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Archive for the 'Egoism in Action' Category

Hey, @Zillow: Why are you calling the Realtors and lenders you prey upon #racist?

And why on earth do they continue to do business with you?

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    Flourishing, Flying, and the FAA

    Greg has a nice post on mastering something difficult this year. I’m not sure it counts as a truly difficult task, but I started taking private pilot lessons in August, and was hooked. It turns out that flying in a small plane is fun, especially when you can fly most places you want with comparatively little hassle.

    In October, I bought an airplane – a Piper Cherokee 140 that was built in the 1960s, and refurbished in the 2000s with new avionics and electronics.

    It’s not particularly speedy. It flies about 130 to 140 mph in calm weather. With a headwind, you’ll get no better speed than a fast car, though you do always have the advantage of flying directly from point to point and avoiding traffic.

    There are two aspects of flying. There is the purely intellectual and mechanical task of operating the plane, and of inspecting it and fixing it (which I’m looking forward to learning.) That is exciting. I started landing the plane well, consistently, last week. Something just clicked and I’ve got a good sense now of how to fly the plane to a stop.

    I’m also excited about mapping routes, avoiding hazards, making sure the plane is operating safely.

    What is a terrible bore is that flying has got to be one of the most regulated ways to travel. I am able to avoid most of the TSA because I can walk right out to the plane on the ramp.

    But everything is highly regulated, from the actual certification of the plane and all repairs, additions, improvements and modifications, to restrictions on where you can travel, to licensing restrictions.

    I am going to have to take my private pilot check ride, which is a ride with an FAA examiner to make sure I can operate the plane safely and perform certain maneuvers. I’m not too worried about that.

    But I also have to read, memorize, and regurgitate on a multiple choice exam a ton of useless factoids about aviation regulations that are irrelevant to safety or to proficient flying.

    So much of our life is regulated – from the fishing license, to the boating certificate, to the pilot’s license, to the driver’s license, to the license to start this or that business. It’s a wonder you don’t need a license from the government to launch a new website.

    That is so very sad.

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    Want to be a better, more-perfect version of yourself? Master something difficult this year.

    M
    You weren’t just cheated of an education when you were young, you were cheated out of the full awareness of your own humanity.Mait Jüriado / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

    I always love to read about the outrageously nefarious bad guys who are doing all the things we hate. Doesn’t matter who “we” are, since the bad guys afflicting every “we” are always blindingly brilliant, amazingly competent masterminds of evil.

    I guess it’s useful to exaggerate your opposition, but here’s the thing:

    Everyone I remember from school was a fuck-up.

    Start with a good solid two-thirds compliant drones, dutifully going through whatever motions seemed to be required. Maybe half of the rest were glib and lazy. Even the straight-A apple-polishers were just phoning it in, doing the minimum necessary to get the grade from the glib-and-lazy grown-up teaching the class.

    Am I misrepresenting the world of education? Is there anything you can think of that you did in school that you’re truly proud of now. Away from athletics or the school play, was there anything in your academic life that you gave everything you had? Was there anyone else who did that?

    Was there any class that you took — ever — where you had to bust ass Read more

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  • 2 comments

    When I start a church, I’m going to call it The Second Church of I-Don’t-Go-To-Your-Church.

    Temptation
    Thomas Hawk / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

    How do you know when a time is right for your idea? How about when someone else comes up with something similar?: Atheist ‘mega-churches’ take root across USA, world. For the past three months, I’ve been thinking about starting a church evangelizing egoism and excluding no one, and here is the something similar. I’m reading this as a publicity stunt, but we’ll see. That’s definitely not what I’m about.

    What I want is a mission devoted to the idea of doing better. Just that. The doctrine is mine, Man Alive, et very cetera, but I’m a lot more interested in praxis than dogma. If you cross a soul-enriching music performance with a mind-enflaming motivational seminar, you’re halfway to seeing what I see.

    Picture a real live church service somewhere, once a week. My ideal location would be a big bar on late Saturday afternoons, to put the idea of choosing admirably in mind just when it might be needed most. That can be simulcast by Ustream or Spreecast, so the whole world can join in, one mind at a time.

