Wednesday, 16 March 2011

The Moral Samscape

March again. Just like last year. But Marchog means knight or horseman. At least I think it does, I may be being laughed at in Patagonia. But I can't hear them! Now we all know that moon-faced Mongols are the best horsemans. However, there are four famous horsemans in the yurtless world too. And one has just fallen off! After years of being clever and funny, SamIam Harris-Eyebrow has finally built his marvellous mechanical magical mouse-abacus and emerged from his Buddha-bat-cave to bring us Nirvana. Nawrte boysbach Iesu Mawr. They say in Trawsfynydd-yr-wyddfa you can't judge a book by it's cover. 'Healthy eating' by Elvis Preseli. 'Perpetual Motion Machines' by A. Kentuckyfarmer. 'On Liberty' by Colonel Hannibal Gadaffi. Etc. So with the aid of little Ethan Emmanuel Jones bach, I down-stole the audio llyfr off and had it straight from the horseman's mouth. Which is still working. Please be up-sitting for SamIam Harris-Eyebrow!

SH:- Thankyou Richard. For this opportoonity to respond to my critics in Wales, England.

REJ:- Croeso. Use this spade if you like -

SH:- Hiiiiii Hoooooo!!! We dig dig dig dig -

REJ:- Hmmmm. I think so. Now SamIam, you've not been well for a while now recently, and I must congratulate you on becoming a doctorate of the future Neurosciences -

SH:- I do philosophy too -

REJ:- Yes you did. Indeed. Sense now SamIam, Richard here, why do you think everyone has noticed your book is rubbish? even stupid diawl-twp people? -

SH:- Well Richard, I don't think they have read it. They've probably just seen my ridiculous TED talks and embarassing slide-shows on The Science Network -

REJ:- Or just not bothered at all. Because they thought of it when they were 6 -

SH:- Yes. Or just not bothered at all, which is a shame because it means smart people won't read it. I wrote this book, for smart people, as I live in a television with lots of coloured alerts -

REJ:- Keep going -

SH:- There is a danger, Richard, the television said, of us waking up in a world where the only people with moral certainty are people who get it from a voice in a whirlwind -

REJ:- Ooooh! What does a voice in a whirlwind sound like? -

SH:- Sandy, I think.

REJ:- How sandy? -

SH:- Quite sandy. And a bit muffled by a bin bag -

REJ:- Or a beard -

SH:- Beards, yes. But how to convince someone that water is made up of hydrogen and oxygen? It can't be done -

REJ:- I'm with you. Er...

SH:- Can you imagine the worst possible universe?

REJ:- No, I'm afraid I can't -

SH:- Well, can you imagine the worst possible rugby team? Every other rugby team would be better -

REJ:- Careful now Sammy boy -

SH:- It seems to me, that morality is reducable to the well-being of conscious creatures. Can you imagine a universe of just rocks? -


REJ:- You don't mind if I drink do you?

SH:- Lets see....*click!....whir!....ding!* No, go ahead. Neuroscience of the future tells us rocks are not conscious creatures. If I threw acid in a schoolgirl's face -

REJ:- Oooh! that's illegal here! Please don't be doing anything like that - you'll have Emrys the heddlu round as soon as the unmanned police station relays the message to Llandrindod and the doughnuts hit the road -

SH:- Throwing acid in schoolgirl's faces is sub-optimal for their conscious well-being. Now a lot of people I have met have told me, piously paraparroting Hume, that you can't get nought from is. But I think I can -

REJ:- I think you may have managed it -

SH:- Imagine if we discovered a tribe today, in a jungle with biting insects -

REJ:- Oooh! Do you think we will? It's not been on the newyddion -

SH:- It's on the imaginary newyddion, later today -

REJ:- I haven't got digital. Sioned said -

SH:- And the tribe has a custom of plucking out one eye from every thirteenth child, perhaps saying 'He who has one eye saves on glasses' or something -

REJ:- Good God man! They're nutters! Glasses are cheap. You can get them on the NHS -

SH:- Not in this jungle Richard, and there are biting insects too. And machetes. Imagine if you were forced to rape and kill your child. While insects were biting you -

REJ:- Market forces would render the monocular savings negligible. Supply and demand. If however, every child's eye was plucked out -

SH:- It seems to me, that you only have to grant me this one philosophical presupposition:- that if things were better, they would be better.

