Category Archives: debate

Addicted to Technology or How I learned to stop worrying and love the robots.

Guest Contributor Post

I’ve stumbled on a couple of articles recently that struck a chord with some sort of half thoughts I’d been having earlier in the week. When you’re as busy as I am half thoughts are all you have time for. So I had been thinking about this prevailing sense of non-specific isolation that a few people have mentioned to me, the feeling that you’re not quite connecting as organically as you used to. I realise how much cod-psychology I threw into that last sentence but I figure if Steve is going to let me post here he’s probably factored in the amount of shite he knew I’d write.

So, this isolation. Where does it come from? Are we so de-sensitised that we can’t even empathise with our peers anymore? Now, before you start thinking that I am some sort of dreadlocked Luddite who lives in a log cabin eschewing modernity but begrudgingly using an old Windows 95 PC to contribute to a blog, I’m not. I love technology. Actually, that’s wrong, I love advances in technology, where it can go, what it can do, all this is bread and butter to me. I have a computer that is far too powerful for anything I need to use it for, I upgrade my mobile phone roughly every three months and I have a ridiculous amount of email addresses, IM names, etc etc etc. I’m like one of those annoying “You know you’re living in 2007 when…” email forwards that I seem to get ALL OF THE TIME.

So, what is all this, I hear you ask. Rants about forwards? What is this, a transcript of a 1994 Janeane Garofalo stand up routine? If it is, I reckon it would have been one of the most forward thinking of all her “pieces”, but let me get back to the this. I love technology, and I’ve just realised I’ve started two consecutive paragraphs with the word ‘So’ which is bugging me but we’ll soldier on. Anyway, there were these two articles I had read which I may have mentioned earlier. I’d rather type this explanation then scroll back up to check. But the articles, one is called 7 Reasons the 21st Century is Making You Miserable and yes I know it’s from Cracked.com which is a comedy website but sometimes, even cynical, pale, blotchy internet nerds have to take a moment to pause, to take stock. This one really had me scratching my chin and it got me mainly thinking about these issues of control I had been thinking about the week before. I mean control in the sense of, in a text message/email/IM “conversation” all of the control is in the respondent’s hands. They control the very warp and weft of the conversation. The second article I found, entitled Study: Number of close friends dropping in U.S., made me sad for two reasons. Firstly, well it’s about people having less confidantes, which is sad dudes. Secondly, I never even noticed that my subscription to the Daily Iowan had run out. It really is the only paper you need. It lets you know exactly what is going on all over Iowa every day, imagine that! That’s all you want right there.

Reading back on this, I realise it’s terrible and altogether sub par but damn it all it’s content!


Also, re: the non-specific isolation, I think it’s down to two main reasons

1) technology, too much of

2) exposure to humans, not enough of

And yes, I do realise the title doesn’t work at all either.

Rob

Anti-War Photos

Here are some funny anti-war photos I stumbled across over at About.com.

 

'Bombing for Peace' is like 'Fucking for Virginity'

Ah, to be young, idealistic and angry.

Village Idiot

Two thumbs up for cleverness.

Osama Iraq

Funny?

Not so much.

Real?

Yes.

Heavy?

Extremely.

 

You can find the whole series here.

 

 

 

Giuliani for President? OUCH! Don’t think so.

Of all people, the NY firefighters have joined forces against their NYC mayor to see to it that his dreams of White House glory go unrealized.

And who better to destroy your campaign than those upon whose heroism your campaign was built?

In the immortal words of Helen Hunt (with David Spade):

“What part didn’t you understand, the ‘buh’ or the ‘bye?’ Buh-bye.”

Stick a fork in him….Giuliani is done!

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The Presidential Veto, Democracy, and the Need for Divine Intervention

President’s Stem-Cell Veto Secures an ‘Ethically Sound’ Tomorrow for the U.S.

Stem-Cell Veto

Phew!!! That was a close one. We almost got what the overwhelming majority of our elected officials asked for, and surely we’d have gone straight to hell for it too–erm, I mean some terrrible misfortune that’s unrelated to Christianity surely would have befallen us. Thank you Commander in Chief! You’ve rescued us from our stupidity and empty morals once again.

(End of blatant sarcasm)

You see, back when it was actually cool for religious doctrine to have a hand in the poilitical affairs of man, audacious rulers could expect the mighty Zeus to chuck a few lightning bolts their way to straighten them out (and light the proverbial fire under their asses). It was Zeus’ way of saying, ‘Hey now. Don’t you start getting cute over there, tough guy. You do remember what I did to Calibos’ sorry ass now, don’t you?’

