Archive for May, 2022

NHL Playoff Predictions: Semifinals

May 31, 2022

The second round was the round to go for upsets, as home ice advantage went 1 – 3 in that round.  Since I had already known that I picked all the home teams in the second round, that meant that I also went 1 – 3.  This leaves my overall record at 6 – 6, with home ice advantage staying at 7 – 5.  So I need to go 2 – 1 over the last couple of rounds to stay over .500 for the playoffs.

Eastern Conference:

Tampa Bay vs Rangers:  This is a tough series to pick, as while Tampa Bay swept Florida in the second round they didn’t look that great in the first round, but then the Rangers have had to fight back in their series as well.  On the one hand, Tampa Bay got a lot more rest after their sweep than the Rangers did, but on the other hand sometimes that causes rust and teams to come out slowly.  The Rangers having fought back from being down in series are never going to give up and are going to believe they can win no matter what, but Tampa Bay are the defending champions and so know how to win in the playoffs.  I’ll go with Tampa Bay this time.

Western Conference:

Edmonton vs Colorado:  Edmonton’s stars are playing really well and they have gotten good goaltending, at least at times, but Colorado’s stars are also playing well and they seem to have the better team.  I’m going to stick with Colorado this time.


Eastern Conference:

Tampa Bay vs Rangers Correct

Western Conference:

Edmonton vs Colorado Correct

Overall Record: 6 – 6
Home Ice Advantage Record: 7 – 5

Wild World of Sports

May 30, 2022

Yeah, I said that I wasn’t going to post this week, but it turns out that there are a couple of sports posts that I want to make.  The other one is my predictions for the next round of the NHL playoffs, and this one is talking about the wild weekend in sports, or at least in the sports events that I happened to watch yesterday.

It started off in the morning after I got back from the grocery store.  I was looking to see what was on and say that the Monaco Grand Prix was on, and since I somewhat follow Formula 1 I figured I’d catch the end of it while getting ready and doing other things.  Except that when I tuned in it turned out that the race hadn’t even started yet, because they had a major rain shower pretty much right before the start of the race which forced them to delay it.  When they restarted, the track was still wet and so most cars were on full wet tires — from what the commentators said, they’re required to do that if they start behind a safety car, which they did — but then the track started to dry out and teams started changing to intermediate tires that have a bit less grip but are also faster.  Ferrari managed to kinda screw that up for Charles Leclerc, putting him a bit behind the eight ball in the race, but things could have been okay except that soon after they started going to slicks and Ferrari screwed it up again, bringing Leclerc in at the same time — and slightly behind — his teammate Sainz while Red Bull also brought their two drivers in at the same time but it seems were ready for it, and so Perez got out ahead of Sainz and Verstappen got out ahead of Leclerc, meaning that if things stayed that way Red Bull would get more points than Ferrari and Verstappen would increase his lead over Leclerc in the driver’s standings.  But then there was a major accident on the track which caused them to have to stop it again.  Knowing that this meant that the race would time out before the total number of laps, Red Bull went with medium tires which wear faster but at least start a bit quicker, and yet didn’t get much advantage from that and so things stayed the same until closer to the end, where Ferrari having less worn tires seemed to give Sainz an advantage over Perez for a while, but after Sainz almost ran into Perez a couple of times that advantage seemed to slip away and it ended as related above, which was a historic win for Perez.  But, yeah, lots of odd things happened and the commentators noted that if you could think of something that hadn’t happened you should watch to see if it would happen.

After that, I watched the Canada-Finland final of the World Hockey Championships.  For the first two periods, things seemed pretty normal, but then in the third Canada took a bunch of penalties including one 5 – 3, but Finland hadn’t scored on them … but then got another 5 – 3 from a high sticking penalty where the Finnish player actually hit himself with his own stick and soon after scored to tie the game at 1.  And then it turns out that the Canadian goaltender — who was already their second string goaltender — was injured trying to make the save, and had to pull himself out of the game, meaning that they had to put their third string goaltender in.  Finland then scored on the remaining power play to take the lead.  They then later scored again to take a 3 – 1 lead and looked in control.  But Canada pulled the goaltender with a couple of minutes left and scored, although it went to a review that it was announced was a challenge by Finland — which would mean that they’d take a penalty if it failed — but it turns out that they hadn’t requested it and so didn’t get a penalty when it failed.  So the goal counted and Canada didn’t get a power play, but still pulled the goaltender.  And wouldn’t you know it, they scored again to tie the game, which they had also done against Sweden in the quarterfinals.  So it went to overtime, and it was a pretty cautious initial 3 – 3 session but then Canada again took a penalty and Finland (the home team, BTW) scored to win the game in overtime.  Another game where pretty much everything that could happen happened.

And then I watched the Blue Jays take on the Angels in baseball, which was a game that encouraged me to skip watching “Party of Five” and watch the end of the game instead.  The Angels opened up the scoring in the first, while the Blue Jays came back with 2 in the second before the Angels scored 1 in the second to tie it.  The Blue Jays then scored 4 in the third and the Angels came back with 4 in their half of the third to keep it tied, chasing both starting pitchers.  The Angels kept scoring and took a 9 – 6 lead, but then the Blue Jays came back with 3 in the seventh to tie it, before the Angels took 1 in the bottom of the seventh to take the lead again.  The Blue Jays scored two in the eighth to take the lead, and managed to hold the Angels off the scoreboard for an 11 – 10 victory.  This, of course, was pretty wild in and of itself, but the way the runs were scored was also wild.  The Angels walked in at least three runs and kept walking the bases loaded, while the Blue Jays gave up a lot of home runs to the Angels, more than they have given up in any game so far this season and in one case one relief pitcher gave up a home run after only having given up one other home run the entire season … and that one was in the first game he pitched in of the season, or thereabouts.  So a wild and uncharacteristic game.

So, yeah, that was a wild day in sports, that I managed to watch most of.

Blog Update

May 27, 2022

You might have noticed that there wasn’t much content on the blog this week.  The reason was that my area was hit with a pretty major storm and I lost power for most of the week.  I normally have at least some of the posts — usually the horror ones — scheduled a bit in advance so they’d keep going for a while, but recently I’ve been busy and haven’t been able to do that, so the well was a bit dry for posts.  On top of that, the storm hit on Saturday afternoon and I was planning on using a long weekend here to catch up on posts, but I had a lot of things to do on Saturday and so was going to start on Sunday, which obviously I couldn’t do.  So you managed to get the one post that I had written ahead on “Party of Five” but there was nothing else scheduled for the week.

