What I Think Tank

The Superior Temperature Scale

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The Fahrenheit scale often gets a lot of grief for being an arbitrary and weird looking temperature scale, while Celsius is often touted by the rest of the world as the superior scale. Of course, there is little difference between the two, really, other than people not grasping why the melting point of water should be 32 degree Fahrenheit, as opposed to the 0 degree Celsius.

The snobbery and self-glorifying in the rest of the world for using the Celsius scale is quite unfounded, however. The Fahrenheit scale gives much more accurate measurement in whole numbers, when we talk about the temperatures that we normally operate within, and could easily be regarded as the superior temperature scale of the two.

temperaturescales

As one can see, the Celsius scale is merely a temperature scale calibrated to the Kelvin scale, where 1 degree up or down on the Celsius scale is the same difference as 1 Kelvin on the Kelvin scale. This means that absolute zero, which is 0 Kelvin, is put to -273.15 degrees Celsius, and the melting point of water is 0 degrees Celsius, which would be 273.15 Kelvin.

The same kind of logic is found in the Fahrenheit scale, which is calibrated to the Rankine scale (or rather, it could be seen as the other way around in this instance, but let’s press on for argument’s sake…), where 1 degree up or down on the Fahrenheit scale is the same difference as 1 degree Rankine. This means that absolute zero, which is 0 degree Rankine, is put to -459.67 degrees Fahrenheit, and the temperature of a frozen brine solution is 0 degree Fahrenheit , which would be 459.67 degrees Rankine. The melting point of water, on the other hand, is put to 32 degrees Fahrenheit, which would be 32 degrees Rankine hotter than the frozen brine solution, and the boiling point of water is 212 degrees Fahrenheit, which gives exactly 180 degrees of difference to work on here.

The Fahrenheit scale, like the Celsius scale, operates within a similar set of exact and meaningful measurements, and actually does so with a higher degree of accuracy in day to day temperature measurements. But it’s also true that it holds less symbolic meaning for us. Fahrenheit lacks the link between the meaning of cold as minus or negative, given the color blue, and hot as plus or something positive, given the color red. For all the strengths of the Fahrenheit scale, it lacks this inherent meaning of language and symbols, that Celsius seems to include. On the other hand, it holds a superiority over Celsius, in terms of daily usage accuracy.

I think there should be room for a temperature scale that combines the strengths of both and corrects the supposed arbitrary nature of the Fahrenheit scale. Since Wikipedia doesn’t inform me of a scale that does this, and because I’m too lazy to research the landscape of temperature scales any further, let me introduce my own scale, the Rolland scale.

The Rolland scale is calibrated to the Fahrenheit/Rankine scales, with Rolland as the unit of measurement, meaning 1 Rolland up or down on the Rolland scale is the same temperature difference as 1 degree Fahrenheit or 1 degree Rankine. In addition, the Rolland scale applies a Celsius-like way of defining temperatures, which links minus/negative temperatures with frost, and plus/positive temperatures with heat. For that reason, absolute zero, which is defined as 0 degree Rankine, becomes -491.67 Rolland, and the melting point of water (at standard pressure), which is 491.67 degrees Rankine, becomes 0 Rolland. This also gives us a boiling point of water at ~180 Rolland, an average body core temperature for humans at ~66 Rolland, and an average surface temperature on Earth at ~27 Rolland. These numbers are perfectly viable and easy to remember, working within a good and fairly wide spectrum of numbers that people will be able to make sense of.

In other words, the Rolland scale is like the Fahrenheit scale, but re-calibrates itself for the melting point of water, rather than the temperature of an ice brine solution. With Rankine as R and Rolland as Ro, the math would be the following:

[°C] = [K] − 273.15
[°F] = [°R] − 459.67
[K] = [°R] × 1.8
[°C] = ([°F] − 32) × 1.8
[Ro] = [°F] – 32
[Ro] = [°R] – 491.67
[Ro] = [°C] × 1.8
etc…

As an end note, I should consider the fact, that there are a number of temperature scales that begins with R, which means the Rolland scale must adopt an Ro symbol to be able to differentiate between them. I may need to rename it for that reason, but I’ll make that decision when the day comes that the world hungers for a new temperature scale to work by. For now, the Rolland scale, with Rolland (R or Ro) as the unit of measurement, is defined and ready, making your day much easier. If you have a Fahrenheit thermometer, you can simply change the numbers around, so that 0 is where 32 used to be, and so on. It’s that easy. Now you too can use the truly superior temperature scale.

Written by Morten Rolland

October 6, 2015 at 4:25 pm

Geology and Climate Change – Should We Have Entered a New Ice Age?

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I was reading someone saying that they believe we are supposed to be moving into a new ice age, but that the Industrial Revolution and man made global warming has halted this progress. Now, this is by no means a new idea, but it’s still a very interesting concept. The answer to this is basically “up in the air” and demands a considerable amount of careful thought, in order to even try to conceive of an answer. Since climatology is a heated topic in today’s media climate, it’s a topic very much worth discussing. However, there’s a crap-ton of geological data and knowledge to get through on this topic of whether we’re moving into a new ice age or not, which is more than what most people can fathom. Still, I think it would serve people well to try and understand climate from a geological perspective. Here’s a not-so-quick run-through of what I think I’ve understood from it all, as the humble Sociologist that I am, using some helpful non-geological terminology, in order to make sense of the material:

Let’s just skip the concept of global eras in Earth’s history, that span upwards to billion year length time scales. It makes more sense to jump straight into the Quaternary period, which is the current period on Earth that we live in (which has been going on for the past 2.588 million years), within which the great diversification of mammals has been going on.

Let’s call the Quaternary period a “super-macro level timespan” of climate. These “super-macro” periods switch between either warm and cool trends. Our current period is a cool one, as it’s been characterized by the constant growth and decay of continental ice sheets. This is actually called an ice age, and goes by the name “the current ice age”, and we’re in the middle of it. This is not what most people would call an ice age, which I believe are actually called glacial ages in geology. So let’s call this current ice age a cool period instead, to keep things consistent.

Within this cool period on a gigantic scale, we have a “macro level timespan” of climate that are called epochs. These epochs are also either trends of warming and cooling. Cool epochs are defined by the Earth being covered by big glaciers and constant ice, and these are called glacial epochs. Warm epochs are defined by receding glaciers and ice on Earth, and these are called interglacial epochs.

On a “meso level timespan”, these epochs are then divided further into warm and cool ages. A cool age is called a glacial age, where you have vast and/or expanding ice sheets covering parts of the Earth’s surface, while warm ages are called interglacial ages, where you have receding ice sheets, but still with some ice sheets covering some land. On a “micro level timespan”, you can also find strictly regional variations of cooling and warming, and this is where things become extra interesting, not to mention confusing to “climate change” models. Heck, there are even “nano level timespans”, where you have warming or cooling trends lasting a few decades. This would, for instance, be the global cooling trend in the 60s and 70s, and the global warming trend of the 80s and early 90s. I’m not gonna bother talking about them here, so let’s ignore the nano level.

To sum it up, we are talking in terms of four different timespans of climate, from longest to shortest:

  • Super-macro level: Periods. Cool or warm.
  • Macro level: Epochs. Glacial or interglacial.
  • Meso level: Ages. Glacial or interglacial.
  • Micro level: Err… something. Let’s call them trends! Cool or warm.

At the moment, we’re in an interglacial age on the “meso level”, which started about 11 000 years ago. This age is actually also the first age of a new epoch, called the Holocene epoch. Yes, we may indeed have “just” entered an interglacial epoch, because the last epoch, the Pleistocene epoch, which ended about 11 000 years ago, was a glacial epoch. In other words, the last epoch was characterized by what we would call ice ages, or glacial ages, to be consistent. I think it’s still unknown where our epoch fits into the whole mess. We’re still in the greater “super-macro level” cool period in general, because there are big areas which are still constantly covered by glaciers, yet, we’re not in a glacial age, since glaciers have receded and aren’t covering vast lands on the northern and southern hemisphere. We won’t know what our epoch contains for thousands of years still, but it’s natural to think it could be an interglacial epoch, since the generally warm data during the current epoch suggests as much.

