philosophy

Pokémon No

It’s time to ban Pokémon Go.

The ridiculously popular smartphone app is taking off across America. With already more users than the boinking-made-easy app Tinder, Pokémon Go has gone “viral,” in the non-STD kind of way.

The app, which is an off-shoot of the Nintendo franchise that pits cute creatures against each other in non-lethal bloodsport, turns smartphone-owners into real-life hunters. The mechanics are clever: The game buzzes your phone when a Pokémon is near, and imputes a graphic of the beast on the environment using the phone’s camera. The goal is to catch the bugger by swiping your finger across the screen. Collect enough of these colorful monsters and you become king of the nerds, or something.

The game’s seamless blend of technological fantasy and reality is wickedly simple—and extremely addicting. Pokémon Go is so simple that it’s beginning to infiltrate all manner of public places. Players complain the game is making them late for work. Thugs are robbing unwitting competitors glued to their screen. American soldiers arecatching them all” on the frontline. The Holocaust Museum had to chastise attendees for playing the game in a place of mourning. Ditto for Arlington National Cemetery.

At a local coffee shop, I recently had to experience the maddening frustration of two patrons taking forever to order because they had to catch a “Bulbasaur.” After unsuccessfully snagging the thing, they finally got on with their order, aloof to what happened. They were oblivious of the fact they held everyone up to play a video game. In public. As fully-grown adults.

Can you say, “pika pika, screw you”?

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Conceptual Anarchy in Hinduism

“9.334. But to serve Brahmanas (who are) learned in the Vedas, householders, and famous (for virtue) is the highest duty of a Sudra, which leads to beatitude.” –Manu Smriti

“All your talk is of caste and creed

Is it even as natural as the spider and its web?

The four blessed Vedas, were they created by Brahma?

Is caste and creed worthwhile, ye elders of Paichalur?” -Uttiranallur Nagai

Mandana-Misra-and-AdiShankaras-debate

Hinduism is in a constant state of transformation through internal discourse and dissent. Image source.

(This post mostly consists of quotes from Manu Smriti and Medieval Hindu Bhakti poems, so if you want to skip my spiel just hit the “read more” link at the bottom.)

People in the west tend to have an odd outlook on the ethics or “doctrines” of Hinduism. In most religions, doctrine works something like this: There is a core text, or set of texts, which contain precepts. Early in the religion’s history some sages write commentaries on these. The rest of the reasoning and doctrine formation of the religion continues by referring to these sources for legitimacy. Innovations occur, but normally only if it can somehow be “textually justified.”

Certainly there is a part of the Hindu religion, which operates very similarly to this—the religion of the Brahmins. But Hinduism cannot be thought of as just that. It is the religion of all Indians, except perhaps those who explicitly decry the label, like the Buddhists, Jainsm and Sikhs (and even those divisions are sometimes blurry. Even some sects of Islam are pretty heavily syncretized.)

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