Not Who You Thought?

As part of the Alternative Lifestyles blog-posts migration over to the new blog The Professor’s Lifestyles Memoirs, this post has been moved there. To read this post please click the link to the blog.

Your patience is appreciated. Thank you!

16 thoughts on “Not Who You Thought?

  1. A superbly crafted article, Professor, for which many thanks. As an inveterate advocate of the devil, but also because I believe what follows to be true, then personally I am deeply cynical about so-called ‘consumer choice’ in the operation of (again, so-called) ‘free markets’, and how those phrases have been used to propagate the neoliberalist paradigm of the past 35 years or so. Let me speak about Britain, and solely in respect to the market economy, rather than the other spheres you so eloquently discuss:

    Here, we were told by politicians [See: Thatcherism/Reaganomics] that the supply of public goods and services by the state, when there was only a single source for each (of telephony, gas, electricity, trains, buses, water, waste collection, etc.), all then issued by nationalised (i.e. publicly owned) industries, would result in a far better deal for consumers if the state suppliers were dismantled (or sold off) and private corporations stood in their stead. This would be the result of increased competition thereafter — a seemingly logical argument.

    This has proven to be a fallacy, resulting only in a constantly manipulated and covertly constructed price confusion by the marketing departments of the private suppliers, often as a camouflage for pricing cartels between those same privately owned corporations.

    The two most rapidly expanding supermarkets (food suppliers) in the U.K. are Aldi and Lidl, whose model is based on low pricing resulting from the withdrawal of choice — just one (own brand) type of baked bean, mayonnaise, etc. Consumers are loving it; they don’t want the sixteen varieties of ketchup available in the other suppliers — just one, maybe two (e.g. low salt), which are good quality and value.

    Overwhelmingly, the public want to return to a nationalised railway system, as they are sick of exploitative confusion pricing and the inability to know what the cheapest way is to get from A to B. Most consumers, when surveyed, complain about telephony, gas, electric and water providers, again as a result of the so-called ‘consumer choice’ that is offered. Our most cherished institution is the National Health Service, which, despite its failings, almost none of the public wish to see supplanted by private medical care. Even our current right-wing government recognises this (whilst covertly privatising portions of the service piecemeal.)

    So, I think we have to treat the emotional and psychological aspects of life somewhat differently to the material and services side. Diversity is good in one (the former) and not necessarily in the other. Nowadays, ‘diversity’ is a buzzword that we increasingly feel obliged to accept as a ubiquitously good and beneficial quality. I sense its appropriation by market economists has been called-out for what it is, by many, and that we are coming to the end of that paradigm. Diversity clearly does have its limits on where it works and where it doesn’t. It isn’t inherently a good thing, but rather depends where and how it’s applied.

    Human wellbeing isn’t predicated on the availability of choice, on the degree to which options can be exercised. There, we get into the two types of freedom: ‘freedom from’, and ‘freedom to’. Generally, the former conduces to our weal, the latter not necessarily so. My ‘freedom to’ do whatsoever I wish may well suit my desires, but does it conduce to the weal of others? If all beings had the ‘freedom to’ do whatsoever they desired, would the result not be chaos and destruction? Conversely, if all beings had ‘freedom from’ whatever it is that they sought to avoid, would that not result in their weal, and consequently that of all beings?

    Stay dry and safe, Professor!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ah Hariod…

      I absolutely enjoy your devil’s advocate side! You’ve brought up some GREAT points to consider! I very much welcome them — in the sphere of economics and model-analysis, of course — for the sake of more diversity and… shall we say, subdiversity? 😉

      Your points are very well made about corporate marketing, camoflage for pricing cartels, and especially with Aldi-Lidl “low pricing resulting from the withdrawal of choice“! That’s a fantastic point and is exactly what is transpiring here with Walmart-SAMS, HEB, Kroger Companies, etc. I’ve noticed inside them shopping that most all packaged items, with the exception of fresh produce which is typically on the OUTER EDGES of the stores, that my choices are either volume/number, higher volume or number, or MEGA-volume/numbers… no longer the modest, humble proportions that a single man or even small family needs. After say 4-6 days those EXCESSIVE counts/volume go bad, go to waste, and their non-degradeable plastic containers/packaging SATURATE our land-fills, water-systems, and oceans. 😦 I have grown increasingly fond of local farmer’s markets, supporting them instead. Well, except for my Mendoza Valley, Argentina supplies of Malbec. HAH!!!

