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Saturday, January 23, 2010

FIGARO: Tu boiras donc toujours ?

ANTONIO: Et si je ne buvais pas, je deviendrais enragé.

LA COMTESSE: Mais en prendre ainsi sans besoin...

ANTONIO: Boire sans soif et faire l'amour en tout temps, madame, il n'y a que ça qui nous distingue des autres bêtes.

Bishan Gay

An RI boy poses with the Bishan Gay

(From the Bishan Gay Facebook Page)
"Silence propagates itself, and the longer talk has been suspended, the more difficult it is to find anything to say." - Samuel Johnson


On Biblical Literalism:

"Ask an Evangelical whether or not he believes there are flames in hell, and after a thirty-minute philosophical recitation on the theological implications of eternal retribution in light of the implicit goodness of God, you will still not know what he really believes. Ask a Fundamentalist whether he believes there are really flames in hell and he will simply say, "Yes, and hot ones too!" This is why left-wing Evangelicalism has failed to make any substantial use of the media. It cannot express its theology in the concrete terminology of television English."

--- The Fundamentalist Phenomenon / Jerry Falwell

"The notion of the Bible as carrier of multiple senses is deeply rooted in the Christian tradition. Medieval Christianity sanctioned plural readings, not, of course, in the sense of uncontrolled randomness, but instead tamed by deep reflection on the manifold potentials inherent in sacred scripture...

There was, at the very least, the literal sense and the spiritual or allegorical sense, and the two stood in a hierarchical, although not necessarily oppositional, relationship. For the most part, the literal sense had no raison d’être on its own terms; ideally it served as a bridge toward the real goal of Bible reading: the spiritual sense, or the vision of God.

A dominant practice of medieval Bible reading was governed by the theory of the fourfold sense. Magnificently reconstructed by Henri de Lubac, the theory suggested that every biblical text was amenable to four different readings: the literal sense; the allegorical sense, which gestured toward deeper meanings beyond and above the literal sense; the moral, ethical sense; and the spiritual sense, which pointed toward heavenly realities. Whether one acknowledged this fourfold sense, or merely practiced the twofold sense, or a threefold one, the spiritual sense was in all instances accorded the position of primacy.

Medieval hermeneutics was dazzling in its ability to accommodate diverse and heterogeneous biblical readings within a model of unity... What gave unity to diversity was the premise of the Bible as the Word of God. It meant, among other things, that the Bible was perceived to be a single communication, undergirded by a unifying intentionality...

As one moves into the high and late medieval theology one observes a tendency in some quarters to devote a greater part of biblical exegesis to the exploration of the literal sense. In the twelfth century Hugh and Andrew at the Abbey of St. Victor in Paris, for example, made the study of the literal, authorially intended sense the principal subject of their scriptural scholarship. Hugh poked fun at those who hurried over the literal sense in their eagerness to reach the mystery... Significantly, neither Hugh nor Andrew challenged the primacy of the spiritual sense. They justified their devotion to the literal sense as an effort to strengthen the foundation of the spiritual sense.

In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries the philosophical school of nominalism rethought matters of mind and language in ways that served as harbinger of a new day... nominalism subtly but discernibly enhanced the prestige of the literal sense.

When in the sixteenth century Luther elevated the literal sense of the Bible, he was still moving in the tradition of the Victorines arid Ockham’s nominalism. But when he proceeded to denounce the fourfold sense in favor soley of the literal sense, and to condemn allegorical interpretation with particular vehemence, he was turning against a millennium and a half of Christian reading of the Bible. Scripture. he daimed, was self-explanatory. The Bible spoke for itself or, as he would phrase it, it was its own interpreter. The sensus literalis spoke clearly and unambiguously. Comprehensible in its plain sense and unimpeded by all other senses, the Bible was, therefore, accessible to everyone. No longer an impenetrable mystery safeguarded by and for theological experts, it was now held to be an open text intelligible for all who could hear and read.

In operational practice, however, scripture was anything but a self-regulating body, and Luther did his best to promote his preferred readings by means of his own translations, interlinear and marginal glosses, scholia (brief or longer essays), introductions, illustrations, and theologically motivated arrangements of the printed text. For Protestants, the Lutheran innovations marked the end of medieval mystification and signaled a welcome democratization of Bible reading. To Catholics, however, the novel approach to biblical hermeneutics appeared in a different light. Steeped in the tradition of medieval exegesis, they saw in the triumph of the via moderna a rational degradation of the mysterious quality of the Bible and a rise of the tyranny of the single sense. Whereas “at the beginning [of the Middle Ages] texts were seen as a boundless resource from which one could take an inexhaustible supply of meanings; at the end of the period, the meaning of the text is austerely anchored in the textual evidence.” And it was this austere single-mindedness of textual meaning that became a model for the modern, historical reading of the Bible.

In the scientific, artistic, and humanistic culture of the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries the single sense came increasingly to be read in a factual representational manner... Historians of the stature of Jules Michelet, Leopold von Ranke, Theodor Mommsen, Alexis de Tocqueville, Jakob Burckhardt, and others developed precise methods of research that taught us how to collect, categorize, and evaluate primary sources. Governed by the conviction that it was both possible and desirable to know the past as it actually happened, they produced works on aspects of European and North American history which rank among the classics of Western historiography. In these and other developments of seventeenth-, eighteenth-, and nineteenth-century scientific, artistic, humanistic culture, the single sense and its representative content were enforced with unprecedented resolve...

This modern seriousness that wanted to know what really happened engendered “a revolution in the morality of knowledge” that has traumatized Christian relations with the Bible ever since. Once Holy Scripture was, methodically and without reserve, subjected to fact-finding, literal scrutiny, its desacralization as Word of God was an inescapable consequence."

--- The Jesus controversy: perspectives in conflict / John Dominic Crossan, Luke Timothy Johnson, Werner H. Kelber
"I always wanted to be somebody, but I should have been more specific." - Jane Wagner, (and Lily Tomlin)


Advice to a Friend on Choosing a Mistress (1745)

"June 15, 1745

My dear Friend,

I know of no Medicine fit to diminish the violent natural Inclinations you mention; and if I did, I think I should not communicate it to you. Marriage is the proper Remedy. It is the most natural State of Man, and therefore the State in which you are most likely to find solid Happiness. Your Reasons against entering into it at present, appear to me not well-founded. The circumstantial Advantages you have in View by postponing it, are not only uncertain, but they are small in comparison with that of the Thing itself, the being married and settled. It is the Man and Woman united that make the corn- pleat human Being. Separate, she wants his Force of Body and Strength of Reason; he, her Softness, Sensibility and acute Discernment. Together they are more likely to succeed in the World. A single Man has not nearly the Value he would have in that State of Union. He is an incomplete Animal. He resembles the odd Half of a Pair of Scissars. If you get a prudent healthy Wife, your Industry in your Profession, with her good Economy, will be a Fortune sufficient.

