Uncommon Sense

June 22, 2021

Ten Signs You Are Psychic

Filed under: Culture,Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 9:19 am
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The above title is just that of a post on the medium.com web site. I like this web site but it also runs frequent pieces on astrology under their spirituality segment, which is disappointing. Okay, are you psychic? Well, there are ten “signs” that will help you decide. Here they are:

  1. You are a human lie detector
    2. You’ve experienced déjà vu
    3. You have vivid dreams
    4. You have a strong intuition
    5. You pick up on people’s feelings and emotions easily
    6. You’ve had a paranormal experience
    7. You see colors or light around people or objects
    8. You’ve always felt different
    9. You’ve wondered what happens when we die
    10. You have an increase in your taste and smell

Well, how did you turn out? They didn’t provide a scale of how psychic you are based upon how many of these “signs” you exhibit, so I came up with one correlating the number of signs to how psychic you are. And here that is:
10 signs = card carrying psychic
8-9 signs = probably best in your neighborhood
6-7 signs = journeyman psychic
4-5 signs = wannabe psychic
<4 signs = probably not psychic

Now, let’s unpack a few of these “signs,” shall we? First, “#1 You can tell when people are lying.” This is a skill all human beings acquire, at various levels of ability. As a very young child, we each learned that we could keep things from our parents and they wouldn’t know, that is we learned to lie. We all learn to lie. Simultaneously, once we learned that we can lie, we learned that other people can lie. We observe them swiping a cookie form the cookie jar, say, and then say they didn’t. Once we learn that others can lie, we begin acquiring the ability to tell when they are lying. Some of us are good at it, others not so much. Does one have to be “psychic” to tell when another is lying? I don’t think so.

#2 You’ve experienced déjà vu. Everyone has experienced déjà vu. You do not have to be psychic to have had this happen. It is all consequences of our mental skill set involving memory and imagination.

#3 You have strong intuition. Yeah, I knew you were going to say that. Again, our imagination is designed to predict what might happen in any situation so we are constantly predicting the near future so that we are prepared for eventualities. All part of being a human being, non-psychic type.

#5 You pick up on people’s feelings and emotions easily, aka, you are female. Apparently this post is targeting females. Since I have never heard a bunch of guys standing around talking about their psychic powers, this is probably strategic.

#6 You’ve had a paranormal experience. As if you actually knew what “normal” is.

#8 You’ve always felt different. I have never met a person who didn’t feel this way. This is part of being locked in our own thoughts, having to guess at what other people are thinking. Again, normal human, non-psychic behavior.

#9 You’ve wondered what happened when we die. WTF? If you haven’t there are tens of thousands of religious sects around you who will bring up the question for you.

A common con is to convince you of something untrue by appealing to common experiences we have all had or all dread. None of us want to be robbed, or murdered, or made to look foolish, so we can count on others feeling the same way. So politicians regularly instill fears that are very, very improbable. My favorite is implying that elderly white women are unsafe in their own homes because black men can break in and ravish them. This plays on the feeling of being physically helpless due to age and being alone, with no help nearby, and worst case scenario fears. The actual number of times this happens is minuscule compared to other crimes. I mean how easy do you think it would be to find a black criminal with a penchant for raping old, wrinkled white ladies (OWLs).

I can’t imagine any normal human being not coming up with six or seven of these signs that they have “seen” in themselves. This leads to the belief, false though it is, that the reader is psychic, which leads to . . . whatever, at a bare minimum a bigger audience for more tripe of this ilk.

June 11, 2021

Betcha Didn’t Know

Filed under: Uncategorized — Steve Ruis @ 12:59 pm

It seems that Asian-Americans are getting some time in the spotlight and it also seems as if people still don’t know how to handle that. The biggest problem is thinking of them as a monolithic block of people when they can trace their ancestry back to myriad countries and cultures.

One misconception repeated ad nauseum I can clear up. It is that “Asian students” are like the best, ever. Like many an academic meme, this one has reasons that are not what people think. In a study about why Black students at US Berkeley were doing so poorly in Calculus I classes, a survey was taken of the faculty as to why.

