A Mess of Words

The below is going to be a very ugly stream of consciousness. This isn’t just me thinking that out in advance, I am writing this disclaimer after I have already written the nearly unreadable, nearly incomprehensible, all-over-the-map blog post that is the gigantic mess of words below. Once I get some of the jumbled thoughts off of my chest, I am hoping I can write something more focused again some day in the future.

The thing that makes it hard for me to write is that everything that goes through my head seems like old news to me, and thus I believe that it is obviously old news to everyone else. That being said, as I travel from place to place, listen to one speaker or another, read books on philosophy, fantasy, religion, and a huge number of other topics, I further realize that not only is this thought in my head not common, it is possibly even considered unimportant… And yet, the more I think about it, the more I think that it is the question that could lead to the greatest internal mental revolution for a huge number of people.

Why? More specifically, why do I believe what I believe?

I am about to sound like a four year old child, but the number of “why” questions you are willing to answer to yourself is, at the very least, an indicator to how secure you are in your own beliefs. I can’t make you answer the question, of course, and the answers I posit below may not apply in the slightest to you… But I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, so I figured I’d get it off my chest.

To contextualize, I have been thinking about this question for at least the last decade; I can’t say I asked it when I was a small child, far ahead of my time, but I am happy I managed to consider the idea at all.

The reason, though, that it is truly at the forefront of my mind right now is that I am reading the book God’s Crime Scene by J Warner Wallace. Without getting too deeply into it, I can say that in the first half, most of what he says is a fair enough assertion, and as likely as anything else we have managed to come up with in absence of evidence… But in the second half of the book Wallace makes spurious claims relying on wildly non-representative comparisons. These comparisons are grounded in the idea that the answers to the questions such as why does the universe exist are unsatisfactory unless there is a God outside of the universe pulling the strings.

A significant portion of the thought in this book comes from the idea that he is an ex committed atheist. He explains, if you read between the lines, the reasons he went from atheist to theist (at about the age of 35, nearly as I could tell at a glance). A question that was not answered to my satisfaction was why he was an atheist at all.

The questions I have for Mr Wallace all come down to “why”?

I wanted to rank the questions by ease of answer, but there is never an easy question where it comes to the topic of the Almighty, so I’ll just stream of consciousness a little.

Why is it possible to invoke “God” to escape the infinite regress? To explain the infinite regress, it basically asks “What came before the universe? What came before that? What came before that?” Another line, “Who created the universe? Who created that? Who created that?”

To many religions (and in this case specifically Christianity) it is alright to call upon an Eternal God to have created the Universe, but to reiterate: Why is that OK? If God can be eternal, outside of time and space, why couldn’t matter have been eternal?

Why do you draw the edge of the Universe, or the edge of time as we know it as a barrier? I am not asking this question from the perspective of science, I am actually asking from the perspective of faith. Why do you believe God can be eternal, but specifically believe that matter, the universe, and space cannot?

I will speak briefly to the science, though it is largely immaterial to this question. As it stands, we cannot get data from a time before the big bang–though this does not mean there was no time before the big bang. There are theories, though with our current tools it is impossible to say with any certainty.

Why does one need to have an answer to the “why” of the universe? Mr Wallace makes a terrible error, I think, in describing his argument for why God created the universe. Specifically, Mr Wallace cites the fact that not having a “why” answer for the universe is intellectually unsatisfying; this makes the common error of assuming the universe is an agent that cares whether you are intellectually satisfied. For the most part, Mr Wallace does not make errors such as this frequently, but he makes such assertions far too often to be fully comfortable.

The type of logic in the previous paragraph is very much an article of belief, at least in my estimation. That may be incredibly potent in confirming for oneself a personal belief, but to an outside agent such as myself it is a gross error that focuses my mind far more on similar errors. As you get further into this book, you realize the author builds the house on a foundation that requires you to accept it as you move forward, and if the foundation is sand (as it appears to me) the house will fall over sooner rather than later.

Mr Wallace describes himself frequently as an ex committed atheist, but I am not sure he knows what that would mean; I am not sure it would be possible to describe it to him, or have him truly describe it to us in a way that is truly satisfactory. This might seem simple, and on the surface it is, but when speaking about the deepest questions of the universe, of life, of belief, why should we accept the answer on the surface?

Wallace describes himself as being a committed atheist in the past due to his outright rejection of the supernatural, of the idea that there is no ‘magic’, so to speak. He does not describe the evidence that led him to this belief, but being as he was raised Roman Catholic, we have to assume there was an event or a thought that led him away from the Church, though I haven’t read what that might be (Cold Case Christianity, a book very highly regarded in apologetic circles, is on my reading list still). That being said, it does tell us a lot about him; Wallace is a man who needs answers. The need for an answer led him away from the Church, I believe, in that he thought God did not give him the answers he was looking for in his younger years. The need for answers led him back to the Church, when science was unable to tell him why the universe existed–and for this assertion, I have his book God’s Crime Scene as reference.

