Dune Club notes part 6

Continuing from part 5 of the Dune Book Club, run by Comic Book Girl 19.


Source

 

Pages 327-370

 

Notes Before the Twitch Stream

Not much I’m going to write about for this session, so I’m just going to focus on a few philosophical lines and what they mean to me.

Page 334:

My father once told me that respect for the truth comes close to being the basis for all morality. “Something cannot emerge from nothing,” he said. This is profound thinking if you understand how unstable “the truth” can be.

Bing definition for morality:
Morality: a particular system of values and principles of conduct, especially one held by a specified person or society; principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior.

Truth and morality. How unstable the truth can be. I believe this all comes down to what one believes the truth to be, and if they can handle it. For instance, religion. Most, if not all, religions are based primarily on faith rather than fact, though the amount of fact each religion contains varies. Religions preach what principles one should hold, what matter of conduct they should exert. Yet the truth of the religion is unstable because it is uncertain.

But religion aside, many carry on their lives with their own beliefs, their own way of seeing the world. But what if they discover something that can shatter their perceptions? What if they discover they have been living a lie? Some are unable to handle that, and forcefully reject truth in order to continue living with what they are familiar with. Others may live without ever learning that they live a lie.

And then there’s propaganda. Of course, not all propaganda is a lie. But we have seen instances where it very much is. Like in the news, their opinion pieces, and what facts they leave out when reporting on a story. Some news organizations have no respect for the truth. It means less than the narrative they wish to push for the sake of power. They can twist the truth, which does anything but respect it.

Lies exist for the sake of power and comfort. The truth exists regardless of whether or not it brings power and/or comfort. Some don’t see a benefit to the truth if it brings neither power nor comfort. And that is what can truly test how one values the truth, how one perceives morality. Is it ever ok to lie? If so, when should one lie as opposed to not lie?

Going into spoilers here for the film Dunkirk, there is a scene where a shellshocked soldier accidentally fatally injures a boy, but doesn’t know how badly he has injured him. He is already under an incredible amount of stress, on the brink of losing what sanity remains. So the boy’s friend lies, telling the soldier the boy is alright, that he is fine, that he will recover. It should be noted that the quote states “respect for the truth,” not necessarily always telling the truth. One can lie while still being respectful towards the truth. Treating the truth with respect means handling it with care. The truth must be used with care. But in so treating it with care, that also means lies shouldn’t be used carelessly either. But there are also times where, even if it hurts, someone must face the truth for a better long-term future, for an eventual improvement in life.

“Something cannot emerge from nothing.” Guess that means there cannot be truth and lies without morality.

Page 353:

He tells us that a single obscure decision of prophecy, perhaps the choice of one word over another, could change the entire aspect of the future. He tells us “The vision of time is broad, but when you pass through it, time becomes a narrow door.” And always, he fought the temptation to choose a clear, safe course, warning, “That path leads ever down into stagnation.”

The limits of Paul’s power. The limits of seeing into the future. The care one must take when making decisions. Once a decision is made, prophet or not, there’s no going back to change it. That limits certain paths. Wisdom and knowledge can help with making the best decisions.

Page 366:

And he realized with an abrupt sense of shock that he had been giving more and more reliance to prescient memory and it had weakened him for this particular emergency.
“If you rely only on your eyes, your other senses weaken.” It was a Bene Gesserit axiom.

This is my favorite part of the entire reading session. The dangers of relying on only one sense. This can be extended beyond just the human senses. There are technologies we shouldn’t be entirely reliant on either. Cars. The Internet. Nooks. Cell phones. One news source. While they can be useful, there is a danger to only using one.

For instance, the Internet. Sure, it’s a great and powerful tool that can be used for communication, entertainment, and research. But what if something would happen that prevents you from using it for a while, such as a blackout, issues with the service provider, or God forbid some law that gets passed that limits how it can be used? If it’s the only thing used for research, you would be helpless. That is why there should be libraries, and physical copies of books. At the same time, it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to use other means of accessing knowledge besides just the library and physical books. Variety doesn’t hurt. And on top of that, you could discover things unexpectedly with variety that you normally wouldn’t get using only one source (yes, this includes the Internet; as vast as it is, it doesn’t contain everything).


Source

But back to human capabilities independent of technology, one could be very smart, very intelligent, very wise, and use their wits constantly to get themselves out of trouble and to help others. But what if they get put into a situation where that’s not enough? Where they need physical strength too in order to get out of (or survive) a situation? At that point, if they haven’t been working out, they may regret never doing so and being helpless before a physical force.

Exercise all senses, all potential, and you will have other options should one fail.