      Britain’s National Health Service is an intriguing topic to me Hariod. I wish I understood it better. I know this, as I’m sure you do as well, that our U.S. healthcare system has a plethora of flaws and fallacies with NO central blame to give, but not the worst of which is millions & billions of dollars of revenues between medical societies, providers, and pharmaceutical corporations. Carefully disguised corruption is most assuredly within those U.S. entities; have been for decades. Personally, I would like for American political parties to carefully examine the Nordic Model of socioeconomics, implementing their successes while tweaking the shortcomings. Ugh, but how likely is that anytime soon with worsening bipartisan, bipolar entrenched ideologies here, no thanks to our current POTUS? 😦

      I’m not so sure I agree with you though about not joining or not intertwining “emotional and psychological aspects of life.” I feel and see that we Americans are already doing it and have been for quite sometime. Many people do it secretly or privately (high discretions due to public image), and some are NOT AFRAID to be very human and brilliantly imperfect, learning over and over to fail better! To the latter though, not enough… yet. 😀

      Must stop there because I have several things to attend to with our local Red Cross chapter. With Harvey stubbornly sitting near Victoria, TX… meteorologists and paleotempestologists are telling us that 50-inches more by this Friday is to be expected all across coastal Texas and inland. Busy, busy, busy here. Thank you for your very kind sentiments Hariod. ❤

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thank you, Professor.

        You said: “I’m not so sure I agree with you though about not joining or not intertwining ’emotional and psychological aspects of life’.” Just to clarify, that is not what I said. My words were: “So, I think we have to treat the emotional and psychological aspects of life somewhat differently to the material and services side.” Perhaps the syntax could be improved, I concede.

        So, of course the emotional and psychological aspects of life are irrevocably interrelated, not to say, one and the same: in the sense that they comprise the inner world. I made a distinction between them (as the inner world) and the external world of the materials and services we consume and utilise as citizens, and which argument itself was at odds with the opening of your piece — the Devil’s Advocate stance I alluded to.

        Nonetheless, I feel churlish pointing up such a minor misunderstanding given the circumstances you are currently enduring weather-wise. I am following the news here at regular intervals, and know you have at least three more very difficult days ahead. For thousands, of course, it will be many months before their lives can return to normal — rather in the way that it will be for the Gunners after what happened at Anfield yesterday. 😉

        H ❤

        Liked by 2 people

        • Oh! I’m sorry Hariod! You are right. In my haste to get out the door early this A.M. I did misread that. :/ Don’t feel churlish. That’s was a necessary clarification.

          Ugh, my lowly Wenger and Gunners aren’t looking good or inspired are they? Liverpool totally deserved that well-played win. And my goodness, Coutinho is back and coupled with Sadio Mané or Firmino AND so well coached by Klopp… lookout! They will be outstanding if they can get their defense and defensive set-plays sorted out!

          Thank you again H for the excellent feedback! ❤

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Everywhere I have gone in the world the people I meet have a great deal in common. They are kind, polite, and generous. Of course, noting is at stake in just meeting a stranger (even a stranger as strange as me). But we seem to be able to select out the worst among us to be our political leaders. Even with a mix of good and bad political leaders, we tend to ignore the good ones and ravish our attention on the bad ones (possibly because of all of the mischief they can get us into).

    It is no surprise that inclusiveness creates value to the participants. It has always been that way regarding ideas, too. Well said, well written, great post!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Great read professor. I agree with Hariod’s take on many things regarding consumer choices. Very often we only have the illusion of choice. Or sometimes, well you only make x amount of dollars so you will only be able to afford many kinds of what amounts to the same shitty blender.

    By the way your Earth Science review did not say anything about geology, meteorology, or oceanography, which is typically what is considered Earth Science…but I’ll let it slide in the spirit of the post. 🙂

    I think choice and diversity are two different things. For instance whether I get blender A or blender B is choice, but to me it’s not really diversity. There might be differences in quality, or how powerful the motor is, but ultimately they are designed to perform the same function, perhaps better or worse, but still the same. For me diversity is a food processor, a blender, a stand mixer. These 3 items are diverse, they all can mix things, but are best used for mixing different things, one can also be used for chopping, where perhaps another one can’t. In general the diverse types of kitchen appliances you have allow you to prepare food in numerous ways. This to me is the type of diversity that I think is socially relevant when let’s say we talk about a diverse student body, or a diverse management team. We are looking for diverse perspectives at achieving a particular goal. Blender A and Blender B is more like white middle-aged male named Steve who went to Denver University, and white slightly older middle-aged male who went to Yale. Not saying they aren’t different, but it’s not overly diverse, just different and thus choice.

