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Thursday, January 27, 2005


Economics, education, families

I'm continuing with the survey of areas in my knowledge base.
By economics I'm referring to companies and business, industries, economic systems such as the world or economic systems, and the activities of consumption, buying, and producing. As with the other areas, this is rather too much to cover in a brief note. The history of corporate and economic development is not as well covered as I would like it to be, and I am interested in getting a better picture of the the economy at various levels of society.

Education is another area of particular interest. I've attended 5 colleges and visited several more, escaping with an AS - Individualized program (heavy in math, computer science, and liberal arts but no BS or BA, and I've volunteered at a couple of elementary schools. I'm no expert on school organization or administration, but I've made no secret of my interest in libraries and other educational facilities. I enjoy teaching when I've had the opportunity. but I'm not at all certain I want to teach in the public schools as they are now organized. My interests run more to research. I'm trying to pick up information on the history of education, especially at various levels of society.

Families are the other major area I include in institutions. In our society, they are smaller and less well organized than government, churches, companies, or schools; although in other societies kinship is a much more important way of organizing society. I don't consider myself more of an expert on families than anyone else who has one: since I tend to catch grief when dealing with my family, I'm trying to resolve my own difficulties so they don't get in the way.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005



I'm running short on time to compose what I want to say; I've been battling insomnia for the past week or so (can't sleep at night, can't stay awake during the day).

I have somewhat mixed feelings about government; sometimes it's a help, sometimes it's a nuisance. Part of my project involves looking at the history of government, its manifestations in different societies, and its organization and structure, activities, and the law. I could say a lot more on government and politics, but it's been discussed so much that other people have said it better. But I'll start to include more of my thoughts in the future.

Monday, January 24, 2005


More positioning

I don't know if I mentioned that one of my goals has been to connect my work on my knowledge base with more immediate needs. Ignoring or setting aside my personal economic necessities in favor of my study project, while the unfulfilled hope that eventually my studies would eventually turn out has been a major difficulty.

In spite of frequent advice that I ought to set aside my study project and work on the necessities, I feel strongly that this is an unworkable and even wrong approach; for several reasons. I've had those reasons bashed, so I'm not going to rehearse them here. What I need to do is to find a way to put my research and study skills to work to handle my own necessities.

The targeting and priority balancing scheme I mentioned seems to be working; I'm making progress toward identifying potential jobs and companies. However, since I've been in the shelter for 4 months now, I'm facing increasing pressure from the counselor there to get out and start filling out applications. I'm getting there, but I'm not quite to this stage yet. The jobs I would like to do, jobs I have the skills to do, jobs actually available, and jobs advertised go in four different orders of importance, so finding a tolerable match so that these categories aren't mutually exclusive is a non-trival task.

Friday, January 21, 2005



A lot of what I've been doing lately is making links between areas I would like to study or know more about. Some of the newer areas, though, are ones that lead to specific, usable information.

Contining a description of my outline and the progress I'm making on it:
I have a list of cities that I intend to use in the examination of countries; Not just capital cities, but other prominent ones.
Typically, the social sciences of anthropology and sociology are kind of twins. As they have evolved, sociology deals largely with large, modern, industrialized societies, while sociology deals with smaller, non-industrial peoples. I seriously dislike this approach. I consider societies to be complexes that include not only people, but their artifacts and patterns of thought, behavior, and social organization.

At the next lower level of organization come a group of "institutions".
Religion is an important one to society in general, and my chief approach to this is through the major religious traditions. These include what I call Abrahamic (chiefly Christianity, Judaism, and Islam), Asiatic, pagan, and secularism, and they connect to history and are distributed among the various peoples of the world.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005



I was getting frustrated with the slow pace of progress on my knowledge base, and nearly gave up on my "new" targeting system. But..not quite. I was pleased enough that I had made some progress at including some long-standing interests, that I decided to try to refine it rather than give it up.

So, I have a balancing system, (to keep track of which interconnections are most demanded), a targeting system, so I can identify important subjects that aren't in special demand internally, and and a cutoff limit for subjects that aren't in heavy demand. One of the things that has slowed the pace down is the "Stiffness" or "friction" associated with rewrites of some subjects I had developed well in advance of what I can presently use. Next, I need a good way to accelerate the development of 'targeted' subjects.

