Zero the Hero

A vulgar variant of concept stealing, prevalent among avowed mystics and irrationalists, is a fallacy I call the Reification of the Zero. It consists of regarding “nothing” as a thing, as a special, different kind of existent. (For example, see Existentialism.) This fallacy breeds such symptoms as the notion that presence and absence, or being and non-being, are metaphysical forces of equal power, and that being is the absence of non-being. E.g., “Nothingness is prior to being.” (Sartre)—“Human finitude is the presence of the not in the being of man.” (William Barrett)—“Nothing is more real than nothing.” (Samuel Beckett)—”Das Nichts nichtet” or “Nothing noughts.” (Heidegger). Consciousness, then, is not a stuff, but a negation. The subject is not a thing, but a non-thing. The subject carves its own world out of Being by means of negative determinations. Sartre describes consciousness as a ‘noughting nought’ (néant néantisant). It is a form of being other than its own: a mode ‘which has yet to be what it is, that is to say, which is what it is, that is to say, which is what it is not and which is not what it is.’” (Hector Hawton, The Feast of Unreason, London: Watts & Co., 1952, p. 162.)

(The motive? “Genuine utterances about the nothing must always remain unusual. It cannot be made common. It dissolves when it is placed in the cheap acid of mere logical acumen.” Heidegger.)

— Ayn Rand, Reification of the Zero

Accept the fact that you’re second rate life is easy for you
It’s all served up on a gold plated plate
And we don’t even have to talk to you
Your face is normal that’s the way you’re bred
And that’s the way you’re going to stay
Your head is firmly nailed to your TV channel
But someone else’s finger’s on the control panel

What you gonna be, brother? – Zero the hero?
Don’t you wanna be, brother? – Zero the hero?
When you gonna be, brother? – Zero the hero?
Impossibility impissibolity mother really a hero!

You sit there watch it all burn down
It’s easy and breezy for you
You play your life to a different sound
No edge no edge you got no knife have you
Your life is a six lane highway to nowhere
You’re going so fast you’re never ever gonna get down there
Where the heroes sit by the river
With a magic in their music as they eat raw liver

You stand there captain we all look
You really are mediocre
You are the champion in the Acme form book
But I think you’re just a joker
Your freedom life ain’t so much of a pity
But the luv-a-duckin’ way you’re walkin’ around
The city with your balls and your head full of nothing
It’s easy for you sucker but you really need stuffing

How many holes?


How many holes are in this bucket?


Non-existence is not a fact, it is the absence of a fact, it is a derivative concept pertaining to a relationship, i.e., a concept which can be formed or grasped only in relation to some existent that has ceased to exist. (One can arrive at the concept “absence” starting from the concept “presence,” in regard to some particular existent(s); one cannot arrive at the concept “presence” starting from the concept “absence,” with the absence including everything.) Non-existence as such is a zero with no sequence of numbers to follow it, it is the nothing, the total blank.

— Ayn Rand, Introduction to Objectivist Topology

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

Tim’s on holiday.

Not sure about Reed.

But no rest for this merry gentleman. (I’ll be blogging over the holiday period.)

Have a metal Christmas and a headbanging New Year.

God rest ye merry, gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember, Christ, our Saviour
Was born on Christmas day
To save us all from Satan’s power
When we were gone astray
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

In Bethlehem, in Israel,
This blessed Babe was born
And laid within a manger
Upon this blessed morn
The which His Mother Mary
Did nothing take in scorn
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

From God our Heavenly Father
A blessed Angel came;
And unto certain Shepherds
Brought tidings of the same:
How that in Bethlehem was born
The Son of God by Name.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

“Fear not then,” said the Angel,
“Let nothing you affright,
This day is born a Saviour
Of a pure Virgin bright,
To free all those who trust in Him
From Satan’s power and might.”
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

The shepherds at those tidings
Rejoiced much in mind,
And left their flocks a-feeding
In tempest, storm and wind:
And went to Bethlehem straightway
The Son of God to find.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

And when they came to Bethlehem
Where our dear Saviour lay,
They found Him in a manger,
Where oxen feed on hay;
His Mother Mary kneeling down,
Unto the Lord did pray.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

Now to the Lord sing praises,
All you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood
Each other now embrace;
This holy tide of Christmas
All other doth deface.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

Bring back BZP!