It is however worth asking: Maybe our interglacial epoch is just an interglacial age within the continued glacial epoch that we supposedly left of? Or put differently: Our new epoch is a glacial epoch, but we’ve started it off with an interglacial age? Maybe. I don’t know why we can call our age a part of a new epoch yet. Our epoch, the Holocene epoch, translates to the “the wholly new/entirely recent”. I’m guessing it might be linked with the recent spread and great explosion of human life and civilization on Earth during this current warm age, beginning after the last ice age. In other words, what the future holds is left to be seen.

In any case, there are temperature swings within both glacial and interglacial epochs, and also within cool periods. Since we’ve been in a “meso level” interglacial age for the past 11 000 years, this means that glaciers are expected to be receding, yet still existent. This is exactly what we see today. Just as expected.

Within this current interglacial age on the “meso level”, however, you also have smaller intervals of warming and cooling trends on the “micro level”. These are often quite regional and not global. The last warm trend, at least in the West, was during the Ancient times and through the Middle Ages, up until a cooling trend happened during the “Little Ice Age”, from the 1200s up to the mid 1800s. The “Little Ice Age” was quite cold by interglacial standards, but not compared to glacial standards, where half of Europe etc would probably be covered in tundra and ice. Since we’re in an interglacial age and an interglacial epoch, we should not expect to see ice covering most of the northern or southern hemisphere, and we shouldn’t see substantially increasing ice sheets. We should see receding ice sheets, yet some areas still covered in ice. Again, this is what we see.

Question is, have we naturally moved out of the quite cool “Little Ice Age” and just begun a “micro level” trend of warming, within the “meso level” warm interglacial age, within the “macro level” warm interglacial epoch, within the “super-macro level” cool period on Earth? Or did we prematurely halt the “Little Ice Age” by the dawn of industrialization and pollution, and kicked off a warming trend by man made means, before a natural warming trend were going to begin?

These are the actual questions to the assumption made in the introduction, and while some might believe we should be heading into a new ice age, we just don’t know the answer to this. It’s the big seven-hundred-and-eighty-ounces-of-gold question!

We do know, however, that we’ve earlier gone through much warmer trends than what we’re currently experiencing, without man made causes possibly affecting the climate, so it’s natural to think that what we’re experiencing are completely natural variations of the Earth’s climate, within this interglacial age and epoch that we’re in. Heck, we also know that the former glacial epoch, namely the Pleistocene epoch, lasting for over 2 million years and ending 11 000 years ago, and covering big parts of the northern hemisphere with constant ice for most of the time, had several quite warm interglacial ages within it. In fact, the last interglacial age, which was within the Pleistocene glacial epoch, reached temperatures that are much warmer than our current temperatures.

Indeed, many interglacial ages have existed before ours. We have only been in the current interglacial epoch, namely the Holocene epoch, for 11 000 years, where we’ve started off with an interglacial age. In other words, there’s no reason to believe that we should be moving back into a glacial trend as of now. If anything, we should probably see further warming! At this very moment in time, we’re also below the Holocene mean temperature. What we’re experiencing today is actually quite cold temperatures, relative to what we should expect from the geological age we’re in. If the last interglacial age, during the Pleistocene glacial epoch, is any benchmark for what we should expect, we’ve yet to reach out peak temperatures.

And the peak temperature is key. This defines the high point of temperatures during an age. Some suspect the peak temperature during our current age was a couple of thousand years BC. This is at least assumed to be the case, and it’s sits in the middle of the current timeline of our current age too. That could be true. But it’s equally conceivable that we’ve yet to see the peak temperatures, and that the “Little Ice Age” was more of a low point before a greater warming period. Not to mention, our interglacial age could go on for thousands of years still. Again, during this current global warming trend, since the last 1800s, we’ve yet to reach the mean temperatures of the Holocene epoch as a whole. We’re not experiencing hot temperatures by any means.

So where does this leave us? Well, global warming calculations depend on data that begin right AFTER the Little Ace Age, which was a very cold trend within our current warm age and epoch. The global warming calculations also cannot control for variations spanning a few decades, which has lead them on to pre-mature conclusions, like “global cooling” and “global warming”, having now settled on the impenetrable “climate change” brand. The important question today is, is it “man made” or not?

Considering we should easily be experiencing a warmer climate than what we’re currently doing, seeing as we’re under mean temperature that we should expect, and seeing as climate change models depend on a false low as their starting point, which means they are measuring a completely expected and fairly rapid warming trend, with or without man made CO2 release, one can begin to wonder what the HELL “man made climate change” is all about.

So, finally! Should we have entered a new ice age by now? I think the answer is no, we’re not supposed to be heading into a new ice age. There’s no reason to believe so, at least. We are currently seeing stuff that we should expect to see, since we’re in an interglacial age, where we could expect warmer temperatures still. No surprises here. We might move into a new glacial age soon, but it will take a long time to see temperature move decidedly in that direction. We’re talking time spans of thousands of years here. As of now, we’re simply moving through a warmer trend after a cold trend. These are natural fluctuations. No worries.

But let’s not stop there. I’ll take you one further: The Industrial Revolution didn’t stall anything. It hasn’t affected the temperatures once single bit. How so? Well, let’s address more issues linked with this, like the theories of “man made climate change” and CO2 models. Cause last, but not least, all of the temperature data, both current measurements and historical ice core data, show that spikes in CO2 only follow rises in temperatures. While historical ice core data could show a lag in CO2 storage, meaning CO2 could have spiked long before it got stored in the ice core samples, current direct measurements cannot be analyzed in the same way, and current data show the same as historical ice core data, namely that temperature rose first. This means that CO2 does not drive temperature levels, but rather it’s entirely plausible to say that temperature drives CO2 levels! Yes, there’s a correlation here, but an opposite correlation of what the “man made climate change” models predict. THIS explains why they were lead down a mistaken road. THIS is why they predicted a rise in temperatures for the past 15-18 years, which didn’t happen, simply because they had their models backwards. THIS is why CO2 levels continue to rise now, after temperatures have leveled out, because they could be rising as a product of the last period of warming, which happened during the 80s and early 90s. This is a plausible, competing theory to the absurdity of man made climate change. Whatever we as humans contribute to it seem not to matter at all.

Gosh. Does this mean that geology contradicts the claims of current climatology? It most certainly could look that way. Does this mean that climatology is not consistent with geological data? Well, not quite. “Man made climate change” theories could indeed coexist with the geological theories that depict the info I’ve gone through here. I have not debunked “man made climate change” as such, but my point is, the current “man made climate change” theories are simply not convincing at all, and there’s no reason to think that geological data support what the “man made climate change” theories claim. You can equally say that geological data support theories that say the current warming trends are natural fluctuations to be expected. The “man made climate change” theories are simply riddled with mistakes and a lack of prediction power, even when we talk about decades! Yes, not years, but decades! How the hell can we then trust them to say ANYTHING worthwhile about what will happen in 2050, let alone about year 2500, if they can’t even explain the past 50 or 100 years? The real world applications of these models are extremely poor. They haven’t helped us one single bit.

Now, should we stop modelling the climate? No! Absolutely not. We should continue to try and improve on our ability to model the climate! But should we stick to the whole CO2 story? No, it’s time we threw it out and started to look for other variables and causalities, and maybe we should begin to consider that humanity does not drive climate change at all.

To be able to do so, we need to get governments and politics out of climate science, because it corrupts the scientific debate and destroys real science, turning it into bad science and garbage pseudo-science. Climate change has become a religion; a cause for socialist activism! These activists are suffering from so much cognitive dissonance, that it has become sickening, and at this current rate, they’ll destroy all of us and every ounce of prosperity that we have. Climate change fundamentalists are evil and need to be fought, tooth and nail.

