Portray a Sense of Confidence

People often feel agitated and uncomfortable in the presence of religious/spiritual people. This is because holding any strong moral ideology infers judgement on behavior and that judgement implicitly means judgement of other people’s behavior. This makes people uncomfortable partially in the same way that overly dramatic people make people uncomfortable … their emotional disposition dictates the underlying tone and culture of the interaction.

While this isn’t how it emotionally works with religious people, the higher moral/ethical/personal standards make it so it strongly affects the behavioral culture within the climates they are involved and people don’t wish to be subject to judgement within an ideology they haven’t subscribed to. Additionally, most people feel various subtle feelings of guilt, confusion and a lack of purpose … the presence of someone who seem to have resolved these issues make them feel incompetent and diminished.

While many religious people intentionally elicit these feelings in others as a means of setting the culture, and attaining power/control/dominance, most probably don’t. Most people have these standards and don’t desire to use it as a weapon to hurt or control (at least in Western society). Sure, they might think your behavior isn’t a good idea, but they have no desire to control you or treat you as an inferior.

If you set a culture of tolerance and portray a sense of purpose, confidence, and a coherent value system, you can often feel very comfortable around religious people. You won’t feel subject to their ideology, and the religious person won’t believe it is appropriate to use their values and beliefs in any way to distort the situation. They will often respect the difference and no one will feel feelings of inferiority/superiority.

I believe our discomforts around people who aren’t malicious often reflect our own perceptions of inadequacy and/or insecurity.

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Elon Musk’s Innovative Education Blueprint

“I hated going to school when I was a kid. It was torture,” said Elon Musk while describing Ad Astra, the school he opened on the California campus of his SpaceX company’s headquarters. In 2014, Musk pulled his five boys out of an elite private school in Los Angeles and decided to open his own school for his children and the children of some of his SpaceX employees. He recruited one of his sons’ former schoolteachers to help run the school, which currently serves about 50 students.

Disruptive Alternatives to Traditional Schooling

In a 2015 interview about the school, the billionaire inventor said: “The regular schools weren’t doing the things that I thought should be done. So I thought, well, let’s see what we can do.” Ad Astra, which means “to the stars,” disrupts the very idea of school. It has no grade levels, an emergent curriculum, and no mandatory classes. As Fortune reports, “There are no grades given to students at the school and if the children don’t like a particular class they’re taking, they can simply opt out.”

At Ad Astra, young people work collaboratively on projects ranging from robotics and coding to chemistry and math. Creative problem solving is a guiding principle. According to the Washington Post: “There are no sports, music or languages taught. Musk believes computer-assisted language translation is not far from being widely available.”

A Growing Trend

Recognizing a mismatch between coercive schooling and the rise of a creative economy where human ingenuity will be our key professional advantage when competing with robots, innovative companies are increasingly launching their own unconventional schools. WeWork, the co-working office space company now valued at $45 billion, launched its alternative school, WeGrow, in 2017 in its New York City headquarters. It now has 46 students in grades pre-K through fourth grade. Like Musk’s Ad Astra, WeGrow sprouted because WeWork’s founding partner and chief brand officer, Rebekah Neumann, wanted a different educational experience for her five young children. In an interview with Fast Company, Neumann said: “These children come into the world, they are very evolved, they are very special. They’re spiritual. They’re all natural entrepreneurs, natural humanitarians, and then it seems like we squash it all out of them in the education system.” Neumann continued:

The whole format was created during the Industrial Revolution, so that people would grow up and learn how to take orders on an assembly line…A lot of parents say, “Schools are not doing it right. But we’re going to kind of go with that anyway because there’s no better option.” I just wasn’t willing to accept that, especially during such formative years.

WeGrow and Ad Astra share a similar educational philosophy focused on cultivating children’s passions, immersing them in authentic projects, and encouraging an entrepreneurial spirit. WeGrow hopes to expand its schooling network alongside its WeWork shared-office network, offering WeWork members and employees a flexible, on-site, alternative education option for their children. Neumann describes her vision for WeGrow: “We have WeWorks located all around the world, thank God. A lot of members don’t see their kids for many, many hours a day. So I’m passionate about actually opening these schools inside WeWork buildings, so that parents can bring their kids to school, see them possibly at lunch, maybe bring them home.” Neumann also sees the value of the WeGrow school network in an increasingly global economy:

The idea that once your kids enter kindergarten you cannot move around the world anymore is completely archaic…We have many global entrepreneurs, citizens of the world, who want to live global lifestyles or need to for work.

