[x]Blackmoor Vituperative

Friday, 2018-12-07

The problem with libertarians

Filed under: Philosophy,Politics — bblackmoor @ 10:40

I was a capital-L Libertarian for a decade or so. The thing is, they are absolutely opposed to the initiation of physical force, because it’s the single greatest infringement of another person’s liberty. I think this is a good thing. For one thing, it would make the USA far less of an analogue of the Empire in Star Wars.

Gadsden flag

There are, unfortunately, two rather significant problems with libertarians. First, although they are opposed to the initiation of force, far too many of them fetishize the idea of retaliation. Once you do that, it becomes very easy to rationalize any violence or atrocity, because after all, “they started it”. You’ve seen the Gadsden flag, I assume, the one with the snake? “Don’t tread on me”? That’s not a celebration of living in peace and harmony: it’s a fetish symbol for someone who wants the opportunity to use violence and is looking for an excuse.

The second major problem with libertarians is that they are purposefully blind to the fact that physical violence is not the only form of coercion. A libertarian is perfectly fine with a single company buying all of the patents on a life-saving drug and then demanding your life savings for a dose of it, because that’s not physical violence — but it is obviously a direct “your money or your life” form of coercion, to everyone not blinded by their religious fervor. And it is a religious fervor, make no mistake. When you adhere to a creed or philosophy in defiance of the clear and measurable harm that philosophy causes, you have become a religious zealot — a fanatic.

Sunday, 2018-11-18

The rage virus vs. homeopathy

Filed under: Friends,Medicine,Politics — bblackmoor @ 12:26

One of my oldest and dearest friends has been poisoned by the hate propaganda that has become so prevalent since Rush Limbaugh popularized it back in the 1980s. I’ve spent the last couple of years trying to pull him back to reality. He eventually un-“friend”-ed me. I think that friendship is over: the poison has consumed him.

I have another friend who thinks that “free speech” should be protected regardless of how hateful or ridiculously false it is. “Outlawing expression and a marketplace of ideas doesn’t protect people.” I said that the last couple of decades has conclusively proven him wrong: giving overt lies and vicious hatred the same legal protection as we give facts and legitimate journalism has had a direct impact on our society, turning what was once a fringe movement into one of the two dominant political parties in the USA. He eventually un-“friend”-ed me, too. That friendship might be salvaged, some day.

Nothing on this page is real: How lies become truth in online America
“Nothing on this page is real”: How lies become truth in online America

Monday, 2018-10-08

Happy Columbus Day!

Filed under: History,Mythology,Philosophy — bblackmoor @ 07:43

Happy Columbus Day! Much like St. Patrick’s Day, this day has very little to do with the actual historical Christopher Columbus (who was by all accounts a truly despicable human being, although he may also have been a completely typical example of his time). What we are actually celebrating is the spirit of exploration that is tied so firmly to the American spirit. We are explorers and pioneers. We went where no one had gone before. We are risk takers who follow our dreams even when the people around us claim that we’d fall off the edge of the world (not in Columbus’ era — those folks knew the world was round). It’s also a day to celebrate the contribution that we Americans have gained thanks to Italian immigrants and (if we’re lucky) our Italian ancestors. These are things worth celebrating.

If you use this as an opportunity to complain about Columbus, Imperialism, or colonialism… well, there are good reasons to be aware of those things. But that’s not what we are celebrating on Columbus Day.

map and telescope

Saturday, 2018-09-08

Criticizing the wallpaper on the Titanic

Filed under: Philosophy,Politics,Society — bblackmoor @ 12:41

Pick big fights with your enemies, not small fights with your friends. “Micro aggression” is nonsense, when there is macro aggression to worry about, and there is no such thing as “cultural appropriation”. Culture spreads and changes, or it stagnates and dies — there is no third choice.

There is too much at stake for us to get distracted by pettiness. Don’t be the wanker criticizing the wallpaper on the Titanic.

Tuesday, 2018-07-31

Welcome to your cyberpunk dystopia

Filed under: Society,Work — bblackmoor @ 16:42

We’ve created the cyberpunk dystopia which used to be fiction.

Key points:

  • Decline in wages is directly aligned with decline in unions.
  • Top 10% larger share of revenue/wages is inversely proportional to declining union membership.
  • There isn’t a lack of jobs. There is a lack of full-time, good paying jobs. There are a lot of contract and part time workers who can’t seem to get a fair shot at full time employment. And despite the low unemployment rate, employers aren’t relaxing their strict requirements for the full time jobs, for the most part.

