RE: virus: Re: Memes and Jello

Gifford, Nate F (
Wed, 21 May 1997 10:53:55 -0400

Mark, thanks for your considerate reply. I was having a bad day yesterday,
and wanted to make my points about tractors and self-examination ... after
that I began ranting ... but I did feel better which is all that really
matters ... right?

>On Tue, 20 May 1997, Gifford, Nate F wrote:

>> Mark Hornberger wrote
>> ... But I think computers *are* just a tool - what is
>> significant is what we do with them, how we project our creativity or
>> ability onto the new medium of the internet and whatnot.
>> Computers are just a tool in the same sense that the gasoline tractor
>> just a tool ...
>> America still hasn't recovered from the tractor <i.e. save the family
>> ...>
>While the advent of the gasoline tractor and other technological
>conveniences has had negative impacts, I believe that, on balance, we
>reaped enormous benefits from the advances. I'm not an agriculture
>specialist, but I would guess that our population could never be fed
>preindustrial agriculture.

My point was that some form of "factory farming" is a necessity to feed
America ... and the Soviet Union in bad years. Small farmers now face the
bind that the more they produce the less they get paid. It is my
understanding that a large contributing factor to the dust bowl in the
thirties was farmer's increasing supply while demand remained steady. The
allusion I was trying to draw was between the foreclosure of farms in the
thirties and eighties, and the downsizing of white collar workers in the

>>> And we are another animal, *just* or otherwise.
>>> We are sentient and self-aware, but tend to take ourselves a bit too
>>> seriously, IMHO.
>> Perhaps you'd care to substantiate this. I would argue that we don't
>> ourselves and the effects of our decisions seriously enough.

Thankyou for your considered reply below ... It sure beats the ad-hominem
answer I half-expected.

>In a way, I agree. But I was thinking of the time-honored yet absurd
>belief that the world was created for our express convenience and use.
>our tendency to define justice in a way that serves our interests.

We are in total agreement here...except that I would argue that the unjust
anthrocentric individual is only happy raping and stealing. My original
post had a reference to Ronald Reagan that I took out. I'll leave the
issue of how temperate and just Reagan was to the historians. My story was
that my father did not vote in the '86 election because Reagan looked
better after four years in office. He pointed out how much the office took
out of earlier presidents ...even Nixon, but was afraid of R.R. because he
looked as if nothing bothered him. It seems that the more principled a
president is the harder the office is on them. By definition an executive
has to be somewhat unprincipled ...

>From a memetic point of view I'd like to point out that the Republicans
built Bill Clinton. Would anyone care to agree/disagree with this ... or
is it obvious?

>I was also thinking of the hundreds of thousands (or millions?) of
Americans in
>therapy because they 'just don't feel right' - not the ones with
>verifiable problems, but those indulging their narcissistic intellectual
>exhibitionism tendencies.

Can someone help me out with some literature references here? I would
argue that it is narcissistic intellectual exhibitionism tendencies <two
beamers and an MBA> that cause them not to feel right....

> The list goes on. But in another way, I agree
>with you. But most don't even recognize the ramifications of their
>decisions or beliefs, so it can't really be said that they don't take
>seriously enough. My favorite example of this is the huge number of
>Americans who are in love with big government, the nanny state.
This is definitely a Meme with no basis in fact ... please check out the
U.S. budget in the World Almanac. Ignoring outlays less than $100 billion
<can you believe that?> ...

Total military in '93: $279 billion
Health Care Finance Admin <medicare> $266 billion
Social Security <NOT INCLUDED IN
NATIONAL DEBT> $298 billion
Interest on the National Debt $298 billion
Total Outlays $1,408 billion

They decry 'unequal distribution of the wealth' and sundry other ills
attribute to capitalism, and propose socialistic alternatives that are
touted to cure our problems.

