Showing posts from March, 2013

Humour and the Revolution

I think I already wrote about how the revolution would be snarky, but I want to expand on that a little.

The stereotype of the humourless radical is pretty well-known, if very overblown and mostly bullshit; pretty much anyone could improvise wildly and claim that humour is a bourgeois tool used to control the proletariat, or something. (That said, at some point they'd then get corrected by someone who'd read all of this.) Actually, quite a lot of radicals have a pretty decent sense of humour; that said, I've known a lot of people who were, essentially, too angry to understand sarcasm and would start fighting if I breathed on them.

That's not the greatest thing - not because I'm some kind of evil reactionary who wants to patronise people by telling them not to be angry, but for two reasons. Firstly, infighting that can be started just by waving your hand a little does not bode well for getting shit done. Secondly, humour is a very powerful tool.

Yep, I went there. I…

Science and the military-industrial complex

I move in circles where people don't really like science; they're constantly complaining about corporate science whores covering up the truth, working for Big Pharma, trying to sell us dopey pills and being slaves to the military. The irony of some of them doing this on their computers and smartphones over the internet while drinking pasteurised milk is not lost on me. (Incidentally, some of those who call themselves liberal or leftist have also succeeded in giving liberalism and leftism a bit of an anti-science reputation in some quarters, thus driving some popular science publications even more rightwards than they already were thanks to being propped up at least in part by industry money. Nice job breaking it, guys!)

Anyway, now that I've finished insulting the people I was supposed to be trying to win over (nice job breaking it, Osnat! Next time, shut your big mouth and remember that no matter how juicy that snark is, it's not worth permanently offending the people…

Solidarity and Solitude

I am becoming disillusioned with the notion of solidarity. Oh, I'm not becoming disillusioned with solidarity as a good thing - I'm becoming disillusioned with people's attitudes to solidarity.

You might think that I'm just one of those cranks who needs to complain about something because I don't have a job - actually, a lot of people do. You might think that I'm making things up, or maybe that I've completely misunderstood the notion of solidarity. Who knows? You could be right; for me, solidarity has always been a bit of a fuzzy concept as I learnt its meaning from context and from being in solidarity with others, not from a dictionary or from reading weighty tomes.

As far as I understand it, solidarity involves supporting people through their struggles thanks to having responsibilities or interests in common, and seems to support me on this one. It takes some empathy, some kind of conscience and about 5 minutes of your time - so I thought …

Hard and Soft Sciences

So this March 3rd I was reading an excellent blog post about the hard and soft sciences (linked) and, made me think, which is always good. In particular it made me think about what hard and soft science mean to me.

I think I wrote a little before on the sciences and humanities and on linking things, so I'm not particularly averse to the soft sciences. I don't think they're evil, and I think they're important. (I do confess to preferring hard sciences, though, because they deal with data that is more easily quantified.) Actually, I'm pretty sure anyone who participates in the endless "my chosen discipline is better than yours" debate is wrong.

Yes, even if they're a physicist.

That blog definitely gave me pause for thought: I think often a lot of us in the hard sciences think our disciplines are better because we can use more quantifiable data (before anyone starts crying about the tyranny of numbers here, the problem with quantifying data c…

Quantum Physics and the Favourite Story

Before I start, I'd just like to state that unlike my favourite stories, quantum physics isn't fictitious. I draw the comparison because of what both mean to me, not what they are.

I've been an avid reader since I was very, very young. Owing to the hundreds of books on my shelves (and my desk and my floor - I am not particularly organised), I don't really re-read books as much as I used to, but back when I was younger and didn't have the independence to buy every book I laid my eyes on, I would return over and over again to my favourite stories. Even though I knew the plot back to front and inside out, I still loved returning to it and discovering something new; I loved going on the emotional and intellectual journey I knew so well, and I loved deepening my understanding each time.

I'm in my last but one year before I leave school (I'm not as stupid as I am young), and part of our course involves studying the very simplest of quantum physics. Having read f…

Taking a Break

"They don't get a break, so neither should we!"

So goes the rallying cry of many a revolutionary, activist, and general do-gooder. And it's a rallying cry I'm sick and tired of hearing.
Some of you - particularly the more zealous ones - will probably mistake this for me being a lazy, bourgeois shit who doesn't really care about the struggle at all. Perhaps I'm even a traitor to the cause, and you now need to expend your valuable energy on removing my poisonous influence!
Well, breathe deeply for a moment. Oxygen good...hyperventilating righteously and jumping to conclusions, not so good. I'm not tired of endless toil because I'm lazy, I'm tired of endless toil because I've been there and, instead of having limitless energy and passion, what's actually happened is that I've curled up crying, loudly declared that I give up and nearly killed myself.
This, by the way, has happened multiple times.
At this point some of you may say I'…