Declaration of Universal Acceptance of Listening or Conversation with Minority and Unpopular Opinions

I am willing to hear, with a guarantee of non-counteraction, the opinions and thoughts of anyone with perceived uncommon or unpopular opinions, or opinions that one fears garners significant societal judgment or ostracization upon expression, either in the global scene or in the particular specific communities one is a member of. I consider this important both for the spirit of understanding and open-mindedness, and believe that it is both healthy and intellectually useful to be exposed to a wide swath of thoughts and perspectives.

I will respond with such a request with either an acceptance of discussion or a response that I do not actually believe your opinion is a minority or unpopular opinion within your stated context. If the community of context that you mention is one I’m unfamiliar with, I may default to the latter. I also may listen to opinions that aren’t minority and unpopular opinions; I’m only saying I *might* decline.

I can only guarantee non-counteraction as far as you present your opinion as simply just an opinion. If you suggest that you wish to take action based on this opinion, than I can no longer guarantee non-counteraction.

This is an opportunity for the honest and well-intended exchange of thoughts, and people, like me, do not have enough time to take conversation to full rigorosity of analysis. If you manage to give me the impression that you are a troll and are using this as an opportunity to troll, thus wasting my time, I may become wholly uninterested in discussion with you. Although I cannot well-define what makes me categorize you as a troll, actions that suggest the stuff may include repeatedly bringing up already-discussed material, resorting to arguments on aspects clearly irrelevant to the conversation at hand, or being oppositional when from other contexts you are clearly not actually of such an opinion. It is okay to play Devil’s Advocate, and I’d in fact encourage doing so, but make it clear that you are.

Openmindedness

Being openminded means accepting all sorts of different people, of all sorts of different backgrounds, having all sorts of different tastes, with all sorts of different opinions.

Being openminded means being okay with people around oneself that disagree on a few major ideas, as long as the two agree on the most central and important points, and still working on them in the directions of what one does agree on.

Being openminded means having an enormous personal Overton window. No, not large. Enormous.

Being openminded means understanding rejecting a view after discussion is not narrowmindedness; prejudice on a view is.

Being openminded means not assuming, when one hears someone say something, that the reason they say that is because they have certain underlying beliefs, just because another person who says the same things happens to have those underlying beliefs.

Being openminded means “I wonder why they think that way.” comes before “That’s a ridiculous belief.”. It doesn’t mean “That’s a ridiculous belief.” never comes. It means it’s not the first thing.

Being openminded means acknowledging that a slight difference in two people’s fundamental principles could lead to drastically different conclusions, and entertaining the possibility that the cause of a vast difference in view could be a tiny nuance in ideas.

Being openminded means recognizing that over the course of history, a massive number of ideas considered unthinkable or insane at some point by some society eventually becomes a mainstream view.

Being openminded means recognizing that it can be socially detrimental or emotionally devastating to someone when they express unpopular views.

Being openminded means understanding that when a view is deemed unacceptable, it is extremely difficult to try to share and discuss such a view. Being openminded means understanding these forces could prevent discussion that could convince someone with a deemed-unacceptable view to consider otherwise.

Being openminded means acknowledging that the public centroid of opinion could be a very bad idea. Being openminded also means considering that someone at the centroid of opinion might not have arrived there via conventional means.

Being openminded means understanding that just because a view is popular globally does not mean it is hard to express within a certain community. Being openminded means recognizing that using the excuse that such a view is not in an oppressed state because of how many people globally have that view does not help, and may convince them that it’s just that much easier on themselves to go associate with the more welcoming global community instead, making them stronger and increasing polarization, itself increasing the difficulty of openminded discussion.

Being openminded means accepting that within the vast volumes of knowledge and facts about the world, it could certainly be the case that what one does not know could change one’s evaluation of an issue, and that someone that disagrees may be about to fill a vacancy in one’s knowledge.

Continue reading “Openmindedness”

Meta: Polling on Feedback

I’m going to take a moment here to ask you, the readers of zyxyvy, a few questions for purposes of feedback and consideration. Feel free to tell me your answers to these in any form, whether by comment to this post or via private message on any of the various chatting systems I am on. Focusing particularly on more recent posts helps. Thanks for your time and thoughts!

1) In terms of the point being made, are there posts you particularly liked? Particularly disliked? Which ones?

2) In terms of the way ideas were presented, are there posts you particularly liked? Particularly disliked? Which ones?

