Tuesday, August 30, 2005

This may be a comment on the state of my idealism...

Apathy Jack writes:

“Were the children polite today?”
“Well, one of them threatened to beat the shit out of a teacher. But that teacher wasn’t me, so that’s okay.”
“You’re alright with the students threatening bodily harm to your colleagues?”
“Meh. I dragged him out of his class and interviewed him about it, and he was unfalteringly polite to me, so I don’t see anything to get particularly worked up about.”

Brain Poison

Josh writes:

Here's some free entertainment for you: The collected online short stories of Warren Ellis. I post this mostly for my own benefit, so all the links are in one place for when I want them. Here's a tip: Read them while eating!


Mr. Ramp

The Vale of Tears

Bedtime Stories At The Vale Of Tears
A Sad Bereavement At The Vale Of Tears
Morning Over The Vale Of Tears
Lunchtime At The Vale Of Tears
Good Night From The Vale Of Tears
Once More Into the Vale of Tears

(And then shamelessly aped here by some partially-talented bollocks.)


The Return of Falconer
Springtime For Falconer
Falconer in Love
The Joy Of Falconer
Falconer Forever

Rupture Fiction

The Insulted Lover
Planet Earth's Control Room

More Words of Wisdom from the Ivory Pagoda

That Morthos Stare writes:

"I'm going to blow my horn whilst slitting my own throat."


"The deep dark secret of being a teacher is that it makes no real difference what you teach them. The deep dark secret of their being students is that they don't believe you anyway."


"My children will be born dead."

"My children will be conceived dead."


"We're paid to teach; we're not paid to make them learn."


"It's the lack of suitable genetic material that makes me rethink my position on marriage."


"We should change the name of the Department to 'Big Thinking.' 'Critical Thinking' can become 'Good Thinking,' 'Ethics' can become 'Happy Thinking,' and that proposed subject 'The Philosophy of Sport' can be 'Kicking around a few Thoughts.'"


"I'm your Venus, you're my anus..."

Saturday, August 27, 2005


That Morthos Stare writes:

Like Jack's students students in my department also write bad poetry.


Hey Jack, you used to post all the time – why the infrequency of late?

Apathy Jack writes:


Flatmate “So, Jack, how was work?”
Jack “Good lord, sometimes I can’t believe how messed up it all is. I’m babysitting some of my department in preparation for the upcoming ERO audit, to the point that I’ve basically had to take one teacher’s class off her for the sake of the kids. Just today I read the Dean’s Daily Report of one of the kids I teach, and he had been given, in complete sincerity, the comment that he had done well that period by not getting into a fight. I have a new student teacher to train, no free periods, several co-workers who I used to think were just bad at their jobs, but who I’m beginning to realise actually run the gamut from corrupt to worryingly unbalanced, and last night one of my students dreamed that I held her at gunpoint and demanded that she give me drugs. So how was your day?”


Flatmate “So, Jack, how was work?”
Jack “Incompetence everywhere I turn... Teachers who have seen too many movies, and others who haven’t seen enough... Broken students... Decaying school... Bruised brain... I want medicine...


Flatmate “So, Jack, how was work?”
Jack “And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him...”


Flatmate “So, Jack, how was work?”
Jack “Braaaaiiiiinnnssssss... Braaaaiiiiinnnssssss...”


Flatmate “So, Jack, how was work?”
Jack “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’yleh wgah’nagl fhtagn.”

Thursday, August 25, 2005

For "Jellybean", Read "Umbricius"

Josh writes:

Poor Jellybean -- in many ways he's still an innocent. Or at least not guilty on a technicality.

His earliest Internet experiences soiled by years of contact with teen angst whinging and petty interpersonal entanglements, he recently made a brief foray outside the world of Livejournal and goth message boards to check out the grown-up world of political blogging.

I can't fully claim to know what might have been going through his head at the time. Perhaps he was expecting to find people -- adults! -- typing one-handed online from the comfort of their fire-side armchairs (one-handed, not for the usual reason, but because they were holding a cigar in the other, or possibly swilling a fine Cognac). Perhaps he was expecting to find erudition, intelligent discourse, and learned respect for ideas not necessarily agreed with (not to mention the right of others to hold such ideas). Perhaps he was even expecting an understanding of the fundamentals of argumentation and reason, those cornerstones of civilization and progess.

But what did he get? You cunts.

