Pharyngula

I could have continued the last edition of the unstoppable thread with the hot topic of the moment — race — but thought maybe promoting another controversial subject would fill up the thread far too quickly. So the other subject people were talking about is my birthday.

Gee, people, I’m not that old. IT ISN’T MY BIRTHDAY TODAY. Do I look 53 or something?

My birthday is tomorrow. I’m celebrating it by folding myself up into a narrow little airplane seat and sitting there for 19 hours. And then spending a week and a half in Australia with spasms.

This is how we spend all our birthdays after the 50th, in case you young whippersnappers had no idea.

Comments

  1. #1 Pygmy Loris
    March 8, 2010

    Spending your birthday painfully contorted into an economy class airplane seat doesn’t sound terribly celebratory, PZ.

  2. #2 Xenithrys
    March 8, 2010

    spending a week and a half in Australia with spasms.

    Never heard Aussies called that before.

  3. #3 aratina cage
    March 8, 2010

    In that case,

    A Merry Merry Unbirthday tooOOOO YOU!

  4. #4 Brian
    March 8, 2010

    My parents have a lot of explaining to do.

  5. #5 Ol'Greg
    March 8, 2010

    Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear tentacled overlord, happy birth day to you…

  6. #6 SC OM
    March 8, 2010

    Make sure you get up and walk around a bit on the plane.

    ***

    http://raceandgenomics.ssrc.org/Graves/

    …Human genetic variation is real. It is best described by isolation by distance, meaning that individuals who have ancestry in particular geographic regions are more likely to share genes than those from disparate regions. The overall amount of measured human genetic variation, however, is very small, yet this does not mean that it cannot be categorized. This is facilitated for individuals by using multiple loci particularly when they are examined at the level of DNA sequence variation. This greater ?signal,? while allowing the ancestry of individuals to be readily determined, may be discordant with any particular phenotypic trait (physical features) of interest, especially since much of the classification salience originates from DNA that does not influence the phenotype.

  7. #7 Carlie
    March 8, 2010

    That was my fault for bringing it up, because I can’t distinguish between the words “Today” and “Tuesday”. I say we just make it birthday party WEEK.

  8. #8 Bobber
    March 8, 2010

    Where the curmudgeonly observer sings the praises of Pharyngula, in defiance of the recent tone-wars.

    People are discussing what defines race. Other people are discussing the virtues (or lack thereof) of prostitution.

    People are disagreeing here and there. They make reasoned arguments to support their claims.

    I enjoy reading the exchanges and following up on particular points where I have questions by looking for references via the internet.

    Fuck the Intersection.

    (Oh, and Happy Early Birthday, Prof. Myers.)

  9. #9 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 8, 2010

    You mean the Trophy WifeTM isn’t baking/buying you a cake for tonight?

  10. #10 Glen Davidson
    March 8, 2010

    You’re Squidward today, birthday boy tomorrow?

    Happy Easter!

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p

  11. #11 kiyaroru
    March 8, 2010

    Happy BDPZ.

    If the spasms are back muscle cramps, I recommend medication containing methocarbamol. Robaxiwhatever. But buy the store-brand, same drugs for half the price. Fuck Big Pharma!
    (store-brand generic meds are made by elves)

  12. #12 Pygmy Loris
    March 8, 2010

    SC, OM,

    From that quote:

    This greater ?signal,? while allowing the ancestry of individuals to be readily determined, may be discordant with any particular phenotypic trait (physical features) of interest, especially since much of the classification salience originates from DNA that does not influence the phenotype.

    This may be particularly problematic in forensic anthropology. Ancestry determination is an integral part of individuation in forensic anthro, and people have been discussing using DNA to do it for some time and with much enthusiasm. The discordant phenotype is a big problem, though, since the goal (of the forensic anthropologist) is to identify which social race people would identify an individual as belonging to.

  13. #13 Antiochus Epiphanes
    March 8, 2010

    SC: I am not following you at all, maybe because I haven’t been involved in a year long conversation…just picked up in Episode XXXIII. If you could summarize, what is your central contention here?

  14. #14 Maslab
    March 8, 2010

    19 hours? My flight over there was only 14…

  15. #15 SC OM
    March 8, 2010

    This may be particularly problematic in forensic anthropology. Ancestry determination is an integral part of individuation in forensic anthro, and people have been discussing using DNA to do it for some time and with much enthusiasm. The discordant phenotype is a big problem, though, since the goal (of the forensic anthropologist) is to identify which social race people would identify an individual as belonging to.

    Hmm. I was thinking about this. I’m just guessing, but it seems like it would only really be useful in a situation in which you had like a mass grave or with people from all different places and were trying to trace where the victims were from. Or other kinds of historical work.

    Which reminds me that I started reading Michael Ondaatje’s Anil’s Ghost back in 2006 and never finished it…

  16. #16 Matt Penfold
    March 8, 2010

    19 hours? My flight over there was only 14…

    Last time I flew the Pacific it was 14 hours from LA to Auckland. PZ has a bit further to fly both ends.

  17. #17 Maslab
    March 8, 2010

    Last time I flew the Pacific it was 14 hours from LA to Auckland. PZ has a bit further to fly both ends.

    Oh right, I forgot where he lives.
    Curses. I must now kick myself once for each letter that contributed to my wrongness.

  18. #18 cicely
    March 8, 2010

    (I haven’t caught up with all of the previous Thread, but I typed this out, dammit, and I’m gonna post it!)

    Getting your vehicle to burn to the ground may involve less in the way of pyrotechnics than you might think. My anecdote:

    My husband and I were driving through Oklahoma at 4:30 one fine spring morning, when our van caught fire. Arguably, there are at least two things wrong right there (apart from the fire, that is), but I feel that both being in OK, and driving through it at 4:30 A.M., were justified by the fact that we were on our way to a funeral. Our left rear tire blew out (at 70 m.p.h.), and by the time we pulled hard-over onto the shoulder to change the tire, the flames were already rushing forward.

    We bailed out; I fell down a ditch, and was wondering if the words “blast radius” were about to become a matter of crucial interest. Luckily, cars in RL aren’t quite as instantly explosive as they are in movies.

    Vans look much shorter without their feet.

    Eyewitness testimony from the couple behind us in the lane was that when our tire blew, the steel belt somehow was flapping loose. It whipped up and tore a hole in the gas tank, and struck sparks off the pavement every time it came around, causing us to leave a firey trail.

    They seemed impressed.

  19. #19 AdamK
    March 8, 2010

    I hope those Aussie spasms greet you with a cake when you get of the plane.

  20. #20 Mobius
    March 8, 2010

    Wait a minute! I was supposed to go spend a week in Australia last fall? Why didn’t anyone TELL me?

  21. #21 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 8, 2010

    They seemed impressed.

    Hell, I’m impressed.

  22. #22 Matt Penfold
    March 8, 2010

    Also planes fly slower than they used to even ten years ago.

    Mach .82 used to be a typical cruising speed crossing an Ocean, now .80 is more typical.

  23. #23 Pygmy Loris
    March 8, 2010

    SC,

    I’m just guessing, but it seems like it would only really be useful in a situation in which you had like a mass grave or with people from all different places and were trying to trace where the victims were from. Or other kinds of historical work.

    Not necessarily. Many cases that reach the point where forensic anthropologists are called in have very little identifying information with the remains. Individuation is the process of narrowing down the list of missing persons that the remains could be. In the USA, ancestry is important because we have a huge cross-section of human variation represented in our population. Being able to say this set of remains is an African-American female allows the forensic anthropologist to focus on traits that vary among missing African-American females, while ignoring males and females from other populations. Also, an accurate determination of ancestry allows for more accurate assessment of stature and, if necessary, more accurate tissue depths for facial reconstruction.

    For interesting arguments, ask a forensic graduate student how to identify “Hispanic” ancestry in skeletonized remains. It’s fun to watch them squirm :)

  24. #24 Kome
    March 8, 2010

    Oh neat, your birthday is the same as my sister’s. Now I finally have a good reason to remember when she was born. =D

  25. #25 strange gods before me ?
    March 8, 2010

    Walton, I want to start with the outright falsehood, just to get it out of the way.

    When an American talks about “states’ rights” or “giving power back to the states”, you tend immediately to label that person a white supremacist.

    This is false. I understand you’re not deliberately constructing this falsehood to slander me, but you’re once again being careless in summarizing what I actually say. Somehow I wonder how you manage it.

    First of all, I never accuse someone of being a white supremacist for talking about “giving power back to the states” unless the specific power in question concerns racial discrimination. I have spoken approvingly of decentralization, localization, devolution, whathaveyou, and I do not suggest that there is something inherently wrong with these tactics no matter the circumstance.

    I do take issue with the very specific phrase “states’ rights,” because it is a white supremacist slogan — one which libertarians of all people ought to condemn, since the concept was invented to steal rights from individuals and transfer them to states.

    Even so, I do not accuse people of being white supremacists simply for using those words. What their use does indicate is that the speaker has been learning from white supremacists. And I do offer this specific criticism — “you have been learning from white supremacists, and you are willing to promote white supremacist talking points” — quite liberally, in the hope of embarrassing those people into ceasing to use the phrase. Because it is an illiberal phrase serving only illiberal ends, and would be even if American chattel slavery had never occurred. The sooner we are freed from the distortions of such ominous Orwellian language, the better.

    But by seeking to embarrass, I rely on the assumption that the speaker actually has some decency, and would be troubled to realize that they have been influenced by white supremacists. Of course this is not always the case. Fucko the president of the Canadian chapter of the David Duke fan club has no shame or decency. But mfd512 might, and has made no subsequent attempt to justify the use of that phrase. That’s all I’m asking for.

    By assuming the speaker has such decency, even if only privately expressed or implied by subsequent silence, I am not at all assuming the worst of them. Rather I am assuming that they do not want to cause harm, and that they can grow.

  26. #26 Walton, Extra Special Dumpling of Awesome
    March 8, 2010

    strange gods @#25: I apologise. Looking back through your actual comments, I was unfair to you on that point. In my defence, I was very tired last night when I wrote that reply.

  27. #27 madbull
    March 8, 2010

    Its March 9th in India now,
    so Happy Bday PZ !!

  28. #28 SC OM
    March 8, 2010

    SC: I am not following you at all, maybe because I haven’t been involved in a year long conversation…just picked up in Episode XXXIII. If you could summarize, what is your central contention here?

    That human “races” are a social construction without scientific (but with obvious political) usefulness.

    Do you have a response to the video or to the Graves piece I linked to above?

    Not necessarily…

    Ah. I see.

  29. #29 dinogami
    March 8, 2010
  30. #30 strange gods before me ?
    March 8, 2010

    strange gods @#25: I apologise. Looking back through your actual comments, I was unfair to you on that point. In my defence, I was very tired last night when I wrote that reply.

    Thank you, Comrade. I will have to take more time to respond to the rest of your critiques, which require more nuanced consideration.

  31. #31 Ol'Greg
    March 8, 2010

    Badgersdaughter from previous thread:

    I can’t accept the “hairdresser” analogy.

    I can’t either. I get my hair done because other people make me passively by the fact that not getting my hair cut could cause me to be perceived as too much of an outlier and cost me.

    My hairdresser trained for that profession and could enter another profession if they wish. They are a part of a system to maintain socially accepted appearances.

    A prostitute answers to a private need not a public one demand enforced on others. I really can’t imagine a situation where people might complain about my unprofessional appearance because I don’t regularly visit a prostitute.

    I don’t *need* my hair cut, and I don’t even care whether my hair gets cut. Maybe I would feel differently if I had my hair cut for pleasure, but I don’t. If I had my way I’d just keep it shaved as hair has no use to me except maybe in winter or under direct sun.

    Now, I am not the same as other people about my hair but that is that.

    I am also not the same about sex as other people. Is there any “same” anyway?

    I would never have a need for sex that would drive me to engage in a professional sexual relationship to get it.

    Now perhaps I am the sort of person that might have become a prostitute. Not because I like sex but because I am largely indifferent to it and yet willing to do whatever floats the other person’s boat short of cutting myself or breaking my bones.

    I suppose if enough money was involved and the completely shattering consequences were removed I could do it. Disassociating myself from my body and from the people I have to have contact with and seeing myself as a sort of pleasure room people come in and out of and myself as living some where adjacent to it and perhaps tending bar there on the weekends. Remember my own sexual needs would never enter into it. It’s all about the client.

    And then picking a price point at which that amount of personal sacrifice would be worthwhile… not to mention the fact that every encounter has the potential to end my life or infect me with dangerous diseases.

    Personally I like or love some of the people I’ve had sex with, but sex was never the objective. It’s just something I enjoy doing for extra special people or that I liked to do just then for some reason.

    Otherwise it has happened because of a sense of obligation or because I perceived myself as having little choice in the matter and it is easier to have sex with some one and then slink away than to face the consequences of not having sex with them if those consequences seem immediate and pressing.

    So the analogy really only works if you already have a specific view and need for sex.

    Besides sex has a lot of real risk that the analogy completely ignores.

    Sex may be like getting your hair cut to PaulW but it is not like that to me.

    Rather to me it is more like donating blood in a place that may re-use needles.

  32. #32 NewEnglandBob
    March 8, 2010

    happy pre-birthday, PZ.

  33. #33 Antiochus Epiphanes
    March 8, 2010

    Do you have a response to the video or to the Graves piece I linked to above?

    No. I have been kind of busy with work and reading scientific papers on human population genetics. Maybe I’ll get to reading those tonight. Is it your contention that phenotypic traits that have been used historically to diagnose “race” (the social construct) have no correlation with geography?

  34. #34 PZ Myers
    March 8, 2010

    Re: burning cars. I’ve seen it happen once. I was walking home from work in Salt Lake City one very hot summer day, when a car driving uphill passed through an intersection and then suddenly died. The driver was a little old lady who looked completely baffled, and kept fumbling about trying to get it started.

    Then wisps of smoke started to rise up from the hood.

    Some people ran up to the car and at first tried to help her figure out was going on, then the flames started coming up out of the hood and grill. They got her out of there, and then the dashboard caught fire, then the seats, and within the space of 2 or 3 minutes, the whole car was just ablaze. It was like a bonfire in the middle of the street.

    The driver had the most surprised and stunned look I’ve ever seen. She was fine, but one minute driving, the next watching the car burn to the ground…I’m sure she was in shock.

  35. #35 Brian
    March 8, 2010

    Hear the engines roll now
    Hear the engines roll now
    Hear the engines roll now
    Hear the engines roll now

    Hear the engines roll
    Wheels on fire
    Burning rubber tires

  36. #36 Ol'Greg
    March 8, 2010

    * yes… I’m leaving rape out of the above statement. I don’t believe it belongs well in the camp of sex and yet some of my reasons for sex do slide gently and seamlessly into the dynamics by were sex stops being sex and begins to resemble rape or rather where rape ends sex as sex in the perception of the victim, or changes the relationship to sex in some.

    In reality though these things don’t separate so easily, at least not in my mind. I mean that the perceived experiences *do* run together in a very real way.

  37. #37 Orson Zedd
    March 8, 2010

    @#34 PZ Myers, Clearly the cars insides had alchemically converted to thermite for no other reason than because it was awesome.

  38. #38 Butch Pansy
    March 8, 2010

    PZ, you don’t look a day over 52.

  39. #39 Paul W.
    March 8, 2010

    Re: burning cars. I’ve seen it happen once.

    I heard a neighbor’s car down the block being blown up by a car bomb once—a “car bomb” in the US sense, of a small bomb to blow up the car and the person inside, not a big bomb in a car, used blow up surrounding people—with him inside.

    My neighbor survived—astonishingly, without massive injuries—but the car sure burned good.

    By the time I got there, a few minutes later, the guy was sitting in a lawn chair and had been covered with a blanket, having divested himself of his burning clothes.

    The car was gutted and smoldering, and the smoldering was apparently emitting explosive gases, but slowly.

    About every 10 minutes the gases would build up to a sufficient concentration and ignite, making a FOOM noise, and sending people scurrying away. Then they’d get closer and closer over the next ten minutes, only to have it happen again. I watched that three or four times, and then went to school.

  40. #40 blf
    March 8, 2010

    I don’t care how many cars you sacrifice, it’s not going to make the bucket to Aussieland any more comfortable, or the spams (and other Aussies) any more tolerable.

    GOATSCARS ON FIRE!

  41. #41 SC OM
    March 8, 2010

    http://raceandgenomics.ssrc.org/Goodman/

    Test 2: Explaining Human Variation

    Statistically explaining ?a little bit? about something may actually end up doing more harm than good if one begins to forget the “lack of precision” of the concept. This is the first problem when one substitutes race for human variation: one tends to forget about the 94% of variation that race fails to statistically explain. The test I now put to race-as-genetics is not statistically, but conceptually. Is race merely a poor correlate of human genetic variation or does it help to explain the underlying processes by which variation comes about? Consider the following.