I mentioned some of the subjects I was interested in; now for a few notes, giving more detail.

I've never wanted to be a historian, although the study of history has fascinated me at times, and still does. My approach borrows from the idea of a topographic map, in which a complex surface is described by lines which mark a constant elevation. How close the lines are indicates how steep the slope is. So, I divide history entirely arbitrarily by dates, to give an idea of the flow of history.
My emphasis is primarily in modern times, after 1500 CE (Christian Era = AD); with greater emphasis on more recent centuries.

One of the reasons I've chosen such a parallel approach to history is that I'm interested in the correlations to and connections among the various civilizations, peoples, and nations of the world. If I'm reading about ancient Egypt, for example, it's hard to recall what may be going on at the same time in Mesopotamia or Greece.
So, I've done a survey of what I call "peoples", and correlating this to history.
Again, my focus is not even; I have comparatively more attention given to the peoples of "Western" civilization than the Asiatic, African, or Native American peoples, and with this kind of approach I can more easily see the gaps where little is known.

Sunday, January 16, 2005


Flying like the space shuttle

When someone asked me how I was doing this morning, that's the answer I gave.

That's actually not so far from the truth.
I'm trying to fix some ongoing problems that led to the crash and burn of my marriage, and I've taken it to be an involved, complex, and very time-consuming process.
But I've long had a suspicion that I'm making it out to be much more difficult than it really needs to be. Certainly, the effort to redirect my study efforts towards priorities is taking too long, as well as results from the efforts themselves.

I've been following the progress of the Space Shuttle, as well as the various privately funded efforts to develop reusable space vehicles such as the X-Prize has been encouraging.

I agree entirely with those critics of the Space shuttle who call it too big, too complex, and too slow. To develop technology, it's important to design, build, test, and refine, in a cycle a few months, rather than a few years.
The question is, does this idea apply to my study and employment efforts? I think it might. Rather than thinking massive and cumbersome, I need to find ways to move to my targets more rapidly.

Saturday, January 15, 2005



I've been working on the knowledge base, and adding several more topics, enough that I've had to upgrade to the next size of notebook to carry my studies around. It's going slower than I expected, but I'm rather pleased with the direction it's been taking. A brief survey of my progress:

History is already pointed in the direction I want to take it, but it's a bit stiff and not well connected to the local perspective that I want. I haven't reached to current events, but pushing this too far and fast leaves the particular peoples and communities I want unconnected.
In investigation of peoples and communities, because different approaches demand different orders of investigation, so balancing these demands is particularly challenging. The outlines are reasonably clear; but the obstacle has been in connecting these to the next level, the major social institutions.
A tentative order of significance of these is economics, religion, government, education, and families, but again, there is enough of a problem with balance with different pushes and pulls that I can't take these in a fixed order.
I'm most pleased with the progress in the last few days in areas of culture: These have been in what I've thought of as the inaccessible middle, but they will probably the most practically useful areas of study.
I've also been making progress in studies of the fundamentals of human society, and geography, and in psychology and the human body. These are not my favorite areas to study and I've found it difficult at times to make progress.
At the level of science and nature, I'm also making progress in biology and the earth sciences.

Overall, the impression I get is that there is considerable "inertia" in what I already have developed, and I'm having to reposition some of my studies so that I can correct my aim and sharpen my focus.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005


Better, but...

I've been working on the "priority balancing" approach to my knowledge base and other studies: I still think the idea is sound, but the technique leaves something to be desired. One of the high priorities is to learn more about Morgantown itself: Since I'm still a newcomer and haven't gotten around much, I'm at something of a disadvantage compared to the natives. But as a starting point, here's a link to the city's web site.

Monday, January 10, 2005


Getting it?

I've been giving more thought to the difficulty of balancing priorities.
I don't know if I mentioned it here, but a couple of weeks ago, I went through and made a page-long list of things I've studied and qualifications I've learned. Most of them come without credentials or formal recognition.
Perhaps I should put the list up here. But, in looking it over, it's perhaps understandable but still ridiculous that I have such problems finding employment.
I think the biggest single obstacle is my obsession with my knowledge base.

