Tags: memes


Art meme

There's a meme that's been going around pretty vigorously lately, which is nice and self-explanatory. Here's the template: 

The idea is that you add details, both visual and biographical, to chart the course of your life through childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. It's been doing the rounds quite a bit lately, and last night, I finally gave in and did one for myself.

So, how about you guys? Any of you done one for yourselves? If not, why not do so now? It's fun to look back on the path which has brought you to where you are today! 

(no subject)

Not the sort of thing I ordinarily post, obviously, but I abruptly remembered seeing this in Pipkin's journal ages and ages ago and having thought it was cute. Besides which, I currently believe myself to have a clever and well-spoken base of readers, and that allows me the luxury of hope that this might be worth posting.

If you read this, if your eyes are passing over this right now, please post a comment with a COMPLETELY MADE UP AND FICTIONAL memory of you and me. It can be anything you want -- good or bad -- BUT IT HAS TO BE FAKE. When you're finished, post this little paragraph on your blog and be surprised (or mortified) about what people DON'T ACTUALLY remember about you.

(Actual content is being produced in the background, about which I will be posting soon)

2 Girls 1 Sub

Every so often, you'll come across an advertisement or production from some fairly mainstream company which is so outlandishly ill-conceived that you cannot help but stand back in wonder and ask yourself how nobody in a decision making position could have at any point said "Hey, wait a minute. I'm not going to allow this to happen" before the advertisement or production in question reached the market. I heard of - though did not see - a commercial for Telus (the dominant local telephone/ISP company), which is known for quirky commercials featuring animals on a pristine white backdrop with oddly-chosen pop music background doing peculiar things, which featured a horse dancing about all clippity-clop style to the song "American psycho", which my friend Ryan described as "a song about deflouring virgin teenagers and then murdering them". As odd a choice as this may have seemed, it pales before this latest oeuvre.

Quizno's - a submarine sandwich company - has evidently decided it would be a fine notion to create an add campaign called "2 Girls 1 Sub." For those of you who get the reference, yes, this is pretty much exactly what it sounds like.

For those of you who do not get the reference, I will say now that you do yourself no favours by continuing to read this post, nor do I do you any favours by writing it, but in the interests of documenting the unlikely and bizarre, I will persist, and invite you to do likewise only with a spirit girded against the unimaginably unpleasant information to come.

The commercial is modeled after a viral video called "2 Girls 1 Cup", which is one of the internet's most notoriously unpleasant spectacles of all time, standing confidently shoulder-to-shoulder alongside Tubgirl and Goatse (those of you unaware of 2 Girls 1 Cup will likely also be unaware of these. In the interests of discovery, I encourage you to go and google them yourself, and make sure the safe search feature is turned off when you hit the images tab). Indeed, the video is so graphically unpleasant that even videos of people reacting to seeing this video are often hard to bear. Here's a Wikipedia article devoted to it here which should bring you up to speed.

This having been established, have a look at this new ad here:

For my part, I was actually unable to watch it all the way through on first viewing, and even on a second attempt, at which I went into it knowing what I was getting into, I had by the mid-way mark a mask of horrified astonishment on my face which did not fall from my features until well after it had run its course. It is so effectively evocative of the source material that I found the concept of eating a Quizno's sub to be a nauseatingly unpleasant one somewhere around the 20 second mark. And what possible point could there BE to this video aside from evoking thoughts of "2 Girls 1 Cup"? To people who have not seen this video, the ad in question would only be confusing. To those who have seen it, which one presumes are the target market, it can only bring about a reaction of horrified wonder.

Was this an elabourate letter of resignation on the part of some mid-level Quizno's executive, who decided this joke was so funny it was worth tossing his job away by green-lighting a project which he figured his superiors were unaware of the reference of? Was this some elabourate ploy to entice the interest of irony-loving internet hipsters? I'm aware that this wasn't Quizno's doing per se; it seems to have been produced by Playboy (who I can actually not only forgive but applaud for this bit of lulz-inducing madness), but someone at Quizno's plainly signed off on this in the hopes that doing so would reflect well on their corporate brand. The final scenario, which I find hilarious to contemplate, is that someone at Playboy pitched this to someone at Quizno's, who was unaware of the connotations of the video, and signed the papers to approve this product placement without ever grasping exactly what it was they were associating their product with, and that ballsy Playboy employee in question managed to sneak it by them, giggling in private the entire time at the insanity of the ploy.

