Archive for the rant Category

Cultivators of the Spirit

Posted in Philosophy, Politics, rant on August 13, 2012 by Pandesmos

Teaching, sowing the seeds of culture and civilization into minds old and young. That is pretty much the pretty picture they would dearly have you believe, the sales pitch to get you into the pedagogic business.

Oh, we poor devils.

Teaching, fighting an uphill battle against apathetic, uppity students and their cutthroat parents. The metaphorical right to bear arms in class has long since been relinquished, given up as a relic of a more barbarous era; no longer is there a single, sovereign leader clad in the vestments of authority. Rather, in the radiant path of chairman Mao’s footsteps, an age of student democracy has dawned, banishing into the night the dreadful times of autocracy. Problems, as our respected sociologists have demonstrated in all their infallibility, stem not from the destructive urges and impulses of youth struggling to make sense of themselves, the world and life – instead, the teacher is to blame for the failures of all, for is it not on the teacher’s responsibility to see to it that everyone learns on their own terms? Is it not the very essence of pedagogics to cater to each and everone’s needs as a student? Is not, as father Nietzsche says, ‘the strong impulse to punish to be distrusted?’

Droning, screaming, violence, threats to person and property, slander, defamation, work overtime without pay. Wrestle with ethics as good grades bring money and vacancy irregardless as to what a student’s actual skill level might be. Sleep soundly knowing that every day the phone might ring, gently urging you to clean your desk.

There has once been a time, some two thousand years ago, when it was the other way around. Teachers, being mostly self-styled sophists or locally recognized erudites, would choose their own students and enter an agreement of sorts – they would teach whatever and however they saw fit for whatever price they agreed on, and should the youngling not learn a thing, that would just be too bad for them. Of course, even in those times they had their reputation to consider to which repeated failure and association with dimwits certainly did more woe than weal. Still, theirs was a position of authority – parents, mostly of the nobility of yore, typically understood to keep their distance. After all, the desired product was an independent, learned man worthy of his freedom and citizenship – parental guidance and meddling would have only served in cultivating an atmosphere of passivity.

And to think that I actually have some faith in the modern society. The view I just presented is, of course, morbidly romanticized as is proper for a philhellenic – yet at the same time, I believe, in this eidolon of beauty there still is something viable for our time. As is already painstakingly evident, the foundations of parenting and pedagogics have always been in a state of flux (what has not, really?). Despite the current, well-fostered culture of entrepreneurship and the eternal pursuit of happiness, it strikes me dumb as to how parents nowadays see their part in raising up their independent tumors – for them the great task is to provide enough resources for sending the kid off to a reputable school which then takes care of almost the rest. That shouldn’t be too difficult, really; life’s basically the same as one’s career, I have been told. Surely, too, we all have heard the humorous anecdotes: a father filing a complaint after the teacher refused applying deodorant into his son’s armpit after gym class, a couple suing the teacher for teaching ‘too hard mathymytics.’ The situation, then, is as follows: we do not want to raise this being, yet when you try to do it for us, we punish you when you fail to meet our standards. Our standards are always the best, because we are the parents, no one knows this being better than us. We raise- oops, scratch that.

Responsibility’s a funny thing. Like suicide, it works both ways. In this case, it appears to me as a burden which, when successfully carried until the end, merits some sort of a reward, be it money, adoration, a title, whatever. Applied to the rant above this produces a picture in which parents give up or ‘delegate’ their responsibility to teachers and school staff, yet they still expect to retain all the goodies and rights that this responsibility brings. A metaphor about eating cakes and possessing them comes to mind, mind you.

Teaching, like all human activity, can obviously not stay immutable as time goes on – and the thing with change is that it often is accompanied by pain, however temporary it may be. Pain breeds fear, and after a merry cycle we find ourselves on the dark side. More seriously put, pedagogics may well be living through a pseudo-Kuhnian period of ‘crisis science’ – faced with the obvious pressure from the clientele and the lack of innovations, each must find their own answers, some in the form of older doctrines while others in that of new theories and practices. It is said that people have not changed since time immemorial, yet society certainly has. As pedagogics is the bread and butter of socialization, the art of producing new and beautiful citizens, it would be both stagnating and utterly destructive to cease seeking new venues and approaches. In addition, it would serve the purpose to keep the lessons previously learned clearly in mind, for if the thesis of homo immutabilis is true to a certain extent, then solutions once valid might still be applicable today.