Written by Morten Rolland

January 31, 2015 at 6:05 am

Ukraine: The Bomb That Pro-Putin Libertarians Want To See Detonate

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The Libertarian Republic ran a piece about a British-Lithuanian undressing weak Libertarians that seem to be okay with Russian intervention in Ukraine, while simultaneously hating on America for doing the same around the world. Whether one agrees with him or not, it looks like there’s a bunch of butthurt Libertarians in the comment section, and nothing gets his point across more than that. It’s a lovely article. And it reminds me why The Libertarian Republic and Austin Petersen is a breath of insanely fresh air.

There are historical reasons for why Ukraine in general was a domestic political bomb waiting to go off. Crimea sadly shouldn’t have been part of Ukraine to begin with. After all, it was gifted to Ukraine back in the 1950s, when everything was the Soviet Union anyway. Then again, Crimeans have nothing to gain by being part of Russia either. Crimea should always have been its own country. Then they could choose which evil to ally with. Sadly, it seems like they’ll just go from the ashes to the fire this time.

After the Soviet Union exploded, it left many time bombs undetonated in the satellite states. We all know Ukraine has been boiling for the past decade. The Orange Revolution only marked a beginning for what is now unfolding. Putin simply jumped to the occasion and has been making the most of it. Actually, Putin did have some political and military treaties on his side that he’s made use of to get the balls rolling, like the Russian-Ukrainian military agreement in Crimea, in order to let Russia keep its only ice free naval base. This is the “legitimacy” in question. Moral legitimacy? No. Political/legal legitimacy? Sadly, yes. It’s a very complex situation in today’s political environment. A situation the Russian puppet regime in Ukraine left behind for the new quazi-revolutionary government in Ukraine to handle. It might just be much more complex than what the good man being interviewed in the LR article would like to admit to. This is the problem of completely blacklisting Russia as a huge bad guy in this. They have some defense against such allegations, and Putin can use it for his political propaganda at home. They love his giant steel balls back in Russia. It’s the culture there. And we in the West constantly give him excuses to show them off.

Personally I’ve been fascinated by Putin. Not because I like Putin. He’s a maniac. But it’s fascinating to see how he always gets his way. He’s brilliant at the whole international politics thing. I mean, insanely brilliant. He’s incredibly sneaky and have been playing circles around Obama for years now. Like how I noted during the Syria crisis, he was basically able to avoid a possible third world war over Syria by playing the political game like a genius, while America was willing to ally with Al-Qaida against Russia and Syria, in order to punish Assad in what had been nothing but an internal and contained Civil War. Not to mention Putin has continuously been properly critical of US endeavors in the Middle East. He gets how things work. He wasn’t in the KGB for nothing. He knows. He actually knows much better than our fluffy leaders.

So what does all of this do to me as a lover of freedom? It doesn’t make me weak in the knees for Putin. And it surely doesn’t make me an anti-American drone. I love America. I love our Western Civilization. This is where my ideals as a Libertarian and hardcore Capitalist and Individualist were born. Ayn Rand didn’t flee from Soviet to America for nothing. That’s why it makes me furious that Western leaders are nothing but a bunch of incompetent pillocks that play straight into Putin’s political trap. It makes me furious when America sends a young, incompetent hipster intellectual as a UN ambassador, only to get her vegan-environmentalist-Harvard woven sweater laughed at by ballsy Russians that were breast fed with vodka from infancy. We hold no respect. We talk about principles, but we look like a bunch of hypocrites that show no thought to uphold those principles at home, while John Kerry opens his gigantic jaw just to make some empty and thoughtless threats and spouting deeply hypocritical slurs. Our political class is in shambles; a bunch of pretty boys and bimbo girls that think sweet thoughts and puppies will save the world, and that if we only talk stern enough, all the rowdy kids will eventually listen.

Putin knows very well he can do what he does without the West daring to do anything about it. He knows he can be a bully and a brat. Why? Because Americans have become fed up and tired with continuous wars (not to mention bankrupt), just like Ron Paul said 6 years ago, the EU are a bunch of social democrat pansies and Putin and China can completely silence the UN. There is nothing left. I guess the only ones left that knows how to play hardball are Israel. But how would they be able to stand up against a Russian threat when they can’t even handle Hamas?

So if the goal of the West (and us freedom lovers alike, for that matter) is to lead by example and make Russians rebel against Putin and move towards freedom, we’re doing a terrible job at it. We’re just feeding his “whataboutism“, we set up these silly situations where we make it legitimate for him to annex land masses by sneaky tactics, and we’re incapable of doing anything about it when he starts to line up his military along our borders. That’s sad.

But indeed, there is potential for Ukraine to get something good out of this too. Hopefully, Ukraine can finally break free from the puppeteers in Russia. Ideally, they should just have forcibly excluded the areas of anti-Ukrainian sentiments, like Crimea, and offered complete assimilation to anyone in Ukraine who wish to live in a pro-Western, independent Ukrainian republic. Yes, they should have played ball before Putin did. Kick out all the pro-Russian puppets and oligarch jerks, get on the freedom train and ally with the US and EU if they so wish. That would have been brilliant for the people of Ukraine. The excluded areas would be turned into independent states that could choose which side they wanna be on: Become Russian satellites or friends and trading partners with the West. Then if Putin would get trigger happy, we could rightfully bomb his ass into oblivion – no ifs or buts.

That is actually a very Libertarian response. Give me Liberty or give me death! Don’t tread on me! Live free or die! Americans, do you remember these words from your proud past? We certainly wish the rest of the world to uphold those same ideals, don’t we?

What do these words mean? To be moral and peaceful as far as it goes, let people decide over their own land and their own destiny, and always seek the most freedom for individuals, always… but as soon as someone wishes to trample on the individual moral rights of someone, make the greatest use of your right to self defense and fight tyranny by shooting them up, blowing up bombs and kicking in their faces until they can’t trample on your rights any longer. Yes, it’s tough to say that, but it’s true: Always be loving and kind to the loving and kind, but show no mercy to evil.

I know this political situation is not the fault of Libertarians. On the contrary, I believe a Libertarian world would never have produced a mess like this. But when push comes to shove in this mess of a world, please fess up, Libertarians. There are both rights and wrongs in the situation, yes, but there’s never any reason to take it up our asses. Don’t become Pro-Putin Libertarians. You may think that America doesn’t have a say in this situation as of now, and yes, that is completely true. This is a stupid situation that Ukraine should settle on its own. But if Russia starts acting like a bully and comes knocking on our collective doors, like Hitler in the late 30s, we should all dare to take up arms against evil yet again. Not for Obama the socialist, not for the socialist EU, but for our liberty to live without fear of a tyrannical state. We should dare to say and think that. We’re not the same pansies like the hippie-socialist-environmentalist crazies that run our nations and wants to take our guns from us (or as in my country, not really allow me to have a gun for self defense to begin with). At least we should strive to not be like them, even if they make it hard for us. We should dare speak up for the rights of our brethren. That is what the heroes of the Age of Enlightenment would have done.

But then again, we can’t afford to take a hard line against tyranny, because our leaders have slowly been destroying the Western civilization from within. We’re old and tired. We’ve gotten lazy. And we’re bankrupt. And that just frustrates me even more. Our leaders have really fucked us over good. And again, Putin knows this. That is reason enough to be angry as hell.

Written by Morten Rolland

March 20, 2014 at 12:06 pm

A Lonesome Man’s Life on Display: The Manhunt for Satoshi Nakamoto

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Newsweek recently released an article describing the life and background of the one they claim invented Bitcoin. It’s important to note that the proofs provided are mostly indirect and the story relies heavily on the man’s very eccentric personality and years of classified work for the government. I’m not gonna lie: This is still some impressive digging and a fascinating read. The person fits the bill. He’s portrayed as mysterious and brilliant as you could possibly imagine. The author said she aimed at writing an inspiring piece. She certainly did just that.

But in hindsight, I must agree with the strong sentiment of the large amount of feedback in the comment section: This is a pretty destructive piece on a person who clearly has his problems with publicity and has shown great intent at not wanting to have his private life and professional endeavors spread on the Internet. Knowing how public attention and the scare of being “man hunted” can drive some people to hopelessness and suicide, the author here runs the risk of being left with an EXTREME amount of guilt if that happens in this case, and she should arguably feel horrible about what she’s done, along with the forensic analysts who contributed to the public shaming of a living man who simply values his peace and solitude, while having recently suffered from both cancer and a stroke.

