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Friday, January 21, 2011

from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: The cost of moving on + Maths Tertulia +News

Short essay, The cost of moving on + Maths Tertulia +Message from Peter
and from Edwin.
Dear friends,

First of all, I have opened a Twitter account @philomadrid and I expect
to start Tweeting before Sunday's meeting.

Talking about changes, this Sunday's meeting is The cost of moving on.
Of course, we all wish Edwin well in his move back home.

In the meantime Miguel has sent me news about a top level Maths tertulia
next Tuesday, and Peter is now looking for a flat mate to occupy the
single room. Finally, Edwin sent me a link to some very new vocabulary
in English from Mensa, via the Washington Post. Enjoy.
----from Miguel-----
Estimado tertuliano,
Te envío el anuncio de la próxima Tertulia de Matemáticas:
http://sites.google.com/site/tertuliadematematicas/25-1-2011, que se
convoca esta vez en el Ateneo de Madrid gracias a los buenos oficios de
Juan Valentín.
Aprovecho para anunciarte el próximo Carnaval de Matemáticas por si
quieres participar: http://carnavaldematematicas.drupalgardens.com/
(cortesía del Profesor Antonio Alfonso Faus).
Saludos cordiales y feliz 2011,
J.Miguel
P.S.: Si quieres impartir una conferencia de contenido matemático
envíame un correo para acordar los detalles.
Para darte de baja en la lista de correo de la Tertulia envía otro con
"Baja" en el campo "Asunto" del mensaje.
-------from Peter-----
Peter has asked me once again to remind you that he is looking for
someone to share his flat with in Mostoles close to public transport;
very good conditions. Central heating and central hot water. English
spoken at home if you wish. Single room still available. : tel 609257259
------from Edwin-----
Hi
I don't forward a lot of funnies 'cos most aren't but I enjoyed these
and think you might as well
Edwin
The Washington Post's Mensa Invitational once again invited readers to
take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or
changing one letter, and supply a new definition.
Here are the winners:
1. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the
subject financially impotent for an indefinite period of time.
2 Ignoranus : A person who's both stupid and an asshole.
3. Intaxicaton : Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you
realize it was your money to start with.
4. Reintarnation : Coming back to life as a hillbilly.
Cont:- here ->
http://philomadrid.blogspot.com/2011/01/washington-posts-mensa-invitational.html
------------------------------end------------------

Best
Lawrence

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*************************************
The cost of moving on

We human beings are full of paradoxes. Consider this paradox. Each and
everyone one of us, is an ancestor of someone who migrated from Africa.
This means that we are the product of those who successfully adopted
migration to survive the environmental changes that were taking place
many years ago; we need not go into how many years ago here. As it were,
migration, or in our case, moving on, is part of our genetic make up.
And by implication this means that we are, at least in principle, not
adverse to change.

However, we also happen to thrive most when we live under stable and
predictable conditions. Consider this thought experiment to check this
out for yourself. Given a choice which of these two options would you
choose. A house that is built of a seismic fault with unpredictable
recurrence on earthquakes that can easily flatten your property. Or, a
similar house that is built on a plot of land where no earthquakes have
ever been recorded, ever? I think that most people would prefer the
second option, and not because of the reduced risk of losing one's
property or one's life, but also because of the unplanned inconvenience
the first option would create should the house be hit by an earthquake.

The paradox, of course, is that although we are well equipped with what
it takes to up sticks and move on, we really hate doing it unless we
have to or forced to do so. We even reflect this paradox in our language.

Norman Tebbit, who today is the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster,
but in 1981 was a newly appointed Employment Secretary, was misquoted as
saying (check Wikipedia) that he told rioters, who objected to his
changes to the employment laws, to get on their bike. Since then Tebbit
has been associated with the slogan "On yer bike!" What Tebbit did say
was that when his father was unemployed he did not riot but got on his
bike until he found a job. In normal English, we can safely say that to
get on your bike means, more or less, go and find a job (if you are
unemployed or in need of a job).

