The Narrowing Effect Of Diversity

Imagine, then, Culture A, with 10,000 enumerable cultural features. Because they are broadly shared by all, nobody is much offended by any of them, and so all of these features can be expressed as naturally in the public square as in the privacy of the home.

Now add a second culture, B, to the Venn diagram. The overlap is close, but not perfect; of the set of 10,000 properties in the first culture’s circle, the second culture shares 9,000 of them. However, because public expression is to be limited to the intersection of the two cultures’ properties, we have now, from the perspective of Culture A, reduced its freedom of public cultural expression by ten percent — from its full set of 10,000 properties down to 9,000.

Now add a third culture to the mix (and a third circle to the diagram). Because the third culture is distinct from each of the other two, it will, necessarily, further shrink the number of properties common to all three sets — and thus will further reduce the collection of common beliefs and behaviors that are available for public expression.

This means two things: first, that the more cultures you add to a society the narrower, not broader, the range of public expression becomes; and second, that there will be an ever-increasing disparity between private life (which is now the only place where the full range of cultural life is possible) and public intercourse (which necessarily grows more and more restricted).

Source: The Narrowing Effect Of Diversity – waka waka waka

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The Morality of Patriotism

The simplest form of moral behavior occurs when a man fights for his own survival. Of course it is selfish … but selfishness is the bedrock on which all moral behavior starts and it can be immoral only when it conflicts with a higher moral imperative.

The next higher level is to work, fight, and sometimes die for your own immediate family. This is the level at which a mother or father dives into a flood to save a drowning child … and it is still moral behavior even when it fails.

The next higher level is to work, fight, and sometimes die for a group larger than the unit family – an extended family, a herd, a tribe. (The traits of duty and loyalty.)

The next level in moral behavior higher is that in which duty and loyalty are shown toward a group of your kind too large for an individual to know all of them. We have a name for that. It is called ‘patriotism.’

Behaving on a still higher moral level were the astronauts who went to the Moon, for their actions tend toward the survival of the entire race of mankind. As a direct result of what they did, it is now possible that the human race will NEVER die.

(Pacifists may contend that THEIR actions are on this highest moral level. They want to put a stop to war; they say so. They live in a world of fantasy. If the human race managed its affairs sensibly, we could do without war. Yes – and if pigs had wings, they could fly. I don’t know what planet those pious pacifists are talking about but it can’t be the third one out from the Sun. The seeds of war are everywhere; the conflicts of interest are real and deep, and will not be abolished by pious platitudes. The best we can hope for is a precarious balance of power among the nations capable of waging total war – while endless lesser wars break out here and there.)

Excerpted, and edited to condense. (Note: Heinlein is speaking of a Nation, not a State. The two might not be interchangeable.) Via The Pragmatics of Patriotism (by Robert Heinlein)

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Why I think xkcd is wrong about Free Speech

The xkcd cartoon conflates the particular and narrow protections of the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution with the older, broader, more general (and, if we’re honest, somewhat nebulous) principle of freedom of speech.

It is a great mistake to imagine that these things are the same. Doing so ignores the existence of non-governmental forms of censorship, including corporate censorship (e.g. internet filtering), and popular censorship via the tyranny of the majority — or, for that matter, the tyranny of powerful minorities!

In an open society, you personally are supposed to recognize the freedom of others to speak. Via Why I think xkcd is wrong about Free Speech – Pat Kerr – Medium

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Sinatra, Bogart, and “Cool”

[Frank Sinatra] is idolized — and obsessively studied and massively imitated — not merely for the creation of art but for the creation of public self, for the confection of affect and biography that the artist projects onto the national screen.And what Frank Sinatra projected was: cool. And here is where the damage was done. Frank invented cool, and everyone followed Frank, and everything has been going to hell ever since.

In America, B.F., there was no cool. There was smart (as in the smart set), and urbane, and sophisticated, and fast and hip; but these things were not the same as cool.

The pre-Frank hip guy, the model of aesthetic and moral superiority to which men aspired, is the American male of the 1930s and 1940s. He is Humphrey Bogart in The Big Sleep or Casablanca or Archie Goodwin in Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe novels.

He possesses an outward cynicism, but this is understood to be merely clothing; at his core, he is a square. He fights a lot, generally on the side of the underdog. He is willing to die for his beliefs, and his beliefs are, although he takes pains to hide it, old-fashioned. He believes in truth, justice, the American way, and love. He is on the side of the law, except when the law is crooked. He is not taken in by jingoism but he is himself a patriot; when there is a war, he goes to it. He is, after his fashion, a gentleman and, in a quite modern manner, a sexual egalitarian. He is forthright, contemptuous of dishonesty in all its forms, from posing to lying. He confronts his enemies openly and fairly, even if he might lose. He is honorable and virtuous, although he is properly suspicious of men who talk about honor and virtue. He may be world-weary, but he is not ironic.

