Astronomy, Catholicism & Plumbing.

Astronomers are mapping the stars, and the galaxies beyond them. Although it may become utilisable in the distant future, or may discover points of escalating interest (ex. Armageddon asteroids, aliens) in the short term, it is not practical nor essential like plumbing or farming. A lack of practical purpose however, does not mean it is unworthy of pursuit. It indicates to the community which supports this pursuit of knowledge for it’s own sake, to rank the expenditure with other potentially useless investments, such as the military. Some researchers find it personally purposeful to inch precise instruments across the night sky, they find some pleasure witnessing the magnitude of the visible universe. Such pleasurable pursuits are extended beyond the community of researchers to the broader public via the mass media by shows like Cosmos, with much slower time-frames than sporting activities.

Mapping of the stars, supernova & other astronomical debris is no equivalent to practical industry from the perspective of democratic citizenry. Headlines, such as 40 000 000 Stars Mapped, are intended to loosen public purse strings but emphasize progress over pursuit. Farmers, plumbers and emergency services have a value which outstrips what is offered by astronomy (or the military). It may one day produce great value, as put forth with clarity by Mr. Stuhlinger. The link is to a piece of correspondence between a NASA director and a Christian sister.

That missive to the world, which is a contest for the faith of the multitude between two members of secular and sacred communities, keeps the ball rolling. If the ball, or to say it differently how we value our objectives, were to be the abolition of suffering, a Nietzschean perspective looms. Can the good can only be so, when there is suffering to mitigate? The affirmative answer is more Catholic than Christian, and has an equivalence in the Buddhist dogma of dukkha. Catholicism, which has an often wild and despicable history, has been a powerful ideology for millennia. Change was slow and suffering was a common thread to bind together a community (& to induce serfs to embrace their lot in life). How should this inform efforts to structure an understanding of modernity? Is the international community of tomorrow better united by the importance of suffering, or stargazing (or soldiering or shitting)?

Professional stargazers have reached a certain threshold in public awareness, the public figures of Richard Dawkins, Neil deGrasse Tyson and Brian Cox demonstrate this. As much as they champion values of the Enlightenment (tradition of criticism, egalitarianism) and the significance of their academic domain, they have been unable to challenge the supremacy of the public dollar. They, and less prestigious members of their faculty, produce headlines as steps in the paper chase.

When progress is measured by percentages of mapped sky, for an activity which is communally, although not personally, worthless in the immediate future, I would suggest astronomy is serving an ideological purpose. It is a mental support for Western citizens to conceive, secure & justify the international situation. So to say, our moral elitism (science & secularism) is why our nations are leading the world (by non-faith based measures), why they will continue to do so and validation of the global economic system which is the best measure & explanation of differences in life quality. Does anyone know how often religious-social elitism justified suppression of lower classes in the past? To justify the relative standards of material existence, signs of progress are need to alleviate guilt by reassurances that change is coming. This justification is emptying the inner worth of pursuing knowledge for it’s own sake.

A quote from Mr. Deutsch from the book ‘The Beginning of Infinity’;

“But then there is the philosophical magnitude of a cluster of galaxies. As I moved the cross-hairs to one nondescript galaxy after another, clicking at what I guessed to be the centre of each, some whimsical thoughts occurred to me. I wondered whether I would be the first and last human being ever to pay conscious attention to a particular galaxy. I was looking at the blurry object for only a few seconds, yet it might be laden with meaning for all I knew. It contains billions of planets. Each planet is a world. Each has its own unique history – sunrises and sunsets; storms, seasons; in some cases continents, oceans, earthquakes, rivers. Were any of those worlds inhabited? Were there astronomers there? Unless they were an exceedingly ancient, and advanced, civilization, those people would never have travelled outside their galaxy. So they would never have seen what it looked like from my perspective – though they might know from theory. Were any of them at that moment staring at the Milky Way, asking the same questions about us as I was about them? If so, then they were looking at our galaxy as it was when the most advanced forms of life on Earth were fish.”

These days, mathematical algorithms become computerised and a machine is substituted for the man (or woman), all to produce signs of progress. What’s the rush?

Outlaws of the Marsh.

I liked it, despite burgeoning imperfections there was a deeper narrative which was delightful. Beginning with Sagacious Lu, it follows solo adventures which help adjust assumptions about the social reality of the times, such as payment in bolts of cloth or silk. As the adventures begin to overlap and intertwine, and as additional heroes emerge, these small interactions remain apparent. It was to my surprise to read of so few tea ceremonies and so much heated wine.

As the adventurers journey through 12th century China, certain names & places repeat. These eventually become focal points of events & connections, connections which intertwine the whole of the 108 bandits. After achieving this unity, and with tens of thousands of peons (red shirts for the Trekkies), the gallant fraternity of Mt. Liangshan battle the world and battle through out the world. Latter chapters loosely describe a, mostly, gentle unwinding of the community.

Other than the peak unity of the narrative arc, small sections burst with customs. Drinking wine, rebellious poetry and written word puzzles are a recurrent sequence of events. Idioms abound “You dare tweak the tigers whiskers.”, “I have eyes but did not recognise Mt. Taishan.” spring to mind.

Idiots also live in the pages, chuckle worthy, antagonistic and realistic idiots. Unscrupulous schemers some who earn redemption by virtue of the winners writ, abide. Language itself holds archaic relics, and it is as though the work has been translated into dated English. It is comparable with Game of Thrones, virtue is no safeguard in the world of the Water Margin.

