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|Tuesday, February 1st, 2011|
The Boundaries of Trauma
So the following subject was recalled in conversation earlier today, and if anyone still follows this group or cares about LiveJournal, I'd love to see some debate:
To what extent does a society have a responsibility to care for an injury versus the individual's responsibility? Does this boundary change between physical and mental injuries? What does this imply about our perceptions and ethics?
"Injury" is being used in the context that it is used in all medical writing (I write medical textbooks for a living), that is, as any condition that manifests from outside influence, accident or infection. These terms are intentionally value-free.
And yes, I want to hear about all injuries; temporary, permanent, physical and mental. Tell me about "fair," tell me about "ethical," tell me about "effective." Let me hear the range of discussion.
|Monday, October 26th, 2009|
on the long car ride to mooresville last friday, i was talking to cristina about an idea i had, which is pretty much a useless one but one that sort of captured my attention for a little bit and took up some of the car ride in discussion.
what if the garden of eden was not a literal garden but a state of human being? i will try to explain this idea.
in the beginning, when god(something) created man and woman, we were much like animals, not aware or caring that we didn't have clothing, merely going through our normal processes eating, defecating, mating. the apple was not an apple at all but a step of human consciousness. we became aware, we created an ego to filter and process the world around us. we became separate entities aware of each other as distinct from ourselves. this ego acted as a shield between us and the divine. our ego matrix made us aware we were naked, thus adam and eve wore clothes. the ego matrix was weak and fragile, so it wanted protection and comfort. fear became the primary dominating tool through which humans would interact. language became a way to communicate without telling truths. dichotomy was implemented to further satiate the "us" and "them" catagories, which don't actually exist at any level but are just superimposed to make us feel like we have structure.
fear became the primary tool through which everything we created was in response to this fear. fear dominated entire lifespans, decisions. words, created out of fear, grew into barriers so great they separated large groups of people. depending on the vocabulary, words could be used to limit the ability for humans to describe their surroundings.
the quest to communicate with the divine, and the rest of the universe, grew more and more difficult as more and more man-made constraints were put into play.
eventually, people sold the "idea" of communing with the universe and the idea became more and more perverted to the point that humans shunned the actual notion of the actual thing and were more interested in following the "steps" (man-made dogmas) created to attain notional views of immortality (which doesn't exist).
"love the lord, your god, above all others. love thy neighbor as thy self. this is the whole of the law and the prophet."
can any disagree with this? perhaps, should you not believe in god. but the second part, loving thy neighbor as thyself? is this surely a disagreable statement? and the last part as well, that between these two statements lies everything that one needs to truly commune and exist in our universe?
our lifespans are not infinite. surely, this is evident by the certainty of death and the end of life as we are aware of it. there is no mention of heaven towards afterlife. the heaven that is attained, is attained here. the kingdom of god is amongst the meakest and the humblest of men. hell is also here and it is in our own gnashing of teeth and lamenting, both expressed in our actions and in our internal emotions. and as i said before, as dichotomies merely exist to satiate our egos, let us remove that barrier. heaven and hell are both amongst us as we breathe and live right here. we choose, everyday, every waking moment, which one we will exist in.
that is our gift.
|Sunday, October 25th, 2009|
Listen to your soul
Its glibly proscribed that the party is down in hell, that all the cool people end up there for various and assorted technical violations, and that heaven, in its respective contravention, is ambrosia sipping conservative boors and harp music. The dream of heaven is claimed as falsehood, because, fundamentally, the interesting people, those gray heroes, those heroes who struggled vainly against their world, often didnt play by the technical rules.
Lets throw out the book on this, and re-image heaven and hell to new accords. The first question is, what merits do we evaluate individuals on?"You taught me one thing, the only thing, I should always remember?
Heaven or hell appears fundamentally a measure of one's soul, and to what extents one has lived their life in direction and under prescription of their soul's guidance. Its a remarkably universal belief that one has to listen to one's soul, both eastern and western (albeit perhaps only as a function of the great karmic/daoist wheels of fate in some belief circles), that its us to up to play out the weight of judgment invested in something transcending our bodily selves.
