why is it that the superheroes that don’t have special powers tend to be billionaire industrialists who have a hobby of pounding the shit out of petty criminals instead of using their resources to solve major world problems like hunger or social oppression?

I guess building wells or tackling domestic abuse in policy initiatives wouldn’t be as cool whether or not it had a mask, cape, and/or stark industries iron man suit

Sinistre*

Some certainties in life

My old theology teacher once said to me that the only two certain things in life are death and taxes. One seems to be a truth about our very physical nature, and the other seems to be a fundamental truth about our very human and sociable nature.

My dad used to say to me that someone who works in a funeral director’s would never be out of a job, because people die all the time. It is this kind of rationale that I think people seem now to be adopting, or I hope they are, in maturing from this economic situation. Increasingly I hear stories and read articles about people who want to go into teaching from jobs far afield as banking and media. What is the appeal of teaching?

i. Teaching seems to be a stable and certain job
ii. There is a demand for more teachers both in general, and in the specific needs of inner-city schools; primary schools needing male teachers; and teachers from minority backgrounds.
iii. Teaching is probably the ‘best-worst’ job you can get from being a university graduate.

Perhaps people will think of those other jobs as being both important and necessary: resource production, such as farming, or manufacturing, as opposed to service sector roles.

Michael

Glocalisation

Globalisation is seen as an evil word among some people. In my social science education, I have come to see it as a phenomenon, a neutral thing. It is almost irrelevant to say whether globalisation is a good or bad thing, the question is more: what is its extent?

Surely one may say that its a bad thing that everyone speaks english to the pain of the loss of culture of native nations, but we might say that not everywhere is becoming a global community. This can be expressed in many ways:

1. We may identify the disconnectedness that opposes the notion of the global
2. We may identify the local that opposes the notion of the global
3. We may identify the interconnectedness that expounds within the local by virtue of the global technologies.

Upon hearing about the notion of the geographical web, I immediately thought that the internet has come full circle. Instead of conflating the boundaries of space and time, namely, how it is easy to see an image from Australia from a monitor on Peru; or how quickly one may communicate with another through increasingly quicker ways: instead of snail mail, we phone, and instead of analogue technologies we move to digital communication, we are now rejuvinating the local, it seems.

It seems to be coming along so quickly that one almost doesn’t have a choice not to; what if one wishes to seek a privacy away from this interconnected world. It is almost becoming as brute an invitation or pressure to join this world wide web of surveillance as : all the cool kids are doing it!

Sinistre*

Expectations in film

We never expect someone to make a slipup or cough in a film, except if there is some underlying purpose or cause or plot significance. Making slipups and coughing is just what we do in ordinary life. When the film is about an hour and a half in, we expect to see that the good guy wins, or some kind of typical hollywood ending; although what is fashionable these days (ironically) is the surprise. Think of how many marvel films you have seen made in the past decade that have a ‘surprise’ in them such that they allow for either another sequel or someone to have a shocked response, we almost are in the futility of it, demanding the surprise, horror is an instance of that.

It is thus, good to see more innovative notions being used in film, such as the unreliability of the narrator and the achronological structure, where the beginning isn’t in the beginning and the end isn’t necessarily at the end, and the middle may not be anything distinctly definable. Defining expectation both sullies what we make, but yet, feeds our demand for more film.

Antisophie.

Pessimistic metainduction

The argument against scientific realism originating from Laudan goes something like the following:

i. All past scientific theories have been deemed false
ii. If all scientific theories have been deemed false, then our most current scientific theory T should be expected to be superceded by a superior T’
iii. We have no reason to believe in the entities of a current theory T

This seems to me true but trivial, I would agree to some extent, but we may still have a scientific realism.

What if, however, we found that from an inductive inference, that we do not believe in a whole gamut of religions (lets say the set of all religions minus 1 or 2); if we have reasons (although unique to those religions themselves) to be convinced of the falsity of a religion or spiritual philosophy, can we judge it rational to dismiss religion in general from the inductive inference that all other religions are false?

