Category: McCoy 431 Fall 2017

Stigmergencies, a second responder

A few weeks back Brendan made a post called Stigmergencies whether stigmergy can really help us build a better system. He was responding the work of Heather Marsh who argues for a movement away from representative democracy and towards collaboration. Like Marsh, I believe that we have a system in desperate need of change. Like Brendon, I’m not sure stigmergy is the way to go.

In order for everyone stigmergy to work, everyone must be working towards the same goal, which means the same goal must be mutually beneficial to everyone.

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Cooperatives and Butler’s Communities pt. 1 (revised)

The Rochdale principles are a set of guidelines on how to operate a cooperative. They date back to 1844 when they were first drafted and enacted by the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers in Rochdale, England. They are as follows:

Voluntary and open membership

Anti-discrimination

Motivations and rewards

Democratic member control

Member economic participation

Autonomy and independence Read more

The Amish and Community (an earlier post revised)

I don’t know how I feel about the Amish. I don’t know if it’s fair to bring someone into that lifestyle without their consent. This might sound like a familiar dilemma to my classmates.

First, allow me to clarify that when I say “that lifestyle,” I do not  wish to insinuate I have anything close to first hand experience the way an actual Amish person or even one of their neighbors would have. I grew up among the comforts of suburbia and therefore my first-hand experience is limited to public markets and driving past buggies on back roads. My exposure and understanding of the Amish is product of my own community, which plays upon my reading of things independent of the thing which I’m trying to reach a judgement on. All said, I’m going to use this source mainly as my basis for talking about the Amish in this post.

Amish children are raised in a certain lifestyle all their life, one that is intentionally separated from the practices of the world at large. Sometime recently either in my notes or perhaps in class I spoke about the way cultures creates a homogenized opinion of something, and the larger the culture the greater potential for this general opinion to be established. (There’s probably a word for this, so Sociology students are invited to get at me. I think what I’m talking about is Freud’s superego but that kind of sounds wrong to me too…) Read more

David Huggins is the most relaxed alien abductee you’ve ever seen

David Huggins is a painter from Hoboken, NJ, whose work is primarily dedicated to illustrating his lifelong experiences as an alien abductee. The experiences he describes and paints are not unlike the established alien script that’s been propagated throughout America for over half a century. The way I see it, that’s just as much a reason to believe as it is a reason to be skeptical. This year a movie about Mr. Huggins was released: Love and Saucers: The Far Out World of David Huggins.

Here’s the trailer:

The scenarios he paints are also not without their own ethical conundrums reminiscent of those we encounter in Butler’s fiction. How he tells it, his abductions began when he was 8 years old, and have never stopped. When they began, rather than receive beatings for telling is parents what he saw, one alien told him to keep silent about their visits. Almost a decade later, he lost his virginity to the same alien, a female named Crescent, when he was 17. Since then, Mr. Huggins believes he has sired over fifty hybrid Human/Alien children.

What makes Mr. Huggins unique among professed abductees is the way he’s managed to render his experiences visually. He has taken his experiences out of the realm of his singular account and, through creating these visual testaments, has created objects for viewers to experience as well. It’s a neat little hat trick. Read more

Back at Home with Butler

The second I arrived back at home and my mom begins to ask me about my courses. I knew it would be relatively easy to explain all of them, all of them except my Octavia Butler course. I wasn’t quite sure where to start with this one. Do I just explain the books that the class has read? Do I try and guide her through all the themes we have discovered in those books? I finally decided on showing her our final exam project and to take it from there. Read more

You Judged that Book by its Cover, Didn’t You?

Earlier this semester our professor, Dr. McCoy, showed us the original cover of Dawn. I remember being confused for a moment. Where was Lilith? Well, it turns out she was right there, where you would expect her to be. She just didn’t look like you would expect her to look. She was white.

I’ve thought back to this cover a lot over the semester and every time I think about it I get a little bit angrier. First, there is the huge problem with whitewashing in Hollywood. Most people realize that this is a problem in film, but many don’t realize it’s also a problem at the local bookstore. Octavia Butler’s Dawn is one, but certainly not the only time this has happened.

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It’s OK to be a Snob About Reading

A couple weeks ago Cassie wrote an interesting blog post about the importance of the visual. In addition to raising some very valid points, she credited a point that I had made in our small group discussion. I felt that it was important to provide some context and credit to the original research.

Maybe it’s my constant need for validation or maybe just the fact that people are constantly making me justify my degree in literature, but I like to bring up the fact that reading literature actually makes you a more empathetic person at pretty much every possible opportunity. That’s right, fellow book nerds, reading actually makes you a better person. Well, at least if you define better as more empathetic, which I do because we could really use some more empathy in the world right now.

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Cancerous Silver Linings

Cancer is, quite possibly, one of greatest tragedies of the human condition. There aren’t words to describe the horror of watching a loved one waste away as the malignant cells multiply—so I won’t try. People try to make sense of it in all different ways, some saying it made them stronger or brought them closer to their friends and family. As true as these claims might be, no amount of closeness nor personal strength will ever come close to the complete despair the disease leaves in its wake.

There is no upside to cancer.

Unless you’re Oankali, Read more