Absence of evidence…

I really am on the verge of turning comments off on all my videos. I’m not going to blog about all the reasons. You’re welcome to look up the many, many bloggers who have made that choice or have at least considered it deeply.
I did just that on my “What does Satanism mean to you?” video, and elsewhere on the internet someone accused me of “being afraid” and “like Christians”. This comment was among dozens of the most childish, bitchy, and malicious other comments on a website that seems to specialize in posting videos and making fun of them.
Oh yes, I see my error, certainly I’m crazy for not wanting all of that attached to my short film.

I’m prompted to write THIS post because of a series of exchanges on another video by a YouTube user who posts his own videos discussing Satanism, and he seems to be a member of some pseudo-Satanic group. I’ll be deleting his comments for the obvious reasons below (they don’t contribute anything to the discussion for one), but also so that none of his videos receive traffic from click-troughs on his comments. I’ve already allowed him to take up too much of my time, but I won’t take up any of yours with this preface.

I put what I felt are the relevant sections in bold, for maximum skimmability.

HIM / ME

Thread A:

also, i might ask…. why would i give the CoS a dime of my money, let alone 200 dollars for a red piece of paper with black ink on it, and nothing more? what does being a “member” benefit me or anyone else? what benefit is the CoS to anyone, other than the money collectors? smells like bullshit to me. ive nothing to give any organization that seemingly has nothing to give in return. what could they do for me that i cannot easily do for myself? in fact, is there any justification for the money?
(name withheld) 2 days ago

You decide for yourself why you would or would not give the CoS a dime or $200.
If the CoS were mere “money collectors”, they’d probably have an annual membership, instead of one-time lifetime membership. The fact that they aren’t “selling you the blades” may clue you to the fact their main purpose is NOT generating cash.
Either way, I’m not a recruiter, I don’t recall ever requesting or suggesting anyone join. That’s a personal choice that can be made for any number of reasons.
UnderworldAmusements in reply to (name withheld) 2 days ago

Fair enough… but being the one to question as I am, I found it to be only apropos. I made note tht you didnt suggest that anyone join… in fact, you denote that you frankly do not care. Just because they are not asking for annual dues does not prove to me that they are not merely money collectors… if anything, it only clues me in to the fact that they are poorer at it than they could be. Mediocre “money collectors” at best. So tell me, what does the CoS have to offer? It’s relevant.
(name withheld) in reply to UnderworldAmusements 1 day ago

“Just because they are not asking for annual dues… that they are poorer at it than they could be.”
It does not logically, automatically follow though. You’re free to interpret it that way if you choose.
“So tell me, what does the CoS have to offer? It’s relevant.”
It may be relevant to you to want the answer, but it’s not relevant to me to convince you or to spend time detailing my thoughts on it. When it comes up, I encourage people to decide for themselves, as I’ve done above.
UnderworldAmusements in reply to (name withheld) 1 day ago

I ran out of space on the above post, and likely will again, but it seems as if you avoid my question. Is is indeed relevant to me to want the answer… I can buy red cardboard, lamination paper, and black ink for far less than $200. If you are a spokesman,should you not have the answers to my questions? It only stand to reason that you would. I dont want convincing, merely enlightenment. Just as my postulation suggests, a lack of an answer indicates a deception or lack of an answer at best.
(name withheld) in reply to UnderworldAmusements 1 day ago

My answer could not be more clear: “Decide for yourself.”
As a representative it is NOT an obligation to answer any and all questions.
I have given you a) the only answer to that question I will give and b) my reason for giving it.
If that’s not enough, ask someone else.
UnderworldAmusements in reply to (name withheld) 1 day ago

Fair enough… it seems as if we’ve reached an impasse then. I’m not much of one for beating a dead horse, and recognize circular logic and a waste of time when i see it. You answer reveals much, and nothing all at the same time. Thank you for your unintended clarification and verification.

my comments:
This person is the ultimate “dead horse beater”, contrary to his last post. In all probability, he has already answered the question for himself before asking it. He merely wants to argue about it. I didn’t give him anything except the advice to think for himself, so he implies I am either deceptive or unable to answer. Those are both possible, certainly… but you’d think the PROBABLE answer is that I have decided to not ever try to “sell memberships”. Not only is it a concept that’s antithetical to Satanism, but I DON’T CARE. I made my choice without anyone selling me on it, if this person is incapable of doing the same I DON’T WANT HIM TO JOIN.