What if we replace the conventional sing-song repentance rulebook with an actualization schema? Heaven is where those who followed their callings go, hell is where the supplicants to worldly convention and normality fall? Those of God's will, those who follow his and their own soul, hold court in heaven, their combined voice the aggregate Unity of being? The rest, those corrupted by the world, those who did not listen to the soul, left to cycle again and again until they can hear their own voice? I think here of the rapture of What Dreams May Come, the housewife Anne Nielsen, lost, a soul rent upon the barbs of a harsh reality, unable to imagine itself.
And what of this alter heaven? Is it open only to the blessed? What of modern monsters who followed their own unique callings? Is there room for aparthiedists, segregists, dictators, and capitalists? Of these, undoubtedly some felt that they had a destiny greater than themselves they were living out, that their atypical journey was a part of their truest self? How do we judge the cases where the soul contravenes the moralities of the world and goodness?
|Thursday, October 15th, 2009|
|Saturday, August 8th, 2009|
|Thursday, August 6th, 2009|
|Tuesday, August 4th, 2009|
Socialists all in yo bidness?
So here's a spinoff from a comment I made to the last post.
Let's suppose for a minute that this country nationalizes healthcare, providing free or low cost medical coverage to all. Let's just pretend that happens and not argue over whether it should. I'm sure most of you know where I stand personally.
But if it does. . .
Since you would be paying for my addiction recovery program, would that give you the right and/or obligation to insist that me and all the other addicts out there knock that shit off? Would you be more inclined to condemn blatantly self-destructive behavior if you were forced to share the consequences of everyone's self-destructive behavior?
Right now most Americans live in a (delusional) bubble of "That's your problem, not mine." If my problem became your problem, would it pop that bubble and inspire you to get more up in my bidness? Or would you still pretend it wasn't your problem? Would you feel disenfranchised since, sure, you can throw my meth in a river and lock me in a closet till I detox, but it ain't gonna make a dent in the thousands of other meth-heads out there?
And there's the slippery slope element as well. Getting some community shunning going on for folks who engage in wantonly self-destructive behavior like drug use and violence is one thing, but telling me that I shouldn't be able to have my sixth baby because you're going to be paying for the delivery is another. And that slip slides even further down the eugenics slope. If you're paying for every delivery, would it not make sense to create societal disincentives for multiple children? (Hey, works in China, eh?)
Or maybe I just like my slip-n-slide. Wheeeee!
In any case, I actually have no passionate opinion about this thought experiment, but thought it might make for interesting discussion. Would living in a socialist country make you more inclined to voice your opinions about other people's choices? Current Mood: contemplative
|Saturday, April 4th, 2009|
sometimes it feels like we're desperately trying to duct tape the financial golem back together. i for one hold no great hope our actions will alleviate its poor behavior. how long until we declare that our capitalist system needs a fundamental & thorough restructuring? how long until the monster kills a second time?
|Friday, September 26th, 2008|
APB to the Men of Strange Honor
This is an APB to the Men (and Women) of Strange Honor:
Debate gather at Carlos' place tonight.
Debate starts at 9pm Eastern.
That is all.
|Monday, May 5th, 2008|
The Substance of Marriage
It's been a while since we had a nice talk about social constructs. The subject came up recently about what the meat and bones of marriage is. I have decided that the best way to come to a consensus is to turn it over to my fellow Men of Strange Honor for debate.
First off, I put forward that a marriage is a ritual (that is a distinct ceremonial event with established rites/actions) that is meant to join people in an official, social, emotional or legally binding way. The ritual is most frequently associated with a romantic subtext or context. Please note that use of the word "or" in the above list means that the ritual need only fill one to be a marriage ritual. Filling more than one is just fine too.
From this definition I asks you fellow Men of Strange Honor the following questions:
Are there any other requirements of a marriage ritual?
Is an officiator essential for a marriage ritual?
If so, what is the purpose of the officiator?
If not, can two people simply marry each other?
To help start discussion my answers to these questions are as follows:
-- For a ritual to be valid it must have a link to a third party that either is or represents a social, spiritual or legal power that the parties being married have a real commitment and faith to. The philosophical part is that marriage is a blend of the married parties to one another and then to the thing that makes up the fabric of their world. For some that's God. For some it's ancestor spirits. For some it is the rule of law.
