June 02, 2017

Echoes

Basically, the ultimate merit of conservatism is a fundamental reluctance to 
make changes. This way systems, that actually work, will also remain that way. 
Conservatism protects traditions, echoes from the past, or existing protocols. 

Industrial, technical and societal improvements, when they happen fast (e.g. 
several times during one generation) tend to provoke general enthusiasm to make 
changes just for the sake of it. And changing something 'just because' poses a 
threat of ridding something that needed no revision in the first place.

The ultimate flaw of conservatism is of similar type. The general resistance to 
change is no rational antidote for obsessive, constant and useless development. 
Non-selectiveness, whether it is of conservative or progressive nature, can protect 
or create harmful systems.

What conservative ideologies withhold, are - to a considerable extent - traditions 
being passed on. However, since traditions tend to collide with modern new 
challenges in the mix, some conservatives find themselves in a tight spot. 
Often, development, in a practical sense, is actually just an increase in options. 
This is a burden to conservatives. The traditional way has heavier competition now, 
and out of all the options the original choice should be able to stand out as a winner. 

This may lead to a situation where conservatives feel they cannot quite publicize 
all their views any longer - at least not without unwanted repercussions. The rest - 
the opponents of conservatives, if you will - now consist of a wider variety of opposing 
views than they used to. As recent decades have brought about an increase in the number 
of new rivaling ideologies and sub-ideologies, conservatives now battle against a 
multitude of fronts. 

As an example, there are still men, who  
- would disinherit their daughter(s) and leave everything only to their son(s)
- would not allow their daughter(s) to get an education, unlike their son(s)
- think that politics, theater or university is no place for a woman
- would deny their daughter(s) the right to vote
- order women how to dress themselves
- are customers of the oldest profession in the world
- in a setting of customer vs. prostitute, consider the latter as the one with no 
dignity

This has all happened, at a societal and global scale, and to an extent is still 
going on. Back then it happened because there was not much choice. Force and 
arms tend not to accumulate with women, and such a tendency came with a defeat.

Now imagine a woman
- disinheriting her son(s) and giving everything only to her daughter(s)
- forbidding her son(s) to get an education
- thinking that men do not belong to science, theater or politics
- opposing men's right to vote
- telling a man how he should dress up, so that it would not tempt her too much
- being a customer of a male-prostitute
- thinking, that she as an entertainment buyer has more dignity than he as a seller 

At a comparable scale, this has never happened, and men would never agree to live 
like that (nor should they). If such an era was looming around, men would make 
a vocal and a rebellious uprise. They'd orchestrate a coup d'etat, and assume power 
immediately. 

And as a rule, men fail to see the irony.

I don't support feminists for a number of reasons. 
But I do understand, if many women still feel angry, rebellious and even 
vengeful. However, revenge itself is never a solution to anything meaningful. 

Often a mere avoidance of unnecessarily loud individuals - conservative or 
progressive, men or women - keeps up the necessary peace. Furthermore, what should 
always be conserved, is self-respect - without harming others in the process.


What may also be required are long periods of solitude.

May 25, 2017

Layercake

How can you quickly tell, if an ideology is destructive or not?

Suspicions should arise, when one or more of the following is true.


- Rights and privileges are unnecessarily unevenly dealt.

- It defines rights based on something that people inherently and involuntarily 
are - instead of something that they do. The condition people are born into, is 
taken as a primary merit or a permanent incapacitation.

- When rights and privileges are based on something outside the willpower of the 
person, it not only generates favoritism of the haves at the expense of the have-nots, 
but also undeniably accepts that the condition is permanent. One cannot evolve 
no matter how much meaningfulness he/she engages in, but rather, is doomed to 
his/her locus. 

- The superior ones cannot screw up their position no matter how destructive 
their actions are, and the inferior ones cannot upgrade theirs despite how much good 
they spread around. Perpetual immunity vs. perpetual imprisonment.

- After separating people this way to those on top and those below, the privileged 
ones would not accept to live like the inferiors do - a life without their special rights. 
Yet they expect the inferior ones to happily and willingly do so. 

- The superiors believe, that they could manage without the inferiors, but the inferiors 
who refuse to accept this system, they deem as fools.

- The superiors believe, that no other system can be as good. Naturally, it is oddly 
self-serving coming from the superior floor with all their unique privileges, but....

