Posts tagged ‘evil’


In which I simply whine about OneDrive

I started out to write a more general weblog entry, but ended up just complaining (or “whinging” or even “whingeing”, as the Brits say and the spellchecker here recommends against) about Microsoft OneDrive, because that is what is currently Top of Mind. Apologies that this is probably Not Terribly Uplifting.

I have this fancy “Legion” laptop (named after the WoW expansion a couple before last, for some reason), which has a cool multicolored keyboard, and came with Windows 10, many of the features of which I am becoming convinced are subtle pranks on the user.

I just want a computer that can run WoW and Chrome and Second Life and maybe No Man’s Sky and not really a lot else, but nooooo what they sell me is a whole little ball of strange marketing things and little popups about how great the “Edge” browser (i.e. “okay, okay, we admit Explorer was bad”) is and wouldn’t I like to switch to it, and keeps storing what are apparently important files that I thought were on the very large hard drive into the tiny “OneDrive” instead, and then telling me that “OneDrive” is full and wouldn’t I like to pay for more of it?

This computer has, in particular, about half a terabyte of reasonably fast SSD as the “C:” drive (hello, 1983!), and another ummm about one terabyte of not as fast “D:” drive. In contrast the “OneDrive” is apparently five (5) gigabytes in size, and is almost full, because Windows keeps putting things into it.

(It also causes a perpetual red warning X to appear in the Windows toolbar thing, due to being worried in some obscure way about three files whose names end in “.lnk”, and really ask me if I care.)

It was almost full the other week, and I tried a bit to figure out what it was, and decided it was a teeny bit of free Cloud storage space to which Windows automatically syncs who-knows-what, so that I can get to it from my other Windows devices, of which there are zero (0).

So I erased the largest thing in it that was taking nearly all of the space, the “Epic Games” directory (sorry, “folder”) and everything under it, because why the heck was it syncing that to cloud storage anyway?

And of course it turned out that erasing that from OneDrive also erased it from my hard drive (or at the very least made Windows think that I had), and so now none of my Epic games work anymore until I reinstall them.

I’m guessing that I won’t be able to reinstall them, because there isn’t enough space in OneDrive.

In the meantime, even without having tried to reinstall any of those games, I am getting warnings again that my “OneDrive” is filling up and wouldn’t I like to buy more? This time, it’s apparently because Windows has decided to put every screenshot that I’ve ever taken, as well as a whole lot of other image and movie / video files there. I am of course afraid that if I remove them from OneDrive they will be destroyed, so basically Windows is actively holding them hostage, demanding that I pay them monthly or who-knows-what will stop working, and preventing me from moving them elsewhere by an implicit threat to move them back, since it moved them there in the first place without asking me.

I would like to tell Windows to remove all trace of OneDrive from my computer, and to keep all of my files on the hard drive thank you very much. I see that many other people have had this same desire: “Just what the hell is Onedrive and how do I get rid of this nuisance?“, “OneDrive – How do I get this off Windows 10“, “When was the last time you even used OneDrive?“, “ONEDRIVE is a photo theft program“, and so on and so on.

Some of these prior complaints contain or link to ways to (try to) get Windows to stop this hostage-taking behavior. I don’t have much faith in my ability to do this, and I suspect it will continue stashing things there forever. But perhaps I can get it under some sort of control.

My tentative theory is that it is configured to “sync” my “desktop” to OneDrive, and that since there are/were symlinks or “shortcuts” or something from my “desktop” to various photos (and Epic Games) directories, that counts. I will follow one or more of the sets of instructions on the web, and/or just configure it to sync nothing at all, and see if that helps.

I consider it a bad sign that Windows seems to think that the path to the desktop for instance is “C:\Users\xxxxx\OneDrive\Desktop”, but I carry on regardless.

Wish me luck!


The buzzing of distant bees

Is there evil in Heaven? And is there free will?

I know it doesn’t really make sense to spend too much time wondering about the details of fictional universes (“if Peter and his friends could only fly when they were having happy thoughts, why did Tinkerbell, who was after all the source of the pixie-dust that let them fly, seem to have no trouble flying even when she was upset?”), but I am somehow fond of these questions at the moment.
Heaven, the flowchart
It’s a subject that I don’t remember coming up in the average Internet discussion of (Judeo-Christian) religion, and it seems to me like a real quandary.

