Tuesday, 11 December 2018

"Not everyone can be lucky (nor beautiful!), but everyone can be virtuous".

Putting this headline on today's youtube video reminded me of one of the first sentences I ever "wrote" in Chinese (back when I didn't know the language at all: just using google translate and a dictionary, with assistance from a native speaker to fix the result).


"Not everyone can be lucky, not everyone can be beautiful", vs. "Not everyone can have luck, but everyone can have virtue".  And yeah, the sentiment is much the same in today's video.

Uh… and the Chinese was… ? 不是每個人都有幸運,但是每個人都能做好事,每個人都能助天道。

Sunday, 2 December 2018

As Dominoes tend to fall in one and the same direction…

Many of you have known me over the internet for 4 years by now (some for 2 years, and so on).  Things have only gotten worse.  They're still getting worse.  There's no reason to interpret that sequence of dominoes as indicating that things will suddenly get better.

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Writing to an atheist podcast about the problem of replacing Christmas.


Hi, I'm a nihilistic atheist (I reject much more than just monotheism) and I'm writing with a topic suggestion for your consideration.  I can volunteer to help, but I assume the help would be unwanted.*

The topic is: how do we try to NOT celebrate Christmas with our children, but to provide something better / different for our children.

* (My youtube channel has 3.2 million total views… but that's been gradually acquired over 4 years… I assume you'd just be interested in the topic, and not in my actual collaboration).

What makes this topic so interesting is the level of defensive hostility this raises amongst atheism-activists (and as someone born Jewish, it is parallel to the topic of circumcision amongst secular Jews, I'd say).

I have yet to have a single atheist activist or youtuber respond in a sympathetic way to the fact that I have a 5 year old daughter and I'm going to make the effort to try to have some kind of gift-giving holiday that is NOT Christmas, because I actively reject Christianity.

When I ask them, "Would you have this same attitude if I were an ex-Muslim, explaining to you my struggle to NOT celebrate Ramadan despite tradition, cultural expectations, family, etc.?", they suddenly have nothing to say.  And I don't just use Islam as a contrast, I also refer to Hinduism, Communism, etc.

As with excuses for circumcision (amongst atheists), there is a deep-seated tendency to excuse and preserve what's familiar, even if that preservation makes hypocrites of us all.  People treat me as if I'm a troll in raising an issue I'm really sincere about: my parents were both Communists, and I have lived in two different Communist countries (plus one ex-Communist country)… it is a significant decision NOT to celebrate figures like Lenin, Stalin, Mao, and Marx, when you live in a culture that does celebrate them.  It's a significant decision to NOT celebrate Christmas.  And apparently this challenge (in pursuit of cultural change) is just too much for many atheist activists to deal with.

My video on the topic (reaching a modest 1,000 viewers… an unpopular topic by any measure) is here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SvcP3CShFBQ

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Sarcasm for Social Change. :-/

Apparently nobody has made a t-shirt that reads, "Sarcasm for social change" —so I have to do it.


Sunday, 29 July 2018

A Funny Story From My Time as a Denizen of the Chinese Language School.


The tale of a doomed gym romance, in the distinctive setting of Keats Language School (of Kunming, China).

我住在一个语言学校。这个地方有好处和坏处。所有的学生是成人,但是我们没有成人的责任,当我们住在这里的时候,我们没有工作,没有家庭,没有朋友或者敌人。一些的学生感觉这个地方看起来像一个监。很少学生试试找新的爱,因为在这里他们没有真的家。

我有一点点开心,但是我唯一的娱乐是我们的健身房。在这里,一个很帅的外国人和一个女私人教练试试约会。在开始的时候,她对他没有兴趣。他假装他不明白所有的机器,因为他想问她,“你可以帮助我吗?”

他甚至表现得像他不明白怎么做卧推。如果我没自己看这个情况,我不相信。一次,他参加她的操课。所有的她的一般学生是老女人,和她们有一个竞争。

因为他比较强,他赢了,但是女私人教练不给一般奖励,因为这个是一个女人的衣服。所以,她决定她让他给她推拿,这个是他的奖励。也许他们开始互相有兴趣。

最后,他们约会。当这个时候,他需要承认他不久以后离开昆明。诚实地说,他想马上和她发生关系。同时,她承认她是一个处女。她从来没有男朋友,她从来没有吻一个男人。

为什么我知道这个故事?

以后,他对我说明这个情况,因为他邀请我替代他。也许他感觉内疚,也许他想想象别一个男人,有道德的人,可能变成她的第一次爱。但是,我对她没有兴趣。  [End.]

Monday, 11 June 2018

Sources on Aristotle's Political Context & Career.


(This short post implicitly relates to a youtube video on the same topic, to be found on my channel, here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLZEkgohG7k7r2KOvbCAIKvulmFOp1kRKc)

You can get both articles from JSTOR.

(1) "Aristotle's Paradox of Monarchy and the Biographical Tradition."  J. Miller, 1998, in: History of Political Thought, Vol. 19, No. 4,

(2) The "extreme" position (i.e., arguing strongly that Aristotle was "an agent of Macedonia" in Athens) is presented in "Aristotle and the Foreign Policy of Macedonia." Anton-Herman Chroust, 1972, The Review of Politics, Vol. 34, No. 3 (Jul., 1972).

Source #1 repeatedly alludes to the extent to which source #2 has been reluctantly/negatively received by other scholars in the field; for a sense of why this is, see (3) Christopher Kirwan's (negative) review of Aristotle: New Light on His Life and on Some of His Lost Works by Anton-Hermann Chroust, in: The Classical Review, New Series, Vol. 26, No. 1 (1976), pp. 69-70

(4) For a "simple" biographical source on Aristotle, it doesn't get any simpler than Diogenes Laertius (but secondary sources such as the ones linked above are engaged in skeptically questioning to what extent these biographies are historically valid, especially given the long "pause" between the death of Aristotle and the writing of these accounts): http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0258%3Abook%3D5%3Achapter%3D1

(5) There is one further (analytical) source salient to this discussion hidden away in the pages of Essays on the Foundations of Aristotelian Political Science, 1991, edited
by Carnes Lord and David K. O'Connor, although I have left this in fifth place, as its salience is of a more general character.  It is titled, "Aristotle's Critique of Athenian Democracy" by Barry S. Strauss (staring on p. 212). https://books.google.ca/books?id=q58eP8kKBmMC&pg=PA212&dq=On+Aristotle%27s+Critique+of+Democracy&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiw0ZG68czbAhWZGTQIHSOqAqgQ6AEIJzAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Giving advice to a suicidal (long-time) viewer.

[Question from a viewer.]
Hi Eisel. I'm a 17 year old from [an English-speaking country] and have been a fan of your YouTube channel for maybe a year and a half. I'm writing because I believe we share many similar viewpoints across different topics (though over my time watching your channel I have found many things I've disagreed with) and am hoping that maybe you can offer some kind of advice.
I'm a nihilistic athiest like you and at the moment am really suffering and struggling with an existential crisis. This has been progressively worsening with time to the point where now I consider suicide anywhere from 3 times a week to 3 times a day or more. I eat well and I exercise frequently but I essentially just think this depression is because of an unchangeable truth and see no possible way to overcome it. Today I saw a doctor and he'd like to meet again but I've seen your video on antidepressants and it seems very convincing, especially coupled with the fact that what is bringing me down just seems to be an unchangeable part of reality, so I'm not sure what I should do about that.
Essentially I'm just searching for some kind of point or meaning in my life and have reached what appears to be a dead end. Do you have any kind of advice for getting out of this pit I've ended up in? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
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