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Valar Qringaomis

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Saturday, August 17, 2013

Follow your Passion?

"I will never be an old man. To me, old age is always 15 years older than I am." - Bernard M. Baruch

***

Scott Adams Blog: Follow your Passion? 02/21/2013

"You often hear advice from successful people that you should "Follow your passion." That sounds about right. Passion will presumably give you high energy, high resistance to rejection and high determination. Passionate people are more persuasive, too. Those are all good things, right?

Here's the counterargument: When I was a commercial loan officer for a large bank in San Francisco, my boss taught us that you should never make a loan to someone who is following his passion. For example, you don't want to give money to a sports enthusiast who is starting a sports store to pursue his passion for all things sporty. That guy is a bad bet, passion and all. He's in business for the wrong reason.

My boss at the time, who had been a commercial lender for over thirty years, said the best loan customer is one who has no passion whatsoever, just a desire to work hard at something that looks good on a spreadsheet...

My hypothesis is that passionate people are more likely to take big risks in the pursuit of unlikely goals, and so you would expect to see more failures and more huge successes among the passionate. Passionate people who fail don't get a chance to offer their advice to the rest of us. But successful passionate people are writing books and answering interview questions about their secrets for success every day. Naturally those successful people want you to believe that success is a product of their awesomeness, but they also want to retain some humility. One can't be humble and say, "I succeeded because I am far smarter than the average person." But you can say your passion was a key to your success, because everyone can be passionate about something or other, right? Passion sounds more accessible. If you're dumb, there's not much you can do about it, but passion is something we think anyone can generate in the right circumstances. Passion feels very democratic. It is the people's talent, available to all.

It's also mostly bullshit...

It's easy to be passionate about things that are working out, and that distorts our impression of the importance of passion. I've been involved in several dozen business ventures over the course of my life and each one made me excited at the start. You might even call it passion. The ones that didn't work out - and that would be most of them - slowly drained my passion as they failed. The few that worked became more exciting as they succeeded. As a result, it looks as if the projects I was most passionate about were also the ones that worked. But objectively, the passion evolved at the same rate as the success. Success caused passion more than passion caused success.

Passion can also be a simple marker for talent."

Links - 17th August 2013

"The most perfidious way of harming a cause consists of defending it deliberately with faulty arguments." - Friedrich Nietzsche

***

Five ways to stop the NSA from spying on you - "“The laws of physics will not let you hide your location from the phone company,” he says. The phone company needs to know where you are in order to reach you when you receive a phone call. So if you don’t want the NSA to know where you’ve been, you only have one option: You need to turn off your cell phone. Or if you’re feeling extra paranoid, take out the battery or leave your phone at home."

Hamas Killed the Baby, Egyptian FM Kissed the Dead Baby, CNN Blamed Israel

Answer to Trolling: Why do you troll? - Quora - "To make people angry. Specifically, I troll people whom I disagree with and don't respect. I do it because having a rational conversation with them isn't possible, so why not get under their skin and have some fun in the process?"

Woman used nude photos of fiance’s ex to get her fired - "The court heard that it all started because Siti Nurazlin, 28, felt that her fiance’s family preferred the victim to her. Her fiance used to be in a relationship with the victim... she posed as a male police officer and contacted the victim via phone text message, pretending to be interested in her. They went on to have a seven-month-long online relationship, conversing every day. Siti Nurazlin used fake email addresses, a fake Facebook account and borrowed phones to keep up the relationship. During this period, the victim sent photos of her family as well as 10 naked photos of herself to Siti Nurazlin. The “relationship” ended when Siti Nurazlin took on another guise: she posed as the girlfriend of the “police officer” who put a stop to it... in the final part of the plot, Siti Nurazlin pretended to be a concerned mother who had a son studying in the secondary school where the victim worked. In December 2011, she wrote to the principal of the school, saying she found four nude photos of the victim in the textbook of her “son”."
You don't need to be a kid to be dumb enough to send nude photos of yourself to (not to mention get into a relationship with) someone you've never even met (or presumably spoken to)

Russia surgeon 'stole heroin from drug mule's stomach' - "Officers who checked drug containers removed from the courier believed one was missing and carried out a search. Five grams were found in the clothing of the surgeon, who was himself found to be in a state of narcotic intoxication"

Apple’s App Store and Freedom of Expression Online - "Apple’s app store policies interfere with what Jack Balkin calls a “democratic culture” in which “ordinary people can participate, both collectively and individually, in the creation and elaboration of cultural meanings that constitute them as individuals.” The iOS ecosystem has become pervasive enough that Apple’s policies have a substantial effect on freedom of expression online. It is therefore perhaps time that we strongly consider applying the principles of net neutrality to the iOS ecosystem. In other words, “app neutrality” should govern the iOS app approval and rejection process in order to ensure that freedom of expression within the ecosystem, as well as the larger online ecosystem, is protected and nurtured. Just as we would not look kindly on a regime that arbitrarily rejects—or approves, then rejects—websites because of their political content, we should not look kindly on a regime that does precisely this on the mobile sphere. As the market for mobile devices and services continues to grow at a rapid pace, an expanded conception of “app neutrality” that includes app non-discrimination within mobile app stores should become an increasingly important part of the network neutrality debate."

Sex With An Ex Might Be A Good Idea - "A post-marriage bedroom jaunt among people who still longed for ex-lover resulted in "significantly better adjustment" compared to those who were not having sex with their ex, the study notes. "

Bo Xilai’s Trial Exposes Truth About China - "As is the case with all political scandals, the Bo Xilai affair has exploded several important myths about one-party rule in China. Among these myths, the most alluring and widespread is the idea that the post-Mao leadership has perfected a system of managing internal conflict and maintaining elite unity. Proponents of this idea, dubbed “authoritarian resilience,” argue that China’s leaders have bypassed the need for democracy. Instead, they employ devices such as term limits, a regular rotation of appointments, systematic screening and mandatory retirement as effective means of divvying up power among competing groups and individuals. On paper, these arrangements seem flawless. But in practice, they can be gamed, and the competition for power inside an opaque regime that resists binding, well-acknowledged rules can be especially fierce... The denouement of Bo’s saga will also help destroy yet another widely accepted myth about the Communist Party -- namely, that the regime is a meritocracy. This idea has a tight grip on Western politicians and business executives who have interacted personally with top Chinese leaders. Adjectives like “smart,” “dynamic” and “cosmopolitan” are generously applied to officials like Bo. It remains a puzzle to China-watchers how these Westerners, who speak no Mandarin and normally spend just an hour or two with characters like Bo, could have reached such definitive assessments about their capabilities"

North Korea unveils Android smartphone - "Funny thing about an open-source operating system -- it can show up in the most unexpected of places. North Korea has unveiled its own Android smartphone through its state-controlled KCNA TV news channel, which recently showed supreme leader Kim Jong-un visiting a "cell phone factory." Dubbed "AS1201 Arirang" after a Korean folk song, North Korea says its smartphone is manufactured using "indigenous technology." Yet on the phone's screen you can clearly see the stock Android UI, as developed by Google in Mountain View, Calif."

Man, 64, finds penis missing upon waking after drunken night - "Neighbours of Geraldo Ramos claim that he was attacked by a dog as he stumbled around the Dominican Republic naked while drunk. But Mr Ramos, of Santiago, doesn't believe their version of events and is none-the-wiser as to how he came to be dismembered... The dog which is said to have attacked him has not been traced, nor indeed has Mr Ramos's penis."

Why Apple Can’t Be Trusted with the App Store | Cult of Mac - "in 2010, at least, Apple was willing to use its control over the app store to give the company an unfair advantage in unrelated business deals... Apple this week removed the Bang With Friends app, which existed to enable users to proposition people they follow on Facebook to find out if they are “down to bang”... As far as I can tell, the pulling of this app is arbitrary. I’m guessing Apple just doesn’t like the sound of it. I would be surprised if Apple considered as one of its corporate missions the need to prevent people from having sex with each other, or the use of apps for people to discover that they are attracted to each other. I suspect that the baby boomers who run Apple just find language commonly used by millennials in poor taste... Apple, in fact, has a long history of banning apps based on them being in poor taste. An app called iBoobs was banned, even though there was no nudity in it. The app showed a cartoon clothed upper torso of a woman. By shaking the app, the breasts jiggled. So what’s the rule here: You can show female bodies as long as they’re not in motion?... If Apple wants to be a standard, global agent for content, we need to trust them. And for us to trust them, they’ve got to earn our trust by creating a rule-governed, level playing field."