The new cool man that Sinatra defined was a very different creature. Cool said the old values were for suckers. Cool was looking out for number one always. Cool didn’t get mad; it got even. Cool didn’t go to war: Saps went to war, and anyway, cool had no beliefs it was willing to die for. Cool never, ever, got in a fight it might lose; cool had friends who could take care of that sort of thing. Cool was a cad and boastful about it; in cool’s philosophy, the lady was always a tramp, and to be treated accordingly. Cool was not on the side of the law; cool made its own laws. Cool was not knowing but still essentially idealistic; cool was nihilistic. Cool was not virtuous; it reveled in vice.

Before cool, being good was still hip; after cool, only being bad was.

Much though I would like to be Frank, I might actually be more Bogart. Source: Things Worth Fighting For – ABC News

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Use Rhetoric To Sell Books

Selling is a pure popularity contest. Awards are pure popularity contests. Once you get over that, the better your friends will do and the better you will do.

When you want to do something with the culture, post your memes, be funny, be quick witted. That’s all that matters in this internet era. If you want to see change, it starts there.

Source: How I Use Rhetoric To Sell Books | The Writings of Jon Del Arroz

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Camille Paglia: On Trump, Democrats, Transgenderism, and Islamist Terror

The cold biological truth is that sex changes are impossible. Every single cell of the human body remains coded with one’s birth gender for life. Intersex ambiguities can occur, but they are developmental anomalies that represent a tiny proportion of all human births.In a democracy, everyone, no matter how nonconformist or eccentric, should be free from harassment and abuse. But at the same time, no one deserves special rights, protections, or privileges on the basis of their eccentricity. The categories “trans-man” and “trans-woman” are highly accurate and deserving of respect. But like Germaine Greer and Sheila Jeffreys, I reject state-sponsored coercion to call someone a “woman” or a “man” simply on the basis of his or her subjective feeling about it. We may well take the path of good will and defer to courtesy on such occasions, but it is our choice alone.

A wide-ranging interview. Source: Camille Paglia: On Trump, Democrats, Transgenderism, and Islamist Terror | The Weekly Standard

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No, You’re Not More Likely to Be Killed by a Right-Wing Extremist than an Islamic Terrorist

The fact that the two deadliest attacks upon the U.K. in recent memory were at the hands of Islamic terrorists is not simply pub trivia. I mention it because when these apologists for Islam get bored of claiming that jihadists are incessantly and inexplicably lying about their religious motivations, they invariably engage in the crass exercise of throwing around skewed data in a desperate attempt to deemphasize the danger posed by Islamic terror. this is not due to some well-meaning concern for people worrying unnecessarily, or to ensure that counter terrorism strategy is accurately focused upon the most serious threat, it seems rather to be a tactical attempt to prioritize the protection of odious 7th century folklore over the welfare of real human beings.

In the not uncommon event of an Islamic lunatic slaughtering a crowd of innocent people, Americentric articles and tweets lying about the likelihood of this happening to you, instantaneously begin to surface, like gunk from the ocean floor after a depth charge detonation.

Source: No, You’re Not More Likely to Be Killed by a Right-Wing Extremist than an Islamic Terrorist – Areo Magazine

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How Oxford and Peter Singer drove me from atheism to Jesus

Christianity, it turned out, looked nothing like the caricature I once held. I found the story of Jacob wrestling with God especially compelling: God wants anything but the unthinking faith I had once assumed characterized Christianity. God wants us to wrestle with Him; to struggle through doubt and faith, sorrow and hope. Moreover, God wants broken people, not self-righteous ones. And salvation is not about us earning our way to some place in the clouds through good works. On the contrary; there is nothing we can do to reconcile ourselves to God. As a historian, this made profound sense to me. I was too aware of the cycles of poverty, violence and injustice in human history to think that some utopian design of our own, scientific or otherwise, might save us.

Source: How Oxford and Peter Singer drove me from atheism to Jesus – The Veritas Forum – The Veritas Forum

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Can a scientist believe in the resurrection?

To explain how a scientist can be a Christian is actually quite simple. Science cannot and does not disprove the resurrection. Natural science describes the normal reproducible working of the world of nature. Indeed, the key meaning of “nature”, as Boyle emphasized, is “the normal course of events.” Miracles like the resurrection are inherently abnormal. It does not take modern science to tell us that humans don’t rise from the dead. People knew that perfectly well in the first century; just as they knew that the blind from birth don’t as adults regain their sight, or water doesn’t instantly turn into wine.

Source: Can a scientist believe in the resurrection? Three hypotheses. – The Veritas Forum – The Veritas Forum

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