The real question is not whether machines think but whether men do

I definitely wasn’t doing much in the way of thinking when I fell off a ladder about half an hour ago.

Or maybe the real questionable problem was that I was thinking, just not about what I was doing.

In my defense, the ladder did something it wasn’t supposed to do. That’s the second time it’s done that, but I thought the first time was a fluke. It’s one of those folding ladders with flexible joints, and it unexpectedly decided to buckle one of its knees just as I was climbing up into the attic.

I ended up bashing one of my knees during the fall… I’m fine, I’ve had decades of experience of prat-falling and have become fairly good at it… which is why I am now writing a post instead of doing something else – as I think it, the universe wanted me to write a post instead of doing other stuff = positive reinforcement (a B. F. Skinner pet theory) to go this way instead of thataway.

I thought I’d tackle Melanie’s latest Share Your World

I’m going to add a question from one of her other posts too – Er, I’m busy? :

What excuses do you use when you don’t want to do something?

because it piqued my interest.

“The feeling of being interested can act as a kind of neurological signal, directing us to fruitful areas of inquiry.”

– B. F. Skinner

And it ties in with a random exploration I took the other day into the work of B. F. Skinner (which explains my using his quotes for this post).

When I was a child I started out taking the honest and straightforward approach when I didn’t want to do something – I’d just say I didn’t want to do it.

I took that approach partly because I was told by adults that honesty was the best policy, lying was bad, and if I lied then I was a bad child/person, would be punished for lying because adults always knew when children were lying.

Problem is, adults also punish children for not lying to them, for being honest… when the honesty doesn’t suit the adults and they’d prefer a lie which they could call the honest truth.

“A person who has been punished is not thereby simply less inclined to behave in a given way; at best, he learns how to avoid punishment.”


― B.F Skinner, Beyond Freedom and Dignity

Due to adults being so erratic, volatile, consistently inconsistent, and whatnot… I learned how to lie and make it seem honest – which wasn’t all that difficult, I just copied what the adults were doing with each other and with me.

Over the years I became a very proficient excuse generator – although, tbh, I was better at it when making up excuses for others, being a spin-doctor, an apologist for them and their behaviour, than I was for myself. It just never felt quite right doing that for myself because I wanted to… but what I wanted didn’t matter!

Sometime recently, over the past few years, I’ve challenged myself to not use excuses, or even valid reasons, if I can’t or don’t want to do something.

Just say “No”… right? And others will accept your “No” because we’re all supposed to now realise that “No” means “No”. Others hate it when other others won’t take their “No” for an answer, thus when you say “No” to them they’ll turn their hate for their “No” not being accepted by others into a love of accepting your “No” even if it scuppers their plans. Do unto others… right?

I like to make my life more interesting by giving myself odd challenges… think of it as a brain training exercise to encourage neuroplasticity… except plastic is bad!

In other words if I can’t or don’t want to do something I’ll just say exactly that.

I’ve also challenged myself not to explain myself to people…

However certain situations and people require that I give way, be polite, tactful, lie and shit, and not be so weird…

I was going to tell you a story about the local fete and what locals are asked to do to help with it, but… I can’t be bothered to do that, so I won’t.

“It is not a question of starting. The start has been made. It’s a question of what’s to be done from now on.”


― B.F. Skinner, Walden Two

What do fish do all day?   What thoughts do you think they have?

Someone’s been watching American Dad…

There’s a pond in my garden.

The previous owner never mentioned that there were fish in it… or maybe he did and I wasn’t listening. He said a lot of things. Some were true, some were not true. Anyway… I was very surprised when I spotted a fish swimming around in it several months after moving in… it turns out there were several rather large carp in there.

What they do remains a mystery since as soon as a human approaches, they hide – and it doesn’t matter how clever the human thinks it is being by trying to secretly creep up on the fish to observe them, the fish are smarter.

So I guess fish spend some of their time outsmarting humans, which isn’t really all that time-consuming or difficult…

And trying to avoid herons…

This is a great blog post – What’s Your Sign: Symbolic Meaning of the Heron – which tells the story of human versus heron and fish… as well as relating the differences between the real natural and the human version of natural.