I would have liked to discuss the article with the author herself. Leah. Let me ask you, before I pass judgment on your deeds, is this a tale to engulf the person in a greater mystery, or an attempt to find the Bitcoin inventor named Satoshi Nakamoto? If not intended as fiction, are the names of the people at least changed and their identities kept anonymous? Or is this a real tale with real names of wives, siblings and children? It certainly doesn’t say anywhere that the names are alter egos to preserve their and his anonymity, and the article goes a long way to proclaim itself as truth. The revelations and aftermath certainly points to the details of his life being true and unedited, as confirmed by Satoshi himself in an interview with Associated Press. I am therefore to assume that Satoshi Nakamoto’s whole life is on full display in this article for the public to see. Please tell me, when doing this journalistic piece, how could you not “anonymize” names?; How could you not leave out certain crucial aspects of his job career in order to protect his privacy?; How could you post a picture of his face, let alone his home?; How could you reveal his name change?; How could you reveal his personal loves and passions against his will? Anyone involved in investigating the mind or researching the social aspects of life learns the importance of this from day 1: Respect individual rights, autonomy and privacy.

Leah. You gained his trust and then you viciously broke it, just as you told the tale for the whole world to read and devour, like a twisted mistress playing games with someone’s heart and soul, before cynically gloating about it. That’s pretty evil.

But in the end, all of that doesn’t matter as much as this simple fact: Regardless of whether he actually invented Bitcoin or not, you probably just destroyed his life. I hope, for his sake, that you didn’t also contribute to its end. I sincerely hope not. He never hurt or violated anyone. All he asked of you was to leave him be. I guess your fetishistic dreams of journalistic fame and glory was more important to you than his life and intellectual autonomy. Less important, although noteworthy and deserving of some sympathy, is that you may now unwittingly become a victim of the same. The comments here foreshadow it, and knowing the Internet, by violating his intellectual autonomy and privacy, you essentially gave up yours. For your sake, I hope you’re ready to risk having your whole life and all your darkest secrets blown up before the vengeful world of the Internet. The damage is already done.

While the story may have intended to be inspiring and fascinating, which it in some sense absolutely was, I hate to think that the results will only be sad and potentially tragic, no matter who actually invented Bitcoin. Absolutely nothing has been gained from this article. There has only been loss, and especially for poor Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto who is now plagued with reporters against his will.

I only have one ending remark: I’d love to eat sushi with Satoshi and learn about model trains, and then tell absolutely no one about our meeting.

Other articles on the topic:

Bitcoin Community Responds… – An article about the public response to the Newsweek article.

Man Denies He Created Bitcoin… – An article showing the aftermath of the Newsweek piece, which only goes to show that my worries are substantiated and worth taking into consideration. Even though he denies creating Bitcoin, which is just as likely to be the case, this article may still have destroyed his life as he preferred it, as he now is a victim of a manhunt.

…Doubts Satoshi Nakamoto’s Identity – A funny and counter-investigative piece, undermining the Newsweek article’s credibility. I echo its conclusion: “While it is seductive to imagine that the secretive genius is a humble old man playing with trains, the consequences of Goodman being wrong outweigh any potential insight gained by the revelation if it is true. While it wouldn’t be the first life the media has ruined with accusations, the standard response of “they deserve it for seeking such fame” will not apply to this case.”

AP Exclusive Interview… – Article of the AP interview with Satoshi, where he denies creating Bitcoin and points out the inaccuracies of Newsweek article.

Written by Morten Rolland

March 7, 2014 at 6:01 am

The Malevolent Stigma Towards Tobacco Users

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In July of this year, my post on overcoming smoker’s guilt got picked up by people on reddit. The reddit thread can be viewed here. I thought I’d revisit the subject, as it apparently gathered some attention in that dark corner of cyberspace.

In the original post, I detailed how social engineering, fostered through public policy, has created a secondary class of people who are addicted to tobacco, victimized through mental torture, and I explain how the gang of anti-smoking activists feel justified in destroying the lives and mental health of people through social stigmatization, because they don’t like smoking and find it a flaw of character so repulsive that it deserves public ridicule. There is a deep disrespect for fellow human beings and an anti-humanistic world view that enables people to treat others with such contempt. It reveals itself in a total disrespect for differing values and sources of happiness in life. It is anti-individualistic and evil. That was the basis for my argument. This obviously flew way over the head of these reddit debaters, as is blatantly apparent from the thread title “Proud Smoker: How Dare You Try to Guilt Me Out of Giving Myself Cancer!?” An argument out of compassion is hence portrayed as whines from an insecure smoker. Little do they know.

This becomes apparent in the way the they conjur up personal attacks and attempts to portray the author as a person who is nothing but a chain smoker trying to rationalize his addiction; a person who is careless about his health; an insecure person who yearns for sympathy; a person who ignores the deaths and misery that tobacco has caused many users and their family members, and by doing so they must unsurprisingly distort the argument that is made. The OP starts it all off by picking out quotes from my original post and commenting on them, true to the mission of upholding the stigma:

Am I simply a counter-cultural social contrarian? No, not at all. Being so would be irrational. None of my motivations for smoking tobacco came from this wish to simply do the opposite of what the wise overlords are telling me to do.

“I’m not just doing this to be a contrarian” – said every contrarian ever. But later:

As a result, tobacco smoking in itself has many more potential positive effects than negative ones… The stigmatizing propaganda by the nanny statists is something you should rise above, as overcoming such stigmatization is imperative to a healthy individualistic life.

So acting contrary isn’t just one of the benefits of smoking; it’s essential for a healthy life! But this isn’t one of his motivations for smoking – oh no – it’s just a happy coincidence that it makes him feel superior to everyone else.

It begins with a cheap gag that is undressed by its blatant ignorance. Delving into the history of humanity, by learning how a recreational substance has been cultivated and enjoyed for hundreds of years, and to enjoy the flavors and notes of a product that has attracted millions of people to its fruits, in order to proudly enjoy and become a part of something that has shaped humanity and modern society – for better or for worse – is not to be a contrarian. If it were, then we are all contrarians at all times, always. It renders the word meaningless. A contrarian has a counter-cultural ideal at hand, in order to do simply what is opposite of what is the authority of the times. These are not the same. For anyone interested in the underlying argument, this distinction could be meaningful and appreciated. For someone who is lead on by an irrational anger over dissenting views, it obviously falls on deaf ears.

Continuing, what is essential for a healthy, individualistic human life is to overcome stigmatization, discrimination and anti-humanistic bickering from people who possess a world-view that entails a complete disrespect for fellow individuals – simply because these individuals find a different source of happiness in life. Acting contrary is simply not the point. If a tobacco smoker finds joy and meaning in his recreational activity, it is imperative for his happiness to not be affected by the anti-humanistic and anti-individualistic sentiments of others. To not suffer from their hatred, you will have to strengthen your own identity and purposes in life. For a smoker suffering from smoker’s guilt, that means to either stop smoking or to overcome said smoker’s guilt. Believe it or not, someone enjoys their tobacco, and for them I offered a solution to said problem, based on my personal experiences and gathered testimonials.

I can imagine their chantings: “Oh, to believe that someone would have compassion for people who enjoy tobacco!? How obscene! How ignorant!” No, not obscene at all. And neither is it about shutting yourself away from the knowledge available. There is nothing in overcoming smoker’s guilt that entails a complete disregard of medical research. On the contrary, the issue is to ensure the well being of fellow individuals. To take the position that smokers are inherently too stupid to factor medical advice into their lives is, if anything, self-glorifying and cynical. It’s a better-than-thou snobbery that reveals a dark and cold view on humanity. Stigmatization is an evil force in social life – one which fuels the ruination of the mental health and happiness of others, thus it can have detrimental effects on the lives of its victims. Those who feed and uphold this stigma will never care for the souls they break. In their ignorance, they claim to worry about passive smoking, yet could not give a flying toss over the negative consequences of their dehumanization of smokers. How ironic. I find such hypocrisy distasteful at best.