Why am I going on about this? Mostly because I need to relate it to other types of belief. To do this, I’ll describe why I believe what I believe and how it relates and contrasts to being a “committed atheist”.

I do not believe there is “No God”. That being said, I do not believe there is “A God”. Personally, the question of why the universe exists is academic to me; the answer, either way, would satisfy curiosity in me but would not largely affect my life one way or another. Why should it?

I believe you should be good to other people and animals, and yet I am an atheist. Most Christians seem, for reasons still unclear to me, to find this reasoning unsatisfactory. Why should I need a perfect standard of Goodness, as so many apologists claim God is, to decide the morality of an action? I will admit, I subscribe to a certain type of moral relativism, but there is no perfect standard in my world.

How do I justify my morals, then? That’s fairly simple, and it is certainly something the dedicated apologist may latch on to and claim as their own, but here it is:

Don’t do to other people things that I don’t want them to do to me. It’s basically the golden rule, and even Jesus himself seemed to think it could be somewhat divorced from the Bible (as he was a Jew, and to disregard The Law would have been anathema). Why should I have more of a right to be happy than someone else? To reword, as I am wont to do, if an action would make me unhappy, I should not do that thing to someone else. If an action results in positive happiness, if that action were done to me and would make me happy, then there is an argument for its improving the world.

“But Chad, how can you say a rapist isn’t acting morally then?” This is a rewording of a frequent charge levied against the atheist by several religions. In this case, I have an answer, though: who is made unhappy by the rape? Just the victim? No, the victim, their family, their friends, the public at large, is made unhappy by the act. “Ok, but why are they made unhappy?”

Some times, the amount of effort strong apologists put into justifying rape “on behalf of the atheist” is frankly fucking disturbing. I don’t like swearing, but it is really justified in my mind here. “You can’t objectively define the morality of rape, therefore it is OK to you.” How the hell does one make that charge?

I am sorry about that aside, but it is something that really bothers me. The reason they are made unhappy, to get back on topic, is simple; something was done to a loved one that the loved one did not want to happen to them. To go one step further, something very preventable that someone did not want to happen to them happened to them. Had the person who was raped said “Yes, I am OK with having sex with this person,” it is not rape. That may seem obvious, but for some reason I feel compelled to mention it. The difference between “love” and “rape” is two or three letters long; “yes,” or “no.”

And that is where the moral line gets drawn.

This is just one small example, one part of the large question of “why?” Why do I believe what I believe? To me, the perfect world is one where everyone is happy. “Why?” Because I want to be happy, I enjoy the feeling. “Why?” I am wired that way. “Why?” Survival, probably, but even if it isn’t directly related to survival, why should the why need an answer? To restate something from above, it would be nice, but in this case is not required.

If answering “why” isn’t required for the big questions, why should it be required for the small questions? Now we are getting into waters murkier than I am qualified to answer, so I will just give some opinions.

I would like to know why Mr Wallace considered himself a “committed atheist.” I do not need the answer to this question, but it would resolve a lot of my curiosity. I think the reason he became an atheist would give a great deal of insight to the reason he went back to Christianity.

Let’s go further down the path of why I believe what I believe.

To use Wallace’s own analogies, I think the legal system is somewhat flawed, and based too strongly on the human desire for answers. I know that criminal courts work on the idea of “innocent until proven guilty,” and “guilt must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt,” but the problem is that many innocent people end up in jail. This is because there are only two possible verdicts in the criminal justice system, “guilty” or “not guilty,” and I think that entire line of thought permeates humans too strongly. I can see why this might be, since it is not so easy to tell a person “we don’t know if you murdered Chuck, but we’re watching you.” That being said, the question of “Is there a God” shouldn’t require an immediate answer–an atemporal being who exists outside of Time and Space can probably wait for us to answer the question. If belief in God is a requirement to get into Heaven, Heaven will be full of people who care little for science or evidence, care little for the exercise of the human mind, which is an odd thing. A quote that has always resonated with me is:

“I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with senses, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use and by some other means to give us knowledge which we can attain by them.” -Attributed to Galileo

I would find it confusing to think that the God who gave us these senses would ask us to believe in Him without evidence. YECs would tell me that they have all the evidence they need, but in full ignorance of the irony, they can only translate that evidence under the presupposition that the Bible is correct and true. I have never heard of a non-Christian scientist who has viewed the evidence and decided that the Earth is 6000 years old; that should worry them. When the YECs make statements along the lines of telling scientists to get off their lawn because they have the answers, I always think the same thing: “If your science is correct, secular scientists will eventually agree with you.” I don’t see that happening, but if they are right, and scientists are open minded, we’ll get there.