    But: I’m digging living on the road a lot, so I would love to take this show on Read more

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    Rock Me Mama Egoism In Action: The link from art to human values and back.

    Everything is all one thing, so this is a video essay about art about music about morality about song-writing about marriage about redemption – simple stuff. This is egoism in action, me being me.

    This video connects directly to the argument I made on Friday about ‘conservative’ art, and all of everything I am saying – and everything I am doing – connects back to everything else I am saying. This is a one-hour immersion in Splendor.

    An audio-only version is linked below, and that will show up also on iTunes in due course.

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    Practical ontology in real estate? Who ever heard of such a thing?

    NewHomeBuildingInPhoenix

    From KJZZ Radio in Phoenix, The Way of the Bloodhound:

    ‘“From now on whenever you’re driving on the freeway look for a truss,” Swann said, referring to a roof truss on the back of a truck. “And when you start to see a truss every day, then things have turned around. If you see three trusses a day, then things have really turned around. But if you can go five days without seeing a truss on the freeway, then no one is building anything.”’

    The linked story is from Peter O’Dowd, a journalist for whom I have huge respect — not alone because he listens when I talk about bug’s-eye-view real estate.

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    Bidding farewell to brave Odysseus…

    It’s a dread we’ve learned to live with. I wrote about this day in fiction a couple of months ago so I would have the choice not to write about the facts today. I can make death beautiful — big deal. Nothing can make death tolerable, nothing but time.

    But: He died as he lived, game and eager, his face alight with love for everything. Cathleen was there to hold him and his favorite vet, Doctor Blackwell, was there to say goodbye and I was there to make fun of the most adorable big dumb doofus I ever knew and he left this life with a smile on his face.

    One last time: “Lay down, Puppy. Go to sleep…”

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    Black Friday? Grey Thursday? Before the flood, a pensive Wednesday night at Walmart.

    I love Walmart. I am very happy to call myself a member of the middle class, and I take huge delight in cruising the aisles at Walmart, scoping out all the incredible deals.

    I don’t buy a lot of stuff, though. Away from TechToyz, I lead a pretty Spartan existence. But I love to see all that incredible wealth stacked floor to ceiling, knowing that it is the much-maligned engine of freeish-market capitalism that makes all that stuff available to me.

    I’m not a Black Friday kind of shopper. We’re not all that Christmas-y, and I do not like to be crowded, not ever. But the phenomenon of Black Friday, especially at Walmart, is fascinating to me.

    We had to stop in at a Super Walmart late Wednesday night, and I took the opportunity to snap a few dozen photos of that store’s preparations for Grey Thursday and Black Friday. Every wide aisle in the store was lined with pallets full of shrink-wrapped merchandise, millions of dollars worth of stuff waiting to be sold between now and Monday.

    There were more staffers than customers in the store, and they were all busy getting ready. Black Friday takes its name from the sad fact that the day after Thanksgiving is the day most retailers reach the stage of profitability for the calendar year. In other words, storekeepers large and small work almost eleven months of the year before they make any profit at all.

    Walmart might do better than that. Apple’s retail presence does a lot better. But retail is a hard way to make an easy living, and my bet is that it will get harder as the parasitic weight of government crushes more and more of the economy.

    Meanwhile, smug people like to sneer at Walmart for selling Americans goods they want to buy at prices they want to pay. I’m happy that some people are so rich that they can afford to spurn and scorn Walmart. But I’m happier still that Walmart is around to provide incredible values every day for people who work hard for their money and want to make it go as far as it can.

    Happy Black Friday, Walmart. You treat us better than we deserve.

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    Happy Birthday, Greg!

    Enjoy your next trip around the sun!

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    Embracing your inner anarchist — because there is no alternative.

    Here’s my quick take on the presidential election, from a video made one day prior to the event: Mitt Romney is going to win an Electoral College landslide. My state-by-state prediction is shown below, but it’s not based on any sort of arcane science. I’m just betting that married people with kids and jobs will vote to fire Barack Obama for gross incompetence.

