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THINKING AND THOUGHT

Because I could not stop for Death —
He kindly stopped for me —
The Carriage held but just Ourselves —
And Immortality. //
We slowly drove — He knew no haste . . . //

Since then — ’tis Centuries — and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses’ Heads
Were toward Eternity —   –Emily Dickinson

“The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living.”  –Marcus Tullius Cicero

“The true purpose of education is to teach a man to carry himself to the sunset.”  –Liberty Hyde Bailey

“Death is not the greatest loss in life.  The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.”  –Norman Cousins

“I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge.  That myth is more potent than history.  That dreams are more powerful than facts.  That hope always triumphs over experience.  That laughter is the only cure for grief.  And I believe that love is stronger than death.”  –Robert Fulghum

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.  If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”  –John Donne, Meditation 17 Devotions upon Emergent Occasions

“I am dancing around the ‘D’ word, but I don’t mean to be coy.  When you cross into your 60s, your odds of dying, or of merely getting horribly sick on the way to dying, spike.  Death is a sniper.  It strikes people you love, people you like, people you know.  It’s everywhere.  You could be next, but then you turn out not to be, but then again, you could be.”  –Nora Ephron, “Considering the Alternative,” Vogue (2006)

“To fear love is to fear life, and those who fear life are already three parts dead.”  –Bertrand Russell

” . . . when all is said and done, none of us will be measured on how much we accomplish but on how much we love.”  –Krista Tippett, Speaking of Faith (2007) 

 

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“I, TomDickHarryJoeMaryJaneAnnDorothy, do solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God.”

WHAT IS TRUTH?

TRUTH

Truth is most often used to mean being in accord with fact or reality, or fidelity to an original or standard.  Truth may also often be used in modern contexts to refer to an idea of “truth to self,” or authenticity, we can find in Wikipedia.

More?  Truth is usually held to be opposite to falsehood, which, correspondingly, can also take on a logical, factual, or ethical meaning.  The concept of truth is discussed and debated in several contexts, including philosophy, art, religion, and science. 

Many human activities depend upon the concept, where its nature as a concept is assumed rather than being a subject of discussion; these include most of the sciences, law, journalism, and everyday life.  Some philosophers view the concept of truth as basic, and unable to be explained in any terms that are more easily understood than the concept of truth itself. 

Various theories and views of truth continue to be debated among scholars, philosophers, and theologians.  Language and words are a means by which humans convey information to one another, and the method used to determine what is a “truth” is termed a criterion of truth.  There are differing claims on such questions as what constitutes truth: what things are truth-bearers capable of being true or false; how to define, identify, and distinguish truth; the roles that faith-based and empirically based knowledge play; and whether truth is subjective or objective, relative or absolute.

So, “Tell the truth now.”

the truth 2

“I repeat.  Are you 100% certain, sure, absolutely positive?”  “100%!”  “Well, I looked him in the eye, and I could tell he was telling the truth, by God!”

The search for truth, write Richard Marius and Melvin Page in a popular textbook A Short Guide to Writing about History (2014) is based on three processes: the search for evidence or SOURCES; the evaluation and ANALYSIS of the evidence; and the PRESENTATION of one’s findings.

PRIMARY sources are NEAREST to any subject or topic of investigation: all kinds of materials written or other communications–including, even, sculpture and architecture, interviews, statistics, geography, military history, videos,

SECONDARY sources are ABOUT sources: books and articles by scholars–or even book reviews, documentaries, biographies. 

THEN: ASSEMBLE sources; EVALUATE sources (who, what, when, where, why); DETERMINE reliability (bias, prejudice, incompleteness). 

Good historians, the authors write, do not implicitly trust their sources, nor do they trust their own first impressions.  They do not either simply ask random questions: they systematically use questioning and make inferences. 

THEN: Historians fit together the evidence to create a story, an explanation, or an argumentation (p.20): the PRESENTATION.  The results of the findings–the “truth of the matter”–come in the form of DESCRIPTION, NARRATION, EXPOSITION, or ARGUMENTATION–the four common modes of communication or expression. 

In the search for the truth, they write (p. 48), “Skepticism is one of the historian’s finest qualities.”