    I agree with your point at the end, but I think maybe you got there in not the best way. For me I like choice when it comes to ice cream. I do not care very much for choice when it comes to blenders. Now that’s not to say there aren’t certain blenders that aren’t prettier or more stylish…that fit in with our overall design of our kitchen…but this isn’t really about the blender itself anymore which is a functional item but about an aesthetic quality we like to surround ourselves with. It’s visual it pleases our senses. Ice cream is taste, we like to experience different tastes. There is no best ice cream flavor (well it’s peach and everybody else is wrong). Now in our beautiful kitchen we might be happy that there is choice so we can get that matching blender, but we might not be all that happy if it breaks down easily, doesn’t make a good smoothie, that kind of thing. Ultimately it’s the function that is most important. And I think most of us, unless we are extremely wealthy would rather have something that reliable works over something that is super beautiful. Why? Because we can decorate and other ways. In the end I don’t even care whether there are choices in washing machines. I’d rather have something that works well and lasts a long time. I feel the same way about cars, and I know that not everybody does…but I think we could safely say that a car with all the coolest gadgets and that looks sleek, isn’t all that useful if it breaks down after a week. Cars perform a specific function, and I can guarantee you that a majority of people (because they don’t have lots of money) would rather have a car that wasn’t breaking down all the time rather than something that was pretty. And I think even in the space of sensory pleasures, as Hariod says, we might be happy with just one type of orange that’s good quality produce over 10 kinds of oranges that aren’t ripe or badly bruised when you by them. But in a perfect world where quality was assured I think that we are still going to lean towards favoring function for certain things, and then favoring sensory reactions to others.

    So in the end what you say about relationships and human interaction, I completely agree. I think this IS like ice cream. We should be free to enjoy more flavors than we do, and that we generally limit the number of flavors we can enjoy. But there is an evolution to this. For a long time I think there was at least some good reason to limit those flavors, society favors a more broad relationship experience than it has. At least in civilized history. I think it’s also important to note that while the experience of different relationship models may bring a lot of joy. Imagine if you had 5 sexual partners that you were emotionally attached to, and then had 3 of them break up with you. It turns out that having 2 partners left might not feel like much of a consolation when emotional attachments have been cutoff to 3 other people who were important to you. My point is that while there is also the good side there is also the bad side. And it exists in monogamous relationships too. Some people are afraid of love because breakups hurt. Some people say screw that, I want to be happy. So maybe there is some sense to the rules to minimized the amount of pain we experience, even if we minimize the amount of joy we experience. We can die from grief, but we can’t die from happiness. (well unless drugs are involved!). That being said I don’t think we should be socializing relationship rules like there is some sort of a handbook out there that says how it should all go. Humans are complex and dynamic creatures and so the types of relationship models that are acceptable should reflect that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahaha… you are absolutely correct Swarn about my Earth Science omissions! Those should be included as well. Thank you for mentioning that. This go round I thought I’d try really REALLY HARD this time not to publish/post another 3,000 – 5,000 word post, or another 4-5 part series like I’ve been doing lately. I think I’ve lost several Followers by writing such lengthy, long-winded blog-posts. LOL 😛

      I do see your point about choice vs. diversity, blender A vs. blender B, middle-aged Steve (Denver U) vs. slightly more middle-aged Joe (Yale) who are both caucasin. Great distinctions Swarn. Yes indeed, function is a critical component. Wonderful point again! I do think Quality vs. Quantity works in different ways depending on the entities/factors being examined. How does one reasonably know they have “quality” if they haven’t operated with a large quantity, say only 2-3 entities versus 100? And what if the pool of entities/components are very complex in nature, none of them identical? Thus, quality is not always assured. 😉

      I’m thinking now in trying to emphasize our HEALTHY appetites for consumer/material choices that are socially widespread/common, in my opinion and experience, i.e. we expect the variety of choices always (which may have gotten lost in the mix)… so why do we NOT expect the same in our human interactions? Your theoretical questions and possibilities — I’m assuming here (apology) because I don’t actually know; we’ve never discussed details at any length; I know you are VERY open-minded 🙂 — are exactly the thoughts/questions of what I intended readers to consider. Thank you Swarn.

      For myself, I am quite experienced, by comparisons here in Texas, in the Open-lifestyle, many years actually, and honestly have had nothing but INCREDIBLE experiences with couples, singles, and even one time a phenomenal private event that included 3 couples, me and my partner, and 2 singles — lasted practically the entire weekend! My point is that much of my knowledge and experience about the lifestyle(s) is not theoretical, but firsthand experience, albeit consisting ONLY of 13-years total. I have realized that many of these people have EXCEPTIONAL people-skills, compersion levels, and high self-esteem. And you are correct, all people are different. But I often do ask myself, and others when appropriate, “How do you know what you can manage and not manage if you never actually try, try, and try several times in a variety of ways?” If thousands upon thousands are making it work and are very, very happy, then where might the actual pain, hurt, or failures actually reside? And is a little pain, hurt, challenges such a bad thing? Not saying repeatedly day after day, but once or twice in 6-months, a year, three years? We learn (or should) from both our successes and our failures. I had to learn that SO MANY TIMES in my pro and semi-pro soccer career! Bwahahahaha! 😛

      Your last several sentences Swarn are well considered and wise. Lots of truth in them. Thank you very much for this excellent feedback and perspective Sir! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • How does one reasonably know they have “quality” if they haven’t operated with a large quantity, say only 2-3 entities versus 100?