 

After the Twitch Stream

Fuck it, no youtube video. Just go to the Twitch.tv link if you want to see it.

https://www.twitch.tv/videos/168553093

Some interesting stuff mentioned on fate and karma. Bits of what she discusses (start at the 20 minute mark, you’ll save yourself a lot of pain of getting through the lag and bugs with the stream) go over my head, even if I’ve heard some of it before in my philosophy class. It’s stuff to ponder.

Free will is about becoming more aware. Aware of things you do subconsciously. Aware of things happening in the world around you. You cannot be free without awareness (ala The Matrix).

Sexism. “There’s no such thing as sexism unless you give them that power.” If some guy makes some joke at you, brush it off, don’t get upset, otherwise they will gain power over you. There is sexism, but you can let people talk shit to you and believe them, or you can let it roll off your back. Men don’t give women their power, a woman gives herself her own power.

When she was young, Comic Book Girl 19 was a bit authoritarian. When on the subject of God, she’s like, “Why should he be a man? What makes you think he’s not a woman?” You know, I bet somewhere in the world someone is asking, “Why should he be a man or a woman? Why can’t he be a tranny?”

The Baby-Sitters Club (1995) review

Rated: 3/5

“Everybody knows us, because everybody uses us.”

No, that line isn’t from a film about hookers.  It’s more innocent than that.  The line is from a film about elementary to middle-school to junior high-school aged girls who run the Baby-Sitters Club.  A club that takes phone calls from anyone in town who needs a babysitter (or two) for their toddlers.  And they get paid for doing this, keep a schedule book, and are quite well organized.  I consider that a bit on the inspirational side.

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On Charlottesville, and Frustrations with Closed-Mindedness

So I didn’t plan on making any sort of blog post like this. I saw some of what happened in Charlottesville, viewing some news bits here and there, sighing at the inevitability of all this, that violence was bound to strike with all these insane protests and demonstrations that have been going on, that fanatics and radicals from all sides are coming out of the woodwork, and were inevitably bound to clash (no thanks to the police and the mayor/governor). I wasn’t going to talk about it. But so many are making so much noise about it on the social media sites I hang out on, that it’s become an unavoidable subject. It’s not something I wanted to get into, but got into it I did.

“The whole thing could’ve been avoided.  What brought this whole thing on was that they were going to remove the statue.  […]  If they didn’t move it, then there wouldn’t have been some Unite The Right march, what the fuck?  But also I have an issue with removing stuff like this because it kinda sanitizes history.  […]  Having them exist is an opportunity for conversation.” — Cory Carr

“As an angry white man, they make me look bad.” — Cory Carr

“I really think that on both the Right and on the Left, our sensibilities and leanings are becoming more authoritarian.” — Forest Taylor

“If people would just sit the fuck down, and talk about things…” — Cory Carr

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Better Blogging Through Podcasts: Announcing RadioPublic Embeds

The WordPress.com Blog

We love podcasts: they’re like the blogging version of radio, a medium anyone can jump into and use to share their story. They introduce us to new voices and give us glimpses into new perspectives… and they pair perfectly with blogs and websites, where they can add more texture and interest to what you’re already publishing.

Thanks to a new partnership with RadioPublic, you can choose from a quarter of a million podcasts to embed into your posts and pages on WordPress.com and Jetpack-powered websites. Whether you produce a podcast yourself, write about them, or just like to listen, you can share podcasts with your visitors, no matter where the podcasts are hosted.

What Can a Podcast Add to My Site?

Use a RadioPublic embed to share and promote your own podcast !  But even if you’ve never even listened to a podcast before, there are ways you can use…

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Let’s Play the Google Bias Game! (1)

Alright, who’s up for a game where you find out how biased the search engines are?  It’s easy, as you’ll see.

For this entry, you just need to do 2 different searches.  Image searches.  Type in “white couple”, and see how many images pop up of a white couple.  Then type in “black couple”, and see how many images of a black couple show up.

Bing results of “white couple” image search:

Actual white couple count: 28/30 (including 1 gay couple with a black baby, and 1 lesbian couple)
93% accuracy

DuckDuckGo results of “white couple” image search:

Actual white couple count: 43/53
85% accuracy

Google results of “white couple” image search:

Actual white couple count: 27/40 (including an image of Trump and Hillary, and some woman going to prison [doesn’t have to do with a “couple”])
68% accuracy

 

 

Bing results of “black couple” image search:

Actual black couple count: 30/30
100% accuracy

DuckDuckGo results of “black couple” image search:

Actual black couple count: 56/56
100% accuracy

Google results of “black couple” image search:

Actual black couple count: 39/40
98% accuracy

 

 

 

What other biased/inaccurate searches can we come up with?

Dune Club notes part 5

Continuing from part 4 of the Dune Book Club, run by Comic Book Girl 19.


Source

Pages 263-324

Notes before the Twitch Stream

Page 263:

There should be a science of discontent. People need hard times and oppression to develop psychic muscles.

