Because I wisely terminated my Faustian contracts with social media companies back in September last year, this page provides one-stop shopping for my curmudgeonly views. I'm allowed to change my mind, by the way, but most of these are very well-established positions.
(Some of these items are discussed in a bit more detail as silly verbiage in a page on buzzwords, euphemisms, and clichés.)
Really? We live in a world in which many members of our species don't have (or have been stripped of) what many societies call human rights. Let's direct some of the energy spent on animal rights to working on rights for member of our species first. Animal rights activist appears to be a demographic label that many celebrities adopt. Their energies would be better spent elsewhere. That said, although I would not actively seek to watch a bullfight, I would definitely cheer for the bull, because the fix is in, and it's not fair.
Anonymity on the Internet
Many complaints are being lodged against companies like Facebook because they are not doing enough to protect people from fake news and fake this and that. It is undeniable (although some social media addicts in denial will deny) that companies like Facebook are evil and interested in nothing but profits. But people are missing a more important point.
By assuring anonymity for anyone who wants it, companies like Facebook are at the heart of the problem. Because the internet is at once everywhere and nowhere, crimes and deceptions happen everywhere and nowhere, committed by people who are everywhere and nowhere, and the people themselves can be anybody and nobody, all brought to you by the Internet and made much easier by social media companies.
The takeaway from this is that, rather than the often-discussed digital divide between the connected and the unconnected, there is a common-sense or intelligence divide between people who believe anything they see on the internet and those who know better. And an alarming number of people don't know any better. The internet has made it more difficult to discern what is true and what has been created or orchestrated to sound or look true. Let the sharer—and the reader of shared content—beware.
Buzzwords, Euphemisms, and Clichés
Too many people who are part of the conversation have, at the end of the day, lost their (or never had the) ability to express themselves in English. Perhaps they feel empowered by using silly clichés and buzzwords. With a little effort, it's possible to express yourself in English without sprinkling your prose or speech with all the latest trendy buzzwords overworked phrases that have long ago gone stale. Too many people obviously cannot be bothered, choosing rather to be part of the conversation.
Another webpage provides more curmudgeonly detail on my views of buzzwords, euphemisms, and clichés
Celebration and Pride
If you are claiming that you are the way you are because you were born that way (as opposed to making a choice to be that way), you might think a bit before you celebrate and are proud about being that way or encourage other people to celebrate it. Either you are the way you are because it was the way you were born, or you can be arguably proud of the way you consciously chose to be or proud of something that you have done. You cannot have it both ways. I hereby undertake never to be proud of:
- being white
- being tall, or
- having been born in the US.
Another thing that has a seriously emetic effect on me is the phenomenon of people being intimidated into celebrating things that are not only not worthy of celebration (as noted above), but also are against the intimidated person's basic beliefs and feelings. For some people, including academics and many others in the public eye, the intimidation takes the form of fear of losing your job or being thoroughly slandered by hordes of offenderatic celebration stormtroopers who evidently haven't anything better to do.
China is clearly a rogue state, well-recognized for stealing intellectual property and for crushing the civil liberties of its citizens in what could fairly be characterized as one of the most oppressive totalitarian dictatorships in the world.
That said, the complaints heard recently from manufacturers in the free world (and from the Great Orange One in the US White House) that China "forces" them to give up their intellectual property are totally ridiculous and have nothing to do with theft.
Western manufacturers are not "forced" by China or anyone else to surrender their intellectual property. All they need to do is to decide not to surrender their manufacturing to China. There were other choices; they made the wrong one, and now Western manufacturers are "addicted" to Chinese labor. Essentially they are lock-in victims of their own making. The entire free world has incurred huge financial losses as a result. It is not too late to correct this breathtaking strategic error, but it will be costly. Will it happen before a war breaks out with China? Stay tuned.
This favorite of liberals on National Public Radio and talking heads everywhere these days has a meaning that will probably not be picked up by dictionaries until it goes out of fashion. Conversation sounds like a substitute for discussion, but it is not.
For example, when someone on left-leaning NPR says "this is the conversation we need to be having," they mean "this is the political change I want to see happen." Maybe I am missing that certain something (could it be because of my privilege?) that would enable me to understand why these bubbleheads need to say things as silly as "To ensure that the gay experience of the LGBT cat community is not invalidated, we need to be having a conversation about the unequal representation of LGBT cats in social media videos." I think we need to be having a conversation about why this conversation nonsense has invaded the airwaves. If you want gay cat videos, say so. Otherwise, shut up and eat your cat food.
Diversity is not something to celebrate; it just is. And diversity is how the nature enables groups of organisms to be replaced by others. The people who celebrate diversity seem not to have caught on to this. Nor do they probably realize that the species to which readers of this page belong will most certainly become extinct, as have 99.9 percent of all species that have ever existed on our planet. Deal with it; we're on our way out, sooner or later. So much for the greatly vaunted bio-diversity.
