May 3rd, 2006

glee sue sylvester

A few random thoughts for the day

1. I just checked out all the people on LJ who are listed as having gone to Sheffield High School (which is where I went, obviously, not that I was just randomly looking up schools), and with the exception of one fairly aged person (who finished there when I was 2!), they are all of the born-about-1986 vintage. Which is fine, y'know, because I have friends who are that sort of age. Only then I look at when they went to school, and they didn't start until about 1997 which was, er, when I was starting the Upper VI. I am so old...

2. Tee hee. You may or may not be aware of my passionate love for that fine good-crap programme Prison Break. It is so fine. Anyway, is it wrong for me to get completely and ridiculously excited because one of the visiting lecturers for an upcoming symposium thing is from Loyola University in Chicago, whence graduated (according to the Fox website) le lovely Michael? I mean, sure, he's imaginary, but still...

3. Hah! One of my pet opinions has precedent! I was reading an article about John Stuart Mill, and it said this: 'In "A Few Words on Non-Intervention", he [JSM] declared that outside intervention against tyranny is rarely justified, because if a people cannot topple their government themselves, they are either not really a people or not ready for liberty.' Just what I have always said. Yay for JSM, frankly.
glee sue sylvester

Political babble

Further to the whole external-powers-shouldn’t-bop-round-liberating-other-people thing, it was interesting one of the points that Orwell made in his preface to Animal Farm, in that the only way to ensure democracy is by destroying it. You can’t force democracy on people, because then it’s not democratic in the strictest sense of the word (or in the more general meaning) – it has been imposed upon the people, even if that has been done with the best of intentions (and we all know where those lead…).

Countries like Britain and America may deny any modern-day imperialism, and I suppose within a narrow definition that’s true – it’s not like they’re setting up Viceroys and what have you. But, in a way, they kind of are. They – we –are imposing a political structure on a different sovereign state simply because, essentially, it serves our own interests. I don’t know about you, but that smacks of imperialism to me. We may not be importing our own people out there to rule, but even in India we allowed some of the local bigwigs carry on running things, as long as they more or less did as they were told.

The British Government does not give a flying fuck about the plight of the common-or-garden Iraqi (or anywhere else where we might feel obliged to dabble). That’s not what they’re there for. We do not pay them, or vote for them, to bother about other countries’ affairs. However, we *do* expect them to involve themselves in our interests, which is why they do the stuff they do: not because it’s best for Iraq, but because it’s best for Britain. Apparently. Who knows, at the end of the day (to quote every sports commentator EVER), it may be best for Iraq as well (I remain dubious), but that’s a beneficial side-effect, rather than the main goal.

Maybe I am being needlessly cynical. But I don’t think so.
glee sue sylvester

The deterministic universe

I was just reading an old blog post I wrote about determinism in Terminator 3, and I had a thought, which I will now share.

So, the basic concept of determinism is that everything is going to happen a certain way because with all the information available one can tell what decision someone might make at any given time, so there's no free choice, because, causally, you're only ever going to make a certain decision. You might have a 'choice' between course A and course B, but factors X, Y and Z will inevitably cause you to take course A (bearing in mind that factor Z, for example, might be being-in-a-bad-mood-and-wanting-to-be-contrary). That's an incredibly bad explanation, by the way, and if anyone can put it better, I would appreciate it.

Now this leads to the whole debate about things being determined and whether we have free choice and all that sort of thing, because theoretically if you knew everything you could predict the future; the way a person's future will unfold is already set because of things that will unfold blah blah blah. This can cause a certain level of angst and woe amongst people (and is, as you may have guessed/already knew, a bit of a theme in the Terminator films and, indeed, any film where people come back from the future, because there is that whole the future has already happened, so anything you do is going to end up there kinda concept and my god I'm explaining this so unbelievably badly, because this doesn't sound like determinism in the same sense, but it pretty much is).

Anyway, my thought was: determined or genuine free choice - it doesn't matter. Until we can travel into the future (which is unlikely to be any time soon, I'd have thought), what the fuck does it matter? When we are presented with choice A and choice B, we have the freedom to choose. And if it *is* all determined, and we're only ever going to choose A, so what? We still make that decision. It's still a conscious exertion of free will, even if we are inevitably going to end up at point K (just to use a random letter *g*). The point is that we don't know what the future is; we can't work it out, there isn't an equation for it. We will reach point K as a result of our own decisions, for good or bad, and everything else is irrelevant.

Until, of course, we can travel into the future... ;-)

Sorry, that all makes sense in my head, but I know I didn't express it very well. Alas. Words, how you desert me. As usual. Bastards.