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Friday, May 28, 2010

from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: The Self Sufficient Life + lots of news

Essay + News from Ceit, Pilar and Miguel

Dear Friends,
This Sunday we are discussing The Self Sufficient Life. In my short
essay I include a link to a video report which prompted Ceit to suggest
the topic.
I have also been asked to forward you information about a new play in
English, the German film festival and the American langauge Academy. And
don't forget that Miguel is still looking for a place to organise his
Maths tertulia; please sent me any suggestions.
So to keep a long email short
Take care and see you Sunday

Lawrence

IF YOU DON'T GET AN EMAIL BY FRIDAY PLEASE LET ME KNOW
(details about the tertulia at the end)

--- Ceit ---
Hi Lawrence,
This is the link to the Festival de Cine Alemán: http://www.cine-aleman.com/
I'm disappointed to see no classic film this year. Maybe there were
issues with rights, or with the orchestra.
This is a video from the New York Times about a pair of agriculturalists
in New York state. It's what got me thinking about the self-sufficient
life, and why it's such a desirable goal for so many people, even though
most people don't make any serious attempt to reach it:
http://video.nytimes.com/video/2009/03/10/business/energy-environment/1194838490486/going-green-and-off-the-grid.html
Have a good week
Ceit

--------------------------
--- Pilar ---
Hi Lawrence, this is the information about the play. I think that some
of you can be interested and you can forward to the rest of the
philosophy group.
I highly recommend you a new play, hopefully very funny and good fun,
all about the trials and tribulations of moving to a new country to
teach English (something I think a few people of the philosophy tertulia
can all relate to). Should be really good and it would be amazing if you
could come along and see what you think!!
It started on Friday 21st and then its on again this weekend (Friday
28th and Saturday 29th). Below is a more eloquent blurb about it that
was in the In Madrid magazine. Also, there's info on how to get tickets.

A little Learning
It's about time someone wrote an English-language comedy about English
teachers in Spain. Debuting at La Madrilera in Malasaña this month, this
new work by Madrid-based British playwright Matthew Randle follows
Harry, an English teacher and a minor celebrity on the teaching circuit
in Madrid who lands a job on an English-language TV channel. On the
night of his 30th birthday, Harry ends up in jail, having
unintentionally incited a political controversy while on television.
Meanwhile, he must deal with Hannah, his best friend and fellow teacher
who suffers panic attacks, and Carl, his conceited, womanising flatmate.
A story of language barriers, fame and romance, A Little Learning shows
how teaching English can become so much more than simply a way of
getting by.
La Madrilera, C/Don Felipe, 9 (Metro: Tribunal). Tickets
(alittlelearning@hotmail.co.uk) €4. 21-22 May and 28-29 May, 9.30pm.
www.lamadrilera.com
It's important to send the email and I recommend you to arrive at 9.00
pm (21:00h) in order to get a good seat because your ticket doesn't have
a number seat.
About Filmoteca Film.
I'm going to watch on thursday at 21.45 Anatomy of a murder. I think
that Marga and Diana are going with me. If anyone wants to come are invited.
Please check the film at
http://www.mcu.es/cine/docs/MC/FE/PrograDore/PrograDore77.pdf for more
information
See you
Pilar
------------------------
--- Miguel ---
Hi Law,
I've seen that they're opening near my place a new venue of The American
Language Academy. I've talked to the Programmes Director about
Philomadrid and the English teachers that meet there, he said they are
open to teachers' applications, and to contact them at:
http://www.americanlanguage.es/servicios-gratuitos-american-language-academy.php
Regards,
Miguel
------

