March 17th, 2003


Memes and SM

Some of this is copied from my comments in another LJ - but it struck me as interesting enough to pick up on here.

Essentially, someone mentioned buying some new toys, one of which was a crop named Cynthia. So I enquired and was told that all crops have names which end in -ia.

And said:That's really interesting because here we have a subcultural meme that has crept in within the last ten years or so - during my period of being active in the SM scene this was not yet around.

You can see where it has come from - it is a descendant of the old gay male trope of feminizing names. Notably Lily Law for the police. And generally people name things more than they used to - a lot of my friends name their bicycles and their computers. Perhaps there is a particular sort of object which is an extension of the personality which gets named...

This sort of subculture meme is interesting also because they sometimes evolve simultaneously in different countries. There are a whole slew of little ritual superstitions that exist in the MtF Trans community both about starting transition and about surgery and quite a lot of them exist in both the UK and the US and some of them seem to extent well into Europe. My intuition is that the Brazilians in Paris have their own set of memes which will be quite different from the rituals of, say, those Indian hijras who identify as trans as much as being part of an aeons-old Hindu way of looking at things.

And yes, this is where the essentialism vs. social construction debate gets really interesting...

Great Ideas that are not so

There is a thread in one of my cix conferences about creationists and their folly, and it occured to me to post about the best and greatest of them all...

As well as all the various idiot versions, there is also the really sophisticated version which goes, roughly:

1. Revelation tells us that the creation of the world happened recently - it is a requirement of faith to believe in the 4004 BC date.

2. We know that Adam was created and not born. However, since he was a complete and perfect man in all respects, he nonetheless had a navel as if he had been born, because otherwise he would not have been complete and perfect.

3. In precisely such a way, God will have created the world in such a way that it appears that it existed for a long time prior to 4004 and that life reached its current complexity by a long process of evolution through natural selection.

4. Deep time and evolution by natural selection are logical theories consistent with all the evidence - they are necessary parts of how the world looks. It was, however, created in 4004 BC and we know this because the bible tells us so.

5. God did not intend this as a test of our faith, though such a test it certainly is. He did it because the most logically consistent way to create a world is to make it look as if it had deep time and natural selection in it. God is above logic, but his universe is logical except where he intervenes by particular acts like the creation or miracles.

Philip Gosse, who came up with this or something like it in his book 'Omphalos', was a serious scientific observer and a very long way from being fool or knave. He was, unfortunately, a humourless fanatic when it came to matters of faith - but there is a certain elegance in the lunacy of his position which has been missed by his creationist successors.
  • Current Music
    Liberty Bell- Sousa. Philip Jones Brass Ensemble

Sorrow and Anger

So, more or less, it begins...Obviously it began a few days ago when the bombers started preparatory attacks on radar stations, and it has not happened yet, because the tanks have not crossed the Kuwait border. We probably have twenty-four hours - I said Wednesday, but my guess is the very small hours of Wednesday morning.

I am going to go down to the lobby of Parliament tomorrow afternoon, I think, even if I only stay for a while. I will try and see my MP, who might even be voting against the war, and I suppose I can talk to a couple of the MPs I vaguely know - most of whom are, oddly enough, Tories and so will probably, but not certainly, be supporting the war.

The only bright spot is, I guess, that Robin Cook has actually resigned on principle. I always knew that I admired him. It disappoints me that Margaret Beckett has not - she is being too trusting of good intentions and last minute concessions.

I am inclined to judge Claire Short less harshly, partly because I expect better of Beckett and partly because the concessions about the UN rebuilding Iraq are the ones she was asking for more or less, and she does have a direct ministerial responsibility in that area. She has serious reasons, at least.

I hate the way that defenders of the war assume that this is an easy call for people who are opposing it. I have been demonstrating, from time to time, for Kurdish rights for two decades, and I can see the reasons why a lot of Kurds support the war. I just do not believe that the Kurds will not end up betrayed all over again - Bush was prepared to sell them to the Turks for a Northern invasion route and you can guarantee that it will happen again over the next week or so.

I am saddened by what an arrogant self-righteous prig and fantasist is doing in the name of my country. Bush is doing what conspiratorial rightwing Republicans do - killing foreigners to make money for their friends - but Blair has let himself be persuaded to trash things in which he importantly believes like Europe and international law. I don't like Blair and never have, but he has betrayed his own best self.

I am going to shut up now.
  • Current Music
    Atlantic City - Bruce Springsteen