I recommend it.

Effects of Collective Nouns.

My thesis is that the use of collective nouns, such as men, women, aboriginal, migrant, refugee, (the more specific the more influential) in mass media affects identity and dynamics about the given identity. As contrast, individuals in the media will not produce the same effects. This, if true, has a critical role to play in feelings of anonymity, a modern health issue caused by massive populations. As suicide becomes an increasingly severe problem in the developed world, and the recognising the role of anonymity in suicide, this may produce changes which can mitigate this horror (which is by no means isolated to developed nations).

This is not a thorough sociological, statistical investigation to validate my opinion. It is my opinion and it just makes sense to me. So I shall lay out my case in hopes of persuading you, the reader. I make my case with the intent to demonstrate some evidence and reasoning that lack of men as a collective noun in Australian mass media, is an actionable factor in the horrible male suicide statistics. Often issues disproportionately affecting men (such as being overworked) are not discussed as such, and are instead reported or discussed as Australian problems. This re-labelling of men’s problems as Australian problems diverts public discourse, which is a form of community care & attention and an aspect of a better tomorrow.

Inner stories supply people with a framework to manage living, and individual narratives are are created from national, or other community, materials.
[How many Asiatic people have mentioned their lack of mathematical skills to me? Some, way more than any other ethincity, so this is personal evidence of individuals feeling an urge to relate themselves to the stereotype.]
Modern, larger-than-life (which I believe are effective at reducing suicide) narratives are found in many communities but major sources are simple to identify, such as cinema, literature and mass media. I reckon presence of a specific collective noun in the mass media would increase subjective relation to the identity born from the noun and also boost social effects (such as attending specific cultural events) of that collective. Lack of collective nouns will increase feelings of anonymity and associated problems, extending beyond suicide / mental health to things such as diminished political participation.

Individual men are more common figures in the mass media than individual women. However, I believe that there will be less subjective identification with a public figure as opposed to a collective category. Beneficial effects of collective nouns will either exist in significantly reduced quality & quantity or will not at all be caused by media conversation about individuals.

Feminism, which has had many significant successes and still has many significant objectives, has grown conversation about women’s problems to a towering juggernaut. Feminism casts a shadow which I believe to be a factor in the existence of problematic mental health in men. This effect would be restricted to men (and not extend to say, LGBT), as the binary male / female would indicate the domain in which the identity is to be relatively judged. To develop this concept, a relative judgement will contrast what is relevant, men / women collective noun usage being the obvious measuring posts. Scrolling down a news group’s Facebook page in search of collective nouns (& not individuals) shows more media focus on, & therefore national community identity / narrative material for, women.

A simple demonstration is to read an article focused on a community, identify the collective noun, such as men, and replace that term with a broader collective noun, such as Spaniards. Such a shift reduces informative ability of the article, and so reduces political effects of the community & / article (less information, leads less informed decisions, leads less effective action, leads less action). Further it reduces immediate identification with the facets of the article in question. So to say it differently, individual men in media are weaker at causing the male community to relate to the discourse and is one of the array of factors which inhibit drawing their own inner narrative from the readily accessible mass media.

Community Supports Cash.

*The quote above is precisely my impression of Ayn Rand’s approach to economics, that wealth is to be torn from the context, the community, which generated it and proper context would refute calls for generic free-market reforms from that school of thought.
Money works because the society it exists within guarantees the practically worthless banknote is figuratively valued. This community guarantee entails an expectation of community circulation, mainly but not exclusively in the form of taxation. Since the earliest times, when farmhands were paid in tokens representing a share in the final harvest, an trade-able tokens of abstract value have been consistently produced in various epochs and areas.

Theoretical economic systems understate the role of the community in the creation, circulation and valuation of currency. Ayn Randism, or Objectivism, as well as other schools of thought, reject an obligation between a currency and the community in which it circulates. Sweat off the brow is represented by the value token, and any coercive attempt at seizure is unjust. A fairer approach than that taken by Russian communism, where everything belongs to the community but nothing belongs to the individual, or an aristocracy, where everything is a gift from the Divine via the royalty. Nonetheless, there has got to be a better way.

Monopolies naturally occur, and laissez-faire economics do not address the problems monopolies cause, such as unfair prices and unequal competition. The Objectivist conception of the heroic person pursuing their own productive, noble agenda under the auspice of reason is better fulfilled by a system which lessens difficulties of competition. Putting aside serious discussion of how to correctly dispense taxation, I reckon that the Objectivist conception of the meaning of life is better supported by a State with purview beyond the prevention of coercion.

This is my current perspective on the economic system, founded on the concept of an abstract, trade-able value token or object. Communal recognition of the token is an essential feature. Precisely what is then entailed is in constant flux as theory and reality shift with time. Community is an essential aspect of currency.

Prayers For The Assassin.

Goodreads Review.

A rather good read, quite resonant with our times which is apparent from the blurb. An inner monologue from the cast of characters strings together the narrative, which shifts between villainous and heroic characters. Although well described as an alternate history novel, Robert Ferrigno applies multiple perspectives, a style from the fantasy genre, most prominent of which is the GoT franchise. However the overwhelming distinction is the uniting objective between every character, which I enjoyed, as the threads which bind the disparate GoT characters together, to my dismay, are politics. Loose threads in the closing chapters leave the room for a sequel open, which may lose readers who no longer savour the novelty.