-- This means that for the most part an officiator is necessary for marriage. Lacking the presence of the deity/construct/concept itself as witness, it is necessary to have someone(s) endowed with that deity/construct/concept's authority and power act as its stand-in. (this also answers the question after that)
-- However, I posit that if two people are in a great enough state of commitment and passion to their deity/construct/concept (what some would call "grace") that an officiator is no longer necessary. For people such as these, the promise that a marriage ritual implies runs deep enough to be a part of thier essence.
-- While Carlos really does believe that people like this are out there right this minute, he's pretty damn sure that 99% of people that claim to be this committed are not. Furthermore not a single one of the Men of Strange Honor is qualified to waive the presence of an officiator. Sorry guys!
So let's hear some answers! I believe in the consensus so I want to see some. . . um. . . consensusing! Also, please save commentary on the necessity of marriage for another thread. This is not a debate on why one should get married. It merely seeks to ask the question "What is a marriage ritual?"
|Thursday, March 6th, 2008|
Something Just Occurred to Me
In thinking about the Democratic Presidential primary, something just occurred to me:
It's as if it's being written by Carlos, possibly in a PtK Larp style (maybe Reinhart and Ken are helping him out there).
I mean seriously, think about it. Not in terms of Obama and Clinton being PC's, but as though the game was a split game with PC's playing members of the Obama campaign, and others being part of the Hillary campaign.
This would be a story that was based around the 'campaiging' of the two campaigns as they continue to run across eachother, criss-crossing the states, each trying to set forward their particular arguments for their candidates.
One side (the Obama camp) clearly has the org advantage. They raise the money better, they have the better 'good guy' message, they have the better organization on the ground, they learn rapidly for all the curve balls thrown at them-- just like PC's. The Hillary camp isn't that far behind-- they represent the smaller group of PC's. Then there's the unaligned, the groups who are for the second tier candidates, and the slightly smaller group that is organized but doesn't have the numbers (John Edwards). In the distance is John McCain-- almost a classic Carlos arch-villian, the guy that used to be on your side but sold out, so now he has all your inside secrets and all the power of the dark side. He's the bigger external threat to both sides that occassionally the ST team uses to prod the PC's into doing something.
Things were hard fought up to the Iowa Caucus-- you could view the pre-Iowa stuff as the first few games. Everyone's still friendly, still hob-nobbing and the like. Iowa is where the money starts to happen-- the first major showdown between the two PC factions. Obama wins it on the numbers. Then it's on to New Hampshire-- Obama's group still has the organization and technically speaking the momentum-- but to make the story good Obama has to take a dive, and Hillary has to come out on top. Never mind that the Hillary success doesn't really fit into the equation-- a slim enough reason will do ("all the independents and Republicans crossovers voted in the Republican match-off for John McCain! That'll work!"). That sets the stage for a dramatic exit by John Edwards, and sets the stage for Nevada, which works out as a tie-- Obama wins the delegates (which the ST team knows will matter more down the road) while Clinton wins the state just barely. Whoever is playing Bill Clinton botches his bid to play the race card, and then it's on to North Carolina, where Obama turns up smelling roses. On to Super-Tuesday!
Super-Tuesday comes, but they've decided to extend this whole PvP portion of the game, because it's going so well. They'll have to shorten up the last half of the game, where the PC's coalesce against the bad guy later, but that's doable. The Super-Tuesday game-- the game where the PvP portion was supposed to wrap up-- turns into a highly dramatic setting, where once again things are split. By this point, it's clear that the Hillary camp has fewer players, and hence fewer background points to bring to bear in BGAs or BEA-- Between Election Actions. The Obama people probably wrapped up a larger chunk of the independent characters and found a deal with the Edwards folks. Hillary's camp wins the big states that they targeted their limited resources after the Obama camp hits on the brilliant strategic move of focusing on the small states as much as the big ones. Obama builds up a delegate lead, and carries more states.