    Note that this is not an expression of racism, as you will surely hear from the perpetually-sore-losers of the chattering classes. I’m just betting that the people with the biggest stake in the game of human life will vote against the most perniciously anti-life candidate ever to seek the office of the presidency.

    But at the same time, Romney’s win will not be any sort of repudiation of Marxism, contrary to Michael Walsh’s claim at National Review Online. It’s just the correction of a bad hiring decision.

    In this week’s video, I argue that the self-loving thing for you to do is to accept that fact that each human being is sovereign and indomitable, and that, therefore, self-control is all the control that can ever exist among human beings. In the course of that argument, I cite an essay of mine, Meet the Third Thing. I also recite an old poem, which I will transcribe here for what may be the first time it has ever appeared in print:

    What if I’ve been wrong?
    What if I’ve been wrong all along?
    What if everything I’ve said,
    everything I’ve done,
    everything I’ve thought about is wrong?
    What if I’ve been wrong all along?

    Here is this week’s video:

    For an audio-only version of this video, take yourself to the SelfAdoration.com podcast on iTunes.

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    Unchained melody: Cultivating indifference with Cage the Elephant.

    Man Alive! is six months old this week. A video I made on Monday celebrates the book’s demi-anniversary by eviscerating two mutually-contradictory theories of human free will.

    Meanwhile, I’m in the early stages of writing a new book on moral philosophy, this one concerned with moving your self rightward on the number line discussed in Chapter 7 of Man Alive!

    Cathleen and I were talking about a piece of this pie last night, the idea I call Cultivating Indifference. She asked me if I am really unhurt by other people’s (sometimes virulent) criticism of me. I am, although I understand why people might find this hard to believe. But here is how my thinking runs:

    If you say something about me, it is either true or it isn’t. If it’s true, I am improved by your observation, however it comes packaged. My goal is to do better in everything I do, so if someone points out that I have been in error, I am glad to know it.

    And if the claim is not true, I am unmoved. I keep my own counsel in everything I do, and I never change anything in my thinking or my behavior without a good reason.

    If the criticism is offered in good faith, I will explain my thinking. And if it is simply malice, a verbal spear intended to wound me, I will know that the person throwing that spear is not to be trusted, and my life will be improved by that bit of new knowledge.

    In all cases, I am concerned with nothing but my self, so other people’s behavior toward me is only interesting to the extent that it offers me opportunities to improve my own mind and conduct.

    To my mind, this is completely rational. I like it when folks I admire return my admiration, but I don’t give a rat’s ass if unlikeable people don’t like me. It would be a red flag for me if they did!

    Anyway, here’s a rockin’ tune from Cage the Elephant that expresses my attitude on this subject perfectly:

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    Movie of the week: A Sunday sermon on religion.

    When Man Alive! was first published, a number of people were distressed that I didn’t take a harder line on religion. My reason for doing as I did was pretty simple: Although I am a very strident atheist, and although I have nothing but contempt for theology and for all religious apocrypha, I like, respect and admire many people who say they are religious — including my own Best Beloved, my wife, Cathleen Collins.

    I care a lot less about what you say you believe than I do about how you actually behave. If you are capable of leaving me alone to live my life as I choose, I don’t care what you say are your reasons for behaving as you do. By contrast, if you claim you are in agreement with my own ideas about the nature and structure of reality, and yet you cannot manage to keep your nose out of my business, then I care a great deal your actual behavior, regardless of your putative agreement with my philosophy.

    This topic is of moment this week because our friends in the lands infested with Islam have put on another display of the impotent irrationality that is represented to be the substance of their religion. I don’t make fine distinctions about anegoistic doctrines: Whether your claims are based in religion, in politics or in some absurd academic dogma, if your behavior is atrocious, you are engaged in self-destruction in spite of your self.

    We go through all this in the video, but the solution to every problem posed by anti-human dogmas is four-words simple: Fuck you. I quit. When the sane believers of every sort of doctrine work up the nerve to say those four words to their would-be masters, the world will be a better place overnight.