Good Samaritans need protection - "In October 2011, a two-year-old toddler was left bleeding on the streets of Guangdong in China, after being hit by a van. Eighteen people walked by and refused to help, and the child was run over a second time. In a survey conducted a month later, most respondents thought the people who passed the injured toddler without helping were afraid of getting into legal trouble."
Funny, I thought all this was due to the logic of capitalism gone mad

It Now Appears Possible to Hack a (Fancy, Japanese) Toilet

46% Are Pro-Choice, 43% Pro-Life - Rasmussen Reports™ - "46% of Likely U.S. Voters now consider themselves pro-choice, the lowest finding in three years of regular surveying. Forty-three percent (43%) say they are pro-life, matching the highest finding to date. Eleven percent (11%) are undecided."

When Is a Royal Baby a Fetus? - "the American media used this phrase “royal baby” to describe the pre-born infant. It’s not strange for leading pro-life thinkers like Eric Metaxas and Denny Burk to refer to a fetus as a “baby.” It's not strange, either, for people to refer to a child they're expecting as a "baby," regardless of where they stand on the issue of abortion. It is strange, though, for outlets like the New York Times and the Washington Post and Boston Globe--which purport to be neutral on the issue--to use this seemingly explosive phrase without so much as a qualification. And why is this strange? Because it codes a pro-life position into their description of the unborn child."

Singapore Social Escorts Losing Business To Casinos, Business Dropped By 30% - "Social escort agencies are complaining that they are losing business to the local casinos. The agencies tell reporters that business had dropped 10% initially when the casinos opened. It has since dropped by 30%, and they are looking at ways to attract more customers... Most customers are apparently married men who tend to accompany their families during holidays and festivals. Business at the agencies usually drop by about 30% on Christmas Day, and 60% during Chinese New Year. The agencies also reveal that many female escorts are university educated and most escorts will provide "special services" to clients."

The pillow that makes long-distance relationships less lonely - "When one person goes to bed, the ring wirelessly communicates with his lover's pillow and causes it to gently glow. When he puts his head on the pillow, he can hear the real-time heartbeat of his partner, no matter how far away."

Swedish boys' new hero: pram-pushing Spiderman - "This is not the first case of toy catalogue controvery in Sweden. In October, 2009, sixth grade students from Växjö, southern Sweden, made a storm by reported toy retailing giant Toys "R" Us to the Reklamombudsmannen (Ro) for gender discrimination. The 13-year olds decided that a Christmas catalogue featured children in "outdated gender roles", with boys too often in "action filled" pictures, and girls only in "passive poses""
Comments: "Spiderman is supposed to be a superhero, not a nanny."
"Yeah, I'm sick and tired of these gender roles society forces upon me. For now on I am going to use the ladies restroom. I imagine it is much more sanitary than the mens restroom."
"Im seriously getting fed up with this kind of thought process that you have to go out of your way to prove a gender neutral or break gender stereotypes, rather than just advertise it individually where no gender or more needs to be though about."


The Singapore Law Review » Blog Archive » Love in the Time of Pre-nuptial Agreements

Thursday, August 15, 2013

O Fortuna Misheard Lyrics (Animated)


"Saucy Hot Peas
Get me cod please
Rock talk to boy who believes
Suck juice from moose
Fun, handsome goose"

The Racist Tree

The Racist Tree
by Alexander Blechman

Once upon a time there was a racist tree. Seriously, you are going to hate this tree.

High on a hill overlooking the town, the racist tree grew where the grass was half clover. Children would visit during the sunlit hours and ask for apples, and the racist tree would shake its branches and drop the delicious red fruit that gleamed without being polished. The children ate many of the racist tree’s apples and played games beneath the shade of its racist branches.

One day the children brought Sam, a boy who had just moved to town, to play around the racist tree.

“Let Sam have an apple,” asked a little girl.

“I don’t think so. He’s black,” said the tree. This shocked the children and they spoke to the tree angrily, but it would not shake its branches to give Sam an apple, and it called him nigger.

“I can’t believe the racist tree is such a racist,” said one child. The children momentarily reflected that perhaps this kind of behavior was how the racist tree got its name.

It was decided that if the tree was going to deny apples to Sam then nobody would take its apples. The children stopped visiting the racist tree.

The racist tree grew quite lonely. After many solitary weeks it saw a child flying a kite nearby across the clover field.

“Can I offer you some apples?” asked the tree eagerly.

“Fuck off, you goddamn Nazi,” said the child.

The racist tree was upset, because while it was very racist, it did not personally subscribe to Hitler’s fascist ideology. The racist tree decided that it would have to give apples to black children, not because it was tolerant, but because otherwise it would face ostracism from white children.

And so, social progress was made.

Links - 15th August 2013

"In politics you must always keep running with the pack. The moment that you falter and they sense that you are injured, the rest will turn on you like wolves." - R. A. Butler

***

Too clever to be a mother? The maternal urge decreases by a QUARTER for every 15 extra IQ points
Comment: "I am a highly intelligent woman (I'm in MENSA!!!!) and I have maternal urges, therefore this study is wrong." Translation? "The interpretation of statistical data in an article which doesn't even talk about methodology is hurting my ego!"

The Contempt of Women - Stephen Marche on the Contempt of Women - Esquire - "In the constantly progressing and deteriorating and rapidly revolving kaleidoscope of misunderstanding and disgust and hunger that constitutes gender relations in the twenty-first century, a new gesture has emerged to define us: the sneer, the female gaze of contempt... the sexual always morphs into the political. Contempt for men has become so widespread and acceptable that it's a commonplace for politicians' wives. Michelle Obama loves to describe her husband's morning breath and struggles with smoking and failure to put away his socks. Her pull quote: "He's a gifted man, but he's just a man." Got that, boys? You can be editor of the Harvard Law Review, first African-American president, director of the assassination of Osama bin Laden, loving husband and father, and an innovator of "absorption marijuana ingestion" to boot, but in the end "just a man." Michelle uses that hokey line because it inevitably provokes warm ovations and knowing laughter. The wife of the British prime minister, David Cameron, has borrowed the technique, moaning about how Cameron "makes a terrible mess" when he cooks and can be "quite annoying." This is what the political operatives call "humanizing the candidate": Contempt for men is what ordinary women understand. There's a well-developed intellectual expression of contempt for men, too, encapsulated in the idea of the "masculinity crisis" — men are doomed, in this argument, by their own inherent natures to flounder in the emotionally complex, predominantly social postindustrial world... That old La Leche League idea that once women were in power there would be no more wars? Women in power are not meaningfully different from men in power. When a reporter asked Christine Lagarde, head of the IMF, what she would tell Greeks suffering under austerity policies, she replied, "Pay their taxes." That's how much compassion you can expect from female political leaders"
Sidebar: "The Glass Cellar: One of the real triumphs of American men over the past thirty years is that they've never taken to gender-based political activism. The arguments have been there to make: There's a "glass cellar" in the American workforce (men work almost all of the dirtiest and most dangerous jobs), male life expectancy is much lower than female life expectancy, and so on. But a politics of male resentment is virtually nonexistent. Organized whining remains, for the overwhelming majority, unmanly... Contempt is
one of the world's great pleasures — look at France — but ephemerality is one of its dominant features."
"As women on television have become smarter and more powerful with every passing year, culminating in Liz Lemon of 30 Rock, the men on television become dumber and grosser and more useless... The world's leading exporter of absurdity has shown the way: Women in Saudi Arabia earn more than half of all undergraduate and doctoral degrees — then they have to be driven to their jobs."
"It is weird, and somewhat embarrassing, that The End of Men was written by a woman. It's as if The Feminine Mystique had been written by a guy named Fred."