The self sufficient life
Ceit sent me the link* to the video report at the New York Times that
prompted her to suggest this Sunday's topic. "Going Green and Off the
Grid" is a report on how a couple try to live off the land and not be
too depend on money.
The real issue of the self sufficient life is maybe an old problem in a
modern context, at least in the context of the US. In the past we could
have described this problem as dropping out (from society), flower
power, recluse , and maybe even turning into a hermit or hermitess. What
Jo and her partner, Sam, are trying to do is not new or revolutionary,
but maybe a harder challenge than ever in today's society.
Even Jo and Sam recognise that they really cannot totally live outside
the social and economic structure of today's life. They still need a
phone and still have to pay for the fuel for the car. And Sam certainly
recognises that there limits to their life style. For example, he admits
that he has no health cover if he became seriously ill such as having
cancer.
Today, we recognise that not having health cover is a serious drawback
in modern life; it's like having a super complex car without access to a
mechanic. But thanks to modern journalistic style, The New York Times
did not include a time line for the report so we really do not know
whether the report was done a thousand years ago or this morning. and
that maybe reason has prevailed in the US and normal people now have
access to a health survive when they need it and not whether they can
pay for it.
Nevertheless, one of the problems with trying to have a self sufficient
life is that one can only do these things within the confines of the
times. Today, it is more difficult to find an isolated spot, if only
because there are 8 billion of us. So in terms of physical self
sufficiency, aka the hunter gatherer life style, the options and
opportunities are quite limited. Of course, one can always find a desert
island or a corner in a jungle where no one will disturb you.
But the question is whether by self sufficient life we mean still living
within our society or really and literally dropping out from society.
Really dropping out would, in my opinion, mean simply change the ways
and means we eventually meet our end. Dying from a snake bite instead of
cardiac failure. However, trying to be self sufficient within society
means that we adopt a different strategy to survive within society.
Trading stress and social comfort for tranquillity and relaxed life. One
is an end-strategy, and the other is a means-strategy.
At a deeper level, what the topic hints at is how long can a biological
system, that functions within a "society", survive independent of that
society? To use a more graphic analogy, how long can a fish live out of
water?
There is of course a difference between being self sufficient in the
same way that a fox or an albatross are self sufficient and a human
being who is born in a Western country. One of the problems with being
born in a Western country is that we have a concept of property (land
rights) rights. Animals, it is true, have territories bit it also true
that the way to get a territory is to kick out the present incumbent.
Although, some legal jurisdictions give the impression that humans can
practice this form of obtaining property (land rights) rights in general
it is not advisable.
Whether we like it or not, biological systems need access to physical
land to extract resources to keep the biological system going. And as we
know from economics, that resources are scarce, and from physics, that
we need to expend energy to create energy, being self sufficient means
that we cannot really take advantage of economies of scale and division
of labour. What I mean is that for every plot of land we might have
access to, there will always be others who need the land or the fruits
of that land. And if we are to harvest the resources of that land for
our use we need to first put energy into the land to get the resources
out; dig holes, hunt animals and so on. And although these fundamental
principles might not be perfect principles, they do seem to govern most
of our daily life.
Joe and Sam earn money to pay for basic bills by trading a few cows,
sell vegetables and a earn some income from rural tourists. If Sam had
to pay for a cancer operation he would probably have to have a farm with
quite a few thousand heads of cows to afford it. A cancer operation
represents a large source of energy that has to be converted from an
other resource: thus cows of land have to be converted into hundreds of
thousands of collars in the bank. Two people without some dependence on
society are probably not going achieve that. QED
Of course, some people do live in an ideal world where they can have
their creature comforts and the self sufficient life at the same time;
these are usually know as multi millionaires or even billionaires. But
this, I would say, is equal to buying a pseudo self sufficient life and
not really living the hardcore self sufficient life.
But just because the self sufficient life requires a great deal of
generous semantic interpretation to fit with reality, it does not mean
that we do not have a cause to want the self sufficient life.
That stress was one of the reasons why Jo dropped out of her
professorship teaching journalism, is a hint of why we would want to
trade the safety of society to the whims of the wild. Of course, stress
is a very decisive factor to what happens in our life. But isn't stress
a form of pain that requires our attention and directs our actions? And
stress, I would say, leads, first and foremost, more to neurological
pain rather than muscular pain.
Maybe, after all, the self sufficient life, is not an issue of where can
we get our next dozen potatoes for our chips in the evening, but rather
how can the brain protect itself from the modern invaders of the brain:
e.g. financial consultants, self centred bosses, vindictive colleagues,
cantankerous shop assistants, flashy advertisements, and so on and so
forth.
Seen from this point of view, maybe trying to lead a self sufficient
life from a plot of land is much harder than trying to lead a self
sufficient life by trying to exclude all the bulls.hit of society.
Take care
Lawrence

