Archive for Márta, 2009

Deus Ex Machina…

Márta 28, 2009

… was invented by the Greeks for their theatre, for gods’ sakes; so why not round off our theatre (Battlestar Galactica, Daybreak Pt. 2) about the ancient roots of their civilisation with it?

The whole theme about DNA being the magic maguffin is already the Deus ex Machina – our version of lost continents in the nineteenth century, or software worlds made from glowing geometry in the early ’80’s: it’s the theosophical Fourth Dimension of our age, that we can read whatever mythical leaps we want into it.

“You know he doesn’t like being called that…” [Pause; meaningful look from Caprica, look of recognition of some unspoken truth from Baltar – taps head as though it should be obvious] “_Silly_ me… silly, silly me…” What was that? That was an OUT – a back door. There is always a margin of the unknown in life, no matter how far we think we are pushing back the frontier. This hint at what should be obvious, even trivial knowledge about God, yet hidden from us for some unexplained reason, is both a confirmation of this, and a hook that we can attach all other mysteries in the series to.

Regarding “All along the Watchtower”- apparently, this may reference Isaiah 21:5-9:

Prepare the table, watch in the watchtower, eat, drink: arise ye princes, and prepare the shield./For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Go set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth./And he saw a chariot with a couple of horsemen, a chariot of asses, and a chariot of camels; and he hearkened diligently with much heed./…And, behold, here cometh a chariot of men, with a couple of horsemen. And he answered and said, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, and all the graven images of her gods he hath broken unto the ground.

Ancient civilisations, esoteric knowledge, babylon is fallen… gods… broken… ground… get it?

According to Wikipedia:

Christopher Ricks has commented that “All Along the Watchtower” is an example of Dylan’s audacity at manipulating chronological time: “at the conclusion of the last verse, it is as if the song bizarrely begins at last, and as if the myth began again.”

Nudge-nudge, wink-wink, know what I mean? So yes, thanks to the Cylon modem in all that “junk DNA” that are relics of our past collective incarnations, Bob Dylan connected with the collective Hard Drive whilst reading the Bible after his road accident.

Or not. It’s an open book that we can write our own myths into. That was rather the point of all the deliberate ambiguity, I believe – and what makes this a living story, rather than a dead letter of typical Sci-Why with it’s adolescent insistence on removing all veils of mystery… Not everything _has_ to be explained, or can be in life, you frakking geeks.

PS Hera, wife and sister of Zeus (Olympians), born of Cronus and Rhea (Titans). Cronus eats his children for fear that one will replace him. The deranged god that eats his children (Hi Goya!). Rhea conspires with GAIA to make him regurgitate the FIVE original Olympians (who later dwell UP THERE on the mountain). Cronus later banished “to Tartarus, the deepest chasm in the underworld, because the Titans were immortal and could not be killed.” Thank you, Wikipedia. No, I don’t think there is an exact parallel or neat explanation for this story, or life in general; ergo, myth.

Ah, the circle of life.

PPS: Cronus = Time. In the Zurvanite court-heresy of Mazdaism/Zoroastrianism, Time (Zurvan) was the genesis/parent of the twin gods of good and evil. Zoroaster, Zarathustra… you know, Nietzsche: “beyond good and evil”, “eternal return”… in the words of The Swayze in “Roadhouse”: “you know, all that shit”. Mazdaism: from the Persian hinterland between the Hindu and Semitic Gods, later influence on cultural aspects of Islam, but first the homeland of the 3 Magi or Wise Men who visit the little fella in the stable.

Would you live your life more meaningfully if you were condemned to repeat it forever? A la Borges “The Immortals”, would the banishment of death deprive it of meaning? As with Hindu/Buddhist reincarnation, is there a way to break the cycle of birth and death?

Honestly, if you really want great, meaningful Sci-Fi with out all the stupid laser talk and shiny bing-bing crap, you could do far worse than studying ancient mythology, theology, and cosmology. BSG’s not too shabby either. Awww, but they don’t tell you what angels are made from. Poor widdle wuzzums.


Wrong-Headed on Slavery

Márta 28, 2009

I agree with Mr. Zmirak’s overall criticism of “Slavery and Abortion” by Lewis E. Lehrmann , while being profoundly frustrated – again – with the perennial conservative prediliction for self-torpedoing a perfectly good point, with a completely unnecessary lack of respect for, and insight into, the experiences of others outside one’s own cultural fold.

I’m not at all suggesting there was any ill-intent. But it is simply not appropriate to compare the cruelly efficient, institutionalised barbarity of slavery – made all the more acute by it’s contrast with a legal regime promoting “liberty” – with “theft of labour”. Slavery as practiced was not the Internal Revenue Service; neither was it greedy capitalists exploiting the workers. To use such a phrase is to trivialise the experience of slaves.

The response above about Africa only further highlights this cultural blind spot: American slaves had families, communities and homes right in America that they were ripped away from – what African slavers had done to their ancestors could hardly be expected to lessen the barbarity of American slaves’ actual experience of this cruelty, could it?

