ghoklebutter / Member

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ghoklebutter Blog

Goodbye, GameSpot

Hi everyone.

I've been here for 6 years, and today I've decided that I'm done with this place, specifically OT. OT was the only reason I stayed here for so long, although it certainly wasn't a good reason. Initially I found this place entertaining and sometimes even interesting. But now I'm sick of the same old shit I see on the forums - everything from people whining about trans people being treated like normal human beings to terrible anti-feminist/MRA tirades. Beyond that, it's just boring. And above all, things here have hit rock bottom - and it was already bad before. I understand why some people might still like OT, but I'm not one of them. I will say this, though; I've met a lot of cool folks here, some of whom are banned and some of whom still check out this place from time to time. 

If there is anyone here who doesn't want me to completely disappear from their sight after I leave this place, please feel free to send me a message and I'll tell you where else you can find me - TDH is one of those places, although there are others. It's not like I'll be deleting my account, so I can still get your PMs. Just don't expect me to respond right away.

Anyway, off I go! I hope all is well with everyone. :>

Criminals are people, too

Suppose you hear about a middle-aged man being sentenced to 20 years in prison for committing some heinous crime like murder, rape, abuse, etc. You are pleased to hear the verdict because you believe in justice.

One day, you find out somehow that this same person is being gang-raped in prison. Prison rape is a ubiquity, but in response to this news, you dispassionately say that he deserves to be raped in prison because he's a horrible person.

Why is it that, once someone has committed a crime, he or she is no longer to be treated humanely?

The very same thing we condemn outside of prison we tolerate or even encourage in prison because the victims have committed heinous crimes.

When we tolerate or encourage prison rape, what are we really saying? To me, this suggests that we care more about punishment than keeping society safe. Society will not be safer once that person's very soul is ripped apart by constant torture in prison. He may lose his desire to commit crime, but it will be at the cost of his life. Yes, you now have one less potential criminal on the street, but that same person - a human being - now has to suffer from PTSD and a host of other problems. The purpose of justice is to protect, not to torture perpetrators.

Indeed, what I'm saying is that even criminals are people. Yes, I know that serial killers are terrible people. But torturing them is not going to make society safer. I'm not even talking about prison rape as torture exclusively. It seems that we aren't even willing to entertain the idea that they should be treated with a basic level of respect. I'm not saying that we should unconditionally love and support serial killers. We just shouldn't say that they should be relegated to the status of subhuman creatures just because of their crimes.

The not-as-bad-as fallacy

One informal fallacy that makes me livid these days is the not-as-bad-as fallacy. To elucidate this fallacy, I'll give you an example. Clearly, a rapist is more reprehensible than a thief, because the former has committed an egregious crime against another human being tantamount to physical and psychic torture, whereas the thief has just stolen something. But just because the thief hasn't hurt anyone, doesn't mean that he or she is totally free of blame. Certainly, theft is nothing like rape, but it's still bad. Indeed, the not-as-bad-as fallacy is the fallacious assumption that, if X is better than Y, then X is necessarily good. Of course, this assumption is fallacious because X's superiority to Y does not entail X's absolute goodness.

Here's a wise quote that sums up everything:

"To be good, it is not enough to be better than the worst." -Lucius Annaeus Seneca

I don't have much else to say, but this is something that people should certainly think about.

Abobo

I've never played Double Dragon, so I don't give a damn about this level name. >_> I guess 40 is a nice number, though.

Anyway, hello. The past few weeks have been hectic; my brother has moved in, the end of my semester is fast approaching, and I've been keenly fixated on philosophy and my life goals. I'm not doing any soul-searching, though; I have already found my soul, so to speak. I've been spending a lot of time and energy on refining my personal worldview so as to be prepared for living a much more grand and meaningful life. Like I've said ad nauseum here in OT, I care a lot about making the world a better, more peaceful place. I'm deeply concerned about others, though I can't say that this feeling necessarily makes me virtuous or something. I have a lot to work on.

As regards ethics (one of my favorite topics, FYI), I have shifted from plain rule utiltarianism to rule utlitarianism combined with virtue ethics and ethics of care. I think that is far better than plain, binary utilitarianism, which is a pretty bad theory by itself. Surprisingly, though, I've begun to see that Kantianism isn't nearly as bad as people say. I still reject it because I think a moral system based strictly on reason is woefully flawed, though. I'm also not too comfortable with the rejection of the existence of ethical dilemmas by the categorical imperative. Ethics may seem to be a pointless endeavor to some - and I understand why - but it's at the heart of my life purpose since I'm an ethical altruist, so of course ethics is extremely important to me.

