a thread for mundane ironists

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Re: a thread for mundane ironists

Postby iambiguous » Wed Nov 22, 2017 12:14 am

Simon Singh

Romantics might like to think of themselves as being composed of stardust. Cynics might prefer to think of themselves as nuclear waste.


And then some.

All that was required to measure the planet was a man with a stick and a brain. In other words, couple an intellect with some experimental apparatus and almost anything seems achievable.

If only in the either/or world.

An astronomer, a physicist, and a mathematician (it is said) were holidaying in Scotland. Glancing from a train window, they observed a black sheep in the middle of a field. “How interesting,” observed the astronomer, “all Scottish sheep are black!” To which the physicist responded, “No, no! Some Scottish sheep are black!” The mathematician gazed heavenward in supplication, and then intoned, “In Scotland there exists at least one field, containing at least one sheep, at least one side of which is black.”

And even that might have been painted.

God exists since mathematics is consistent, and the Devil exists since we cannot prove it.

Let's just leave it at that, okay?

...if N is large enough, it is virtually impossible to deduce p and q from N, and this is perhaps the most beautiful and elegant aspect of the RSA asymmetric cipher.

Anyone here disagree?

Pascal was even convinced that he could use his theories to justify a belief in God. He stated that ‘the excitement that a gambler feels when making a bet is equal to the amount he might win multiplied by the probability of winning it’. He then argued that the possible prize of eternal happiness has an infinite value and that the probability of entering heaven by leading a virtuous life, no matter how small, is certainly finite. Therefore, according to Pascal’s definition, religion was a game of infinite excitement and one worth playing, because multiplying an infinite prize by a finite probability results in infinity.

You know, leaving out, among other things, theodicy.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: a thread for mundane ironists

Postby iambiguous » Wed Nov 22, 2017 5:35 pm

B.F. Skinner

Education is what survives when what has been learnt has been forgotten.


You know, whatever that means.

No one asks how to motivate a baby. A baby naturally explores everything it can get at, unless restraining forces have already been at work. And this tendency doesn't die out, it's wiped out.

Usually [as they say] for its own good. Though it's not like [as often as not] this isn't true.

The real question is not whether machines think but whether men do. The mystery which surrounds a thinking machine already surrounds a thinking man.

And you know where this leads.

A person who has been punished is not thereby simply less inclined to behave in a given way; at best, he learns how to avoid punishment.

Well, the clever ones, anyway.

At this very moment enormous numbers of intelligent men and women of goodwill are trying to build a better world. But problems are born faster than they can be solved.

Conflicting goodwills among them no doubt.

If freedom is a requisite for human happiness, then all that’s necessary is to provide the illusion of freedom.

Tell that to the objectivists. We are free to embrace their dogmas...or become "retards".
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: a thread for mundane ironists

Postby iambiguous » Wed Nov 22, 2017 10:29 pm

Philip Pullman

I don't profess any religion; I don't think it’s possible that there is a God; I have the greatest difficulty in understanding what is meant by the words ‘spiritual’ or ‘spirituality.'


That makes 16% of us. On this planet anyway.

When you look at what C.S. Lewis is saying, his message is so anti-life, so cruel, so unjust. The view that the Narnia books have for the material world is one of almost undisguised contempt. At one point, the old professor says, ‘It’s all in Plato’ — meaning that the physical world we see around us is the crude, shabby, imperfect, second-rate copy of something much better. I want to emphasize the simple physical truth of things, the absolute primacy of the material life, rather than the spiritual or the afterlife.

That makes 16% of us. On this planet anyway.

All the history of human life has been a struggle between wisdom and stupidity.

Or, as some insist, "one of us" and the "retards".

When you choose one way out of many, all the ways you don't take are snuffed out like candles, as if they'd never existed.

Let's file this one under, "that's their problem".

That's the duty of the old, said the Librarian, to be anxious on the behalf of the young. And the duty of the young is to scorn the anxiety of the old.

So, is it still that way?

Even if it means oblivion, friends, I'll welcome it, because it won't be nothing. We'll be alive again in a thousand blades of grass, and a million leaves; we'll be falling in the raindrops and blowing in the fresh breeze; we'll be glittering in the dew under the stars and the moon out there in the physical world, which is our true home and always was.