Seems likely that there is free will in Heaven (otherwise why give it to us on Earth?), and seems unlikely that there is evil (it being Heaven and all); and yet if God can make a place where there is no evil even though there is free will, why didn’t he do that on Earth?

(I started to wonder about this after hearing a couple of different theist types talk about their ideas of Heaven on NPR or something: the Jewish one said that there must be a wonderfully just afterlife because he strongly believes that the universe is just, whereas the evidence he has suggests that life isn’t just, so there must be some really very just stuff after life to make up for it; and the Christian one says that Heaven is a place where we all get whatever we truly want, and we all have learned to live together in harmony. Ha ha funny people, I thought, and also thought the “well if God can make it happen in Heaven, what’s his excuse for not doing so on Earth?” thought that we consider here.)

(Ooh, here they are! The Rabbi and the pastor; so you can judge for yourself how badly I’m misreporting their statements above.)

The usual answer to the Problem of Evil, that is comes about as a direct and inevitable result of imperfect beings with free will, seems to sort of evaporate if (as seems hard to avoid) Heaven is a place where imperfect beings have free will, and yet there is no evil there. So evil can’t really be the inevitable result of free will. So the Problem of Evil, it would seem, remains.

I did have a rather detailed discussion of this with my Jehovah’s Witness friend back in the day. He (and therefore I assume the JWs in general) have a pretty complete and interesting (if maybe sort of creepy) picture of life after the umm Big Thing, where (in the case of the JWs) the 400,000 special people or whatever it is go to live with God in Heaven or something, and all the other good people live on Earth under their direct governance more or less.

He said that yes in that world people would still have free will, and that in fact they would be able to do evil. They wouldn’t do it very much, because they would be good people living in a great environment, but it would still happen, and in that case God (i.e. Jehovah) would look into their hearts, and between the time they made a really bad decision and became evil and the time they were able to actually do anything bad as a result, He would stop them, in a very final way.

Since the JWs don’t believe in Hell, and think that all the stuff about burning and fire and stuff in the Bible is just a way of talking about ceasing to exist altogether, what happens to you if you freely chose evil after the Big Thing happens is that you just cease to exist.

Pretty weird, I thought!

And this got me thinking of a story set in that world, which I’ve never gotten around to writing, but which I think I will try to set down a general idea of here.

And in the meantime, you can ask your local rabbi or pastor or Judeo-Christian friend whether there is free will in Heaven, and whether there is evil there. I wonder if that is a hard question…

“I cannot follow the Elders anymore,” he’d said, that night, as they walked back from the orchards where they had been picking the perfect fruits that Jehovah provided for them in this perfect Earth.

“Jeremiah,” she’d exclaimed, “what can you mean, you cannot follow them? How could anyone do anything but follow them? We know that they are the appointed ones of Jehovah, that they have only our welfare at heart, that they are good and wise men. You cannot doubt, when you have seen Jehovah and His Son moving about on the Earth with your own eyes.”

“I have.” They were walking close together, hands brushing each other now and then, innocently, like brother and sister. “And I do not doubt that the Elders are those chosen of Jehovah. But…”

“But what? What is it that you can doubt?”

He’d taken a deep breath. He looked, she remembered thinking, like someone who was not quite sure of what he was saying, and speaking as much to convince himself as to convince her.

“I do not doubt the facts. The Elders are the chosen of Jehovah, and they do truly intend the best for me. But I doubt, no, I reject, their authority over me.”

“What can you mean by that, Jeremiah? Jehovah is the source of all authority, of all rightness, and He has given them their authority! It cannot be doubted, or rejected.”

“But I do reject it,” he’d said, his voice louder but still with an undercurrent of uncertainty, “I reject it as I am free to do, using the free will that Jehovah has given me. It is my right!”

She’d stopped, and taken his hands, looking very seriously into his face. The others walking in the same direction continued along, and were soon out of any danger of hearing.

