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Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Category

When you opened this page, did you notice the big paywall notice blocking your entire screen and demanding you pay to remove it?

No?


How about the huge popup bragging that my content is FREE if you’ll give me your information so I can constanty pester you with spam and sell your data to other spammers?

No?

Surely you saw the big autoplay video at the top of the page blaring out a commercial, which when you hit “stop” merely shrunk down, moved to the corner of the page, and immediately tried to play again?

Not that either, eh?

But you must have noticed the box telling you that I use cookies to IMPROVE your reading experience and demanding you accept them?  Or the adblocker blocker?  Or the barrage of blinking, flashing, jumping, sliding, up-popping ads that make it difficult to concentrate on what you’re trying to read even when they don’t block your view?

The reason why you don’t see any of these is of course because I DON’T USE THEM.  That doesn’t mean I’m independently wealthy and can comfortably provide content every day for free, yet still pay my bills out of some endless pot of cash; it means my principles won’t allow me to hold your wish to read my work for ransom.  So please consider subscribing via one of the handy plans in the right-hand column, or contact me using this link to custom-design an arrangement that works for you.  Because though I’ll never actually put a block between your eyes and my pages, I may soon need to start letting advertisers share the screen with my thoughts in order to keep the lights on.  As of right now, I’m $3000 short of my operating budget for this year; from now until the last day of Christmas I’ll be displaying a little fundraising thermometer in the right-hand column.  I won’t be harping on it, but I do want to keep a reminder around for awhile that while you aren’t billed for a resource like this blog, that doesn’t mean it costs nothing to produce.

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Armistice Day 2022

The best way to actually honor deceased veterans is to stop making so damned many of them.  –  Maggie McNeill

The time is long overdue to end the war machine, before it ends all of us.

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Since I’ve already said plenty on this subject, this time I’m just going to leave you with a link to a collection of earlier essays, and a reminder from Pieter Bruegel the Elder that death comes to all, including “legitimate leaders” and the nations and empires they rule.

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Every year on this day for the past 12 years, I have written about the inevitability and goodness of Death, and reminded my readers that “…every single thing in the Cosmos is mortal, and will pass away in its time.  [Organisms and empires alike] rise, thrive, decline, and fall, to be replaced by younger ones which then decline and fall in their time…crumbling into dust and passing first into memory, then legend, and eventually beyond the horizon of sentient knowledge.”  That includes this tradition; I have, I think, already said enough in the past, and you can find an index of those in last year’s post for the day.  I do, however, wish to add one bittersweet thought:  Though all things must pass, none are so ephemeral as those good times with good friends that, in retrospect, seem almost magical.

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The Sin of Waste

Consider the massive waste on display here.  Money was spent on all of these stolen items, and money was spent to pay goons to steal it.  This picture was taken by an employee who was on the clock.  And the same happens at every airport in the US, every week.  The one concept of sinful behavior which the nuns successfully planted in my unconscious brain is that wasting resources, especially resources which could’ve been used to help the needy, is a serious sin; many of my generation joke about the phrase we heard so often, “There are children starving in {some famine-stricken country} who would be glad to eat that!”, but the amount of waste any individual person can achieve recedes into utter insignificance beside the scale of pointless, stupid waste perpetrated by government, especially the US government, as the volume of a toilet bowl compares to that of the solar system.  My reaction to a picture like this is like that of a prohibitionist seeing a porn pic, only without the hypocritical secret masturbation and demands for more government violence against peaceful citizens; I find it shocking, appalling, disgusting, and an argument for minimizing the size and power of government in and of itself.
I find paywalls distasteful, and so many people find this blog valuable as a resource I just can’t bring myself to install one.  Furthermore, I find ad delivery services (whose content I have no say over) even more distasteful.  But as I’m now semi-retired from sex work, I can’t self-sponsor this blog by myself any longer.  So if you value my writing enough that you would pay to see it if it were paywalled, please consider subscribing; there are four different levels to fit all budgets.  Or if that doesn’t work for you, please consider showing your generosity with a one-time donation; you can Paypal to maggiemcneill@earthlink.net or else email me at the same address to make other arrangements.  Thanks so very much!