Really, this actually works for some.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: a thread for mundane ironists

Postby iambiguous » Thu Nov 23, 2017 12:14 am

Jeanette Winterson

A precise emotion seeks a precise expression.


Good luck with that.

I sat at the back, listening to the music or mumbling through the service. I'm never tempted by God, but I like his trappings.

And who among hasn't thought that?

It seems to me that being the right size for your world...is a valuable clue to learning how to live.

Though not necessarily from your own point of view.

The end of every game is an anti-climax. What you thought you would feel you don't feel, what you thought was so important isn't any more. It's the game that's exciting.

You confess your exceptions and I'll confess mine.

A tough life needs a tough language – and that is what poetry is. That is what literature offers – a language powerful enough to say how it is. It isn’t a hiding place. It is a finding place.

Or so they tell me.

Pulsar: a dying star spinning under its own exploding anarchic energy, like a lighthouse on speed. A star the size of a city, a city the size of a star, whirling round and round, its death-song caught by a radio receiver, light years later, like a recorded message nobody heard, back-played now into infinity across time. Love and loss.

Does the pulsar know that?
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: a thread for mundane ironists

Postby iambiguous » Thu Nov 23, 2017 7:53 pm

Mary Roach

There is her heart. I've never seen one beating. I had no idea they moved so much. You put your hand on your heart and you picture something pulsing slightly but basically still, like a hand on a desktop tapping Morse code. This things is going wild in there. It's a mixing-machine part, a stoat squirming in its burrow, an alien life form that's just won a Pontiac on The Price Is Right. If you were looking for the home of the human body's animating spirit, I could imagine believing it to be here, for the simple reason that it is the human body's most animated organ.


Autonomically as it were.

It's amazing what sometimes gets accomplished via an initially jarring but ultimately harmless shift in thinking. Is cutting the organs out of a dead man and stitching them into someone else barbaric and disrespectful, or is it a straightforward operation to save multiple lives? Does crapping into a Baggie while sitting 6 inches away from your crewmate represent a collapse of human dignity or a unique and comic form of intimacy?

Right, like there are actually correct answers to questions like these.

According to more than one astronaut memoir, one of the most beautiful sights in space is that of a sun-illumined flurry of flash-frozen waste-water droplets. Space doesn’t just encompass the sublime and the ridiculous. It erases the line between.

Imagine then flash-frozen semen.

Here’s the other thing I think about. It makes little sense to try to control what happens to your remains when you are no longer around to reap the joys or benefits of that control. People who make elaborate requests concerning disposition of their bodies are probably people who have trouble with the concept of not existing. Leaving a note requesting that your family and friends travel to the Ganges or ship your body to a plastination lab in Michigan is a way of exerting influence after you’re gone—of still being there, in a sense. I imagine it is a symptom of the fear, the dread, of being gone, of the refusal to accept that you no longer control, or even participate in, anything that happens on earth. I spoke about this with funeral director Kevin McCabe, who believes that decisions concerning the disposition of a body should be made by the survivors, not the dead. It’s none of their business what happens to them when they die, he said to me. While I wouldn’t go that far, I do understand what he was getting at: that the survivors shouldn’t have to do something they’re uncomfortable with or ethically opposed to. Mourning and moving on are hard enough. Why add to the burden? If someone wants to arrange a balloon launch of the deceased’s ashes into inner space, that’s fine. But if it is burdensome or troubling for any reason, then perhaps they shouldn’t have to. McCabe’s policy is to honor the wishes of the family over the wishes of the dead. Willed body program coordinators feel similarly. I’ve had kids object to their dad’s wishes [to donate], says Ronn Wade, director of the Anatomical Services Division of the University of Maryland School of Medicine. I tell them, Do what’s best for you. You’re the one who has to live with it.

Got it. Now, let's move on.

Medical journals from 1905 to 1915 are rife with articles on “vibratory massage” and the many things it cures. Weakened hearts and floating kidneys. Hysterical cramp of the esophagus and catarrh of the inner ear. Deafness, cancer, bad eyesight. And lots and lots of prostate problems. A Dr. Courtney W. Shropshire, writing in 1912, was impressed to note that by means of “a special prostatic applicator, well lubricated, attached to the vibrator, introduced to the rectum” he was “able to empty the seminal vesicles of their secretions.” Indeedy. Shropshire’s patients returned every other day for treatment, no doubt also developing a relationship with the vibration machine.