“This is blasphemy,” she’d said, “this is not the use we are supposed to make of the freedom that has been given us. Can you truly do this? Do you truly, of your own free will, reject the authority of Jehovah?”

She had meant it rhetorically, really, or so she told herself afterward, saying it only so that he would say no, of course not, not that. But his face said that he took the question very seriously, and was considering it, somewhere deep inside. When he spoke again, the uncertainty was gone from his voice.

“Yes, Sarah. Yes, I d–“.

And before he’d finished that last word, her head was filled by a strange sound, like the buzzing of distant bees, and her hands were empty. And Jeremiah was gone, forever.

So now, in her bed at night, she lies curled tensely after her prayers, telling herself, telling Jehovah who can see into her very heart, that she does accept His goodness and His authority, that she is His true daughter, and that she would never reject Him.

And she cries until sleep comes.

Something like that, anyway…


Of Reprehensible Persons

rep·re·hen·si·ble (\ˌre-pri-ˈhen(t)-sə-bəl\)
Deserving rebuke or censure; blameworthy.

Just to give rebuke where rebuke is due. And/or to vent a little. :)

Anthony Weiner is a walking punchline, and should Just Go Away. If an oppresivist Republican was doing this I’d love it :) but Weiner is just hurting the Progressive side every time he (or his organization) opens its mouth. If he were a uniquely effective force on the side of good (see below) I would be more conflicted, but apparently he isn’t. (I am a bit of an Alex Pareene fan, I admit.)

On the other hand, Eliot Spitzer has been one of the few people in power willing and able to get all up in Wall Street’s face and at least threaten to bring some justice to the thoroughly entrenched criminals there. Which makes it sort of a pity that he’s an entitled oppresivist hypocrite who is willing, even eager, to prosecute people for things that he happily does in secret himself.

So what to do about Spitzer? It’s likely that he goes after Big Finance mostly because that’s his schtick, that’s the side he’s chosen as a path to fame and power, and not so much because he really believes deep down in justice, but still. I think I would be happiest if he apologized to the universe, declared his support for the legalization and effective regulation of sex work, gave his personal fortune to the Sex Workers Project or somebody, and went back to challenging Wall Street.

Given that that’s unlikely, unfortunately, I think it’d be best if Spitzer would Just Go Away also; we’ll have to find someone to fight Big Dollars who isn’t such a jerk.

Speaking of Wall Street, employees and management of Glass, Lewis & Co., as well as the owners of a nearby food truck, are obnoxious jerks. It is nice to see this going viral. Go and enjoy and contribute to the big Twitter flame-out before they notice and delete it.

(I’m amused by the lonely Twitter voice from an alternate universe shouting about how tips are only for exceptional service, and no one should ever be upset not to get one. That may be true on Planet Nebulon, but in New York City a tip of 15% or so means normal ordinary service, an amount above that is a compliment, and leaving no tip at all means that either (a) you forgot, (b) the service was so bad you had strong grounds for a civil or criminal case against the server and their entire family, or (c) as in this case, you are a total douchenozzle. It might be reasonable to wish this was not true, but… it is!)

Okay. Less controversially perhaps, the people (“people”) at “Project A.W.O.L.” are disgusting scammers. Given the numbers of people in the pictures on their horrible Facebook page, I’m surprised there isn’t more on the net debunking them; but maybe the pictures are all fake, and it’s mostly just a couple of douchenozzles spamming weblog comment pages.

I discovered this because one of the things they do (as well as putting up obviously fraudulent web pages), is Like and Follow random WordPress weblogs (I expect there’s software that does this for you?), and they’ve done that on this very weblog here. It’s a relatively typical Ponzi / Pyramid scheme (not exactly the same thing, I know; I think this has aspects of both), in which they convince some number of gullible people to pay them some amount of money per month for “secrets” and “tips” to “get rich online” and “make money with your blog”, whereas in fact the only Secret Technique they have is to convince some number of gullible people to pay you some amount of money per month for…


And there are all these different nearly-identical weblogs and scam pages and Exclusive Limited-Time Offers and things, and since all each one does is take money from people for enabling them to spread exactly the same scam further, you get a big rotting squelchy mess of stinking fraud and self-deception.

