Monday 31 July 2023

Erin Janus and the People Who Believe in Demons


Two emails in a row here.  Another contrast is to Hebrew and Arabic: I would MUCH RATHER learn Latin than modern Hebrew and/or modern Arabic.  Chinese isn't really a fair comparison because I've already sunk so many years into it.


You know, if there were anything positive I could do within Canada, I would do it:

I bought a huge stack of books on Latin (i.e., the ancient language, literature, history and politics) because it seemed like the only positive thing I could do if I continued to be trapped here in Victoria (i.e., there is a classics department at UVic, etc.).

If I believed there were a program in Cinematography worth doing, if I believed there were a program in "agenting" worth doing, etc. etc.


If there were anything positive I could do under any heading (learning Chinese, learning how to bake bread, anything) I would do it.

But there isn't.

I don't know what you expect me to do from here: we could (both of us) literally enroll to get university degrees in Latin at UVic…

but that would then create a new crisis at the end of the program / degree (several years from now) when we'd have to ask all the same questions again (we'd still have no home, no possible way of earning an income, etc.).


The thing is…

I have a much more sincere interest in Latin than I ever had in Chinese or Japanese…

it is REALLY interesting to me, and it would be REALLY rewarding for me…

(in terms of history, philosophy, politics, etc.)

but it's impossible to be optimistic about (1) the Canadian university system, and (2) any kind of employment ensuing thereafter.

Melissa asked me once (within the last few months) what I'd do (with my life and career) if we broke up and I was living here (in Victoria) alone and my answer was that I'd probably re-activate my student status at UVic and study Latin (and again: the huge pile of books on the subject is visible in the middle of our one room apartment at all times).

What's a worse use of my time, at age 44: studying Latin vs. studying cinematography, given that the university system is garbage either way?

And given that the film industry is (now) dying, in the same sense that book publishing (and magazine and newspaper publishing, etc.) died within my lifetime.


Saturday 29 July 2023

On the inevitability of the current crisis (IF YOU ONLY READ ONE THING FROM THIS BLOG…)


Re: "You need to do some actions to help yourself"

I've already done everything I can do: I've already researched everything I can research.

Try —briefly— to remember the situation I was in when I was living in a small town in Taiwan (Puli was the name of the town, BTW).

At that time (BEFORE the coronavirus pandemic) I was already saying to you that I'd researched every conceivable option and there was no way forward.

Here, in brief, is what has changed since that time:

• I gave up on any possibility of higher education connected to Chinese, or anything else from my "academic" past (politics, etc.), having looked at every conceivable university program on the planet (and note that this even includes M.B.A. programs, masters of education programs, etc. etc., an enormous variety).

• We did all the paperwork to relocate to the USA, and a ton of research related to that possibility, ending when it proved to be bureaucratically impossible to do (and I made the very public announcement that all our assumptions about Los Angeles and New York being viable options for the two of us had turned out to be untenable).

• We did all the paperwork to relocate to Israel, and likewise gave up when that proved to be impossible to do.

• Having given up on a long, long list of education and career options, I started getting interested in (live) stand up comedy (and this relates especially to the pitiable state of cinematography as a discipline within universities, among other things)… but I've also had to give up on that entirely, as we can't actually live anywhere that stand up comedy exists (let alone a film industry, let alone the possibility of getting paid to write comedy, etc.).

Keep in mind, for example, that when cinematography proved impossible to do, I started looking into "agenting" (being a talent agent, being a booking agent) —this is a good example of the way in which I've really researched many different "branching paths" from each specific possibility (OVER A PERIOD OF MORE THAN TEN YEARS NOW!).

This (above) is not remotely a complete bullet point list: there was a time when I was putting all of my efforts into learning Chinese… and even Chinese wasn't my first choice but my last choice.  There was a time when I was willing to start all over again with Latin, there was a time when I was willing to start all over again with Greek (in the same way that —years before— I'd been willing to start again with Cree-and-Ojibwe and actually did it).  Generally, I'm someone who devoted his life to politics and political philosophy (in Canada and Cambodia alike) and it takes one hell of a lot of imagination to see how that can lead to a career in comedy, baking, etc. —but I have been willing to look under rocks nobody else (in my position) would have even considered.

I am neither saying this to complain nor to boast, but you seem to forget the circumstances that have produced the current crisis —and you seem to forget how many times I warned you this crisis was coming over the last year-and-a-half or so.

So, again, re: "You need to do some actions to help yourself"

Gail, I am really being sincere when I say: THERE IS NOTHING MORE THAT I CAN DO TO HELP MYSELF, and there is nothing more that I can research.

It is not the case that I'm one google search away from finding the solution to my conundrum.  It is not the case that there's some wonderful university program (in Canada, in Europe or in Taiwan) that will solve even one of my problems, and that I've simply failed to google search the right combination of terms to uncover it.

I am really throwing myself at the feet of complete strangers and begging for help, because I am now (so to speak) helpless.

The situation really was dire eight months ago when I made the "desperate cry for help" video (that you chose to ignore)… and the situation has only become more dire since then, with the predictable necessity of actually buying airplane tickets (and moving out of this apartment) now looming over our heads when WE HAVE NOWHERE TO GO, and absolutely no positive future to hope for.