3a) To people who knew about me from this blog before knowing me in real life: how has knowing me in real life changed your perception of me; what aspects did you not expect from your understanding of me from this blog?

3b) To people who knew about me in real life before knowing me from this blog: how has viewing the material I publish here changed your perception of me; what aspects did you not expect from your understanding of me from real life?

4) Are there posts that have changed the way you think about or do something? Which ones? Was this a good or bad thing?

5) Are there certain topics you wish I discussed more on this blog?

6) Any other comments?

“America First, Netherlands Second” is Much More Respectable than Mainstream American Comedic Fare

For those unfamiliar with the work, here you go.

Notice that the video contained several moments during which its makers could have easily made an “orange” joke or a “tiny hands” joke about Donald Trump, but those didn’t happen. They had enough material to make fun of Donald Trump for already by taking from actual issues with Donald Trump and his proposed agenda, and they made good jokes with them. They didn’t have to descend to the name-calling of resorting to calling Donald Trump orange or tiny-handed, attributes that don’t affect legitimacy as a leader, unlike much of America’s mainstream liberal comedy, which not just embraces the cheap jokes but tend to elevate them above the legitimate issues, referencing them whenever the opportunity arises, while deciding that the more important problems are the one-time fare. This makes this Dutch comedy piece much more respectable.

Unfortunately, the follow-ups to this piece didn’t quite resist temptation as well as this piece did. (They were also, in my opinion, mostly not as funny.)

Exciting Things May Soon Happen in the Indian Ocean

At the end of last month, I said that I would limit myself to four posts a month.

Yeah, that didn’t work. What ended up actually happening is that I just started writing drafts and not publishing them. And you know what? Something really, really exciting has just happened in the world (geography-wise) and I now need to write about it. So uh, screw it. I’m not going to be able to contain myself to four posts a month. That attempt lasted zero months. Yeah, I deserve to be laughed at a bit for that.

The exciting news is that the UN has voted to seek an opinion from the International Court of Justice regarding the Chagos Archipelago. Long ago, the British took the islands away from its natives and on top of this expelled all of the natives from the islands in order to build a military base to mutually benefit the UK and the US. Mauritius has asked for the islands back for a long time, but the UK has just felt that they didn’t want to take any sort of apologizing action for what they’ve done there yet. Now, though, we see this vote come through, and hopefully the International Court of Justice will demand that these islands return to the natives that have long deserved them back. Shame on the countries that voted in favor of the UK, in this day and age yet still promoting imperialism based on past injustice (though it is interesting to note that the Maldives voted against the resolution; it would be interesting to look into the reasoning behind that, because the Chagos archipelago definitely has historical ties to the Maldives and could have otherwise political significance now).

But that aside (and boy do I feel a tinge bad about feeding the geography geek in me when there’s this important sentimental significance to the event), here’s what’s very special about this from a geographical standpoint. Two things—both of these are due to the fact that the Chagos Archipelago is the only remaining portion of the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT): the BIOT previously included three islands further southwest, but those islands were earlier ceded to the Seychelles.

1) The TLD .io is the ccTLD of the BIOT. If the UK loses the BIOT to Mauritius, we may see the IANA require .io to change hands. Given the development of sites using the .io TLD, this could get interesting. Might the BIOT be allowed to continue existing as a physically null entity, one that carries on as a concept but corresponds to no land on Earth, to legitimize .io’s link to a political entity?

2) The sun may finally set on the British Empire. There are more than 180 degrees of longitude between Dhekelia and Pitcairn Island. If the BIOT is no more, then sunrise in Dhekelia will come after sunset in Pitcairn, and for the first time in centuries, there will be a moment when it is nighttime over all the UK’s land on earth. The sun will continue to fail to set on the French Empire, though.

The “Forbidden Friendship” Scene from How to Train Your Dragon

There’s a lot of contenders for my favorite film. How to Train Your Dragon was the first of these that I’ve watched, but I’ve also had similarly apical opinions of V for Vendetta, Imaginaerum, and The Martian, of which I’ve generally ended up concluding the last is actually my favorite film, but definitely by a notably small margin.

The best single scene in film in my regards, though, is unquestionably the “Forbidden Friendship” scene from How to Train Your Dragon, depicting the process via which Hiccup and Toothless, as Viking and dragon universally thought to be preordained enemies, come to trust each other as good friends. (Here’s a link to the scene.) This post is dedicated to why.

