Blog posts tagged "meme"

World Metros

September 5th, 2006

A fan of public transit? I am. Logos from the various public transit systems around the world that I’ve ridden.

Got at!

Try to build you’re own badge without using the key. I got about a 2/3 of mine.

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Religion as Memetic Innovation

November 9th, 2005

I picked up No god but God from the library, on the basis of Rafe’s recommendation. I’ve barely started it, but I find Aslan’s approach of flowing between “religious history” and “factual history” fascinating and enlightening. Rather the trying to find the Truth(tm) of Islamic history, he skillfully cuts between the various truths, both presenting “the Revelation” in matter of fact terms, while pages later cutting away to an analysis of the topos and tropes of messianic childhood myths. (but watch that you don’t forget this tension, as we’ve been trained to reject pluralist narratives, which can be confusing when reading an ahistorical history)

Like I said, I’ve barely begun, but I found a fascinating snippet of insight on page 13 talking about the techno-rhetorical (my word) innovations in monotheism.

More then a thousand years before Christ, Zarathustra preached the existence of a heaven and a hell, the idea of a bodily resurrection, the promise of a universal savor who would one day be miraculously born to a young maiden …. a non-proselytizing and notoriously difficult religion to convert to — considering its rigid hierarchical social structure

So Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all represent successive waves of innovation to produce a more viral ideology that could better leverage network effects. It’s an idea that has fascinated me since an off hand comment in a college history class that monotheisms were better able to displace traditional pagan cultures because monotheists were able to bring their God with them rather then being tied to a series of local, non-portable phenomena.

Perhaps it points to my spiritual bankruptcy, but I’d buy a Clayton Christensen style analysis of major religions in a heart beat.

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Latest Book Meme

June 1st, 2005

New book meme floating around, Aidan tagged me (as usual). But reading Rafe’s reminded me.

Total number of books owned?

I can’t possibly begin to speculate on total number of books owned, I’ve got lots at my parents house, and large quantities out roaming the Earth that may one day return to me. I currently have with me my “travel library”, the bare minimum I can’t live without, plus whatever I’ve bought in the last 6 months.

In my office (grand term for it), on the bookshelf (which, along with the desk chair dominate the “room”), I’ve got:

  • 35 books on the mass market paperback shelf (mostly SF). most of these books I’ve read at least 5 times.
  • 44 books on the 2 trade paperback shelves (they don’t pack as nicely)
  • 8 assorted hardbacks tucked willy nilly
  • 47 reference books, travel guides, and tech books

Plus 9 books on my desk (of which 6 are library books and don’t count)

There are 63 books in the “book stack” in the living room (see photo), of which 75% are mine, and 25% are Jasmine’s. Plus another 4 on the bedside table.

204 give or take the odd book tucked by the sofa cushion.

The last book I bought?

“Agile Web Development with Rails”, but as that isn’t published yet, not sure that counts. Before that I bought “redRobe” by Jon Courtenay Grimwood and “Travel in the Mouth of the Wolf” by Paul Fattaruso on the same outing.

The last book I read?

I’m currently struggling to finish “Collapse”, “Pragmatic Programmer”, and “Getting Things Done”, and alternating between them pretty rapidly.

Last book I finished?

Aidan doesn’t have the “Last book I finished” question, but Rafe does. I just finished “Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell”, and I’d conditionally recommend it. I thoroughly enjoyed it as it laid out the mise en scene, but the last two thousand pages or so (really two hundred) dragged a bit.

I finished up “Never Let Me Go” week before last, and I’d unconditionally recommend it (with several caveats, first being that you like slow books, second being you like meditations on melancholy)

Five books that mean a lot to me

This is so hard, I’m a lousy list maker. However “mean a lot”, wow, thats wide, wide open, and yet allows for an interesting selection, no superlatives there, I think that is rather liberating, we should be asked to make more lists without superlatives.

  1. “Memory” by Bujold. This is the book I read when I’m depressed. I’m not sure why. But I do.

  2. “Ecology of Fear” by Mike Davis. Though I’ve taken no steps to make it happen I’ve been known to say, “I want to be Mike Davis when I grow up.” Ecology of Fear uses the tools of contemporary literary analysis to uncover powerful insights into history, culture, and the environment. Mind blowing. I recommend reading alongside Brian Attebery’s “Decoding Gender in Science Fiction” for interesting parallels.

  3. “The Brothers Karamazov” by Dostoyevsky, 1991 translation. I spent 5 intense months on this book. At some point it doesn’t matter what the books about, when you spend that much time on it, it matters to you. (Also “Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics” by Bahktin, and “The Brothers K” by David James Duncan)

  4. “Red Mars” by Kim Stanley Robinson. KSR is a good writer, and interesting writer, but in this one book I think he reaches a poetic pitch which he never captures before or since. (and very very few others ever achieve) This is a brilliant book. The mixing of voices, autobiographical, scientific, mythic, with the interweave of narrators is brilliant, and he sets himself no smaller task then to wonder how we can, rationally and justly govern ourselves.

  5. “The First Folio” by Shakespeare.

Additionally John from Genehack, made me think of two important books I wouldn’t have remembered without him:

People whose answers I’d especially like to see

attheseams, Sheri, Dru, Meg (no blog? but really should have one), Katie, Kendall, my grandfather (who died in 1995).