Again, this has been the most predictable crisis in the history of the world: I have been narrating it and analyzing it at every stage of its development.

And I have been saying, openly, "I need help", again and again and again.


Thursday 20 July 2023

Quitting YouTube: "This has become a company that creators hate."

Humans make mistakes:

I have a video that was first banned for being racist...

I appealed, explaining that the video is NOT racist...

that appeal was accepted

but suddenly

after the video was uncensored for NOT being racist

a reviewer decided it contains nudity.

So the video was banned again.

Then I received an email from YouTube admitting that the video contains zero nudity, admitting that a mistake had been made.

Then (just as suddenly) I received an email that the video will be restricted to viewers over 18 because of nudity.

The video contains ZERO nudity: it does not have women in bikinis.  It is just a lecture against racism (with quotations from the racist people I'm criticizing).

I'm told the same thing you're telling me now: "all decisions are final, no appeal is possible."


Anyone who is not blind would agree: the video does not contain nudity.

I've brought more than seven million views to YouTube with the work of my hands.

Why should I be treated this way?

People like me now deeply hate and resent YouTube: we are all waiting for a competitive website to give us an alternative.  The people who should feel gratitude toward YouTube instead feel hatred.

Your website now has advertisements on my video with over 18,000 views: you make money out of it, but I don't.  You say the video is too provocative to monetize: but you've monetized it for yourself, while refusing to share the advertising revenue with me --while falsely claiming that the video is violent, racist or excessively sexy (and that the arbitrary decisions of your staff in India are final no matter how obviously false).

It is not possible to get a human being to look at a video and agree, "this does not contain nudity".  It is not possible to get a human being to look at a video and agree, "Okay, I can see that you're quoting a Nazi while condemning Nazism, and that this video shouldn't be banned as if it were racist/pro-Nazi."

I had a video banned for being racist against the French, and I wrote in to explain that my own daughter is French (and living in France, etc.).  I had a video talking about anti-Semitism with my daughter, in which I'm explaining to her that we're Jewish, and that we'll both have to cope with antisemitism our whole lives long, and this video was censored as if it were antisemitic.

In the past, appealing to human review was possible: now it is impossible.  And YouTube is incentivized to steal from its creators by running ads on demonetized videos.  It is not possible to get a human answer from a human being any more; and most of the employees are in India, and do not understand the English language (and American political subtleties) well enough to determine what is racist and what isn't (nor what is nudity and what isn't, what is educational and what isn't, etc.).

You have made your supporters into your enemies: this has become a company that creators hate.


How Youtube Censorship Works in 2023.

[I uploaded exactly the same video twice: one "version" was censored, whereas the other was not censored —even though the two versions are identical.  Nevertheless, it was (and is) completely impossible (in 2023) to get Youtube to re-examine the decision made by (human) censors, and to correct the error by either censoring both of them, or censoring neither.]

11:21:17 AM Charles: Hi my name is Charles, how are you doing today?

11:21:35 AM  Hello.

11:21:43 AM  I need this escalated to management to review:

11:21:48 AM  I have uploaded the same video twice

11:21:54 AM  (it is exactly the same video in every way)

11:22:04 AM Charles: Hi there! 

11:22:11 AM  but one "version" of the video is censored, and the other "version" IS NOT censored.

11:22:19 AM Charles: I see that you would like to have another review of your video on the platform. 

11:22:21 AM  And again: the two versions of the video are absolutely identical.

11:22:23 AM  (1)

11:22:24 AM

11:22:27 AM Charles: I know how worrisome this can be for you as a creator. 

11:22:32 AM Charles: I'd be happy to check this for you! 

11:22:41 AM  (2)

11:22:42 AM

11:22:57 AM Charles: Can you tell me more about your concern on your videos? 

11:23:04 AM  That is the whole story.  Let me know if you'll refer it to management or not.

11:24:01 AM Charles: Sure, let me go ahead and check this for you. 

11:24:31 AM  I have discovered (and I have proven) AN ERROR in your censorship system: either both versions of the video should be demonetized or NEITHER video should be demonetized.  Right now there are two versions of the video: one is censored and one is not (one is demonetized and one is not).  That must be an error.

11:24:41 AM  Please refer this to management to correct the error.  That is the whole story.

11:26:25 AM Charles: Thanks for confirming.

11:26:59 AM Charles: Are you able to send us a screenshot of what you are seeing from your end? 

11:27:28 AM  Your question does not make sense.

11:27:45 AM  What would I send you a screenshot of?

11:28:48 AM Charles: The screenshot that you're seeing there is a mistake with the monetization of your videos. 

11:29:05 AM  Proof.png

11:29:13 AM  ^ Behold.  A screenshot.

11:29:28 AM  Exactly the same video (EXACTLY).  One "version" is censored.  The other "version" is not censored.

11:30:12 AM Charles: Thanks for sending the screenshot.

11:32:50 AM Charles: Can you give me a few minutes to check on your concern?

11:33:40 AM  I can.

11:33:58 AM  However, this can only conclude in one way: you must escalate the complaint to management.

11:34:17 AM  An error was made: this is the only way that the error can be reviewed / rectified.

11:38:35 AM Charles: It seems like I would need a couple more minutes to check on your concern. 

11:38:48 AM  Thank you for your time and consideration.

11:43:31 AM Charles: Thank you for patiently waiting! 

