Ever so often I stumble across another annoying feature Microsoft is putting into their products. It never ceases to amaze me how creative the folks at Microsoft are at mis-designing products. Their products are always sleek, elegant, easy to use, and contain some hidden monstrosity under the folds.
At work, we have Microsoft Keyboards – just the most unbelievably hideous trap ever to be inflicted upon the unsuspecting world. The keyboard look nice enough, and is OK to use. Look at the picture. Notice those three little flat keys just between the ENTER and the numpad? Above the upper-arrow and below the “delete” key lurks a monster. Yes, it is a SHUTDOWN KEY! In the middle of the keyboard!
Need I tell you the details? You type a document, send out your little finger to press “up” or “del”, and all of a sudden the computer is shutting itself off.
And today I encountered another trap, at home. Here I am working at my computer (sometimes I still use MS windows, you see). And out of the blue pops a message. “Do you want to save?”. Well, why would I, in the middle of a messy revision? I press ESC, and the computer shuts down. Got me: It had an automatic update that was so much more important than my work…
So, shut down your automatic updates on Windows, double check MS products before you buy them, etc. All these advice work, but in my experience, they don’t work very well. remember: MS will always have the upper hand. There’s always another snark hidden beneath the table, ready to jump at you when you least expect it.
1. Why is the human mechanism better or more deserving of respect than any other mechanism … a lawnmower or a cat?
2. Whence do concepts such as human dignity, human rights, personal morality, right and wrong, good and evil arise, and what is their justification?
3. Why should anyone be held responsible for their actions, given that these are caused by chemical reactions in the brain, and chemicals have no sense of right and wrong?
4. Why do you have the concept of a quasi-separate ‘I’, as in ‘my body’, if you are just your body?
5. How can volition be anything other than an illusion?
6. Why should feelings, emotions, etc. have any importance if they are mere artefacts of chemical reactions?
I will answer in a different order, and I also intend to tamper with Brendano’s phrasing. Iam also afraid that this will take more than one post.
But first of all let me point out one huge and terrible blander, of which I hereby blame Brendano. He seems to think that these questions pose a difficulty for atheists alone. That is utter baloney. These are, and always have been, the greatest philosophical questions of all time, wrestled with by many religious thinkers. And if you think that any of these problems are even remotely addressed by any conceivable religious dogma in existence, you are dead wrong. They certainly are not solved. Not through Christianity, Islam, Judaism, or any far-east religion in existence.
For his 30th birthday, Pietro Mascagni bought himself a girl. It was 4 years since the premiere of his short opera Cavalleira Rusticana, which made him a celebrity by night. He was now director of the Scuola Musicale Romana, in Rome, and his status at the high society in Rome demanded something more presentable than a mistress. As lovely as she was, Anna Lolli was no more than that. He needed a wife. A presentable wife.
Elmira De Ville was 14 years old when she became the lady Mascagni. Her patrician, proud and destitute family was all to happy to marry her off to a man of considerable wealth. But the inferior musician was way beneath the dignity of young Elmira. She loathed him.
Current (neo-classical) economics is based on false premises.
These false premises include this important premise: That nature is irrelevant to economic growth (and that natural resources are boundless).
Because the irrelevance of nature is a premise of Economic Theory, it is not surprising that it pops up as an outcome of Economic Theory. Given the type of models they work with, economists have to claim that fighting global warming is economically inviable. And when they do so, it’s a tautology – what they are actually saying is: “since we assume that nature is irrelevant to Economics, no action to save natural reasorces could possibly be cost-beneficial”. A claim which is, of course, absurd.
The good people at “story of stuff” make an interesting mistake glitch, though.
The presenter, Annie Leonard, correctly ascribes consumerism, that plague that makes us violate the earth, to post-WWII American politics. As she describes it, the US government (followed suit by the rest of the western world) developed consumerism because it was “a means to boost the economy”. That is a gross understatement, and a historical misunderstanding. I agree wholeheartedly with most of what she says in that short movie of hers. But this is one point I would like to correct. It is a rather interesting one. If you want all the gory details, go and read Tony Judt’s excellent PostWar. Here comes the shorthand:
The consumer-goods economy isn’t a matter of governments sucking to big corporations. It’s really a political issue of a grander scale. In fact, it is about fighting (and winning) the two most important political wars of the 20th century: the war on communism and the war on fascism. Continue reading →
A new report (pdf) called The Age of Consequences, just released by the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Center for a New American Security, tries to bring the social sciences, in particular history, geography, and political science, into the forecast of climate change in the coming century. It makes for fascinating if frightening reading.