I'm not willing to give this up entirely, and I don't think I should. The problem is that it's been a fascinating but practically useless exercise in abstract theorization. The question I'm constantly faced is "What is this good for?".
I haven't had a clear answer besides, "I hope it will be good for something someday", which is rather unsatisfying, both to myself and anyone else.

But...I very much like the quote that I read once, "There's nothing more practical than a good theory".

So, if I can come up with a system of balancing priorities that works, and connect it to my practical needs...I may not be so far from practical application as I have been used to thinking.

Saturday, January 08, 2005


Scientific stuff

I've been reviewing my program of studies to again attempt to determine what the priorities need to be. It's easy for me to get bogged down in the mechanics of connecting things, and forget what the purpose is.

Still, and even so, I find that my program is based heavily on the scientific study of nature. My personal preference is for physics and chemistry, although the evidence is that studies of earth sciences and biological sciences are more practically useful and necessary in other areas of work and study.

I've long recognized that science is a human activity and is connected with people, which makes it important to communicate with other people that have an interest in science. It's easiest to identify historical scientists, but it's probably more practically useful to identify living ones. Since there are so many of these, and since they are not equally approachable, I'm looking for ways that I can connect with them better, and of course this varies according to which of the sciences I am studying at the moment.

Joining of scientific organizations and associations is somewhat difficult and has its own collection of problems. Since my interests in science tend to be more theoretical rather than experimental and general rather than specialized, I'm neither in the forefront of scientific discovery, nor qualified on a professional level to be there.

When I look at organizations such as the AAAS, I find that they are directed toward either professional working scientists, or formally enrolled students of science. What I see a need for is continuing scientific education, allowing people whose interest is late-developing or peripheral to other areas, to learn more about science, and I don't see any obvious way of identifying such people. I just did a quick search on "continuing education in science", and didn't find much. I could do a more thorough and varied search, but I'm not sure there is a genuine need for it.
But this is an area I will want to investigate more.

Thursday, January 06, 2005


Priority balancing

One of the problems that keeps cropping up as I work on my "knowledge base" is that there are so many loose ends; things I want to get back to but haven't done yet. I have them listed in a long-standing categorized order, which helps, but isn't quite enough.

The problem is choosing the "most important" one to work on at any given moment. I've tried starting at one end and working through to the other, but this gives a rather unbalanced and artificial order that skips over things in the "middle", which are just as important as the ones on the ends. The web-type connections among topics make a multi-dimensional network impossible to linearize without distorting it.

Another problem is that what is "most important" tends to change from day to day, both because I've made progress, or because progress in one area opens up something else for development, or because I've met an unexpected difficulty and want to set something aside to work on it later, or even because I can only stomach so much of a topic at a given time, or any number of other reasons.

Prioritizing isn't all that difficult when there are few options to choose from, but when the number of topics I have looked at and would like to look at again numbers in the hundreds or even thousands, trying to balance the competing demands is a difficult problem. This "priority balancing" is a problem in daily living as well as in working on the knowledge base. Hopefully, it's a transferrable skill: If I can manage the one, I can manage the other. It's one thing to recognize that my priorities are askew: it's something else again to get them right.

My latest scheme for doing this seems to be working reasonably well for now: I'll have to see how it goes.

One of my many oft-postponed ideas has been to do study of scientific organizations and societies. The granddaddy of them all is the AAAS, so in accordance with another new year's resolution to put more links in my blog, there is one.

Monday, January 03, 2005


New Year

Happy New Year to all!

I'm not a great believer in New Year's Resolutions, but if I were to make one, it would probably be to spend less time in the library and behind computers, and more interacting with other people.
Since the library was closed for the New Year's weekend, I haven't been able to do daily posts. I've been a little depressed over the holidays in general and the weekend in particular, but I need to do what I can.
I've been doing a little analysis of the obstacles that keep me from seeking and finding employment. Many of them are internal. One of the chiefest ones is lack of direction or focus. As long as I'm not certain about where I am going or how to get there, it's hard to get moving. This, I think, is the biggest obstacle. Another is simple timidity.
In connection with the analysis, I wrote out a list of what I consider my skills and accomplishments that came to a full page. I'm not sure how it can be condensed into one or two sentences on a job application, or how to express it believably without sounding boastful.

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