    You can find an audio-only version of this video at the SelfAdoration.com podcast on iTunes.

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    Life after foreclosure: Cultivate indifference and press on regardless.

    We just lost our house to foreclosure. Negotiations with the bank fell apart and we spent the last seven days bugging out. This was our third Notice of Trustee’s Sale. We had managed to redeem the note twice before, and we thought for sure we could thread the needle a third time. No joy. We didn’t know until yesterday morning that the bank had actually foreclosed, but we had to operate on the assumption that we could lose our pets and our personal property without notice.

    That’s bad, but it’s not the end of the world. We are solvent even if we are not terribly liquid just now. We have business assets, art and artifacts and intellectual property, all of which we were able to conserve by acting quickly. Was I the bank, I would have hung in there for another month or two, taking account that we live on a cash-flow roller coaster and that we had managed to cling to the home twice before.

    Over the past three months, we have cut our monthly nut by two-thirds, so we are well-situated to weather the economy we are living in. Had we done this seven years ago, things might be different, but we live with the consequences of our choices. We loved our home and we are sorry to have lost it, and sorry, too, to have defaulted on our promise to the bank, but life is suddenly a lot more joyous without that anchor around our necks.

    Our real estate business is secure and solvent. All of the rental properties we manage are leased to solid, performing tenants, and our corporate bank accounts are all in good order. Our personal finances might be chaotic — this for many years, alas — but this has had no impact on the funds we hold in trust for our landlords and tenants.

    And our marriage is stronger than it has ever been — literally as the consequence of these events. Cathleen had some teary moments, because we loved the El Caminito house, and because we spent many happy, loving years there, minus a few rough spots. But I’m happy with everything, so far, most especially with our marriage. It is the shared commitment to overcoming adversity that makes families, and we have lived through a lot of commitment in the past week.

    All of this is offered up as news: This is what is going on with us. We are living out of boxes in our new abode, but the office is up and running, with me keeping the paperwork flowing while Cathleen stages and lists a home for sale today. We’re running behind, obviously, but we are catching up with alacrity. In a week’s time, all of these events won’t amount to a speed-bump on a sleepy side-street.

    We are hale, well and happy — and so should you be. FannieMae is taking another hit, but that seems to be what they’re good at. Meanwhile, we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off — and press on regardless. We have each other, and everything else is just so much stuff.

    Best,

    Greg Swann
    September 13, 2012

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    My commencement speech.

    This is me from SelfAdoration.com:

    What I’m doing here is a sort of commencement speech, a celebration of my moving on to a different state of excitation — even if everyone else stays exactly the same.

    But I’m using extended arguments about the idea of preferring the subjunctive to the existential to defend my way of thinking in a comprehensive way.

    I’ve spent my whole life thinking about how to talk to you — I say that in the movie — and this little clip may be the most comprehensive job I have done so far of communicating at least this small idea: We are not talking about the same things.

    I don’t trade in your currency — I say that in the film also — but I am trying to convey to you why my currency is so much better for you than the stuff you’ve been trading with until now.

    This stuff ain’t easy, I know, and it is plausible to me that my take-no-prisoners approach makes things harder for you, not easier. Oh, well…

    This is me at my most me, the meest of the mes I have presented in these videos — all of which are intended to acquaint you with my style of being as the result of your having spent time with me being me.

    I love this movie. I hope you do, too.

    The video is in this YouTube clip. Fair warning, it’s 40 minutes long.

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    He blinded them with science: Taking up the vocabulary of self-adoration at The 21Convention.

    This is me speaking at The 21Convention earlier this month in Austin. The title of my talk — “Ontologically-Consonant Teleology” — was a joke, an early intimation that I intended to be dry, pedantic and boring. In reality, I gave them my pure schtick, hard-core egoism delivered with a garage-band attitude.

    I enjoyed myself hugely, but I always enjoy myself when I get a chance to speak in public. The audience dug it, too, judging from the reactions during and after my presentation.

    I want more opportunities like this. If you would like me to speak at your event, let’s talk.

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