Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Hunter S. Thompson Quote

As I see it then, the formula runs something like this: a man must choose a path which will let his ABILITIES function at maximum efficiency toward the gratification of his DESIRES. In doing this, he is fulfilling a need (giving himself identity by functioning in a set pattern toward a set goal) he avoids frustrating his potential (choosing a path which puts no limit on his self-development), and he avoids the terror of seeing his goal wilt or lose its charm as he draws closer to it (rather than bending himself to meet the demands of that which he seeks, he has bent his goal to conform to his own abilities and desires).


In short, he has not dedicated his life to reaching a pre-defined goal, but he has rather chosen a way of life he KNOWS he will enjoy. The goal is absolutely secondary: it is the functioning toward the goal which is important. And it seems almost ridiculous to say that a man MUST function in a pattern of his own choosing; for to let another man define your own goals is to give up one of the most meaningful aspects of life — the definitive act of will which makes a man an individual.    


-Hunter S. Thompson.


I found this here. It seems to be something that a lot of educators seem to disregard, especially in high school. It is always about what colleges will be looking for. Far more important is the actually process of learning. Even what is learned is secondary to the mere act of learning. There is a book that I often see when browsing a local library. It is a treatise of Buddhism titled The Path is the Goal. That is all Thompson is saying. The goal itself cannot be allowed to become college. That is what daycare is for. Teachers seem rather fond of telling us that they're "not babysitters." But then they go and make themselves exactly that.


I could see it argued that we are all doing exactly what we want. It may not be the life we most desire, but it is what we truly want. Because the consequences would be so much worse. More than we want to be free from our pathetic lives, we want to avoid the ramifications of escaping it. This is how we bend our goals.


To participate in any form of culture is to be influenced. No goal is truly our own. No person is truly unique in every aspect. Similarities in our world-views and aspirations are unavoidable. To overcome this, we try to seek a more extreme goal. Something we know we can achieve, but which will dramatically alter and re-shape us. So it is not the goal itself which makes us individuals, but, as Thompson points out, "the definitive act" of selecting the goal. Our aspirations and hopes are not unique, but our reason and journey to those hopes are. It is, then, not who we are that makes us individuals, but our individual stories. Not our goals, but our paths. And I fear that sometimes, the education system forgets this. Uniformity, it is believed, must be used. To believe in individual, unique paths for every student would require a much larger and versatile staff. So, it is forgotten. The goals are used in the place of the paths, and the students suffer for it.


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Monday, February 17, 2014

Transhumanist routine

I take about an hour before I go to bed to work out and do some of the other things on the list. Mediation and pranayama may be done in an extra half-hour in the morning that I often decide to sleep through.




General Actions
  • Workout
    • Every other day weight training
    • Bodyweight strength training when I find time
    • Stretches on the non-weight training days
    • Plus phys. ed. class, possible running the in the morning when it gets a little warmer
  • Cold showers
  • More green tea and water
  • Sleep a little less (more like 8 hours)
Mental Enhancement


  • Learn new languages
  • Nootropics (natural)
    • Tea
    • Caffeine
    • Rosemary
    • Turmeric
    • Black Pepper
  • Meditation
  • Logic puzzles
Lower Pulse Rate

  • Exercise
  • Meditate
Lower Breathing Rate
  • Pranayama yoga
  • Mindfulness meditation
Improve Eyesight
  • Contacts
  • Vision improvement techniques
    • Pencil (shifting focus from point of pencil to wall)
    • Thumb(same as above, but at a slower pace, and with the thumb held further away)
Lucid Dreaming
  • Dream Journal
  • Increase REM sleep
    • Wake up 6 hours after going to bed
Body Toughening
  • Calluses on hands
    • Sandpaper
  • Thicken skin on fingertip
    • I use a needle to separate the layers of skin a little, promoting new skin growth. I've already seen some results with this. I can use it to move hot stuff, but it is mostly just to see how my body will react to potentially harmful ways to alter it.
  • Toughen shins
    • I use a dowel, rub it along my shins, then use it to lightly hit them. Its a Muay Thai technique learned online at some point.
  • Toughen Feet
    • Go barefoot more
    • Rubbing alcohol
Concentration Training
  • Sitting still
    • Surprisingly hard. It really make you aware of how much you actually move.
  • Open and closing fists slowly
  • Trying to hold a bottle of water perfectly still at eye level at arm's length.




