Archives for category: man as a measure for all things

What happened:

And what various people make of it:

Two idiots go on a fishing trip.
They rent all the equipment – the reels, the rods, the wading suits, the rowboat, the car, and even a cabin in the woods.
They spend a fortune.
The first day they go fishing, but they don’t catch anything. The same thing happens on the second day, and on the third day. It goes on like this until finally, on the last day of their holiday, one of the men catches a fish.
As they’re driving home, they’re really depressed. One guy turns to the other and says
“Do you realise that this one lousy fish we caught cost us $1,500?!?”
The other guy answers
“Wow! It’s a good thing we didn’t catch any more!””

“On his evening walk Tony finds an ancient pottery bottle half buried in the silt down the river next to an old rusted-out van. Carefully examining the bottle, he notices that it still has a stopper in it, and there is some kind of writing etched around the neck of the bottle. Using his shirtsleeve, Tony gently begins to rub the mud from the bottle, to see if he can decipher the characters.
To his surprise, a thread of smoke oozes from around the stopper and the bottle begins to shake violently. With a sudden POP the stopper flies off and a genie appears before him, its arms folded in the traditional genie manner.
“Thank you for freeing me!” cries the genie. “I have been trapped in that bottle for over a thousand years!”
The genie continues “In return for releasing me, I will give you a reward of one million dollars. However, Tony, I must warn you, if you accept it, the person you loathe most in this world will get twice as much. Do you accept the reward with these terms?”
“Of course I’ll take it!” Tony replies with a smile “My family could use the money!””

“Every Friday night after work, Dave would fire up his barbeque on the shore of the lake and cook a venison steak.
All of Dave’s neighbours were Catholic and since it was Lent, they were forbidden from eating meat on a Friday.
The delicious aroma from the grilled venison steaks drifted over the neighbourhood and was causing such a problem for the Catholic faithful that they finally talked to their priest.
The Priest came to visit Dave, and suggested that he become a Catholic.
After several classes and much study, Dave attended Mass… and as the priest sprinkled holy water over him, he said “You were born a Lutheran and raised a Lutheran but now you are a Catholic”.
Dave’s neighbours were relieved, until Friday night arrived and the wonderful aroma of grilled venison filled the neighbourhood again.
The Priest was called immediately by the neighbours and he rushed over to Dave’s place clutching a rosary and was prepared to scold him, he stopped and watched in amazement.
There stood Dave, clutching a small bottle of holy water which he carefully sprinkled over the grilling meat and chanted to it:
You were born a deer, you were raised a deer, but now you are a rainbow trout“.”

“OK, I had a laugh. And your point is?”

If the first two were such idiots, where did their money come from?
If the guy who hates his family is wise enough to accept the genie’s offer, what is it that still makes the rest of us to actually kill each-other?

“And the third joke? What hidden meaning do you have for that one?”

“A turkey was chatting with a bull.
“I would love to be able to get to the top of that tree” sighed the turkey, but I haven’t got the energy”.
“Well, why don’t you nibble on my droppings?” replied the bull. “They’re packed with nutrients”.
The turkey pecked at a lump of dung and found that it gave him enough strength to reach the lowest branch of the tree. The next day, after eating some more dung, he reached the second branch. Finally, after a fourth night, there he was proudly perched at the top of the tree.
Soon he was spotted by a farmer, who shot the turkey out of the tree.
Moral of the story: Bullshit might get you to the top, but it won’t keep you there.”

Some say that history repeats itself until we figure out what it meant in the first place.
Others maintain that history’s first ‘helping’ comes as a tragedy while the second becomes a farce.

Well, I’m afraid things are a little more complicated.

For starters, history doesn’t do anything.
History is nothing but a string of events. Considered noteworthy and written down by some of those who have survived the above mentioned events.
NB, ‘winning’ is not necessary. Being able to survive – and to write, of course, is!

It is us who consider some of the events we have witnessed – or read about, to be noteworthy.
It is us who attempt to draw meaning from what we ‘hear about’.
It is us who are arrogant enough to believe we have learned anything.

Which brings me to the next step.

We live in a huge reality.
But see only a small portion of it. Understand even less than that.
But consider ourselves rational human beings. We are convinced that what we do – the decisions we reach and then put in practice, are based on reason. And good will!!!

