Sunday, June 17, 2007

Fun with referrals

(I wrote this last Sunday, but delayed publishing it until this Sunday because I recently put up a longish post and I know all 3 of you people only read this from work -- don't lie to me, I see the referral logs)

Long the respite of lazy bloggers the world over, I flipped through my referral logs to see what bizarre searches brought people here. I think I may have the best two referrals of all time.

This British guy seems to be having trouble with a collection agency. I love the all caps. Nice touch.

This guy from Turkey wants to find an LSD dealer in Seattle. I find no ends to the hilarity of this one. Oh sure, drug dealers have websites where you can just look them up and get illegal narcotics.

And I found this excellent photo blog, which apparently put me on the sidebar. In bloggy reciprocity, she's now on my sidebar too. Washingtonians, unite!

It baffles me how people find me (maybe they were looking for the Bathroom Habits Survey, which is by far the most popular post I have ever created -- it's responsible for fully a quarter off all my admittedly meager traffic).

I can't imagine strangers find this even remotely amusing. I don't write to gain an audience. I've even asked to be de-linked when I was getting too much traffic from a blog. I write for my own enjoyment, and for my close circle of friends who come by. But if you really want to read this crap, I'm happy to have you along.

I've had Yak Pack over there for awhile. I noticed him the same way I found Sequim, in the referrals. He got added to no fanfare, so here's the fanfare. Trumpets! I really wonder how he came across this blog all the way from Malaysia, which interestingly has a flag that looks alot like ours. His sidebar is a small eclectic mix and I am curious to know how I got on his short list. He doesn't post much, but it's honest and an interesting slice of life from the other side of the world. Big shocker, it's alot like life here.

I'm glad to have him as a reader even though we never communicate. I've always felt very comfortable hanging with Asians and Indians here in America and I like to think that extends across the oceans.

In a rare admission, I really appreciate Asian traditional family values and their work ethic, and I like to have that exposure as it helps temper my exploits somewhat (it doesn't work, but I like the reminder anyway). Not to over generalize, but Asians are always going back to school or getting promoted or sacrificing for their families in a way I really admire but don't emulate often enough.

Yes I'm generalizing by race and yes it's prejudiced. But it's not racist if it's positive, right? Maybe. I'm just calling it like I see it. My ex-gf, who is Indian, used to say that I was Asian. She called me an "egg", white on the outside, yellow on the inside (I preferred the term "broken toilet", but there you are). She was from Singapore, so even though I've never been there, Malaysia was demystified for me through her stories about how beautiful and moderate it is.

Make no mistake, I am full blooded American and western in every sense of the word. But half the point of being an American is shopping around all the millions of sub cultures we have here and taking the good aspects out of whichever one you like.

Take India for example. I'll take the food and the art and the family values, but you can keep your stupid caste system and rampant sexism. Burning women alive on her husband's funeral pyre because her existence is meaningless without him? Go fuck yourself. (that doesn't really happen much anymore ever since the British outlawed it long ago -- sometimes good things come from colonization, small though they may be -- but the rigid gender roles persist)

I'm painting with a broad brush obviously, and that means what I'm saying isn't entirely accurate, but I tend to lump all of south east Asia, the Indian subcontinent, and China/Korea/Japan into one big cultural category. All the Asian readers just threw up a little in their mouths. I'm sorry. But it's no different than other cultures lumping Europe, North America, and Oceania into one group. Generalizing helps us understand and make sense of the world. You just have to be cognizant of the fact that it's an approximation and there are always exceptions.

I now have the overwhelming urge to ride a motorcycle across Asia.

This whole thing reminds me of one of my main pet peeves, when people say technology and the internet divides and isolates us. I couldn't possibly disagree more. It's because we've industrialized agriculture that we're not spending every day tilling a field.

Tribal societies often were/are centered around the procurement of water. The women in Darfur leave the camps to walk miles one way just to get water for the family, and expose themselves to the Janjaweed rape gangs in the process. The thought of going any farther than the faucet for water is inconceivable to us.

It's because factories in Indonesia crank out so many clothes at such a cheap price that the job of the tailor outside of high end shops is all but defunct. That may distress a trained tailor, but this is clearly a net positive for the rest of us. When your shirt has a hole in it, you go buy another one because it not worth the time and expense to repair it. The availability of cheap goods frees us up to concentrate on other things, like curbing global warming or inventing microprocessors or sending robotic missions to Mars. Those advances in turn increase the pace of future discoveries. Technology and industrialization, along with capitalism, has been the best thing to happen to the human race.

I recently heard an interview on NPR with the creator of The Lonely Planet travel guide books. He was plugging his new book and I found the part about North Korea most fascinating. I've read travel logs from peoples' trips there before, so I wasn't surprised to hear that he was escorted everywhere by a minder and not allowed to walk away from the group and interact with the locals. Except he did anyway. He walked far from his hotel and came upon a hospital. In the garden there were nurses and doctors minding a fruit and vegetable garden. Think about that. Doctors, subsistence farming, in the capital city. That's what life is like without the benefits of technology, such as easy travel and global markets.

Without the ease of global communication and transportation we wouldn't know much about anything outside of a hundred mile radius. But today I can fritter away my hours waiting for The Sopranos final episode to come on, writing this silly blog that a guy in Malaysia is going to read. And after all the bullshit, we'll see that we're not all that different. And the next time someone tries to demonize America or Muslim countries, we'll both know better. The internet brings people together; it doesn't drive them apart.

Some say all the technology allows us to concentrate on warfare too much. There may be a point there, Iraq being the obvious example, though pre-industrial societies were hardly peaceful. War is a regrettable aspect of the human condition, but at least we have the luxury of expending huge sums on smart bombs that help minimize innocent deaths.

One of our most effective weapons is a cement block in the shape of a bomb. Broadly, it's called a kinetic weapon. It has no explosives, just momentum. It's guided in just like a normal smart bomb, by a guy pointing a laser at the badguy, with all kinds of wireless communication and processors crunching on algorithms that puts the bomb from a plane flying at super sonic speeds, tens of thousands of feet in the air, to within feet of its target. We wouldn't be able to develop such a system if we were concentrating on raising grain. We would fight wars the Russian way; that is, completely level the city, then send wave after wave of men.

Of course, all that said, technology is only as good as the people using it. As Americans, this is particularly apt to our ethical standing in the world, a battle of ideas we sadly seem to be losing.

A gun, genetic engineering, even a spoon, can be used for good or evil. You can refine uranium to provide power to your people, or you can use it to incinerate that pesky little upstart country that wounds your pride so much. We can develop the strongest, most humane military on the planet, but if the wrong guy is in charge, it can get used improperly. That's a consequence of poor leadership though, and not an indictment of industrialization/technology/capitalism which has unquestionably been the greatest thing to ever happen to us, despite its failings.

If we're ever going to get off (vid) this planet and thusly save the human race from extinction, we're going to need those factories in Vietnam to make our shoes for us so we can spend our time and profits building spacecraft. Private companies are building spaceships! That ought to give you chills.

There may be hope for us yet, if we keep cooperating. We can make it, but there are no guarantees. This vid affects me more than it should (Carl Sagan might be the greatest pothead to ever live, here's another good one). I won't be satisfied until we have an Enterprise.

All that because some guy in Turkey wants a drug hookup in Seattle. I love the internet.


At 18/6/07 09:53, Blogger Frannie Farmer said...

I find Carl's voice to be calming .. a lullaby to my ears. Is that strange?

At 20/6/07 02:37, Blogger TSS said...

No, I feel that too. He has a soothing voice.


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