But if you will not take this Counsel, and persist in thinking a Commerce with the Sex inevitable, then I repeat my former Advice, that in all your Amours you should prefer old Women to young ones. You call this a Paradox, and demand my Reasons. They are these:

1. Because as they have more Knowledge of the World and their Minds are better stor’d with Observations, their Conversation is more improving and more lastingly agreable.

2. Because when Women cease to be handsome, they study to be good. To maintain their Influence over Men, they supply the Diminution of Beauty by an Augmentation of Utility. They learn to do a iooo Services small and great, and are the most tender and useful of all Friends when you are sick. Thus they continue amiable. And hence there is hardly such a thing to be found as an old Woman who is not a good Woman.

3. Because there is no hazard of Children, which irregularly produc’d may be attended with much Inconvenience.

4. Because thro’ more Experience, they are more prudent and discreet in conducting an Intrigue to prevent Suspicion. The Commerce with them is therefore safer with regard to your Reputation. And with regard to theirs, if the Affair should happen to be known, considerate People might be rather inclin’d to excuse an old Woman who would kindly take care of a young Man, form his Manners by her good CounseLs, and prevent his ruining his Health and Fortune among mercenary Prostitutes.

5. Because in every Animal that walks upright, the Deficiency of the Fluids that fill the Muscles appears first in the highest Part: The Face first grows lank and wrinkled; then the Neck; then the Breast and Arms; the lower Parts continuing to the last as plump as ever: So that covering all above with a Basket, and regarding only what is below the Girdle, it is impossible of two Women to know an old from a young one. And as in the dark all Cats are grey, the Pleasure of corporal Enjoyment with an old Woman is at least equal, and frequently superior, every Knack being by Practice capable of Improvement.

6. Because the Sin is less. The debauching a Virgin may be her Ruin, and make her for Life unhappy.

7. Because the Compunction is less. The having made a young Girl miserable may give you frequent bitter Reflections; none of which can attend the making an old Woman happy.

8. [thly and Lastly They are so grateful!!

Thus much for my Paradox. But still I advise you to marry directly; being sincerely Your affectionate Friend."

--- Benjamin Franklin
"Where a calculator on the ENIAC is equipped with 18,000 vacuum tubes and weighs 30 tons, computers in the future may have only 1,000 vaccuum tubes and perhaps weigh 1.5 tons." - unknown, Popular Mechanics, March 1949


Thoughts: I want to emigrate too
See below for English translation

想法: 我也想移民
联合早报, 2009年12月27日
















Thoughts: I want to migrate too
Li Huimin
Lianhe Zaobao

In the past, some parents uprooted their families and migrated to Australia because their children were being tormented by the slings and arrows of the Chinese language. Recently, the thought of migration has crossed my mind, but it is not academic inaptitude that induces these thoughts of flight. It cannot be denied that some of my reasons for emigration are influenced by the zeitgeist.

I know some friends who have successfully flown the coop. Some have gone to Canada, and even more have become Australian Permanent Residents, and are very happy there. Previously, another friend planned to emmigrate to Australia with his whole family, and invited me to a talk on immigration to know more about it. At the time, although I was a little curious, I wasn't too interested. At the same time though, a friend who had already emigrated to Australia showed me some photos of his life via the Internet. The photos of the Great Outdoors were amazing.

Re-examining my life, the drudgery of my daily life hit me. When I needed a breath of fresh air, I would head to Bukit Timah Hill or the seaside to relax on the weekends, but I would be mired in a sea of people around me, and be unable to enjoy any peace and quiet. With resentment in my heart, I logged on to the Australian Immigration Agency's Website, thinking of Australia's open plains and azure seas. However, the website had no such appealing images, but only application forms that left me bemused. I didn't read the website carefully, but gleaned that I would have to take a test of English proficiency before going any further.

The English proficiency test was not as terrifying as I had expected it to be. The oral component was simpler than the written component, and it was more like chatting with the British examiner. She asked me if I was thinking of emigrating to Australia, which startled me. She continued, saying that many people taking the test, both Singaporeans and residents of other nationalities, wanted to migrate there. She asked, "Is Singapore such a shithole?" I told her even if it was a shithole people might not want to migrate; perhaps there was a lack of joie de vivre, and many people think Singapore has a stifling environment.

Reportedly, there're only 1,000 outstanding Singaporeans who give up their citizenships annually. Now I surmise that this statistic does not include emigrants who are not considered "outstanding", or those who have taken up permanent residency overseas.

Luckily, I passed my English proficiency test. However, since there was too much bureaucracy, I had to find a migration consultant to help me. Explaining the various types of visas to me, he told me that I had best apply within the next year, since the high number of immigrants would result in the government tightening entry requirements. Also, the application process would take 1-2 years, and I might not necessarily make it. After hearing everything, I had a headache.

In truth, I've never been to Australia, and only know that "here be kangaroos", and that there're many mountains and great scenery; at the time I was clueless. Eventually I spake the words hidden in my heart of hearts, "I have no faith in the PAP". My migration consultant was not the least bit surprised. It turned out that many of those in whose footsteps I was following had voiced the same sentiments.

Naturally, I do not presume to question the Men In White's (MIW) ability to govern, but when we, in order to blindly pursue economic growth, in quick succession:

i) Engineer the Chinese language curriculum to benefit from China's rise
ii) Urge people to understand India
iii) Have the "Speak Good English Movement", fearing that others will not understand our English, which will imperil competitiveness
iv) Open Casinos and promote the Arts for economic purposes

What bandwagon shall we jump on next?

We are in a perpetual state of anxiety and fear caused by the imperative to keep up with others. I don't see how any of these will let us get on with our lives in peace.

Here's what puzzles me even more: when the number of foreigners in the population increases unceasingly [due to immigration], the MIW say that there are enough resources to cope, but when it comes to taking care of our elderly, we are warned that resources are limited. As peasants, most of the time we can only suffer passively, and in silence.

Leaving the immgiration consultant's office, I felt torn. Actually, I don't really want to migrate, but I cannot decide if this place is worth caring about. Right now, Singapore is run like a large corporation, and business considerations must always be taken into account. As such, you can't blame people for adopting the same mentality in thinking about Singapore. Using similar logic, do we really want to sacifice the best part of our lives for such a cold, uncaring country? How is this different from living in foreign countries?

I am still planning my "investment strategy", and still haven't done a cost-benefit analysis of staying in Singapore. Sorry, I know this is a cold, uncaring attitude but hey, that's what I've picked up from living in Singapore.

I really hope that in the future, as Singapore pursues economic development, it will also develop in other areas and become a country that is easier to love. As the year comes to a close, I can only hope that next year will see an improvement in the situation.

(The author is a local freelance writer)

Australia is a popular migration destination for many Singaporeans.

(with inputs from Acidflask)

Friday, January 22, 2010

"There are plenty of good five-cent cigars in the country. The trouble is they cost a quarter. What this country needs is a good five-cent nickel." - Franklin P. Adams


You see so much Non-Dairy Creamer at events and places in Singapore and Southeast Asia that when you see Milk, it's very gratifying.

