up. We saw a much crappier documentary a couple weeks before, My Brilliant Brain: Make Me A Genius, which discussed the raising of chess prodigy Susan Polgar. The "method" was a real letdown -- it boiled down to "encourage your child in whatever pursuit they show interest in, and take it to their limit".

I got myself a quadcopter, which is disappointingly difficult to control, and the connection between the battery and the motors is slightly wonky, so that about half the time I have to jiggle the wires in order for all the motors to spin. But it is fun when it gets going, and it certainly serves its purpose of scaring the willies out of my cats.

The weather was cold and frightful for a while there -- global warming does indeed increase the severity, or extremity, of the weather, what with its heating of air, causing winds to flow all the more, and with them the arctic cold. They say it's spring, but it has been shy, very shy, of late. Only now does the smile of the sun really begin to grace us.

I joined a book club! Well, that is to say, I went to one meeting with a quarter of a book read (The Blind Watchmaker, by Richard Dawkins), then I almost showed up at a second meeting before realizing that I had been reading the wrong book. By happy coincidence however the one I did read was excellent: The Righteous Mind, by Jonathan Haidt. I believe it is my latest great read (the previous being Travis' Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me)) -- chock full of interesting ideas, results, theories. Laid out for easy digestion,  with lots of summaries and driving of points home; the meat is quite rich and I found myself agreeing with each insight, now made clear and provocative. If you've a curiosity as to why there is such a strong divide between the political left and right, look no further than The Righteous Mind. New York Times review: "Workers who vote Republican aren’t fools. In Haidt’s words, they’re “voting for their moral interests.”"

Having said that, I am still uncertain of the validity of group selection, which Haidt uses in the latter half of his book. It seems to be denounced by some prominent minds, including Dawkins and Steven Pinker, two of my modern heroes! I shall have to look into this.