Since I’m still a bit behind and still a bit busy – especially with the storm — I’m going to take next week off to try to build up the backlog a bit and ensure that I can get posts out for the week after.  So there probably won’t be anything until after next week, but then hopefully things will be back to normal.

Thoughts on “Party of Five” (Season 5)

May 25, 2022

This season, I think, really encapsulates the issues with the series as a whole, particularly in their plots and characterizations.  The season ends up being one with some good performances but with plots that don’t work or fit together — even with themselves — focusing on characters that the show gives us really good reasons to dislike.

The main plot that starts off the season is Charlie having a baby with his kinda-one-night-stand Daphne.  Now, she had originally wanted to have an abortion and he convinced her not to with the promise that once she had the baby if she didn’t want to keep it he’d raise it alone and it wouldn’t be a problem.  Given the personality of Charlie, it should come as little surprise that the show hints that he never really meant it and always expected her to come around and become attached to the baby once it was born,  Daphne, in fact, directly accuses him of this at one point when she’s struggling to become attached to the baby.  That being said, I don’t think that’s what they might to imply.  I think that Charlie was indeed perfectly willing to accept raising the child alone when Daphne was just someone that had had some fun with for a while, but when he actually fell in love with her he wanted her to stay, and so wanted her to come to love the baby, and so expected her to do that once she spent time with the baby and was exasperated when she didn’t want to and when that attachment didn’t happen, and when Daphne left them all behind.  Sure, he was an ass about it like he normally is, but I don’t think his jerkiness went so far as to have him promise to raise the child alone when he had no intention of doing that and didn’t expect that it would ever happen.

The issue with the Daphne plot, though, is that it focuses on her, who is a new character that was introduced right at the end of the previous season, so making her the focus of the main plot arc in the early part of the season was a risky move.  Yes, what you want to do with new characters is get them into the action quickly so that we can come to know them as well as the characters that we’d already followed for four seasons, but if you are going to do that you really don’t want to start them with a plot that leaves them as unsympathetic characters, and her plot has that in spades, from her feeling smothered by Charlie wanting her to do things to make the pregnancy go better and avoid things that might hurt it — like drinking — while she wants to go on doing those things and runs away at one point to live with a friend who is somehow the best option that she has and yet isn’t willing to do anything to help, such as not playing the drums while she’s trying to sleep.  It also doesn’t really help her character to not be at all interested in her own child, and to get angry over Charlie having to make the choice of whether to induce labour early or let things run because she’s incapable of making a decision.  Yes, it’s a difficult decision, but the impression is not that she wanted to let the pregnancy run longer but that she couldn’t decide, but then was upset at Charlie’s decision … although the impression that she couldn’t make a decision came from Charlie, who is not the most reliable of witnesses.  At any rate, when they bring in things like her relationship with her own mother to try to explain or raise an issue for her bonding with her child, it comes across as too little, too late, and I found that I just, at least, didn’t really care about her or her issues, and would have been perfectly happy if she had just gone away at the beginning and never came back.  That Charlie chases after her and that she comes back later to cause problems after he gets back together with Kirsten doesn’t make me like her any more.

Oh, yeah, that’s right, Kirsten ends up back and back in the main credits.  This didn’t help the show with its plots, because on top of having to have plots for the four main siblings, they also needed to have a plot for her to be in, which only added to how overloaded the seasons already were.  As I noted when I talked about the last season, all the family members were split off into their own little groups which made the plots seem less consequential, especially Claudia’s, which were repeats of what Julia had gone through in high school.  So now they have to have a plot for each of the siblings plus Kirsten without having the ones that by necessity would be less dramatic swamped by the more dramatic ones.  Since Kirsten’s generally involved her and her husband who was also a new character, that really couldn’t work because a) we didn’t care about him and therefore about their relationship and b) many people would have still wanted her to get together with Charlie in the end, which would only make them dislike her husband and like Daphne even less.

Speaking of Claudia, her plot continues from her going away to the school that she had applied to at the end of last season and then getting homesick and feeling that she was needed at home, and running into brick walls as Charlie in particular insists that they are paying a lot of money for the school and that it’s a great opportunity and so she has to stay.  The big issue I have with this overall plot is that it didn’t really make sense that she’d go there at all, because my impression from the previous season was that the primary reason she applied was because it was far away from home and things weren’t going well at home at that point.  Once Charlie gets better and things at home start to improve, she had no reason to go and probably should have just turned it down, because we don’t get any impression that she herself really wanted to go to that school.  It would have been so much better if they had simply made it be an opportunity that was presented to her and one that we knew she saw as a great opportunity but one that also had the benefit of getting her away from the problem situation that she was having at home.  Then, once things got better at home, we could still see that she thought that this was indeed still a great opportunity, and so when she was pondering returning home or not it would be more clearly a debate that she was having with herself, so that when she decided that she couldn’t take it anymore we could see that she really, really meant that, even if Charlie didn’t.  In fact, I would have had her get a scholarship so that money wasn’t an issue which then would let Charlie dismiss her concerns as being simple homesickness that she’d get over when we could see that for her it really was more that she felt that she was missing out on spending time with her family now that they were back together and that she felt that she was letting them down by not being there to help out when things went wrong, which would have made for a much more reasonable conflict that would need to be settled.  As it was, Griffen takes her home which makes her happy but causes some issues, all of which get simply resolved, making that entire plot line mostly pointless.

As for Griffen, I didn’t like him at all in the earlier seasons but in the early stages of this one he gets so much better that I started to really like him as a character.  That being said, they revert him back to some of his former problematic attitudes and then shift him into the background at the end of the season, so that kinda fades by the end of it.

I have commented before that one of my issues with the show is that it seems to set up a certain plot and then jettisons it in favour of another plot.  In this season, two of the main plots end up doing that to themselves, internally, which then causes issue for them and makes it so that they really should have just picked one of the two things to go with to eliminate the inconsistency and make for a tighter and more enjoyable plot.

The plot that most contradicts itself is Julia’s main plot for the season, where she ends up stealing her roommate at college’s boyfriend — seriously, can Julia ever meet and start to date someone that she didn’t steal from someone else or that she met when she herself was dating someone else — who turns out to be abusive, as he hits her twice and also starts to try to isolate her from her friends and family — worrying that they’ll “talk” about him — in a way that fits into the isolationist abusive partner trope.  But the issue is that the plot can’t seem to decide whether he’s primarily abusive because he hits her — and her her roommate before that — or because he’s controlling and isolating.  Everyone who tries to convince her to leave him does so on the basis that he’s hitting her and presents that as the great sin, and yet when Julia ultimately leaves him she says it’s because she felt that she was losing herself in the relationship, which certainly isn’t what you’d say if the big problem was that he was hitting her.  Also, at the end she goes to sit alone and then decides to move and sit with other people as if this is some kind of triumph for her, when she didn’t seem to be someone who just wanted to meet strangers and is someone that had made friends from the classes she was in.  Again, that works for an isolating plot but not for a hitting plot.