        This is an interesting question. Of course we could fall into the trap of always thinking there is something better. For household appliances, again I think we can agree that as long as it performs it’s function we probably don’t need to look too much harder. Now when it comes to sensory pleasures if we now talk about ice cream, we might say, alright my favorite flavor is chocolate ice cream. And maybe you even have a particular brand that makes you happy and you like the best. After trying several others. Now you might be closing yourself off to many other makers of fine chocolate ice cream. You may be even closing yourself off to other flavors that you like. But first, you might be convinced that the brand and flavor you like the best, is the best. It’s a belief, and as long as you are happy, who cares? Maybe someone is afraid of having multiple bad ice cream experiences when they knew there was a flavor and brand that they really liked. It’s a fair perspective, and given our cognitive biases to favor what we already believe to be true, from a probabilistic standpoint the person might enjoy their future ice cream experiences less because of what they already believe. The key might be to develop the attitude at a young age to be open always to new ice cream experiences. But I honestly don’t know that would be a more moral approach, just a different approach. And going back to your original point I don’t know that it takes a 100 experiences to settle on something that you truly enjoy through you senses, where functionality no longer matters. I don’t need to see 100 paintings before I decide that there is a painting I enjoy looking at. There may be other paintings I like better, but as I know both you and I value the importance of enjoying the moment, maybe just having gratitude for seeing a beautiful painting is all that matters and we shouldn’t concerned with all the other more beautiful paintings that might be out there. This then builds expectations, and expectations can lead to stress, worry, and disappointment. Whereas if we have a painting we like looking at, and like looking at it everyday, what’s the worry? Maybe when it comes to happiness choice doesn’t matter, just being in the moment does. Now if something no longer brings you happiness, maybe the best advice is to be true to yourself and move on.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Apologies Swarn for my delay in respondiing. Yesterday was a crazy busy day at the Red Cross shelter. I was utterly exhausted when I got home and your comment deserved a well considered response, as always. 😉

          It is a wonderful 2nd comment Swarn! Thank you. As I read this, I couldn’t really argue against your ideas, suggestions, and analysis because I do recognize that people’s personalities are relative to their DNA, neurological, hormonal, and cognitive makeup or design. As I wrote about in my May 2013 blog-post, “DRD4-7R“, we humans do indeed possess GENERAL sensory stimulations that are favored. I am absolutely the “Orchid” type personality — from that blog-post and the corresponding neurological-hormonal research — with only traces of the “Dandelion” traits. I am indeed a Marco Polo -esque personality. That said, I/we must be careful NOT to habitually generalize or stereotype anyone because — and I do know you know this as well 🙂 — not one single human being on this planet is perfectly identical in their atomic or cytological makeup. Duh, right? LOL Plus, we humans and everything else living on this planet, whether measured over one day or 100 to 1,000 years, is in constant change… influenced by our environment AND those around us, especially immediate and extended family as well as our close intimate friends, partners, colleagues, etc. And I think this is also my poorly made point(s) in this particular post: existentially, EVERYTHING and EVERYONE is in constant change. Your very last sentence above…

          …if something no longer brings you happiness, maybe the best advice is to be true to yourself and move on.

          An expanded point to this perpetual change is also that (hopefully) we humans and our creations (products & byproducts?) as well as maintenance of or care/nurturing for entities of value and high-value are continually evolving, progressing, improving… as much as can be realistically expected. Expectations should not be overly high and here is where that gratitude (reiterating your fine point) for the moment/present absolutely applies! Appreciating (loving? adoring?) another entity should NEVER imply that the original(s) are of ANY LESS VALUE! Different, yes, but not necessarily inferior (or at all) because EVERYTHING and EVERYONE either changes/evolves, or absolutely has the freedom and opportunities to change/evolve for increased improvement — and sure, this can be strictly within an exclusive monogamous agreement (SHOULD BE at least!) — so “inferior” or “lacking” or “failure/failing” should NEVER EVER be considered as final or irreparable. I hope I’m making sense. I’m a bit rushed due to my schedule. LOL 😛

          I know in a general sense Swarn we agree on the whole, it’s just the little tiny details we are/I am trying to sort out properly. ❤ Grrrrrr, and I must run. Another busy day today. Please feel free to continue this should your schedule allow.

          Thanks so much Swarn for your great feedback!


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