French vegan couple face jail for child neglect after baby died from vitamin deficiency - "Both are militant vegans whose diet forbids them eating any animal products whatsoever, and they only use alternative medicine. They took up the lifestyle after watching a TV programme about cows being slaughtered, with Mr Le Moaligou setting up a biological food business which recently went bankrupt... Prosecutor Anne-Laure Sandretto told the court: ‘If the mother was not consuming enough vitamin B12, then the child would not be either’... Mr Daquo said both Mr and Mrs Le Moaligou were also opposed to traditional medicines, and used alternative therapies instead."

Answer to Feminism: Should male passengers offer their seats to women on trains/buses? - Quora - "the other passengers had started staring at me and giving dirty looks. She shouted back, "Don't try to act smart. I know what you meant." A few other female passengers (who were sitting) shouted something like, "Aren't you ashamed of yourself?" Then the girl slapped me! I WAS SLAPPED FOR OFFERING THE GIRL A SEAT! I just can't express how embarrassing that was. I wanted to argue back, but I knew that, with the female passengers ganging up on me (along with a few male passengers as well) and no one supporting me (the guy next to me didn't utter a word), I stood no chance. I sat there silently for the next 10 min, with a burning red cheek and quietly alighted the bus when my destination arrived. That day I decided, I am never going to offer a seat to a women unless she is really old and literally can't stand or handicapped."
And they ask why chivalry is dead...

The village where HALF the population are sex offenders: Idyllic Florida community built for convicts who are banned from living near children - "Forced out of densely populated areas, Miracle Village offers sex offenders a place to live away from those restrictions - and it's proved so popular there are between 10 and 20 applications from potential residents every week... 'We had searched for places to live and nobody would rent to us,' Lecil Woods told the New York Times. 'If it wasn't for this place we would be homeless.' The village does not allow offenders who are convicted of violent sex crimes against strangers. Jerry Youmans, the intake coordinator for the ministry who is also a registered sex offender, told the BBC: 'We try not to accept people with a history of violence or drugs, or to take any diagnosed paedophile - that is, someone who can only become sexually aroused by a child... Some children do live in the village, however, as state laws allow sex offenders to live in the same neighborhood as minors, although some may be banned from having contact with them. One such resident is 22-year-old Christopher Dawson, who is barred from speaking to anyone under 18 after he had sex with a 14-year-old who he believed was older. He was sentenced to two years' house arrest followed by probation for eight years."

‘Sex Offender Village’ - NYTimes.com - "We live in a society that is terrified of sex offenders, sometimes with good reason. But in some cases the perpetrators, and not just the victims, are denied justice. Every high-profile sex crime spawns a rush to do something about the “predators” among us. Unfortunately, these so-called solutions are doing more harm than good. In the past 25 years, the laws governing sex offenses have gone from punitive to draconian to senseless. The term “sex offender” simply covers too wide a range now, painting the few truly heinous crimes and the many relatively innocuous ones with the same broad brush. This overly broad approach wastes resources that could be better spent, for instance, on clearing the huge and unforgivable backlog of untested rape evidence kits. We see even deeper problems: the explosion of sex offender registries, stringent yet demonstrably ineffective residency restrictions, and the bizarre world of “civil commitment,” where we punish what someone might do rather than what he or she has done. All of this suggests that our entire approach to dealing with sex offenders has gone tragically off the rails."
Comments: "In Florida, a minor can decide to have an abortion without parental notification, but cannot decide to have sex... In Florida, any defense which states that a person lied or put forth false identification to assert legal age cannot be used. So, if someone did their due diligence to prevent being with someone underage, but later finds that the person they are/were with is underage, they are still screwed."

Dropping word 'gay' from lyrics of popular children's song riles folks in Australia - "An Australian school principal has asked students to stop using the word "gay" when singing a classic children's song, but said today no offense was intended -- he was simply trying to keep the kids from laughing. Principal Garry Martin of Le Page Primary School in Melbourne said he instructed students to substitute the line "Fun your life must be" for the original "Gay your life must be" when singing "Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree... "It wasn't misplaced political correctness, it wasn't homophobia, there was nothing really calculated in doing it"... "Some think I'm the devil incarnate," he said. Crusader Hillis, CEO of the gay and lesbian advocacy group The Also Foundation, didn't go that far -- but he did call the lyrical swap an overreaction. "It sends a signal to people that just because a word has two meanings, that one of those meanings is unacceptable and that's really putting us backwards," Hillis said. "Even if it's done for good intentions because 'gay' is being used in schoolyards as a slur, I think they need to use the word as a conversation rather than banning it.""
This is so gay
I wonder what the The Also Foundation thinks of the linguistic imperialism of the gay agenda in making "homosexual" the only meaning of "gay"


Asking Guys For Sex - Young attractive woman's YouTube experiment - "In total, Andrea had seven men take her up on her offer and seven rejections. But everyone she approached, even the men walking with girlfriends, seemed to be in a good mood when she left. She definitely had better luck than the hapless man who filmed the 'A Guy Ask 100 Girls For Sex' video, who had to deal with angry women and having a drink thrown in his face"
She's not really attractive...
Comment: "Just confirms what I've always suspected to be true. When a girl this cute asks YOU for sex, there's always a catch."


The Illusions of Big Data - "I’m afraid that more data and more analytics will create an illusion of solutions while the problems still persist. Many problems are intrinsically not possible to solve. Thousands of years of philosophy testify to that. Philosophy aside, people cannot agree on elementary things: some of us have firm reasons to vote for democrats, some of us have iron-clad arguments in favor of republicans. And after this, it is ridiculous to expect big data technologies to solve many if not all problems... Everyone of us, quick or indecisive, made bad judgments in the presence of all necessary information"

All we want are the facts, ma'am - "Having more data, and more ways to process it, means that we can develop different kinds of theories and models. But that does not mean we throw out the scientific method. It is not "The End of Theory." It it is an important change (or addition) in the methodology and set of tools that are used by science, and perhaps a change in our stereotype of scientific discovery... Using data and statistics is not a new idea in science, and it is always done with respect to a theory. To take a simple example, if you flip a coin 1000 times and it comes up heads 513 times, you could say that you have a model that predicts a 51.3% (or you might say "about 50%") chance that the next flip will be heads. But that prediction depends on theory: the theory that the future will be similar to the past; the theory that the result of the coin flip does not depend on the current exchange rate for gold, nor on whether there are a prime number of people whose middle name is "Alice" in the room, and so on... complex models may hold secrets that they are less willing to give up... Theory has not ended, it is expanding into new forms. Sure, we all love succinct theories like F = m a. But social science domains and even biology appear to be inherently more complex than physics. Let's stop expecting to find a simple theory, and instead embrace complexity, and use as much data as well as we can to help define (or estimate) the complex models we need for these complex domains."

Turning People into Monsters

"Some weasel took the cork out of my lunch." - W. C. Fields

***

An interview with James Dawes about his book "Evil Men" (based on firsthand interviews with convicted war criminals from the Second Sino-Japanese War), on Church Stance & The Essence Of Evil - Everyday Ethics:

James Dawes: Nation states have a really expert system of turning people into killers and sometimes pushing them over that line into war criminals.

And looking at the experiences of these men, I was able to see that there is a pattern, really, for what was done to these men. It's a pattern that is employed in many militaries and other violent organisations, and it's hard to resist. There are essentially 4 basic steps to turning a young man into a monster.

The first is, you have to separate this person from their normal moral reference points. Separate them from their families, their schools, their institutions. Isolate them so you can control how they think. And then, when you control how they think, teach them to think in binaries. See the world as us vs them, good vs evil, safe vs unsafe. These simple binaries then seem to call for simple solutions and violence is often the first of those solutions.

The third thing that you want to do is break them down physically, spiritually: through training, through mild verbal abuse. Teach them that they don't have control over their lives through a sort of harsh and arbitrary system of rewards and punishments,
because if you can make somebody helpless, then they become entirely dependent on the system for guidance. If you're helpless, the best way to get a feeling of control again is to dominate and hurt another person.

