Thursday, August 31, 2006
It just got a little harder to hate Walmart.
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
If only they'd make membership optional....
What would you do if you were kidnapped or beaten or forced to convert? Would you blame your aggressors, or blame yourself?
What if this sort of thing happened in Canada? Would we be duty-bound to try to understand the motives of the perpetrator? Would it be just to ignore the link between his culture's doctinal values and his motivation, in the name of multiculturalism?
What should we do?
But there is a doctrine that has been metastisizing in the west, and it is called moral relativism. It is a firm belief that no doctrinal or ethical value is an objective value; no value is greater or worse than any other. Well, I shouldn't say that too quickly, it is a cannibalistic doctrine, only capable of seeing faults in the doctrine that gave it birth - Liberty.
In fact, indulge me while I skate on thin ice, but I'd venture to guess that the self-loathing that the west currently languishes in is no less an enemy than any silly terrorist running around with crude weaponry.
Consider how a culture like Canada's with it's majority Christian population cannot bring itself to allow Christmas celebrations at many of its schools anymore, because it's afraid of offending someone, but at the same time raises almost no protest over a plan to bring oppressive Sharia law to Ontario! Or, don't blame the criminal, he's a product of society! It's our fault! Or, oh those poor inmates in Guantanamo, they are being detained without charge! We're such terrible people! Never mind that their compatriots like to lop off the heads of the people trying to help build Iraq! Or, oh Britain got bombed because they're allies with the terrible Americans, it serves them right - the 'resistance fighters' are just lashing out at 'western imperialism'!
And that brings us back to the silly terrorists with antique guns... The 'isolated incidents' that are actual terrorist attacks are not worth being afraid of - their means aren't terribly sophisticated, and the attacks should be easily subdued - it's our own self-loathing that I'm worried about.
Sunday, August 27, 2006
Positive or Negative. What should I do, and what shouldn't I do.
When you are poor, you have little care for ethics. If you and your family are starving, you will not care to consider whether what you are doing to provide sustenance is moral or immoral. You'll do whatever it takes to survive.
When you meet your survival needs, you consider aesthetics next. When you study aesthetics through your experiences, you gradually begin to find some things appealing, and some things repulsive. Some things good, some things bad.
When you realize that some things are good, and some things are bad, you wonder why that is the case. You search for answers in doctrine.
Doctrine guides you to act in ways to maximize the good through ethics.
Saturday, August 26, 2006
Friday, August 25, 2006
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Mainly, they´re the same as in Canada, they sell smokes, chips, drinks, chocolate bars, etc., and of course, gas. But one thing that almost every station sells is alcohol. Of the drinking variety sure, but also of the kind that you put in your fuel tank! It´s a product called E85, which means it´s 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline, and it´s actually cheaper than regular gas. Most of the new cars sold here are equipped with a flex-fuel system, which means they can run on either product, so drivers can opt for the cheaper product. There are even some totalflex cars that can also run on natural gas, but can switch to gasoline or E85 when required!
It´s a little unusual for a country like Brazil to be an environmental leader of the world, but it certainly is! But soon, North America will follow its lead: GM will be producing 400,000 cars a year starting this year which are flex fuel, and in fact, certain models starting from 2000 are already compatible. Because E85 behaves very similarly to gasoline, it will quickly become available at gas stations everywhere, because the oil companies won´t have to change any pump systems, they´ll just switch a tank from gasoline to E85, and voila! Instant supply. Ethanol plants are also springing up in Canada, by year´s end Husky Oil will be producing over 250,000 million litres of the stuff, with plans for incremental production over the next several years.
I wonder who will still attend the Critical Mass rallies....
Monday, August 21, 2006
Borys Wrzesnewskyj, Liberal MP from Etobicoke, likens Hezbollah to the IRA, and says ´´if there wasn't the possibility for London to negotiate with the IRA, you'd still have bombings."´ Well Borys, I think that the IRA had a reasonable struggle and they were not intent upon destroying the state of Britain. They also did not hide behind women and children, hoping that the British would kill the moms and kids in order to create public relations problems for them. Hezbollah is not interested in negotiation, and I think that people have to realize this.
"This is Canada's shame," Ms. Maria Mourani, Bloc MP said. What´s Hezbollah´s shame Maria?
Have no sympathy for the devil.
Sunday, August 20, 2006
It might seem provocative, or maybe not, to say that doctrinal values only develop in an incremental sense relative to the realization of innate and aesthetic values. That is to say, doctrine becomes more complex with the security of having realized some level of satisfactory survival, and some appreciation of aesthetics. I´d wager that the more secure a person is in meeting survival needs, and the more a person understands things to be either ugly or beautiful, the more likely that person will be to start exploring a doctrine of some kind which can explain how things are, or how things should be.
So given that to be true, innate values are still the keystone to the foundation of all other values, and the development of them. At this point I would like to express a belief that I have, and that is that humans universally value survival, and that this is not a subjective expression; I believe it to be objective fact.
Friday, August 18, 2006
Monday, August 14, 2006
But once innate values are realized, then suddenly a human has the leisure to think about aesthetics. People spend a lot of time thinking about aesthetics, I think, whether they are considering the beauty of a landscape, a building, an art piece, another human, music, poetry, prose, etc. Of course, although there are many things that many people consider beautiful, each person has some set of values that must apply to an object in order for him/her to call it beautiful.
I don´t think that there is any universal aesthetic value system, nor do I think that all people have a very developed aesthetic value system; but I do think that all people have some sense of aesthetics. Because again, one man´s junk is another man´s gold. But each man has an opinion on the object in question.