We know where this is going, don't we?

He told me that a German doctor named Wolff figured it out in the 1800s by studying X-rays of infants’ hips as they transitioned from crawling to walking. A whole new evolution of bone structure takes place to support the mechanical loads associated with walking, said Lang. Wolff had the great insight that form follows function. Alas, Wolff did not have the great insight that cancer follows gratuitous X-raying with primitive nineteenth-century X-ray machines.

Let's file this one under, "Oh, well..."
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: a thread for mundane ironists

Postby iambiguous » Fri Nov 24, 2017 12:29 am

John Cage

Our business in living is to become fluent with the life we are living, and art can help this.


Any fluent folks here? Okay, how did art help?

A 'mistake' is beside the point, for once anything happens it authentically is.

Right, like that's the end of that.

Value judgments are destructive to our proper business, which is curiosity and awareness.

Hmm, this must be an intellectual thing.

Why do you not do as I do? Letting go of your thoughts as though they were the cold ashes of a long dead fire?

Hmm, this must be an intellectual thing.

Which is more musical, a truck passing by a factory or a truck passing by a music school? Are the people inside the school musical and the ones outside unmusical? What if the ones inside can't hear very well, would that change my question?

Also, are the answers ironic?

There is nothing we need to do that isn't dangerous.

For example, more or less.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: a thread for mundane ironists

Postby iambiguous » Fri Nov 24, 2017 7:13 pm

August Strindberg

Life is not so idiotically mathematical that only the big eat the small; it is just as common for a bee to kill a lion or at least to drive it mad.


Besides, eventually, the meek shall inherit the earth.

There are poisons that blind you, and poisons that open your eyes.

And some can even tell them apart.

It's wonderful how, the moment you talk about God and love, your voice becomes hard, and your eyes fill with hatred. No, Margret, you certainly haven't the true faith.

Maybe, but it is certainly the most common.

I dream, therefore I exist.

Just not anymore.

We are already in Hell. It is the earth itself that is Hell, the prison constructed for us by an intelligence superior to our own, in which I could not take a step without injuring the happiness of others, and in which my fellow creatures could not enjoy their own happiness without causing me pain.

Well, since capitalism anyway.

Love between a man and woman is war.

And not just between the Roses.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: a thread for mundane ironists

Postby iambiguous » Fri Nov 24, 2017 8:28 pm

Jan Mieszkowski

Can it get any worse?
Leibniz: What do you mean by "can"?
Heidegger: What do you mean by "it"?
Hegel: What do you mean by "get"?
Frege: What do you mean by "any"?
Camus: It's worse.


Or as Keith Olbermann once noted: Worse. Worser. Worst.

Wittgenstein: Understanding a sentence means understanding a language
Twitter: Understanding a tweet means misunderstanding a language
Facebook: I don’t understand


So, where do we fit in here?

It’s Friday! Time to
Marx: see all your surplus labor value go to Mr. Moneybags
Kierkegaard: temper your anxiety with robust dread
Kristeva: embrace the void of signification and babble purposelessly


Shop 'til you drop!!!!
Yep, it's that Friday again.


French lit: something, something, ennui
German lit: something, something, world spirit
British lit: something, something, compromised inheritance
Russian lit: ice axe


American lit: you tell me.

Read Schopenhauer to understand Nietzsche.
Read Hegel to understand Schopenhauer.
Read Kant to understand Hegel.
Then read Spinoza to understand that you don't understand anything.


Explanation please...

Idealism: So much for the facts!
Realism: So much for the fictions!
Materialism: So much for your thoughts!
Existentialism: So much for your feelings!


Indeed, and then we still have death to look forward to.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: a thread for mundane ironists

Postby iambiguous » Sat Nov 25, 2017 12:13 am

Neil Gaiman

There was only one guy in the whole Bible Jesus ever personally promised a place with him in Paradise. Not Peter, not Paul, not any of those guys. He was a convicted thief, being executed. So don't knock the guys on death row. Maybe they know something you don't.


Okay, but where are they now?

Because, said Thor, when something goes wrong, the first thing I always think is, it is Loki’s fault. It saves a lot of time.

