Default To Skepticism In Response To Affirmations

itemThis post is an elaboration of #3 from a list of things I’ve learned late in life.

How do we test the reliability of human knowledge? Don’t we have to first demonstrate what is true, then assess the percentage of the world that disagrees with that truth?

No. All we have to do is to determine the percentage of believers holding a world view that is logically exclusive of other dominant world views. Consider the logically exclusive religions of Christianity, Islam and Hinduism. Since Christianity has the largest market share of 33%, the percentage of humans who hold a false world view is at least 66%.

The interesting thing about this fact is that Continue reading

Don’t Hide Yourself

itemThis post is an elaboration of #1 from a list of things I’ve learned late in life.

I advise friends who are looking for a decent romantic partner to be wary of those who lead obscure lives. My own litmus test is whether the person is active on Facebook. I’ve discovered the following about persons who are afraid to make their lives moderately public.

Never Feel Guilty For Living Contrary To Others’ Expectations

itemThis post is an elaboration of #7 from a list of things I learned early in life.

The world is full of other people who would benefit from your adoption of their worldview. And there certainly are significant synergistic benefits that arise from maintaining a common culture within a particular community. Conformity often leads to social harmony and a stress-free life.

However, the world is not entirely altruistic. There are unhappy individuals who have chosen to attempt to maximize their domain of power at the expense of the happiness of others. These people will attempt to force you to fall in obeisance to arbitrary rules of conduct that serve only their own interests. Here are some frequently-uttered phrases heard from the lips these sorry souls.

  • Stop trying to be someone you’re not!
  • You’re [nationality]! You should act [nationality]!
  • Why don’t you act your age?
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Do What You Love And Make Career Incidental

itemThis post is an elaboration of #2 from a list of things I learned early in life.

The porous social membranes of Tokyo have allowed me to wander in and out of many sub-cultures, each with their own set of values. One value that seems to dominate many of these sub-cultures is career advancement and remuneration.

Presumably, a successful career is considered by those who value it to be a major contributor to happiness. So is there a high correlation to a successful career and happiness? To a large degree, I can speak only from my own street-level perspective. I have to conclude that a high percentage of those with careers that most would define as successful are quite dissatisfied with their lives. I’d like to examine some of the possible reasons.

Continue reading

On Becoming

identityLast night I met an intelligent and charming French girl. The conversation inevitably drifted to a stimulating exchange on personal identity and existentialism. The mental afterglow compels me to write on the topic.

When we ask “who am I?”, what are we actually saying? As we consider who we can become, what are some of the hidden assumptions that might hinder finding a content identity? Here are some things to consider.

We are not limited to one identity.

Society often packages discrete identities that it then promotes to its youth. In American high schools, you’ll often find well-defined and non-overlapping categories of identity such as jocks, geeks, preppies, dweebs, nerds and druggies. Youthful yearning for simplicity, as well as peer pressure, compels most students to choose one from among the many choices. However, as we explore life and develop competencies, the demarcation between identities blurs, and many of us learn to live several genuine, yet diverse identities without experiencing existential discomfort.

However, someone who is successfully living diverse identities may experience surprise and disapproval from others who have not yet learned to explore multiple dimensions of identity. Let me make this more tangible by listing a few identities I have lived or now comfortably live.

  1. Philosophical Blogger. Perhaps many of this blog’s readers know only this side of me. Don’t tell my party friends I enjoy philosophical discourse lest it destroy my playboy image.
  2. Computer Programmer. I can be as geeky as any other black-clad composer of code. I worked a year as a programmer in Tokyo.
  3. University Professor. I’m known as a rather demanding professor at my university in Tokyo. My white shirt and tie I wear quite comfortably now.
  4. Dancing Fool. I love to dance. I can’t help it. Once a week I try to go to a club where I’ll not bump into any friends and just dance.
  5. Country Boy. I used to milk cows, tend pigs, break horses and buck hay, and had the biceps to prove it. I still wear my cowboy boots from time to time.
  6. Mexican Fútbol Player. I lived in the mountains of Mexico 6 months, speak Spanish and was the only white boy on a Mexican soccer team for several years.
  7. Father. I have 3 great kids, all in university now. Being a father is tremendously satisfying, and daily warms my heart. Some find incongruity between this and my own “childish” activities.
  8. Continue reading


youngSo I’m out with my son Josh last night, and admittedly I’m dress a bit young for my age. We meet 2 girls around the age of Josh who is 24. The dilemma is whether to claim I’m Josh’s father or brother. If I say father, no one believes me. If I say brother, no one gives it a second thought, but I feel pangs of guilt. So I let the girls decide. They predictably laugh at the suggestion that I’m his father, and are content to consider us brothers. One of the girls thinks I’m around 28. The other says 26. I know that there is the Japanese “politeness” factor where 5 or so years are deducted from what is actually thought, so in the dim light of a club I probably look in my early 30s. Life is good.

I do keep myself healthy with a balanced diet and a good degree of exercise, but it must be noted that I looked 14 when I was 18, and it was quite annoying then with kids my age or younger speaking a bit condescendingly to me. So, I’m going to consider this current state of affairs just recompense.

Looking younger than your age also allow you to appear to be a young man who has maturity beyond his years. I played this card well in university (I returned to school in my mid-30s) where my professors graded me well for my surprising profundity, not knowing my actual age. My other friends who appear closer to their age cannot as easily dismiss social pressure to “act their age”. I feel that this notion of “age-appropriate behavior” is an unfortunate myth that the unhappy attempt to impose on those who are having fun. I still dance without apology. I date young (if intelligent and stable) girls. I’m not afraid to act goofy. Life is good.

Perhaps this is one reason why I blog. It allows me to hide my “youth” and project a persona that is more in line with my inner thought life that reflects experience and insights more typical of someone my actual age. This you can debate. In any case, it is great fun to hang out with your sons as their brother. Life is good.

The photo is not of me. It is my sister’s baby.