Having Kids and Having Religion

Most people associate pronatalism with religionism. Either because of its ‘go forth and multiply’ view, its ‘sanctity of life’ view, or its ‘we have to outnumber them’ view. I agree there’s a relationship, even a causal one. But it’s not that religion ’causes’ pronatalism; rather, some other thing causes both religionism and pronatalism.

What is this other thing? An inability to find fulfilment in the here and now. The sci-fi stories featuring a ‘last’ generation always seem to show some sort of widespread malaise, even despair. What, no kids? Many, not content to die in a few years, decide to kill themselves immediately. If I didn’t know better, I’d call it an existential crisis. One not handled very well. (‘I’m too unimaginative or too lazy, or both, to have made my life worthwhile. I know! I’ll have kids—they’ll make my life worthwhile!) (And then in a really clever leap of logic, they even blame the kids for their existential black hole—’How can I be out following some dream when I gotta put food on the table for you kids?’)

The same people insist on believing there’s a heaven no matter how many photographs of ‘up there’ they’re shown. (Never mind the extensive non-visual physical evidence against the possibility.)

In short, those of us who have purpose and value in our own lives have no need of kids—or heaven. Those of us who don’t, pass the buck.

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Guns

Guns have a tendency to kill people. Usually when injury would have sufficed. What to do. (Assuming killing people isn’t always a good thing.) Hm. I know! Let’s replace bullet guns with dart guns. Darts filled with something that temporarily disables or immobilizes the person, causes an hour of paralysis or unconsciousness. Or severe nausea. Or diarrhoea.

Nah, that’s too humane. It’s okay for elephants, but for people?

Or probably, more importantly, it’s too expensive. I would guess that a dart costs more than a bullet. But maybe only because of supply and demand. And surely if we add in the lawsuits for accidental injury and death, the price of bullets increases substantially. (We won’t add in the loss of limb or life because apparently that doesn’t count for much—otherwise we wouldn’t have so many bullet guns in the first place.)

Or well, it wouldn’t work. What if you missed, what if, in a shoot-out, the police shot some innocent bystanders instead of the bad guys? They’d be the ones lying there unconscious. Well gee. Some might think better that than lying there dead. Read the rest of this entry »

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Macho Music for the Mensa Crowd

Music and men has always been an iffy combination. If it involves banging on things and making a lot of noise, well, that’s definitely male, on both counts, so being a drummer is okay. And if it involves plugging something in—that ultimate test which separates the men from, well, from the women—that’s good, so playing the guitar, lead or bass, is okay. Especially since holding your hand at cock level is involved.

But what if your tastes are a little more classical? What if you’re a little more intellectually-inclined? Fear no more! Electronic music is here!

To begin, like all good little boys, electronic composers are obsessed with how. Their program notes are paeans to process: “The harmonic matrix for this construction was established with a dominant to non-dominant ratio of 7:5 and intra-note relationships determined according to a chance-randomized method…”

And yet, it sounds like shit. Read the rest of this entry »

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Inner Peace

The problem with inner peace is that it’s really just resignation. It’s giving up. It’s refusing to accept responsibility for one’s actions by refusing to accept that one can act. It’s the epitome of passivity.

Consider the following “symptoms of inner peace”.

A tendency to think and act spontaneously“—That is, without careful deliberation, without thorough consideration. So when one thinks at all, one’s thought will necessarily be superficial and shallow. Actually, perhaps one won’t think at all; after all, to “act spontaneously” is to do so without thinking. So how, exactly, does one ‘think spontaneously’? The rest of the item provides no help: “…rather than on fears based on past experience“. Past experience is what guides us (at least those of us who are rational): the last time we put our hand on a hot stove, it hurt—so the bright ones among us stopped doing that. Granted, if we use only the fears of our past experience, we are being a bit lopsided, but that doesn’t seem to be the point being made here. Read the rest of this entry »

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Gay Bashing

Gay bashing. Now there’s something I don’t understand. ‘Queers are disgusting, man. Men touching other men, that’s really sick.’ So, yeah, go beat ’em up. Get real close and touch ’em all over. And they say men are the logical ones.

But of course it’s not just the no-necks roaming the streets at night. It’s also the ones in the highrises during the day. Consider these words of a cable television program manager: “…men French kissing and …caressing …thighs…the scene [was] offensive…bad taste.” But men hitting each other, bruising and breaking bodies with fists, and men killing each other, spattering blood and guts with bullets and knives—this is, what, good taste? I’d rather see men kissing each other than killing each other any time. (But then I’d really rather see Boston Legal reruns.)

It’s weird, the relationship between sex and violence. I don’t understand it. Mitch, the bouncer, says “They’re either gonna fuck or fight.” He understands it. Okay, think like a man. (I can’t, it hurts.) (Yes you can, try harder.) Read the rest of this entry »

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Networking and Mentoring: Legitimizing ‘Connections’

Networking and mentoring, while two distinct activities, both seem to endorse using people; this is bad enough, but they also, partly therefore, support the ‘It’s who you know, not what you know’ mentality. In the interest of justice based on merit, both should be discouraged.

