Friday, April 26, 2013


I like all others have a nature that is petty and small. One that makes me want to assert and dominate, particularly over a class of humans I identify as my competition - men.

If Abraham Lincoln regrettibly said:

and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race
I need not end my life for feeling/thinking and sharing with you that I tend to prefer being the superior to other men around me. I like to win foot races (rare, but it's happened) I like to be the tallest man in the room (extremely rare, has only happened in small rooms in south east asia and Japan), I like to be the most physically attractive man present (thanks to some ugly tall people, has happened occassionally).

So I had full and thick underarm hair by Grade 5. I enjoyed a brief period of ridicule on my basketball team for having it. But things quickly changed by the time we hit the under 16's teams where not having under arm hair drove many players of the game to wear a shirt under their singlet to conceal their shame.

Growing up, I enjoyed a position of superiority in the patriarchy of male social order, on account of being fucking hairy. I had chest hair, leg hair, under arm hair, facial hair, sideburns. Thus I was always welcome amongst the manly men, and together we could ridicule the 'skinboxes'.

Less so than the lowly 'skinboxes' were the guys we used to refer to as 'prettyboys' I'm sure it's a sexist term offensive to both men and women, assigning an innate assumption of wretchedness to qualities of feminine beauty, but there was an acknowledgement either tacit or outright, that these guys could get the girls, precisely because they were more effeminate than other guys.

The thing was, that while you may not have gotten the outright fawning there was for prettyboys, there was no strong compulsion to imitate their looks artificially in order to attract girls. Being masculine, in some kind of soviet sense was a viable strategy of attraction.

I would hold it to be generally true, that a man's standing with other men can affect his perception of attractiveness to women. I'm limiting this topic to heteronormative sexual politics, simply because I lack the experience, and indeed motivation to actualy explore the broader spectrum.

I basically contend, that leadership is attractive (in men).

That a fat man, a bald man, a man with a hairy back can get laid more easily than women of equivalent descriptions is one of the persistent gender inequalities that... ah... persists.

And I enjoyed such advantage.

Now, I think the marketing strategy of making women feel unattractive, and that their happiness requires a remedy of this, and then selling them some product to get them back to the previously experienced feeling of attractiveness, is not new, or even unbrazen in marketing and advertising.

It's probably true, that women need to die their hair from grey, just to be considered employable in most professions.

Turning these viscious tactics on men is relatively new. And men are conceding the ground I think. But I don't know. In fact I don't know much, I don't rigorously test any of my theories, I just use them to entertain me.

But I suspect, that it is more likely now, that a man the age I was when I was laughing it up at the skinboxes' expense, would feel considerably more pressure to be less like the jocular and straight Freddy Mercury I revelled in in the change rooms and more like Ryan Gosling, or the skinbox I previously ridiculed.

Does present adolescent me get his chest waxed? or shave it? or some shit? Does present adolescent me equivalent wear a shirt to play basketball? Or worse, play soccer because the uniform has sleeves?

I don't know. I don't particularly seek the company of recently pubescent males.

What I will say is this. Attraction is worth getting your head around. Physical is important. In my life I have had suitors that would have made good partners to me if not for the fact that I had no physical attraction to them. I am sure the reverse is true of me.

But my observations of my own physical attraction to women is that there is a lot of room to move. Asking me, for example what my prefernce for a woman's pubic hair grooming is, is a misleading question. When looking at pornography on the internet, these superficialities matter, because in masturbatory aids I need efficiency, to utilise as little of my imagination as possible in holding that image. I can supplant any personalities I want and have any interaction with a female form I like knowing that every aspect is under control of my imagination, and that the female form I utilise for arousal in that instance is instantly disposable.

If we are talking about sex with a woman, rather than sex with myself while trying to forget my actual circumstances though. Here's the thing, and I wished when asked I had the confidence to answer so honestly.

My preference, overwhelmingly in my case is for vagina, and specifically the vagina that belongs to somebody I actually want to have sex with. Thus in most circumstances I imagine myself coming across the pubic bone, it's fleshy covering and then discovering how much or how little hair it is garnished with (or wether it has been vagazzled) is of so little consequence, it doesn't even pose a risk of rejection to anyone that might value my opinion on the subject.