11:43:41 AM Charles: Let me share more information about your concern. 

11:44:06 AM Charles: I'll explain first why a video may get a yellow icon. 

11:44:09 AM  No.

11:44:13 AM  Stop.

11:44:25 AM  Do not share that information with me.

11:44:32 AM  I have over 7,000,000 views.

11:44:43 AM  I have been through this process more than 100 times, possibly more than 1000 times.

11:44:57 AM  Please DO NOT "share more information" with me.

11:45:02 AM Charles: Oh, alright then. 

11:45:11 AM  I do not know how many years you've been working for youtube…

11:45:19 AM  but it is possible I have been working with youtube for more years than you have.

11:45:59 AM Charles: Upon checking, it seems like the video you want us to review is not fully the same. 

11:46:24 AM Charles: So there might still be discrepancies that may consider the other video for limited monetization. 

11:46:27 AM  It is the same: 

11:46:35 AM Charles: Due to the nature of your video or video metadata, including your video title, thumbnail or tags, we've found that your content doesn't align with the advertiser-friendly content guidelines and may not be suitable for all brands. 

11:46:40 AM  the exact same video was uploaded twice, once at a lower resolution, once at a higher resolution.

11:46:46 AM  The content of the video is identical

11:47:00 AM  So is this your plan?

You're going to lie to me?

11:47:04 AM Charles: Certain questions would arise like, are the titles the same, how about the thumbnail and tags? 

11:47:27 AM  I have a very simple question: are you going to escalate this to management or not?

11:47:39 AM  If you are not blind, you can see that the video is exactly the same (both uploads).

11:48:00 AM  Can you see that I'm telling the truth?  YES OR NO?

11:48:12 AM Charles: Yes, but how about the details of the video?

11:48:15 AM  Either I am telling the truth or I am lying:

11:48:20 AM  am I lying?

11:48:53 AM Charles: You are not lying but I have also shared with you what is included in the review for monetization. 

11:49:01 AM  If I am telling you the truth, there's a genuine reason to refer this matter to management (to "escalate the complaint").  An error has been made in the censorship process.

11:49:41 AM  You are lying: it is laughably untrue to suggest that one version of the video is not censored (while the other one is) because of differences in the title and metadata.

11:50:23 AM Charles: Alright then.

11:50:34 AM  Title: "Marijuana Causes Brain Damage: Scientific Facts."

11:50:44 AM  ^ You think THAT TITLE is the reason for censorship?

11:50:55 AM Charles: It could be. 

11:51:29 AM Charles: Metadata is indeed part of the review process. 

11:51:31 AM  So that is your reason to NOT escalate this complaint?

11:51:44 AM Charles: Let me also share with you an article about this: 

11:51:57 AM Charles: But I know how eager you are to have this reviewed again. 

11:52:01 AM  The possibility that the title COULD BE the reason = why you've waste 30 minutes of my time?  This is why you're refusing to treat my complaint as legitimate?

11:52:04 AM Charles: So we could look for other ways for you.

11:52:34 AM  We've been talking for more than 30 minutes.

11:52:39 AM  Very simple question:

11:52:43 AM  what are the outcomes?

11:52:47 AM  What happens next?

11:53:07 AM Charles: You can refer to this troubleshooter link to have our internal team check your video again:

11:53:38 AM Charles: Rest assured that we'll get back to you once we have more to share about your appeal. 

11:54:11 AM Charles: Hopefully you will get more understanding of the process on your future uploads. 

11:54:22 AM Charles: Aside from this, do you have other concerns for today? 

11:54:37 AM  Wait.

11:54:41 AM  Wait, Charles.

11:54:51 AM  I have been here for 30 minutes:

11:55:00 AM  you can wait while I use the "workflow" link to enter the URL…

11:55:05 AM  and then report to you that it DOES NOT WORK.

11:55:31 AM  Here is the reply, Charles:

11:55:33 AM  "Error with workflow configuration. Please escalate the issue."


11:55:44 AM Charles: Are you able to share a screenshot of what you're seeing? 

11:56:05 AM  Here is the screenshot:

[Use your imagination.]

11:56:57 AM  Everything I am telling you is the truth.  Everything you are telling me is (1) a lie and (2) an excuse.

11:57:08 AM  I do not know when youtube changed "the deal" with this appeal process…

11:57:16 AM  it's totally insane that you waste my time for more than 30 minutes this way:

11:57:23 AM  OF COURSE the issue should be escalated.

11:57:30 AM  OF COURSE the appeal should be presented to management.

11:57:35 AM  This is not even a question.

11:57:37 AM Charles: Thanks for the screenshot. 

11:57:48 AM Charles: Let me go ahead and check this from our end. 

11:58:00 AM  No, Charles: you must escalate the complaint.

11:58:06 AM  It's a valid complaint.

11:58:11 AM  You are not blind:

11:58:16 AM  you know I'm telling the truth.

11:58:17 AM  Do it.

11:58:27 AM  Do exactly what your job requires you to do AND ESCALATE THE COMPLAINT.

11:58:38 AM  Eisel Mazard left the conversation

11:58:38 AM  Eisel Mazard ended the conversation

Saturday 15 July 2023

Friday 14 July 2023

From zero to a hundred, real quick.