If this is the case, I applaud that magnificent bastard for tricking Quizno's into agreeing to an ad which is the most effective counter-incentive to eat at their restaurant I can imagine, and I hope the executives at Subway are smart enough to send this fellow a nice gift basket in return for his efforts.

Are You a Hardcore Atheist?

Apparently there's this "Are you a hardcore atheist" meme going around, which I found by means of the excellent Evolved and Rat/i/onal blog. While I only occasionally post memes and surveys of this sort, I felt this one was smart and on-the-nose enough to be worth my time and attention.

Quoting from the original post....


How serious do you take your atheism?

Let’s find out.

Copy and paste the list below on your own site, boldfacing the things you’ve done. (Feel free to add your own elaboration and commentary to each item!)

  1. Participated in the Blasphemy Challenge.
  2. Met at least one of the “Four Horsemen” (Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris) in person.
  3. Created an atheist blog.
  4. Used the Flying Spaghetti Monster in a religious debate with someone.
  5. Gotten offended when someone called you an agnostic.
  6. Been unable to watch Growing Pains reruns because of Kirk Cameron.
  7. Own more Bibles than most Christians you know.
  8. Have at least one Bible with your personal annotations regarding contradictions, disturbing parts, etc.
  9. Have come out as an atheist to your family.
  10. Attended a campus or off-campus atheist gathering.
  11. Are a member of an organized atheist/Humanist/etc. organization.
  12. Had a Humanist wedding ceremony.
  13. Donated money to an atheist organization.
  14. Have a bookshelf dedicated solely to Richard Dawkins.
  15. Lost the friendship of someone you know because of your non-theism.
  16. Tried to argue or have a discussion with someone who stopped you on the street to proselytize.
  17. Had to hide your atheist beliefs on a first date because you didn’t want to scare him/her away. (I actually feel that the fact that I have refused to hide my beliefs even when on a date with a christian girl and gradually and gently introduced her to what proveed to be some fairly persuasive arguments sould count in my favour...)
  18. Own a stockpile of atheist paraphernalia (bumper stickers, buttons, shirts, etc).
  19. Attended a protest that involved religion.
  20. Attended an atheist conference.
  21. Subscribe to Pat Condell’s YouTube channel.
  22. Started an atheist group in your area or school.
  23. Successfully “de-converted” someone to atheism.
  24. Have already made plans to donate your body to science after you die.
  25. Told someone you’re an atheist only because you wanted to see the person’s reaction.
  26. Had to think twice before screaming “Oh God!” during sex. Or you said something else in its place.
  27. Lost a job because of your atheism.
  28. Formed a bond with someone specifically because of your mutual atheism (meeting this person at a local gathering or conference doesn’t count).
  29. Have crossed “In God We Trust” off of — or put a pro-church-state-separation stamp on — dollar bills.
  30. Refused to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. (Canadian equivalent: refused to stand for the national anthem because of the "god keep our land lyric)
  31. Said “Gesundheit!” (or nothing at all) after someone sneezed because you didn’t want to say “Bless you!”
  32. Have ever chosen not to clasp your hands together out of fear someone might think you’re praying. (I'm almost embarassed about this one)
  33. Have turned on Christian TV because you needed something entertaining to watch.
  34. Are a 2nd or 3rd (or more) generation atheist.
  35. Have “atheism” listed on your Facebook or dating profile — and not a euphemistic variant.
  36. Attended an atheist’s funeral (i.e. a non-religious service).
  37. Subscribe to an freethought magazine (e.g. Free Inquiry, Skeptic) (I buy them both regularly, but I'm not going to claim this one)
  38. Have been interviewed by a reporter because of your atheism.
  39. Written a letter-to-the-editor about an issue related to your non-belief in God.
  40. Gave a friend or acquaintance a New Atheist book as a gift.
  41. Wear pro-atheist clothing in public.
  42. Have invited Mormons/Jehovah’s Witnesses into your house specifically because you wanted to argue with them.
  43. Have been physically threatened (or beaten up) because you didn’t believe in God.
  44. Receive Google Alerts on “atheism” (or variants).
  45. Received fewer Christmas presents than expected because people assumed you didn’t celebrate it. (in fairness, they are correct)
  46. Visited The Creation Museum or saw Ben Stein’s Expelled just so you could keep tabs on the “enemy.”
  47. Refuse to tell anyone what your “sign” is… because it doesn’t matter at all.  (I've really annoyed people by claiming that I was born on a far-away world where the stars appear in different arrangements than they do on Earth, and thus the constellations as they appear on Earth have no bearing upon me)
  48. Are on a mailing list for a Christian organization just so you can see what they’re up to…
  49. Have kept your eyes open while you watched others around you pray.
  50. Avoid even Unitarian churches because they’re too close to religion for you.

