12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos
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Read between April 15 - June 03, 2018
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To share does not mean to give away something you value, and get nothing back. That is instead only what every child who refuses to share fears it means.
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A child who can’t share—who can’t trade—can’t have any friends, because having friends is a form of trade.
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“It’s as if there is a powerful Figure in the Sky, who sees all, and is judging you. Giving up something you value seems to make Him happy—and you want to make Him happy, because all Hell breaks loose if you don’t. So, practise sacrificing, and sharing, until you become expert at it, and things will go well for
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A great idea begins to emerge, taking ever-more-clearly-articulated form, in ever more-clearly-articulated stories: What’s the difference between the successful and the unsuccessful? The successful sacrifice. Things get better, as the successful practise their sacrifices. The questions become increasingly precise and, simultaneously, broader: What is the greatest possible sacrifice? For the greatest possible good? And the answers become increasingly deeper and profound.
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But here’s the rub: sometimes, when things are not going well, it’s not the world that’s the cause. The cause is instead that which is currently most valued, subjectively and personally.
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A monkey will come along, reach into the narrow opening, and grab while the grabbing’s good. But now he won’t be able to extract his fist, now full of treats, from the too-narrow opening of the jar. Not without unclenching his hand. Not without relinquishing what he already has. And that’s just what he won’t do. The monkey-catcher can just walk over to the jar and pick up the monkey. The animal will not sacrifice the part to preserve the whole.
Loss aversion
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Conscious human malevolence can break the spirit even tragedy could not shake. I remember discovering (with her) that one of my clients had been shocked into years of serious post-traumatic stress disorder—daily physical shaking and terror, and chronic nightly insomnia—by the mere expression on her enraged, drunken boyfriend’s face.
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Christ responds to the first temptation by saying, “One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”
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Her theory of her husband collapses. What happens, in consequence? First, something—someone—emerges in his stead: a complex, frightening stranger. That’s bad enough. But it’s only half the problem. Her theory of herself collapses, too, in the aftermath of the betrayal, so that it’s not one stranger that’s the problem: it’s two.
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Her husband is not who she perceived him to be—but neither is she, the betrayed wife. She is no longer the “well-loved, secure wife, and valued partner.” Strangely enough, despite our belief in the permanent immutability of the past, she may never have been.
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When things collapse around us our perception disappears, and we act. Ancient reflexive responses, rendered automatic and efficient over hundreds of millions of years, protect us in those dire moments when not only thought but perception itself fails.
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Now we are in a costly and demanding state of readiness. Our bodies are flooded with cortisol and adrenaline. Our hearts beat faster. Our breath quickens. We realize, painfully, that our sense of competence and completeness is gone; it was just a dream.
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In many households, in recent decades, the traditional household division of labour has been demolished, not least in the name of liberation and freedom. That demolition, however, has not left so much glorious lack of restriction in its wake as chaos, conflict and indeterminacy.
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Here’s the terrible truth about such matters: every single voluntarily unprocessed and uncomprehended and ignored reason for marital failure will compound and conspire and will then plague that betrayed and self-betrayed woman for the rest of her life. The same goes for her husband.
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Kids need playgrounds dangerous enough to remain challenging.
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believe it was Jung who developed the most surgically wicked of psychoanalytic dicta: if you cannot understand why someone did something, look at the consequences—and infer the motivation. This is a psychological scalpel.
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People motivated to make things better usually aren’t concerned with changing other people—or, if they are, they take responsibility for making the same changes to themselves (and first).
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have seen university students, particularly those in the humanities, suffer genuine declines in their mental health from being philosophically berated by such defenders of the planet for their existence as members of the human species.
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Girls can win by winning in their own hierarchy—by being good at what girls value, as girls. They can add to this victory by winning in the boys’ hierarchy. Boys, however, can only win by winning in the male hierarchy. They will lose status, among girls and boys, by being good at what girls value.
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Girls aren’t attracted to boys who are their friends, even though they might like them, whatever that means. They are attracted to boys who win status contests with other boys.
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The women at female-dominated institutes of higher education are finding it increasingly difficult to arrange a dating relationship of even moderate duration.
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The Pew data also indicate that a spouse with a desirable job is a high priority for almost 80 percent of never-married but marriage-seeking women (but for less than 50 percent of men).
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One of the primary architects of the horrors of the Khmer Rouge, Khieu Samphan, received a doctorate at the Sorbonne before he became the nominal head of Cambodia in the mid-1970s. In his doctoral thesis, written in 1959, he argued that the work done by non-farmers in Cambodia’s cities was unproductive: bankers, bureaucrats and businessmen added nothing to society.