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I’m seeing an increasing tendency for American writers to present “democratic” as the opposite of “authoritarian”, which it is not by any means; a “majority” can be just as authoritarian as a dictatorThe opposite of “authoritarian” is “liberal”.  If anything, an authoritarian government enacted by election is much worse than one produced by a coup, because while the latter can have little credible pretense of legitimacy, the former can represent itself as fully legitimate and claim the “right” to do whatever awfulness it wants because “the majority wills it”.  If one fights a clearly-illegitimate government, one can count on plenty of covert support (a la the French resistance).  But if one fights a “democratically elected” government, little help will be forthcoming from anyone bamboozled by collectivist nonsense about “society” and “the greater good” and “law and order“.  One who fights such rulers must assume every man’s hand will be against him, and every offer of help is bait in a trap, because 99% of everyone has swallowed the bullshit dogma of a “social contract” and/or “legitimate leaders”, and think the “duly elected” government must be respected, no matter how mindlessly brutal and nonsensical its diktats.  Tyranny generally starts by being directed against despised minorities (racial, ethnic, religious, sexual, or socioeconomic) and then expanded by convincing the Great Unwashed that the pretended “problems” posed by these minorities (from “crime” to “THE CHILDREN!” to “they’re taking our jobs!”) require giving up “just a few” of their rights, “temporarily”, until the “problem” is “solved”.  And the morons march to the ballot box to re-elect by landslide.

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Institutions writers could once count on to defend them…now race to see who can kowtow most obsequiously to the censor-morons.
–  “Censorship Ascendant

Until a few years ago, traditional top-down censorship was largely a thing of the past, something I wrote about annually at the beginning of Banned Books Week to remind people that it could happen again.  As recently as 2016, I used the occasion to write,

…top-down state censorship…is very rare now in the United States, and has been for decades; the majority of “challenges” now (despite the celebration’s name, it’s pretty rare that books are actually removed from public collections) originate not with state officials or other “authorities”, but with individuals seeking to “protect the children” from thoughts their parents don’t want them to have

Of course, none of that is true any longer.  Top-down censorship has returned with a vengeance, mostly implemented by fascist corporations acting on behalf of governments.  But in the US, politicians in many states have implemented traditional censorship in school libraries, even to the point of threatening librarians with criminal charges.  The “Thought Control” tag, which formerly appeared only once in a while, has had several entries a month since this new book-burning fad took off last November.  Meanwhile, the “cancel culture” censorship which has been growing for years has grown so pervasive that even the somewhat pro-censorship New York Times can no longer endorse it.  I’m honestly unsure where this will end; we’re well into uncharted territory my librarian self would’ve found unbelievable.  So if you haven’t been paying attention, I suggest you peruse the aforementioned “Thought Control” tag, and revisit the columns I’ve quoted from below.  Because there’s only one thing about this situation which is certain: like all authoritarianism, it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

We are watching the advent of a new dark age, and in such times no light is entirely safe from being snuffed out by zealots, speech-cops and bureaucrats whose ideal model for human society is the anthill.  –  “The Convergence of Censors

Every two-bit dictatorship has recognized that all it needs to do to justify thought control is parrot Western “hate speech” idiocy.  –  “The Return of the Censor

Though lily-livered fools have been demanding they be “protected” from ideas they don’t like for several years now, it’s terrifying how quickly this terrible idea has moved from the lunatic fringe to the mainstream.  –  “Suppression

[Many young adults] not only display an ovine passivity in the face of censorship, but actively run to the nanny-state to hide in her skirts lest they see or hear some idea or word, or see some image, that will cause some ripple in the placid lakes of their privileged lives and perhaps actually require them to think rather than merely consuming and regurgitating the dogma they’ve been spoon-fed.  –  “Unwise Monkeys

The censor-morons are loose, and they’re coming after everyone who dares to disagree with them.  –  “The Censor-Moron

It doesn’t matter whether the excuse is “sin” or “feelings”, or the injured party is conceived of as an individual or collective, or the suppression comes from above or below, or the method is violence or economics; the suppression of thought and speech is evil, tyrannical and socially self-lobotomizing.  –  “Moral Climate

Thinking people must not let themselves be intimidated by…self-appointed guardians of the public morality; we must speak out against all forms of censorship and speech suppression, whether advanced by guns, threats, intimidation or appeals to nebulous “harm”.  –  “Censor Chic

The belief that the state or collective has the right to [censor] is an abomination; it is nothing less than the dogma that the state owns every individual, body and soul, and has the right to torture or maim those individuals as it pleases.  –  “Crippling Thought

The important thing to remember when listening to any demand for censorship is that no matter what excuse the censor presents to attain his goal, he is ultimately lying.  It’s not really about “public safety”, or the “children”, or “community standards”, or whatever else he may claim; it’s about the fact that his leaky mind is unable to keep unwelcome thoughts out, so he demands that society do it for him.  –  “Thought Control

