Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Blaming the symptom, not the problem

Dishonesty and cheating are nothing new. Loaded dice were found in the ruins of Pompeii, and I'm sure that the pedagogues of that era had to deal with their share of cheating students.

What is different nowadays is the nonchalant attitude towards cheating. This is not something that is happening in a vacuum. It is part and parcel of our society's ongoing decay and degradation. This is going to get worse, and manifest itself in even more appalling ways.

Requiring that cheating students take a course on ethics will do little good when their parents are not teaching them the difference between right and wrong, and vulgar culture encourages them to take ethical shortcuts and even to take pride in having gotten away with doing so.

Rules and standards of conduct are effective only when most people follow them without coercion, and those who are tempted to do otherwise will be shamed and condemned by their peers if they are found out.

But when people begin to ignore ethical standards and refuse to judge others based upon their adherence to these standards, everything unravels. Formal punishments and legal sanctions alone are ineffective, and their over application is the face of widespread moral decay does more harm than good. Police states may be orderly, but they are not moral.

Technology cannot be blamed for cheating, anymore than a knife or bullet can be blamed for murder. Both are legitimate tools with legitimate uses. The prevalence of cheating is inversely proportional to the moral and ethical integrity of those who might be tempted to cheat. These character traits are derived from the values they have learned at home and from the culture in which they live. Technology, or the lack thereof, makes no difference.

Sending demonstrated cheaters to a remedial class on the difference between right and wrong, while better than doing nothing, will be of little help.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Eharmony Ordeal

I signed up with Eharmony several months ago, in large part because I wanted some friends to stop pestering me about dating.

But once I'd signed up, I was genuinely interested to see what sort a result I'd get. I filled out all their questionnaires and forms and gave honest responses. I even included a picture of myself, not a great picture, but an ok one. I don't really have pictures of myself lying about after all, I'm not some kind of narcissist.

Eharmony immediately began sending me profiles of women that their software determined I might be interested in meeting. This was fine. I wasn't really interested in meeting anyone, but I wasn't averse to seeing who was out there.

This is when the bad things began.

It seems that my profile was also being sent out to women in my area who their software thought I would be a possible match for. This is of course to be expected, but what wasn't expected, at least by me, was the responses I got. I began to receive "closed" message from women who I'd never made any effort to contact. In other words, these women were pre-emptively blocking me from contacting them before I even knew they were there to contact.

Imagine if you will that you are at home. Women you've never seen before begin knocking on your door to inform you that they have absolutely no desire to go out with you. After a few successive knocks, this would get a little trying and more than a little insulting. That is what going to eharmony's site began to feel like, and still does.

Who ARE these women, and why are they bothering me? What is it about my profile that is so horrible that they feel the need to tell me to go away before I even know that they are there, let alone approach them?

At first this didn't bother me so much, but after a while it began to weigh upon me. I eventually figured out how to turn the find-a-match part of the site OFF so that at least my profile wasn't being paraded about, this effectively ended the closed messages, but it also meant that my profile wasn't being offered any more. Kind of defeats the whole purpose.

This evening I decided to go back and look at my profile and see if I couldn't improve it. Maybe there is something about it that is really off-putting in some way. Yet when I try to edit my profile I find myself becoming extremely angry and resentful of the kinds of questions the profile asks. Why should I be willing to talk about myself if doing so will only open me up to being rejected in advance by strange women I've never even attempted to contact in the first place?

And to think I actually paid, quite a bit of money, for this.

I've also recently discovered a site called brainiac dating, which is free and still rather crude. It is supposed to be site where people who consider themselves to be intelligent can meet other people who consider themselves to be bright. Thanks to the degradation of our educational system, such that the further someone goes in school, the less they actually know about certain things, this site is chock full of leftists. At least that is the kind of person who shows up in the forum section where topics such as socialized medicine are discussed. Being leftists, they are naturally wholly in favor putting the government in charge.

I remain flabbergasted that a supposedly intelligent person would want to create such a monopoly. I suppose the lessons of the French Revolution are lost upon those who didn't learn them first hand. These people have been carefully indoctrinated to see the state as benevolent and private enterprises as malicious, when in truth neither is comprised entirely of angels or demons, just fallible human beings whose actions are motivated by perceived self interest. The failure to understand this, and the failure to understand the primacy of human nature, underlies most of the folly of these sorts of people, at least when they're not being wilfully blind and maliciously dishonest.

Naturally I'm not particularly well liked there, though it can be amusing to watch them throw out their canned arguments in favor of state imposed tyranny. They promote tyranny dressied up in populist garb as if it were humanitarianism.

I'm rambling, so I'm going to stop now.

No one reads my blog anyway.