In a long term relationship promising multiple iterations of the sexual act and variations upon what is done by whom to what, I feel there is then the appropriate time to share preferences, and even then, whatever preferences I give or recieve, for me it is but an expressed preference, not a command, or ultimatum or even request. Even if I did have some enthusiasticly overconfident lapse where it was posed as such, I would hold little sway because my preference for who's vajajay would generally give the other party monopoly power.

I don't expect reciprocity either, nor believe any relationship enjoys equal power, equal control between parties. I guess I would assume reciprocal respect, as in if somebody told me they really wanted a peircing in my penis, they would respect my desire not to fulfil that preference.

Just as I don't know whether hairy young men like I was now fork out for back waxes at Salons, I don't really know how prevalent my attitude is amongst the general populace. I'm aware that many people are averse to strong attachments, get bored quickly of any particular sexual partner and that that's a perfectly valid approach to sex, I imagine for such people anticipating a very finite union their preference for hairless may in fact exceed their preference for penis, and even their preference for whom the genitals are attached to.

I'd be more curious to know, whether people who like me, attempt to enter lasting relationships, may indeed find the preference for hairless, hairy or any particular grooming or accessories a sufficiently important one to be a dealbreaker.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


Goodness and badness or wickedness or whatever are not entirely subjective terms. I mean in the sense of 'the villain is just the hero of the other side' principle, in many senses goodness and badness might take on a relative sense.

Danny the football hero tells me he loves me. I want to believe it, because Danny is a dreamboat. But I'm a fan of evidence based beliefs. Thus as a reasonable person, I test the claim that Danny does in fact love me, by observing his behaviour, and whether it supports his claim.

Why behaviour? because it can be seen. And while there is perhaps no universally agreed upon definition of what it is to love somebody, there are useful, functional ones. One I find serviceable is that you love somebody when the importance of their needs equals or exceeds your own.

Now I'm testing Danny's love for me, not my love for Danny. This is not entrapment, but observation. Does Danny hurt me? emotionally or physically? Is it intentional? Does Danny provide care? Attention? Does Danny know what I do? Who is important to me? Does he misrepresent himself to me? Say he can't make our date thursday night because of training, then I run into him at the local bar? Does he remember my birthday? Is his love exclusive in accordance with my need for security? etc. etc.

Danny may well be convinced on a subjective level that his claim is true. But if he slapped me for talking back to him that time, and cheated on me with that slut Siobahn, if he skipped my birthday to go on a fishing trip with his footy mates, if he dislikes my friends and discourages me from associating with them. I can reasonably conclude that in a very real and practical sense he doesn't love me.

This is the approach of a reasonable person, a reasonable line of enquiry.

You can apply the same approach to claims of goodness, by looking for evidence of altruistic behaviour, similarly to wickedness by looking at selfish acts and malicious behaviours - intentionally harming others.

Claims of goodness and badness, are in other words falsifiable.

So, in one way debates over the existence of gods are both tired and overdone, and also kind of inexhaustibly fascinating. They are tired and overdone because the same arguments are endlessly dealt with again and again and seemingly make no progress.



Above the question 'Why?' this entire post was preamble. It illustrates a reasonable line of enquiry to verify a falsifiable claim. That is a claim that can be proved untrue.

Here is where the idea of a congenial rational debate between reasonable people and religious apologists falls apart in my view.

The religious apologists generally don't believe their personal God to be subject to the tests we applied to Danny's love. In my experience and observations, most religious apologists shake their head in chagrin, because God's benevolence, goodness, greatness etc. is not a claim, but a definition, or perhaps an axiom.

God's behaviour (drawn from scripture etc.) is not admissible evidence, but simply the benchmark of what defines good behaviour.

Thus the reasonable side of the debate takes scripture and starts... well wherever you like, the 10 commandments, Job, the Plagues, Revelations... probably* all scripture of all religions contains behaviours attributable to the deity that falsify claims of benevolence - eg. if we applied the same acts to Danny a mere mortal no matter how good he is at football he would be deemed everything from a war criminal to a petty person.

You end up with a disconnect. On the one hand, the reasoners are using reason to reasonably draw conclusions about God's character. On the other hand the apologists aren't even apologising but the whole line of inquiry is invalid. What God does, is by definition good character, the best character of all. God cannot be judged, He is the judge, who sits in judgement over the people who are but a part of his master plan.