If he looks up the definition of “circular logic”, he’ll fail to find any in my end of the discussion. I would highly recommend he poke around the “logical fallacies” definitions and examples, because he commits so very many of them in such a short time.

Thread B:

you know, i might have made it further than 10 minutes into the presentation if you werent so busy practically yelling in a condescending manner… not that there was anything here that i probably didnt know or understand already, but your delivery leaves much to be desired. it’s abt as palatable as a mouth full of hornets, and just as enjoyable to the ear. irritating, at best. i imagine other intelligent and capable people feel the same way.
(name withheld) 2 days ago

Different people will listen to and enjoy different styles of presentation. My video is not for everyone, but if you read other comments here, you might discover your opinion is far from universal. This lecture has been viewed over 10,000 times.
UnderworldAmusements in reply to (name withheld)  2 days ago

This may be so, but so far I see merely 189 likes to the 22 dislikes. Shall we then say that 12,428 people frankly could care less either way, or perhaps they even shut it off just as I did? Fair argument, no? :-) You are correct though… “different strokes for different folks”, or so they say. Some people will sit and listen to this delivery style, abrasive as it is, and enjoy it no less. I do not mean this in offense of course… I am just being real. I do admire your direction, though.
(name withheld)  in reply to UnderworldAmusements 1 day ago

“Fair argument, no?”
Not if you understand how YouTube works and the behavior of YouTube users. If you understand those things, you’d know if would be a terrible argument to make.
UnderworldAmusements in reply to (name withheld)  1 day ago

You can’t very well tell what these individuals think of your video though, now can you? All it takes is one well circulated post/spammed email to have anyone and everyone that clicks on this link count towards that total. You cant gauge or quantify their thoughts on the matter, bc they didnt even take the time to so much as click a simple button indicating they liked or disliked it. Lex parsimoniae would most likely suggest that frankly they didnt give a fuck. :-) (devil’s advocate)
(name withheld)  in reply to UnderworldAmusements 1 day ago

Every comment you make has gigantic leaps of logic unfounded by any evidence. You’re not “being real” or “devil’s advocate”, you’re being a niggling shit-disturber.
UnderworldAmusements in reply to (name withheld)  1 day ago

my comments:

Oh how I loath the phrase “I’m just being real.” That’s what reality show actors say to excuse their irrational asshole behavior. And, no, you’re not being a “devil’s advocate” because a REAL “devil’s advocate” wouldn’t us logical fallacies in such a slipshod manner. He reveals he is either deeply ignorant of the dynamic between views/likes or he’s being intentionally credulous to try to “win” an argument.

Here’s my “keeping it real” moment: This pretentious queeny asshole has around a half-dozen videos with a few dozens views AT BEST. He’d rather think that I got 10,000+ views from some fictitious spam e-mail than a) building an audience for a few years and b) producing content people would want to watch.

I have the data, I know where the views are coming from. I also know that 10,000 views is not a lot on YouTube, but I’d bet dollars-to-baphomets it’s more than he’ll ever get. YouTube provides all kinds of metrics to discover whether people like your video or not, but someone with two dozen views may not get that kind of insight, so he might remain ignorant of those very real ways to guage interest.
Remember, just “keeping it real”!

On tragedies and charities: ego gratification is the rule…

Feel free to adopt the following to any current or future hullabaloos:

People wait for tragedies so that they can use them as political fodder to whip up the masses.
These people don’t care what tragedy, they don’t care about the particulars of it, and they quickly forget the actors involved once they’re done with using it. That’s a reality.
Anti-X folks were all over this as soon as they realized they could politically profit from it. They only care about their political goals, and they weep crocodile tears to get there. They see it as their job to maximize the outrage.
Pro-X folks are justifiably nervous and also do not actually care about the actors involved. They see their job as to minimize the outrage or defensively stir up counter-outrage.
We all care about the incident as much as it pleases or displeases our self-interest: that’s human nature.

further..
The same thing occurs with charity, people only support charities insomuch as it gratifies their ego.
How many times have any of you known someone to support a charity that they didn’t have some personal investment in. Either their kid is retarded or has developed a disease, or someone they admire (and want to emulate) has taken up the cause.
Dudes fly the flag for X cause a hot chick they want to bang is really into it, and chicks routinely adopt their boyfriends agendas.
99% of the time, what is touted as “charity” is actually a form of self-flattery or self-defense.
1% of the time, someone needs to get rid of “extra money” for tax reasons.
—-
Within minutes of posting this Yahoo News gives me this headline:
“Obama: ‘If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon’”
Self-flattery, self-interest, self-defense.