From this rambling basically two things can be divined. One is that teachers, at least where I live, are pressed hard, too hard in my opinion, in producing society-worthy young adults with minimal support and constant budget cuts. The other is that while the situation is grim, the problem somewhat fulfills Hilbert’s description of a ‘good problem’ – something difficult enough to warrant our interest, yet at the same time simple enough so as to not elude our comprehension.

Crisis often attracts those capable of providing answers and solutions – the fact that this may well be ‘abused’ as an induced scenario is best left for later considerations. Regrettably, until these new Deweys arise, the cultivators of the spirit may little else but carry on.

For those literate in Finnish or Google Translate, a telling item of news:

http://yle.fi/uutiset/gustafsson_kouluille_kurinpitosuunnitelmat/6253787?origin=rss

On the inequalities of parenthood and custodianship

Posted in Justice, rant with tags , , , , , on November 20, 2011 by SatanicBunny

Recently I found myself in midst of a small debate with a female friend about matters regarding having children and birth control. Because I felt – and still feel – that the point I was trying to make was not fully conveyed to the other party I decided to write this post in order to summarize the core of my argument as clearly as possible to avoid misunderstandings. The essence of the problem is the fact that a man has no say whatsoever when it comes to the custody of the child. That is, if a child is born outside of marriage the mother can – if she so chooses – either not recognize the father at all in which case the father has no rights to the child OR she can seek a court order to have the man DNA tested in which case he is identified as the father and the woman can the seek child support payments from the father. The man has no right to deny the DNA testing, nor has he any right to have his fatherhood recognized without the consent of the woman.

Also, I cannot stress enough the following: I am NOT arguing for any limitations to the mother’s bodily integrity. That is to say, the decision of carrying through with or aborting the pregnancy is – and always should be – the decision of the mother.

I am also not claiming that the biological parenthood is a matter of opinion. Of course the child’s parents are who they are and that cannot be denied. I am also of the opinion that if the child is born, once he/she becomes an adult, he/she should have the right to know who his or her biological parents are.

So this is not a biological issue. That is not to say that I am not aware that due to biological reasons, pregnancy is a highly stressful and a heavy experience for the mother both emotionally and physically and that the same is true for abortion. But in the same vein it cannot be denied that the father has his emotions as well, and to discard or to downplay those emotions simply because the father does not have to go through the physical strains of pregnancy is absurd and even misandry in some cases.

This is an issue of custodianship. This is a legal issue about who is responsible for taking care of and providing for the child after it is born. The mother currently can make any of the following decisions to free herself of the right and responsibilities of being a parent: use of contraception, use of the morning after pill, abortion and finally adoption. With men, the list is limited to the use of contraception, and if it fails – the man currently has no say on the matter after that.

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Stop the fear!

Posted in Conflicts, Fundamentalism, Justice, Philosophy, rant, Terrorism with tags , , on September 16, 2011 by SatanicBunny

The summer is all but gone and that means I have time to again sit in front of my computer and ponder about the peculiarities of this planet. So to both of my readers I say: do not despair, for I have not abandoned you.

A lot has happened in these past couple months during which this blog has remained in hibernation. One of the most tragic and horrifying events was the car bombing and  Utoya massacre committed by Anders Brevik on 22nd of July. This act of lunacy and sheer violence eventually led to the deaths of 77 people on top of that 96 were injured. However, unlike most madmen that do this sort of stuff, Brevik did not commit suicide and he is not imprisoned and awaiting trial.

The upcoming trial (which likely will take place sometime next year) has caused much discussion in the media. Brevik himself has said he wishes the trial to be open to the public, but the norwegian police asked for it to be held with closed doors, citing fear of possible attacks inspired by Brevik’s possible public appearance as one of the reasons. At first the court decided to keep the trial public, but after a recent appeal the decision was overturned and now it seems the trial will be behind closed doors.

Are we (and by “we” I mean, people in general) really this afraid of one man? The way I see it, the courts played directly into Brevik’s hand by denying him publicity. Now he can appear as the silenced “hero”, “the victim” of censorship to those who adore him. And that, in my opinion, is far worse than anything that would’ve been caused if he was allowed to appear in public.