"This is not a period of depression; 
this is a period of decisive action."

Gail, again, these are good questions.

You may be disappointed at how depressing are the answers.

Re: "The concept of cinema I thought is so you could improve the attractiveness of your already successful presence on YouTube and other media to earn more money on it."

With cinematography, keep in mind: we're not talking about an abstract concept.

We're talking about particular institutions, particular people (instructors), and a sacrifice of a particular number of years of your life (and many thousands of dollars) for a particular outcome.

These university programs CAN be worse than nothing, and THEY ARE worse than nothing: I know it's easy for you to agree with me about that in an offhand way during a casual conversation, but it is NOT EASY to really live with the implications.  It is not easy to think through "what now?" and "what next?" while really remaining rigorously aware of how bad these university options are.

It is possible to learn absolutely nothing in an M.B.A. program: I directly asked the professors of at least two different M.B.A. programs, "What would I learn salient to the stock market in this program?" and the answer was ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.  They said that to me: they admitted it.  That wasn't my analysis of the program: it was their confession.

Likewise, a program that purports to teach you Chinese can be worse than nothing.  A program that purports to teach you baking can be worse than nothing.  It is really (seriously) fair to say, of these university programs, "I would be better off just renting an apartment in China (or Taiwan, or Hong Kong, etc.) and learning the language on my own than enrolling in this university program" —even if the total cost were the same for all options.  Options like baking and language instruction are unusually pragmatic: they have measurable outcomes and deal with "hands on" (real world) skills.  If you're talking about courses in political philosophy, everything gets worse.

What we found with cinematography was basically a mix of what we'd found with baking and political philosophy: these university programs are scams, and they're scams attached to a dying industry.

The other factor here is: WHO IS IN THE CLASSROOM WITH YOU?  Whether you're looking at Lansing, Michigan, or Ottawa, Ontario, the actual people you're sharing the classroom with (both professors and students) are losers: you're better off hanging around a strip club in Los Angeles or an open mic comedy club in New York to make contacts who could actually collaborate on a youtube video with you —let alone take on a filmmaking project more ambitious than that (fiction or nonfiction, documentary, comedy, action or otherwise).

I am not joking when I say that: there are strippers who would be interested in getting on camera and acting, and there are aspiring comedians who'd be interested in playing any number of roles —perhaps even flying to Libya to make a documentary about Khalifa Haftar (etc.).  The college and university cinematography programs are a dead end within a dead end: you're spending your time with people who are struggling to reach the intellectual level necessary to film a shampoo commercial.

Most of what we'd need to know about Cinematography is contained in one book that we have on our desk right now: you can pretty much read that one book (it's a long book!) and then get out and learn from experience (what angles work with what kind of lighting, etc. etc.).  The crucial variable is knowing the right people to work with: that's why I was so interested in "agenting" (being a talent agent, being a booking agent, etc.).  This would lead to knowing a network of people ("who to call") who can take on all the other roles in a filmmaking project (again: fiction or nonfiction, documentary, comedy or otherwise).

This, also, presumes a locus: if we're not living in New York or Los Angeles, it's all impossible anyway.  Is Tokyo an option?  Maybe.  Maybe Tokyo is the last place on earth where there are actually enough talented people around for us to make something positive happen.  In absolute numbers: there are definitely more people who speak English in Tokyo than there are in Montreal.

However, we do not have a single friend in Tokyo (nor anywhere in Japan).  And my knowledge of the Japanese language is the result of just two semesters of education (and education of an extremely poor quality, although I worked very hard at it).

Re: "Please remember that you are resilient, strong and brilliant."

I'm not: I was brilliant ten years ago.  Now, I'm a broken man on a Halifax pier.

I say again: there is nothing left in me to give.  I have given and given and given for all these years, and nothing positive has come from it.  Today is the day I crossed seven million views on youtube (and that is just counting my main channel, not adding up the smaller ones); even if people who were worth talking to were one in a million, I'd have seven of them by now.  I don't.  I need help and nobody is going to help me.

How I wish I was in Sherbrooke now.

Re: "This strategy could also work for Greece."

Okay: how many intellectuals are there in Greece?

How many of them speak English, or would have anything to do with us?

If we move to Greece, we'll be living TOTALLY ALONE, FOREVER.  There won't be a single stand up comedy event for me to ever participate in (or perform at).  There won't be a single person who ever collaborates on a youtube video with me.  There won't be any political movement we're a part of in any sense.  Nobody will publish my books there, nobody will illustrate the children's storybooks I've written, etc. etc.

The problem with Greece is, in brief, that it's worse than Thailand: we're better off living like millionaires in Thailand (i.e., my implicit point being that $1000 is worth much more in Thailand) than living like paupers in Athens —and Thailand would have all the same disadvantages (we'd live in an oubliette).

I'd just like to state again, briefly: we're anti-Communist and anti-Anarchist.  Politically, we're close to the mainstream center in Greece today, and in most of the western world today; this does not make us any friends.  We'd probably have more friends if we were part of the lunatic fringe in one political ideology or another.  Within veganism, obviously, many people hate me precisely because I'm not a Communist (within Chinese language studies, too, I might add!).  Politically, you can be isolated in the middle, and you can have a ton of colleagues and contemporaries on the extreme fringe (and this is one reason why people become extremists).