*Going Green and Off the Grid
The New York Times's Adam B. Ellick visits a former college professor
who now lives and works on an organic farm that produces its own power
and, for the most part, avoids the whims of the wider economy.
http://video.nytimes.com/video/2009/03/10/business/energy-environment/1194838490486/going-green-and-off-the-grid.html
----------------------------------
+++++++++MEETING DETAILS+++++++++
SUNDAY 6.00pm – 8.30pm at Molly Malone's Pub, probably downstairs----
-Email: philomadrid@yahoo.co.uk
-Yahoo group >> philomadridgroup-subscribe@yahoogroups.co.uk <
-Old essays: www.geocities.com/philomadrid
- Blog: http://philomadrid.blogspot.com/
-Group
photos: http://picasaweb.google.com/photosphilo
-My
tel 606081813
-metro: Bilbao : buses: 21, 149, 147
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Tertulia with Ignacio and friends: Every Thursday, from 19:30 to 21h, at
Moore's Irish Pub, c/ Barceló 1 (metro Tribunal).
http://sites.google.com/site/tertuliainenglishmadrid/
----------

from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: The Self Sufficient
Life + lots of news

Friday, May 21, 2010

From Lawrence, Miguel’s maths tertulia

Dear Friends,

I forgot to include this message from Miguel about his maths tertulia.
Apologies to all.

If you have any suggestions please forward them to me and I'll pass them
on to Miguel.

Thanks

Lawrence

Estimados tertulianos y tertulianas,

Ayer supe que Locandita cierra y se traspasa. Agradecemos a Antonio el
servicio que tan amablemente nos ha prestado durante estos meses y le
deseamos muy buena suerte en su próximo proyecto.

Tendremos Tertulia el próximo Martes 25 de Mayo si antes encontramos un
sitio para poder reunirnos. Si alguno de vosotros sabe de alguno (sólo
para este próximo Martes) le ruego que me lo comunique antes del Lunes.

Y si alguien encuentra un sitio para poder alojar la Tertulia
regularmente una vez al mes (dos horas), pues lo mismo. Lo único que
necesitamos en ambos casos es un lugar tranquilo para unas 10 personas
que tenga una pantalla para poder conectar un ordenador.

Gracias y hasta pronto,

Miguel

From Lawrence, Miguel's maths tertulia

Thursday, May 20, 2010

from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: The beauty of mediocrity

Dear friends,

This Sunday we get to discuss the topic: The beauty of mediocrity.

But don't let the syntax get in the way of the semantics. There might be
more to the subject than we can imagine:

The beauty of mediocrity

In a fit of irrational thinking I held the opinion that evolution can,
and is, sometimes unfair because those who do well do not necessary do
so because of their efforts but maybe because of the misfortune of
others. And even more serious due to random events that are completely
outside the control of those who benefit (or don't benefit).

Don't be mistaken here, winning the lottery (or not winning) is not a
random event, for a start your decision to buy or not to buy a lottery
ticket determines the probability of whether you win or not.

By random event I mean something like the effects of an earthquake, a
strike by a meteorite, our parents getting together and so on. As far a
evolution is concerned it does not care how we get to survive what
matters is that we do.

But when I came back to my senses I remembered that evolution, and if
you must, nature, is amoral. The concept of fairness does not make sense
in the big picture of evolution and nature. Fairness only makes sense in
the small picture of rational cooperative living amongst human beings.

Under the rules of rational cooperative living we are not supposed to
cheat (although it is still profitable for those who can do
successfully) and anyone who is caught cheating is, one way or another,
ostracised from the community.

And here is the value and beauty of mediocrity. Those who are mediocre
or embrace mediocrity with both hands are in effect giving a legitimate
advantage to their competitors. And the real beauty is that it all seems
legitimate and fair.

In effect this is the message Liz Ryan gives in her article Five Ways to
Ensure Mediocrity in Your Organization which appears in the May 7, 2010
edition of BuisnessWeek
(http://www.businessweek.com/managing/content/may2010/ca2010056_199109.htm).


Although Ryan is writing in the context of companies being mediocre,
there are enough lessons in this article to keep us busy. Consider, for
example the first way:

1. If you desire a mediocre workforce, make sure your employees know you
don't trust them.

Isn't trust a basic principle of rational cooperative behaviour?

But if the beauty of mediocrity is in giving others a fair advantage, is
trust a means for us to receive a fair (or unfair) advantage from
others? In other words, knowing that I can trust you, wouldn't this be
me taking advantage of your good nature? Of course, the way round this
dilemma is for us to have a good nature so that others can trust us.
This makes sense in the small world of rational cooperative living.

