Politeness may, quite literally be fatal. It may have taken the life of one of Western Civilization's great scientists, Tycho Brahe:
"According to [Johannes] Kepler's first-hand account, Tycho had refused to leave the banquet to relieve himself because it would have been a breach of etiquette. After he returned home, he was no longer able to urinate, except eventually in very small quantities and with excruciating pain." (Wikipedia)
Is this story true or is the matter not so simple? What difference does it make? If somebody (maybe a Franz Kafka?) wrote a short story vividly describing a person dying a horrific death in an extermination chamber in a concentration camp, but no concentration camps ever existed, would you say: "Oh! That's fiction! [walking a bit...] You know, this locker room is rather a bit chilly for my taste with its concrete walls, and I wish there was hot water as well a cold water. But I do need to wash myself, because I may have body odor. God forbid! [slight pause to consider the matter...] Why are no other guys here? It is a public locker room and it is midday. Maybe nobody else has got off for lunch yet? [another slight pause...] Just gotta man up and grin and bear a cold shower! Brrrr! [turns the water on; reaches for soap; door closes behind...]".
We can learn from fiction as well as from fact. Better safe than sorry. I would therefore suggest that if I am at the dinner table and I need to take a piss, I should politely excuse myself from the table (if there is time for the excuse) and walk not run (I don't want to trip over my own feet) to the nearest toilet. And suppose I really need to go and the only available tiolet room is a women's rest room; should I risk dying over this last hurdle raised by politeness?
Civility (good) v. politeness (bad)
I can make this one short and sweet: I define "politeness" as a form of demeaning social hypocrisy. I define "civility" as decent and respectful symmetrical social relations in the public space.
Example: If a person encounters you on the street and politely asks you "How are you?" but really is meaning less then: "Oink!", because they do not want to hear the answer unless it makes them feel better about themselves, that is politeness. If the person sincerely means that question, and stands ready to offer materially useful aid, or if that is not possible, genuine empathy, that is civility. Civility includes not asking questions for which one does not brace beforehand to hear an honest answer.
Politeness would be telling Diogenes of Sinope that he was being impolite to publicly masturbate in the public square, and shaming him. Civility would be something like saying to Diogenes [after he has finished doing his "business", of course!]:
"Excuse me, Sir, but I am feeling a bit uncomfortable about what you are saying. I am aware that is my problem, not yours. Is there something I can to to help you with your peaceful protest against my fellow hypocrites? Should I try to get the assembly to install some new, clean single-occupancy public toilets, maybe? Actually, Sir, it looks to me, if I may presume, that you could use a hot soak, and a little TLC. Can our great polis also build a public spa for you to use, if we do not already have one?"
If Diogenes replied to just stop blocking his sunlight, the civil thing to do would be to do that, especially if one's SES (Socio-economic status) was higher than his. Politeness is not always hypocrisy. I do not think Œdipus and Tycho Brahe were hypocrites. But their entirely decent politenesses, in the first case, led horrifically to the man unnecessarily physically mutilating (blinding) himself and going into homelessness, and, in the other case, possibly to death by bladder blockage. Politeness is not just a matter of manners: Politeness can kill.
If prudes want decent, peace-loving folks who are not hurting them to display good manners toward themselves, they should show decent and gracious civility toward those good persons first.
Let's think about men's and women's clothes. Archetypally, in 20th Centery America, males wear trousers and females wear skirts. But does this not have the anatomical substrate backwards? Women's genitals are internal; men's external. Are not women, therefore, better suited(sic) for wearing trousers, because, like in stealth military aircraft, there are no protruding auxiliary appendages to mess up the airflow? Trousers for males always have to be a compromise for analogous reasons. The problematic attachment is generally not simply cut off, and consequently needs to be worked around, and access is not straightforward. Renaissance fashion acknowledged the problem (the "codpiece"). Neither Levi's / Lee's jeans nor Hickey Freeman / Oxxford suits do this. So, OK, folks: Let the ladies wear anatomy hugging pants and the guys have their codpieces back → or let them wear kilts.
Not so fast! I think there is very good reason why ladies wear skirts and men wear pants. Please, my reader, digress here for a moment and do a bit of background reading about: secrets! The following assumes this background knowledge.
Politely, women are not supposed to be always looking for sex and males are supposed to restrain themselves. What better way to make things interesting to/for uninteresting people than to make forbidden fruit tantalizingly available (skirts block nothing from below), but also mark it off limits. Conversely, males are rumored to be always on the hunt, so to speak. What better way to pump up the hounds than by reining them in (what's inside trousers takes effort to access). So there we have it: The lives of persons whose imaginative horizon is bounded by repressive childrearing, priggish schooling, seductive commercial advertising and so forth, can be made less boring by sprinkling a little cinnamon on the gruel (or, better: Tabasco sauce?).