It still does.

No man, proclaimed Donne, is an Island, and he was wrong. If we were not islands, we would be lost, drowned in each other's tragedies. We are insulated (a word that means, literally, remember, made into an island) from the tragedy of others, by our island nature, and by the repetitive shape and form of the stories. The shape does not change: there was a human being who was born, lived, and then, by some means or another, died. There. You may fill in the details from your own experience. As unoriginal as any other tale, as unique as any other life. Lives are snowflakes—forming patterns we have seen before, as like one another as peas in a pod (and have you ever looked at peas in a pod? I mean, really looked at them? There's not a chance you'd mistake one for another, after a minute's close inspection), but still unique.

I'll start with "I", you start with "we"; until, eventually, you and I both get to "them".

She smiled again. Do you like cats? she said.
Yes, said Richard. I quite like cats.
Anaesthesia looked relieved. Thigh? she asked, or breast?


You know, the Big Cats.

They were having an argument as old and comfortable as an armchair, the kind of argument that no one ever really wins or loses but which can go on forever, if both parties are willing.

Oh, we're willing all right.

Songs remain. They last...A song can last long after the events and the people in it are dust and dreams and gone. That's the power of songs.

Trust me: Not all of them.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: a thread for mundane ironists

Postby iambiguous » Sat Nov 25, 2017 4:28 am

tiny nietzsche

You can't spell thanksgiving without viking angst.


Holy shit, that's true!

Atheism Isn't a Religion, Charlie Brown

Yeah, and that includes you too, Snoopy.

A reminder that helium is rare and a nonrenewable source on earth, but whatever, big fucking balloon animals.

Should we be worried?

I should probably get used to nothing.

And, for some, that includes everything else.

the ghost of every animal you ever ate follows you like a scourge across the land

Not including chickens of course.

I am thankful my bones and organs remain inside my body for the time being.

Of course that was 24 hours ago.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: a thread for mundane ironists

Postby iambiguous » Sat Nov 25, 2017 6:05 pm

André Malraux

In a world in which everything is subject to the passing of time, art alone is both subject to time and yet victorious over it.


Tell that to the artists. And not just the ones already dead.

Be careful---with quotations, you can damn anything.

And not much hasn't been damned on this thread, right?

In literature, as in Life, one is often astonished by what is chosen by others.

Quite.

The greatest mystery is not that we have been flung at random between the profusion of matter and of the stars, but that within this prison we can draw from ourselves images powerful enough to deny our nothingness.

God for example.

I seek the crucial region of the soul where absolute evil and fraternity clash.

Anyone here able to find it?

There is always a need for intoxication: China has opium, Islam has hashish, the West has woman.

Rather sexist of course but point taken
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: a thread for mundane ironists

Postby iambiguous » Sat Nov 25, 2017 7:25 pm

Philosophy Tweets

“It is harder to release a nation from servitude than to enslave a free nation.” Simon Bolivar


A hell of a lot harder. If ever.

“I had to deny knowledge in order to make room for faith.” Immanuel Kant

Transcendentally as it were.

“For peace to reign on Earth, humans must evolve into new beings who have learned to see the whole first.” Immanuel Kant

In other words, his whole.

“What is Man? A miserable little pile of secrets.” André Malraux

And, increasingly, of late, Woman.

“Nature does nothing without purpose or uselessly.” Aristotle

Think about, among other things, the implications of that.

“First learn the meaning of what you say, and then speak.” Epictetus

Unless, of course, you are "one of them".
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: a thread for mundane ironists

Postby iambiguous » Sun Nov 26, 2017 12:20 am

Terry Pratchett

This time it had been magic. And it didn't stop being magic just because you found out how it was done.


Well, most times.

A lot of the stories were highly suspicious, in her opinion. There was the one that ended when the two good children pushed the wicked witch into her own oven...Stories like this stopped people thinking properly, she was sure. She'd read that one and thought, Excuse me? No one has an oven big enough to get a whole person in, and what made the children think they could just walk around eating people's houses in any case? And why does some boy too stupid to know a cow is worth a lot more than five beans have the right to murder a giant and steal all his gold? Not to mention commit an act of ecological vandalism? And some girl who can't tell the difference between a wolf and her grandmother must either have been as dense as teak or come from an extremely ugly family.