Calibos

Judging from the fact that the current administration so defiantly mocks all that is moral, and all that is sacred,

I can only conclude A) that they have not seen The Clash of the Titans–or any other movie depicting misguided leaders and the asskickings handed to them by way of divine intervention–and B) (following from A) that they suffer from a serious deficiency in the fear of God department, which is clearly required in a pseudodemocracy to keep tyranny in check, and powers in balance.

And therein lies the crux of our problem: Presidential Power to Veto undercuts the very principles on which American democracy stands. The system of checks and balances–whose praises are sung constantly to U.S. junior high students– is lost when the Big Cheese has at her/his disposal a manual override switch to flip any time s/he so chooses.

To summarize…….

What’s really not right with this picture? If W really believed in God and really believed that human life ought to be protected at all costs, then he’d be ducking for cover at the slightest hint of thunder. Let’s be honest for a sec: he must realize that he doesn’t rank too well in the ‘keeping young people alive’ category. If I knew that about myself, and I believed in an omniscient, omnipotent higher power, I’d probably be so scared I’d have to wear diapers, and I might even start acting like I gave a shit. In any case, I wouldn’t be on international television spouting off about ethical soundness.

So let’s just cut the ‘I’m a champion of the right to life‘ horseshit while it’s still only mildly insulting and hasn’t yet popped up on Zeus’ radar, shall we?

Lightning Bolt Weilding Zeus

More of my thoughts on the stem-cell research here/

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Blogging politics: What’s the point?

During my hiatus from blogging, I got to reading a fair number of blogs on various topics. I’ve blogged something along these lines before, but I just can’t get over how much hot air is wasted on lambasting the opposing political party.

So let’s see if I can be more helpful this time…

The illusion that there are just two takes on politics– a line in the sand, so to speak–keeps a whole lot of folks barking back and forth at each other and not really accomplishing much. Putting people into little boxes with big labels is simply not the way to get what you want. If you”re at all serious about your political aspirations, you’ll learn that among the “lefty” “liberals” and“extremist” “conservatives” are a whole lot of folks who may be useful in achieving your political ends. If the extent of your political activity is blogging to proclaim your political affiliation and your inalienable rights, then your staunch on-line community runs the risk of becoming nothing more than a sappy peer support group.

Really want to affect change in the world? Try this: Only blog your political dissatisfaction when accompanied by a serious treatment of your suggested solutions and what you are doing to make those solutions a reality.

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Cloning, stem cells, and playing God.

We were getting close. We were almost there. We could smell it even. Baby steps, baby steps, inching us toward a passably intelligent dialogue on the merits of stem-cell and cloning technology. Then the Frankenstein experiments had to start.

Ay Chihuahua!

Look, I recognize that a lot of researchers are simply following the bread crumbs, trying to find that key to move the field forward (while simultaneously making a name for themselves, of course). And I realize that most scientists have limited resources of their own, forcing them to work only on research that is fundable. And I can appreciate how fascinating and exciting an experiment involving cross-species DNA transfer would be after years of scouring Bio-chem and Gene Theory literature. I get all that. But there’s still this part of me that gets all pissy and wound up when the haphazard timing of published research yanks the mere possibility of thoughtful discussion clumsily from our grasp.

Think about it, and then try to answer this one: How do you expect intelligent design proponents to get cozy with the idea of human-engineered tissue and organs for medical purposes when there are scientists on the fringes using the very same technology to make ManBearPig

ManBearPig?

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Exxon leader: ‘Climate getting warmer’

So nice of him to join us in the new millenium!

Doesn’t it make you feel all fuzzy inside when people start being honest with one another?

And look who else made it: The Kansas board of education seems to be ready to join the ‘hey let’s stop kidding ourselves’ party, too!

And finally, one straight from the vatican. Staunch resistance to simple concepts. On the other hand, the state of Kansas could have learned a thing or two from the vatican’s sudden change of heart on the theory of evolution over 10 years ago.

Three fine examples of how silly and stubborn folks can be when they are blinded by whatever they happen to be selling, whether it’s fossil fuels or organized faith or abstinence. Don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t dare crap on anyone’s religion, but when you’re playing the PR game at that level, you’ve got to realize how damaging it is to your credibility to be adamantly opposed to the overwhelming majority of scientific evidence.

Tangential anecdote…….