And then the last thing is that it was slow. Nobody started off as a torturer. Nobody started off as somebody who raped and pillaged. Everybody started slow. They started with mild physical abuse. The first time they were taught bayoneting, they would stab corpses, and that was nauseating for them. They had difficulty with that. But then after doing that four or five times it became easy. So they were able to graduate to practising bayoneting by stabbing villagers tied to trees. And that was shocking to them. But eventually that became easy. And each step was hard until it opened up a doorway to a new thing. And by the end, they had become, in their words, demons. People they couldn't recognise. And the point was it happened very slowly.

William Crawley: In a sense you're describing, at least in the first three stages, basic military training aren't you?

James Dawes: That's right. Well some militaries are better at doing this, but also training them basic respect for human dignity and controlling violence under wartime conditions, but some, their interest in promoting terror...

William Crawley: One of more frightening implication of your book is that they're just men.

James Dawes: Very ordinary men. In fact, one of them was an ethics professor before the war. He studied moral behavior and in fact he engaged in various kinds of altruism. And then he was subjected to the same training everyone else was. He found himself doing the same thing. He was not an ordinary man, he was a virtuous man. And I think this capacity is in all of us.

William Crawley: And most of those men sitting around the Wannsee conference agreeing the Final Solution were lawyers, weren't they?

Education and human culture, these are all things that really make no difference. I think sometimes people like to imagine that there's ways you can inoculate yourself against violence. But when your whole culture is working toward producing violence, it takes someone of great moral strength not to get caught up in it.

And I don't say that to justify them, to say of course everyone does this. I don't say that to diminish what we are as a species really. I say it only because I think that the quick movement to righteous judgment that we have when we see people coming back from wartime. I think we need to temper that, and we need to understand that 'there but for the Grace of God, go I'"

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Being Funny and Being Serious

"SPIRITUALISM.

I Have received a letter from a gentleman who is very indignant at what he considers my flippancy in disregarding or degrading Spiritualism. I thought I was defending Spiritualism; but I am rather used to being accused of mocking the thing that I set out to justify. My fate in most controversies is rather pathetic. It is an almost invariable rule that the man with whom I don't agree thinks I am making a fool of myself, and the man with whom I do agree thinks I am making a fool of him. There seems to be some sort of idea that you are not treating a subject properly if you eulogise it with fantastic terms or defend it by grotesque examples. Yet a truth is equally solemn whatever figure or example its exponent adopts. It is an equally awful truth that four and four make eight, whether you reckon the thing out in eight onions or eight angels, or eight bricks or eight bishops, or eight minor poets or eight pigs. Similarly, if it be true that God made all things, that grave fact can be asserted by pointing at a star or by waving an umbrella. But the case is stronger than this. There is a distinct philosophical advantage in using grotesque terms in a serious discussion.

I think seriously, on the whole, that the more serious is the discussion the more grotesque should be the terms. For this, as I say, there is an evident reason. For a subject is really solemn and important in so far as it applies to the whole cosmos, or to some great spheres and cycles of experience at least. So far as a thing is universal it is serious. And so far as a thing is universal it is full of comic things. If you take a small thing, it may be entirely serious: Napoleon, for instance, was a small thing, and he was serious: the same applies to microbes. If you isolate a thing, you may get the pure essence of gravity. But if you take a large thing (such as the Solar System) it must be comic, at least in parts. The germs are serious, because they kill you. But the stars are funny, because they give birth to life, and life gives birth to fun. If you have, let us say, a theory about man, and if you can only prove it by talking about Plato and George Washington, your theory may be a quite frivolous thing. But if you can prove it by talking about the butler or the postman, then it is serious, because it is universal. So far from it being irreverent to use silly metaphors on serious questions, it is one's duty to use silly metaphors on serious questions. It is the test of one's seriousness. It is the test of a responsible religion or theory whether it can take examples from pots and pans and boots and butter-tubs. It is the test of a good philosophy whether you can defend it grotesquely. It is the test of a good religion whether you can joke about it.

When I was a very young journalist I used to be irritated at a peculiar habit of printers, a habit which most persons of a tendency similar to mine have probably noticed also. It goes along with the fixed belief of printers that to be a Rationalist is the same thing as to be a Nationalist. I mean the printer's tendency to turn the word "cosmic" into the word "comic." It annoyed me at the time. But since then I have come to the conclusion that the printers were right. The democracy is always right. Whatever is cosmic is comic.

Moreover, there is another reason that makes it almost inevitable that we should defend grotesquely what we believe seriously. It is that all grotesqueness is itself intimately related to seriousness. Unless a thing is dignified, it cannot be undignified. Why is it funny that a man should sit down suddenly in the street? There is only one possible or intelligent reason: that man is the image of God. It is not funny that anything else should fall down; only that a man should fall down. No one sees anything funny in a tree falling down. No one sees a delicate absurdity in a stone falling down. No man stops in the road and roars with laughter at the sight of the snow coming down. The fall of thunderbolts is treated with some gravity. The fall of roofs and high buildings is taken seriously. It is only when a man tumbles down that we laugh. Why do we laugh? Because it is a grave religious matter: it is the Fall of Man. Only man can be absurd: for only man can be dignified.

The above, which occupies the great part of my article, is a parenthises. It is time that I returned to my choleric correspondent who rebuked me for being too frivolous about the problem of Spiritualism. My correspondent, who is evidently an intelligent man, is very angry with me indeed. He uses the strongest language. He says I remind him of a brother of his: which seems to open an abyss or vista of infamy. The main substance of his attack resolves itself into two propositions. First, he asks me what right I have to talk about Spiritualism at all, as I admit I have never been to a séance. This is all very well, but there are a good many things to which I have never been, but I have not the smallest intention of leaving off talking about them. I refuse (for instance) to leave off talking about the Siege of Troy. I decline to be mute in the matter of the French Revolution. I will not be silenced on the late indefensible assassination of Julius Cæsar. If nobody has any right to judge of Spiritualism except a man who has been to a séance, the results, logically speaking, are rather serious: it would almost seem as if nobody had any right to judge of Christianity who had not been to the first meeting at Pentecost. Which would be dreadful. I conceive myself capable of forming my opinion of Spiritualism without seeing spirits, just as I form my opinion of the Japanese War without seeing the Japanese, or my opinion of American millionaires without (thank God) seeing an American millionaire. Blessed are they who have not seen and yet have believed: a passage which some have considered as a prophecy of modern journalism.

But my correspondent's second objection is more important. He charges me with actually ignoring the value of communication (if it exists) between this world and the next. I do not ignore it. But I do say this—That a different principle attaches to investigation in this spiritual field from investigation in any other. If a man baits a line for fish, the fish will come, even if he declares there are no such things as fishes. If a man limes a twig for birds, the birds will be caught, even if he thinks it superstitious to believe in birds at all. But a man cannot bait a line for souls. A man cannot lime a twig to catch gods. All wise schools have agreed that this latter capture depends to some extent on the faith of the capturer. So it comes to this: If you have no faith in the spirits your appeal is in vain; and if you have—is it needed? If you do not believe, you cannot. If you do—you will not.

That is the real distinction between investigation in this department and investigation in any other. The priest calls to the goddess, for the same reason that a man calls to his wife, because he knows she is there. If a man kept on shouting out very loud the single word "Maria," merely with the object of discovering whether if he did it long enough some woman of that name would come and marry him, he would be more or less in the position of the modern spiritualist. The old religionist cried out for his God. The new religionist cries out for some god to be his. The whole point of religion as it has hitherto existed in the world was that you knew all about your gods, even before you saw them, if indeed you ever did. Spiritualism seems to me absolutely right on all its mystical side. The supernatural part of it seems to me quite natural. The incredible part of it seems to me obviously true. But I think it so far dangerous or unsatisfactory that it is in some degree scientific. It inquires whether its gods are worth inquiring into. A man (of a certain age) may look into the eyes of his lady-love to see that they are beautiful. But no normal lady will allow that young man to look into her eyes to see whether they are beautiful. The same vanity and idiosyncrasy has been generally observed in gods. Praise them; or leave them alone; but do not look for them unless you know they are there. Do not look for them unless you want them. It annoys them very much."