And they had a great way to resolve things for a hitting plot.  After the roommate confirms that the boyfriend had hit the roommate and was almost certainly hitting Julia, Charlie and Bailey run over to get her to leave him, and she gets all indignant on them — in a way that would suggest that she was defending him too much except that, well, that’s pretty much how she reacts to any such challenge — and forces them to leave.  Claudia had believed Griffen when he said that the boyfriend was hitting her and wanted something to be done, and was upset when they said that there was nothing they could do until Julia wanted to be helped.  Given that this is Claudia who doesn’t take such things as an answer, it would have made so much sense for her to go over and try to talk to Julia about it and end up in some way talking to the boyfriend who then would end up hitting her to get her to shut up.  This, then, could have clued Julia in to the fact that it’s not affecting only her and that he really has a problem that he can’t fix, and so she could have left for that, in a way that would shake up her monumentally self-absorbed personality by allowing her to make a major move based primarily on how it impacted someone other than herself.  But we can’t have that, so they went with this, and unfortunately this makes no sense, as again it’s presented as her thinking that the controlling and isolating behaviour is the big problem when really the big problem is that hitting thing.

The other main plot is an issue over Owen.  Now, throughout the entire season Charlie was, as usual, wrapped up in his own things which meant that Owen wasn’t getting any attention, and when Charlie runs off to chase down Daphne he stays with Bailey and Sara for a while.  As things like that went on, Owen’s teacher noticed that he might be having processing problems and so have a learning disability, and the description of it makes Bailey think that he could have had the same thing, making it personally.  However, it takes a lot of extra work to do which Bailey is willing to do and Charlie, at least at first, isn’t since he doesn’t think it makes sense.  So Bailey eventually decides that it would be better for Owen to stay with him than with Charlie, which of course pisses Charlie off.  The fighting escalates to the point where Bailey goes to court to get custody of Owen — after Owen breaks his arm learning to ride a back — which Bailey loses after an acrimonious battle.  And then in the same episode, I think, Charlie gets the idea that maybe Bailey is right and asks Owen to tell him if he wants something from Charlie, and I guess Owen said that he wanted to go live with Bailey, because he moves in with Bailey, even though Charlie is still mad at Bailey and Bailey wants to make up.

Again, we have two plot points here that don’t align very well, and would have worked so much better if they’d simply picked one and ran with it.  There’s really no reason here for Charlie to completely dismiss the teacher’s opinion about Owen having a learning disability, and there’s no reason to go to court over that since it seems like a compromise could have been worked out (Claudia was on Bailey’s side in this and likely could have done at least some of the work, making it easier on Charlie to do the rest, for example).  On the other hand, the reason that Charlie wasn’t doing it was because he didn’t seem to have any time for Owen, and that was the main reason for Bailey to get Owen to move in with them and, as he argued, let Charlie focus on the new baby.  If Owen needed attention, that would justify wanting him to move in with Bailey and the dramatic actions Bailey was taking to get him.

They should have picked one side and stuck with it.  They could easily have had Bailey feel that this was what he had and wish that he had known so that he could have gotten the help he needed, but have the tests from the school be vague or not ready and so Charlie was wondering if this was just because Bailey saw something that might have fit for him and so was interpreting this in that light, and so was risking making Owen do a lot of extra work that would be hard and wouldn’t be fun because of what he thought of himself.  This would work so much better, then, when Bailey shows the information to Kirsten and having her confirm it which would then convince Charlie — she actually studied that sort of thing and wasn’t biased except for wanting the best for Owen — and then they could conclude that the best person to help was Bailey and that the time commitment meant that Owen should stay with him.  On the other hand, they could also have easily have Bailey being concerned that Charlie wasn’t paying much attention to Owen — and Claudia — before the new baby and now with that and the new job Owen wasn’t getting the attention he needed and they had already had problems with Owen from that, and so pushing that Bailey could give him more attention and it would work out better for everyone, and then Charlie would be pushing back on the basis of his being the “father-figure” but eventually coming to realize that, yeah, it would probably be better for Owen to live with Bailey and, hopefully, that he’s more the brother-figure than the father-figure.  But the combination of the two makes little sense and makes things far more rancorous than they needed to be.

Of course, the show then does the really stupid thing of having the teacher note that Owen seems to think of his family as separated and so suggest that Owen seemed to be going through something akin to a divorce, which gets Sara and others to suggest that Bailey, Sara and Owen move back into the house, which Bailey resists at first but then agrees to, which makes Sara annoyed for … some reason.  Since she suggested it — even though she didn’t think it ideal — being mad at him over that made no sense and hits the personality traits that make her annoying (she’s good when she’s being nice and annoying when she’s being aggressively angry over things).  Also, it was far more likely that Owen was more upset that Bailey and Charlie seemed to be fighting than that he missed the house and wanted to have everyone live together, which would explain why he was so happy when Charlie and Bailey were doing things together with him.  But the most idiotic thing about this is that almost immediately afterwards … Charlie decides to move out and leave the house to Bailey, insisting that he had wanted to get out on his own for five years despite the fact that when Bailey brought that up against him in the hearing he was incredibly indignant at the suggestion.  And, of course, doing this completely defeats the purpose of having them move into the house in the first place, which is conveniently and completely forgotten.

There’s also a subplot where Bailey hires a new manager for the restaurant, they fight, they get caught in a blackout and are attracted to each other, they kiss once, and then they avoid each other, and then he gets overwhelmed and comes to her for understanding — they are both control freaks — and she wants to have a physical affair and he declines, and so she quits, and this is never mentioned again.  All of this is pointless and makes no sense, as she isn’t that pretty and things weren’t going that badly with Sara for him to be tempted to cheat, and about the only thing that could be tempting about her is the personality, which would have worked better if they had turned it into at least a good working relationship and what might have been a friendship, with her cutting it off because she had enough problems in her own life — no boyfriend or friends because of her control freak behaviour — and couldn’t handle having to deal with his as well (there could have been the undercurrent of attraction there as well making it more difficult).  This could have made a nice contrast to Charlie relying on Kirsten for that with Bailey looking for someone he could do that with as well and having to find another way.

