Latest TTC course was Practical Philosophy: The Greco-Roman Moralists by Luke Timothy Johnson. 24 lectures: covers Lucian, Cicero, Seneca, Musonius Rufus, Dio Chrysotum, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, Philo and Plutarch in various degrees of depth. Johnson reckons these guys get a bit overlooked in histories of philosophy, since they're too practical, didn't tend to create grand theories, and (apart from Cicero) weren't great literary stylists.
They're mostly stoics, at least to a degree. I find the practicality of stoicism quite appealing. Plutarch's line was that "character is habit long continued". Their theory was that you can build up your character in the same way as you build up your muscles in the gymnasium: by overcoming increasing challenges, by conscious exercises, by monitoring your progress, and above all by repetition. They were quite keen on pithy maxims: part of the theory seems to be that by repeating the maxims to yourself you can make yourself a better person.
So thinking about it, my original thought that I'm just too weak and pathetic to be a stoic doesn't really make sense in stoic terms. If I'm morally weak it's because I've allowed myself to form habits of weakness. By following the stoic programme, I should be able to make myself, if not strong, at least progressively less weak; if not a real stoic, at least less antistoic.
I've been trying to practice it, but with only modest success so far. I've been modestly successful at being less impatient in slow-moving crowds, at least at first. My computer woes are still bugging me though.
It's a good course, enthusiastically and informatively presented. Because these guys are a bit off to the side of the main tradition, you don't need much introductory knowledge, and it didn't recover much ground I've gone over before.
Also has a couple of lectures on the influences between Jewish and Hellenistic cultures. He makes a good case that even in the first couple of centuries BCE Jewish thinkers were using a Hellenistic philosophical framework.
Thought things were finally going well when I finally got the Vista compatible wireless router. Actually found the wirelessness useful in getting consistent web access from the Gphone in my little blackspot at home.
However, on Thursday I left the Dell XPS 420 all day for the first time, and came home to find the fans roaring like a demented dragon. When I rebooted it said "Alert! CPU fan failure", though it seemed to be spinning.
Resolved to take it in to the shop on Saturday. Saturday morning though it booted up fine. Went out for a few hours... came back to roaring fans and "CPU fan failure". Presumably the motherboard wasn't sensing the fan even though it was getting power.
Took it back to the shop Saturday PM. They switched it on and... worked normally. Left it with them while they poked around and they said they couldn't see anything wrong or any loose connections. They also managed to get the original sound output working.
They said there wasn't anything they could do. I brought it back before thinking I should have asked them if they could just replace the CPU fan anyway. Might be tricky: with the quad processors everything seems to be incorporated into a single giant block.
From Googling, this has happened with a different Dell model and turned out to be a BIOS problem fixable with a BIOS update. But I tried updating to the latest BIOS, it said it was the same version as I had, and that was before the second failure.
So, not really sure what I can do when (if?) it happens again. Can I force the shop to give me my money back or a replacement computer, even though it works perfectly when it's in the shop?
It's annoying: I thought that by just walking into a shop and getting a brand-name PC I'd be saving myself hassle. My most reliable computer, which I've revived during my problems and still works, was just a budget Medion I bought from Tesco when I was broke.
Didn't have a proper look but had a quick scout around the Rodchenko and Popova: Defining Constructivism. Big exhibition, seemed very good. Constructivism was an art movement in Russian soon after the revolution, when there was a flowering of modern art before the powers that be clamped down and insisted on Socialist Realism.
Quite a variety of stuff there. Some abstract paintings, with energetic lines and bright colours. Some elegant abstract sculptures. Also some great posters, advertisements, and costume designs.
Good show: will probably go back and have another look. Surprisingly wasn't that crowded despite the hype: on the ground floor they were selling tickers for immediate entry.
Also had a quick look in the Museum of London, where I haven't been for a while. Liked the London Before London gallery of prehistoric stuff, which tied in with some reading I've done lately. Lots and lots of stone tools, arrowheads, some bronze swords, and various implements. Got to see a flint sickle: they were mentioned in my "Human Prehistory" cause and I wasn't sure what they looked like.
Been going pretty well, lost 10 pounds using a modified version of the Slimfast diet. Have Meal Replacement Bars for lunch on weekdays, my own small breakfast, no snacks, and my normal light levels of booze.
Wouldn't mind losing another few pounds, maybe make it a whole stone, but getting fed up with the effort, so will probably just try to maintain for a while. Everyone at work's off their New Year Diets now, and back to merrily munching cakes and snacks all day.
Been getting some twinges in my right knee. Should probably give up the running-on-the-spot part of the 5BX plan for a bit. Happened before and got better on its own.
Here's that new development "Darth Vader's Helmet" they're building near St. Pauls.
For decades, everyone pretended to have a profound ideological disagreement about the size of government, but the reality was a comfortable standoff between 21 percent liberalism and 18 percent conservatism. In the end, both sides got what they most wanted: 21 percent spending for liberals, 18 percent revenues for conservatives -- at the politically tolerable cost of a deficit averaging 2 to 3 percent of GDP.
Update [2009-2-22 14:7:4 by TheophileEscargot]: Sterling slump's silver lining.
There used to be a rule of thumb that a 1% fall in the exchange rate has the same effect on output as a 0.25 percentage-point cut in interest rates. Our own estimates suggest the effect is somewhat smaller than this - about 0.17 points. But even on this basis, the 27% decline in sterling since the start of the credit crunch is equivalent to an additional cut in interest rates of between 4 and 5 percentage points.Articles. UK artists protest visa clampdown. George R.R. Martin posts minor Ice and Fire update, stop hating. US prison myths.
Britain is well placed relative to the eurozone in this regard. Eurozone monetary conditions have tightened by about 1.5 percentage points since the start of the credit crunch owing, in part, to a stronger euro. Even in normal times, a tightening of this order would slow growth significantly over a year. To face such a tightening in the middle of the worst financial crisis since the war is precisely what the eurozone does not need. We disagree with the IMF’s view that Britain will fare worst among industrialised economies.
[On fiscal stimulus]
So how does this “irresponsible and crassly Keynesian” fiscal stimulus compare with other budgetary packages? At about 1% of GDP in 2009, it is smaller than in France and Germany (both 1.5% of GDP), smaller than in the UK in 1992, when the Conservative government eased policy by 2% of GDP, and smaller still than in America (close to 4%). Moreover, the government intends to withdraw the stimulus in 2010, while other countries plan additional easing.
Video. How to fight.
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