Newes from Scotland – declaring the damnable life and death of Doctor Fian, a notable sorcerer.

Freely available online, which is to be respected. It is what you would expect after reading the Wikipedia page & no better or worse, and hence, 3-stars.

A gruesome & grotty dose of horrible history. I have no doubt that a great many of the contemporaries of this debacle were naive. Naive enough to believe the women and sorcerer would only confess if it was true and had no other reason for the confession except it was The Truth.

Let us now dive into some gruesome & grotty details. Who knows what pelliwinkes are? Would you be surprised to learn about moonlit orgies? What if I told you that devotion to the Devil requires you to physically kiss his butt-cheeks? Or that the King, in a fit of ignorance, demanded to hear the music of the Devil played on a Jew Harp? & for the pedants, when did the letter ‘v’ replace the letter ‘u’? ‘s’ & ‘f’ stopped being interchangeable?

Read on…

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Jabber-Jibber

Written to an online friend.

Good luck with your endeavour to build your own vision.

I can hold onto that stick but there is not so much for me to get written today.
Regrettably this means I now lean towards pedagoguery. I have been writing this for an hour, maybe more, and before you begin down the rabbit hole of my writing and get lost in the warren of words, I ask if you agree with this statement.
The average rating (on Goodreads.com) should be 3-stars but is in fact higher.

Here’s a pet theory of mine I’ve been polishing for a length of time. If you can harness it in an algorithm or if it somehow gets you acclaim, good. I am seriously serious about it, and reckon more circulation should be good. Never yet met anyone in a position to demonstrate it as I believe it exists nor demonstrate the pattern I perceive fits into some already existing psychology theory. Maybe you will meet such a person at university. Perhaps it is just a mental Rube Goldberg machine. If the latter, I hope it entertains you.

The Goodreads thing is about a concept called by Wikipedia ‘Illusory Superiority‘. However, I like my way more & tell you my theory.

In Brief:
1. Belief alone changes reality (slightly).
2. Language requires belief to be meaningful.
3. Pleasure, like language, is learnt.
4. Avoidance of displeasure leads to a convergence of negative language (or other acts of belief).
5. Preference for pleasure leads to a divergence of positive language (or other acts of belief).

Therefor, the average rating on Goodreads will be above 3-stars. Comments with ratings beneath average will receive more votes than is reasonable to expect from the average rating of the book.
To dissuade me of this theory, I want you to argue for a different cause for negative comments reaching the “winner’s podium”, the top 3 comments. Alternatively you could sneer, leer and dismiss my statistical analysis as no more useful than counting sheep in my dreams and expecting to wake up to a bigger flock.

 

The Placebo Effect shows a power of belief. Ever so slight a mental attitude produces ever so minor an alteration to our physical world. A patient-held belief that red (or yellow or green or blue) is the best colour for medicine, improves the effectiveness of medicine coloured to match belief. The first Google article returned from, ‘believe round white pills are healthier and they are more effective placebo‘ by Google Australia, briefly outlines the effect of colour on tranquiliser-drugs. (I have not heard a satisfactory definition of drugs in my entire life.)

I iterate this, you may not share it.
Language is inherently meaningless. Did language emerge when an early hominid saw a tree and say ‘tree’ or ‘arbor’ or ‘pfab-gooey’? I say no! The meaning is created by the action of the human mind and has been in a state of constant flux since the original trigger. Would human belief be an apt description of this mental action? I say yes!

Belief triggered by any linguistic effort produces ever so slight a change in the real existence of the person doing the believing / speaking. To feel good, I may mutter to myself “F.I.G.J.A.M.” (acronym: Fuck I’m Good Just Ask Me) and not even bother imagining an answer to the question. This will produce a real change in my body, I feel a tingle down my legs right now and I’m sure there is a neuro-chemical responsible (spell-check insists I meant to write ‘petrochemical’, lol talk about the imperialism of capitalism penetrating the profane, lol).

Recap: belief alone can make (small) change, language requires belief, therefor language alone can make the same (small) change.

Combine this attitude, belief with something said by Mr. Zizek (not a quote), “All pleasures are learnt. Even sex I claim.”
Goodreads users want more pleasure. So they make an effort to say their reading is better than, statistically speaking, it should be. They come online the website and make ever so slight an effort of belief. Maybe, “This book deserves 4-stars.” & click the 4th star or they write a review. This genuinely improves their reading experience, but only slightly.

Not all the reading done is happy, fun and fulfilling. Sometimes it is boring, tedious or not-good. Assuming a balance is expected by the Goodreads users, or is an automatic / natural pattern, there is an emotional backlash expected.

