You need to read this

This was published over at the Science-Based Medicine blog a few months ago and caught my attention thanks to today's blog post over there. It's a droll account of how the nonsense that is 'Complementary and Alternative Medicine' managed to sell itself not just to the public but to the medical establishment to the point that it gets written about in medical journals and taken seriously by people who should know better.

What is particularly interesting to me in this is the use of language to effect this coup. Change language and you change perception indeed.

Well, Jeff, quackery is a pejorative term. Some time ago we recognized that words raise emotions and mental pictures. We recognized the cognitive dissonance raised by them, so we tried to eliminate quackery. We recognized the cognitive dissonance raised when one discusses acupuncture, chiropractic, homeopathy, and healing at a distance as if they were quackery when we made claims. For a century, most people just could not allow for the possibility that these things really work.


So over time we recognized that we had to do something about our language. That would be the first step in enabling the thought revolution that is upon us, and changing the paradigm in medicine and science. We simply changed the adjectives, and gave alternate names to the methods, added a few phrases to eliminate negative reactions, and shifted the negative terms to descriptions of the Medical Establishment (and, note the caps in that one.)

And along with that, we took advantage of a shift in perception, to be sure that the public would adopt a non-judgmental attitude. Of course, we had to wait decades for that attitude to mature to the point that they would be willing to give our claims a hearing, whereas just thirty years ago they would have dismissed the claims out of hand.Not only did we get that non-judgmental mind-set, but with it, a strong negative reaction to a description that contained an opinion or one that used any kind of loaded language to describe an underdog - no matter how true or justified that language happened to be. Fortunately for us, a wave of change spread across the intelligentsia, especially in the universities and the literary community, reinforced by the press.

Thoughts inevitably turn to Orwell, but also to Deborah Tannen, Francis Wheen, Barbara Ehrenreich and many others who've been trying, each with the tools at their disposal, to point out that what we're doing is tantamount to, as my brother put it, 'shooting ourselves in the foot while being chased by a steamroller.'

Oh my ears

It. Was. Awesome.

And surprisingly heavy.

We were about six people away from the stage.

And right next to the speakers.

They played the entire 3-hour show.

And they played every song I was hoping to hear.

Three encores. (as one person standing next to me observed, they could've just taken a break and done a two-part show.)

You can get some of the NOISE of it on the main page of their site, although that's from a 2005 festival. You can see some pictures of yesterday's show here.

They started with 'Fascination Street', which I recognized immediately. This is remarkable only because I never recognize it when it comes on normally.

They did a fantastic version of 'Walk' three or four songs in. Danced my ass off, I did.

Their second encore was 'Friday I'm In Love', 'Just Like Heaven', and 'Close to Me'.

Their third included 'Boys Don't Cry' (Sin, I SO thought of you) and 'Why Can't I Be You', although I wonder if I'm getting mixed up...sounds like that last one was part of the second encore...??

And they did lots else that's all jumbled up in my head at the moment. My ears still hurt a little from when the music got all screechy at one (long, long) point. But it's so worth it. I wouldn't have missed this for the world. If anyone's still wondering whether they should go to whichever concert is nearest them, DO. I have no idea what the local goth forum people were on about. The show was energetic and fun and I think each person around me was singing along at some point. They're in New Zealand next, and then the US.

Now. On to my gripe. I don't want to sound like little miss manners here but oh my god some people are so bloody rude. If there's a crowd and you don't have room to wave your arms about without banging into someone, here's an idea: don't. This is not a difficult concept. People who get there late and then try to push their way past you piss me off too, as do the people who let them. If I get there first, I'm not fucking moving. And I have pointy elbows. Contact with lots of people I'll deal with for the show, even having to brush up against everyone around me, much as it makes my skin crawl, I'll put up with. But pushing? Hell no. I'm quite proud of myself for not letting this obnoxious group of girls through. ("Oh I'm sorry, did I jab you in the head with my elbow? Funny, I could have sworn there wasn't anyone one inch from me a moment ago." Rinse and repeat as often as necessary.) I suppose I did learn a few things in Lahore after all. But it's annoying to have to use it because it means I'm paying attention to something other than the music that I am there for.

But, on a positive note, the black-clad of Melbourne were out in force. We had an enitre tramful of goths and goth-alikes smiling vaguely at each other on the way back. Lovely.

Tonight, tonight

Tonight we go see the Cure! People have been reserving their enthusiasm, but reports from the Adelaide and Sydney concerts are that they're actually putting on a great show. That's a relief since I've never seen them live before. Here's hoping the energy continues.