--- All Things Considered / Gilbert Keith Chesterton

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

On Linguistic Borrowing

"Our Language is in some places sterile and barren, by reason of this depopulation, as I may call it; and therefore such places should be new cultivated, and enrich’d either wth the former (if significant) or some other: For example, we have hardly any words that do so fully expresse the French clinquant, naïveté, ennuy, bizarre, concert, façoniere, chicaneries, consummé, emotion, defer, effort, chocq, entours, débouche; or the Italian vaghzezze, garbato, svelto, &c. Let us therefore (as ye Romans did the Greeke) make as many of these do homage as are like to prove good citizens"

--- Letter to Sir Peter Wyche / John Evelyn (20 June 1665)

Monday, August 12, 2013

Links - 12th August 2013

Sex Education in Korea: A Phallus Garden in "Love Land" - "As late as the end of the 1980s, journalist and travel writer Simon Winchester reported that some hotel employees on the island performed as "professional icebreakers." In the evenings, the hotel would offer an entertainment program featuring lap dances and others raunchy or risqué highlights. Its purpose was to help the intimidated, freshly married novices relax -- and perhaps to give them some ideas for later. Winchester remarks wryly about one of these hotel entertainers that he probably deflowered more women than any other man in Asia... Whoever has meandered about between the gigantic stone labia and climbed the 10 meter (33 feet) marble phallus probably feels a little less repressed afterwards. Still, none of this is proof of an unusually open or relaxed attitude to sex. The opposite is true. A few thoroughly rule-governed exceptions apart, the things that are shown and imagined in Love Land are kept under cover elsewhere in South Korea. In this sense, the theme park is not unlike Asian porn mags or fertility rites: It's a small isle of freedom in an ocean of taboos."

Star Wars Reimagined as a Muppets Comic: A 1983 Mashup

▶ What if guys and girls swapped roles at the gym?! Hilarious! - YouTube

Self-reported affect and core irrational thinking: A preliminary analysis - "Results showed moderate correlations [of having core irrational ideas] with neuroticism and self-reported negative affect"
This means that on one measure, those who report strong negative emotions are more irrational.

Attention to anger-relevant and irrelevant stimuli following naturalistic insult - "An interaction between anger classification, word, and insult was found. Specifically, anger words interfered with the performance of high trait anger-insulted subjects, but not with performance of low trait anger-insulted subjects."
Those who get angry more easily had more problems performing a cognitive task when their anger was stimulated. Which suggests that people who typically get angry easily are more irrational when angry

Anger in Ultimatum Bargaining: Emotional Outcomes Lead to Irrational Decisions
When participants were angrier, they made more irrational decisions

The Psychology of Irrationality: Why People Make Foolish, Self-Defeating Choices - "We put people into various emotional states, using a variety of strong procedures (see Leith & Baumeister, 1996). We found repeatedly that most people would make the correct choice of the two dollar lottery. This was especially common among people in neutral moods and in good moods. But people who were upset strongly tended to make the foolish, risky choice of the long shot. Thus, emotional distress produced a tendency to take stupid risks... people who were upset simply failed to think through the implications and consequences."
Again, anger makes people irrational

Inside China's mini-Paris: Town built to look just like French capital complete with its own Eiffel Tower and Champs Elysées

Dickin' around at the Smallest Penis in Brooklyn Pageant - "Gilronan spoke to us after winning his crown and posing for pictures, telling us “it feels good to win, not gonna lie.” The 27-year-old Briarwood, Queens resident is an actual employee of the Williamsburg UPS store and took no shame in winning the Smallest Penis in Brooklyn competition, declaring “This is going on Facebook.” In response to our question on whether or not he’d be bringing this mark of distinction up in his dating life, Gilronan pointed out that this “is something no other guy on a date will be able to talk about.”"
3/6 of the finalists (all with masks) have head hair which suggests that they are Asian (though one's hair looks like George Clooney)

Interacting With Sexist Men Triggers Social Identity Threat Among Female Engineers - "Men who scored highly on a subtle measure of sexism showed more dominance and sexual interest, according to observer’s impressions, ratings of their body posture, and the confederate’s reports, than did men who scored lower... they reported more attraction to the confederate when he behaved in a dominant and sexually interested way... Women in the sexist cues condition reported more positive feelings about the interaction than did women in the no sexist cues condition, even as they underperformed on the math problems,
suggesting that sexist behavior can undermine women’s performance, even when it is viewed quite positively... As women underperformed intellectually, they reported feeling more attracted to the man who displayed dominant and sexually interested behavior. This result underscores the complexity, and potential intractability, of patterns of interaction between
men and women. A sexist man’s behavior may be reinforced by women’s resulting attraction to him, creating a cycle that further impairs women’s ability to succeed in domains in which they are negatively stereotyped... The sexist men, and confederates trained to emulate their behavior, did not even raise issues of women’s contributions or representations in math and
engineering. Instead, their behavior revealed subtle dominance and sexual interest that was nonetheless sufficient to trigger social identity threat among women... A peer’s suggestion that a male instructor might be sexist can undermine women’s evaluation of his instruction and their test performance, even in absence of actual sexist behavior "
It seems it pays for men to be sexist
How long until body posture gets policed by the PC squad?
In the absence of evidence of sexist acts, it seems once again that talking about the problem (imagined or even if it's real) makes it worse. So obsession about sexism is self-defeating


Testosterone increases honesty in men new research claims - Birmingham science news

La meuf de boîte. - La preuve par moi - "OK, tu veux une nana cool, respectable, drôle, bonne, intelligente. Je le comprends. Puis, tu vas en boîte de nuit, tu baisottes avec une nana qui, de fait à perdu ton respect (va comprendre), puis le lendemain, tu vas chouiner sur les Internets publics parce que tu cherches une nana cool, respectable, drôle, bonne, intelligente... Alors, loin de moi l’idée de dire que les meufs bien ne traînent pas en boîte. Mais passé 25 ans, si. Normalement, à un certain âge, une meuf n’a rien à faire en boîte en pleine semaine. Ni un mec. Donc bon, si un mec et une meuf se rencontrent un mardi à 3h du mat’ au bar d’une boîte, ils sont peut-être fait pour être ensemble non ?... On attire ce que l’on veut bien attirer dans la vie. Donc si tu ramasses des sales meufs, c’est que tu es peut-être toi-même un sale mec, non ?"

Miss World 2013 bikini ban: why it's no victory for feminists - "For some time it's been clear that the interests and tactics of certain types of feminism and certain types of religious fundamentalism not only converge, but seem to complement each other. The consultation resulting from Rhoda Grant's upcoming bill in Scottish Parliament hoping to "end demand" for sex work, for example, are dominated by radical women's groups and conservative church members. Sometimes when it comes to the far right and the far left, you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference. Especially where sex might be involved. And it continues to be surprising that many feminists seem to have no great problem with this. Sure, the ends some wanted have been achieved. Bikinis gone thanks to the Pope or Muslims or whoever it is this time. But at what cost? As they say where I come from (the US), ‘you got to dance with the one who brung you’. Such dirty alliances always, always, come with a hidden cost."

Feminists boycotting Twitter is not the way to end trolling - "On Twitter, the definition of a troll sometimes means "prolific abuser". But it's also become an umbrella term that can mean anything from "someone who disagrees with me" to "someone with fewer followers than me". It's a slippery definition that is far too often trotted out to silence dissent. I'd be blocked. You'd be blocked. Eventually everyone except that Harry from One Direction and a ‘lolcats’ account would be chucked off Twitter as we all reported each other for abuse... This is not to say sexist bullying isn't a problem. It is a big one. Bullying of all kinds is rife on Twitter. I know, because I've been bullied by – and blocked – some of the very people who are shouting the loudest about this... Making it easier to report someone for 'abuse' without defining the terms or means of abuse is an invitation to (wait for it) abuse... the author Caitlin Moran, have suggested that Twitter should be behind a paywall, thus connecting online identities to financial access. Ah yes that old standby of demonising 'anonymous trolls' again. Isn't it ironic that this actually started because of a campaign to get Jane Austen on banknotes – an author who wrote all of her books anonymously? In fact, had Austen lived in this age, I think she would have been called a troll. Fans of her work continually go on about how subversive it is. Think on it: woman hiding behind anonymity sends up the worst excesses and hypocrisy of her class. Classic trolling!... raising your head above the parapet attracts abuse. If you are a woman, it will be abuse about your sex. If gay, about your orientation. If black, about your race. And so on and so forth. Bullies go for the lowest-hanging fruit; they always do. It is not confined to 'anonymous trolls'. People can and will also spew all kinds of racist, classist, genderist nonsense under their own names and above the line. Like the time two 'feminist' columnists started tweeting about my skin. Nice... The question of how to best handle trolls when you are catapulted into the spotlight is difficult and there are no straightforward answers. Especially because one woman's troll is another woman's provocateur"

Why are more girls being born in Japan after the earthquake? - "the shift started to occur pretty soon after the quake, indicating greater male miscarriages, as well as months later… indicating fewer male conceptions."

