Earth-Born

I do like a bit of sci-fi! But I was just wondering, whilst reading one of the stories in Stephen Baxter’s Xeelee: Endurance, in the context of extraterrestrial colonisation and such things, how Earth-born humans would cope with/adapt to the the changes in the subjective passing of time?

The easy answer re those who find themselves living their lives on a starship is to run the starship systems according to Earth time: 24 hour days, 365 day years and so on. But what of pioneer colonisers of other planets? How would we adapt to a planet who’s days are, for example, a few hours longer or a few hours shorter than Earth days? Would we just sleep longer and have longer working days? Or if that planet’s days are longer still, would we split the days into 2, 3 or more Earth days?

I’ve read quite a bit of sf, but I don’t recall such things being particularly mentioned or discussed (except, thinking about it, for the likes of Star Trek’s ‘star dates’) – because surely, when humans start (inevitably?) spreading to other planets, even other star systems, our current system(s) for measuring time would become obsolete…

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Simulacra

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Having just read this…

The Sims is not escapism

… I felt depressed. I closed the webpage and decided to put it behind me. Then I got thinking a bit. And I decided the author of the article has got his priorities mixed up. I can see his point about The Sims highlighting the endless mundanity of life, but it undeniably does so in a humorous way. In a fun way. Some of the best comedy turns around the sadness, mundanity and dark side of life, and makes it palatable. And through making the negativity palatable, one is better able to appreciate the positive stuff.

So there’s that.

The author also speaks of wasting too much time playing videogames. ‘Wasting’ time? Is there not value in doing things that, at first appraisal, appear meaningless? What of art? What of watching movies, reading books, meditating, staring off into space? All ‘meaningless’ things can, I think, be argued as having meaning. It’s all about context and perspective and whatnot. With videogames, as with gambling… when the fun stops, stop. Then do something else meaningless. Or adopt a puppy. Or something.

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Doubt

At various points in time and space, on the Internet and elsewhere, I have expressed an adherence to the cause of Doubt.

Radicalism is dangerous. In all its forms. Radicalism arises from certainty.

“I am certain you are wrong, therefore I am certain of my right to destroy you.”

When have temperance and uncertainty caused wars?

If I am unsure of the reasons for engaging in conflict with you, then I am unlikely to engage in conflict with you.

That’s not to say that we shouldn’t have beliefs. Better, however, to temper our beliefs with…

“You may be right, but…”

Then again…

… I might be wrong.

I/Not-I

Left my wallet at home the other. Felt very discombobulated. No train pass, no money, no ID. Not that I needed the latter two, but… who are we without money or ID? We are who we are, but leads me to think how much society (Modern Western Society) requires us to ‘prove’ who we are. Not only that, but to create and establish personas, which may bear little or no resemblance to our deeper selves.

Puts me in mind of the Zen notion of detaching, removing ourselves from our selves, from our perception of our selves, in order to bear witness, non-subjectively, to reality.

My God, that’s it! That’s the metaphor!

Thankfully the nice train man got me to sign something that said if I showed my pass the next day, I wouldn’t have to pay a fine.

Words

* WARNING – CONTAINS MATERIAL THAT MAY OFFEND *

Within the strictures of Modern Western Society, there are words that cause offence. Prior to parenthood, this fact only flitted briefly through my consciousness, but as my daughter becomes more lucid, more aware and more curious, which coincides with my working in an educational establishment, it numerously falls upon me to attempt, often unsatisfactorily, to ‘explain’ why some words are okay and some are unacceptable, especially in particular contexts – the school playground or in class, for example.

Recently it has become evident that my daughter has a potentially burgeoning interest in cars – the faster, the shinier, the sportier, the better. Consequently, upon spotting a copy of ‘Top Gear’ magazine at a car boot sale, the mother of my offspring decided to purchase said publication, unbeknownst to her at the time that it contained within the packaging a set of fridge magnets, with which one could construct and stick up on the fridge such phrases as “Oh cock.” Naturally the parent of a five-year-old does not particularly want their daughter going round saying “Oh cock” to all and sundry, but… well… it’s only a word, it only means the same as “willy” (or “william,” being her term of choice for the main dangly part of a boy), and as long as she doesn’t go round saying it to her teachers (which she wouldn’t – she is far too conscientious for that) or to her friends, such that they will then say it to their parents, who will, with possibly some concern, pass it on to us, then where’s the harm?

“It’s only a word…”

Because words are only words, aren’t they? What’s in a “cock” or a “fuck” or a “cunt” or a “bastard” or a “shit” or a “piss” or an “arse”? Even my predictive text won’t accept these delightful terms, unless I program it otherwise. How judgmental is that?! There is probably some historical or cultural significance in expletives and their degree of offensiveness, but does anyone think about this when using them? I doubt it.

I baulked at writing the c-word. Please don’t make me write it again! It makes me feel… ooh I dunno… funny. Somehow, though, I can hear Tyrion Lannister of Game of Thrones say it and it feels okay, appropriate, funny even, but I shall dip my tongue in a pot of putrid pirhanas before the word passes through my lips. Why? Why do I accept my daughter’s utterance of the odd “bugger” (which, if you think about it, has pretty, um, graphic connotations) or “willy,” but consider “cock” to be pushing it, and the f-word or, at the top of the list, the c-word, would certainly be going too far?

I don’t believe any of these words have any particular intellectual or semantic resonance with me, but I suppose my “feeling funny” at their utterance (in particular contexts) probably filters down from general cultural perception to the level of the individual (ie me). I am who I am, because society made me that way. But I don’t want to be! I don’t want to conform! And I don’t want the children in my charge and my daughter to (feel like they have to) conform! These words are just words, they are expressive – if not overused (as any words should not be overused), they can, in the right contexts, be the best available words to express a particular emotion, feeling, action, state of mind or being. So why do we censor? Why do particular strings of letters “offend” (to varying degrees, which I reckon could be numerically expressed), where I suspect that most folk would be unable to elucidate why they offend?

I am forced to conclude, in the end, that the argument is circular. There are words that offend, because people find them offensive, and if we don’t want to offend, and we don’t want our charges or our offspring to offend, then they should be avoided. Of course, there will be times when we want to offend. But I can’t be effing bothered to talk about that now.