Inscrutibility thus is the suedo-reasonable defence, if I were to command a group of loyal and devoted followers to go out and kill their neighbours in my name because they do not believe in me, I would book myself a cell next to Charles Manson. God though, this is simply the product of his omniscience, knowing that this is the best outcome for a much bigger picture that we don't understand, thus anything that happens good or bad is much as we don't understand it, the most altruistic thing a omnipotent and benevolent entity could do.

Tsunami wipes out 80,000 impoverished people destroys the property and security of many survivors = benevolent. Baby born with Downs Syndrome = benevolent. Ancient civilization destroyed as heretics when Catholic Spain arrives after having no opportunity to discover the true messiah Jesus Christ = benevolent.

There are other defences, like that the Conquistidors were acting in the name of God, but not representing his 'true' will, however allusions to the 'true' spirit of Christianity, or true will of God defeat inscrutibility, so this defence just makes Tsunami deathtolls and congenital conditions not defendable by inscrutibility.

It also indicates that if people can misrespresent the true will of God and the true spirit of scripture etc. that these institutions have no particularly special protection, nor are the scriptures of any particular merit as sources of instruction, against misrepresentation. They are arguments against the efficacy of organised religion.

See, see how wonderous/monstrous reason is.

The debate about the benevolence of any particular personal God could be an interesting debate about the notion of inscrutibility and it's implications. (I would argue, that an inscrutible personal God, invalidates any 'moral authority' to be derived from belief in them, and is functionally no different from an athiestic view of the universe, therefore superfluous, therefore a waste of energy in contemplation.) THAT's interesting.

What you get instead, is people chuckling and smiling, and as Mark Twain would say 'opening their mouths to remove all doubt they are a fool' when God's nature is called into question. Because that question doesn't make sense.

Professor Lennox has debated Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens making the same profession of ignorance twice - to paraphrase - 'I don't believe in created gods... what makes you think the creator was created? ... God is eternal... you demonstrate that you cannot comprehend eternity/eternal etc.'

In isolation, it may be a fair point, except that the point made by Richard Dawkins is that as big and mysterious as the universe is, to explain it's existence as the design of an eternal sentience - God, is introducing a bigger mystery - that is for those seeking explanation - Intelligent design is no explanation at all, both Hitchens and Dawkins make the very valid point in an appeal to reason that if something as mysterious and inscrutible as an eternal creator is sufficient explanation, then there are no mysteries, and no reason to enquire about anything.

It is the equivalent to explaining the emptiness of my 600ml pepsi bottle on my desk as being drunk by an elephant. Because most people would not find this a satisfactory explanation - how did the elephant get into my room? Why did it drink the pepsi, and then leave with no other traces of it's presence? Why didn't anybody in the suburb notice an elephant?

Do you follow? An explanation that raises more questions than it answers is not a servicible explanation. But for Prof. Lennox thanks to the miracle of benchmarking it does. Reasonably, there was no point to discovering anything about the big bang in the first place, if we can be satisfied with an 'eternal creator' as explanation for that event. As Bertrand Russell, a name that Lennox doesn't manage to drop, pointed out an eternal creator is as satisfactory an explanation for the big bang as for the whole of existence being created 5 seconds ago, and we are merely under the illusion that it has been around for trillions of years or whatever.

These debates are not one sided as such, only if you believe as I do, that debating is a domain of reason, and thus beholden to reason. These debates remain irrational.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


A friend shared a link to this story. A story that's contents I find slightly outrageous.

But another said: "John Oliver visits western Sydney and meets racist people – shocking I know."
Other tweets included: "I'm pretty sure John Oliver could find just as many racist people anywhere he went in the world" and "Where did you go in Aus? On the Bugle it sounded like you only met bogans and John Howard. No wonder you think we're racists!"
Here's the thing, it's just about even money that any visitor to Australia will hear something to the effect of a racist statement. Unsolicited too. I think for a visitor to our country, to come across anti-Lebanese sentiments in a brief visit to Sydney is a valid reason to criticise the prevailing culture of Australia.

Because it's a cut and dry issue, racism is not ok. Yet some way, some how, significant enough numbers of our community think it is.

Surely, where you want your society to get to, is a point where somebody aged 60 perhaps without the benefits of a completed high-school education knows enough to tell themselves 'paying out the Lebanese is not a good thing to do to a complete stranger.'