- ... self-reflection is not a strength of the superiors. The idea of dealing out or sharing 
their personal privileges with anyone, even the significant other, never visits their 
inner monologue. Their main focus is on self-affirmation and related confirmation 
biases.

- What may be defined as "a greater good", can be as self-absorbed as the delusion 
that the privileged ones should be the rightful gatekeepers of how much rights, if any, 
the inferior ones can ever have. 

- The ideology makes no attempts to align with other systems. Ideas of improving the 
ideology are redundant, as all the rights and privileges are already - and unilaterally - 
dealt. There's no room to move. And to have room, would be to accept that the system 
is flawed. 

Fat chance.


April 16, 2017

Vomit

There's an entire section of my life, that has been deliberately left out from these posts. 

My experiences as a scientist. 

I could write volumes, but instead, I'll just settle with wholeheartedly agreeing with 
a research colleague. Obviously, we share something. 

Let credit be pointed where it is due, so below is a piece written by R.B. Baumeister 
on a specific topic unfortunately characteristic of scientific publishing process.  

To the direct sadness of scientists, this pattern, alas, is not a marginal one. 
One important enabler is the fact that scientific manuscripts are reviewed by 
a process, where the reviewers cast their comments anonymously. It's an inherent 
practice in the system. Only the Editor-In-Chief of the journal knows the reviewers 
by name.

To the defense of reviewers, they do the review-job without any fees and aside their 
own principal scientific work. However, that is no excuse to immoral, and obviously 
biased comments, that most likely are given the way they are only because of anonymity. 
The anonymous protocol makes it possible to shoot down competitors. As indeed, the 
reviewers need to be in the same field in order to have some substance to make the 
review. 

What this sums up to, is that no one is held accountable, if a reviewer decided to 
a) produce just hands-down shitty feedback, 
b) suggest a useless/senseless correction, 
c) hold it against the authors if the reviewers' own works do not happen to be included 
in the references, and
d) at times make no arguments at all for their suggestions, and just use the 
rejection-power they've been given just because they have it.

And indeed, exactly that they often do.

It shouldn't surprise anyone, if tasteless critique provokes scientific authors to 
stretch their response to 'unexpected lengths'.

--

Sample Cover Letter for Journal Manuscript Resubmissions
Dear Journal Editor, It's Me Again 

Dear Sir, Madame, or Other: 
    
Enclosed is our latest version of Ms #85-02-22-RRRRR, that is, the 
re-re-re-revised revision of our paper. Choke on it. We have again rewritten 
the entire manuscript from start to finish. We even changed the goddam 
running head! Hopefully we have suffered enough by now to satisfy even you 
and your bloodthirsty reviewers.

    I shall skip the usual point-by-point description of every single change 
we made in response to the critiques. After all, it is fairly clear that your 
reviewers are less interested in details of scientific procedure than in 
working out their personality problems and sexual frustrations by seeking 
some kind of demented glee in the sadistic and arbitrary exercise of tyrannical 
power over hapless authors like ourselves who happen to fall into their clutches. 
We do understand that, in view of the misanthropic psychopaths you have on 
your editorial board, you need to keep sending them papers, for if they weren't 
reviewing manuscripts they'd probably be out mugging old ladies or clubbing 
baby seals to death. Still, from this batch of reviewers, C was clearly the most 
hostile, and we request that you not ask him or her to review this revision. 
Indeed, we have mailed letter bombs to four or five people we suspected of 
being Reviewer C, so if you send the manuscript back to them the reviewer 
process could be unduly delayed.

    Some of the reviewers' comments we couldn't do anything about. For 
example, if (as reviewer C suggested) several of my recent ancestors were 
indeed drawn from other species, it is too late to change that. Other suggestions 
were implemented, however, and the paper has improved and benefited. Thus 
you suggested that we shorten the manuscript by 5 pages, and we were able 
to accomplish this very effectively by altering the margins and printing the 
paper in a different font with a smaller typeface. We agree with you that the 
paper is much better this way.

    One perplexing problem was dealing with suggestions #13-28 by Reviewer 
B. As you may recall (that is, if you even bother reading the reviews before 
doing your decision letter), that reviewer listed 16 works that he/she felt we 
should cite in this paper. These were on a variety of different topics, none of 
which had any relevance to our work that we could see. Indeed, one was an 
essay on the Spanish-American War from a high school literary magazine. 
The only common thread was that all 16 were by the same author, presumably 
someone whom Reviewer B greatly admires and feels should be more widely 
cited. To handle this, we have modified the introduction and added, after the 
review of relevant literature, a subsection entitled 'Review of Irrelevant 
Literature' that discusses these articles and also duly addresses some of the 
more asinine suggestions in the other reviews.