The unabomber had more friends than I do: his pathetic imitators (like John Zerzan) have more friends and followers than I do.  I'm further to the right than Bernie Sanders (and, thus, closer to the center) but I'm completely alone "here".

Re: "I understand that The impossibility of the US option has been devastating for you both because you counted on  that for so many years."


Re: "I fear that it has thrown you into a depression…"

No, Gail, I'm not depressed, I am simply running out of time, and running out of options: WE LITERALLY NEED TO DECIDE IF WE'RE BUYING AIRPLANE TICKETS TO JAPAN OR NOT THIS MONTH.  And, yes, one of the reasons why I'm talking to you is that I do not remotely have enough money in my bank account to buy those airplane tickets outright (out of my youtube earnings, etc.).  This is not a period of depression; this is a period of decisive action.

Re: "…and that this depression is preventing you from having the confidence to move and start again…"

Nope, you're thinking of some other guy: I have the confidence to move to Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Japan, Israel OR ANYWHERE ELSE ON EARTH.  Self-confidence is not the problem.  OTHER PEOPLE are the problem: the reason why I couldn't get a university degree in Chinese (for example) is OTHER PEOPLE.  The reason why I couldn't get a college degree in baking is OTHER PEOPLE.  How many more items should I add to this list?  It wasn't a lack of confidence, talent, brilliance or anything else that stood in my way in these (numerous!) fields (including political philosophy, Buddhism, Cree-and-Ojibwe, etc. etc.) it was —simply— OTHER PEOPLE.

Guess what?  Opening a comedy club involves OTHER PEOPLE.  Comedy itself involves OTHER PEOPLE.  Filmmaking involves OTHER PEOPLE.

You heard me say this many years ago, Gail: there is nothing more terrible than relying on something that cannot be relied upon.  OTHER PEOPLE: that's what I cannot rely upon.

Just think about what happened at UVic: I had such low expectations, but the reality of that institution (and the people within it, comprising it) was SO MUCH WORSE than I possibly could have imagined.  I could now repeat this for a list of other institutions, including the baking school.

No, Gail, my problem isn't a lack of confidence: I taught myself the Laotian language (NO TEACHER, NO HELP FROM ANYONE) while sleeping under a mosquito net and chopping my own firewood (to boil non-potable water) every morning.  Getting on stage and doing comedy: my problem isn't a lack of confidence.  Writing, researching, etc. —my problem is not a lack of confidence.  My problem is other people —and, sometimes, the concatenation of cabals of other people in institutions.

It absolutely never occurred to me, ten years ago, that I wouldn't know a single person (in the whole world) with even a shred of talent or brilliance, but here I am: I have no contemporaries, I have no colleagues, I have no rivals, I have no equals.

There is no talent in Canada.  There is no talent in Montreal.  Canada is a dead end.  Montreal is a dead end within a dead end.

Is Tokyo a dead end?  Are there dissident intellectuals in Tokyo?  If it's not gonna be Tokyo, then where?


Zero Options: Trying to Make Something Out of Nothing.

[Original title:] There are no intellectuals in Quebec; there is no stand up comedy scene in Montreal; there is no filmmaking opportunity in Canada.

There are no intellectuals in Quebec.

There is no stand up comedy scene in Montreal.

There is no filmmaking opportunity in Canada.

There are no universities in Canada where I could study cinematography, baking, Chinese, OR ANYTHING ELSE.  (It's a long list.)

I am now 44.  I've done twenty years of research into SO MANY THINGS.

I have absolutely nothing positive to show for it: we've only confirmed (again and again) what is impossible.

[And, I will add, I live by this very simple religious principle: everything impossible is forbidden.]

Just to get between our apartment and the nearest bakery (which is quite close by!) we walk past/over about 15 drug addicts —very often they are smoking methamphetamine, crack cocaine and/or fentanyl out of a glass pipe while we walk past them (openly).  To get to the nearest bank increases the number of drug addicts, we walk past even though we plan our route (street by street) to avoid them.  THIS IS NOW LEGAL IN B.C.

There was a time when Melissa wanted to start playing basketball (ALONE: WE HAVE NO FRIENDS IN CANADA) but I told her this was impossible because she wouldn't be able to walk to the park (and back) without me as a bodyguard —and there are drug addicts in the park, also, where she would in theory be using the basketball.

I do not have a single friend in Victoria.  I do not have a single friend in Vancouver.  I do not have a single friend in Montreal.  I do not have a single friend anywhere in Canada (AFTER ALL THESE YEARS AS A PUBLIC FIGURE).  Neither Melissa nor I talk with a single person in all of Canada aside from you, Gail.



You have a good understanding of your situation... It very limiting. The logical conclusion is that you need to move.

Where you move represents a new beginning

If it is less than perfect, It would be an improvement over where you are now.

I love you as your mother

I can support your education

And some basic living expenses

Only you two can choose your destination and only you two can make friends

On the education side, you are both great a self-learning ---

Are there learning programmes at great universities that can provide certificates if not degrees?

Would the various "nomad visas" in countries like Spain work for you?? You seem to have friends there to build on?

You often talked about returning to Taiwan -- what has changed your mind about that?

It is  a good time for you to make choices that get you out of the situation you are in... and take you toward some of your goals which I understood to be marriage and a child.

