Nov 30 2008

Two Sages

The North Sage and the South Sage met at the crossroads. Or on, let’s say, a mountaintop. They began to discuss what they knew about the world, in the hopes of becoming wiser. Neither would call what they believed a religion.

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Nov 21 2008

Identity Card

Discriminatory rooming ad in Dubai

There are four official languages in Singapore: English, Malay, Mandarin, and Tamil. This reflects the four major peoples who came to populate the city-state: Chinese, Malay, Indian, and colonial British. Every citizen of Singapore is issued a piece of government ID (the National Registration Identity Card) which has one of these races printed on it.

Does this discourage people from having mixed-race children?

Singapore twists the Asian brain.  Just about every other Asian country is uni-cultural, at least according to the mainstream narrative. The Japanese people live in Japan and speak Japanese. The Vietnamese live in Vietnam and speak Vietanamese. The Thai people live in Thailand and speak Thai. Etc. This makes identity really easy — except if you live in Singapore, and there’s no Singaporean race, no Singaporean language, no ancient and venerable Singaporean hertitage. Blood and place and language and culture used to be inextricable, but we can no longer use any of these things to define one another. Fortunately, it says what you are right there on the card. I don’t think this is a particularly good idea.

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Aug 06 2008

The Singularity is Not Near

Blah blah blah singularity blah blah machine AI blah blah the world will undergo a paradigm shift, it’s coming, all bow down before the mighty new technologies that will change humanity forever. The problem I have with talk of the technological singularity is not that it doesn’t make sense, and not that I don’t believe that technological advancement is indeed rapid, accelerating, and world-changing, but that we have somehow invented a symbol of vast but actually rather vague significance. I don’t think the “singularity” is a useful idea. I think it’s a buzzword to some, and a religion to others.

For what makes Futurology (capitalization mine) really, actually different than a belief that something momentous will happen in 2012, when the Mayan calendar wraps around? Not a lot, as far as I can tell. And now it turns out that two religious scholars have concluded exactly the same thing, in a 2008 paper in the Journal of Contemporary Religion:

Futurology-as-religion has charismatic leaders, authoritative texts, mystique, and a fairly complete vision of salvation. Futurology is, in effect, a new religious movement (NRM).

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