There’s also another little subplot with Claudia getting a boyfriend who is a bit of a weird duck and a jerk and staying out late and changing her look, which bothers Bailey, which ticks off Claudia so much that she asks Charlie to ask Bailey to dial it back.  The problem here is that it comes out of nowhere and is inconsistent with how Charlie himself generally acted when he was actually paying attention.  They actually had the grains of a good idea here as when this starts Charlie lets her stay out late because he trusts her and Bailey first gets upset when she comes home later than she said she’d be.  There is an explicit point made where Claudia tosses the idea that he doesn’t trust her to Bailey’s face, which could have led to a great examination of whether Charlie really trusted her or if he simply knew that she could in general handle herself and was more relieved that she wasn’t one more thing he had to think about, which wouldn’t work for Bailey, and so we could have a debate over whether Bailey was being overprotective or whether Charlie just wasn’t paying enough attention and find a nice compromise that way.  Instead, it seems to end with her having a pager which doesn’t really seem to solve anything.

The season ends with Charlie and Bailey asking Kirsten and Sara, respectively, to marry them, and Kirsten initially at least asks for time to think while Sara says yes, but then later Kristen accepts and Sara demurs, which reasonably annoys Bailey but that he seems to come to terms with right at the end of the season, making it mostly pointless.

For all of its problems with its plots — and, as you can see, it has a lot of problems with its plots — and despite that two of the main characters are really annoying — Charlie, for being a self-centered ass most of the time, and Julia, for being completely self-absorbed — the show is still what I’d call “watchable”.  The performances are good, Bailey comes across the best out of all the characters because he seems to have at least a modicum of self-awareness and so understands when he screws up.  I also still do like Claudia as a character when they aren’t derailing her character and it is sad just how often she has had to be the voice of reason, even when she was younger.  Still, the show too often tries for drama! when normal drama could do and would even make things work a lot better than having two or more incredibly dramatic plots fighting for screen time.  Again, this one seems to be heading straight for my box of things to rewatch at some point, maybe.

The (New) Atheist Morality

May 20, 2022

I was pondering commenting on the abortion debate since that’s come up again, but I won’t have time this week to do that, so I decided that I’d talk about something else that occurred to me during my morning walk instead.  I was thinking about the discussions of morality that I see coming from at least the most public atheists, and noted that their views tend to fall into two categories.  The first is a rough Utilitarianism that also relies on a bit of an Egoistic approach, like that of Adam Lee or Richard Carrier.  The second is a moral relativism that denies that morality is objective and has objective meaning and yet still wants to be able to criticize people for their immoral acts, desires and thoughts, like that of Bob Seidensticker, like Jonathan MS Pearce, and definitely Coel.  The first interesting thing about how they all pretty much end up in one of these two views is that there are a number of secular views that don’t end up in either of those categories, like Kant, or the Stoics or, well, most of the views studied in philosophy.  The other interesting thing is that both views end up with a fatal flaw that I’ve talked about before when talking about their specific views but never really highlighted as a general problem before (because I didn’t realize that the views were as general as they seem to be).

Let me start with the rough Utilitarian view.  Most of them — and, to be fair, many people who study moral philosophy — find the Utilitarian idea pretty reasonable and convincing (I think that even I found it interesting when I first encountered it, although I quickly found flaws in it), and so think that the idea of maximizing global well-being pretty much captures what it means to be moral.  However, they quickly run into the problem with most forms of morality, which is how to handle the case where someone says that they don’t care about that and in fact only care about maximizing their own well-being.  This is where the Egoism comes in, and they argue — not unreasonably — that for the most part acting in ways to to increase everyone’s well-being will also increase that person’s well-being, usually by making an appeal to a modified Golden Rule arguing that even if you could get away with it you wouldn’t want a world where everyone did that and it was expected, usually by adding in an argument from Hobbes that if everyone did that people would start to be afraid that it will happen to them and so will take measures to protect themselves that will cause society to break down and make co-operation too difficult.  So ultimately the idea is that everyone wants to co-operate with each other because of the benefits of that co-operation and because they need to co-operate with others to maximize their well-being.  Thus, we are justified in co-operating with others because in the long run doing that works out to be better for us.

But this merging with Egoism ultimately undermines their entire project, because while they want to justify co-operation and so some sort of altruism, as we’ve just seen the underlying justification is entirely Egoistic.  We are only justified in being “altruistic” because in the long run it benefits us the most to do that, which quite strains the notion of altruism.  Worst than that, though, is that it cannot survive the reasoning of people like Tarquin from “The Order of the Stick” or Russell from “Angel”, who argue that in their specific and particular cases they can at least bend the rules of co-operation because they can get away with it and what satisfies them most justifies the risk.  For Tarquin, he runs evil kingdoms behind the scenes with a blunt ruthlessness but in a way that allows him to survive the inevitable falls of those kingdoms.  Thus, he gets to be the power behind the throne and enjoy the fruits of being that — and being evil, since he is — without taking on the risks of being the most visible evil out there.  He can do that because he co-operates with other evil people who want similar things and they all work together to manipulate things for that end, thus providing them with that life that they all want with minimal risk.  He admits that ultimately, in that universe, some heroic party is going to come along and kill him, but he gets a lifetime of the things he wants and it’s only the very end that really sucks, but he can live with that.  He couldn’t achieve those things in a good kingdom, and as it turns out the kingdoms in that area are so unstable that a good kingdom couldn’t survive anyway.  So under the Egoistic Utilitarianism reasoning what he’s doing isn’t preventing the creation of a society that could provide him greater security and it gets him what he wants, and so it really seems to be the case that he is justified in saying that these evil actions actually end up providing him with the life he really wants.

For Russell, he is wealthy and powerful and can hire a lot of people to ensure he gets what he wants and can cover up his actual crimes, and so as he notes as long as he follows the big rules — like paying his taxes — he can do whatever he wants.  Arguably, if everyone did what he does it would be a fearful and chaotic society, but it’s also the case that most people can’t do what he does and he’s spending effort hiding it to avoid any societal consequences.  So he gets to do those evil things that he wants to do with little risk as long as he is careful to not do it too much or to the wrong people, but it’s not the case that having to think about and plan out your actions can be used as an argument against doing those things in this model.  So it does seem like this model allows him to do some of those “immoral” things that the system was designed to prevent people from doing while not facing any major consequences for doing them.

