Thursday, December 5, 2013

On Boredom

This morning, a couple of my clients rescheduled last-minute so I found myself with a rare not-busy few hours. Boredom set in instantly.

So I decided to pace the room and see what thoughts emerged. Here's what emanated. Perhaps you might find something of use:
  • It's amazing how important being needed and busy is, at least for some people. 
  • Relaxing and smelling the roses for more than a little time feels like a waste, not restorative, a waste. Life feels like it should, as much as possible, be about productivity, contribution.
  • Busy people contemplating retirement, beware. It may be enticing to envision mornings lingering over a cup of coffee, reading the news, and organizing your living space, but that well may get old. Retirement tends to be like the roach motel: you can check in but you can't check out. 
  •  Do I want to write another how-to book? No. I think people get more benefit per hour from reading article-length advice.
  •  Do I want to do more volunteer work? No. My seeing pro-bono clients, speaking for free to groups of unemployed people, and significant cash donations feel like enough. 
  • I worry that my charitable donations won't do enough good. I like funding unpopular causes that hold promise of making a huge difference, like education for the gifted and understanding the biological basis of intelligence. But my money is merely a drop of water into an ocean. Is there a better use of my money? 
  • Is there something new I want to do? No, I just want to do a good job at what I already do: career and personal coaching, writing my column and this blog, my radio show, being a good husband, answering all my email, being kind where I can, direct when it's wiser. Yes, that's enough.
  • The New York Times reported yesterday that hospitals kill 440,000 people a year. In a few years when all those millions of high-need, low-paying people join the health care rolls thanks to ObamaCare, including the 11 million illegals when they become legal through "comprehensive immigration reform," many more will die--not just from the hospitals being overwhelmed but from lack of access to doctors, MRI machines, operating rooms, etc. Ironic that not only am I subsidizing their health care, I have a greater chance of dying because masses of people came to the U.S. illegally.
  • Despite being so disciplined about everything else, why I can I not stop overeating? I really should lose those 20 pounds, dammit.
Those are my musings during today's boring few hours. Care to share yours?


Maria Lopez said...

I wouldn't worry to much about more people using hospital services. Unless hospitals are not reimbursed adequately, they can expand.

Also, the use of preventive care might reduce the use of more expensive an high tech services. It is probably better, for instance, to catch cancer when it is at an early stage and can be treated with less drastic and expensive interventions.

I am not sure what is meant by to biological basis of intelligence. It seems there could be several things about one's brain that could make more or less efficient. While I agree that intelligence has a strong genetic component, there are environmental influences that are important limiters of intelligence for many people. Ones I know about are deficiencies of iron or iodine, lead poisoning, and plain getting hit on the head. I know two people who caused their younger siblings to be retarded because they accidentally injured their heads while playing with them.

Campaigning to vaccinate babies and to make sure that they get enough good food as well as careful lead remediation might do a fair amount to improve people's intelligence.

Also, though in a previous blog post you contrasted Alzheimer's research with research on the basis of intelligence. I feel Alzheimer's research could definitely do a lot of good. Much of society's wealth is spent on caring for people who no longer have the intellectual ability to care for themselves. Reducing that burden is important.

One airy-fairy thing I'm interested is whether "multiple realizability" is true. This is a ten dollar philosophical term for the idea that intelligence can arise from substrates different from human brains. Such things would encompass aliens, machines, or possibly spirits. If that is true, while human intelligence would still have a biological basis, the ultimate basis of intelligence might be mathematical. of course, this is all airy-fairy and I can understand not wanting to fund it.

Finally about that twenty pounds I can think of two things that might apply. One, you might feel that you do not want to be physically smaller. I suffer from this though If I was more conventionally feminine I guess I wouldn't. The other thing is that getting more exercise than you get walking your dog might feel to you like narcissistic unproductive time. It isn't if not carried out to excess. Their is evidence that exercise could be protective against heart attack, stroke, and Alzheimer's all things could cause you such damage that you couldn't work and would be dependent on your wife to care for you. Something which you would not want.

Marty Nemko said...

Dear Maria,

As you know I've agreed with a fair percentage of what you've opined in previous posts but not here.

There will be a massive health-care access problem with 50MM more (largely low-contributing/high-need) patients and the same or fewer (MANY doctors are quitting because of ACA and Medicare). There's little evidence that making "preventive care" available will put a significant dent in the problem. The people who most need to be told "broccoli yes/cheeseburger no" stop smoking, and drinking won't go to those wellness exams and even if given the riot act, least likely to act on the advice, even to take their medication regularly, for example, to take their blood pressure medication daily. And taking it intermittently may, because of rebound effect, do more harm than good.

Yes, environment matters, but just as a car with a weak engine cannot run well no matter how well tuned it is, same with intelligence. And the core reason for the multigenerational poor is low intelligence.

No, I can't accept the even theoretical feasibility of "multiple realizability."

And I exercise vigorously every day, knowing it doesn't result in weight loss. Recent studies explain that whatever calories you burn in exercise is compensated for by a resulting increase in appetite and sense of entitlement to eat because you did exercise.

Sorry, Maria.

Maria Lopez said...

I am glad you exercise. I don't know enough to argue well with you about healthcare except to say that a lot of people I know who are not that intelligent and/or not well educated do have an interest in nutrition and the significant drop in smoking did not all come from really smart people. I wouldn't assume preventive measures are worthless.

Also, without healthcare many people who make a small positive contribution become a drain on other people's resources. While some things (tummy tucks probably) should be paid for out of the patients resources, other things for instance checking to see if someone's cornea is scratched, probably produce positive value for everybody in almost all cases.

Finally since multiple realizability is an obsession of mine, what can't you accept about it? I agree that what I put in about spirits is silly, however.

I do think intelligent aliens with brains that differ from human brains are possible and that the possibility of intelligent machines might actually depend on the definition of intelligent. (i.e. a computer program that does well on IQ tests might or might be seen as actually intelligent but I don't think such woulod be impossible.)

Anonymous said...

My mother died last week. Her life was destroyed by surgeons. They took her apart for no reason with lots of promises and few successes. I am heartbroken. I am an atheist. I know I will not see her again in any other life. I am overcome with guilt and sorrow. Do you think therapy is worthwhile? Lots of people have already hugged me and said spiritual-type nonsense to comfort me. These are my thoughts on this cold cold day.

Anonymous said...

After I left a post about the passing of my mom I scrolled down and saw your own post about your mother in hospice care. I am so sorry I brought it up, I didn't know your situation, may she find comfort and ease now. Sincerely, Rachel Hart, Santa Rosa CA


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