A note about ARGUMENTATION: [Classical definition: “A mode of communication which attempts to convince or persuade by using ethos, logos, or pathos.”]  They state that argument is “a principle of organization that unites facts and observations to present a proposition to the writer” (58); arguments arise “because the evidence can be interpreted in different ways according to the assumptions of the historians themselves” (78).  

© JAMES F. O’NEIL 2018

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“HOMEOSTASIS is the ability or tendency of an organism or cell to maintain internal equilibrium by adjusting its physical processes.”  [Chlordiazepoxide, trade name LIBRIUM, is a sedative and hypnotic medication of the benzodiazepine class; it is used to treat anxiety, insomnia, and withdrawal symptoms from alcohol and/or drug abuse–discovered accidentally in 1955.  Wikipedia]

 “RISK is the possibility of suffering harm or loss; danger.  A factor, thing, element, or course involving uncertain danger; a hazard.”

RISK HOMEOSTASIS was a hypothesis posited by Gerald J. S. Wilde, a professor of psychology at Queen’s University, Ontario, Canada, dealing with the notion that every person has an acceptable amount of risk that she or he finds tolerable.  If the perceived level of risk in one part of a person’s life changes, that person will compensate by either reducing or increasing the amount and severity of risks taken–all in order to maintain an EQUILIBRIUM of perceived risk. 

Let’s say, for example, a rocket ship with astronauts aboard is about to lift off into space.  The night before liftoff, temperatures dropped and the seals around the fuel tanks may have hardened a bit from their softened sealing state.  These are the large O-rings connecting and sealing.  Launch engineers can observe ice on the rocket, around the O-rings.  Is it all sealed properly?  Should they abort?  Manufacturing engineers are consulted.  They’re not sure.  The mission is a GO FOR LAUNCH!  (Cannot disappoint the country, the crew, the politicians, the families, the companies.  Hubris: pride.  USA!  USA!) 

Up, up it goes.  A beautiful candlestick into the blue sky on a full-sunny morning in Florida.  POOF!  No more.  Risky business, this space travel stuff. 

It’s Risky Business, this technology of ours.  Was the long-ago, not-often-thought-of Challenger explosion an “accident”?  a “catastrophe”?  a “disaster”?  On the other hand, was it a kind of “Russian roulette,” as some suggested? 

The Challenger explosion–and also the Columbia accident (which certain engineers knew was doomed when they saw a panel hit the wing at liftoff)–teaches us that we live in a world which we have made, a world of technology which has the potential for catastrophe: “It will happen again.”

Do we want the safest of all possible worlds?  Really?  Life is filled with trade offs, for safety and comfort: The “ancient” national speed limit of 55 mph saved lives…. 

“Under certain circumstances, changes that appear to make a system or an organization safer, in fact, don’t,” writes Gerald Wilde in his book Target Risk.  Why is that?  Human beings have a tendency to compensate for lower risks in one area by taking greater risks in another.  “Ah, now I have new brakes and tires.  I feel safer, can drive better, and can go faster–stopping better.” 

Pedestrians are still killed at marked crosswalks.  They feel more safe because of some white paint–but are less vigilant about traffic.  Did they Mind the Gap?  Look both ways?  They assume “safe zones” or assume they are invincible, not even bothering to look out at all. 

Do we have a sense of indestructibility because we drive a large SUV, or large-cab truck?  Is there a false sense of power–or safety?  (I remember my brother who drove a semi- telling me he worried only about trains, tanks, and road ice…) 

What are the benefits of risky behavior, speeding to gain time?  What are the benefits of lighter-constructed vehicles?  More plastics, less weight, better fuel economy, faster speed.  Better air bags, passenger-compartment safety.  Observe the Crash-Test Dummies for results, at the pile of rubble at a 35-mph crash, at 65-mph, at 75-mph.  Risky Business. 

“Chances are…you won’t get caught.  So go for it.”

“It’s risky, but you’ll regret it if you don’t try it.”

“C’mon, take a bite.  It’s only an apple.”

“Might as well.  You only live once.”

“It’s not a scary movie.  Don’t be a wuss.”

“Take a chance.  What’s to lose?” 

© JAMES F. O’NEIL  2018    

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BY: JAMES F. O’NEIL

EMILY DICKINSON: “I’M NOBODY, WHO ARE YOU?  ARE YOU NOBODY TOO?”