Day to day practice tells us that individuals make mistakes.
I’ll leave ‘alone’ the actual ‘criminals’, I’m going to consider – for the scope of this post, that all of us act in good faith, all of the time.
Hence we need a mechanism to cope with the ‘honest mistakes’ made by every one of us.
No matter how low or how high in the ‘pecking order’.
No matter how feeble or how power full each of us is.
How much decision power each of us musters at anyone moment.

We need a ‘procedure’, an ‘opening’, for each of us who sees something going amiss to be able to tell the others that ‘the emperor is naked.

That’s what ‘democracy’ is for.

But there’s a caveat here.

Like history, democracy is a human concept. A man-made ‘tool’!

Each of the individual members of the group using this tool is ‘limited’. Has a limited knowledge and a limited ‘processing power’. By definition… Otherwise, democracy wouldn’t have been necessary in the first place. If at least one of the individuals involved would have been omniscient, they would have – somehow, climbed to the pinnacle of the hierarchy.
The fact that all imperia – all ‘arrangements’ where one individual garners a lot of power over a complex system comprising many other people, have inevitably collapsed is a very powerful empirical proof of my assertion.
Further more, the number of individuals involved in any democratic arrangement is also limited. Also by definition. There’s no place on Earth – there are no humans living someplace else, for an infinite number of people. Hence even the aggregate understanding of things any democracy might reach is also limited. Fallible, that is.

Then even democracies need to follow rules. They just cannot ‘vote’ whatever their members wish to happen…

The first rule, of course, being the fact that you should not vote ‘against’ the rules of nature. You cannot, for instance, abolish Newtons gravity by voting it ‘unlawful’…
The second rule being that the individuals comprising the democratic arrangement have be convinced that each of them is equivalent. Not equal, that’s impossible, but ‘equivalent’. That each of them should be able to vote, that each of them should have only one vote and that each of them should have the opportunity to voice their concerns. In a nutshell, that all of them have equal rights and that nobody – no individual or a smaller number of people than the entire ‘congregation’, has the right to tell anybody else what to do. Or what to refrain themselves from doing.

Now, that I have reached this point, let be go back to history.

The first ‘democratic arrangement’ known to us was the Ancient Athens.
It had evolved, for while, as an increasingly democratic form of government. During this time, the city’s fortune and influence in the region had grown almost constantly until Pericles had ‘bent’ the democratic principles so that he could yield more influence. Almost two centuries of democratic ebbing on and off followed until Philip II of Macedonia had taken over entirely. As a consequence, Athens’ influence had waned and then disappeared entirely.
The second one had dawned in Scandinavia, during the Viking era.
That democratic seed had, in time, spread in Europe, America and, gradually, in many other countries.

In the US, for example, at first only the white men were involved in the democratic process. They were the ones who voted and who were elected into office. Gradually, the democratic ‘rights’ had been extended to the female portion of the society and to the ‘members of the other races’. These successive ‘extensions’ had been parts of the general improvement of the society as a whole. During this period – not necessarily due to but certainly simultaneously with, the entire population lived better and longer lives while the country as a whole had become more and more powerful. The energy and potential of the population – of an ever increasing proportion of the population, had been put to better and better uses.

Simultaneously, individuals – an ever increasing proportion of the individual members of the society, with the criteria of sex, gender and race gradually loosing the previously held power of discrimination, had enjoyed more and more power. More and more autonomy to determine their own fate.

Which brings us to the current developments in the US.

Some people, far from a majority of “The People”, would like to see the ‘other end’ of Roe v Wade.
‘These’ people seem to have somehow convinced a majority of the Justices sitting in the Supreme Court not only to hear their plea but also to ‘consider it in a favorable manner’.

In other words, a very small number of people – five out of nine, are going to restrict a previously granted right which had been enjoyed for almost 50 years by more than half of the American Population.

‘You have got it completely wrong!
Scotus isn’t going to prohibit abortion. Only the states can do that!’

Do you remember what the Civil War had been fought over?
Basically, the Confederates were claiming that individual states had the right to determine which people were to be considered ‘free’ while the ‘others’ kept maintaining that all people, regardless of their skin color, were free. That individual freedom was something which had to be determined at federal level, not by each ‘individual’ state.
Nowadays we have the very same thing. Some states claim it’s their ‘right’ to tell ‘their’ women whether, and in which circumstances, they may – or not, have an abortion.