    - Racial definitions and boundaries change over time and place. Thus, race is an inherently unstable and unreliable concept. That is fine for local realities but not so for a scientific concept. The importance of this point is that a bio-racial generalization that appears true at one time and place is not necessarily as true in another time and place. We just don?t know. One of the first lessons of science is to not base a generalization on a shifting concept, which is exactly what race is.

    - The idea of race can only divide human diversity into a small number of divisions. That is the limit. This might have been all that one could do before the advent of parametric statistics, multivariable analyses, and computers. But, now we can do so much more.

    - Because race is used in medicine and other fields as a way to categorize both genetics and lived experience, what passes as the result of genetic difference may actually be due to interactions or some aspect of lived experience. Using race tends to conflate genetics and lived experience (Goodman, 2001).

    - I am pessimistic about how the subtle reuses of race in genetics will eventually merge with virulent racists. This does not mean that I want to hide anything about human variation. Rather, it means that we need to study human variation precisely.

    ***

    No. I have been kind of busy with work and reading scientific papers on human population genetics. Maybe I’ll get to reading those tonight. Is it your contention that phenotypic traits that have been used historically to diagnose “race” (the social construct) have no correlation with geography?

    No.

  42. #42 Katrina
    March 8, 2010

    We watched a car burn when we lived in Naples. It was during the height of the garbage strike a few years ago. Streets had become landfills.

    Occasionally, someone would toss a lit cigarette into the trash on the street, reducing the size of the debris pile at the cost of the air pollution. As we stopped at a light one day, we watched a burning pile of trash engulf a parked car. Someone had parked a little too close to the pile. The flames caught on the tire closest to the curb, and worked their way up. Being “Bella Napoli,” the people on the sidewalk barely gave it a glance.

  43. #43 bart.mitchell
    March 8, 2010

    Too bad you arn’t flying back to the US on your birthday, instead of flying there.

    My wife and I returned from Aus on her birthday. Chasing the timezones on the return flight meant that her birthday lasted 37 hours. Flying to Aus, your entire birthday should only last 12 hours total.

    At least you will get it all over with quicker this way.

  44. #44 David Marjanovi?
    March 8, 2010

    Cloudless day again! And frozen. Even the soil is frozen. Really not the kind of weather I expect for early March in Paris. ~:-|

    You guys do have a life, right ??

    Sort of. Arguably. :-]

    I still can’t believe that after the Thread started with a vid about the pitfalls in rationalising sexuality, people spent 500 posts rationalising their sexuality LOL !!

    I, for one, still haven’t bothered watching the video :-]

    I’d like to thank whoever introduced shatterproof glass for windshields. [?]

    :-S

    Hey, have you ever gone to some place or event you wouldn’t normally and try talking to a girl? Then if she asks you if you typically like whatever event it is you can say “no I just came here hoping to meet an interesting girl.”

    Sorry, I digressed. I just think that would be really funny!

    But is he interested in the kinds of personalities that go to those kinds of “place or event”??

    And just think about the amount of self-confidence it requires to let that kind of pick-up line loose without blushing and, at best, stammering.

    Guy called Marjanovic lives there, seem to remember he’s posted here before….;)

    Problem is, I won’t be here in May anymore. Or anytime between the end of March and sometime during the 1st half of September.
    :-(

    Anyone coming to Vienna?? Or to Aix-en-Provence in early June (I’ll have to pass via Paris, because almost all travel through France passes via Paris)? Or to Pittsburgh in mid-October?

    no. in real reality, as opposed to reality as narrated by capitalism, the most “natural” human societies are cooperative

    This includes hunter-gatherer societies as well as the agricultural ones in the highlands of New Guinea.

    and seriously, what the fuck do you have against free love?

    I don’t think he said anything against other people doing it.

    David Marjanovic’s least promising student

    That would be myself! I’m doing my PhD thesis! :-) I don’t teach ? theses are supposed to be done in just 3 years over here, and there doesn’t seem to be a crass shortage of teachers? or, rather, there’s no money* to do anything about such a shortage if one existed, which in fact it may.

    * = political will

    don’t do anything I wouldn’t do

    nevermind, move along, nothing to see here

    <trying very hard to move along and look straight ahead>

    <straight ahead>

    I have been grading all fucking day and I am going to have to keep going all fucking night.

    Is there a deadline?

    In Austria, professors can take months to grade stuff, and usually they do.

    and now that I have no doubt pissed off various friends, back to grading exams

    There’s no question whatsoever that I should read gnxp a lot more often than I do the day should have twice as many hours?

    :.-(

    Yeah, I tried to leave a message yesterday just to warn Jadehawk that I found the blog and to take the necessary precautions. But, alas, she already did.

    :-D

    IE8 works.

    Sometimes (unpredictably!) it pretends to not have worked and doesn’t display your freshly posted comment. In that case, click on the link to the main page (the name of the blog at the top of the page), click on the comments again, and see that it has miraculously appeared.

    Also, after you’ve entered the captcha, it goes back to showing you the comment window (with your comment in it). Don’t click on “submit” again, the comment is loading.

    Oh, and, then there’s the occasional and unpredictable 503 error which eats your comment. Copy it before submitting ? the comment, not the error.

    the leading space before sentence-ending punctuation in French

    Only !, ?, :, ;, and « inside quotation marks » which always look like this.

    Rorschach has largely stopped not putting a space behind commas and periods. (Though there’s a relapse in comment 634.) No language I’m aware of doesn’t put a space there (?OK, it’s difficult to tell for Chinese & Japanese).

    forté

    While we’re talking about orthography? that accent is English-only, and it’s there for the same reason as the diaeresis on Emily Brontë. The word is Italian, not French, and doesn’t bear any accent in the original; the e is pronounced anyway, simply because it’s there.

    BUT HAPPY FUCKING BIRTHDAY ANYWAY, GODDAMN IT.

    :-D

    Some people like arguing with people they don’t particularly like, and other people can’t stand it. They can’t or won’t put aside their feelings about other aspects of the person and focus on what works, so it just doesn’t work. They may even feel morally obligated not to treat the person they’re (not) arguing with respectfully in that way—they may regard them as a reprehensible troll it would be wrong to show that kind of respect to, and to reward by treating them as though they were a person worthy of serious and civil argument. They may even condescend to people who do like to argue with trolls or “reprehensible people”—they may think they’re just “feeding trolls” and rewarding them when they should be unambiguously punishing them; civil treatment should be reserved for people deserving of civility.

    I simply don’t consider talking to people a sign of respect. :-| I don’t really like arguing with anyone ? I just have SIWOTI syndrome. I have all that knowledge, and it spills out.

    Perhaps it’s an obsessive-compulsive disorder. I don’t seek out such situations, but when I find myself in one ( = happen to read an ignorant comment), I can’t stop myself. :-)

    I think there’s an important point in there that some people are ignoring. Some people seem unable to comprehend why many men (more men than women) would want and be willing to go for casual no-strings sex. (“Why not just wank?” Give me a break!)

    As I interpret some of the comments, maybe wrongly, it seems that some people simply think that there’s something pathological and assholish about men who would even wan that, or at least any who would act on that desire it in a heterosexual context.

    Just to repeat myself, I’m not saying anything is wrong. I just have problems even imagining the situation.

    I also wouldn’t propose playing tennis to a random stranger (unless already standing in a tennis court, which doesn’t happen). Not “I’d want to, but I’d repress myself”; not even “I have almost never played tennis, no experience, hardly any knowledge of the rules” (which would be the case); just “the very idea simply wouldn’t occur to me”.

    Finally, yes, there are a lot more people I’d play tennis with than I’d fuck (for reasons along these lines). By several orders of magnitude. Some people are picky, get over it :-)

    Instead you said “And they don’t want to deal with a lot of women’s hangups about sex and particular sex acts.”

    Which says to me that you are making an obnoxious judgment about women and accepting it. Women have hangups about sex acts, ALL OF THEM, and yet it is these casual sex encounters with women who do not have these hang ups that you are defending. You make no fucking sense!

    To be fair, perhaps the ‘s part attaches not to women, but to a lot of women? English can be ambiguous that way.

    A Merry Merry Unbirthday tooOOOO YOU!

    :-D

    Oh neat, your birthday is the same as my sister’s. Now I finally have a good reason to remember when she was born. =D

    :-D

  45. #45 Randomfactor
    March 8, 2010

    PZ, I hope your fellow passengers have been suitably informed of the risk they take flying with you.

    Why, passengers on a completely different airline flying to Brazil might be smited in an effort to eliminate your blasphemy. (The divine aim isn’t so good as it was in the Olden Days…)

  46. #46 badgersdaughter
    March 8, 2010

    I’m having a bowl of oyster stew for lunch, made with a recipe I adapted from the seasoning of the grilled oysters justly famed in New Orleans (I must have eaten six dozen on a three-day business trip). The traditional thread recipe has not been posted to the thread yet, and this one is not bacon, but it is deliciously non-kosher, anyway.

    New Orleans Cajun Grilled Oysters

    By the way, I’ve never met a Cajun I didn’t like.

    Leave the oysters on the half shell. Place a dab of crushed fresh garlic on each, cover that with finely grated Parmesan, and top that with a pat of dairy butter (I do mean a whole pat, folks). Put the oysters shell side down in a barbecue about a hand’s breadth from the coals, close the lid, and cook for a few minutes until they are done. Carefully open the lid and remove the hellishly hot oysters (DON’T SPILL THE JUICE!) to oyster platters or pans filled with rock salt to hold them upright. Sprinkle with chopped green onions. Each diner will put a few drops of Tabasco sauce (Louisiana hot sauce) on each oyster, and squeeze a lemon wedge over the lot, before digging in. (Or they’ll do as I do; absentmindedly shake the hot sauce bottle upside down over my food until people decide my father must have been the Devil.)

    I have successfully done this with a mini muffin pan sprayed with non-stick spray in place of the oyster shells, supermarket oysters, and the oven broiler. It’s not AS good, but hoo-raw, it is still DAMN good.

    The stew is just standard oyster stew made with cream, and with some extra butter, garlic, Tabasco, and Parmesan, with a sprinkle of chopped green onion.

  47. #47 Sili
    March 8, 2010

    Behold!

    I have seen the anti-Walton and he is us.

  48. #48 Antiochus Epiphanes
    March 8, 2010

    SC: Nothing novel there…of course “race” as a social construct is often a poor descriptor of the underlying genetics of human populations. Has anyone here suggested otherwise? Hopefully the links that you keep pointing out are more insightful.

    - I am pessimistic about how the subtle reuses of race in genetics will eventually merge with virulent racists.

    Don’t worry. I don’t think virulent racists are reading Heredity or Evolution as a matter of course.

  49. #49 David Marjanovi?
    March 8, 2010

    I watched that three or four times, and then went to school.

    How late were you, if I may ask??

  50. #50 blf
    March 8, 2010

    Anyone coming to … Aix-en-Provence in early June…

    Does living in the general area count?

  51. #51 Sili
    March 8, 2010

    (store-brand generic meds are made by elves)

    I fucking knew it!

    Down with Big Elf!!

    –o–

    Anyone have an opinion on http://www.linkedin.com ? (space added to avoid smushing) Would any Pharyngulistas speak kindly of me, should I advertise myself there? Or would I now like that kinda praise?

  52. #52 SmilingAtheist
    March 8, 2010

    I have never been a part of these endless threads as they move way too fast for me (must be my age). Just wanted to wish PZ a happy birthday for tomorrow and just let him know that his quick trip to OZ was a lot faster than my trip from OZ to Finland. I was in transit for 31 hours. I was messed up for a good two weeks. Enjoy OZ and don’t drink any Fosters! Cascade is good. :) Cheers mate!

  53. #53 Ol'Greg
    March 8, 2010

    Problem is, I won’t be here in May anymore.

    How unfortunate for me :(

    Oh how empty Paris will seem knowing you are no longer in it!!!!

    lol

  54. #54 SaraJ
    March 8, 2010

    Many Happy Returns to you, PZ!

  55. #55 SC OM
    March 8, 2010

    SC: Nothing novel there…of course “race” as a social construct is often a poor descriptor of the underlying genetics of human populations. Has anyone here suggested otherwise?

    You’re joking, right?

    Hopefully the links that you keep pointing out are more insightful.

    I think I’m done interacting with you, arrogant ass. I don’t care how insightful you find any links. You haven’t made any points at all about race or variation that I can see. You haven’t responded meaningfully to anything I’ve provided, just said that you don’t grasp the relevance to a conversation that you jumped into. Either stop telling me what the argument is and address the substance or stop addressing your comments to me.

    Don’t worry. I don’t think virulent racists are reading Heredity or Evolution as a matter of course.

    You’re stunningly naïve.

  56. #56 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 8, 2010

    badgersdaughter if you’re ever in Charelston during the fall / winter I’ll have to take you to an old fashion Lowcountry oyster roast.

  57. #57 Grewgills
    March 8, 2010

    And then spending a week and a half in Australia with spasms.

    10mg of valium and a couple of cocktails early on will do a lot to alleviate that. It certainly made trips of a similar length bearable for me.

  58. #58 a_ray_in_dilbert_space
    March 8, 2010

    Never seen a goat on fire, but I’ve seen burning cars twice. The first time, I was maybe 8 years old, with my extended family on the way to a family picnic when my grandfather’s engine caught fire. My grandfather had the presence of mind to quench the blaze with the orangeade my grandmother had brought for the picnic.

    The second time, the insurance company wasn’t so lucky. I had just moved into a rented house in South Hell A (Los Angeles) and had not yet been joined by my wife. I was puttering around the house when I heard a THUMP on the front window. Thinking some kid had maybe bounced a basketball off of it, I went out to put the fear of dog into him and saw the car across the street engulfed in flames. No one was hurt, luckily, and there was little we could do, so people materialized in the street and watched the car burn. An interesting way to meet one’s neighbors, especially since I learned that the bombing was the result of a spat between the dope dealers who owned the car and the meth lab down the street. Nice, typical Hell A neighborhood.

  59. #59 blf
    March 8, 2010

    Anyone have an opinion on http://www.linkedin.com ?

    I’ve never figured out what the point is. I (mostly) ignore my account there, which was started only on the recommendation of a trusted colleague. I don’t recall now what argument was used to convince me to start one, but it was in a pub, which may be sufficient explanation…? I did once get a job interview via contacts made there, but other than that, I cannot think of anything it’s helped with—no wait, that’s not quite correct, one or two old friends/colleagues that I lost contact with have contacted me via it, so I suppose that’s something. Unfortunately, so have lots of other people who I was happy to lose contact with, plus a few scammers; fortunately, it’s easy to ignore the bozos.

  60. #60 badgersdaughter
    March 8, 2010

    I’ll have to take you to an old fashion Lowcountry oyster roast.

    Oooh-er. I’ve also never met an oyster I didn’t like. :D

  61. #61 Becca
    March 8, 2010

    I know being boring is one of the cardinal sins here (the other is fuzzy thinking, I suspect), but please, please, please go over to Making Light and check out our own Cuttlefish’s contributions. Or if you don’t want to go there, read them at Cuttlefish’s own site – they’re truly charming.

  62. #62 Matt Penfold
    March 8, 2010

    The only time I have seen a car of fire is when I worked for the civil service and car burst into flames in the car park.

    At the time the IRA was active and we had the bomb squad and anti-terrorist police swarming all over the place until they found out the car was set on fire by a disgruntled ex-boyfriend of the woman who owned it.

    I can remember there being some kind of furore because the Union discovered that whilst most staff had windows without any protection, those above a certain rank had net curtains designed to prevent glass flying around the place in the event of an explosion. Why only senior managers were considered worthy of such protection was never explained to us minions.

  63. #63 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 8, 2010

    Oooh-er. I’ve also never met an oyster I didn’t like. :D

    Me either.

  64. #64 badgersdaughter
    March 8, 2010

    10mg of valium and a couple of cocktails early on will do a lot to alleviate that. It certainly made trips of a similar length bearable for me.

    That dose of Valium plus a couple of cocktails would make me sleep through an auto-da-fé.

  65. #65 triskelethecat
    March 8, 2010

    I’m not so good at roman numerals…but how did we lose so many sections of endless thread? I remember seeing XXXV, now we are down to XXVII?

    Or did I miss a comment about renumbering somewhere? On vacation, finding a new apt for my daughter so not constantly auditing the endless thread.

  66. #66 Gyeong Hwa Pak, Tai Dam lum Pun
    March 8, 2010

    Don’t worry. I don’t think virulent racists are reading Heredity or Evolution as a matter of course.

