Yet Another Graphomaniacs Compendium
Friday, September 15, 2006

Yet more predictable outrage.

Another wave of outrage from the people who brought you the jihad against perfectly good Danish dairy products over some third rate cartoons published in a minor rag. This time, the problem is that a retired academic making a complentative and thoughtful speech at his old university quoted a more than slightly brusque Byzantine Emperor damning the religion besieging his city.

The interesting thing in both cases is that there is a delay between the speech and the actual reaction. The similarity of the developments in both cases is striking. It suggests that some people in the Islamic world are actually on the look - out for incidents like these and are using them to inflame anti-Western sentiment.

It might be instructive to follow a trail of reports: first, the initial report from Reuters. Slightly later on, a more comprehensive version appears in the New York Times. The Intelligent Design people managed to read the speech as " Slamming Evolution ", an aspect I hadn't previously considered (and I've read the text).

The first seriously negative report comes out of India on the 12th. Pope Launches Scathing Attack on Islam from a site that describes itself as an "alternative" and "independent" source of Indian news. This may be a coded phrase meaning "utter bollocks ". The source was Zee News who also happen to be a source of articles like "Cash and a car for Blood Of Danish Cartoonists". Nice. Beginning to see a pattern?

Now, why would a Hindi news agency want to show Islam in a bad light? And who was silly enough to uncritically believe that article? I may never know. The following day, the Philadelphia Inquirer is smart enough to realize The Pope's words may roil Muslims.

Roil is an interesting choice of word which can mean "to make muddy by stirring up sediment" which seems to certainly be what the media has done in this case. However the Islam Online article of the same day is quite thoughtful and informative and critical of the Pope, but not seemingly outraged. At this point in my trip through the Google news cache, I'm still getting many reports about the other events surrounding his trip - the open - air masses, the assiliant who was captured and then let go. The outrage story plainly hasn't erupted yet.

There is one excitable report from a site called Hot Air helpfully predicting a truck bomb in St. Peter's Square, but most of the reports are wrap-ups commenting on how the popular tour has helped the Pope's image. "Pope sheds image of dour theologcian". Boy, did he ever, but not the way he intended..

It seems quite a few people in India believed that Zee News article: the following day (two days after the speech), AsiaNews reports from India, (ah, Zee News!) pointing out the controversy opens Muslims to manipulation. Talk about pointing out the obvious...

This is also the day that the story finally gets legs when Ali Bardakoglu criticizes the Pope's remarks. The interesting thing is that what he actually said depends on who you listen to: there's the moderate version and the inflammatory version. Needless to say it's the inflammatory version that the worlds press run with..

Interestingly, it seems that Mr. Bardakoglu has a great deal to lose if Turkey integrates with Europe, as he heads the Department Of Religous Affairs, the existence of which as part of the state is seen to be a contradiction in a secular country striving to join the European Union. Perhaps he's only trying to justify his job?

No matter: I have illustrated my point. In the hysterically amplifying echo chamber of the modern mass media all it takes is a few wildly misrepresentative and excitable articles in a widely used regional outlet to ignite a worldwide perfect shitstorm of hysteria. Flash mobs on a global scale. Low literacy rates in the Islamic world might make them more suspectible to this kind of thing, but that is a politically incorrect observation. Please don't quote me, or I might get Poped off..

Having slogged your way through this article, I hope you feel a bit more clued-up about the way the world works. This trawl through the Google News cache took a couple of hours, and isn't really that entertaining, but I think it is illustrative..

EDIT: Just for the instant experts who have not read the text, but instead rely on the crazy distorting echo chamber of the "free" is a link to the text of the Popes controversial speech in Regensburg. I'm still enjoying the irony of a call for rational dialogue being met with such a response.

posted by John Connors at
Friday, September 15, 2006

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The Human Condition

It's just this box: you are born into a humanoid species with the usual options - suffer, procreate and die. Taken as an amalmagam, Myspace is a compilation of the utter futility of this activity. We reach out for someone different, try to be something special, or new, but we just end up with the same bunch of experiences and mistakes as millions, if not billions of our fellow semi-evolved chimpanzees.

Science Fiction gives us a chance to see what might be outside this particular box, or to truly test it's dimensions, yet it's all too often a disregarded form. It's lack of regard is probably influenced by fear of confronting the reflections in the mirror it holds up to us, the lack of intellectual honesty shown by people (increasingly people, in power) who disregard the data. People who prefer to offer and indulge in the flight into fantasy.

Yet the paradox of fantasy is that so many of the things that surround us and make our society work, and influence our individual behavoir are based on myth: self - constructed narratives as memetic and powerful as the old sufi teaching stories. Thus they are subject to expertly crafted counter-myth. We live in a story space; sleeping, we walk onwards: confused bundles of psyche driven by whispers and dreams.

Only once in a thousand years does a soul wake up.

posted by John Connors at
Saturday, September 09, 2006

The Journal

A miscellany of topics that intersest me: deaf culture, game design, politics as soap opera, the cyborg condition and the experience of learning to hear again. Other topics presented are speculative fiction and imaginary cities. There are appearences of snippets of work in progress, public rants, pointless posts and Mish the Mouse.

The Writer

A lower middle class cyborg living an innocous life in a suburban village near Newcastle On Tyne, in the United Kingdom. Mostly autobiographical and creative notes posts and musings on the topic du jour.


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