Two Gauges

Posted by Anti Citizen One on August 17th, 2010

Based on my recent brush with the medical establishment, I am reminded of the excellent “A Scanner Darkly” by Philip K Dick.

“It’s as if you have two fuel gauges on your car,” the other man said, “and one says your tank is full and the other registers empty. They can’t both be right. […] Both gauges study exactly the same amount of fuel: the same fuel, the same tank. Actually they test the same thing. You as the driver have only an indirect relationship to the fuel tank, via the gauge or, in your case, gauges. In fact, the tank could fall off entirely and you wouldn’t know until some dashboard indicator told you or finally the engine stopped. […]”

AC1

PS Also see Segal’s law.

“Real” Catholic TV

Posted by Anti Citizen One on August 17th, 2010

My brain hurts after discovering RealCatholicTV’s youtube channel. It is run by Michael Voris, a prolific and pretty slick presenter. But, as you might guess from someone who commits the “no true scotsman” fallacy in the name of their channel, the guy is a loon. I was very recently talking to a Catholic family member and we were agreeing that people can’t go ordering people around, specifically on recreational drugs prohibition. (I managed to resist quoting Nietzsche’s Morality as Anti-Nature.) Michael Voris takes the opposite approach – and sounds not unlike an evangelical. Question to self: are the terms Catholic and evangelical really mutually exclusive? Anyway, here is a comedy gold clip of the immorality of liberalism. My favourite part is where he accuses the liberals of being in the “don’t judge [people] crowd” (at 1 min 58 sec). That’s amusing, considering Matthew 7:1-5 and Luke 6:37-42.

I guess mainstream Catholics would strongly disagree with this guy, but I hope they keep doing that. Otherwise we will be back to the inquisition and burning people at the stake (here’s the thin end of the wedge). Michael, about that plank in your eye…

Anti Citizen One

PS. Remember Blake’s Wheel of Fire?
PPS. Evolution is not mentioned, probably because the Vatican officially has no problem with it, but climate change is discussed.
PPPS. Oh man, Michael Voris is beyond words… so many bonkers videos.

Anti-Einstein

Posted by Anti Citizen One on August 12th, 2010

This amused me:

It seems that the folks at Conservapedia – a sort of conservative alternative to the more familar online encyclopedia Wikipedia – are not fans of Einstein’s most famous theory, general relativity. In fact, they view it as a far-reaching liberal conspiracy. New Scientist

This interested me: More than 60 children saved from abuse – small update

Henry Thoreau

Posted by Anti Citizen One on August 11th, 2010

I’ve been reading various Thoreau writings. He was a major figure in American Transcendentalism, along with Emerson. The movement was anti-dogma and attempted to find “truth” and “goodness” by personal reflection and intuition. For Thoreau, this meant rejecting contemporary culture and to attempt is own spiritual way in solitude and in nature. Thoreau would not really have called it solitude – he seemed perfectly happy with plants and birds as friends. His conclusion is we invent too much superfluous baggage in life which is without value. He attempts to avoid the distraction of this baggage and to focus on what he finds more important.

A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, is a short account of a week spend on a river canoeing trip with his brother. There is no dialogue but, in typical style of Thoreau, it is very descriptive; the rivers, plants and animals are covered in great detail. This can be slightly heavy reading at times. He occasionally mixes proses with verse, which facilitates expressing his message, which is not rationalist, but also partly artistic. There are several digressions, mainly on the philosophy with respect to friendship.

Civil Disobedience recounts the authors experience of being imprisoned for a night for failure to pay taxes. He also includes an analysis of the relationship between the individual and the state. He observes the state cannot fully satisfy everyone, even in a democracy, given there is some differences in opinion. If the state will not be swayed by discussion, the individual is left with little recourse. Thoreau claims that a state that doesn’t represent an individual’s interests can be ignored. In his case, he objected to slavery and the Mexican–American War (he was writing in 1849). Since he refused to support these institutions, he refused to pay tax and was therefore imprisoned. His attitude is a world away from Rousseau with his “social contract“. This call for passive resistance was a forerunner to civil rights leaders such as Gandhi and Martin Luther King.

Walden describes the authors two year “experiment” in simple living in woods by Walden Pond, near Concord (which is near Boston). He provides almost endless descriptions of the sights, sounds, tastes and smells of nature. This can get a little … slow. But the point is tries to convey is that his life was far from boring to live (in contrast to read about). His curiosity keeps him active, not to mention spending hours hoeing his beans. His simple house was built with is own hands using little money. He also provides critique of civilization, in contrast to his life. He questions the need for progress for its own sake, such as rail roads, the telegraph, newspapers, the post office, etc. because he never has learned anything spiritually important from such things. Many of the themes were echoed in Enough by John Naish. Both say we can find happiness, or whatever we are seeking, by scaling back on consumption and avoiding distractions from what we want. I did detect a note in Thoreau of wanting to fight human instincts, but this seemed to be a passing thought. (To attempt such a thing is warned against by Nietzsche.)

I’ll write up A Life Without Principle separately, after re-reading it.

Anti Citizen One

Underground

Posted by Anti Citizen One on August 10th, 2010

I am quoting one of my favourite paragraphs from Notes from Underground. The narrator’s point of view, which he calls “underground”, is extreme philosophical scepticism. This has undermined all justification or motivation, so he doubts the value of his own actions. At the same time, he feels himself superior to normal “men of action” and consequently, he has the expectation of achieving something profound. But his scepticism makes this achievement impossible to define, let alone attain. The narrator also tries to state why “underground” is superior, by argument to the consequences. This is a classic argument when defending the “truth” of a belief but is technically a logical fallacy. Just try to search for “what does atheism have to offer” and “what does Christianity” have to offer, on the Internet. Of course, the narrator can’t sustain his argument from his sceptical point of view. He is caught forever between seeking for “truth” and of questioning if “truth” has any value. Anyway, over to Dostoyevsky:

The long and the short of it is, gentlemen, that it is better to do nothing! Better conscious inertia! And so hurrah for underground! Though I have said that I envy the normal man to the last drop of my bile, yet I should not care to be in his place such as he is now (though I shall not cease envying him). No, no; anyway the underground life is more advantageous. There, at any rate, one can … Oh, but even now I am lying! I am lying because I know myself that it is not underground that is better, but something different, quite different, for which I am thirsting, but which I cannot find! Damn underground!

BTW, you can get the audiobook on librivox.

AC1