I guess that's why they call them fairy tales.

It is said that the Devil has all the best tunes.
This is broadly true. But Heaven has the best choreographers.


Let's confirm this.

If I were you, I'd sue my face for slander.

Anyone here ever done that?

...it is well known that a vital ingredient of success is not knowing that what you're attempting can't be done.

What say you, Mr. Objectivist?

He's out of his depth on a wet pavement.

I know what some of you are thinking: How wet?
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: a thread for mundane ironists

Postby iambiguous » Sun Nov 26, 2017 8:13 pm

C.G. Jung

If there is anything that we wish to change in the child, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves.


Fat chance, right?

It is often tragic to see how blatantly a man bungles his own life and the lives of others yet remains totally incapable of seeing how much the whole tragedy originates in himself, and how he continually feeds it and keeps it going.

Sounds like me, doesn't it? Unless of course it sounds like you.

The reason for evil in the world is that people are not able to tell their stories.

That or those intent on imposing their own on all the rest of us.

It all depends on how we look at things, and not on how things are in themselves. The least of things with a meaning is worth more in life than the greatest of things without it.

Wow, let's bring this "down to earth".

Sensation tell us a thing is.
Thinking tell us what it is this thing is.
Feeling tells us what this thing is to us.


And then the part about conflicting goods.

I shall not commit the fashionable stupidity of regarding everything I cannot explain as a fraud.

May I offer you a suggestion? Try this yourself.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: a thread for mundane ironists

Postby iambiguous » Mon Nov 27, 2017 12:21 am

Joseph Heller

Hungry Joe collected lists of fatal diseases and arranged them in alphabetical order so that he could put his finger without delay on any one he wanted to worry about.


Cue [among others] Woody Allen. And, sure, on any given day, me.

...it was neither possible nor necessary to educate people who never questioned anything.

Worse however are those who have an answer for everything.

The important thing is to keep them pledging, he explained to his cohorts. It doesn't matter whether they mean it or not. That's why they make little kids pledge allegiance even before they know what 'pledge' and 'allegiance' mean.

Or keep them standing. And not just for the national anthem.

They were the most depressing group of people Yossarian had ever been with. They were always in high spirits.

Some truly get this and some truly don't.

Politically, he was a humanitarian who did know right from left and was trapped uncomfortably between the two. He was constantly defending his Communist friends to his right-wing enemies and his right-wing friends to his Communist enemies, and he was thoroughly detested by both groups, who never defended him to anyone because they thought he was a dope.

A dope. You know, like me.

It's a real problem to decide whether it's more boring to do something boring than to pass along everything boring that comes in to somebody else and then have nothing to do at all.

On the other hand, isn't that why you're here?
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: a thread for mundane ironists

Postby iambiguous » Mon Nov 27, 2017 6:01 pm

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

To be governed is to be watched, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, regulated, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, checked, estimated, valued, censured, commanded, by creatures who have neither the right nor the wisdom nor the virtue to do so. To be governed is to be at every operation, at every transaction noted, registered, counted, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorized, admonished, prevented, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished. It is, under pretext of public utility, and in the name of the general interest, to be place under contribution, drilled, fleeced, exploited, monopolized, extorted from, squeezed, hoaxed, robbed; then, at the slightest resistance, the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, vilified, harassed, hunted down, abused, clubbed, disarmed, bound, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed; and to crown all, mocked, ridiculed, derided, outraged, dishonored. That is government; that is its justice; that is its morality.


So, anyone here not governed?

The great are only great because we are on our knees. Let us rise.

Nope, not yet.
That is still true, right?


Property is theft!

Until of course you own some.

When deeds speak, words are nothing.

Besides, what can go wrong?

Nevertheless, it is with the help of these metaphysical toys that governments have been established since the beginning of the world, and it is with their help that we shall come to resolve the enigma of politics, if we are willing to make the slightest effort to do so. I hope I will be forgiven, then, for labouring this point, as one does in teaching the rudiments of grammar to children.

Even if true, is it still farfetched?

As man seeks justice in equality, so society seeks order in anarchy.