    Sorry, but that is incorrect. Many of the racists thinkers of the colonial period did use “evolution” to justify treating other people as inferior. (That isn’t to say creationists are any less racist *cough*Ham*cough*Caine*cough.)

    Anyways, Hey PZ, it’s your pre-birthday. Say ahh!

    I hope it’s not a sad birthday.

  67. #67 Jadehawk, OM
    March 8, 2010

    Cloudless day again! And frozen. Even the soil is frozen. Really not the kind of weather I expect for early March in Paris. ~:-|

    Paris is colder than ND*? In March? Sign of the apocalypse, I tell ya

    Instead you said “And they don’t want to deal with a lot of women’s hangups about sex and particular sex acts.”

    Which says to me that you are making an obnoxious judgment about women and accepting it. Women have hangups about sex acts, ALL OF THEM, and yet it is these casual sex encounters with women who do not have these hang ups that you are defending. You make no fucking sense!

    this I have to second.

    Paul W, you cannot make a honest argument when you’re using gender essentialism and shifting blame for lack of casual sex on women’s hangups (regardless whether you meant that as “lots of hangups women have”, or “lots of women have hangups”, especially considering that these hangups don’t just magically spring from having an uterus. they come from the consequences that sex, and casual sex especially, can have for women, thus rendering it significantly less appealing to them, even if they might not have problems with it in principle.
    Like I said, the more testosterone poisoning a scene suffers, the less likely you are to find women who like casual sex. This is not caused by women somehow inherently being less likely to want it.

    Incidentally, early in my current relationship I had to explain this “women have hangups” idiocy to the boyfriend, too. He kept on making nasty comments about women in general, based on his experience with certain women from around here (who are indeed not the people you want filling your entire dating pool), and then when I’d ask him if he feels that way about me too, he’d say “but you’re diffrent”. Took me a while to explain that I’m not more different than all other women are different, and that it’s not surprising the women he dislikes so much have developed the personalities they have, considering the environment they’ve grown up in; using his brother and our former roommate as examples of this environment made my point beautifully.

    ——

    *it’s thawing here, with large puddles of snowmelt everywhere

  68. #68 blf
    March 8, 2010
    Oooh-er. I’ve also never met an oyster I didn’t like. :D

    Me either.

    Me also neither. (Applies to quite a lot of seafood, actually…!)

  69. #69 Dust
    March 8, 2010

    Prostitution is legal and regulated in some counties in the state of Nevada in the USA.

    In fact, new to the legal brothels, is Nevada’s first male prostitute.

    FWIW

  70. #70 Brownian, OM
    March 8, 2010

    And then spending a week and a half in Australia with spasms.

    Do what I do: slip a few coins in the waistband of your undies before walking through the metal detector. The rubdown you’ll get from the security personnel will keep you limber and relaxed for the hours ahead. Direct them to spots needing more attention by saying things like, “I think I’m carrying over 100 ml of tension in my trapezius”, and “Why yes, it’s entirely possible I may have left these tight calf muscles unattended for just a few minutes on the concourse.” While generally not required, you may show your appreciation for an exceptionally thorough search with a dollar or two gratuity. Use your discretion.

    Happy Birthday, PZ.

  71. #71 blf
    March 8, 2010

    [P]assengers on a completely different airline flying to Brazil might be smited in an effort to eliminate [poopyhead's] blasphemy. (The divine aim isn’t so good as it was in the Olden Days…)

    Mythical Magicman also seems to have problems in his temporal control. He’s just as likely to sink a trireme in the 5th century BCE.

  72. #72 SQB
    March 8, 2010

    Well, from a part where it’s almost but not completely the ninth of march: Happy Goddamn Birthday!

  73. #73 Jadehawk, OM
    March 8, 2010

    on a different note, we did end up making one key lime pie with the original recipe (because my boyfriend is an even bigger nut for traditional cooking, and because I don’t think it’s humanly possible to resist a well-executed “sad puppy” face). On the one hand, I’d forgotten how utterly vile condensed milk is. On the other, I’m very pleasantly surprised that key lime pie made with it doesn’t taste like condensed milk at all, for some reason :-)

  74. #74 David Marjanovi?
    March 8, 2010

    and top that with a pat of dairy butter

    Dairy butter, as opposed to what butter?

    <shudder>

  75. #75 Aunt Benjy
    March 8, 2010

    Bloody Ray Comfort is at it again…

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/books/3421162/Creationists-views-to-be-distributed-after-liaison

    I guess it might be significant that this is listed under entertainment news?

    P.S. Happy Birthday :)

  76. #76 strange gods before me ?
    March 8, 2010

    as opposed to what butter

  77. #77 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 8, 2010

    as opposed to what butter

    Thank goodness they offer that in tubs

  78. #78 blf
    March 8, 2010

    Dairy butter, as opposed to what butter?

    If I recall correctly, Ronnie Soak carries alligator butter.

  79. #79 Bunkie
    March 8, 2010

    A car in front of me on I-66 near downtown DC had a tire pop and immediately catch fire. I stopped to help the little old lady who was driving. Myself and another gentleman emptied our tiny fire extinguishers on the tire to no avail. In my opinion, she had probably been driving with the parking brake on for some distance and the heat buildup on the brake drum was the cause of the fire and also the reason it wouldn’t go out easily. The entire car went up before the FD got there. The amazing part to me was how quickly traffic backed up for as far as the eye could see. We don’t get them thare kinda jams in Alabama.

    Anyway, back up at #18: your circumstances sound much like the accident that brought down the Concorde. You are to be commended for bringing her down without a loss of life.

  80. #80 Bride of Shrek OM
    March 8, 2010

    Ah, PZ’s birthday falls on the day of St Dominic Salvio, Patron saint of alter boys and the falsely accused.

    Coincidence, I think not….

    http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=43

  81. #81 Rorschach
    March 8, 2010

    Re: burning cars. I’ve seen it happen once.

    Me too.
    To my own, unfortunately.
    Add to that that it was a VW van with 7 teenagers in the back, at a petrol station in Yugoslavia, and you will see it was no picknick…:-)

    Filled her up, then turned ignition, and immediately flames came through the air vent thingie,whole engine(in the back of the car)was in flames.
    There was just time to evacuate the car before it blew up.
    Burned out completely.
    I suspect to this day someone manipulated the engine, but who knows !

    PZ Myers :

    And then spending a week and a half in Australia with spasms.

    Nothing a little Valium can’t fix, maybe not quite 10mg, we want you awake at the Convention Pharyngufest…:-)

  82. #82 Feynmaniac
    March 8, 2010

    Pygmy Loris,

    For interesting arguments, ask a forensic graduate student how to identify “Hispanic” ancestry in skeletonized remains. It’s fun to watch them squirm :)

    This Hispanic has seen many people with confused faces followed by the remark “What are you?”. The more tactful try to work my ancestry into the conversation.

    I’ve said this before here but I’ve had people take me for almost every nationality or race. Hispanic, Greek, Spanish, Southern European, Arab, Jewish, Middle Eastern, Indian (New World), Indian (Old World), Asian, black, Mexican, Puerto Rican, and just plain white.

  83. #83 Sili
    March 8, 2010

    Dairy butter, as opposed to what butter?

    I can’t believe it’s not tigerbutter. Your wife couldn’t tell it from a dead crab!

  84. #84 Ol'Greg
    March 8, 2010

    I have seen a car on fire while it was driving, the driver apparently unaware. The fire was in the trunk.

    Other than that though I’ve seen no burning cars.

    I will echo the public service announcement to wear seat belts though.

    A couple years ago I witnessed a terrible accident on the highway in which failure to use a seat belt allowed a person to be thrown out of their truck by the force of the accident.

    It was very awful. They did not survive the accident.

    So wear your seatbelts people and if you see massive clouds of black smoke obscuring your rearview no matter where you go, please be aware that it may be your own car burning.

  85. #85 blf
    March 8, 2010

    [H]ow did we lose so many sections of endless thread? I remember seeing XXXV, now we are down to XXVII?

    TimeNumber dilation. The internets are being sucked into Teh Thread. This motion in an intense commentary field is causing observers to see other numbers as being in error. You see XXVII, whilst from Teh Thread’s point-of-view (PoV) its numbering is Ok—it’s your numbering which is off.

    Or someone turned on the Infinite Improbability Drive.

  86. #86 KillJoy
    March 8, 2010

    Let me be about the 84th person on thread to wish you an early happy birthday, PZ.

    And eventually, maybe, when I have the time, I will respond to some stuff from the previous incarnations of the thread that I feel I should have commented on. I was a busy, busy boy this weekend. No time for comments! No time! :P

    KJ

  87. #87 Sili
    March 8, 2010

    I see the Thread has found its theme for the next 500 posts. I’m looking forward to seeing what video PeeZed finds for burning cars – if need be we’ll have to send David to the ‘burbs for some original footage.

    Does this mean we need to light 53 cars on fire tomorrow for the CEO to blow out?

  88. #88 Gyeong Hwa Pak, Tai Dam lum Pun
    March 8, 2010

    as opposed to what butter

    So will the guy on the front test like butter upon application?

    I’ll get me coat.

  89. #89 blf
    March 8, 2010

    Arrggghhhh!!!1! Up at @68 I typo’ed: Me also neithereither. Me too, fecking feck it, me too either—I’ve also never met an oyster I didn’t like.

    (And I typo’ed so much in writing the above methinks it’s time I went to bed…)

  90. #90 strange gods before me ?
    March 8, 2010

    Many of the racists thinkers of the colonial period did use “evolution” to justify treating other people as inferior.

    Hell, they’re using it right now. Try searching Stormfront or VDARE for J. Philippe Rushton.

  91. #91 Caine
    March 8, 2010

    Happy Birthday, PZ! Years ago, I saw a car burn up. A man pulled over on the freeway, his 2 day old caddy had stalled out. The engine caught fire, and it wasn’t long before it was bye-bye new car. The owner was livid, I remember that much.

    Has anyone else read The Swarm by Frank Schatzing? I’ve started it and I’m enjoying, but I’m wondering how sound the science is – it’s not an area I have much knowledge in.

  92. #92 Brownian, OM
    March 8, 2010

    I dunno if this will count as a goat-fire story, but:

    While gassing up in a southwestern state on a month-long road trip back in ’89, my brother-in-law managed to ignite the vapours coming out of the gas pump nozzle. The home-built motorhome he and my sister bought suffered from a few design flaws, one of which being the compartment housing the gas tank insert thingy was surrounded by 1/4″ thick plywood and was not sealed in any way. On the other side of the plywood was the gas stove, complete with pilot light waiting to ignite any accumulating vapours. Watching someone try to wave out a flaming gas pump nozzle from a metre or two away will most certainly raise your heart rate a little.

    I myself had no trouble with the gas. Unfortunately, I did have first-hand experience with another design flaw: the septic tank connection was prone to decoupling and splashing back on occasion.

  93. #93 Bobber
    March 8, 2010

    All this talk about burning cars. When I lived in MA I would listen to the evening rush hour reports on a Rhode Island rock station. Every couple of weeks there would be a car on fire, which the DJs referred to as a “car-B-Q”. I still use that term…

  94. #94 DanielR
    March 8, 2010

    What do you know, we have the same birthday. Even though I know that is absolutely meaningless and the chances of you having the same birthday as one of your readers is extraordinarily high, I still think it’s cool. So suck it everyone who is thinking, “man, what a dork.”

  95. #95 blf
    March 8, 2010

    iambilly @484 (previous subthread):

    So not only are tax dollars going to support jet-setting atheist professors and their Trophy Wives?, the few remaining tax dollars are then being spent to pay federal employees to prop up pinko european political gays discussing their facist welfare states.

    No. […rants…] The lesson? Sometimes cutting funding can lead to less effeciency. Remember that next time you are at the DMV.

    Um, I think you should consider adjusting your humour meter slightly. I was making a joke!

  96. #96 blf
    March 8, 2010

    [In a home-built motorhome] was the gas stove, complete with pilot light waiting to ignite any accumulating vapours.

    A pilot light? In a vehicle? Shudders

  97. #97 Celtic_Evolution
    March 8, 2010

    I will echo the public service announcement to wear seat belts though.

    Oh, I can personally attest to that. Had I not been wearing my seatbelt, I would not have survived this.

  98. #98 'Tis Himself, OM
    March 8, 2010

    I’m celebrating it by folding myself up into a narrow little airplane seat and sitting there for 19 hours. And then spending a week and a half in Australia with spasms.

    This is how we spend all our birthdays after the 50th, in case you young whippersnappers had no idea.

    Ah, PZ, I’ve had several more birthdays than you and I’ve never spend a birthday flying for 19 hours.

    I have spent a birthday sailing for 24 hours, but that’s not anywhere close to being similar.

  99. #99 Rorschach
    March 8, 2010

    Even though I know that is absolutely meaningless and the chances of you having the same birthday as one of your readers is extraordinarily high, I still think it’s cool.

    Not that high, actually the chance that 2 commenters here have the same birthday is over 50% for just 23 people.

    Birthday Paradox

  100. #100 Brownian, OM
    March 8, 2010

    Oh, I can personally attest to that. Had I not been wearing my seatbelt, I would not have survived this.

    Wow, Celtic Evolution, what happened? Did you fail to heed a “yield to oncoming giant invading robots” sign or something?

  101. #101 Lynna, OM
    March 8, 2010

    Sarah Palin has explained the writing of notes on her hand by comparing herself to God. And she continues to write notes on her palm to remind her of her topics.

    When the media first challenged her on the need to write her core beliefs on her hand to remember them, “I didn’t really had a good answer, as so often — is me,” Palin quipped at an Ohio Right to Life fundraiser Friday. “But then somebody sent me the other day, Isaiah 49:16, and you need to go home and look it up. Before you look it up, I’ll tell you what it says though. It says, hey, if it was good enough for God, scribbling on the palm of his hand, it’s good enough for me, for us. He says, in that passage, ‘I wrote your name on the palm of my hand to remember you…
         ”What I scribbled on the palm of my hand tonight too — it was the dollar sign, and I’m — we’re going to talk about the practical needs too for this cause, and this will remind me to — because I didn’t write it in my speech, I have to ad lib that part, so to remind me,” she said

  102. #102 Antiochus Epiphanes
    March 8, 2010

    Probably just asking for a kick to the yarbles here…

    SC#28 said:

    That human “races” are a social construction without scientific (but with obvious political) usefulness.

    My reading of Sven’s point and several of the papers that he has linked is that human phenotype variation is distributed as a function of geography.

    I am convinced that both of these are correct.

    What is the problem?

    SC: I read the Graves piece, and it also contains nothing objectionable–but again, nothing stupifyingly novel. Scientists have been using fixation indices as a summary of population structure since the 1930′s. The partitioning of phenotypic variance into environmental and genetic components dates to the 1940s.

    You haven’t responded meaningfully to anything I’ve provided, just said that you don’t grasp the relevance to a conversation that you jumped into.

    I can’t figure out the context of any of the links you have provided, and I don’t grasp the relevance of them (the latter we agree on).

    Either stop telling me what the argument is and address the substance or stop addressing your comments to me.

    Or what? You’ll call me names?

    Anyway, I haven’t told you what the argument is. I have asked you what it is. And if you don’t want comments addressed to you, stop making them yourself.

  103. #103 badgersdaughter
    March 8, 2010

    Dairy butter, as opposed to what butter?

    Sorry, the reflex to specify what kind of butter is a relic of my mother’s cooking. She used margarine wherever she thought she could get away with it, which was everywhere once the price of butter consistently rose above the price of congealed hydrogenated artificially flavored and colored vegetable oil. You do well to shudder, my dear. I no longer allow the toxic waste in my house.

  104. #104 Celtic_Evolution
    March 8, 2010

    Wow, Celtic Evolution, what happened? Did you fail to heed a “yield to oncoming giant invading robots” sign or something?

    Ummm… more accurately, when deciding to play “chicken”, it’s important to remember that the trees always win.

  105. #105 SteveM
    March 8, 2010

    re 99;

    Not that high, actually the chance that 2 commenters here have the same birthday is over 50% for just 23 people.

    But the comment was not about any two people having the same birthday, but the odds of members of a group having a specific birthday (i.e. PZ’s birthday).

  106. #106 Givesgoodemail
    March 8, 2010

    Not to change the subject, or anything…

    Found a most interesting abstract that points to the statement that religiosity implies racism.

    Just thought you’d want to know.

  107. #107 Brownian, OM
    March 8, 2010

    Not that high, actually the chance that 2 commenters here have the same birthday is over 50% for just 23 people.