For instance, upon running across this awful thing on the weblog of an otherwise apparently well-meaning author who just wants to flog her self-published book on GoodReads, you have to wonder. Is she part of the scam? Or just a victim, fooled into reposting their stuff? (The two do sort of blur together of course; one of the things that makes the squelchy mess so foul.)

(I was able to find a smallish amount of actual information about the mess; see for instance Project AWOL is a scam, which leads to some other good material about the mess. And in fact even the scammer community seems to think that Project AWOL is a bit much. “Empower Network” seems to be a scam-enablement company that goes to some effort to skirt the letter of the law, and apparently they suspect that Project AWOL’s fraudulent promises of wealth might get them in trouble. It’s noteworthy the amount of frothing from perp-victims occurs in the comments on the various anti-scam posts, insisting that everyone is making tons of money and it’s not a scam at all; uh-huh.)

So that’s that. Ick!

Another scam I wandered into somewhere; the horrible and/or amusing “Power 4 Patriots” site and video, which is noteworthy mostly as an example of skillful Tea Party button pushing, where scary statements and images (Obama’s electricity monopoly!), sometimes entirely incompatible with each other, are used to try to sell plans for making your own homemade solar panels and wind turbines, which will magically protect you and your family against all possible disasters. It’s easy to just laugh at this, it’s so obviously pathetic, but we are not the target audience; this stuff is designed to appeal to people of limited reasoning and analytical skills, and often limited money, in order to scam them out of some of that money in exchange for stuff that will most likely help them not at all.

And that’s evil.

What else? There’s basically the entire Republican party and most of the Democratic party, of course, but that’s old news, and kind of generic. Let’s pick specifically on the reprehensible Rep. Reid Ribble (R-WI), who used a hearing to scold some nuns for not doing enough for the poor, and expecting the government to do anything at all. Words fail.

(And I admit I am rather a fan of Wonkette also, monetized and snarky as she/they/it is…)

So as not to end on just all these notes of negativity, we will point out in closing that while the Daily Mail is of course reprehensible in most aspects, Amanda (Fucking) Palmer totally rocks. :)


Seth MacFarlane, Worst Oscar Host Ever

Seth MacFarlane, Worst Oscar Host Ever(Well, it’s the obvious headline.)

So last night M mentioned that the Oscars Pre-Game Show was on, saying jokingly that we should be watching it, and I said “Yeah, let’s!”, expecting it to be sort of fun vapid sparkling pop-culture nothingness.

Imagine my surprise.

There’s sometimes a fine and funny and challenging line between being a jerk and parodying jerkiness. Seth MacFarlane was nowhere near that line last night; he was way, way out on the “being a jerk” side.

Parody and satire are great when used against the powerful, or turned inward on ourselves. But I think it’s all too common that someone will think “hey, this stuff is great and gets laffs, but if I use it against the powerful or the audience I might get in trouble, and I’m sure not going to use it on myself, so I’ll just use it on women or minorities or people with funny accents or something”. And that’s the nasty territory that we were in last night.

And somehow the worst thing about the “jokes” marginalizing women, sexualizing a little girl (who was right there in the audience ffs), trivializing eating disorders and abusive relationships, poking fun at people with funny accents, and so on, is that they weren’t funny.

I don’t think I’ll ever look at the talking dog and the baby with the English accent the same way again. (That is this same guy, right?) If nothing else, I’ll have my hegemonic-analysis goggles on…


Magic, Mystery, Delerium: Magisterium!

So I’ve been mulling over this whole “Rome vs. Nuns” thing and related issues for awhile, mulling it over in the sense that I wanted to write about it (not so much in the sense of making up my mind about it, because I think I pretty much know what I think, although an insight or two may show up as I type it all up here, but just in the sense that I’ve been thinking about how to write it down in th’ weblog).

And my thoughts never organized themselves very well :) but the topic is aging a bit (Stephen Colbert having covered it on TV for instance, as I noted last month), so I will just sit here while the tiny girls on the TV do scary things on the balance beam (is that really healthy?), and put down the Major Topics as they float to the surface, and then maybe if it isn’t too awful I will publish it.