The destruction of an isolated human life-form still in the process of being formed in the uterus is horrendous; but I don’t think many on the opposite side of the aisle (nor a lot on our side) will automatically buy into an argument, that it is obviously worse than the collective years of degradation suffered by already existing and fully-formed human beings – with their families – fully conscious of an entire lifetime of brutalisation of them and their loved ones. “Easy for you to say, Whitey” is probably an understandable and justified response.

I often wonder how nice liberals who are horrified at vivisection for science experiments, or at cruelty to animals in factory farms, can square this with an unquestioned right to rip apart humanoid organisms in the womb. I am deeply gratified to see some conservatives take cruelty to animals as a valid moral and social concern – and think that might make a far better platform on which to approach restriction of abortion: you wouldn’t do this to a farm animal, would you?

But in a similar way that animal rights lefties are way, way off when they start comparing mink farms to the Holocaust, the clinical (“Patriotically Correct”?) use of nice, polite philosophical terms like “theft of labour” when contrasting slavery to abortion, is a self-laid land-mine waiting to be stepped on in public discourse; and there’s no point in blaming others if you wind up with the legs cut from under you as a result.

Re: Back to the Land Economy

Márta 9, 2009

Considering “Land Economy,” we can also understand three dimensions of value – a “LAND Cube” – that Land represents:

1. “Land And Natural-resource Distribution” (utility in efficient allocation of raw material & natural capital);
2. “Location ANd Demographics” (Location values, Access to markets & services, Network effects & infrastructure, Demographic gravity & energy);
3. “Limiting Assets of Natural Development” (Land and land-like phenomena, fundamental means of production that are the limiting factors of all other economic processes).

We tend to compartmentalise all of these values as seperate, but all sets of these elements overlap the ownership and use of any parcel of physical land (although no. 3 also includes money, credit & cultural capital).

Mr. Berry isn’t just talking about efficient allocation of natural resources of course, but about the social capital and demographic networks of vibrant communities; the unofficial “added value” of social infrastructure that runs with the land like an easement on a title deed.

Al Gore Refuses To Dignify Debate: “It’s Not A Matter Of Theory”

Márta 8, 2009

Not trying to tick you off, but Thomas Friedman agreeing with Al Gore doesn’t exactly bolster the credibility of Gore:

Friedman”s take on Bush”s Iraq policy: “It”s OK to throw out your steering wheel, as long as you remember you”re driving without one.”

Friedman”s analysis of America”s foreign policy outlook May 2008:
“The first rule of holes is when you”re in one, stop digging. When you”re in three, bring a lot of shovels.”
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Al Gore Refuses To Dignify Debate: “It’s Not A Matter Of Theory”

Márta 8, 2009

This is not necessarily a Win/Lose situation either: it may be preferable to prioritise those activities that we know will have beneficial effects in the short term (better, cleaner public transport e.g.) and that may also be beneficial to alleviating Climate Change in the future.
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Al Gore Refuses To Dignify Debate: “It’s Not A Matter Of Theory”

Márta 8, 2009

With respect to you: it’s not simply a question of not believing in Climate Change – it’s quite possible to accept it as existing, and accept a human component in it, but to question the proposed political solutions.

All choices involve costs; simply ignoring the possibility of Climate Change could certainly impose one set of costs on us all; but preventing Third World countries from industrialising on their own timetables could impose another set of costs on them. Possibly those costs would be far higher for them relatively speaking, in terms of lost revenue and resources for education, infrastructure, health care etc.

That’s the extreme example, but it is valid to debate whether we wish to impose similar costs on ourselves, for a proposed solution that we don’t know will work effectively for the costs it will impose.
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Al Gore Refuses To Dignify Debate: “It’s Not A Matter Of Theory”

Márta 8, 2009

With respect:

1. Truth or falsehood of a hypothesis isn’t the property of American Democrats or the Republicans; disagreement doesn’t mean someone is a political enemy in your own local politics;

2. There’s a difference between a) recognising a phenomenon, b) agreeing on causes, and c) deciding social priorities are when dealing with it- similar to First Aid, a person screaming is noticeable, but the unconscious person is more important to deal with immediately;

3. Lomberg is NOT arguing there’s no climate change (a), nor any human component (b), only that the tremendous shift in resource use argued for might be better used for less visible or less “sexy” phenomena, more serious to human beings in the short term (especially in the Third World). He’s not an American Republican, but a good Scandinavian Social Democrat arguing for intervention targeted to potentially more pressing matters that we _know_ we can effect now, as opposed to devoting huge allocations of resources to an uncertain, politicised solution to another problem.

4. Broad consensus on a field so subject to so many uncertainties and variables, doesn’t constitute some sort of infallible secular Magisterium of truth; this attitude that Science “isn’t just theory” and should not be open to debate, is not just unscientific, it is anti-scientific – science is provisional. If you believe Climate Change needs the kind of resource allocation argued by Gore, please don’t leave your argument hostage to his opponents by adopting such an outrageous attitude.
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