Contemplations – Now

I'm incurably curious about many aspects of this journey of ours. Here are a few noteworthy items I've stumbled across that I'm making a note of so I can revisit them from time to time.

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The human psyche naturally rebels against the idea of its end. Likewise, civilizations have throughout history marched blindly toward disaster, because humans are wired to believe that tomorrow will be much like today—it is unnatural for us to think that this way of life, this present moment, this order of things is not stable and permanent.
   Across the world today, our actions testify to our belief that we can go on like this forever, burning oil, poisoning the seas, killing off other species, pumping carbon into the air, ignoring the ominous silence of our coal mine canaries in favor of the unending robotic tweets of our new digital imaginarium. Yet the reality of global climate change is going to keep intruding on our fantasies of perpetual growth, permanent innovation and endless energy, just as the reality of mortality shocks our casual faith in permanence.
– Daniel Sherrell, Warmth: Coming of Age at the End of Our World

Each moment is similar and because of the similarities, we are deluded.
– Gampopa, The Jewel Ornament of Liberation, translated by Khenpo Kongchog Gyaltsen Rinpoche; in the book Joyful Wisdom by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche


The psychology of misinformation

Matrix showing factors leading to belief regardless of truth and and belief specifically of falsehoods

An insightful look at the psychological factors linked to believing in misinformation.

What to do about it? Corrections/fact-checks work! Crowdsourcing can help identify misinformation at scale. Nudging people to think about accuracy can lead them to improve the quality of what they share.

Professor David Rand, The psychology of misinformation⩘ , Jan 21, 2022; David Rand is the Erwin H. Schell Professor and Professor of Management Science and Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT, the director of the Applied Cooperation Team, and an affiliate of the MIT Institute of Data, Systems, and Society, and the Initiative on the Digital Economy.

Sfoglini Whole Grain Blend Reginetti

Image of a tasty pasta dish with the logo of Sfoglini Pasta superimposed

I really appreciate dishes that feature pasta. Over the years, I've tried many, many different pastas, fresh and dried, domestic and imported. I was absolutely delighted a few years ago when I came across Sfoglini artisan pasta from New York and ended up trying and enjoying almost all of their varieties.

My personal favorite is their Whole Grain Blend Reginetti, which "features an organic, stone milled hard red flour from the New York Hudson Valley." It's delicious with a beautiful shape that carries the sauce well and feels very gentle as I chew it. I enjoy it so much that I order it by the case!

A few pieces of the curly ruffled Reginetti

This morning, while perusing as I do each morning, I came across a post featuring a wonderful video⩘  showing how Sfoglini makes its pasta. It was really fun to see where my pasta comes from, the amazing process it goes through, and the people who create it with such care. Thanks Steve, Scott, and team!

One of the pasta sorting machines featuring Cascatelli pasta

Pasta: Sfoglini⩘ ; Video: via⩘ 

Live Like the Ancient Cynics

Interesting article about the ancient philosophy of cynicism.

Modern cynicism traps you in an unhappy cycle. The original version will set you free.

To pivot from the modern to the ancient, I recommend focusing each day on several original cynical concepts, none of which condemns the world but all of which lead us to question, and in many cases reject, worldly conventions and practices.

  1. Eudaimonia ("satisfaction") – The ancient cynics knew that lasting satisfaction cannot be derived from a constant struggle for possessions, pleasures, power, or prestige. Happiness can come only from detaching ourselves from the world's false promises.
  2. Askesis ("discipline") – We cannot clear our mind of confusion and obfuscation until we stop anesthetizing ourselves, whether it be with drugs and alcohol or idle distractions from real life.
  3. Autarkeia ("self-sufficiency") – Relying on the world—especially on getting approval from the world—makes equanimity and true freedom impossible. Refuse to accept your craving for the high opinions of others.
  4. Kosmopolites ("cosmopolitanism") – Seeing ourselves as better or worse than others sets us against one another and makes love and friendship difficult, which is self-destructive. This can be as obvious as thinking, I am better than someone else because I was born in this country, or as subtle as feeling slightly superior to a colleague because of my academic affiliation.

From what little I've read (and what little there is to read), the ancient Cynics lived in a manner that wouldn't be attractive to many people living today, yet these four concepts, which make up at least part of the core of their philosophy, seem valuable commonsense guidelines to living.

Live Like the Ancient Cynics⩘  by Arthur C. Brooks, The Atlantic, Jan 20, 2022.

We live in this neighborhood!

Image Credit: NASA⩘ , ESA⩘ , Hubble⩘ , OPAL Program⩘ , STScI⩘ ; Processing: Karol Masztalerz

Jupiter, via Astronomy Picture of the Day⩘ :

NASA's Outer Planets Atmospheres Legacy⩘  (OPAL) program has been monitoring the storm more recently using the Hubble Space Telescope⩘ . The featured Hubble OPAL image⩘  shows Jupiter as it appeared in 2016, processed in a way that makes red hues appear quite vibrant.

They chose a different path

An inspiring article with which to begin the new year: "They grew up surrounded by racism. But early on they chose a different path⩘ ." by John Blake, CNN. He explains why some people who grew up in families and communities where racism is the norm turn out differently and reject racism, pointing out that at least four traits make the difference:

Blake shares the stories of individuals who transcended their own youthful racism to become prominent anti-racists.

   Stroupe, now 75, became a civil rights activist, an award-winning author and one of the nation's most prominent anti-racist speakers. He and his wife, Caroline Leach, became co-pastors of Oakhurst Presbyterian Church in Decatur, Georgia, whose successful efforts to build a vibrant interracial congregation drew national attention and became a model for others.…

   During many of his sermons, Stroupe made an observation that made some White parishioners squirm in their seats. He said he didn't learn racism from unapologetic racists like members of the Ku Klux Klan. Nice White people taught him how to hate.
   "I had been taught racism by my family, my church, and my teachers—by really decent white people in my hometown on the Arkansas side of the Mississippi River Delta," Stroupe wrote in a 2018 essay in The Atlantic.

They grew up surrounded by racism. But early on they chose a different path⩘ 

The new Cosmic Crisp apple

Deep red Cosmic Crisp apples hanging on a tree

What a nice way to begin the new year: we recently tasted an organic Cosmic Crisp apple for the first time. Really good! From Wikipedia⩘ :

   Cosmic Crisp is a cross between Honeycrisp and Enterprise apples.… The look of the apple's light lenticels against its wine-red skin reminded focus groups of a galaxy against a night sky, which led to it being named the Cosmic Crisp.
   The New York Times⩘  described the apple as "dramatically dark, richly flavored and explosively crisp and juicy", making it "the most promising and important apple of the future."⩘  called it "firmer than the Honeycrisp, but not too firm. And it is high in both sugar and acidity, making it far superior to the Red Delicious, Gala and Fuji varieties as well."

I'm someone who really does eat an apple every day. Fujis have been my go-to staple. I love their balance of tartness and sweetness, and their crunch factor. Unfortunately, the quality of Fujis seems to vary quite dramatically; in fact, I sometimes suspect that some batches I eat are actually a different variety sold as Fujis. That said, I find the best Fujis better than this first experience of Cosmic Crisp; however, I'm delighted to have another wonderful variety to choose from.

Wikipedia: Cosmic Crisp⩘ 
Image by: PVM⩘  (cropped) via Wikimedia Commons⩘ ; File is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license⩘ 

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