As for music, I've been listening to NWOBHM as usual, but I've recently gotten back into new wave as well. Two bands I especially love are Duran Duran and Tears for Fears. I wonder if there are other good 80s new wave bands; many new wave bands I've heard of are overwhelmingly cheesy.

Lastly, I've been reading Cordelia Fine's Delusions of Gender. She's a fabulous author for exposing the kind of pseudo-science I despise: justifications for sexism and other forms of prejudice under the guise of "science." My philosophy teacher gave it to me as a gift - that certainly shocked me! I never imagined that a teacher would ever give me a gift so readily. She's definitely one of my favorite teachers.

That's all for now. Later!

Max Force

That's an all right level name, I guess. >_>

Anyway, evening folks; it's Ahmed again.

Life's been pretty good these days, as I've recently refined my worldview profoundly and so can now start focusing on how to translate my thoughts into actions. I have a lot of ideas on how to make the world a better a place, so I don't want them to be idle and totally useless. I know my passion for social reform (and even social revolution) seems zealous, but I really don't see what else there is worth fighting for. I've already adopted a Comtean variant of ethical altruism. That doesn't mean that I don't care about happiness in my life, though, far from it. Indeed, the purpose of my life is to attain peace and happiness and ensure that everyone else is at peace and happy as well. In fact, I actually see attaining my own happiness as instrumental to knowing how to treat others, but that's for another blog.

But I don't mean to put myself on a pedestal by saying that I'm inherently altruistic or whatever; my philosophical positions don't necessarily match my actual behavior, much to my dismay. Anyway, I'm excited about the possibilities in my life. I just hope I don't miss any vital opportunities. I hope to be politically active some day, to be honest, but not in the way most people expect, since I'm an anarchist. Anarchists generally have different conceptions of social revolution than other political groups.

As for music, I've recently rediscovered how much I like classic metal. In particular, I've grown an affinity for NWOBHM bands like Judas Priest and Saxon, and speed metal bands like Motorhead. Saxon are probably the best of the bands I mentioned; they're a good example of excellent NWOBHM, and their early albums are fantastic, especially Strong Arm Of The Law and Wheels Of Steel. I'll probably go back to my progressive rock phase soon, though; I can only listen to metal for so long.

Anyway, that's all I have to say for now. Later! :3

Revenge

I've always been bewlilded by the ubiquity of vengeance. Very often on OT do I see threads in which people ask about how to "get back at" someone. Seriously? Has it ever occured that most revenge is largely egotistical? I see the need to "get even" with others as a response to an injury to the ego. I think the feeling of revenge, however, is reasonable in certain cases. For instance, I don't think revenge is an inappropriate thing to feel when you or someone else has been seriously wronged. I mean, if someone seriously hurt someone I knew, I'd probably desire revenge just like anyone else would in my shoes. If I didn't, I'd seriously question my conscience. Acting upon revenge, however, is not only unreasonable, but also reckless and hypocritical.

I just wish people relented more often.

Life blog #unknown

Hey, it's Ahmed.

My school life's been a mixed bag lately. On the one hand, my classes at school are all rather interesting. On the other hand, I really hate doing 18 credits (5 courses) in a semester. Add the fact that everyone I know is pressuring me to get a driving permit and a part-time job, and you can see how I'm in a mess. However, I'm glad to have enrolled the classes I chose this semester. I especially love my philosophy course, which has a great teacher and even a good textbook to go along with it. I'd love to buy it, actually, but I'm basically broke for the time being. Also, I can see how philosophy is going to help me a lot in the fields of my choosing.

In other news, I've begun to like progressive rock more and more. I used to hate Rush because of Geddy Lee's vocals (I thought they were too "effeminate" or something, which doesn't really matter to me anymore). But now, they're quickly becoming one of my favorite bands; Moving Pictures and Permanent Waves are fabulous albums. Moreover, I've started to appreciate bands like Supertramp and Pink Floyd, which is, needless to say, surprising. I used to loathe Pink Floyd because, as a 13-year-old kid, I thought that they were depressing and crazy about sex and drugs somehow. (What an odd impression.) Anyway, I'm loving them now. As for Supertramp, their album Breakfast in America made me like the band very easily. I truly can't get enough of that album.

I think that's all I have to say.

Bye for now!

Happy New Year!