Taking steps -- even if halting and imperfect -- can take you in a positive direction.

You are both talented and you have love

I understand your disappointments -- but I hope that your strength of character and love will take you toward a happier life... There was a time about a year ago when you were more hopeful. I think that staying in Victoria has been bad for you -- I think it is time to make a move that can bring positive change even if you cannot see it now.

Love - gail



You're asking the right questions.

(1) "Would the various "nomad visas" in countries like Spain work for you??" The problem with Spain is that we cannot earn money there: moving to Spain basically means "retirement", and we will never be "normal people" there.  Whether you call that being a nomad or a retired person makes no difference, really: different icing on the same cake.

There are no other options for Spain: zero.

We can take language classes there (i.e., learning Spanish) but that would really just be a transition to living somewhere else that the Spanish language is spoken (Cuba?).

In the past, when we thought California and Florida were options, there could have been strategic significance to being in Spain for six months (to learn to speak Spanish and then return to the United States).  Now, nothing in the U.S.A. is an option anymore, so Spain and Spanish have disappeared from consideration.

(1.5) Greece is different: we could eventually become citizens in Greece, and we could work and earn money in Greece (legally) if we buy a house there and go through a series of stages.  I am just mentioning this to say, "Not every country in Europe plays by the same rules as Spain".  Each country has its own rules.  We do not know of a single positive example or opportunity anywhere.

(2) "Where you move represents a new beginning"


(3) "Are there learning programmes at great universities that can provide certificates if not degrees?"

I have searched for any opportunity for twenty years: I have not found a single one under any heading, anywhere in the world.

I have never said to you, "Gail, there's this great university program, but I can't go there for some logistical reason" —I have been saying to you again and again, "there is absolutely nothing".

And I do not know if I can even type out a list of the options I have investigated (it has included so many different subjects, many dozens, even just within the last four years) but the areas I've discussed most recently are (a) "Agenting" (being a talent agent), (b) cinematography / filmmaking, (c) Chinese as a language, (d) Latin (Ancient Latin) as a language.

None of these four would be "my first choice".  I never even wanted to study Chinese: I was forced to do so because of the impossibility of studying other things (including Cree and Ojibwe!) that I actually did study (in some cases for many years, e.g., the overlapping languages (and history and politics) of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Burma and Pali —a huge amount of work that very few people alive can imagine).

Let me just repeat your question: "Are there learning programmes at great universities that can provide certificates if not degrees?"

You've talked to us for so many hours about this over so many years: you should already know the answer.

No, Gail, we haven't even found a program in baking bread (!) in all these years, let alone a single program related to something I actually want to do / something I'm actually talented and experienced in.

There is nowhere in the world that we can even study Chinese.  That is about as mainstream a subject as I could possibly name (with over one billion speakers).  Keep in mind that —until recently— Melissa had assumed we had the option of living in the U.S.A., and she looked at universities across the United States for all these things (Chinese, Cinematography, etc. etc.).

(4) Re: "You often talked about returning to Taiwan -- what has changed your mind about that?"

I sent you an email about this recently: THE ONLY OPTION that exists in Taiwan is taking short term language courses (as a holiday).  We can do that, and we could do that in Kunming, also, if you would pay for it, but all of our belongings would remain here (in this apartment) and we'd return to the same situation afterward, but better able to speak Chinese.  Both Taiwan and Communist China offer this kind of short term language education program, but it is a vacation, nothing more.  And we would have zero positive options thereafter: we'd be facing the same crisis again after the course is over that we're facing now.

(5) "…but I hope that your strength of character and love will take you toward a happier life..."




(6) "There was a time about a year ago when you were more hopeful."

That was when we assumed we could live in the United States of America once the paperwork was completed: that assumption turned out to be false.  The whole of the U.S.A. is no longer an option for us.

I was more hopeful when I assumed Israel was an option for us, even though Israel is hell on earth (it nevertheless has more intellectuals than Canada!).


Thursday 13 July 2023

The Long Shadow of the French Revolution (in 2023)


Centrists/Libs enjoy the "White Man's Burden" and "White Savior" narrative because it reifies their view that they are still superior.

Why don't people talk about making things in the USA concretely better? There's an ongoing cultural civil war between the left and the right. Your suggestions lines up with the nationalism of the "Right" these days. This view is verboten in polite society now. Neither NeoCons nor NeoLibs will allow it. They hollow out society from within for profit. Then divide the people with IDPOL. Same as the British did to their colonies.


The French still send rice farming experts to Cambodia, as if Cambodians wouldn't know how to farm rice without them (I AM NOT JOKING).  I met a team of American volunteers painting a school in Laos and asked them if they really thought we had nobody with the skill set required to paint a wall without their help.  Re: "Centrists/Libs enjoy the 'White Man's Burden' and 'White Savior' narrative because it reifies their view that they are still superior."  The extent to which the mainstream left now demonstrates the same racism that the mainstream right was notorious for in the 1950s is truly tragicomic: it is comparable to the racism that the Chinese demonstrate toward Tibetans and Mongolians, i.e., "those people wouldn't be able to accomplish anything without our help" —even if this is stated in the most compassionate and politically correct terms, it presupposes both the delusion that "they need us" and that "we are implicitly superior to them".  Re: "Your suggestions line up with the nationalism of the 'Right' these days."  None of those people would even eat lunch with me.  Re: "Neither NeoCons nor NeoLibs will allow it."  I think all of those people would eat lunch with me, by contrast.