In 1960, two school friends who were separated when their families moved
apart, happened to meet at a railway station in Kent when both were on
their way to lectures at respectable colleges in London. These two lads,
according to Wikipedia, went on to make the expression, a rolling stone
gathers no moss, universally world famous. That's right I am referring
to The Rollin' stones and the two lads were Keith Richards and Mick
Jagger. What is more important for us is that the music group they, with
others, formed did live as if they were the paradigm of people without
care, responsibility and certainly nothing as stable lives. You know the
history of The Rollin' Stones better than me.

The irony, as human paradoxes have a habit of exposing, is that those
who maybe in the eighties did get on their bike, are probably still
going round on their bike. And those who superglued, by example, the
expression "a rolling stone gathers no moss" into our lives have not only
become as stable as a newly built pyramid, but have certainly gathered a
lot of money.

By now it should be evident that what we are discussing is none other
than what economists and Spinoza, might call equilibrium. Moving on, or
change, challenges that ideal state in our life where the risks are
balanced by the rewards. When we move on, we are changing a state of
affairs for another state of affairs. Of course, we might move on not
because we find ourselves in a bad situation, such as the unemployed in
the Midlands, or the Tribes of Africa, but because we can move to a
really better situation for example parking our newly found fortune in
an off shore tax haven island.

But for whatever reason we have to move on, their is always a cost, as
the title of the discussion rightly claims.

Of course, there is always the financial cost when we do physically move
on to another location. But moving on is also an expression to refer to
our life in general. Maybe after an emotional event or events that make
us change our way of life.

Maybe, moving on, does inevitably mean or in reality imply physical
movement, changing city, country, house, office, bus stop, cinema,
shops, or whatever. But most of all moving on means changing our mental
and emotion makeup. In other words when we move on we are first of all
changing our way of life. We won't be near our friends, relatives,
family, colleagues, acquaintances and of course the friendly waiter at
our favourite restaurant.

Indeed, whilst, people and buildings might come and go, our life stays
with us, our memories stay with us and most of all our emotional price
of moving on stays with us. In a way, moving on, first and foremost,
involves a progression of moving on from the four dimensional world we
live in (the fourth being time) to the fifth dimensional world of the
conscious self.

In reality, therefore, our cost when we move on is cost to our self, our
person, our personality. Which brings me back to my original paradox. We
can understand the idea of getting on our bike when we find ourselves in a
difficult situation; it is in our genes after all. But where do we get the
idea that by staying put, we stand to progress?

Let's look at this issue from a different point of view. In the physical
world, if things are changing around us, especially dangerous or risky
things, we stand to be obliterated if we don't change our position. If a
pack of wolves are chasing us it might not be a very good idea to stay
put and see what happens.

However, if we change smart as opposed to changing hard, we might end up
protecting ourselves, to a certain degree, from the risks whilst
enjoying the tranquillity of staying put. So we can run fast, or we can
build an enclosure with walls high enough that the wolves cannot jump
over them.

But from a position of starting to run when we see wolves to the
position of "lets build a high wall to keep the wolves away", we are
moving from the realm of the physical to the realm of the rational.

Thus if by moving on we are moving on physically we incur physical
costs. But if by moving on we mean moving on as a rational being we are
incurring rational costs.

What do I mean by this? If we are constantly changing our location and
moving about, we end up with both a negative and a positive effect. The
negative effect is that we don't have time to discover what really works
in the situation we are in because we are constantly changing our
situation. But by having to changing our situation in an unpredictable
and maybe random way we will have to learn fast how to deal with these
new risks. So the positive effect is that we have to learn how to learn.
And once we learn how to learn, we can build a wall high enough. QED

And once we stay put and build our wall we are basically using new
rational tools such as induction and probability to learn what works
well. In terms of cost to our life, therefore, when we move on we are
simply throwing away investments, time and bodies of knowledge that we
just cannot replace.

I mean, we can relatively easy replace the cost of energy we use to run
away from the wolves; catch a wolf and cook it for supper. But how do we
replace five weeks, five months, five years, building the fail safe wall
if we have to move on?

How can we replace the emotions and feeling we share with those close to
us when we have to move on? How, can we balance the books for past pain
and tribulation when we move on to a better life?

In other words, what is the cost of a rational life and how can we
recover lost investments in becoming rational?

Best
Lawrence
from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: The cost of moving
on + Maths Tertulia +News

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