I didn't know that SIA hired stewardesses outside the Greater Singapore area, but I saw a Japanese one one day. So much for the Singapore Girl.

Word advice for the day: bemused = wtf, amused = lol

Bad [Indian] cinematography: a crying woman sitting on a bed with a man standing in front of her. Both of their torsos are facing each other.

I hate sites that spam you and then claim your "friend" has sent you a message. WAYN (Where Are You Now), I'm looking at you.

When Singaporeans pay the smallest amount for something, they seem to think that they have the right to abuse it as they wish, and that those who do not pay for the same thing are somehow morally inferior. This explains why some motorists think that cyclists deserve to be knocked down because the former pay road tax and the latter don't. This might also explain why free toilets in Singapore are often cleaner than the ones you have to pay 10 or 20 cents to use, as well as why library books are free to borrow.

It's not a "tele-conversation", damnit. It's a "phone call"!

If homophobes are repressed homosexuals, do feminists secretly want to be dominated?

Someone told me that someone else told her that most guys lose interest in you [if you're a girl] when they find out you're attached. She didn't believe it at first, wanting to believe in the goodness of human nature, but she eventually realized that her friend was speaking the truth.

[On "Bananas" in Singapore] "I simply refuse to speak Chinese since I am more comfortable with English; imagine how it would be like if African-Americans were asked if they speak swahili, afrikaans or whatever their ancestors' tongues was" (one can add the English speaking folks of Greek, Italian, French, Spanish, etc descent in the US)

"Guys are like bonds, they take a long time to mature.
Girls are like options, they expire quickly."

"The first time I read Wittgenstein’s Tractatus, I was so stunned that I read it back-to-back three times over in the same weekend"

RT @seraphically At today's #CNMIAC, Industry people said #SMU students cannot deliver on the job. muahaha.all this hype about smoo and no substance.NUS FTW!
Amusing email I got from Hotmail:

"Thanks for using Hotmail for 10+ years!‏

That's right!

For roughly a decade you've been using Hotmail® to help keep your digital life in sync, and we just want to say thank you.

You've witnessed many dramatic improvements to Hotmail since it launched. Just imagine what the next 10 years will bring!

Back around the time you started using Hotmail...

Windows® 98 - Was the hot new operating system!
The Spice Girls - Were rocking stadiums from London to LA!
Mobile Phones - Were largely considered unnecessary and annoying!"
@davienne: random: why are men such assholes

Me: Why are women such bitches?

@davienne: because we fall for dogs!!!

Me: Men are assholes because they want to be close to pussies :)

@davienne: hahaha good one!
A: "Belief and non-belief go together."

B: Is this some kind of lets-hold-hands rhetoric?

A on evolution: It's a little embarassing, actually. To be an atheist and not be very clear about the whole process of how mankind came to be where it is now.

B: Oh, don't worry, that's actually quite common. It is far less embarrassing than the situation where an atheist has to explain the difference between the immaculate conception and the virgin birth to a catholic.
"The world's as ugly as sin, and almost as delightful" - Frederick Locker-Lampson


I am told that in China there isn't much charity because the emphasis is on helping friends and contacts rather than social responsibility. Social responsibility and community-building projects in China are practised by foreigners, not locals.

Somebody (I was told) did an exercise in Asia and Australia surveying what respondents would do if they won a million dollars. China and Taiwan were the only countries where no one said he'd donate to charity.

In a related note, not correcting superiors because you want to give them face might be one reason why its progress was retarded for so long.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

"Clothes make the man; naked people have little or no influence in society." - Mark Twain


Tsukiko: Look, everyone knows that the undead are the antithesis of life, right?

Except people are jerks. Lying, untrustworthy jackasses, every one of them. Everyone knows this, too.

So, logically, undead must be the opposite of that: caring, sensitive, honest souls who are oppressed by the living majority and their negative stereotypes.

They just need someone like me who understands them, so that they can realise it.

Monster-san: And the bloodsucking, and level-draining?

Tsukiko: Natural defenses against predation.

Monster-san: Ummm, yeah, I don't really think it works that way.
"It is not bigotry to be certain we are right; but it is bigotry to be unable to imagine how we might possibly have gone wrong." - G. K. Chesterton


Someone else: my girlfriend's making comments about her ticking biological clock

Me: wah lao
knock her up lor

Someone else: she wants the wedding ring first hahah

Someone: one thing i've learnt is that
a fling is never a fling

Me: haha maybe not for girls

Someone: yep

and usually
if for the girls it didnt seem like a fling to them
most likely they go a bit berserk
and what you get is trouble and drama

Me: well. plausible deniability

Someone: i advise you to not take up such a social trade

it affects you.
the shit women are capable of
mannnnnnnnnnnnn. makes me so proud to be a woman

Me: haha. it's better to be gay

Someone: it is

MFTTW: i don't think blonde works for you no
you'd just look a bit trashy
like something out of people from walmart

i keep picturing you with blonde wig and oyur baby blue nightgown

Someone: another reason for me to hate religion
my *** partner pang seh me cos "it wasn't god's will" that we go for the national trials

Someone else: i need ideas
wat re the worst sort of disaster that can happen to sg

Me: PAP loses power

Someone else: muahahaha

Someone: Someone in the forums thought this was some children's tv show because there was dancing. It's a really NSFW animated gif... http://img5.imageshack.us/img5/412/23196.gif

Me in early January: we should have dinner one day

The 26 Year Old Virgin: Yah

We shld haf it one day
Mayb mid 2010

I meant mid jan

Someone on words to a student in English class: "Go out and change the world. Use everything you have learned from me and your excellent teachers to get rid of the hate and hostility and fear. Make sure every Latin-American/Black/Asian is as equal as her White counterpart; keep gay people away from hate crimes and prejudice; and let every girl have the same opportunity as every boy. No anger, no abuse. Speak up for those who have no voice."

Someone else: I trust you mean all of this on terms of giving everyone an equal chance.

Being a white male, I get in trouble on this topic. I really am baffled why everyone should be treated equally.

Me: When girls do worse than boys at school, people cry about discrimination, prejudice and sexism.

When boys do worse than girls at school, people still cry about discrimination, prejudice and sexism - against girls.

"Do you know what you can say? To a black man. On the subject of race?"
"That is correct"

Someone: I know your polemic views. They are flawed but they are good to attract attention and good for intellectual masturbation. So long as your views remain metaphysical, then it's fine.

Me: Funny, that's what Fundamentalist Christians say about me too

Someone: maybe you irritate everyone?

Me: No, people just don't like their views being challenged - especially when they can't say why the challenges are wrong

Someone: maybe people aren't as tenacious as you are? Maybe they're picking the fights that truely matter? perhaps they think you're a lost cause? Perhaps they don't like to talk to people who only think they are right and refuse to listen to logic?

Me: The basic test of someone's willingness to listen to logic is is whether he uses logic in the first place.

