Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Impossible is merely difficult, or, a Lack of Imagination isn't the same as a lack of options

I can scarcely think of a way I’d less rather die than having a sword run through my abdomen. Yet Dutchman Mirin Dajo did it every day.

In the 1940’s, Dajo was known for his stage performances, in which he’d stand barechested while his assistant would take fencing foils, and one by one, run him through.

The show was appalling and horrible to watch, but Dajo never flinched, never showed the slightest pain. The curious were invited to watch as closely as they liked, and to examine the blades even while they were stuck through him.


Monday, August 29, 2016

Morality is Reality, or, what it is is how it feels

Many parents who grew up playing outdoors with friends, walking alone to the park or to school, and enjoying other moments of independent play are now raising children in a world with very different norms.

In the United States today, leaving children unsupervised is grounds for moral outrage and can lead to criminal charges.

What's changed?

...It's not that risks to children have increased, provoking an increase in moral outrage when children are left unattended. Instead, it could be that moral attitudes toward parenting have changed, such that leaving children unsupervised is now judged morally wrong. And because it's judged morally wrong, people overestimate the risk...

..."When Barbara and I first started talking about this project, the case that really stood out to me was the one about Debra Harrell — the McDonald's worker who let her 9-year-old daughter play in a busy public park for several hours during the day while she (Harrell) was at work. The daughter had a key to her home (which was a six-minute walk away from the park) and a cellphone. But when the girl mentioned to an adult in the park that her mother was at work, the adult called the police, who arrested and jailed Harrell and put the daughter in state custody. I thought, here's a single mother who works for low wages for a corporation that doesn't provide child care, and she was treated as a criminal for letting her daughter do something that is relatively safe. It seemed like people were angry at this woman for not being a full-time mom — for not fulfilling the unrealistic expectation that mothers should be with their children at all times.

Those are moral judgments, but people weren't talking about it in moral terms. Instead, they were using the language of risk and danger — saying that Harrell was criminally negligent because she had left her daughter in a dangerous situation. So we started thinking about how people's estimates of risk might not be about risk at all, but about moral judgment."

..."I think what surprised me most were the results of two modifications we tried. In the first, we asked subjects to make an explicit moral judgment about the parent in addition to a judgment about risk. The idea was that if people had a different way to express their moral disapproval, this might lower the pressure to use risk judgments as a way of condemning the parents. In fact, asking subjects to make a moral judgment about the parents as well made their moral judgments influence their judgments about risk even more, not less. The second modification was to ask subjects to actually list the concrete things they thought might happen while the parent was gone. We expected that forcing subjects to explicitly consider what dangers are faced by the child would reduce the influence of moral judgment on risk judgment. But adding this manipulation did not change anything."

..."Right now, in many situations, if a social worker or police officer thinks the child is in danger, they can intervene and take the child, arrest the parents, etc. But what our data suggest is that when people think they are judging danger to a child, much of what they are actually doing is imposing a moral judgment on the child's parents."


Emphasis mine.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Thursday Thought Walk

So much trouble in the world

-Bob Marley

[E]ach group nourishes its own pride and vanity, boasts itself superior, exists in its own divinities, and looks with contempt on outsiders.

-William Sumner

Any political decision, about any but the most trivial subject, brings benefits and has costs, and far more often than not the people who get the benefits and the people who carry the costs are not the same.

-John Michael Greer

When the Star-Belly Sneetches had frankfurter roasts
Or picnics or parties or marshmallow toasts,
They never invited the Plain-Belly Sneetches.
They left them out cold, in the dark of the beaches.
They kept them away. Never let them come near. And that’s how they treated them year after year.

-Dr. Seuss

Like other norms, social norms are standards of behavior. These norms apply to the function individuals have in the group. Norms can include a dress code, standards of conduct, or admissions standards. Norms tend to keep a group working better together as long as the norms are uniformly enforced. Selectively ignoring norms tends to result in disciplinary measures for group members. If the group as a whole ignores norms, cohesion could be weakened by a feeling of apathy toward the norms and group as a whole. 


Emphasis mine.

Indonesia has 1128 ethnics and 746 local languages and dialects (Official Government Statistics Data). Each provinces, regions, and islands in Indonesia has their own unique cultures. And in one provinces, you can find many different cultures, languages, dialects and many sub-ethnics. I don’t talk about racism, but i want to share to you that Indonesia has diverse faces and skin characteristics. From Sabang to Merauke, Very Diverse. From White, Yellow, Tan, and Black. Indonesian face also not just like another Asian face. Because the Geography, there are many types of face in Indonesia such as Oriental, Melayu (Indonesian Malay), Melanesian, and ect. Javanese face is different with Sumatran face. Kalimantan face (Indonesian Borneo) face also different with Sulawesi face. Flores face is different with Irian (Indonesian New Guinea) Face.Those ethnics are native Indonesians. And Indonesia is one of the Largest country that has Culturally Diverse by Natives. We Live together in peace with Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity) as our Motto.

-Aulsid Wijaya

It is said that the well-known Buddha and Shiva are two different substances.
They are indeed different, yet how is it possible to recognise their difference in a glance,
since the truth of Jina and the truth of Shiva is one.
They are indeed different, but they are of the same kind, as there is no duality in Truth. 

excerpt from Kakawin Sutasoma


Sunday, February 21, 2016

Kochtopus dropping bombs

Charlie is doing the thing, man:

This is the one issue where Bernie Sanders is right
Charles G. Koch is chairman and chief executive of Koch Industries. 
As he campaigns for the Democratic nomination for president, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) often sounds like he’s running as much against me as he is the other candidates. I have never met the senator, but I know from listening to him that we disagree on plenty when it comes to public policy.