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Monday, February 10, 2014

Transhumanism Links

I may eventually expand this into its own page, but for now, I'll just leave it as a post. If there is enough interest, I'll link it on the side, and then make it its own page. As a quick disclaimer: I am not an expert or even a prominent transhumanist. I just feel limited by my human body, and would like to see what it can do with help. I prefer to focus more on self-betterment and how technology can help us achieve that. Due to that belief, many of these links suggest ways towards self-betterment that do not involve technology, but rather "natural" shifts in habits. It is my belief that while we wait for technology to get to a safe point, we can work on our own natural bodies. Of course, my beliefs are not the beliefs of the entire transhumanist society, and in fact, some of them may be on the very edge of that society. But what are labels for, if not to label ourselves?


Transhumanism Links:

General Links:

Hedonistic Imperative
Better Humans
Humanity+
Anders Transhuman Page
Reddit: Transhuman
Reddit: Multi
High Existence
Wikipedia Category


Mental Enhancement:

Concentration
More Concentration
How to Be Smarter
Nootropics
Less Wrong
Reddit: Psychonaut
Reddit: Neurophilosophy


Spiritual Development:

Secret of the Golden Flower
Prometheus Rising
Alan Watts
Meditation Discussion


Physical Progress:

Bodyweight Exercises
Nerd Fitness
Importance of Physical Fitness


Technology:

Ten Technological Goals
Wired Section
Haptic Compass
Magnetic implants

Biohacking:

Neurohacking
Seth's Blog
BulletProof








I'll be expanding this as I find new sites. If you want other resources on self-development, check out the in-text citations from Prometheus Reborn. Next week I'll have my current plan of action for my own progress.


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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Cheating And Students

Living in Wisconsin, I'm hearing a lot about academic cheating recently. Not only did we have finals this past week, but Menominee, near me, has had a pretty large cheating scandal going on. I think I heard it made national news.




Apparently there is widespread cheating going on. But rather than blame the students, I have a better idea. Let's look at why they are cheating. I see two broad reasons:
1. The social pressure to do well.
2. The academic pressure to do well.
I hate to say this, as it is already said enough, but we, as a society, place far to much emphasis on a simple number. For students, their misconceptions make it even worse. I've found that it is actually pretty commonly believed the GPA is the biggest factor in college acceptance. And teachers and staff don't really do anything to dispel that notion. While it is probably better for you college search if you don't get all "F"s, the rest of the application is probably a lot more important. Especially the community service part. That's the academic pressure.


The social pressure is a lot more complicated. From parents, to teachers, to coaches, to friends, everyone expects certain students to get certain grades. When a test catches them unaware or unprepared, they panic. It is that simple. It rarely has to do with being lazy. There seems to be a misconception in society that teenagers go home, watch TV, go to bed, and that is why they don't do their homework or study. For some that may well be the case. But for a sizable amount, they were doing other things. Other homework, sports, clubs, church, jobs, or in my case: reading and writing. If I don't get some homework done, it isn't because I was watching TV. It is because I was doing something else, something I saw as more important.


Time is valuable. If the results of something aren't worth the time it takes to get them, no one will do it. Students are going to learn. We're human. We can't help but learn. So, rather than forcing us to do so in some specific way, and then being amazed that we cheat, respect our time. There are other things more important than school. And, as I can never say enough, school exists for the students, not for the teachers.






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Monday, February 3, 2014

Promethus Reborn

For my English final this semester we had to write an essay on whether it is better to accept who we are or to better ourselves. While pretty much the entire class agreed that we should better ourselves, I believe I am unique in taking it from a more sociological perspective. The research I did really piqued my interest in transhumanism and bettering oneself, something I plan to continue on this blog. My new schedule (which I will be getting on starting this week) will be: Transhumanism Mondays, Student Life Wednesdays, Education Reform Fridays. I really want to get back to what the title says, Trismegistus Nab-tu-we, "Thrice Great, lord of two lands." So, with that said, here is:

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

RIP Pete Seeger

I have been busy with Finals, but will be getting back to posting now.


I just found out from Open Culture that Pete Seeger died yesterday. As a banjo player and activist, this news is actually rather tough for me. In a class last year I was asked who my heroes were. I could only think of one: Pete Seeger.






My favorite story about him I heard on Youtube of all places. This fellow and his wife went to a concert that included Seeger. As they were walking in, they saw a guy with a large backpack on. Turns out the backpack was a banjo case, and the guy was Pete Seeger. He was walking in the main doors with the crowd.




With Seeger passing, we have lost one of the last great social activists of the 20th Century. His music argued for civil rights, peace and worker's rights. He helped inspire many more activists both in the 20th and the 21st centuries. Right down to the end, he was marching with Occupy Wall Street and protesting BP.




For my English class we have to pick a song and then use it to look at a social issue. My first ideas were Fortunate Son by Creedence Clearwater Revival, Buy a Gun for Your Son by Tom Paxton, and Which Side Are You On by Pete Seeger. I think that the events of Monday have helped me decide.