Aside: One of the few good things about my childhood (and later life) is that I (BMcC; male gender) was never made to wear "boxer" shorts underwear. Somehow the idea of my anatomy floating around in my underwear does not turn me on.
A close shave
"When a life is at stake, nearly all Jewish laws can be violated, a concept called pikuach nefesh." (myjewishlearning.com)
Why to males shave their facial hair? To make their faces look more like females'? Why not also shave their underarm hair? Women shave their underarm hair. As for the ladies, I seem to read that some of them shave their pub[l?]ic hair. I would advise anyone who is interested in this social custom should study children's baby dolls (not the "Raggedy Ann" kind!) and Hans Bellmer's art. My personal opinion is that here we move into Adolf Loos's "Ornament and Crime" territory. And might the next stop on this train ride be: tattooing? Or have we already passed that stop? Less [what1?] is more [what2?]?
I (BMcC) both am and am not a wimp
I intend to make this section offensive to persons who offend me.
First: Why am I not a wimp? When I was 40 years old, I could consistently register over 160 watts for over 20 minutes on a standard issue rowing machine (see: above) like Olympic swimmers use. I did this kind of workout day after day, at one point for over 365 days in a row [zero "days off" in that streak, except maybe frustrated by Xmas day?], if I remember correctly. A couple times I even did two workouts in one day or 180 watts on the rowing machine. On my 61st birthday I did better than on my 60th.
It was not altogether fun (although sometimes it really felt good!), and sometimes
I offended "people" with my body odor. Obviously, I presume that I was not outputting Olympic swimmer power.
But I would think there are a lot of 40 year old males who are proud of having thick necks and thick wrists (of course
they would say: bulging
muscles beer bellies) who did not do what I was doing. Or am I wrong? Surely the battleship USS Missouri could
outperform any dinghy on the planet? Packard Motor Co. ad (Oh! You drive a wimpmobile with a Darth Vader lack of a decent
front bumper, not a straight 8, or a Citreoën DS 21 if you have hemmorhoids? Well, so do I, "my friend", as people might say → my ideal
not in the Jay Leno+ league automobile would be an in-line 6 4-speed pre-high tech BMW 3.0Csi -- "i" for
fuel injection --, with alloy wheels, ¿and air conditioning? Picture below is a BMW2000CS, but I think it is a beautiful picture; if you click on it, it will bring up a picture of a 3.0Csi): "Ask the man who owns one."
Part of my exercise routine was fight against physics: Doing my exercise took effort. But the killer was the killer: Having a job that was killing my soul and not helping my body either. I stopped exercising because of the down suction of the drain of a meaningless job to earn a -- not really: living -- metabolizing. I had a couple managers who did not respect anything higher than their own inflated self-images but expected their underlings to kiss up to them. I had the strength to face the rowing machine, but not to overcome the friction of an a--hole boss, a useless commute (the commutes surely burned more calories in the car even if not in my body, than the workouts did), and a mort-gage ("mort" as in death, yes?), etc. I also note that all my [mostly aerobic] exercising did not increase my muscle mass to any detectable extent. My body remained "skinny", my wrists as thin as many women's, etc., and that was entirely fine as far as I was concerned.
Am I bitter about this rip-off? You betcha! Do you, my reader, understand why (POTUS №40) Ronnie Raygun appeals to me less than Joseph Stalin? Of course "(POTUS №40) Ronnie" was less worse than "Uncle Joe": (POTUS №40) Reagan did not have an OGPU to play with, but I am sure his heart was in the wrong place, and his amented Invisible Maw (so-called: "hand") hurt and destroyed, or, at best, wasted, many lives too.
One last point: I even overcame myself and showered in public showers. At least they were in a high-end fitness "club", not cinderblock Auschwitz stage set locker room overcrowding with uncouth pubescents fresh off of head-butting each other. And, I can assure you, my reader, I am not immune to having thoughts that any "self-respecting heterosexual paragon of virtue" (or whatever they may call themselves) would disown. Indeed, now that I look back, I think I had too few such thoughts, which was probably good for my personal safety. Am I correct here? If "you" want persons to be good, don't tempt them.
