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Mini-Project PHIL 231H Student

Mini-Project 3

Check out my third mini-project here or in the menu at the top of the page!

Hope you enjoy it! ~HQ

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PHIL 231H Student

what’s past is prologue

Oh no. Here comes the history major coming to fight anyone who slights history. Well ok, I resent that, but I get it. I tend to make it no secret that I love history. I love learning about it. I like engaging with others who love it. That said, just because I may love it, doesn’t mean that others even like it. It also doesn’t mean that every part of history, every story or artifact, is useful in today’s world; including the technology of the past.

The modern “civilized world” doesn’t need the abacus because we have calculators. Bronze hasn’t been thought of the metal of choice for tools and other metalworks for millennia. The gun killed the sword as video killed the radio…star. But did it? I mean, I think abacuses are cool; I’d love to have the patience to learn how to use one just for funsies. Bronze is actually still used quite a bit today for things like:

  • marine tools/architecture because it has high corrosion resistance
  • castings for a number of industrial tools because it’s easy to make and manipulate
  • sculpture (of course)
  • instruments and instrument strings for pianos, guitars, sitars, etc.

And I know plenty of people who still listen to the radio, just as plenty of people still enjoy swords (fencers, cosplayers, collectors).

Slight side tangent before I make my final point.

There’s a very famous quote from The Tempest by Shakespeare (that I used as an eye-catching title), “Whereof what’s past is prologue.” Good line, solid quote. History sets the precedent for the present. The problem with that quote is (like with many other quotes) only half is quoted today and therefore taken out of its full context. The full quote is, “Whereof what’s past is prologue; what to come, in yours and my discharge.” The past is done, it’s history, it’s written, and it can’t change. But the future is still wide open; it’s not wholly based upon your yesterday, it’s subject to change based on the choices you can still and will make.

Here’s the thing though…the prologue is still written. The prologue doesn’t just go away because it’s “irrational, superfluous, utterly obsolete.” History doesn’t go away because time marches on. Saying history doesn’t matter anymore because we’ve moved onto the next chapter is irrational. Humans didn’t stop burying their dead just because they started using cremation, too. We didn’t stop playing live music just because of the invention and innovations of sound media (phonographs, vinyl, CDs, etc.). We didn’t stop using candles because we have lightbulbs.

What’s past is prologue, but it has meaning to the present that shouldn’t be overlooked. It’s still written and meant to be read and underestood.

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PHIL 231H Student

i Wish i Wish with all my heart

Whether you’ve bought something from them or not, we’ve probably all seen ads or heard mention of let’s call them “sketchier retailers.” The shadier sellers on Amazon and eBay or the shockingly cheap products on sites like Romwe and Shein. I think Wish is probably the most easily recognizable of the cheap sites. It’s well known and, at one time anyway, it was heavily talked about and criticized for being cheap but having shitty products. Having purchased some items years ago from Wish, I can absolutely confirm how bad the products were…when compared to their more expensive counterparts, like from Walmart or Target or even good sellers on Amazon. Sure, a tee-shirt from Target is going to be nicer quality than one from Shein, but a tee-shirt from Target can also be 3 times the price as of one from Shein. So, I mean, what’s the real issue with cheaper and sometimes not-that-bad-for-their-price products?

Let’s take a walk and talk about the main reason the average person would want to eliminate these producers: the quality of the products. Some of the products sold by these sketchy retailers can simply suck; the materials sucks, the durability sucks, the smell from the packaging sucks. How about how some of the products can be properly dangerous and harmful to the buyer? Most sellers of these cheaper products just kind of negate some of the ingredients or materials used in their product; some even lie or just don’t put ingredients on the packaging. But it’s the quality people care about. “tHe CoTtOn Is ToO rOuGh.” “ThE fIt IsNt RiGhT!” “tHe PaCkAgInG sMeLlS bAd!” Listen, I can talk about how yeah, you’re obviously going to get what you pay for when “the cheaper the price to buy, the cheaper the price to make” but there are MILLIONS OF PEOPLE FORCED INTO SLAVE LABOR IN CHINA ALONE. I don’t particularly care if your $3 sweater is tight and itchy or you knock-off eyeshadow palette gave you pink eye.

