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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in contrafrutexus' LiveJournal:

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Monday, October 27th, 2008
3:58 pm
Writer's Block: The Undead
With Halloween on the horizon, burning questions about the undead need to be answered: Can being a zombie be considered suffering?
That depends. If you're a Romero-zombie, no, because there's no "you" to suffer. If you're an O'Bannon-zombie, well, at least one of them has stated that being dead hurts, and that brains help kill the pain.

If you're a "philosophical zombie", or "p-zombie", there's no "you", but you exhibit every possible outward and inwardly visible sign of suffering, so being a zombie probably should be considered suffering even if it isn't.
Tuesday, October 21st, 2008
1:15 pm
Writer's Block: Cryptozoology
Civilised human being.
Monday, July 21st, 2008
12:43 am
Writer's Block: Supermarket Grabfest
You have three minutes to grab everything you can from a supermarket. Which items do you go for?
Pure (non-briquet) charcoal, water, triple antibiotic ointment, as much cloth as I can find in any form, iodine, chlorine bleach, oxygen bleach, rice, oats. As many tools as I can grab from the automotive section. Antibiotics from the aquarium items display or section, if they've got it (usually there's tetracycline).

Without thinking about it, I took "three minutes" to mean "there's a nuclear war or other disaster coming", not "you're in a hurry to get back home from work." I'm guilty of being brought up during the Cold War.
Saturday, June 28th, 2008
10:39 am
The truth that tells a lie
Why the opposition to medical pot? Some of it is reasonable for a given value of "reasonable": I'm sure to certainty that many of the people backing it are at least partially motivated by the good p.r. it gives dope.

But this is the problem: there is a level of increased legitimacy that it _should_ get from its medical usefulness, at least as much as that which eye surgery gives cocaine, or heroin's fitness as a pain-reliever for the terminal (or those with intractable coughs) should do. But this is a problem for what I'm guessing is the majority of the opponents: they cannot accept _any_ increased legitimacy for it.

I am far from the first person to state unequivocally that our drugs laws, from the Harrison Narcotics Act on, partake more of the Religious than of the Just, or even of the maintenance of the good order of society. They deal in fixed categories of the permitted and the forbidden, showing their origins in racial fear and (literal) missionary zeal.

When something is tabu-tabu, its slightest contagion is of concern*. The implication that the Forbidden Material may actually _help_ some people, perhaps greatly, is incompatible with its status...therefore all the evidence that it is of benefit is, to the proponents of the system, a lie.

Perhaps this supposed "benefit" was buried in the chemical profile of the drug by Satan, to tempt us, or by God, to test our faith in the presence of lying facts....

*O.K., a poor Orthodox Jewish family may eat of a meat dish if a very small amount of milk is there, I forget the proportion, but that's because mixing meat and milk is merely tabu, not tabu-tabu---a particle of pork would render the whole pot of stew unclean.
Saturday, June 21st, 2008
6:19 pm
Exactitudes, animated
via andrewsullivan.com...I collected the images into an animated .gif file:

(Note: this image is probably the intellectual property of Ellie Uyttenbroek, with whom I was unable to get in touch. If she wishes it removed, I will do so immediately.)
Sunday, December 2nd, 2007
8:00 pm
Sunday, March 4th, 2007
10:24 pm
Cats, flowers, butterfly
These words are traditionally assigned to Death in a painting of bucolic country; since there are cats in it---and what are Mucha's intentions toward that butterfly?---I didn't feel the need to insert him explicitly....
Thursday, January 4th, 2007
11:09 am
Phrase for the day
The false consciousness of the unconscious.

Monday, November 6th, 2006
5:42 pm
A democratic gain
Some criticise democracy as being prone to devolving into a "vote yourself rich" scheme. But consider: the only way to keep that from happening is to have property rights backed by a large enough majority that it's hard to make laws disturbing the scheme.

The only way to make sure that a large number of self-interested individuals will support property rights is if they have some property to protect (let's assume that not enough people will be permanently moral/delusional on the subject, which might be the case, but one can hope).

This means that in a democracy, at least some of the powerful rich will see that it's in their interest to keep vast inequality in wealth in check.

This is far from original in thought; the G.I. Bill made stakeholders of more Americans than ever before. The current administration have tried to accomplish the same thing by touting the "ownership society", but this fell somewhat flat due to a residual perception that Wall Street is a mug's game for all but the Wall Streeters....
Monday, October 2nd, 2006
10:32 am
What do you do if you feel the Writ of Habeas Corpus is being unjustly held prisoner?
Saturday, July 29th, 2006
10:53 am
This is the Web...
...so I am evidently required to make at least one reference such as the below this month:

   We are here as snakes on a darkling plane

   Swept by confused alarms of struggling flight attendants

Sunday, July 23rd, 2006
8:48 am
Unintended consequences (Part 1138)
Banning cigarette advertising (or for that matter, advertising of E. "Buzz" Miller's "Bag o' Glass") reduces the natural selection against suggestible and weak individuals, the sort who'll do anything or believe anything a voice in their head or on the radio might tell them.