On the human diversity front, one thing I have little time or respect for is diversity training. At best it appears to be simply the posturing of an organization, corporate or other, to demonstrate that they doing what they should do to promote (and even celebrate) diversity. At worst, it sounds like re-education programs conducted in places like China to bend a person's true feelings and ideas to conform to the state-mandated philosophy. That is as nasty (and as futile) as trying to correct someone's sexual orientation.
Additionally, I have not much time or tolerance for people who use diversity and diverse as codewords to mean simply fewer white people, fewer men, or fewer whatever they're not.
Extinction of Languages
Just as species go extinct, languages disappear. I don't mean to rain on anybody's language diversity parade, but a language spoken by a few thousand people going extinct is not important unless you are a professor studying that language or a born-again language social justice warrior meddling with the natural course of events. If there are only 2000 speakers of Moogaboovian and the language falls out of use, it was not because the Moogaboovs stopped speaking; it was because they starting speaking some other language. They'll be just fine. It happens. Deal with it.
Extinction of Species
As noted regarding diversity, our species is on its way out. And almost all the species we see around us are also on their way out. Stop moaning about this or that species facing the risk of extinction. Of course they are facing extinction; it's just nature doing what nature does.
Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg
In September 2018 I decided to call it to trash my Facebook account, along with a few other unused vestigial social media accounts. The Faustian contract necessary to use the services of Facebook and the prevalence of other users who seem to be posting to Facebook from a country called Narcissistan made it a very bad deal, even without addressing the ethical concern of aiding and abetting the proliferation of useless or harmful content posted by huge numbers of anonymous actors.
Freedom of Speech
A freedom usually enjoyed in democracies, but one that is being eroded in the US by the offenderatic behavior of people who take everything to be somethingphobic, mysoginist, or racist. There is surely an overlapping of this demographic with those needing safe spaces and feeling betrayed if there is no trigger warning. Such people need to grow up.
It's happening, and there is every reason to believe that activities of our species are making it worse. That said, it is disturbing to me to see politicizing of what should be a scientific discussion. The right side of the political spectrum, fearing a loss of profits, typically plays down the causes of global warming and sometimes global warming itself. And I cannot help but think that, needing an attractive cause to support (and in opposition to those nasty industrialists that run everything), people on the left side of the spectrum embrace the idea that global warming is the evil doing of humans. A most disgusting manifestation of this is the recent advocacy for veganism on the grounds that raising meat-producing animals warms the climate. It might indeed do just that. Pass the bacon, please.
Gun Culture in the US
I think it is highly optimistic to think that serious change in the US gun culture is in the offing. The US is a country in which people want guns. To me, the problem is that guns are "needed" because people "need" to be able to kill—and often actually kill—others. That is not likely to change, regardless of how many tens of thousands are murdered with guns. I will just have to be happy that I live in Japan, where gun murders are so rare (less than five or six in the entire country each year) that they are big news.
One of the basics that any country purporting to be a first-world country is provision to its citizens of a health care system that effectively protects citizens from having to declare bankruptcy because of health care costs. The US is not there yet and might never get there. And claims that doing that would turn the US into a socialist country are totally bogus. I live in Japan, where health care costs and the insurance that covers those costs are at affordable levels. And rumor has it that capitalism is alive and well here in Japan.
God, Your Imaginary Friend in the Sky
Blasphemy is a victimless crime.
You can believe any fairy tale you want, but:
- don't expect me to listen to you talking about your imaginary friend in the sky,
- don't expect me to respect your god delusion any more than I would respect your belief banjo-playing racoons, and
- don't expect me to be respectful of a government with a state religion based on the principles of a particular flavor of sky friend or with laws against blasphemy.
People who believe in imaginary friends in the sky deserve no special respect regarding their belief, beyond the respect deserved by any other human, including humans who do not harbor such delusions. Harboring a delusion does not mean you deserve special respect, nor does the delusion itself deserve respect, let alone tax-free status. Would you give special respect to someone who wanted to introduce you to a talking carrot they grew in their garden? Would you give tax-free status to a person who is regularly abducted to visit another star system?
I am a fourth (well, more precisely, a third-and-a-halfth) generation Italian immigrant to the US. There has been a qualitative difference in immigrants since the late 19th century when my ancestors immigrated to the US. They expected and wanted to become Americans as quickly as possible. Their surviving and thriving depended on it. My paternal grandmother, born in the US of an Italian-born mother, did not even speak Italian.
Fast forward a century or more. Spanish-speaking immigrants in the US have now gained critical mass, enabling them to expect (sad to say, correctly) to be able to live their entire lives in the US without speaking English. Portuguese-speaking Brazilian laborers in Japan enjoy the same sort of enclave life in certain parts of Japan, although the Japanese government does not encourage celebration of such de facto immigration, nor will you find people here in Japan being intimidated into celebrating diversity.