From an ethical standpoint let’s talk about the alleged forced and/or child labor in the factories some of these places produce or acquire items from. But with that said, it’s not as if bigger, more expensive companies don’t allegedly use forced labor. For example, Nike and Apple (and dozens of other companies) came under fire earlier this year for connections with the forced labor of the Uighurs in China. Those are two of the most well know multibillion-dollar companies that sell luxury items of the highest quality allegedly using forced labor. I really think this is the only argument you need to shut down cheaper producers and sellers and place higher restrictions/standards on the higher-end producers and sellers to maybe use their BILLIONS OF DOLLARS to legally hire able-bodied adults and pay them fair wages. But, you know, capitalism > ethics!

Educate yourself, spread awareness, help how you can.

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Mini-Project PHIL 231H Student

Mini-Project 2

Check out my second mini-project here or in the menu at the top of the page!

Hope you enjoy it! ~HQ

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PHIL 231H Student

race as technology

I am of dual and conflicting thoughts on humanity and its role as a technology. On one hand, I firmly believe we are an “organic technology.” We were created from something else, we evolved (upgraded/updated) as needed to fit our environments, we can glitch and malfunction biologically, we have some purpose in the grand scheme of things. Do I know what that purpose is? Absolutely not. Because on the other hand, I’m an extreme nihilist who knows nothing about “purpose” or “destiny” or “consciously adapting to changing situations as needed for one’s own health.” Whoever heard of such a thing? Ridiculous…

But, my firm belief in “organic technology” stands. Every adaptation serves its own purpose within our units (bodies, societies, culture).  Like patches in a game or app. Race, I believe, is one of those patches. History of humanity wise, there was a biological, evolutionary reason for different races. I hope at this point in time there’s no question of where humanity came from (pssst…it was Africa). As early modern humans (EMHs) migrated from Africa, the different races came into being as necessary for the locations those EMHs migrated to. Race is another cog in the machinery of a human. From there, you’re in genetic markers and Punnett Squares territory; children inherit their parents’ “patches” who inherit their parents’ “patches” and so on.

Blue eyes are a mutation, but dark skin is not. It has a purpose. It is important. It is not version 2.0; it is an original technology in humanity’s motherboard. If you look at it in that light, light skin is version 2.0. But the invention of the concept of race (which is fairly modern at a few centuries old) removed the complexities of true biology; not the bull biology Europeans began spewing. The concept of race began when white Europeans (who were classified as British, German, and Nordic only at the time) began using disgustingly faulty and biased “biological science” as a means of justifying superiority and colonization. From the concept of race came a concept called “racial smog.” “Racial Smog” is cultural images/messages that support the assumed superiority of whites and the assumed inferiority of people of color. It’s akin to smog because sometimes it’s so thick that it’s visible and other times it’s less apparent, but still present and being “breathed” by all of us.

I’ve always kind of prided myself on being able to separate logic/reason from emotion. I believe there are times and places for overt emotional displays. 2020 is not a year for that separation. In 2020, we are dying of smog inhalation. What is in reality an evolutionary technology has been mutilated into something some people deem as lesser because white people centuries ago were selfish, bigoted assholes who thought themselves better than those they were oppressing and needed a reason to keep oppressing them. And in turn, this country has been mutilated. We have been blinded by and used to the smog for so long that when people began saying, “hey maybe this is bull and we can work to stop centuries of bull?” those people who still think themselves as more important and/or better because of what became a technological advantage decided it’s better to keep smothering everyone than try and be decent human beings.

Thanks for coming to my TED Talk.

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PHIL 231H Student

what the Foucault

Let’s talk about panopticism and the panopticon. So, panopticism, to me, (and stay with me here don’t go anywhere) is like communism. Let me explain. Communism, how I’ve heard it described by some, looks good on paper but is, to put it very lightly, lacking in practice. Very much like how Russia was called a “paper tiger” in World War 1; on paper, they looked ferocious in number and assumed skill but in reality, they were a train wreck waiting to happen. Or like those “deals” you see on sketchy shopping sites, but you just can’t help yourself; who cares if it’s not really a good deal, it looks like it is…and then you get a lower quality product. But I digress. The point is, the idea of a panopticon looks good on paper, but in practice, you may get some moral and/or ethical issues which, you know, isn’t great.

