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Archive for February, 2011

The Value of Talking, Feeling, & Playing Chess

February 20th, 2011 No comments

Rehashing the past to present day can be an invaluable activity for people (groups, families, couples, organizations, corporations or any other sum of individuals that adds up to 2 or more).

Recounting the past to present day helps people to know where they have been, what they have accomplished, and where they want to go. Reflective thinking allows people to make meaning of their life thus far. Without it, people have trouble figuring out why they are where they are now.

Talking politely, openly, and candidly with another person who is very important to you creates opportunity for existential relief and validation of individual experience. People need room to share the emotional/intellectual complexities that dwell in their mind. People need time and opportunity to unfurl any cobwebs that may be cluttering their mind. Moments of rest and togetherness are excellent times to do such things.

It is not necessary to unload absolutely every thought, feeling, and memory that occupies your mind. Yet, it remains essential to understand where your thoughts have been, where they currently are, and where they want or intend to go. Your thoughts, when openly expressed, will reveal where you are and what may or may not need to be done.

If you feel as if your thoughts may not be leading you in the right direction (however you wish to characterize the word right is entirely up to you), trust and rely on the intuitive feelings that line the landscape of your nervous system. Feelings often function as an effective signaler for potential interpersonal or personal imbalances that may be going on in your life. They are like a back-up system that takes over when a primary system fails.

It is possible to play a game of masterful chess with your feelings. You need not think of complex strategies and moves to emerge victorious in a game of chess. Instead, it may be more intuitive to glance at the squares to see where all the pieces are positioned. Look to see where the greatest volume of your competitors  pieces are placed and feel where the attack is coming from. An overloaded concentration of pieces on one side of the board lets you feel that your opponent is likely weak on the opposite side of the board. Repositioning your pieces to flood the other side of the board will have your competitor second-guessing their one-sided attack while attempting to beef up security on the other side of the board that more closely resembles a desolate hinterland.

Of course, chess requires a very high degree of patience and concentration. Adding alcohol to the game can water-down the effectiveness of your intuitive feelings and cognition. Couple this with a competitor who likes to create distraction and play psychological mind-games; and you got yourself a fiery game that will undoubtedly test the endurance and strength of your mind. Remember too, the calming effects alcohol can have on the mind (i.e. – not over-thinking the game and playing by feel).  

As in chess, you can play by feel in your life. Talking with someone about past to present day and future will likely settle your feelings and restore indefatigable cognition.

Do you value your feelings? Do you value talking through your feelings? Do you think chess is only for geeks and nerds?

Matthew Polkinghorne

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Irrational Acceleration (Part 3): Stop All The Traffic Jams

February 5th, 2011 No comments

I’ll cut to the chase. This is the 3rd part of my argument for traffic jams, human emotion, and irrational acceleration.

The 3rd part of my argument is irrational; it contains no logic and is completely unreasonable as compared to the last 2 entries. It appeals to the human side of all of us through song;

Matthew Good – Fated.

The song and words present in an unusual format. This does not mean that you cannot understand the meaning and feeling of the song. Maybe I just like how the phrase ‘stop all the traffic jams’ gets sung during the course. And maybe my subconscious was somehow searching for this song to finalize my argument within a completely humanistic context.

We all have bad days. This song accentuates, for some people, what the absolute worst day of your life can feel like.

As much as I feel like I am reaching for something that is not there; and the three segments of this idea are likely preposterous. I would still maintain that irrational acceleration (traffic jams and human emotion) is a formidable human problem that may need to be solved in the future.

Are you convinced by the segments of my arguments? Do you think it is time for traffic jams to be solved with new technology? Do you think it would be neat if an on-board computerized voice interface system was activated (to talk with you) when another system calculated that you are/were in a traffic jam and a built-in safety feature system placed a maximum threshold on acceleration (threshold on maximum velocity really) of your motor vehicle until it is determined that your vehicle’s velocity has averaged above a minimum velocity in a given time interval?