What discovering a mass murderer’s manifesto can do for your site… (UPDATE)

My biggest “story” in 2011 (not my favorite, but certainly the “most popular”) was finding Anders Breivik’s 2083 manifesto online and getting it to someone in the media. I haven’t discussed it much, and I wasn’t asked to discuss it except for my pal David Harris for his podcast.And I’m not going to talk about it too much here either. This may be the most boring post I’ve made in a while, in fact, but maybe you’re curious…

Here are the blog posts I made on the subject, in order of appearance:

  1. Anders Behring Breivik | Probable facebook/twitter pages of Oslo bomber/gunner Posted on 
  2. Anders Behring Breivik’s comments with Document.no (Translated) Posted on 
  3. Anders Behring Breivik | 2083 Manifesto and Movie: Real or Not? Posted on 
  4. Anders Behring Breivik | 2083 A European Declaration of Independence | Manifesto Posted on 
  5. Anders Behring Breivik | Is this the e-mail he sent to friends with 2083 Manifesto? Posted on 
  6. STATUS “STATEMENT: It appears that Massimo Introvigne is fabricating and spreading unchecked rumors and making unfounded implications…” Posted on 
  7. An open letter to Massimo Introvigne…. Posted on 
  8. Response from Massimo Introvigne Posted on 

In that last one I state that I’m going to write a blog post on Introvigne’s misinformation and the false linking of Breivik to myself or the Church of Satan. That never happened, mainly because it only seemed to have picked up traction among the lunatic fringe and strange foreign press. This means I may be on some “no fly list” for Botswana or other shithole, but the misinformation would probably have no “real world” effect on me, and any statement made past what I’d already said in the “open letter” would probably be pointless. It ain’t going to convince the kooks, and no serious news source had picked up on it.

So what DID happen?

First, it can bring your website down. This site was offline for many hours after it really hit that I was hosting a found copy of the manifesto.

Very few people came to this site before I had the manifesto up, and then WHAM:

As you can read, this chart is plotting out traffic by week, with a few months before and everything since. It’s still rare that the manifesto posts aren’t some of the top pages viewed in a day, but I actually DO manage to post some interesting things now and again that generate their own traffic.

Here’s a chart less bar-graph, more real numbers:

I actually had taken my website down for a good part of June of this year.

So where the hell was all that traffic coming from? Here’s a snapshot of 7-24-2011:

So, when it was going on, I was curious what people were looking at OTHER than the posts about Breivik. Hell, there were only 102 hits on the “contact” page… I guess after reading my bio on the “about” page, they weren’t so interested in chatting me up.

So, all in all, I’m still getting a lot of residual traffic, but I don’t think it’s actually helped anything else that I do. That wasn’t the goal, and I did my best to not comment on the whole thing and just maintain conservative speculations and stating facts.

So, I was mentioned by name on the New York Times website, there’s a tag of my name on gawker ( http://gawker.com/kevin-slaughter/ ) and I’ve seen how the two phrases “American blogger Kevin Slaughter” and “Kevin Slaughter, priest in the Church of Satan” translates into many different languages  (you see, it depended on if they used Introvigne or a REAL news source to quote from).

 (UPDATE)

Through ALEXA.com I easily scrambled up a bunch of the websites that deep linked directly to the PDF on my website, you know, instead of linking to the blog post itself…

Continue reading What discovering a mass murderer’s manifesto can do for your site… (UPDATE)

They’re all freed up now! Gosh won’t it be grand…

George Burns is credited with having said: “Too bad all the people who know how to run the country are busy driving cabs and cutting hair.”
Unlucky for us, nowadays they’re all unemployable liberal arts degree graduates with nothing but time on their hands.

Funny how those that claim to represent the 99% look like such a small minority of the well-to-do white folks they’re always railing against. Well, “look like” demographically, not in clothing styles or hygiene.