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The Nuclear Option

Why are people who chose 20th-century-style US nuclear families (which aren’t the same as traditional extended families by a long shot) so very certain that other lifestyles lose meaning after 40?  I am in my late 50s and still have so many things to do I will never get to them all before I cross the river.  Lest some of you claim I’m an anomaly: most of my friends are age-peers or thereabouts, many are childless by choice, and I don’t see any meaningful difference in life-satisfaction levels between those who have kids and those who don’t.  Honestly, these people remind me of the dudes who believe that 30 is a “wall” after which women instantly lose all sexual attractiveness.  And frankly, both types seem like they’re trying to convince themselves that their preferences are the only “correct” ones.  Furthermore, even if you’re a person who hates living alone, it’s possible to form partner bonds with people you’re not boinking, and if you really feel the need to care for some else who needs the help, you could choose to commit to caring for a dependent parent or other relative, or a friend who isn’t biologically related.  There’s nothing wrong with choosing to have kids, if you feel you want to.  But if you have them as a kind of insurance policy against boredom in later adulthood, you’re having them for the wrong (and very selfish) reasons.

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Every member of a sexual minority with half a brain already knows that people tend to lie about their beliefs and opinions in order to go along with the crowd; it’s why so many politicians publicly persecute sexual behavior (including paying sex workers, having sex with other men, and watching porn) that they themselves indulge in.  The behavior is so typical, in fact, that I’ve formulated what I call McNeill’s Law: “The more any man crusades against a particular sex act, the more likely he is to be a practitioner.”  This is why polls and surveys of sexual behavior and attitudes, including the much-vaunted General Social Survey, are so notoriously unreliable:

…as I’ve written on multiple occasions, the GSS is conducted face to face and is a terrible source for any sexual data (such as “have you ever paid for sex?“) because people simply lie about sexual questions.  These surveys don’t find anything about what people are actually doing sexually; what they measure is people’s relative comfort with the question, which is a horse of a different color…

So this recent article in Reason didn’t surprise me in the slightest:

…”Social pressure to have the ‘right’ opinion is pervasive in America today,” notes Populace, a social-research organization, in a report published this summer.  “In recent years, polls have consistently found that most Americans, across all demographics, feel they cannot share their honest opinions in public for fear of offending others or incurring retribution…One important, but underappreciated, consequence of a culture of censorship is that it can lead individuals not only to self-silence, but also publicly misrepresent their own private views (what scholars call preference falsification)”…

A few examples from the article:

…Whereas 59 percent of Americans publicly agree that wearing a mask was an effective way to stop the spread of COVID-19, only 47 percent privately hold that view…

…74 percent…privately think parents should have more influence over public school curriculums, but only 48 percent are willing to say so publicly…while in public a majority (60 percent) say discussing gender identity in public schools is inappropriate for young children (K-3), in private this is not the majority view (only 40 percent privately agree)…

…44 percent of Democrats publicly insist corporate CEOs should take stands on controversial issues, but only 11 percent believe that in private…

…In public, 39 percent of Asian-Americans say the U.S. should completely phase out use of fossil fuels, but only 13 percent privately agree…

…A 64 percent majority of Republicans publicly favored overturning Roe v. Wade, but only 51 percent agree in private…

…A 61 percent majority of political independents publicly say that whether someone is a man or woman is determined by their sex at birth, but 45 percent really believe that…

…42 percent of those 18-29 years old privately believe racism is built into the economy, government, and educational system, although 65 percent say that in public…

In sometimes contradictory ways, Americans are misrepresenting what they actually believe to endorse views they don’t really hold…

I don’t really have a concluding statement on this, because it simply provides supporting evidence for something I’ve always assumed.  Except maybe, “Most people are moral cowards; proceed accordingly.”

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If cops only had cop powers and privileges when wearing their magical clown costumes and/or carrying their magic tin talismans while in disguise to deceive people, whether they were “on duty” or not would be important.  But that’s not the case, so it isn’t.  And yet in story after story, both spokespigs and journo-parrots obsess about whether or not a cop was “on duty” when he murdered someone, or “in uniform” when he raped someone, as though this somehow made the crimes better or worse.  But a corpse is no less dead if the hail of bullets in his back were fired “on duty”, and a woman or child no less traumatized if told that their rape was actually a “search” or “investigation”.  If the State wants people to care about this, it needs to severely punish cops who act like cops when “off duty”; require cops to wear proper uniforms when “on duty”; eliminate the poisonous doctrine of “qualified immunity”; and dramatically increase the penalties for those using their badges and titles as an excuse to commit crimes.  Because as it stands right now, “cop” isn’t a job, but rather a privileged ruling caste who are virtually immune to the laws they enforce on everyone else, whether they’re actually on the clock or not.

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