Right wingers insisting that every night Helen Clark gargles with the blood of infants to get the taste of Kofi Annan's cock out of her mouth, before going to sleep on a rustling mountain of taxpayers' money; left wingers insisting that every night Don Brash gargles with the blood of beneficiaries to get the taste of Dubya's cock out of his mouth, before running off to kick pregnant teens in the stomach and masturbate over photos of mushroom clouds. (It seems to me that there are more of the former than the latter, but as a bit of a socialist hippy myself I'm willing to concede the possibility of bias in my attentions.)

I said I didn't care about matters political before -- that was a bit of a lie. It's not so much apathy as, shall we say, burning contempt and disgust at the dismal quality of political discourse on New Zealand weblogs (worse even than the dismal quality of politics in New Zealand).

On sites where the two camps get together to "debate" (as opposed to the various echo chambers/circle jerks that comprise most politically-oriented sites) all you see is straw man arguments for Africa, or that delightful style of "argument" that involves ignoring everything your opponent says except for the one minor point you can confidently disagree with, instantly sending the debate spiralling off in a different direction.

And above it all, that glorious hypocrisy where pundits will villify their opponents for doing exactly the same thing they were doing two seconds ago. My personal favourite: "You left/right-wingers are all morons! You're going to ruin the country! Helen Clark/Don Brash deserves to be dragged into the street and shot! And another thing about left/right-wingers -- you're all so fucking hateful!" Ah, the hilarity.

And by "hilarity", I mean "shut the fuck up".

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

John 19:6

That Morthos Stare writes:

Allow me, if you will, to take you on a journey, a travelling travail through the deepest recesses of human psycho-history.

I am going to fill you in on the Hasselhoff Code.

More two thousand years ago a man called Yeshua Bar Yesuf was born, and less than two thousand years ago he was nailed to a tree for saying ‘Come on guys, join the party and be nice a while.’ (Yes, I do apologise to fans of Lloyd and Douglas) At the time no one thought it was all that exciting, this being Roman practice and all (execution (although technically that is Persian), not being nice), but with good marketing, a spot of martyring and the Borgias the teachings of the Christ penetrated all important demographics and brought, if not world peace, a better understanding of the taxation system.

More importantly, however, the greatest of all world conspiracies was borne in the death of Yeshua. The Templars, the Bloodline of the Grail, the Priory of Sion; all of these are modern literary landmarks of a tale that will not die.

My part in this story starts less than a week ago (where ‘a week ago’ was almost two months back) in the city of Wellington (in which I was ostensibly residing in for the purposes of seeing my nephew). Part of Wellington’s charm is that it isn’t Auckland, which is a disaster of a city and well worth avoiding. No matter where you go in Wellington there is a sense of friendliness, one that extends to the beggars and muggers (who, following the dictates of the New Right, are providing essential services and, if the market didn’t direct it, wouldn’t really want to hurt you). Still, being an Aucklander (or almost an Aucklander, since the North Shore is, in fact, a separate city) I am automatically an unfriendly person and thus was hiding in Castro’s drinking mochachinos (and contemplating buying the non-shite version of ‘Solaris,’ to whit, the Russian film). As part of my deep meditation I took a customary stop in the toilet and espied upon the walls a mass of ‘Flatmate Wanted’ ads, almost all of which featured David Hasselhoff.

I do not know whether you have ever tried to crap whilst the Hoff is watching but it is not easy business. Bestowed with the world’s most perfect example of a mullet and with a smile that says ‘Crazy person!’ Mr. Hasselhoff’s gaze is like that of the Illuminatus Eye; all knowing, all seeing and all condemning. To be confronted with near eighteen of these visages is enough to drive a man to madness or, in this case, a boy to whimpering.

For three hours.

Once I had steeled myself sufficiently (and wiped away all stains and unsanitary liquids) I examined these posters more closely. In my well-spent youth I studied iconography (Easter Weekend, 1989) and am somewhat savvy with the way images can contain entire novels of hidden meaning. These images of the Hoff (sometimes with Kitt) meant something. A hand splayed here, a rough curl there or, most disturbingly, a cock-bulge. The message seemed to indicate divine providence, but one toilet was never going to give me all the answers.

Thus, over the course of two days, I visited them all. There are many toilets in the Wellington area and I have experience them all.

