Wednesday, July 30, 2014

King Log or King Stork, and some other thoughts

That these are so widely regarded as the only alternatives says much about human dispositions toward others.

In case you wondered which might be more common, benevolence or malevolence.

Three things are not the same.

Choice, which results like a vector from the strengths of present desires.

Happiness, which appears to be a function of affective, emotional, and conative states.

Well-being, which seems to be a function of objective factors like health, safety, and physical condition.

Regarding the latter two there are obvious negative interactions.

For example, illness being a source of anxiety or preventing realization of desire makes for unhappiness.

And chronic stress, dread, or fear can ruin one's health.

On the other hand, it is not unknown for people to sacrifice personal well-being to desires whose satisfaction is needful for their happiness.

Typically this involves sacrifice for beloved others, human or not.

It also seems there are desires whose satisfaction can only be had for a net loss in long run happiness, well-being, or both, that all the same are strong enough to prevail.

Think of addictions.

Think of those who make great sacrifices, even of their lives, for love.

Or for hate.

There is not generally, if ever, among our present desires a desire to maximize our own happiness or well-being, per se.

Much less that of any specific others or humanity in general.

Common twaddle to the contrary notwithstanding.

What passes among humans for prudence, for example, is only marked and persistent concern for future recognized elements of well-being.

Getting really close

Ebola almost gets to America

Reportedly, the CDC denies any risk of epidemic among the general population if it reaches the US or any well-off country.

Perhaps they think it would be mostly confined to special sub-populations like AIDS or Hepatitis C, spreading among them only in similar manners via specific, risky behaviors most of the population does not engage in.

But in Africa, again like AIDS and Hep C, there is a greater risk of spread among the whole population, for like behavioral reasons (greater promiscuity, more widespread risky use of drugs, etc.).

In which event support by groups not much at risk for any significant effort by wealthier nations to stop Ebola in Africa would seem to be largely altruism, as has been any help provided to date with regard to Ebola, AIDS, or Hep C, so far as such folk are concerned.

But viruses mutate, and all the more as they successfully spread lots of fresh generations in lots of fresh hosts.

So the risks to be faced by most humans now alive would be reduced by efforts to suppress outbreaks and drive down infection rates for pretty much any bad virus, anywhere in the world, including promiscuous and drug-sloppy Africa.

Hard to say what costs might be justified by such gains.

In case you doubted Conrad

Long pig

It came to mind when I was thinking we white people aren't really white, at all, but the same off-pink that used to be called "flesh-colored" and is a pretty good match for some kinds of pigs.

And I was thinking of that because Hawthorne uses whiteness as a metaphor for moral purity, as did even my Catholic Catechism so many decades ago that described sins as black stains on my white soul.

And of course there have been many people since then, white and non-white, to claim that usage was and is racist.

Not entirely true, but accurate at least as far as it is substantiated by the now pretty much defunct expression, uttered when someone does something good, "That was white of him," ordinarily used quite deliberately to bridge both meanings of "white" and tie them together in what is indeed a racist assertion in nearly any context.

Exception made for explicit and perhaps entirely accurate - and perhaps intentionally ironic - contrasting of the customary behavior of whites with that of non-whites in the sorts of literary contexts you are apt to encounter in Melville or Conrad, where the contrast would not be to the advantage of the whites.

On the road from Faust to Mengele

Rappaccini's Daughter

Reading Nathaniel Hawthorne.

By the way, here as elsewhere, but so far especially here, N's prose puts me in mind, somewhat, of the writing in the novels of Henry James that I read twenty or thirty years ago.

Very nice stuff.

Well, here and there.

Deplorable ending.

Trite, repugnant, canned.

O moving toward a much more stupid war, all his own?

Obama says strains over Ukraine not leading to new Cold War with Russia

Uh huh.

Compared to this, his policy regarding immigration is merely annoying.

Time to do something? Almost time to put your affairs in order.

Fight Against Ebola Is Thin on the Ground

US media begin to get alarmed.

Not quite yet at the point of telling us this is about a terrible threat to the entire world and not just a humanitarian appeal for altruistic intervention.

But they will get there.

Sooner rather than later, one hopes.

The argument about impeachment

GOP Laughs At Impeachment


Defining What is Legal

For Democratic bloggers it's all about the politics of the thing.

O is clearly not seeing that the laws are faithfully executed, in the matter of the Obamacare deadlines but especially in the matter of illegals.

And the Democratic focus on the politics of impeachment is as near as we will ever get to a concession that such behavior, for which they applaud O, is indeed the significant constitutional crime the conservatives insist it is.

Clinton was only a perjurer about a private matter and he should have resigned in shame both for the perjury and for his whole frat-boy sex life in the White House and, before that, in the governor's mansion in Arkansas.

Nixon was merely foolish in covering up a stupid and quite unnecessary campaign stunt and he did, ultimately, resign.

This is actually rather more serious, constitutionally.

But the GOP will probably not even try to impeach O and, anyway, he would certainly not resign.

Update, later that same day.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Flight ban

West Africa flight ban over Ebola

Trust me with your heart, your best interests, your whole future at stake

And then this.

Who believes compatibility ratings on dating websites?

Who believes his doctor is trying to cure him?

When Doctor Love turns out to be Doctor Mengele experimenting on you like some throwaway monkey can you at least sue the bastard?

And why not jail him, or disbar him, or something?

Imagine matchmakers fucking around on a lark.

Nothing like that ole time religion

In Mosul, Radicals Unleash Grim Vision

From the AP story.

"The bombing of shrines ... has nothing to do with Islam," Abu Abaida, 44, a government employee, told the AP by phone from the city. "They are erasing the culture and history of Mosul." 

He is completely wrong.

This is pure, unadulterated Islam and a mere repetition of the violent convulsions of the same stripe with the same purposes that have characterized the faith since Mohammed and his first followers started it all with intolerance, persecution, bloodshed, slaughter, and war.

Perhaps the Muslim world will begin to heal from the disease of taking its own religion too seriously, as Bill Maher puts it, when they follow the example of the Christians and the Jews.

Christians all over the West as well as the Jews of Israel have decided that they don't want too much of either the theology or the rules of conduct of their own religion written into law and they don't want government to follow the mandates of clerics.

Devout minorities feel quite otherwise, it is true; but majorities want the freedom to accept and live out their religion cum grano salus, with reservations and contours of their own choosing.

The result falls short of entirely purging religious influence on government but buys believers and unbelievers alike a lot of wiggle-room.