I’m in the middle of changing my blog layout to facilitate ebook sales. People need a landing-page for incoming links to my books, and sadly my beloved dog-lion-whatever was a bit too much to scroll through.
While you’re waiting for the inevitable upgrades, my latest article on MercatorNet looks at…you guessed it: my new book on weight loss!
The Socratic principle that “to know the good is to do the good” means that the primary cause of our struggles and suffering in life is intellectual. In other words, the surest antidote to a problem like excessive body weight is to better understand the problem itself.
The corollary is that confusion and ignorance surrounding a problem like weight loss is central to the problem.
That’s why “willpower” is such a distraction in the weight-loss debate. From an intellectualist point of view the main problem is not the strength of our will, but the clarity of the intellect that informs it. It’s not that we aren’t trying hard enough to lose weight, it’s that we don’t really understand how or why or what we are actually trying to accomplish.
We think we want to lose weight. We think we understand why it is harmful to us. But if we really understood, then we wouldn’t have to struggle and suffer in confusion.
If we really understood we would just go ahead and do it. That’s why I call my approach an enlightened one. Instead of fumbling around in the dark, relying on diet fads and fashions and incomplete information, I decided once and for all to understand the problem, knowing that if I understood it I could at last resolve it as efficiently as possible.
My reason hurts. I’ve been neglecting it for too long and it’s now profoundly out of shape. But there is a way back to good rational fitness: you just have to start scrutinising every piece of information that comes your way to a pedantic degree.
My latest article on MercatorNet sets you on the path to avoiding junk knowledge, and learning to reason again:
Every piece of information you take in, and how you treat it, is your choice. The manufacturers of junk knowledge don’t have your best interests at heart. Either intentionally or through ignorance they are out to get you hooked on their product. And while good quality sources of knowledge do exist, it’s up to you to distinguish them from the junk.
It’s up to you because in reality you are a lone, isolated individual mind, with the ability to take in, scrutinise, and reject all the information and propositions that come your way. You don’t have to believe everything you read.
You can instead cultivate a healthy suspicion of every proposition that comes your way, first by learning to recognise that it is a proposition in the first place.
I’m pleased to announce that I’ve recently been offered some part-time work as associate editor at MercatorNet.com.
MercatorNet has long afforded me a means of expression for my often idiosyncratic take on various issues pertaining to ethics, philosophy, and social commentary more generally. I’m quietly excited to be working more closely with the editorial team, so much so that I’m putting aside my otherwise powerful resistance to employment.
While I will continue to write feature-length pieces from time to time, I’ll also be writing more blog-like/editorial content such as my newest reflection on the frozen berry Hepatitis A outbreak here in Australia.
It’s not a bad outbreak, but nothing good can come of the words “frozen berries” and “fecal contamination” in the same sentence:
Aside from the revelation that the frozen berries may be contaminated with faeces, it emerged that the two brands being recalled are owned by the same company, sourced from the same suppliers, and processed in the same factories. While “Nanna’s” invokes images of my grandmother’s home-made pies and traditional cooking, “Creative Gourmet” is supposed to appeal to the quality-conscious, the budding foodie, or anyone with aspirations to ‘cuisine’. Yet take away the packaging and they are the same product.
Dedicated readers of this blog will notice that this links in quite nicely to the earlier post on bacon – another product that is typically sourced overseas, and subject to certain mysterious processes that are not necessarily in the best interest of the consumer.
I often use the expression “I’m fine” or “that’ll be fine” to mean “I’m ok”, “no worries” etc.
But today it struck me, while reading a comment on my latest article, that ‘fine’ has been devalued in many contexts from “pure, unblemished, perfect, complete” down to merely “satisfactory, acceptable”.
Its etymology is in Old French ‘fin’ as in ‘finished’ but with the positive sense of perfection, acme, or end. Fine art, fine wine, a fine thread; they all connote quality, ‘finish’ in the most creative sense – the same sense that gives us a finish in the sense of a veneer or lacquer, the finishing touches.
Fine is therefore suggestive of a teleology or purpose, a direction, not a merely arbitrary ending but a meaningful one, completion in accordance with a goal or plan, the complete instantiation of the essence of a thing.
To be fine is therefore a wonderful state to inhabit. I hope I can achieve it one day!
In the meantime I need to find an alternative way of saying “I’m sufficiently good, thankyou.”
My latest piece on MercatorNet is a reflection on recent experiences beta-testing virtual parenthood, grappling with the influence of new technologies on our way of life and the raising of our child:
Yet we couldn’t fault him, because as a mere toddler he only wishes to emulate his parents, to enjoy what they enjoy and do what they do. His excessive devotion to the computer and the smartphone is not his problem – it’s his parents’ problem. His crying and screaming are a rebuke to the idiot parents who expect their son to do what they do and enjoy what they enjoy only when it suits them; parents who want their child to live a happy and balanced life despite their own imbalanced habits.
My latest article at Mercatornet.com looks at the distinction between artificial wealth and natural wealth, and how our increasing dependence on money may be distorting our enjoyment of life.
In our minds only the very rich love money, since only the very rich have enough of it to relax, sit back, and think happy thoughts about their bank balances and net worth. We do not think of ourselves as lovers of money, but we are nonetheless, nearly to a man, devoted to the getting, the storing, and the increasing of our share. We may not feel that we love money, but we are, like respectable men of a past era, intent on doing the right thing by it. And for nearly all of us the right thing is to chase money, accumulate money, loyally devote ourselves to the earning and the increasing of our monetary wealth.
