Showing posts from May, 2013

UN prober seeks moratorium on 'killer robots' | ABS-CBN News

UN investigator calls for ‘killer robot’ ban - World News | Latest International News Headlines | The Irish Times - Thu, May 23, 2013

Quand on n'a que l'amour

I don't normally share videos - but this is one of my absolute favourite songs of all time, by one of my absolute favourite singers, Jacques Brel. And it's a live performance too. What's not to like?

Purple Prose and Languages

I hope this doesn't sound hypocritical of me - but I really detest purple prose in the English language. This isn't because I have some kind of fear or hate of long words, and it's hopefully not because I'm too much of an uncultured philistine to grasp the true magnificence of overly complex prose.

Hopefully, it might just be because I understand a little bit about languages...

...The term actually comes from Horace'sArs Poetica(lines 14-21), where he talks about "purpureus" (literally "a purple thing"), describing flashy poetic asides that don't need to be there by comparing them to sewing purple patches on your clothing. Because of how prohibitively expensive purple dye was (it allegedly took 10,000 to 12,000 of B. brandaris, the carnivorous sea snails used to make the dye, just to make one gram), purple was a symbol of status, wealth and luxury that people would try to copy by sewing purple patches on their clothing. This was by all acco…

On Exams

And yes, this is the generic whining-about-exams post.

You know, it occurs to me that our current model of judging an entire year's worth of growth and development in a few very stressful weeks, where if you don't show up to the exam you can't arrange a time to sit it that isn't next summer, is possibly a bit wrongheaded.

Now, there are lots of reasons why this is a stupid system: that much stress makes people perform worse, judging people based on a couple of hours in a very uncomfortable situation is never going to give you a very good judgement, it encourages teaching students to pass exams instead of teaching students to actually know their subject, and you can probably fill in the rest...

...A big problem is that most exams test recall skills, the ability to regurgitate information. Now, having a good memory is a great thing to have, and a very useful one too.

The trouble is, while a good memory is still a useful skill in the modern world, we are now also surround…

Zen and the art of Screwdrivers

So about a week ago, my amazing boyfriend came over to spend the weekend before my exams started with me, and through a lot of twists and turns involving a trip to the Natural History Museum's temporary butterfly house (it's quite small compared to places like the old London Butterfly House, one of my childhood haunts that sadly got demolished because the Duke of Northumberland wanted to build a hotel complex on the land, but has quite a few pretty species like swallowtails, glasswing butterflies, Atlas moths - don't expect to see them often, though - and my favourite of all, Blue Morphos; it's £4.50 for an adult ticket so make up your own mind and try not to come when it's too crowded), ended up watching Hubble 3D at the Science Museum because he likes space and I like space and we both know that we both like space. And yes, I get childishly excited about looking out beyond Earth, and indeed trying to look at the structure of our observable universe...I could ran…

"Mediaeval" Settings

You probably didn't want to hear this, but I am sick to shitting death of your generic high fantasy setting, with its various different races and professions (including professional adventurers a lot of the time), and its quasi-mediaeval setting...

...Yes, I said quasi-mediaeval. It's actually that quasi-mediaeval setting I'm most sick of, and I really wish people would do something different.

But why? A setting based off mediaeval Europe seems to work well for a lot of plots and worlds, after all - it's foreign enough to make people feel like they're transported into another land and you don't have to worry about all those little things like historical accuracy.

The trouble is, it's overused - and it's overused in the worst possible way. Honestly, a stupid amount of media is set in this quasi-mediaeval period - and frankly, I'm not sure many of the people who use that setting actually care much about it. It's as if someone had decided "I …

Do intentions matter?

I don't know how to start off this post, so I'll repeat the title and hope it makes me sound profound: Do intentions matter?

The question of intent in ethics is probably one that philosophers consider trivial, even a little quaint; it's been debated back and forth and inside and out over and over again from about a thousand different angles and raising the question of intent with an actual philosopher, or even a philosophy student, would probably end up with them bursting into flames from my stupidity, ignorance and general philistinism. Sadly, I am not a philosopher, neither are most laypeople, and we're still having to debate this issue...

...mostly in the form of arguing on the internet. Chances are you've probably run into an argument where someone's done something hurtful or oppressive and about ten people immediately start yelling about how the guilty party should go drink a gallon of bleach and is stuck being a piece of shit forever.

You can debate how …

Fine for Me

"If things are okay for you, you shouldn't be worried about bad things happening to other people!"

I'm really sick and tired of hearing that, you know? Well, no, you don't know because you're not me and you probably didn't want to know in any case - but I'll tell you anyway, because I'm a boring, self-important git!

Now, if I'm such a boring git, you might reason that the only reasons I care about bad things happening to other people are because I'm bored and enjoy meddling in other people's business, a glorified gossip masquerading as some kind of saviour of humanity. For a start, I'm no saviour of humanity. I'm not the enlightened shepherd leading the sheep to freedom. I know perfectly well that I am not powerful and influential enough to do that, and besides, I would rather help people to break their own chains than treat them as incapable of doing so and "break their chains" (for which read: be a privil…

On self-care

I'm sick of people overlooking self-care.
Now, someone or another is going to think that I'm talking absolute nonsense here. After all, isn't self-care indulgent? People are starving every day. Thinking about yourself and how to find your inner positivity isn't going to help them. Besides, who even has time to care for themselves anymore? It's all about hard work so you can rake in that money or get that good job!
That attitude increasingly irritates me. Now, I'm not one to talk - I used to think self-care was extremely selfish when people were suffering all around me and I tend to neglect myself for various reasons that I'd rather not go into, as I recognise that talking about myself gets boring at some point. But it pisses me off that we're encouraged to see self-care as something selfish, when it's a basic necessity - and frankly, not all the advocates of self-care are really helping.
Yep, I said it. I'm actually pretty pissed off with the w…