The Clinton camp, looking at it's limited resources decides it will head to Ohio and Texas, and focuses all of their efforts there. This cedes everything in between to the Obama camp-- including dangerously the Potomac Primary, which was probably the game after the Supertuesday game. Potomac puts the Hilary camp into a panic, so they spend some of their limited BGA's to try to do something in Wisconsin, but it's not enough.
However, someone in the Clinton camp-- probably whoever is playing Mark Penn-- decides to go Dark Side. If you've ever played in a Carlos game, you know that going Dark Side will net you huge returns-- in the short-term. The Hillary camp goes negative, producing that 3am phone call spot. They go at Obama with the kitchen sink, everything in their arsenal. They even get the support of that most diabolical of NPC's, Rush Limbaugh. The ST team still has to consider the incredible amount of resources the Obama people are throwing at this, though-- so Hilary wins Ohio by a margin, and Rhode Island... Texas plays screwy, with the Texas two-step ultimately working out in Obama's favor in terms of delegates, but giving the Hilary camp the 'win' they needed to move forward.
Now it's on to Pennsylvania-- where quintessential dramatic questions will be stuff like whether or not more Hillary campers will go dark side, but also be a real test to see if the Hillary camp can get it's organizational game together. The bigger question is how far the Hillary players will go. Mathematically, at least, they know that unless they pull off a goddamn miracle they're going to lose, because they let themselves slide too far down the delegate count. The Hillary players are probably considering the option of burning out their current PC's at the end of this season (Juneish), and then GNCing as McCain supporters afterwards for the final couple arcs of the game.
Carlos-- you had better have a good goddamn ending planned out for this one.
|Friday, January 11th, 2008|
On the doorstep of a bold new world
A while back I did an entry on the bold new future of Larp. Basically, it focused on the use of Smart-Phones and Bluetooth in a Larp setting, to change the way mechanics were resolved.
Since then, I've done some bigger thinking on the bold new future of Smart Phone technology-- or to be more exact, mobile computing.
Carlos once described a rule he'd developed for his Gamma World game regarding Hypertech. Basically, a hypertech item was essentially a basic item, with added features, some useful, some marginally so. So a Cell phone was essentially a "Hypertech Pocketwatch." It told you the time of day, and also allowed you to call, text, surf the web, function as an alarm, sometimes play music, and had lots of less useful features like working as an address book, a limited use as a flashlight, etc.
The advent of Smart Phone technology is really just coming up on us. And there are some bold analogies between the rise of what I believe may first be called the First Information Age, and the Second. Or perhaps, a hundred years from now, this will simply look like another phase of the Information age, which will in turn seem like an expansion of the Industrial Age in a millenia, much as the early Medival period today looks to us like one big period of time covering the fall of the Roman Empire to the Rennaisance.
One of those analogies to the past: the Apple iPhone and the rise of the Macintosh computer. In this analogy, the iPod is essentially like an Apple II. When Apple rolled out the Macintosh, the home computing industry was just starting to launch, and the rise of Microsoft Windows was right around the corner. Similarly, the iPhone, but today it's Google with the Android OS right around the corner.
Think about it; Apple was all sorts of proprietary about their operating system then, and wanted control of the hardware. Then along came Microsoft, producing an OS that any manufacturer could build a machine to run. Google's Android will be a Smart Phone OS which any manufacturer can build a machine to run. Technically, any manufacturer could make a phone to run Palm OS or Windows OS, but what these both lack in critical ways is the ability to interface through the internet to external services. To run back to the Macintosh/Windows analogy, Windows had Internet Explorer, while Macintosh had Netscape, and with these you could surf the Web. Interfacing with the internet was the reason to buy a home computer, and that's why these two dominated the PC market. There were other operating systems that allowed you to do a bunch of stuff on the personal computer-- but it was those two that really allowed you to surf the net. Apple this time will be a bigger competitor, since they have the past to learn from. But Android breaks the manufacturer barrier, much like Windows did, making a stable platform for a ubiquity of software.
This will soon make them affordable to the average person, and when that's the case, then the technology will truly become ubiquitus.
So lets start with what a Smart Phone can do now:
The Near Future
What it will be able to do in the near future:
But wait, there's more;
I'm betting the gentlemen of Strange Honor can come up with an even bigger plethora of things a Smart Phone could do in a market where they are ubiquitous, and not the province of the buisiness elite.