Students of world history know that Hasselhoff was, in no small way, responsible for the fall of the Wall. They know that his career was resurrected when he turned cooking oil to TV gold. True students, however, also know that his bloodline, of good German stock, can be traced back near two thousand years to a small settlement outside Jerusalem. Whilst no one will publicly make the link I am sure that you, like I, can see what lurks beneath that happy brow.

The Hoff is the Second Coming.


Or the Deep South has gone mad.

One or the other.

200th post.

RSJS writes:


Friday, August 19, 2005

So Very, Very Lazy...

Josh writes:

Times like this, the only thing to do is comment idly on other links that have been doing the rounds:

First of all, the iBook riot -- remember when I said "I don't trust any of you fuckers not to go feral the minute it suits you"? Exhibit B, Your Honour.

Also, The Onion's "Intelligent Falling" routine, which has been fairly popular of late. It's funny, because it's true -- all they're missing is someone saying "oh, I believe in microgravitation, but there's no evidence for macrogravitation -- I mean, no-one's ever seen Pluto complete an orbit of the Sun, have they?"

An update to the last post: Later, I noticed this one, which basically appears to be saying it's not murder if a person dies on the operating table. Its exact words, though, are:

Every one is protected from criminal responsibility for performing with reasonable care and skill any surgical operation upon any person for his benefit, if the performance of the operation was reasonable, having regard to the patient's state at the time and to all the circumstances of the case.

I notice there's nothing about you actually having to be a surgeon. Hmmm...

And finally: Fuck. Fuck. Just... fuck.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

NZ: Not Pirate-Friendly

Josh writes:

OK, a while ago, I was going to say something about the whole Section 59/anti-smacking thing, and since I actually like to know what I'm talking about sometimes, I went and had a gander at the Crimes Act to see exactly what these sections that everyone was talking about really said. I kind of lost interest in the whole debating thing, but a brief exchange over at Kiwiblog reminded me of some of the fun stuff I discovered during my 15-odd minutes of research.

Under New Zealand Law, it is illegal to throw acid in someone's face. Who knew?

The people in favour of S59 point to Section 194 as the section that smacking parents will be prosecuted under. Well, all this section really does is put a higher maximum penalty on assaulting a child (two years, instead of one for common assault) -- the definition of assault is no different than it is for an adult. The interesting thing is that this section says there's also a bigger penalty for a man assaulting a woman -- strange that this law should still be around in this post-feminism age.

And while adults may have no "reasonable force" defence equivalent to that in S59, Section 60 does allow the captain of a ship or plane to use reasonable force "for the purpose of maintaining good order and discipline on board his ship or aircraft". For when they run out of rum and sodomy, I guess.

Which leads me to Section 93, where the illegality of "piratical acts" is illuminated. Such acts include "piratically running away with" goods, ammunition and the like; "to turn pirate or go over to pirates"; and presumably saying "Arr", owning a parrot and shooting Peter Blake, although that's not specifically spelled out.

And finally, it turns out that the Crimes Act contains a section on "crimes against religion", specifically "blasphemous libel". Note that "It is not an offence against this section to express in good faith and in decent language, or to attempt to establish by arguments used in good faith and conveyed in decent language, any opinion whatever on any religious subject" -- up yours, Jesus!

There, now don't you feel educated?

And as far as the smacking thing goes, I'm not overly fussed if S59 is repealed, simply because all it will do is put children on the same footing as adults, and since the legal definition of assault already includes "threatening by any act or gesture to apply such force to the person of another, if the person making the threat has, or causes the other to believe on reasonable grounds that he has, present ability to effect his purpose" I figure there's no big danger there. Yes, it will become technically illegal to smack a child on the bum, but it's already technically illegal to make someone think you're going to hit them (God forbid you should give them two for flinching), so I'm not paying much heed to the claims that our jail cells will be teeming with frustrated parents if S59 were to go.

Is this ideal? No -- simply ditching S59 seems a very blunt solution to a complex problem (how to allow for smacking without also allowing child abuse/how to criminalize genuine child abuse without criminalizing all physical discipline), but it'll do.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The way to succeed or the way to suck eggs

Apathy Jack writes:

“I met Ron.”
“Who’s Ron?”
“He’s the strange man who lives outside the dairy.”
“Lives, or just sits?”
“Bit of both I think.”
“The guy with the beard?”
“Yeah, that’s him.”
“Ron says hi a lot.”
“Ron also says ‘my name’s Ron’ a lot when you sit next to him for five minutes.”
“Why would you do that?”
“Because he asked me if I had five minutes to sit down and have a talk, and I did.”
“Fair enough.”
“Ron has very soft hands.”
“See, I personally wouldn’t touch Ron.”
“Yes, but every time he introduced himself, we had to shake hands. And he introduced himself several times during the five minutes.”
“You mentioned.”