REJ:- No, too deep for me, Samster. I have a five year old child with me though -

SH:- Imagine if the five year old child -

REJ:- You don't mind if I smoke this reefer do you?

SH:- Just a mo, *click!....whir!....ding!* I'm afraid I do -

REJ:- Well never mind. *click!!....inhale!*

SH:- Now it's important to remember what I don't mean. I don't mean that zero-sum moral problems can be solved. I don't mean that intractable moral problems can be solved. I don't mean that any moral problems can be solved. But what I do mean is that all the moral problems that can't be solved, can be solved in principle. I just need a few extra cogs -

REJ:- Well then you're onto something after all. And to think Sioned said you had gone messiah-bananas. And just done it because you were jealous of religous people and their absolute morality. And that you were too dull to notice right and wrong is known universally by non-socio/psychopaths as sure as up from down. And that your silly abacus couldn't even do an abortion date. Or a war that might affect an abortion date. And that it was the cleverest and most deeply thought out net-zero book in history. And that you had obviously overreached and gone -

SH:- I can do them in principle. In the future.

REJ:- But we can try now. With made-up data. You can't do diddly -

SH:- I can do diddly in the future. In principle. With just a few extra cogs and a time-machine, and -

REJ:- Nawrte Sam. Your book was building up nicely to a concluding chapter. 'The future of happiness'. But you ran out of skill. I remember when super Shane was hareing down the touchline and -

SH:- I just want every conscious creature to flourish! to self-actualise! Even juggled bears! Is that too much to reduce to insanity? In principle? Is it? Well is it? I don't think so. And that is why I wrote this book. Do you like my pacing? -

REJ:- Yes. A constipated caged tiger is endearing. But back to your fluffing the last chapter -

SH:- Was it my diction?

REJ:- No, I enjoyed both tones. If you remember Blackburn's criticism of you, criticism #376, he said that neuro-scientifically identical brains were not the same if one was living in a fool's paradise. That's because he's as stupid as you.

SH:- He must be clever -

REJ:- Yes. Now if you want to have x billion conscious creatures at maximal flourishing, then you need only have x billion realities. The 'suffering' is done by zombie-minds and every non-body wins. If you say you don't want to live in a virtual reality then I don't know what you mean. And neither do you.

SH:- That's my line -

REJ:- Follow your line, Sam, follow your line. The well-being of conscious creatures. Reducable to neuroscience. Follow your line.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Merthyr pont rhondda

Helo. Well I'm here today in the field as it were, or the town as it is, and on tour and live if you will or won't. I'm doing a little round the Wales, like that Iolo, but not as far as yr hen ogledd, which has fallen to our English friends so I'm told. Men went to Catraeth. But this man has gone to Merthyr pont rhondda, ugly-lovely success story of the 1800s, to see just how far things have progressed since full employment.

With me for the elucidations, is an ambitious young man, Dafydd Williams. Dafydd is the third generation of his family to be on the sick and never worked. But Dafydd is different. He has big plans to be the first in his family to break the chain of valium-temazepathy and sickness benefits, and to go on the dole. Croeso Dafydd! -

DW:- Diolch! -

REJ:-Indeed. Now tell me Dafydd, of your unrealistic and futile plans -

DW:- Well Richard, my father was on the sick. And his father before him. And Auntie Mair and cousin Rhys and my sister Dilys, and my butties from Cwm Llwch high, and -

REJ:- Ok, we'll rule out journalism then -

DW:- And I looked around me, and thought 'there must be better than this'. A better world for my children bach. And so I made up my mind that it wouldn't happen to me. Anymore. Not for another twenty years. So I decided there and then to try to go on the dole and become a job-seeker.

REJ:- Wel boys bach, da iawn chi isn't it? Bread on the table, bring home the cig moch, arian in the pocket, there you are, lovely tidy gwych. Yes. -

DW:- It was hard at first – there were a lot of forms to fill in, but I kept my eyes on the prize, filled them in as best I could, sent them off to pont rhondda dole office, and if I'm approved I'll get £20 less a week. Twenty pounds! -

REJ:- Fantastic! Now what are the criteria for this non-post?