I am for immigration but don't think it is easy to force people to assimilate. What particularly annoys me is that there is an expectation that members of such enclaves will succeed among and be accepted by other groups of people, including immigrants who arrived ahead of them and are better adjusted and committed to their new home. And the US government actively encourages such expectations. A prime example of this silliness is voting literature in Spanish and other non-English languages. Leaving aside the now relatively small portion of Spanish-speaking Puerto Ricans, people to be granted the right to vote should be capable of navigating the society and the voting procedures in English before they are granted citizenship.
I have lived in Japan (this time) for more than 42 years. Essentially, I am an immigrant (although, for obvious domestic political reasons, the Japanese never use that term in Japanese). But I can assure you that foreigners who have acquired Japanese citizenship (I am not one) would never be pampered by voting instructions in their original native languages. Such pampering in the US discourages immigrants from truly assimilating. The clear message is "we'll help you remain an outsider but still vote in our elections."
People of Color
Users of this phrase perhaps don't want to say non-whites, but that is precisely what they mean. In that sense, it is like the codeword diversity, which almost always means fewer whites and fewer men. Users of this codeword need to understand that not all people of color should be painted with the same color, so to speak, and I am not referring only to the color of their skin, but to culture, education, and other differences. I can say that with confidence, having lived among "people of color" here in Japan for over four decades. The Japanese, I can assure you, do not feel much connection to the people of color talked about on such bastions of liberal thought as NPR in the US. Most Japanese have lives to live and little time to think about linking to such "communities of color."
In recent years, people have taken to attaching -phobia, -phobic, and -phobe to an ever-broader range of things. We have homophobes, transphobia, islamophobia, and similar constructions. This penchant for coining new words to describe people and feelings thereof that are not to your liking (because you or your ideas are not to their liking) could be called (and I will call it) phobophilia. The phobophiles should step back for a moment and see if there is a better way to attack their enemies (i.e., people who don't like them) than accusing them of some sort of phobia. This is rapidly getting a bit tiring.
Accusations of privilege have served as the big gun of people of color and for guilt-ridden do-gooders recently. These accusations are two pronged, aiming at shaming the purportedly privileged targets while providing an excuse for being in a situation in which attacking another group is a reasonable choice of tactic.
Too few people in the US understand that what the US has been doing for nearly three decades as of this writing (February 2019) is participating in religious wars overseas, in places in which the US does not have a god in the fight. Imagine, if you will, an Islamic power wading in on the fight between Catholics and protestants in Europe during the Reformation, siding with one side or the other. Can you imagine how welcome their intervention would have been?
Russia (or, more aptly, the country formerly known as the Soviet Union)
Clearly an enemy of democracies everywhere and an enemy of its own citizens, many of whom surely do not speak out for fear of being snuffed out.
People who cannot tolerate being around people with different opinions or belonging to different tribes need to just stay home. Safe spaces are only useful for people incapable of dealing with the reality that they and their tribe (NPR would surely called it their community) are not the center of the universe.
Following advice from Jaron Lanier, I trashed all my social media accounts in September 2018 and am now bathing in the JOMO (joy of missing out). Convenience does not equate to being mission critical and provides no protection from toxic and harmful behavior manipulation. I will go back to social media when it becomes something else, meaning when Zuckerberg gives up his business model or when pigs start filing flight plans, whichever comes first.
This term has come to be virtually meaningless, applied to anything that you want to present as desirable while making yourself sound trendy and ecologically responsible. Nothing, including the human species, is sustainable. Homo sapiens, the only species that (it thinks) thinks, and the only one that thinks it can change the nature of things, is not itself sustainable. But it is diverse, so celebrate!
Overdependence on one technology, product, or company leads to a locked-in state in which you cannot leave because you think that there is no alternative. This is a type of addiction and one good example is the user dependence (lock-in) that the company Facebook has been profiting from. People think (incorrectly) that they cannot leave. But there are other manifestations of technology lock-in. One example is using software that creates files that can only be read by that software and that resist efforts to format data for use with other software.
While I can understand why a small part of our species might fear or dislike being confronted with sights, sounds, and ideas that they find offensive, many of these offenderatis in-training should just stay home and (in the words of the late great Chuck Berry) play with their own dingaling. Trigger warnings have clearly gotten out of hand.
The Orange Buffoon is an embarrassment. Enough said (for now, anyway). If the Great Orange One is not removed from the White House before his term is over, I sincerely hope that the US electorate can manage to avoid committing the same mistake in 2020.
I don't really care what you eat or don't eat. One problem for me, however is that, although many veganism believers do not realize it, they are advocating what is essentially a religion, a belief system lacking objective evidence.
Specifically, veganism is an anthropocentrically arrogant religion that, while allowing non-Homo sapiens to eat each other, apparently treats humans as being "above" such behavior. People who have bought into that belief system fail to understand that, in nature, there is no moral "above" and "below," only strong and weak, survivors and non-survivors. Morality and ethics are delusions created by only one species on this planet; pigs, cows, and chickens do not harbor those delusions.