Even so, I see benefits in searching for common ground and greater civility during this overly negative campaign season. That’s why, in spite of the fact that he often misrepresents where I stand on issues, the senator should know that we do agree on at least one — an issue that resonates with people who feel that hard work and making a contribution will no longer enable them to succeed.

The senator is upset with a political and economic system that is often rigged to help the privileged few at the expense of everyone else, particularly the least advantaged. He believes that we have a two-tiered society that increasingly dooms millions of our fellow citizens to lives of poverty and hopelessness. He thinks many corporations seek and benefit from corporate welfare while ordinary citizens are denied opportunities and a level playing field.

I agree with him.


Thursday, February 11, 2016

The riches of His kindness

Belief in an all-seeing punitive god motivates people to be more charitable towards strangers outside their own family and community, particularly to those of similar beliefs, researchers have found.
A study, published Wednesday in Nature, suggests religiosity may contribute to greater cooperation and collaboration despite geographic separation.

“People may trust in, cooperate with and interact fairly within wider social circles, partly because they believe that knowing gods will punish them if they do not,” the study’s authors wrote.
The Internet is a great tool to connect with others and learn new things. Is it also killing religion? Laci discusses how the rise in Web use might be causing people to lose their religion.

“Moreover, the social radius within which people are willing to engage in behaviors that benefit others at a cost to themselves may enlarge as gods’ powers to monitor and punish increase...”
...The researchers found people who believed in a more punitive, all-knowing god ended up giving more money to distant people who shared the same religious belief.

Lead author Benjamin Purzycki said the results suggested people of the belief that one’s actions are monitored, judged and punished by a deity were more likely to play fair than to play favorites.


Saturday, November 14, 2015

Probably quite a few racists, but they won't be offending anyone at Yale

...[A] plague gripping the isolated, fading towns dotting this part of Appalachia. Frontier communities steeped in the myth of self-reliance are now blighted by addiction to opioids – “hillbilly heroin” to those who use them. It’s a dependency bound up with economic despair and financed in part by the same welfare system that is staving off economic collapse across much of eastern Kentucky. It’s a crisis that crosses generations...

 ...Steve Mays, Lee County’s de facto mayor, is a Republican. He has a picture of McConnell on the shelf behind his desk. “I like Mitch. He’s very supportive of me when I need grants or something. He always tries to come through for me,” said Mays.

But just a few months earlier, McConnell had claimed “massive numbers” of people were receiving food stamps “who probably shouldn’t” and described the programme as “making it excessively easy to be non-productive”.

This put Mays in a bind. His party routinely demonises people who receive welfare – but many of his voters rely on it. Mays said he regarded welfare as “a trap”, but acknowledged that without it the town would die.

...[H]e acknowledged the seeming contradiction of people voting for a party that was so scornful of the government assistance their town survived on.
“You’re right, Republicans are against that. But that’s not why people around here are registered Republican. It’s because of local candidates or family history. My dad was Republican. I’m raised a Republican and voting Republican. That’s just the way it is,” he said.
This is routinely, and sometimes sneeringly, characterised by Democrats in other parts of America as poor white people voting against their own interests. It’s a view that exasperates Davis.
“They say, why aren’t these people voting their self-interest? People always vote their self-interest if they can see it. If they believe the government doesn’t work, if they believe that the Democrats don’t really give a shit about people like them, don’t want to be in the same room with them, they want their vote but don’t want to hang out with them, then as they see it they’re voting their self-interest,” he said.

 Emphasis mine.


Saturday, September 19, 2015


 Let’s go back to 451, which I found myself re-reading recently. It begins with Guy Montag burning a house that contained books. Why? How did it come to be that fireman burned books instead of putting out fires as they always had?

The fireman have been doing it for so long they have no idea. Most of them have never even read a book. Except one fireman—Captain Beatty—who has been around long enough to remember what life was like before. As Montag begins to doubt his profession—going as far as to hide a book in his house—he is subjected to a speech from Beatty. In it Beatty explains that it wasn’t the government that decided that books were a threat. It was his fellow citizens.

“It didn’t come from the government down,” he tells him. “There was no dictum, no declaration, no censorship, to start with, no!”
In fact, it was something rather simple—something that should sound very familiar. It was a desire not to offend—of an earnest notion to literally have “everyone made equal.” And it’s at the end of this speech that we get the killer passage:
“You must understand that our civilization is so vast that we can’t have our minorities upset and stirred. Ask yourself, What do we want in this country above all? People want to be happy, isn’t that right?…Colored people don’t like Little Black Sambo. Burn it. White people don’t feel good about Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Burn it. Someone’s written a book on tobacco and cancer of the lungs? The cigarette people are weeping? Burn the book. Serenity, Montag. Peace, Montag. Take your fight outside. Better yet, to the incinerator.”
And before you get offended, let’s clarify what Bradbury means by minorities. He’s not talking about race. He’s talking about it in the same way that Madison and Hamilton did in the Federalist Papers. He’s speaking about small, interested groups who try to force the rest of the majority to adhere to the minority’s set of beliefs...

...In the 50th anniversary edition, Bradbury includes a short afterword where he gives his thoughts on current culture. Almost as if he is speaking directly about the events above, he wrote: There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running around with lit matches.”


Emphasis mine.