    We hope that you will be pleased with this revision and will finally recognize 
how urgently deserving of publication this work is. If not, then you are an 
unscrupulous, depraved monster with no shred of human decency. You ought 
to be in a cage. May whatever heritage you come from be the butt of the next 
round of ethnic jokes. If you accept it, however, we wish to thank you for your 
patience and wisdom throughout this process and to express our appreciation of 
your scholarly insights. To repay you, we would be happy to review some 
manuscripts for you: please send us the next manuscript that any of these 
reviewers submits to your journal. 

     Assuming you accept this paper, we would also like to add a footnote 
acknowledging your help with this manuscript and to point out that we liked the 
paper much better the way we originally wrote it but you held the editorial 
shotgun to our heads and forced us chop, reshuffle, restate, hedge, expand, 
shorten, and in general convert a meaty paper into stir-fried vegetables. We
couldn't, or wouldn't, have done it without your input. 

Sincerely, 

--

By far I couldn't have expressed my own frustration, deeply related to the 
experiences reflected above, as poignantly. 

After I ran into this comment, I was able to express some freely ousted laughter 
to my own memories on the subject for the first time. That moment of virginity 
of sort, became a few years ago right after finishing my thesis - after years of 
scientific research, that is. 


It was long overdue.

March 26, 2017

Bits

We are amidst extremes. It's quite effortless to come by either a liberal-lefty or a right-wing-y conservative fundamentalist voices (e.g. noises).

I've been showing support for both directions. With a set of reservations, that is. 

*

Brexit was understandable, even supportable, due to the simple fact that EU has become 
a massive bureaucracy with self-annihilating tendencies, as far as member states are 
concerned. A federation-oriented development has been recognized. And, as far as the 
alluring benefits for lobbyists are concerned, EU can be a lucrative frame. Obviously, 
transparency and efficacy would be brilliant themes to start implementing. Yesterday.

However. If Brexit-symphaties escalate into narrow-minded right-wing -boosted 
conservatism meaning deepening equality gaps in favor of the rich few, a line has been 
crossed. Also, if a right-wing-y ideology is married with a dictator-shaped leadership, we're 
doomed by all the in-flooding regression while being busy repeating old mistakes.
The US and the Netherlands have recently had warning signs of borderline catastrophe. 
Where Trump has been on point, has been - to a degree - the obvious and debilitating 
problems of failed immigration policies across Europe. 



Hillary was (is) greedy, opportunist, arrogant - and, as a surprise to no one - recipient 
of some dirty money from foreign governments via her Foundation. Therefore, opposing 
Hillary is more than understandable. However, as seen last year, trying to defeat corruption 
with irresponsibility, we're sinking with havoc. In Hillary's defense, she most likely 
would've caused less diplomatic turmoil and, probably most importantly, would've been 
less of an environmental hazard with her policies. Her speeches would've, yet, been 
similarly ass-kissing to certain special interest-groups while trying to turn her back to 
no one. 

Both Trump and Hillary have many similar flaws: e.g. being incapacitated to 
admit their mistakes, being far away from the working-class and being consistently 
irresponsible for their own words/actions.

What good either of them do bring, has probably been the deciding factor for voters 
back there, but the bad put forward by both, is difficult to accept as a necessary cost. 

So obviously self-serving, and thereby hazardous, it is.

*

There are right-wing-y conservative voices being emphasized in Europe in general at 
the moment - not just the Netherlands. Conservative colleagues in Sweden, Germany 
and France have joined the line. Vocally. 

Any crime committed by an immigrant seems like an invited one. The obvious cultural 
collisions between systems that are clearly far off in many instances, is seen as the 
underlying factor. A factor, that many officials have been reluctant to confront. 
This is probably the major gap, that enables right-wing -forces to gather and 
gain votes. 

Understandably so.

However. If trying to conserve a local cultural heritage and tradition base is a motive, 
and that becomes abused by right-wingers, eventually using it to 
- make rich people even more rich (by re-directing taxes accordingly)
- corporations under less oversight
- make environmental hazard more serious, by the pretext of more (environmentally 
short-sighted) jobs
- massive re-direction of funds from societal aims to defense

we're paying our aims with currency that isn't ours to begin with. 