Here is a list of things I’ve been meaning to write recently:

Something about Peter Dunne and Jim Anderton taking TV3 to court. I’ve got a Mencken quote or two, and a discussion on free press vs autonomy of privately owned outlets sloshing around my head. I probably won’t write this one because cleverer people than me have already covered it, and in a few days the topic won’t be interesting anymore.


An entry about how kids these days don’t know what “cunt” means. I’m going to get around to this one eventually, because I’m genuinely interested by the fact that my students throw around, completely obliviously, the one word that a lot of my friends get really offended by – even the ones who otherwise swear like sailors.


A rant about the fact that Jim Anderton is rumoured to be getting the Education portfolio after the elections. I’ll get around to this one before too long, but I figure I need to set aside time to get good and angry.


A wee thing about how weird I find it living on a street with kids. I have a few jokes about how they didn’t let young people into my old neighbourhood, and knee-slapper explaining how fingernails on a chalkboard are more pleasing to me than the laughter of a child, but it won’t all gel in my head.


A humourous thing about how, after four years of hoodrats and gangstas, there has been, in the last few months, an invasion of goths into my school. I’m sure it would be very funny, because god knows I’ve gotten my “have you ever noticed how goths are usually people with no real problems and whose poetry isn’t as good as they think it is?” routine pretty polished over the last several years. But, y’know, I can’t be bothered repeating myself. Sure the fact that it’s intruding on my professional life puts a new spin on things, but I can’t be bothered dusting off all of my old jokes and conning you into listening to them again...


Two of my kids want to start a Communist Club. Sadly, this by itself isn’t very funny. I want to spin it into an amusing little anecdote, but the taciturn little sods haven’t given me any sound bites that I can throw up. We’ve had a couple of very entertaining and funny discussions about it, but nothing that can really be reduced to a pithy blog entry. So no fodder there.


I recently mentioned something I’m doing at school to my friend Lily Petals, and she said it made her realise that I am "like the 'House' of teaching. You know, with less Hugh Laurie & more you" which kept me going for a day or two. I want to expand on the thing I told her about, post what I’m doing, and get the rest of you telling me how much I remind you of pop cultural icons of genius (might I recommend the guy from The Greatest American Hero, or at least Michelle Pfeiffer) but it would take too much work to reduce this one to an anecdote. Sure, I could spin it a bit – find some oh so amusing way to describe the stupendous cluster fuck that I’ve stepped in to fix, then get all Dead Poets about the amount of personal time and relative mental health I’ve sacrificed in doing so. But that would take quite a lot of effort, and I’m a bit tired.

You see, I’ve got a lot of work to do. And by “a lot” I mean: “a lot”. This very entry is simply my way of procrastinating – there’s a copy of the Curriculum that needs slaving over into the wee hours once I’m done. I’ve given away all of my free periods for the foreseeable future, and have been working through lunchtimes and late after school. (And yes, I know I do that most weeks anyway – but not usually for such protracted periods of time. Hush.) It’s gotten to the point that tonight, as I slogged from the video shop to the Warehouse in search of school things, when the local homeless beardo outside the dairy asked me if I had five minutes to sit down and have a chat I was pathetically grateful for the chance to do just that. Seems a nice guy, does Ron.

My brain hurts. I want medicine.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Please, God

Josh writes:

Please, please, please.

Tell me this isn't a hoax.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Apathy Jack writes:

I will never have you by my side
But at least let me be a tear in your eye
The day you cry will be the day I die
I will run down your cheeks to your lips
And kiss you goodbye

I know I don’t live in Dead Poets Society, or even Welcome Back Kotter, but just sometimes the little bastards truly amaze me.

Friday, August 12, 2005


That Morthos Stare writes:

Everyday I fall in lust with a pretty young thing and everyday I theorise about why. Today (where, to be fair, today was three weeks ago) I was sitting upon a ferry boat redirected because of a bomb scare (Devonport can be so exciting), thinking about my forthcoming stitch removal (an uninspired event not worthy of these chronicles) Sitting (as I usually do) I did espy a 'pretty young thing in a miniskirt' with whom I immediately imagined a torrid, and frankly downright disgusting, sexual coupling.