@a-bas-le-ciel  NeoCons and NeoLibs might indeed eat lunch with you, but it'd be as a curio. You respect the same Shibboleths of "high culture". But they low-key panic when anyone suggests something that'd actually disrupt their carefully constructed wealth pumps. 

As for nationalists not eating lunch with you, I wouldn't be so sure. it's an eclectic group. And, as you say, part of what defines nationalism in the USA is an embrace of "Melting Pot" ideology, so they accept eclecticism. I imagine there's a half-decent chance you could get on "Subversive w/Alex Kaschuta". I think the issue is more that you wouldn't deign to associate with them, more than the reverse, even if their views are closer to yours than anyone else's. Such populism/nationalism is "low class" in the West


Just how little common ground I have with anyone (and everyone) on the guest list on Alex Kaschuta's show provides a very telling sort of "test" for where I now stand in relation to the American right wing; conversely, how much I have in common with Bernie Sanders is also telling —although the vast majority of his supporters would despise me (and I would despise them, too, I suppose) for reasons I need not recapitulate in this comment.  Alex Kaschuta's guests have consistent attitudes toward women, even though some of them are women, celebrating models of marriage from the dark ages (opposing feminism, modernity and "the enlightenment" as they define it) and toward religion, regarding it as a positive aspect of nationalism, rejecting the French Revolution as a step in the wrong direction away from the clerical nation-state of Louis XVI.  I do not think she has had a single guest that does not oppose democracy (in the style of Hans-Hermann Hoppe, even if they are less libertarian and more authoritarian than Hoppe) with vague statements about antisemitism, racism, Nietzsche, etc., hinting at what else they might have in common.  If we draw a dotted line with Voltaire on the left and Louis XVI on the right, my own position is far to the left of Voltaire, far further down the road indicated by the French Revolution, and my attitudes toward marriage, sexuality, religion and "tradition" as such (even Buddhist tradition, etc.) tend to reflect this.

[And although it might seem irrelevant at first, I could provide a link to my video on Stendhal's book, La Chartreuse de Parme, as a sort of salient discussion of the extent to which we're all living in the shadow of the French Revolution, even now:]

Wednesday 12 July 2023

Atheism vs Agnosticism vs Nihilism: "How do you prove god doesn't exist?"

All literature is just literature, behind all authority is mere authorship.  To quote NWA, "an AK-47 is a tool"; a book, also, is a tool.  君子不器。

The implicit tension here is that most (21st century) atheists want to avoid making a strong claim that god does not exist; instead, they merely want to argue that there is insufficient evidence of god's existence.  This has created the absurd assumption (commonly referred to as if it were an irrefutable truth) that all atheism is merely agnostic atheism, i.e., as if it were impossible to have definite knowledge (gnosis) that the arguments in favor of the existence of a god (or gods) are false.

The shift in argumentation here (from atheist-vs.-agnostic to nihilist-vs.-atheist) is significant, although subtle: I am not talking about the existence of god, but instead the existence of literature, the existence of mythology, and then the question of what attitude we should have toward this literature (these myths) and their authors.  That is the only valid question from a nihilist's perspective: there is nothing to be believed in, there is nothing to prove the non-existence of.

In parallel: it would be absurd to invent an agnostic-vs.-atheist dispute over the existence of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn ("can you really prove that Tom Sawyer wasn't an actual person, who actually existed, or are you merely arguing that there's insufficient evidence to compel us to believe in him?").  Nobody should even ask the question, "Given the impossibility of gnosis, how do you deal with the problem of the existence or non-existence of Huckleberry Finn?"

There may nevertheless be legitimate questions of, "Is this good fiction?" if we can first establish that we are discussing fiction as fiction, removing "proof of existence" from the equation entirely.  Is this actually a good story to teach to children?  What were the intentions of the author in writing this story, perhaps in contrast to the significance that is now commonly ascribed to it?  Both for religious texts and for Tom Sawyer, Batman, etc., these questions have to be asked (nihilistically) both with a view to the creation and destruction of culture within any given century.  Are people just going to continue reading Tom Sawyer to their children forever and ever?  What is going to change?  How is it going to change?  Who is going to change it?

In this way, obviously, nihilism is more revolutionary than atheism: it doesn't merely debate abstract questions on call-in talk shows, but actually endeavors to change the world.

Tuesday 11 July 2023

The problem with hating your audience (is different from the problem of your audience hating you).

[This was a public comment on one of Stuart's videos (over at "the Unrepentant Atheist" youtube channel… but, really, you don't need to know more about the context than you can guess from the comment itself.]


Re: "If I owned a shop or I owned a restaurant…"—what we do on youtube is different because so much of the creative process (as internet filmmakers, podcasters, etc.) really does presuppose the participation (and direct influence) of the audience, so the overall scenario is more like a restaurant owner who invites customers to come into the kitchen and play some kind of role in the cooking.  I'm not saying that you're wrong, Stuart, nor even that you're half wrong, but it's worthwhile to think about the ways in which this art form is utterly different from owning a shop or a restaurant.  If you do Q&A with the audience, the quality of the questions you receive really can be a limit on the quality of the answers you can offer.