This leads me to two issues. In terms of evolutionary complexity, is
mediocrity a sign of something going wrong with a survival strategy? And
the second issue, from the context of rational cooperative living, how
fair it is for one to take advantage of someone who is mediocre? Or to
put it in another way, is it fair to frequent the company of the
mediocre people because they are easy to take advantage of?


Take care

Lawrence


IF YOU DON'T GET AN EMAIL BY FRIDAY PLEASE LET ME KNOW


+++++++++MEETING DETAILS+++++++++
SUNDAY 6.00pm – 8.30pm at Molly Malone's Pub, probably downstairs----
-Email: philomadrid@yahoo.co.uk
-Yahoo group >> philomadridgroup-subscribe@yahoogroups.co.uk <
-Old essays: www.geocities.com/philomadrid
- Blog: http://philomadrid.blogspot.com/
-Group
photos: http://picasaweb.google.com/photosphilo
-My
tel 606081813
-metro: Bilbao : buses: 21, 149, 147
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


Tertulia with Ignacio and friends: Every Thursday, from 19:30 to 21h, at
Moore's Irish Pub, c/ Barceló 1 (metro Tribunal).
http://sites.google.com/site/tertuliainenglishmadrid/


from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: The beauty of
mediocrity

Thursday, May 13, 2010

from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: meet for drinks only

Dear friends


I am grateful to Igancio for pointing out to me that next Sunday there
are going to be THE two football games during the strategic time of our
meeting. I therefore agree with him that we should have the meeting on
the topic - The beauty of mediocrity – the following Sunday.

So this Sunday we'll just meet at 6pm outside Molly Malone's and then go
and find a place for a drink; we'll first try Pza. 2 de Mayo.

All the best

Lawrence


IF YOU DON'T GET AN EMAIL BY FRIDAY PLEASE LET ME KNOW


+++++++++MEETING DETAILS+++++++++
SUNDAY 6.00pm – 8.30pm at Molly Malone's Pub, probably downstairs----
-Email: philomadrid@yahoo.co.uk
-Yahoo group >> philomadridgroup-subscribe@yahoogroups.co.uk <
-Old essays: www.geocities.com/philomadrid
- Blog: http://philomadrid.blogspot.com/
-Group
photos: http://picasaweb.google.com/photosphilo
-My
tel 606081813
-metro: Bilbao : buses: 21, 149, 147
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


Tertulia with Ignacio and friends: Every Thursday, from 19:30 to 21h, at
Moore's Irish Pub, c/ Barceló 1 (metro Tribunal).
http://sites.google.com/site/tertuliainenglishmadrid/


from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: meet for drinks only

Friday, May 07, 2010

from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: Does (romantic) love exist or is it just fantasy?

Dear friends


This Sunday we are discussing Does (romantic) love exist or is it just
fantasy?

As you know we have discussed love many times in the `past. However,
whether it exists or not is a new theme on the subject.

I am inclined to think that romantic love does exist and we know if we
have it or not in the same way we know whether there is a giraffe in the
room or not. And if you don't know whether there is a giraffe in your
room or not then you probably don't know whether romantic love exists or
not.

Of course, if there is a giraffe in your room it does not care what you
think of it or how you feel about it. But if you are in love, it matters
a great deal what the other person thinks about you. Your romantic love
might exist but there is a good chance it only has the status of a fantasy.

Take care

Lawrence

IF YOU DON'T GET AN EMAIL BY FRIDAY PLEASE LET ME KNOW


+++++++++MEETING DETAILS+++++++++
SUNDAY 6.00pm – 8.30pm at Molly Malone's Pub, probably downstairs----
-Email: philomadrid@yahoo.co.uk
-Yahoo group >> philomadridgroup-subscribe@yahoogroups.co.uk <
-Old essays: www.geocities.com/philomadrid
- Blog: http://philomadrid.blogspot.com/
-Group
photos: http://picasaweb.google.com/photosphilo
-My
tel 606081813
-metro: Bilbao : buses: 21, 149, 147
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


Tertulia with Ignacio and friends: Every Thursday, from 19:30 to 21h, at
Moore's Irish Pub, c/ Barceló 1 (metro Tribunal).
http://sites.google.com/site/tertuliainenglishmadrid/


from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: Does (romantic)
love exist or is it just fantasy?

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