Nobody Diary 1992

 …

“The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become fully conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort.  To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real.  This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge, and it therefore, as a rule, meets with considerable resistance.”  –C. G. Jung, in Your Mythic Journey, Sam Keen and Anne Valley-Fox, p. 15 (1973, 1989)


Here I am:INFJ personality-infjI reveal all, having taken the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test at various times in my life, under counselor supervision, online, and just recently with my wife (using the printed tests in Please Understand Me: Character and Temperaments Types by Keirsey and Bates and Understand Me II by Keirsey, both still in print).  The recent scoring was my strongest ever, my “most solid.”  I find the indicator questions fascinating and intellectually challenging, even though a few might seem simple or simplistic:  “Are you more firm than gentle, more gentle than firm.”  “Do you put more emphasis on the definite [or] the open ended.”  I’ve always liked, when I was younger (and drinking): “At parties do you stay late, with increasing energy [or] leave early, with decreased energy.”  How about, as a writer, do I “prefer the more literal [or] the more figurative.”

Am I basically passionate, hard-headed, soft-hearted, easy to approach, cool-headed, punctual, easy going, devoted?  What type am I?  Researchers claim this test can give a description or portrait of a person’s psychological personality type.  It tells me about myself, my differences, something about my behavior or even my attitudes towards others.  I portray myself, know myself, and how I deal with and react to family and friends, teachers and students.  For me, it has paid off; I have gained from this knowledge, though sometimes, unfortunately, after the fact.  “I should have not said that.”  “I should know better.”  In other words, I never planned my career based on the questionnaire.

For a time, I wanted to attend medical school:Jefferson medical college diplomaI had even planned to take the MCAT.  Counselors had me undergo a series of tests, including the MMPI, the Myers-Briggs, and a few others that helped determine I had the desire, but not the “right stuff” to be encouraged to pursue a career in medicine.

At one time I wanted to be a Navy corpsman, then became a teacher, desired to become a doctor, stayed a teacher–and enjoyed, for the most part (91.344%, A-/B++), a long career in education.  The Myers-Briggs could describe me at each stage of my career, and did even help me understand my behavior at just the right time.  Please Understand Me!  As noted, I’m a “true” INFJ type.

The intent of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) personality inventory is to make the theory of psychological types described by C. G. Jung in the 1920s understandable and useful in people’s lives.  The essence of the theory is that much seemingly random variation in the behavior is actually quite orderly and consistent, being due to basic differences in the ways individuals prefer to use their perception and judgment.

“Perception involves all the ways of becoming aware of things, people, happenings, or ideas.  Judgment involves all the ways of coming to conclusions about what has been perceived.  If people differ systematically in what they perceive and in how they reach conclusions, then it is only reasonable for them to differ correspondingly in their interests, reactions, values, motivations, and skills.”

In developing the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator [instrument], “the aim of Isabel Briggs Myers, and her mother, Katharine Briggs, was to make the insights of type theory accessible to individuals and groups.  The MBTI tool was developed in the 1940s by Isabel Briggs Myers; the original research was done in the 1940s and ’50s.”  This research is ongoing, providing users with updated and new information about psychological type and its applications.

“Millions of people worldwide have taken the Indicator each year since its first publication in 1962.  They addressed the two related goals in the developments and application of the MBTI instrument:

–The identification of basic preferences of each of the four dichotomies specified or implicit in Jung’s theory.

–The identification and description of the 16 distinctive personality types that result from the interactions among the preferences.”

FAVORITE WORLD: Do you prefer to focus on the outer world or on your own inner world? This is called Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I).

INFORMATION: Do you prefer to focus on the basic information you take in or do you prefer to interpret and add meaning?  This is called Sensing (S) or Intuition (N).

DECISIONS: When making decisions, do you prefer to first look at logic and consistency or first look at the people and special circumstances?  This is called  Thinking (T) or Feeling (F). 

STRUCTURE: In dealing with the outside world, do you prefer to get things decided or do you prefer to stay open to new information and options?  This is called Judging (J) or Perceiving (P). 

Your Personality Type: When you decide on your preference in each category, you have your own personality type, which can be expressed as a code with four letters.

(All types are equal: The goal of knowing about personality type is to understand and appreciate differences between people.  As all types are equal, there is no best type, despite what some INFJs may think!).