To produce this balance and satisfy some demand for equilibrium Goodreads users vote for negative reviews. But the negativity they vote for never corrects the balance and brings the average rating down to 3-stars.

Perhaps this is the Objet Petite a of Lacanian theory. Perhaps not. If you would send me a few words about your perception of Objet Petite a I would be grateful.

So the gist of it so far,
Belief makes change. Language requires belief. Pleasure is learnt. Avoidance of displeasure leads to a convergence of negative. Preference for pleasure leads to a divergence of positive.
I assume Mr. Zizek means this pattern in aggregate when he says ‘the economy of pleasure’.

I, (without ability to relate my predictions to a theory any more clearly than the above) I predict that the Goodreads above-average rating will occur in tandem with a dominant negative review in the top 3 comments. I expect to find the average rating of the top 3 comments to be less than the total average rating.

To dissuade me of this theory, I want you to argue for a different cause for negative comments reaching the “winner’s podium”, the top 3 comments. Alternatively you could sneer, leer and dismiss my statistical analysis as no more useful than counting sheep in my dreams and expecting to wake up to a bigger flock.

I now venture into the virtual world to test my theory. I select 3 from the recommendations list and three from the list of top rated books.

BOOKS SELECTED FROM RECOMMENDATIONS.
Bridge of Birds (The Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox #1)
Average rating 4.3-stars.
Averaged rating of the top 3 comments, 4-stars.
SUPPORT FOR MY THEORY.

The Night Club: Part One (Noční klub #1)
Average rating 4.49-stars.
Averaged rating of the top 3 comments, 4.6-stars.
MY THEORY IS DENIED.

Jules Verne Seven Novels
Average rating 4.33-stars.
Averaged rating of the top 3 comments, 4.6-stars.
MY THEORY IS DENIED.

BOOKS SELECTED FROM LIST OF TOP RATED.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter #7)
Average rating, 4.61-stars.
Averaged rating of top 3 comments, 3.6-stars.
SUPPORT FOR MY THEORY.

A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire #3)
Average rating, 4.54-stars.
Averaged rating of top 3 comments, 5-stars.
MY THEORY IS DENIED.

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2)
Average rating, 4.72-stars.
Averaged rating of top 3 comments, 4-stars.
SUPPORT FOR MY THEORY.

Effects of Collective Nouns.

My thesis is that the use of collective nouns, such as men, women, aboriginal, migrant, refugee, (the more specific the more influential) in mass media affects identity and dynamics about the given identity. As contrast, individuals in the media will not produce the same effects. This, if true, has a critical role to play in feelings of anonymity, a modern health issue caused by massive populations. As suicide becomes an increasingly severe problem in the developed world, and the recognising the role of anonymity in suicide, this may produce changes which can mitigate this horror (which is by no means isolated to developed nations).

This is not a thorough sociological, statistical investigation to validate my opinion. It is my opinion and it just makes sense to me. So I shall lay out my case in hopes of persuading you, the reader. I make my case with the intent to demonstrate some evidence and reasoning that lack of men as a collective noun in Australian mass media, is an actionable factor in the horrible male suicide statistics. Often issues disproportionately affecting men (such as being overworked) are not discussed as such, and are instead reported or discussed as Australian problems. This re-labelling of men’s problems as Australian problems diverts public discourse, which is a form of community care & attention and an aspect of a better tomorrow.

Inner stories supply people with a framework to manage living, and individual narratives are are created from national, or other community, materials.
[How many Asiatic people have mentioned their lack of mathematical skills to me? Some, way more than any other ethincity, so this is personal evidence of individuals feeling an urge to relate themselves to the stereotype.]
Modern, larger-than-life (which I believe are effective at reducing suicide) narratives are found in many communities but major sources are simple to identify, such as cinema, literature and mass media. I reckon presence of a specific collective noun in the mass media would increase subjective relation to the identity born from the noun and also boost social effects (such as attending specific cultural events) of that collective. Lack of collective nouns will increase feelings of anonymity and associated problems, extending beyond suicide / mental health to things such as diminished political participation.

Individual men are more common figures in the mass media than individual women. However, I believe that there will be less subjective identification with a public figure as opposed to a collective category. Beneficial effects of collective nouns will either exist in significantly reduced quality & quantity or will not at all be caused by media conversation about individuals.

Feminism, which has had many significant successes and still has many significant objectives, has grown conversation about women’s problems to a towering juggernaut. Feminism casts a shadow which I believe to be a factor in the existence of problematic mental health in men. This effect would be restricted to men (and not extend to say, LGBT), as the binary male / female would indicate the domain in which the identity is to be relatively judged. To develop this concept, a relative judgement will contrast what is relevant, men / women collective noun usage being the obvious measuring posts. Scrolling down a news group’s Facebook page in search of collective nouns (& not individuals) shows more media focus on, & therefore national community identity / narrative material for, women.