Unwelcome to Facebook… [UPDATE: welcome back, sorry!]

UPDATE July 26th, 2pm – just got an e-mail stating I was reinstated. The only thing that seems to be missing is my “public” Kevin I. Slaughter profile, so I have to assume it was that page.

—–ORIG. POST BELOW—–

Woke up to find Facebook has killed my account… no explanation of course, just a generic “You figure out what you did wrong from this list of vague infractions.”

Find me on Twitter here, unless they decide I’m unwelcome there too. Now I have to worry about my G+ account. Do I need to act like a clean cut god-fearin’ simpleton so that my google accounts aren’t pulled out from underneath me? Fuck.

Yeah, good luck with that, me.

For old facebook friends who don’t use an RSS reader, you can subscribe to my blog by e-mail. Use the box below to sign up….

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Satanism as Weltanschauung, a lecture in 9 parts (plus Q&A bonus)

I’m pleased to release the video of a lecture given on March 1st of this year when I was invited to speak on the topic of Satanism for a class at the Maryland Institute College of Art. Filmed in HD and edited to include quite a few graphics not presented in the original lecture, I’m pleased with the outcome and hope that for those already familiar with Satanism there is enough to still keep you interested and possibly entertained.

Embedded below is a playlist of all 9 videos, to play without interruption.

Below are two parts of the Q&A session that followed:

If you enjoyed the lecture and would like to make a voluntary monetary donation, please do so below:

Satanism as Weltanschauung

Ch. 1 “Please Allow Me To Introduce Myself…”

Rev. Kevin I. Slaughter introduces himself and gives a short biographical background to establish his long-held interest in Satanism explicitly, but also the occult or hidden aspects of culture.

Ch. 2 “A Brief Overview of Satanism”

Rev. Slaughter gives a very brief overview of Satanism, what a Satanist is, and how it is viewed by society.

Ch. 3 “The Satanic Bible”

Rev. Slaughter discusses the first High Priest of the Church of Satan’s book “The Satanic Bible”. He reads “The Nine Satanic Statements” and other pertinent selections from it.

Ch. 4 “The Satanic Scriptures”

Rev. Slaughter discusses the current High Priest of the Church of Satan’s book “The Satanic Scriptures”. He reads pertinent selections from it.

Ch. 5 “Egalité vs. Hierarchy”

The natural world is stratified, the weak, slow and stupid tend to be worse for wear. The smart, quick and strong tend to have a better time of it. In the animal kingdom, the world that we exist in, it is eat or be eaten.

Rev. Slaughter makes reference to Kurt Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron”, and reads an excerpt from Theodore Dalrymple’s book “Life at the Bottom”.

Ch. 6 “Lex Satanicus”

Satanism takes few overtly political positions, and there is absolutely no affiliation between the Church any political party. The Satanic philosophy positions itself as a third side, rejecting the simplistic dichotomies of good vs. evil, republican vs. democrat, liberal and conservative. The one position most clearly associated with politics is Lex Talionis.

Ch. 7 “Magic”

Magic, in the Satanic sense, is not about shooting fireballs or riding on broomsticks, we do not have “spells” that guarantee sex or death – the two things people always seem to want a spell for. When the Satanist performs greater magic, it is an emotional psychodrama, intended to charge the participant with a specific feeling or to put him in a specific emotional state. It’s made clear in the writings that Greater Magic is an emotional working as opposed to intellectual. Like the power of a masterfully written book or piece of music has, this productive fiction is useful and possibly necessary to the human animal.

Ch. 8 “A Few Unkind Words…”

In this part of the lecture Kevin discusses Christian Child Abuse, a blog that collects stories about pedophile priests. He discusses religiously motivated atrocities committed by Islam and Judaism in the name of their religion and accepted by their communities.

The website is found at http://christianchildabuse.blogspot.com

Ch. 9 “Love”

Satanism isn’t merely a reactionary stance, it is about knowing ones self and building real relationships with worthy people. Rev. Slaughter recites a poem titled “Love” that was written by freethinker Robert Greene Ingersoll, to illustrate this and other points in the Satanic worldview.