[Reprised from the Free Radical magazine, issue 74, March-April 2007.]


Just before Christmas, Associate Health Minister Jim Anderton announced an impending ban on “party pills”. A report by the Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs had found that BZP poses a “moderate risk of harm”. He announced that he would be consulting the “wider community” before making a final recommendation to Parliament.

I’m part of that wider community. I use BZP now and then to help relieve mental fatigue, drowsiness and general inertia. It keeps me bright and alert. So I dream that one day soon I’ll get my phone call from Jim Anderton. “Hi Richard, it’s Jim. Look, I’m thinking of banning BZP. You’re on my list of several hundred thousand New Zealanders who use BZP. As a BZP user, you’ll be one of the people most affected by a ban. So, the question I want to ask about BZP is, do you mind if I go ahead and ban it?”

Yes, Jim, I do mind. But, of course, it’s not all about me. According to the latest research from Massey University’s SHORE, 1 in 5 NZers (aged 13 to 45) have used BZP-based party pills – that’s about half a million adults. A BZP ban will deprive hundreds of thousands of NZers of enjoyment. And enjoyment is, after all, one of the things that makes life worth living. But, funnily enough, fun isn’t mentioned once in the EACD’s report to the Minister.

The government still believes in the Myth of Prohibition – that by banning a drug, you can stop drug use. You can’t. Ban party pills, and the number of people using party pills will most probably decrease, yes. But former party pill users will simply get high on something else. Many will revert to using already illegal party drugs like methamphetamine (“P”) and ecstasy – the “party pills” will simply become more expensive, more fun, and more dangerous than before.

Imagine the advent of a new designer drug, whose effects are exactly the same as alcohol’s, but which doesn’t cause liver cirrhosis or hangovers. Would the government allow it to stay legal? It would not. The EACD would find that the drug posed a serious risk of harm – because of violence, accidents and dangerous driving, and the drug’s insidious effects on almost every other organ. Accordingly, it would recommend to the Minister that the new drug be banned by classifying it as Class B (or even Class A – alcohol can be very nasty) in the schedules to the Misuse of Drugs Act. But, surely, if the government is at all interested in “harm minimisation” (which is, after all, its official policy), it would actively encourage the substitution of alcohol for the new ‘alcohol-lite’ designer drug with a view to eventual complete displacement.

Now consider BZP. Its effects are quite different to alcohol’s, but also much more benign. For example, BZP is on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s banned drug list because it is a performance-enhancing drug. By contrast, alcohol is notorious for being performance-impairing (on the road, in the bedroom, indeed, everywhere).

Under existing law, discerning drug users are denied the option of using numerous illegal but safer alternatives to our most popular recreational drug, alcohol, which causes more hospitalisation and death than all illicit drugs combined. And, to add insult to injury, we are denied the benefits of research and development into more effective and safer recreational drugs. Who would bother to invest in such research if, as is threatened to happen in the present case of the industry body STANZ and “party pills”, the fruits of such efforts are immediately banned?

The Libertarianz Party strives for a future New Zealand in which Nanny State no longer coddles and chastises us at every turn. We envision a New Zealand in which parents exercise authority over their children, and adults are free to do as they please, so long as they respect other people’s freedoms and take full responsibility for the consequences of their own actions. In such a libertarian utopia, there will simply be no need for legislation banning things which have a “moderate potential for harm”. Parents will see to it that their children stay out of harm’s way, adults will take responsibility for their own welfare, and the government will not waste your money on futile efforts to stem the tide of human nature. Ultimately, we would repeal the Misuse of Drugs Act. Meanwhile, the Libertarianz Party has a transitional drugs policy: to legalise all drugs safer than alcohol. This policy would result in the legalisation of a surprisingly large number of substances already scheduled in the Misuse of Drugs Act – and all of them safer to take on a night out than a few drinks.

Dr. Richard Goode is a BZP user and the Spokesman on Drugs for the Libertarianz Party.


The Resurrection of the Dead

TxTrib-SOPA011_jpg_800x1000_q100Regular readers, thank you for your patience during the recent Eternal Vigilance outage.

So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.

If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.

I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” (NIV)

Eternal Vigilance has now moved to a new imperishable server.

Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord for ever. (NIV)

Furthermore, Eternal Vigilance has now moved to a new cloud server.

We’re hosted by Rackspace, based in Denver, Texas, where everything is bigger, brighter and better.