How true this is. Not necessarily for the psychic muscles (we haven’t come that far yet, officially), but for people in general. If they live an easy life, they won’t be tough. They live a hard life, they will grow up tough. And this isn’t limited to just the individual, but also to society as a whole. If people live the good luxurious life for too long, and get dumped into the hard life others are familiar with but they are not, they will eventually wither and die. Evidence of this can be seen with the Romans, who went on in dominance for so long their soldiers and civilians got lazy and they eventually fell(that’s a simplification, there were multiple reasons as to why Rome fell, but that is one of them).

As for psychic muscles, closest thing I can think of when it comes to exercising that is abstract strategy board games like Chess, Go, Arimaa, Zertz, Yinsh, and Tzaar (you are probably only familiar with the first 2 at best). Now before you make the argument, “But exercising mental muscles for gaming isn’t developing psychic muscles,” it should be noted that when you’re playing a game with perfect information (all strategy and tactics, no luck), the main element is outwitting your opponent, such as by predicting his/her future move(s). The further ahead you think, the better your odds of winning. If you’re able to peer into your opponent’s mind and know his/her thought process, that’s arguably developing your psychic muscles.

Page 265, describing the Baron Harkonnen:

The fat cheeks were two cherubic mounds beneath spider-black eyes.

Page 294, also describing the Baron:

Leto watched the fat hands, the glittering jewels on baby-fat hands–their compulsive wandering.

Herbert tends to use the physical attributes of a baby as a metaphor for describing the Baron, indicating he is a spoiled rotten brat, and was likely raised spoiled by his parents, whoever the hell they might be. But in being raised in such a way he falls under threat of the quote above, that people need hard times and oppression. Granted, the Atreides and Harkonnen have been at war with each other for a long while, but seeing how the Harkonnen’s operate vs. how the Atreides operate demonstrates that the Harkonnen’s are too used to getting their way to the point that they’ve developed an attitude of, “My way or the highway,” as indicated with how they treat the locals and the Fremen on Arrakis.

Pages 268-9 show instances of where the Harkonnens fear questioning by the Truthsayer(s), and thus wish to keep themselves clean of the affair of disposing of the Atreides. They accomplish this of being indirectly responsible for their deaths, having others do their work for them. Reminds me of politicians/leaders who do similar things, letting their grunts do the hard work, and either take credit for it, or if things go wrong than put the blame on the grunts, keeping the blame away from themselves.

Even when they’ve profited by me they despise me. — Dr. Yueh

Page 295

We must try a new tack, he thought.

I’m honestly not entirely sure what this means. A new nail? Some new way of preparing or eating the food?

The day the flesh shapes and the flesh the day shapes. — Duke Leto’s last thoughts.

Page 304 and onwards, that is when the philosophical elements get kicked into high gear for the remainder of this reading section. Pretty much decided that my main focus for this blog series will be more on that and less on the plot, especially when Comic Book Girl 19 seems to be covering that so well.

Anyway, Paul’s Mentat abilities kicked into high gear and then some at the start of this chapter. To the point of fear and frustration. He cannot control the inflow of data, and his emotions seem to be dying, as if he had no use for them, or at the very least is no longer ruled by them. A step in evolution.

Page 306-7

I loved my father, Paul thought, and knew this for truth. I should mourn him. I should feel something.
But he felt nothing except: Here’s an important fact.
It was one with all the other facts.
All the while his mind was adding sense impressions, extrapolating computing.
Halleck’s words came back to Paul: “Mood’s a thing for cattle or for making love. You fight when the necessity arises, no matter your mood.”
Perhaps that’s it
, Paul thought. I’ll mourn my father later … when there’s time.

Also frequently the novel mentions Paul’s “terrible purpose”, always using those 2 words. He has a purpose, but who is it terrible to? To Paul? To his family? To those around him? To everyone? I suppose we don’t know yet why it is that it’s terrible. Perhaps because he’s losing his humanity in the process of becoming this newly evolved being?

Page 314:

He felt the inability to grieve as a terrible flaw.

“He felt.” Makes me wonder if Frank Herbert truly did believe that emotions are generally bad. I’ll allow Bruce Lee to retort:

Page 308

People are the true strength of a Great House, Paul thought. And he remembered Hawat’s words: “Parting with people is a sadness; a place is only a place.”

Ain’t that the truth. This line makes me think back towards school, from elementary to high school, where I had friends that I have come to know throughout that entire period of my life. But once high school ended, many moved away. Eventually, I lost contact with all of them as they went off to live their own adult lives as everyone is bound to at some point. Probably one of the saddest moments in my life when one day I came to the realization, “They’re all gone.” That moment shaped me. It made me aware of a philosophy the Indians and Tibetans use, regarding the sand mandalas.

