Worlds & Time

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Loose Ends to Old Posts

Because I referenced it in a recent post I was thinking about something that I'd written and I decided that there was something else I wanted to say about it. So I went back through some of my old posts and just checked to see if there was anything else that I wanted to say about them.

Divine Right of Kings (again): So, I would say that calling someone African-American rather than saying that they're black is actually less PC than the other way around. When someone says "black" they're at least acknowledging the physical trait that the people were oppressed for.

Graduation: I'm not the sort of person that tries to define my life by ceremonies. I enjoyed high school graduation, but not because of the graduation, rather because it was fun to see all my friends of that year gathered together and having fun before we were all split up.

I am really glad that I went to college graduation though. It's one of the few ceremonies that I look to as a change between one part of my life and another part of my life.

Also, it provides me with a great excuse about why I left my job with Marriott.

Catcher in the Rye: I hated Catcher in the Rye, if that wasn't already clear by my post, but I can't deny that it was a moving and powerful book. I just didn't like it and wouldn't choose to read it again.

I don't feel that this is a hypocritical stance, either. I don't think something has to be necessarily well crafted to be good, nor do I feel that everything well crafted is necessarily good.

Science Fiction Psychiatry: See, the books that I should have been mentioning all along were The Foundation Trilogy. I reread them for that 10 Intellectual Sci-Fi books list, and it suddenly occurred to me that the Foundation books are the absolute perfect example of optimistic psychology and sociology in science fiction.

Not only can Seldon predict hundreds of years into the future with his mathematically precise version of sociology and psychology, but normal human interactions are accounted for. So in each case the actions of a few are expected by the social factors around them.

Sociology just doesn't work like that. No one can mathematically model a social system, even taking into account a quadrillion people spread across the galaxy. I don't even think it will be possible 12,000+ years from now, around when the books take place.

The most optimistic prediction that Asimov makes in his books has to do with the Second Foundation citizens. In their councils and communications, Asimov specifically points out that they barely use language any more. Instead, they each understand the human condition so well that they only have to twitch and mutter to convey complex lines of reasoning.

Er, no. Poker players, our current equivalent of people that study the reactions of others, still require the use of words. Granted, they can probably tell when someone is lying and when someone is telling the truth, as well as probably being able to tell when someone needs to go to the bathroom, but they can't take from the twitches of another person a complex dialog about the social patterns of a society. It is impossible to convey the amounts of information without a complex system of semantics.

That doesn't mean that the Foundation Trilogy aren't great books; they are, but I still think that we're never going to reach the point where the actions of thousands are predictable for a hundred years into the future.

Morality on Sale
: My point is that morality isn't determined by market conditions, and it never can be. Morality is about doing things that are not efficient, just because they're still the morally righteous things to do.

Frustration: I did find my compass, eventually. It was on the floor behind my bed, and apparently it's invisible in the dust, being clear plastic and all. This was after I'd ordered a replacement from the art store, of course, just like Stross' Accelerando turned up after I bought a new copy.

Recent Thoughts From Online Chats: As far as I can tell, from a female perspective Objectification is the worst thing ever. If you aren't appreciative of the person as a whole, then you must be completely dismissive of a person as a whole.

I don't think that this is an accurate way to parse the situation. Just because someone places more emphasis on certain features, that doesn't mean that they're dismissive of the whole. Yet, commonly I see people treat any partial dismissal as a full dismissal.

Of course, eventually this destroys debate. It's not a binary comparison, it's a incremental axis along which there are numerous shades of gray. As soon as you say that any movement toward the negative end of the axis is a complete loss, it becomes impossible to debate.

It's like the fundamentalist Christianity version of feminism.

Don't get me wrong, treating a person as an object is wrong, and the darker shades of gray can be emotionally damaging, but sometimes limited sexual objectification can be used to exploit a kink or actually enhance sex. Just because a guy is into breasts, that doesn't necessarily mean that any enjoyment of breasts by him is going to automatically be abusive to his partner. Perhaps she likes the attention, and understands that even though the attention is given to a certain part of her that this act doesn't devalue her as a whole.

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