The setlist from the Adelaide show was
Open, Fascination Street, alt.end, The Blood, A Night Like This, The Walk, The End of the World, Lovesong, Pictures of You, Lullaby, Never Enough, The Figurehead, From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea, The Baby Screams, Push, Inbetween Days, Friday I'm In Love, Just Like Heaven, If Only Tonight We Could Sleep, The Kiss, Us Or Them, Wrong Number, One Hundred Years, End

1st Encore: Hot Hot Hot, Let's Go To Bed, Close To Me, Why Can't I Be You?
2nd Encore: Three Imaginary Boys, Fire In Cairo, Boys Don't Cry, Jumping Someone Else's Train, Grinding Halt, 10:15 Saturday Night, Killing An Arab

Given that it's been a few days (and they're not Pearl Jam), I'm hoping they'll do a lot of the same again.  

Goths in books

Goth is easy enough to dis, what with the spooky stuff it seems to entail, but studies of late seem show it in a much more positive light, funny as that might sound. I stumbled across this review in the Chronicle of Higher Education while browsing through Arts and Letters Daily. Professor Mikita Brottman reviews Contemporary Gothic, by Catherine Spooner (Reaktion Books), and Goth: Undead Subculture, edited by Lauren M.E. Goodlad and Michael Bibby (Duke University Press) and considers some of the reasons why goth, unlike other 'youth' cultures, refuses to die. (Yes, I am aware of how many jokes and puns are just waiting to be made there.) Some snippets:
Goth obviously emerged from punk, but punk didn't last. The same is true of most subcultures: Hippies are old hat; skinheads have come and gone; grunge is yesterday's news. Why does goth alone remain undead?
According to Spooner's book, the consistent allure of goth lies in the way it achieves a balance between different kinds of contradictions — "the grotesque and incorporeal, authentic self-expression and campiness, mass popularity and cult appeal, comfort and outrage." Bibby and Goodlad put it differently, pointing out that goth has a "complex relation to subculture," or, in the words of one contributor, the self-proclaimed Modern Goth Rebecca Schraffenberger, "there are as many ways of being goth as there are goths out there." In other words, goth can be anything you want it to be, from the theme of tonight's party to an entire way of life.
There are goth clubs and pubs, goth movies (anything by David Lynch, Tim Burton, or Ed Wood seems to fit the bill), goth jewelry and fashion, goth-friendly home décor, even goth lingerie. Within its own confines, too, goth embraces contradictions; it contains multitudes. Hair can be long or short, flat or spiky; shoes can be heavy boots or light slippers with pointy toes. And while individual goths can be totally asexual or polymorphously perverse, goth itself breeds peacefully with other subcultures, producing such independent offspring as gothabilly, doom metal, gothic Lolita, cybergoth, and goth 'n' roll.
...Anyone can be a goth; you don't need to run in a pack (goths are traditionally loners). And, as teenage subcultures go, it's unusually quiet and friendly. Goths are generally hygienic; their piercings are clean and discreet; they don't stick dirty safety pins through their noses or ride around on motorbikes spitting and swearing.

Everbody go ‘wheeeee!’ again

Because I have, in my grubby little paws, two tickets to go see the Cure in August. I wasn't expecting the line outside the shop, and it was bloody cold but hey, people have endured worse to get tickets so I figure I lucked out. I almost didn't get floor tickets but some poor sods lost their hold on a pair and the nice ticket-seller-man pounced before anyone else could. Good reflexes, he has.

Now I just need to find a place to put them that's safe enough for them to not get lost but not so obscure that I forget where I put them. It's a problem I have. For now though I'll just leave them out and glance at them lovingly from time to time.

Can you tell I'm grinning the biggest, goofiest grin?


I love web comics. My latest discovery is 7 Shades of Black by James Treagus. It begins with Violet being so goth that Death turns up thinking she's dead. Violet, naturaly, seems to develop an...erm...attachment to Death and proceeds to woo him. Oh and then there's Poe, Violet's cat, providing social commentary and a general reason. They're all still getting to know each other at the moment, but I hope this strip sticks around. It's funny in the way only death and cats can be.

Another discovery, although it's been around for years is Questionable Content. I started at the beginning as I tend to do and so far the whole indie/emo thing is quite funny. I don't know how it's developed over the years, but the drawing's certainly improved between #27 and #891.

Here We Go

There goes my clever little day off in the middle of the week. I'm doing not two but three tutorials this term, which means that with my own courses I have at least one thing on every day.

Now something completely unrelated. The Whitby Goth Weekend as reported on very nicely by the BBC. For once, they make the whole thing look like fun instead of the spookykid/emo/serial killer image that's usually flogged.