The comment ends by speaking of “superiority”. Who is the one guilty of possessing thoughts of superiority over others: The person who wishes that people can seek out different sources of happiness in their lives without being ridiculed, hated or dehumanized for their choices, or the person who glorifies himself to a moral high ground, from where he feels compelled to stigmatize and push people over the cliff, belittling their choices with his megalomaniac authority on what is decent or indecent, in order to socially force them into his own behavioral patterns?

The same user goes on in another comment:

I noticed that this guy brags about using cigars and pipes, as if this makes smoking more organic and wholesome. But isn’t it actually way worse because of no filtration?

Of course an anti-smoker wouldn’t understand why anyone would choose to smoke. There’s not even an attempt at understanding what smoking means for people. No compassion, no empathy. Organic? Wholesome? Worse because of no filtration? Obviously, the person doesn’t know how different tobacco products differ in their uses and contents, and neither does the person have any clue about how people enjoy and cultivate their different recreational tobacco uses. Needless to say, the lack of such insight leads one to see differing behaviors as mere bragging and identity issues.

This is the heart and soul of the typical anti-smoking nincompoops. It reveals a narcissistic, anti-humanistic and anti-individualistic world view. It’s just another evil to overcome for those who suffer from all the rampant social stigmatization in the world, as if the world didn’t have enough. This applies for smokers as non-smokers alike, because here comes the big surprise for the reddit users in that thread: Smoking was never the main issue. The main issue was the evils of stigmatization. This is the message that flew way over their heads. The reddit thread is a micro-cosmos of these evils. Behold as they foster and mold.

An ending message to smokers and other victims of stigmatization: Seek out happiness in your life. Stay informed in your life-decisions, but let your decisions be your own and be proud of them. Cultivate them! Enjoy them! Let them be a source of happiness! Do not let the evils of others bring you down. After all, it’s your life, not theirs, and it’s a beautiful life worth enjoying.

Written by Morten Rolland

December 6, 2013 at 4:08 am

Putin Speaks to the American People

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Because of Putin’s mastermind, all sides get what they want out of this situation – all except Al Qaeda, and that is a very good thing.

Russian president, Vladimir Putin, spoke directly to the American people in a recent op-ed in The New York Times. It is quite an interesting read, and a very rare spectacle to behold, as you do not see world leaders appeal to the people of another nation through media like this. With the long and cold history of Russian-American relations, it is indeed something new, and in some ways, it is also a fascinating moment of honesty and sincerity from the Russian president, even if it is covered in political rhetoric and diplomatic semantics.

The Washington Post did an analysis of Putin’s op-ed, where they added commentary and did some half-assed fact-checking. In the same way Putin’s article was interesting, the commentary is actually quite fascinating too, simply because of its “oppositional” interpretation over the same issues.

While the commentary certainly makes some good and critical points to Putin’s not-so-unbiased op-ed, I find myself disagreeing more with the one-sided interpretation of what Putin is saying, than Putin’s own take on the issues. Indeed, the commentary interpreted it from an American perspective that is being critical of the Russian perspective. What I find remarkable about the commentary is that it – just like the Obama administration’s policies over Syria – ignores the objective reality of the matters. Objectivity that actually seems more closely related to Putin’s view point. It simply seems a lot more natural to interpret Putin’s argument as clearly seeking to fight terrorism and making sure to keep terrorists at bay when they are getting too close for comfort, and that he offers a proposal for the American people to understand this, in opposition to Obama’s suggestion – to bomb Assad, which would actually be in support of the very terrorists that have been terrorizing both America and Russia for decades. Let me make that perfectly clear: Bombing Assad would be an act of aggression in support of the very people that America declared a war on terrorism against. Putin suggests that it would be in America’s best interest to leave the Syrian civil war alone. Sounds pretty damn reasonable to me.

The commentary goes on to criticize Putin for hypocrisy over saying that the U.S. should stay out of Syria, when Russia and Putin himself have been involved in it all along, dealing arms and resources to the Syrian Army. The predictable Russo-skeptic view of the WP commentary thus ignores the anti-terrorist motives for Putin to arm the Syrian Army. Assad’s regime, while certainly terrible, does at least not promote terrorism that targets America and Russia, unlike Al-Qaeda and Saudi Arabia. Could the irony possibly get any worse? Russia’s policy on this matter is for that reason an objectively more understandable and rational one, and it serves to protect the people of Russia. Is Obama’s policy doing the same for the people of America?

Herein lies is the naked truth of Putin and Russia’s side in this, that Obama has been remarkably ignoring all along. Obama has been caught in a corner, where his saber-rattling has in reality been all about saving face – and awkwardly at that; not about upholding international law or defending the American people. Indeed, bombing Syria may actually be against the international laws that Obama has been arguing to uphold. How ironic that Putin is the one who is actually upholding international law by having diplomatically ensured that Assad will offer up his chemical weapons. How ironic that Putin is the one saving face for Obama. Of course, he does not do so without saving his own face in case Assad is guilty, which could absolutely be the case, but Obama has been humiliated and schooled by Putin in international affairs, and Putin rubs it in by showing empathy and speaking directly to the American people through an op-ed in The New York Times. Imagine Obama doing something similar in Russia! Never. Indeed, what does this say about the Obama administration when the Russian president is the one offering to hammer down the wall and give the American government a way out of the corner they have backed themselves into? The irony tastes worse than American produced Smirnoff vodka.

One can of course question the Russian honesty in these matters. They have been strongly defending the Assad regime against accusations of chemical weapons use, and still do, even after in-directly admitting to Assad’s guilt by forcing him to give up his chemical weapons. I myself argued that it was far more likely for this to be an attack by the Al Nusra Front to frame the Assad regime, especially with Obama’s red line policy towards Assad, than some kinda fool hardy and idiotic attack by the Assad regime. In the beginning, it did not seem likely that Assad was behind the attacks, simply because of physical evidence and motives pointing towards the rebels (Al Nusra Front members were, after all, caught with sarin by Turkish authorities). Now, with more physical and circumstantial evidence pointing more in the direction of Assad, the tables have turned – maybe not completely, but at least enough to scowl at the Assad regime. But I would still argue that Russia’s policy has proven to be far more sensible and complete than the neurotic, hard line of the Obama administration.

The true irony of the whole situation, however, if there was not enough irony to go around already, which even further supports Putin’s overarching argument, is that no matter who launched the weapons, absolutely nothing changes. Nothing. That has been the “beauty” of Russia’s policy in this all along. America has diplomatically tied itself to attacking Assad and supporting the rebels – rebels, who are predominantly Al Nusra Front; Al-Qaeda allies. Now, however, because of Putin’s mastermind, all sides get what they want out of this situation – all except Al Qaeda, and that is a very good thing.

Can we now finally go back to discussing the insane American policy of arming Al-Qaeda allies in Syria?

Written by Morten Rolland

September 13, 2013 at 12:32 am

Chemical Hell Breaks Lose in the Syrian Civil War – Total War Ensues?

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Things are seriously packing up heat in Syria. After reports from MSF confirming that civilians have been treated and also died from symptoms of a chemical weapons attack, the theories and accusations of who were behind this attack started to flourish, with US Sec. of State John Kerry making pretty bold statements regarding what happened and who did it. The Obama administration is blaming Assad, only hours after UN investigators were on the ground. Russia and China are strongly urging the West to hold off any accusations and attacks until at least after the UN investigators will have been able to say something about the substance and origin behind what is likely to have been the use of chemical weapons.

Today, supposedly leaked secret documents reveal that the American government may have given a blank check in the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Those who are hypothesizing about a false flag operation seem confident that this new information means that America orchestrated the whole attack, in order to get the international and domestic support needed to enter the Syrian war. Certainly, the West has been eager to do so for a while, but with growing tiredness of entanglement into wars in the middle east, political leaders have been hesitant to get down and dirty in Syria. That has not stopped them from arming and training Syrian opposition forces in neighboring countries, of course.