Dawkins often puts it in an interesting way: we hardly believe in the deities of Thor or Zeus, and most Westerns hardly would believe in the Hindu Gods; we might dismiss it to the confine of culture to our belief in religion, corollorary to that, we may say that the cultural appeal gives us reason less to believe in the truth of that religion but more a testament to factors such as ethnic and cultural identity. Could pessimistic metainduction be made for an argument against religious belief? It seems almost as convincing as it is for the argument against scientific realism…

Sinistre

Inconsistent preferences

Those who seem to think that the majority opine or the loudest voice seems to be rule, forget the inconsistency of our own preferential sets.

Sentimentality can easily overcome such things as consistent preferences. The neutrality of the BBC is considered in not broadcasting an appeal for the Gaza victims. Here are some reasons why:

i. This issue is inherently partisan political – against the BBC remit
ii. The victims are implicitly Palestinian
iii. The audience to which it is broadcast is not cultivated enough to see the nuances of a political situation beyond its most horrific casualties, or to state this in a single word, sentimentality is an improper tool of convincing one to the appeal, one which is inherently political, compared to a natural disaster.

In all fairness this is perhaps not the best front to address the futility of a majority populism, as one does not himself approve of these acts. It is good however, that other channels in the UK did broadcast, so that they did have a chance to see the appeal, and are informed enough to donate. Also note that those channels such as ITV do not have an international viewership, such to be sensitive to the body of its viewers beyond th UK.

Majority rule in popularity contests shall be our next address of pursuit

S*

Are slashdot secretly democrats?

I’ve seen a great many stories on slashdot about how amazing Obama is:

1. Obama loves his blackberry
2. Obama seems to be quite open about open source technologies
3. Obama has many advisors who are ‘academics’, Appiah once said of him in a recently documentary “he’s one of us”.

I have also seen on some men’s fashion blogs a critical analysis of his clothing style, some very penetrating thoughts on his sense of dress. Quite in line with the modern well-to-do male. Although, I wouldn’t know anything about that

Antisophie

Ghetto-isation

This is one of the more amusing of words I have heard in recent times.

What is Ghettoisation? Let me start by giving a little etymological depiction of this word.

Ghetto has been understood historically as a location of a settlement where a minority inhabits. This term has recieved notoreity in two strikingly different contexts:

1. Many parts of Europe during the 20thC with a Jewish population contained Ghettos. In Venice and Germany, they were places where the stigmatised and hated minority lived together, often in poor housing conditions. Later on, during the Nazi era, the Ghetto or (Judengasse) became places of residence before being forcibly relocated to concentration camps.

2. Ghetto by another contrast has been taken up to be acknowledge a similar meaning to the European context during the 19th-20thC, but a term of not so much distraught connotations. The Ghettos of Compton in California, for instance, is a place of economic degredation and social injustice, but also a term which just forms part of the furniture of one’s lexicon, without any explicit meaning; alas, the connotation of fear and death is not necessarily attached to the later, African-American vernacular of the term. This term has a very strong affinity with Black and Minority culture. (cf. Ali G’s “Staines’ Massive”)

Digression:

A similar word which would have no immediate or implicit connotation similar to Ghetto would be nigga (variant of nigger; percieved as a ‘non-offensive’ equivalent, but I’ll leave that for another day as to whether it actually is different [given its lack of phonetic difference]).

From etymology to definition

I point out these initial uses of the word to highlight the notion of ghetto-isation. Some people have often noted that the increased academic studies and specialisations into identity politics establishes its own subject suis generis, in such a way that it isolates other cognate fields in the academy. African-American studies is a prime suspect of this, and Feminist and Gender studies is another candidate.

Two questions

Let me pose two questions before continuing:

1. Are these ‘Ghetto’ subjects genuinely interdisciplinary?
2. Should these ‘Ghetto’ subjects be genuinely interdisciplinary?
3. Should these subjects be excluding?

Now lets hold on to these questions before continuing.