Poisoning the well does not inspire confidence.

Notice that you still haven't answered [someone else]'s question.

Someone else: what are streetwalkers?

Someone: briefly, tell me what is wrong with CHC

Me: "everything"

Someone: ok, a little less briefly

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

"Great part of being a grownup, you never have to do anything." - Peter Blake


Disgusting Chris sent me this recipe for General Tso's Chicken (which he's finally stopped calling "General Chicken"), saying it wasn't quite like the one I made.

A cursory inspection of the recipe reveals the reason - this is closer to Hunanese cuisine than what you find in the US (ergo, no sugar and lots of chili).
"Two wrongs don't make a right, but they make a good excuse." - Thomas Szasz


I wasted my time in Sungei Gedong!

A group for "For admirers of the E-Mart Ah Lian who according to urban legends, is perpetually pregnant! (no longer pregnant, and no longer there)"

Choice comments by [ex-]full-time slaves which will doubtless lead COL Darius Lim, Director of Public Affairs for MINDEF, to remark that "it is heartening to note the very strong support for national service":

"I remember my platoon mate so like the place that he AWOL on his last week of ORD. I just want to say "FUCK YOU SAF AND FUCK OFF 42 SAR!!" Bye forever because I will never step my foot into the camp again. I will always remember that SAF is the organization that forces me out of Singapore. Australia here I come.."

"it true.. i wasted 3 years in Sungei Gedong and a total of 8yrs in Armour.... sigh..."

"Tribute from 42 SAR..
Fuck you Sungei Gedong"

"Fuck this camp! I hate Sungei Gedong!!!"

"The dog with the swollen genitials still there anot?"

"Leaving this damn place soon."

"once armour always armour...lanjiao!"

"Another 6 months to go. Shyttt."

"I'm visiting this **** in June again, piuh!"

"FUCK GEDONG" (multiple instances)

"I will be re-visiting this mud slum once again..pui!"

"OMG. i remember the mother fucking dog SSG Hao Nam Yong from AETC HQ last time; the "stand in" csm. I think now he's AETC bravo CSM now. Chee bye make me sign 3 extras for having 1mm long fingernails. To staff hao : FUCK YOU understand. man i didnt get to say that to you when i orded cause u werent around. i hope u read this"

"i wasted 5months in gedong! once armour always suffer"

"Its finally over man ... the worst 2 yrs of my life..."

"Passing the fucked road that leads all the way in to S.G
I always wonder....
How did i ever survived in that camp?"

"Fuck field camps... Fuck Live Firing... WTF Man!"

"heya folks, asking on behalf of a friend: wld anyone be familiar with the SM1 tank? my friend wld like to find out where the fuel valve is. unfortunately my not-of-choice vehicle is the always-break-down bronco (AETC) so hopefully someone can advise. kamsia!"

"Im gonna quit if there aint gonna be any girls in here...Damn..what were you guys thinking? Male orgy?"

"worst place in my entire life. those of u going u GL HF! prepare to die"

"Going to ord from this 鸟不生蛋, 狗不拉屎的地方"
Translation: A place where birds won't lay eggs and dogs won't shit - i.e. a shithole

Monday, January 18, 2010

"The gods too are fond of a joke." - Aristotle


An ad in My Favourite Periodical I was amused by, and which answers the age-old question: how do you advertise a job you can't tell people about?

"Where else could you barter in a bazaar, expose a terrorist network and brief Whitehall?

Please do not discuss your application with anyone"

Not only is the tagline cute, the testimonial does not give a last name (hell, the first name is probably fake) or the current posting and the past postings are described in a suitably vague fashion.

The Singaporean equivalent will probably be: "Where else could you pakat in a pasar malam, pass on intelligence to Malaysia and break up Opposition protests?"

(Incidentally this was scanned using my Canon N656U scanner which is more than 9 years old and still working fine)
"Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them." - Joseph Heller


What price happiness? (Sunday Times 10 Jan) - "A study shows that people who have a university or postgraduate qualification and earn $5,000 or more a month are the happiest. But they are also dissatisfied with their achievements and enjoy life the least, compared with those who are less well-off. Indeed, it is the Singaporeans earning less than $2,000 a month who enjoy life the most... 'The higher the household income, the more a Singaporean feels that he or she has not achieved much in life'"
Related articles; Two of the authors come from the Marketing Department of NUS Business School, and the last from the NUS Entrepreneurship Centre. Har.

Sex and shopping – it's a guy thing - "High-promiscuity men were more willing to borrow fashionable clothes from a friend to impress a potential mate rather than a new boss, whereas low-promiscuity men would rather impress the boss. Women showed no difference... high-promiscuity men who looked at photos of eight attractive women... said they would spend more money on items such as designer sunglasses or an elaborate car stereo rather than inconspicuous products such as low-cost jeans or a toaster... women rated a man driving a Porsche Boxster as more attractive for a short-term sexual relationship than a man driving a Honda Civic. But the Porsche did not make the man more attractive as a possible marriage partner. Men rating women were uninfluenced by the type of car she drove... much of human economic behaviour is engendered by motives of costly signalling to display our personal qualities to potential mates and other social partners"
In the same story: "GiveWell was founded in 2006 by former hedge-fund workers Holden Karnofsky and Elie Hassenfeld. Frustrated by the absence of evidence provided by charities that they are delivering the goods in terms of their charitable ends, the pair decided to use their data-analysis skills to evaluate charities' effectiveness. They were appalled at what they found. Evidence-based charity lags far behind evidence-based medicine: virtually no charities do randomised, controlled trials regarding which interventions work. In fact, almost no charities collect any systematic data on whether or not their well-intentioned activities are actually doing any good"

Brazilians Urged to Pee in the Shower to Conserve Water

Regular eggs 'no harm to health' - "The idea that eating more than three eggs a week was bad for you was still widespread. But they said that was a misconception based on out-of-date evidence... "The amount of saturated fat in our diet exerts an effect on blood cholesterol that is several times greater than the relatively small amounts of dietary cholesterol. "The UK public do not need to be limiting the number of eggs they eat - indeed they can be encouraged to include them in a healthy diet as they are one of nature's most nutritionally dense foods.""

Turkey demands apology from Israel over envoy 'slight' - "Footage of Mr Ayalon urging journalists to make clear that the ambassador was seated on a low sofa, while the Israeli officials were in much higher chairs, has been widely broadcast by the Israeli media... "In terms of the diplomatic tactics available, this was the minimum that was warranted given the repeated provocation by political and other players in Turkey," he said, according to Reuters. One Israeli newspaper marked the height difference on the photo, and captioned it "the height of humiliation". Valley of the Wolves, popular in Turkey... depicts Israeli intelligence operatives running operations to kidnap babies and convert them to Judaism."

Monstropedia - the largest encyclopedia about monsters - "Monstropedia is the ultimate online encyclopedia of monsters in myth, magick and legend."