So, what's your concept?
|Tuesday, January 8th, 2008|
Good day, kind sirs
So, as some of you probably know, I have lurked around this group for a little while now. I will admit my intrigue.
The time for lurking has ended. The time for posting has begun.
Although '08 has started off poorly already (most notably, I was unable to attend a certain DC based New Years bash that I really wanted to partake in), I have made myself a pledge. I hate the word 'resolution', especially as it applies to New Years, but that is essentially what it is.
When I was younger, I could make numbers dance for me. I always got math. There was something comforting in the balance of an equation. I feel, though, that I have lost my talent with numbers (only more ironic as I work for a national payroll provider). The basics are all still there, but the rest is lost.
In an attempt to sharpen my skills, I have chosen to move away from branches of mathematics that I was so familiar with, and have branched into new territory. Game Theory sounded interesting (from what I read on Wikipedia, I admit, but it was until very recently one of the few web pages I could get to at work), and am working on several books on the topic.
So thought, as my introductory post, I would consult the Men of Strange Honor for suggestions into more what you all consider the more interesting branches of math (and it does not need hold only to math, it can certainly expand into other sciences).
So, gentlemen, I ask you, for what you feel are the more interesting branches of math, and what you think might hold my attention.
|Saturday, October 27th, 2007|
hey, it's me...mr. positive.
the world is changing. the world of the united states and this entire hemisphere, as we know it, is past. entering in is a new age. one where the pieces on the chess board have changed nationalities, allegiances, and assets. we are no longer the biggest player on the board. as once said by a good friend, every overt war is merely the public version of a secret war of hidden societies. in this case, though, i believe war merely be a contextual illusion for which business to transact without unnecessary prying eyes.
the seals are being made, my folks. the chains and shackles your little hairs feel are but the beginning. as you watch tv and placate your children with video games, the cold unforgiving steel of slavery and servitude will creep around your wrists and throats. it will be gradual. what would be considered ridiculous to give up a year ago will seem reasonable and rational to surrender the year after. oh if but our ancestors saw us now. what would they think?
but despair not. for as the sun sets on our little world, it blooms on another, for there are other worlds than this one. in india, in china, in japan, the sun rises. in russia, new life is blown into the cold lifeless cadaver. though it spells none the better for any of us, it is the reality that we will soon know. our children will. we will eventually be the third world country that we donated endless dollars to cure on some other side of the ocean. the religious zealots will gain control and we will be made to kneel at their mercy, for under their righteous sword of indignation, the greater masters of this whole game know that they are the easiest to placate and control. we will be forced to bow to some imaginary god figure that we will be told resembles something from a book that the zealots wrote themselves. rebels, what few will there ever be, will be scattered to the wind and destroyed. communism, socialism, all of these will be long forgotten terms that shy to describe the new despotism that will befall each and every one of us.
our artificial way of life will draw to an end. and it will not be at a time of our choosing or even in a manner of which we should see fit. the sceptor and the crown will be wretched from our hands, or will will hand it over peacefully and without protest. in the end, the conclusion is the same.
but on the other side of the world, perhaps they will discover the next steps. perhaps they who are not afraid to venture, will take some of our genetics off of this planet. perhaps they will find the holes in the time/space continuum and escape the vicious cycle of humanity. because we, as a race, are running out of time. the vicious realities to come in the near future are nothing compared to the pain and suffering we will have in fifty and one hundred years. this planet is hemorraging with us on top of it. it seeks to rid itself of our cancer. and while we turn with the cycles we have always turned with, it prepares and steels itself to trim the hedges of its own branches. for we are its ill begotten children and our spark-dream never realized. perhaps the new renaissance will carry some of us off of this planet. perhaps there is a chance for us out in the stars. for humanity is at its best when it has a boundless frontier, where its cycle can never fully catch up to itself, where there is always something to fight besides its own self. if not, then the planet and the universe will swallow us up whole and the darkness will forget we ever existed.
|Saturday, October 13th, 2007|
the human upgrade
the human upgrade, and its federal regulators: the emergence of nootropics as a reform agent of drug regulation.