Second: And it is crucial that you, my reader, appreciate that what I am writing here, et seq., is part of what I wrote in the previous paragraphs, not hypocritical split-personality, aka: being "two faced , aka: being polite. I am not like the engineers in Robert Musil's "The Man Without Qualities", who live one life on on their drafting tables and a different life in their "personal lives" -- like negative Supermans (although I too had many times to pretend to be and even become less than I am to get by at work).
I am a wimp because I do not even want to get my fingers dirty, and having long hair and long fingernails are two of the few good things I have had in my life (although especially the hair came far too late, ca. age 40 years) and, yes, given the choice at conception time, I would probably have chosen to grow up to be Wanda Landowska instead of George Steiner, both of whom I think set standards for the Olympic "being an honorable person" event. I do not want to be "food for powder", which, as Walter J. Ong, S.J., pointed out, males, evolutionarily, are (Q1: How many females does it take to staff an army? Q2: How many males does it take to get all the females in Q1 into [re]production? A2 - A1 = the size of the male surplus "army") . Do you, my reader want to be food for powder (because, if you do, the next paragraphs are going to be zingers)?
At age 74 years, I am well aware that I am sick and in recovery → from my childrearing and perp schooling (They called it a: "preparatory" school. Wilfred Owen had "Dulce et decorum est..." I had: "I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith" -- is a big old men's lie when it does not lead but to the grave).
I am not "into" so-called gender change surgery. I think that is stupid because it cannot be real, any more than women who have breast or buttocks augmentation surgery (except cancer patients!) are real. I'm stuck with the anatomy I have (except for such things as my sometime workouts). But the prigs did not have to make things worse by not teaching me connoisseurship of what nature gave me and which so-called society had not yet taken away from me. I once shot guns, too → guns that belonged to men who made some of their own ammo. So, yes, I'd welcome an opportunity to try again a firearm with a recoil that would not make me a danger to myself or others. Maybe a sniper's rifle? And I would far rather handle discarded surgical dressings (provided they are not contagious), than 7-Eleven Big Gulp plastic cups. If I am effeminate, that is an honor, just like being a "Polack" (←a Politically Incorrect word) is, too.
Have I offended you yet, my reader? Or are you saying to yourself something like: "Thank God this person's parents and school teachers did not completely destroy him! How did he do it? If I was rich, I's send him money as well as befriend him, but I can already do the latter even though I am not rich."
Toilet training for adults
While sitting on the toilet, reading "The world of yesterday", I had a thought: Suppose a person reads 2 pages per day, while sitting on the toilet. That sums to 731 pages per year, which is at least one substantive book per year. Multiply that by 20. So a 40 year old person can have read 20 substantive books just sitting on the toilet, doing their "business". I think that could greatly relieve our so-called society's constipation of the spirit (soul). What do you think, my reader? Meet me in my office?
It's Halloween, today!
As I write these words, it's 01:16 of Halloween, 2020. Most people, I think, do not think much about this, except for kids going door-to-door to collect candy that one dentist in Las Vegas, at least some years ago, paid them, I think it was a dollar a pound, to turn in to him to destroy. But Halloween means something to myself, agnostic, ex-a[nti]theist. For me: All Hallowed Eve → the day before the day of sacred respect for those who cannot participate in All Souls Day ceremonies (because they are dead). The dead have not yet been raised.
I wish my house was adjacent to an old cemetery. A new cemetery would probably give me the creeps, in part because the grave markers might not be as esthetically pleasing as "they don't make 'em like they used to". All Souls Day is the day after Halloween. A day to think about the dead and all us who one day will join them. But then, every day should be All Souls Day, shouldn't it, my reader?
Many cemeteries, especially active ones (i.e., ones in which new burials are still happening) are "closed" at night. Maybe the dead need their rest from the living? Or is it that the living need a rest from their coming deaths? I am not looking forward to mine (at least since I no longer have the job that made me, each night, hope I would not wake up again after I fell asleep). But if "all things are grist for the mill", there's no point in wasting anything. As the socialistic United States Army Air Corps mess hall slogan, in World War II, had it:
Take what you want. Eat what you take.
I am looking for two words which I cannot find in the English language (or elsewhere, so far)
I am looking for a hopeful word to describe any experience + experienced object which has Baccarat crystal clarity to the eye and ring to the ear (¿or maybe Crystal X-ray clarity?). "Limpid" does not cut it because it sounds limp, etc.
I am also looking for a hopeless word to describe mean-spirited politicians and others with power who are effectively even if not avowedly nihilists seeking to spoil innocent good folks' lives because they enjoy minding other persons' business, etc.