That's not an unreasonable nor unobtainable idea. Those twitters in the twittersphere that seemed pleased by the Australian stitch up are understandable, and perhaps pleased because our country has a policy debate on an issue that is plainly and purely racist - refugees arriving by ship - or better known as 'boat people'.

I know, the comedian has generalised Australian culture. He's lumped us intogether with Bogans, he doesn't understand, bogan's aren't the real Australians. Except that they are real Australians. And they and many others are encouraged by highly educated people know as the opposition party. And they are not suitably chastized by the government whom fears losing their vote.

So what I would ask you, if you aren't a racist, and you abhore racism, is don't speak up. Don't defend the country's honour. Because ultimately you are merely blocking us from actually purging this idea from our national psyche.

The innocent have to stop defending the guilty.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Your Gap

Smoking has few advantages. That doesn't mean though that it has none. One advantage of interest to me is it's function in networking in an organisation. Smoking selects people from across and up and down an organisation and puts them regularly into the company of eachother.

The thing about this benefit though, is that you could just ditch the cigarrettes, and do everything else the same and recieve the same benefit.

But we don't. Nobody does.

And as Bill Cosby said 'I told you that so I can tell you this'

Religion has few benefits, but one is moral instruction and particularly moral reinforcement. I mean sure now days church is hardly attended, and the first thing that comes to mind when somebody says 'priest' is 'kiddy-fiddler'.

But have you met any Christians? Or Muslims? Or Japanese people?

I mean met them, because generally there will be tea and cake involved, probably orange juice and out-and-out pleasantness. Like all things, it depends. There are of course meaningful differences between the various dogmas, thus not being a homosexual, I imagine that while I find an interaction with a Christian and Muslim virtually indistinguishable, a homosexual might find it a very different experience.

Hindu's in my experience tend to be fine vegetarians, but otherwise show very little evidence of instruction in anything that resembles morality to me.

And perhaps I should clarify, because most religions have a bunch of shit grafted onto 'moral' instruction that I think as our body of knowledge (particularly psychological) grows, has nothing to do with morality at all. For example, many religions frown on divorce. Other religions feel that people enjoying great privelege is the equivalent of evidence that they have earned it.

Thus like there are only limited benefits I would concede to smoking, and that I should point out will be generally far outweighed by it's disadvantages, so too there's only a limited benefit to religious instruction that is far outweighed by the cumulitive disadvantages of religious thinking.

What I mean is that many religions share in common with humanity, a lot of moral thinking - kindness, compassion, courage, humour, reflection, patience etc. that in most cases will get lumped in with a bunch of immoral crap - obedience, intolerence, fear, aggression etc.

If you are a reasonable person, this list of desirable traits, personality traits, should be much much easier to determine and adhere to, because if you are employing reason you can actually just observe how they work.

For example, look at divorce, you have two people whose lives are conjoined and restricted in some way. And I could probably be accused of being uncareful in my language because a word like 'restricted' has negative connotations, but would point out that something like an employment contract restricts people as well and we sign contracts because then we can plan ahead our lives knowing we will be recieving monies and being occupied for the duration of that contract.

anyhoo, somebody in this restricted relationship becomes unhappy, unhappy with the arrangement and wants out. Divorce allows that person to get out. Alternatives is for that person to continue to suffer, and perhaps increasingly so. For them to channel their unhappiness in making life miserable for their partner, family and other people on the periphery of the marriage arrangement. They may also seek extra-marital relations to try and compensate for the dissatisfactory aspects of the relationship. An extreme alternative is to kill or injure the dissatisfactory spouse.

A reasoning person would observe that so much as there can be any reasonable justification for entering a marriage, divorce is a way to allow a person to admit they made a mistake, and minimise the suffering that arises from this (their own and/or others).

An unreasoning person might see the promise of marriage as sacrosanct, and divorce as the breaking of a promise of which all other negative consequences of keeping the promise pale in comparison. I say unreasoning because there is little to no evidence that breaking a promise through divorce is worse than the endurance of an unhappy and toxic relationship.

The above illustration may have been long but its rich. A reasoning being, can in the case of seeing the unpleasantness of a divorce, exercise their moral muscles to show kindness, compassion, understanding, sympathy, generosity etc.

The progression of reason into the realm of morality, moral science, psychology etc. has I feel greater potential to change human experience for the better, than what reason and science have brought to the field of medicine.