Now, people like Richard Carrier could insist that those things that they really want to do are inferior things to want, and might appeal to the fact that they have to work around the potential downsides to justify that:  they shouldn’t have to do that much work to avoid bothering people and bringing down society for something that’s really worth wanting.  However, this would force them to come up with an objective justification that isn’t just what someone wants, which is the problem they were hoping this system would avoid for them in the first place.  But more damningly is that there is, in fact, no way for them to avoid this potential consequence because Tarquin and Russell are using the correct reasoning and so the only quibbles could be over whether they are right about their specific cases, because once “altruism” is justified on the basis of personal benefit then if someone could ever achieve a real benefit from screwing over other people they are not only allowed to do that under this model but would likely be obligated to do that under this model.  Otherwise, they would be sacrificing their personal interests, which is irrational under this model.  That its defenders can argue that in most cases everyone’s personal interests really are aligned with altruism and co-operation does not save it from the philosophical objections that whenever the two come apart their system says that they should abandon altruism and co-operation in favour of their personal interests and our basic idea of morality says that morality should be the other way around, meaning that we can ask whether, at the end of the day, in trying to find a morality that they can use to appeal to people concerned with their own personal interest above all else they ended up producing something that isn’t a morality at all.

For the relativist case, they walk themselves into a contradiction when they insist that there is no objective morality but still want to make statements about what is or isn’t moral that they expect others to take seriously.  I have often made comments that if morality is relative then they can’t criticize others for being immoral only to have them say that they just did that so of course it’s possible.  The issue, though, is that they can express their views on morality all they want but if morality is relative no one has any reason to care about their moral pronouncements.  In general, the reply to this has been to look at that as a challenge of motivation or authority and so to appeal to consequences or laws to impose that one them, but the real objection is more that they can pronounce what is or isn’t moral all they want but if we realize that morality is relative and subjective their saying that can in no way be convincing if we don’t agree with them.  If someone, say, insists that AC/DC is a terrible band, because music appreciation is subjective I don’t have to agree with them and of course have no reason to accept their opinion myself.  While there are some objective considerations one can make with subjective things like that — you can talk about technical ability of the instrument playing, for example — that’s not enough to get us to the blanket condemnations that moral pronouncements tend to be.  And if morality is relative and subjective, they cut themselves off from all forms of actual moral reasoning because that would only apply if there was an objective answer to moral questions, and that’s precisely what moral relativism denies.  So they can express their moral views all they want, but no one who doesn’t already agree with them has any reason to be at all concerned about that or wonder if they need to update their own moral opinions in response to that.  Such pronouncements, then, should be met with a shrug, not with the introspective reaction that they expect from those they level them against.  The complaint is not that we need some kind of motivation, it’s that they make morality a mere matter of opinion and that outside of totally invalid impositions of opinion on people no one really needs to care about their opinion.

So those are the two main categories of atheist moral thought that I have encountered, and the two fatal problems that I see with them.  Given the vast array of moral theories that we have access to, one would think that they could have seen these problems coming … and likely picked better theories to attach themselves to.

Thoughts on “The Dead Zone”

May 19, 2022

So after I pondered in my discussion of “Christine” how I’d feel about a Stephen King adaptation that followed the work but that I hadn’t read, the very next Stephen King adaptation is “The Dead Zone”, which seems to fit the bill.  And, yeah, I definitely felt like there was more to the elements in it than the movie was portraying, which led to an add experience while watching it.

The basic plot here is that someone who is about to marry a fellow teacher on a stormy night, but as he heads home he gets into a car accident and is in a coma for I think a few years.  When he awakens, it seems like he can at times see the future, mostly by touching people.  He also discovers that his girlfriend has gotten married to someone else and has a child.  Eventually, he has a vision about the leading candidate for the Presidency that says that if he is elected he will eventually start a nuclear war, and has to decide if he can change the future and prevent it from happening.

Now, when I talked about “Midway”, I noted that it felt like it was trying to reference war movie tropes but didn’t develop them properly.  “The Dead Zone”, it can be argued, is a movie that does the same thing.  After all, while it’s more of a drama trope than a horror trope, having his girlfriend marry someone else but having them rekindle their relationship — they make love once before she leaves to go back to her husband — and in fact the entire thread where that happens and then they meet again as her husband is a key worker on the Presidential candidate’s campaign that happens to come to the main character’s neighbourhood is indeed a standard drama trope (although there it usually ends with the girlfriend returning to him).  And how he ultimately averts the terrible future that he foresaw is not by killing the candidate, but is instead by having him hide behind the child of his girlfriend which exposes him as a coward, which is creative but again could follow from the relationship.  But why I don’t think that’s what’s happening is because the events seems to have, in-universe, far more significance than the movie presents.  The scene where the main character and his girlfriend get together is lengthy and and seems to be hinting at a number of elements both before it and after it, so it’s easy to imagine that it’s a scene that was lifted from the book but that was better developed.  Even the ending didn’t need to be her son but could have been any child, but it being her child specifically seems important in a way that the movie just doesn’t reference.  So the overall impression I had is exactly what I was wondering if I’d have while watching “Christine”:  a sense that these events were supposed to be more meaningful and had more weight to them even though what we saw in the movie didn’t support that weight.  Because the scenes aren’t simply scenes that ape common tropes but seem to be expanded from what might at first glance be common tropes, it’s easy to imagine that in the book the scenes did follow from a deeper examination that the movie didn’t have the time to explore.  And given that from the other works I actually know that that’s the case for Stephen King works, that impression seems confirmed with what I know of how these sorts of things actually work.

That, I think, really does explain why Stephen King adaptations are in general not as popular or well-regarded as you’d think they be given how many of them there are and how famous he is as an author.  My impression is that the best regarded ones are “The Stand” and “It”, which were not two hour movies but were instead miniseries.  But even they have some issues following through on what is best in Stephen King novels, which is the individual relationships and internal thoughts of the people involved.  That sort of thing is very difficult to do in a movie and take up time that even miniseries don’t have the room to do, which led to my being disappointed with the miniseries of “The Stand” when I watched it after having re-read the book first.  King’s works are just really, really hard to adapt to a movie or even TV miniseries.

As for “The Dead Zone”, I think the performances are good and the ending is clever and a bit unexpected, but as already noted much of the movie depends on emotions that were probably developed in the original work but that weren’t developed properly in the movie.  In general, these movies make me want to read the book instead of watch the movie, which end up being “Meh” at best, which is where this one comes in.  I could probably watch it again, but won’t do that any time soon.

