Bill Hicks Was Ahead of His Time

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He was a hero of freethought long before many of us were. His Wikipedia page.

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The Shame of Body Shaming

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As a humanist I can not imagine making someone feel badly,  especially for something like weight or height or some other result of their genes, their health and their circumstances but this is an all to common occurrence. In fact ‘fat’ has become a dehumanizing insult, ‘Fat’ is the new ‘ugly’. People in western cultures have a new and terrible way to drag other humans down: ridiculing and bullying based on their body. This is particularly nasty when one considers how many reasons a person may be overweight.

Body Type:

  1. Ectomorph:  Ectomorphs are skinny with a small frame, light build, small joints and lean muscle. Usually they have long thin limbs with stringy muscles, narrow shoulders with a fast metabolism making this body type the most resistant to weight gain.
  2. Mesomorph:Mesomorphs have a medium sized bone structure, athletic body, and they typically have a considerable amount of lean mass.
  3. Endomorph: Endomorphs have a larger bone structure with higher amounts of total body mass and fat mass, and this extra fat seems to resist most efforts to get rid of it. The endomorph body type is solid and generally soft, and gains fat very easily. Source and More Info

There are numerous other causes for a person to be overweight:

  • Energy imbalances can cause overweight and obesity. An energy imbalance means that your energy IN does not equal your energy OUT. (.I.E. lack of exercise).
  • Medical conditions: Some genetic syndromes and endocrine disorders can cause overweight or obesity.
  • Several genetic syndromes are associated with overweight and obesity, including the following.
    • Prader-Willi syndrome
    • Bardet-Biedl syndrome
    • Alström syndrome
    • Cohen syndrome
  • Endocrine disorders: Because the endocrine system produces hormones that help maintain energy balances in the body, the following endocrine disorders or tumors affecting the endocrine system can cause overweight and obesity:
    • Hypothyroidism. People with this condition have low levels of thyroid hormones. These low levels are associated with decreased metabolism and weight gain, even when food intake is reduced. People with hypothyroidism also produce less body heat, have a lower body temperature, and do not efficiently use stored fat for energy.
    • Cushing’s syndrome: People with this condition have high levels of glucocorticoids, such as cortisol, in the blood. High cortisol levels make the body feel like it is under chronic stress. As a result, people have an increase in appetite and the body will store more fat. Cushing’s syndrome may develop after taking certain medicines or because the body naturally makes too much cortisol.
  • Tumors. Some tumors, such as craneopharingioma, can cause severe obesity because the tumors develop near parts of the brain that control hunger.
  • Medicines: such as antipsychotics, antidepressants, antiepileptics, and antihyperglycemics can cause weight gain and lead to overweight and obesity. (source)

All of these are out of a person’s control and don’t take into account lifestyle, cultural upbringing and other life situations a person may be in that has lead them to be overweight. For example some people use food to cope with the bullying they are receiving to begin with.

“The next time you see a fat person, you don’t know whether that person has a medical condition that caused them to gain weight,” Thore added. “You don’t know their mother just died. You don’t know if they’re depressed or suicidal or if they just lost 100 pounds. You don’t know.” (source)

This short list should show why shaming someone for being overweight is so ignorant. The same rules apply to being underweight, tall, short or the multitude of other physical reasons people bully and torment other people for. The lack of empathy and understanding in body shaming is staggering. It can have disastrous consequences such as depression, social anxiety, low self worth,  Anthropophobia (fear of people) and other social phobias, eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia and suicide.

The problem is compounded by electronic communication and cyber-bullying which provides a bully with a virtual anonymity.

Also cultural glorification of unrealistic standards of beauty such as being skinny or big breasted for women or being muscular and have a a full head of hair for men. Beauty standards  very from culture to culture  as well.

In short regardless of what shape or condition a person’s body is in shaming a person for their body is uninformed and cruel. If anyone ever calls you fat in a disrespectful way you are well within your right to retort with an F-Word of your own.

 

 

 

The Decline of Self-Ownership

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Imagine a world in which self-ownership is denied. You would have no freedoms, no control of your life. With no self-ownership you would face an eternal struggle to find happiness and success that only happens when someone or something allows it. Some would argue that self-ownership is the foundation of our human rights and freedoms. There is no denying the importance even though there are some valid criticisms of the extreme libertarian ideal which denies compromise and promotes selfishness.

