February 23, 2013

Three things most other men do that I don't do - and why
1.  I don't drink - since 1969
2.  I don't watch TV - since 1970
I don't vote - since 1971
4.  On choices that do not depend on strong principles
About ME/CFS


There was no NL yesterday because I did not sleep enough, and I did not sleep enough because I got woken up by painful eyes - keratoconjunctivitis sicca - which I probably got because I watched too many videos while having the disease.

So it's probably mostly my own fault (I write "probably" because the disease may also have a dynamic of its own), and in any case my eyes are rather less bad than they were between May and October 2012.

Today I explain why I don't do three things that most adult men (including women) normally do do, at least where I live. In case you wonder: I don't think there is an arguably rationally correct way in either of the cases, since my choices are mostly a matter of taste, preferences, and priorities, but I will try to give my reasons.

1. I don't drink - since 1969

I spent rather a lot of time from age 15 till age 18 in a Dutch youth organization, that was in fact an adjunct of the Dutch CP, that was - discrimination! - only for youths who went to one of the two classes of schools that prepared for university [1].

Most children - youths: teenagers - in it had my type of background, in that their parents were members of the CP and most were a few years older than I was, and from the beginning there was a lot of drinking going on, which was possible because we were not overseen by adults, and we could do as we pleased.

I suppose this would have happened, and in fact did happen, in most similar situations, and I had no problems with it - except that, as I soon found out, I really did not like the taste of beer (lager), for which reason I never got used to it, and I also was not much enamored with the other staple drinks we could afford, which were cheap wine, something that was sold as "cognac" but was an imitation of it based on brandy, and gin.

One reason was, that I don't like alcohol. Also, it did not do much for me, in that I did not get drunk or tipsy, as the others did, which was part of their reason to drink, though I probably would have succeeded if I had drunk considerably more than I did, which I didn't because I did not like the alcoholic drinks that were available to me.

Another reason was that I don't like drunk people, mostly because they tend to be less rational and less reasonable than they can be, and should be, in my opinion.

On the other hand, it was not a matter of strong principle on my part: I thought that if people want to drink, let them, and I also could see why people might like it: If not for the taste, then for letting go, for feeling relaxed, for having a party, or whatever, as I am not at all against people having a good time. [2]

This changed when I went to a party in 1969 where there was a great lot of drinking going on, and when at its end I went to the toilet I found three friends in the toilet on the floor, completely drunk, on top of one another in their own vomit and piss, and then and there concluded that a rational man did not want this to happen to him, and that I better not drink, which also should be easy, since I did not like it anyway.

Indeed it was easy, and I never drank much since. Sometimes years went by in which I did not touch any alcohol at all and sometimes I went to parties and drank some, though not much, usually to socialize and avoid discussions, but I never got drunk, never got used to it, and also never got to like the taste, though I can understand why people like to drink port, champagne, or good - that is, usually, in Holland: expensive - wine.

It just is not for me, and I do not regret this at all. Also, it really is a matter of taste and natural predisposition, and not a matter of principle, and I might have drunk a lot more than I have done if it would have made me feel better, which it never did.

2. I don't watch TV - since 1970

I first saw TV in 1958, and my parents bought a TV in 1963, of which I did see a fair amount until 1970, though not as much as my contemporaries, because I quickly came to the conclusion that most on view - one or two channels, at that time in Holland, in black and white also - was boring and stupid, and that I hardly ever learned anything I did not already know, and that most that I watched seemed to have been a waste of time after the fact.

So when I started to live by myself in 1970 I did not buy a TV, for which I also had a positive reason: I wanted to read, especially philosophy and logic, and a lot of science and literature besides, that almost always seemed a lot more interesting than what was on offer on TV.

This has remained so ever since, and again I do not regret this at all. These days, and since decades, there are a lot more channels available, but also there is a lot more advertising, which I strongly dislike because people are obviously lied to and treated like morons, and addressed as if they are idiots.

And again I suppose it is mostly a matter of taste and of priorities, and not of principle, though I can't really understand why people with an IQ over 130 would want to watch TV, except from laziness, depression, or great tiredness, given the existence of many more excellent books than they possibly can read in a life time, to which nowadays the great possibilities of fast internet are added.

