Thursday, April 12 2007

Categories, Classes and Groups

Well, in my first post I promised that I'd tie everything together into one big picture.  I must then start tying things together with the post where I promised I'd tie everything together.  Damn those meta-narratives. 

One thing that always struck me when reading blogs is how often I would come across a blog that frequently covered two or more seemingly unrelated topics that were both interests of mine.  Stephen den Beste and's own Pixy Misa were both bloggers I started reading because of an interest in politics.  I was pleasantly surprised to find both had interests in anime.  I don't see a particular direct correlation between political interest and anime, and most of the indirect correlations (age, education, etc.) would lead me to believe that most Western otaku would have a different set of political leanings (something that tends to bear out on other rare occasions when politics and anime combine).

It became interesting, then, to try to look for similar small-scale correlations outside politics and to speculate on what could cause such correlations.  Its kind of a group version of Seven Degrees of Megumi Hayashibara (or Kevin Bacon, if you prefer.)  For example, politically one might guess that Heinlein fans might tend to be more Jeffersonian in foreign policy outlook, based on the combination of respect for the military and small-l libertarianism in his works.   Can we connect then Heinlein fans to anime?  Heinlein had a healthy respect for technology and progress, so Heinlein fans are likely to be technophiles.  Perhaps that's the next link in the chain.  Heinlein also had, shall we say, differing social mores.  Anyone who has watched anime can say the same applies to Japanese culture.  Perhaps that's the next link.  It's not that the links are deterministic.  One could easily take the overly wrought environmentalism of some recent anime and guess that anime fans would be progressive.  And we still haven't looked into whether den Beste or Pixy Misa are Heinlein fans.

How does all this tie into the big picture of human society as a whole?  Considering the big picture is a snapshot of little pictures over time, we can examine the big picture by looking at trends in group dynamics, and we can examine particular facets of the big picture by choosing a subset of groups to examine.  If we choose to examine society as a whole through the lens of  racial, ethnic or religious groups we may miss trends that show up in  the group dynamics of other types of groups.  Also note that so far I haven't described myself as a member of a racial, ethnic or religious group.  Individual identification is no longer as tied up in those types of groups as it once was.  We will eventually then have to look at how technology and culture have changed group dynamics.

For the record, I'm ethnically American, with ancestors of primarily mixed German, Irish and English descent, and I'm Roman Catholic.

Posted by: Civilis at 07: 26 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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Welcome to the Dork Side

To start with, how about an introduction to your guide to this cryptic repository of thoughts and musings?  I'll throw in some idea as to what I'm trying to accomplish by putting my thoughts on paper as a bonus.  Sound good?  Read on...

My nom de blog is Civilis.  Its supposed to sound somewhat Greek in the wise philosopher mold one expects of a sage, but it means nothing.  The origins might be explored somewhere down the line as an aside, but for now they mean nothing.  I am around 30, live in Fairfax County, Virginia, in the suburbs of Washington, DC, close enough that I have something of an up-close perspective on the workings of the Federal government, but not so close that everything I see is through the lens of federal politics (a common problem among many who live off the political or government sectors of the local economy).  I work in computer support at the local government level.  My serious interests are history, international relations, politics, and technology;  my hobbies are reading, games of all types, and anime.

I write for two seemingly contradictory reasons.  I often feel the need to put my thoughts down on paper, or at least in a digital representation that is reasonably permanent.  This is selfish and somewhat egocentric;  I have no reason to believe that my thoughts are any more brilliant than those of anyone else.  I also feel the need to put thoughts out there for comment or criticism.  Its only after they have had a chance to survive the ebb and flow of debate that they fully mature.

What I hope to accomplish with this blog is with the help of commenters come up with a coherent and rational understanding of modern culture and how all the little pieces fit together.  To that end, I intend to try to link my posts to previous posts to eventually arrive at the big picture.  Wish me luck.

And you're all invited along for the ride, by the way.  Heck, if all you want to do is admire the wreck, you're fine with me.  Pull up a chair and sit down for a while...

Posted by: Civilis at 05: 33 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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Welcome to Dork Side Pundit.  I am your host, Civilis (a psuedonym).  At the moment, I am arranging things in my new home.  Expect some posts this evening (Eastern Daylight Time).

Posted by: Civilis at 05: 04 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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