I don’t believe they are right, and I believe the evidence against them is nearly insurmountable, but I also realize the science of tomorrow will be as incomprehensible to me as astrophysics would be the a citizen of Rome in 300CE.

Let’s talk about presuppositions, while my mind is in that direction. Scientists are accused of presupposing the world is ancient, that the universe is older than that, etc, etc. It’s so odd, since these were not the first assumptions made by human scientists and philosophers. The idea that the world is millions or billions of years old has no supporting declarations prior to the 18th century, or thereabouts. Before then, people believed the earth was fairly young (the date of 10,000-6,000 years old was a 15th century hypothesis, as I recall). The point here is that the scientists were seeing a deluge of evidence that suggested that the Earth was older than generally assumed, and were working on moving their model of the Earth in accordance with the emerging body of evidence. The funny thing is how obvious some of that evidence is; to quote Bill Nye’s outburst from the Nye/Ham debate: “There are trees older than you think the Earth is.”

On the other hand, it is their scientists who defend their presupposition as correct. Why is it correct? Because the Bible said so. There is no amount of evidence that would dissuade them, as evinced by Ham’s declaration of that very statement during the debate.

That is the difference, in circumspect, between a hardline (committed) atheist and a scientist, I think. There are certainly scientists who are willing to make a strong prediction (Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins come to mind) but they make this prediction less out of presupposed belief than because it fits the evidence as they see it more closely. If the evidence aligns with the idea of God, then I would imagine you would have several scientists citing not the Bible, but the evidence. As it stands, even the scientists who stand on the side of YEC word their discoveries in ways that would be considered scientifically dishonest; “and thus, you see that the experiment fits within [book] [chapter]:[verse].” That isn’t how you should do science, not as the scientific method is concerned. When you can say “This evidence points to an Earth that is 6,000 years old specifically, and addresses concerns such as 11,000 year old trees, 500,000 year old ice sheets, and all the other hosts of evidence that suggest the world is older than my hypothesis,” then you will have a lot of people starting to take notice. As it stands, I do not presuppose the world is old, but the current evidence as I understand it is that the world is, at the very least, over 500,000 years old. I do not understand enough of the specific methods of geology to make a definitive statement that the Earth is definitely 4 billion years old… That being said, I do believe the Earth is 4 billion (or so) years old, as I do trust the wide body of evidence that attests to this fact.

If we find something that proves we have been wrong, then we’ll go with that. One of the theories proposed by YECs that would account for various dating methods is a period of accelerated decay. “Before the flood,” goes the reasoning, “radioactive elements decayed at a drastically increased rate.” Never mind that there is no proof that this happened other than “it would fit the Bible,” what about the fact that the world would be far more irradiated? That being said, this is an example of a place where, if they could produce evidence that shows this did happen, then I would revise my model of the world. Hell, as of February of 2015, new evidence suggests the Big Bang model is incorrect… But not because the universe is younger–it is because the universe is much older. (I only just discovered this research while looking up stuff for this mess of a post.)

The Big Bang, goes the new theory, was just another event that occurred in a much older universe.

And, if the research bears out, my internal model of the universe will change to account for this new information, rather than stubbornly clinging to an outdated model.

Funny how that is.

Ramble ramble ramble

Warning: The below set of paragraphs (which is about all the cohesion I can assign to this post) are rambling, barely coherent, and full of wildly wandering ideas and thoughts. I decided to post it because I wrote it, but I have no better reason than that, really…

A common thread that pops up in atheist/theist debates is the idea of faith, and most specifically it is cited by the theist that “You have as much faith in science as I have in religion! So why is faith bad?”

The question is an interesting one, and one that I had pondered for a long time as I could not come up with an answer that satisfied myself. Sure, science is something that, with the right expertise, I could go and verify myself… But how would I know that the answers were correct?

It becomes, I finally discovered, a question of axioms. And, after years of pondering, I finally managed to solve the question to my own satisfaction. Obviously, the strongly religious out there will see things differently than I do, but I feel like I have finally something akin to the difference between faith in God and faith in science.

A question has been posed numerous times by numerous different people, but I think I heard it first from Sam Harris. If something happened in the world that caused us all to forget our language and forget our skills, what would the order be in which we relearned them? Well, if we were to survive, hunting and gathering would come first, then maybe agriculture. Obviously we would need to find and build shelter. These are important. In this new world where we can’t read, though, when will we discover that Jesus died for our sins? That God hates homosexuality? That the Sabbath Day is Holy? At what point will those things matter to our survival?

The point of the above illustration is how to define the lowest common denominator, the thing from which all other things come, the axioms of our personal universe. If the above example came to pass, and God was not the first thing we found, then we can safely assume “God Exists” is not an axiom. But how about another example?