Entrepreneurs are notoriously ahead of the curve. It’s no surprise that successful, forward-thinking company founders are rejecting an outdated conventional schooling model and building something new and better—for their children, for their employees’ children, and, as is the case with WeWork, for their customers’ children, as well. With entrepreneurial parents at the helm, the future of education looks bright.

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The Damaging Nature of Spirituality

I find religion less poisonous than spirituality. In the same fashion, I find forms of introspection incredibly damaging.

We are tools of evolution. We are here to produce, consume, and breed at the fundamental level. The beauty of life is that evolution endowed us with emotions in order to do this in such a manner that we can love producing, consuming and reproducing.

Our mind is a tool that senses and interprets reality. We use that information to act on our desire to accomplish our goals. I find that religion can often be harmful to these ends, but what I find vastly more harmful is spirituality and certain types of introspection. When our mind turns its powers upon itself it is a hall of mirrors. There are no answers when a sensor reads a sensor. This turns people erratic, highly emotional, and constantly looking for answers with only momentary glimpses of a perception of confidence in what they believe.

The people who turn to spirituality/introspection become lost in their minds. They disconnect themselves to reality. They become highly influenced by gurus and others who confirm their spiritual assumptions. They feel unsupported by people who don’t validate their premises, and they further seclude themselves in their narratives.

Religion doesn’t often have this effect. The narratives aren’t turning the mind against itself. The narratives are social, and turns the minds towards an external purpose of reality. While the narratives can be inaccurate or harmful, I believe someone can be happy while being religious vastly more than with spirituality.

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On Antinatalism

I’m not exceptionally well versed on “antinatalism“, the belief that it is morally wrong to procreate. Some antinatalists make the argument that procreation is morally wrong because it is nonconsensual as far as the offspring is concerned. Other antinatalists make the argument that because there is suffering in life (some times and places more than others), it is morally wrong to create a life that you know is going to suffer. I have no sympathy for the first argument, and some for the second. Consent presupposes existence, and unless the antinatalist is able to prove some sort of spiritual pre-existence, then making an argument concerning consent of the offspring is nonsensical. As for procreating into a life of suffering, this argument is much more powerful for me in times and places were suffering was guaranteed, eg. under slavery and under Communism. But then again, who are we to decide how others may feel throughout their life? That seems arrogant, does it not? You may just procreate someone who grows up to have a significant influence on ending said suffering, after all. Parents should not be the direct source of suffering for their children, in any event. And that’s today’s two cents.

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The Creepy Obsession

I am against pedophiles. Especially pedophiles who act on it.

I am also against obsessive pedophile hunters and obsessive pedophile punishers.

They like to think of themselves as knights on a Holy Crusade. I see them as the spiritual descendants of Torquemada.

I’ve come to believe that most people who claim to be hunting or fighting pedophiles are simply hungry for someone it’s socially OK to obsessively hate; someone they can safely post revenge porn about. It’s their version of Nazi hunting. Most even misdefine “pedophile” and “child” so they’ll have more targets available.

It’s a witchhunt; one libertarians seem particularly prone to joining. Perhaps they hunger to behave like the statists they see around them– with revenge and force– so they’ve found a target that’s socially acceptable to those who reject the initiation of force.

It’s somewhat understandable; libertarians are all about defending people, especially those who aren’t able to defend themselves. Children are vulnerable. People who prey on them are evil. But there’s such a thing as jumping off the deep end and being drowned by your obsession. Yes, even in cases like this. In their zeal, libertarian pedophile obsessives become indistinguishable from the statists. This is wrong even when the cause is right.

And you’re not “allowed” to question these self-anointed pedohunters in the slightest.

