What is a Langkah?

Langkah (Indonesian) - noun: literally step, move, pace, action, measure, stride, leap, foot, footstep, gesture, tread, footpace

In Indonesian martial arts, Pencak Silat, it commonly refers to geometric patterns on the floor used to train footwork and develop an understanding of the role of the lower body in maintaining balance and a base from which to generate power.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

We can't sweep this under a rug

"Nothing good ever happens when people care more about our differences than the things we share in common." — Capheus, S02E10, Sense8

What a powerful statement, rooted in a profound ideal.

Some people say, "We focus too much on racism. If we truly want it to go away, we should ignore it."

They think this approach espouses the ideal of this statement, but it doesn't. In fact, it exacerbates the problem.

If we focus on what we have in common, racism vanishes. This is true. If I look at my friend Linda Addison, for instance, and I see nothing more than a fellow human being who enjoys many of the same things I enjoy, the difference in our skin color becomes less than meaningless.

However, if someone else chooses to focus on the differences, and they say something negative about her because of the color of her skin, it is racist. If I ignore it and figure, "If I don't focus on it, it will go away." then I fall prey to the pitfall Edmund Burke warned of when he said, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."

Pointing out racism when it sprouts its ugly head is not "bringing attention to it and prolonging it."

Racism and xenophobia are as old as humanity. Ignoring them won't make them go away. They're not a passing fad. The only way to diminish them is to address them.

Things have certainly improved in my lifetime. When I was a kid, no one thought twice about telling a joke about a n!@@#r or a Polack or a Jew. Few people would even do a double take at such a joke. Now, fortunately, things have improved, but they're a long way from resolved and, I suspect, our country as a whole has backslid a bit recently, and that's acceptable. Progress never happens without some friction and backsliding. There's a reason for the adage, "two steps forward and one back."

But the only way to keep progressing is to point it out when we see it.

In order to minimize your own prejudice, focus on what you have in common with those around you, even if you initially don't like someone. For that matter, find commonalities especially with those people you initially don't like. It may not help you like them, but it might, at least, prevent you from hating them.

When you see someone else focusing on the differences, point it out. Call them on it.

The world is a long way from perfect, but the only way to approach perfection is to keep putting one foot in front of the other in the general direction we want to go as humans.

And, for the record, while I'm specifically talking about racism here because that's the context of the original quote, this also applies to misogyny and prejudice against people who live "alternative lifestyles" we don't understand or agree with.

The Wandering Guru

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime." — Mark Twain

Monday, May 1, 2017

The Science Guy

I've seen a lot of hoopla on social media lately about how Bill Nye is not a scientist. As if this is news. Really?

You know, Nye never claimed to be a scientific expert. He's the "science guy." That very label implies he's a guy who's interested in science.

He does have a BS in mechanical engineering, and that does involve physical sciences to some degree. He has received honorary doctorates of science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, John Hopkins University, Willamette University, Rutgers University, and Simon Fraser University. Lehigh University awarded him an honorary doctor of pedagogy degree.

Sure, those are honorary, but do you think those places give honorary degrees out like candy? I don't know, maybe they do. I doubt it. I assume they awarded him with those degrees as recognition for his work in promoting science, teaching people about it, and getting generations of people interested in the topic.

But, I agree, Nye is not a scientist in the way most people think of the term. However, if we look at the dictionary definition for scientist, we find:

(noun) a person who is studying or has expert knowledge of one or more of the natural or physical sciences.

Within the context of this definition, Bill Nye is a scientist. Specifically, "a person who is studying" the "natural or physical sciences."

You know what, though, it doesn't matter whether he's a "scientist" or not. He has, to my knowledge, never claimed to be a scientist. He's the Science Guy. That's an appellation used by a fan of the subject, a title he definitely qualifies for.

He is a presenter, a spokesperson, a liaison of sorts between the scientific and lay communities. He researches a topic and presents it to viewers. To claim the info he presents is flawed because he isn't a scientist is like saying, "Don't trust Adam Schefter [ESPN's football analyst] because he never played pro ball." Ludicrous.

If you disagree with what Nye presents, fine. That's your prerogative but don't try to belittle him and what he does by saying, "He's not a scientist." It's the epitome of a straw man argument. You want to argue against something he presents? Fine. Do so. But do it with information about the topic, not by setting up a straw man you can knock down without trying. Especially one so absolutely frickin' irrelevant.

The Wandering Guru

"The more you find out about the world, the more opportunities there are to laugh at it." — Bill Nye