    Yes, Rorschach, but DanielR specified the chances that some commenter had the same birthday as PZ.

    Ummm… more accurately, when deciding to play “chicken”, it’s important to remember that the trees always win.

    More accurately, the trees never lose. Am I correct in assuming you’re relatively unhurt/healed? I hope so.

  108. #108 DanielR
    March 8, 2010

    [blockquote]Not that high, actually the chance that 2 commenters here have the same birthday is over 50% for just 23 people.
    Birthday Paradox[/blockquote]

    I was thinking the chances of there being at least one reader with the same birthday. Not the chances of it being me.

  109. #109 Celtic_Evolution
    March 8, 2010

    More accurately, the trees never lose. Am I correct in assuming you’re relatively unhurt/healed? I hope so.

    Broken sternum and ribs, badly mangled left arm and leg… I’m on the mend now (it was early Feb) but I missed nearly all of February’s endless threads, so that was the real issue.

  110. #110 DanielR
    March 8, 2010

    What the hell, I just mixed forum style quotes with html.

  111. #111 cicely
    March 8, 2010

    Bunkie @ 79:

    Anyway, back up at #18: your circumstances sound much like the accident that brought down the Concorde. You are to be commended for bringing her down without a loss of life.

    All the credit has to go to my husband; he was driving, I was drowsing (until the tire went off), and when we stopped, I had no idea we were aflame. He saw it in the rear-view mirror, and told me, “We’re on fire; bail!” as he killed the engine. He has the most awesome emergency reflexes; I usually lose a moment to being stunned/impressed by the gravity of the situation/stupidity on display.

    The best thing about the whole incident is that our son had opted to give the funeral a miss, and therefore wasn’t asleep in the back.

    (The engine burned with lovely blue and green flames. It was aesthetically pleasing, set as it was against a backdrop of the more conventional red and yellow flames from the rest of the van.)

    (Oh—and we laughed, perhaps a trifle hysterically, when the fire extinguisher under the front seat exploded. Poor thing; it never had a chance!)

  112. #112 Brownian, OM
    March 8, 2010

    Rorschach’s linked wiki page gives the formula q(n)=1-((365-1)/365)n, so he’d have to have at least 253 regular readers for there to be a greater than 50% chance that at least one shares his birthday.

  113. #113 AJ Milne
    March 8, 2010

    In today’s odd episode of ‘life imitates the web’…

    So I’m at this local Mexican place I like. Run by this guy outta California. Great stuff, there… good rellenos. I love rellenos…

    I’m there because the meeting from hell that just went by has left me vaguely homicidal and distinctly hungry. The former because, as previously mentioned somewhere in one of these threads, I really hate explaining the same thing more than like about, oh, say, once… And there’s this gent present who’s just really not getting why the architecture I’m doing does what it does the way it does… Ah, screw it, it’s a lot to explain… But suffice to say, I had to explain some things more than twice, more than three times, more than ten, on account of him actually making decisions, and having to understand things, and it was getting to the point where I wished I could somehow physically squeeze my body through the phone line down to Phoenix to strangle said dude…

    … Anyway, and the latter–the hungry thing–because said meeting kept getting extended while I tried to explain, and went well past lunch…

    So anyway, I’m in there, having a beer and some flautas, breathing deeply, decompressing, coming up with novel ways of finishing the day without adding a criminal charge to my personal history. And I’m reading Pharyngula on the phone, ‘cos this, too, generally helps…

    And this conversation starts up at the bar (myself not precisely there, and in no way involved) about some sports character or other who’s some nutbar Christian–and it being the middle of the day, everyone’s had a few, and the prevailing attitude is this wonderful ‘What the fuck is wrong with those fucking morons, anyway… What, do they really believe this shit?…’

    Validating, I tells ya. Because you don’t always hear that in meatspace, even here. I felt a little saner, just hearing it. Got to thinking: yes, there are places in this world where being a stupid dick does, in fact, get roundly and publicly mocked, and one of them is right here. And I get to thinking: this world isn’t completely cracked, anyway…

    … and then at the next table, there’s this odd young couple, the female of the pair extensively tatooed…

    And they’re talking about Aspergers… and whether they, technically, might have it…

    And I got to thinking: Pharyngula has crawled out of this phone, into this restaurant. And I’m really okay with that.

    (/End anecdote. Update: so far, no new criminal charges this diurnal cycle… Which, I guess, is good.)

  114. #114 Carlie
    March 8, 2010

    more accurately, when deciding to play “chicken”, it’s important to remember that the trees always win.

    As a biologist, I can definitely say that trees aren’t chicken.

    (Glad you’re ok! And also for everyone else with these stories being ok!)

  115. #115 David Marjanovi?
    March 8, 2010

    Behold!

    I have seen the anti-Walton and he is us.

    tl;dr

    Does living in the general area count?

    If you come to town. I’ll come by train, so I can’t move out.

    Down with Big Elf!!

    B-)

    On the other, I’m very pleasantly surprised that key lime pie made with it doesn’t taste like condensed milk at all, for some reason :-)

    Once it’s heated enough, all milk is identical. I found out last winter and spring when I lived elsewhere and didn’t have a fridge.

    If I recall correctly, Ronnie Soak carries alligator butter.

    And what is that?

    My reading of Sven’s point and several of the papers that he has linked is that human phenotype variation is distributed as a function of geography.

    He goes on to state that the variation of different genes is correlated in a statistically significant way. That’s… less clear.

  116. #116 Jadehawk, OM
    March 8, 2010

    Once it’s heated enough, all milk is identical.

    condensed milk has only passing resemblance with milk to begin with. and the taste changes even before baking (and technically, really really original key lime pie doesn’t need the filling to even be baked)

  117. #117 Rorschach
    March 8, 2010

    Pedants…..;)

  118. #118 cicely
    March 8, 2010

    AJ Milne:

    …and it was getting to the point where I wished I could somehow physically squeeze my body through the phone line down to Phoenix to strangle said dude…

    Easier just to reach through the phone line, grab the dude, yank him through the line and strangle him (maybe with the phone cord, if you’re using a land line), then stuff the body back through to his office. Less in the way of incriminating evidence, and no-one but Fox Mulder could possibly suspect you.

  119. #119 cicely
    March 8, 2010

    David M.:

    If I recall correctly, Ronnie Soak carries alligator butter.

    And what is that?

    Ronnie Soak is one of Terry Prachett’s characters, from Thief of Time, one of his Discworld books. He’s the Ultimate Dairyman; because he has to use up the cold somehow.

    /deliberately quasi-cryptic

  120. #120 llewelly
    March 8, 2010

    PZ:

    Gee, people, I’m not that old. IT ISN’T MY BIRTHDAY TODAY. Do I look 53 or something?
    My birthday is tomorrow.

    Boy are you ever wrong. Your birthday has been moved. If you don’t like the new day, tough beans.

  121. #121 SC OM
    March 8, 2010

    Nothing like a walk on the beach to lift your mood! Aaaaah.

    My reading of Sven’s point and several of the papers that he has linked is that human phenotype variation is distributed as a function of geography.

    This is so general as to be useless. Does that variation fall out into race-like groupings? Is any race concept useful for understanding genetic variation? If so, what is it?

    Or what? You’ll call me names?

    I’ll ignore you. I asked if you had anything to contribute to a discussion about race and human genetic variation beyond a general “variation exists” (and specifically a concept of race or its equivalent that is scientifically valid and useful), and evidently you don’t.

    Ignoring you now.

  122. #122 David Marjanovi?
    March 8, 2010

    /deliberately quasi-cryptic

    I’ve read way, way, way too few Terry Pratchett books. I’ll try to go to bed soon so I can cry myself to sleep. :.-(

  123. #123 Louis
    March 8, 2010

    Ok, I haven’t had a chance to read the other thread or even all of this but someone mentioned that prostitution and racial definitions were hot topics.*

    Let me guess the conclusions thus far: prostiution is good, all other races than mine (where “mine” = the poster’s race) are bad and were all off to a brothel for a multi-ethnic gangbang?**

    What better way to celebrate International Women’s Day, right? Right?

    Hey, why are you hitting me? Owwww! I was only kidding! Owwww! NOT THE FACE!!!! NOT THE FACE!!!

    Louis

    *Although my reasons are much less important than Celtic Evolution’s. Damn! I am glad to hear you are on the mend.

    **Anyone who thinks that I think this is a genuine Pharynguloid Conclusion, or that I would endorse such, needs their fucking head read. Just a standard humour disclaimer for the challenged on the web.

  124. #124 Benjamin Geiger
    March 8, 2010

    *checks calendar*

    See? It’s clearly marked:

    PZ’S BIRTHDAY – OBSERVED

    So nyahh.

  125. #125 Caine
    March 8, 2010

    David, don’t cry, just read more Discworld books. :) Thief of Time is a fabulous read.

  126. #126 llewelly
    March 8, 2010

    ‘Tis Himself, OM | March 8, 2010 4:43 PM:

    Ah, PZ, I’ve had several more birthdays than you and I’ve never spend a birthday flying for 19 hours.

    I have spent a birthday sailing for 24 hours, but that’s not anywhere close to being similar.

    Sailing is flying sideways.

  127. #127 Paul W.
    March 8, 2010

    Speaking of things burning and blowing up, I just got back from walking my dog past my terrorist neighbor’s burned-out house.

    He was the tax protester loon who went into the local IRS office in his airplane.

  128. #128 Benjamin Geiger
    March 8, 2010

    Terrorist? He wasn’t brown and didn’t have a funny name. Don’t you mean “freedom fighter”?

    </snark>

  129. #129 Caine
    March 8, 2010

    Interesting neighbors you have there, Paul W.

  130. #130 Rorschach
    March 8, 2010

    My best birthday spent on a plane was a flight to Brisbane 11 or so years ago from Germany for holiday purposes, I finally stepped out onto the beach down the coast at 830 in the morning on my birthday, into beautiful sun, clear sky and crisp air, and drank a 6-pack.
    Unforgettable.

  131. #131 Matt Penfold
    March 8, 2010

    condensed milk has only passing resemblance with milk to begin with. and the taste changes even before baking (and technically, really really original key lime pie doesn’t need the filling to even be baked)

    Condensed milk is only nice if you put the tin in a pan of simmering water and keep it there for about 4 hours. It turns into a wonderfully fudgy goo.

    Do make sure you do not let the water boil dry, else you might need a new kitchen.

  132. #132 Paul W.
    March 8, 2010

    Interesting neighbors you have there, Paul W.

    Oh, that’s the least of it. The Unabomber targeted my department—IIRC, a couple of my colleagues were in the next 5 people on his list when they caught him. We’d been kinda expecting to get hit and were really glad that they nabbed him.

    Then a few years later I was going to dinner with a friend and his wife, and another couple, and was warned not to bring up that particular subject. Turned out the guy of that other couple was the Unabomber’s brother, who realized that it was his brother and told the Feds.

    Dodged a faux pas there.

  133. #133 Rorschach
    March 8, 2010

    He was the tax protester loon who went into the local IRS office in his airplane.

    Why is his house burnt out ?
    And yes, interesting neighborhood you have there…:-)

  134. #134 Feynmaniac
    March 8, 2010

    Random YouTube music video time (staring Christopher Walken):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sMZwZiU0kKs

  135. #135 Rorschach
    March 8, 2010

    Oh, and here is the link to last night’s episode of Q&A on the ABC, where Richard Dawkins wiped the floor with some of Australia’s dumbo politicians.

    Q&A March 8

  136. #136 Caine
    March 8, 2010

    Paul W, have you considered moving? ;p

  137. #137 Stephen Wells
    March 8, 2010

    “Alligator butter?”

    -”I didn’t say it was easy.”

  138. #138 WowbaggerOM
    March 8, 2010

    Do make sure you do not let the water boil dry, else you might need a new kitchen.

    I’ve seen the result of that; it’s quite spectacular. Fortunately (for me), the kitchen involved wasn’t mine.

    My best birthday was either my 22nd or my 30th.

    The former I got very stoned and was given a carton of Guinness stubbies covered in chocolate icing and studded with those re-lighting candles; in an addled state those are literally endless fun. There are photos of me from that night; my face is literally purple from laughing too much and breathing too little.

    The latter wasn’t quite so unusual, but a few dozen of my friends were there and I went home drunk and clutching (amongst other things) a very nice cab sav, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and – continuing the HP theme – a Harry Potter pencilcase featuring a picture of Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley where he and I look scarily alike (in terms of expression).

  139. #139 strange gods before me ?
    March 8, 2010

    Paul W., your #671 is so full of strawmen and cliched assumptions about your opponents that I’m tempted to make a Bingo card.

    I want prostitution to be legalized.

    I have no problem with casual sex, no-strings-attached sex, random sex, sex with friends, sex with acquaintances, sex with coworkers, sex with strangers.

    I have made zero judgments about any man’s sexual desire for particular sexual acts, nor any woman’s, and neither did Amanda Marcotte in the Pandagon article I linked.

    The best part was this:

    There’s a reason why I brought up the behavior of gay males. If people are going to express simple condemnation for men who want casual, no-strings sex, just for wanting it, I’d like to hear their opinion of the fairly large contingent of gay men who want casual sex, and get it

    I have a rather high opinion of myself, thanks for asking.

    I don’t see anything in your comment that isn’t reliant on these simplistic and false assumptions.

  140. #140 Ol'Greg
    March 8, 2010

    Speaking of things burning and blowing up, I just got back from walking my dog past my terrorist neighbor’s burned-out house.

    He was the tax protester loon who went into the local IRS office in his airplane.

    I lived there too!

    Seriously, while I was living in Austin… and my parents moved out there although they rent the house now.

    But when I saw the neighborhood it freaked me out :(

  141. #141 Paul W.
    March 8, 2010

    Rorschach:

    He was the tax protester loon who went into the local IRS office in his airplane.

    Why is his house burnt out ?

    He set it on fire before he went to the airport.

    Gotta feel really sorry for his wife and kids. He was tens of thousands of dollars in debt to the IRS, then he burned the house down. (And insurance doesn’t generally pay in case of arson, especially by the owner.)

  142. #142 Rorschach
    March 8, 2010

    From the discussion on the ABC boards after the Q&A :

    I really felt for Dawkins and the god-awful display of anti-intellectualism that ruined any opportunity of an interesting discussion.

    None of the pollies could converse on his ‘rational’ level.
    It was like taking a dog to a cat fight – his brain simply out muscled everyone else’s.
    We should offer him citizenship to broaden the gene pool – but he’d probably decline after last nights display of idiocy.

    More here

  143. #143 Mu
    March 8, 2010

    The one car fire I saw wasn’t impressive for it’s volume but it length. Driving through a very arid area of Arizona we noticed little smoldering fires along the highway, a bush here, a bit of grass there. Now, we’d passed large burned areas before, but we just couldn’t explain the frequency of all these tiny fires. Until a good three miles later we came to a car pulling a small trailer with one of it’s tires on fire. It had been throwing little pieces of burning rubber for miles without anyone noticing. Luckily he’d been pulled over by a cop (who also had a decent size fire extinguisher) since it was pre-universal cell phone coverage and we’d had no way to actually report on the “long” fire.

  144. #144 Lynna, OM
    March 8, 2010

    Rorschach @135: Thanks for the link. Audiences in Australia can be raucous! Loved the look on Dawkins’ face when the creationist was speaking. It seems to me that almost everyone on the panel, (the exception being Dawkins), are accustomed to spouting catch phrases, and well-acquainted with truncating their intellectual processes in order to accommodate religion. Any one of the Pharyngula regulars could have slapped some of those comments down.

    Dawkins was at his best, in good humor, and capable of giving answers that were succinct.

  145. #145 https://me.yahoo.com/a/eJREANl71tBZaeOyZkJr9VcGGg4h#2f844
    March 8, 2010

    What butter?

    Ron Sullivan

  146. #146 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 8, 2010

    Why is his house burnt out ?

    He set it on fire before he left for the airport.

  147. #147 Lynna, OM
    March 8, 2010

    The female Rabbi on the panel: “If you grapple with the God, you are automatically limiting God.” I think she was bringing up the old ineffable argument, and adding a hidden warning which equals Don’t Question.
    Link repeat

  148. #148 David Marjanovi?
    March 8, 2010

    David, don’t cry, just read more Discworld books. :)

    But wheeeeeeen… <sob>

    I already can’t keep up! I’m only in the first quarter of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology from December, even though I (obviously) only read the interesting parts! The January issue has come out, and the March one will soon!

    (This is the first year with 6 instead of 4 issues per year. The thickness of each issue didn’t change.)

    <sniff>

  149. #149 Lynna, OM
    March 8, 2010

    Julie Bishop (woman in white suit at the right end of the panel), is dangerous. She’s a well-spoken politician and she sounds reasonable at first glance, but she’s scientifically illiterate.