This all came to my attention the other month when the Catholic Church published its official Doctrinal Assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, and this made various headlines.

I read the actual Church document (it’s not very long), and when I first read it I have to admit that it struck me as absolutely exuding evil. Evil of the velvet-gloved type, but evil nonetheless. You may not dissent, it says, you may not think for yourself, or decide what is important. You may not help the poor if you do not also work against same-sex marriage and abortion. You must not allow dissenting voices to speak, unless you clearly denounce them as dissenting.

A choice and representative passage:

The documentation reveals that, while there has been a great deal of work on the part of LCWR promoting issues of social justice in harmony with the Church’s social doctrine, it is silent on the right to life from conception to natural death, a question that is part of the lively public debate about abortion and euthanasia in the United States. Further, issues of crucial importance to the life of Church and society, such as the Church’s Biblical view of family life and human sexuality, are not part of the LCWR agenda in a way that promotes Church teaching. Moreover, occasional public statements by the LCWR that disagree with or challenge positions taken by the Bishops, who are the Church’s authentic teachers of faith and morals, are not compatible with its purpose.

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious, that is, has not been fulfilling “its purpose”, which is to submissively and unquestioningly promulgate the opinions of the Bishops, who are “the Church’s authentic teachers of faith and morals”.

I found that utterly chilling the first time I read it; talk about ideological absolutism! Later I saw it more as simply reflecting the hierarchical structure and history of the Roman Catholic Church; but on a little more contemplation I found that pretty chilling in itself.

Also chillingly, the Vatican apparently appointed a group of (male, of course) Bishops to, well, in their own words:

…the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has decided to execute the mandate to assist in the necessary reform of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious through the appointment of a Archbishop Delegate, who will – with the assistance of a group of advisors (bishops, priests, and women Religious) – proceed to work with the leadership of the LCWR to achieve the goals necessary to address the problems outlined in this statement.

Doesn’t that just make your skin crawl? To “assist in the necessary reform” and “to address the problems outlined”. So wise and God-appointed men (with a few token women, somewhat surprisingly, perhaps to get the coffee) will take these erring nuns in hand, and shove them back into the intellectual bottle where they belong, curing them of this disturbing habit of thought and dissent.

It is of course the consensus of hordes of angry posters to Internet forums that that is by definition the purpose of the LCWR, since that’s what its charter said when the hierarchy set it up, and that that’s what all good Catholics are bound to believe, and if someone doesn’t believe that, or wants to operate in a less oppressive atmosphere, they should just join some more liberal religion.

And to some extent I agreed with that, in that I at least felt that more liberal Catholics must be somewhat conflicted, between their feelings and the official mindset of their Church and all.

But then I heard Christine Quinn on NPR, and was amazed. Here’s a snippet from her interview with David Green:

Quinn: Well, it’s just who I am. I mean, I’m Catholic and I’m gay. There’s not much to deal with. It’s who I am. It’s how I wake up every morning.

Greene: But your church, obviously, doesn’t, you know, officially accept that.

Quinn: Right. That’s kind of their problem, not mine. I mean, I just don’t dwell on it. I’m not really sure what the upside of me dwelling on it would be. I mean, I was raised Catholic, I take a lot of comfort and inspiration and motivation and support from my faith. I get what they kind of see in some political issues. They get that we’re not in agreement on that. But that doesn’t make me not who I am. It’s still who I am.

And I thought that was just astoundingly wonderful. I don’t know if she would agree with this next bit or not, but what I heard her saying was that she knows very well what it means to be Catholic, and what Catholicism is, and if some wizened old men in Rome have some other opinion, well, that’s okay, but it’s not a big deal to her.

Being Speaker of the New York City Council and all probably helps :) but I thought this showed an admirable sense of proportion about just how important someone’s statements are by virtue of being stated with great confidence, on vellum, and in Latin. Eh, she says, that’s their problem, not mine.