But, mostly, I thought about the miniskirt.

The miniskirt is a bone of contention between, well, most individuals in society. I belong firmly in the 'God bless them' camp thatn the admires the hutzpah of miniskirts wearers no matter the weather (I've been to Camden town in the bleakness of winter, and I must say 'God bless them cockneys, gov'nur!). However, being an academic by trade (if only temporarily) I want to tempt fate and ruin the fantasy by working out the prevalence of my fetish's origin.

And, after hours of soul-searching and lechery, I think I've done it.

It's the school system.

I don't know whether such things are decided by a Board of Trustees, a Principal or a horny gym teacher, but many modern school uniforms now sport ever shortening skirts. Thus it seems only natural that if you inculcate young girls to wear such skirts, especially in winter, that these same girls, years later, will come to endure such treatment voluntarily (and, I would hope, at a university where I teach).

And hurrah says I, without any mollification.

It makes me wonder, though. A fairly common fetish is the woman dressed as a school girl (skimpily clad); will this change as the fantasy becomes ever closer to humdrum reality? As girls become woman and woman affect ever shortening thigh attire does this mean that I will become the very caricature of a Victorian and lust after long skirts (with the occasional fevered imagining of a glimpse of ankle)? Or will I demand a fetish of obscenely short cut-offs and crop tops that wouldn't pass as bras?

Actually, I might move on to that one now...


Josh writes:

Quiet week on the ol' Brain Stab homestead. Powerful quiet. I don't know about the others, but my excuse is a persistent wee head cold that's kept me blurry enough that the most taxing mental exercise I'm currently capable of is trying to answer the question "will I go and see the new Dukes of Hazzard movie or not?" A harder choice than it appears.

I mean, I wasn't even a big fan of the original series (being too young to appreciate Catherine Bach and her cutoffs at the time), so I felt no initial motivation to relive my youth there, and I've since been even further put off by the redneck joygasm that is the video to Jessica Simpson's cover of "These Boots Were Made for Walkin'". I'm not sure what gets to me more, the bits where she exhorts her audience to holler southern cliches ("Can I get a 'soo-ee'!" "Can I get a 'yee-hah'!" "Can I get a 'yew got a purty mouth'!" and so on) or the bit at the end where the makers, having realised that their product is irredeemable and that the only way they could possibly keep people watching is to show Jessica Simpson writhing over the General Lee in a microscopic bikini, show Jessica Simpson writhing over the General Lee in a microscopic bikini.

On the other hand, I know more than one person in my circle of friends (hell, more than one person on this blog) who will be in hillbilly heaven watching Johnny Knoxville "h'yuck" it up with Willy Nelson looking on approvingly -- the looks of child-like glee on their faces could make sitting through the whole affair worth it...

Monday, August 08, 2005


Apathy Jack writes:

“You embarrassed me last night sir.”
“When you told my mother I don’t lie. I do lie.”
“I know. But your Mum doesn’t need to know that.”


Student who I am hitting on the head with something: “I’ll report you to the Ministry of Education!”
Second Student “Doesn’t the Minister of Education hit students as well?”
Me “Oh yeah, he’s worse than I am. I mean, you could go to him, but he’d beat hell out of you.”


Me “Oi, careful with the stage – if you break any part of it we’ll sell your skin to raise money for a new one!”
Student “Yeah, well... Uh...”
Other Student “Nah, don’t even try it. He’s an English teacher; he’ll bum you out no matter what you say.”


“Sir, could you check my project before I hand it in to my teacher?”
“Sure, give it here.” Short pause. “What does ‘metastasise’ mean?”
“I don’t know.”
“I know. That’s how I know you just copied this from somewhere and didn’t write it yourself.”
“Maybe Miss won’t notice.”
“I noticed.”
“Yeah, but that’s you. Miss is dumb.”
“That may be as such, but if I pick up on the fact that you’re cheating in the first line, even Miss will figure it out eventually.”


“Fuck I’m ladylike!”

Friday, August 05, 2005

Intelligent Desire

RSJS writes:

So, Intelligent Design, eh? Or “ID” as some people abbreviate it. Evolution guided by the hand of God and all that.