Sounds about right. Only more or less in theory.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: a thread for mundane ironists

Postby iambiguous » Mon Nov 27, 2017 9:20 pm

Existential Comics

Everyone is obsessed with physical appearances, but remember: True beauty lies in your boundless, untamed fury at the absurdity of existence.


Of course that's just common sense.

There are two ways to satisfy human wants: aquire more, or desire less. One of the two directions terminates at infinity.

Gee, I wonder which one?

Never forget, Capitalism is the reason women's clothing doesn't have pockets. If outfits were controlled by the people, it would be pockets for one and all.

Can this actually be true?

David Hume's ideas were so stupid, but so hard to disprove, that everyone had to do philosophy for real just to shut him up, thus ushering in the modern age.

Can this actually be true?

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for the unstoppable rising tide of socialism, which will sweep across the Earth and create a new world order.

If only [so far] in North Korea.

Philosophy teaches us that there are five kinds of things:
1. Platonic forms
2. Numbers/dreams
3. Things that don't exist
4. Rocks and insects and stuff
5. Other


You know, technically.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: a thread for mundane ironists

Postby iambiguous » Tue Nov 28, 2017 12:27 am

Robin Wasserman

Don't go looking in dark places, because dark things live there.


Of course, for some, that's the whole point.

If you can't remember something, did it really happen?

Yes and no. Just to play it safe.

In my room, in the dark, I understood what I never had before, what no one else seemed to. I understood how a boy could go into the woods with a bullet and a gun and not come out. That there was no conspiracy, no evil influences or secret rituals; that sometimes there was only pain and the need to make it stop.

That's all it takes, alright.

Life is a physics problem. Bodies in motion.

And emotions? Is that all physics too?

And you know what? If there is a God, and it's that same God who's so eager to have temples built in honor of his greatness, and wars fought over him, and people dropping to their knees telling him what a wonderful, magnificent being he is? If this all-powerful, all-knowing creature for some reason just can't get by without my worship? Then let him give me some proof. Or at least get over himself if I decide to go out and get some.

Try that on Judgment Day.

You could love something and still understand it had ruined your life.

Not only that but again and again and again.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: a thread for mundane ironists

Postby iambiguous » Tue Nov 28, 2017 5:45 pm

Maurice Blanchot

We cannot do anything with an object that has no name.


Like calling it something will always make a difference.

To name the cat is, if you like, to make it into a non-cat, a cat that has ceased to exist, has ceased to be a living cat, but this does not mean one is making it into a dog, or even a non-dog.

Does Schrödinger's cat know this?

I went in; I closed the door. I sat down on the bed. Blackest space extended before me. I was not in this blackness, but at the edge of it, and I confess that it is terrifying. It is terrifying because there is something in it which scorns man and which man cannot endure without losing himself. But he must lose himself; and whoever resists will founder, and whoever goes forward will become this very blackness, this cold and dead and scornful thing in the very heart of which lives the infinite. This blackness stayed next to me, probably because of my fear: this fear was not the fear people know about, it did not break me, it did not pay any attention to me, but wandered around the room the way human things do. A great deal of patience is required if thought, when it has been driven down into the depths of the horrible, is to rise little by little and recognize us and look at us. But I still dreaded that look. A look is very different from what one might think, it has neither light nor expression nor force nor movement, it is silent, but from the heart of the strangeness its silence crosses worlds and the person who hears that silence is changed.

He's right, you know. Whatever this means.

If the sculptor uses stone and if the road builder also uses stone, the first uses it in a way that it is not used, consumed, negated by usage, but affirmed, revealed in its obscurity, as a road that leads only to itself.

Why not both then?

Even death is a power, a capacity. It is not a simple event that will happen to me, an objective and observable fact; here my power to be will cease, here I will no longer be able to be here. But death, insofar as it belongs to me and belongs to me alone, since no one can die my death in my stead or in my place, makes of this non-possibility, this impending future of mine, this relation to myself always open until my end, yet another power. Dying, I can still die, this is our sign as man.

Somewhere in here there's a real death. And, sooner or later, yours.

Art is not religion, it doesn't even lead to religion. But in the time of distress which is ours, the time when the gods are missing, the time of absence and exile, art is justified, for it is the intimacy of this distress: the effort to make manifest, through the image, the error of the imaginary, and eventually the ungraspable, forgotten truth which hides behind the error.