Island of love - "Jeju Island (South Korea) is called “the pearl of Korea”... One of the sights of this tropical paradise is the land of love – a theme park, opened in 2004 the series, where the garden of erotic sculptures. For relatively conservative South Korean Earth Love on the island of Cheju – a unique phenomenon. The collection of sculptures that illustrate the pleasures of the flesh"

Naked rambler faces life in prison - "The former Royal Marine, who became notorious for his naked hike from Land's End to John O'Groats in 2003, has spent much of the past seven years in prison for repeatedly appearing nude in public... Mr Gough said he accepted he could "potentially" remain in jail forever and added: "This is about individual freedom""

What If Your Wife Were A Porn Star? - "You don't even get to have sex with her all that often—intercourse is off-limits before a shoot, and afterward she's too tired and sore... Being a porn star is what Sky wants. She makes good money, she doesn't get bossed around by a suit, and she has time to attend college (majoring in women's studies)... Bill watches Sky's movies religiously and stealthily posts positive sentiments on porn sites, occasionally attacking critics. "I don't look at it as sex," he says. "I look at it as a guy with his dick in my wife, but they're working and it's not emotional. She never orgasms in porn. That's for us. If it happened on the set, it would be a little weird"... she occasionally brings home costars. "Girlfriends of mine call and say that they want to come by for a swim," Skyline says. "I say, 'Yeah, it's okay. You can fuck him"... He doesn't lie to his friends about what she does, and they've been mostly supportive. "One told me that he erased all her movies from his hard drive""

Meet America's First Legal Male Prostitute - "For a male, if you want to be successful in this type of venture, you're not a prostitute. You're a surrogate lover. You encompass everything that's required of you—not only emotionally, physically—but psychologically. Because women are wired differently. They're much more sensitive creatures... it's more of a civil rights thing now... It's just the same as when Rosa Parks decided to sit at the front instead of the back. She was proclaiming her rights as a disadvantaged, African-American older woman. And I'm doing the same... This actually isn't about selling my body. This is about changing social norms... I'm an equal opportunity employer. I don't discriminate based on race, color, creed, ethnicity, or skin tone. Notice I left gender out. That's for a reason... [Gay for pay is] disrespect to the artist. My sphincter isn't for sale... [a gigolo] must have the heart of a saint, the mind of a philosopher, and the skills of the devil"
I think only feminists would believe his civil rights spiel - if not for their reflexive opposition to prostitution

French students cry liberté over right to wear sexy clothes - "The protest in Essonne was in retaliation to the rules imposed by a new headteacher, who banned holes in trousers and in garments above the knee. Léa Dedieu, 17, persuaded 300 of the 2,100 students to come to school wearing revealing shorts or mini-skirts for the girls and Bermuda shorts for the boys. She said the protest was intended to make a philosophical point about freedom rather than to "draw attention to ourselves"... students at Geoffroy- Saint-Hilaire are not stopping at protests against clothing regulations. When it was rumoured that the head would ban all contact between couples on the school grounds, they threatened to stage a "day of kissing""
Vive la Révolution!

Graduate School in the Humanities: Just Don't Go - "Humanities Ph.D.'s, without relevant experience or technical skills, generally compete at a moderate disadvantage against undergraduates, and at a serious disadvantage against people with professional degrees. If you take that path, you will be starting at the bottom in your 30s, a decade behind your age cohort, with no savings (and probably a lot of debt)"

When subtitles go wrong - "I'll now proceed to pleasure myself with this fish"

7 Badass Cartoon Villains Who Lost to Retarded Heroes - "This is a pretty cruel trick society played on the little girls of the world who saw these cartoons and played with the toys. While boys were taught that evil giant transforming robots could only be defeated with other giant transforming robots, girls were taught that evil could be defeated with the power of rainbows and flamboyant song and dance. Which one better prepared their audience for the real world?"

All The Gore | Best Gore - "Blood and gore is what this site is all about. Vast image and video galleries are being added as they become available so there is a lot to look forward to"

Universities and Islam: Hearts, minds and Mecca | The Economist - "A forthcoming book by Steffen Hertog, a sociologist, will argue that terrorists include a high number of engineers—not because of their need for bomb-making skills, but perhaps because of a mindset that likes rigidity and binary choices"

What Do Skeptics, Creationists, and Terrorists Have in Common? - "You won't find many postmodernist engineers. For many engineers, their solution to a given problem is the correct one, and everyone else's solution is "stupid". You also will find this trait amongst skeptics. We will often be very opinionated, and be able to debate our opinion to the bitter end... liberal arts students... 'have real trouble in fields like math and science because in those fields there are correct and incorrect answers, and incorrect answers cannot be met by "that's just, like, your opinion, man"... the smarter liberal arts types aren't like this at all'... [Engineering] provides a technical background without the basic science to challenge religious beliefs... Maybe engineers are attracted to religious terrorism, creationism (which is religion based) and skepticism because both religion and skepticism offer "rules"... skepticism offers the rigid rules of logic and evidence"
I find the explanation for skepticism wanting - logic and evidence are rules in other disciplines - notably the sciences - as well

YouTube - X-Mas Origins: Santa
Also fun: Tom Hanks is James Bond

Businessman Mirko Fischer sues British Airwars 'for treating men like perverts' - "A businessman is suing British Airways over a policy that bans male passengers from sitting next to children they don't know - even if the child's parents are on the same flight. Mirko Fischer has accused the airline of branding all men as potential sex offenders and says innocent travellers are being publicly humiliated"
"The trouble with facts is that there are so many of them." - Samuel McChord Crothers


An exchange that was contemporaneous with On Reason and Freud, and to which I was referring when I said "reading your posts gives me a headache":

Me: 'Doing away with race may be politically correct, but it does not necessarily eradicate race-related problems'

Someone: But that is nonetheless no reason for persisting in categorising people into races. Who, as implied here, is naive enough to think that "doing away" with race is a panacea for all race-related problems?

Me: You categorise people into races because you can use this data to examine and investigate social issues and problems. That's a great reason to do so.

People who think "doing away with race" will help solve race-related problems:

The French also thought that not collecting racial data would solve racial problems. Obviously that has not happened.

Someone: Does one need racial or ethnic categories in order for problems to become visible, and only when they are rendered visible then they become important enough to take action? If they are a way of rendering social issues and problems visible one can use them as if it's the only/"proper" lens through which one addresses "issues" and "problems", as if these are the only "issues" and "problems" worth attention. This may be loosely called legitimisation: one is legitimised to take action on this basis, but also legitimised to claim that one has no need to take action on any other basis, that there is nothing else to do except through such discourse.

Foucault's point was precisely that discourse and its categories PRODUCE a particular individual/person/subject for consideration. Political/affirmative/corrective action is legitimised by knowledge. The "knowledge" of "social problems and issues" can render certain actions possible, but it can also render other kinds of action unimportant or even unnecessary.

