25 January 2007

How to Take a Philosophy Class: Ethics

Most people pretend to care, and often more than is really healthy, about what is right and wrong. At least as many people have a theory, a set of rules, or a hunch about which is which. No doubt you've all noticed the terrible problems so many disparate ideas has caused! There is, however, a unified theory of ethics which is not only observationally true, but highly practical as well. It is called Retroactively Justified Ethics. Here's how it works:
  1. Perform an action: The best are selfish, even if they appear noble and self-sacrificing. The more twistedly self-centered, the better.

  2. The past is immutable: Immutable means unchangeable, and it's the only thing that makes this little theory work.

  3. Therefore, the actions of the past are also immutable: Once you've performed your action and it's in the past, nobody can change it.

The quality of immutability is higher than mutability (or so the Greeks, who knew a little about philosophy, tell us), so an action in the past must be morally superior to any future action, which might possibly be changed. So do whatever the hell you want as soon as you can if you really want to live a moral and upstanding existence.

20 January 2007

How to Become a Cult Leader

Recently, a visitor found Meatiocrity by searching for "how to bcome a cult leader [sic]." I only know about this searcher what you can also determine from his or her query, and that our searcher apparently placed the query from a host and ISP in the control of Polo Ralph Lauren.

First, let me say that being a cult leader is no easy thing. Sure, there is power (so much power), control (so, so much control), and wives (so, so, so many wives). The life of a cult leader is one of incomparable narcissicism, unmitigated psychosis, and very probably, an early and self-induced death. You will face opposition from without which must never turn to dissent within. You will spend long hours brainwashing and manipulating those within and countless more preventing that practice from reaching the outside. You will perform the duties of a deity or specially chosen messenger with only the strength and stamina of a mere mortal. If you believe you are ready for the task, please continue.

How to Win Converts and Influence the Weak

The first quality a cult leader requires is charisma. You may be familiar with it thanks to the numerous quality role-playing games available today. In a corporate setting, it is the thing you lack which prevents you from usurping your boss' job. Charisma is necessary for attracting and maintaing a following, and for supplanting their wills with yours. As a bit of personal advice, learn to spell and type your search queries effectively. Unappealing linguistic skills will only become a detriment to the budding cult leader hoping to amass a rich and powerful personal army. Again, I strongly suggest you take stock of your corporate surroundings, which will afford valuable real-life examples of charisma and its application to the field of cult leadership. Remember, the more necessary your approval becomes to a person, the more terrifying the threat of your wrath will be.

Your Cult Leader Resumé

In the field of cult leadership, experience is often more valuable than education. A degree from either a well-known and prestigious university or religiously affiliated institution will provide sensationalism and scandal to your cult image and lend an edge against the competition in the world market. But what about the entrepreneur such as yourself who has yet to reach his or her full potential and still needs to develop a full-fledged cult of his or her own? You require something more foundational to your success: abuse, ill treatment, neglect, and trauma. You can use the handy acronym A.I.N.T. to keep these four pillars (explained below) fresh in your mind.

  • Abuse: Any form of personal abuse can help you learn the ways in which to abuse others. If you lack this necessary life experience, there are many individuals and institutions available (myself included, for a small fee) willing to administer it to you. But abuse alone is not enough to become a successful cult leader.

  • Ill Treatment: Ill treatment, though similar to abuse in some regards, is a broader concept. Think of it as the glue which holds all the aspects of cult leadership together. Fostering a victim mentality and, ultimately, a messianic complex, by being demeaned by your peers, insulted by your superiors, disrespected by your inferiors, and disliked by everyone can make or break a cult leader's career. Take care to take all criticism and correction as a personal attack and every compliment or thank-you as patronization.

  • Neglect: Neglect often goes hand-in-hand with ill treatment in a cult leader's social experience. When not mocking you, your associates would be best advised to shun you. Attempt to place yourself in situation where you will be painfully ignored. It is possible, working for a corporation as vast and as vain as Polo Ralph Lauren, that your monotonous cubicle life will allow growth in your feelings of neglect. It is often difficult to strike the appropriate balance between repulsiveness and merely being pathetic, but dilligence in discovering it will pay off in the long run.

  • Trauma: Trauma is the fuel which keeps the engine of cult leadership running. Without significant trauma, abuse, ill-treatment, and neglect are deadweight in the life of a cult leader. Trauma, unlike the first three pillars, cannot be acquired; it must be meted out unfairly by fate. Having a favorite pet die or being cut from the basketball team is insufficient. The mathematics involved are complex, but some more advanced students may be able to become cult leaders with lighter trauma. Having one's family brutally slaughtered , preferably by each other with one of many everyday household items perfectly suited for such a task, is a good starting point for beginners.

It will take time to develop, but once you begin growing as a cult leader with A.I.N.T., you will notice the process becomes more and more natural as you progress.

First Initiates

Now you're ready to find your first initiates! Look for someone loyal yet malleable, capable but unquestioning, sycophantic and weak-willed. You may have heard of this type of person referred to as a "yes-man." It is essential to develop in that person the notion that your will is to be followed at all costs at all times. Once able, allow that person to tell one impressionable friend, who will, at the time you decide, tell another impressionable friend, and so on until you've multiplied your unthinking sect to its full potential. But don't get ahead of yourself! Take things slowly at first. Haste may allow a follower to perceive a flaw or weakness in your ideology. Never let this happen.

Some Final Words

The mechanics and techniques of developing an ideology and maintaing an established cult, though often extensions of what we have already discussed, are highly nuanced and more fitting subjects, due to their dullness, for a different publication. The final days of any cult, however, should be addressed briefly in order to help orient yourself to the goals of all successful cult leaders.

