April 22nd, 2005


People, Civility, Thoughts: Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Internet

One of the most interesting and admirable things I think about whiskeygirl8 is that, while she doesn't have the same opinions as me on many things. She is willing to talk, or even debate them, reasonably and without anger or emotional upheaval.

Not that we've done that recently, but its a point in her favour. Also, its a point in sisiphus's favour too.

The internet is one of those things that brings up a lot of negative "debate" tactics. Usually called "flaming row" or "raging argument". Religion sparks it a lot. Now I'm not religious, I find the idea fits in my head like a square peg in a hole that is not only the wrong shape, but on a different plane of existance. Thats fine. I'm not religious, but I respect it in other people. Thats their belief system and, as long as it doesn't affect me, or harm others... then they can do what they want.

Politics sparks it up as well, and whilke I am political I find that most of my political opinions fall so widely from one another that as soon as I read anything poltical I either get bored or get annoyed. Mostly however personal politics doesn't really affect me online. Most people class me as "left" which is funny, because I find most people who take sides to be annoying... so generally I stay out of political discussions.

Of cource posting a biased opinion as fact in a public forum generally is inviting debate, but even then unless I can contribute effectively or at least have a fleshed out case -- I won't debate their point. If someone is quoting incorrect facts (or, more usually, half-truths as fact), and I know the correct ones, I'll say so. If they dont' want to listen to me, fine, but when you argue with flawed reasoning then you cease to make much sense. I'll listen, up to a point, but don't expect me to treat you any differently to how you treat me.

I guess the point I'm trying to make in a very rambling, disjointed way is this: I don't care what your political views are, I don't care about your faith, I care about you being rational, civil human beings. I may disagree with you, I may not like what you say. I will not however get pissed at you for saying your opinion in a sensible way.

I honestly don't see why so many people have a problem with just doing that...
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YIM Doodle


One of the things that bugs me is the tendancy for people to say "I'm Irish" or similar when in fact only their great-grandparents were from Ireland.

America, I'm looking at you.

Now don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with acknowleging your ethnic or cultural background, there is something wrong with wearing it like a badge, or just plain expressing it stupidly.

The attempt at middle ground by using both cultures just comes across as silly (eg african/irish/italian-american). If you were born in America - that is your nationality. It is also where you are from. You are not from wherever your parents are from. You have cultural ties there and, perhaps, ethnic roots there. But you are not from there.

It is of cource an identity issue. "I'm with that group, see? I have 'my people' now" is the gist of it. Its more prevalent in immegrant cultures like the states, because I guess it helps to feel like there are "your people" around.

I think an Indian girl at my University put it best: "My parents came over on a boat, I grew up watching Bollywood movies, but I'm British, its just my cultural herratage is Indian. Which is pretty cool."

She spoke two dialects of "Indian" (I forget which) before she could speak english properly. But she understood the difference. She identified herself as British because thats what she knew, and where she was born. Its a basic language issue really. There is a difference between nationality and cultural or ethnic background.

Saying "I'm German/Irish/African" is, unless you were born there, just wrong. You are not. No more than I'm a Viking because many many generations ago I had family there. You could get away with Celt, because that describes ethnicity and so instantly tells the other party what frame you are referencing, but where you are from is where you are born. Unless you answer "my parents" because thats correct too.

If you chose to identify with a specific culture in your family background then thats great (say... mexican, or brazillian), but you are not Mexican/Brazillian. You never will be. Sorry. Its about language, and I'm a bit of a tart about language, it needs to be used correctly.

Again, let me say: There is nothing wrong with identifying with a specific culture in your family history. Thats great. But you are not from where that culture is. Its a semantic issue, but semantics means meaning, so semantics are important. Without meaning there is no point to language.

In this case the language is being mis-used and in a dividing manner. Its adding a group mentality to things where they aren't needed. Its amazing what a difference a few words can make.
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umm hey


Phrases are often mis-quoted. Here's one I noticed earlier today:

"Hoist with his own petard"

The correct phrase is "Hoisted by his own petard." A petard is a keg of gunpowder that would be placed against castle/fortress gates and lit. The fuses were rather unreliable -- so an unlucky, or just plain incompetant, engineer could be hoisted (blown up) by his own petard.

What are ones you've noticed or that irritate you?
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