Not a very ‘appealing’ proposition.
It opens the door for individual states claiming more and more ‘rights’ over their ‘specific subjects’.

The absolutely baffling thing about this whole development is the fact that those who want Roe v Wade to be repelled claim they do this in order to enhance individual rights (to live). I can understand that. I even sympathize with them. Ending a life, even that of an embryo, is not something to be treated easily.

But for a minority to impose their point of view – no matter how sound it might appear to some of us, to a majority… that cannot be, either, taken lightly.

After reading this interview for a second time, I asked myself: ‘Why are you paying so much attention to this guy?!? After all, he doesn’t say anything new…’

Then it hit me!

“Russia” and “we” are two different things.

Russia, the country, cannot indeed afford to “lose”. To ‘lose it’, to be more precise.
Russia will survive, no matter how many more ‘mistakes’ the morons currently running it will commit.

“We”, on the other hand, are the ones who can. And eventually will. Lose. Everything.

And the longer those “we” are allowed by Russia itself to run the Kremlin, the worse it will be.
For everybody. Us – the rest of the world, included.

‘But when will this nightmare end?’

That I don’t know.
All I know is that it will eventually do that. End.

Look at the picture above.
When have you seen anything more British than that?
OK, fake British. Make-believe British. But British nonetheless.

That was which hit me.
That during its entire history, Russia had tried to emulate Britain.
The Russian elite has for ever tried to rise itself to ‘British standards’. From Peter the Great to Putin.
All the while convincing the Russian People that the road they were trundling on was unique…

The sooner the ordinary Russians will figure out that they have been misled – and enough of the elite will understand that British-ness is good only for the Brits, they will make peace.
Among themselves.
With the their Ukrainian cousins.
And with the rest of the world!

The guy in the blue T shirt is being questioned by the Ukrainian police about his activity on ‘social media’.
You probably guessed already what kind of ‘activity’ we’re talking about…

Which brings back painful memories.

During my childhood, in communist Romania, you could get arrested for listening to Radio Free Europe. Or for speaking against the communist rule.

In present day Russia, you’ll soon enough be arrested if you use the word war in relation to what is going on in Ukraine.

In Ukraine itself, you can be arrested for publicly supporting Putin’s actions.

The worst thing being the fact that there still are people out there who consider Putin is right and the Ukrainians – those who do nothing but defend their country, should be ‘left alone’.

To be ‘left alone’ to what?!?
To be bombed away by Putin?
So that we may continue our ‘peaceful lives’?

Peaceful only until Putin – or someone equivalent, will ‘change his mind’?

The guy above hasn’t figured out yet, in spite of the bombs falling over his head, that there’s no such thing as ‘peaceful life’ under dictatorship! Any kind of dictatorship…
Nor have any of those who continue to defend Putin’s actions!

Or use their ‘freedom of speech’ in an attempt to sow doubt about the matter.

A beautiful country, inhabited by a beautiful and proud people who ‘generate’ such beautiful music…
Yet this is how their freedom looks like!

Two successive dictatorial regimes, the first headed by Fulgencio Batista and the second by Fidel Castro…

Read what brittanica.com has to say about each of them. Just click their names.

Then tell me why are we, any of the democratic countries in the world, still making business with any of the dictatorial regimes still plaguing the Earth?
Why do we continue to harbor any of the yachts owned by corrupt oligarchs? Or their money?

Isn’t the other party always the guilty one?

Or, otherwise put, Musk – who in 2008 was left of center, currently finds himself in a moderate conservative position because the woke progressives have displaced the center. To the left of where Musk was in 2008. And where he still is…

This might have not been uttered by Churchill but nevertheless rises some questions…

‘If you’re not a liberal when you’re 25, you have no heart.
If you’re not a conservative by the time you’re 35, you have no brain.’

What? The cartoon wasn’t Musk’s to share in the first place? He had just ‘borrowed’ it from somebody else?!?

And here’s what ‘Big Data’ has to say about the whole thing.

The first reaction, for the ‘average person’, is to ‘love’ this post.

The ‘normal’ reaction, for the ‘fact-checkers’ among us, is to ask ourselves:

Is this actually true?