Drive safe,

Matthew Polkinghorne

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Irrational Acceleration (Academic & Motor Vehicle Talk)

February 2nd, 2011 No comments

What do you think when you hear the word or term irrational? Do you think the word or term irrational is the opposite of rational? Do you think of a person whom is more prone to indulge in their feelings rather than exercising the colloquial term of ‘sound judgment’? Or maybe you get your head planted in the high school mindset (i.e. – an irrational person is someone who just ain’t that good at math). Whatever your thoughts are regarding irrationality, the term certainly has the ability to stir up controversy between both sexes.

I have no problem with arguing, and perhaps this is why I wrote the 1st paragraph; to prepare myself for or negate potential arguments for what I am about to say with respect to irrational acceleration, traffic jams, and motor vehicles.

The term ‘irrational acceleration’ is an intellectual notion or intellectual construct. Irrational acceleration is when a human being puts the pedal to the floor because she or he is feeling disquieted in the mind (i.e. – I have been stuck in this traffic jam for a really long time now and I feel like I am about to reef all remaining hair off the top of my scalp).

Human emotion is complex. It is biological. It is neurological. It is conditioned. And it manifests and festers in innumerous ways (more ways than you and I can count). This is what makes it so complex; the unquantifiable way is which emotion emits itself from a human being (kind of like the uniqueness of falling snowflakes?).

Complexity, especially when we are talking in the realm of emotion, can be scary. It introduces the idea of unpredictability, innovation, and to varying degrees – irrationality. Therefore, irrationality has the ability to produce frightful results, particularly on the freeway where velocities constantly change.

Which brings us back to part of the original discussion (mentioned in previous post) – traffic jams, human emotion, and irrational acceleration (irrational acceleration because it is considered to be acceleration spawned by anger, annoyance, frustration, etc). Furthermore, it is irrational because the individual allows the operation of the motor vehicle to be guided by disquieted emotion (removing higher reasoning from the decision-making process thereby reducing levels of inter-motorist safety).

 Inter-motorist safety is jeopardized by the phenomenon known as a traffic jam. A traffic jam naturally incites volatile human emotion (anger, frustration, aggravation and the like). It incites the volatile human emotion because people tend to enjoy moving about freely in their world; arriving at destination B from A in as timely and smooth manner as possible.

Time is limited. Time is precious. Time for all of eternity is our precious resource. Being stuck; not moving in time, in a traffic jam, heightens negative and impatient emotions in the human being – leading to acceleration that is irrational and unsafe.

Safety is the key. Workable solutions can be created to neutralize human emotional reactivity to traffic jams. This may well be a powerful and provocative postulation; a ideological doctrine that threatens the hedonistic views of rugged individualism. Irrational acceleration is a fix, it is a high – a psychological drug to ease the pain of congestive waiting. A burst of speed to regain control of a problem beyond our control. But is it beyond our control? Will we continue to passively accept our own irrationalities? Will we continue to ignore our irrationalities and mightily proclaim ‘I am entitled to my irrationalities, therefore I am me, in my space, on this planet; in my time’. You cannot take my irrationality away from me, it is mine and I will hold it up for all to see in all of its glory.

The accelerator is mine and we have an understanding. Me and my accelerator need not worry about every other driver and their accelerators. We will all accelerate together in one mad fit of a traffic jam. The gasoline will be chugged at the expense of the consumer and accelerated entitlement will be felt.

Unless, of course, we say ‘wait a minute’, what is going on here. Is there not a new way for us to exercise moderation of use while behind the wheel? Is there not a way for us to build new systems that will enhance and promote motorist safety while, at the same time, maintaining an extremely high degree of driver autonomy. Is there not a way for us to eliminate some irrationality and still keep the joys associated with acceleration?

There are powers out there that have the ability to squash or obliterate such an idea if it ever came close to realization; like a well-lit cigarette being thrown in a cold bucket of water. I would ask the sum of such powers; is this idea even worth considering? Or, is my head off in some half-shaped cloud?

Whichever way society decides, I will go on thinking, writing, and asking questions even if the ideas are way out in left field.

I hope you will too.

Matthew Polkinghorne

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