Whatever fish do and think, it’s too deep and muddy for humans to make sense of it, especially as humans like to think we’re the experts on what doing and thinking is… we invented that shit, therefore it is ours, or something like that.

What celebrity would you have as a SPOUSE, if you HAD to choose?

Does the celebrity get a say in this or are they forced into this relationship against their will?

Seems a bit unfair… and liable to make of this marriage a match made in very human hell.

“Freedom is an illusion, but a valuable one.”


― B.F Skinner

I’m already married, so I’d be committing adultery if I married someone else too.

Funnily enough I said to my partner the other day that the idea of having two husbands was appealing… in my thoughts it was appealing because I can control my thoughts and what the people in my thoughts say and do, and stuff like that, but beyond thought it’s… not going to work at all. Humans never do what you think-imagine-wish them to do… especially those humans known as husbands.

I’d probably pick Keanu Reeves.

He’s around my age, his background and family is weirdish like mine, he’s a bit different, he does his own thing in his own way, he doesn’t feel the need to do what others are doing and be the way others want him to be for them to like him, he doesn’t seem to mind if others like him or not, he doesn’t seem to need others, he runs life and his career the way he wants it.

He appears to be a bit of a deep and unusual thinker, and conversations with him might be interesting… end up in new and unexpected places.

His astrological natal chart is very similar to my partner’s… so I don’t need a new instruction manual – just give him lots of space to be himself and do his himself thing, and don’t interfere.

I don’t have anything to offer him, he doesn’t want or need anything from me… and I don’t want or need anything from him. So it could work out nicely for all three of us and anyone else who happens to become a member of this marriage-community relationship.

What’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever broken?

I’m one of those people who break things even when they’re being extra careful… I once bought a set of four wine goblets as a gift and managed to break two on the way home from the shop even though they’d been packaged to not break in transit.

My breaking things skills seem to be expert level… if you’d like something broken, please let me know.

I can break minds too just by sharing my thoughts, an idea I had… according to what I’ve been told by others.

I broke my parents’ relationship just by being born… further investigation proved that this was total bollocks, a human truth which was a human lie, but humans often believe that kind of thing for reasons, explanations and excuses purposes.

“B. F. Skinner, the world-famous psychologist, proved through his experiments that an animal rewarded for good behavior will learn much more rapidly and retain what it learns far more effectively than an animal punished for bad behavior. Later studies have shown that the same applies to humans. By criticizing, we do not make lasting changes and often incur resentment.”


― Dale Carnegie, How to win friends & influence people

I have tried to break myself on numerous occasions… apparently I’m not a ‘thing’ which would surprise my parents and other people who have convinced themselves that I was an inanimate object which they needed to break to feel something something about themselves.

When was the last time you slept more than 9 hours in a stretch?  Why?

Why do I need a reason, excuse or whatnot for being a sleeping beauty? Is sleeping a crime, sin or something along those lines? It’s just sleeping… innit?

Last time I did that was a week, two weeks… !?!… time is so not my thing… whenever I made myself ill and took a day off to sleep it all off. I wrote a post or two… bloody numbers, also not my thing… about it.

My nickname ‘Ursula’ = bear is a spin on my ability to sleep anywhere, anytime, deeply for as long as needed – don’t wake me up if you don’t want to get broken.

Share something you were really grateful for this year (so far).

Very grateful my bones don’t break easily.

Also grateful that not all dreams come true… nope, not explaining that, can’t be bothered.

Namaste, bitches! (can’t recall who started that, but fuck it’s funny!)

12 comments

  1. Thanks Ursula for Sharing Your World. I’ll now creep softly away lest I inadvertently prod the sleeping bear! 😉 My hubby was like you in that regard, he could and did sleep soundly and deeply anywhere he wanted to… conditioning I suppose after years of driving big rigs around America. Those fellows have to adapt to the driving schedule and grabbing some ZZZs on the fly is a talent they seem to develop. Me? I suffer from hypervigilance, a thing which is rearing its ugly head again lately, and I can’t sleep unless i know it’s ‘safe’. Makes being in the hospital for any lengthy stay interesting. I get a bit psychotic after a while because I haven’t slept, not soundly.