""Freedom of thought... is the matrix, the indispensable condition, of nearly every other form of freedom. With rare aberrations a pervasive recognition of this truth can be traced in our history, political and legal." - Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo, Palko v. Connecticut.
"psychoactive substance: any substance that people take to change either the way they feel, think, or behave." - UN Office of Drugs and Crimenootropics
are substances which claim to boost human cognitive abilities.
ru sirius had a neofiles interview with Will Block of life-enhancement.com
on pharmacology & nootropics. it can be found at http://www.life-enhancement.com/Neofiles/default.asp?ID=36
and has a rich historical and anecdotal overview of nootropics.( necessary disclaimer about interview & life-enhancement.comCollapse )( life-enhancement.com as reference textCollapse )
enhancement drugs and drug regulation
the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research arm of the FDA is the regulatory body in the United States responsible for monitoring the use of substances for the prevention and treatment of illness & disease. the quandry this creates lies in the definition of nootropic drugs: these are substances created outside the bounds of disease, not meant to cure problems but meant to improve and enable normal optimal operation of the human system. there is no FDA schema for testing or evaluation nootropics, because theres no disease they're meant to cure. thus, drug companies are unable to market any drugs they discover.
take Melanotan, the so called "barbie doll drug," so called for its major effects: it induces a tan, acts against the hypothalamus to increase libido, and serves as anti inflamatory and appetite suppresant. there are diseases and disorders in the DSM that correspond to each one of these effects: for anyone who wants a tan, this is a viable drug (with significantly less physiological damage than the alternatives: going outside or the tanning salon). for anyone with libido problems this is a potential drug. for anyone with appetite disorders, this is a potential drug. yet altogether these incidents miss the looming fact that this is a drug with vast and ranging desirable characteristics, and could be of aid to people who just want a tan, not just people running serious and life threatening risks of getting skin cancer.
not all human improvement necessarily relies on drugs. recent experiments with intercooling the circulatory system to remove excess heat show jaw dropping potential for increasing endurance, reducing exercise induced muscle damage, and placing the critically wounded into hibernative states. Researcher Craig Heller at Stanford is now recieving DARPA funding for "the glove," a wearable intercooler that runs cold water against veins of the hand to dissipate heat. his academic research with the glove shows a marked increase in aerobic treadmill endurance. his work with the military shows enormous potential to decrease fatigue and reduce muscle damage for muscle builders, rapidly increasing training schedules.
the world of sports has been rocked by drug using athleets. yet while we frown on athletes using drugs to build muscles, we have no problem with these cyborgs giving themselves 20/7 LASIK vision
already there is a radical shift
towards making experimental drugs more accessible to terminally ill patients. the recent FDA concerns for drug safety, coupled with increased availability demands, place an emphasis on the FDA to test the safety of drugs, not necessarily verify their medical advantage. the FDA needs to respond by evaluating early stage clinical trials in terms of their risks, and less so their rewards. this slow reform back to where we were in 1938
, with the FDA as a safety body on behalf of the consumer, will be accelerated any day now as anti-aging treatments come to fruition.
almost all powers of the FDA drug regulation derive from three major acts:
0. The Harrison Act
of 1914, mandating recorded monitoring of the opiate trade to insure proper taxation, including provisions requiring all purchases to be backed by a doctor prescription. a latter 1917 rules interprettation on the phrase "in the course of his professional practice only," discriminated that doctor had to be fighting disease and body disorder to be serving in their professional capacity, forbidding the doctor from prescribing opiates for patients wishing to alter their own mental state. Overturned in Linder v US
because "Obviously, direct control of medical practice in the states is beyond the power of the federal government. Incidental regulation of such practice by Congress through a taxing act cannot extend to matters plainly inappropriate and unnecessary to reasonable enforcement of a revenue measure.