Check out the sources of income:
Individual taxes: $510 billion
Corporate taxes $117 billion
Social Security $428 billion
Total Revenues: $1,153 billion

The discrepency between individual tax revenues and corporate tax revenues
is the source of people's disgust with the tax structure.

> Yet when I point out the history of China, Russia, Cambodia, etc.,
trying to illustrate >the dangers of a government that can take and do
whatever it wants to achieve the >ends that those in power deem necessary,
they refuse to see the correlation,

As do I ... Lets talk about Switzerland, Sweden, Canada, New Zealand.
Would someone care to comment on the range of mechanisms that a government
uses to maintain power? The choice between the current American govt. vs.
A communist dictatorship is a false one. Logical arguements like this are
symptoms of patholical memes. A pathological meme to me is one that is
incapable of self-modification. Like the fundamentalist Christianity
referenced below.

>or that empowering government and reducing the sphere of freedom enjoyed
i>ndividuals can or does lead to a totalitarian state, of whatever degree.

What freedoms are we talking about here? Freedom is definately a meme
worth exploring since it seems to me that the U.S. is currently in a state
where some animals are more equal than others... Freedom itself is not a
definite term ... I am free to kill myself with tobacco ... but where? I
am free to practice my religion ... but not sacrifice my children ... much
less YOUR children. I have the right to bear arms ... but where/when/what
kind. Ultimately these decisions come down to a non-rational value
judgement - meme territory. It is in our best interest to have the memes
affecting the decision to be as responsive to rational argument as

>They decry the inhumanity forced onto workers in capitalist systems by
>making them mere 'cogs in a machine' while failing, refusing, to compare
>the quality of life to that of, say, a 17th-century farm worker, who was
>blessedly safe from capitalism yet had a lifestyle few would envy.

Is the economic system a zero sum game? If so then how do we distribute
resources? Who was more miserable: the 17th century farm worker was better
off than the 19th century factory worker? The beauty of technology is that
the delta between the lifestyles of the rich and the poor has become much
less in the first world ... but at what cost to the rest of the world?

>> I question
>> how sentient of self-aware we <the species> really are ... on the other
>> hand, someone pointed out to me that the last episode of Roseanne EVER
>> going to be on this week, so perhaps we are learning.
>Aw, Roseanne wasn't that bad of a show. Not all sitcoms can revolve
>around the well-to-do, or the svelte.

When I first saw Roseanne I was impressed with how "real" the show was.
After awhile I was disgusted with the sanitized version of working-class
life it portrayed. I haven't seen the show for more than 3 minutes at a
stretch in the past 8.5 years, but perhaps you share the positive memes you
see expressed by the show. Do you think that Roseanne is a reasonable
example of a mother/wife/worker? Is the show a satire like Married With
Children was?

>Christianity is a belief system that millions look to for guidance,
>strength, and purpose. Granted, I think it's founded on spurious or
>mythical historical events, but it doesn't seem to matter to most. But
>within this belief system, he was right - you can't be open-minded of all
>other faiths, admitting them into the communal group-hug of spirituality,
>and still call yourself Christian. Unlike most "Christians," he was
>true to his religion. Do I think all Christians are deluded nuts? No.
>I've come to believe that some people do need faith in God, providence,
>and life after death to keep them sane, not to mention to keep them
>reasonably honest. They are who they are. Who knows? I could be wrong,
>and end up in a fairly warm place with a pitchfork stuck repeatedly into
>my butt. I agree with Kant that religion relies on faith, and that faith
>and logic are not complementary.

Exactly!!!! The text I included is a meme thrashing for its life.
Fundamentalism by definition must control sources of indoctrination in
order to survive. The two things I see making Dayton less provincial are
cable television and the net. Cable television provides channels for more
diverse interests ... although the information seems more homogenous than
the market could bear. Brodie talked memes as forces making the media more
homogenous ... paradoxically by exposing the mechanisms for memetic
infection his book encourages memetic diversity. At least for the
producers who read the book :-).