You are born, open your eyes, gasp your first breath. What is the first thing that defines your existence? Senses. Your sight, your hearing, your sense of touch, these define your universe. You have these, and are forced to trust these, before your parents can even take you to baptism.

A frequent citation is Roman 1:18-20 (18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.) It is an odd thing, to accept that verse as literal truth; I would imagine, if you find an uncontacted tribe in the Amazon, they will not be Christians. It is merely a thought to me, but I feel like they have an excuse. To accept these set of verses requires a previous axiom, though; that you can trust what you are reading. How do you know that Paul was speaking exactly what God wanted? It is historically proven that James, Brother of Jesus, was the first leader of the Christian church until his death, and he did not agree with Paul. In fact, he said Paul was leading the people astray. So why does this set of verses constitute an axiom of God’s existence?

A supplemental verse is from the book of proverbs, 1:7 and 9:10, which state that the fear of God is the beginning of all knowledge. I do not know how to start into this one, as a fear of God teaches you nothing. Also, the fact that we have Bibles today of different translations seems to prove that the Bible is open to translation errors… So how can we assume that the Bible is completely unedited. The King James Bible is said, by many YECs, to be the perfect Bible, based on the original documents… But that assumes there were no copyist errors in the originals, as we do not have “the originals”. We have copies of the originals.

So now we get closer to the point; in several YEC pieces of media, they state that because we don’t know everything we can’t know anything, based on the fact that if we only know 1×10^-20% of all knowledge, that God could easily exist in the 99.9999999…% of things we don’t know. They then give themselves a “get out of jail free” card by stating that “since God is the only thing in the universe that knows everything, and he has told us things he knows, nothing outside of our knowledge could prove us wrong. QED: God exists, and we are better than you.”

The number of assumptions that goes into that stream of logic is stunning, but to them it boils down only to the axiom that God exists… But not even that, it is that their God is the God that exists. But then you have to go further, their God exists, and knows everything. Not only that, then, but that this God is capable of delivering that knowledge to us. Not only that, but that we are capable of understanding the true nature of that knowledge. Not only that, but that this knowledge has not in any way been corrupted from its pure, God delivered form. The legendary Bible passage goes “For the prophets spake as the spirit moved them since the beginning,” not “God said that we should write down these exact words.”

Now we come to my so-called faith in science. I will grant that there is a certain level of faith, but the world you live in seems to have the dichotomy that there are only two states: 100% knowledge and 0% faith, or 100% faith and 0% knowledge. Given what I have experienced, I would say that I have a very high degree of trust in my senses, I’d say at least 85%. There is a wide opening there for hallucinations, for the mind to make translation errors from reality to perception… So how do we work around that?

Well, if there are two people in the room, both of whom have 85% trust in their senses, they can use each other as confirmation. “Do you see that dancing chicken?” The other can reply “No, there is no dancing chicken.”

What if there are three people, again all of whom have 85% trust. One asks the other two about said dancing chicken, and they reply “Dude, there is no dancing chicken.” Well, since they have a combined 2% chance of being incorrect (15% chance of being incorrect, squared for the two of them), there is a significant chance you are the one who is wrong. That is the principle of how science works; 1 person makes an observation, then has x number of peer reviewers, we’ll say 10. Now we have a (5.7×10^-7)% chance of all of them hallucinating that. Probabilities calculated this way can never be 100% certain, but you eventually (and fairly quickly) get to absurd probabilities that people of various backgrounds, places, ages, races are all hallucinating the same thing.

Is the above example perfect? No. But it goes to show the easy way I could even have 50% trust in my senses, but if I ask 10 people if they say the same thing I do, there is then a 0.1% chance that we are all hallucinating the same thing, given all other things being equal (Group Psychology will throw those numbers out the window, but they are their own probabilistic entity).

So even taking the above as clearly imperfect, we can demonstrate that knowledge is not (as the YEC would claim) an all or nothing kind of thing. God could exist in the 99.99….% of things we don’t know yet, maybe, but even that isn’t an all or nothing. Richard Dawkins put it best, really; Christians try to make the debate all or nothing. They say science should not speak about it because they would be forced to say that God existing or not existing is equally as probable due to not being able to disprove anything… But one can shade the probabilities, and what we can say, by using science, is that the version of Christianity espoused by YECs is improbable enough that the only way it can exist is to make several assumptions. They would claim that Occam’s Razor states that God exists, because it is the simplest explanation, but that is not how Occam’s Razor works. Occam’s Razor isn’t about the simplest explanation, it is about the explanation that makes the least number of unfounded assumptions.

Evolution makes assumptions, several of them, but we reduce the number of assumptions by evidence. The Bible causes people to make assumptions that, by definition, cannot be touched by evidence.

God exists; assumption. The Bible is inerrant; assumption. The Earth is 6000 years old and geology has just managed to get it monumentally incorrect; assumption. The universe is the same age as the Earth, and cosmology has just managed to get it monumentally incorrect; assumption.