We are seemingly offered two different theories behind the chemical weapons attacks: Either Assad went ahead with the attacks, or the Obama administration orchestrated it in order to take Assad down.

What do I think? Sure, it is technically not impossible that the Obama administration gave a blank check for the go ahead of a chemical weapons attack. Not impossible, but highly improbable. At the moment, we don’t know the plausibility of those leaks. It might deserve further investigation, sure, however, I can not see how that fits the motive of entering the war.

There is, of course, no reason to believe what the American government is saying is always true, like with any other government. There has been enough revelations about secrets and lies within the American government to indicate that things are not always what they seem to be. But still, their main motivation to get into the war has been to save civilian lives and bring democracy to the country, in order to bring peace and stability to the region (however extremely flawed that flimsy plan is). Even if there are secondary goals, the main motive seems to fit neatly with the overall goal of positive international relations, or “PR”, if you will. Positive international relations are what ensures America’s position as a trusted hegemon, at least within the western hemisphere. They need that trust. As far as foreign policy goes, they have no greater national interest than that. How would slaughtering civilians in a horrible way serve that purpose? It would not, and I find it hard to believe that they did. There is too much risk involved with that. With the amount of problems they have had in keeping secrets safe from the public. this would be a certain political suicide. PR is important to America. PR is important to Obama. PR is why they want to “bring democracy to Syria”. Chemical weapons are not good PR.

So did Assad do it then? As of now, before investigations have dug up any solid evidence to indicate that he did, it seems equally unlikely that Assad would be behind the chemical weapons attacks. The Assad regime was warned several months ago that if he stepped over the line and used chemical weapons, America could not sit idly by any longer. In other words: He knew that he would automatically forfeit the war and sign his own obituary if he used chemical weapons. For a man fighting to stay in power and keep his cushy, despotic, government job in Syria, this seems like a really stupid decision. Too stupid.

Assad, on the other hand, blames the rebels, and with that enters a new theory that has gone remarkably unmentioned by governments and the media alike. Who are these rebels?

First of all, the rebels are not a unified group of people sharing the same ideals and ideas for a new Syrian state. The West have been communicating and cooperating with the supposedly democratic and moderate faction of the rebel forces, also called the Free Syrian Army. While the West may have been rightfully sympathetic to this group in Syria, what is important to note is that a huge chunk of the rebel forces fighting in Syria are not the Free Syrian Army, but people connected with the Al Nusra Front.

Who, then, are the Al Nusra Front? Wikipedia will tell you that it is an ally of Al-Qaeda operating and fighting in Syria. They are likely the most powerful rebel faction fighting in Syria to date, and they are one of the groups being armed and trained by the West, in order to fight Assad. It would not be worth mentioning the Al Nusra Front in this context, unless there are reasons to believe they were involved in the chemical weapons attack. Were they?

This is where the whole story takes a huge turn for the worse. In May of this year, Turkish authorities caught members of the Al Nusra Front with 2 kilograms of “sarin”, a substance used in chemical weapons. The Al Nusra Front members were in the works of using the chemicals in a bomb. This is why it is key for UN investigators to at least be given the time to look into the matter, even though one should not necessarily trust them to be able to come up with any solid conclusions (not because of bias or accusation of incompetence, but because of the enormous difficulty of such a task). It has already been theorized that the chemical used in the attacks was in fact “sarin”, because it fits the bill. If that is the case, then there exists not only two theories for the cause and origin of the attack, but three:

1) The Assad regime launched the attack.
2) The Obama administration orchestrated the attack.
3) Rebel forces executed a terrorist attack with chemical weapons in order to trick America into joining the war and fighting Assad.

The most striking detail about the third one, if the Al Nusra Front indeed were capable of performing the attack, which – if reports are accurate – they certainly were, is that the Al Nusra Front would have everything to gain and nothing to lose in using chemical weapons against Syrian civilians. They are militant, barbaric and immoral enough to do whatever it takes to achieve their goals, and not to mention, it would be of great help to their cause to try to trick the West into joining them against Assad. Last, but not least, there are no down sides for them in using such a strategy. They are already armed to the teeth, by the help of America, and America is never going to jump into the war and help Assad after all the diplomatic hate jargon they have thrown at him over the last couple of years. Worst case scenario for Al Nusra Front is that nothing changes and they will simply continue the war as they have been. Their best case scenario, however, is that America hands them the chance to gain power and control in Syria and strengthen Al-Qaeda’s foothold in the Syrian-Iraqi region. That again serves their greater long-term purpose of fighting America and Israel. This does not serve America’s national interest at all.

Update [08/30/13]: While the media depicts the rebels in Syria and the Free Syrian Army as moderates and pro-democratic, it is fair to say – if Libya and Egypt are anything to go by – that this does not necessarily mean they are anywhere close to to being moderate and pro-democratic in the Western meaning of the words – only relative to the Islamic fascist alternatives. We also have no reason to trust the rebel leaders in Syria, no matter how promising they sound. But even if the leaders are honest, soldiers fighting for the Free Syrian Army may equally be members of the Al Nusra Front, or other factions. Indeed, if reports by Full Disclosure are accurate, this is exactly what has happened. This means that just as the Al Nusra Front could be the faction behind the attacks, it is equally possible for the Free Syrian Army and the rebels at large to be behind the attacks, since tricking America into joining the war against Assad means a rebel victory. In the same way, America’s dedication to a diplomatic offense against Assad means that the Obama administration can not lose face by supporting Assad in the war.

Why has this made the third theory more plausible? New information from Russian intelligence and the Assad regime, with videos from the rebel forces in Syria, show evidence of the rebel forces storing and using chemical weapons, some of which are alleged to be of Saudi origin. The Saudis have supported the rebel forces in Syria since the beginning of the war. It now seems possible that they have been dealing chemical weapons to factions within the rebel forces. Whether or not the chemical weapons ingredients found by Turkish authorities in May share the same origin is so far undisclosed or unknown, however, it makes it very likely that U.S. allies have been producing, facilitating and using chemical weapons in Syria, be it the Al Nusra Front, the Free Syrian Army or any other faction. It also makes the most sense out the alternatives, and this puts the Obama administrating in a very dangerous and embarrassing position, having essentially enabled the situation to happen through their offensive diplomacy based on bad intelligence and political snobbery.

But it gets even worse yet: Even if Assad’s regime were behind the attack, and the West enters the war to fight Assad, it will still only serve the goals of the rebels and the Al Nusra Front, which not only further undermines the theory that Assad did it, but also means that no matter what America and the West does in this situation, they have already lost. If the rebels win, the civil war will enter phase two, when the rebel factions fight amongst each other. The most radical parts of the rebel forces, most notably the Al Nusra Front, are already positioned to win such a war, leaving Syria ripe for Islamic fascism, jihadists and harboring of Al-Qaeda terrorists. This not only means that America will have to wage even more war in Syria, but it seriously endangers the West and Israel. Ironically, the best case scenario for the West is that the Syrian war will turn out to be somewhat the same embarrassment as the Vietnam war was for America, with the exception that the West will hopefully not intervene in this one.

All in all: Syria has now become the potential ignition source for total war. This is what Russia and China are worried about, and this is what America and Europe are completely ignoring. No one wants a strong Al-Qaeda presence in the region, and no one wants a Muslim world that is being further radicalized, but it seems like Putin is the only leader who is able to see where the chips are falling. Will Russia and China put force behind their warnings before the West? Will they stop a Western intervention in the Syrian war, knowing that enabling a rebel victory means a stronger foothold for Islamic fascism in the region? This is not certain at this point. Beyond UN diplomacy, I doubt it, but I wouldn’t bet against it. What I believe to be certain, however, is that there exists no moral obligation nor authority for the West to enter the Syrian war – meaning there is absolutely no rational reason for the West to put military men and women in danger for a cause that doesn’t exist, and for a victory that cannot be achieved. Ask yourselves: What would our national interests and goals be in a Syrian war? Entering the war would be nothing but a self-sacrifice, on the off-chance of perhaps saving face and hopefully achieving some goodwill within the in-crowd of Western governments and radicalized groups in the middle east, and that is nothing but a perfect example of immoral political elitism.

