Further Musings

Beauty smote his heart, he looked up from the forsaken land & hope returned to him

Archive for February 2008

The Lecture Series

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We finished our Winter Lecture Series this weekend and greatly enjoyed our speakers. It’s been a cool thing to see our living room transformed and feel a bit L’Abrish. We’re hoping for a shortened Spring Series in April. Feel free to email if you’re interested. We’ll host anyone who flies in (especially from Nebraska!).

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Written by furthermusings

February 27, 2008 at 5:54 pm

Posted in At the House

The Ministry of Listening

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A quote from this morning’s reading:

Many people are looking for an ear that will listen.  They do not find it among Christians, because these Christians are talking when they should be listening.  But he who can no longer listen to his brother will soon be no longer listening to God either; he will be doing nothing but prattle in the presence of God too.  This is the beginning of the death of the spiritual life, and in the end there is nothing left but spiritual chatter and clerical condescension arrayed in pious words.  One who cannot listen long and patiently will presently be talking beside the point and be never really speaking to others, albeit he be not conscious of it.  Anyone who thinks that his time is too valuable to spend keeping quiet will eventually have no time for God and his brother, but only for himself and for his own follies.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

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February 24, 2008 at 11:12 pm

Posted in Church

This is Us

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A story from my Dad:

One of the side benefits of Mom’s new laptop is that it makes it possible for us to watch DVD’s back on our bed. (You know how hard it is to sit in a chair to watch a movie!)  In any case, sometimes you just want to curl up in bed and watch a movie.

Mom had to get some small speakers to make the audio loud enough to hear, and in order to get the optimal viewing angle, we place the laptop on top of a box. The box we’ve been using is one from L. L. Bean that contained some hiking boots that Mom ordered.

Unfortunately, the shoes did not fit so she had to reorder them. She did not send the first pair back until the new ones came – we couldn’t be without our prop.

When we changed out the boxes, I noted that this gave new meaning to the phrase, “re-booting your computer.”

I found this funnier than Charity did. Guess the family humor is not yet as strong in her as it will become!

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February 23, 2008 at 9:10 am

Posted in Laughter

Illusions

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Over the last year or so Charity has shown her steadfast love for me in letting every third Netflix or so be a Frasier disc. Before graduate school when I was living at home, Dad and I used to watch Frasier reruns together. It was a point of bonding between us and I’ve loved the show ever since for its humor and its poignancy.

This week I was watching part of Season Three on the elliptical. The writers did a nice job of building separate storylines around Niles, Frasier, and Martin which culminate in Frasier’s living room with each of them seated staring slightly off into space. Each tells his slightly implausible story, but since each doesn’t want his own illusion burst after starting a little at the transparent untruthfulness of the story being told he nods and settles back into his comfort of his own interpretation.

So today, when I was sitting in my office today doing a little reading and I came across this quote, it made me pause. The quote read

Information costs are the costs of transportation from ignorance to omniscience and seldom can a trader afford to take the entire trip.

George Stigler, “Imperfections in the Capital Market,” Journal of Political Economy.

Now that may sound a little academic (trader refers to currency traders I think), but at least for me it scratched where I itched a little bit. I’ve been thinking about all the decisions that I need to make and the illusions that I have about how I’ll make them. Should Charity and I buy a new laptop? A more reliable car? Should I finish the PhD?

The truth is that deep down I believe, I really and truly believe as the modernist I am, that that my mind functions as a calculator. If I’ll just sit down to quantify everything then I’ll have enough information to make decisions. So all I have to do is spend enough time weighing the options. (can you tell I’ve spent a lot of time in the social and policy sciences?)

So on the one hand, when I do sit down I often find that I can’t know certain things about the decision I’m about to make: will my laptop die? Would my thesis work as a dissertation? I can’t move from ignorance to omniscience. I don’t have an answer, only choices, only forks. This is a practical problem and honestly in many cases its enough to make me favor the status quo.

But on a more fundamental level, I’m really not grooving with the analogy of mind as calculator. Even if we knew all ends, how would we choose? I think economists and policy folks like monetizing decisions because that way you get an answer: one side of the equation will have more dollars than the other . .. and that’s a way to make non-political decisions. Enlightenment folks like it because it leaves you with the illusion of science being a workable guide. One decision is better than another, look at the numbers.

To some extent I think that method works (that’s how we’ll buy a car or an appliance when the time comes) but it’s hard create quantifiable and comparable numbers that obey the laws of algebra in other realms of life. There is so much uncertainty and so much emotion and unquantifiable preference . . .

So should I discard the rationalist decision-maker model? If so I need model or a new paradigm or a new story. Adventurer? Pilgrim? Thoughts?

Written by furthermusings

February 21, 2008 at 8:09 pm

Posted in Reflections

Blown Pickup Line

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This weekend over yet another fantastic brunch, we heard the story of two folks we know and how they’ve become a couple. Their relationship began with this line in the 6th grade from the fella to the new girl in class,

It’s synonym day and you’re stupid.

Of course what he meant was it’s antonym day. Oops. One word makes all the difference!

That’s made me laugh for two days.

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February 18, 2008 at 8:43 pm

Posted in Geeky Blogs

Streetview Finds Us

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As I’ve just been looking at whether or not I can hit a disc golf course tomorrow during my lunch I found out that Google Maps’ “Streetview” feature has hit Chapel Hill.  It’s kind of weird to see where I’m sitting out on the internet for all to see . . . I wonder if I can suggest they retake the picture in the full bloom of spring?

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Written by furthermusings

February 12, 2008 at 11:21 pm

Posted in At the House

A Lot of Little Cheesecakes

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This morning we assembled again at the C’s and enjoyed much delicious food and some wonderful . Though the discussion was about the Life Together one of my favorite parts of the long morning was just staring up at the brilliant blue sky and listening to the wind tear through the leaveless trees. It was beautiful and soothing, a much needed balm on this day.

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Written by furthermusings

February 10, 2008 at 7:16 pm

Posted in Church, Pictures