I know, I know, people probably think I’m going to come the raving atheist who’s going to be hypercritical of this principle, this middle-ground between Darwinian evolution and Creationism, this bastard offspring of science and faith. Oh, ho, look at Uncle Jellybean ripping into another straw dog with his scythe of scepticism and combine harvester of child-molestation jokes. But no, sorry, I actually agree with the concept of ID. I believe it to be a useful and viable answer to many of the questions and problems that plague the planet today. And the Americans are campaigning to make it part of their school curriculum, which I also think is a forward-thinking and positive approach to combining secular and faith-based educations in Amerika.

Because America as a country is failing. I don’t mean to sound harsh, but looking at the excesses of their society, the graven idols they worship like Colonel Sanders’ buckets of fried chicken-skin, Reality TV one step removed from the Running Man, Japanese cartoons, violent pornographic computer games, they are bogged down in a seething swamp of decadence and ill health. Their country is trying to save the world from the Terror yet it rots within, slowing the fight to a crawl of strung-out troops receiving no support from back home where fat kids hide behind their parents to keep the drafts out. Which is why they need Intelligent Design to be introduced into school, to get the God back into the Goddamned School System.

They need it, to make them dumber.

The Americans are struggling against incredible odds to still hold their heads up as a Mighty Morphin’ Super Power. Their people are stuck on couches too fat to fit through their front door (the people, not the couches. Well, actually, both. But how did the couch get IN? God moves furniture in mysterious ways), intravenously ingesting liquefied Big Macs and goggling at Survivor and anything Tom Green has ever done while itching where they once remember their genitalia to be. Floor thick with pornography, the internet permanently plugged to a Cam Whore site showing under-agers raping puppies, Televangelism on the radio and Tony Robbins tapes abandoned in the VCR. But despite the Unistat Empire veingmade up of this rotting biomass, still they fight on. There is still some glimmer of intelligence created by the critical mass of morons blanketing their continent.

So if we introduce ID to dumb down the kids even more, to baffle them with choices that will bewilder and be incredibly biased by the teacher explaining it to the point there will be inter-class holy wars, this biomass’ brain activity is going to slow down to the static one gets from putting an EKG on a cabbage; no more flashes of militant brilliance, the nation won’t even be able to tie its shoes let alone invade oil-rich camel-jockey paradises to “Liberate” their monkey arses from CIA spooks. The great country of charlatans and cocksuckers will descend into a drool-pool of barefoot pigfuckers led over by Bush in a paper hat and a stolen aviator’s uniform all worshipping Jesus an marvelling at how clever he was to make the entire planet a gigantic Rube Goldberg machine that finished its working right bang at the pinnacle of evolution, Dubya the Slack-jawed Yokel. End of the War on Terror, beginning of the War on Teletubbies, and the rest of the planet can go back to watching British comedy on Chinese televisions, driving Italian cars and possibly donkeypunching New Zealand for quietly admitting we invented the Pop Star American Asrehole Reality TV Monster. Bless.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Some of my Best Friends are Objectivists

Josh writes:

Just so we're clear, I was Philosophy major. I have an MA in Philosophy (and a little bit of Linguistics) from the University of Auckland. In the second year of my MA, I tutored classes in Stage 1 Ethics and Stage 1 Reason & Argument (I think the paper's called "Critical Thinking" these days). The skills I acquired in taking this degree (critical thinking, organising information, and the ability to explain complex concepts in simpler terms in particular) have put me in good stead in both my professional and personal lives. Philosophy is a worthy subject, and the world would be a better (and more well-argued) place if more people took a few Philosophy papers -- certainly the majority of Straw-Man-slinging hypocrites that participate in what is laughingly called "debate" on NZ blogs could do with a course in reason and argumentation.

So when I hear smug Objectivist twats slagging off those airy-fairy, head in the clouds Philosophy students whose abstract musings have no relevance to the real world, well it tends to piss me off a bit. Especially since such people appear to have no idea what goes on in a Philosophy department. Let's clear a few things up, then:

Philosophy Departments do not "teach Subjectivism"
Any student who is paying attention quickly learns that Subjectivism, much like scepticism, is a waste of time. Sure, you can't actually disprove them, but they render any argument pointless as soon as they're invoked, so why waste your breath on them? Furthermore, in Stage 1 Ethics students are introduced to the ethical theory of Cultural Relativism, followed quickly by all of its many flaws and arguments against. (The same then applies to Utilitarianism, Kantianism, etc.)