Kevin has participated in two oratory contests where contestants read their choice of Ingersoll’s work, and won first place in 2010. The video can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e8UPNFcnYIM

Rev. Slaughter is an official representative of the Church of Satan. More information can be found on the website http://www.churchofsatan.com

Filmed and edited by Kevin I. Slaughter for Underworld Amusements: http://www.underworldamusements.com

Music composed and performed by Michaelanthony Mitchell

Book Nerd :: Where someone asks me to recommend books…

Someone writes:

I am enjoying reading your ‘Iron Youth Reader’ Vol 1.    Approve of your ‘self-directed study’ emphasis.  Further to this, which top ten books would you recommend or which had the profoundest positive effect on you?  Am always looking out for books that come with the highest recommendation from people with a similar outlook.

Thanks for writing, and that’s awesome that you’re enjoying the collection. I’m outrageously tardy in putting a second volume out, but I have released some pretty interesting titles in the meantime. It’s pretty much just me here punching away, trying to get some eyeballs on this stuff.

I like your question, but as a bibliophile the task of a Top 10 is daunting. It’s so easy to rank the most recent books higher, or forgetting ones that lead me to other great ideas, so putting an honest list together is going to take a bit of time.

I will say that the one book I’ve recommended most over the past few years has been Steven Pinker’s “The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature”. It has the advantage of being a fun read and not so “kooky” that I’d be hesitant to tell someone more… ahem… “normal” about it.

Then there’d be a book like “The Satanic Bible” and “The Devil’s Notebook”. It was my gateway drug in my youth to some really great thinkers, but did it with an appreciation for style, sleaziness and fun. LaVey was a deeply flawed anti-hero, and I mean that in the absolutely best way.

“Atheism: The Case Against God” was my first introduction to critical thinking about religion, my first Atheism book proper. I was godless before I read it, but I had good arguments afterwards.

The two books on groups psychology “The True Believer” by Hoffer and “The Crowd” by LeBon were important in dissuading me from ever really falling for populist rhetoric. Years later (for me) Stirner’s “The Ego and It’s Own” worked well in  those prior two, a smashing assault on statism, populism, socialism, anything outside of MEism… heh. Just now I’m reminded of the quote on my website from Norman Mailer’s “The Naked and the Dead”: “I hate everything which is not in myself.”

HL Mencken’s “Chrestomathy” would have to be on the list. I can’t get enough of his writing. From his own translation of “The Anti-Christ” to his three volumes of “The American Language”, it’s all fascinating and inspiring.

There’s also a slew of more “cultural” books that had a major influence on me that I don’t think are going to be important for others. From RE/Search’s “Industrial Culture Handbook” to Feral House’s “Apocalypse Culture”. Moynihan and Soderlind’s “Lords of Chaos”, Jim Goad’s “ANSWER Me!” and then later “The Redneck Manifesto” (it’s been over a decade since I’ve read that… I just checked and I couldn’t believe it. I bet it’s still good.)

Similar to what I find in Mencken, I’ve recently discovered Theodore Dalryple. First recommended to me by the co-author of the aformentioned “Lords of Chaos”, his “Life at the Bottom” should be read sometime after Luc Sante’s “Low Life”. A more fun book that I mentally connect with the two is “Tales of Times Square” by Josh Allen Friedman.

I would be remiss if I didn’t recommend Peter H. Gilmore’s “The Satanic Scriptures”, a book I was heavily involved with from nudging the author to finally publish, to overlooking every stage of production to promotion once it was released. In a way I feel the book is partly my own.

But that’s not an exhaustive consideration, just my struggling to scrape something together to serve as a rough list. I may try to do something better, but that could take a while, if the time it took me to just slap this together is any gauge. I would post it on my personal blog: http://www.kevinislaughter.com

Thanks again for writing, hope this at least gives you a few leads for further reading.
Kevin I. Slaughter

HL Mencken on the first great evolution trial…

I’ve spent a LOT of time putting together a series of 13 podcast episodes of HL Mencken’s Baltimore Evening Sun reports on the Scopes trial from Dayton, Tenn. I’m releasing them in somewhat “real time”, according to the dates they were published 85 years ago. I’d like my visitors to this blog to hear them, and if you enjoy it, please pass a link along to others.

