Recently a foreigner was killed in Tangalle, with a local government leader being a suspect. This is highly unusual (for a foreigner to be killed), but thuggery does persist. In Unawatuna, a friend of mine was accosted by someone flashing a government ID, essentially asking for his girlfriend. Some other friends were leaving a party and ended up getting thrashed into the Mount Lavinia gutter. Not to mention semi-regular fights at nightclubs like Karma.
Archive for the 'ideas' Category
I’ve been reading a book by Robert Bellah which defines religion as something of a virtual reality machine, enabling us to connect to and create alternate realities. In that sense, it’s a symbol system. A tree or a pyramid or Stonehenge is like a rudimentary printf statement for God. All as ahead of their time as Babbage’s Difference Engine was ahead of the computer, but I think the concept is sound.
I started this book, Religion In Human Evolution, which has a lot of ideas per page. Here’s one, that history is older than texts, thus older than 5,000 years and mixed with evolutionary biology. This I believe most sincerely to be true, but it’s still a rejection of an established view. Indeed, the time before text is often called pre-history, and many people are happy to let it dwell in mystery or myth.
I got a book in the mail today, ‘Religion In Human Evolution’. I should say a tome, it’s pretty hefty. The cover had a word I didn’t understand on it, but an interesting one. Axial, as in Axial Age. The subheading of the book is ‘From The Paleolithic To The Axial Age’. So what does axial mean? Age of the axe?
Kurt Cobain sang “It’s OK to eat fish, cause they don’t have any feelings.” Indeed, most people don’t empathize with fish at all – I don’t really – despite the fact that we are evolutionary relatives. Pescetarianism is an acceptable form of vegetarianism, and in Sri Lanka dried fish is basically a vegetable. The artist Ted Sabarese has explored our relationship with fish by photographing people with fish that look like them. Interesting results.
As a bit of a data geek, I found this hilarious. This graph from Businessweek shows examples where correlation (two trends that look similar) is not causation (trend A did not cause trend B). I’ve included the funniest one above, but there’s more.
As Breaking Bad matures, the villain, Gustavo Fring, becomes almost the lead character. Seasons two and four were about the vortex of chaos Walter White creates around his goals, but seasons three and four are more about his new employer, Gus, chicken, laundry and crystal meth dealer extraordinaire.
There is a new TV archetype, which isn’t the family, work or even friendship. It seems to be apprenticeship, or mentorship, something based on skill. From CSI to House to Breaking Bad, there’s a new setup which consists of a older man passing on skills, grumpily, to a younger apprentice or apprenti.
You could loosely divide the past into oral, literal and digital ages. Oral would be prehistory up to Homer and on, spoken word. Literal would be books, and digital would be, like, the Internet. Those were the mediums. What was the massage? How did we touch the medium, throughout those ages, how did we connect? Then I got to thinking about it. Digital (literally) means fingers. As fancy as we think this tech is, that’s how we connect.
I’ve been watching Breaking Bad a bit compulsively. It’s a TV drama about a high school chemistry teacher who starts cooking and dealing crystal meth. For the horrificness of this drug just check out Montana Meth project ads. Violence has always been sexy ever since Gilgamesh, but I’ve noticed two trends in depicting it. One is slacker violence, making it a joke, and the other is actual violence, making it disgusting. Oddly enough, both are kinda funny.