As it were, we have officially problems peculiar to Indians, Chinese, Malays, "Others/Eurasians"? We comfort ourselves that there are no others. Wthout the racial category "Malay" Chiam See Tong could not have raised the issue in Parliament of Malays being appointed to key positions in SAF in 1987, but it also enabled the PAP to say only Malays can solve Malay problems. Legitimisation is not only enabling, it can also disable.

There are always differences between people (sexual orientation, gender, race etc.), that is the way of the world, there is no denying it whatsoever. Taking this as given, and keenly aware of its potential for unjust discrimination, we should work towards rendering these differences INSIGNIFICANT regardless of situations. Make these differences as far as possible unimportant to how a person appears as intelligble *as a person*. No one needs reminding that every individual is different, in sexual orientation, gender, race etc., it is already apparent. Discrimination is a fact of life, but perhaps we can have justice regardless--in spite--of our powers of discrimination?

Me: If there is a problem peculiar to a race, of course you need racial categories in order to solve it. And of course problems need to be visible in order to take action.

If you can't see a problem and you are trying to solve it, then you are just shooting in the dark and hoping you hit something. Hell, you don't even know if there's anything there, so you're wasting ammunition (and you may hit passers-by)

If you are afraid of the misuse of a tool, the right thing to do is not to deprive yourself of the tool but to find ways of using it properly.

If you think a certain discourse is not the best way to deal with a problem, you don't censor that discourse - you come up with alternative (and presumably better) ones.

As I said, without official racial categories in France, we still have racial problems. Ignoring a problem does not make it go away.

Someone: You're confusing cause and effect, or the chicken-and-egg question. Does a problem exist before we form a concept to describe the problem, to bring it to consciousness? Or is a problem produced by the concept we formulate?

It's also similar to the saying that if the only tool you have is a hammer, everything is a problem of whacking nail-like objects or metal sheets or some like. What we call "problems" could very well be an effect of the "tool" we are forced to use. You posit a "problem" based on the tool available to you.

Certainly, actively banning or censoring such terms does not solve the "problems" you mention, but again--chicken-and-egg--that's because social conditions as such are always-already formed by discourse which have pre-existed for a very long time in language, culture etc. The "problem" will always be there because it is extremely difficult to abandon it completely and take up another "tool". In order to be able to speak coherently in discourse one is forced to use the very terms that has been laid down and formed before one was born. The collective past, our cultural memories and archives, are saturated with racial discourse which we always find tempting to reactivate and difficult to abandon--again because we pick up what is available and already-there.

And it is not simply a matter of wielding total control over how my own speech can be eradicated of racism: it is simply impossible. Just to raise an example: one can always be quoted out of context. We cannot control how our own controlled utterances can be re-appropriated into "undesirable"/racist utterances.

Yet it is also this uncontrollability that has potential to be re-appropriated into alternative discourses that you request. Is this not the realm of culture and the arts and social discourse to construct alternative ways of speaking-being? If we want the alternative discourses to proliferate, shouldn't we also stop promoting the singularising racial discourses that prevent one from being other than one's race? If I don't have a racial category to submit myself to, won't I be seeking some other multiplicity of identities or ways of speaking-being? If other don't have this racial category to trap me in, they might find some other way of capturing my identity/being that might not be a rehash of racism, but it's an open question as to where it might lead to. Maybe we can work for destabilising any essentialism so that one cannot be captured by, or capture, others.

Someone else: walao so much big words, so much hot air. its like both of you trying to bore each other to death. don't worry, gabriel always wins on this.

Me: Har?

It is an extremely bizarre claim that problems are brought into existence by the formulation of concepts.

I am not limiting myself to any one tool - you are the one who proposes to reduce the number of tools available, while I am in favour of having as many as possible. You say that we should "stop promoting" "singularising racial discourses". Yet, to talk about race is not the same as promoting it as a singularising racial discourse, any more than repealing 377A is "promoting" homosexuality. Again, I am against the degree of racial management that we see in Singapore - but I am for the idea of keeping statistics on it. If you want to promote alternative discourses, you should promote them - instead of trying to suppress others, which is intrinsically illiberal. Infant industries usually come to no good; protectionism just screws everyone.

While what we call "problems" could very well be an effect of the "tool" we are forced to use, I could very well be the King of England. It's no good speculating on what-ifs and what-might-have-beens - you have to give reasons for me to believe your assertions.

Since, as you point out, it is impossible to eradicate discourse, we seem to have a problem here. As with the proposition that the world was created a second ago and that we were created with all our memories intact, there is no way of proving it right (or wrong). Again, you need to *show* how discourse leads to the problems you claim it does.

Perhaps it suffices to say that the grand social experiments of Communism have shown us that trying to sweep away what we think are the debris of the past leads to disaster - either because it's impossible to sweep away such debris or such debris is an intrinsic part of being human (or of a life worth living; in other words sweeping away the debris causes more problems than it solves). As Popper observed, "the attempt to make heaven on earth invariably produces hell".

Someone: [Throughout this discussion I assume we're in the context of racial classification in Singapore, esp. wrt. the CMIO categories on the NRIC and Birth Certificate. I am against this racial marking. I assert we don't need it.]

It is also a bizarre claim that one can formulate problems without the concepts/terms one picks up at hand. I believe I tried to make my point sufficiently clear with respect to Michel Foucault: at the level of discourse, to explicitly counter racism in the first place one may need to use those very racial terms and enact the instances of racist speech. That is granted.

That's for *actively* countering and weakening racial discourse. Yet at the same time we also should limit and change the social conditions which incite racist speech. We can start by making these less visible and less prominent in our daily lives. We should in fact make them completely irrelevant, like height, weight, or hair length. We can try not to employ those terms more than is necessary for actively countering (as above) the discursive conditions that incite racist speech. Since we already know racist slurs are bad, let's try not to encourage the idea of race to be used, as far as possible. Why continue to bring up race more than is necessary? If we affirm that race is not important to our free and equal status as citizens, what purpose is served by continuing with this very racial marking?

There is no chicken without the egg, and vice versa. Maybe after all we have to say: chicken or egg, the cycle has to be broken somewhere. Is it a choice between destroying the egg OR the chicken? Ideally both. If not we intervene at both points.

What you seem to claim, however, is to have more chickens and eggs so that we can study the problem more effectively, let them multiply so that we can manage them. It's almost as if we need all those chickens and eggs to keep ourselves busy with problems. Or we need as many hammers as possible so that we can continue hammering and immerse ourselves in problems involving imaginary nails and metal sheets.

Yes, it's very difficult to eradicate racial discourse because it's deeply embedded in our cultures, much of it inherited from the colonial era. It seems like an impasse. But given sufficient time shooting the chickens and crushing eggs, keeping a very few in storage, we might very well change the cultural conditions such that it is very unlikely, and make racism as obsolete as the medieval ideas of the flat earth and witches. [I know it's a terribly lame analogy, but it works in a limited way. You said my previous replies gave you a headache.]

