Minorities vs. Majorities

“Today, as then, public opinion is the omnipresent tyrant; today, as then, the majority represents a mass of cowards, willing to accept him who mirrors its own soul and mind poverty. That accounts for the unprecedented rise of a man like [Teddy] Roosevelt. He embodies the very worst element of mob psychology. A politician, he knows that the majority cares little for ideals or integrity. What it craves is display. It matters not whether that be a dog show, a prize fight, the lynching of a ‘nigger,’ the rounding up of some petty offender, the marriage exposition of an heiress, or the acrobatic stunts of an ex-president. The more hideous the mental contortions, the greater the delight and bravos of the mass. Thus, poor in ideals and vulgar of soul, Roosevelt continues to be the man of the hour. On the other hand, men towering high above such political pygmies, men of refinement, of culture, of ability, are jeered into silence as mollycoddles. It is absurd to claim that ours is the era of individualism. Ours is merely a more poignant repetition of the phenomenon of all history: every effort for progress, for enlightenment, for science, for religious, political, and economic liberty, emanates from the minority, and not from the mass. Today, as ever, the few are misunderstood, hounded, imprisoned, tortured, and killed.”

-Emma Goldman, “Minorities Versus Majorities.” Anarchism and Other Essays. 1911.

Mr. Boop

“A Life Embellished webcomic about the titular Alec Boop (nee Robbins) and his life being married to Betty Boop. Claimed to be based on Alec Robbins real life, and posted on his twitter account, the webcomic features Alec meeting (and usually having sex with) characters from various media, including Family Guy, The Sopranos and even Homestuck.

Extremely NSFW.

Has a spin-off flash game, Mr. Boop and the Curse of the Dinner Party/

TV Tropes, s.v. “Mr. Boop,” (accessed January 6, 2021), https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Webcomic/MrBoop

Sounds weird. Then, you go to the Mr. Boop website and see that Geocities aesthetic, and you wonder: Am I going to go deeper into this? Not today. Bookmarking for later (maybe).

Intrinsic Values Test

“To develop this test, we investigated what philosophers and psychologists have said about what humans fundamentally value, and then conducted two studies of our own, collecting and statistically analyzing the intrinsic values of 500 people in the U.S. Taking this test will help you:

1. Figure out your most important intrinsic values.

2. Discover what your unique intrinsic values say about you.

3. Understand why intrinsic values are so important.

An intrinsic value is something you value for its own sake.

Put another way, an intrinsic value is something you would still value even if you got absolutely nothing else from it. Sometimes intrinsic values are referred to as ‘terminal values,’ because they reflect the end points in our value system that all our other values are aiming at. Non-intrinsic values are sometimes called ‘instrumental values,’ because we only care about them as a means to achieve other ends.”

Intrinsic Values Test

My top value: I have agency and can make choices for myself. Surprising no one.

Centers and Peripheries

How do you define something? A few weeks ago I was reading about how the Voyager 2 was at the outer boundry of the heliosphere, or our solar system. There were quite a few articles talking about the sun’s movement relative to the center of the galaxy, the force of the sun’s energy on the interstellar medium, and so forth.

But, it made me think of a comment from Larry Wall, the creator of the programming language called Perl, that communities are defined by their centers, not their peripheries.

It occurred to me that there is a pattern. In the case of Perl, it is one language in a galaxy of other programming languages. The interstellar medium could be analogous to the problems programming languages address. You could probably extend the analogy of solar systems and programming languages and their communities in other ways.

But, I start thinking about how this pattern applies more generally to definitions. All of these relationships between sun and galaxy, interstellar medium, planets, Earth all help to define the sun and it’s behavior. However, context matters. The role of gravitational forces from the galaxy is not typically a useful distinction when discussing the sun’s impact on Earth.

Which brings me to a larger point about how we define things, their relationships, what we know and what we don’t. Every light casts a shadow. And what can shadow know of light or light know of shadow? One only exists where the other is not, yet it is also true that we all live in the penumbra, a place of both shadow and light, but a place, arguably, that knows both, yet doesn’t know either.

Everything we know, we know only in part. There’s always something missing. But, like the galaxy’s pull on the sun, in many instances, what we don’t know has little impact on our lived experience.

The 36 Questions That Lead to Love

“If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be? … [Buddhist Enlightenment and the corresponding freedom from suffering, obviously]

What is the greatest accomplishment of your life? … [Not being preoccupied with accomplishments.]

When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself? … [Any given month, probably during a movie.]

-Daniel Jones, “The 36 Questions That Lead to Love.” The New York Times. January 9, 2015.

In 3 sets of 12, designed to become increasingly intimate. Reading through, it also occurs to me that there are implied values in these questions. For instance, how many people think in terms of superlatives, e.g., perfect days, most grateful, truth about yourself, greatest accomplishment, most treasured, most terrible, etc. The latter questions also have a focus on finality and resolution. What does it mean to find someone’s death disturbing?

But, on the other hand, the questions reveal what is core in relationships, that is, vulnerability, regard for the other person and some sense of shared experience and purpose. A useful exercise to go through with the people close to you.