For the sake of clarity let us look, briefly, at the libertarian definition of self ownership:

‘In the most general sense, libertarianism is a political philosophy that affirms the rights of individuals to liberty, to acquire, keep, and exchange their holdings, and considers the protection of individual rights the primary role for the state. (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)’

The Libertarian ideal extends to property and for this reason becomes problematic. While one should no doubt have rights over their products, property…etc if rightfully obtained libertarians feel that no one should be allowed to have this property without their permission under any circumstances. Self-ownership under libertarianism does not allow, for example,  someone to enter their property even in an emergency. Libertarianism, in its extreme form, doesn’t allow for a society that makes exceptions or provides charity. Obviously a society that does not allow exceptions under the right circumstances and does not allow charity is not a society that would function very well. So this blog does not embrace this concept of self-ownership instead we prefer the following:

Every individual owns all aspect of themselves. Self-ownership means a person has  right to ownership of both their bodies and  their minds (emotions and intellect). Self-ownership means every person is free to set their own goals and determine their own values. Self-ownership crucially involves recognizing the same rights in others and acting accordingly.

The definition of self-ownership is very close the definition of liberty that is the foundation of democracy.

Current dangers to self-ownership:

  • Social and Cultural
    1. Social Belonging. You wear clothes and act like others. A basic human need for acceptance within a culture/sub-culture. group, or sect causes this and can only be changed at an individual level.
    2. Traditions: Unquestioning acceptance of tradition can erode self-ownership. Whether it be through accepting a name change in marriage or giving ourselves up to a religion. Many traditions dangerously undermine self-ownership.
  • Political
    1. Collectivism: Rules and regulations that restrict our freedoms. A steady examination of the balance between laws and regulations that keep us safe and keep society functioning properly and the ones that stifle and suppress our fundamental freedoms is crucial.
    2. Corruption: Uncontrolled corporate and other interests that poison our bodies and destroy our environment.
  • Religion:
    1. Mind Body Dualism. The idea that the mind and body are separate. In the Abrahamic religions our mind is locus of filthy, sinful thoughts and our bodies are merely a vessel that does not go with us when we die. Thus we must strive to gain forgiveness from a divine creator in order to achieve eternal happiness. This is profoundly damaging to our self-esteems and forces us to give up control of our lives to external forces and religious authorities.
    2. Faith: A concept that glorifies believing without questioning and to not require reasoning or evidence before accepting something. This undermines our ability to think independently and own our minds.
    3. A Personal God:  An eternal and often wrathful God that constantly monitors and judges is perhaps the most damaging concept to self-ownership of all the concepts within religion.

‘I suggest a replacement of mind-body dualism with a view of mind and body, physical and intellectual, material and spiritual as integrated. Self-ownership embraces ownership of all aspects of my self: my body, my emotions, my intellect, my values. I express my values, beliefs, and emotions in physical actions. I cannot fully own my mind unless I own my body. I cannot own my body if I give up my mind. The two are aspects of one reality and so must be considered as a whole. ‘-Max More

Self-ownership is is extremely important but it is a constant battle to balance self-ownership with sacrifice for the sake of being a functioning, contributing member of society. This blog certainly rejects the self-centered, libertarian concept of self-ownership. We do however embrace the concept that self-ownership is a constant fight for personal liberty  but also carries with it all the psychological benefits (self esteem, success..etc) that kind of liberty provides.

 

Some More Reading:

  1. Libertarianism
  2. SELF-OWNERSHIP: A Core Transhuman Virtue
  3. Self-Ownership

 

Let’s Be Optimistic About Our Future

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Here here! Our  science fiction has indeed been a bit gloomy lately.

Neal Stephenson has seen the future—and he doesn’t like it. Today’s science fiction, he argues, is fixated on nihilism and apocalyptic scenarios—think recent films such as The Road and TV series like “The Walking Dead.” Gone are the hopeful visions prevalent in the mid-20th century. That’s a problem, says Stephenson, author of modern sci-fi classics such as Snow Crash. He fears that no one will be inspired to build the next great space vessel or find a way to completely end dependence on fossil fuels when our stories about the future promise a shattered world

Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/dear-science-fiction-writers-stop-being-so-pessimistic-127226686/#7cjuiZ7mhOlH0hf5.99

Ok, this is what I want.

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I have never really gave serious thought about what I would done with my body after I die because I am still fairly young, until I saw this:

THE TREE URN biosurn

Until I saw this I had a hopes they would perfect cryogenic stasis but with no hope of revival so far I have changed my mind to the bios urn. The link will give a better description but basically this will allow your ashes to be used in an urn that will support a tree.  Other then the benefits their website describes the following is a list of reason why I think this is fitting for a humanist (in no particular order):

  • Giving back, even after death. A tree provides a home and sometimes food for animals and insects and gives oxygen to the Earth.
  • Once you are dead there is no coming back. There is no afterlife, this is as close to immortality as a human being can get.
  • No gloomy headstone and no casket, just a celebration of a life.

This is a very humanist way to go. An amazing invention and such a happier approach to celebrating the life of a lost loved one.

 

The Humanism Resource Page

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I have published a resource for humanists. Primarily links information about humanism and some suggested reading. It’s a work in progress but so far so good. Will be adding logic, problems with religion etc. Feedback would be much appreciated. Thanks for stopping by!