Conflicting Imperatives from the Ethos of the Age

The Ethos says:

Get your self centered without getting self-centered.

Be open to complexity and exceptions without being overly nuanced.

Live for the moment without improvidence.

Be your own man as a team player.

Find out who you are by transcending yourself.

Avoid sophistry and certitude.

Live for today and don’t stop thinking about tomorrow.

Know your limits and other people’s limits without ever testing or pushing them.

Be a good Samaritan not a sucker.

Be neither paralyzed by skepticism nor blinded by faith.

The future belongs to realistic dreamers.

Be busy like the bee–busy smelling flowers. And hive work. Lots of hive work.

For the religious: Put away the things of childhood¹ for they are of the Kingdom of Heaven.²  Now go seek ye the Kingdom of Heaven.³

Be neither promiscuous nor chaste. Just stay on the right side of the bell-curve of vice, wherever that may be.

Stand up and be counted then sit down and shut up. Know exactly when either is appropriate–there are no firm rules but you still have to know them.

Be pragmatic in your idealism, and principled in your pragmatism. Generally.

Only marry someone if you’re seriously willing to spend the next eight years with them. It’s a big commitment.

Change the system without threatening anyone. Politely modify the status quo. Venerate that which you obsolesce and replace.

Be classy by accident. (4)

Always be the one who always looked the way current fashion dictates long before it was fashionable.(5) Or just give up and wait 20 years.

Joke Notes

1.  1 Corinthians 13:11
2.  Matthew 18:3 and 4; Matthew 19:14
3.  Matthew 6:33
4. The accident of birth into a higher class being the fundamental accident that is at the root of classiness.
5. Can’t be done? When you’re young or wealthy many things are possible–just change your friends every time you change your fashions.

Big Book and High Education

Always pay special attention to the first third of a non-fiction book. The middle is in the middle for a reason and by the end the author wants it over as bad as you do. In the beginning is all the stuff the author actually enjoys dwelling on.

Western medicine is all pathology.  Pretty soon we’ll know the how and why of all the ways the body can fail. Treatment will remain symptomatic.

So let’s raise America’s education levels–only test Asian kids. And Jews. On Christmas.

Does this sound like a good investment?  Let’s pay for a kid to spend four or five years writing book reports. Think it’ll pay off? So why invest in higher education?

Everything I really needed to know I still haven’t learned yet. So obviously I didn’t need to learn that either.

Memorize the colorful anecdotes and digressions of history and culture. Ignore the main points of discussion because you will never get to discuss them yourself without sounding like a poser-dick.

Read everything as if there’s a 40% chance it’s total bullshit, that way you’ll end up retaining almost 60% of what you read.

Half of what we know cannot be quantified anyway.

And just because you can write an essay when you’re drunk means we’re probably gonna wanna read it when we’re sober. So develop your talents.

School teaches the awesome amazing power of the Last Minute. Huge, semi-monumental B+ quality work can be achieved in that “frantastic” stretch of space-time called the last minute.

Before that, 10 pages seem like 20. With one hour left, they only seem like 8 1/2 with wide margins.

Lawyers get the most schooling and that’s why they do all their work at the last minute. And so paralegals spend their days doing nothing and their nights working late.

Have you ever done nothing all day and then worked late?

Then you haven’t worked for a highly educated boss.

Alan Brech 2012