(The document on vellum in question, by the way, was written by the Congregatio Pro Doctrina Fidei, in English roughly the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which until 1904 was known as the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition. Yeah, those guys. Although if you refer to the CDF as “the Inquisition” on a Talk Page on Wikipedia, one or more persons may take issue with the term, as I found out somewhat to my amusement here; although it being Wikipedia the incident may no longer be on record.)

Relatedly, the Vatican (again in the form of the CDF) issued a statement (a bit later I think) criticizing a book by an American nun: “Just Love” by Sister Margaret Farley, saying (among other things) that it “contained erroneous propositions, the dissemination of which risks grave harm to the faithful”.

Whoa, yeah! Can’t have erroneous ideas out there, people’s heads might explode!

The erroneous statements include the notion that masturbation might be normal and natural and healthy (whereas, says the CDF, “Both the Magisterium of the Church… and the moral sense of the faithful have been in no doubt and have firmly maintained that masturbation is an intrinsically and gravely disordered action”), and that in her opinion homosexual persons and acts were really just fine (whereas per the CDF, “tradition has always declared that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered… [t]hey are contrary to the natural law”).

The book apparently makes no claim to be official Catholic doctrine, and according to the Hufffington Post piece “Farley doesn’t identify herself as a member of the Sisters of Mercy on either her official Yale biography or on the book’s cover”, but the Vatican still felt it necessary to point out that it dissents from their horrid oppressive closed-minded beliefs.


Okay, so I waxed a little vehement there. But I mean, “gravely disordered”? “contrary to the natural law”? Seriously?

I think it’s that in some way I expect the Catholic Church to be more intelligent than that. I mean, they have Jesuits, who are supposed to be smart. They run a big international organization, they have Universities that are reasonably well respected, and so on.

So can they really believe all these things? I know various people in the U.S. believe them, but in general I put that down I admit to ignorance or thoughtlessness. Who, in the XXIst century, could actually think about the matter, and conclude this kind of absurd stuff?

And actually that’s another mulling I wanted to write down. There’s this Doctrine of Papal Infallibility, which basically says that the Pope is incapable of error when he makes some pronouncement about faith and morals, and (basically) he says that he’s saying it in the magic infallible way. But there’s also this other doctrine of infallibility, about the infallibility of the Ordinary and Universal Magisterium, which seems to say that if all of the Bishops at any point in history have agreed that some particular point of faith and (and/or?) morals ought to be believed by everyone as infallible, then by gum it is.

And I hope it is clear to all my readers that this is just dumb. I mean, even if we stipulate that there is an omniscient Deity out there, it’s pretty clear that our human minds are fallible, so that any thought process that we use to get to a conclusion has a nonzero chance of being wrong, including any thought process that we might use to get to the conclusion “this here statement is 100% accurate infallible divine wisdom”. Whatever reasoning the Bishops and the Pope have used to conclude that some statement is “infallible”, that reasoning is just fallible human reasoning, so They Could Be Wrong.

And surely they realize that; it’s a simple argument.

So we have the question of just what the Pope and the Bishops actually think about these statements of theirs that they either think are infallible, or at least think are the authentic teaching of the Church that everyone must follow without dissent. Possibilities that occur to me include:

  • They hear voices or otherwise get what seem to them to be more or less direct communication from the Deity, and that gives them faith that these beliefs are correct. This seems wildly unlikely, and even if they did hear voices etc what exactly would lead them to believe it was the Good Guy rather than the Bad Guy speaking? And even if they had what they thought was good evidence that it was the Good Guy speaking, how could they think that their belief of that fact, that the voices they hear are the voices of God, is itself 100% infallible?
  • While they don’t hear voices, they have a deep confidence that the conclusions to which they and their peer Bishops come through due deliberation and thought and Scripture study are in fact the beliefs that the Deity wants believers to hold, and therefore they feel justified in requiring everyone to believe them. This would mean they are amazing egomaniacs, basically (or, perhaps more honestly, douchebags).
  • They don’t hear voices, and they even realize that the conclusions they reach are just those of a small number of fallible humans in a fallible process, but they think it is best for the faithful not to realize this, and to think that something more reliable than that is going on, so they quash dissent not because they are certain that it is wrong, but for the ultimate good of those who might otherwise be confused by it, and so on. This would make them paternalistic condescending douchebags.
  • They don’t hear voices, and they realize that their conclusions are entirely fallible, but they enforce the notions of infallibility and “authentic teaching” just because they enjoy the power that it brings, and gives them sway over lots and lots of human minds, and this floats their boats. This would make them pretty much evil incarnate, and sadly I suspect that it’s the most likely explanation, although the prior two combined might beat it out probability-wise.