First, ensure some mainstream media attention before attempting any form of mass murder or mass suicide. Always remember that, as a cult's leader, it is the place of your subordinates to do your dirty work. Also, ensure that you never die alone. If any government is attempting to suppress you, as you undoubtedly know they will, and nearly shutting you down, your followers should kill themselves for no readily apparent reason except their devotion and worship of you, their glorious leader. The apparent craziness of their actions and beliefs to outsiders is a good indicator of the success of a cult, which reflects the success of its leader. That said, the only way to reach your goal of becoming a cult leader is to start today!

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On the other hand, it occurs to me that this particular query may have been intended in another sense, such as the way in which a movie may become a "cult" classic. A "cult leader" would therefore be a prominent underground success. For this type of query, I'm afraid I have no advice to give.

16 January 2007

Talkin' 'Bout My S-S-Salutation: Elbow Health

Everyone knows not to cut corners when it comes to their health. Cutting, of corners or otherwise, should be left to fully trained and properly equipped medical professionals. But there are things we all can do to make our world a healthier place.

According to the World Health Organization, or The WHO, many diseases— avian flu, for one— can be spread via everyday hand-to-hand and other interpersonal contact. That means no handshakes, no hugs, and certainly no kisses. But if you're afraid all your cultural training will bcome useless in greeting international travelers, don't; The WHO has the answer: the elbow bump. (Use BugMeNot to get past the New York Times login).

It has been nearly a year since I've heard much of anything about the elbow bump. Although I don't recall the first time I heard of it (it may have been junior high gym class just after the electric slide), I'm convinced that I don't hear about the elbow bump nearly enough. It is, after all, the wave of the future in more than a merely figurative sense.

Hands and faces are too dirty to be used for greeting in a civilized, scientifically-minded society. Can you even name all the places your hands have been today? If you don't know where they've been, I certainly don't, and I certainly don't want to touch them. So next time you see me or anyone you care about, protect them from avian flu and other diseases you're carrying around with a friendly elbow bump.

The WHO also suggests that coughing or sneezing into the crook of one's elbow is far more sanitary than projecting pathogens into one's hands. Certainly The WHO would never suggest the institution of a contrived social gesture using the same body part they suggest for the entrapment of billions (that's billions, with a 'b') of potentially deadly pathogens. Elbows must be not only the cleanest part of the human body, but to some degree antibacterial, antiviral, anti-fungal, hypoallergenic, and spring clean fresh. Rubbing elbows isn't just for the rich and famous anymore!

I expect that elbows will play a greater role in our personal hygeine and interpersonal preventation of disease in the future. They could be used, after sufficient dexterity exercises, to transfer cash during financial transactions. Perhaps ordinary household sponges, supplied with literal elbow grease, will help us keep a clean and sanitary house— the house of the future. Finally, I suggest the use of elbows as alternatives to cotton swabs for the prevention of ear infections. Good health to you!

08 January 2007

How to Take a Philosophy Class: History

Most everyone who goes to college has to take a mandatory philosophy class, usually taught by somebody who'd rather be doing anything else at the moment but lacks the ambition and personal grooming necessary to do so. Unless your dream was to someday rather be doing anything but teaching an introductory philosophy class, you may not have enjoyed the class. You may not even have done quite as well as in your Marketing 101 course. Don't worry, marketing is far more useful.

If you didn't go to college, philosophy class probably isn't your thing anyway.

This helpful guide is meant to acquaint the reader with a brief history of philosophy which, although incomplete and often markedly inaccurate, will nevertheless supply only the very best information on the subject. Other installments will approach additional philosophical subjects such as epistemology, metaphysics, and how come Sisyphus never thought to try some kind of pulley system, in much the same way.

The subject at hand is history, and not, as some have conjectured, the distracting use of the passive voice. Please consider The Disrespect for Truth has Brought a New Dark Age (sic) by Paul Craig Roberts as an excellent example of equally excellent historical philosophy. Pithy, too.

For those of you who have vastly more important things to do, such as business homework, than read the entirety, or any, of Dr. Roberts' essay, I will summarize his helpful approach to historical philosophy:

First, establish a connection with your audience. Every good philosopher cares deeply, passionately, and deeply passionately about truth. Dr. Roberts writes, with a sort of passionate depth, on truth. He writes for truth. He writes in truth, and other prepositions as well. The only people I know who don't care about truth are liars.

Second, make distinctions between who knows truth and who does not. Philosophers have always done this, and there's really very little reason not to. After all, an opposing standpoint means plenty of debate appearances, paper opportunities, and book deals. Supply and demand, friend. In his essay, Dr. Roberts clearly states that some people did not care about truth, then some people did, and now people don't again. Quite lucid, you see?

Third, and finally, always associate truth with whichever period of history, philosophy, religion, political entity, government, cult leader, or product you like the best. Dr. Roberts has wisely chosen the Enlightenment, which is an excellent choice etymologically speaking, and popular as well. Luckily, the clue is in the name. First came the Dark Ages, when nobody cared about truth and mostly mucked about getting plague and the like. Next came the Enlightenment, when people cared, I mean really cared about truth. Sadly, according to Dr. Roberts, that did not last, and we're all headed back to the Dark Ages, which will probably be bit of a misnomer as we'll all muck about getting plague in fluorescent lighting.

To recap: Connection, Distinction, Association. We at Meatiocrity thank Dr. Roberts for his insightful essay and unwitting participation in this installment of How to Take a Philosophy Class and hope that you have found this, the first of many guides, helpful in your philosophy class and everyday life.