First posted 11/12/09

I have forgotten the power cord for my laptop, and need to go home to get it. As I don’t think it would be very productive to go home now, I am going to put the computer to sleep and spend the rest of the morning reading some things I have been saving up, and then get it at lunch time.

Human beings are in many ways habit machines. We form patterns of behaviour and much of the time our actions run in thier well-worn grooves. This is true for simple things like packing a briefcase in the morning, but also for thinking and social behaviour. In my trading, I need to form good habits and eliminate bad ones (and my earlier post today represents some work in that direction). The danger is that after a while, you can’t see some of your habits because you are so used to them; this is a particular danger for me because I am working alone, with nobody to see them for me (it seems to me that, for many people, even if they had someone else to point out bad habits, they would not understand the importance of habit in determining their actions — people think they are free agents and dislike being told otherwise).

In the field of social behaviour, I think one should remember that liberal types are on to something with their almost religious obsession with personal conscience (which leads to political correctness, social pressure to recycle, etc.). Hard-headed analysis is the way to work out how to make the world a better place; but that is no guarantee that one will want to make it a better place, especially after a lifetime of hard-headed analysis. One has to pay some attention to building the habits that will lead to positive actions (i.e. virtues). That is why I do Street Rescue once a month, and so on.

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