[This material is from https://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/mbti-basics/.  Some is used from the MBTI® Manual: A Guide to the Development and Use of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.]  Complete tests are available online, as are shorter tests taking 10 minutes or so of your time, coming with explanations and interpretations–for free!  (I found a 12-minute-or-less test while preparing for this blog.  It was quick and simple.)  [Some are $49.95.]  Just “Google it.”  It is a trip–one worth taking.

Note, however, that the test or Type Indicator has not existed without controversy, nor without detractors.  Its reliability and validity have been questioned oftentimes, despite its popularity and use.  The response?  “The best reason to choose the MBTI instrument to discover your personality type is that hundreds of studies over the past 40 years have proven the instrument to be both valid and reliable.  In other words, it measures what it says it does (validity) and produces the same results when given more than once (reliability).  When you want an accurate profile of your personality type, ask if the instrument you plan to use has been validated.”  [www.myersbriggs.org]

So, are you ready to unlock your inner self?  If you have not ever done this, do it. 

JUST DO IT!

It will “give you a framework for understanding yourself and appreciating differences in others.” 

For further, interesting reading: “Myers-Briggs: Does It Pay to Know Your Type?”  By Lillian Cunningham (Dec. 14, 2012): https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/on-leadership/myers-briggs-does-it-pay-to-know-your-type/2012/12/14/eaed51ae-3fcc-11e2-bca3-aadc9b7e29c5_story.html?utm_term=.1a7b2a0c12c8

© JAMES F. O’NEIL  2018

YODA AN INFJ

 

 

 

All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” (1986)

In thirty-two (32) years since the book’s best-seller publication, have we forgotten, gotten lost (within family life, at work, in government, throughout the world)?

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ROBERT FULGHUM

Robert Fulghum grew up in Waco, Texas, received a Bachelor of Arts at Baylor University in 1958, a Bachelor of Divinity in 1961, and was ordained as a Unitarian Universalist minister, serving Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship in Bellingham, Washington, from 1960-1964.  He is currently Minister Emeritus at the Edmonds Unitarian Universalist Church in Edmonds, Washington. The Kindergarten book stayed on The New York Times bestseller lists for nearly two years.  The collection of essays, subtitled “Uncommon Thoughts on Common Things,” has been updated and revised.  There are currently more than 17 million copies of his books in print, published in 27 languages in 103 countries!  [See more in Wikipedia.]

Remember this: Play fair . . . Don’t take things that aren’t yours . . . When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together . . . Share everything . . . Don’t hit people . . . Clean up your own mess . . . Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody . . . Take a nap every afternoon.

“Crayolas are one of the few things the human race has in common.”

“Rock, paper, scissors: scissors cut paper; paper covers rock; rock smashes scissors.”

“To be human is to know and to care and ask, ‘What’s it for?’”

“We take what we know, which isn’t even the whole story, and we add it to what we wish and need, . . .  We even make ourselves up, fusing what we are with what we wish into what we must become.”

from the book Uh-Oh (1991):

“In high school, one learns that love is not forever.”

“A question with several possible answers comes to mind: If one man lives as though he would never die and another man lives as though he might die tomorrow, would either wear a wrist watch?”

“Will we ever have enough time?  What would happen if we only had enough time?  When will the time finally come?  Who knows where the time goes?  How far is it from time to time?  What time is the right time?  Will we know when our time has finally come?”

“Surprise is at the core of existence.  It’s true.  You never ever really know what’s coming next.” 

from the book Maybe (Maybe Not) [1993]

“Whatever we may think or believe, what we have done is our story.”

“Life is.  I am.  Anything might happen.”

“. . . since everything and anything are always possible, the miraculous is always nearby and wonders shall never, ever cease.”

“At age ___, I begin to realize there are some things I will never have or be able to do.”

“The varying truth perceived by many witnesses is a fact of life.”

“Professionals don’t know everything.”

“. . .  [My navel].  It’s the mark of mortality.

“Never, ever, regret or apologize for believing that when one man or one woman decides to risk addressing the world with truth, the world may stop what it is doing and her.” 

“THE MYTH OF THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM IS MORE POWERFUL THAN ALL THE FACTS OF HISTORY.”