Thoughts on “King Henry the Sixth”

May 18, 2022

So, after finishing the complete collection of H.P. Lovecraft, I started working on the complete works of William Shakespeare.  And when I started doing that, I had an unwelcome surprise.  While reading Lovecraft, I was generally able to get through something like 90 pages or so in an hour and half time period, and so could usually finish a novella or a collection for short stories in a session, usually while I was doing laundry.  When I turned to Shakespeare, I figured that I could maintain that pace and since there were around 1000 pages in the collection that it would take me about two or three months to get through.  Each play is about 30 pages in the work and so I figured I could get through about two or three plays in a session, which would work out well.  However, when I sat down to read the first part of “King Henry the Sixth” I was surprised to note that it took me about an hour and a half to read that one play.  If I have a reading pace of 30 pages a session — and the sessions are once a week — that means it would take me eight or nine months to get through it.  Fortunately, that’s a time set aside to do that sort of reading and it’s not like I’m going to stop doing laundry any time soon and so lose that time slot, but I was probably not going to want to go for eight months without talking about how that one major project was going.

Hence, this post.  I decided that what I would do is instead of talking about my overall impressions of the works I’d talk about each individual play.  Now, I know that for ages people have been analyzing Shakespeare’s plays for themes and how it all fits together and, well, for pretty everything you can analyze them for wrt literary content.  I’m not going to do that, at least not to that detail.  Instead, I’m going to talk about my general impressions of the works, which may include some comments on the themes but will mostly focus on how it’s striking me as a work that I’m just sitting down and taking the time to read out.  Also, someone might object that since they were meant to be acted out simply reading them won’t have the same impact as watching them would.  Putting aside the fact that in my formal studies of the works we pretty much just read them, it’s also not possible to actually watch all of Shakespeare’s works anyway.  Not all of them are put on all the time, even if they were regularly staging his plays anywhere near to me.  This is the best I can do if I want to experience all of them in some way.

Anyway, “King Henry the Sixth” is presented in three parts, which basically means that it’s presented as three separate plays for the most part, with the length of each part aligning with the typical length of one of his plays.  It follows, well, the reign of King Henry the Sixth, touching on historical events like the battles in France with Joan of Arc and a number of rebellions and insurrections in England itself.

The first thing I noted about the plays is that I had a remarkably easy time reading them.  I was a bit worried that the language would be a bit of a struggle but even though some of the words were ones that I wasn’t familiar with — often deliberately so, to make the cadences and rhymes work better — I was able to follow the conversations and understand what was going on and what each character was trying to do.  So the language was more approachable than I expected it to be, at least in this place.

I did, however, notice a bit of English bias in this work, at least, mostly wrt France and especially wrt Joan of Arc.  It may be the case that most of us have become a bit biased towards Joan of Arc from the cultural works that reference her, but in general it seems reasonable that she had some military success which is why she gained fame in the first place and the fame that she fell from at the end of her life.  However, in this play she’s fairly unimpressive and dismissed by pretty much everyone, although Shakespeare does present her as being skilled in fighting, although he also has other women later fight as well so again that’s not all that impressive.  Since everything is told from the perspective of the English you could argue that it more reflects the feelings of the people at the time and not what Shakespeare himself wanted to get across, and since many of those people are rather poor tacticians a lot of the time that’s not unreasonable, but the dialogue does not suggest anything like that but even when she’s among people who wouldn’t be biased he still leaves that impression.  So that stood out to me, although it probably wouldn’t have to his original audience.

I also noticed that in this play there are lots of plots in play to gain power, but pretty much all of them fail miserably in a remarkably short period of time, making it look like the plotters are utterly incompetent.  We don’t have someone in a strong position gained from plotting like Claudius in Hamlet, nor someone who executes a plot and has it all unravel like Macbeth, but instead we have characters spawn a plot against, for example, the Protector of the Realm to imprison and then kill him but as soon as he is killed another noble immediately accuses them of murder and they get imprisoned and probably executed.  We have characters trying to attack a much larger army in the field on the grounds that it worked against the French, who predictably lose badly.  But then the victors of that battle are soon overtaken by another force, and so on and so forth.  Someone spawns an insurrection as a distraction to weaken the realm and justify his using force that fizzles out right before he returns, but he manages to take over anyway.  Even the losses in France in the first part seem to follow from the English leaders being cowardly and incompetent, preferring to in-fight over dealing with their enemies.  This may well have been the point, but it doesn’t make for very impressive antagonists.

If there is any theme to this, I believe that it’s about over how Henry was weak and inconstant and so unprepared to rule, and that that indecisiveness is what ultimately cost him his throne.  He decries the charges against the Protector but allows him to be arrested anyway, which leads to the Protector’s death and the start of the serious infighting.  He asks to be heard but isn’t at all convincing, and can’t be because he doesn’t seem to understand what the actual issues are.  He decides to try to make peace by making the Duke of York his heir and so they would inherit the kingship after his death, but his ambitious wife — who was involved in the conspiracy against the Protector — won’t accept his disinheriting their son, which spawns the conflict that causes him to lose all in the end.  Ultimately, then, it seems that Henry’s weakness and being influenced by others ultimately led to his downfall, and he placed his trust in the wrong people.

Putting aside that most of the antagonists are either incompetent, nasty, or both, I found this three part work fairly good.  I didn’t like or sympathize with most of the characters, but the progression through what I presume are historical events works well enough, and things move quickly enough that I don’t really have the time to focus on which characters I do and don’t like.  I don’t think these are among the more famous Shakespeare plays, but the dialogue and scenes are done well enough that we can see why Shakespeare’s plays have stood the test of time.

Thoughts on “Midway”

May 17, 2022

I picked up “Midway” at a reasonable price from the local Walmart — which is how I get most of my movies, which may explain some things about their quality — and decided to watch it in a concerted effort to try to reduce my stacks of movies to something that isn’t taking over the entire stand in my living room.  Of course, I tend to acquire the movies faster than I can watch them and so the stacks tend to get bigger and bigger, so much so that I had to sort everything out into horror, science-fiction, family, and everything else (arguably, the science-fiction stack is the largest, but the horror one is divided into a stack for standalone movies and for series, so it probably comes out on top in the long run).  But, hey, these things don’t go bad and there will be times when my watching exceeds my acquiring — which is why I was able to switch to the Stephen King movies when the stack of standalone horror movies started to run a bit dry — so they won’t go to waste.

My desire to watch this movie in particular was also spawned by my reading a bunch of World War II books and so I was really in the mood for a WWII movie, and was hoping that this would be a good one.