Maybe, just maybe, the West should have listened when Putin warned them about supporting and arming rebel forces, whose soldiers eat the flesh of their fallen enemies. Seems like pretty sound advice to me.

Written by Morten Rolland

August 28, 2013 at 6:29 am

Ambivalence In Love

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The subject of ambivalence is one which has long been discussed within the individual centered aspects of sociology and social psychology. While the perspective of conflict theories are often caught up in the collectivized or group-think attitudes that create tension in stratas or across whole societies, the application of ambivalence, however, takes a different turn. Ambivalence creates conflicts within ourselves as individuals. It applies the internalized experiences and cultural norms within us and put them up against the new experiences we collect during our trips through this thing we call life. It shapes and molds the way we think, but when ambivalence occurs, it is often a great source of personal turmoil. What was once a happy and stable life that could easily be made sense of, will now rip us apart and pull ourselves in opposite directions. We don’t know what to do or what to think. Some can think of this as just the need to make a tough decision, but it could also be a make or break situation for happiness and success or self-destruction, and the problem of ambivalence occurs when neither choice immediately has an obvious outcome.

One way of understanding ambivalence could be on the topic of love. Our search for ‘romantic love’ and happiness is one that is a norm, and even a personal obligation, in most (especially western) cultures. In this search for love there are many traps to fall in. Also, each and every experience we make will in some way affect the way we approach our quest for love. Some people may have the ability to treat every single instance as isolated instances, where old experiences do not rise up as notable variables that affect what they decide upon through their new experiences, yet, for most people, what we bring with us guides us and sets us up for tricky decisions. At some points in life, the choices aren’t merely those between different lanes in the same direction. Sometimes we come to a fork in the road, with different paths to take. Often, the choices are simple. We do what we must or we do what we want. Some choices are simply not up for discussion. It’s where each choice (at least initially) appears to us as equally good or bad that ambivalence sets in. We cannot take two different paths at the same time. In love, this could mean either to seek out a relationship in a chance to obtain happiness, even if the circumstances are less than ideal and could lead to disaster, or to postpone or abandon the quest, because experience says that to take the chance will likely lead to failure, and that you might rather keep up the hope for another chance to occur in the future – one which will fulfill all your needs, or you simply let it slide in order to save yourself from much distress. These are, however, just some examples of how it could unfold.

The topic of ambivalence in love has become very clear to me over the past year. I have, perhaps naively, although with nothing but the best intentions for my own happiness in mind, made the attempts at long-distance relationships – one of which was actually cross-continental and hard to uphold, yet still very dear and strong, but retrospectively I see it was set up to fail miserably, which it also did. These were plagued by miscommunication and perhaps youthful desire clouding one’s mind of what is the best choice to make, which needlessly sets oneself up for a likely doom rather than success. This, in my own opinion, wasn’t all my own fault, as it takes two to tango, yet it has become part of my experiences and it’s written into my guide book for future endeavors into the world of love. This guide book is now characterized by a roller coaster ride of short term happiness and states of personal distress; stability and turmoil; realistic optimism and a state of surrender and apathy. These are my experiences, which are characterized by the difficulties of long-distance relationships and a failure to communicate thoughts and worries at an early stage, and an inability to work said worries out in a cooperative way.

This leads me to this very day. When my latest endeavor at achieving love felt like the planets aligning, it was actually the lessons I had learned from my past experiences of worries, troubles and toils, that fell perfectly together with the situation I now found myself in: A short distance relationship and a chance for romance in my daily life, and an ability to bond a relationship based initially in more than just love and desire, but also in a strong friendship and a capability to be a moral and emotional support, whenever the situation deemed it necessary. I wanted all of that. I wanted it all or nothing, and it seemed to be within my reach, which became a huge source of happiness for me. There were no feeling of ambivalence here.

That changed drastically today. The person who I had set my eyes on; the one who I would spellbind and woo with my wit and charming demeanor, could suddenly no longer meet up to my criteria for short distance. For personal reasons not controlled by herself, she had been met with a dilemma, and while this indeed made her feel very ambivalent towards her own desires, this all sparked a feeling of ambivalence in me as well. My hope for a short distance relationship fell short, so to speak. Several questions came up during the day: Should I make the same risky choices as before, when this could lead to problems that are hard to overcome, or should I hold off and leave my chances alone for now, with a hope that it could rekindle in the future, if fate would have it so? Neither choice seemed to satisfy me completely, and this lead me to search for other alternatives, none of which could fulfill all my desires. I needed to prioritize and sketch out a new plan for myself.

To many, it might seem trivial, but because of several personal tragedies over the past year, and because of the decent amount of effort I had put into this being what I had been waiting for this whole time; the planets aligning, the fact that it all fell apart now made me almost split into two different personalities in an instant. The feeling of ambivalence to the whole notion of love became very real within me. One part of me said: “This is gonna fail now. Would you risk destroying your chances with this girl forever, with an attempt to something that never worked before? Are you gonna take another knock to your persona like that? You should put things on hold and see what chances appear further down the road.” The other part of me, however, was shouting: “Seize the day! Just because your other attempts didn’t work out, doesn’t mean this one will follow the same pattern. It’s a different person and a different situation, and if she wants the same there’s nothing to debate! This time, you have a chance to communicate and avoid all the traps and wrong turns you have made in the past. You know from other people’s experiences that it can work out, as long as you both know what you want and cooperate to make it happen.” I wanted it. I wanted her! Yet I was afraid.

The state of surrender and apathy spoke very heavily to me at one point. I didn’t want to go through with it again. I didn’t want to experience another sad turn of events on top of all the others, and perhaps most importantly, I didn’t want to be a cause for distress in her dilemma. Yet, somewhere in my mind spoke my inner optimist – the one who has been my greatest source for success and happiness throughout my whole life, who told me to keep looking for alternatives and possibilities; to keep up the effort of making things work out. My values and experiences were battling it out within me. I believe I know who won the battle, although the war isn’t over. In all of this, this very experience of ambivalence had enlightened me. This is how ambivalence unfolds itself in every person. This is the inner conflict that pulls Man apart and reassembles Him in new ways. This is the psychological force within the individual that eventually leads it to reflect over past experiences and newfound wants, needs and opportunities. This is where structural explanations fall short of explaining human behavior. Within the institution of love, ambivalence showed itself to me in its most profound way. Whether or not I have set myself up for another failure and another situation where I’ll feel an even stronger situation of ambivalence in the future is hard to say, but I guess one cannot help but hope for the opposite and much more pleasant outcome. So what will be the best route forward? To take the chance or leave it? Both choices are pulling on me, as there is an inherit problem with both choices. Should I let the state of surrender have me avoid possible long term emotional turmoil, or should I let the optimist take control and have me play this game, where all I stand to lose is simply to achieve nothing at all, yet where victory let’s me walk home with everything?

The latter voice within me, whom I have learned to embrace, achieved victory in the final argument. My optimism wins once again, and for good reasons too, yet the outcome is still to be seen. If nothing else, I have at least achieved personal enlightenment around how ambivalence works and how it leads us to try and rationally explore possibilities and make us come to terms with the feelings and experiences we have, in order to make sense of the world around us. We can’t be all social or cultural dopes. There must be something within us that let’s us overcome the structural and external influences.

Written by Morten Rolland

September 17, 2012 at 3:25 pm

A Little Historical Afterthought – Political satire in the shape of Psalm 23

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Mr. Roosevelt is my shepherd,
And I am in want.
He maketh me to lie down on park benches,
He leadeth me beside still factories,
He disturbeth my soul.
He leadeth me in the paths of destitution for his party’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of the Depression,
I anticipate no recovery, for he is with me;
His policies, his diplomacies, they frighten me.
He prepareth a reduction in my income,
And in the presence of mine enemies,
He anointeth my small income with taxes;
My expenses runneth over.
Surely, unemployment, want, and poverty shall follow me all the days of my life,
And I shall dwell in a mortgaged home forever. Amen.

