The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'essentialism'
Today's extreme-reductionism funnies: @discographies, or recording artists'/bands' careers summarised in 140 characters:
Kraftwerk: 1-3 beta-testing; 4,6,11 motion simulators; 5,8 communications systems; 7 robots/sex/cities; 9,10 Dance Dance (post-)Revolution.
Interpol: 1 Find an old photo of Joy Division. 2 Xerox the photo. 3 Draw the Xerox. 4 Stare at the drawing: you'll never get Closer.
Radiohead: 1 not a novelty; 2 not "alternative"; 3 not prog; 4-5 not of this earth; 6 not budging; 7 not (conventionally) for sale.
Neu!: 1-3 derderDER. derderDER. derderDER. DER!DER! (Repeat with unchanging precision until the universe dies.)
The Clash: 1 thesis; 2 antithesis; 3 synthesis; 4 elephantiasis; 5 arteriosclerosis; 6 paralysis.
Hot Topic goth rocker Marilyn Manson (he's like the Pete Doherty of Red State America, or perhaps the Tom Cruise of Satanism or something) has recently launched his own brand of absinthe, which is apparently on a par with his music:
So did Mansinthe have what it takes to be a premium absinthe? According to the tasters, the answer is, sadly, no. The No. 1 problem was the aroma, which some verbally compared to sewage water or swamp mud, but with the exception of a lone taster, the panel felt it wasn't really worth wading through the odor to get to mediocre flavor anyway. Sorry, M.M.Which is missing the point; this is not a product for connoisseurs in any sense of the word, but for unsophisticated teenage mall-goths rebelling against their stolidly Bible-believing, Satan-fearing, Republican-voting parents and church groups. As long as it looks and tastes unlike anything familiar and the label could be mistaken, with sufficient ignorance, for something exotic and sophisticated, any subtlety would actually be counterproductive; something that tastes shocking and vile would actually fulfill its role as a prop of commodified rebellion better.
Essentialist explanation of the day:
From his recent book of essays A Devil's Chaplain, Richard Dawkins on genetic engineering, and why (some) public opposition is more based on superstition than fact:
What, then, of the widespread gut hostility, amounting to revulsion, against all such "transgenic" imports? This is based on the misconception that it is somehow "unnatural" to splice a fish gene, which was only ever "meant" to work in a fish, into the alien environment of a tomato cell. Surely an antifreeze gene from a fish must come with a fishy "flavour". Surely some of its fishiness must rub off. Yet nobody thinks that a square-root subroutine carries a "financial flavour" with it when you paste it into a rocket guidance system.
Which suggests that people intuitively understand biology in terms of Aristotelian essences; i.e., a fish is a fish because it has the quality of fishness, and there's a strong gut feeling that natural organisms aren't merely the sum of their DNA, but are natural because they carry Mother Gaia's blessing in their essence or something like that, and You Can't Tamper With Nature. Which is interesting as a study in psychology (much as "naïve physics" is), but when it comes to policy-making, it comes down to legislation-by-disgust, which is never a good thing.
(An insight: the difference between "natural" and "artificial" is whether someone knows or once knew how it was made.)
Dawkins, of course, doesn't dismiss all concern about genetic engineering; any sane scientist would agree that there needs to be sufficient testing for unintended effects. However, that's a far cry from the burn-down-the-laboratories attitude of some of the more ludditic doomsayers; which, Dawkins argues, given the popularity of such views in the Green movement, could hurt the Greens' credibility on other issues.
And as heated as opposition to genetic engineering is, it could be a storm in a teacup compared to the upcoming row over nanotechnology.
Entertaining page of witty one-line explanations of languages: (via RobotWisdom)
The Queen's English is essentially Modern Anglo-Saxon as passed on by generation after generation of stiff necked Norman nobles with their noses in the air.
English is what you get from Normans trying to pick up Saxon girls.
English is essentially an imprecise dialect of Java, without the object orientation.