In other words, art in an essentially absurd and meaningless world.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: a thread for mundane ironists

Postby iambiguous » Tue Nov 28, 2017 9:58 pm

Simon Singh

The NSA employs more mathematicians, buys more computer hardware, and intercepts more messages than any other organization in the world.


I know, let's call it "national security". Though, sure, "big brother" still works.

...like Turing and the cryptanalysts at Bletchley Park, the Navajo were ignored for decades. Eventually, in 1968, the Navajo code was declassified, and the following year the code talkers held their first reunion.

Hosted by Don Trump and Pocahantus.

...if a message protected by quantum cryptography were ever to be deciphered, it would mean that quantum theory is flawed...

How worried should we be then?

Similarly, if you’re trying to prove something mathematically, it’s possible that no proof exists.

Indeed, we get that all the time here.

A mathematician is a machine for turning coffee into theorems.

Any youtube videos up yet?

Had the Arabs merely been familiar with the use of the mono-alphabetic substitution cipher, they would not warrant a significant mention in any history of cryptography. However, in addition to employing ciphers, the Arab scholars were also capable of destroying ciphers. They in fact invented cryptanalysis, the science of unscrambling a message without knowledge of the key. While the cryptographer develops new methods of secret writing, it is the cryptanalyst who struggles to find weaknesses in these methods in order to break into secret messages. Arabian cryptanalysts succeeded in finding a method for breaking the monoalphabetic substitution cipher, a cipher that had remained invulnerable for several centuries.

Let's connect the dots here to ISIS. If, of course, it can be done.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: a thread for mundane ironists

Postby iambiguous » Wed Nov 29, 2017 12:12 am

B.F. Skinner

A scientist may not be sure of the answer, but he's often sure he can find one. And that's a condition which is clearly not enjoyed by philosophy.


Not true at all. Right, Mr. Objectivist?

Society attacks early, when the individual is helpless. It enslaves him almost before he has tasted freedom. The 'ologies' will tell you how its done Theology calls it building a conscience or developing a spirit of selflessness. Psychology calls it the growth of the superego.

Considering how long society has been at it, you'd expect a better job. But the campaigns have been badly planned and the victory has never been secured.


Clearly, some conditioned responses are more effective than others.

It is a surprising fact that those who object most violently to the manipulation of behaviour nevertheless make the most vigorous effort to manipulate minds.

My guess: they call it something else.

...not everyone is willing to defend a position of 'not knowing.' There is no virtue in ignorance for its own sake.

I wonder if he's talking about me?

The mob rushes in where individuals fear to tread.

And, as likely as not, only to stumble into another mob.

Going out of style isn't a natural process, but a manipulated change which destroys the beauty of last year's dress in order to make it worthless.

Capitalism. I mean, talk about conditioned responses!
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: a thread for mundane ironists

Postby iambiguous » Wed Nov 29, 2017 2:49 pm

Philip Pullman

I told him I was going to betray you, and betray Lyra, and he believed me because I was corrupt and full of wickedness; he looked so deep I felt sure he'd see the truth. But I lied too well. I was lying with every nerve and fiber and everything I'd ever done...I wanted him to find no good in me, and he didn't. There is none.


For a few, something to shoot for.

You speak of destiny as if it was fixed.

Cue the "compatibilists"?
No, seriously.


It comes from history. It comes from the record of the Inquisition, persecuting heretics and torturing Jews and all that sort of stuff; and it comes from the other side, too, from the Protestants burning the Catholics. It comes from the insensate pursuit of innocent and crazy old women, and from the Puritans in America burning and hanging the witches — and it comes not only from the Christian church but also from the Taliban. Every single religion that has a monotheistic god ends up by persecuting other people and killing them because they don't accept him. Wherever you look in history, you find that. It’s still going on.

Indeed, maybe it is all just natural.

Can is not the same as must.
But if you must and you can, then there's no excuse.


Please, don't remind them.

We are all subject to the fates. But we must act as if we are not, or die of despair.

Let's pin down how profound this is.

Every little increase in human freedom has been fought over ferociously between those who want us to know more and be wiser and stronger, and those who want us to obey and be humble and submit.