It’s really weird and ironic that I am using extensive English to convey my fondness of this scene, because as I will amply elaborate later, the lack of verbal communication in this scene, and what the scene manages without, is a crucial factor in its beauty. Unfortunately I will need a substantially shared context only available in speech to elaborate my thoughts on the scene to the detail I desire, so this really much feels like a strange trade-off. As a slightly-related sidenote, I often get this feeling about music as well, that music would speak for itself so much better than the human language description of it, that I’d imagine a more beautiful world where the instructions for music were written in music, that musical works’ titles were in music rather than a spoken language, and that people talked with each other about music via music: direct, succinct, representative, and beautiful. Alas, prioritizing efficient communication requires the otherwise, and a strange feeling of overlaying another layer of dilution on the loss of magic upon explanation.

Speaking of music, one of the sparkling facets of “Forbidden Friendship” is its titularly reflective theme. It begins fading in around 0:50 in the video above, and builds up very gradually over the next three minutes. The theme itself is a wonder, and a heartwarming journey of evolution. It paves a harmony and an atmosphere for growth, making it, for instance, great background music for extensive thought or gadgets. But this also makes the theme the perfect complement for what happens on screen, for something wonderful is being built: a friendship.

As the theme progresses throughout the scene, new lines in the music subtly join in, slowly enriching the musical texture in reflection of the slow building of harmony among the characters. As the friendship grows, so grows the depth of the aural ambiance.

Continue reading “The “Forbidden Friendship” Scene from How to Train Your Dragon”

Today I am deeply and profoundly ashamed to be an American

I said that I would try to make only four blog posts in June.

Then, I pretty much decided what four things I would talk about.

Then, I realized I felt I just needed to write this post after, let’s say, a certain piece of news.

(This really seems like the sort of thing I thought about all the time that led to my excessive posting the past few months, but maybe I’ll allow this to take up the slots of one of my four June posts. This one counts instead of slipping aside!)

The title of this post holds without the word ‘Today’, of course. I haven’t really been extensively not ashamed of being American for probably since I, let’s say…first read a history book. I have been especially ashamed of America recently for reasons I’m sure you have at least a hint for if you’re bothering to read this post. But I am now ashamed to an acute and staggering degree that I am a citizen of this country that decided to leave the Paris climate accord, an event that truly makes the selfish narcissism and pretense of exceptionalism of the land of the free and the home of the brave sparkle like a gem. Specifically a diamond, I’d even say, as there’s no better gemstone that symbolizes an insatiable pursuit of money at the cost of the world or even the advertised efficiencies of capitalism than the diamond.

This event rings a bell. What bell is it? Ah, yes, the Kyoto Protocol, volume 1 of America farting in the global elevator and then leaving to let everyone else smell it. We haven’t improved, have we?

Not actually. We improved. We did originally sign the Paris agreement after all. We, America, are historically a country of claiming a lot of grandiose and awesome-sounding principles, then hypocritically defeating them in entirety in implementation, and then eventually realizing that we kinda failed very badly at our principles, but yes, improving. We went through this phase with slavery, we went through this phase with discrimination against pretty much every new wave of immigration that happened, and we went through this phase with “gee, how okay is it to just kill all these people that originally lived on this land?” Then we slowly improved, realizing the egregiousness of the previous actions this country has taken and slowly building acknowledgment of our faults in the past, though there are always some stragglers to this.

Anyway, yeah, we improved and signed the Paris agreement under the Obama administration. Then, we started walking backwards again and backed out, because supposedly it’s better for America and it’s making America great again. Because, of course, America is a country of thermophilic entomophilic pollen-hypertolerant fish.

Of course, perhaps America hungers for the oceans to expand because the oceans gave us power. In World War II, we, America, were the country lucky enough to be separated from the bulk of action by the mighty waters of the Atlantic and the Pacific, and thus came out of the war fabulously undevastated and a world superpower. We interpreted our luck as a sign that we were the supremely righteous as the Good Guys that Won, and thus took it upon ourselves to apply our unquestionable justice all around the world, where everyone surely loves us, from Grenada to Iraq to Afghanistan to Vietnam. It was an amazing process of supporting anyone that vowed against communism regardless of what else they did; we helped all sorts of people from Yahya Khan to Saddam Hussein to Osama bin Laden to Muammar Gadhafi come to power, because they hated communists and that made them good guys. Fascinating, if they’re good guys, what does that make us?

Continue reading “Today I am deeply and profoundly ashamed to be an American”