[x]Blackmoor Vituperative

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.

Monday, 2018-04-02

Pleasant places to retire

Filed under: Fine Living,Retirement — bblackmoor @ 12:54

Pondering “pleasant” places to retire, and stumbled across Kelly Norton’s “most ‘pleasant’ days in a year” post. Rather surprised that southern Louisiana rates as highly as it does, by this criteria. Saddened, but not surprised, that New Hampshire rates so low. I wish I could enter my own criteria. I don’t mind precipitation, for example.

Southern Louisiana does look pretty good, except during the summer, when it’s uninhabitable. And of course southern California is a climatological paradise, but I don’t want to move back to California. Portland, OR is in the ballpark of Charlottesville, VA, but their “pleasant days” are spread evenly from May to October, while ours peak pretty sharply in May and September.

Susan suggested we might become migratory, traveling between North and South as the season change. Maintaining two residences seems like such a massive waste of resources, though.

Cuenca, Ecuador keeps looking attractive. Real estate and the cost of living are both affordable. … Or maybe not. Realistically, it’s unlikely we will move away from the USA.

Friday, 2018-03-23

Sugar Coated (2015)

Filed under: Food,Society — bblackmoor @ 15:23

Watching a documentary about sugar, called “Sugar Coated” (2015). Briefly, obesity has doubled in the past 30 years, and diabetes has tripled, and it’s because sugar is in literally everything and we eat way too much of it. We eat twice as much processed food, and at least twice as much sugar, as we did 30 years ago. And make no mistake: our sugar consumption 30 years ago was enormous, compared to 30 years before that. It was already far too much sugar.

The people who made the video keep saying that this is a controversial issue.

How is this controversial? It’s obvious. Look at the ingredients in spaghetti sauce, hot dogs, barbecue sauce, ketchup, cereal, pizza sauce, even bread. Bread! Have you seen the cereal aisle at the grocery store? It’s literally boxes of candy. Grocery stores have become candy stores — and that’s not even touching on actual candy and cakes, of which we consume vast quantities.

We are a stupid, stupid species.

This is worth watching, too.

Thursday, 2018-03-22

You are what you do

Filed under: Firearms,Politics,Society — bblackmoor @ 10:32

You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.

For example, if you are vocal in your defense of the Second Amendment as a bulwark against tyranny, but you also voted for, and continue to support, a vulgar habitual liar who has expressed nothing but contempt for the US Constitution and the limits of his legitimate authority, it is clear what you do when confronted with tyranny, and you did it without using a firearm: you support it. You even buy the hat.

Friday, 2018-03-16

So about those first and second Amendments to the U.S. Constitution…

Filed under: Civil Rights,Philosophy,Politics,Society — bblackmoor @ 10:21

At the risk of pouring gasoline on a bonfire, I think we have erred by making the Constitution part of our national religion. People shout out the numbers of Amendments like they are magic spells to ward off evil.

The Constitution is not holy text carved into tablets by a god. The rules our government operates under were written by people who thought they were a good idea at the time, just like all of our other laws. And just like all of our other laws, what people actually intended is subject to debate, how they will be implemented is subject to the discretion of later generations, and they can and should be changed when later generations decide that’s a good idea at the time.

It wasn’t that long ago that oral sex was illegal in Virginia. Just because someone wrote it down and people voted on it, doesn’t necessarily make it wise or right or even reasonable.

They’re just rules. Rules can be changed.

Wednesday, 2018-02-28

Dragons can be killed

Filed under: Art,Books,Philosophy,Society — bblackmoor @ 16:20

I ran across this quote today (not for the first time). It occurs to me that our fairy tales might have changed, but the lesson is still the same.