I reserve the right to add more.

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50 Books Redux?

December 8th, 2004

Ego surfing is bad enough, but is there anything quite as narcissistic as surfing your own website? Surfing the related items from that last post, took me over to check in on little Eric/Odin who is getting ready from his first Xmas, and then back to my post about “50 Book Challenge” (one source). I hadn’t thought about it in a while, but I’m fairly sure I made my 50 books (though I might have to include the odd tech book). Did anyone else stick with it? Would be fun to see a slew of post mortems/book lists in the next few weeks.

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page 23, sentence 5: an autopsy

April 18th, 2004

The “page 23, sentence 5” meme (hereafter referred to as p23s5) caught my attention due to its pandemic spread through the blog community, and its relative virulence among my own little, largely meme resistant affinity group (affecting me, aidan, evan, and gus). Not to mention it’s about books, and I like books.

Your Basic Epidemiography

A little research showed that this particular contagion had been raging for nearly a full week in the meme prone LiveJournal community before we saw it on blogs (spreading at an astonishing rate no doubt due to the extreme proximity that the members of that community operate in, though it might also signal a dangerous lack of mimetic diversity to have the entire population so susceptible). The key inflection point for the blog community seems to be the April 11th posting on; the highly connected nature of an “A-list” blogger pushing the population of exposed individual over the density threshold from isolated cases to epidemic. Researchers have traced this infection vector through to Long Story, Short Pier – April 8th who seems to be the key cross over individual (great comments btw., esp. Patrick’s). Though the blogging community norm of “partner notification” seems to be less ubiquitous on LJ, the short window period between infection and expression, made it relatively straightforward to follow this path back to cynnerth – April 6th. At this point the trail gets muddy, with conflicting stories. I refer you to Crushing Krisis’ groundbreaking epidemiologic footwork for more info.

My Personal Case History

Mean while, I was infected by a distaff branch, which I was able to trace, with some missing links, to stonemirror who seems to have been a major LJ infection vector for p23s5 which he refers to as the “Discordian Book Meme” – April 5th. (and he seems to be from Santa Cruz, as his next post is about Tom Bihn’s Locust St store!) Stonemirror points to artistic chaos as his initial exposure. Artistic Chaos is currently the earliest documented case of p23s5 that I can find, though she clearly refers to it as being common knowledge, leading us to believe that as of April 5th there must be at least a sub-population which is already experiencing a major outbreak. During my case history interview with AC, she mentions cynaguan as an earlier incidence, but, much like the confusion around cynnerth and seamusd, this happened behind closed doors, and as such is not available to a cultural outsider like myself.

An Earlier Viral Load

AC also mentions another fact which I had been picking up on, namely that p23s5 was a mutation of an earlier meme, p18s4. While waiting to hear back from AC, I realized that I had been exposed much earlier to this less virulent variation, by hepkitten on April 4th. If you examine hepkitten’s entry you’ll see that p18s4 is much more complex, even baroque variant on a meme referred to colloquially in the LJ community as a “survey”, “quiz”, or even “quiz thingy”. The complex payload, and fragile mimetic content seem to ensure that “quiz thingies” remain specific to the LJ population, preventing their transmission to the more hostile blog community (which shows a much greater susceptibility to the more deadly corporate media memes). It is indicative of this mimetic fragility that I found 4 mutations of p18s4, the two most common strains being regular p18s4, and p18s4-8, “page 18, sentence 4, but missing question 8”, which is what hepkitten has.

I was able to trace p18s4 as far back as April 2nd where we first start to see a spike in infections. Again there seems to be community awareness of the meme, which has potentially been operating at a maintenance level for quite a while before reaching critical density (density, as with most viruses, seems to be the key factor, though one or two mimetically promiscuous individuals can have a radical effect on spread early on). p18s4’s history before April 2nd, and the first mutation into p23s5 both remain a closed book to me, occuring as they do behind LJ’s inpentrable wall of privacy. (and after 2 hours of this I got bored)

The Good News

I can say that an infection of p18s4 seems to confer in most cases an immunity to p23s5. (really too early to get a decent control on whether the reverse is true) The other good news is there are a whole heck of a lot of people reading really excellent books out there. Results might be skewed due to the perfomative nature of p23s5, but just to know that that many people have that caliber of material close at hand is comforting, and reminds one that we’re living through a (probably brief) renissance of text.

Page 23, sentence 5

April 14th, 2004

Grab the nearest book, turn to page 23, copy down sentence 5 and post it. (via, who has me doing LJ “memes”. Next I’ll be talking to myself, posting it to a web page, and calling it a “blog”.)

It was not the end of humanity, although there were moments, in the course of the thirty-one years of world conflict between the Austrian declaration of war on Serbia on 28 July 1914 and the unconditional surrender of Japan on 14 August 1945 — four days after the explosion of the first nuclear bomb — when the end of a considerable proportion of the human race did not look far off.
Age of Extemes (not all the sentences are quite that long)

Bloglines Search: page 23

Of no particular interest, I find it amusing that if I had reached right instead of left, the fifth sentence, of the twenty-third page of Stations of the Tide was


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Shiny Mud Balls: The Soul of MLP

June 6th, 2002

Shiny mud balls; latest craze to sweep Japan – this is why I read boingboing

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