Here is the thing, athiests are relatively good at not starting wars, going to jail, not lynching people with brown skin, not firing rockets at their neighbours, not dispossessing neighbours of land etc. And they are relatively good at supporting worthy causes: equal love, anti-war, disaster relief etc.

But while I have met many believers in my time, irrational people of faith, that I would never doubt would take the opportunity to be a thief, to pick on somebody weaker than them, or even to stay home and watch 'My Kitchen Rules' rather than turn out to support a friend, I have met relatively much fewer awesome athiests.

It should be the easiest thing in the world for athiests to emulate all these awesomely nice things good little christian kids and good little muslim kids and polite japanese people exemplify, but we don't. It's extremely rare that you find an athiest that doesn't devote most of their reasoning power at convincing themselves that God doesn't exist, and focus on how to use their liberation from dogma to become the most awesome that people can be.

Religion is a bad source of moral instruction, but a committed one. It's the McDonalds of Morality, there's a lump of protein in there, but a whole heap of shit that is bad for you, but it keeps consistentlyy churning out that food and has a very secure hold on the market.

On paper, emulating all the advantages of religious morale instruction should be easy, religious morality is after all derived from the inherent behaviours of all human beings that have pitted selfish behaviour against altruistic over millions of years to allow humans to thrive as a species.

It doesn't take much reasoning to figure out which behaviours hurt other people and which actually uplift them. These simple observations are what give religious belief so little appeal to so many.

Yet what I find is a great cognitive dissonance between peoples reasons for rejecting the church, belief, superstition etc. and then how they comport themselves in their everyday lives.

Your gap, is to walk away from belief gaining everything and losing nothing.

This is how you should be employing your reason to improve your and everyone else's lives.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Great to Good

It is rare for me to feel like I need to write a blog post. In most cases it's procrastination for me. But here now I need to document my thought process epiphany somewhere.

I'm currently in preparation for an exhibition, and in such times I like to ratchet up my emotins so that I get into a quite intense creative space. I like to generally have at least one emotional breakdown while prepping.

At these times I become super susceptible to my irrational sides. Highly superstitious, in constant dialogue with myself, I become my own imaginary character. A character in a story, and everything, everything speaks to that story.

On the weekend I saw 'Oz the Great and Powerful' and that particularly spoke to me. I know that it's useless to tell people 'go see it, it's powerful' because I just sincerely doubt it would be if you aren't on the emotional wavelength I tend to be at times like this.

Much of the movie resonated with me, but it's conclusion, it's diadactic morale of the story was something like this:

'I knew you had it in you all along.'
'No, goodness.'

And this punched through all the clutter, all the voices in my head.

At this point in my life, I am receptive to the very lesson I need to learn to actually take me to that better place. Learn and remember.

I saw Ruby Wax's show on monday at the comedy festival, and though it wasn't sidesplittingly funny, it was interesting and it spoke to me too. Yet another person that was successful and famous and in the limelite, seemingly with everything and yet discovered they were unhappy and had a breakdown. Somebody with the authority to say, that success doesn't fill the void.

And I reread Phil Jackson's book on coaching the bulls, and how his role as coach as he saw it was to connect the players with the love of the game. That the players that came into the league wanting fame, money etc. ultimately were pursuing something hollow.

All this shit is known to the point of being cliche, yet why can't I learn it.

To me, and I really worry if this is just an excuse, and I fight it, but to be good is more important than being great. What success I've enjoyed has been derived from both my goodness as a person as well as my artistic abilities. And I don't think of myself in particular as a particularly good person.

But I know, from the time which was the worst I've ever been, where my life was just pure and absolute shit, that it was so shit because I hadn't done any good for anybody including myself.

I am at the very least a much better person than I used to be, and life is a lot, lot easier than it used to be.

And here is the thing, it is possible to be both great and good, they are I believe a common constellation. When I look and observe, the people that can really, REALLY succeed in life, are both good first and great.

I can look at and admire the dogmatic dedication of a true artistic genius like Michelangelo, or Leonardo, but the one I really admire is Donatello for the way he worked with and treated others.

To me, the truly great artists of the last century aren't Warhol, Picasso, Dali... great though they were, but Jim Henson, Dr Seuss.

Those two gave the world so much it's incomprehensible to most, the impact they had, continue to have. They were both good and great.

A revelation, like the Wizard of Oz, of what the true destination is, and it's good when you finally notice the emerald city way off in the distance to discover you are already upon the yellow brick road.