As I was loading the DVD and heading to the menus, however, I started thinking a bit about how such a movie would work.  I could see how a movie like “Pearl Harbor” — which I haven’t seen — would work.  What you’d do is start with building the personal lives of the people that were going to be involved and focused on to get us knowing them as people, while the political aspects were introduced and running in the background.  Then you’d spend a lot of time on the battle itself, highlighting the tragedy as the people that we spent what would probably be the first half of the movie following were killed and highlighting the heroics of those we followed as well, ending with the declaration of war and then a coda that says that despite the “Day that will live in infamy” the U.S. ultimately defeated the Japanese.  The thing is, though, that Pearl Harbor was a very human and personal event, especially with its hugely tragic events.  The Battle of Midway, however, was pretty much a strategic victory that played out over a number of hours and a number of raids.  The success of the U.S. forces at Midway had little to do with individual heroism and more to do with the Japanese being outfoxed and extending themselves too much in an attempt to achieve another great victory and eliminate the American fleet like they almost had done at Pearl Harbor.  Given that “Midway” was a Hollywood drama, how was it going to make that sort of strategic thinking interesting?

It turns out that it doesn’t do that all that well, but perhaps not for the reason that you might think.

I have commented before about how a lot of modern movies — especially horror movies, which are the ones that I most watch and comment on — often seem to focus on putting in the various tropes of the genre, but they don’t understand what makes those tropes work and so end up not developing them or paying them off, and so it ends up being the case that we can see the obvious tropes but they don’t work to elicit the emotions that they should.  “Midway” has that in spades.  It has all of the expected war movie tropes and yet not one of them is really paid off in a way that would make us care about them.  The pilot that it focuses on is a bit of a maverick and is one of the few properly preparing for war — training with no-power landings on the carrier, for example — but neither his preparedness nor his abilities nor his views nor his clashes with his commanding officer is ever used.  In an early scene, one of his close friends is killed a Pearl Harbor and while at the end of the movie he drops a bomb on a carrier and says that it’s for him it’s been so long since that guy was brought up that emotionally it falls flat.  He even gets the heroic shot of dropping it right on the “rising sun” logo on the carrier’s deck and it’s just an obvious attempt to invoke that sort of patriotic fervor … except that dive bombers don’t work that way and even if they did that scene isn’t set up and so emotionally falls flat.  As for the clash with his commanding officer, there’s an undercurrent of the commanding officer not being able to cut it as a dive bomber and getting placed there for the final battle and having to do it, but he manages to pull through and score a crushing blow — and survive — and that wasn’t brought up until rather late in the movie so it has no emotional punch.  And the pilot who loses confidence in himself but goes out at the end anyway is again something that isn’t focused on enough for us to really care about it.  And there are a number of these little plots that are brought up and seemingly dealt with that aren’t developed enough for us to really care about them.  Thus, they seem to be there only because they are expected to be there in a war movie, but they don’t add anything to it.

The worst example of this is what would be one of the main personal plots in any other war movie:  the main pilot with his wife and kids and their fear for him and the fact that he has to go out and almost get killed — and he does get injured — in order to achieve victory against the enemy.  They set out the relationship at the beginning, but the first big discussion they have is over his wanting them to leave, not her wanting him to quit or take less risks, and while he does take risks that he might not have needed to there’s no link to her feeling that they were unnecessary.  There’s a scene where all the wives are waiting for word on what’s happening and she is nervous about it, but that’s pretty much an isolated scene.  And she waits for him after the battle to find out that he can’t fly again and says that he has the rest of his life to figure out what he’ll do if he can’t fly, but this doesn’t resonate because it’s not a conclusion of any arc that was established or even a reference to something that was said earlier, so it comes out of nowhere and, again, is just aping the “injured hero returns to his relieved family” plot to no real purpose.  Ironically, they actually had a better plot for this with the code breaker Layton working himself to death to make up for Pearl Harbor and his wife wanting him to slow things down a bit, but this isn’t focused on and isn’t even really referenced at the end.

The movie also has an issue where it is entirely unwilling to tell us who is speaking, even when it would make sense to.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but given that we aren’t sure of the command structures of the American and especially the Japanese fleets it can make us wonder just who is doing what so that we can figure out what emotions we are supposed to be feeling.  For example, at the end one of the Admirals, I guess, stays behind on the ship he is scuttling in an emotional scene but it doesn’t bother to say who he or his subordinates who want to stay — one does, one is ordered to leave — actually are and so we aren’t sure how tragic this is supposed to be.  I assume that it’s supposed to be referring to Nagumo going down with the ship for being responsible for the disaster, but I can’t be certain of that and right now can’t remember if he did or didn’t do that in the actual battle itself.  Again, I’m more up-to-date on the particulars than most people and even _I_ can’t remember the details enough to fill in the blanks, so the average moviegoer will probably be even less able to do that, so the movie could have spent more time — and it would have only taken an extra line here or there — making sure that we know who was who and what was what.

The performances, however, are pretty good, especially Woody Harrelson as Nimitz.  However, there’s not enough for them to work with to make this all work.  At the end of the day, then, I think that for most people this could be a serviceable if uninspired war movie, but for me all it does it make me want to look up and read about the actual battle instead.  Given that, this is not a movie that I want to watch again.

NHL Playoff Predictions: Round 2

May 16, 2022

In general and especially in the recent past, the one thing that was going to be certain about the NHL playoffs was that there would be upsets and the key was to pick the right teams to be upset.  That’s why in general I started comparing my success rate to that if you simply picked all the teams with home ice advantage because recent history said that someone picking teams would have a shot at outpicking them.  In the first round, however, home ice advantage went 6 – 2, while I ended up going 5 – 3.  And it looks like I’m not going to outdo home ice advantage in the second round either.

Eastern Conference:

Tampa Bay vs Florida:  It’s hard to choose against the defending Stanley Cup champions, especially for a team that hasn’t had that much success.  However, Tampa Bay was a bit vulnerable against the Leafs in the first round and one of the reasons it’s difficult to achieve the sort of dynasties that we had in the past is that teams that win have to play a lot of hockey with ultimately wears on them.  Tampa Bay will probably have to lose sometime this playoffs, so it might as well be here.

Rangers vs Carolina:  The Rangers almost lost out in the first round to Pittsburgh, who admittedly have a history of playoff success and so of being a tough out.  Still, even though the Rangers ultimately prevailed that might be an indication that they need a bit more seasoning to go on a run.  Sure, Carolina might need that as well but they are probably the better team on paper, at least, so I’ll go with them.

Western Conference:

St. Louis vs Colorado:  Other than having had a long time off due to sweeping their opponents in the first round, Colorado seems to be a very solid team this year and seem ready to take a long run this season.  St. Louis just managed to get past Minnesota.  Colorado probably should win this one.

Edmonton vs Calgary:  Edmonton has Connor McDavid actually going, and they got the goaltending they needed in the first round.  One could choose the superstar player, but even though Mike Smith played well for most of the series I think that Jakob Markstrom is the more reliable goaltender.  Given that, I don’t think that McDavid will outscore the Flames, and the Oilers lack of depth is still an issue.


