They know and they ignore that knowledge

It’s interesting how people know lots of information now, especially info about health, but people don’t always act in accordance with this knowledge. They know, but they don’t act like they know. They know and they ignore that knowledge.

I submit that’s because that person is making a choice, a choice based on value. I believe there is a conscious choice there. Example—nearly everyone who’s in college now knows that smoking is bad for their health. They’ve heard it from many sources: ads, parents, health class, etc. So they aren’t ignorant. They may even believe it—in the long-term , smoking will hurt me. But I won’t smoke that long—smoking won’t hurt me in the short term. So they discount that health knowledge, and it is outweighed in the values scale by something else, some other belief—maybe that claim is “I like smoking, the experience of it,” or “Smoking helps me cope with stress,” or “It’s fun to smoke while drinking,” etc.

The formula: value of information vs. value of other belief

And I say this valuing that supersedes raw information is within the realm of ethics. (I think this is J___’s argument, as told to me by G__.) That you can teach people information—about health, pollution, whatever—but unless you also tell people the value of that information, the student cannot be expected to act in accord with the info. This isn’t to say teaching values is easy or always successful—if the teacher says X has value, and the peer group negates that, the student can’t be counted on to do X. Belief formation is influenced by the beliefs of those people who have the most influence on us, people whom we judge to be Important. Their attitude matters to us. If I don’t believe school is important, a teacher’s approval or disapproval won’t be very compelling.

Teaching values isn’t easy. But info is just raw data, useless, unless the teacher also teaches how to use the information, and the importance of the information. My philosophy prof this semester says ethics can be defined as the process of deciding what’s good and what’s not good—of all the choices, which is the best one. And this is important to tell kids.

“Pollution is bad because …”—Unless they can see an immediate danger, like imminent or certain death, you must explain the dangers. Kids can intuitively understand why not to step in front of a moving car. It’s less easy to see how eating too many fats for 30 years can lead to a heart attack. It’s especially hard for kids to see this, because they are young enough to feel invincible. They don’t have the experience, the sense of all the possibilities that can happen in a moment.

[From journal of 21 Sept. 2000, Journal 29, pages 7-9]

Abbey’s identification of Industrial Tourists in Desert Solitaire

Abbey’s identification of Industrial Tourists in Desert Solitaire (which I read this evening) sounds like me and dad vacationing in the car, seeing all through the glass windows, only one step better than TV. It was a self-recognition—I had noticed and felt before that this trip seemed shallow—no depth, and thus was boring. All the beautiful scenery and I only wanted to get through it.

Yeah, we have chosen to see a lot quickly rather than a small amount in depth. Yeah, as Abbey condemns us for zipping through the parks—that’s true. Valid criticism. But he says something about it being tiring. Hard work. But it hasn’t been that.

The excitement of the road experience—it’s been a kind of macho thing for us. Haven’t felt pressured to get anywhere, nor have I felt hard-worked. We’ve set a goal—”hey, let’s visit Spokane”—and we did it. Fun, not hard work. No, we were never really in the environment, seeing all the country from the fuzzy gray seats.

But you get out in these damn national parks and they are incredibly shallow, too—all the damn tourists crowding, snapping pictures, absorbing history and culture by osmosis—I’m here, educate me. Not only that, but seeing these cliff paths paved over, such as at Roosevelt National Park. A certain packaged feeling—not that I expected it to be really dangerous, but it takes some excitement out of the experience when you’re not going anywhere [challenging]… I want to get to the real hill, just walk to someplace, the top of some hill, like I could at home. I want to just walk, not be confined (as I am actually not—I could walk off the path, but they wouldn’t want me to—and they already ruined it by blacktopping the trail anyway) to their outdoor sidewalk.

So it hasn’t been all that deep to get out of the car anyway. That breeds cynicism, believing that no place is good—I haven’t taken the time to really experience the place before judging it. I am saying that those places are no better than any other places, without being in the place. I’m only seeing, not experiencing.

But I don’t want to say that everything I do is flawed—don’t want to harbor self-hatred or be an ingrate. It’s cool what we’re doing, glad I’m here, though we may not be taking each park in its full depth.

We’re seeing Montana. In a way, it’s like I’m taking pictures now, experiencing later. That’s not my intention, but the way it turned out. Sometimes it feels like I’m the Trip Photographer. I’m taking pictures instead of living it the first time, reliving it before living it.

I said that I can’t wait til I get my pictures developed. And that’s what I meant—I want to see how they turned out. But a third person angle might be that I want to see what my vacation was since I didn’t see it the first time.

[From journal of 19 Aug. 1994, 10:20 p.m. Mountain Time, Broadus, MT, Journal 7, page 39-41]

‘But there are other options’

“But there are other options if you hate typical politicians or want to tell the establishment to go to hell, so why aren’t they similarly averse to Trump?”— Conor Friedersdorf,, 20 May 2016, in an article titled “The Deep Cynicism of Trump’s Rape Accusation”

This quote seems to have the tone/tenor of many articles I’ve seen lately by rational, reasonable people, both “left-leaning” and David Brooks (and a few other conservatives) who seem desperate…in their pleas to appeal to Trump voters. But after talking to Trump fans (so M says) D__ & M___ last night, I wonder if a better response for now—6 months ahead of an election that already is nasty (Trump calling Bill Clinton a rapist this week) and promises to get worse —is to drop out of the conversation, stop reading. The Trump fans don’t seem to be rational, so they aren’t subject to persuasion.