Responding to comments on my dignity piece over at MercatorNet is helping me present the core idea in a different way:
Contemplating the fact of other people’s minds (subjective realities) has an effect on one’s psyche such that one may come to a greater appreciation of human dignity/worth and at the same time undermine the passions, vices, and desires that typically drive us to undermine human worth.
Eg. sometimes I get annoyed at people’s comments, like the occasional personal attacks. But then I find myself imagining the person writing the comment, and how their experience of reality is as profoundly subjective as my own. Ie. they have a whole world inside their head, like a movie in which they are, for better and for worse, the protagonist.
I’m nobody in other people’s worlds. All the experiences, insights, challenges and achievements I hold dear; all the struggles, the failures, and even the background noise of expectations – none of that exists at all in most other peoples’ worlds, and where it does exist it is a mere fact, a single dot in the vast collage of their own inner world.
When I imagine that, I can’t help but feel that my own world is smaller. I might be the protagonist in my world, but the unpleasant commenter is the same in his. They mystery of consciousness and all the existential tension of human life exists in him as much as in me.
I find that my mind changes, I no longer feel hostile toward him, because all such feelings are forestalled by the magnitude of this fact of ‘other people’s minds’. I’ve broken out of the small drama in which I’m the protagonist and he’s some ******** who’s insulted me unjustly, into the bigger picture where he and I are the same, playing by the same rules, and more often than not even imprisoned or enslaved by the dramas in our own minds.
This is my approach to understanding ‘dignity’ not so much as a technical term, but as a general and ill-defined idea which crops up all over the place. People refer to it with a confidence that is not matched by any clear definition. I think it is real, and I’ve attempted to show what I believe is the admittedly esoteric reality at the heart of the concept.
“It’s dignity! Gah! Don’t you even know dignity when you see it?” ~Credit: Sophie Vourlos (“A Milhouse Divided” S8E6)
My latest piece on MercatorNet.com looks at the other-worldly essence of human dignity:
a true appreciation of dignity can amend not only the abstract but the personal: spend some time sincerely meditating on, imagining how your whole world, the world where you are the centre of the universe, is reduced to a bit part in the mind of every person you meet from your own family and friends to complete strangers reading your online comments. Try imagining how you look from their perspective, how big or how small a presence you are in their reality, and the result is almost guaranteed to be utterly humbling.
My recent article on “white genocide” brought some interesting individuals out of the woodwork.
At this point, it appears that “white genocide” is basically a way of spinning standard white supremacist, anti-immigration, ‘anti-miscegenation’ conspiracist themes into a victim narrative. Using the incredibly emotive term ‘genocide’ implies that we, the poor helpless white majority, are facing an existential threat.
Never mind that the ‘white race’ concept is devoid of historical, genealogical, anthropological, biological, or philosophical integrity.
Never mind that claims of ‘genocide’ appear to boil down, in practice, to interracial marriage.
That’s right, the crux of the ‘problem’ is not really migration, because migration alone cannot eliminate the base population. No, the real threat is that migration will lead to white people marrying non-white people and – brace yourselves – reproducing!
In other words, this newly identified conspiracy of ‘white genocide’ hinges on mixed-ethnicity couples having children, as well as ‘white’ couples failing to have enough good wholesome white children. It’s not a problem in other multi-ethnic nations such as Malaysia and Singapore where the different ethnic groups tend not to intermarry. It’s only a problem in nations where white people have somehow lost their overriding loyalty to the glorious white race, and now face the impossibly exaggerated threat of total extinction.
Using terms like ‘genocide’ and ‘extinction’ allow people with white-supremacist sympathies to pretend they are acting out of humanitarian or conservationist impulses. It’s white-supremacy in 21st century garb.
Comments on my latest MercatorNet piece have been surprisingly supportive of the whole ‘white genocide’ idea.
For example, a reader calling itself “Time to think” writes:
Africa is still for the Africans and Asia is still for the Asians, but white countries are for everybody. Only white countries are going it, only white children are affected by it, it is indeed genocide. WHITE GENOCIDE. Go and look up the laws for the definition of genocide and you will see that this is true.
Even if the idea of white privilege were true, how does it justify genocide? And this is not only happening in Australia. It is happening in UK, France, Germany, USA and all other white countries. Just research Sweden. Every multicultural position places us in a world with no white people in it. In your opinion white identity is racist, you are only say that to whites, anti racist is code word for anti white.
To which I replied:
“…any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life
calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
— Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, Article 2”
Okay, I looked up the definition, still not impressed.
You say it’s happening in “all other white countries”. Is Finland not ‘white’? As of 2013 it was still 89.33% Finnish. What about Lithuania: it’s 84.2% Lithuanian as of 2011. Is that enough? How about Estonia: oh wait, it’s only 69.7% Estonian! Genocide! No, wait, 25.2% are Russians…
Maybe they complain about Estonian Genocide in Estonia? I wish I knew, but I don’t know how to say ‘genocide’ in Estonian, because despite being members of the one glorious white race, we are completely different ethnic and linguistic groups.
Perhaps you could come up with a new slogan other than ‘white genocide’ which on the one hand includes all the nations where you think white genocide is happening, but at the same time excludes those nations where it isn’t happening? Then it might be an accurate label rather than an incendiary polemic tool.
It is indeed time to think. Whenever you’re ready….