THirty-one out of fifty. Not bad, not bad. If you're interested, by all means post your own. Even with the recent influx of readers, I suspect the atheist community is still well-represented within my circle of LJ friends.


It moves me to tears with its beauty

People who know me well know that I am not normally one for listening to music with lyrics I can comprehend. The primary reason for which is that I never NEVER feel as though I'm the one the song is singing to or about; I can never sympathise or empathise with the lyrics, and it tends to irritate and frustrate me that the song is about concepts and experiences I don't share and wouldn't care to. 

This having been established, I have just now been SHOCKED to hear a song which sounds as familliar and as relevant to me as the beating of my own heart. I've never before felt the need to share music via this journal, but today I make an exception. I hope that you will be able to share with me this transcendant experience. 

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Some back and forth

A meme I'm carrying over from papajoemambo

Leave a comment and I will
a) tell you why I friended you,
b) associate you with something - fandom, a song, a colour, a photo, etc.,
c) tell you something I like about you,
d) tell you a memory I have of you,
e) ask something I've always wanted to know about you,
f) tell you my favorite user pic of yours,
g) in return, you must post this in your LJ. 

Obviously, this only applies to the ten people on my mutual friends list, unless you're somebody I know in real life and you just happen not to be on my own friends list...


One of those survey deals

I actually kind of like those survey things which periodically do the rounds on the net, but I find that most of the questions are kind of vacuous and stupid. I have therefore devised my own, which I encourage those reading this to respond to and - if you are so inclined - post in your own journals with appropriate linkage. I'l post my own answers a little later on, so as not to corrupt the process with expectations.

1) If there were any one wrong you have done and could re-write history to have not done it, what would it be?
2) If there were any one historical event which you could change - along with all the consequences proceeding from that change - what would it be?
3) If there was any one public figure you could see get their comeuppance for their misdeeds, who would it be, why, and what form would that take?
4) If there were any three things you could make the entire world understand exactly as you understand them, what would they be?
5) If there were any one creative person who you could make the entire world love and appreciate the works of, who would it be and why?
6) If there were any one creative person you could make the entire world forget and dismiss, who would it be and why?
7) If you could bring back from the dead any one person with no personal connection to you, who would it be and why?
8) If you could make any one change to the physical geography of the world, what would it be and why?
9) If you could make any one work of fiction true, what would it be and why?
10) If you could have any one law rescinded, what would it be and why?
11) If you could have any one law established, what would it be and why?
12) If you could share any one joy of yours with the whole world, what would it be? 

Edit: I've been meaning to get around to filling this out for nearly a week now. Blah. 