In the end though, it isn't so much about the man as his legacy. His achievements and message will live on. But for the next week or so, I think we can mourn. In Turn, Turn, Turn he sang that there is "a time to mourn." But once that is done, it is time for us to do something again. The biggest insult we could pay to Seeger would be to forget his message. The fight isn't done.


It is like when Joe Hill died. It isn't time to mourn, it's time to take his message, a take it to new places. If you are a student, spread the news around, get some new kids interested in protest music. If you're a teacher, show your students some of his music. In the end it just come down to: which side are you on?


Some links of interest:
Open Culture Post
Chicago Tribune
Appreciation Page
Playlist






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Friday, January 10, 2014

Education Interviews: Winor Chen

1) If you could change anything related to education on a nation-wide level, what would be at the top of your list?

I wish I could give a definite answer but honestly, I don't think I can. There is so much things wrong with the education system, that choosing one would be- difficult. Besides, one would be trivial without the other... they're interdependent like many things in the
world.

2) what is your stance on No Child Left Behind? How could it be improved?

It seems to me that No Child Left Behind had very good intentions but that its actual execution ended up being impractical. The elimination of a standardised test would do quite well for No Child Left Behind. Also, the reasoning behind No Child Left Behind is somewhat flawed; the government should be most focused on ridding poverty in itself if they really want to change the achievement gap (which I'm sure they won't do).
3) How do you approach standardized tests?

 I usually test the test, actually. When taking standardized tests, I do try to actually do them, but many of times I make a satire out of their atrocious methods of question creation and also sometimes the factuality of some questions... I also examine the usage of tricks involved as to formulate reasons why standardized tests aren't the answer (among many other obvious reasons why such tests do only bad).
4) What do you suggest students do to help alter their education for the better?

Do not be afraid to ask questions. Ask whenever you do not understand or you have a hint that you do not understand something. Always question the system and your curriculum and challenge it when you see a mishap. Finally, make sure that you participate in your subjects of Education outside of the "normal framework" of school. Enquire and explore as much as you can.

5) How wide-spread of an educational reform do we need?

 Educational reform, I believe, needs to be spread throughout many countries in the world, as many contemporary systems, not just the United States, are afflicted by the same disease. China is a very, very prime example of such.

6) Should education remain a state program, or should it become a national program?

Education should remain a state program, I think. State programs would allow for much flexibility in curriculum, and the whole United-States is a bit big of a country anyways. Funding should be provided at the federal level though (and its much better than going to the atrocious "defense budget").

7) Should classes be standardized across the nation? What would be a better alternative?

I believe that classes should not be standardized throughout the nation. standardization stiffens creativity and is more about spoon feeding rather than enquiry. Why does it matter that everyone "know" the same stuff? Everybody is different and everybody learns differently. standardization also goes back to the belief in statistics and wish to measure. I believe learning is something where sentiment is most important (and a place where statistics fall short). You cannot simply measure one's capacity to learn and "intelligence" (which I believe is a questionable term, by the way) by standards, testing and grades. Learning is more about just having the sentiment and interest to the material. It's not that complicated. Learning just is. Learning is about questioning and having curiosity. That's all there is too it.

8) How does the purpose of education need to change?

Education today is a lot about just trying to make people accept pre-determined truths about the world. It's a lot about making people believe what they want people to believe. For many centuries it has been like that. Interestingly if you go far back enough, education was more about creativity and enquiry more than anything else. I believe this latter more archaic system is the better system. Education should be about asking questions, not having questions answered for you.

9) What role should creativity take in education? How can this be changed (if it should be)?

Honestly I think education should be spired around creativity. Creativity is a great virtue that needs to be embraced rather than shunned. The more contemporary education system mostly stiffens creativity and creates a sense of wanted conformity and streamlining. A sense of uniform thought. We need to establish the want of creativity at an early level in order to have a truly enriching educational system. Let children think. Education today is much about spoon feeding and less about thinking. I believe the latter is a vice of the contemporary educational system.

10) How can we best utilize the virtues of childhood (imagination, energy, productivity, excitement, &c...) in education?

We can utilise these childhood virtues in a fashion to help facilitate learning. Instead of stiffening ideas such as imagination, why not enquire them and challenge their thoughts and let them think it through? We can use child-like energy to open the doors for them to explore whatever subjects they wish. Productivity can further facilitate that exploration process! All these virtues can lead to more enquiry about standing theories and make new ones in addition to stretching understanding of the world into a more profound manner.

As always, check out The Manifesto page, and comment. If you enjoy this blog, subscribe by feed and e-mail, so I can save you time by letting you know when a new post is up.