“Fairy tales, then, are not responsible for producing in children fear, or any of the shapes of fear; fairy tales do not give the child the idea of the evil or the ugly; that is in the child already, because it is in the world already. Fairy tales do not give the child his first idea of bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon. Exactly what the fairy tale does is this: it accustoms him for a series of clear pictures to the idea that these limitless terrors had a limit, that these shapeless enemies have enemies in the knights of God, that there is something in the universe more mystical than darkness, and stronger than strong fear.”
— G.K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles (1909), XVII: “The Red Angel”

Sweet Halloween Dreams (begemott)

P.S. This is often mis-quoted as something like, “Fairy tales do not tell children that dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children that dragons can be killed.” It’s succinct, and it’s true, but that’s not the quotation. I care about things like that. You might not.

Monday, 2018-01-22

Celebrate your oddities

Filed under: Entertainment,Fine Living — bblackmoor @ 15:22

I’m not a fan of professional football, myself, but there’s room enough in the world for people to like what they like. Physical performance is a form of art; beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It would be hypocritical of me to criticize someone for what they find fun, don’t you think?

If you are having a good time and not hurting anyone, more power to you.

celebrate your oddities, your work, your sexuality
celebrate your urges, celebrate humanity,
celebrate your fetishes, my message is clear,
there’s no such thing as normal: everybody’s weird

Tuesday, 2018-01-16

The case against home automation

Filed under: Fine Living,Technology — bblackmoor @ 11:04

I have said (and will continue to say) that if a machine can do a task as well and as inexpensively as a human, it should. No one wants to wash clothes by hand, and no one should have to perform drudgery just to give them a job to do.

However, I was an early adopter of home automation. I had voice-activated indoor and outdoor lights in the 1990s, for example. I eventually realized that most of the time, it’s easier to use a button.

I see little use for these voice-activated Google/Amazon gadgets. In the time it takes to turn down the TV or music and speak clearly, I could have typed in “Ewan Macgregor birthday” and found out how old he is. If you have hands and a phone, you don’t need a Google Echo, or whatever. You certainly don’t need one that smiles at you. They’re the current generation’s version of those countertop gadgets that collected dust back in the late 1980s/early 1990s (quesadilla makers, sandwich fryers, etc.). Useless frippery.

Saturday, 2018-01-13

We have gotten the whole “shithole countries” thing wrong

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

“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”

— President Donald Trump, 2018-01-11

A lot of people have become irate at the phrase “shithole countries”, and responded, in effect, that it’s racist because there are no “shithole countries”.

I think they are wrong, or at least half wrong. Put down the pitchfork, give me a moment, and allow me to explain.

There are places in the world where the ground is so hard and dry, where life is so difficult, where the rule of law is so fragile that hundreds or thousands or tens of thousands of people flee those places and try to find somewhere else, anywhere else, to live. I myself have used the phrase “third world hellhole” to describe such places. It’s not a condemnation of the people who flee — it’s an acknowledgement of the horrors they are fleeing from.

Some of the people who flee those places seek to come to the United States (rather than any of the kinder, saner countries). They walk, ride, or float on rafts for days or weeks or even months to escape the horrors behind them and seek a place to live where they can find food, shelter, and peace. A rather famous poem by Emma Lazarus calls such people “wretched refuse”.

So here’s the thing. Read the quote from President Trump again. What part of that makes you angry? If it’s the phrase “shithole countries”, I think you are missing the point of what makes that comment so horrifying, so inhumane, and so fundamentally anti-American.

“No, no, that’s part of it!” I can almost hear you say. Yeah. Sure it is. Which is why the phrase “shithole countries” is all anyone is talking about, rather than the Republicans’ racist quest for “immigration reform”. We’ve become a society that cares more about vocabulary than intent or outcome.

Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Tuesday, 2017-12-26

Humans live too long

Filed under: History,Philosophy — bblackmoor @ 13:48

I think a large part of what’s wrong with the world is that humans live too long. In 14th century England, most people were married by 16, dead by 50, and every so often you’d have a plague that killed a huge chunk of the population. Yet even then, they’d already hunted boars and wolves to extinction by the mid-1300s.

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