Archive for November, 2004

Signatures

Friday, November 26th, 2004

Signatures can be fun. I was discussing the issue of what would happen if I refused to name a baby with a lawyer. Would they come and lock me up in prison? Would it be given a number? Apparently there are procedures. Then we passed onto this question – how is a handwritten signature defined legally – what happens if I dispute that I signed something. And it transpired that you can change your signature every time you sign something if you like. Also legally speaking, your signature can be anything you can do with a pen in a small box. So I’ve been experimenting – every time I have to sign some stupid bureaucratic thing, I scribble a totally different and unintelligible sign, with some interesting reactions. Reassuringly the bank said it didn’t match my registered signature (but I could change the registered one if I wanted). The next stage is drawing pictures like dogs, cats and stickmen.

Permanent contracts

Friday, November 26th, 2004

If you want people to work, don’t give them permanent contracts where they can’t be fired for not working. It’s shocking how many people in such positions are earning money for doing nothing. There is no reason I can see why it shouldn’t be possible to fire someone who does no work (esp when it is in the order of a couple of days of a normal person’s output in 2-3 years.)

Talking about death

Monday, November 22nd, 2004

I find it upsetting when people avoid the subject of death. Manoevres such as the following seem to be common.
“I’d rather not talk about that just now. Maybe later.”
“I’d rather enjoy my life without spoiling it by thinking gloomy thoughts.” [Are they so gloomy? See below]
“Of course it’s important to talk about death, but I don’t think one should dwell on it.”
“There’s nothing we can do about it so why worry about it.”
Society does the same thing. Old people are shoved in old people homes to be forgotten about. Death is trivialized, villified and stereotyped in drama. Huge numbers of people never get to see a dead body until very late in life, if ever, because the whole thing is just swept under the carpet. People with terminal diseases are seen as strange terrifying beings because “they’re going to die” (i.e. everyone else is immortal). Just say the word “cancer” and most people tremble (me included). Skeletons are seen as a symbol of terror, even though everyone has one. As a child I was forbidden to look at the bodies of my grandparents and when my curiosity led me to buy some books about dying, my mother hid them.
Like love, death seems to be something that one instinctively knows about without needing to be told and perhaps which is a background to living. It is also an everyday thing in that the ending of the body is perhaps not so different to the many other endings and separations experienced.
I find that contemplation of death is far from a depressing thing – it seems to make me feel more peaceful. It gives me a sense of perspective on the seemingly important worries of life. Walking around a graveyard is very peaceful because there are no more exciting or terrifying possibilities there. Death in nature is not such a terrible thing. The leaves on the trees die every year and that is a beautiful and necessary spectacle.
And here’s another thought – the greatest fear for me seems to be annihilation of the person. The terror scenario is always me being crushed to a small point and the lights going out – the end of conscious existence. But this is a paradox. An end has to be experienced to be terrifying. But if it’s experienced, then I’m still conscious – so actually to experience the end of conscious life is impossible.

Leaf Blowers Suck

Monday, November 22nd, 2004

Those machines for blowing leaves from one place to another may be marginally more efficient than a rake, though looking at how they are used, they don’t seem to be.
But more importantly they pollute the environment with fumes, co2, production waste and noise. There seems to be a craze for them. I counted 3 in operation in a short walk this weekend. Perhaps they are a status symbol.
What’s wrong with a few leaves anyway? I don’t understand.
Here’s a movie I caught this guy doing the blowing and there were hardly any leaves. I suppose it’s a way of appearing you’re doing something important and getting paid for it.

Against ranting

Thursday, November 11th, 2004

This blog was taken down by comment spam, hence the lack of entries recently. I’ve now installed new blog software (MT 3.12) which helped me to get rid of those ****ers. Unfortunately I also got rid of all the other comments that had been made. I’ll try and enter them back in manually some time when I have time.
I’ve kind of gone off the process of ranting recently. Sometimes I feel strongly about something, but then I think – well what’s the point in posting this on the internet. Some of the stuff I feel really strongly about is stuff I couldn’t write about anyway.
Of course I wanted to write something about the US elections – I had my impressions – but they were all taken from the media so who’s to say that they have any validity. Did Bush rig the voting machines – I really I just don’t know. Other stuff is coloured by my internal biases – entrenched resentments and hatreds that have less to do with their objects than with my own blind-spots.
Maybe it would be better to post the open questions I come across and I wonder about. I was going to post a great bit of Solzhenitsyn, but then I worried about copyright. It’s only one page. Maybe I will.
So here’s a question. What are the roots of evil? Clearly it’s not the fact that evil hasn’t yet been stamped out or destroyed. I absolutely don’t subscribe to the view that if you get rid of the evil people, evil will go away. There’s a great bit of Solzhenitsyn which says that there is a line between good and evil in the heart of every person, and the line shifts constantly throughout the life of the average heart – or something to that effect. So if you accept the assumption that you can’t deal with evil by “eliminating” its symptoms, then what is the treatment? Passivism and being nice to people who commit evil probably wouldn’t help much either. Very few people do bad things because they like being bad. Usually there is some kind of ideology which allows people to do really nasty things while still believing that they are doing something good, honourable, that they will be rewarded for eventually. So what conditions lead to the absense of this factor?