  150. #150 David Marjanovi?
    March 8, 2010

    What butter?

    ~:-|

  151. #151 WowbaggerOM
    March 8, 2010

    I watched Q&A last night and, as I noted on the previous thread, I’m very embarrassed by the people who’ve somehow managed to get elected in this country despite being demonstrably poor thinkers.

    Poor Richard. He did look pained, didn’t he? I think maybe he expected that it would be different from appearing with American politicians; sadly, while ours might be a little less obviously woo-soaked, there’s still enough Jesus in them to turn their brains to mush.

    In a way it’s a good sign. Now atheists in Australia are starting to stand up and oppose the Christian free-riding on public policy, it’s going to be easy to make their representatives look like fools in front of the voters.

    What that panel needed was an Aboriginal rep who stood up to Fielding and said that by claiming the earth is only 10,000 years old he was being strident and offensive and intolerant regarding their religion and culture.

    Then we’d have seen uncomfortable.

  152. #152 Caine
    March 8, 2010

    WowbaggerOM @ 151:

    I think maybe he expected that it would be different from appearing with American politicians; sadly, while ours might be a little less obviously woo-soaked, there’s still enough Jesus in them to turn their brains to mush.

    One of the nastiest effects of religion is that politicians (especially in the U.S.) cannot afford to leave good ol’ god out of things. Even when a religious group isn’t a majority, if they don’t get their lip service they are insanely strident and frothy.

  153. #153 SC OM
    March 8, 2010

    25 minutes in.

    Jacqueline Ninio is the embodiment of what Sastra often talks about.

    Steve Fielding. Whoa.

    Dawkins is great.

  154. #154 neon-elf.myopenid.com
    March 8, 2010

    The only car I have seen on fire was a compact sedan with flames shooting out from from underneath near the rear wheels. The people in it noticed the smoke, pulled up on the side of the road right next to our office, and got out and walked away.

    We called the fire brigade and watched for a while until we figured that standing in front of a plate glass window with a car that might (depending on circumstances) blow up parked a few metres away, was probably not a smart idea.

  155. #155 'Tis Himself, OM
    March 8, 2010

    llewelly #126

    Sailing is flying sideways.

    Sometimes sailing is sailing sideways.

  156. #156 Paul W.
    March 8, 2010

    Ol’Greg@674 (in the previous episode):

    I think that’s wrong, just as it would be wrong to simply blame women, by saying they expect too much commitment, too soon, and too much “considerateness,” and are too stingy with the sex.

    I think both of these judgements are sexist. Within this very thread you have males and females who do not correspond to this dynamic.

    Well, duh, Ol’ Greg. I’ve tried to be pretty clear about what I do and don’t mean, and it seems to me that you are nonetheless jumping to conclusions I’ve pretty well ruled out.

    I find that really tiresome.

    I’ve said repeatedly that I’m talking about statistical differences in the distributions of
    attitudes between men and women.

    I’ve also tried to make it clear that I think there’s a lot of overlap in those distributions.

    I intentionally brought up the supply/demand issue and imbalance create surpluses or deficits in the numbers of people with certain values, from the point of view of some people with different values.

    I did that precisely to make it clear that I think that relatively small but significant satististical differences in distributions can create relatively large effects in terms of shortages and surpluses. A market-like assortation mechanism amplifies smaller statistical differences into bigger ones.

    I’ve tried to reinforce that understanding by frequently talkign about “some,” many, “too many for certain people’s tastes,” etc.

    It’s idiotic to make statements like “women want this” and “men want that.” I call sexist bullshit on it.

    No, you are idiotic to assume that in that context I mean all women or all men, when I’ve made it clear over and over again that that is not the kind of thing I’m talking about.

    I call bullshit on your charge of sexist bullshit, at least with respect to that.

    Apply the principle of charity just a little bit and give me just a little bit of benefit of the doubt, at least to the point of asking what the fuck I mean rather than assuming I means something inconsistent and stupid, and calling it sexist bullshit.

    And don’t point out the dead obvious, assuming that I haven’t noticed it.

    Do you think I haven’t noticed that there are women in this thread, like you and SC and Jadehawk, who don’t have some of the attitudes I’m talking about? (E.g., being okay with casual sex or whatever?) Do you think I haven’t noticed that there are some men who seem to? (E.g., being averse to casual sex or whatever.)

    Do you think I’m brain-dead enough not to notice that that contradicts any generalization about all women or men along those lines? And you think I think that despite my explicitly saying that I don’t, and frequently talking about differing proportions, etc?

    Holy cow.

    If anybody’s being that simplistically sexist here, I get the feeling it isn’t me. You seem to have cast me into a sexist stereotype into which I do not fit, maybe for sexist reasons—e.g., assuming that a man who disagrees about certain kinds and degrees of alleged sexism is just a sexist pig like all the rest.

    Stop it. Pay attention to what I’m actually saying, and take it seriously—I don’t write those long careful tl;dr posts for nothing. I do it largely so that
    (a) I make it pretty clear what I’m talking about, (b) people won’t jump to conclusions about what I mean that are inconsistent with that general outlook, and
    (c) if that does happen, I have something to refer back to to show pretty clearly I was saying something different than what I’ve been accused of saying.

    If you can’t give me a little benefit of the doubt, and ask nicely what I do actually mean before labeling it sexist bullshit, you can just fuck off.

    Maybe I’m a sexist pig, somehow, and I need my consciousness raised—I’m open to that idea—but you’re going to have to work a little harder at it than that.

  157. #157 Cowcakes
    March 8, 2010

    In NSW, VIC and Tas its currently 11:00 am on Tuesday 9th March. So are far as we are concerned it is your Birthday, unless you wish to submit that you were born on Wednesday the 10th ;-)

    SO Happy Birthday

  158. #158 Feynmaniac
    March 8, 2010

    Watching Rorschach’s video @ #135 (PZ should start a thread about it). That Steve Fielding guy is a moron.

  159. #159 'Tis Himself, OM
    March 8, 2010

    I know I posted the picture in #155 recently but I couldn’t resist using it again.

  160. #160 Walton, Extra Special Dumpling of Awesome
    March 8, 2010

    It’s now past midnight here, so happy birthday, Professor Myers.

    strange gods, I want you to know that despite my occasional bluster and our frequent disagreements, I do, honestly, really like you. And I’m sorry if I’m sometimes more obnoxious than I should be.

  161. #161 Ol'Greg
    March 8, 2010

    Do you think I’m brain-dead enough not to notice that that contradicts any generalization about all women or men along those lines?

    Well you might consider I only have your words to go by.

    So for all I know you may be that dumb because you certainly have made some terrible arguments, and yes you really do sound that dumb.

    No, it’s not my job to read whatever you say in the best possible light if you aren’t capable of saying what you mean clearly. Being verbose isn’t helping you.

    You still wrote a giant strawman and supported it with basically nothing and defended it with classic male privileged bullshit. You have not answered anything specific or even tried to clarify. And now you’re mad at me. Boo hoo.

    You can fuck right off too.

  162. #162 Lynna, OM
    March 8, 2010

    ‘Tis Himself @155 – enjoyable the second time around. Great shot of extreme sailing.

    Wowbagger, good point about the aboriginals in Australia. Why weren’t they represented on the panel?

    SC @153, I noticed the attack on Richard Dawkins, with panelists called him on his tone, accusing Dawkins of “attacking” and of not respecting religion. But… they never responded to the actual points Dawkins made, except to tell him not to make the points.

  163. #163 SC OM
    March 8, 2010

    Ah, some OT bashing from Julie “People Should Respect Others’ Views” Bishop. Nice. Will the rabbi respond?

  164. #164 reboho.pip.verisignlabs.com
    March 8, 2010

    “It’s not my birthday”. And you kids get off my lawn!

    You were born and so you’re free, so happy birthday!

  165. #165 WowbaggerOM
    March 8, 2010

    That Steve Fielding guy is a moron.

    Indeed. But Australians who don’t agree with his religious idiocy aren’t as critical of it as, say, the equivalents in the US; over there it’s far more strongly polarised than it is here, even though we’ve got a much lower rate of religiosity.

    Here it’s covert rather than overt. So, a lot of people, even though they aren’t religious in the slightest, don’t realise that there is a problem that needs to be addressed – and they think anyone pointing it out is whining about nothing.

    That’s something we need to change – and I’d like to think the GAC is a place where the seeds of such change can be planted. Australian atheists need to be shown exactly how much Jesus-freaks are determining public policy; if they become aware of it maybe they’ll do more about it.

  166. #166 jeff.westbrooks
    March 8, 2010

    Happy B’day yungin’ I turn 56 on the 10th and I don’t appreciate whipper snappers like you givin’ any shit. So be sure to change your diaper a couple of times during the flight and remember….

    I WISH I COULD BE IN AUSTRALIA TO…
    OOOO.
    BOO HOOO OOO OOO.
    SNIF.

    happy b’day keep fighting the good fight.

    Please.

  167. #167 Lynna, OM
    March 8, 2010

    Julie was a self-righteous twit when it came to the discussion about morality.

    I was glad to see the creationist guy next to Dawkins squirm. He basically refused to answer most questions. In one case he even claimed that it was not right to ask him the very questions he was there to answer. And why? Because he does not do that to other people, that is, he does not go up to another politician, pull a bible out of his pocket and start lecturing. Yet he thinks it’s perfectly okay to run a school (Waverly, I think) that injects god and biblical creationism into children’s brains. I guess it’s just not okay to ask questions about religion in public forums because religion is personal and private. Hogwash.

  168. #168 Antiochus Epiphanes
    March 8, 2010

    This is so general as to be useless. Does that variation fall out into race-like groupings? Is any race concept useful for understanding genetic variation? If so, what is it?

    Who the fuck is using ‘race’ as a predictor of genetic variation here? Sven didn’t. I didn’t. Who did? Why do you have such a hard-on for this particular result? Does genetic variation have to fall into “race-like” groupings for it to be useful*?

    If one can guess something about a persons geographical ancestry with accuracy that is better than random, does that mean that one recognizes “race” (the shitty Archie Bunker social construct) as a valid scientific hypothesis? Does it have to be one way or the other? If a scientist should find that neutral markers indicate 6 main human population clusters that are geographically correlated, does that indicate racist intent? Or what if its phenotypic-geographic correlation such as lactose intolerance, or that sickle cell resistance to malaria evolved independently in Asia and Africa? What if someone identified genes responsible for differences in melanin deposition across a latitudinal gradient? Does that somehow support racism?

    From your post above (#55) I get the impression that you either believe that a cabal of human geneticists is expressly intent on promoting a racist ideology by selectively reporting findings of human genetic differences, or that they are unwittingly providing fuel for those intent on the same nefarious goal. I don?t think either is true. If I am wrong, I am naïve. If this is what you actually think (and I admit that I am having a tough time parsing your thinking), and you are wrong, you are a kook.

    *In investigating genetic disease, forensics, understanding human evolution & cetera.
    **I will deny later that I found anything interesting about human evolution at all.

  169. #169 Carlie
    March 8, 2010

    I’ve read way, way, way too few Terry Pratchett books. I’ll try to go to bed soon so I can cry myself to sleep.

    Thief of Time was the first Discworld book I read, and it’s still my favorite.

    Oh, that’s the least of it.[...] Dodged a faux pas there.

    *boggles*

  170. #170 strange gods before me ?
    March 8, 2010

    I like you too, Walton, independently of how pissed I am about the Iain Dale nonsense.

  171. #171 Antiochus Epiphanes
    March 8, 2010
  172. #172 Antiochus Epiphanes
    March 8, 2010

    genes responsible for differences in melanin deposition across a latitudinal gradient = http://157.27.14.113/didattica/genmed/skin%20pigmentation.pdf

  173. #173 Ol'Greg
    March 8, 2010

    If you can’t give me a little benefit of the doubt, and ask nicely what I do actually mean before labeling it sexist bullshit, you can just fuck off.

    By the way… If I can’t “ask you nicely” what you mean?

    I called an argument idiotic and you called me an idiot, but you deserve to be *asked nicely* for all the ways you’re really right and I’m just to dumb to see it through your long winded crap laden diatribe?

    Whatever.

    Go to the intersection if you want your ass kissed. I’m not the only one who takes issue with your argument.

  174. #174 maureen.brian#b5c92
    March 8, 2010

    Happy Birthday, PZ!

  175. #175 Walton, Extra Special Dumpling of Awesome
    March 8, 2010

    I like you too, Walton, independently of how pissed I am about the Iain Dale nonsense.

    Meh. I’ve just been out to dinner with some friends, am mildly drunk and am now listening to Pachelbel’s Canon, so I feel like being a little more candid than usual.

    My best justification for supporting the Conservatives is that the UK has essentially a two-party political system – that is to say, only two parties have any prospect of forming a majority government. (The Lib Dems might hope, at best, to be the minority party in a coalition.) For the reasons I have repeatedly outlined, the New Labour government is authoritarian, incompetent and thoroughly discredited. The only other party with a prospect of forming a majority government is the Conservatives. The Conservatives are less authoritarian, and, on balance, probably less incompetent.

    I will, however, certainly cease to support the Conservatives if the next Conservative government repeals the Human Rights Act and replaces it with some toothless alternative.

  176. #176 Kel, OM
    March 8, 2010

    Oh, and here is the link to last night’s episode of Q&A on the ABC, where Richard Dawkins wiped the floor with some of Australia’s dumbo politicians.

    I’m really put off watching it now.

    On a related note, it really does show why there needs to be people like Dawkins speaking out. These books, articles, podcasts, etc. by the “new atheists” are meant to be water off a duck’s back, yet the almost universal response is to get indignant about it. And response to the criticism? They claim the arguments don’t represent them, even if you use the very arguments they give.

  177. #177 Walton, Extra Special Dumpling of Awesome
    March 8, 2010

    An amusing take on gender stereotypes in advertising.

    I pledge to post at least one Mitchell and Webb video a day from now on, and spend less time blithering aimlessly about my rapidly-mutating political views. :-)

  178. #178 F
    March 8, 2010

    And then spending a week and a half in Australia with spasms.

    This is how we spend all our birthdays after the 50th, in case you young whippersnappers had no idea.

    Excepting the bit about Australia (mmmm… Australia), it took you nearly until the age of 53 to get there? Wow.

    Happy Birthday!

  179. #179 Caine
    March 8, 2010

    Carlie @ 169:

    Thief of Time was the first Discworld book I read, and it’s still my favorite

    Reaper Man is my absolute favourite. I like so many of them though, lots of favourite characters. Death, Vetinari, Angua, Sam Vimes…and on and on and on. On various forums, my sig line is from Reaper Man: “OH. DRAMA.” – Death

  180. #180 Louis
    March 8, 2010

    Happy Birthday PZed.

    I am drinking calvados in your honour. Well, I’m drinking calvados and any excuse is good.

    Louis

  181. #181 Cowcakes
    March 8, 2010

    Has anyone seen this yet about the reigning Queen of hypocrisy http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/03/08/palin-crossed-border-for_n_490080.html

  182. #182 WowbaggerOM
    March 8, 2010

    I guess it’s just not okay to ask questions about religion in public forums because religion is personal and private.

    That’s made me think of a good slogan to use against people like this: if your religious views are personal and private, don’t attempt to insert them into PUBLIC policy!

    Really, I don’t care what these morons believe; I do, however, care when they want other people to live by the social/ethical/moral standards drawn from their beliefs.

  183. #183 Antiochus Epiphanes
    March 8, 2010

    I feel like being a little more candid than usual.

    Jesus. Just how candid are we aiming for?

  184. #184 Louis
    March 8, 2010

    Nightwatch is Terry’s finest. Anyone who says different should be shot. Hard. Until it hurts.

    Schism?

    Louis

  185. #185 foxfire
    March 8, 2010

    Happy Birthday *tomorrow* PZ!

    I turned 59 in February, you hot, young snapperwhipper….snipperwhapper….uh….whatever (I forget).

  186. #186 Kel, OM
    March 8, 2010

    Australian atheists need to be shown exactly how much Jesus-freaks are determining public policy

    The problem here is more subversive religious influence. Morons like Stephen (F I S K A L) Fielding or Tony Abbott are openly religious in regard to their policy decisions and that’s an easy enough source of ire. The whole RU486 debate when Abbott was health minister led to that great rhyme “keep your rosaries off my ovaries”. Yet Stephen Conroy who is trying to censor the internet is extremely socially conservative, he just uses secular language to push his religious agenda. And he’s not the only one either, it’s just many on the Australian political left have learnt to mask it behind a wall of rhetorical fuzziness.