I'm glad that 2011 is gone. It was an extremely difficult year for me. I went through the worst of my self-hatred, depression, cynicism, and uncertainty in life. However, in doing so, I also improved my personality profoundly. (Of course, a few people also supported me a lot. I sincerely thank them for their help.) I now feel remarkably more positive and optimistic. Moreover, I feel like I am quickly approaching my life goals and becoming more in tune with myself. I still have a host of other things to resolve in my life, but I now see most of them as challenges or opportunities to learn and grow. Overall, I now feel fantastic. I'm full of aspirations and don't feel like giving up in life any time soon.

Therefore, I see 2012 as a very exciting year. I feel like I can really do something special this year, for some reason, and I hope that I will. Additionally, I can't wait until I turn 18 this year. Many people tell me that 18 is a boring age, but I'm definitely looking forward to it, as it represents a milestone for me. I'm sure I'll be ecstatic on my birthday.

This year has ended on an overwhelmingly positive note, and I can't fully express how happy I am because of that. Most of the previous years did not end positively - they only made me feel empty inside. However, I foresee a bright future starting this year.

Happy New Year, folks. :> May 2012 be an excellent year for everyone. My heart goes to anyone who experienced immense difficulty in 2011; it seemed to be a terrible year for a lot of people I know IRL.

People are people

I don't have anything revolutionary to say, but I'd still like to mention my thoughts.

I've begun to notice that many men and women reinforce gender prejudice by willfully regarding each other as a different species to some degree. It really pains me to see that despite egalitarian laws, society is still hooked on the absurd "men are from Mars, and women are from Venus" notion. It honestly infuriates me when people, instead of seeing people as individuals first and members of distinct groups second, try to understand the "secrets" of the opposite sex. In fact, people do this so often that now it seems that they consider it a game.

Everyone is focused on trying to see why women are apparently more emotional, and why men are apparently so heartless. From my observations, this appears to be pervasive in pursuing relationships. I especially dislike seeing this behavior, because it greatly cheapens human relationships and brings them down to a level of mere guessing and "getting things right."

Perhaps this problem can be fixed by less segregation. The less you know about and interact with someone, the more you try to speculate about that person's disposition. This is true, at least in my experience.

Again, I haven't said anything new, but I'm still annoyed by people.

Empathy

Disclaimer: The following is based purely on personal experience. I have no real evidence to support my arguments.

My brother once told me that empathy is a skill. For a while his statement didn't make sense; I firmly believed that understanding the feelings of other people was an innate ability. As a child, I watched movies in which the protagonists were empathic and the antagonists apathetic to other people's feelings. Because that difference correlated with the distinction between good and evil--and I assumed that people were born good or evil--I concluded that empathy was an innate ability.

However, through some introspection, I've finally understood why empathy is a skill.

First, it requires adept abstraction. To be empathic is to resonate with another's feelings. Such resonance can only be clearly established when one removes distractions such as race, gender, etc. Those distractions are problematic because they entail bias, which can of course skew perspective and so an understanding of someone's feelings. Hence, abstraction is essential to empathy.

Second, one must rectify the language of one's mind. In particular, one should try to change the way we perceive people through language. One way of changing one's mental language is to substitute words that imply division among people with words that are much more general. Suppose you see a homeless man trying to catch his runaway shopping cart, which is full of his belongings.Assuming that you already have some empathy, you may say, "I feel bad for that man." Instead of explicitly calling that person a man, try to say, "I feel bad for that person." "Person" differs from "man" in that the former is free of unnecessary distinction. After all, should you feel bad for someone in a predicament because you sympathize that "man", or because you sympathize with that "person"?

This distinction does seem meaningless at a glance - after all, they're just words, right? However, I believe that since we think with language, our choice of words regarding our perception of people is crucial to impartiality--which is in turn essential to empathy. In the above case, explicitly describing the person as a man may not have any immediate consequences for empathy, but a few subtle differences most likely go a long way. In training one's mind to explicitly describe people as people, one can start to forget about largely irrelevant issues and can thus easily empathize with others. Hence, the way we explicitly describe people in our minds can affect the way we perceive them.

In conclusion, the best way to strengthen your empathy is to internally describe people with general words and abstract people as much as possible.

I hope I made sense. >_> I posted this "editorial" here because I want some constructive criticism of my arguments, even though they aren't based on any evidence besides personal experience. Also, I'm not asking anyone to help me write better, but if anything is terribly written, I'd appreciate it if you let me know.