Posts Tagged ‘blogging’

One thing I’ve been doing, in all that not-blogging time you may have noticed recently, is becoming something of a Scott Alexander fan-boy. So here’s a bunch of things he’s written which I’ve enjoyed and would recommend reading, which I made brief notes on at the time but which in practice I’m unlikely to write about myself at much length.

1. I Can Tolerate Anything Except The Outgroup

Putting this one up front because it’s possibly the most important and worth reading. It’s long. Read it all.

2. Social Justice And Words, Words, Words

3. Beware Isolated Demands For Rigor

4. Fifty Swifties

If you’re not familiar with the format, Tom Swifties are pretty straight-forward, and can be fantastically pleasing when well crafted. I’d particularly like to draw your attention to: “Satan is the original source of evil,” Tom said urbanely.

My own contribution: “I used to go out with that girl with a balloon stuck to her hair,” Tom said ecstatically.

5. Radicalizing The Romanceless

Pull-quote: “As usual with gender issues, this can be best explained through a story from ancient Chinese military history.”

This one’s really interesting, and the sort of thing I could burble for a few thousand words about myself, covering most of the same ground but with different emphases and disclaimers added, in part to make sure I’m also not inadvertently signalling allegiance with the manosphere, or whatever.

One thing to note is that I don’t think I do envy Henry what he has, in terms of emotional relationships. He might “get women” for a certain meaning of the phrase, but not in any way I’m interested in replicating. When I was single, I wouldn’t have envied him in the way that someone who works hard for low pay would envy the financial security of the richly rewarded.

But it’s an interesting exploration of the core idea: expressing frustration at your basic human animal needs not being met is totally okay when it comes to earning enough money to look after yourself, but completely unacceptable when it comes to engaging in human social interaction and sexual congress. Hard work is good and noble, but we’ll understand and be sympathetic if you’re just in it for the paycheck – whereas yearning for more of a human connection, or simply being horny and wanting to get laid, is treated as shameful, and not granted much serious consideration as to how much of a basic human need our sexuality can be.

There are sensible reasons why these two scenarios might garner differing reactions, of course – the historical societal relationships between men and women and between capitalist employers and workers are in many ways divergent – but not necessarily enough to justify such a split in how we treat people who are lacking in one area of life or the other.

In particular, feeling entitled to this thing from someone else is intolerable in one instance in particular. Which may be related to how things have historically tended to work out when men’s sense of “entitlement” to women hasn’t been stifled and tabooed.

This follow-up from Jai is also especially worth reading.

6. Book Review: Red Plenty, a “semi-fictionalized account of the history of socialist economic planning”.

It turns out that the concentration of centralised political authority was the not-that-hard-to-identify main problem with Stalinism (or one of them, anyway). I’m still optimistic about eventually orchestrating some way of maximising the benefits of both communist and capitalist systems while minimising the downsides that have tended to come with either in practice, so far.

But it also strikes me that whatever political system ought to work for us – whether it’s some variant on communism, capitalism, or something else – we shouldn’t expect that its fundamental philosophy can be summed up in any single pithy phrase. The history of communism-in-practice might seem like an object lesson in the value of letting people enjoy the direct profits of the work they do, but even that’s not a simple concept, and there’s no reason to suppose anything like this can be summed up simply, in a way that’s unambiguous to everyone. If you start insisting it can, you’re in danger of convincing yourself that your ideological slogan is more important than the real-world practical results of our efforts to organise ourselves efficiently and fairly.

7. The Categories Were Made For Man, Not Man For The Categories

8. The Toxoplasma Of Rage

9. Untitled

This is not the first ten-thousand word rant about feminism by Scott Alexander that I’ve read, and so far they’ve all been worth it.

10. Book Review: The Machinery Of Freedom

The thing about advocating libertarian/anarchist principles, though, is that it tends to be more about living by those principles in your personal life and allowing their beneficial influence to infuse the culture around you and spread that way, than about setting up a small nation-state somewhere to test them out immediately on a huge scale working from scratch.

It’s clear we need some sort of system of working collectively to achieve the things we want to achieve as a society, but whether that system involves a “government” in the sense that anarchists would have no truck with isn’t the most interesting or important point. It’s allowed to be blurry around the edges and not easily summed up. Like I was saying earlier, it’s unlikely that adopting a single unifying idea like the non-aggression principle will make things all fall into place, or that a statement of political philosophy brief enough for an elevator pitch will provide us with any clue how to actually do stuff in the real world. But so long as we’re keeping track of the ideas and not getting too hung up on how to label things, we can always be aiming for utopia, and creating something with more associated benefits and fewer costs than whatever we have now.

11. Extremism In Thought Experiment Is No Vice

I mean, I’d suggest that the “spirit in which it’s conceived” is not anything as noble as intellectually curious moral philosophical investigation in the Duck Dynasty guy’s case, but this is still interesting.

12. Against Tulip Subsidies

There’s so much more where all that came from, but those are some of the highlights.


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Christ, it’s been ages since I last posted about how it’s been ages since I last posted here.

I guess I’ve been too distracted with BUYING A HOUSE and then LIVING IN THAT HOUSE and hiring people to PLASTER AND PAINT THE WALLS OF THAT HOUSE and then waiting for different people to FILL MY HOUSE WITH AWESOME NON-MANKY CARPETS, and I just haven’t had time to think about this place, and also I can’t really set up my computer properly because everything’s been getting repainted and recarpeted and so most of our stuff is still shoved out of the way in the cellar.