There are those who agree with the stance of the police, saying this had to be done to minimize the threat of new attacks. But Brevik himself is evidence of the fact that especially on this day and age where vast mountains of up to date information are available to those with a computer and an internet connection lunatics don’t need to rely on press and tv to seek inspiration. It goes even further than that; this case has demonstrated that these people don’t rely on information and facts. They live in a distorted reality where killing innocent civilians who happen to have “wrong” political or ethnic backgrounds is commendable and acceptable, and I think I’m not alone in thinking that one cannot obtain such a deluded picture of the surrounding world simply by watching the news.

Moreover, even if one would agree that publicizing the motives of Brevik was potentially harmful, it’s way too late. His nonsensical, apparently very badly written and largely copy-pasted “manifesto” has been online ever since the attacks, and has spread throughout the internet. Therefore anyone who wants to idolize and praise him already has all the material to do that and claiming that keeping the trial closed will somehow prevent or undo this is nothing but crying over spilt milk.

“Oh but the families of the victims need to be respected”, is the last defense of those who praise this as the right choice. To which I can only reply: the purpose of the justice system is not – and has never been – to cater to the personal feelings or need for revenge of the victims and relatives of the victims. The purpose of the justice system is to make sure that justice is served, and transparency of the legal process is an important part of that mission.

Of course there are occasions on which trials need to be closed to protect the private lives of ordinary people caught up in tragedies like brutal murder. But what Brevik did was not just 77 counts and 97 attempts of murder. It was mass murder. Genocide. An attack on not only the people of Norway, but on the whole of humanity. That has invoked fear in people and it is more than understandable in this situation but people should not succumb to it. The first reaction to fear is always running and that’s what this decision is all about. Running and hiding. The courts seemed to think that ignoring the harsh realities will somehow change them and that by silencing the idiot behind all this people will forget him and his deeds.
That is a short-term solution. The only way to get rid of fear is through facing and then conquering it.

That’s what the social democratic youth organisation in Norway is doing by holding their summer camp at the same location next year, that’s what we have done in the past with people like Martin Bormann, Hermann Göring and Saddam Hussein – whose acts are several orders of magnitude more systematic and devastating than Brevik’s – and that’s what the Norwegian courts should do in this situation. We must not cower in fear like children after dark on their beds. We must hit the lights, knock the bed over and let the whole world see that there is no boogeyman. That despite all of our emotional responses, Anders Brevik is not the incarnation of the forces of darkness. To show that  beneath all the hatred and anger he is still just a man, a weak, sick, deluded man who needs to be locked away. We need put an end to fear.

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain

-Frank Herbert

The Pondering Philautic: An Introduction

Posted in Finnish politics, Politics, rant on June 2, 2011 by Pandesmos

Greetings all, and thank you for a hearty and jubilant welcome. I am not wholly sure whether I can live up to all the epithets thus presented, but as a popular green space dwarf once put: “Do or do not – there is no try.”

I might as well take a few lines for a short introduction: a young philosophy major in search of ultimate reality, omniscience and power, I see myself as an heir to the awesome and immense wisdom of the sons and daughters of Greece and Rome. I am also an avid friend of sarcasm and lyrical presentation, so you will do well in disregarding my grandiose choice of words and constant self-glorification. After all, a play of words is akin to a play of swords.

I see myself as one not too prone to producing long rants on recent events; rather, I am interested in the more fundamental subjects concerning knowledge, existence and our possible place in it – surely you know the pattern. The following must, then, be understood as a healthy deviation – one must be open to new venues as well.

Formalities having now been laid aside, there is something I wish to discuss concerning the status of students, at least the status of those studying in Finnish universities. It was only this morning that I was once again treated with a cup of fresh disappointment, flaming moron-brew, when I stumbled upon an item of news. The title, sublime in its wittiness, requires little analysis: “AN END TO SLACKING: ARE YOUTH NOT BROUGHT UP TO WORK?” The cornucopia of such brilliant spouts of wisdom, the Confederation of Finnish Industries, has once again targeted students and newly graduated people with accusations of laziness and lack of willingness to work. These allegations have almost become somewhat an annual, displeasing tradition – “If something’s wrong, I bet it’s because of those damn students. My poor tax monies, my poor alimonies…”

The corporate powerhouses criticise the tendency of taking a sabbath year before applying to a university which some 25% of Finnish youth do at the moment. The reason for this, the magnates argue, is that young people are either provided with too little career guidance or they “have not been taught the ethos of work enough” whatever this ethos may be. If a sabbath year seems to be the best option at hand for some, they clearly lack a well-founded picture of where they are headed in life.