At this point what may significantly serve Trump is this fact. A string of liars in 
a certain position morphs into a backdoor to keeping the sordid "tradition" alive. 
Notably enough, none of the presidents on the clip were successfully impeached because 
of their lies. Oh hey, it's just words.

Now, it's simply a disfigured system A being swapped onto a disfigured system B. 
When what we really would've needed, was ridding the disfigurement from the system 
(which no other candidate would've served more efficiently than Bernie with 
E. Warren as his VP, quite undoubtedly). 


We need to ask ourselves, what is the reasonable price for the desired bits in the 
entity?

Point

"If democracy does not rid ignorance, ignorance will rid democracy."
-Professor Urpo Harva




March 24, 2017

Value

What elements make up a really good confrontation with people? Why is it so tense and 
awkward with some, while so fluent and deliberating with others?

Below is scribbled down a few characteristics in a person, that seem to make up for a valuable 
confrontation. What has to be said, is the fact that there is no one right recipe for good 
chemistry between people. But certain ingredients are constant. Make no mistake, this list 
is, undisputedly, an image of its author. However, was I to construct a general guide, this 
would be the kind I'd recommend.

1. Trustworthiness.
Trust is a package-deal: if someone is trustworthy, then he is also consistent, responsible and 
sincere. Also, to a considerable extent, predictable. That need not mean 'boring'. To the best of 
his abilities, he arranges no negative surprises for anyone to clean up

One particular point: Whilst you should admit the existence of true feelings, your actions and 
judgment really need not obey blindly. No one can afford to lose the credibility of his words. 
Should this principle require e.g. letting go and sacrificing a major crush, it's worth it. 

The absolute primary focus in life is not to count, when or who you end up with. It is to 
recognize the privilege to participate in genuine events, whether they include affection 
or separation. 

2. Healthy lifestyle.
Someone looking after himself has a bank-account par none. There are pressure-factors in the 
social circles that oppose this benign force, but what it takes is to have no. 3 to let health 
prevail. As a sidenote, if e.g. not drinking alcohol/smoking/doing narcotics has even a tiniest 
fraction to contribute to the possibility, that one looks younger than her chronological years, 
I'd take the associated social repulsion and rejection anytime. Should there be no man left to 
appreciate it, at least I recognized the delight, and enjoyed it as fully as possible.

3. Independent thinking.
People can be divided, roughly of course, into two categories: 
- those who prioritize certain people over values, and 
- those who prioritize certain values over people. 
The former have a constant circle of close friends, who remain so through everything. 
It comes with a cost.

When certain people are above the rules, the rules have to bend according to the situation. 
Also, some people not included inside this circle may also have to witness their trust suffer, 
when volatile values bring whimsy and inconsistent decisions, possibly at the outsiders' 
expense.

The latter group probably have variation in whom their loyalties lie, but whilst the traffic 
at the door, values remain rock-solid. Both insiders and outsiders know, what sort of decisions 
and outcomes to expect. The latter seems to be more rare.

4. Justice/sense of relativity.
The person cares for what he leaves behind. He doesn't run away from inevitable situations, 
where a rank or a priority sequence needs to be build. While having this sense, he knows 
where to put his efforts, and when needed, he is no stranger to conflicts.

5. Sense of humor.
A vital survival mode. And a delightful locus for creative powers. Laughter spreads like a 
disease, and those who make us smile, probably will be remembered for a good reason. Of 
all the types of humor, the most important is the ability to laugh at oneself.  

6. Physicality.
Of the possible levels of communication, this is the sincerest. And the most vulnerable. 
Whether there is disgust, attraction or irrelevance, our bodies indicate it first. Our verbal 
machinery always lags behind. Therefore, when doubtful over how someone truly feels, 
try to analyze his physical presence. If someone expresses his interest, but doesn't seek 
to minimize distance and avoids eye-contact, he probably has ulterior motives or is not 
telling the whole truth. It only suits the arrogant basal tune of human nature, that they 
imagine physical communication is something they can control completely. 

7. Curiosity.
This is the source for personal development. Meet a person, who circles around the one and 
the same, and although one might think he's just a conservative, he may actually be regressing. 
He's given up on staying open for better systems.
When curiosity stops, we cease to be both present and productive - personally and societally.

March 19, 2017

Bifurcation

As a sequel to the previous post...

The matter of oil is difficult to erase from one's consciousness. In a pragmatic sense, 
there's no way around it. Oil-derivatives are everywhere. Crude oil is not, anymore.

