Ming the Mechanic
The NewsLog of Flemming Funch

Thursday, January 23, 2003day link 

 Overwhelm
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"Most everybody is overwhelmed. And they respond with various defense mechanisms. Denial, isolation, increased greed ('I'll get it while I can'), righteousness ('It's their own fault'). There are a whole set of mechanisms that people use to keep from being open, because the quality of the human heart uncontrolled by the mind is that it will give away everything... We have to find ways to exercise the compassion of our hearts, and at the same moment learn how to know what the limits are and be able to say no without guilt." -- Ram Dass
Jon Husband mentioned that quote. Indeed, I think it is a well-kept secret that most people are overwhelmed by life at this point. It didn't used to be like that. The world has sped up. Things are accelerating. Most people can't really keep up. Sometimes I think that it is just me, and that the people around me are just standing around waiting for me to get my act together. Until I look a little deeper and realize that most people I know are so thoroughly busy keeping up with their own lives that they don't have much time to stand around and philosophize about what I am not getting done. Nobody seems to have any time left over after doing what they need to do. Because they're not done doing what they need to do.

Fundamentally I think it is a good and useful thing. An evolutionary trigger. See, if there isn't time enough to get everything done, you have to learn to prioritize and to be more discerning about what you do, and what not to do. And it is inevitably leading towards that you'll choose to do the things that you most feel you need to do, the essential stuff - what is most vital. And you'll choose to do what is exciting, rather than what is boring. I mean, if I can't do everything anyway, why on earth would I choose to do the boring stuff, and leave the exciting stuff undone.

But, when we're put under pressure, apparently being asked to do more things than what appears to be humanly possible, it brings up a whole bunch of feelings and reactions from the bottom of our psyche. We might temporarily escape the problem by coercing others into doing more things for us. We might put on blinders, and start ignoring a larger portion of life. We might deny it altogether, and pretend that our life is perfectly in order, all organized, relaxed and secure. We might hold on to the way things used to be.

Ultimately I think it is about learning to both be very open and flexible, and at the same time very discerning and precise. Be open to everything that the universe blows by your nose, but don't assume that you're supposed to analyze and package all of it. That's impossible. Just be open to it. You can watch the leaves blowing off the trees, and find it beautiful, without having to collect or count each single leaf.

There's plenty of time for that which is most essential. The time is always NOW, and there's never more or less of now. So, of course you have time enough for doing what you're doing right now. You just have to give up the idea that you SHOULD be doing something else than what you're doing. Do what you need to do. Don't do everything else.
[ | 2003-01-23 18:12 | 5 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

 Highway to the South Pole
According to New Scientist, American engineers in the Antarctic have begun work on a highway from the giant US coastal base at McMurdo Sound to the South Pole - a distance of 1600 kilometers. An initial purpose for the highway will be to help lay a $250-million fibre-optic cable to the Scott-Amundsen base. The Scott-Amundsen base is home to a growing amount of scientific equipment. But it is out of sight of most geostationary communications satellites, so it cannot reliably send back real-time data to the laboratories in the US that use the equipment. The cable would solve that problem.
[ | 2003-01-23 23:45 | 16 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

 Giant electromagnets to moor ships
New Scientist says that the port of Rotterdam is working on a system for docking ships using magnets. Apparently it would save a good deal of time, effort and money if one can just flick a switch to pull a ship into a secure position, rather than maneuvering around with ropes.
[ | 2003-01-23 23:45 | 10 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

 Staying Cool in the Sahara
picture SpaceDaily has an article about technologies used by participants in the 2003 Paris-Dakar rally. Thermal screens under the car, cooling system in your helmet, self-cooling containers, and space-food to eat.
[ | 2003-01-23 23:45 | 14 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

 The Secret Station Under San Francisco Bay
Phil Wolff:Through the black, a flash of unexpected light. BART's Transbay Tube runs under the San Francisco Bay. Connecting Oakland to The City by tunneling through dark, deep brine. Your next time through, peer into the dark. Even at 70 miles per hour you may glimpse the phantom station mid-way through the eight mile submergence. No one's talking about it. Is it an abandoned construction site, peopled by the homeless? A cold war bunker? A cancelled connection to the old Treasure Island Navy base? An exclusive night club with an unbeatable underwater view? A biowar research lab, isolated for the next Andromeda strain? A deep sea diving platform, the better to find jumpers who preferred the Bay Bridge to the Golden Gate? An archaelogical site, continuing a 40 year investigation into an alien wreck uncovered by Bechtel during construction? The next time a BART train blows through your station without picking up passengers, remember this. It could be on the way to the mystery stop."
I just love abandoned underground stuff.
[ | 2003-01-23 23:45 | 20 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

 Society and Culture
picture James Carse makes some very interesting distinctions between what is a society and what is a culture in his book "Finite and Infinite Games" [which I mentioned here].
"In their own political engagements infinite players make a distinction between society and culture. Society they understand as the sum of those relations that are under some form of public constraint, culture as whatever we do with each other by undirected choice."
Society consists of what people do because of necessity, because they HAVE to. Society is a finite game with certain rules that have to be adhered to. Society will perpetuate rules from the past and will resist any changing of the rules. Society has a lot to do with achieving and maintaining power, largely based on the games one has won in the past and the status one has achieved from that.

A society is bounded temporarily and spatially. There is a start and an end to a society, and it will defend its borders and its definition vehemently. Members of a society are only those who live within its boundaries and agree to the validity of its rules.

A culture, on the other hand, is not bounded. Anybody at any time anywhere can participate in a culture.
[ | 2003-01-23 23:45 | 6 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

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