All of the above are things that science has evidence against, but because of the assumption that the Bible is inerrant the Christian will feel comfortable throwing it out. The Big Bang, it is said, is the Devil’s way of beguiling us, and is a result of the assumption that evolution is correct, and that hurts my soul. Science tries, as much as is possible, to start with no assumptions and go where the evidence points us… And you call it an issue of assumptions?

The YEC will approach science with the assumption that the Earth is 6000 years old, and attempt to interpret the evidence through those glasses, and scientists are the ones with a “presuppositional issue”? It was said explicitly by Eric Hovind, scientists approach all issues with a presuppositional bias, then he turns and says “But the scientists who start from the Earth being 6000 years old are the only real scientists because they don’t have presupposition.” WHAT?!

I won’t lie, I just don’t understand. I don’t understand how one can so confidently reject these ideas, calling them  assumptions, then turn to the Bible and go “That. That is what has all the knowledge.”

Sorry about this post. I really am.

Radical Anti-Felinism

For context, the wording of this post should be noted as a direct satire of this.

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The reality of our oppression is so erased that we tend to forget that real persecution, captivity, and control are what prevents us from freeing ourselves from cats, not just the effects it has in our head: even though breaking us down mentally is one of the intended effects of our oppression. Our freedom lies very concretely in cats no longer being able to assail us, not in gaining more understanding of cats. Intentional cat dominance isn’t just something in our head we need to get rid of by becoming anti-felinists, but outside ourselves, real, something we have to concretely escape and free ourselves from.

Liberal humans in modern homes say cats are “companions”, “friendly”, and “cuddly”, because they project their own feelings of loneliness onto cats and accept what is otherwise a parasitic relationship, and erase the idea of the mental torture that goes into the felinarchy that controls them. They believe our torture is something imaginary and symmetrical, that cats love us as much as we love them, as if we are equally influenced by “pets” and “cuteness”, as if our subjugation were not merely opportunistic cats abusing our better nature, as it we aren’t brainwashed by toxoplasma gondii, unwittingly controlled by them. We thus play a part in reproducing the issue of cat control by sharing pictures of them, videos of them doing cute things, not because we want to, but because we are forced to.

I know most rantifels (the word I just made up to describe radical anti-felinists, of which I am the first (and possibly only)) are on board with criticism of cats. The problem is, most don’t even realize the oppression isn’t symmetrical; it is even reinforced by those subjugated by cats. This is felinarchal (cat overlord) reversal. Cats take the moment we are already colonised and captive to say “see, there’s symmetry! I feed and provide a home for her, and she loves me!” This omits the decades of carefully planned domestication of humans by cats that their race had to execute in order to obtain this result.

Even if we look at things purely from the perspective of ideas, they aren’t equally shared by humans and cats, nor is there the same power in turning beliefs into reality. We have the ability to observe that cat’s influence over us, and yet we somehow choose to ignore it. When cats believe that there is a felinarchy, it exists. There’s a coherence and integrity between cat’s felinarchal beliefs and their actions; they abuse this position of power they have over us. If they believe humans should be treated as “warmth batteries” and “food dispensers”, they will effectively treat humans as such. If cats believe that a human’s home is just a place to be looted for their own continued ends, they will force humans to treat them as gods. That’s because they have the oppressive power to enforce their felinistic beliefs and turn them into actions!

One thing that is important in free choice is knowledge. People can’t make free choices until they understand that they are infected with toxoplasma gondii. You wouldn’t choose to own a pet if you knew it would poison you! BUT IT’S TOO LATE! If someone gave you a pet, telling you it is cute and cuddly, it can’t be said you accepted the pet knowing it would become your feliarchal overlord. The choice you thought you were making was only to accept a loving, lovable pet into your home. You accepted the cat out of deception.

Knowledge is something the oppressors reserve for themselves, to maintain their oppressive system. Cats know their domination. They know they’re the dominant species and need to exclude humans from it, and know how to treat cats and humans distinctively to maintain this dominance. It’s very clear to them what constitutes an affront to them and what doesn’t. While they might not know all the ins and outs of the felinarchal system, they do know perfectly well where their interests lie–in keeping humans subservient to them–and know how to go about doing it. And that’s all they need to know. Access to this knowledge is part of their birth-right, and transmitted to humans by other animals, before they even entered the home.

This isn’t so for humans. We don’t “share” their ideology and reproduce it willingly against ourselves and other humans, as the intents and workings of felinarchy aren’t clear to us at all (ok, maybe it is). We simply don’t have access to the knowledge (or maybe we do). Cats prevent us from seeing it by excluding us from their rituals (and best know they have rituals) where they openly laugh at their dominance over humans, where the important decisions are made, where all the crucial knowledge and skills are transmitted and where they bond over degradation of humans (hahahaha, they clean our poop!).

