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:

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).







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.

Thursday 29 March 2018

Published in a Chinese Newspaper! "小康社会”有什么意思?

This "student composition" of mine was published in a "normal" Chinese newspaper (meaning a newspaper created for native speakers of Chinese, and, yes, printed on paper).  https://www.secretchina.com/news/gb/2018/04/02/854514.html







我不知道为什么,但是看来共产党是不能够用数量来表示小康:他们一直解释的是贫困人口比率 ("poverty headcount ratio"),所以“小康”这个词仍然是很模糊。


我觉得这些具体意见很明确是跟小康社有关。共产党想像什么样的社会?他们正在建设一个地主所有制的社会(有“财产性收入渠道”和“劳分配原则”)。他们保证“人民平等参与、平等发展权利, 会得到充分保障”,但是房东和房客不平等,工人和厂主也不平等。在日本有钱的人越来越有钱,没有钱的人越来越穷,一些人交房租,一些人有“财产性收入渠道”。中国的未来就会像80年代的日本吗?这也算不算是一个小康社会?

Eisel Mazard / 马大影

Saturday 17 February 2018

My Chinese handwriting (on the meaning of "pirate")

Obviously, very rapid, very sloppy writing (on a chalkboard) —and yet legible enough for the students.  This was in 德宏, of course.

Saturday 3 February 2018

First Nations Languages (A Very Strange Job Application)

To the teachers and directors of _________________,

Many years ago I decided to devote the rest of my life to First Nations languages: specifically, I wanted to work in indigenous education (and in the political processes related to avoiding the extinction of indigenous languages in Canada).

I went to First Nations University of Canada and I enrolled in Algonquian languages (studying Cree and Ojibwe and taking related courses). I do, indeed, have the transcript to prove this.

Years later, I tried to study west-coast languages at the University of Victoria, also: despite the vague statements about the university being committed to preserving indigenous languages, I found that it was impossible (genuinely impossible) to study any indigenous language at UVic at all (and yes, I spoke with professors, face-to-face).

So, at this time, most of my accomplishments (listed in my C.V.) are related to Asian languages (Chinese, Japanese, Cambodian, Laotian, Pali, etc.) —and, within the education sector, I've had work experience teaching English (E.S.L.) in Asia. However, the truth is that all of these things have been a result of the impossibility of continuing to work on First Nations Languages (and First Nations Language education) in Canadian universities.

I did, also, achieve some level of expertise in Asian languages: I delivered a lecture at Oxford University, England, at the invitation of senior professors, and the audience was almost entirely comprised of senior professors. Although the topic of the lecture was Asian, I can genuinely say that the audience was shocked when I presented them with a "parallelism" from the history of the British Empire in Canada (i.e., the genocide of the indigenous peoples). The lecture is listed in my C.V., and the transcript of that lecture is still available on an Oxford University website (to prove the truth of the anecdote, and show exactly what I said about First Nations languages, at that time, in that forum).

This is all I can say for myself in terms of my "qualifications and experience" in relation to First Nations and indigenous language education: I can prove that this is a topic that I have been passionate about (and that I tried to pursue, as my career, via First Nations University) but it has been impossible for me (thus far) to make further progress in the field, because of the extremely poor situation within Canadian Universities for my generation.

As for the job's other qualifications: yes, I have experience teaching English as a Second Language in Asia. I have just completed a full year of teaching university-age students with all of the responsibilities of a university professor (from writing lectures and grading exams to one-on-one work: memorably, I had separate meetings with one girl who had a severe hearing-disability (she was deaf in childhood, apparently), to help her with her elocution). Yes, I am "sensitive" to the issues that separate E.S.D. from E.S.L. in the Canadian political context: in many ways, my dream was to work on Canadian Aboriginal Languages, and a job of this kind would let me recapture some small part of that dream.

Eisel Mazard

Friday 12 January 2018

My work on Buddhism: how is it perceived by (non-scholarly) white Buddhists?

This is a link from 2016 I stumbled upon (when googling my own name to find the link to an article that I know I uploaded somewhere).


You see the religious mentality at work here: one contributor to this website is saying that my articles (and videos) about Buddhism are "honest scholarship" and raise important questions for Buddhists to consider.  And the other members of the forum reach for whatever excuse they can find to dismiss the articles without reading them (one explicitly says that he made his decision on the basis of the titles of the articles being too cynical).  ;-)

Thursday 11 January 2018

I finally discarded the jacket I got married in.

A certain black jacket that you may have seen in my photos and videos many times has finally been put into a garbage bag.

This was, in fact, a Canadian military jacket (sometimes recognized as such by veterans and government officials, in various places around the world) that I had a tailor modify in Vientiane (to make it slimmer).  The original cut of the cloth was very bulky, to be worn over a harness or other (military) equipment.  The material was ("bullet-proof") aramid (Nomex 3 aramid fiber, as I recall).

I was wearing this jacket on the day of my legal marriage (shown in the pictures above) and on the day when my wife and I were separated (legally, we still aren't divorced!).