Heidegger has something really interesting to say about the subject.
I’m gonna put it succinctly and bluntly.

None of us knows everything about anything. Not even about the most trivial thing.
Because the very nature of our knowledge and of our manner of expressing it – language, none of us is able to ‘put together’ even the simplest ‘absolute’ truth.

Hence, according to Heidegger, we have as many truths as there are people interested on the subject.

‘Then the African Proverb is a ‘lie’?’

Nope.

The African Proverb pictured above is a meta-truth.
Heidegger’s truths, as well as those discussed by Popper, all converge towards the ‘absolute’ one.
As each of the ‘people interested on the subject’ dig deeper, each of them gets closer to the kernel. Probably none of them will ever get exactly ‘there’ but their respective positions will become ever closer.

Meanwhile, there’s nothing like a ‘meta-lie’. As we had ‘truth’ and ‘meta-truth’.
A lie, any lie, is also a meta-truth.

We know – we are under the impression, more exactly, that we’ll never reach ‘the absolute truth’. About any subject, let alone the ‘absolute-absolute’ one. But we can conceive that there is one. Somewhere. At least about individual points of interest.

Do we even have the concept of an absolute lie?
What would that be? How could that even be expressed?

This being the reason for some of us being able to come up with so ‘plausible’ lies.
They put so much truth into their words that it becomes harder and harder for us to notice that the ‘proposed conclusion’ is misleading.

That, in fact, they are lying through their teeth.

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/popper/#ObjeKnowThreWorlOnto

The fact that too many self styled liberals hold on to their ill begotten wealth while distributing a lot of quilt doesn’t obliterate the fact that very few of the ‘self believed’ conservatives share much of their wealth… while seldom admitting any responsibility for what had happened in the past. And continues to this day, in very insidious ways.

As for any attempt at a radical transformation of both economy and society – as in making them actually free for all us – white, black and all the other hues… forget it.

NB. All of us will eventually lose. Everything. Things are becoming too lopsided.

To make sense of that we have already passed through?

What does ‘worst’ mean in this circumstances?
Until now, I was under the impression that ‘critics’ were good.
That in a democratic setting, the critics are those who pull at our sleeves when we go astray.
That the critics are those who bring us back to the straight and narrow.
How can ‘critics’ become ‘bad’? Let alone “worst”…

“”Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of mankind are debated” said Mr. Musk. “I also want to make Twitter better than ever by…””

As many of you already know, I grew up under a communist regime. In Ceausescu’s Romania.
That was were I learned to decipher messages transmitted using the ‘wooden language’.
Or, in Orwell’s parlance, “newspeak”…

Here’s what I make of Elon Musk’s words:

‘From now on, the “digital town square where matters vital to the future of mankind are debated” is mine. Mine to make what I see fit of it. To “make better” under my own terms. And if you don’t like it, keep ‘barking’. There’s nothing you can do to me. I’m going to make Twitter ‘private’. A.k.a. free from any ‘market interference’. Furthermore, your ‘barking’ will only increase the traffic. Hence the money I’ll be making on the back of your ‘free speech’.’

Twenty four years ago, in 1998, I spent a fortnight visiting Tunisia. I still remember the discussions I had with my wife. In our native Romania, we – the country, not the two of us – already had a couple of malls – which were quite new for us.
Each time that we entered a Tunisian suk – also known as a bazaar, we felt like strolling through a mall.

In the Middle Ages, a suk was the property of the local sheik. Even if each ‘stall’ was operated as an individual business, the whole thing was run at the whim of the local ruler.
According to the laws of the land, but still at the mercy of the landlord.

Each mall, the building, is owned by a company. And, the business, operated by another. Usually by a chain. Hence the ‘freedom’ of the individual businesses ‘housed’ by each mall is ‘defined’ by the rules put in place by the owners and the operators. Under the laws and by laws valid for the physical location of the building but still at the ‘mercy’ of those who own/operate the mall.

From now on, the “digital town square where matters vital to the future of the mankind” are ‘freely debated’ by us will be owned and operated by yet another one of Elon Musk’s enterprises.
Who, for now at least, promises to welcome his “worst” critics, whatever that might mean.

And an after thought.
A way shorter translation of Musk’s words might be: ‘Freedom of speech means being able to say ‘those who criticize me are bad people”. With the corollary that some are worse than others…

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