  187. #187 Pygmy Loris
    March 8, 2010

    Antiochus Epiphanes,

    The objection that SC has to the arguments being made wrt human biological diversity is that race is not the way to describe it. I said before that the term race has a specific meaning in biology, sub-species. Human genetic diversity isn’t great enough to warrant the use of the term race.

    No one is arguing that people do not vary. That would be patently false. The argument is that race is a poor explanatory tool for the pattern of human genetic diversity. Here Relethford relates human genetic diversity to an isolation by distance model. That is, human populations that are most genetically distant are also the most geographically distant. The patterning of genetic difference is gradual though. For race to be a proper framework to discuss the pattern of human genetic variation, we would have to see clearly defined clusters of traits with rather sharp edges demarcating the “races.” This simply isn’t the situation.

    Yes, the genetic differences follow geographic patterns, though often these patterns are conflicting (skin color clines and blood group clines are not the same), but that doesn’t mean the pattern is racial in the biological sense of the word.

  188. #188 Bobber
    March 8, 2010

    Regarding the Q&A with Dawkins:

    I am forever astounded at how people who might not agree on anything else – including their particular flavor of religious gelato – suddenly get very, very stiff and upset and unite together in defense of faith – ANY faith. You could almost feel the temperature drop when Dawkins refuted the concept of the “good” New Testament god. And I didn’t hear any real defense of the cherry-picking that goes on with the Bible.

    And yes, it all came down to “tone” again – “You are showing disrespect.” The fear that motivates the believers makes them very, very sensitive, it seems.

    A good showing by Richard Dawkins. I fear, however, that whatever he does, and no matter how he speaks, he will always be as welcome as the Red Death was to the masque. The revelers get very agitated (and apparently insulted) when you try to stop the dance…

  189. #189 SC OM
    March 8, 2010

    Who the fuck is using ‘race’ as a predictor of [I assume you mean useful concept in understanding and describing] genetic variation here? Sven didn’t. I didn’t. Who did?

    gxp (Sven’s and your link), first sentence:

    There has been surprisingly little outrage in the internets over Steve Hsu’s argument that the concept of “race” has a biological basis.

    It goes on, of course, to argue that it does.

    Did you notice what the SSRC discussion was about? Did you notice that Sven argued that the critiques of Leroi, in a discussion explicitly about race, in which Leroi was explicitly promoting race, were unconvincing?

    Why do you have such a hard-on for this particular result?

    *eyeroll*

    Does genetic variation have to fall into “race-like” groupings for it to be useful*?

    How utterly confused you are.

    See, this is where you’re not understanding the discussion you’re entering into, which has been, for a year or more, about race.

    If one can guess something about a persons geographical ancestry with accuracy that is better than random,

    There was a test of this.

    If a scientist should find that neutral markers indicate 6 main human population clusters that are geographically correlated,

    Watch the fucking video.

    Or what if its phenotypic-geographic correlation such as lactose intolerance, or that sickle cell resistance to malaria evolved independently in Asia and Africa? What if someone identified genes responsible for differences in melanin deposition across a latitudinal gradient? Does that somehow support racism?

    How do you possibly not see the relevance of Morning here?

    From your post above (#55) I get the impression that you either believe that a cabal of human geneticists is expressly intent on promoting a racist ideology by selectively reporting findings of human genetic differences, or that they are unwittingly providing fuel for those intent on the same nefarious goal. I don?t think either is true. If I am wrong, I am naïve. If this is what you actually think (and I admit that I am having a tough time parsing your thinking), and you are wrong, you are a kook.

    Look, it is very clear what people like Leroi and Razib (and Sven, though I can’t say how strongly at this point) are arguing about race, from their own writings. Either you agree with them about race, in which case I’m asking that you put forth the concept of race that is scientifically valid and useful, or you don’t, in which case you agree with me.

    Do you honestly think that “race science” is somehow outside politics? You’re the kook.

    As Morning says:

    Dr. Leroi suggests that race is ?merely a shorthand that enables us to speak sensibly, though with no great precision, about genetic rather than cultural or political differences.? This is astonishing for someone who, according to armandleroi.com, grew up partly in South Africa and did graduate work in the United States. Since its emergence in the imperial age of the 16th and 17th centuries, race has been first and foremost a way of talking about political, social, and economic differences, rights, and membership. Race differences distinguished the citizen from the alien, the slave from the free, the property owner from the owned. Today, race is hardly the stuff of dispassionate technical jargon. Race is a daily newspaper topic not because of DNA configurations but because of social configurations. Enduring beliefs in the characteristics of different races make race a way for us to talk about crime and innocence, worth and worthlessness, the monied and the disadvantaged.

    Even to scientists, race has clearly meant more than just biology. In his early human taxonomy, Linnaeus described Homo sapiens Afer (African Homo sapiens) as ?crafty, indolent, negligent; anoints himself with grease; governed by caprice,? and Homo sapiens Europeaeus as ?gentle, acute, inventive; ?governed by laws?; race was a guide not just to physical difference but to the valuation of temperament, ability, and behavior. Moreover, social and biological scientists have long been active participants in the development of race-related public policies. Their evidence of black inferiority helped justify slavery in the face of abolitionist protest; their conclusion that the unfit American Indian race was doomed to perish in the presence of the superior white race made the results of a concerted public campaign of extermination seem like a ?natural? Darwinian outcome; and their early-20th-century discoveries of important differences between the crania of native and immigrant groups fueled the eventual shutdown of immigration from eastern and southern Europe. From these examples, it seems clear that the cultural context of the time had a hand not just in the research results that scientists obtained, but even in the questions they asked in the first place. In the same way, we have to ask how the contemporary debate on the nature of race relates to the cultural outlook and the policy dilemmas of our times.

  190. #190 Paul W.
    March 8, 2010

    Ol’ Greg:

    Do you think I’m brain-dead enough not to notice that that contradicts any generalization about all women or men along those lines?

    Well you might consider I only have your words to go by.

    Yeah, including the words where I explicitly say that I’m talking about differences in statistical distributions, and their effects, and a bunch of places where I explicitly acknowledge differences within the sexes and sexual orientations.

    Hyeesh.

    So for all I know you may be that dumb because you certainly have made some terrible arguments, and yes you really do sound that dumb.

    I think you’ve misunderstood some of my arguments, and what points they were and were not making.

    From my point of view, your ability to interpret me as saying the opposite of what I’m quite explicitly saying, and then blame it on me, is not making me sound dumb.

    I think this is a hairy subject, and I don’t know how to discuss it without spelling out a fair number of things. Otherwise I think I’ll be misunderstood. But if that’s just dismissed as ”
    “too long,” and all my fault if it’s misunderstood, and I get called names for that… well, fuck that.

    BTW, one of the things that I think you’ve misunderstood about what I’m saying is that I’m making a distinction between active, intentional misogyny, by people who literally dislike women and are happy to make them suffer, and weaker forms of misogyny, of which there are several gradations. (E.g. being insufficiently sensitive to the fact just that not being the former doesn’t make you still part of the problem.)

    Another think I think you’ve misunderstood is why I talked about an idealized form of prostitution in a better possible world. It is not irrelevant, given some of the things some people have said, including stuff in the Pandagon posting that strange gods linked to, and seemed to agree wholeheartedly with.

    Some people do think that even in such a world, a willingness to pay for sex reveals a fundamental depravity and misogyny. The fact that you don’t seem to think so doesn’t mean that I’m making an irrelevant point, or that I’m doing it for some nefarious reason to support an illegitimate argument. It just means that I’m not exclusively focused on you, and am addressing issues you don’t seem to care about, because other people did raise them.

    I’m responding to several people who are disagreeing with different things I’m saying, often unclearly but quite negatively, and that’s difficult.

    I’m happy to address some of the other issues you’ve raised, as I get the time, but I’m way less motivated if you chalk up all the difficulties in discussing the subject to my sheer incompetence and assholery.

  191. #191 Caine
    March 8, 2010

    Louis @ 184:

    Nightwatch is Terry’s finest. Anyone who says different should be shot. Hard. Until it hurts.

    Schism?

    No schism here. Reaper Man is still my favourite, then Hogfather, then Nightwatch, then Witches Abroad, then Feet of Clay. And on it goes. :D

    Nightwatch is a great piece of work though, I’ve read it more than once.

  192. #192 SC OM
    March 8, 2010

    Posted by: Pygmy Loris | March 8, 2010 7:49 PM

    Precisely.

  193. #193 'Tis Himself, OM
    March 8, 2010

    Looking at the picture in #155 I can tell that boat is sponsored by a magazine because of the boat’s name. Sailors like to name their boats. Sometimes the names are really clever like “DILLIGAFF” (Do I Look Like I Give a Flying Fuck) and “Runs With Scissors”. But more often the names are really stupid: “Breaking Wind”, “Bow Movement”, “Dixie Normous” (they wish), “Ahoy Vey” or “Aquaholic”. I used to race against an E-Scow with “HELP!” painted upside down on the transom.

    The boats I’ve owned have had names like “Vintage” (this was a 60 year old wooden boat), “Xenophon” (my E-Scow back in the 1960s) and “Moondance”. Sorry, I have no imagination.

  194. #194 WowbaggerOM
    March 8, 2010

    A good showing by Richard Dawkins. I fear, however, that whatever he does, and no matter how he speaks, he will always be as welcome as the Red Death was to the masque.

    I was following #qanda as a twitter trending topic (it got to third IIRC, which is impressive for a little-known show on Australian tv) and, while most of the tweets were in support of Dawkins (or bemoaning Fielding’s idiocy or Julie Bishop’s nasty death stare), there were a few where people wrote about how ‘rude’ and ‘disrespectful’ he was.

    That’s one of the things that makes Daniel Dennett a great speaker against woo – he’s so pleasantly avuncular and gentle that it’s almost impossible to play the disrespect card against him.

    Not that I’m suggestion Dawkins should change his style, mind you – he certainly gets the job done, at least in the mind of any intelligent audience.

    And what was really good was when Dawkins – the ‘miserable atheist with nothing to live for’ as the woo-soaked like to paint us as – pointed out that our world is a great place; why do we need a heaven as the carrot on a stick? Why not enjoy life now?

  195. #195 Ichthyic
    March 8, 2010

    That’s something we need to change – and I’d like to think the GAC is a place where the seeds of such change can be planted. Australian atheists need to be shown exactly how much Jesus-freaks are determining public policy; if they become aware of it maybe they’ll do more about it.

    I think you hit it spot on there.

    and, as a head’s up, Brian Tamaki and half the Destiny Church appear to be headed your way:

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/religion-and-beliefs/news/article.cfm?c_id=301&objectid=10629377

    stomp them out before they get too much of a foothold!

  196. #196 windy
    March 8, 2010

    Pygmy Loris @672@XXXVI:

    There is genetic variation among human populations. That variation does not conform to the scientific definition of race. The variation is simply not enough to call various human populations races. Race is a technical term in biology.

    What definition are you using? Lewontin’s essay on SSRC disagrees with you, btw, and claims that race has been abandoned* as a biological category.

    (*I don’t think this is quite true, but it’s usually not used without a qualifier such as ‘geographic’ or ‘host’)

    The geographic patterns of genotype and phenotype I’m talking about remain. What should we call them?

    Populations?!

    How many human populations are there?

  197. #197 SC OM
    March 8, 2010

    That’s one of the things that makes Daniel Dennett a great speaker against woo – he’s so pleasantly avuncular and gentle that it’s almost impossible to play the disrespect card against him.

    Same was true of Kropotkin in his later years. Someone should graph “looking like Santa” with “how radical you can be and not be hated/killed” (I’m sure there’s an equivalent for women – maybe substitute Sastra for Santa :)).

    Wowbagger, is it OK if I ask you a question about an earlier comment you made? I’ve been curious about it, but if you’re not in the mood I can leave it alone.

  198. #198 maureen.brian#b5c92
    March 8, 2010

    How many human populations are there?

    Somewhere between one and seven billion. As ever, definition is all.

  199. #199 Bobber
    March 8, 2010

    Not that I’m suggestion Dawkins should change his style, mind you – he certainly gets the job done, at least in the mind of any intelligent audience.

    Of course, Dawkins was perfectly respectful – but his incredulity regarding the particulars of religious belief is something he simply cannot hide, and those others on the stage just don’t like it. No one likes to be told, even politely, that they believe impossible (or even horrible) things; but Dawkins (and others) need to keep it up.

    And what was really good was when Dawkins – the ‘miserable atheist with nothing to live for’ as the woo-soaked like to paint us as – pointed out that our world is a great place; why do we need a heaven as the carrot on a stick? Why not enjoy life now?

    Exactly. Don’t we get tired of people thinking that atheism destroys appreciation of beauty, or wonder of the universe? And I have pointed out to people, on the contrary, the universe is all the more wondrous to me for having not been created by a supposedly all-powerful entity. Believing in supernatural explanations removes all mystery, because you stop asking why and how. Reality is so much more fascinating.

  200. #200 Xenithrys
    March 8, 2010

    Ichthyic @ 195:

    Yes we shouldn’t be too smug about rationality here in NZ. Pharyngulites will enjoy this webpage though:

    http://www.bishoptamaki.org.nz/

    And today we’ve got the comfortites on campus handing out the origin of species by Ray Comfort & Charles Darwin. I took one and nearly scored another. The woman handing it to me said it has an introduction by a Christian.

  201. #201 Sven DiMilo
    March 8, 2010

    It is with trepidation that I return to the Thread here?I did a stupid burnout troll-thing, like an idiot, in a shit mood, and now it?s been a long time and it?s clear just from peeking that of course there is shit to be read. And I can?t commit to a lot of time, and I am completely uninterested in arguing and so of course that means I should have just shut up in the first place, I know that. So but here and now, even though I acknowledge writing the check, I am afraid that I may not cash it.

    OK so looking only now at SC?s Ep36#628, which was in response to my dumbshit #583.

    “race” has a meaning and “genetic variation” has a meaning and they’re not the same.

    sez you. The truth is that the term has been used with many different meanings in different contexts by different people talking about different concepts altogether. One example: the title page of Darwin?s Origin. Another: those guys over at Gene Expression; they are not using the word to mean what you insist it must mean. OK? They?re really not. (I am not certain, actually, exactly how they are using it, but that?s tangential. Because I?m trying not to use it.) A third: Pygmy Loris (PL, ‘race’ and ‘subspecies’ have not always been synonymous in various subfields of zoology). This is precisely why I have already said explicitly that I am not defending a typological ?race? concept, and in fact I don?t even have to use the term ?race? in any sense to talk about what I am, or was, trying to talk about–which is in fact genetic variation (which term also has several slightly different possible technical meanings).

    Anyway, what conception are you defending? How many races are there? How are they defined?

    Not only did I already say explicitly that I was ?not defending? a concept, but the specific type of concept that I explicitly said I was ?not defending? was ?typological?.

    they were based on easily visible phenotypic traits that were geographically clustered

    Which traits? Why those?

    You know. Easily visible traits. Why? Because they are easily visible. Seriously. And also geographically clustered. I was not attempting to categorize people with any formal and, y?know, typological lists of features. I was talking about my brain?s face-recognition center?s ability to recognize similarities and differences that correlate with geographic ancestry?you?re not arguing with that, right? I mean, you’re kidding about the PBS ‘quiz’, right??and then I was speculating about the genetic patterns that must-must-underlie those easily visible and apparently geographically clustered phenotypic patterns, and then I was sort of wondering aloud?because I honestly don?t know much about it?how much geographic structure there really is to human genetic variability. And I kind of looked into a little bit and found some information.

    And I was kind of a dick about it, and snarked an extra snark or two that I didn?t have to, as for example at the SSRC and so I apologize for that.

    [3-screen quote] What is your response to this?

    tl;dr

    no, just kidding. I just gave my response. All that is irrelevant to what I was talking about.
    That said, I did read it and I thought it was very well written and made a lot of sense.

    This is not a meaningful engagement with those articles.

    I didn?t say I engaged with those articles meaningfully. I think I said I read some of them. I gave my reaction. I was looking for information on a specific topic (not social-construction theory) and found some (Graves) and also some contradictory assertion-fests (Leroi, Lewontin, Marks) and then some rhetoric and some of that north-campus discourse of the kind that?s just not my cup o meat.

    These ad homs aren’t helping your case.

    No, no, those weren?t arguments, therefore not
    ad-homs, and they weren’t intended to make a case?I just thought they were funny. But yeah, again, I?m sorry about the attitude.

    So I can see that there?s a lot more to go and a lot of it looks like more talking-past so I?m going to stop responding and just read the rest of the Thread?