1) I wish that I had visited my father in the hospital more during his final year of life. He was in terrible pain, and I eventually just became weary of going there, having him say nothing but moan in pain and complain. In retrospect, it's clear that he had every right to it... If there were any one thing I could change, any one wrong I could undo, any one regret which pierces my heart more deeply and more often than anything else, it's this. I wish I had been there for him more. 
2) I would prevent Ioseph Stalin from becoming the head of the USSR. Various reasons. First, though the USSR was always a flawed system, it was only with Stalin that it became completely monstrous. His absence from history would have resulted in less-awful successors. Secondly, he killed more people than Hitler. This alone would be reason enough. Third, he was so completely horrifying that I feel that if he had not been in charge after WW2, the Americans would have felt less need to compete with the USSR, and the age of American imperialism would  have been (and would BE, present tense) less severe. 
3) Dick Cheney. I would see his role in 9/11 revealed, via dossiers of irrefutable, undeniable, and legally actionable evidence being simultaineously being delivered to every media figure, politician, and law enforcement official in the western world. I figure if you can nail Cheney, then everyone else connected with him goes down too. 
4) The military industrial complex is made up of people so completely inimical to civilized behaviour that they cannot have any place in any society. This one life is all that any of us have, so we all owe it to ourselves and one another to work together to make it a good one; ethically, environmentally, and economically. Authoritarianism, in any form, diminishes us all. 
5) Brian K. Vaughn. One of the best and most versatile comic book writers alive. If he were globally beloved, I think that the breadth of comic books he's written would serve as a gateway for many millions of people to discover the joy of the medium. 
6) Jeph Loeb. I could be entirely altuistic and pick some influential religious leader or media darling like Rush Limbaugh, but honestly, there's nobody who gets up my nerd rage like this ultimate hack writer, who destroys and infantalizes each and every thing he touches, and keeps getting access to characters I like... or used to like... until Loeb got his hands on them. 
7) Thomas Jefferson. The Americans revere their founding fathers without knowing or understanding anything about them. This fellow, whose name is still spoken with reverence by American traditionalists, who spoke in life such sayings as you'll find here : http://nobeliefs.com/jefferson.htm which I think that modern Americans would benefit from hearing. 
8) Israel would sink below the waves, and then below the crust of the Earth, down into the mantle, over the course of a couple of months. Plenty of time for everyone to get out safely, and in the end, it just wouldn't be there for people to fight over any more. 
9) Star Trek: The Next Generation. Capitalism is a thing of the past, as is need and want, thanks to the replicator. Empty, endless drudgery and poverty are a thing of the past, freeing us to pursue our higher callings. Religion has no role in public life, and we have real-time communication with hundreds of friendly alien cultures. This, to me, is paradise. 
10) Cocaine would no longer be illegal in the United States. Not because I have any fondness for the stuff or the people who use it, but I feel that the number of people who get sent to prison for this relatively minor offense is deeply corrosive to their culture and responsible for some significant portion of their public ills. 
11) The government shall be obliged to provide free university educations for anyone who qualifies for it. This already exists in many European countries, and does fantastic things for their societies. It would do the same here. If I had believed I could ever afford to go to University, I would have tried a lot harder than I did in high school, that's for sure. 
12) I wish I could get all the world to share my love of the english language. This isn't cultural elitism; if English weren't my first language, it would be whatever my first language was. I just wish that people would be as motivated as I am to be as expressive and erudite and concerned with proper use of the language as I am.

Meme Theory

Some months ago, I was talking to my friend Paul about Richard Dawkins’s meme theory. Like so many people, he seemed to have missed the core concept of the theory, which makes it in any way worthwhile as anything other than analogy. I sought to remedy this, but somehow forgot to send the bloody thing after writing it. Finding it on my laptop earlier this evening, I decided to put a bit of polish on it, post it here, and invite Paul and others to discuss it here.

Now, let us leave aside, for the moment, discussions as to whether or not this theory is correct. This is a worthwhile discussion to have, and one which I will be happy to have at some other time, but at the moment, I see it as a distraction and an obstruction.

Meme theory was introduced, as you may know, as an adjunct to the study of genetics. The point of doing so was to look at these memes as an alternate form of self-replicator, much akin to genes. Genes are not conscious, and do not consciously make decisions in order to advance themselves, protect themselves, or to adapt themselves to changing situations, but the successful ones will create, in the bodies which they build in order to propagate themselves, systems, organs, and tissues which will serve to protect them and ensure their successful transmission to a next generation of bodies.

Memes, likewise, are not conscious, and do not make conscious decisions to advance, protect, or adapt themselves, but the successful ones will create behaviours, beliefs, and cultural mores to protect themselves and ensure their successful transmission to new minds.

Let me illustrate by way of example.

The Albigensians were a peaceful and reclusive culture of christians living in France in the middle ages. The meme structure of albigensianism (if you will) included many lesser memes, which could not survive or reproduce in isolation any more than a white blood cell can survive or reproduce in isolation, but which served the greater body of albigensianism. Among these were the meme "We are the bodily descendants of Jesus Christ; he had children before his ascent to heavan, and we are their offspring". Another meme was "All things material are evil, and all things spiritual are good. Therefore, we will own no more than we need in order to survive, as material excess is sinful".