    To answer a bit of your unasked question about ‘is sleep bad or something?” (paraphrased). No it’s not. In fact, as a teenager and a young woman I was chided by my family for ‘sleeping too much” (a side effect of my undiagnosed depression) and perhaps I felt stigmatized by that and now appear ‘judgy’ about it. I’m not, I wish I COULD sleep like that now actually. I can’t. Oh well.

    I LOVED your take on the excuses for not doing something question. My brother (the middle one who was always a peacemaker for us growing up) bought a book entitled “How to Say No and Mean It” because folks were always presuming on his good nature and asking him to do a lot of stuff he probably didn’t want to nor had time for, but was too ‘nice’ to refuse to do. Now-a-days he appears to have taken that book to heart and like yourself isn’t the least shy about saying no without explanation. Prodding HIM is a bad idea these days too, as he’s gotten a bit curmudgeonly and grouchy. And that brings my comment full circle I think. I’m glad you weren’t harmed falling off that ladder. I think in future it might be wise to get someone to hold the thing for you if you need to climb it. It doesn’t sound reliable. :O !

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    • Thank you very much, Melanie 🙂

      Yeah, my mother also chided me on my sleeping. She seemed to think it was a bad thing to do, and that she was a saint for not doing much of it. It’s also something she held as a grudge against my father – how dare he sleep when she wasn’t sleeping! I reckon if she’d slept more she’d have been a happier and thus nicer person, but… maybe not. She caused me to be afraid of sleeping… but it’s such a wonderful exercise for the bits of self which improve thanks to sleep 😉

      I’m familiar with hypervigilance. It’s a part of C-PTSD. It’s not as regular for me now as it used to be but I have vivid recall of when it was a regular daily part of life. Although for me it manifested more as being ‘wired’ while awake and it’s so exhausting to be that ‘wired’ while awake that I’d just pass out eventually at night and sleep like a log… except for a few times when I couldn’t sleep at all and things got very surreal. The mind on no-sleep turns waking life into a bizarre dream while awake. Everything makes you jumpy, even dust specks.

      As I’ve gotten older I’ve become increasingly enamoured of fuck-this-shit-ology. If I don’t want to do something, then I say so because if I make myself do it it won’t work out, I’ll be pissed off about it and others will be pissed off too, and I just can’t be bothered to generate excuses and stuff or deal with the consequences caused by creating that kind of thing. If you’re honest about not wanting to do stuff, those who ask you to do things tend to adjust to it. Those who don’t adjust tend to be the ones you really don’t want to be doing things for anyway.

      Chances are I’ll forget what the ladder did and have to learn that lesson again, but maybe not 😀

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  2. Can we share Keanu Reeves? Sure, it’s all made up, pretend anyway, right?!
    I’m really excellent at breaking things too. Monday I broke my toe doing my Happy Dance. I break other things too. I’m not self-destructive on purpose, I just have gravity/balance/klutz issues. Luckily, I’m also getting to be really good at taping things together. King Ben gives me new projects daily.
    I am so envious of your ability to sleep! I’m a chronic insomniac and I used to wish I could ask to be placed in a medical coma for a couple days. Yes, I am that weird, I thought you knew.

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    • I read about your broken toe Happy Dance. It just struck me that in English we talk about ‘taking a break’ or ‘having a break’ from things, I guess your toe took it literally in celebration. That is now your Happy Dancing Toe lucky charm, once it has healed it can be rubbed for good luck, smiles and happy dancing vibes.

      Being able to put things back together after they’ve been broken is an art form, in Japan it’s called Kintsugi (from Wiki – As a philosophy, it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise), which is considered to be a part of a concept called Wabi-Sabi (also from Wiki – is a world view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection.). Not everyone can tape things together, it’s quite the skill, requires patience, dexterity and a keen eye for detail. I usually end up having a fight with the tape, and it always wins the fight, sometimes by passive-aggressively hiding where its starting point is on the roll.

      Years ago I heard about ‘sleep cures’. It’s something to do with the body going into self-repair mode while in sleep. There’s this clinic in Switzerland which used to offer them (it may still exist and do that). You go there and they sedate you for X amount of time, you sleep and sleep, and then wake up days or weeks later feeling better. After I heard about that I started using sleep as a cure-all. So your weirdness seems perfectly logical to me and not weird at all 😉

      You’re totally welcome to share Keanu, the more the merrier! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. 😀 Relating the last question I asked you, I was really curious about this part of your story, ‘I went through puberty in Paris. Had my first romantic encounters. Socialised with people of my own age for the first time… went to parties, hung out in cafes, etc. I smoked my first cigarette… silly, I know, but tres Francais. I learned how fashion choices can ostracise you from or draw you into a group. And I also faced a severe crisis point there…’ – The Places We Live and Who We Are When We Live There.

    You’ve asked if anyone wants you to write about anything previously haha now I’m asking, please if you would elaborate the stories behind that paragraph of words 😉

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    • Hmmm… I haven’t thought about my Paris years all that deeply in a while. I think the last post I did about it where I went into some detail of what I was going through in Paris was in 2017 after someone asked me to write more about being the child of narcissists (answering some questions they gave me), and it kick-started a series which led to another series, but I can’t recall the exact post where I shared the Paris bit.

      The crisis point is something I’ve written about several times, this post is the most straightforward one about it – https://anupturnedsoul.wordpress.com/2013/03/07/graven-a-hypnagogic-nightmare/

      I’ll give it some thought. See if I can flesh out what I said in the excerpt which you’ve highlighted. I’ll probably use the excerpt and your question as a starting point.

      TY, Reverist 🙂

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      • I’m looking forward to reading those Paris parties, cafe, romantics encounters, your first cigarette… 😀 I was caught hiding under a table with a cigarette butt between my fingers when I was three yrs old haha so I was told. I don’t remember that. Funny though, even after smoking regularly for years I could actually stop the habit tomorrow and not crave or think about it. if only I could do that with alcohol…

        The Graven post was one of those first stories I read on your blog before I started blogging. After reading it again this morning, it prompted me to write the stories behind my scars which I’d been thinking to when I mentioned in a previous comment but something was missing. Thank you for post link!

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        • A three year old under a table with a cigarette butt sounds like you simply were doing what children that age do – investigating, finding things and picking up stuff off of the ground, then being caught by an adult who makes a big deal out of it and never lets you forget it 😉

          I look forward to reading your post.

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  4. First of all, I’m way behind on reading posts. Sorry this is a bit late. Secondly, I could write a blog post on each one of these questions, except for the fish one.

    My celebrity of choice has a deep personality and sounds much like you described Keanu Reeves. Mike Rowe was born the same year as me and is a Pisces, like my dad and brother (My hubs of 34 years is Aries, I’m Libra).

    I can’t think of the most expensive thing I’ve ever broken, but I did throw away $900 (American) once. Well, my husband threw it away. I hid it in an empty cleaning supply bottle. My husband shook it and it felt empty, so he threw it out.

    As far as learning how to lie, it’s fascinating how every single person’s DNA causes them to react differently to similar childhood experiences. I was never able to learn how to lie. I’ve always said “no” when I didn’t want to do something. However, my excuses came after the “no,” when trying to justify my “no,” and convince the person I said “no” to that I wasn’t a bad person. Not to mention, I walked around with heavy, HEAVY guilt after saying “no” believing I was a bad person.

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    • P.S. My excuses after the “no” weren’t lies. I told the truth, but I tried desperately to convince the person that my reason was sound.

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      • Don’t read all of my posts, just read what you feel like reading when you feel like doing that kind of thing – I’m totally made happy if you just read one post once in a while 🙂

        It’s a good thing not to get into the lying game – sounds like you had a psyche immunity to doing it. Kudos!

        Gah! $900 dollars thrown away! If you think about it money is kind of empty and humans are the ones who fill it with all sorts of heavy stuff.

        Aries and Libra… powerful match!

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