The homophobic sectors of society intentionally construe the repeal of 377a as promoting homosexuality. In order to counter homophobia, I have to talk about homosexuality and reluctantly enact its derogatory instances. Yet outside of this I don't see the need to constantly remind myself and consider a person's homosexuality when relating to him. When we politely and civilly refrain from asking if a person is gay, lesbian or queer, aren't we also trying to render homosexuality redundant in appraising his or her worth as a person?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

New blog picture:

"Please do it in America"

On Reason and Freud

"I gotta work out. I keep saying it all the time. I keep saying I gotta start working out. It's been about two months since I've worked out. And I just don't have the time. Which uh..is odd. Because I have the time to go out to dinner. And uh..and watch tv. And get a bone density test. And uh.. try to figure out what my phone number spells in words." - Ellen DeGeneres


On Reason and Freud:

[Ed: This post is (kind of) followed up by Balderdash: On Freud, valid forms of Critique and valid types of Data]

Me: reading your posts gives me a headache

Someone: if i simplify it too much it's more open to misinterpretation
i try to anticipate somewhat counterarguments

Me: because people will actually understand what you're trying to say?

Someone: oh, yes and no
it's precisely th taken-for-granted undersatnding that needs to be questioned
i had a headache in questioning my own takne-for-granted understanding too

Me: so basically you managed to mindfuck yourself
and now all is good

Someone: why do you say i mindfucked myself?
im perfectly alright

Me: ...

Someone: and "all is good"???

look, gabriel. the easiest thing to do in the world is for people to simply ignore your posts
because...they understand it

Me: what is easy is not necessarily good
conversely, what is hard is not necessarily good either

Someone: i can understand your POV, and i can ignore it too
so, what is good, is still not answered

Me: what is good is what is true

Someone: there are different notions of truth

Me: only in people's minds
objective reality does not change

Someone: i am completely conversant with, and still beholden to scientific truth
and what, precisely is "objective" reality?

Me: that would depend on what we are talking about

Someone: ok, in empirical science there is a fixed notion of objective truth
one can know everything about an object
study its chemcial composition etc.

Me: not true
and in any case you can always screw around with universal skepticism

Someone: i don't deny, within science, its "objective" truth

but when it comes to social constructions...
of human beings
that's a matter for debate

Me: that depends on what you mean by social construction

Someone: yes, race, being one
gender too

Me: not true
there is plenty of evidence that gender is objectively real

and race has quite a bit too, but it's a more politically sensitive subject so people don't usually talk about it

Someone: there is a biological basis for sex, yes, X and Y chromosomes and all that
but how do we experience gender?

Me: what do you mean by experiencing gender
men and women are wired differently

Someone: yes
and it can also be, some men are more women than women can be
more "feminine"

how does a man appear as a man??
or woman as woman??

Me: some men are more women than some women can be
no one disputes these things

Someone: is sex = gender?

Me: race and gender do not consist of isolated and distinct islands
they are clusters along continua

sex is a large part of gender

Someone: one can have male sex organs and appear completely as a gendered woman
gendered, as a woman
human beings are gendered as they grow into adulthood

recall: the south african athlete who was recently disputed wrt her gender

Me: socialisation complements intrinsic sex
recall that Caster Semenya is a hermaphrodite
and that despite being raised female, she is very manly

Someone: yes
she appears masculine in many respects

Me: so your point is?

Someone: whatever her biological sex is, determinate or not, is quite independent of her gender

we perceive her gender depending on how we construct "masculine" and "feminine"

Me: we view her as a manly woman

Someone: yes, her higher testosterone levels make her muscles more developed
make her frame larger

Me: it's not just her physical appearance
it's also her behavior

Someone: but if we allow our construction of "woman" or "femininity" to have a wider range...
and likewise masculinity
it's like she cannot appear properly as a person without fixing her sex and gender
we cannot get over the "natural" idea that femininity must conform to XX chromosomes or certain physical characteristics

i am the first to admit i have problems myself
im trying to become aware of it myself too
allow people to exist in all their differences and multiplicity

Me: so what range of "woman" or "femininity" do you want?
won't your range be challenged?
unless your claim is that we should abandon categories altogether
but categories are something that people value. it's a cognitive tool that acts as a market of identity. by getting rid of it you are shortchanging the vast majority

just because some people do not resemble archetypes does not mean we should get rid of these archetypes
and it doesn't mean that these people are somehow bad or evil

as someone who does not adhere to archaic norms of proper behavior, I do not let others' standards affect me
but likewise I do not impose on them and insist their standards change for my sake

Someone: to put it rather reductively, "categories" have value in fixing people, trapping them, restricting freedom unnecessarily

Me: to recognise difference is not the same as to oppress difference
that's only if you let the categories fix you
and/or if you only want to belong to one or a few categories

people want to feel a sense of belonging
which is why they find categories to belong to
and they value them

Someone: yes, yes

Me: group solidarity is important to people
which is why people identify as feminist, progressive etc
which are themselves categories

Someone: passionate subjection or attachment to subjection--we desire a limited submissive existence, better than nothing
like how no one wants to become stateless

but you claim too much when you say "only if you let the categories fix you"
it's not a matter of your own powers to prevent others from fixing you

language doesn't belong to you
categories don't belogn to you

you seek your existence in already-given langauge and fixed notions of who you can be
namely: race, gender, ethnicity etc.

you can cry and bemoan and wail as hard and loudly as you like

Me: I am for freedom of thought
I do not presume to dictate what others think of me

you can choose with what you identify

Someone: but somehow there will be ways for others to capture you in certain ways
they may not mean to, but they do

Me: ok lor
big deal

"One should respect public opinion insofar as is necessary to avoid starvation and keep out of prison, but anything that goes beyond this is voluntary submission to an unnecessary tyranny."

Someone: as i say, you claim too much for a "free human individual subject"
before you become free you must subject yourself--become a citizen or PR or whatever

Me: I respect individual autonomy

Someone: you have an enlightenment notion of the free human
descartes' era

Me: I like to think of myself as a Renaissance Man, but I uphold the values of the Enlightenment

Someone: but we have "moved on"
Darwin, Freud

First, copernicus showed that man is not centre of universe
then darwin showed that man is not centre of evolution
then freud showed that man is not master in his own house

it took lacan to bring out freud's "discovery'/revolution fully
hence he says "return to freud"

Me: upholding Enlightenment values does not mean that Man is the centre of the universe of evolution

that's because Freud was a fraud
and people had to "reinterpret" him so he made sense

there's a reason most psychology ignores freud

Someone: freud was a fraud because you presupposed him to be so

Me: no
it's because he talked rubbish

Someone: you had already made up your mind that he's rubbish
i used to think so too

Me: no
I looked at the evidence
and what he said
and found they were different

I feel like I'm talking to a Christian

"Why do you hate God?"
"You've already made up your mind that God does not exist"

Someone: look, i think freud's claim is precisely that empirical scientific evidence is insufficient
to diagnose/cure/treat, in his times, hysteria