[And so I say: the problem with hating your audience differs from the problem of your audience hating you.]

Saturday 8 July 2023

Steve Kaufmann backs the fuck down.

Truly, a milestone in the annals of polyglot pissing contests.

"You are proving that your own methods do not get results with the langauges you've studied more recently, e.g., Arabic and Polish.  Your failure with Chinese is an important, empirically real example: you need to re-examine the deepest assumptions built into your language learning advice.  They are falsifiable and they are false."

And BTW, no: I did not respond to his earlier challenge by providing a list of all the languages I've studied, just three examples from three different language families.  Apparently that was enough to get him to cut out the bullshit.

Monday 3 July 2023

I do not identify as an egomaniac, but…

[Many years ago I stopped giving advice that nobody wants to hear; now, instead, here is some advice that somebody wants to hear.]

The only thing that is surprising (to me) about this story [that you've sent in to me] is the question that comes at the end of it:

"What would you recommend so I stop obsessing over this person?"

It is surprising to me that this is the question, that this is the problem you're struggling with.

Note that I do not identify as an egomaniac, but my own lack-of-egoic-weakness (shall we say) is part of the equation here, and will need to be mentioned.

Do you actually feel that you're better than him?  Do you actually feel that you're "too good" for him?

Maybe the answer is no: maybe you feel that he isn't inferior to you, that he isn't contemptible to you, that (really) you wish he would love you (and that you could love him), etc., because you do not regard him as inferior at all.

I think you would admit that if you regarded him as entirely inferior and contemptible you would not be struggling with these feelings.

What do you need to do —in your own life— so that you can feel that you really are (starkly, absolutely) "too good" for this man?

Let me use Hitomi Mochizuki as an example here (a quick "google images" search with that name will familiarize you with why I'm using the example).

What if Hitomi Mochizuki wanted to fuck me?  How would I feel?  I would feel contempt toward her: I would feel that I'm too good for her.  Again: I do not identify as an egomaniac.  The basis for this feeling of contempt is not my physical appearance, nor hers: as far I know, Hitomi has worked as a professional model to some extent, and she is regarded as extremely beautiful by a huge percentage of people (she's not everybody's type, she isn't sexually appealing to everyone, but nevertheless… she's the object of desire for many, perhaps millions, of men and women).

If I went through a similar scenario (as you went through with this German guy) with Hitomi lying to me, or with some other attractive woman with similar attitudes (at a similar level of ignorance and stupidity, etc.) lying to me, how do you suppose I would feel if the lies were revealed (after we'd been arranging to meet but) before we'd met?

I would feel contempt for her, right?  I would regard her as despicable.  I would feel that she wasn't worth missing: she wasn't worth having regrets about, she wasn't worth worrying about.  Even if I actually had met and fucked her, I would feel that she wasn't worth fucking: I would regard her as someone who wasn't worth falling in love with, I would feel that she wasn't worth having any kind of "reasonably profound" relationship with.

If I had never lived the life of the mind, in the same scenario with Hitomi, how would I feel?  If I hadn't read a single book since the end of high school, how would I feel about a flirtation with such a woman, or a relationship with such a woman: if we're both merely living "the life of the body" and not "the life of the mind"?  Comparing body to body, I'm her inferior; comparing the whole person to the whole person, she's utterly contemptible to me —she's beneath me.

Now ask yourself: why is it that you do not feel this way in relation to this German guy?

He's a bad person in various ways that you've described, but that's not how you feel about him: you don't feel contempt toward him, you don't feel disgust, you don't feel that you're too good for him (that you're too good "for this", in general).


What would you need to do (with your life, with "the life of the mind", etc.) to feel this way?

Not all learning is book learning, but, today, book learning is the only type of learning available to most people, most of the time.

A member of the audience wrote in stating that he appreciates my discussion of autism (and stereotypically autistic behavior) in relation to language education, but he also reports that his own experience with reading and studying non-fiction (history, politics, etc.) is similarly debilitating inasmuch as it locks him into repetitive and obsessive patterns of behavior (it was not clear to me if the person writing in has been diagnosed with autism or not, but he seems to be struggling against stereotypically autistic behaviors, for whatever reason, in whatever his circumstances).  For him, this mode of learning ("the life of the mind") was not so different from playing a video game.  Here is my reply.


I think it's a difficult question that arises in the modern world —again and again— whereas it didn't arise in the ancient world.

Nobody spends time around a campfire, singing or seeing epic poetry performed aloud anymore: "literature" and "history" were (for many centuries) socially immersive experiences —as opposed to being isolating, repetitive labor.

AFAIK, there is still a scholarly consensus that the most ancient Greek epic poetry endured for centuries (or at least one century?) without being written down: it was performed verbally, etc.

I am not saying that illiteracy is good; I am just saying that not all learning is book learning; but, today, book learning is the only type of learning available to most people, most of the time.

Cf. my dispute about learning Cree-and-Ojibwe, in which I point out that these languages would not necessarily need to be taught with classroom (chalkboard and textbook) methods, BUT it would be a lot of work for the institution to actually provide a non-classroom (social and sociable) learning experience:

^ I admit, BTW, that contains a link to an earlier blog-article, that you might have to click through to, also, to get the point here.