Monday, September 21, 2009

Total revolution!

"It is now so bad that only a revolution can save the nation. I think that Indonesia has reached a point beyond salvation unless there is radical change. It has to be led by our youth: they should just stop talking about it and do it! The only answer is revolution - there is no other option. [...] Total revolution!"
- Pramamoedya Ananta Toer

Saturday, September 19, 2009

mémoire et histoire

Memory and history are interconnected, but there is an important difference. History is what historians conduct research on in a scientific manner. Memory, on the other hand, is more subjective. Memory deploys myths and legends. Memory is important for our identity, and distortion of facts is then not necessary a sin.

Self-fulfilling prophecy: The Thomas theorem

"If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences."
- Merton

Thursday, September 17, 2009

bad temper

human waste

Historical Attention Span Deficit Disorder

“Those who prophesy the future have tended to fall into one of two categories, both of them mistaken: those who say we have seen it all before, that there is nothing new under the sun; and those who say the world is entirely new, we have to start completely afresh. Today's false prophets fall far more into the second category than the first. Most have been seduced by short-termism, the distinguishing intellectual vice of the late 20th and early 21st century. For the first time in recorded history, there is nowadays a widespread conviction that the experience of all previous generations save our own is irrelevant [...]. Our political culture is dominated by an unprecedented malady: Historical Attention Span Deficit Disorder or HASDD […]. Disrespect for the long-term past produces two serious intellectual disorders. First, the delusion that what is newest is necessarily most advanced […]. And second, the belief that interpreting the present and forecasting the future require an understanding only of the recent past. Little of real importance about future trends, however, can be deduced from the study of a mere generation of human experience.”

Christopher Andrew

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Third World

‘Third World’ – an all too often used term, but today too imprecise to be still useful.
When the term was designed it referred to those countries that neither choose to side with the U.S. nor with the U.S.S.R. during the Cold War. These non-aligned countries gathered in Bandung, Indonesia, in 1955. The fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November 1989 aroused enormous euphoria and not only in that particular part of Europe. However, the changed political climate made the term ‘Third World’ redundant.
‘Third World’ as an analytical tool referring to developing and underdeveloped countries is inaccurate, because it only takes the unequal distribution between states into consideration, some countries are then rich and others are poor. However, within rich states there are many poor, and within poor countries there are many extremely rich people. The sociologist Ulrich Beck uses methodological cosmopolitanism to question global inequalities. This method is thus an imaginary leap away from the nation-state, because, so claims Beck, if we only take nation-states into account we will be blind for inequalities between people from different countries for which is no legitimacy when methodological cosmopolitanism is used. And the philosopher Thomas Pogge adds: “Once we break free from explanatory nationalism, global factors relevant to the persistence of severe poverty are easy to find.” From a moral point of view the lives of all individuals matter. It should not matter whether someone is a slumdog in a ghetto of Los Angeles or if someone lives along the railway tracks of Jakarta.

The price of multitasking

Psychologists have always thought that multitasking is just impossible. Now, researchers from Stanford University have finally proven so. Their research shows that heavy multitaskers are far less able to concentrate, to absorb information and to distinguish what is relevant from what is irrelevant.

For an interview with the researchers see here.

Memory - man's curse

The Hong Kong-based director Wong Kar Wai exposes in his movies the view that memory is man’s curse. A curse, though, we cannot live without. Without memory a sense of continuity necessary for an identity is unfeasible. Memory is needed to make morality in general and justice in particular possible. However, no matter how hard we try to reach out, no matter how much we urge for real contact with significant others, those others stay out of reach. And we try – we try to forget. That is when trauma kicks in – the curse of memory – and Wong Kar Wai’s mesmerizing movies lift off. His movies show the eternal return of our curse.

The clip is from the movie In the mood for love.