Cats don’t even hide their true intentions; anyone with an open mind can see the open contempt in their eyes. They do, at the least, know how to fake love, interest, cuteness, to fake the emotions that should make good pets, they know how to reverse reality (we are their pets), to blur our perceptions. They do, however, have a very clear vision of what they’re subjecting us to and why they’re doing it, while they methodically destroy our consciousness of their own actions against us, as well as all material that could be used as evidence of their organized crimes.

It takes us a considerable amount of effort, millennia to unpick the lies from the truth (they’ve been our masters since the times of ancient Egypt). It will take a cat a split nano-second to react and know what to do to make us still believe they love us. All they have to do is roll over onto their back and purr, and all our thoughts of their evil, domineering ways are forgotten.

In this condition it can’t even be said that humans believe in the felinarchy and thus won’t choose to get out of it, but that our consciousness of cat’s control over our reality has been deliberately disintegrated by evolution. We are prevented from even wanting to get out. We are cut from the information we need to see the whole picture, to see cat’s sinister conspiracy against humans. Cats know how to oppress, they have been doing it for a very long time. In this condition of forced confusion it can’t be said we consent to anything they subject us to.

The game is rigged for humans. Cats need toxoplasma gondii to deceive us, play tricks on our minds. They use it to keep us obedient and confused. And they expect us to believe it is spread unwittingly, as though there is not an open conspiracy between species to have humans serve cats! Such psychic warfare saves them a great deal of coercive effort.

Cats are devious and ethically crapulent (have you ever seen them play with their food?!), they will never, ever attack us on level ground. Imagine if cats came up to humans and instead of pretending to “love” us, just said outright “my only intention is to use you to provide me oxytocin, food, and shelter, and then use you to take care of my every want and whim, to slap you in the face. Slavery is the most barbaric thing you can do to a human being, and I intend to make you my slave. I will make you a slave for the rest of my life, and for the life of many cats who come after me. You may think I am making you happy, but I am using you until I am done with you. Now open your door and make me a damn sandwich.”

We’d never let that happen. All of a sudden they wouldn’t seem so cute. It would complicate cat’s business of enslaving us, that’s for sure.

Meanwhile, in Another Universe

I’ve posted about radical feminism before, and actually this specific feminist in particular… And while I recognized that she has managed to create a nearly self-contained universe where she is scorned beyond all measure by a universally negative force, I never truly understood the mechanism she believes is at work. Thankfully, a recent post of hers managed to clear that notion up for me in some semi-satisfactory way. That is to say, what she believes is happening is impossible in a world where humans live; she expects that 50% of the planet gets together and has 100% unanimity of cause.

Do you think I am exaggerating? I will assume you haven’t read the post I linked, I wouldn’t either if it weren’t for a nearly insatiable curiosity in my soul. To that end, I will give an excerpt for your enjoyment:

“[Women] don’t “share” [men’s] ideology and reproduce it in turn, against ourselves, as the intents and workings of patriarchy aren’t clear to us at all: we simply don’t have access to the same information as them. Men prevent us from seeing it by excluding us from their institutions, boards, meetings, parties, peer networks, forums, rituals, clubs where they openly exchange about their dominance, where the important decisions are made, where all the crucial knowledge and skills are transmitted and where they bond over sexual degradation of women in the most overt ways (mostly prostituted women).”

Now perhaps I am reading it incorrectly, but if I am maybe someone can help me. It sounds like she believes that men get together, all of us, merely to talk about how we are oppressing women, methods we use, what works and what doesn’t, stories about the women we have oppressed specifically, among ten thousand other sordid details. Further, fathers pass this information, she says, to their sons, teaching them to dominate women emotionally and physically, but does not share any of this with their daughters.

I do not hate this woman, I am merely baffled. How can we hope to even open a dialog to help them as the world stands? If she honestly believes that anything any male says, regardless of time and place, is explicitly crafted to instill the illusion that there is no such thing as an absolute patriarchy? The post itself opens with this quote:

Liberal men in modern Western totalitarian regimes (which they call democracies) say we are ‘socialised’, ‘educated’ into … ‘patriarchal values’…

Alright, to get this out of the way first, I have NEVER heard anyone, male or female, speak about forced socialization and education into a regime outside of Marxist fiction (unless she thinks 1984 by George Orwell was a documentary…?).

Second, I don’t even know what “patriarchal values” means, in all honesty. I also don’t know how women are educated into them, these are all things that she seems to assume are taken for granted as common knowledge among those who exist outside of the patriarchy. That, if you will forgive the irony, is an application of the exact same stripping of knowledge that she so vehemently accuses men of using to control women. How can we fight back if we don’t even know what we are fighting?

