Posts Tagged: culture

Tidbits for Your Weekend Reading

Encounter with the Infinite:
How Did the Minimally Trained, Isolated Srinivasa Ramanujan, with Little More than an Out-of-Date Elementary Textbook, Anticipate Some of the Deepest Theoretical Problems of Mathematics—Including Concepts Discovered Only after His Death?

Ms. Jen says – Well written article on Srinivasa Ramanujan, culture, math, and life by Robert Schneider

Gut Microbes Combine to Cause Colon Cancer, Study Suggests

Tales of the Forest

Turning our fairy tales feral again

Beyond the Gaze: Reclaiming the Female Form After Nochlin

An Illustrated Guide to Linda Nochlin’s “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?”

Eau de Nil, the Light-Green Color of Egypt-Obsessed Europe

Glaucous, the Greeny Blue of Epic Poetry and Succulents

Mormons want to save the Republican party’s soul. But is it too late?
Ms. Jen says – I believe the Republican Party may be beyond amendment.

The Virtues of Willfulness: How Fairy Tales Teach Us to Look for Truths Beyond the Simple Stories

Sunday Tidbits with a Photo of Melting Snow in the Sagebrush

Snow melt in the sagebrush

Sun. 01.29.17 – Today is the last Sunday of January and life is interesting. Here are some links for your reading pleasure:

Terri Windling’s link/quote round up with beautiful illustrations on Fairy tales and fantasy, when the need is greatest

Cipher War: After a century of failing to crack an ancient script, linguists turn to machines

A lovely story of a found photo album from the mid-20th century leads to Love and Black Lives, in Pictures Found on a Brooklyn Street

A quote from an NYT Opinion column from yesterday, One Country, Two Tribes:

Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist at New York University, calls it the clash between globalists and nationalists. The globalists, who tend to be urban and college educated, want a world like the one described in John Lennon’s song “Imagine” — no religion, walls or borders dividing people. The nationalists see that as a vision of hell. They want to defend their culture and emphasize the bonds of nationhood — flag, Constitution, patriotism. They also want to limit immigration, an instinct that globalists are often quick to condemn as racist.

It is one of the most profound fissures of the modern political era and has upended politics in Europe, too.

“Global elites feel they have more in common with their friends in Paris or New York than with their own countrymen,” said Lars Tragardh, a historian at Ersta Skondal University College in Stockholm. “In their view of the world, the centrality of citizenship gets lost, and that is very threatening to the nationalists.”

And last but not least,
This Granular Life: Is atomic theory the most important idea in human history?

Photo of the snow melting in the sagebrush above the Meadow Creek meadow overlooking the Owens Valley taken by Ms. Jen this afternoon while walking Canela with her Lumia 950.

The Twelve Days of Christmas

Thomas taking a photo of Erika & Lukas on Christmas Eve

Photo taken by Ms. Jen with her Nokia 808 PureView.

One of the true delights about my post-Christmas trip to London last year was to see how differently the days after Christmas and after New Years were lived out in the UK versus the US. Here in the US there is a big lead up, sometimes starting before Halloween, to THE CHRISTMAS, but it is more like a big lead up to BUY LOTS OF THINGS. And then the day after Christmas, it is all over.
By all over, I mean all over, done back to non-holiday life, unless you are a consumerist saint who has to go to the post-Christmas sales. Many folks in the US, who don’t work on salary at a beneficent company, will return to work on December 26th unless it falls on a weekend or they take paid or unpaid vacation time. Most folks will have January 1st off and possibly the whole or half day of New Year’s Eve, but even then many stores and restaurants will be open on the holiday.
This is so very different from the marvelous ghost town that London was when I traveled there last year from Dec 27th to Jan 13th. Many shops and small businesses where completely closed until after New Year’s day and a few until Epiphany (Jan 6th), most of my friends who lived in the city had left for Christmas, Christian or not, and did not return until after New Years or, again, a few until after Jan 6th.
The folks in the UK seemed to really celebrate or at least relax and enjoy some time off the full 12 Days of Christmas, or at least a good 6+ of them until just after New Years.
I decided that this year I would take a cue from my UK and European friends and celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas by being more mindful about catching up with friends, seeing family, and taking the time to unwind.