[From journal of Sat., 21 May 2016, Journal 227, page 178]

What if it stops spinning while I watch!

8:40, 40 minutes after previous page:

[A supervisor] used to tell me I should seek promotion. But recently I thought, why would I? Maybe [supervisor] thinks we should all be ego-motivated. But maybe it’s like Charlie told that one guy—if you were as smart as I am, you’d see money doesn’t matter. … My gig is good—it allows me time to write!

After writing, I went to TV room to lie down but felt tempted to turn on TV and watch Today show with Amy Robach and Lester Holt, though I almost immediately get annoyed by that show. And perhaps that’s what troubles me about Internet usage—I’m drawn to it but often disappointed by what I find.

Also, in general: When I’m certain, when I’m becoming certain about some idea, that’s probably the time to let the idea go and start on a new idea—I’m not sure that achieving certainty about a belief or idea helps me much. Keep seeking.

My thought yesterday that, no, my personal life, my thoughts about my life, this farm, my job, etc., these particulars that I’ve thought might interest others as writing—these things don’t really even interest me. I’m much more interested in thinking about these ideas about or ideas from life than I am in merely recapping my experiences. So tell those ideas to others through writing.

Also, my life story doesn’t have much drama—my daily life—but why should drama, action, be required? Can’t routines be interesting, too?

4 p.m. DISH Channel 212: Satellite pics of the Earth updated every 15 secs. or so. M & I got a little freaked: I because I said, what if it stops spinning while I watch! M because she’s afraid we’d see a spaceship or a comet cross the screen.

Violets & dandelions are out.

[From journal of Sat., 25 April 2009, Journal 110, page 193]

Condensation on patio/sliding doors

Condensation on patio/sliding doors seems to be thinning. It was hazy enough this morning that I could barely see the power towers to the south. Thankfully it didn’t get to 95° yesterday. Car said 93° at one point, but it may have been heated by the pavement over which it traveled. More likely it was upper 80s, with winds from the south. My button-down shirt was soaked with sweat from about 9:30 on, and when I hung it out to dry there just before we left, it had had dried a good degree (not completely ) by the time we left. We’ll give mom the A.C. I feel bad that I said we’d ask her $100 for it, after all the work she did for us this week, and the money I still owe her from college. Sh!t, I’m ashamed. Oh, well—apologize.

[From journal of Sat., 2 July 2011, Journal 142, page 200-1]

I did a bit of cleaning yesterday, too

I did a bit of cleaning yesterday, too. Maybe we can get recycling bins into pantry with dog food can. I put other can in hall closet (east end, with Xmas stuff and falling-down batt insulation) and I put the crisper and meat bins from fridge— which have been on the floor for a month or more, for apparently no reason—they had potatoes but I planted them 2-3 weeks ago already— and so I put those bins in pantry, on shelves—and I went through the big black garbage bag from the car, which had M’s tape dispenser, violin music, newspapers, etc.

And I recycled the big boxes from portable AC and my lawn mower (by the way, the back roller bar fell off last week—weeds got wrapped around it and maybe that was what pushed aside the holder bars—not too sturdy there).

Anyway, happy: so if we had our own newer house … No, I don’t need a house to be happy. I am happy when I write.

[From journal of Mon., 19 July 2010, Journal 130, page 37-8]

Again, you’re talking about sh!t you seem to want

Again, you’re talking about sh!t you seem to want—seem to think you want—but you can’t have.

Why do that? Why not feel good—count your blessings: steady job, sick days, decent money, wife and dog and this farm (though M said yesterday that having our own place would be nice because we wouldn’t get lectured about filling the washing machine too full).

You’re acting this morning like there are problems, but there are no problems—yes, I’m sick, but still.

I guess I gotta stay awake ’til I’ve talked to [colleague]—that’s another hour and 15 from now.

And so, you are awake and alive and every morning you sit down and write and once you’ve written about the previous day, you’re not sure how to write—what else to write. You have not gotten in depth into anything today—which could be the cold tiring me out, but this happens other times, too. Maybe you don’t have any real questions left? That’d be sad—and I’m sure it’s not true. Yes, I’ve learned a lot as an adult, but it’s hubris to think you know enough. I don’t even mean I know all there is in the world. I mean, I know enough about myself and for myself, my job, how to do it. But that’s also bullsh!t, of course.

Just because you can’t get traction on a new thread of thought, that doesn’t mean much about the availability of ideas.

But it’s also OK to admit that, today, this morning, you don’t have a lot of questions. That’s OK. Who said you’d have to have ideas every morning?

Poor Aunt Chris, driving 90 miles each way to work—that would get old, I’d think.

Or maybe I’d rather just fall asleep.

And maybe it’s OK if everything—OK that everything—is the way it is just now. You don’t have to stake out critical territory—the way I wrote yesterday about the movie When in Rome being OK as a commercial work, that whatever that particular work is, it doesn’t really define the space of what’s possible in art or what art is.

Everything is still open. Looking at the media, at its broad self-similarity, you’d think there weren’t that many options left, that the realm of what’s acceptable was narrow—but not so!

Wow, I’m tired–falling asleep here as I write. Must stay awake to give [colleague] the plans.

I could eat breakfast, I guess.

[From journal of Mon., 8 Feb. 2010, Journal 122, page 262-3]