Eastern Conference:

Tampa Bay vs Florida Incorrect
Rangers vs Carolina Incorrect

Western Conference:

St. Louis vs Colorado Correct
Edmonton vs Calgary Incorrect

Overall Record:  5 – 3
Home Ice Advantage Record:  6 – 2

The Meaning of Life

May 13, 2022

Richard Carrier is going through the book “Unbelievable” by Justin Brierley, and one of his posts covered a chapter that talked about how Christianity can give people a meaning and purpose to life, when it doesn’t seem like atheism can do that.  This is, of course, a pretty common argument leveled against atheists, and most of them attempt to address it by saying that there is no actual objective meaning or purpose to life and so that’s something that every person has to determine for themselves.  In this manner, they deny that we have to be nihilistic and deny that there is any sort of purpose to our lives, but don’t have to provide any kind of objective grounding to this purpose or insist that everyone has to have the same purpose in life (although they tend to assume certain purposes are, at least, superior to other purposes).  And as I was taking in my walks, I was pondering it again — even though examining the meaning or purpose to life has never been a major philosophical interest for me — and I don’t think that the atheist approach will work, because a self-selected purpose cannot satisfy the reasons we’d need or want a purpose in the first place (which is also my objection to atheists who advocate for subjective moralities).

Let me start from the end … literally.  Imagine someone on their deathbed, looking back on their life to take its measure.  Now, with the standard idea of us having an objective purpose for living, what we’d expect them to do is compare how they’ve lived their life with regards to that purpose.  If they’ve managed to achieve it, they will feel satisfied that they managed to live according to that purpose.  If they’ve failed, then perhaps they will feel a sense of disappointment in themselves that they didn’t manage that, but they also might look back on their lives and note that they made a full effort, and as much of an effort as could possibly be expected of them, and it was only circumstances beyond their control that caused them to fail.  Regardless, all they are doing is looking at that set criteria and evaluating whether they managed to achieve that criteria or not.

This isn’t true for a self-selected purpose.  If someone on their deathbed looks back on their life given their self-selected purpose, they can’t simply evaluate their life based on how well they achieved that purpose.  If they managed to achieve that purpose, there will always be the nagging question of whether they only succeeded because they choose a purpose that was too easy to achieve, and that they should have chosen one that was more meaningful or more purposeful and shouldn’t have set their sights so low.  On the other hand, if they failed they have to ask if the issue was merely that they chose a purpose that was too difficult for them to achieve and so they should have chosen an easier one.  In all cases, they can’t simply evaluate their lives against that purpose, but always have to consider whether they chose the correct self-selected purpose, which since they have to believe that they chose the right original purpose before they can properly evaluate their lives wrt that purpose means that they are going to have to settle that first.  And as we’ve seen, unless we simply accept whatever it is we came up with, determining whether that purpose is correct or not is not easy to do.

As in death, so in life.  As we go about our lives, with a self-selected purpose we constantly have to ask ourselves if we’ve selected the right one.  If we stumble or encounter difficulties in achieving our purpose, it’s not simply a matter of doubling our efforts to achieve it, as we also have to ask whether that struggle is because we have the wrong one and need to choose a better purpose.  And if we are achieving it with ease, then we cannot congratulate ourselves on our achievement but instead have to ask if we have chosen a purpose that’s too easy for us to achieve.  So with every success and every setback we have to constantly examine and reassess our self-selected purpose to see if it still seems to be the correct one.

This isn’t what we wanted a purpose for.  We wanted a purpose to essentially be our lighthouse, to guide us through life with a light that we can trust to guide us properly if only we follow it properly.  Instead, our self-selected purpose ends up not being any kind of guide at all, or at least one that we don’t or at least shouldn’t trust.  If we don’t question this purpose to see if it is correct or reasonable when we know it is something that we chose (and could have chosen wrong), then what does having a purpose do for us?  We might as well simply just live our lives on the basis of our shallow and not-so-shallow impressions and not even think about any deeper purpose.

This is also what makes Richard Carrier’s normal approach of talking about how best to achieve our desires and wants problematic as well.  The purpose is supposed to determine what we want, not reflect it.  We are supposed to use it as the standard by which we evaluate what we want to determine if that’s what we should want or if we need to change our wants.  Carrier can try to argue that we should appeal to the deeper and “correct” wants in order to do that, but then we have to figure out what those are.  At some level, then, we always require having some sort of objective purpose and sense of value that we don’t select ourselves and so is more-or-less unchanging that we can use to evaluate our desires and, well, everything else in our lives.  We may not need God giving us that set purpose — even if we disagree with it — but we need something, and a self-selected purpose just isn’t going to work for that.

So we need an objective purpose and cannot just choose one for ourselves.  The only reason, I think, that atheists can get away with insisting we can is that they are running on the inertia of the objective purposes that we thought we had — in the same way as they can run with the objective moral ideas that they get from society while insisting that there are no such ideas — and so can even subconsciously take them as being set while insisting that they’ve “chosen” them, but this always runs into trouble when they try to justify it.  All they can do in response to such challenges is shrug and just go with what they have, but that is obviously a pretty weak response and is also a response that will not work if someone is a) struggling to find a purpose and wants to have one as “set” as theirs or b) is faced with them challenging their self-selected purpose on the grounds that the atheist’s purpose is better than theirs.  At this point, the idea of a self-selected purpose or meaning to life doesn’t seem to be doing what a purpose or meaning to life should be doing.

It can be objected — and often is — that what I’d be doing here is arguing for the existence of an objective purpose or meaning because I want there to be one, and it’s not the case that because I want something to exist that it has to.  I get that response from my comments on morality as well.  But as I mentioned above it’s not that I want to have such a purpose, but that a self-selected purpose or meaning to life cannot be used for any of the things we wanted that sort of thing for, so much so that it’s hard to imagine that a self-selected purpose could be a valid purpose or meaning to life.  At that point, it looks like the self-selected purpose they are talking about is something completely different that they happen to be using the same name for, and the only reason they don’t notice is because they’ve adopted as that purpose the old standard “objective” ones that we’ve had for centuries, and they don’t treat that purpose the way they really should treat a self-selected one.  They are using inertia and ideas that aren’t valid to make self-selected purposes seem like they can do what the ones that we at least believed objective did, but as we’ve seen they can’t.  So ultimately their self-selected purposes, at the end of the day, aren’t purposes at all.

So self-selecting our purpose won’t work.  Either we come up with something objective, or else we embrace nihilism.  But the attempt to embrace both worlds leaves us with a stated purpose that doesn’t work like purposes at all.