Throughout Foucault’s Panopticism, Foucault mentions the different varieties in which a panopticon could be employed. He mentions prisons, hospitals, asylums, workhouses, and even schools. Now, again, on paper, the idea of having contained areas where there is no room for cheating, physical harm, contagion, rioting, and a boatload of other “bad” things, is a good thing. Having the surveyor be able to actually survey everyone at the same time in a separate area from the rest of the subjects in the panopticon, seems a good thing. There’s no immediate danger for the watcher or any distractions to keep them from their task of watching.

Where for me this becomes gross in a sense is the absolute removal of any privacy. Foucault states, in a perfect panopticon, that just anyone should be able to come in and take a look at the subjects of the panopticon, as if it’s working perfectly there will be no danger. A “human zoo.” I have my own qualms with many animal zoos, but I think as a human there’s this innate disgust and bias against the very idea of a “human zoo.” The phrasing even makes me think in the vein of work camps. Of course, one could make the claim that prisons are like that now (human zoos) but the separation of the general public from the inmates, as well as allowing inmates to go outside and interact with other inmates, changes the ethical implication in my mind.

The idea that the panopticon is “more humane” is a joke. It shouldn’t have to be said that it is a basic human right to privacy. The constant fear and anxiety that would be employed by the use of the panopticon with the separation of subjects and veiled surveyor (or maybe not apparently) are inhumane. One should not have to fear being watched in their own home. One should not have to worry about their computer or cell phone or whatever being used to surveil them.

Big brother is indeed watching.

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Mini-Project PHIL 231H Student

Mini-Project 1

Check out my first mini-project here or in the menu at the top of the page!

Hope you enjoy it! ~HQ

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PHIL 231H Student

cohongarooton to patawomke

From on High

To the Bay below

The sick summer stench

Like death in those sweltering days

The black frozen deep

In the white winter months

Caught between two queens of old

And just as deadly

With the spring come the flora and fauna

And the sirens and body bags

Alluring and serene

Treacherous and deceiving

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PHIL 231H Student

a funny thing happened on the way to write this blog post…

The way I typically write, I begin with an eye-catching title. I wanted my title for this to be “The March of Time;” a phrase meaning, well, time moves ever forward. My intent with this title was to show the steady, and inevitable, progress technology had made and will continue to make throughout history. While looking for the originating place of the phrase (which I supposed doesn’t matter) I came across The March of Time.

The March of Time was a radio show turned newsreel and documentary series from 1935 to 1951. I started poking around since I don’t know much about newsreels, and in looking at the episode descriptions, I realized the timeframe of these reels was the perfect timeframe to discuss. In the first set of reels, played on 1 February 1935, there is a reel on the retirement of the then-general manager of the Metropolitan Opera (the Met) in New York City, but more importantly the “first sound pictures of the Met.” While I’m not entirely certain if this means sound films were played or some other technological innovation of the past that I can’t find, the main point is, there is a base technological innovation at the Met in 1935. Moving forward to the next set of reels, played on 8 March 1935, the last reel was about the new slow-motion camera. This, to me, shows the popularity of film and the progress towards new ideas for the medium. And then, a short 11 years later, 9 August 1946, the Academy Award-nominated documentary Atomic Power was released.

Now, I’m fully aware these are not linear timelines. Cameras didn’t turn into atomic bombs. But I believe it does show how the time shaped the progression of technology. The early 1930s saw many people affected by the Great Depression, but the wealthy were looking to be entertained; so, innovation through film, cameras, etc. made sense for the progression of that period. By the debut of the documentary in 1946, the end of World War II and the dropping of the bombs had been almost exactly a year prior. The atomic bombs were developed because the progression of society, and therefore technology, at that time deemed them “necessary.”

An even simpler connection to the necessity of technology to progress can be seen with The March of Time itself. As stated, it began as a radio show. As film began to grow into the massive success it is, the technology used for the show evolved from a radio show to a newsreel. Eventually of course the reels got longer and more advanced with their camera work, shots, and sound.

I would argue, and the research done for this post helps validate the idea, that there is a linear timeline for the necessary progression of technology, and its impact on the progression of society.

What do you think?