On annual occasions Tibetan monks create large and incredibly intricate sand mandalas over the course of 14 days. They are works of art to be shown to the public while they are being made, and at their completion. Each mandala signifies some sort of philosophical theme, something spiritual or significant. It could be made to represent compassion for all living things, or a representation of the afterlife. Then, soon after they are completed and publicly displayed, they are tossed into the river to be washed away, the work of art now forever gone.

The whole idea behind destroying these beautiful works of art is to emphasize the philosophy that nothing lasts forever. One cannot hold on to something forever, no matter how beautiful and endearing it is. One must learn to let it go. The sand making up the creation will wash away back into what it once was, bits of grain that are used to make up nothing, undergoing transformation throughout the course of time again, and again.

The point being, enjoy what you have while you can, while it lasts. And when it’s time to let it go, let it go. There will always be something else to behold and appreciate and value at another point in time, one way or another. Until then, the one thing left to value from all of that is the experience.


Quote from the comments section of this video: kids in africa could have eaten that sand

I conceived out of instinct and not out of obedience. — Lady Jessica

The mind goes on working no matter how we try to hold it back. — Lady Jessica

Regarding that last quote, I get that all the time. I mean, it mainly has to do with my mild case of Attention Deficit Disorder, but there are times where I can’t stop thinking of things (that’s bad for meditation). But there is something that helps. Edibles! I endorse it!

Page 311:

“I’ll never be a Mentat,” he said. “I’m something else … a freak.”

A freak huh? Like the mutants in X-Men? That’s another way of saying the next step in evolution that isn’t commonplace yet. Or maybe it is. A combination of Mentat and Bene Gesserit, and then some. Could just be natural to see the future simply because you’re able to accurately predict so many variables that are too complex or chaotic to just about everyone else. But in any case, Paul concludes that he’s not the Kwisatz Haderach. He’s a seed. Indicating that he’s not the Kwisatz Haderach yet? Or that one of his offspring will be?

Oh yeah, and one shocking twist. Lady Jessica is the daughter of the Baron Harkonnen. Part of the Bene Gesserits genetic plans which backfired when Jessica gave birth to Paul as opposed to a female. Guess trying to be gender fluid doesn’t exactly work in this universe. But it does bring up the idea that even something spawned from someone evil can turn out into something good. The Baron is wicked, Jessica is not.

After the Twitch Stream

Unfortunately I missed the Twitch stream, and it doesn’t look like part 5 is currently available on either YouTube or Twitch.  I’m going to publish this article now, and update it if that changes.  And with my current work schedule, I’m not going to be there for the live stream of part 6.  Hopefully a video will be available afterwards that time.

Update

The meaning behind Duke Leto’s last thoughts. “The day the flesh shapes and the flesh the day shapes.” People create the circumstances, but the circumstances also create the people.

Continues in part 6.

Detroit review and discussion of Hollywood’s portrayal of racism over the years

Rated: 3/5*
* = with caveats, especially with dialogue that self-references the year.  “Helloooo? This is 1967!  I can do whatever I want!”

Introduction

Ok, so this movie. I had reservations going in. But there are times where I get sick and tired of being on edge, of having such a high amount of skepticism, of believing I’m in the minority of seeing things as they are and wondering if I’m wrong because of that. There are times I just want to be entirely wide open, entirely accepting, entirely trusting, putting my emotions on the line. Of watching a film and accepting what is given at face value. To not be so critical, because so many others aren’t. A part of me hates having my guard up against emotional manipulation so often for so many movies (especially of films made from around 2012 and onwards).

But I’ve been emotionally manipulated too many times in the past. I’ve seen that the things I’ve believed in and been taught to believe in are lies too many times. I fought on the wrong side for too long to risk going back so easily. It’s become a part of my nature now to watch any racially charged film like this (or any documentary for that matter) with a skeptical mind. I hate myself for doing this because it means I am usually unable to fully appreciate a good film containing subject matter like this upon first watch. But I would hate myself more if I did go into this blindly and putting my faith in the idea that it’s honest, that it’s made with honest intentions, has good lessons and/or entertainment within it, only to find out later on that it wasn’t.

Things weren’t always like this. Most films made from the late 60s to the early 2000s tended to be honest about these sorts of things, about their intentions, about their entertainment. Any mistakes made tended to be made in blissful ignorance rather than with intent. Like Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus film and how it portrays gladiators as nice family friendly guys when they weren’t slaughtering each other or Roman soldiers. Or those sword and sorcery films of the 70s and 80s which, well let’s face it all of them were pretty ridiculous in several ways. But there was a charm about it all, an innocence to it. Like how a child repeats what he hears and doesn’t consider the context of his words. But in this day and age, the child is grown up, and is fully aware of the context. We should likewise be aware, and act with wisdom.

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