    OK, acknowledging stuff from windy and PL and AE, thanks?AE is grokking me @#676; no halibut-beating necessary. PL nobody is arguing with the concept of socially constructed ?races?.

    gah but it?s hard not to start responding here. SC, I find you most frustrating at times.

    *subThread turnover*

    [much skipped, some dramatic]

    (skin color clines and blood group clines are not the same)

    I swear my eyeballs are aching from rolling so hard. It?s freaking 1972 over here.

    OK, caught up. Caught up and walking away, from this discussion and from the topic in general from here on out. It?s some kind of CP Snow and/or bizarro Baby-Bear-level failure-to-communicate zone and I?m not playing any more. I’m going to edit this, post and be done, and happy last words to all.

    Yes! I am flouncing! From teh fucking Thread! Watch me flounce!

  202. #202 Antiochus Epiphanes
    March 8, 2010

    Pygmy Loris and SC: Thanks for the clarification. I think I understand the confusion.

    1. Perhaps the botanical and zoological tradition of “race” differs…in botany (less now than in the past) the idea of a geographical race did not require strong demarcation, but could consist of populations separated by a cline. Nonetheless, I don’t think its an appropriate descriptor of human variation (regardless of genetic facts) simply because it is charged in such a way that prevents interesting discussion of science to be misinterpreted as a justification for discrimination.

    2. The use of the word “race” here may be biologically inappropriate but clearly doesn’t refer to any social construct. My interpretation of the biological use of the word “race” was as just mentioned. Note that I have tried to be careful in identifying “race” as a social construct where I meant it.

    Regarding the test: It’s not really a test…its a demonstration that racial preconceptions are often wrong.

    Exam proctoring over. Going home.

  203. #203 Paul W.
    March 8, 2010

    Ol’ Greg:

    I called an argument idiotic and you called me an idiot,

    Yeah, I believe I did that, and I apologize for that escalation.

    but you deserve to be *asked nicely* for all the ways you’re really right and I’m just to dumb to see it through your long winded crap laden diatribe?

    All I meant by “ask nicely” is that you apply the “principle of charity”—if there are multiple ways of interpreting something, don’t guess that the stupidest and morally worst one is the one that’s meant.

    But if you’re going to dismiss what I write as not just long-winded—which I’ll cop to—but crap laden, without asking for clarifications to see if it really is that crappy, well, there’s not much I can do about that.

    I think it’s a complicated subject, with several novel distinctions worth making, and I don’t know how to do that briefly and punchily, without greatly increasing the chance of being misunderstood. (And vilified.)

    If you think my writing is long-winded and crap-laden, suitable for quick and easy dismissal as sexist bullshit, I can only say that I’m trying to do what I just got a Molly for, which some people think is a bit better than that.

    I may be failing, this time, but I’m honestly trying. And I may in fact be a sexist asshole in the final analysis, but I try not to be, and I honestly don’t see how yet. You’re not going to be able to raise my consciousness by jumping on me the way you have.

  204. #204 WowbaggerOM
    March 8, 2010

    SC wrote:

    Wowbagger, is it OK if I ask you a question about an earlier comment you made? I’ve been curious about it, but if you’re not in the mood I can leave it alone.

    Go for it – I’m both intrigued and a little nervous. But hey, I’ve got nothing to hide; heck, in a few days people will be able to say they know what I look like…

  205. #205 Paul W.
    March 8, 2010

    Carlie:

    Paul W, have you considered moving? ;p

    Oh, I’ve tried. The events I described happened in four different areas of three different cities.

    I’m starting to get hinky.

  206. #206 Usagichan
    March 8, 2010

    Nightwatch is Terry’s finest. Anyone who says different should be shot. Hard. Until it hurts.

    Indeed, Nightwatch is his finest. And Guards, Guards. Terry’s two finest are Nightwatch and Guards, Guards. Nightwatch, Guards, Guards and Pyramids (The scene where all the Gods become real and start fighting over who pushes the sun across the sky is hilarious, as is the High Priests reaction when his religion becomes reality). Nightwatch, Guards, Guards, Pyramids and Witches Abroad … Oh, all right, all of them. They are all his finest. And Science of the Discworld too.

  207. #207 Kel, OM
    March 8, 2010

    and, as a head’s up, Brian Tamaki and half the Destiny Church appear to be headed your way

    pfft, Victoria has enough religious crazies already.

  208. #208 Caine
    March 8, 2010

    Xenithrys @ 200:

    http://www.bishoptamaki.org.nz/

    Wow. So he’s the new god, eh? Yep, very Jim Jones like.

    “Satan messes with you now, not because of what you’ve done, but because of what you’re going to do.” Bishop Brian Tamaki

    Hmmm. Pretty much rules out that free will business and gives him an excuse for controlling his followers to the nth degree.

  209. #209 Xplodyncow
    March 8, 2010

    On a plane for 19 hours? What the hell am I going to do without new content on Pharyngula for a whole 19 hours?

  210. #210 Pygmy Loris
    March 8, 2010

    Windy,

    What definition are you using? Lewontin’s essay on SSRC disagrees with you, btw, and claims that race has been abandoned* as a biological category.

    How does that contradict anything I said? Biology may have abandoned the use of the term (and category of) race, but that doesn’t mean it’s any more useful to use the term for human variation. In fact, it supports the idea that race is a poor tool for examining biological populations. OTOH, race and subspecies were essentially synonymous. It is clear (or at least should be) that Homo sapiens has only one extant subspecies.

    How many human populations are there?

    That depends on what you’re talking about. There are too many human populations to list effectively. Any such list would not have clear, genetic demarcations between populations, especially when you take different levels of analysis into account, for example, local vs. regional vs. global.

    Here’s how one might talk about a little bit of genetic variation: Most Native American populations lack the A and B allele groups due to founder effects.

    or

    Distribution of ABO blood groups in Na Dene and Eskimo/Aleut populations provides evidence that at least two distinct migration events are responsible for the origins of modern Native Americans.

    In both of these examples I identified one or more subsets of human beings based on geography in the first example and linguistics in the latter. Then I said something about the specific genetic variation in those groups. In a different context, the distinctions I relied on may be irrelevant and I would need to use different criteria to define my populations. The point is that there are no criteria to reliably identify immutable human groups. Thus, race is a useless concept to explain human variation.

  211. #212 WowbaggerOM
    March 8, 2010

    On a plane for 19 hours? What the hell am I going to do without new content on Pharyngula for a whole 19 hours?

    I think PZ will set up his automated post-disseminator device to cover the time he’s in transit. You don’t think he’s really awake and posting new topics at the times they appear at, do you?

  212. #213 Ol'Greg
    March 8, 2010

    I may be failing, this time, but I’m honestly trying. And I may in fact be a sexist asshole in the final analysis, but I try not to be, and I honestly don’t see how yet. You’re not going to be able to raise my consciousness by jumping on me the way you have.

    I have no interest in labeling you as a sexist asshole as the whole of your identity.

    Originally I only had a problem with the logic and content of the things you said which I quoted

    When I said I think both of these statements are sexist I meant I agree with you that both statements are sexist by the way. However I had problems with other things you said. For instance your dismissal of women entirely as if males are the standard sexuality and women can be better understood if they are removed from the equation entirely.

    Try to distinguish between “I believe that argument to be sexist” and “you are a worthless sexist pig” because they are light years apart.

    Lastly, when you quote some one and then place a long block of text which goes off into a territory that person never said it.

    Lets go over some things. Back to one of the quotes I harped on originally.

    “And they don’t want to deal with a lot of women’s hangups about sex and particular sex acts.”

    What are these hang ups anyway?

    In this kind of conversation, it seems that many people think it is legitimate to blame the problem on men, who are lazy selfish horndogs, and say they “should” be more like women.

    See, no one is saying this. When you quote some one and then put something like this beneath it it is a bit shady to back up and say… well *some* people do.

    It would be as if I quoted Sven from above and then went on a rampage about eugenics. It’s not what he said, but *some people* have said it. All right, so why bring it up beneath some ones quote with nothing else that addresses that quote in that space unless you are implying that person *is* saying that. Shady shady shady, molly or no.

    I’m particularly disturbed by this “be more like women” statement.

    Tell me sir, what are women like?

  213. #214 SC OM
    March 8, 2010

    sez you. The truth is that the term has been used with many different meanings in different contexts by different people talking about different concepts altogether. One example: the title page of Darwin?s Origin. Another: those guys over at Gene Expression; they are not using the word to mean what you insist it must mean. OK? They?re really not. (I am not certain, actually, exactly how they are using it, but that?s tangential. Because I?m trying not to use it.)

    GAAAAAH!

    A third: Pygmy Loris (PL, ‘race’ and ‘subspecies’ have not always been synonymous in various subfields of zoology). This is precisely why I have already said explicitly that I am not defending a typological ?race? concept, and in fact I don?t even have to use the term ?race? in any sense to talk about what I am, or was, trying to talk about–which is in fact genetic variation (which term also has several slightly different possible technical meanings).

    Then you shouldn’t be defending or linking to Leroi or Razib, who are very plainly talking about race in traditional terms and trying to use contemporary science to prop it up.

    Why are you attached to typologies and classifications?

    Not only did I already say explicitly that I was ?not defending? a concept, but the specific type of concept that I explicitly said I was ?not defending? was ?typological?.

    Are you defending or suggesting any concept of race, or an equivalent (same thing, different word) at all? If so, what is it? If not, then we’re not arguing, but you should make this clear.

    You know. Easily visible traits. Why? Because they are easily visible. Seriously. And also geographically clustered.

    How, specifically?

    I was not attempting to categorize people with any formal and, y?know, typological lists of features. I was talking about my brain?s face-recognition center?s ability to recognize similarities and differences that correlate with geographic ancestry?you?re not arguing with that, right? I mean, you’re kidding about the PBS ‘quiz’, right?

    No.

    ?and then I was speculating about the genetic patterns that must-must-underlie those easily visible and apparently geographically clustered phenotypic patterns,

    Which?

    and then I was sort of wondering aloud?because I honestly don?t know much about it?how much geographic structure there really is to human genetic variability. And I kind of looked into a little bit and found some information.

    What?

    And I was kind of a dick about it, and snarked an extra snark or two that I didn?t have to, as for example at the SSRC and so I apologize for that.

    OK.

    [3-screen quote] What is your response to this?
    tl;dr

    no, just kidding. I just gave my response. All that is irrelevant to what I was talking about.
    That said, I did read it and I thought it was very well written and made a lot of sense.

    What sense? If that’s irrelevant to what you’re talking about (and bullshit), then what are you talking about? Are you acknowledging that race (or race by another name) is not a valid or useful concept for discussing human genetic variation, or not?

    I didn?t say I engaged with those articles meaningfully. I think I said I read some of them. I gave my reaction. I was looking for information on a specific topic (not social-construction theory) and found some (Graves) and also some contradictory assertion-fests (Leroi, Lewontin, Marks) and then some rhetoric and some of that north-campus discourse of the kind that?s just not my cup o meat.

    Oh, hell. Say something of substance, please.

    gah but it?s hard not to start responding here. SC, I find you most frustrating at times.

    Mutual. *ponders*

    (skin color clines and blood group clines are not the same)
    I swear my eyeballs are aching from rolling so hard. It?s freaking 1972 over here.

    Point?

    Yes! I am flouncing! From teh fucking Thread! Watch me flounce!

    Picturing a dancing bear in a tutu. Bleh. :)

  214. #215 windy
    March 8, 2010

    How does that contradict anything I said? Biology may have abandoned the use of the term (and category of) race, but that doesn’t mean it’s any more useful to use the term for human variation.

    You said that there’s a scientific definition of race and humans don’t conform to that definition. This contradicts the statement that there is no accepted scientific definition of race and that’s why it’s useless for humans as well. Both arguments are OK but they can’t both be true at the same time.

  215. #216 Ol'Greg
    March 8, 2010

    Lastly, when you quote some one and then place a long block of text which goes off into a territory that person never said it

    I had meant to delete that fragment. Apologies.

  216. #217 WowbaggerOM
    March 8, 2010

    SC,

    You’re obviously in the middle of discussing something else but I did respond (at #204) – with a ‘yes, feel free’.

  217. #218 Pygmy Loris
    March 8, 2010

    windy,

    Sorry, let me rephrase myself. Race, as a taxonomic grouping, has been synonymous with subspecies in the discipline of biology at different times. This taxonomic grouping became so problematic to define that biologists abandoned it. The abandonment of the race grouping in biology should indicate that it is, at the very least, problematic wrt human genetic variation and should also be abandoned in this context.

    Just because the use of race has been abandoned by biologists doesn’t mean the term doesn’t still have a meaning in the discipline. Most biological anthropologists don’t talk about typological races anymore, but the concept still exists.

  218. #219 otrame
    March 8, 2010

    I thought Nightwatch was his finest until Thud. Thud made me cry. Literally. More than once.

    It also made me laugh my ass off. Not an easy task, given the size of my ass.

    Oh, and for those who wonder: The reason Ronnie Soak has so much cold to deal with can be better understood if you consider that he was once one of the five horsemen of the apocalypse (yeah, there used to be five, but there were creative differences…). That’s right. Death, War, Famine, Pestilence, and Soak (which is his real name backwards).

    For those who think they have no time to read these books, consider that there are excellent audio books which can be listened to while stuck in traffic.

  219. #220 SC OM
    March 8, 2010

    [First, the irony: Sven and I in recent emails both expressed our determination to take a break from arguments here. Now we're in one with each other. We're pathetic.]

    Go for it – I’m both intrigued and a little nervous. But hey, I’ve got nothing to hide; heck, in a few days people will be able to say they know what I look like…

    :). OK. It was a comment about having exchanged emails with a woman. I guess it didn’t work out, and you reported that when she was asked if she missed you, her response was something like “I miss his emails.” You were disappointed by this, I think. And I was wondering if you missed her emails. I’ve seen you here enough to be absolutely sure you don’t just use writing to advance other aims, and that you enjoy written conversations. But I was wondering to what extent in that context you were looking upon writing, and conversation through writing, as a means to some other end, and whether you enjoyed or were interested in her words or more read them for signs of romantic/sexual interest. I may be reading more into this than exists for various reasons, and this may be impossible to pull apart, but I was curious.

  220. #221 cicely
    March 8, 2010

    David Marjanovi?:

    David, don’t cry, just read more Discworld books. :)

    But wheeeeeeen…

    I already can’t keep up! I’m only in the first quarter of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology from December, even though I (obviously) only read the interesting parts! The January issue has come out, and the March one will soon!

    (This is the first year with 6 instead of 4 issues per year. The thickness of each issue didn’t change.)

    Well, then, it looks like you’re going to just have to get your priorities in order, aren’t you! ;D

    Paul W., don’t take this the wrong way, but…please don’t move into my neighborhood. You seem to attract scarey acquaintances, and the local nut-jobs are quite enough for me, thanks!

    I’d be hard put to it to pick a favorite Discworld book, but my favorite character is Lord Vetinari. He is definitely The Man*. Tassssty brainssss….

    *And he has The Vote.

  221. #222 ambulocetacean
    March 8, 2010

    Sigh… Barney Zwartz at The Age (the Melbourne broadsheet) is having yet another go at the Atheist conference. Atheists are just another sort of religious fundamentalist, Richard Dawkins = Pat Robertson, etc…

    http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/blogs/the-religious-write/by-their-fruit-shall-ye-know-them/20100309-pt02.html

  222. #223 https://me.yahoo.com/a/eJREANl71tBZaeOyZkJr9VcGGg4h#2f844
    March 8, 2010

    To answer a question from the last threadination: The slides the Lord of the Pies showed me were, IIRC, mostly of wild places in California. I hadn’t seen any yet, really, not even what you can see from I-80, because I came in at night.

    What really turned me on, though, was the way he handled his cat. She was a sarcastic bitch, too; we had a lot in common. Long gone, of course, and I still miss her. She was a tuxedo-tortie named Bernadette Devlin.

    OK, I’ll give some auntie-ish advice to the guys here who are talking about Not Getting Any.

    First, seriously, stop talking about fucking as something you “get,” and lose the economic model. See if you can’t quit thinking that way. It’s an interesting exercise and you’ll avoid stepping on some corns.

    Second: Get good at it. You don’t start with practice practice practice unless you know someone else who wants to do the same and you’re both (all) outspoken enough to say what’s working and what isn’t even before you figure out why. I’m trying to think about whom to suggest and coming up empty, but I bet others could suggest some writers, books, video producers. Come on, we’re all geeks here; we all know to read up on a subject.

    There is such a thing as a good reputation, and it has nothing to do with keeping purity on your balls. Or whatever that was about.