Now, the Albigensians lived in isolation, way out in the boonies. They were remote and removed enough from catholicism for this memetic specieization to take place, and for the meme-structure of albigensianism to thrive, since in those isolated areas, it had no competition.

However, there came a time when the more aggressive predator which was Catholicism came into contact with the peaceful and sedentary albigensianism. This had the effect of a breeding population of wolves being placed on an island of dodo birds. Catholicism had sharp teeth like papal infallibility, and vicious claws, like the inquisition. The meek albigensianism didn’t stand a chance. The memes which comprised catholicism caused catholics to respond extremely poorly to this heresy, considering them enemies of the church, and so they moved in to convert the albigensians to their way of thinking. Thus, the memes of Catholicism attacked the memes of albigensianism, trying to claim their territory: The minds of the albigensians. The albigensians had no weapons, because the meme which told them not to amass wealth precluded the possibility of their being able to afford them. This meme was like the genes of the dodo which had caused wings to diminish beyond the point at which they could keep the bird aloft; a mutation which would be survivable only in the absence of competition or predation. Thus, the meme-structure of albigensianism was ill-equipped to protect itself against the organism of Catholicism, which had meme of the mandated the forceful conversion or execution of heretics at this time.

As such, very soon, the meme structure of albigensianism was wiped out. Those who did not convert were killed. Thus, the meme structure had claimed the territory and resources of its competitor – the minds and bodies of the albigensians – and ensured that it would not have this competitor for resources in the quest for continued competition.

Two species come into contact in a previously isolated territory. In this territory, there are limited resources, which these two species are in direct competition for. The meaner and more competitive one destroys the weaker one, and claims the territory for itself. Natural selection. The memes themselves never made any decisions. All they did was provide the belief-structures and behavioural framework to cause the two organisms which they had created – the catholic community and the albigensian community – to perform certain tasks and functions. The one with the memes for deadlier traits won.

Another example:

Martin Luther nails a list of declarations to the door of a church in Germany. These declarations are, if not new memes per se, then a new means of these memes to replicate themselves. A mutation. The culture in this region was insular enough to allow specieization to take place (though not without strife!). This new, mutant strain of Catholicism, which is called Protestantism, or Lutheranism, contains memes not found in the parent-organism. The two strains do battle for the territory which is the minds of the parishioners, each trying to supplant one another. The meme structure of Protestantism is hearty; certainly meaner than the Albigensian meme structure was. More survivable. It persists to this very day. Like hyenas and lions locked in constant struggle with one another over territory on the plains of Africa, these two predators constantly vie for one another’s turf.

Memes are not always passive. Sometimes they are. Sometimes, like spores carried by air currents, they drift, and fall where they may. But many of the larger, more rugged and survivable memes are better-adapted, having evolved many traits which will allow them to take and hold territory, fend of competitors, stave off the diseases of doubt and internal dissent, and ensure successful replication over the course of many years, many generations.

Dawkins calls religion a virus of the mind, making reference to its capacity to invade an existing idea structure, such as a culture, and use the existing structures of that culture to replicate itself, often to the detriment of the host organism (parenthetically, I feel his choice of the use of the pejorative term ‘virus’ is informed by his overall feelings on religion, and his perceived role as an enemy thereof. I don’t necessarily disagree, in principle, though I don’t know how useful it is in this debate). I make reference to it here as a predator. Really, neither is entirely accurate, because the "ecosystem" of human minds is not precisely analogous to the world’s physical ecosystem. In order to study and discuss this theory meaningfully, you would need to create a new vocabulary (just as the word "meme" had to be coined in order to even be able to frame the discussion). It is nevertheless instructive to think of the concept of memes in these terms so as to provide the logical framework necessary to envision what Dawkins saw when he first proposed the idea: Another variety of self-replicators, which are not so very unlike our own genes that we cannot see in the way they ‘live’ a parallel to our own biological systems.

 (X-posted here: http://community.livejournal.com/richarddawkins/5129.html ) 


Haven't done one of these in a while, but what the hell.

1. What time did you get up this morning? Actually, about 8:00 PM last night.

2. Diamonds or Pearls? Well diamonds can actually serve some industrial purposes, whereas pearls are to the best of my knowledge useless, so I'll go with diamonds.

3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema? Batman Begins. Not bad. Good aesthetics and directing.

4. What is your favorite TV show? Well, I don't watch TV, but I do download a show or two when I've heard they're good from people whose opinions I trust. Dr. Who really impreseed me this year.

5. What did you have for breakfast? A bageel and a bowl of corn flakes

6. What is your middle name? William; named after my father.

7. What is your favorite cuisine? My mom's lasagne. Too many years since I've had a chance to enjoy it.

8. What foods do you dislike? Any fruit which is ripe to the point of softness. The texture bothers me.

9. What is your favorite chip flavour? Doritos has a really good guacamole chip out there which I enjoy intensely.

10. What is your favourite CD at the moment? I tend to download MP3s individually from a couple of sites, rather than buying albums. It's been years since I've fed the beast which is the record industry.

11. What type of car do your drive? N/A. I've never, ever wanted to drive one. They're environmentally unfriendly, expensive, dangerous, and the oil industry comprises some of the worst people on earth. I'll gladly take the bus if it means keeping blood off my hands.

12. Favourite sandwich: Rasperry jam and organic peanut butter

13. What characteristic do you despise? Intellectual laziness and dishonesty with yourself.

14. Favourite item of clothing? My fedora. The king of all hats.

15. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go? My own bedroom, really. It's where I get my artwork and writing done, and that's my real passion. Anything else is just a distraction.

16. What colour is your bathroom? Bathroom-coloured.

17. Favourite brand of clothing? I refuse to wear logos of any kind.

18. Where would you retire? Retirement is the act of accepting that your death is upon you. If I got to that point, I would hope I could die with dignity rrather than letting it drag out for years.

19. Favourite time of day? 2:30 AM; it's when I have my first workout of the day each day, and it's always exhilerating.

20. What was your most memorable birthday? My 9th birthday. I only had one friend show up to the "party". It's where I first started to realize that I was never going to be a part of the crowd, which was a valuable lesson to learn.

21. Where were you born? Toronto, Ontario

22. Favourite sport to watch? Federal Politics

23. Who do you least expect to send this back to you? I'm not really expecting anyone to.

24. Person you expect to send it back first? See above.

25. Coke or Pepsi? Coke. Though I'm trying to break the habit.

26. Are you a morning person or night owl? Night. Definitely.

27. Do you have any pets? Not at the moment. I keep putting offf buying that tank full of geckos I want.

28. Any new and exciting news you would like to share with your family and friends? I've managed to shed 18 centimetres from my waistline since may 6th, and I'm not slowing down.

29. What did you want to be when you were little? A comic book artist.

30. Favourite Non-alcoholic drink? Coca Cola. Though again, I'm trying to fight this addiction. I know it's not good for me.

31. Favourite Alcoholic drink? N/A. I've never had an alcoholic drink, and I don't plan to start.

32. Favourite Radio Station? Air America Radio, which I listen to online. Good comedy and anti-establishment political talk alll rolled up into one.

33. Favourite song at the moment? Wierdly, the Spathi theme from an old video game called Star Control 2.

34. Place of work? Collingwood Village.

35. Best thing about working there? Having eight 30 minute long breaks a night, which I spend unsupervised; I split them between getting artwork done and working out in the gym there. :)

36. Last concert you went to? Never actually been to a concert.

39. Rich or Famous? Depends on what I might be famous for. Some fame is more attractive than others.

40. What's your strongest personality trait? Expressiveness.

41: What's your weakest? My ability to deal with ordinary people on their own terms.

42. Biggest accomplishment in the last year? Losing 32 lbs in under two months.

43. Do you believe in love at first sight? Possible. But generally only in people with neurological disorders.

44. Favourite Movie? Brazil.

45. Favourite Actor/Actress? Not something I give a lot of thought to. I'll say Bradd Pitt, just because he plays a more convincing lunatic than anyone since Jack Nicholson's youth.

46. Birth Date? June 28th; today!

47. AND FINALLY: What can't the world do without? Perversity.