Tidbits from Sunday Blog Reading

Living Small on Battening Down the Hatches, while Charlotte has a freezer full of pork, I have a freezer full of lamb (from the OC Fair).
Wendell Berry’s Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front poem:

“Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.” – Wendel Berry, exerpt

Anina goes to the TechCrunch Beijing Disrupt and comes home to write Girls in TechCrunch
From a photographer living in Iraq, 5 Tips for Safely Photographing a Dangerous Event
Brian Fling has decided it is time to write Book #2:

“At the heart of all of these transitions is mobile. I’ve seen it have a transformative impact on some of the biggest and oldest companies on the planet. I’ve seen geniuses become dumbfounded. I’ve seen great intentions fail miserably.
I want to explore and share those stories. I do not talk want to talk about the virtues of native apps or HTML5 apps – or any other irrelevant discussion that revolves around the technology of today. Mobile is no more about the technology, as the printing press was about paper.
Instead this book will be as much a manifesto of 21st century experiences as it is a guide to using century old tools to solve the problems of today, even the ones we may not be able to define yet.”

@Jyri tweeted: “If I had an angel credo it’d be to invest in quirky solutions to big problems: e.g. Valkee treats depression with light http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/8877185/A-bright-word-in-the-ear-for-those-with-winter-blues.html
Last but not least, Timo Arnall posts Three films on communication and networks. It is worth it to watch the videos/films.

Fantasy, Science Fiction, Imagination, Faith, and Modernity

There has been quite the internet blog-o-sphere to do revolving around Michael Weingrad’s essay “Why There Is No Jewish Narnia“, which led to D.G. Myers asserting that “Fantasy is a Genre of Christianity“, where upon E.D. Kain proposes that it is not Christianity but Anglophone culture that is the root of Fantasy literature in “Fantasy and the Anglosphere“.
In “Fantasy and the Anglosphere” Kain writes,

“When I published my fantasy piece in the Atlantic it was linked (reproduced?) by Richard Dawkins’ site and a number of the atheists in the commentariat had scathing things to say about fantasy literature. Apparently it is not enough that readers of fantasy do not, in fact, believe in their make-believe. Apparently the fact that dragons and sorcery are not based in science is enough to earn the scorn of some anti-religious types.
This reminds me of the reaction of many conservative Christian groups to various fantasy novels, from Harry Potter to The Golden Compass and the attempt by some conservative groups to ban these books in schools due to all that witchcraft and other devil-worshipping (you know, all those satanic rituals Harry Potter and Hermione engage in before the strange sexual acts begin.)
But many, many Christians and atheists and people of various other faiths enjoy fantasy. “

It struck my absurdity bone as darkly funny that folks are unable to enjoy fiction because it is not science.
*blink*blink*blink*
Hello.
And then being the internet it gets better, as Alyssa Rosenberg jumps in the fray with “Is Fantasy Inherently Christian?” and Adam Serwer joins in with “High Fantasy is a Subgene of Fantasy“, wherein Mr. Serwer brings in the fantasy traditions of many cultures worldwide.
What I find interesting is that none of the writers above, after name checking C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein, and Chesterton, with one or two brief references to Arthurian legends of the high Middle Ages, discuss the Romantic and Victorian infatuation with all things that we would now label as Fantasy: elves, fairies, the sublime, the door between the worlds, other worlds, etc. Not just the folks in the British tradition, but also Wagner (The Ring Cycle), the Russian literature around Baba Yaga, the Welsh Mabinogion, the Celtic revival of Yeats, Wilde, et al, etc etc.
Or how about the writer that both Lewis and Tolkein gave much credit to, George MacDonald. While MacDonald was a poet, writer, and minister, many of his tales border between a mash up of older Scottish fairy tales with the early Modern Christian allegory tradition, wherein the fairy tales come out a bit stronger in his stories than any claims to a 19th Century version of Pilgrim’s Progress.
Wherever we want to trace the history and genealogy of contemporary Fantasy literature, it is far deeper and broader than Tolkein, Lewis, and Chesterton. The Bridge of Birds immediately leaps to mind.
Also to say that Judaism is only concerned with the here and now, and thus couldn’t produce a tradition of Fantasy is also only looking at the last 100 years or so of history. I would love a time machine to take me back to 1100 or 1200 AD to Cordoba or Granada to sit at the feet of a Jewish storyteller and hear of the tales being told in that moment in Andalucia. Maimonides may have had a few good fantastical stories to tell that weren’t all theological in nature.
We, a people who have lived through and beyond the age of the early Modern explorers, the empires where stories leaked back and forth between subject & subjector, as well as the Modernist love of all things industrial progress and the rational, dip into many strands of fantasy in our TV, books, films, and now internets, of which many of these strands may have root in the primary culture we live in right now or the stories may scamper up and down other trees and roots of places we have not yet seen nor heard of.
Many of the stories we now think of as Christian or Medieval are stories that have been radically reshaped or completely created anew in the last 200 years the Industrial Revolution, the Romantics, and the various Revivals of the late 19th century. How much of the current genre we call Fantasy is not necessarily the creative child of Christianity but really the rebellious teenager of rational Modernism?