DW:- I have to prove myself fit and available for work, read the classifieds, and make 2 applications a week. Or I'll get £50 less. -

REJ:- Fifty pounds! -

DW:- You have to be in it, to un-win it! -

REJ:- There's one in every family -

DW:- The lady said they'd send it off to Neath for adjudication – it should only take a few weeks – and if all goes well -

REJ:- fingers crossed! -

DW:- Diolch. If all goes well I'll be a real live job-seeker! Although they did say they've had to stop the rent while they think about it, and we're being evicted next wednesday -

REJ:- Well just think of the less money. But it hasn't all been plain-sailing has it now? A little bird tells me that you have met with some opposition to your plans. Some stormy weather one could say, some rocky reefs, some doldrum-seas, some here-be-dragons, some -

DW:- That's correct, Richard. The office of national unemployment bullshitstics. They sent me to the Abergwastad careers office, and they assessed my talents and abilities -

REJ:- And your ambitions -

DW:- Yes, and my ambitions - on their new 'dream-weaver' careers program they bought for 3 billion pounds. Then they matched me to the jobs database -

REJ:- It was harder in my day - you had to get on your unicycle, cross the mine-fields, juggle 6 bears with chain-saws, -

DW:- And they decided it would look better if I went on a macrame course for 6 months. Since there were only 3 positions in the Pontypridd front row, and they were taken.

REJ:- Beaten to the ball! Well and truly rucked!

DW:- etc

REJ:- etc. Yes. Well Jeremy Kyle's come on and so Dafydd has had to leave us. But up next, after a short perambulation, there - that was it - is Owen Gruffudd, Welsh Assembled Member for Cynon valley taffy. Now Mr Gruffudd, you've heard Dafydd's story, a man with ambition to go on the dole, and the problems he has faced. Have you got any better news for him? And his ilk?

OG:- Yes indeed I have Richard! Only first I have to send this stern letter to Mugabe, expressing our disapproval of his actions in the Welshest possible terms. -

REJ:- They'll be celebrating in the streets of Harare tonight! -

OG:- Not quite tonight, Richard, I haven't managed to put the stamp on yet. There's something about the picture on it...

REJ:- You're worth every penny! Nawrte, about the plans for our Dafydd. And his ilk -

OG:- Yes. First of all, we have successfully awarded Cynon valley taffy 'area zero' status -

REJ:- Ardderchog! - And what does that mean? -

OG:- Named after the net worth of voting in places like Cynon valley taffy, 'area zero' status means we are able to erect some blue signs. Namely two. On either exit off the A470. -

REJ:- Oooh! and what do the blue signs say? -

OG:- 'Keep going'. And 'Partially funded by the European Union' underneath.

REJ:- Is that it?

OG:- No, of course not. We have also achieved free prescriptions for temazapam and methadone, and there is an exciting plan to bull-doze the mountains on top of them, to make a park-and-ride for Cardiff. And free toothbrushes. I nearly forgot about the toothbrushes.

REJ:- They'll need re-training -

OG:- Yes, wrth gwrs. That is why we are committed to spending £10 million pounds on a national programme of toothbrushing technique education, with additional monies projected to be available from 2013. For toothpaste. That's if the tax-payers over the border aren't on to us by then -

REJ:- They're not the sharpest -

OG:- Now, now, Richard! Lets not be having any of that nonsense. At least keep it to yourself. We've got the Royal Mint you know -

REJ:- Yes. Now in the interest of balancing, I have also the gentleman very much chasing your seat, Plaid Cymru prospective assembly whatever-they're-called Welsh person, Efnisien ap Clwyd.

EapC:- Prynhawn da -

REJ:- Prynhawn da. Now Efnisien, we'll skip all the history, as that has happened, and instead ask you what you would do if you got your hands on Owen's seat -

EapC:- People like Dafydd have been abandoned by the Westminster overlords for too long. We in Plaid Cymru would set in place a package of measures - see how I do the lingo - to ensure both the opportunity and the guarantee and even the right, that he can be unemployed in Welsh. And we'll change the speed limit to Kilometers per hour. And plant some daffodils on the roundabout. And make all playing cards out of slate. And -