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Journal of Omnifarious

Jul. 5th, 2012

05:29 am - The plot is not the story, nor is it the most important part

One interesting phenomena I've noticed recently is a tendency to categorize something (and often dismiss it) based on plot mechanic. "The Hunger Games" has been compared to numerous other 'many enter, one leaves, and everybody watches' stories, especially ones involving children. "Limitless" gets compared to any other story involving medical intelligence enhancement and apparently "Flowers for Algernon" is the canonical example.

I find this sort of distressing. There is a great deal more to a movie than its plot mechanic. Plot is simply the skeleton of a story, not the most important part. It's true that if the skeleton has problems it has a serious negative effect on the whole story, but a story is not its skeleton.

"The Hunger Games", for example, is a story about severe oppression. The games are only a symptom of that oppression. They are certainly not the defining feature of that movie.

Anyway, this is just a minor rant. :-)

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Current Location: 2464 S Spencer St, 98108
Current Mood: [mood icon] annoyed

Feb. 25th, 2011

12:16 pm - Memory

Memory is stored in so many places. A sea shell contains the memory of the organism that made it. Its trials and tribulations are recorded in the layers of material it deposited. Since it was unable to make a meaningful decision based on these memories, we hesitate to call them so, but our scientists eagerly read them, read the memories in whole stratas of seashells, the memories of entire ecosystems.

We implicitly recognize this when we say something like "this house is full of memories". Every nick and change, unnoticeable by some, tells a tale of something that happened there. The patterns of wear on the floor, the neglected dusty corners tell tales as well.

Forensics is the art of reading memories from these structural changes. Reading memory from these things we hesitate to call memory because they are not immediately accessible to a living process. But memories they are.

We have a collective memory too. The most obvious and directly accessible is books. But we have memories in our cities, in our tools, in the structures both great and small. They are like mankind's seashells.

We think of ourselves as relatively self contained. We are divided from the world by the interface of our immediate perceptions. But that division is fuzzy and indistinct. We are much larger than our bodies. And much of our memory lives outside our heads.

Please reply to my original post on Dreamwidth. If you don't have an account there you can log in using your LiveJournal account. Just login using OpenID and give http://<LJ account name>.livejournal.com/ as your OpenID. For example, for the LJ user rosencrantz319 that would be http://rosencrantz319.livejournal.com/ as their OpenID.

Current Location: 2237 NW 62nd ST, 98107
Current Mood: [mood icon] contemplative

Sep. 28th, 2009

11:27 am - Response to 'Dehumanized: When math and science rule the school' by Mark Slouka

This is a response to this article: "Dehumanized: When math and science rule the school" by Mark Slouka. Initially I'm going to be tossing ideas against a wall because I feel his argument is broken in several different respects. Later I intend to try to go back to edit it to be more coherent. Or, at least, that's my intention right now. :-)

In his article he talks about how the humanities are being consistently and constantly dissed in favor of science and math education in our schools. He thinks this is a bad thing. I think he's right about the dissing, but I partially disagree that it's a bad thing, and I definitely disagree about why it's happened.

long rantCollapse )

Current Location: 2237 NW 62nd ST, 98107
Current Mood: [mood icon] annoyed

Dec. 16th, 2008

08:58 am - Good quote

I was reading and came along this quote:

I have learnt silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet strange, I am ungrateful to these teachers.
Kahlil Gibran

I rather liked it.

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Current Mood: [mood icon] contemplative

Jun. 15th, 2008

09:28 pm - Ferry writing

Sunlight reflects from moving water
forming a bright moving mosaic of light
the patterns resembling ten thousand
bright and beautiful worms writhing
in a living mass on the surface of the ocean.

A beautiful obsession has arisen within me. I do not want it calmed or abated. I wanted it integrated and made a part of who I am.

Specifics in the abstract are so much different than specifics in specific. In the abstract their varied patterns and rich local diversity are muted and in favor of commonalities and global patterns rise to the surface.

Life is lived in the specific and the present and understood in the abstract and after the fact. Attempting to use understanding of the abstract to inform decisions and actions in the specific is at best an approach fraught with imprecision and a kind of fumbling bluntness. The abstract should inform understanding, not action. Action must always be taken on the specific.

This beautiful obsession I talk about is first and foremost this beautiful obsession. It is specific, rich, with its own detail and nuances, and present in the moment.

Of course, this is all very abstract. *grin*

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Current Location: Bremerton->Seattle ferry
Current Mood: [mood icon] contemplative

Feb. 20th, 2008

10:19 am - Slastdot post I'm proud of

It is best understood in context. This is a response to an article about Richard Feynman, the Challenger, and engineering. And it is specifically in response to a post in which someone blames capitalism for the problem's Richard Feynman outlines in Feynman's Appendix to the Rogers Commission Report on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident.

Blaming the shuttle disaster on capitalism is erroneous. I do not necessarily disagree with your assessment in general, but capitalism was not at fault in that particular instance. What was at fault was bureaucrats trying to look good to their superiors and present a positive public image at the cost of real engineering.

I would say that in general is the meta-problem, not capitalism. In its current form in the US capitalism has caused the existence of many large entities that use hierarchical systems of command and control. These hierarchical systems frequently make sub-optimal decisions because individual actors within the system act for their own benefit but against the benefit of the larger system they are a part of. Particularly egregious examples of this can be found, and they tend to be highlighted as aberrations, but they aren't. They are merely extrema of a problem that is widespread.

Bureaucracy in general serves to insulate actors from responsibility for the results of their actions. As I recall we didn't see any of the middle management of NASA held accountable for the disaster they caused by attempting to look good for their superiors and the public. And this failure of accountability is endemic to the kinds of hierarchical systems you see in most bureaucracies.

Current Mood: [mood icon] pleased

Jan. 7th, 2008

03:56 pm - Filk

Surely someone among you can expand on this verse of filk:

Hypoxia! Hypoxia!
This meeting will not end,
and makes my day so very dull
from hours eight until five.

Current Mood: [mood icon] amused

Sep. 4th, 2007

10:03 pm - An evening ferry ride

A suggestion of mist lies like a soft white glow above the water, lit by the last dying rays of the sun filtered through a thick layer of clouds. Off in the distance the mountains loom, only a dimly perceived outline in the distant fuzzy gloom hinting at their monstrous implacability.

The clouds lit from above by the sun, with a sun so low the world under is in shadow. The clouds with hints of bright yellow at their edges, and in a few thin places warm red shines through from above like the lava under slowly cooling rock.

Our craft passes over the water, raising deep hackles of protest in an otherwise gently rippled calm.

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Current Mood: [mood icon] contemplative
Current Music: The muffled hum of the engines

Aug. 26th, 2007

10:53 am - A poem

The drumbeat pulses
clockcycle to my dreams
my heart pours forth
body moving to its arcane dictates

A ritual of sound
a mystical touch
breaches my subconcious
and the dreams are more real than the stage

Structure giving form
thought giving content
my body moves to my desire
an instrument to play my anger and joy.

both feral and human
I prowl my imagination
a cheetah among gazelles
rejoicing in the fullness of my humanity.

Current Mood: [mood icon] jubilant

Nov. 5th, 2006

08:31 pm - Where can the matter be

Oh, dear, where can the matter be
When it's converted to energy?
There is a slight loss of parity.
Johnny's so long at the fair.

I really wish I knew who was the author of this particular piece of filk.

Current Mood: [mood icon] amused

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