Me: so we just sit in our couch and talk nonsense?

hysteria was nonsense
though it did give us the vibrator

Someone: let me ask you, you must believe that cognitive neuroscience can explain everything about the human brain and behaviour and culture

Me: no I don't
but just because you don't know everything doesn't mean you can make up rubbish

that's like whitewashing a fence by painting it black

the point is to increase your understanding
not give up

Someone: besides "rubbish" is that all your criticism is worth?
how is freud's work rubbish?

and, before we get lost in this, it's not simply freud, mind you
Nietzsche, and following, Foucault

Me: modern psychology recognises he was talking rubbish

for example, the elektra and oedipus complexes don't exist
or the oral and anal fixations

he made up an alleged history of child development
which was completely speculative
and obsessed with sex

he made up an alleged history of human history
which has been shown to be completely wrong
and sex obsessed, don't forget

Someone: one needs to read freud with care
i haven't had all teh time to read all his works yet
but his ideas about our consciousness are no less useful or valid

Me: i.e. ignore what he was saying
and "re-interpret" what he said so it makes sense
in other words, like christian apologists who manage to twist the words of the bible so it means whatever they want

I agree with the future of an illusion
but that's because he wasn't making stuff up about history or human development

Someone: feminists ought to hate him for prescribing that women are fixated on the phallus etc.

but for all that they still use his ideas, with modifications (eg. Melanie Klein's school of object-relations)

Me: that's because they talk rubbish also
so they're natural allies

Someone: i think freud and lacan probably mark the stopping point of how far empirical science can penetrate the human mind in understanding all its manifest behaviours

both of them trained as medical doctors
and very concerned with treating disorders of one sort or another

i also think, that they have insights into how culture can produce brain disorders

he believed whole-heartedly in the empirical medical sceince

Me: "HJ Eysenck claimed that Freud set Psychiatry back one hundred years, consistently misdiagnosed his patients, fraudulently misrepresented case histories and that what is true in Freud is not new and what is new in Freud is not true"

Someone: i think there is truth in that his diagnoses and therapies were not successful
but lacan, who tries to be faithful to freud, saying that freud himself doesn't even realise the full extent of his discoveries

Me: this is like nostradamus's fans
who reinterpret his prophecies

Someone: psychiatry...foucault has alot to say about it too

i don't think one has to abandon scientific rationality, atheism, and anti-superstition if one takes psychoanalysis seriously

Me: psychoanalysis is very speculative

do you abandon scientific rationality, atheism, and anti-superstition if one takes homoepathy seriously?

Someone: not seemingly less than cutting edge of physics

Me: string theory is laughed at by many non-string theorists

Someone: much your disparagement of cultural studies and literary theory works on smearing

Me: no
it works on looking at what has been written

Someone: i suppose i'll soon enter into one of your caricatures of those who have "succumbed" to pomo and Christian bullshit

Me: I do not draw caricatures
I let what people write and say speak for themselves

if a Christian used the usual sort of arguments against you, what would you say, given that you use many of the same ones yourself?

Someone: unfortunately, much as i would have liked to, i do not have sufficiently advanced understanding of theory yet to distance myself from christian apology

Me: ???

Someone: i don't see myself as employing the same sort of defence as christian apology

you like to ally ppl who disagree with you with naive unthinking "fundamentalist" fanatical believers

i probably shouldn't have spent such an inordinate amount of time "defending" psychoanalysis
there are many other things worthy of my attention

Me: let me show you some of the many examples

freud was a fraud because you presupposed him to be so <-> god does not exist because you assume he does not

i used to think so too <-> i used to defy god also

empirical scientific evidence is insufficient <-> reason is insufficient. you need god

you must believe that cognitive neuroscience can explain everything about the human brain and behaviour and culture <-> you must believe that science can explain everything about the world

one needs to read freud with care <-> one needs to read the bible with care

both of them trained as medical doctors. and very concerned with treating disorders of one sort or another <-> luke says that he wanted to record faithfully everything that happened

he believed whole-heartedly in the empirical medical sceince <-> the apostles believed that jesus was resurrected

i don't think one has to abandon scientific rationality, atheism, and anti-superstition if one takes psychoanalysis seriously <-> i don't think one has to abandon scientific rationality and anti-superstition if one takes the bible seriously

Someone: yes, insofar as against your rigidly rationalist-empiricist viewpoint goes i tried to make a claim on behalf of possible truth of psychoanalysis
but i suspect i might also have put up a similar defence on behalf of any theoretical scientific speculation such as string theory for which experimental/empircal evidence is sorely lacking

like, existence of extraterrestrial life

Me: the existence of extraterrestrial life is a possibility
not a certainty

Someone: am i any less able to maintain any sort of critical distance towards what i defend?

Me: if you aren't rationalist-empiricist, how do you determine which truth claims are correct?

Someone: one can argue for a limited range of truth-claims for a novel or poem or artwork
correctness is not necessarily singular

Me: not necessarily
but often it is

Someone: like i said i don't claim to have the last word on psychoanalysis. i'm far from a deep understanding of it

i was simply making a case for it

anyone could make a case a la christian apologetics if they tried to learn it

i do think there remains alot to be said for how the human mind is affected by culture, somewhat independently if biology
and the things that remain to be said, very interestingly, are in cultural theory

Me: there are some gems here and there

Someone: i think you also wouldn't deny christianity has its own limited 'truths' to make as well

allegorical maybe
but no less truths

Me: that's a cheap fudge
in that case nothing can ever be false

as descartes pointed out, even if a deceiving demon was painting false pictures of reality to him, at least the colours of the paint would be real

that's "truth" in a very shallow, superficial way

Someone else: "My brother is a fan of Freud; I have contemplated disowning him - my brother that is. Except that, that in Freudian terms, will be taken as an expression of my repressed sexuality."
"There is no sincerer love than the love of food" - George Bernard Shaw


"Attention: Dear Prominent User of the Internet.

How are you today? Hope all is well with you and your family?

This is from a total cash prize of US 50,000,000 Million dollars, given to the first FIFTY (50) people who will be compensated in this world internet programs.

All participants were selected randomly from World Wide Web site through computer draw system.

Due to your effort, using internet programs indoor and in your office, We want to compensate you and show our gratitude to you with the sum of $1,000,000.00 Million United States Of America Dollars"

"I don't think anyone should write their autobiography until after they're dead." - Samuel Goldwyn


Stephen Fry: The internet and Me


"I doubt you can find any sentence describing how human learning has degraded now that isn't congruent to a similar sentence written at the time of rise of the novel - about how people were no longer reading sermons and classical literature, but were reading novels from subscription libraries instead.

The literature at the time in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, describing the contempt that the learned establishment had for the rise of the novel - and then of course later with the rise of the penny dreadfuls and sensational literature as more and more people came to read it - again there was a great cry of despair at how there would be nothing but illiteracy in the world, or at least a kind of refusal or inability to engage in proper, serious study.

And we hear the cry again."
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