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miscellany three

1, Is the signal-to-noise ratio of the internet deteriorating? (Yes.)

Is the divergence between actual content and the automated link-spider adsites, the thriving apocrypha trade, the articulate nonsense, the inarticulate rage, and the endless incestuous copy-paste regurgitated spam accelerating? ...

One day we may need state provision of mythbusting, meme-history, and quotation-sourcing: The Ministry of Snopes. ("An Enema for the Bottom Half of the internet since 2021.")

(And that's before accounting for the operation of the iron law of trolldom: )


2, Several women I have known have eventually told me, more or less sternly, "Let's not talk philosophy."

An awkward position, surely - for what else is there?


3, Was aggressively asked the other day if I thought that being a vegan makes me better than other people. I thought about this for longer than he apparently would have liked.

What I can say is that I am superior to myself, before. We are too different on too many counts, and our measures are too incommensurate to make the glib comparisons of elitisms past mean much at all.

But actually the superiority (moral, environmental, spiritual) balances out to zero, I think, when we consider the aesthetic, commercial, social, and spiritual friction of it. (The spiritual tension comes from that risk that my reactionary interlocutor resented: the risk of setting oneself aside from people; and so disowning them; and so becoming one of those awful Kierkegaardian / Nietzschean atoms. But there's also e.g. the nagging consciousness that our world is built on pain. And, e.g. your lack of ease at friends' meals.) This does not, however, relativise our obligation away. The moral superiority remains pretty clear, and overrules, me.


4, An absurd CV (skills which we do not view as skills)

- Can tell time
- Can tie shoes
- Can write (joined-up)
- Can withhold comment on social superiors.
- Can toilet.
- Act my age.
- Act my attributed gender.
- Know what foods I don't like.
- etc.


5, A man called Grice once wrote down some rules he thought people do and should speak by:

a. Maxim of Quality: Truth
Do not say what you believe to be false.
Do not say that for which you lack adequate evidence.

b. Maxim of Quantity: Information
Be as informative as is required for current purposes. (No more or less.)

c. Maxim of Relation: Relevance
Don't go off-topic.

d. Maxim of Manner: Clarity
Avoid obscurity of expression, prolixity and ambiguity

To be fair to the man, he couldn't have seen trolls coming. But! We may be able to reconcile John Gabriel's theory of dickwaddery with Gricean conversational maxims. Though Trolls have shattered the above for the {internet} context indexical, we can save it with the following Overriding Gricean norm for {internet}:

0. Maxim of Suspicion: Consider all statements possibly insincere.

0*. Maxim of Selection: Do not feed the trolls.

And this is the only real evil of trolls: they force us to adopt the above defensive distrust. The internet is sans innocence.


"Epistemology is the ethics of belief"
- Roderick Chisholm


"Epistemology is the ontology of knowing."
- Gustav Bergmann

I know which side I'm on.


7, Realists are wrong but necessary.


8, Entropy is Satan for secular people. It is the great Beast waiting at the end of all paths, jaws agape. One that we cannot even cross ourselves against. On this reading, thermodynamics is the real dismal science. "Every action is corruption, and every restoration contributes to degradation." (Peter Atkins)

But entropy is not a process; it is the product of all* processes, including everything people do. We increase entropy, smash up the place, a little, just by existing!

Those secularists still ridden by Plato will be broken by this news. (The ones that think that contingency is nihilism; that something must be eternal to be meaningful.) They will take no comfort from our agency; it will in fact sharpen the irony; entropy as not only the devil but original sin too.


9, "Let's all embrace Elgin!"
- new ad campaign back home