Yale Sex Week: Porn never goes away when it's banned, David Cameron - Telegraph - "whenever I think about rape, porn and the question of who regulates our sexual culture, I think about the most porn-saturated environment I’ve ever endured. I think about the lofty academic towers of Yale University. Home to Yale Sex Week... Start banning anything that comes close to a rape scenario, and you’ll block out feminist attempts to reclaim or experiment with centuries-old erotic traditions. You’ll even block sado-masochism that has women on top (does it degrade men, this time? Or does it degrade women, because the dominatrix is still sexualised for male lust? It’s all too confusing!) Gothic images are obviously fantasy (how many castle-owners can afford the metal-polishing costs on gleaming dungeons, nowadays?), but impossibly curvaceous cheerleaders ‘consensually’ putting out for the football captain do a far better job of masquerading as ‘real sex’ guides for today’s teenagers... As Telegraph Women’s Editor, Emma Barnett, learned on air, rape threats are the gift of men who believe “feminists like Caroline were undermining what it is to be a man”. But Gary, the self-described “predator” behind this gem also tells us that Criado-Perez “would know these men wouldn’t actually come and rape her. They don’t mean it. Rape is a metaphor”. Thanks Gary. I hadn’t yet got to the part about metaphor in my literature PhD, but now I know"

A high-fat breakfast of bacon and eggs may be the healthiest start to the day, report shows - "the first meal eaten after a night's sleep appears to programme the metabolism for the rest of the day,.. mice fed a meal higher in fat after waking had normal metabolic profiles. In contrast, mice that ate a more carbohydrate-rich diet in the morning and consumed a high-fat meal at the end of the day saw increased weight gain, adiposity, glucose intolerance and other markers of the metabolic syndrome.

Ten Tips for a Great Marriage According to Friedrich Nietzsche

“There are moments when one has to choose between living one's own life, fully, entirely, completely-or dragging out some false, shallow, degrading existence that the world in its hypocrisy demands.” - Oscar Wilde

***

Ten Tips for a Great Marriage According to Friedrich Nietzsche

"Friendship is the highest form of love, according to the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, because great friends inspire each other and can even push each other towards the ideal of the Übermensch. While he was sceptical that many people would be strong enough for this kind of higher relationship, Nietzsche saw friendship as essential to a good marriage. Sex, in contrast, creates complications, because a relationship based on romantic feelings is unlikely to endure a lifetime. Furthermore, the ontological differences between men and women tend to turn love into a war. In order to overcome the power games in the arena of love, Nietzsche thus challenges lovers to be great friends.

Drawing on Nietzsche’s plethora of aphorisms on friendship, marriage, sex and power relationships, this paper outlines how Nietzsche thought the institution of and approach to marriage could be reinvigorated in ways conducive to more successful relationships and greater human achievements. While some of Nietzsche’s ideas about marriage at first appear to be outrageous, much of what Nietzsche recommends is as relevant and challenging today as it was in his own time. Indeed, Nietzsche himself prophesied that the world would not be ready for his ideas until “sometime around the year 2000” (Fuss & Shapiro, 1971, p. 91).

Nietzsche admires the ancient Greek model of relationships, where friends were great, men were warriors and women were for their recreation (1883- 85/1969, p. 91). Yet he views modern marriage as another example of the collapse of standards in our hedonistic world that is heading for nihilism. In order to overcome this predicament, Nietzsche advocates a philosophy of “aristocratic radicalism” (Fuss & Shapiro, 1971, p. 104), where a few courageous and strong human beings take up the challenge of becoming an Übermensch. An Übermensch (loosely translated as “superman”) is one “who transcends” (MacIntyre, 1998, p. 225), strives passionately and creatively to go beyond, lives life to the fullest, constantly combats and overcomes obstacles to be a greater person, and rejects comfort and security. Nietzsche regards heterosexual romantic relationships as generally being an irritating distraction from this goal because of the inherent power struggles...

On reading Nietzsche, one might be tempted to conclude that, because Nietzsche says some critical things about women, he is a misogynist. However, current thinking in Nietzsche scholarship often warns against taking Nietzsche’s writings prima facie (e.g. Abbey, 1996; Helm, 2004; Oppel, 2005; Secomb, 2007) – mainly because he weaves such a hugely complex web of meanings. Furthermore, Nietzsche says scathing things not only about women, but also about many different groups of people – including men – and is often contradictory. For example, in Human, All Too Human (1878-80/1996), Nietzsche says that “The perfect woman is a higher type of human being than the perfect man” (p. 150), which suggests that he also had great respect for women at times.

Nietzsche’s aim is to challenge our assumptions about many issues – not only about gender roles, but also about Christianity, conventional morality, politics and the Enlightenment, to name just a few. I would thus agree with Secomb (2007) when she asserts that, “Despite, or perhaps because of, his unconventional approach, Nietzsche is able to challenge and disturb our most settled convictions, forcing us to rethink taken-for-granted notions and assumptions” (p. 29)...

1. Don’t Marry for Love (Marry someone ugly but whom you like talking to)

... One hundred years before Harry met Sally, Nietzsche was advocating that, in order to preserve a friendship between a man and a woman, “a slight physical antipathy” is required (1878-80/1996, p. 151).

For Nietzsche, a marriage based only on romantic love is on shaky ground because it is fleeting: “Sensuality often makes love grow too quickly, so that the root remains weak and is easy to pull out” (1886/1990, p. 98). It is much better if there is no sexual attraction to confuse the friendship. “How many married men there are who have experienced the morning when it has dawned on them that their young wife is tedious and believes the opposite” (Nietzsche, 1881/1997, p. 150). To avoid this complication, he recommends preparing lovers for the inevitable evaporation of attraction in order to curb the disappointment when it happens: “Sometimes it requires only a stronger pair of spectacles to cure the lover, and he who had the imagination to picture a face, a figure twenty years older would perhaps pass through life very undisturbed” Nietzsche (1878- 80/1996, p. 154).

Romantic love relationships are bound to sizzle and fizzle. Zarathustra, the protagonist of Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883-85/1969), argues that romantic love relationships are just brief follies and that it is stupid to turn a folly into a long-term commitment (p. 96). Earlier, in Human, All Too Human, Nietzsche stresses the insanity of lovematches: “Marriages contracted from love (so-called love-matches) have error for their father and need for their mother” (p. 151). For marriage to be based on romantic love, as modern marriages often are, undermines the whole institution by basing it on an idiosyncrasy – and “You never, ever base an institution on an idiosyncrasy” (Nietzsche, 1888/ 2005b, p. 215)...

Would it not be better to remain friends and lovers, without creating complications with vows that will inevitably be broken? If lovers continue to walk down the aisle while in love, Nietzsche suggests making it illegal...

2. Make Super-Babies

...

3. Never Promise Everlasting Love

If romantic love is ephemeral, promising to love your partner forever is absurd and a lie, according to Nietzsche. Love that lasts a lifetime is the exception, not the rule. Love, like any other feeling, is not within the individual’s power. Nietzsche’s argument is as follows: love is a feeling; feelings are involuntary; and a promise cannot be made based on something that one has no control over.

What one can promise, however, are actions... To avoid deception in wedding vows, Nietzsche recommends saying something along these lines: “For as long as I love you I shall render to you the actions of love; if I cease to love you, you will continue to receive the same actions from me, though from other motives” (1878-80/1996, p. 42). This will not be deceptive, because one is promising to act as if still in love, rather than mistakenly promising the feeling of love...

