Since I Never Get the Last Word
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
'why' There is Evil
Consider fire as a candidate for the true “root of all evil.” Speculating on the idea of a group of folk sitting around a fire will immediately conjure images of someone going off to find the beer and another to fetch the marshmallows. The women are already there so all the makings for a first-rate party are handy. What’s missing? Communication, of course. You have to have something to occupy your mind whilst drinking and snacking and you know she’s going to tell you the time isn’t right, wait till after she’s had a few more marshmallows.
So, conversation gets invented. That’s not a bad thing. Everyone discovers new uses for this novelty and pretty soon only the Neanderthals are avoiding the fad and you know where that takes them. What Neanderthal female is ever going to find the mood without a preliminary conversation? No conversation, no little Neanderthals running around the cave.
Of course, where there are little Cro-Mags running around the cave, that pesky fire is going facilitate their education. They won’t go to their ledges to sleep “cause there’s enough light to play and the game that is the most fun is to listen to the grown-ups. Listening to grown-up conversation provides an education of the sort that most parents would rather discourage until the last possible moment.
You wonder at the validity of this claim? Consider what happened that was bound to happen. Picture four year old Tammy Faye and her good friend, Fauntleroy. They listen and listen and do not understand so they make up a word to express their frustration and their curiosity and their willingness to demand explanation from their parents. You can see the word coming; it was inevitable. As am I, you are probably shuddering at the thought of that first instance the dread word broke the still night’s peace.
“Why?” Tammy Faye asked and “why?” Fauntleroy echoed and the history of the world changed. Certainly Fauntleroy’s dad smacked him across the cave but Tammy Faye’s mom was having none of that for her future maid. Tammy Faye’s mother did what mothers generally do: she made up a story that would carry hints of the truth but not be more knowledge than the mother feels is good for the child. It worked, of course, until Tammy Faye and Fauntleroy got to comparing notes the next day as they hauled the garbage down to the river. The next night they were back with their next “why?”
It’s been going on ever since. Children ask “why” and folk make up stories to assuage their curiosity while protecting the grown-up from admitting they either don’t know or don’t believe the child needs the information. Yeah, they make up a story.
Telling stories becomes the accepted method for anything and everything that needs explaining. Our ancestors told them for so long and so often they began to believe them. We’ve got a whole world of made-up stories and 99 44/100% of the evil in this world can traced back to those stories. An entire history of storieshumans told their children sitting around the campfire. We should have stuck to getting influenza and eating our victuals raw.
Posted by Dan Bieger 2006-05-17 14:56:30
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Another of Life's Little Mysteries
Watching the world spin while it spins another interpretation of another interpretation gives me wonder yet again. Is faith not unquestioning belief that does not require proof or evidence? If neither proof nor evidence is required, why do these folk spend so much time attempting to provide evidence of the facts of their beliefs? Why do they care what other people think? They are supposed to be content living the life they decided was right.
But this is not the case. The case is that every institution defends itself; every bureaucracy resists change. When questions arise that challenge the institution/bureaucracy, the response from the powers-that-are to their adherents is that the answer lies in the idea that the point questioned is a matter of faith. If that is so, why spend any time at all treating with the challenge. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks; it’s a matter of faith. I can live with that; why can’t the institutions?
Posted by Dan Bieger 2006-05-16 10:04:12
Monday, May 15, 2006
Last night, I re-read Robert Lax’ Alley Violinist. It got me thinking about what and why I post here at sffworld. Lax wrote:
if you were an alley violist
and they threw you money
from three windows
and the first note contained
a nickel and said:
when you play, we dance and
a very poor family
and the second one contained
a dime and said:
i like your playing very much,
a sick old lady
and the last one contained
a dollar and said:
stand there and play?
walk away playing your fiddle?
I didn’t change my mind but I had a good time mussing it about.
Posted by Dan Bieger 2006-05-15 08:16:27
Saturday, May 13, 2006
The Future of Language
Language is a kind of game. Wittgenstein
Yet, it appears that human beings need to communicate. McWhorter
Which is why we write. Me
There exists a universal grammar. Chomsky
English is S-V-O; Turkish is S-O-V; Welsh is V-S-O. McWhorter
Grammar is optional. Me
There was once an Indo-European base language from which a bunch of other languages evolved.
There were also once a Semitic base language, a Sino-Tibetan base language, and an Austronesian.
There were others as well such as Bantu, Original American, and Khoi-San.
From these, we have the present dispersion to @ 6,000 languages.
Languages change over time. So when we write stories of the far future or even the near future, why is it we assume all humanity will be able to communicate within itself. We talk about communicating with aliens instinctively realizing there will be problems in such a conversation but we ignore the problems we already have that will only get worse over the time and distances of interstellar travel.
Posted by Dan Bieger 2006-05-13 08:44:13
Thursday, May 11, 2006
Ranting Historically - Again
They’re making this entirely too easy! Consider:
“In London, Spencer Perceval, prime minister of Britain since 1809, is shot to death by demented businessman John Bellingham in the lobby of the House of Commons. Bellingham, who was inflamed by his failure to obtain government compensation for war debts incurred in Russia, gave himself up immediately.” The History Channel, May 11, 2006.
I googled John Bellingham and the very first entry available was:
Evidently, seeking redress for losses sustained by a government’s failure to act is demented behavior. I can understand that; government bureaucracy is not known for its alacrity in handling mundane matters and those who attempt to make it happen are – indeed - slightly mad.
Such insanity, such dementia, believing it is the proper function of the parliament to act in the cause of justice! Why, the next thing you know - The History Channel will be reminding us - it is the government’s function to rule and the citizen’s function to be ruled and let’s not confuse the roles with any “of the people, for the people, and by the people” rot.
Desparate? Yes. At his wit’s end? Yes. Unable to perceive any course of action other than vengeance on the symbol of his woes? Yes. Demented? The History Channel thinks so.
Posted by Dan Bieger 2006-05-11 15:45:21