First, a list of the episodes and dates they’ll be released, I’ll link them up as they come out:

June 29th – Homo Neanderthalensis
July 9th – Sickening Doubts About Publicity
July 10th – Impossibility of Obtaining Fair Jury
July 11th – Trial as Religious Orgy
July 13th – Souls Need Reconversion Nightly
July 14th – Darrow’s Eloquent Appeal
July 15th – Law and Freedom
July 16th – Fair Trial Beyond Ken
July 17th – Malone the Victor
July 18th – Genesis Triumphant
July 20th – Tennessee in the Frying Pan
July 27th – Bryan
Sept. 14th* – Aftermath
*Will be released by July 30th.

The full text of the report at the end of the blog!

As frequent readers of this blog know, I’m a big fan of Mencken’s writing. He’s got a viewpoint that is hardly expressed anymore – a no-bullshit commentator on the follies of his day. Moreso, much of what he criticised then has only gone downhill, and his mockery and scathing verbiage is a balm for the mind appalled by the utter stupidity of the modern scene. The only man I’ve read that was able to mix his best elements together with style was Anton Szandor LaVey. LaVey introduced me to Mencken, as well as any number of authors, philosophers, artists and ideas. LaVey is indeed the proverbial gateway drug. It is the opposite of the religions of “the book”, his was a religion “of the world”. When Adversary Recordings rereleased his “Satan Takes a Holiday” CD, and I was tasked with writing promotional copy, this is the tail end:

“…as with most of the work that Anton LaVey has done, it’s a small door to a sometimes unseemly and Satanic world. Applying the true definition of “occult” to these songs is probably most appropriate, as they are hidden wonders.”

A few of the folks who didn’t get turned onto LaVey get real tripped up on the S-word. I’m not going to go into apologetics here, but I think I will be doing an episode on the topic. Let me assure you that you are nowhere near the first person, if you’re like many, to ask “But why not just call yourself ______?”

***

I’m not a writer. There are a few things that I’ve pecked out on the keyboard that I’m proud of, but I hold no illusion that they could even serve as an introduction to Mencken’s own words. Though mecken has penned a few pithy quotable lines, there has been one that I’ve found most reflects my own lifelong work, and I’ve used it many times. It is, in fact, the very first quote on my quotes page:

“I hope I need not confess that a large part of my stock in trade consists of platitudes rescued from the cobwebbed shelves of yesterday… This borrowing and refurbishing of shop-worn goods, as a matter of fact, is the invariable habit of traders in ideas, at all times and everywhere. It is not, however, that all the conceivable human notions have been thought out; it is simply, to be quite honest, that the sort of men who volunteer to think out new ones seldom, if ever, have wind enough for a full day’s work.”

-H.L. Menken, from “In Defense of Women”

***

July 6th was my 35th birthday and the 2nd anniversary of Underworld Amusements (I made a public announcement in October of ’08, but July was the time I started working on it seriously… well, as seriously as I’ve had spare time for). I’ve done quite a bit in the last two years under the banner of UA, but I’m reevaluating it as one should do everything. The podcast started in

The past month and a half I’ve been running ads on Facebook. It’s as cheap or expensive as you want to make it, so I made it cheap and tried to target the people I think would be most interested. It’s brought traffic to the site, but the idea of paying .15 to .50 cents for someone to merely visit the site is hard for me to do. UA is a no-budget operation, more or less. The meager profits from books just go to spending money on website hosting and whatever expenses come along.

This isn’t a wind-up to hitting you up for donations, though it probably sounds like it. No, this is a wind-up to ask anyone who has enjoyed a podcast or book released under the Underworld Amusements banner to occasionally, or at least once, post a link on facebook, write a review on itunes, or do some simple free task to promote what I’m doing. After 14 podcasts, including a number of interviews (from Oscar winner HR Giger, to one-time “worlds worst person” John Derbyshire, to Church of Satan High Priest Peter H. Gilmore, among others), I’ve received exactly one review on iTunes, and that I hounded a friend for.

A few folks have been very supportive, and I’ve done my best to reciprocate. That’s how I roll. I’ve done my best to avoid SPAMMY behavior. I haven’t trolled social network sites begging for folks to “friend” me. I rarely do it on my personal profile and just as rarely do it on my “business” pages. I promote other projects and publishers directly on the UA site and moreso on my personal site. This respectable method isn’t working. Paying for clicks is, but it’s also spending the little money I make that could be spent on new projects or making ongoing projects better.

