Archive for September 4, 2011

My Favorite Scene from ‘Blade Runner’

September 4, 2011 1 comment

While the final rooftop “tears in the rain” scene in Blade Runner is probably more famous, I find this one to be the more satisfying (1:35 onwards).


Categories: Dystopia

Behind Asian Fear of Individualism: 2

September 4, 2011 12 comments

I was going to write some more about why Europe was forced to update its operating system, but a few comments on the last post in this series require quick answers.

One anonymous guy said..

Staple food = rice (carbohydrates)
Mainly carbohydrate diet = low testosterone
Low testosterone = beta characteristics
Beta = socialist tendencies
Entrenched socialism = rigid caste statism (Confucianism)
=> stifling of individualism and creativity for thousands of years

Newsflash! That statement can also describe most of European history. If anything, archeological evidence from human skeletal remains supports that the idea that the nutritional status and overall health of most people in Europe was rather dismal till about 100 years ago.

Giovanni Dannato said..

However, the black plague epidemic pretty much swept all across the Eurasian landmass. In fact, I think it’s thought to have started in East Asia or the Subcontinent and gradually made its way to the West. The destruction and depopulation it caused was hardly exclusive to Western Europe. The same OS reset does not seem to have resulted in the same cultural rebirth elsewhere.

No shit Sherlock.. the magnitude of destruction was far more severe in Europe. Remember that a medium hit is far more consequential in a small system than a large hit in a big system. There was also no equivalent of a Centrally administered china in Europe.

MC OToole said..

Thousands of years ago China created vast rice farming operations and those who joined this group effort were well fed while non joiners went hungry. Thus those more independent types tended to die off. Conformity is stressed in Japan as well. A popular saying in Japan in “The nail that sticks up is the one that gets hammered down”.

If anything agriculture makes suppression of dissent even more dangerous. Remember that most wars in history were won by treachery with the support of a fifth column. Please read about the rather extensive history of war, revolts and rebellions in China and other ancient civilizations.

Let me reiterate something- a set of circumstances, not the nature of people, was behind the large divergence between the west and the rest. Any explanation based on the distinct nature of people must explain why things did not diverge till the mid-1400s. In my opinion, it took place because the dynamic equilibrium of the previous 700-odd years (middle ages) was not restorable.

When complex and connected systems suffer a significant disruptive event- there are only two types of viable outcomes.

a. The fragments can come back together and ‘heal’ if the degree of connectivity is especially high and the disruptive event was time staggered.

b. If connectivity was poor to begin with and the disruption was chronologically concentrated, the system fragments into smaller pieces which then go on their own evolutionary trajectories.

When a series of misfortunes hit Europe in the 1300s, its indigenous post-roman civilization was fragmentary and less than a millenia old. Contrast this to the Levant, China, India etc where indigenous civilization had existed for many millenia and had a high degree of connectivity. Ironically, the very ability of older civilizations to recover prevented them from exploring possibilities which would have changed the course of history.

The west was not genetically or culturally superior- it simply had no option or mechanism to go back the old ways. They just discovered virtue in the vice of individualism and innovation because the other options were either nonexistent or much worse.

Will write more in a future part of this series.


Shaggy: Sugarcane

September 4, 2011 2 comments

Funny music video about the rent-a-rasta phenomenon in Jamaica.


Categories: LOL, Music Video