Tue Jun 7 17:59:57 EDT 2005

Avoiding the limitations of the real

People, at least some people, routinely turn down actual goods because once something becomes actual it's limited and so not as good as it might have been or been imagined. Some examples:
  • A woman I know who puts off decisions endlessly while she tries to decide which choice would be the best choice. She also acquires endless amounts of stuff she never uses, presumably because if she didn't have the stuff some possibility would be foreclosed or something might not be as good as it might otherwise have been.
  • The same woman told me she had put off getting contact lenses because as long as she put it off she could tell herself she was going to do something that would greatly improve the way she looked. Once she did the deed, though, the effect was what it was, and she could no longer tell herself that what she saw in the mirror didn't really count.
  • People who habitually choose impossible love objects and so spare themselves the realities and limitations they would have to face if they actually got the girl. One man I know of chose Miss Impossible as his main object and kept stringing several other women along as his secondary girlfriends. The goal seemed to be keeping himself in a sort of perpetual cloud of possibility, and so avoiding all problems, by keeping anything decisive from ever happening.

Posted by jkalb | Permalink | Categories: My life and blog

Fri Jun 3 09:40:57 EDT 2005

"Just this once"

Suppose someone wants to lose weight and is trying to decide whether to have one more spoonful of ice cream. It's obvious that one more spoonful won't make any difference to the overall goal of a healthy weight. So why not just go ahead? Wouldn't it be irrational self-punishment not to? It's not an answer to say that there will be a problem if he always has an additional spoonful, because that's not the question being considered. The issue is whether to have this spoonful.

The problem's the same as the sorites paradox: if one grain of wheat isn't a heap (Gk. soros), and two grains aren't either, and if a single additional grain never makes something that isn't a heap into a heap (it's hard to see how it could), then how could you ever get a heap of grain by piling up one grain after another?

Another example is procrastination. If you don't feel like doing something there's never a reason to do it just yet, you could always wait until after you look at Drudge or whatever. So it seems that to act reasonably -- in a way that makes sense overall -- always requires an element of irrationality in your particular actions.

Posted by jkalb | Permalink | Categories: My life and blog

Fri Jun 3 07:59:06 EDT 2005

Beer for breakfast!

I felt like it, so I'm doing it. Up to some point in the 19th c. it was the ordinary English breakfast drink even among the nobs, at least that's what I think G. K. Chesterton said.

Posted by jkalb | Permalink | Categories: My life and blog

Mon May 2 13:29:59 EDT 2005

Getting started

The reason for this weblog is a huge writing project that I have ahead of me, a book dealing with vast and contentious issues. That kind of project becomes a way of life, and I want a place where I can say things that don't have to be so serious and responsible and impersonal. I've been a blogger for years, but my other blog has been a place for stuff like what's going into my book. Putting more stuff there hardly seems like a break. I hope this can be a bit more expressive and fun!

Posted by jkalb | Permalink | Categories: My life and blog