And that’s really about the end of the mulling. I conclude that the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church is a Bad Thing, but that’s not exactly a new thought. I get from the words of Christine Quinn (whose political views or other things might by the way for all I know be partially or wholly repugnant to me) a way of thinking about what a religion, or any similar system, might really be about, in a way that isn’t simply by looking at what the Officially Documented Leaders of the system think it’s about. And I get this deep puzzlement about what Catholic Bishops, for instance, who are apparently often intelligent people apparently committed to believing something patently false, must actually think down in their hearts of hearts.

Such a mystery, the world is!

And I want to close, or almost close, with one nice pithy snippet from a piece by Gary Willis in the New York Review of Books. In the current context it speaks pretty much for itself, making a point related to, but not the same as, my mullings above:

Now the Vatican says that nuns are too interested in “the social Gospel” (which is the Gospel), when they should be more interested in Gospel teachings about abortion and contraception (which do not exist).

Nicely said, I thought. :)


Rick Perry is a Sorry Excuse for a Human Being

Not that this is any big news, but jeez.

Down in the polls, but still in play because the way the Republican race has been going he could suddenly be front-runner at any time. So, to stay relevant, attack gay people! And, explainable only by a complete lack of brain, specifically attack gay people in the military! (Because attacking our men and women in uniform is a tried-and-true way to win Republican — oh, wait…)

All this resulting in what is, thankfully, one of the most Disliked videos ever on YouTube, whose basic message is “there’s something wrong in America if both gays and non-Christians have their civil rights respected”:

Currently: 10,186 likes, 423,057 dislikes

And apparently there is an amusing mole in his wardrobe department or something, in that he is wearing what most viewers of the YouTube video will see as a Brokeback Mountain outfit in an anti-gay ad. (Perhaps the target audience of the video will see it as a Normal People outfit, but that’s not the YouTube viewership.)

There are of course a billion YouTube responses. A couple of pointed rational ones I like:

And two that are just funny, in evil ways:

It must be so painful to be a Republican right now…


Friday, October 28, 2011

So Apple is becoming less evil in the sense that back in June they somewhat eased the restrictions on apps with respect to what people making apps that let you buy subscriptions to things can do.

However, they are still evil, in that they still forbid apps from having links to places outside of the app (and therefore outside of Apple’s gigantic cut of the proceeds) where you can buy the stuff they play.

I understand why they want to do this in order to make money, and it is probably legal and even within their rights, but it is still evil. (There are various evil things that one has the right to do; consider the writing of vile racist tracts as an obvious example.) It is evil because it is restricting the programs that I can get on this iPad I own, not in order to make my experience with the device better (which is the reason we iPad owners put up with Apple being the app gatekeeper in the first place), but just in order to advantage Apple itself.

I don’t really mind using a device that reeks slightly of evil, and I hope and imagine and even expect that it will continue to get less evil over time. On the other hand, it does lead me to keep one eye on possible more-open alternatives.


I was noticing this morning on the drive to work that “Yodels” is “Sledoy” backwards, and that made me think about the lexeme† “doy”, and how amusing it is, and I then noticed I couldn’t think of any English words containing it. Sometime during my first coffee I came up with “doyen”, but that was it. Some random /usr/dict/words produced only “Doyle” (a proper name, doesn’t count), and the Ispell English Word Lists (found in various places on the Web) had “Doyle” and “doyen”, and rather unconvincingly added “doyley” (which is an obscure variant spelling of the already rather obscure “doily”). One or more online dictionaries offers “doyly” as another alternate spelling, but now we’re really off in the weeds.

So, readers! Do you have any good “doy” words to hand? Or an explanation for why there aren’t more? Lots of untapped potential there!

“This is going to be a doyantic day!”