Plenty of people will (and have) told me that even wanting to open a dialog with people such as Witch Wind is a silly idea, that they could not be spoken to in any case. I’d generally equate that to saying “Well, they could be helped, but are they really worth the effort?”

I want to bring more happiness into the world than I take out of it, and many radical feminists seem to be deeply unhappy people. I can see where they are coming from; if you literally believed that 99% of the world stands starkly against you (100% of the males, and 98% of the females who have accepted the idea of the patriarchy as the standard way of the world), you would likely be unhappy to.

Maybe I could never get through to 99% of radical feminists, but if even one saw that their beliefs stood in absolute contrast to the real world, if even one opened up and saw that the entire world was not against them, then I have brought some happiness into the world (or, at the very least, taken some unhappiness out of it, but the math is startlingly similar).

I know you will get the pingback, Witch Wind. I know you probably get thousands of them, most making fun of you. But honestly, even if I could never hope to make you trust a man, I really want to know how you believe that 100% of any group of people are able to come to some unanimous conclusion that oppressing an entire 50% of the Earth’s population is a good thing? I mean, even slavery, which was the perfect economic system (from a financial standpoint) was struck down because too many people could not stand the constant oppressing of another. Though almost no whips and chains were wielded against the north by the south, the Union came together to stamp out the systematic oppression thousands of people.

Do you think that there are men out there who could stand by and let so many be oppressed? That 100% of men could enjoy it? I am just confused.

I mean, I would like to believe the entirety of your wordpress history is an elaborate trolling of anyone who reads it, but I just… I don’t know. *Shrug*

I just don’t know.

Anime is Weird

The title says it all, but does need clarification.

Who was it that started the North American Otaku revolution? Who went to Japan, said “You know, these cartoons are amazing. I should hire some really bad voice actors, not learn any editing techniques, and then air them back in my home country!”?

Then, after this process began, bad voice acting included, who was it that was like “These bad voice actors, animation quality eclipsed by our animators in the 40s, the nearly nonsensical plots, these are what truly constitutes the pinnacle of art!”

Don’t get me wrong, I love anime. I have a premium subscription to Crunchy Roll ($8/mo, same price as Netflix, but specializes ONLY in anime). Storytelling is very different in Japan, which is about the most level headed review anyone can give it. It isn’t that it is a bad thing or a good thing, it is just that Hollywood (and almost all North American storytelling) follows a very tight “plot schedule”. You probably learned about it in Junior High or High School, you have your rising action, your climax, your denouement, your resolution. Japan saw that graph, decided it didn’t have NEARLY enough peaks and valleys (read: it had none), crumpled it up and used it as toilet paper, then went on to make stories that have a much wider emotional scope than your traditional western entertainment, with mighty peaks and valleys that may (at times) dip into Hades itself.

The funny thing is that there are many other countries that have produced some truly incredible entertainment. Among people who like art, you will be hard pressed to find anyone who hasn’t seen the 1957 Swedish masterpiece “The Seventh Seal”. I have watched it myself, and quite enjoyed it. But that’s it, that is the extent of Swedish entertainment I have seen. Obviously they know how to make a good movie; I’ve seen it.

How about Asterix and Obelix? They are made by the French company Gaumont, and are quite good. At best, though, they are considered a bit of a cult classic. That isn’t to say they aren’t good, as Asterix in Britain is still one of my favorite movies of all time; it isn’t purely nostalgia, either — When you watch something purely out of nostalgia, some of the magic fades, but the subtle (and sometimes overt) racism in that movie transcends time itself (It is made by the French, and takes so many pot shots at the British I’m surprised they didn’t declare war). I watch it frequently, and still laugh at the jokes about British weather (“Is it always foggy here?” “Oh, my, no! Only when it isn’t raining!”), or the jokes about how ridiculous a sport Rugby is. The constant ongoing dialogue about how gross (OR DELICIOUS!) warm beer is, and the idea that you can acquire a taste for anything if you have the stomach for it! (“Have some roasted boar covered in mint sauce! With a side of warm beer!”)

This is more a walk down the lane of one of my favorite movies, and I apologize for getting a little side tracked. The point is, the whole series is pretty funny, even down to the naming (The Great Druid Getafix [say his name slowly, hopefully you’ll get it faster than I did, because I maintain that I was barely functional when I was a child]). So why isn’t there a giant following of French entertainment? Why is there an Edmonton Animethon, a convention held at Grant MacEwan, attended by over 10,000 people, and yet if you talk about “Foreign Film Festival” herein Edmonton, you will have to go to the Garneau theater and sit as far as you can from any one of the other 30 hipsters who showed up to watch it?

What made Speed Racer, Astro Boy, and Kimba the White Lion stand out? (Kimba the White Lion was stolen WHOLESALE by Disney and turned into “The Lion King”. They never really bothered to hide it, as Kimba was remembered by approximately 4 people when the 90s rolled around) Those were the first three anime that were presented to English audiences. When I watch the original Speed Racer, I nearly go blind from how bad the animation quality is (its varied and numerous remakes are pretty cool, though).