Go ahead and see what you come up with for reasons why UCB Black calculus students did so poorly.

<insert Jeopardy theme music here>

Every faculty member surveyed was wrong.

The reason was actually that almost all of the Black students were trying to succeed on their own. A project that taught those students how to form groups and study in groups resulted in the GPA of Black and Asian students in third semester calculus being identical.

So, back to the original question: why are Asian students such great students?

Whatever you answer, you are probably wrong.

An extensive study of high school students in Wisconsin and Northern California finally winkled out the reason. Are you ready? The reason Asian students are so good is cultural, is not that they are smarter, is not . . . etc., it is: time on task. In other words, they outwork the competition. When a white high school student gets an after-school job, for every hour at work, there is exactly one hour of study that is lost. Not so for Asian students, who often are required to work in family businesses.

So, the reason students of Asian background outcompete others (White, Black, Brown, etc.) is that they espouse that good, old fashioned Anglo-Saxon work ethic. Which, I suspect is why they are despised so. (WTF?)

Interestingly enough, after several generations of being American, the Asian Student Effect wears off. Third and fourth generation Asian-Americans are fully acculturated and behave just like all of the other Americans. Shows you the power of American culture.

There is a cultural effect. When White kids whine to their parents that they are “no good at math” or whatever, they often get sympathy in the form of “Oh, Sweetie, I wasn’t either.” Recent Asian-American students don’t get that, they get that they are now expected to work harder. But this is not the major contributor to student success; good old-fashioned hard work is.

The Rent’s Too Damned High

Economic myths dominate our political belief systems. Cory Doctorow recently addressed a number of them (on renting and home ownership) here.

Very much worth reading!

Here’s a taste:

The American middle class didn’t emerge thanks to property ownership — property ownership came about as the result of wage gains due to strong (and hard-fought) labor rights, and as a result of public subsidy for private homebuilding (the GI Bill). Homeownership is a good way to covert gains from the a worker-friendly labor market into something durable and insulated — but it’s no substitute for workers’ rights.

It only took a generation for the dream of homeownership to become a nightmare. Trading labor rights for asset appreciation meant that guaranteed pensions became market-based 401(k)s, turning American workers into the suckers in the financial markets’ casino. As these older workers retire, they are forced to supplement their wholly inadequate pensions by liquidating, remortgaging or reverse-mortgaging the family home. Social Security helps, but not much — without a powerful organized labor movement to defend Social Security, the program has withered, offering a sub-starvation cushion.

June 7, 2021

Duh . . .

Filed under: Culture,Entertainment — Steve Ruis @ 9:59 am
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Bob Odenkirk recently lamented that: “Soon people won’t remember Breaking Bad.” Odenkirk played slimeball lawyer Saul in that TV series, which was a smash hit, certainly amongst working and retired chemistry teachers (the main protagonist was a high school chemistry teacher facing a fatal disease and looking for a way to care for his family after he dies and finds it in making crystal meth).

I am a bit surprised at Odenkirk’s lament however in that television shows have as a primary objective to make you forget the previous show you just watched. They want your full attention focused on what you are watching now and not mulling over things you watched in the previous show. Then it is “lather, rinse, repeat” and soon all is forgotten.

This is why I argued that TV was a poor medium to base school lessons upon. All teachers are taught that after a “film” (remember films?) or video is played that there be a discussion of various topics associated with what was viewed. Many providers of such “educational materials” supplied guidelines for such discussions, even in accompanying pamphlets/books. Do you remember ever having one of those Q&A sessions after such a “showing”? What I remember coming after those movies was a bell signally it was time to move to the next class.

And, yes, I am somewhat of a curmudgeon when it comes to education but this is not a “we shouldn’t be using these new fangled technologies” lament. It is, rather, we should be using them correctly. Video should only be used for educational purposes when viewing what is going on is very important and, yes, discussion is needed. Just as a reading assignment given to students that is not mentioned again or discussed in class will rapidly be forgotten as being “unimportant.”

June 5, 2021

Meditation: It’s a Business Opportunity, I Guess

There seems to be an entire cottage industry devoted to teaching one how to meditate. Once again, something that is simple and straightforward needs teachers, books, workbooks, seminars, retreats, paraphernalia, and on and on, all quite reasonably priced, of course (Not!).