" A very very similar regulatory tactic was pulled in the Marijuana Tax Act
of 1937, used by the US's first "Drug Czar" Harry Anslinger to create unmeetable standards by which he could jail anyone involved in marijuana trade, also rescinded
1. The Food, Drug, & Cosmetic Act of 1938
, written in response to an Elixer company selling a sulfanilamide tonic synthesized in an antifreeze solvent (resulting in a tort of grevious negligence, the subsequent suicide of the leadering chemist, and FDC ACT of 1938). Thusfar I've had little success in discerning the constitutional basis of this act. act
(current) and act
2. The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, in particular, Title II, the Controlled Substance Act
and latter Psychotropic Substance Act
ammendment. Notably, Part A, § 801
has the congressional findings for the act, declaring its constitutional basis, mostly relating it to its constitutional basis & deriving from the power to regulate interstate trade.
The history of the FDA is an interesting one, I suggest Contrasting Histories of the FDA
metalink for some background reading.
|Tuesday, October 2nd, 2007|
So I have this friend. . .
I know a few girls that are what a lot of folks would call "troopers." They've survived and gotten over childhood, sexual, emotional or physical abuse to become very good people while having more reason than any of us to be lost and destructive. The interesting part comes in where one or two of them share the weird "tough love" philosophy that states that no one is ever really forced into doing anything.
This got me thinking about the whole point of view and it also got me thinking about the nature of free will and dominance. Now I would love to believe that no one ever really submits but, rather, they're pounded into it until they decide to give. The thing is I've realized that the problem with this philosophy is that it's almost the same as saying that "guns don't kill people, people do."
Thinking about that statement I have to agree with the observation made by Eddie Izzard
: "I think the gun helps."
In the above example, abuse or rape would then have a shared psychological responsibility between both the violator and the violated. This creates all sorts of awkward or just plain inconsistent thinking on the causality and nature of events. Does a short skirt equal responsibility for a rape? Does a screaming temper tantrum in a drugstore equal deep bruising all down one's side? I would have to conclude that none of these elements themselves should ever be listed as the sole cause of abuse or of any situation where a person uses mental or physical power to force submission.
But having been in these places before I do have to say. . . something does give. A little part of your head really does just give up. You really do make the final decision somewhere in the back of your head to submit.
But the gun helps. Same argument. Sure, you can say that the gal in the halter top should've known what was comin' but what about that whole social system that put her in the halter top so people would think she was pretty? Sure, it was a person and not a gun that killed all those people in Sarajevo, but what about that whole 1200 rounds every 10 seconds thing? It had to help a little, ya think?
So am I on my own in thinking that power and disparity makes free will not nearly so universal and absolute as we'd like to think? (and this coming from the humanist!) What is the nature of willpower and dominance? I mean, people are strong but waterboarding and drunk dads and madison avenue are pretty god damn strong too. And if those "guns" didn't exist, don't you think it would be a lot harder for me to know so many women that've been abused?
|Monday, September 24th, 2007|
As usual, I will try to create a few sparks and hear you Men of Strange Honor bicker. Bickering's good for the blood. Let's begin this week's attempt with a fascinating video brought up by new Man of Strange Honor swingland
. It should only take up seven or so minutes of your life. Go on. I'll be waiting right here.
|Thursday, September 13th, 2007|
The Sexism Instinct
I've been jockeying for this new job/contract for the last couple weeks. The basic gist is that I needed to find someone to partner with to fulfill the requirements of this job. I tracked down two people with mad skills and a personality I could work with. I sent their work samples and info to the people doing the contracting and have been in negotiations since. Okay, great and all, but what's the point?
Well I've noticed a kind of distressing pattern in the negotiations. You see, one of my prospective work partners is male and one is female. I've noticed a consistent (albeit subtle) dismissal of the female candidate all through the course of negotiations. Sure, the male candidate might just be more qualified (they're both damn good) or might ring with some style or invisible quality this contractor is looking for, but the fact of the matter is that ever since I mentioned "female web designer" their immediate reply was "Well we don't really need branding or graphic design. We're looking for an implementor." The male candidate made the contractor wait nearly a week for some screenshots and a small note. The reply was swift and positive.
Let's answer/sidestep two big questions here: Yes, I'm still going to work with these people as the ability to work for a major company is an opportunity my fledgling freelance career can't do without. I also don't mind working with either candidate. I do not think the people negotiating this job with me are being intentionally sexist; though this is by no means an apology for their misconceptions.