Sunday, August 13, 2006
Further, this value system overwhelms any other value system, because it contains the necessities of life, without which no other value system is relevant. So before seriously considering different doctrines, aesthetics, or morals, a person must consider how to obtain water, food, and shelter.
And it could be said that even suicidal people have the innate value of survival, but that they don't possess the integrity to uphold even that basic value until the natural ends of their lives.
Friday, August 11, 2006
Thursday, August 10, 2006
It´s easy to say that aesthetics are not necessarily universal among people and cultures - beauty is in the eye of the beholder, etc. One man´s junk is another man´s gold, or whatever.
Innate values are of course the easiest ones to defend as being universal. Humans are biologically all the same, we have a natural need to prolong our experience, whether during life or through to the after-life. We will do anything that it takes to protect ourselves, and our own interests. Onlywhen self-preservation is assured, do we become altruistic in our actions.
The tough ones are ethical values and doctrinal values. The postmodern ethos would have an easy way to answer my previous question, because it would deny objective qualities to either ethics or doctrine, allowing the most horrible perversions of both, and because these perversions have been committed to historical record, it would seem that postmodernism would answer that no, there are no universal values.
I know that there are some objections. To innate values for example: Homosexual couples may not have a desire to reproduce...But is that only because of present logistical issues? Perhaps there are ways to circumvent those issues. To ethical values for another example: A man may believe that it is wrong to kill another man under all circumstances save war or other self-defence, but in a fit of jealous rage might kill his wife´s lover....But is that because he truly lacks value, or because he has not enough integrity to uphold his values? Or perhaps, in both cases, perhaps the individuals in question have these values, but have other, stronger values that override the others. In any case, I may be digressing by raising these objections....
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Do you believe there are any universal values?
I ask that knowing that most of my open-minded friends will believe that value differences can be explained by cultural differences.
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
The first is of, in order left to right, Colin, Ana, Me, Nates, and Sophie. The second is Ana, Me, and Colin. These are friends I met in Rio, and the scene is of a boat (booze) cruise we took off the coast. It was a day of all you can eat, drink, and swim, and it was one of my favourite days in Rio, if not Brazil. These people are awesome!!
The first photo is of a group of Capoeiristas demonstrating their art/fighting on the dock in front of our pousada in Ilha Grande. It´s a form of self-defense that african slaves came up with to defend themselves against their masters, and they were able to develop it only because they disguised it as dance! The second is the same dock in daylight, the third is a view of a street in town, the fourth is of Ana and Greg on our balcony, watching the Capoeira.
Assorted photos from Salvador: The first is a colonialist-era building which is slowly decaying - the roof is missing, yet the lower levels still house people, the second is a lighthouse near where we stayed in Barra, Salvador, the last is of a cross made of steel that memorializes a church that was destroyed in the name of ´progress´,.
These photos are of the beach near Gamboa, a small fishing village about a 45 minute hike from the main town of Morro. You have to walk along the coast, but at high tide, which is when I did it, there is no coast. You must walk in water sometimes chest high with your belongings above your head to get there. But it´s worth the walk, the beach is virtually deserted, the water is calm, and there are two really good restaurants there for when you get hungry. It´s also stunningly beautiful. The walk back is easier, as the tide recedes it leaves behind a small strip of beach that you can walk on.
Sunday, August 06, 2006
I´ve finally found a place where I can upload a few pics, so here´s a couple. Hopefully there will be more to follow in the next few days...The first is a picture of Foz du Iguassu, a really nice one. Sadly, we´re not here during the rainy season, so there´s not as much water going over the falls right now, but it´s still quite a spectacular sight. The second is a pic of Copacabana beach at sunset, with a game of American-style football going on in the foreground.
And just like anywhere else, there are many anti-americans, socialists, or non-political people. I´ve even met people that think that George W. Bush is to blame for the favelas here in Brazil; I almost cracked up when I heard that one...
But last night, I had a bit a shock. Greg and I went out with a group of French guys, and a couple of British girls. There were 4 French guys, and I kid you not, they were to a man pro-capitalist, pro-Bush, pro-American, business students. I almost fell out of my chair! Heck, one more Cerveja and I would have!!! I expected to have a slightly altered world-view after this trip, but my God, I did NOT expect to be impressed by the politics of the people of France!! Don´t get me wrong, I have much respect for the culture and history of France, but I must admit I had generalized their politics in a most disrespectful way.
And for that, my French friends, I must apologize. Vivé la France!!
Saturday, August 05, 2006
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
Anyway, my seat at the game was right beside an ex-pat Brit who now lives in Ecuador where he runs an English pub, and the weird thing about this pousada in Salvador, 1500-plus kms away from Rio, is that the same guy walks in here with a pizza last night as we were arriving back from an amazing street festival!! Like what are the odds eh?
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
It´s also probably comforting for them to know that his brother Raul is 75, and could kick the bucket at any time as well.
The other part of me got to Salvador exhausted after a day of travel that included taxis, boats, buses, and airplanes, at around midnight. We needed a place to stay, and our first choice was booked for the night. We ended up at a reeeeeeeally sketchy place in Barra, a neighbourhood in Salvador. It cost 30 reals for the night for the both of us, which is about 12 dollars Canadian. It was pretty disgusting, after having stayed in such a nice pousada on Ilha Grande. There was a patio on the street where we unwound a little after arriving. We were propositioned by prostitutes, panhandled, etc. But otherwise, after an uneasy sleep, we are ok. We found a super nice pousada today called Ambar, in a better, trendy part of Barra, just down the street from the beach. We´ll stay here for two days or so, and then set out for the countryside around Salvador. Victoria is coming here on the ninth of august, and then we go to the Amazon shortly after.