Aphorisms and Operational Definitions

First, what is an “operational definition”? It is a rather scientific approach to a problem, in which the investigator specifies a series of replicable steps to pursue in order to obtain an answer to the question being studied. If another investigator follows the same steps, the same results of the previous investigation should be obtained. My observations given in this list simply ask, “Do you see what I see?” Do my observations pass the “social test” (one seeing what the other person sees)?

At a ball game, do you see what the umpire sees? You may dispute the call, but you must admit, not only is he in a better position to see than you are, but he has more practical experience than you may have and, from that, more expertise. That is the application of the “experience test”. The ump has more practice in seeing the ball being pitched. Apply those two tests to any observations to follow.

All the aphorisms and snippets are the invention of the author of this blog, JFD, with the few exceptions noted. (Shades of Ambrose Bierce [1842-? Disappeared going to Mexico Dec.26, 1913]. He wrote a book called The Devil’s Dictionary which you might enjoy reading.)

  • Lethargy is an itch you can’t bring yourself to scratch.
  • Mind is putting together a response to an immediate and commanding stimulus with memory. It is a response fully concentrated on the present sensation and the memory components of that sensation. Mind is undivided attention. When Momma says “Mind me!” she is saying “Pay attention to what I am saying and remember how you have had to do it in the past and the consequence of what happens if you do not do it.” “Mindless” behavior is unfocused and aimless acts.
  • If you find something good, something you really, really like, go out and buy a lifetime supply because they will soon stop making it/them. I did that with my favorite underwear, and I also bought a lifetime supply of Alice. I wish I had done that with my present sleepwear.
  • What is love? It is affection encased in the permanence of habit.
  • Psychopathy is one result of not seeing how others see you.
  • Remember, there are three mental ages in the beginning stage of human life, before maturity: idiot (to 3 yrs), imbecile (3-7), and moron (8-12). Lets get Rush Limbaugh, Sharon Angle, Michelle Bachman, Sarah Palin and Dan Paul in the appropriate category. The language we use for each level is different. We would not want to overly challenge them.
  • Celebrity awards a license as an entitlement to be excepted from the norms, and laws, and rules of morality, a get-out-of-jail-free expectancy. Adulation is a hazard in the business of being a celebrity. If the adulators could withhold their celebrity worship for the good of those they worship, great harm would not be done to the celebrity.
  • Fame and wealth can be the blunt-force traumas that will murder a personality, personality willing. (I suggst Charlie Sheen, or L.L. You could name many more, I am sure.)
  • How many “sexes” are there? Male and female heterosexuals. Male and female homosexuals. Androgynous males and females. Six sexes. I don’t know where to put transvestites. Miscellaneous?
  • The Darwinian complaint of the elderly: Life is hard when you no longer have the tools for living in the present world.
  • As Wikipedia would have it, “a miracle is a perceptible interruption of the laws of nature, such that can only be explained by divine intervention. Or, in casual usage, ‘miracle’ may also refer to any statistically unlikely but beneficial event. Or even which regarded as ‘wonderful’ regardless of its likelihood, such as birth. Other miracles might be: survival of a terminal illness, escaping a life threatening situation or ‘beating the odds.'” However, I have my definition. I thought of it upon viewing the event of the airliner landing in the Hudson River. A miracle is declared when everything goes according to plan.
  • God is the invention of people in trouble, having been in trouble, or about to be in trouble.
  • Or, God was an invention by old men or women in an age when the poetry of personification was the only science, serving the power of satisfying explanations to others who wondered, young and old, and directing wages to be paid in the currency of wonder and awe toward those capable of the poetry of explanation.
  • We are shaped neither by luck nor destiny.
  • “All education is the product of our own activity.” Quoted from The Book of Todd. (The title leaf goes on to say: “A community devoted to boys and their interests and maintained for the purpose of giving an opportunity for free and joyous expression of their dreams — Since 1848 at Woodstock, Illinois” Todd School was the school Orson Welles attended as a youth. The book was completely the original work of the boys. I liked the quote and thought I should give it some context.)
  • The language we use to speak to our own body is the command voice of a habit of resolution, determination, motivation, or else questions about how it got that way; then it’s “bibliotherapy”, extensive reading about the problem with the body, to command it, rule it, with TLC.
  • Jealousy is envious anger.
  • Dignity is having choices.
  • [Before I go further, let me explain. The bedrock of my character is sedimentary, the silt of concepts developed over the years of study, thinking, and teaching, and now coming out in what has been called “the universal phenomenon of reminiscence in later life”, from the summary of the research reported in the abstract I have placed in the articles section of this blog].
  • (So, continue with the concepts.)
  • Attention is selective response.
  • Concentratiuon is prolonged attention.
  • Reasoning is symbolic balancing of alternatives.
  • Science is a method of reasoning, empirically [rigidly controlled observational techniques] or experimentally [rigidly controlled variables, of measurement and of subjects or objects].
  • Romance is art. Marriage is science.
  • Motivation is energized behavior.
  • Nothing is hard — with the right attitude.
  • Genius is nothing but monstrous energy. (To wit: The German empiricists.) Genie ist nichts als ungeheueres Energie.
  • Thought fills the delay between stimulus and response. With habit, there is no delay. Unless you make a habit of thought.
  • Thought is that internal monologue that inhibits response.
  • Theory is a statement that attempts to account for all known facts in a field of inquiry.
  • The theory of evolution is not a speculation.
  • Perception is a response involving memory and sensation.
