On Doormats and Prostitutes

“I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat, or a prostitute.”

– Rebecca West

Primaries and Caucuses

In the United States presidential elections, a primary is a statewide voting process in which voters cast secret ballots for their preferred candidates; a caucus is a system of local gatherings where voters decide which candidate to support. Both systems culminate in the selection of delegates who will vote on behalf of the electorate at a party’s national convention.

On closer inspection, the system is incredibly convoluted and even undemocratic. Consider the following news report:

“We’re putting up right now a graphic Bernie Sanders wins 56 to 44 percent in Wyoming the delegates rewarded Hillary Clinton 11 Bernie Sanders 7. Why does the Democratic Party even have voting booths? This system is so rigged!” – MSNBC

And it is not just the Democrats, when Donald Trump won Louisiana beating Ted Cruz by more than 3 percent he was upset to discover Ted Cruz could potentially get as many as 10 more delegates or as he put it:

“I end up winning in Louisiana, and then when everything is done I find out I get less delegates and this guy that got his ass kicked, OK. Give me a break!” – Donald Trump

There is no clearer piece of evidence that this system is broken than when Donald Trump is actually making sense. Confronted with results like these, the process appears counter-intuitive. Continue reading

Conversations: The Preposterous

Clearly, it is time we all learned to meet our emotional needs without embracing the preposterous. We must find ways to invoke the power of ritual and to mark those transitions in every human life that demand profundity—birth, marriage, death—without lying to ourselves about the nature of reality.

What does that mean in practice?

I feel we should recognise that, for instance, the practice of raising children to believe that they are Christian, Muslim, or Jewish should be recognised as the ludicrous obscenity that it is. And only then will we stand a chance of healing the deepest and most dangerous fractures in our world.

That’s all very well and good, but I have no doubt that the acceptance—so to speak—of Christ coincided with some very positive changes in some people’s lives. Perhaps they now love other people in a way that they never imagined possible. They may even experience feelings of bliss while praying—say. Continue reading

Das Gerede

It isn’t just us who are so temporary—it is all living beings, all living things—the animals, the trees, the clouds. They, too, exist briefly against the background of nothingness. Once we are aware that we, and all living beings, share this fragile state, we might learn to identify more with them, to recognize our kinship with all living things and with the Earth itself. They are like us, briefly alive against the backdrop of nothingness.

However, Heidegger is very aware of the way in which we hide from confrontation with Being, escaping into the warm folds of daily life, of society, and of what he termed its endless chatter, Das Gerede. We can imagine Das Gerede as an enormous pancake-like dough layer that smothers our connection with Being. Chatter is everywhere—it comes in via the airwaves, the media, our social circle—and it seeks to reassure us that trivia actually matters, that our jobs count, that what we are doing and thinking has importance. It hides us from the nature of Being in a world of death. So the task of philosophy is to remove us from the doughy comfort of chatter and introduce us, systematically, to the bracing concept of Nothingness.

Heidegger wants to free us from the pull of chatter, so as to focus on the intensity of existence.

– Courtesy of brainpickings.org

The First Hominids

The road to humanity
13-7 million years ago

The first apes appeared in Africa around 25 million years ago. Then at some point, the group split into the ancestors of modern humans and the ancestors of modern apes. It is hard to say exactly when, but thanks to modern genetics and a host of fossil discoveries, we have a rough idea. The oldest known hominid was Sahelanthropus tchadensis, which lived about 7 million years ago.

See other: History of Life

20/x mmxvi

In 2002, Norwegian footballer Kenneth Kristensen signed for third-division team Floey and was paid his weight in shrimps.

The modern Spanish Navy is still called the Armada.

There are more Catholics in Scotland than in Northern Ireland.

A 2005 United States medical research project showed that 20% of interviewees admitted to taking Derbisol, a drug that does not exist.

The director and producer of the 1971 film Fiddler on the Roof was called Norman Jewison.

See other: Quite Interesting Facts

On Infinity

“If we take eternity to mean not infinite temporal duration but timelessness, then eternal life belongs to those who live in the present.”

– Ludwig Wittgenstein

Milk Myth?

“Milk increases mucous.”

False. It is just a placebo effect.

According to the study Relationship between milk intake and mucus production in adult volunteers challenged with rhinovirus-2, the test subjects ‘who believe “milk makes mucus” or reduce milk intake with colds reported significantly more cough and congestion symptoms, but they did not produce higher levels of nasal secretions.’ The researchers concluded that no statistically significant overall association can be detected between milk and dairy product intake and symptoms of mucus production in healthy adults, either asymptomatic or symptomatic, with rhinovirus infection.

See other: Mythconceptions?