4. Try Serial Monogamy

To avoid the problem of the temporary nature of romantic love relationships, why do people not agree to short-term marriages upfront?...

In Human, All too Human, Nietzsche suggests that it would be much better (for men, presumably) to do away with the custom of one wife for life and instead “one might very well consider whether nature and reason do not dictate that a man ought to have two marriages” (p. 156). The first marriage is the most important and necessary for a man’s education; it should be when the man is twenty-two years old to a woman who is “intellectually and morally his superior and who can lead him through the perils of the twenties” (Nietzsche 1878-80/1996, p. 156). A second marriage, while useful, is not necessary; it should be during a man’s thirties and to a younger disciple “whose education he would himself take in hand”. Later in life, man should preferably be without a wife because marriage “is often harmful and promotes the spiritual retrogression of the man” (Nietzsche 1878- 80/1996, p. 156). In a later work, Nietzsche cites a raft of great philosophers who have not been married as evidence for this incompatibility between marriage and personal fulfilment: “Heraclitus, Plato, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Kant, Schopenhauer”, with only Socrates as the ironic exception (1887/1989, p. 107)...

5. Make It Work

... Nietzsche argues that people rush amorously into marriage and, when it goes wrong, it causes the couple as well as everyone around them a great deal of aggravation. Just be honest, urges Zarathustra, and say: “We love each other: let us see to it that we stay in love! Or shall our promise be a mistake?”...

Presumably, setting expectations low will avoid disappointment in the long run. Married couples will inevitably encounter problems, however, and Nietzsche has a couple of other alternatives for how to make marriage work.

6. Give Her a Baby

Zarathustra says that “Everything about woman is a riddle, and everything about woman has one solution: it is called pregnancy” (Nietzsche, 1883-85/1969, p. 91). Pregnancy is the solution because it is the only reason that a woman needs a man: “Man is for woman a means: the purpose is always the child” (Nietzsche, 1883-85/1969, p. 91). Taking these comments at face value, Diethe (1989) reads Nietzsche as saying that women are “completely defined by the reproductive urge” and their “sole instinct is to crave for children” (p. 867); permanently craving for sex, women are predators or “vamp-like femmes fatales” who seduce men simply for impregnation (pp. 865, 867)...

Elsewhere, Nietzsche also uses pregnancy as a metaphor for creativity.

Yet the two interpretations – woman as sex animal and woman as stimulating creativity – are not mutually exclusive. The underlying assumption in this suggestion is that women are capable of being independent and do not need a man for anything except sperm. Woman, in her quest to create a superbaby, uses man to impregnate her. Yet it could also mean that men and women use each other as fertiliser for creativity, and as such use marriage as a launching pad to greater things and to achieve greater goals.

7. Get a Little Action on the Side

Can a woman be a good wife, “friend, assistant, mother, family head and housekeeper,” businesswoman and concubine to boot (Nietzsche, 1878- 80/1996, p. 157)? Nietzsche realises that all these roles and expectations put a huge strain on a woman and concedes that “it would be too much to demand of her” (1878-80/1996, p. 157). In this regard, Abbey (1997) notes that, “a century before its becoming common currency in the western world, Nietzsche saw the problem of the superwoman!” (p. 85).

Nietzsche assumes that men naturally need sex more than women do, and his solution is not to help a wife out with the housework, but to relieve women of the burden of satisfying their husband’s sexual desires by finding a “natural assistant, namely concubinage”...

8. Let Him Suffer

Whereas women naturally like peace and comfort, men want quite the opposite; men welcome challenges and obstacles, according to Nietzsche (1878-80/1996). Women hate to see men suffer and try to help them to have easier lives by removing obstacles; yet doing so is very frustrating for men. Zarathustra explains the phoenix-like rebirth that comes from the most harrowing experiences...

While Nietzsche makes some sweeping generalisations about the ontological differences between men and women, there is certainly merit in acknowledging that people have different preferences. Just because two people are in love does not mean that they have to pretend to be the same – which is perhaps why they need a whip.

9. Take a Whip to Her!

“Are you visiting women? Do not forget your whip!” is a piece of advice given to Zarathustra and which has created a huge amount of speculation as to its meaning (Nietzsche, 1883-85/1969, p. 93). Taken literally, one might believe it suggests disdain for women and advocates physical violence against them. Yet the context of the quotation cautions us not to jump to conclusions. The advice is given to Zarathustra by an old woman as a special gift of thanks and she warns him to keep it a secret – perhaps because in the wrong hands it would be misunderstood...

Shortly before Thus Spoke Zarathustra was written, a photograph was taken of Nietzsche with two of his close friends at the time: Lou Salome and Paul Rée. The photograph shows Salome driving a pony-trap and brandishing a whip, with Nietzsche and Rée between the shafts. While the photograph, orchestrated by Nietzsche, may have simply been a bit of fun, it shows that “the men are the potential victims” (Thomas, 1980, p. 117).

One of the more interesting interpretations builds on the idea that, when in love, there is a strong desire to dissolve the feeling of otherness and ‘make the same’ (Nietzsche, 1881/1997, pp. 210-211). Nietzsche thinks this to be madness, arguing that distance is essential to keep power over oneself: “The thinker must always from time to time drive away those people he loves”, because love tends to blind one to the truth, giving lovers power to deceive and to seduce; conversely, driving lovers away tends to reveal their malice and helps one to distance oneself from them (1881/1997, pp. 197-198)...

Distance from women is very important for Nietzsche so as not to spoil the mystery and beauty of the feminine: “The magic and the most powerful effect of women is, to speak the language of the philosophers, action at a distance” (1882/2001, p. 71). Derrida (1979), drawing on the power struggle between men and women, suggests that a man must keep his distance to avoid falling under the spell of a woman’s “beguiling song of enchantment” and as such to remain free to “seduce without being seduced” (p. 49)...

In the context of loving relationships, we will now explore the possibility that the whip is for the great Zarathustra to give to a woman to help him be even greater. The best type of relationship is one where the partners are brave enough to ‘whip each other into shape’ so to speak.

10. Marry Your Best Friend

For Nietzsche, friendship is the “ultimate ideal” of love and “a kind of ideal of Being-with-Others” (Solomon, 2003, pp. 95, 157). He admires the ancient Greek ideal of friendships between men and agreed with Aristotle that great friends could inspire each other. This kind of friendship is neither about mutual benefit nor based on pleasure and enjoyment. While a great friendship may include all these elements, the key difference is that really great friends help one another to become better people through “a shared higher thirst for an ideal above them” (Nietzsche, 1882/2001, p. 41); in other words, each friend acts like a “catalytic muse” for the other (Lungstrum, 1994, p. 137).

Nietzsche says that “man is something that should be overcome”, and yet this is something that is extremely difficult to do on one’s own (1883-85/1969, p. 41). The individual, if left alone for too long without friends, can too easily fall into a rut. For, as Nietzsche warns in Beyond Good and Evil (1886/1990), “He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you” (p. 102). Thus, the friend is valued not so much for his or her gaze, as Jean-Paul Sartre later envisaged, but rather for his or her ability to pull the individual up from the depths of the abyss and be a launching pad to a greater existence...

Secomb (2007) highlights that “Friends do not unquestioningly uphold, reinforce and echo our attitudes but provide new perspectives and interrogate our presuppositions” (pp. 30-31). Indeed, sometimes great friends must be so ruthless that they are also the enemy: “If you want a friend, you must also be willing to wage war for him: and to wage war, you must be capable of being an enemy” (Nietzsche, 1883-85/1969, p. 82).

Nietzsche is challenging all of us to be better friends. He urges lovers not to get caught up in power games but instead to help each other find the way to becoming an Übermensch... “The best friend will probably acquire the best wife, because a good marriage is founded on the talent for friendship”...