These pillars of society seem to think that it is not far from malice that young Finnish people, eager to immerse themselves in the best possible education and knowledge by enrolling at a university, take so dreadfully long to complete their degrees and start doing something useful to the rest of us, that is, get a job. “If you are not ready to give your share to the society, you should not expect to get much in return” claims Markku Koponen, education director of the Confederation of Finnish Industries. This kind of talk about being useful, doing one’s share, even repaying a debt of some sorts I find both unnerving and unappealing – are we, for one, to tread down the road of assessing the worth each occupation and individual has, or are we perhaps to lay down dicta to ensure that the individual must always bend to the will of the many? Besides, Koponen fails to acknowledge that students are doing their share to the society – they pay taxes just like everyone else and approximately 70% (study published in Yliopistolainen 7/2011) of them work alongside their studies. Many of them, id est almost every male one of them, have also sacrificed a year to universal conscription, an institution I cannot possibly see as a part of a modern society. Plus ultra, another lapse of judgement is the possible assumption that a society could do well without students; while I am not certain whether this is what Koponen suggests, I find his disdain for people not immediately entering the job markets either short-sighted or misguided, possibly both.

What about the ethos of work, what in Helios’ dread name could that mean? Is Koponen arguing that there is some metaphysically intrinsic value in the very substance of work – if so, what could it be and why would it be? In the traditionalist’s opinion not any kind of job will do, oh no – it has to be a respectable one like a doctor or the kind; what good is an archaeologist or a historian for? Being a theoretical philosophy major myself, this is a question I have dealt with numerous times. Ipso facto no occupation, no lifestyle can in itself justify its existence and practice – historians are good for history, but what is history good for? What are doctors good for if humans are good for nothing? If we are to independently prove that something and something are good and reasonable pursuits in life, we ought first be able to present the instrument with which these assessments are carried out. Take happiness, for one; if an occupation brings happiness, it is a justified pursuit in one’s life. Clearly, this kind of metron will not suffice – I, for one, have not got the slightest clue about what happiness actually is. The challenge Koponen and his ilk face is demonstrating that either there are intrinsic qualities and predicates (and that they are knowable and applicable) or that work, in contrast to studying or unemployment, is arguably a superior way of life; being no diviner myself, I do foresee some foreboding troubles for that kind of a project.

Instead of bickering about this and that person’s duties to the society, I have in mind a scenario in which the society acts as a sort of fail-safe organ providing a progressively better minimum framework for every individual while also enabling the gifted and the talented to become as good and great as humanly possible. Koponen, along with his pals in the CFI, seem to think that investing in education carries too great a risk to pay off enough in the immediate future, and that contrasting this with the immediate rewards of manual, menial labor ultimately tips the scales. Yes, it may be and it is a fact that investing in education and youth will generate instances where funding goes down the drain and chocolate turns into shit – another fact is that in some cases we turn chocolate into gold, id est science, innovations, new ideologies and new welfare. Even if we accept the viewpoint that labour is the summum bonum of every society, I fail to see how education, through which new approaches to labour are developed, is detrimental to it.

The way I see it, humanity, of which Finland, as much as any other piece of heaven on Earth, is a part cannot afford holding back on progress and research. It may be costly, it may all be in vain, but upon the brink of extinction we, the merry few, will face Terminus, the boundary-setter, with bold, stern faces and shout: “Be it as it may, we did our best! There was a try, and for that, our greatest triumphs and most monumental failures, we will be tried.”

The world needs more romantics.

Still alive, bitches!

Posted in Fundamentalism, rant, Religion on May 21, 2011 by SatanicBunny

According to an american engineer and a self-proclaimed evangelist Harold Camping the end of the world was supposed to begin today. Well, surprise surprise it hasn’t and we’re all still here.