***

I’ve tried thinking of ways to organize some sort of project that would assist others who are working on projects or have blogs or books to promote to do so easily. Something either a little more targeted than “facebook”, but not a whole separate system that competes with the established sites. I don’t want to build a social network for misfits, but I would like something like an Instapundit for misanthropes. Something that’s compelling enough to bring returning visitors, but not so involved that people have to set up identities, and something that can push that same info out to folks.

I’m not sure what form it’ll take, but it has a name and a url, though I’m not letting that on right now, as it could radically change or not happen. It’d be like telling you my sons name while still a virgin (well, technically, after I had the first two kids aborted, and was planing on making another kid).

What are you willing to do to live ethically?

A blurb about Peter Singer’s book “In Defense of Animals” on Amazon.com begins: “Paul McCartney once said that if slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian.”

I hate The Beatles, and John Lennon, and to a lesser degree Paul McCartney. This aside, my version of that quote would be “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would have a better understanding of the cruelty inherent in life, and it would be more difficult to convince people that life should be fair.”

I need to work on that… it’s not there yet.

I’ve been wanting to read Singer. I haven’t read more than some articles and seen a few videos and interviews. I feel he’s wrong, and I’m interested to read his argument… it’s just not as compelling as some of the other things I want to read, so I haven’t picked it up.

About a week ago  someone on facebook asked the question “Are circuses morally objectionable?”

I made the response (quoting another response):

“…but circuses are not known for ethical treatment of non-humans.”
I don’t think they’re particularly known for the ethical treatment of humans either. It’s one of those situations where you can get bogged down by the ethics, wrestle with the implications, maybe come to the conclusion that ultimately it’s harmful that humans reproduce at all and advocate for the extinction of life on the planet.
Or go to the circus.
Each is an appealing way to spend an evening. Only one results in seeing monkeys in funny hats.

Someone e-mailed me “You were kidding, right?”

Augh… here’s one of those things… I find it really hard not to respond to certain topics. I find it impossible in most cases to be moderate, even when I’m trying to moderate. I’m a cynic and a boor, fine, but you have the ability not to read this, and she DID contact ME.

I responded:

Had to check what you were referring to…
Circuses.

No, I really wasn’t. I was barely being flippant.
Living a fulfilling, considered, fully ethical life is probably impossible.

Sometimes you have to compromise, and compromise usually means nobody is happy with the results.
I recently read “Better Never to Have Been”… it’s an anti-natalist work that uses arguments that readers of animal rights books would be familiar with. The theory is that “it’s always a harm to bring a life into the world”.

I can’t counter his logic with logical counter-arguments. He’s a professional in the field of ethics, if all things were equal, he’s got more time to think about it. I’ve got a job and other shit.
So, let’s say logically, rationally, ethically, he’s right – just for the argument.
Should we not have children? Should all human life cease to be?

These are miserable, brain and gut wrenching things to spend any time pondering. It can lead to ponderous thoughts and disturbing consequences. The nature of evil, of rampant brutality and treachery in nature…

I read and consider, I try to be honest and a good person to those in my life that I care for, and not to be intentionally harmful to those outside that circle.

For all of this, I could look away from the road for one second… coffee could spill, an elderly woman could fall on the sidewalk and I want to see if she’s alright, and I careen into a minivan and kill a family.

If you’re in a lifeboat that will hold a maximum of 12 people, and dozens are swimming and grabbing on to the sides of the boat to save themselves, are you willing to lift up an axe and chop their hands off, so that they don’t capsize the crowded boat causing everyone to die?

If a city spends $2 million rescuing a child who has fallen down a well, would you be willing to cover the well and divert the funds to vaccinations that may save dozens or hundreds or thousands of lives?

I am serious, and wouldn’t it be nice to just go to the circus…

It ain’t poetry, and I’d edit it a number of different ways, but it says basically what I want it to say.

I’m driving to work one day last week, as I do every day, and this day I see a cat run out under the van in front of me and get mangled. I’m horrified by this and my thoughts were “I need to finish it off.” I needed to swerve the wheel of my car toward the animal that I just saw be twisted and magled by the wheels of the speeding van in front of me in hopes that I would smash its skull and kill it instantly. In the few seconds I had to bridge the gap between my current position and where the cat was still rolling from the impact, I saw its battered body twitching and bleeding profusely and a massive evisceration to the abdomen that was spilling out its entrails. I was horrified and my guts turned and I wanted to recoil and pull over but I knew that it couldn’t be saved, I couldn’t slam my breaks at that speed with all this traffic and what I needed to do was to stop it from suffering and being run over by a series of cars until it died from the repeated smashing or someone dealt a deathblow.