I have no idea for word #1. For word #2, "reactionary" is just too drawn out a word → it sounds to me almost like somebody being groggy, but these creeps are wide awakely pursuing their malign machinations. And, anyway, "reactionary" is a shopworn word. "Revanchist" sounds exactly on target to me, especially with its expulsive centered "v". But the dictionary seems to adjudicate I should only apply this word to "a policy or movement aimed at achieving the return of a nation's lost territory (frequently with reference to France's desire to regain Alsace-Lorraine after its annexation in the Franco-Prussian War)". United States Senator "Mitch" McConnell, to pick one exemplar, does not seem to have the return of any lost American territory on his October 2020 agenda.
I have been pondering the former issue for years. I have been frustrated about the latter issue in recent (POTUS №45). Donald J. Trump months. ¿What's in a word? ¿Any ideas? firstname.lastname@example.org
Flattery is not really flattering
Let us give to the word "flattering" a constructive meaning, namely, that some thing or some person has some kind of value greater than zero.
If a person is being "polite" and saying everything about somebody or some thing is flattering, then there is no way to tell if the object (or person) of this judgment has any positive value, because the result is the same whether the object (or person) has positive, zero, or negative value. For, in every case, the person will tell them they have positive value. One notable case here is the social custom of telling a child that everything they do is wonderful or brilliant or some other positive value.
If a person tells every woman she has a flattering figure, how does any woman know he is not saying she is a fat slob? If everything a kid does is adulated as precociously amazing, how does the kid know it is not all crap? Etc. When a person always judges with "brutal" honesty, on the other hand, a compliment from that person has some greater than zero meaning.
As for myself, of course I sometimes lie and tell someone something of zero or negative value about them is wonderful: when I sense they are threatening me with with consequential injury, and I don't feel the game is worth the candle. Your socially programmed opinion du jour about whatever and whomever truly is The Eternal Truth, my Politically Correct canceller-in-progress, and I honor your wisdom above Aristotle and even above The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. and the remotest galaxies of the universe, even..Now, will you let me breathe?
Is self-sacrifice really good for me?
"Give me the luxuries of life and I will willingly do without the necessities." (Frank Lloyd Wright)
If selfishness means being a glutton and wanting to take everything in sight away from everybody else, of course that is not good. If altruism means do-gooders sucking the life out of decent folks other then themselves, why would anybody except the altruists who get off on it (or do they only get off on sticking it to others?) metabolize just to get ripped off?
Isn't there a third alternative: win/win, where a person does things that both do himself good and also do good for others? Example: If I know how to do something very well, it costs me no pain to teach it to someone else (unless I myself need to make a buck to pay my bills or I need to hasten to the doctor "stat" to keep from dying in agony from some disease, etc.). In the teaching, not only is the learner's life enhanced, but I also get pleasure out of seeing my effort help the learner grow, and I may also learn something new and rewarding from the teaching praxis.
Why don't the do-gooders celebrate: From those to whom much has been given, much should be expected, and if they give it drinking La Tache with their dinner, instead of dysPepsic-Cola, what's bad about that if it helps inspire them to create more? I think what all the do-gooders should be demanding is that those who have risen high give a hand up to somebody less fortunate, not that they get dragged down so low that they cannot help anybody rise up. If there are too few to help everybody, can't those in need reproduce less to help improve the helpers to needing help (signal to noise?) ratio? The main reason for population explosion is to increase the available "food for powder", or are there other advantages in larger numbers I don't understand? Classical Athens did not have a population of zillions, but it produced a lot of cultural achievement, or didn't it? Or is anything higher than cheap beer and fantasy football not worth the cost?
When persons' bellies are full, there's Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs to climb (near the top are the fine arts and humanistic sciences). Is life really completer in a Chevy (Dinah Shore, 19453)? As Frank Lloyd Wright said, give him the luxuries in life and he will do without the necessities. And, while we're at it, where are all the do-gooders out there complaining that all the sublunary $tar$ need to be brought down to earth? Why should some dude with a knack for whacking a golf ball to specific GPS coordinates earn more than a school teacher or hospital orderly who do some social good and not just whack small spherical objects around expensive to maintain lawns or astroturf? Professional golf ball and foot ball and soccer ball whackers must surely be among the most useless workers in the world, except for creeps like stock market day-traders and their ilk, so shouldn't they have to pay for being such wastes of O2 and H2O that could go to more deserving folks or even invertebrates?
You can't have doctors without people attending medical school, which is an elitist place. Let's beat a dead horse, because it's still a deadly and deadening one. What is the problem with: From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs? That it might enable persons to thrive and be able contribute more to others? Surely a Ph.D. has greater raw economic resource leverage power than a GED, or doesn't it? Furthermore, even in war, altruism is often stupid. As George Patton said, nobody ever won a war by dying for his country; you win a war by getting the other poor grunt to die for his country.