What's more, it is one of those immensely inconvenient issues to dwell into. 
So inconvenient, that it's a bit of a stretch to actually prefer to keep on sophisticating 
oneself over the matter. And it's not just the inevitable probability of oil running out, 
it's also the lack of news over the fact, the surprisingly low level of oil prices across 
the globe, the non-existent sparing policies being prioritized, and most importantly:

The screaming lack of a substitute. 

If it was easy to come by, it probably had been invented by now. 

The mere fact of fracking with all its risks taking place tells - or indeed _should_ 
tell - us, that finding enough oil to meet the demands is getting really tricky.

According to this site, we have around 36 years left with oil. According to this, we've 
either surpassed the peak moment of crude oil, or are at the very peak today.


There would be so many things I could do, that were considerably more pleasant. 
And the anguish is not mine alone. It spreads like a rumor.

Try and bring this theme up in a conversation, and it's either concern or denial, that's 
pushing up front. Concern over how little evidence there is to deny the very fact. And 
denial of the magnitude of change that is lurking around

I did this once. At the other side of the table, a non-surprising assumption popped up: 

"Someone will figure this out. So I'm not going to be dramatic about it. I'm going 
to keep on driving my car. The technology will produce something."

Meaning: 

"It's the industry who has to come up with a solution. They'll fix it. I won't chip in."

Oh, it'll get fixed alright. Eventually. It's not that we wouldn't get a solution. 
It's the kind we're getting that should make us do more thinking over it. 

By now it's evident, that we should not only cut down oil consumption but also cut 
down our overall energy demands. 

That's not a crowd-pleaser.


If one preferred the ultimate social suicide, add to the finite nature of oil
the increasing number of population, and voilà! If you're still popular, you have a 
bunch of sincere, truth-hungry friends close by. But if you're still not done, and fearlessly
want to keep on flirting with a looming interpersonal disaster, add in the increasing level 
of economy in the densely populated Asia and India, with their surging oil demand. To top 
that off, consider the obvious reluctance of Western countries accepting a lower set of 
living standards, and we have an equation that reeks havoc.

So yes, the topic is utterly and intensely unpleasant in so many ways.


We could really use some voluntary folks caring about this - instead of hesitating to yell 
how they're not going to chip in.

The most fundamental question, that everyone should be asking themselves on a 
daily basis, is: 

What would I be prepared to do to conserve our nature? What personal possibilities 
or rights would I be willing to give up to contribute?

I'm suggesting, each of us think this over. The direction of the deeds need to be 
the same, but the elements on the lists don't. We need all sorts of inputs.

Mine are below. I hereby state that I:

- Will not buy a car.

- Will avoid anything plastic anywhere possible. 
Currently, I've managed to pretty much rid my kitchen of plastic utensils, and swapped 
them with ceramic/steel/wood/glass.

- Will not move into a bigger apartment.

- Have alternative holidays to traveling by airplane. 

- Will not breed (independent of where I live). 
There are people who have both the urge and the hopeful prospects over the future of 
our planet, but I continue to fail sharing that luxury. I'll do my best and contribute to 
the quality of life within my range of influence, not the quantity of people therein. It 
seems to me from my standpoint, that to put a smart solution forward, is to not replicate 
yourself. In a finite environment, it's wise to recognize its limits, when they're coming 
closer. And also, recognize the variety of actions by which to contribute.


There are probably some, who perhaps afflicted by their nonchalant and 
disinterested attitude in front of a change this huge, will say that all this worrying 
is making a preterm fuss. 

Heck do I know, if a magical solution surfaces. However, the logic behind 
this concern is the following: 

There's absolutely no harm in preparing for it. Keeping it in mind, and living 
accordingly. I have some good-old quality motives for doing it, that are bigger 
than me.

If, however, preparing for turns out redundant, I'm sure I'll manage with the 
"oh I was wrong" -part. Considering what is at stake, it's a non-issue.

But if this was now overlooked, I not sure I'd manage the haste and panic 
I could've seen coming but didn't want to. 


I don't really care, what, if at all, other people decide to do to take responsibility 
over their use of natural resources. Besides a conversational exchange, that's not 
within my powers. I'd probably only burden myself with confusion, and that would be, 
poignantly and ironically, energy wasted.


"Nobody cares how much you know, until they know, how much you care."

-Theodor Roosevelt