Ben Hammersley: The Internet of People

“1990 will be seen, I will posit, as being the first year of the great revolution that we are living through. It is also the first year of the great confusion for the vast majority of people who are in power today. … The internet is fundamentally different, it thinks in networks, not in hierarchies.” – Ben Hammersley

Snobmob

Project52 : Week 3
I hereby coin a new word, Snobmob, of which the definition is:
“Any person is the type of person who feels so superior about themselves and their knowledge and/or use of mobile technology that they call lesser mortals ‘Normobs’.”
I have previously written about my distaste for the word ‘Normob‘, and tonight I was set off by Ewan’s post, Nokia N900 is now a consumer phone, at the Mobile Industry Review who in his post claims that Nokia’s choice of advertising the Nokia N900 in the London Tube is a mistake as the device is for super geeks, not for normobs (aka the average 24 year old female).

“It’s always good to take a walk through the tube even if you can’t stand the delays, grime and the folks playing music. It’s good to get a view on what the mobile market is pitching to end consumers. The Nokia N900 Maemo device was arguably never intended for the average 24 year old female on a 35/month contract. Indeed when I originally talked to Nokia back at the start of Q4 2009, they were — broadly speaking — unsure if any operators would ‘range’ the device. And that issue didn’t really bother them either. The N900 is almost a reference device for Maemo, for the future of the company’s super-high-tech gadget series of devices.”

Now I know some kick ass 20-something women/girls/females/humanswithinnybitsmidbody and most all of them have branded smartphones from a carrier, my local area within a 25 meter radius has at least 7 of them, and they have not had troubles with learning how to use their phones. I have heard two of them explain to the their boyfriends how to use the boy’s phone. Maybe the females in California are made of sterner technological stuff than the ones that Ewan encounters.
When I get a new phone to trial from WOM World/Nokia, most of the local females see them, hold them and try them out. Of all the phones, that I have trialed in the two years I have lived here, it was the Google Ion/HTC Magic and the Nokia N900 that I had to do little to no explaining before the local female 20-something supposed ‘normobs’ were off and running and enjoying the devices. Most all of them have LG and Samsung phones that have been branded, nee raped, by the carrier and they are very used to a phone that one has to explore.
The only thing that stops them from getting any of the high-end phones that I have is price point, as they are unsubsidized by the carrier. It is not the intimidation of a technologically superior phone. One of them is currently waiting to see if T-Mobile, her carrier, is going to pick up the N900 before she upgrades to a new phone.
Culture is learned. Tech culture is learned. We should not be building biases into our blog posts/punditry and assuming that folks who aren’t like us won’t be able to use the device that we think is most high tech or most worthy of high techologica wizardery. That does a disservice to the potential user and to the folks who designed it.
The Nokia N900 is a beautifully designed device, both in hardware & software, if one has used an iPhone or Android or any of the Samsung touchscreen phones, then one can learn via exploration or via transmission through in person or online tutorials.
Thus, for as long as the derisory ‘normob’ is bandied about, I will use ‘snobmob’, and even possibly add it to the Urban Dictionary.
But I would rather that all of us mobile tech bloggers drop our assumptions about users that are based in bias and instead get excited about technology that could be revolutionary in the long run for the largest amount of people we would never expect to use it & love it.
Gentlemen, drop the snob, it is unbecoming of you, your intelligence, and humanity.
****
Update, Sat 01.23.10 :
I want to be clear that the above is a commentary on word usage by mobile bloggers, pundits, and others, not a serious attempt to coin a word so that people can further divide and belittle each other.
Please read Ben Smith’s comment below, as he is apart of the London mobile bloggers that came up with the original term, normob, of which he defines and defends its usage. Also, please read my response comment.
As for the 3rd comment, where the writer is asking if we can call a specific mobile designer a ‘snobmob’; no, let’s not.
Instead, I would like to reiterate that as a blogger or writer or online pundit, our word usage does matter, particularly as we have a potential worldwide audience who may not know our (sub-)cultural assumptions nor maybe be native speakers to the language we are writing in or the reader who drops into a page of our blogs from a search engine may not catch humor or earnest intentions on our parts unless we try to pay attention to word usage and clarity. I say this to myself as well.