You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes everyday — unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.”
Sukhraj Dhillon

Allow me to explain meditation and how to do it, where to do it, etc.

Have you ever been alone with your thoughts? Sitting on a park bench or waiting for a bus, or peeling potatoes while making dinner? Just you and all of the things running through your head.

Meditation is being alone without your thoughts.

You do not need to be sitting, standing, squatting, or running. You do not need to be in any special place. You do not need a focus for your non-thoughts.

You just need to allow your thoughts to drop away so that you are not thinking things consciously.

That’s it.

No matter where you are or what you are doing, you can meditate and it is quite refreshing.

Oh, there is one technique I employ. Some of my thoughts are quite tenacious and do not just fall away easily. For those I use a shooing motion with my hand, much as if you would shoo away a bothersome fly. That’s it.

All of my mediation secrets in one place, and for zero dollars!


June 4, 2021

Ever Wonder What Proofreading a 550 Page Book is Like?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Steve Ruis @ 1:38 pm

If you have, you probably are stranger than I thought you were.

The photo shows what a printout of the layout on this book looks like. The stack is twice as high as the book will be thick because there is one page printed per sheet of paper where the book will have two pages printed on each sheet. But still. . . .

The painful thing is this is my book and it is a collection of posts from my archery coaching blog. So, I wrote those posts once before (or twice, if they were adapted from a magazine article), then I had to read them to see if they were fit to go into this compilation, then I had to edit each one (350+ of them), then I had to lay out the book, adding photos, captions, photo references, etc. And now I have to proofread the layout.

You know the saying that a lawyer who represents himself in court has a fool for a client? Similarly in writing: a writer, shouldn’t edit his own work, certainly not copy edit it, and well, proofreading is something we do do. All publishers want authors to proofread the final galleys so that is there are any mistakes they can blame the author (no, not really, but it is a quality control measure).

The problem is that our publishing company, Watching Arrows Fly, has a staff of two. And the other one don’t wanna do no stinkin’ proofreadin’.

Mind you, I have always been a “do-it-yourselfer,” but . . . I am tired.

“Call it a day, you should.” Shut up, Yoda!

June 3, 2021

W.C. Fields, a Great Comedian/Philosopher

Filed under: Culture,Entertainment,Philosophy,Uncategorized — Steve Ruis @ 9:20 am
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I was reading a blurb for a book featuring some of W.C. Fields great lines. Fields created a persona of being a lush, which would not fly now (but did in my youth, thank you Foster Brooks). The blurb writer did not include my favorite Fields quote, which was his take on “spirituality.” I believe it went “Everybody ought to believe something. I believe I’ll have another drink.”

I think comedians are modern day court jesters, and since we govern ourselves, they send their barbs toward all of us. I miss George Carlin. There was none better at that role.

June 1, 2021

Spirituality: Are You In or Out?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Steve Ruis @ 11:39 am

I was reading a post on Medium just now (Can Religions Be Objectively Disproved? (first posted October 19, 2020). Here is a taste:

Even if science continues to dramatically outperform spirituality in explaining and predicting reality, it may never be possible to fully disprove the idea of a spiritual realm.

The idea of spirit is so indefinite that no matter how far we explore with science, it can always wiggle down into deeper crevices. You can’t grab hold of it for long enough to say whether it’s there or not.

And you know what? I think that’s OK. There’s no need to eradicate the idea of spirit. A lot of people seem to need it in one way or another. (Later the author states: “The magic of spirituality adds texture and meaning to the lives of many.”)

I just don’t see how people can claim that “spirituality” is harmless. First it harms the individual, when feeling powerless they appeal to the imaginary for help.” That may feel “good,” having someone/something to appeal to but doesn’t result in actual help. Appealing to real people who might help is far more productive.

It is also harmful in the dogmas embraced by various spiritual organizations. These lock in people’s thinking in ways that aren’t helpful.

And if need “spirituality” to add meaning to their life, they are indeed sad human beings. When has embracing fictions as reality ever lead to a more meaningful life?

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