I ((BMcC), paid with my childhood and adolescence. The name tag I was labelled with by my birth origin social surround means: tread on me. Should I say to that social surround: "Thank you for hurting me! Bring on some more, please, 'cause I ain't dead yet and you wouldn't wanna miss anything, would you? Cannibals!" Do I have a right to breathe? And don't presume what I need is anything like what you have been socially conditioned to believe you need.
The John F. Kennedys and Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jrs. that everybody goes gaga about do not wear sack cloth, or do they?
Even more basic, you can't eat vegetables without growing them. Altruists need accountants and actuaries to compute the cheapest childrearing and adult standard of living society can get away with to output the maximum surplus value per capita. Accountants and actuaries don't come cheap, but it's worth forgoing a bit of human suffering to give them enough luxuries in life to do their jobs, or do we want to be penny wise and pound foolish and just wing it? Reductio ad absurduim.
Here's a little ethics test: I am 74 years old. If some thoughtless 20 years old couch potato who doesn't even know Homer Simpson from a hoagie coughs in my face and gives me Covid despite me wearing a mask and him not, and there is one ICU bed and for both of us getting that bed means the difference between life and death, which of us gets the bed? Me, at age 74 , who has some education, experience, humanity and self-consciousness, or the twit who could potentlally go on for another 60 year infecting more good folks and reproducing even more of his kind and merits being arraigned for [so far only:] attempted but not yet accopmplished negligent homocide if not premeditated murder? email@example.com
Department of the stupidity of normalcy
"Kobe Bryant helicopter crash probe by NTSB found no evidence Bryant 'placed pressure' on pilot. TUESDAY, FEB 9. The yearlong probe into the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash found evidence pilot error likely linked to 'self-induced pressure' and 'spatial 'disorientation' caused the tragedy." (The New York Daily News, +2021.02.09)
Self-induced pressure does not fall from the sky. It arises from chronic, pervasive atmosphere of: "Perform! Make the deadline! Time is money!" Etc. So what if the helicopter pilot was under no pressure from Bryant, unless Bryant had made sure he had direct eye contact and then bluntly told the man something like:
"I don't give a shit about anything except safety. We don't need to go anywhere except where we are right now on the ground here. It would be nice to go to my kid's big game but it is not important that she get there! If you think there is the slightest risk of anything going wrong, we don't fly. The only thing you will be penalized for is if you screw up. You get a reward for staying right here on the ground if you just give me one piece of evidence, like possible fog in the weather report, that we shouldn't take the risk. And I'll get your manager fired if he gives you any crap about it! I'm a pro, not some jerk off manager who doesn't know his ass from a hole in the ground like you've been used to taking orders from. Got it, dude?"
Kobe Bryant had maybe 10 minutes to undo maybe 10 years of the helicopter pilot's mis-education. Did he pass the test?
Another story of stupidity from Cyberia
As often, smart web browser / email program lost this article for me, but the story is simple: Back in the tab machine era, a person dropped a box if punch cards on the computer room floor. Thinking to fix the problem he had caused (or maybe to hide that he had ever done anything wrong in the first place?), the guy ran the cards through a sorter. to restore them to good order. Big problem: The cards had been very carefully arranged in the box in random order. All lost!
Beware the den of iniquities!
What am I referring to here? A house of ill repute? Well, sort of, and most prigs' homes have at least one of them: a bathtub or a shower. Bathing runs the risk of the bather committing a mortal sin if they touch a part of their body in a way which arouses sinful feelings and/or thoughts. So should not bathing be eschewed? I read that King Louis XIV bathed maybe 4 times in his long life; did he use Ban or Old Spice or? I also read that the fool, I mean, His Highness, got circumcised as an adult. But, unlike most helpless infant boys who have this done to them to make prudes more self-satisfied, he had a reason: phimosis, so the operations was needed for him to be able to f*ck, not for him to be able to be celibate.
How could bathing be made safe for sinners? Might a physician be called in to administer an epidural anesthetic to make certain parts of the person's body insensate for the period of the ablutions? Come to think of it, shouldn't the same precaution be taken every time a person risks their virtue by going to the toilet? And, while we're at it, if blood is unsavory, why should not wounded Officers of the General Staff abstain from pollution until their bodies stop bleeding? Reducio ad absurdum, on the USS Narrenschiff → "Come sail away...."