Conclusion

... Alluding to the fact that all a woman needs a man for is for sperm, one might wonder if Nietzsche foresaw a diminishing need for men as breadwinners and the breakdown of the nuclear family – both of which would hinder a child’s upbringing. Indeed, recent United States census data show that four out of ten births were to unmarried women. This was more than in any other year in the nation’s history, and three-quarters of those mothers were 20 or older (Ventura, 2009). The wide availability of contraception puts seriously into question whether all these pregnancies were accidental. If marriage were to become obsolete, Nietzsche would have been hugely disappointed and worried about the impact of that on children’s development."

Sunday, August 11, 2013

France 2012 - Day 10 - Orange (Part 2)

"Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking." - Albert Einstein

***

France 2012
Day 10 - 22nd October - Orange
(Part 2)

Next was the museum just across from the theatre.

There was a small, amusing kids' exhibition. Although it was for kids, I thought the text was quite adult.

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Roman Armour

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Roman Shield

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Lorica segmentata Armour, Shield

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On Roman Women: "An uncontented client could hit the hairdresser"

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On the Principality Room with engravings of members of the Nassau family

The museum building had some history linked to the Princes of Orange, but there was very little stuff from them.

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Plate with William of Nassau and his spouse. With an orange tree.
This is not very flattering.

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Symbol of the House of Nassau (I think)

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Centaurs Frieze

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Centaurs Mosaic

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Centaurs: Myth, Drunkenness and Religion
Centaurs are rare in myth

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On the Land Registry Room (Cadastres)

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Cadastre B

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Cadastre A

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Sphinx

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Cyclops Mask

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Frieze of the Victories

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Sphinx atop skull

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Griffons

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The Merides (municipal tax for the rent of common ground)

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Egyptian crocodile

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Triumphal Arch of Orange - sketchings and photo

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Virgin in Ivory

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Cross of the Rhone Mariners

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Jean-Jacques d'Obeilh, Bishop of Orange
This is a really ugly bust. I assume it was realistic, because why would you make him look uglier than he was (unless the artist sucked)

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Young girl and death

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On the Episcopal Palace

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Ugly Tapestry with Ugly Bust
The stuff in this room was donated by the ugly guy

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Bacchanale

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Bridge of Sighs

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Spring
In the pink of health!

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Small pink corset

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The Museum

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Poem about Orange by Mistral. The other language is presumably Langue d'Oc

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Way to the bins, and flooding level in 1924

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Fountain

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Saint Florent
You can see why they chose that photo
"Austere Gothic" is a good euphemism for "we didn't bother decorating"

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Alley

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Carving on some wall

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Square

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Raimbaud III (Raimbault III), Count of Orange and Victor at Antioch and Jerusalem

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Hotel de Ville

I popped into the cathedral of Our Lady of Nazareth.

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Nave
I was tempted to call this Austere Romanesque but there was some colour (at least inside)

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Grave stones

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Portal

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On the cathedral

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Portal

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Another portal

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On Notre Dame de Nazareth ("and all the Saints")

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Hotel de Lapise

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The Hotel de Lapise looked very innocuous from without

I then made my way toward the Triumphal Arch.

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"You cut hair, some shave you!"
This is an ad for independent hairdressers

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"草菇" (Straw Mushrooms)
???
Maybe this was a reference to his hair

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Canal

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Stylish dustbin (with coat of arms)

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"Beauty salon. Cats and dogs. Drying without hot cage"

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Triumphal arch in distance

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Arch

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I can't remember why I took this

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On the Arch, dating from the 1st century on Agrippa's Way

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Detail

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Other side

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More details

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Sides

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Side detail

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Retirement home: "The City of the Princes. 'It is good to live here' For old people, a rare quality of life"

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Fruit and detail

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Canal

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Provence postcard

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Sitting on traffic stumps like Bosses

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"Cleanliness of Orange. We don't believe in pigs. Cleanliness is also your business"

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"No. Horse is not eaten. Fight against horse-eating"
There is actually a word for horse-eating in French - L'Hippophagie

I then took a train to Arles, which I had missed all those years ago.

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"Baggage ramp. Practical!"

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Arles walls

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Fountain Amedee Pichot

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"All is peaceful"

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Arena of Arles

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Strolling

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Rue des Arenes

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High tech electronic display in the wall, not just with information on the city but in English as well

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Theatre

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Alley

Because I had booked late and because Arles had a shortage of hostels, I ended up staying in a hotel, which was refreshing.

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The Height of Luxury. This was €40. There was a "chambre confort" (room for comfort) at €49, but I was alone and the only difference was the size, so.

I had lunch at the sister restaurant (Bistrot "À Côté") of an upscale atas Michelin starred restaurant (L'Atelier de Jean-Luc Rabanel). The Rough Guide assured me that the food was just as good despite the lack of stars (and of course the prices were much better), so I guess one pays for ambience (and branding). Literally the name is "Just Beside [our sister restaurant]"

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Entrée: Tartine de Champignons de Saisons (seasonal mushroom tartine)
At first I thought there was a mistake - I didn't see my tartine under the mushrooms. Goodness, those were great mushrooms (but this was a €37 menu, so)
In the background is a tapinade (black) for the pastis (yellow). It was damn strong but only €3 so it was okay. I wanted something sweet but they didn't have anything (the previous day I'd had a "Diabolo" - a mixture of mint syrup and lemonade, which my friend had recommended for me and was very nice, but that was a cheap bar, so. Then again that wasn't an apéritif).

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Plat Principal: Poitrine de Porc, caramel soja, pommes grenailles rôties (pork breast, caramel soy, roasted new potatoes)
This was wonderful. The fat melted in my mouth and it was a large piece, and glazed magnificently too. The meat was quite tender even if it didn't melt in my mouth.
You know this is an atas restaurant because they have fleur de sel on the table, not normal salt.

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Ambience of eating outside

There were some hidden items in the menu. Mine came with cheese (which wasn't listed), but more importantly there was "le Grand Gourmand" (Grand Gourmet) which I heard another table order, which was a mix of desserts. The waitress said I could swap my cheese and original dessert choice (tarte de frangipane à la crème anglaise - marzipan tart with custard) for it so I did so since I don't like cheese that much.

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Le Grand Gourmand: Apple Pie, Almond and Pear Tart, Chocolate Cake. The ice cream had no flavour; I thought it was latte but I asked and was told it was praline and blueberry (I didn't spot the latter though).

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Water con: "L'Eau FRESH est Produite sur place pour le Respect de L'Environnement et du Goût" ("Fresh Water is produced on-site in order to respect the Environment and Taste")

The website: NordaqFresh.

I love the copy:

"The Water
Pure & Totally FRESH.

The water that we serve together with wine determines how we have the possibiity to process and experience different tastes. For example, normal tap water, which often has a taste of earth, clay and chalk, makes your wine acidic and harsh.

The FRESH unit produces and purifies the water directly on-site. The water circulates through a cooler, is carbonated according to desire, and is then drawn into a beautiful, specially designed glass bottle at a temperature of approximately 5 degrees celsius. In just a few seconds you get natural or carbonated drinking water of the highest quality, with all the necessary salts and minerals preserved, but free from added chemicals or flavours.

Acidic and harsh, or a good wine?
It depends on the water."

But then, wine is also a con job.

Later, a friend told me about restaurants with their own in-house filtration systems which bottled their own water (and didn't serve either tap water or other brands). This is a step in that direction.

Naturally I didn't order this: I asked the elderly Dutch couple at the table beside mine for permission to take this, and told them I thought it ironic, because bottled water is a con job that is good neither for the environment nor taste. They were also amused at my photo taking, to which I told them it was "an Asian disease", which amused them. It seems only he spoke French, though she seemed to understand it.

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Restaurant in alley

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Angel Hair

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Square

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Obelisk detail

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Hotel de Ville

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Romanesque Church

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Portal of Romanesque Church, which was really splendid

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??? statue in hotel lobby

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Stylish (?) staircase in hotel

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Interesting French TV: there is an indication both of the signal and the quality (presumably of the image)


I'd asked the Orange Tourist Office if they got a lot of Dutch people. The man said yes because of the links with the Netherlands but he agreed with me that there wasn't much left, so people visited just because of historical sentiment. He also said the castle ruins were nice, but I didn't want to climb the hill above the amphitheatre and ruins. Even if it was supposed to be the most beautiful castle ruins in Europe (now, where had I heard that one before?)
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