Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: A Word in Your Ear

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  • Paul Williams,

    I got used to being called palagi while at school in South Auckland. Sure sometimes it was derogatory, but not always and I don't see the word as inherently derogatory. I might be simply a sickly white liberal, but I identify as Pakeha so that at least it's clear I'm a sickly white liberal from NZ and not, umm, Australia.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2273 posts Report Reply

  • Isabel Hitchings,

    Lots of the names I proudly wear can also be said as insults - woman, mum, hippy, pakeha, middle-class....none of these are bad words in and of themselves.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2007 • 719 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    it sounds horrible

    heh don't worry I'm not emotionally scarred by it at all. I didn't mean to make it sound so bad :).

    My biggest memories of it come from primary school in Palmerston North. Where "gangs" of Maori would insult white geeks like me. Yes almost certainly derived from their own feeling of oppression which certainly existed at that time. Also experienced it quite frequently when playing sports as a teenager. Sometimes it was gamesmanship, sometimes it was significantly more threatening. Sometimes from opponents sometimes from the crowd. I also experienced as a teenager riding my bike around Auckland randomly and finding myself in hmmm neighbourhoods where my skin colour was unusual.

    As an adult I've experienced it a only a few times, once when meeting the local iwi to talk about GE and being put down in no uncertain terms as a Pakeha and therefore unable to discuss intelligently or learn the issues at hand. Again that may stem from a position of being threatened because ultimately we scientists knew a shit load more about GE than they (well duh we had been studying it for decades). However, one reason for the meeting was so we could pass on our knowledge, /shrug.

    The above said I have had many many more positive engagements with Maori than anything else*. And I'd hate to give the impression that those are my only memories of engaging Maori, far far from it.

    However, my negative experiences have left me feeling that Pakeha, rightly or wrongly, is a derogatory term and hence I'd prefer not to be labelled as such.

    *except for being asked to sing, I deeply hate being forced to sing.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • richard,

    Russell:

    Bart, you've got it easy. I know a cosmologist. He goes to dinner parties and people ask him if there's a God.

    In America, mind.

    In New Zealand too. (Unless you are talking about someone else -- it is very possible that Russell knows more than one cosmologist. Personally, I must be up to several hundred by now, but your mileage may vary :-)

    Actually, people with a religious axe to grind are usually a bit more circumspect about it -- they usually start off by saying something like "Well, ahem, I suppose that's all very speculative, isn't it?" And then get nervous if I say "No"

    Although at least one charmer has told me to my face that I am simply wasting my time, because it is clearly much too hard. So far as I can tell these individuals are not motivated by religion, so much as a paucity of imagination.

    Not looking for New Engla… • Since Nov 2006 • 268 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    *except for being asked to sing, I deeply hate being forced to sing.

    Its the custom in many Pacific places to sing/to entertain your hosts in some way, not just with Maori. A group of us had fun in Kiribati with this custom. The locals were excellent singers. We put on funny costumes and made them laugh. All went well.

    Its probably a good thing to add to your social skills, learn one song really well. Or go with someone who is a good singer/muso and let them carry you. (musically I mean)
    Or be a fool for a few minutes.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    Or be a fool for a few minutes.

    I once wrote and sang a song during a Tangi for a family member. My turn came after a group of 14 children with angelic voices had sung a Waiata in perfect harmony, bringing most to tears.

    There were tears of another kind after my song, but in spite of the fear and embarrassment, I count it amongst my greatest, and most humbling, experiences. It seems to me you get a lot of points for trying, but none for sitting with your arms crossed wishing things would move on to the food. Which I have also done.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • icehawk,

    I know what "merchant banker" and "Berkshire hunt" are rhyming slang for

    Though since the credit crunch in London the merchant bankers prefer to be called by the less abusive name of "fucking wanker".

    [shutting up now]

    Wellington • Since Sep 2008 • 49 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Ashby,

    @Richard

    Although at least one charmer has told me to my face that I am simply wasting my time, because it is clearly much too hard. So far as I can tell these individuals are not motivated by religion, so much as a paucity of imagination.

    After much time wasted arguing with both religious types and recalcitrant dualists (not of the sword variety) I have come to the conclusion that it is not a lack of imagination but rather too much of one. They object to hard materialist science because they imagine that they know they are too special to be like that or to inhabit such a (to them) boring universe with no 'mystery' to it.

    It is partly the Unweaving the Rainbow syndrome Dawkins spent a book trying to deal with, and partly that desire to be special and for there to be large unplumbed mysteries that can still be hoped to contain something miraculous. It is why Loch Ness Monster believers are both fully behind deep sonar sweeps of the loch but also not because when nothing is found they are left trying to catch smoke in a net.

    I enjoy good,* well written scifi/fantasy like lots of people, I just remember to pick my disbelief off the suspense tree when I put the book down. Some people not so much, which is just sad.

    *If you open the book telling me it is set 50million years in the future and humans are just the same I will throw the book down in disgust. True story. A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away is much better ;-)

    Dundee, Scotland • Since May 2007 • 425 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Recalcitrant dualists eh? Suffer them not.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Ashby,

    Not without some decent evidence in their favour, no. I have looked at and assessed a number of schemes that come under the heading 'quantum consciousness' for eg and they all fail on various points. Perhaps the heaviest hitter, Penrose fails in that his attempt to demonstrate using Gödel's theorem that the brain needs something more than boring old Neurophysiology by assuming that the brain is a computer. Computer is a nice analogy, which falls down quite quickly when you try and use it more than superficially. As I keep explaining to the youngest spawn who is doing bioinformatics.

