Thursday, 29 December 2011

Life is not like a video game

No, not because "it has no reset button". That's boring and if, like me, you first played video games in arcades where your mum would only give you one coin, not obviously true. There's a couple of other fallacies that I want to tackle. The general heading is "life is not fair". Firstly life has no obligation to let you win. Secondly, life does not give everyone the same 100 skill points to start with.

Friday, 16 December 2011


On the day Christopher Hitchens died religion is on my mind. This post is not about that, but you'll excuse if I use it as an example more than once. One thing that I dislike about twitter is the way the immense power of this unprecedented tool is used for a large category of bad ends. Twitter is amazing, every hashtag, used right, is an impromptu, undirected, leaderless lobby group. It comes into existence, organises action, generates followers, achieves some end or gives up and then burns itself up totally. This is a vast improvement over the old pressure groups that invariably fought more for their own continued existence and influence than for the actual aim that founded them. But what if this power is used stupidly? What if it's used to amplify the offence taken by a small number of people?

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Religion and ethics.

I had a rather confusing conversation a while ago. I was discussing the fact that I was confused about ethics and was looking for something more firm to base it on. My friend suggested religion. My friend is very intelligent, which is why his comments confused me. He hadn't noticed something obvious to me. Which is that religion can never be a satisfying basis for morality. And that in fact no religious people derive their ethics this way.

Monday, 5 December 2011

The Myth of the Unimaginableity of Evil

"Josef Fritzl was a monster. His crimes are unimaginable. No normal human being could ever do what he did." This is a common trope in our culture. Extreme evil is due to being an anomaly, an abomination, possessed by Satan, whatever. Either way it is clear that we could never do this. This is false. Tragically false. There were very very few mutants in Nazi Germany. The system in that evil place was designed, set up and run by totally ordinary people. We must all be on our guard all the time. There is nothing at all, no external power of any kind, to stop you, dear reader, becoming someone worse than Fritzl.