Consider networking. On a superficial level, networking refers, harmlessly enough, to ‘making contacts.’ But networking is not so incidental, not so accidental. Networking is ‘developing and maintaining contacts.’ For what, you may ask. Good question. An article in Incentive by Steven M. and Harvey J. Krause provides the answer: “The goal of networking is to create a pool of people and information that you can use for a variety of goals: increasing the quality of your product or service, decreasing customer attrition, gaining customers or getting a job that your competition never even heard was available” (July 1995, p.71). The key word, of course, is ‘use.’ Many people think it’s wrong to use people, especially to use them as a means to your own ends—and I’m one of them. Read the rest of this entry »

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Freakonomics’ Big Revelation

So I just read Levitt and Dubner’s Freakonomics, in which they present the astounding connection between access to abortion and crime: twenty years after Roe v. Wade, the U.S. crime rate dropped.

Astounding indeed. That men are so surprised by that! I mean, just how clueless are you guys? —about the power, the influence, of parenting, about the effect of being forced to be pregnant, to be saddled with a squalling baby you do not want, on an income you do not have, because you’ve got a squalling baby you do not want… What did you guys think would happen in situations like that? The women would get “Mother of the Year” awards for raising psychologically healthy adults?

What I find surprising is that access to abortion isn’t related to infanticide. Pity. Given the Freakonomics boys.

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The Arithmetic of Morality

I limit my fuel consumption—I ration myself to one trip into town a week and I haven’t taken a ‘joy ride’ since the ‘70s. For what? My neighbour thinks nothing of going into town three times in one day, half the male population drives gas-guzzling pick-ups and never pick up anything, and the other half drive mini-vans because they’re big. I keep myself colder than I’d like and I live in a dark house, while the lights and computers stay on 24/7 in some guy’s place of business and his advertisements light up the world.

Still, it’s the principle that counts. Really? Unless there’s a god, it’s the consequence that counts. ‘Using only what you need’ is right because it’s wrong to take more than you need if that means others will have less than they need. If, however, you take more apples than you need because otherwise they’ll just rot on the ground, what’s wrong with that?

Of course, if enough people decrease their fuel consumption (and a corresponding number don’t increase their consumption), there would be a consequence. Possibly even a moral consequence. (Though that’s arguable: less fossil fuel leads to less carbon emission, which leads to less global warming, which leads to less climate change—tell me when I get to the moral good…)

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Land Ownership

I’ve somewhat unthinkingly agreed with indigenous claims that they got ripped off with regard to their land, didn’t get paid a fair price. But suddenly it occurred to me: what gave them the right to ask a price in the first place? That is, on what basis was the land theirs to sell? On what basis did they own it?

Typically, we own, and therefore can sell, what we make—what we add our labor to (leaving aside, for the moment, the question of how we came to own the raw materials we added our labor to—because it’s really the same as the main question here). But no one made land.

So, occupancy? But a person can technically occupy no more than, say, two cubic meters at a time. So how are we defining ‘occupancy’? By a broader definition of spatial occupancy? Or by some temporal occupancy? Surely anything we come up with in this regard will be relatively arbitrary.

So, improvement? When one improves the land, one gains ownership over it? ‘Course, then one has to define ‘improvement’. My neighbour thinks cutting down trees and putting buildings on the land is an improvement. ‘Improvement for who’ is but one question that needs an answer here. ‘Improvement to do what’ is another.

Maybe the matter is better solved not by focusing on how one comes to own land, but by focusing on how one comes to own land. That is, if we look not at individuals, but, instead, at groups, maybe we can define ‘occupy’ more effectively. ‘Course, then we have to define the sort of groups we consider legitimate for this purpose. And, I’ll anticipate here, why should genetic heritage count more than any other criterion of group membership?

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Being Unprofessional

As in exhibiting ‘unprofessional behaviour’ or wearing ‘unprofessional attire’. As in something ‘not good’. As in ’cause for dismissal’. Given that extreme consequence, we’d better define ‘unprofessional’. Easier said than done.

The word ‘professional’ means, literally, ‘pertaining to the profession’. Not helpful. Let’s assume that the profession’s standards are being referred to, standards which, presumably, identify a certain minimum regarding quality of performance. For example, good counselling depends on trust; specifically, for example, the counsellee trusts the counsellor not to tell others what has been discussed during the session. Therefore, a counsellor who fails to maintain confidentiality is being unprofessional. To mention another example, it is incontestable that certain professions are best carried out when their practitioners do not accept bribes. So if a police officer or a lawyer did accept a bribe, s/he would be guilty of unprofessional behaviour. So far, so good. Read the rest of this entry »

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