“Could you pass the pandoy?”

“Whoa, look at that saradoya!”

Maybe it’s just part of the “reserved for future expansion” part of the space…

† “lexeme” is almost certainly the wrong word. Readers are invited to suggest the right word.

More evil

Government could hide existence of records under FOIA rule proposal. Or, as I saw it linked originally, Justice Department Wants To Be Able To Lie In Response To Freedom Of Information Requests.

Which seems like a bad idea.

Watching every bit of The Daily Show you can find is of course a good idea. But a recent notable snippet: Climate Change is Real (but the media isn’t nearly as interested in the debunking of “ClimateGate” as they were in the original pseudo-scandal, somehow).

And of course Jon Stewart on Pat Robertson worrying that Republican rhetoric has become too extreme. Which rather boggles.

iTunes-U and Kant and all

I have discovered iTunes U, and it’s pretty hoopy (another reason I am willing to put up with a certain level of evil from Apple). All sortsa free stuff to learn!

You may recall that the other day I was listening to a (decidedly non-free) course on Consciousness and its implications, which was kinda cool, and although I’d gotten a little tired of Prof. Daniel Robinson for some of his odd little quirks of speech and for being wrong about stuff and like that, I was up for some more random audio philosophy, so I downloaded the first couple of lectures from a free iTunes U course on Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason and started listening.

And it was Prof. Daniel Robinson again!

Which is either quite a coincidence, or there’s not really all that much material out there, or Prof. Dan has done a lot of these things.

So far it is not bad to listen to, although as well as the same little verbal tics (random “you see?”s and “capito?”s and “of.. what? of experience!” and so forth) there is also the occasional burst of cellphone-static on the recording. And there is also Robinson (who outs himself as a Aristotelian, which does not bode well for my agreeing with him about very much) saying rather offhandedly that mathematics and the physical sciences are “riddled” with synthetic a priori truths, and giving as examples “there is no number so large that one cannot be added to it”, “every effect has an antecedent cause”, and “there’s no line so long that you can’t increase its length”.

And of course I disagree.

The synthetic a priori

Synthetic a priori statements are supposedly those that can be known without any reference to experience (so a priori, rather than a posteriori or “empirical”), but which are not true just because of the meanings of the words (so synthetic).

Myself, I rather doubt that there are any of these (for any reasonable construal of “because of the meanings of the words”), and I certainly don’t think that any of Robinson’s examples count. Most of the time when someone claims that something is synthetic a priori, it actually means that they just aren’t imaginative enough to come up with a possible world in which it isn’t true (but there are such possible worlds, and therefore it’s not a priori at all; you have to check the actual world to see if it’s true here or not). Or, alternately, the statement is true but follows so directly from the meanings of the words that it’s hard to justify calling it synthetic if “synthetic” is to have any actual meaning.

“There is no number so large that one cannot be added to it” is clearly not true if we’re working in the domain of, say, positive integers less than 1000. Oh, but that isn’t what we mean by “number”! Well, what do you mean? The answer to that will be a set that has no upper bound, which makes “no number so large that one cannot be added to it” true essentially by the definition of “number”. So that one’s analytic a priori.

“There’s no line so long that you can’t increase its length” is only true in some spaces. It’s not true, for instance, on the surface of a sphere. So this is either synthetic but empirical (i.e. to know it’s true we have to check to make sure we aren’t in a space that’s like the surface of a sphere), or if we add “on a flat plain” to the end it’s again analytic a priori (analytic because it follows directly from the definition of “flat plain”).

The one in the middle, “every effect has an antecedent cause”, is awfully vague, but again can be read in at least two ways, neither of which turns out to be synthetic a priori. Either it’s saying that, in the actual world, events happen in temporally-ordered causal chains (which is something one would definitely have to check the actual world for, since there are scads of possible worlds where things just sort of happen at random and uncaused), or it’s saying that there’s a subset of events, called “effects”, which are those that have “antecedent causes”, and that all of those have antecedent causes. And that is obviously analytic.

Readers are invited to submit more convincing examples of the synthetic a priori. With or without accompanying “doy” words… :)

Update: I meant to close with this picture!