A Puff of Absurdity: On Boyden’s Questionable Ancestory

It’s hard when we find our heroes as fallible as the rest of us. Boyden, the prize winning indigenous writer found to be not so indigenous, is taking a hit now. Some, like Aaron Paquette, think Boyden can’t claim status without having endured the hardship that went with being raised by generations decimated by legislated ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On Boyden’s Questionable Ancestory

It’s hard when we find our heroes as fallible as the rest of us. Boyden, the prize winning indigenous writer found to be not so indigenous, is taking a hit now. Some, like Aaron Paquette, think Boyden can’t claim status without having endured the hardship that went with being raised by generations decimated by legislated ...

A Puff of Absurdity: A Shift in Values

Further to my last post about the current values and the boundaries of the social imaginary that prevent us from making any significant and necessary changes in the world, George Monbiot has data to show that actual shift in pervasive attitudes: A study published in the journal Cyberpsychology reveals that an extraordinary shift appears to ...

A Puff of Absurdity: A Shift in Values

Further to my last post about the current values and the boundaries of the social imaginary that prevent us from making any significant and necessary changes in the world, George Monbiot has data to show that actual shift in pervasive attitudes: A study published in the journal Cyberpsychology reveals that an extraordinary shift appears to ...

A Puff of Absurdity: What Happens in the Arctic, Doesn’t Stay in the Arctic

There are more and more signs of climate change about to pull a number on us, but we still won’t listen. We’ve got ammonia in our atmosphere and a spike in methane concentrations: “CO2 is still the dominant target for mitigation, for good reason. But we run the risk if we lose sight of methane offsetting ...

A Puff of Absurdity: What Happens in the Arctic, Doesn’t Stay in the Arctic

There are more and more signs of climate change about to pull a number on us, but we still won’t listen. We’ve got ammonia in our atmosphere and a spike in methane concentrations: “CO2 is still the dominant target for mitigation, for good reason. But we run the risk if we lose sight of methane offsetting ...

A Puff of Absurdity: Is This the Sixth Estate?

The “Fourth Estate” is an antiquated term for unofficial social and political forces, primarily the media. Use of the term recognized, over two centuries ago, that the media affect social change. But once that became clear, it became a tool of the establishment. The church, politicians, and corporations started using the media to sway the ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On Being Useful: a Necessary Shift in Radicalism

“Oh, what can we do in a case like that? Nothing to do but sit on your hat, or your toothbrush, or your grandmother, or anything else that’s useless.“ Those are the butchered words of a Burl Ives song I sang as a kid until my sister corrected me. The last word is actually helpless, not useless. ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On Missing the Girls

“Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” – Leonard Cohen  (Everyone’s using that bit today, but they always skip the first part of the verse.) As I started down the road towards mastectomy-ville, I wondered how weird it would feel ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On the Nature of Gifts and Help

Being helped so much by so many has led me to thinking about the idea of help and of gifts and Derrida’s idea that gifts are impossible in that, in part and very briefly (he wrote a whole book on this), once we give to someone it sets up a debt, which is poisonous as it ...

Politics and its Discontents: Our Paradoxical Species

Anyone who reads this blog regularly probably knows that I am something of a cynic when it comes to our species. Sure, there are many exceptions, but as a whole, we seem oblivious to our obligations to the world around us. Cossetted by our conveniences, our technologies and our bloated lifestyles, we far too often ...

Politics and its Discontents: Our Paradoxical Species

Anyone who reads this blog regularly probably knows that I am something of a cynic when it comes to our species. Sure, there are many exceptions, but as a whole, we seem oblivious to our obligations to the world around us. Cossetted by our conveniences, our technologies and our bloated lifestyles, we far too often ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On Command F: a Bittersweet Function

I tell my students of the magic of “command F” on Macs and “control F” on PCs. This F function key, that can find a word or phrase anywhere in the text, is a game-changer when hunting for the best quotation or for that juicy bit of information or when searching through lines of code ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On Population Control and Freedom at Any Cost

China has officially ended its one-child policy, and the New York Times argues against any similar policy ever existing again. The Chinese government’s decision to end its draconian one-child policy is a pragmatic economic move, but it’s hardly sufficient. The government continues to control personal freedom by limiting the number of children a couple can ...

Writings of J. Todd Ring: A few thoughts on empathy in human beings, and other living creatures

Empathy is natural in human beings, as Jeremy Rifkin has pointed out – and with strong backing by recent scientific findings. Some human beings have more and some less; and some are sociopaths – roughly 1% (and usually, the ones who gravitate to positions of wealth and power, unsurprisingly) – who have a near total ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On So Much Anger

Anger may be defined as an impulse, accompanied by pain, to a conspicuous revenge for a conspicuous slight directed without justification towards what concerns oneself or towards what concerns one’s friends. If this is a proper definition of anger, it must always be felt towards some particular individual, e.g. Cleon, and not “man” in general. ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On ASD and Labels and Being Weird

I wrote about this two years ago, and coming across this site on autism stories inspired me to revisit why labels can sometimes be helpful. Sort of. Here’s the relevant part of my previous post: “But here’s another part of the problem: if a student in my class acts differently, and I explain to the class ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On Acting Nice

I’ve been watching lots of movies and thinking about this bit from Aristotle: “But we get the virtues by having first performed the energies, as is the case also in all the other arts; for those things which we must do after having learnt them we learn to do by doing them; as, for example, ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On Glorifying Psychopaths

Murray Dobbin wrote a very provocative article relating our TV viewing of psychopaths to our politics.  Owen explored the glorification of psychopaths in a post discussing the article, and I commented there on the difficulty of establishing kindness in our self-absorbed culture.  I wrote years ago about the crux of the problem: that it’s not ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On That List of Excuses for Not Having Sex Floating Around the Interweb

I wanted to chime in on a facebook discussion about that list (a man made a spreadsheet of his wife’s excuses for refusing sex), but it wasn’t started by an official FB friend, so I couldn’t comment on it.  I’m not sure the etiquette on this, so I’ll just keep everyone anonymous.  Here’s the opener attached ...

Politics and its Discontents: A Christmas Thought

While I was not going to post anything today, I offer the following brief thought: During this season and throughout 2014, may our hearts be attuned to those who can inspire us rather than to those who seek to manipulate and subjugate. May we begin to rediscover, as our greatest moral heroes amply demonstrate, that ...

Politics and its Discontents: Lessons Learned, Lessons Forgotten

H/t Catherin Bradbury ‘God save thee, ancient Mariner!From the fiends, that plague thee thus!—Why look’st thou so?’—With my cross-bowI shot the ALBATROSS. -excerpted from The Rime of The Ancient Mariner, by Samuel Coleridge In what may seem like a very long time ago but is, by historical standards, really but a blink of the eye, ...

Politics and its Discontents: Something Different

…to counteract the cynicism we can’t help but feel following the political beat: Recommend this Post

A Puff of Absurdity: On Categorization of Behaviours and Abilities

People are always looking for the single magic bullet that will change everything.  There is no single magic bullet.  – Temple Grandin Some people are quite upset about the recent change to the DSM that removes Aspergers as a separate category from Autism. Now kids formally diagnosed as having Aspergers are on the Autism Spectrum ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On Liberty and Death

One of the reasons I advocate for restrictions on personal freedom as a means to save our species from extinction is that I need my own behaviours to be externally regulated!  Intellectually, I can assess what I need from what I want – I think better than most even.  I’m usually at the tail-end of ...