    Penrose also blots his copybook with his hookup with Hammeroff going in search of 'things that might be able to go into superposition in the cell' and latching on microtubules because it is the only thing they can get that might fit the bill (but not at 37C in an electrically active salt solution with transport proteins hauling vesicles and stuff all over them). The problem with microtubules is that every cell has them, which would make Charles Atlas or Arnie geniuses.

    Johnjoe McFadden's form of QC falls down quite spectacularly the way he ties himself in knots trying to avoid even mentioning anything about the speed of his electronic spread, or its attenuation in space. IOW he dilligently ignores the Time Constant. Since he displays quite some knowledge of neurphysiology this absence is more than a little curious which means he has calculated it and his entire schema is simply too slow. It is a tragedy that anyone takes him seriously.

    Dennett in Freedom Evolves, even in you don't like his schema does a good job showing how you don't get any useful control out of randomness. So beyond an undemonstrable ghost in the machine which is just endless recursion (what is watching the ghost's mind?) there is firstly no good reason why the wetware is not sufficient and secondly no plausible let alone functional demonstration of anything beyond it.

    Thus dualism is just a god of the gaps formulation.

    Dundee, Scotland • Since May 2007 • 425 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I think it safer to say there's no evidence for it that can be shared. There is also no evidence against it. It's not a scientific question at all. Which is part of the reason I'm always rather mystified that so many scientists proclaim materialism as a scientific position on the matter.

    Even if a perfect and complete model of the human mind could be created, simulated, and understood, we would still not really know whether the device had 'consciousness', in the same way that we do. I don't know if anyone else does, for that matter. I could be the only one. Or you could be, and I could just be a materialistic meat machine pulling your tit.

    It's not a question that I expect a scientific answer to. I'm surprised scientists bother with it, frankly. I suppose the reason is likely to be because each of them does actually have some kind of consciousness (whatever that actually is), and desperately wishes to understand that, just like the dualists. They want a scientific answer as to why they inhabit only one body, this one particular one they're in, and also to know what is probably going to happen to it after it dies. Their way of answering that question gives them a deep sense of satisfaction, even though their answer, if they are materialists, is that it's the end, a ceasing to exist. At least having an answer means one doesn't have to worry about it any more, even if, in fact, the answer is really unknown.

    I'm kind of curious how Gödel comes into it. Presumably the incompleteness theorem? So if humans are 3rd order predicate logic machines then their axioms are either incomplete or inconsistent? That's definitely mathematically true. But I can't see why that would mean that brains can't be implemented on meat, and nothing but. It would just mean that some things those brains thought would be either incomplete or inconsistent. Or more like both and in spades, if the brains refer to any actual humans that I've ever met.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19688 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    Or more like both and in spades, if the brains refer to any actual humans that I've ever met.

    My head hurts.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    What being born articulate allows me to do, however, is to win arguments even if I'm wrong.

    it doesn't require you to think on your feet as quickly as a face to face conversation does. It gives you the time to consider your response, find the right words

    Been meaning to post a reply for a while, but, yeah, this....

    Anyone else think that generally females are a bit better at this than men are?

    There's been several times over the years where whoever that special someone was at the time has been able to seemingly effortlessly channel the spirit of some bastard love-child of Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde and monologue my particular failings.

    And in return I can generally offer a stream of semi-incoherent, half-stuttered, gibbering invective.

    And then it's all, "Darren, no, please, that's not a constructive way to resolve disputes. Put the manager down and use your words."

    And I don't think it's just me. Why is that?

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Anyone else think that generally females are a bit better at this than men are?

    I did notice this difference with the (oh gods, okay, generalisation mine-field ahead, please read tolerantly) working-class guys I knew at high school, but at uni KAOS was (probably disproportionately) full of suave bastards. Like Icehawk. At most parties, somewhere there'd be a room full of people, mostly male, talking at a very high level. Often about completely daft things. Perhaps the alcohol helps.

    Talking about feelings, though, maybe that is different.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    generalisation mine-field ahead, please read tolerantly

    Yeah, meant to put something like that in my post, too. But couldn't think how to phrase it....

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    there's no evidence for it that can be shared. There is also no evidence against it.

    That's enough for me. Puts dualism on the same level as the teapot god :)
    Though I'm uncertain what you mean by 'that can be shared". You think there's an essentially inexpressable experience of dualism? Sure, no two of us can share the same conciousness.
    Though, if we could... dualism would take on new shades of meaning.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2091 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    females

    Being called a 'female' makes me feel a bit like a zoological specimen. It might just be me, though.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    Amen.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    Me too.

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    My sincerest apologies, ladies. :)

    In my defence, I am at present only able to get online in 15-minutes bursts every few hours (for reasons too complicated to go into). Which means my posts are a little more 'from the hip' than they otherwise would be.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    I am at present only able to get online in 15-minutes bursts every few hours

    So are able to edit then? ;)
    Got me rain coat.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

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