Source: “Almost 80% of US workers live from paycheck to paycheck. Here’s why.” , Robert Reich. The Guardian. 2018-07-29.

Saturday, 2018-06-30

Not all complaints are valid

Filed under: Philosophy,Society — bblackmoor @ 11:16

There are legitimate complaints to be made, and there are genuinely bad people who are the reason for those complaints. But as anyone who has worked in customer service knows, not every complaint is reasonable. Many — perhaps even most, it sometimes seems — are not.

If you need to go 100-200 years back to explain why something is “bad”, it’s not bad — you are just fishing for things to be unhappy about. Focus on what’s bad now. Robber barons, for example, are bad — and you don’t need a history lesson on the origin of the phrase “robber baron” to explain why. Private prisons and the racist impact of Drug Prohibition are both bad — and you don’t need a history lesson on workhouses or the Atlantic slave trade to explain why.

History can provide background to what is bad now. It’s really good for that. What history does not do is make something bad now merely because of events that took place before any of our grandparents were born.

Wednesday, 2018-05-16

Definition of “incel”

Filed under: Philosophy,Society,Writing — bblackmoor @ 08:59

[in-sel]
noun

  1. Someone whose behaviour is so repugnant that not one of the approximately seven billion humans on Earth will have sex with them.
  2. Someone who blames others for their mental and social shortcomings.
     
    “Yesterday Ryan wrote a Facebook post calling himself an ‘incel’. He claims that all women are shallow and exist to torture men by ‘denying’ them sex.”

Origin and etymology of incel

blend of involuntary and celibate

First Known Use: 1997

Monday, 2018-05-14

Let’s say you reduced Earth’s human population by half

Filed under: Philosophy,Science,Society — bblackmoor @ 12:38

Fun fact! The Earth’s human population has doubled since 1971. So if, hypothetically, someone were to snap their fingers and kill half of the Earth’s population, they would set our inevitable self-destruction back by less than two generations. Hardly seems worth it, really.

population growth chart

Sunday, 2018-05-06

Theodore Roosevelt on the cowardice of cynicism and the courage to create

Filed under: History,Philosophy — bblackmoor @ 09:19

This week’s “Brain Pickings” features a 1910 speech by Theodore Roosevelt, admonishing people to do something, rather than merely criticize what others do.

“The poorest way to face life is to face it with a sneer. There are many men who feel a kind of twisted pride in cynicism; there are many who confine themselves to criticism of the way others do what they themselves dare not even attempt.”

Fun fact! (And somewhat relevant due to yesterday being Cinco de Mayo, celebrating when Mexico helped the United States win the American Civil War). When Roosevelt gave this speech in 1910, there were no border controls between the USA and Mexico. There was no such thing as a Mexican “illegal immigrant” in the USA until the 1920s, when white supremacists in the USA starting imposing quotas on immigrants based on their country of origin. (There were earlier laws regarding immigration, but these did not actually prevent anyone from Mexico from coming to the USA freely. Earlier laws mainly focused on Chinese immigrants, and on preventing the importation of “contract labor”, which is to say, slaves in all but name.)

Theodore Roosevelt

Fun fact! Increased “security” at the USA-Mexico border in the early 1900s had the perverse effect of increasing the number of permanent Mexican residents in the USA, because it made it more difficult for them to go back home once they got here.

Wednesday, 2018-04-04

Two different perspectives on what “progress” means

Filed under: Philosophy,Politics,Society — bblackmoor @ 10:14

Psychologist Valerie Tarico has written a very interesting article, “Political Narrative II: Why Some Progressives Are Tearing Each Other Apart“. I have said, many times (and sadly, I think I will have many opportunities to say it again), clinging to past grievances — no matter how valid they are — is not the way to make a better future. At some point, you must put the past behind you, if you want to move beyond it. We need to focus on making tomorrow better than today. Not perfect: perfection is not an option, and we will never make any progress if we insist on that. Just make tomorrow better than today.

As an aside, this also provides me with an insight into some of my more conservative friends. I see them making comments (often defensive comments, as though they’ve been attacked) about “liberals”, but those comments seem to come out of nowhere. It’s because those defensive comments aren’t aimed at me, or people like me — they are aimed at what this article calls the Structural Oppression group.

I look forward to the day when one’s skin colour, facial features, and sex are as easily changed as hair length and hair colour are now — and are finally treated as the superficial traits they are.

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