This reminds me of a guy I know who has a Twelve Angry Men complex. He sets himself up as the sole dissenting opinion every chance he gets. I can only gather from this habit–along with his multiple references to the movie Twelve Angry Men–that he’s just pining away for his one shining moment when he turns out to have been right and everyone else was wrong. What an awful strategy for achieving noteriety.

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Debating Politics or Religion: 5 reasons you shouldn’t bother.

Reason #1: No one’s listening.

Sure they say they’re listening–and they may quote specific language to strengthen their argument–but they’re not really listening, not in the ‘hey, let’s put our heads together and figure this thing out’ sense. Not a chance. No way. No how. (And here’s a little head’s up for those who can’t resist verbal conflict: If the ‘listener’ ever begins her/his retort with a compliment and a pooful smile, brace yourself to take the rhetorical equivalent of a forearm shiver to the chops, ’cause it’s on the way.)

Reason #2: Making someone feel small–so you can feel big–is way lame

There’s just something so Junior High about feeling the need to tit-for-tat. Look, you can intellectualize the process as much as you want, but it never amounts to more than a glorified pissing contest. Worse yet, if you actually manage to stump your opponent, here’s what to expect: she/he will get frustrated and emotional, you’ll feel like a jackass as you try to smooth things over, you’ll both end up saying things you’ll sincerely regret, and you’ll part with a creepy vibe between you. Way to go BIG guy!

Reason #3: Wasted time breeds wasted time.

If you somehow manage to get through all that pseudo-intellectual banter without hurt feelings, it probably means that neither side was very knowledgeable or convincing–>which means you’ll part ways feeling like you have unfinished business–>which means there’s a good chance you’re in for another session of rehashing the same uninformed points at the next opportunity. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for chillin’ out and doing absolutely nothing with friends, but hangin’ out and trying to one-up each other endlessy, talking about the same bologna over and again, well that’s just flat out retarded (and embarrassingly uninteresting).

Reason #4: No take backs.

As if things weren’t bad enough, you’ve now painted yourself into a corner. How so? Now there is no way you can ever change your mind on the debated topic without looking like a complete schmuck. Here’s an idea: learn the subtle art of not overcommitting and your little habit of setting yourself up for public embarrassment every time you open your mouth will disappear. Claiming your own view to be correct beyond a doubt is tantamount to declaring that you’ve closed your mind to all future considerations on the subject. Congratulations. That’s Grade AAA Dumb.

Reason #5: No goal = No winner.

If the debate process were widely recognized to have a clearly defined goal, even an open-ended one like ‘the pursuit of greater understanding through an exhaustive presentation of available facts,’ then I wouldn’t be writing this piece. As it stands, however, you could ask 5 people what debate means and get 5 very different answers. Even dictionaries give a series of confusing and incompatible definitions, so how can we expect people to be going in with a common purpose? I mean seriously, if it’s not about learning from one another then what’s the point? To humiliate someone? To make yourself look good? To bring someone ’round to your way of thinking?!! Wait wait wait. Now that’s some funny shit right there! Let me ask you a question: When was the last time you locked horns with someone who opposed your views on politics or religion and one of you left the conversation with a new set of beliefs. Here, I’ll help you: It starts with an ‘N’ and ends with an ‘EVERINYOURSORRYASSLIFEYOUSELFABSORBEDTWAT!’

Nonetheless, in the interest of academic pursuit, let’s assume that you’re sticking to your guns and claiming to possess that oh-so-rare ability to lead individuals along an enlightened path to conscientious thought (AKA: the way). I hope you’re still close enough to planet Earth to recognize that your clan of newly converted are of that same lost and vulnerable variety that cult leaders can sniff out in a crowded room. Think about it. Those who can access information and form conclusions on their own do not change their beliefs on the basis of one individual’s opinions. Period. So if you indeed happen to have a knack for striking up longwinded conversations with spineless ‘yes women/men’, keep ‘em close to you–or locked up– ’cause they’re sure to flip once again just as soon as they come across the next know-it-all, ‘change the world one person at a time,’ always-talkin-yappity-yap-and-never-gettin-a-damned-thing-done, waste of space.

Feeling ineffective yet, Mr. Semantic Wonder? Let me give you a little free advice: quit bangin’ your head against the wall and talk to someone who cares about what you have to say, like someone ready to learn from you. If no one wants to learn from you, please DON’T have children to rectify the situation. Do everyone a favor: go out, get a little smarter, and while you’re at it a little personal reflection would’t hurt. Once you’ve wised up enough to grasp the finer points of philosophical inquiry, you’ll truly be free, because you’ll have learned that hot-headed exchanges of opinion never yield knowledge.

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