I resent my lack of candour

Bento, I think this article (via Barry Ritholz) concerns a very Spinozist project. Radical Honesty is the idea that we should simply stop all the pointless little lies that pervade our every day life and which in the end preclude actual communication of real, useful information. We would feel free to say, yes, your arse does look fat in that, or (and in my office this would be relevant), excuse me, but your breath smells like shit so can you please eat a polo mint or talk to me from farther away? In both cases we would be helping the other party either avoid wearing something that does not suit them or alert them to something that other people will have no doubt noticed and which could help them better build functioning personal relationships or even unblock that promotion which their ability might otherwise merit. Continue reading “I resent my lack of candour”

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Baby and Bathwater?

An ostensibly interesting attack on the “New Atheists” here, Bento (via Andrew Sullivan, and scroll down a long way, past the Parrot, to get to the good stuff), but from a self-avowed atheist; what do you think?

Me, I am not sure how this differs significantly from the utilitarian defence of organised religion, namely that it provides a bonding agent to society, a sense of morality, which helps us all function together as teams. The writer makes much of the apparent fact that religious people really really do give more to charity, even secular charities, than the secular generally do. To which the New Atheist would of course reply, bollocks, and point out the argument from utility completely ignores the issue of the veracity of the belief itself, whether it is a good thing for everyone to think things which are not in fact true but rather stark staring bonkers, and once you allow that to be a good thing in the first place you let have a slippery slope to belief in all sorts of nasty things, and a population of cowed simpletons.

Of course, our own dear Spinoza — uncomfortably for you perhaps — would be on the side of the author, ie that it is a good thing for the masses to have their opiate, so long as we Men of Reason know better. What am I to think?

iShort iPhone

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I am sure, despite never having seen an iPhone, that it is a fine piece of kit, Bento. But I do so very strongly dislike Apple as a company. They sell high quality hardware it is true, but so overpriced; you pay a premium to be unable to use 90% of the world’s software without running some other complex program to do so. I hate the cutsie-coo operating system and the self satisfied “pop” when you close a window. I find the advertising unbelievably irritating, with its “Think Different” slogan, which when you think about it is a pean to its lack of market share; if they had managed to sell more Macs than PCs would they be telling us to “Carry on Thinking the Same” to make us buy more Macs? More than that, I pity the ponytailed, smug, pseudo-individualist, and above all gullible Apple fanboys, who all believe they are part of some greater social movement representing god knows what but who are in fact the victims of some corporate succubus which cares not a jot for them except how much more they can milk them. And the fanboy’s anger at the Wintel axis ignores the fact that the only thing which kept the company afloat during the dark times was Microsoft’s charity; that and the need to pretend that Windows was not in fact a monopoly.

No, Apple is the antithesis of what a Spinozist technology company should look like: closed, not open systems; overly pleased with itself and arrogant; and its advertising and brand values appeal to the grossest of the Passions: envy, pride, confusion and fear. In their defence, the flip side of their arrogance is a certain appealing audacity. The company from time to time (but not as often as we think) creates attractive and innovative products. But net net they have to go in the Stupid Cartesian bucket.

Anyway, I submit Apple may well have peaked, and it is all downhill from here. I am worried about the company and the stock, and think it might be time to call er, time on the fanboy stuff at least. Continue reading “iShort iPhone”

Pope: Lack of evidence of God is a test

Baruch, sometimes the credulous make mocking them rather too easy. You may have read a few weeks ago that God never did get in touch with Mother Theresa, as revealed in her letters to confidants. Now the pope tells us why:

Pope says Mother Teresa felt “God’s silence”

LORETO, Italy (Reuters) – Pope Benedict said on Saturday that even the late Mother Teresa of Calcutta “suffered from the silence of God” despite her immense charity and faith. […]

It is significant that the Pope mentioned Mother Teresa’s torment about God’s silence as not being unusual because there was some speculation that the letters could hurt the procedure to make her a saint. […]

He said believers sometimes had to withstand the silence of God in order to understand the situation of people who do not believe. (my italics)

That, I posit, is a brilliant variation on the creationists’ explanation for why there are fossils in the ground: So that believers can understand the situation of people who base their beliefs on the evidence around them.