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Philosophy

New FishI purchased a Betta fish for my oldest boy last week and I’ve really been enjoying watching it swim around. Since purchasing it, I have been searching online to see how to take care of it. Boy is there a ton of information online! I decided to summarize some major points of Betta care here on this blog so people can reference it.

How to Properly Care for a Betta Fish

  1. Many people think that the primary habitats for Bettas in the world are muddy puddles in Thailand.  That’s not true!  Bettas primarily live in aquariums.  There is a myth going around that Bettas are “low maintenance” fish that require very little attention.  Nothing could be further from the truth!
  2. As a result of the above misunderstanding, many cruel individuals put Bettas in small, crowded cups and tiny desktop aquariums, almost never changing the water.  These individuals should be dragged out of their offices and savagely beaten.
  3. Bettas need tanks, and the bigger the better!  Some suggest 10 gallon tanks, but I find this to be far too small.  It is much preferred to put Bettas in bathtubs, or even better, outdoor swimming pools.  They will be very happy!
  4. Bettas are loving, gentle creatures, that will brutally attack, maul, and kill any other living thing that you place in or near its tank.  Please do not do that.
  5. As far as habitat goes, you should include several live plants, a cave, some decent furniture, a washer/dryer hookup (AT LEAST) and place the tank near a window so the Betta can look pensively to the outside world from which it was cruelly taken.  Whatever color decorations you choose, please keep in mind that Bettas like it when its habitat is modern, but “pops.”  Do not attempt to use Feng Shui  to arrange the habitat, not because the Betta doesn’t like Feng Shui, but because you’re likely to do it wrong and Bettas feel that if you can’t do it right you shouldn’t be doing it at all.
  6. You must take special care not to stress out your fish.  Bettas are especially stressed out when touch the glass, tap the glass, look at them, say things about them behind their backs, discuss sensitive political or religious topics when near the tank (Note: Bettas are usually Libertarians and Methodists, but DON’T want to talk about it), when the water is too warm, when the water is too cold, if there are too many bubbles on the sides of the tank, if they don’t have a little cave to swim in, if you under- or over-feed them, and during major holidays when it is unable to see its family.  (Note:  DO NOT attempt to reunite the Betta with its family, as it will probably attempt to kill them)
  7. A stressed-out Betta is likely to commit suicide by leaping out of the aquarium onto your carpet.
  8. You can check to see if a Betta is stressed by looking for the following behaviors:  blowing bubbles, hyperventilating, swimming, looking around, and hiding in its cave (if you even thought to buy one, you insensitive jerk).  If your Betta is stressed we suggest putting on some West Coast Jazz (Note:  NOT EAST COAST JAZZ) and making an appointment for a local therapist who specializes in one of the following clinical modalities:  DBT, ACT, or CBT (Note: NOT PSYCHODYNAMIC – PLEASE DO NOT MENTION PARENTS TO THE BETTA AS THIS IS A RATHER SENSITIVE ISSUE).
  9. Bettas should live in unfiltered, uncycled tanks.  Anything else stresses out a Betta.  As such, you will need to completely change your water every two hours to ensure that your water is not stressing out your Betta.  I suggest having a second, larger backup tank to move the Betta to when you are cleaning the first tank.  Then switch and clean the second tank.
  10. You need to check your aquarium hourly for the presence of these toxic chemicals:  too much iron, calcium, phosphorus, uranium, ammonia, bleach, radium, kryptonite, stones, dissolved noble gasses, bubbles, dust, water.  If you detect the presence of any of these substances please drain your tank, and take your Betta back to the store because you are unfit to own a Betta.
  11. After checking for toxic substances, you need to test the pH of the water, the temperature, how hard/soft it is, how much air is in it, how much water is in it, how much has evaporated since you began testing, and how much current there is.  Keep a log book to track all these factors over time.  Use Excel to create charts of these factors if you wish, but remember to use plain colors and stay two-dimensional (Note: creating 3D charts is tacky and will cause your colleagues to hate you – this is not strictly Betta advice but applies more generally).
  12. The Betta does not like it when you walk away or turn your back on it.  Please place your bed next to the tank so the Betta does not feel abandoned while you sleep.  Bettas want you to ask how their day went and they can tell if you’re not really interested.  Please ask the Betta how it is doing and don’t be a “fixer” – sometimes the Betta just needs to vent and doesn’t need you always trying to fix its problems.
  13. Under no circumstances should Bettas live in unfiltered, uncycled tanks.  These tend to stress out the Betta.  In order to make a proper habitat for your Betta, you will need to cycle your tank.  There are many resources online that have several methods for cycling your tank, but the most reliable one is to fill your tank, let it sit in your room for eight weeks, then take your tank to Thailand and bury it in a rice paddy.  Allow the natural water to mix with your water gradually over the next week and then introduce your Betta into the tank very gradually (give this about eight more weeks).  Your Betta will then be very happy in its natural habitat, surrounded by its natural foods and predators.

Now some might look at all these rules and think, “That seems like a lot of upkeep for a $8 fish.”  If you are thinking this, you will never be worthy to keep a Betta, or even for that matter a human relationship.  Please do not purchase a Betta if you are not willing to put the time and effort into keeping it alive.

Good luck!

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Objection:  If philosophy is about finding truth, and truth is an actual objective thing in the world, then why do all the wisest philosophers through history disagree with each other?

Response:  Many wise people argue about whether the Beatles really were the greatest rock band of all time, and some even argue that the Beatles are overrated.  But the Beatles are objectively the greatest and most awesome rock band of all time.  If wise people can disagree on that fact, we should not lose hope that there is an objectively true philosophy in the world.

The_Nantucket_School_of_Philosophy__1887I just saw someone make a comment online that high schools should have philosophy in their curriculum, and that it would increase standardized test scores.

I used to think that philosophy was all sophistry and dumb thought experiments, and didn’t pay it much attention. I think it was because I resented a field that 1) I didn’t understand at the time, 2) had such an esoteric language that it seemed impenetrable, and 3) was full of people that seemed very, very full of themselves. However, University of Kentucky required a symbolic logic class to all undergraduates, and that class went over logical fallacies, symbolic logic, and basic philosophy. I have to say that in hindsight that was one of the hardest, yet most important classes I ever took. It really did improve the way I thought about arguments, the way I engaged in discourse, and the way I viewed my own ability to think. It caused me to re-evaluate the assumptions I used to navigate the world. It also drove me to really pursue philosophy due to the realization that there’s no getting around it. They say that “If you say you’re not doing philosophy, you’re probably just doing it poorly,” and that is so true.

It especially made a difference when I started to study the theories behind psychology.  I had such a hard time trying to study consciousness from a purely Dennettian-type materialism (that seems to under-gird a lot of modern psychological theory).  It just didn’t work for me, and it was hard to deal with psychology without a real working theory of consciousness (Aristotle and Aquinas made this much easier for me).

The other cool thing about knowing a little philosophy is that it becomes easier to spot the overbearing people online who look like they know a lot but are really just bullies.

I don’t claim to be a philosopher or an expert or anything like that. In fact, the deeper I get in philosophy, the more I realize that I’m pretty much an idiot (my friends might note the marked decrease in online arguments I’ve gotten into since, say, 2006). But even a little formal training in logic and philosophy went a long, long way for me. I would totally support mandatory basic philosophy instruction for people in every field, and even in high school.