3. I don't vote - since 1971

Until 1971 Dutchmen age 18 and older legally were forced to vote in parliamentary and municipal elections, since when it is not mandatory anymore.

By 1971 I had decided that voting was not for me, for three reasons, mostly:

First, I did not agree with the programs, plans, ideologies, or worldviews of any of the political parties - these seemed all mistaken to me, and often also plain nonsense or wishful thinking without practical chances of realization.

Second, I did not see any politician I found personally credible, reliable, intelligent, and sincere, and while a few were probably more honest than not, most seemed to be in politics for themselves, and I saw no reason to further their personal careers and incomes, also because they clearly lied, pretended and postured a lot.

Third, by 1971 I had concluded that modern democracy, where everyone got the vote on the basis of age, regardless of education or intelligence, was a bad idea, that got democratic majority support for many clearly corrupt lying political careerists or for crazy promises, plans or projects that could not possibly be realized, but that much helped furthering the careers or incomes of those supporting or pretending to support them.

At the time, this was all due to my own reasoning and tastes, and it was only much later that I found that both Alexis de Tocqueville and John Stuart Mill, like most classical philosophers, thought and felt likewise, as did George Carlin.

In the end, I just don't believe it is a good idea to let a majority of incompetent ignoramuses decide by ordinary majority which slick careerists get to sit in parliament and create a government from their kind. It will only produce good government by accident, much help rabble rousers and populists: Mussolini and Hitler both could start dictatorships through democratic elections.

It seems much better to restrict the vote to the best educated, provided everybody with intelligence gets the social and financial support to educate their talents - but I do not see how to bring this about without a revolution, nor do I believe this by itself would produce much better government, though I do expect it would considerably lessen the chance on democratically elected dictators.

So again this works out, as does my not drinking and not watching TV, as a matter of taste and preference for the most part, where my own preference has the advantages that I don't feel pressurized into supporting politicians or parties I anyway don't really trust or believe, and that I don't feel let down or betrayed by politicians or parties either, because I have voted for them, and they did other than they promised.

Also, knowing a fair amount about statistics, I do not have any illusions that my single personal vote has a fair chance of ever deciding any issue that is subject to the vote of millions or of hundreds of thousands, nor am I so stupid as to regard voting as a moral duty or as something that might add to my personal merit or worth: In actual fact, my own voting or not makes no social or political difference whatsoever.

4.  On choices that do not depend on strong principles

As I tried to explain, the reasons for my choices are not due to strong principles:

Sometimes I drink, but rarely, and usually to avoid the problem of having to explain why I rather would have grape juice; sometimes I watch TV, e.g. around 9/11/2001, but again this is rarely the case, since I have to leave my own house to do so; and I have voted at least once in elections in the university, where my vote had a small chance of making a difference.

Mostly, these choices were a matter of tastes, preferences or priorities, and not because I felt morally strongly moved that way.

But there is a moral point, which is this:

I think that more men and women would choose more often as I do if more men and women had it in themselves to be less conformist than they are, which mostly is a matter of character and of individuality, of the courage to be like oneself, like the manner of man one desires to be: Most men and most women conform to the fashions, views and behaviors of those who surround them because they are conformist or because they fear the risk of being sanctioned for appearing to be different from most.

And that is just sad.

[1] Several of my mates then would a few years later further their career and prospects on tenure, which several got in spite of being both intellectually talentless and without any real interest in science or education, by loudly insisting that they were "against elitarianism" - which is a pretty crazy and dishonest proposition, since all want the best doctors for their own health, while no one will object to people becoming grandmasters in chess because they excel in chess, and every human being tends to think a lot better of his or her own self, family, friends and associates than of others.

[2] In fact, I tend to think that most of the miseries of the world are due to human unhappiness: If you feel genuinely happy, you feel no reason to abuse others (unless you are rather abnormal to start with); if you feel genuinely unhappy, you will easily find a reason to take it out on others.

About ME/CFS (that I prefer to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate search machines) which is a disease I have since 1.1.1979:
1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS(pdf)

3. Hillary Johnson

The Why  (currently not available)

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2003)
5. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2011)
6. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

7. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)

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