People who should have been watching and obeying TV commercials for "low" tar cigarettes have instead been listening to and obeying the Bible*---and say what you will against it, the Bible and we have co-evolved long enough that it mostly doesn't kill us even if we take it seriously (I speak as a somewhat disobedient son).

No wonder authoritarian conservatives have been mostly ruling us since 1980, and everyone else who wants to tries to act like them: we've kept millions of people running "authoritarian follower" personality code from their natural appointments in Winston-Samara.

*I use the term "Bible" in its usual sense: "people interpreting the Bible, or who have taught them the correct way to interpret it for themselves"
Monday, July 3rd, 2006
12:58 pm
Dietary laws
(This is an extension of the idea that kashrut exists to separate Jews from non-Jews; I think there's truth in that, as well as in the thought that it's an adaptation of general priestly codes for "a nation of priests", but I think it goes even deeper---it ties tribal ways to the more basic and fail-safed systems evolution demands of animals.)

People who are brought up with strict dietary laws (kashrut, halal,
[Error: Irreparable invalid markup ('<sanskrit-i-don't-know>') in entry. Owner must fix manually. Raw contents below.]

(This is an extension of the idea that kashrut exists to separate Jews from non-Jews; I think there's truth in that, as well as in the thought that it's an adaptation of general priestly codes for "a nation of priests", but I think it goes even deeper---it ties tribal ways to the more basic and fail-safed systems evolution demands of animals.)

People who are brought up with strict dietary laws (kashrut, halal, <Sanskrit-I-don't-know for a "good" Hindu's diet>) will often have the same sort of aversion for prohibited food and drink that everyone else has for rotten food or food defiled by filth. This is expectable, as one raised in that environment learns what's "good to eat" at an early age, and prohibited foods are place in the same category as garbage by the teachers (natural aversions exist, but they're not as strong as all that---infants will eat terrible things, and can be taught that rotten shark is good to eat).

But consider: this means that a basic survival system (what you can safely eat) has been partially reprogrammed by a belief system, not just the neurons in the brain but the ones in the gut. That is to say, it brings the religion into your innards in a very literal way, and probably cements it to you more...you will probably forget what you can safely eat long after you forget speech or walking.
Sunday, May 21st, 2006
8:44 am
Catchy, but true?
"Any family you can walk away from under your own power is a successful one."

"'All happy families are alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.' That might be true, but even if so, the happy ones are less boring."
Saturday, April 22nd, 2006
6:58 am
"You know things are bad" watch
Don't you wish that a secret cabal of rich, evil, but practical, competent, and self-interested, men were controlling our government from behind the scenes?
Tuesday, March 21st, 2006
9:59 pm
It suddenly occurred to me that William Buckley, when he said that he'd rather be governed by the first four hundred people whose names were in the Cambridge phone book than by the faculty of Harvard
1.) Hadn't met any of those first 400
2.) Knew that his money (and, perhaps, polysyllables) would dazzle them
more than the Harvard faculty.

Not that I could necessarily stand to hang around much of the Harvard faculty,
but elitism in the defence of freedom is no vice.
Friday, February 24th, 2006
5:33 pm
And without the Robert Mitchum cool, too.
People have claimed that the Democratic Party is the "Mommy" Party, and the Republicans the "Daddy" Party, but I'd say that the G.O.P. were now more like the "Psychotic-Stepdad-with-'Love'-and-'Hate'-tattooed-on-his-knuckles" Party.
Friday, January 20th, 2006
2:41 pm
Please don't be Marxist...
...because it's become yet another religion, but:

Isn't it strange that the one sort of Darwinism to grab any sort of political hold in this Homeland of Capital is Social Darwinism, a doctrine designed to tell the successful that they deserve success, that the unsuccessful deserve what they get, and any attempt to help the latter will only make things worse? It sounds like a bespoke doctrine.

Compare that to the sort of Darwinism They don't want taught in schools, where this year's loser may be next year's winner, and it can all rest on a protein fold or a change in external conditions. This is the only hope I think I allow myself: that we little egg-eating mammals will live long enough to forget the Thunder Lizards ever existed.
Sunday, January 1st, 2006
3:47 pm
Friday, December 23rd, 2005
10:05 am
Santa's a slacker
I've figured it out, Santa's taking the easy way out:
It's a lot easier figuring out what the nice people want. Usually, it's socks.
Naughty people want all kinds of complicated things---you ever try to shove a mixture of leather, rubber, and murder into a bag, much less down a chimney? Better to leave it to their friends.
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