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Certain watchful eyes remained open, nonetheless. Malcolm Muggeridge published a series of articles describing Soviet demolition of the peasantry as early as 1933, for the Manchester Guardian. George Orwell understood what was going on under Stalin, and he made it widely known. He published Animal Farm, a fable satirizing the Soviet Union, in 1945, despite encountering serious resistance to the book’s release.
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It circulated in underground samizdat format. Russians had twenty-four hours to read their rare copy before handing it to the next waiting mind. A Russian-language reading was broadcast into the Soviet Union by Radio Liberty.
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Sartre denounced Solzhenitsyn as a “dangerous element.” Derrida, more subtle, substituted the idea of power for the idea of money, and continued on his merry way.
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After all, scientists are people too, and people like power, just like lobsters like power—just like deconstructionists like to be known for their ideas, and strive rightly to sit atop their academic hierarchies.
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The introduction of the “equal pay for equal work” argument immediately complicates even salary comparison beyond practicality, for one simple reason: who decides what work is equal?
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Here’s the fundamental problem: group identity can be fractionated right down to the level of the individual.
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If the brain is a tree, then aggression (along with hunger, thirst and sexual desire) is there in the very trunk.
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Insufficiently aggressive women—and men, although more rarely—do too much for others. They tend to treat those around them as if they were distressed children. They tend to be naïve. They assume that cooperation should be the basis of all social transactions, and they avoid conflict (which means they avoid confronting problems in their relationships as well as at work).
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It’s a good idea to tell the person you are confronting exactly what you would like them to do instead of what they have done or currently are doing.
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No one has a direct pipeline to your wants and needs—not even you. If you try to determine exactly what you want, you might find that it is more difficult than you think. The person oppressing you is likely no wiser than you, especially about you. Tell them directly what would be preferable, instead, after you have sorted it
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Agreeable, compassionate, empathic, conflict-averse people (all those traits group together) let people walk on them, and they get bitter. They sacrifice themselves for others, sometimes excessively, and cannot comprehend why that is not reciprocated. Agreeable people are compliant, and this robs them of their independence.
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When a new guy first showed up, the other workers would inevitably provide him with an insulting nickname.
Similar to IIT
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It is to women’s clear advantage that men do not happily put up with dependency among themselves. Part of the reason that so many a working-class woman does not marry, now, as we have alluded to, is because she does not want to look after a man, struggling for employment, as well as her children.
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Partly what this means for the future is that if men are pushed too hard to feminize, they will become more and more interested in harsh, fascist political ideology. Fight Club, perhaps the most fascist popular film made in recent years by Hollywood, with the possible exception of the Iron Man series, provides a perfect example of such inevitable attraction.
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If they’re healthy, women don’t want boys. They want men. They want someone to contend with; someone to grapple with. If they’re tough, they want someone tougher. If they’re smart, they want someone smarter. They desire someone who brings to the table something they can’t already provide. This often makes it hard for tough, smart, attractive women to find mates: there just aren’t that many men around who can outclass them enough to be considered desirable (who are higher, as one research publication put it, in “income, education, self-confidence, intelligence, dominance and social ...more
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And if you think tough men are dangerous, wait until you see what weak men are capable of.
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However, if a given group is too small, it has no power or prestige, and cannot fend off other groups. In consequence, being one of its members is not that useful. If the group is too large, however, the probability of climbing near or to the top declines. So, it becomes too hard to get ahead.
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There are few things that make it harder to accept the fundamental limitations of human existence than a sick child.
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Then a strange thing happened. He got boring. The more amazing his abilities became, the harder it was to think up interesting things for him to do. DC first overcame this problem in the 1940s. Superman became vulnerable to the radiation produced by kryptonite, a material remnant of his shattered home planet.
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In 1976, he was scheduled to battle Spiderman. It was the first superhero cross-over between Stan Lee’s upstart Marvel Comics, with its less idealized characters, and DC, the owner of Superman and Batman. But Marvel had to augment Spiderman’s powers for the battle to remain plausible. That broke the rules of the game. Spiderman is Spiderman because he has the powers of a spider. If he is suddenly granted any old power, he’s not Spiderman. The plot falls apart.
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People following a story are willing to suspend disbelief as long as the limitations making the story possible are coherent and consistent. Writers, for their part, agree to abide by their initial decisions. When writers cheat, fans get annoyed. They want to toss the book in the fireplace, and throw a brick through the TV.
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My sister-in-law is a palliative care nurse. She thought we could add Ritalin, an amphetamine often used for hyperactive kids, to the oxycontin.
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That March we bought Mikhaila a 50cc motor scooter. It was dangerous to let her ride it. It was also dangerous for her to lack all freedom. We chose the former danger.