Anyway, I just wanted to get that off my mind. *Shrug*

No point to this post, really. Just thinking out loud.

A Story from my Past

Alternate title: A word of caution.

I am a huge fan of Harry Potter, but not one of the crazy ones any more.

That is the important part, mind you; the part that says “Any More.” Imagine back to a time when there were still only six books in the series. We, that is to say, the fans, were waiting with an almost rabid curiosity (seriously, I would have bitten someone for more information) for the seventh book. We would go to any lengths for information, the speculation was rampant, and fan fiction writers were in their Pre-Twilight Golden Age. (Their next Golden Age would come plenty soon enough, though.)

As the release came closer, things started to get a little funny. People were trying to convince other people that their fanfiction was actually the legendary leak from the initial printing run. Some were obvious forgeries, with poor spelling, grammar, or formatting (the first page in a chapter might look off, or the margins would be wrong for a standard book from the English publisher).

Then one came out that had all the hallmarks of being the True Heir. The spelling and grammar were solid, it was written in the same tone of prose as Rowling would use, the jacket was leaked and had everything down to the legal disclaimers and fine print intact as you would expect it; the copyright information was valid…

Like thousands of other Potter fans, I flocked to this release; I thought I could reach out and touch the FUTURE (the leak released about six weeks prior to the scheduled release). I devoured it, starting with all the excitement of a child presented with their favorite food. As I got deeper in, though, a look of sourness spread over my face… Like the child who has finished their favorite part of the meal only to come face-to-face with the ugly reality that they still had broccoli to read.

There are those who knew me around this time, who will recall.

“The leak is a forgery,” I would tell them after I had read it but before the book released. “The relationships are done really poorly, I’ve read fanfics that did them better. And the story goes off on a tangent, and a third of the book is nothing but camping.

Don’t bother downloading it. It is a well done forgery, but a waste of your time nonetheless. JK Rowling would never do that to us, the fans. Never.”

Some weeks later, the book released. I was there at midnight, breathing heavily, sizing everyone up to see who I thought I could beat in a fight if there wasn’t enough stock of the book. I was also wearing a heavy jacket. Thinking back, I can see why people were wary of me… AS THEY SHOULD HAVE BEEN.

Luckily (for them) there was enough stock to last until the third in line (I showed up at 7pm for the midnight release. Apparently normal people don’t camp out for Harry Potter. First, normal people suck. Second, I was glad to be so far forward in the line.). I exercised my weak willpower to its very limits to walk to the car and get it moving. I did not read on the drive home. I did not open the book. I did not even read the jacket. This was a hallowed moment, to be enjoyed in the fullness of time at home, with a lamp over my head, a drink by my side.

And so it was that I made it home without incident, and grabbed my drink, and turned on my reading lamp, and set the book gently down on my lap, admiring it. I then opened the cover, and read the jacket. It matched the jacket from the leak, but still I was not worried. You can leak a jacket with a cell phone camera; that will hardly allow you to leak a 600 page hardcover book. I flipped pages of legal information and dedications, until I arrived at chapter one. My eyes opened a little wider as I saw that the first page was written exactly as the leak had said. I was breathing a little shallower by now, nervousness creeping into my mind for the first time. “Maybe,” I thought with renewed optimism, “The author of that leak had actually seen the book at the publisher and was able to copy a page, or a few pages. Everything will be all right.”

And so I turned the page again, and again, and again, each time finding words, spacing, and events exactly as they had appeared in the leak. With the feeling of horror one can only experience once per life, I realized that the world truly is a cursed place, and that betrayal can come in the most surprising and profound ways.

The leak I had read was legitimate, and I had negatively criticized it to my friends.

I had said “JK Rowling would never do this to us!”

I now had to walk towards my own reckoning. I had to admit to those who I had spoken to with an almost religious fervor that I was mistaken. That JK Rowling WOULD do this to us. There are those who stood by her, and I stand by her still, but I have to admit that Harry Potter has six amazing books and one good book. I had to admit that I–was–wrong.

What is the point of this story, then? The point is that you should never make absolute statements about your idols. You must eat your own shame when you say “That could NEVER happen,” when that thing happens.

I wrote this specifically in response to a statement made by someone with whom I had a disagreement.

“God said His Creation was Good! That means there was no death, because if there was death and God said it was Good, that means He thinks death is Good! And God would NEVER say that!”

Be careful, friend. Believing as you believe with the faith that you have could leave you in a very awkward position if you claim to know the mind of God, and are incorrect. If you stand at Armageddon, and see the fullness of the book of Revelations, and there is still death… What will you say to those to whom you professed such strong beliefs?