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all i needed to know

“Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought?  Every concept that can ever be needed will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten…”  George Orwell, 1984

Newspeak influences and limits thought by decreasing the range of expressiveness of the English language, by eliminating ambiguity and nuance from the language, and so reduce the language to simple concepts.  The user’s range of thought is diminished, realized with a minimal vocabulary of limited denotation and connotation.  This is done chiefly by eliminating undesirable words, and by stripping such words as remain of unorthodox meanings, and so far as possible of all secondary meaning whatever.  [Wikipedia]

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean–neither more or less.”  “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”  “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master–that’s all.”  Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass 

TBT on FB?  Any photo captioned “throwback” and posted by one whose memories are still live, and the feelings wanted to be expressed.  Throwback indicates the time which has passed, or things which happened in past time.  Now it is a time for re-feeling.  

Yes, it means something from the past.  More specifically, it usually means something that is nostalgic, something with memories, something back in the day, something old school.  

Throwback could be a sudden reminder of the past–a person or a thing–that seems to belong to an earlier period of time or that makes one think of an earlier period of time, not always necessarily in one’s own experience, like “a throwback to the 1950s when he saw a [1954] picture of me in my blue suede shoes.”

Blue Suede Shoes 1954

Perhaps it is simply a decorated birthday cake, or wedding dress–designs or “a reversion to an earlier ancestral characteristic.”  “Those tail lights on the new Ferrari remind me of…”   “Don’t her melodies remind you of early Joan Baez?”  “He stands like Shoeless Joe Jackson.”

A person or thing that is similar to an earlier type, like a…throwback.

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“The truth is that our way of celebrating the Christmas season does spring from myriad cultures and sources, from St. Nicholas to Coca-Cola advertising campaigns.”  –Richard Roeper [BrainyQuote]

“Advertising is the greatest art form of the 20th century.”  –Marshall McLuhan
[BrainyQuote]

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REMEMBER THIS (Review this): Words have no meanings in themselves.  People have meanings for words.  Meanings change in time, in place, in cultures.

Some basics: a FACT is an event, observation, or bit of information, objectively verified (or verifiable), asserted as certain, having real demonstrable existence, past or present.

A REPORT is a (written or oral) statement of fact.

An INFERENCE is a statement about the UNKNOWN, made on the basis of the KNOWN; a “maybe” even.

A JUDGMENT is a statement of OPINION, or an expression of approval or disapproval; an EVALUATION: a CONFIDENT CONCLUSION.

* * *

Advertising is any VERBAL and/or VISUAL statement of communication, which a) ATTRACTS ATTENTION; b) CREATES A NEED; c), PRESENTS A PRODUCT (to satisfy the need or needs).

* * *

Analyzing the “language” of advertising is a learned process, a three-part exercise that takes place sometimes in an instant 30-second commercial, or with the turn of the page of a magazine.

EXPERIENCE…EXAMINE…EVALUATE… 

e. e. cummings writes “since feeling is first…” Intensely experience: see, hear, touch, taste, smell, AND kinesis [motion or non-motion] of the words, pictures, visuals, sounds; the connotation and/or denotation; the sensual (sexual) or/and the sensuous (sensory)–as the Cool Water cascades, or the Land Rover plows through the mountain snows…

Is there any/enough time to EXAMINE the language?  Figures of speech?  “Herding cats”?  “Every kiss begins with…”  Metaphor, paradox, tone (What am I stupid?), bias, irony, simile (“like a rolling stone”), “Things go better with…”; “Real heroes don’t wear capes, they wear…”  Point of view?  What is really being promoted?

Finally, in the last 15 seconds of the commercial for the dog food or the cold medicine or the right tequila or perfume, DECIDE THE VALUE, if you wish, weighing the importance of the mini-argument, the persuasive speech, to have you BUY-BUY-BUY, or to consider the importance of what is being spoken/written, the shingles vaccine or the flu shot, or hand-washing.

ARE YOU A RESPONSIBLE VIEWER/CONSUMER?

Next time you scratch and sniff that perfume sample in the magazine, see those TV kids spill that milk on the clean kitchen floor, smell that litter box through your 52″ 1080p HD LCD television, hear that KIA commercial one more time on the radio, or page through a two-month old issue of People while waiting for your annual doctor’s visit, pause for a moment.  Be a critic:

DISCOVER PURPOSE…CRITICIZE TECHNIQUE…JUDGE ITS WORTH

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