I couldn’t do it. I failed to do the only thing that would have helped.

I cursed cars and overpopulation and the whole goddamn world. I couldn’t have saved the life of that cat, but I didn’t do the one thing that probably should have been done to stop the suffering.

I looked in my rear view, it jerked and bled and was still dying. It disappeared under the car behind me and I sullenly, wincingly looked back at the road ahead, cursed humanity and gloomily made it through the day. I probably would have felt worse if I’d done it, even though I would have stopped the suffering of that poor animal.

When I got home and I sat down and the daily ritual of my own cat welcoming me home by standing on my lap and demanding my full attention until he’s tired of me commences like every other day. He doesn’t know about the dead relative, and if he did, would he care?

Life is just not that simple, and it certainly ain’t fair. Not eating meat or wearing a leather belt or abstaining from going to see the trained monkeys may make you feel better, but it doesn’t mean you’re not going to commit unspeakable suffering on someone or something at some point in your life. It certainly won’t stop unspeakable suffering from being committed upon you.

You’ve got to have some principals, some ethical framework, but unless they’re really fucking vague (or contradictory), you’re going to have to break a few to get through life. Tough shit. We’re poorly constructed meat-machines. What we think of as “I” is an illusion created by the brain. You lie to yourself every day, but you don’t know it.

I consider myself a skeptic, and pro-science and reason… but sometimes my gut overrides my brain. I can’t build an argument against the anti-natalist, but I disagree with him. Where I disagree with Singer, I probably can’t mount a logical counter, but I can’t forsee anyone convincing me to stop eating meat.

Am I less of a skeptic? Do I have a “faith”? Am I “anti-science”?

Be a “good person”, whatever you can figure that out to be. Be reflective and considerate, but don’t think you’re absolutely right. Reason and logic will get your far, but you’re not made for it. You’re made to run on lies and irrational impulses. You can’t get away from it. I can’t get away from it. You can only struggle and maybe at the end of the day you didn’t fuck up and hurt someone you didn’t mean to. If it’s a good day, you did something nice for someone you care about.

I don’t want cats to die.

I don’t want to be the cause of a cat dying.

I don’t want to see someone else be the cause of a cat’s death.

I don’t want to see a cat suffer a prolonged miserable and suffering death.

What’s ethical when a cat is in the road ahead of you, half dead?

Can you make the call in 3 seconds? Can you act on that?

The girl didn’t write back. I’m not holding my breath.

Contrarian opinions, confirmation bias…

Once you no longer have a need for a contrary opinion, you’ve settled into a religious faith.

Though most of the material I read is confirmation bias stuff. I’ve got no problem with that, I’ve got an opinion or perspective, I pick up books that talk about it in a way that will be enjoyable or exciting or engaging (and hopefully all of those to various degrees). Like music. I don’t listen to music that I don’t enjoy, I’m not an academic or scientist and there’s enough material out there on most of the topics I’m interested in that I don’t have to read contrarian works.

Most of the time, at least. There are a few cases where my interests aren’t shared with enough people to have advocates erudite enough to write a body of contemporary works. So when I’m not reading blogs or mailing lists I’ll pick up a book by an author on the other side of the question.

It’s good, certainly, for the possibility that a strong argument can be made to change my opinion or show me an aspect that I haven’t considered.

In other news, I’ve got the first half of the first proper UAVH episode ready to go (it features things from this blog, but the second half will be “new”) and I’ll be releasing another book soon.

I’m also considering book blogging. Posting the progress of a book in the works. Since they progress fairly slowly at times, I think it may be interesting. Cover design concepts, type selection, etc. etc. Haven’t decided what project to do.

There’s an interview on Pajamas TV with the (a?) guy behind MPI, a film company using the internet to promote and distribute films outside of the studio system. I don’t know of a way to embed that video here, so I’m just putting the link above.

Here’s the trailer for 2081, a yet-to-be-released film from MPI that I’m really exciting to see: