Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Pure Wisdom

He, that I call "Pure Wisdom" is a member of my most extended family.  He was one of the brightest stars at one of the world's most technical companies, and now is one of its most senior managers. He is no longer concerned with technical issues because he says, "Old must be BOLD!"

We are, after all, are writing our Epitaph. We are writing our grave stone.  Writing in stone takes great force.  Yes, we need to be very bold.

There are many manuals for writing resumes, but there are few guides to writing good Epitaphs.

One was laid out by Ina Corina Brown in the course she taught as a Peabody Scholar.  Sometimes it was offered as a set of things to do on a regular basis, and sometimes it was offered as a personal performance test.  Here is one of the test versions.

1.     Do I seek to to achieve personal growth and development by means of some plan whereby I can enlarge my horizons as well as fill gaps in my knowledge an experience?
2.     Do I subscribe to or regularly access:
2.1.  Some reliable news media? 
2.2.  Some quality magazines dealing with current thought?
2.3.  Some magazines devoted at least in part to book reviews and literary criticism?
2.4.   First rate professional journals?
3.     Do I read at least 2 dozen serious books in the field of biography, history, current affairs, and literature (including classics read and reread)?
4.     Do I make some serious effort in increase my understanding and appreciation of art, literature, and music through the use of pictures, lectures, concerts, records, plays, books and the selective use of radio, TV, and Utube ?
5.     Do I follow some consistent plan for building a library, including dictionaries, atlases, encyclopedias, religious texts, and reference books such as Bartlett's Quotations, Fowler's English Usage, and more modern texts on the topic?
6.     Do I have some consistent plan for professional reading, and for professional growth and development?
7.     Do I have an interest in, and an awareness of, the world of nature so that I can identify and enjoy birds, flowers, trees, stars, and landscapes?
8.     Do I have some enriching and relaxing hobby or interest such as weaving, wood or leather working, cabinet making, book binding or gardening?
9.     Do I belong to and actively participate in at least 3 of the following:
9.1.  A religious body?
9.2.  A civic group?
9.3.  A political group?
9.4.  A literary, art or music group?
9.5.  A scientific group?
9.6.  A social action group?
9.7.  A professional society?
10.  Do I have some consistent and orderly plan for budgeting and handling my income so that:
10.1.  I am able to meet my obligations promptly?
10.2.   Get the greatest possible benefit form my income?
10.3.     Make reasonable provision for the future?
11.   Do I have some consistent can orderly plan for budgeting my time so that I can:
11.1.   Meet my personal and professional obligations?
11.2.    Render service to my fellowmen?
11.3.     Have time for enriching leisure?
12.  Do I take care of my health through habits of eating and sleeping, judicious use of exercise and rest, and regular physical examinations including eyes and teeth?
13.  Am I particular in habits of personal cleanliness and grooming, and in selection, care and repair of clothing?
14.  Do I fulfill my obligation as a citizen by:
14.1.   Voting regularly and as intelligently as possible?
14.2.    Civic participation (serving on boards and committees, aiding in Red Cross and other drives and etc.?
14.3.  Some regular volunteer service to an organization engaged in community betterment?
15.  Am I careful in my oral and written speech habits including enunciation, pronunciation, vocabulary and sentence structure, and do I attempt to correct known deficiencies?
16.  Do I practice the kind of good manners that come of a thoughtful awareness and  consideration of others?
17.  Have I honestly attempted to achieve those qualities of character that I most genuinely admire such as integrity, fortitude, compassion, tolerance?
18.  Do I make a persistent effort to rub off the rough edges of my personality and to become a friendly,  likable person who brings out the best in others?
19.  Am I continuously enlarging the horizons of my knowledge, interest and concern so as to become in the best sense of the word, a citizen of the world?
20.  Am I honestly trying to develop what Overstreet calls “The Mature Mind”, so that I may grow up before I grow old?
See for example

I transcribed the above from a hard copy, and I know there are some typos in it, but in accordance with "make it work, then make it pretty"  I offer it up in its current state.

The other thing that I would add is that there is a lot of sloppy thinking out there.  Sometimes details matter. And, when details matter, generalities fail. When someone tells you that woolen spun is warmer than worsted because woolen is looser and holds more air, ask yourself if they have the details correct. 

Spinning, knitting, and waving are all technologies where details matter - a lot.  And, yet I find that many modern hobby spinners, knitters, and weavers tend to gloss technical details.  They pretend to want to spin or knit or weave fast, but avoid the tools that would allow them to work faster.

Thus, the  4 additional questions that I would add to ICB's exam are:

21. Am I honest with myself about my goals?
22. Do I test statements asserted by others as facts?
23. Do I keep my math sharp?
24. Do expand and deepen my knowledge of physical science? 

Testing statements is not looking them up at some citation. It is either calculations from first principles, or going into the lab or studio, making the test equipment or preparing the test material and testing it. If you want to know whether I am telling the truth about what kind of fabrics are warmer, knit up some fabric swatches and test their insulation values.  If you want to know if I am correct about knitting sheaths, make one and try it.  Try it with pointy needles, then try it with blunt needles.  I did.   

By reading the classics, we learn, "Trust, but verify!"


Ruth B said...

The bulleted list you offered is not a test. It is a "personal rating scale" written by Ina Corinne Brown (you can't even spell her name correctly), and you have altered it significantly. It was written by a group of teachers who wanted suggestions of ways to increase their knowledge after their formal classroom training was complete. It was written in 1950, before the internet even existed. Ms. Brown died in 1990 at the age of 94. There is, indeed, a lot of "sloppy thinking," and it appears to be on your part, including plagiarizing an author, misrepresenting the purpose of the author's text, and altering it to suit your own agenda without noting that you have changed the original text, even going to far as to assert that you "transcribed it from a hard copy" (I found the original on the internet in about five minutes). You are busted, Aaron!

A Fisherman Lies said...

I don't understand how you could subscribe to that list and still be unaware that fixing typos in the digital age is really, really easy. Effortless, even.

I do love the delicious irony of #22 though

Aaron said...

My version was transcribed from hand written class notes.

If you took the class, you will remember that she presented the material and not necessarily its full genesis.

If you remember Ms Brown, do you will remember what she did during the class break? What did she do? What did she do?

Holin Kennen said...

Aaron, irrespective of whether you were in her class or not, Ms. Brown could not - I repeat, - have suggested the use of the internet. It didn't exist when she wrote and published the article in 1950, and you have copied her rating scale from the published manuscript, but you have altered it to suit your own agenda.

I looked at the original of her list, which can be viewed here:

You have deviated significantly from the original purpose of the rating scale as well as altering the content without the author's permission or without noting that you have changed the content and why and where. Words matter, Aaron.

And I don't care if Ms. Brown stripped down to her skivvies during class break. Your presence or absence in her class does not give you the right to alter her work. Period.

Aaron said...

As noted by others, the test as taught by ICB was a collaboration. I worked from the hand written notes of her students (who took her class at Peabody in 1965 -- 15 years after the noted paper.), and who later worked with Dr. Miller (I'm OK, Your OK) and ICB to evolve the test for use in an adult reading program, which was used by several universities, mostly in the context of federally funded adult education programs. The material evolved with the input of several authors.

ICB encouraged her students to extend and adapt the test to fit their world. Yes I edited and extended the test. You should take the test and edit and extend it for yourself. It is a tool. Tools should be fitted for their purpose.

ICB was a very civilized woman who served a formal tea to her grad students during the break in the class. In fact that might be ICB's best lesson - be civilized.

Holin Kennen said...

Well, I serve formal tea to my knitting students, but I don't plagiarize the work of other knitters by passing their patterns off as my own.

Aaron said...

No, Holin, I expect that you invent completely new patterns for each object, being very careful not to use any patterns or concepts similar to any in Walker or Mary Thomas or Knitting in the Old Way, Principles of Knitting, or any other previously extant notion of knitting.

I am sure that you make tea differently from your mother or any of your teachers! And, i am very certain that you are very careful not to infringe on the "formal tea during class break" principle established by ICB. Right??

Civilization requires that culture passed on from generation to generation. We stand on the shoulders of our teachers and see farther. We make incremental improvements on our teacher's work, and thereby their work becomes our work, and our work is improved by our students and it becomes their work. And, this goes on from generation to generation.

txvoodoo said...

Holin said: " but I don't plagiarize the work of other knitters by passing their patterns off as my own."

You said: "No, Holin, I expect that you invent completely new patterns for each object, being very careful not to use any patterns or concepts similar to any in Walker or Mary Thomas or Knitting in the Old Way, Principles of Knitting, or any other previously extant notion of knitting."

You created a strawman. Holin didn't say she only used her own patterns, just that she didn't pass others' off as her own.

Bless your heart - you really do have reading comprehension issues.