 

I cannot seem find the author or a proper original source for this, although my lazy 5 minutes of looking for one certainly doesn’t mean an author or proper original source cannot be found. If someone knows, please add it in the comments, and proper citation and respect shall be given. This piece has been around since the 1930s, obviously, yet every word still seems to ring true as we live and breath at this very point on this very day. That is exactly the type of political satire and poetry that I personally find both beautiful and historically important, and that is why I wish to share this. Please do the same. Cheers!

Written by Morten Rolland

May 29, 2012 at 5:25 pm

Getting Over Smoker’s Guilt: Overcoming the Stigmatizing Propaganda Against Tobacco Users

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It’s now more than a year ago since I actively took up the hobby of pipe smoking, after having had much fun and pleasure from smoking cigars for quite some time. It might seem like a counter-cultural act to bring back what some regard as outdated, or just socially contrarian. Today, the majority opinion is that tobacco is a bane of society that has to be purged, by force if need be. Political forces work like ants behind the dark facade of government and bureaucracy to enact regulations, programs and laws that will throw tobacco smokers out on the streets and squeeze tobacco companies and tobacconists out of business.

Daily, we hear campaigns against tobacco smoking, where politicians and activists are actively putting a stigma on the back of everyone who abuses “cancer sticks”. The commercials are many – either you see lungs filled with tar, skin that is gray and weathered, fingers that are yellow and stubby, or rampant warnings lights while the word “cancer” is screaming in your face. The result from all of this is a social engineering of stigma against tobacco users; a government creation of discrimination and hatred. In the view of anti-smoking activists, smoking is an evil that people have every right to call you out on. Public schools will teach kids about the “dangers of tobacco” and urge kids to spread the word to their friends and family members. The victims of this stigma develop smoker’s guilt. They will try to keep their habit hidden, shying away from social settings in order to fulfill their need for some nicotine. They start to hate themselves for doing something thought of as disgusting, yet it’s hard for them to stop it, because they secretly enjoy it.

It’s very disturbing to see just how many who will admit to being a smoker, while doing so with a hint of shame and guilt in their voice. Not all have ambivalent feelings towards their habit, but many do. It seems like mentioning the topic of smoking will depress them, as it reminds them of every time someone has stigmatized them for their habit. One can only imagine how the words chanting in their head from all the anti-smoking activists, politicians, journalists, doctors and scientists makes them hate themselves for being voluntary “slaves” to something they grow to regard as inherently bad – as if being a smoker is a sign of poor character and immorality.

…And the worst thing is, most people think this is okay.

This angers me intensely. Not only is it immoral to impose your own preferences through the power of government, but stigmatization is also a very destructive tool to use in order to force through a political cause. While you may end up with some smokers who quit smoking (although these numbers are anything but impressive after decades of expensive tax-funded anti-smoking campaigns), many of the remaining smokers will develop guilt and depression because of their habit. This will arguably have a much more devastating and immediate effect on the individual than any of the possible health risks from smoking will have, leading to a range of other social problems that aren’t as easy to observe. If anything, it only stands to reason that if “good public health” was the main goal of anti-smoking activists, then active stigmatization is an extremely poor choice of strategy. The reality is that anti-smoking activists are only putting you and your habit down, because they themselves have made the choice of not smoking, and through a collectivist world view find it in their right to force others to make the same choice as well.

There exists, however, an individualistic remedy to overcome this stigmatization and remain proud and happy about what in essence should be a very positive and enjoyable hobby.

I mentioned to begin with that I myself have just over the last few years taken up smoking more and more, despite the ever increasing stigma against tobacco users. Am I simply a counter-cultural social contrarian? No, not at all. Being so would be irrational. None of my motivations for smoking tobacco came from this wish to simply do the opposite of what the wise overlords are telling me to do. My choice came from a complete disregard of any propaganda of the pros and cons of tobacco smoking. It was a completely individual, rational and personal choice, fueled by a lust to enrich my daily life with a joy and hobby that I could experience and enjoy both physically and mentally. For instance, the collection of pipes is a long lasting project, where purchases are made not only for short-term enjoyment, but also long-term fun and interest. As such it has a deeper meaning to it, rather than it just being a meaningless anti-trend statement. There is a great excitement in trying new tobaccos with new flavors, going through the meditating routine of packing your pipe, checking the draw, doing a false light, then a proper light, puff it a few times to get the flavors going, and feel the gentle taste of the smoke roll across the tip of your tongue and through your entire mouth, before attempting to blow smoke rings.

It’s much more than just feeling the buzz from the nicotine. It’s a source for great joy and relaxation. You are able to collect yourself from all the pressure that life put on your shoulders, and just take a little bit of time to experience something different and develop a skill and taste that is completely your own. There is a sense of beauty to all of this, and that beauty is something that can never be brought down by any means of stigma or hatred.

(Image by Pipesmagazine.com)

As such, the stigma that is actively being put on smokers does not affect me.

The overarching goal in anyone’s life should always be to achieve happiness. You only have this one life to experience happiness, so you’d do well in making use of all the tools at your disposal. If you are a smoker suffering from smoker’s guilt, then you are left with two choices: Quit smoking immediately, or changing your mindset and cultivating tobacco smoking as a source for something good in your life, embracing it with pride and conviction. Most tobacco users suffering from smoker’s guilt are likely cigarette smoker. I would like to suggest the following to you:

Rather than trying to quit smoking, how about delving deeper into the world of tobacco and try to make it a fun hobby? Tobacco is very much like beer, wine and spirits – yes, you can abuse it, but you also have a vast source of enjoyment to find inspiration from. It’s all about having the right mindset. You could for instance try a new brand of cigarettes/tobacco each time you buy some more, in order to explore the flavors the tobacco gives. There is no point in being brand loyal in what should be regarded as fun experimentation. Also, the price difference between cheaper brands and more exquisite brands are limited. And even if you’re on a strict budget, there are more than enough possibilities to get you started with, without having to blow away all your money.

I would also suggest you explore the world of tobaccos beyond cigarettes, like cigars and pipe tobacco. These ways of enjoying tobacco have had the pleasure of being cultivated as a part of finer culture for hundreds of years, where purity and taste have been in the main seat all along. Here you will find a whole new range of tastes and experiences, and there are also lots of fascinating things to learn. Pipe smoking, for instance, also adds the fun activity of pipe collecting and caring for your pipes. If you would like to combine tobacco smoking with a relative health benefit, then proper cigar- and pipe smoking is also a fairly good compromise. Regardless what your preferences are, you will certainly find inspirations at your local tobacconist, or at a tobacco store online.

By trying some of these things for yourself, smoking will always be something fresh and interesting. You will learn how different types of tobaccos give you different experiences, and you will find tobaccos and brands that better suit your taste, reshaping your habit into making it about cultivating something good. Most importantly, you will find many like minded individuals on your way. You will feel better about yourself and stand proud and steadfast in the face of those who wish only to bring you down.

As a result, tobacco smoking in itself has many more potential positive effects than negative ones, and perhaps even some unexpected ones, as noted by Bertrand Russel, himself an avid pipe smoker his whole life. The stigmatizing propaganda by the nanny statists is something you should rise above, as overcoming such stigmatization is imperative to a healthy individualistic life. Remember, you only have one life to achieve happiness. There is no time to lose.

As an ending remark, I would like to quote Jeffrey Tucker, who echoes this sentiment in his essay “Bring Back the Breakfast Drink”:

Everyone knows the rule: drink no liquor before noon. How insufferable such advice is! It has caused morning drinkers to hide their habits, deny them when confronted, and otherwise feel like they are doing something wrong or immoral or socially intolerable, a combination which leads to other forms of pathology.

It is time for them to stand up and proclaim themselves and their habit as the noble act it is. All over the world, there exists a grand tradition of including a bit of spirits with one’s breakfast, or at least a bit of beer or wine. How tragic that those who struggle mightily to uphold this practice are reduced to doing so alone, enjoying their pleasure only in the privacy of their own kitchen for fear of inviting public humiliation.