The graphic design comment they had regarding the female candidate strikes me as a little too close to "Yes, but we don't need someone to cook and clean. We need a programmer." The thing is it got me thinking. . .
As I said before, I don't think this was a voluntary or intentional action on their part -- in other words I don't think a couple guys got together in a conference room and said "we don't hire girls." I think a far more subtle and murky thing is going on here. The female candidate obviously started a couple points down in the hiring folks' eyes. This is because of a very deep-seated set of preconceptions and ideals. Some of these ("We know a girl can draw on a computer but she probably can't work the thing as good as a guy") get down so deep that they don't even know what it's doing to them. I think people in general forget about where these ideas come from and then they do something even stranger: They actually become a basic part of a person.
Some combination of learned behaviors and social mores planted themselves so deep inside these guys that it became a Sexism Instinct. It's probably filed close to the Prejudice Instinct.
And we all have it.
A week ago my computer broke. I lamented because the people I knew that could fix it were unavailable. It wasn't until writing this article just now that I remembered how many girls I knew that could tackle the problem just as well as the guys I knew. It never even occurred to me to call them and ask. Radicals and feminists be damned, this does not automatically make me a terrible person.
But I'm big enough to admit it doesn't make me all that great of one either. Sure, I don't go consciously oppressing demographics and social groups. But when I think about it there must be all sorts of other negative mental constructs about people that have gotten so for in my head that I have to really really soul search to realise they're there and why.
So in the spirit of doing that, I ask my fellow Men of Strange Honor this: What's your Sexism Instinct? What's your Prejudice Instinct?
|Thursday, July 12th, 2007|
Truth, Order, Life and Happiness
I've been doing a lot of reading lately. More importantly I've been doing a lot of reading about things that I read about almost fifteen years ago and haven't really touched since. This started the following avalanche:
I realize that one of the most fundamental reasons that I love storytelling is that it is the only way I can touch or get closer to the world as it should be. At my most basic level, I love the world of storybooks because their world makes sense. It has to. Twain was credited with the famous saying that "Truth is Stranger than Fiction because Fiction is obliged to stick to certain possibilties while Truth ain't."
I love this. I love that the world in stories and books makes sense. Nothing is wasted in a story. Causality is never inefficient or misspent. The only time this happens is when it only seems to be happening or when the storyteller (writer, director, actor, what-have-you) is making mistakes. While I accept the almost absurdist state of this world's causality, I would love to slip into one of those worlds where the fabric of Everything seems to have an agenda.
Now we come to the argument; I am saying that in our world there is no Agenda. Order and Truth the way they are in the world of stories where reality unfolds to prove a point or ensure an event is not something that happens in our world. Yet, we still hold to this definition of Order and Truth. The human race keeps a central fallacy that certain concepts and patterns really are unfolding as part of "destiny" or a "divine plan."
I furthermore apply the following implication: as Truth and Order are blurred sections of a fluctuating plane, their existence and relevance are subjective. If Truth occurs in the forest and no one is around to experience it, does it ever exist at all?
Order fluctuates depending on the way it trickles through and connects people. The plane that Order operates on (let's call it "Pattern") shifts around so much that any example of Order that we can point to can fill at least a dozen shapes of Pattern. In the Storybook sense, this means that when causality and events unfold you can never be sure that it was triggered by something that happened in the last few chapters, something that's happening because of a character, some newly introduced element, or something being used to set up still more stuff in the future. Even years after the fact, with dozens of witnesses and historians at hand, no one can ever really trace the causality of events in our world.
In the world of stories we call that bad writing. Lazy storytelling.
So. Life is a practice of separation. "Simultaneous events don't happen: we are isolated temporally." The idea that many people hold is that, like the world of stories, there is a goal or agenda to Circumstance (Truth) and Causality (Order). This is, in my opinion, a false assumption. If we live in a place where those elements truly exist, then we are more or less living in the world of a story. And If we live in a story, it is an incredibly poorly written one full of plot holes and completely unbelievable twists.
Now; who's got a problem with this?
|Monday, May 28th, 2007|
SAT analogy practice
In things ontological, Sam Wilson: Neuroscience :: Gabe Shalom: Quantum Physics.