Philosophy Departments do not "teach" anything
Not in the sense that their critics use the word, anyway (i.e. "telling people what to think"). What is taught is critical thinking, analysis skills, formal logic and reasoning. Students are then introduced to various theories and positions, and the arguments for and against them. Students are encouraged to make up their own minds about the merits, or lack thereof, of any philosophical position they encounter, using the skills they have been taught.

Philosophy has relevance to the real world
Apparently, U of A Philosophy lecturer Robert Nola once said to prominent Objectivist Lindsay Perigo that "logic has nothing to do with reality". No context for that quote is given, so I can't say for sure what he meant by it. (It's worth noting that Bob Nola is remembered for publicly referring to Objectivists as "cultists and crazies", so I can't imagine they'd go out of their way to represent his views charitably.) I do know that reality is so complex that it is practically impossible to analyse it in terms of pure formal logic. Nevertheless, reason is used by real people to solve real problems. While some areas of Philosophy (metaphysics, I'm looking at you) debate issues that, well, they don't really affect us one way or another, other areas relate specifically to real world situations (after Stage 1 Ethics, you go on to Stage 2 Applied Ethics). And some are a bit of both -- Philosophy of Mind may be all abstract and wishy-washy now, but it has very real implications for artificial intelligence technology.

Philosophers do not deny that "existence exists"
This philosophical manifesto-cum bumper sticker is not as unique to Objectivism as its proponents maintain. If my understanding of it as being shorthand for "that things exist can be taken as axiomatic" is correct, then I know of no philosophers or philosophical positions that deny this. Sure, there are plenty of people who question the nature of existence, for instance by arguing that although existence exists, the fact that our senses can be untrustworthy may imply that existence is not as we perceive it to be. The question is not "do things exist?"; rather "what are the things that exist really like?"

Ayn Rand can suck my balls
Well, she could if she wasn't dead. Actually...

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Apathy Jack writes:

The proliferation of blogs, livejournals, message boards and the like over the last few years has led to a massive upswing in the number of people sharing. Most of that is your typical attention seeking jiggery pokery from teenaged goths and the like. However, I have also noticed one thing: People are oftentimes likely to post their long dark teatimes of the soul, or whatever is the appropriate term for the general bouts of discontent that plague the idle classes.

Every so often, I’ll dial up a blog, a livejournal or any such internet Wankportal™, and there will be an angst-laden entry about how Person X is feeling unfulfilled. They’re not suffering from any new emotional distress in particular, they’ve just looked at their lives and wondered if anything they’re doing matters. How is their day job of colour-coding chickens down at the local Pervert-Emporium actually making a difference? If they went back in time and hid their father’s beer that night so he didn’t end up going home with Shovel-Face Shazza whose father the Minister was already loading up the shotgun for the wedding, would anyone even notice?

I always have to stop myself from replying to these entries. Oh, I don’t want to pass negative comment; the angst they’re feeling – existential though it may be – is very real. However, whenever I read one of these pieces, my natural urge is to reply “Really? I’m hugely fulfilled. What I do with my life is important - And not just the cop out of ‘important to me’; What I do is, by objective standards, enormously important. Directly or indirectly, I have affected positive change in the lives of hundreds of people, and I rightly go to sleep every night satisfied that I am doing Good Work and that my absence would be to the detriment to a large number of people.

But, y’know, that’s probably not what people need to hear, right?

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Dear Satan,

Josh writes:

Like most people over the age of 20, I remember with fondness the 80s comedy action hit Beverly Hills Cop as the film which launched both the film career of Eddie Murphy and the techno forerunner hit, "Axel F". Can you suggest a good way of introducing this classic to today's youth market while furthering the cause of Ultimate Evil?

Perplexed, Kaukapakapa

Dear Perplexed,

What you want to do is release a new version and fill it with samples of an annoying talking frog jabbering meaningless shit every five seconds. I mean really fucking annoying -- "bim bim bip bip BAAP BAAP", that sort of thing. The magpie-like fascination your average trendy has for anything that could be vaguely construed as a gimmick will guarantee it's a huge hit, and all the while it'll be secretly destroying the very souls of anyone who listens to it. If you can get it in the charts at the same time as the fucking Schnappi thing, all the better.

Sorry, what? Oh. Bugger.

Ah well, back to nun-raping, I guess.