On punishment

I have on different occasions shared opinions and quotes on this topic. It is known by regular readers that I am I lean towards abolition of prisons. I also believe with JJR that we should abolish capital punishment in the few places where it is still in the statutes. This doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with what to do with violent offenders. I listen to podcasts on crime and some of the offenses leave me wanting to throw up. The cruelty. The pain caused to families. The violence to the victims. It is all too sick. And the question is, what must society do to protect itself from such?

All that is not the subject of this post.

In this post, I want to ask a question. Different countries have term limits for different crimes ranging from a few weeks to several lifetimes or even capital punishment. The question is, was there a rational basis for say determining that for the crime of sexual assault, the minimum time for rape is 10 years (according to the Kenyan law)? I think the mandatory sentence was ruled unconstitutional. What is to be achieved in the ten years? Could the society achieve the same goal with a shorter sentence? Say 2 years?

What are your thoughts on this matter? Are there rational ways of determining what length of a sentence is required for say a murder? Keep in mind society doesn’t always punish murders. For example, during war, the guy whose side wins i.e kills the most, gets more stars on his shoulder and a presidential commendation for valour and other military honours. It is the killing by individuals not sanctioned by the state that we abhor completely.

Maybe I have this all wrong.

fuck work

Last week I was reading this post about work and whether work, really is the solution. The authors argue that the age old maxim from the good book about work (he who doesn’t work shouldn’t eat) may actually no longer hold.

From where I sit, I think this is a first world problem. In many places on the continent and other cities in the global south, there is an employment crisis. Those in employable age bracket have no work and struggle to make a living and would be the last to say fuck work.

What do you think of this question posed in the article?

How do you make a living without a job – can you receive income without working for it? Is it possible, to begin with and then, the hard part, is it ethical? If you were raised to believe that work is the index of your value to society – as most of us were – would it feel like cheating to get something for nothing?

How will covid 19 end?

Or rather, when will it be declared endemic rather than a pandemic? And realistically, if it is after mass vaccination, that is not soon. Whereas some places have close to 90% vaccination rates, we, here in Africa, at last check, are at 30%.

How will this post pandemic world look like? Masks everywhere? Booster shots every 3-4 months? Dead economic sectors.

In unrelated news, Moi, the late president is said to have left behind $3 billion worth of assets. Man was stealing for 24 years while the rest of the nation was impoverished. It is true he followed the footsteps of the first thief. Maybe these thieving heads of states should read Tolstoy’s how much land does a person need. Maybe they will check their appetite for public goods.

Whatever happens, stay alive.

In sensation and sex

Plutarch argues only three things are eternal

  • Atoms
  • Empty space- it remains untouched and unaffected by any impact
  • The universe- no available place surrounding it into which its matter can disperse and disintegrate

He the continues to argue against the idea of an eternal spirit since it, among others, may fall prey to the mind’s own specific afflictions, madness, amnesia and plunge into the black of waters of oblivion.

Following this argument, then, he concludes that death is nothing to us and no concern of ours since our tenure of the mind is mortal.

And in a formulation of the argument that we were dead for eternity and it didn’t bother us, he writes

If the light of life were given to us anew, even that contingency would still be no concern of ours once the chain of our identity has been snapped. We who are now are not concerned with ourselves in any previous existence: the sufferings of those selves do not touch us.

So my friends, fear not death, it is nothing to us the living. It awaits us at the end of life. Harbour no fear for torments after death. All your torments are this side of the grave. Don’t multiply them needlessly.

were you there before you were born?

I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.

Mark Twain

I know that title is a mouthful, but you will have to bear with it. But before we get into the meat of today’s topic, is it really the case, as implied in the quote from Mark Twain that we were dead for billions of years before we were born? Is to not exist and to be dead the same thing? To die, I think is only possible if we have lived. And therefore Mark Twain is only half right. And for this reason, there is some reason why many if not all of us fear death or is it dying. The thought of ceasing to be goes with all our hopes, desires, anxieties and even troubles.

How many of you remember what you ate for lunch last Monday. I will wait. Rebecca remembers life from when she was inside the womb. That is as close as it gets to before one was born. I don’t remember much of anything from the past anyway.And maybe it is a good thing. No, I didn’t have a bad childhood. It was just ordinary. School. Home. School. Just like it is for most people.

Do you know anyone with such memory or are you one of the 59 others with such memory and would you weigh in and tell us about it.

On happiness

Seasons Greetings everyone.

I hope you all are keeping well and that you have had a break from work, boring colleagues or for that matter away from annoying relatives.

While scouring the net, I saw a post about unwritten rules on happiness and what struck me as odd was that the poster reduced happiness to the little question of money writing things such as a 50 and 5000 shillings watch both tell time but can’t buy you more hours, which while being generally true is not what we think about when we buy stuff. He writes, for example

1. A $50 watch and a $5000 watch both can tell you the time. But neither can buy you more time. So focus on living each day and each moment fully. And that buys you time and happiness.

2. A $20,000 car and a $200,000 car can both take you to your destination. But neither can take you to your dream. So focus each day on getting a closer to that. And one day you’ll reach it.

Which all sound interesting but only on the surface. The day I meet a person buying an expensive watch because they hope to buy an additional 2 hours in a day, I will report. Until then, this advice while almost looking really deep is nonsense.

I read somewhere, I think it was in Courage to be disliked, that we are happy generally when we feel useful to others. Happiness is fleeting. And as such buying things cannot really solve the problem. We will just need the next big thing: we become like the city of Dubai always coming up with the next big thing to build.

Between contentment and happiness what should we pursue?

Happiness, like all gifts of Fortuna, are never constant. Today one is happy, tomorrow they are miserable. Maybe detachment is what we should seek and say with Arjuna or is it Krishna, that we should look with the same eye a mound of gold and a mound of Ash, a dog and the man who eats the dog.

Be happy. Seek detachment.