  • Character is what you do at home, alone, and in the dark.
  • Character is forged in the metallurgy of choice.
  • Eloquence is the marriage of heart and brain.
  • Presidential candidate #1: passion minus poise. #2: poise minus passion. Eloquence equals poise plus passion.
  • Culture is shared codes, a matrix of demographics and communication codes.
  • Political correctness is cultural astuteness. (PC is the attempt to show in public policy a sensitivity for culture.)
  • Art is the final tuft and essence of science.
  • Life is irritable matter.
  • Time is elastic.
  • Teaching is a process of diagnosis, awareness, experiences, critical feedback, testing.
  • Justice is due process.
  • Intelligent use requires prudence, circumspection, sensitivity, bibliotherapy.
  • Habit is response without awareness, the silent valet.
  • Learning is changing habits, substituting new for old.
  • Learning is painful; if an experience hurts, there is an opportunity to learn.
  • Conscience is the sense of an ideal self.
  • Law is an expression of social conscience.
  • Honesty is a method, not a trait, and can be avoided where a trait cannot.
  • Courage is enduring discomfort with fortitude.
  • Courage is a marker of maturity.
  • Maturity imagines the discomfort of others.
  • [Hemingway: “Courage is grace under pressure.”]
  • Ego disengagement means generosity, trust, self-criticism, rejection of self-interest.
  • Morality is that which has survival value.
  • Morality is acting as I would legislate for the whole world.
  • Capitalism, by its acquisitive nature, is a conservative philosophy.
  • Democracy is a liberal philosophy.
  • Democracy is discussion, and debate if discussion breaks down.
  • Alternatives to democracy are anarchy or dictatorship.
  • All organizations are hierarchical.
  • Hierarchical organizations cannot be democratic.
  • Democracy captured by an aristocratic “establishment” becomes a “system” that pays lip service to democracy.
  • Adaptability precludes adaptation, and vice versa.
  • Alternative forms of suicide are divorce, drugs, abandonment, infidelity, lying, cheating, alcohol, gluttony, and so on.
  • Listening is accurate paraphrase of what is being said.
  • Active listening is repeating what was said to the satisfaction of the speaker.
  • Demagoguery is saying what the people want to hear.
  • Arbitrariness is the wish and power of one ego over all the rest (and to be fought in all pursuits).
  • Death is mainly ego-obliteration. What others may retain of the departed ego is not the ego obliterated.
  • Frankness is the art of getting the truth across unmistakebly, without brutality.
  • One’s maturity and mental health is the extent to which intelligence rules passion, habit, and, yes, reason. Look out for the infantile personality
  • Probing questions, beyond the first two or three, take you down the path of the other person’s point of view to walk a mile in the other’s shoes. (The test for all journalists.)
  • Hindsight knows everything. Foresight knows nothing. Judgment is prudent. Prejudgment is reckless.
  • A journalist is a conduit, the wire, not the electricity, the sewer, not not the sewage.
  • The largest errors of our time: making immediate decisions without regard for long-term consequences.
  • The seven stages of life: inheritance; presence; competence; ascendance; eminence; impermanence; imminence. (But only in a democracy.)
  • Earth’s orbit is the Goldilocks orbit.
  • Silence is consent.
  • Freedom is not license. Freedom must be regulated to keep it from becoming licentious. Thus, freedom is not an absolute.
  • The only immortality open to human beings is in the generation of generations. You can see the pictorial record from the beginning of evolution to the present day. But when did evolution begin? Apparently, immortality, by definition, has no beginning. So humanity being immortal is a flawed concept already since there was a beginning. Eh? We experience family lines dying out, as traced in the family names dying out, and does that mean those lines of the gene-matter dying out as well? I am asking questions that I could never answer. I can only speculate, and even in that do it very poorly. But ultimately, I am here because there was some connection to the very first cell of irritable matter dividing and that has come down to me. Isn’t that a wonderful story to contemplate? Correct my scenario if you can!
  • In common parlance, stop the use of “BILLION”! And “TRILLION”, too! Do not say “20 billion”! Say, instead, “Twenty thousand million”. Why? I believe that more people have a better sense of what a “million” seems like in number of dollars, or any other quantity. They know about a million dollar home, but not a billion dollar home. They probably can come closer to visualizing a “million” than a “billion”. They may have seen more “millionaires”, but not ever a billionaire. More have come closer to a million than a billion. The boss or owner may be worth a million. However, now we must do the same for “trillion”. Do not call it “20 trillion”, but call it instead, “20??”! You figure that one out, so that you can get a better conception of what the size of our national debt figure is, and sounds like. A more animated and vivid comprehension of the magnitude of the debt may have a better chance of being realized at the level of the “common” folk. Start sustaining the bitter truth in which we all have a stake.
  • The recipe for regret is learning now what you should have known then.
  • Because attraction has so many levels and elements, homely people can be attractive, and handsome people can be ugly. Beauty and homliness are in the eye of the beholder.
  • The only thing perfect in life is that life, at death, is perfect only in its completeness. For the male, study, work, retirement. For the female, study, work, retirement. For the wife, study, work, and something less than complete.
  • Try this parlor game I have made up. Tell the players that they have been given the franchise to manufacture license plates. What is the total possible they can make over time given three letters of the alphabet followed by three numbers zero to nine. At what number will they run out of possible combinations before they will have to repeat a number, and therefore stop manufacturing plates, without switching the order of letters and numbers? The players can work in teams of two. Or better yet, work solo.
  • Created on … April 01, 2009

Published on April 1, 2009 at 8:16 am  Comments (104)  


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