Okay, but what about the ones that see no difference?
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: a thread for mundane ironists

Postby iambiguous » Wed Nov 29, 2017 11:05 pm

The Dead Author

Amazing how the Muslim ban, purchasing a gun for every family member, and armed guards at elementary schools have ended violence in America.


Nothing kicks in though until the swamp is drained.

That feeling when someone calls critical thinking a "skill" as if it meant fact checking, playing chess, or plumbing and not ethics.

I know what you're thinking: Don't get me started.

Nihilism is important for reminding us that not worrying won't make you happy either.

Let's just say I've known exceptions.

The beauty of postmodern English is that "depressed", "depressing", and "depressive" have come mean different things, none of which is "having depression".

Let's just say I've known exceptions.

Plato and Socrates are like Bruce Wayne and Batman, if Batman's superpowers are pedophilia and logical fallacies.

How outraged should we be?

Socrates taught me that it's ok to rather be dead.

If not on principle.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: a thread for mundane ironists

Postby iambiguous » Thu Nov 30, 2017 12:21 am

Jeanette Winterson

I walk the line that continually threatens to lose its tautness under me, dropping me into the dark pit where there is no meaning.


I know. It's parallel to mine.

Time has no meaning, space and place have no meaning, on this journey. All times can be inhabited, all places visited. In a single day the mind can make a millpond of the oceans. Some people who have never crossed the land they were born on have travelled all over the world. The journey is not linear, it is always back and forth, denying the calender, the wrinkles and lines of the body. The self is not contained in any moment or any place, but it is only in the intersection of moment and place that the self might, for a moment, be seen vanishing through a door, which disappears at once.

Sounds like something I'd say. You know, if I knew what it meant.

There are two kinds of writing; the one you write and the one that writes you. The one that writes you is dangerous. You go where you don't want to go. You look where you don't want to look.

In that case, there must be three kinds of writing. And probalby a lot more.

The mystics and the churchmen talk about throwing off his body and its desires, being no longer a slave to the flesh. They don't say that through the flesh we are set free. That our desire for another will lift us out of ourselves more cleanly than anything divine.

It's true that I've never met one that did.

Time is not constant and one minute is not the same length as another.

Not unless you synchronize your watches.

Bigger questions, questions with more than one answer, questions without an answer are harder to cope with in silence. Once asked they do not evaporate and leave the mind to its serener musings. Once asked they gain dimension and texture, trip you on the stairs, wake you at night-time. A black hole sucks up its surroundings and even light never escapes. Better then to ask no questions? Better then to be a contented pig than an unhappy Socrates?

In other words, your guess is as good as mine.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: a thread for mundane ironists

Postby iambiguous » Thu Nov 30, 2017 5:08 pm

Mary Roach

Few sciences are as rooted in shame, infamy, and bad PR as human anatomy. The troubles began in Alexandrian Egypt, circa 300 B.C. King Ptolemy I was the first leader to deem it a-okay for medical types to cut open the dead for the purpose of figuring out how bodies work.


So he's the one.

Constipation ran Elvis Presley's life. Even his famous motto TCB— 'Taking Care of Business'— sounds like a reference to bathroom matters.

He's still The King though.

Penguins can shut down digestion by lowering the temperature inside their stomach to the point where the gastric juices are no longer active. The stomach becomes a kind of cooler to carry home the fish they’ve caught for their young.

Yet more proof that God is a fucking genuis. Or so I've been told.

You may be thinking, Wow, that Mary Roach has her head up her ass. To which I say: Only briefly, and with the utmost respect.

Indeed, how many can say that?

There is a famous study from the 1930s involving a group of orphanage babies who, at mealtimes, were presented with a smorgasbord of thirty-four whole, healthy foods. Nothing was processed or prepared beyond mincing or mashing. Among the more standard offerings—fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs, milk, chicken, beef—the researcher, Clara Davis, included liver, kidney, brains, sweetbreads, and bone marrow. The babies shunned liver and kidney (as well as all ten vegetables, haddock, and pineapple), but brains and sweetbreads did not turn up among the low-preference foods she listed. And the most popular item of all? Bone marrow.

Let's decide what this explains.

If you found this book in the New Age section of your local bookstore, it was grossly misshelved, and you should put it down at once. If you found it while browsing Gardening, or Boats and Ships, it was also misshelved, but you might enjoy it anyway.

This one: Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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