I would just like to take this moment to say to mr. Camping: Fuck you and your brainless, baseless and moronic “theology.” These three songs illustrate my feelings perfectly.

Dear christians, this is the 21st century, please wake the fuck up!

Posted in bisexuality, Christianity, Fundamentalism, homosexuality, Human rights, rant, Religion, sex with tags , on March 25, 2011 by SatanicBunny

The fact that I have to write this even though I’m living in a western democracy that has one of the best education systems in the world makes me both very sad and very angry. Tt also serves as proof that you cannot educate people who are willfully ignorant. I’m speaking of course of fundamentalist crackpots opposing homosexuality on religious grounds. It’s been a hot topic here in Finland ever since a tv-discussion in which the leader of the christian democratic party made some openly anti-gay statements. But that’s not why I’m writing this. What sparked my hatred is a campaign arranged by a web magazine called Nuotta. The campaign, led by a guy named Mika Falck, is targeted at young people and according to a radio interview (available here (in Finnish)) of Falck its purpose is to “encourage the young to live fully christian lives.”

The campaign’s goal is to try and discourage sexual experimentation with the same sex, which Falk as a bible-literalist considers to be a sin, and for young people to seek “healing” from such urges through prayer. What they are apparently saying is that most experimentation is a case of situational sexual behavior in which the social environment  and peer-pressure make young people try out sexual acts that they would “normally” not engage in. Not only is this an untestable hypothesis, it’s also completely meaningless. After all, as long as nobody is actually forced to try out anything they do not want to do, where’s the harm in two (or more) mutually consenting people trying out stuff. It might turn out that they don’t like it, but in that case they can just stop doing it. It’s been known for long now that human sexuality is not exactly black and white: it’s possible for people who consider themselves heterosexual to have homosexual fantasies / urges and vice versa. Trying out stuff and finding you don’t like it doesn’t make one gay.

Experimentation is needed. Sexual awakening can – and often is – highly confusing to teenagers regardless of sexual orientation. People can believe what they want and they can even oppose homosexuality in a free society, that’s their call even if it does make them moronic. However, what they should not be allowed to do is use taxpayers’ money – as they did in this case since nuotta is at least in part funded by the Finnish Lutheran church which in turn gets its funding from those taxpayers who are members of the church and via community tax – to spread their message of intolerance and discrimination to teens in a vulnerable state and make it even harder for them to discover their own identity.  What Falk and his ilk are saying is: “We think God created you and is responsible for all the urges and feelings you’re having but he doesn’t want you to follow them.” In the worst case scenario this will lead to people living in constant self-denial thinking there must be something very wrong with them because no matter how much they pray the feelings don’t vanish.

Teens need someone they can talk to about these things. They need information, support and guidance in things related to sex. What they don’t need under any circumstances is some raving idiot armed with bad theology from the middle-ages who is trying to tell them they are abnormal and should be “saved”. They even used the phrase “If a murderer can change his ways why shouldn’t a gay person be able to do the same”, obviously making a comparison between gays and murderers, a statement which they quickly withdrew, saying it had been “misinterpreted” – but I don’t know how that would be possible, since the quote is very clear.

So, Mr. Falck, under the freedom of speech you’re free to express your opinions to the public, and I will defend your right to do so. Also in the name of freedom of speech, here’s what I think of you: You’re a disgusting piece of human being, a waste of sperm, a disgrace not only to my first name but to the society you live in and to the whole of civilization; you’re a remnant of times long gone, a man who shouldn’t be living in this day and age, but you’re not evil or malicious, you’re just incredibly stupid. I do not wish you any harm. Nor do I request you to surrender your faith in god – I know that to be impossible because after that you’d have to think for yourself, a task so daring you’d probably die in the process.  I’m just asking you – in the name of humanity and common good – to stop trying to brainwash teens.

I’m not a believer in any god myself, but I know enough about the bible to know that according to it Jesus never spoke a word about homosexuals or homosexuality. However based on his other teachings here is what I think the big J would think about you:

Jesus’ opinion on anti-gay christians

And this time I would have to agree with him. Fuck you, Mika Falck. FUCK. YOU.

Ps. If you ever happen to read this and want to debate about the subject, brig it on, I promise will shred your so called arguments to pieces.