Definition

Some allege that these subjects have become isolated to the point of being so obscure and inaccessible that they may even lack sufficient academic credence. The study of gender has led to developments such as queer theory; I must admit I know almost nothing about this subject matter, although from what I understand about the notion of queer (in the sexual sense, not in the normal sense that I use it in – as strange and ontologically unviable) is that it refuses a strict category.

Someone who is queer does not have to be gay, they don’t even need to be bisexual; for matters of completeness I suppose they would also say you don’t have to be straight. Queerness is a hard thing to define. But I think that is the very concept of queerness, that it refuses to be defined. Some people would shut off right now and dislike such a conceptual scheme, seeing it as frivolous or obscure and the very kind of thing that is hated about continental philosophy and critical theory-types.

I think the notion of queer is an ‘I don’t care what you think’ sexuality. Forget about labels, I’ll do what I want. Michael told me that he once knew someone involved in the queer intellectual scene, and they were a sorry sight to be seen. No offence to their present sexualities, but that they lacked intellectual rigour and not only were dogmatic, but they were also very misinformed. I remain agnostic as to whether this is true of queer theory genera, they would not represent a school of thought.

Similar charges of demonisation are often made in these identity politik discourses. The white man (and you have to stress the ‘H’ when you say it) is the enemy of Afro-Americans (well, obviously this will see some changes come Obama next week), in charge of the world, the man is keeping them down. Identity discourses are often conflict discourses, and Marxism is never too far away either.

It is heterosexuality and patriarchy that keeps women down. It is homophobia that demonises the gays. It is the heritage of colonial European culture that has destroyed all of the world and it is truly evil.

The scope of identity studies

Identity studies of the kind espoused by feminists, queers and ethnicity studies, can involve many kinds of discourses:

1. Philosophy
2. Political Science
3. Social Policy
4. Sociology
5. Human Geography
6. Biology & Psychology
7. Theology
8. Cultural Studies/Musicology

According to my knowledge, these identity discourses hardly acknowledge all of these, or overemphasise some of these. A further point I want to stress is that, being philosophical about feminism requires one to know a little bit about philosophy in general; namely, having a background in ethics, maybe political philosophy, epistemology and even the history of philosophy; without having to demonise the subject in general.

If one is interested in a feminist ethic, for instance, surely we should see Kantianism, Utilitarianism, Virtue Theory and other such doctrines and notions as either relevant, in terms of it being incorporated or framing our subject matter or approach, or as rejecting it. I once came across a student who claimed to be doing feminist deontological ethics and wrote against Kant, but she hardly even read any works by Kant at all but merely stated as a strawman a doctrine that was allegedly ‘Kant’s view’.

Notably there are black and feminist theologians; for reasons of obviousness it would be difficult for any gay theologies to be established. I have some sympathy for this and would hope that some more dialogue and interest is invested in the notion of religiousity/spirituality and sexual difference. Especially if we are to think that Salvation is for all.

With political science and social policy, some very practical concerns can be handled. Within Sociology, there are occupied places within the studies of ethnicity and gender without having any explicity affiliation; one doesn’t have to be a feminist, or a female to be a sociologist of gender [and here is where I whisper ‘but it helps’].

Relating identity politics to natural sciences, is more indicative of the general dislike of natural science explanations for social phenomena; so we normally see that people dismiss psychological or biological explanations for things like educational achievement differences in ethnic or gender stratifications (and they are reasonable explanations to be fair), but to be dismissive of the subject in general almost seems to dismiss anything within it as relevant.

Cultural studies and musicology; the former is a safe haven for many forms of bullshit known to man. Cultural studies, without, say, the expert study of theatre, literature or music, is a philistine pursuit. A study of black popular music can be very well complimented witha musicological analysis, it is to the peril of anyone who calls themselves a cultural studies expert to ignore the proper studies of music.

Ghettoisation for some spells out isolation, excluding, an us-against them mentality. I would, in principle be open minded about these subjects, so long as those three questions I put up are addressed.

Sinistre*