This makes me suspicious of their actual motives. I’m reminded of the loudly anti-homosexual televangelists. I’d be willing to bet some are more similar to those guys than they’d ever admit. No, not all of them, and probably not even most of them, but some.

Surely I’m not the only person who wonders about this, or who sees their obsession as a bit creepy. But even if I am the only one, I’m OK with that.

I realize that pointing this out will make them claim I’m defending pedophiles– I’m not. If that’s what they get from this they are hallucinating and imagining they can read my mind. They may even claim I am one– I’m not. But it’s their go-to reaction. I’ve seen it before, more than once.

All because someone dared question their untouchable obsession. To them that’s unforgivable.

And this illustrates what I see as wrong with their crusade. It’s not reasonable or rational. It’s rabid and emotional, and anything is OK as soon as they accuse their target. In their minds, accusation equals guilt. No real proof is needed to convict and execute once the accusation has been leveled. The accusation settles it. “For the CHILDREN!”

I’m not saying there aren’t sexual predators out there, because there are, and I know some of them target children. This is wrong. It is archation. No one molests kids by accident. If you do, you intended to. If you don’t intend to, you don’t do it. (You could still be falsely accused, though.)

When I encounter one of these obsessives, I just quietly back away. I don’t support pedophiles, but I don’t support their creepy doppelgängers, either. I’ll probably regret ever saying anything, but it’s been weighing on my mind and needed to be said.

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Nine Attorneys General, and Alyssa Milano, versus the First Amendment

On July 30, National Public Radio reports, “[a] coalition of attorneys general from eight states and the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration  … to stop a Texas-based company from publishing instructions for 3D-printed guns on its website.”

In English: Nine state attorneys general want the federal government to censor the Internet, in violation of the First Amendment, for the purpose of making the Second Amendment less effectual.

Defense Distributed, a non-profit started by libertarian activist Cody Wilson, creates and publishes files that tell 3D printers and CNC milling machines how to make guns. After a five-year battle with the US State Department, which demanded censorship of these files on the risible claim that publishing them violated weapons export restrictions, Defense Distributed prevailed: The feds said uncle, paid the organization’s legal fees, and got out of the way.

Cue bizarre claims — actor/activist Alyssa Milano, writing on behalf of the anti-gun lobby, calls these files “downloadable guns”  in a CNN op-ed — open cries for Internet censorship, and a conspiracy of state attorneys general to give those cries legal effect.

We’ve been here before.  The 1873 Act for the Suppression of Trade in, and Circulation of, Obscene Literature and Articles of Immoral Use — parent act of the “Comstock laws,” so called after the priggish Postmaster General who pressed for their passage, provided that:

“Every obscene, lewd, or lascivious, and every filthy book, pamphlet, picture, paper, letter, writing, print, or other publication of an indecent character, and every article or thing designed, adapted, or intended for preventing conception or producing abortion, or for any indecent or immoral use … is hereby declared to be a non-mailable matter …” The law provided for five years in prison and a $5,000 fine (more than $100,000 in 2018 dollars) for violators.

A century of resistance and legal challenges — led in part by an organization Ms. Milano avidly supports, Planned Parenthood — followed. It wasn’t until 1970 that Congress removed references to contraception from federal anti-obscenity laws.

I’m not surprised that the anti-gun lobby is throwing in with other pro-censorship lobbies (such as the anti-sex-worker lobby which recently got its own Internet censorship law, FOSTA, passed in the name of combating “human trafficking”).  Enemies of freedom may be evil, but they’re not stupid. They understand that freedom can only be successfully attacked by suppressing access to ideas and information.

Fortunately, defenders of freedom understand that too. Even if today’s Comstocks manage to shut down Defense Distributed like they shut down Backpage, the genies are already out of the bottle. Sex workers are already advertising elsewhere (and more securely). Defense Distributed’s gun plans have been downloaded thousands of times and made available via numerous publicly accessible venues.

The second round of the battle against Comstockery isn’t going to last a century. In fact, Comstock’s spiritual children have already lost — nothing short of shutting down the Internet, if even that, could possibly turn the tide for them.

Now it’s time to punish those rogue attorneys general — in court, in reputation, and at the ballot box.

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