2014-05-23

模倣子 Labels as MIAOs, man

I once visited Janis Johnson’s Native American Literature class at the University of Idaho and by way of introducing myself to the class I handed a few of the students pennies and asked them to read to me the inscription printed on them.: e pluribus unum, they read back to me.  I asked them if they knew the meaning of that.  Some did.  My concept of the Latin phrase was one composed of many—the definitive foundation of an American value system replete with allusions to red, white and blue, purple mountain majesties, and freedom.  The original meaning for this phrase has since been challenged, of course, and yes, its original intentions tailored in exclusion of brown people, and women, yet the general tone of its meaning remains fixed in the minds and hearts of America’s population and abroad; it is our foundational ideology, or as my good friend Jay posits, injected as a memetic system that we are terminally infected by.     


Yes, the idea that an existing MIAO can have it's practical meaning changed, e.g., "men" = "people with penises only, no women, no blacks, no indians" changed to "men" = "humans".  By doing this, all of the "rights" associated with the memetic systems built around the MIAO are automatically conferred on the new members, and it cannot be challenged or reversed or edited.

Similarly, the "gay marriage" controversy is that the MIAO of marriage has become associated with a bunch of things which non-breeders have a perfect right to, and which society benefits if they do.  The memetic stickiness of the marriage MIAO is the problem.

By similar token, the "Y2K problem" was not a simple problem of idiotic short-sighted programmers just choosing six characters for a date to save space and out of convenience, e.g., October 9, 1996 = 100966, but a "data abstraction" issue.  Six characters is quite enough to specify quite a lot of dates, in fact, Unix uses only 4 characters to specify every SECOND between 1970 and 2038 (the Unix Y2K -- when the world will officially end, by the way), so if you're only talking about keeping track of DAYS, then six characters is plenty, bordering on extravagant, even.

The morons that programmed the IBM dates over-specified by nailing down the meaning of these characters on top of everything else.  Likewise, what the Crypto-pseudo-feminists should do (if they were ortho-feminists = really want to liberate women) is change the DICTIONARY, i.e., what the word "men" and "man" means, rather than trying to change everywhere the word is used (including in people's heads) and then the problem is automatically solved, using MIAOs.  In effect, this has already been in place since the 1950s (in Stanley Kubrick's black-and-white "Lolita" with Shelley Winters and James Mason, Humbert Humbert (Mason) complements Lolita's mum (Winters) as being "quite a salesMAN" without irony).  So the lability of these kinds of terms is readily seen.

This is rather the project of legal writing, by the way, i.e., to wring out any such ambiguity associated with terms in use.  Lawyers are at such pains for the very reason that special terms are MIAOs and are subject to being stuck to or invoked by any number of (unintended) users, and automatically invoke the entire memetic system with which they are associated.

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