Posts Tagged ‘clarity’

Hands On or Manual?

January 22, 2008

I recently bought a digital camera during the Post-Boxing Week sales.  Or is it the New Year sales?  The Let’s Milk This Thing For Everything It’s Worth sales?  Whatever.  Why not just give me the best price all the time?

And, while we’re at it, now that the Canadian dollar is roughly at par with the American dollar, how about charging us the same price?  The same REGULAR price – not a sale price that brings it down to the American regular price.  I don’t buy the excuses they give for charging us more.  We’re subsidizing the American market.

Anyway, it was just a simple, inexpensive little camera for some quick snaps.  I thought I’d ease into digital before dropping a bomb on a digital SLR that I could use all my lenses with.  But, this little ninety nine dollar wonder appears to be capable of way more than I thought.  It even records movies – and with sound!  I doubt they would be of very high quality, but it could be a useful feature in the right moment if there’s nothing better at hand.

I don’t know these things for certain, though, because I haven’t actually used the damn thing, yet.  You see, I haven’t even set the camera up yet because I haven’t made it through the instruction manual.  It seems to be designed to make you not want to read it.  It’s repetitive, unclear, and just plain annoying.  It’s so annoying, in fact, that every time I pick it up, I put it down again and do something else.

I should probably just play around with the camera and figure it out myself.  A menu system is a menu system, after all.  But, as the one clear part of the manual says, digicams are pigs for batteries.  I’m worried the batteries will die before the self-guided tutorial is over.

Never mind that, it’s a beautiful sunny day and there may even be a couple more of those this week.  There are such things as rechargeable batteries.  Throw caution to the wind.  Live dangerously.  Just pick the thing up and use it.

If you happen to be an executive in a foreign consumer goods/electronics corporation, I’m available for writing services at reasonable rates.

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Disillusionment

January 19, 2008

People talk of disillusionment as if it’s a bad thing, but it should be good.  Disillusion, and it’s suffix-enhanced derivatives, is one of my favourite words.  It is misleading in its use, but revealing in its construction.

The Gage Canadian Dictionary defines disillusion as “free from illusion”, “freeing or being freed from illusion”.  Examining its constituent parts, this seems obvious – dis = not, remove;  illusion = false vision;  and ment = condition or state of.  So disillusion means not under – or free from – false vision, and disillusionment is the condition or state of not – or no longer – being under false vision.  In other words, disillusionment is clarity.  That’s a good thing, no?

Clarity is good, but we think of disillusionment as bad because when people see the truth after being lied to all their lives, they feel resentment or, perhaps, depression.  But, it’s not the newly found clarity that is the problem, it is the lies they’ve been taught by the people they should have been able to trust the most.  When the people you counted on to raise and teach you turn out to have been wrong, and to have given you a false vision of the world, it is natural that there will be negative sentiment.

When this happens people lose confidence in the old system.  But there isn’t a system in place to replace the old one so they may become cynical and adopt the attitude that it doesn’t matter, that there are no rules or limits on behaviour.  This, at least in part, is what happened in the 1960s and 1970s when, for the first time, large numbers of people questioned the institutions of their childhood and found them lacking.  But, they didn’t really have anything to replace them with.  There are those who would point to this and say, “See?  This is what happens without god.”  There are alternatives, though.

We need to teach children a new system of ethics based on rationality, common sense, and truth – not fear of a god or eternal damnation.  It has to be done from an early age, in school.  They should be taught how to figure out the right thing to do, rather than to follow like sheep.  In other words, they have to develop critical thinking skills so they can distinguish right from wrong.  Then, maybe, everyone can be on the same page in the future.

Of course, it will have to be done carefully.  I’m thinking of a conversation I had years ago with a French friend, in which I told her I had the impression that French kids throw away their Sartre when they read they are free and go out to wreak havoc, before getting to the part about responsibility.  She didn’t disagree.

This post appears in the Carnival of the Godless #87.