The point is holy crap I actually have somewhere to live and it’s starting to look gorgeous and it’s nearly done and after well over a year of being stuck in a weird transition limbo I almost get to just be at home again.

I have been properly twitching for some kind of creative output lately and I really hope this site’s going to be part of it again. My hobbies once my life resumes will include writing, blogging, playing the piano, travelling the world just a little more adventurously than I’m entirely comfortable with, and paying off alllllllll the debt.

Betting is now open on whether the next thing to appear here will be just a regular post about whatever this blog is supposed to be about, rather than another personal update promising regular content soon.

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Year-end round-up

Well, 2014 is at an end, and good riddance to it too.

No surprise, I’m still not really here or back to actively writing again yet. But I did get a few interesting things blogged this year, so I thought I’d do a brief recap of some of the highlights.

For some reason I’m having trouble getting links to the posts themselves to work – the WordPress software’s being buggy or something – but the titles are listed below so you should be able to track them down. Here are my top ten posts that featured on this blog in 2014:

10. Why I’m rethinking my stance on both Jeremy Hunt and chocolate digestives

9. UKIP candidate in bizarre strawberry jam gaff

8. You’ve been using thumbs wrong your whole life

7. Holy shit you guys I didn’t know cats could do this!

6. Most convincing proof of Biblical literalism I’ve seen yet

5. Russell Brand: this generation’s Martin Luther King?

4. Okay, I’m sorry, you can all stop pointing out that the UKIP jam scandal was a hoax now

3. What the fuck’s the Archbishop of Canterbury said now?

2. I think, therefore I am Groot

1. My #icebucketchallenge video

If I missed out any of your personal favourites, feel free to share. Here’s hoping 2015 yields some even more exciting conversations.

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I’m not dead.

I am, however, really enjoying not worrying about having to post stuff here. Like, not even thinking about it, at all.

I’ll get back to it. Just not right now. My mental health is very much appreciating a break from the pressure. It’ll be up for some more exercise again at some point.

Some time soon, I’ll get to say: “Hey, remember ages ago when we moved house and that was somehow basically the only thing we did for an entire fucking year? That was shit, right? I’m glad that’s long since over and we don’t have to talk to any fucking estate agents any more.” And then I will be happy.

In the meantime, I’ve just got to keep reminding myself.

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Well, it finally happened. I am officially now that wanker who, when you tell him “Hey, I liked your blog post, you should pitch that to Comment is Free,” actually goes and does it.

They didn’t take me up on it, but maybe I’ll keep trying once I’m more regularly producing words. For now, one brief thing that’s been on my mind.

I have no truck with “-isms”, and I won’t be a part of any movement that defines itself in that way. From fascism to feminism, they’re dogmatic, tribalistic, and offer a narrow and prescriptive view of the world. They encourage strict black-and-white thinking, and don’t allow room for nuance and complexity. Isms define everything in relation to the strict bounds of their set-in-stone doctrines, and demand rigid adherence to a predefined code, in a way that stifles genuine freethought and curiosity.

And that’s why I utterly reject on principle any set of ideas which share this particular suffix.

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I was asked recently if I’d be interested in submitting some of my thoughts on feminism, from the perspective of A Bloke, to a feminist blog collective thing being sub-edited by a pseudonymous friend. So I did.

It begins thusly:

Greetings, internet feminists!

Hi, I’m a man. You might remember me from such heteronormative activities as “dating” and “sex”.

Read the whole thing over at Everything But The Kitchen Sink.

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Roman Railway

(I’m putting this here because I’ve noticed a certain style of argument I sometimes make in my blog posts, and I want to describe what’s going on in one place which I can then refer back to, rather than apologising for it and getting all tangential in each post itself when I’m doing this.)

Sometimes I have a fairly original idea. No, really.

Sometimes my ideas are badly formed, barely coherent, and not very well thought through. Yes, only sometimes.

My point is, when I think of a new approach to something worth writing about, I’ll often plough right ahead with it, and explain every point I can think of which supports it or helps it make sense, and end up coming out with some fantastically elaborate metaphor or some such, before I’ve actually stopped to consider whether it makes any sense.

(An example of this would be a thing I rambled a while ago on marrij, which turned out being kinda okay but not exactly profound.)

More often than not, I’m still happy with my post some time after it’s finished. But it’s entirely possible that I might get a bit caught up with how much fun writing is when I’m on a roll, and ignore some obvious reasons why none of what I’m saying really applies to the situation in hand in the way I’m assuming it does.

When this happens, I’m just going to post it anyway. Maybe it won’t stand up to scrutiny in the morning. Maybe it’ll be a semi-interesting discussion point. Maybe I’ll have hit upon something cool. But I’m just going to slap my needlessly extended line of reasoning up here and not worry about that.

Because I can’t think of a proper name for it when I do this, I’m going to call it a Roman Railway. It’s long and straight, like a Roman road; it’s a continuous train of thought, like a railway; and it’s alliterative, like all good writing should be.

In future, then, I’m planning to link back here every now and then at the start of a post. It’ll be shorthand for “I’m exploring an idea, and I’m going to see how far I can take it without any attempt to pick it apart, so feel free to explain why it’s all crap and don’t assume I’m married to this particular line of thinking”.

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