A simple demonstration is to read an article focused on a community, identify the collective noun, such as men, and replace that term with a broader collective noun, such as Spaniards. Such a shift reduces informative ability of the article, and so reduces political effects of the community & / article (less information, leads less informed decisions, leads less effective action, leads less action). Further it reduces immediate identification with the facets of the article in question. So to say it differently, individual men in media are weaker at causing the male community to relate to the discourse and is one of the array of factors which inhibit drawing their own inner narrative from the readily accessible mass media.

What Is Philosophy?

Philosophy is the explanation. The questions held in common are the most common areas of philosophy; Why are we here? What for? When does it start? The best explanation, in alignment with the scientific method, not only connects abstract concepts with the concrete reality, it also suggests what happens next.
For millennia assorted gods understood by holy people or prophets or shamen were the best explanation. Now, the people with PhD’s (philosophical degrees of … domain) are expected to have the answers. As a divine explanation gave way to natural philosophy, so to did natural philosophy become physics & biology & chemistry, etcetera. As a parallel, philosophy of logic become involved with modern computing & coding.

Interpretation is the eternal cause of philosophy. No matter the depth of understanding when Descartes wrote his utterance”Cogito Ergo Sum”, the reader must at least know Latin. They may not know meta-physics, Descartes was interested in building his explanation from the deepest doubt up, so he found the deepest certainty, that of a self.
Examine a philosophy of, “Always butter the corners of the toast and the rest will look after itself.”. On the surface, this explanation is of no use to any non-toast related application. Application to untoasted bread is an extension, and not explicit in the philosophy. Further development to a distinct, non-food related, facet of life, perhaps study, is due to the individual. In relation to study, “Always butter the corners of the toast and the rest will look after itself.”, could be interpreted to mean focus on the tricks and tricky parts of the subject, and the rest will naturally follow. But is this re-application due to the philosophy, or the individual?

Good philosophy will make use of common knowledge. A philosophy in Latin is of use to Latin speakers, but of scant value to a Singaporean. A philosophy chock full of esoteric terms may be useless for the those outside the domain, but does require that definitions and boundaries be learnt explicitly instead of implicitly.
Allow me to demonstrate this dynamic. Force in common usage is a vague term, force in reference to cinema has an obvious bastion, and force in scientific usage has a stricter definition. The situation in biology contrasts this lump of language. In biology a fish is only the common name for a great diversity of living things, and a PhD graduate would not use the term, but instead the Latin name which carries the biological tree of life (Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Specie). So, a philosophy may become mystic & magical, or material & mechanical depending on the state of affairs in need of explanation. Is it better that learning be a growth of the old understanding, or a wholly new understanding?

Tides, which were once the domain of Neptune, have become the territory of an offshoot of natural philosophy, tidal sciences. If you were to describe the tides, would you say the water is always knee deep, but sometimes more? Or would you say the water is between knee and hip depth but constantly varies? How should relationships and dynamics be described?

Philosophy is the best explanation and should carry what is relevant. The philosophy of the scientific method insists on repeatability and predictive results. Reinterpretation continues to keep alive theology, and the art industry. Terminology and dynamism are common between many areas of philosophy.

What’s the difference between an excuse and an explanation?

Frailty of Language.

The English language is a mess. This might be why it is the global language, tonal languages, Cantonese for example, don’t really permit much accent. Strict grammar rules, such as those of formal Japanese, are limiting to the curious and the lazy learners who don’t worry about tough thorough thought.

It is not clear to me if English is really sloppy when it allows words to be exact opposites and identical in pronunciation or if it is a peculiar quirk to force clearer messages. Whole & hole, for example are pronounced identically, unless your one of those peculiar people who pronounce w’s and h’s, as was Rick Roderick. Want & wont are another example of the same but different type. Routine and retinue are almost there, but as the later has fallen from common usage, we may have avoided a few awkward situations where you don’t quite know if the speaker is saying their friends are dullards or if they somehow found their way onto the British film classification board.

If you change something for having read this, please, please, please, use -t instead of -ed. It sounds like dreamt to the listener, no one dream-ed anything. The toast isn’t burn-ed, but burnt and that’s how my shoulders feel after riding in the midday sun for far too long. If you found this funny, I would refer you to David Mitchell stand-alone comedy, or to his skit shows and Peepshow, but it’s more likely that I’ll be born again tomorrow than you don’t already know.