    Ya know, I really don’t know whether it’s harder to get laid now that it was in the early ’70s. Sex has been getting more pornified, I think, and that edges it toward performance. Speaking of words that don’t help matters. Skill is not the same as stage- acting.

  223. #224 WowbaggerOM
    March 8, 2010

    SC #220

    Ooh, heavy. But valid. Will put some thought to it and get back to you.

  224. #225 Ichthyic
    March 8, 2010

    And today we’ve got the comfortites on campus handing out the origin of species by Ray Comfort & Charles Darwin.

    was that at Vic?

    I had no idea those guys actually made it down here!

  225. #226 Caine
    March 8, 2010

    Otrame @ 219:

    I thought Nightwatch was his finest until Thud.

    Speaking of his most recent books, Going Postal was brilliant.

  226. #227 badgersdaughter
    March 8, 2010

    #223, I respectfully submit that learning to be a good lover is a little like engineering, or the study of music composition. You combine one part imagination, one part trying and failing, one part building on the knowledge of others who are successful and who do things you like, and one part building on things you find out by yourself.

  227. #228 Xenithrys
    March 8, 2010

    was that at Vic?

    Yep. But they’re all over apparently.
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/3421162/Creationist-takes-on-Dawkins

  228. #229 Jadehawk, OM
    March 8, 2010

    Since David has been neglecting his duty of linking to teeth-related articles, I’ll have to do it myself: pig lobotomizes self with tooth

  229. #230 DLC
    March 8, 2010

    congrats at very nearly surviving another orbit of the sun!
    Safe travels, and have a good trip.
    As for the other… as the Death Knights say: “Suffer Well”

  230. #231 SC OM
    March 8, 2010

    AE, I appreciate that you acknowledge and appreciate the clarification.

    2. The use of the word “race” here may be biologically inappropriate

    Yes.

    but clearly doesn’t refer to any social construct.

    That’s what they’re trying to refer to. Quite explicitly.

    Regarding the test: It’s not really a test…its a demonstration that racial preconceptions are often wrong.

    Showing that the idea that “races” are easily visually identifiable is silly and wrong. Sven’s claim told you what about race, exactly?

  231. #232 WowbaggerOM
    March 8, 2010

    SC,

    It was a comment about having exchanged emails with a woman. I guess it didn’t work out, and you reported that when she was asked if she missed you, her response was something like “I miss his emails.” You were disappointed by this, I think.

    Yes and no. I knew she didn’t miss me (the person) because all she needed to do to spend time with me is reach out and make contact; I’d made that clear after our falling out. But that was at least something – or, in fact, two things: a) that I was an writer of emails interesting enough to be worth missing and b) that by denying her this I was gaining some small (and very petty; I don’t deny it) revenge.

    And I was wondering if you missed her emails.

    Not really. She wasn’t much of a writer. The ratio of my words to hers was probably 10:1 – but I love writing while she doesn’t so the comparison shouldn’t be that shocking. I just missed her, because we used to do stuff together before it became almost entirely limited to writing.

    I’ve seen you here enough to be absolutely sure you don’t just use writing to advance other aims, and that you enjoy written conversations. But I was wondering to what extent in that context you were looking upon writing, and conversation through writing, as a means to some other end, and whether you enjoyed or were interested in her words or more read them for signs of romantic/sexual interest.

    Hmm, I’m not sure what you’re getting at. If you mean ‘was I using my writing to woo her’ then yes, that would be true – does that count as ‘using writing to advance other aims’? But I can say straight out that the content certainly wasn’t of the wooing kind – I don’t go in for rapturous flattery – but was much along the lines of what I write here, i.e. snarky social commentary. Oh, and a lot about films and music, since that was something we had in common.

    So, a very oblique kind of wooing. But yes, wooing nonetheless.

    I may be reading more into this than exists for various reasons, and this may be impossible to pull apart, but I was curious.

    Well, I don’t know if I’ve come up with very good answers; maybe I’ll just explain it from my perspective.

    I like writing, and from all accounts I’m quite good at it. I used to think that it might be a way to help me in forming a relationship with women I’m attracted to, but the episode we’re discussing – plus several others – made me realise that it didn’t work and I was left with women I really liked who’d be reluctant to be anywhere near me in person but who eagerly awaited my emails.

    Which would’ve been fine if the effort was being matched, but it wasn’t. I’d get a few lines in response to my thousands of words – literally; for a while a standard email from me was 1,000 words; I’d get to 2,000 fairly often and 3,000+ wasn’t that unusual.

    Now, when (or, more accurately, if) I meet someone I’m attracted to, I won’t be doing any cyber-wooing. Apparently, there’s just too much of a fundamental disconnect between Wowbagger’s words and Wowbagger – which, other than the minor satisfaction it gives me as a writer, it’s very depressing and one of the reasons I’m beginning to eschew any meatspace interaction beyond the absolutely necessary – not to mention that it’s making me more than a little nervous about the GAC this coming weekend.

    Does that answer your question?

  232. #233 SC OM
    March 8, 2010

    Showing that the idea that “races” are easily visually identifiable is silly and wrong.

    To be clear: not that visible traits, even if they were identifiable, would provide the basis for biological “races.”

  233. #234 Antiochus Epiphanes
    March 8, 2010

    That’s what they’re trying to refer to. Quite explicitly.

    Err…I’m giving way here a little. I don’t know if it is explicit, but a fourth and fifth reading (especially of the awfully written endnote) leaves me in doubt.

    A note on race being a societal construct. To some extent, of course it is–some people that would be called “black” in the US might not be called “black” in France, for example (and not because of the language difference, for all you smartasses. The word “black” in French specifically refers to racial classification). I have enough faith in human intelligence to think that the first person who called race a societal construct did not mean that it had no biological component as well–note that the Wikipedia entry on adolesence refers to it as a “cultural and social phenomenon” but also “the transitional stage of human development in which a juvenile matures into an adult”. People seem to somehow be able to keep the cultural and biological aspects of adolescence in their heads at the same time, as I imagine the first sociologists to study race were able to do (I may, of course, be wrong), yet somehow the fact that biological differences are interpreted through a cultural lens has somehow morphed into the idea that the biological differences don’t exist to begin with (see, e.g. the ASA statement on race). Weird.

    Also, I saw the last 15 minutes of the video you posted (spent 3 hours lecturing today and another three reading papers while pretending to proctor an exam), and read the Bolnick chapter Individual ancestry inference and the reification of race as a biological phenomenon (available on Google Books) that criticizes Rosenberg et al. (2002). I haven’t used STRUCTURE in the past, but this weird prior choice regarding the number of populations in which to bin individuals (K) seems suspect to me. I had always assumed that this was parameterized like any other distribution to be estimated in a Bayesian analysis. Will read more about this.

    To be clear: not that visible traits, even if they were identifiable, would provide the basis for biological “races.”

    But don’t you think that phenotypic traits can improve the probability of guessing right…not race (social construct) but geographical origin (biological concept related to clines, etc.?)

    Thoughts on this:
    a) A few weeks ago, I picked up a visiting scholar from the airport. I know that he is from New Delhi, but I hadn’t seen a picture of him. I got stuck in traffic, ran late, and arranged by phone to meet him in an airport Starbucks. There were seven-ten people there when I arrived, and only one looked like an Indian man. I walked up and introduced myself…right guy.

    b) People complain constantly about depictions of Jesus as a blond-haired blue-eyed man. Its not impossible that a man living in Galilee at the time would have had these traits. It is just unlikely.

    c) I work with one undergraduate researcher who self-identifies as African American. I have another who self identifies as Philippino. Neither fact would come as a surprise to anyone.

    d) My wife is Sicilian, with very dark eyes and hair, and olive skin. Everyone gets her wrong, but not randomly. Mexicans identify her as Mexican (and will speak to her in Spanish, ignoring my blue-eyed pale ass entirely). Indian students think she’s Indian. Middle-Eastern students think that she’s Middle Eastern. No one has ever presumed that she was from Northern Europe.

    For the PBS test to be a fair test of geographical recognition, 1) the pictures would have to be larger, 2) the categories would have to be geographical (Latino/Hispanic? Jesus…the US Census doesn’t even recognize that as a racial category), 3) the photos should be chosen randomly from a large diverse pool, and 4) one wouldn’t have to do well…just significantly better than random.

  234. #235 SC OM
    March 8, 2010

    Yes and no. I knew she didn’t miss me (the person) because all she needed to do to spend time with me is reach out and make contact; I’d made that clear after our falling out. But that was at least something – or, in fact, two things: a) that I was an writer of emails interesting enough to be worth missing and b) that by denying her this I was gaining some small (and very petty; I don’t deny it) revenge.

    Hm.

    Not really. She wasn’t much of a writer.

    Ah. OK.

    The ratio of my words to hers was probably 10:1 – but I love writing while she doesn’t so the comparison shouldn’t be that shocking. I just missed her, because we used to do stuff together before it became almost entirely limited to writing.

    Oh, I hadn’t realized that this was the sequence of events.

    Hmm, I’m not sure what you’re getting at. If you mean ‘was I using my writing to woo her’ then yes, that would be true – does that count as ‘using writing to advance other aims’? But I can say straight out that the content certainly wasn’t of the wooing kind – I don’t go in for rapturous flattery – but was much along the lines of what I write here, i.e. snarky social commentary. Oh, and a lot about films and music, since that was something we had in common.

    So, a very oblique kind of wooing. But yes, wooing nonetheless.

    I think I may be trying to draw boundaries where there aren’t any. I mean, how do you distinguish between “hee,” “check this out,” “here’s this amusing story,” “look at this turn of phrase” as wooing, showing off, sheer pleasure, sharing knowledge, play,…?

    Well, I don’t know if I’ve come up with very good answers; maybe I’ll just explain it from my perspective.

    I like writing, and from all accounts I’m quite good at it. I used to think that it might be a way to help me in forming a relationship with women I’m attracted to, but the episode we’re discussing – plus several others – made me realise that it didn’t work and I was left with women I really liked who’d be reluctant to be anywhere near me in person but who eagerly awaited my emails.

    I think those women were just not the right ones for you.

    Now, when (or, more accurately, if) I meet someone I’m attracted to, I won’t be doing any cyber-wooing. Apparently, there’s just too much of a fundamental disconnect between Wowbagger’s words and Wowbagger -

    Oh, no! Your writing is wonderful. You just need to find the right person! The woman for you will love your words, and your joy in words. (And will probably write, though maybe not.)

    This has nothing to do with anything (and I’m a hypocrite because I’m a terrible correspondent even with those I love), but I await emails anxiously. Opening them is a little thrill. If someone’s a writer,…well… I don’t speak for womankind, but I highly recommend cyber-wooing.

    And I’m sorry your relationship didn’t work out.
    :(

  235. #236 fatbino
    March 8, 2010

    Hijacking the thread a little

    Has anyone read the new Dean Koontz novel “Breathless”?

    My fiance just finished it and as a postdoc in genetics she was infuriated by the end of it. Dean trots out the old “mathematics disproves Darwinian evolution” canard. “The universe just isn’t old enough for all those mutations to have happened.”

    Man, he gets worse with every book.

  236. #237 https://me.yahoo.com/a/eJREANl71tBZaeOyZkJr9VcGGg4h#2f844
    March 8, 2010

    badgersdaughter: #223, I respectfully submit that learning to be a good lover is a little like engineering, or the study of music composition. You combine one part imagination, one part trying and failing, one part building on the knowledge of others who are successful and who do things you like, and one part building on things you find out by yourself.

    Absolutely. What I’m saying it that it’s good?considerate!?to start with the most of all those as you can, and if that’s to be had from print or pixels, that’s where to start.

    And for the Meeting Her part, well, guys, how do you meet friends in general? Aren’t any of them female?

    That said, Wowbagger, I feel for you. I myself, happily shacked up for over 36 years now etc. etc., have long periods when I really really don’t want to interact with people other than LotP. It gets in the way of work because we do phone and face-to-face interviews and pretty much have to show up at certain public events. It extends even to email. I know there are people who feel I’m shunning them, and I don’t want that; they don’t deserve it and I know getting that from friends is painful.

    FWIW, the couple times I’ve met anyone via Pharyngula have been pretty damned relaxing.

    Even though last time PZ was in town I didn’t manage to shove through the admiring crowd to say Hi. I was kinda worn out physically at that point, which has a strong and nasty effect on my social muscles.

    I did get to eat pizza with the young ‘uns and act the Elder and kwok on about having gone to highschool with Behe and having his photo in one of my yearbooks.

    Picked out in cuneiform, of course.

  237. #238 Kel, OM
    March 8, 2010

    not to mention that it’s making me more than a little nervous about the GAC this coming weekend.

    Never forget the words of Homer Simpson: “To alcohol: the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems.”

  238. #239 MrFire
    March 8, 2010

    SC, I appreciate that you are spending a good deal of time writing serious, thoughtful, and lucid comments, and I am learning a great deal from reading those conversations. However, I wanted to point out that cicely @18 left you some low-hanging fruit:

    We bailed out

    You may possess sufficient self-respect to refrain from beating that dead horse, but I do not.

  239. #240 badgersdaughter
    March 8, 2010

    If someone’s a writer,…well… I don’t speak for womankind, but I highly recommend cyber-wooing.

    Words are cheap, but also priceless. A man can get my attention, and hold it, by what he writes, but he has to know that I’m waiting for it to be ratified by his actions. That said, I think there’s a little of the Roxane in most women, responsive to being swept off their feet by someone who, by demonstrating brilliance in thought and pen, hints at brilliance in other… aspects of the relationship.

  240. #241 SC OM
    March 8, 2010

    Err…I’m giving way here a little.

    w00t!

    I don’t know if it is explicit, but a fourth and fifth reading (especially of the awfully written [the whole thing is awfully written; this is because it's garbage] endnote) leaves me in doubt.

    Do you think Razib and friends are promoting a “classical,” “traditional” concept of race, or not? If not, what is the concept of race they’re talking about, how is it defined, and how is it scientifically valid and useful?

    A note on race being a societal construct. To some extent, of course it is–some people that would be called “black” in the US might not be called “black” in France, for example (and not because of the language difference, for all you smartasses. The word “black” in French specifically refers to racial classification). I have enough faith in human intelligence to think that the first person who called race a societal construct did not mean that it had no biological component as well–note that the Wikipedia entry on adolesence refers to it as a “cultural and social phenomenon” but also “the transitional stage of human development in which a juvenile matures into an adult”. [Stupid.] People seem to somehow be able to keep the cultural and biological aspects of adolescence in their heads at the same time, as I imagine the first sociologists to study race were able to do (I may, of course, be wrong), yet somehow the fact that biological differences are interpreted through a cultural lens has somehow morphed into the idea that the biological differences don’t exist to begin with (see, e.g. the ASA statement on race). Weird.

    Blah blah blah. No one has argued that biological differences don’t exist. This is a ridiculous strawman. Ask them to define race and defend their concept’s scientific validity and usefulness.

    Also, I saw the last 15 minutes of the video you posted (spent 3 hours lecturing today and another three reading papers while pretending to proctor an exam), and read the Bolnick chapter Individual ancestry inference and the reification of race as a biological phenomenon (available on Google Books) that criticizes Rosenberg et al. (2002). I haven’t used STRUCTURE in the past, but this weird prior choice regarding the number of populations in which to bin individuals (K) seems suspect to me. I had always assumed that this was parameterized like any other distribution to be estimated in a Bayesian analysis. Will read more about this.

    OK.

    But don’t you think that phenotypic traits can improve the probability of guessing right…not race (social construct) but geographical origin (biological concept related to clines, etc.?)

    What concept?

    Thoughts on this:
    a) A few weeks ago, I picked up a visiting scholar from the airport. I know that he is from New Delhi, but I hadn’t seen a picture of him. I got stuck in traffic, ran late, and arranged by phone to meet him in an airport Starbucks. There were seven-ten people there when I arrived, and only one looked like an Indian man. I walked up and introduced myself…right guy.

    b) People complain constantly about depictions of Jesus as a blond-haired blue-eyed man. Its not impossible that a man living in Galilee at the time would have had these traits. It is just unlikely.

    c) I work with one undergraduate researcher who self-identifies as African American. I have another who self identifies as Philippino. Neither fact would come as a surprise to anyone.

    d) My wife is Sicilian, with very dark eyes and hair, and olive skin. Everyone gets her wrong, but not randomly. Mexicans identify her as Mexican (and will speak to her in Spanish, ignoring my blue-eyed pale ass entirely). Indian students think she’s Indian. Middle-Eastern students think that she’s Middle Eastern. No one has ever presumed that she was from Northern Europe.

    ?

    For the PBS test to be a fair test of geographical recognition,

    Which would be evidence of what, exactly?

    1) the pictures would have to be larger, 2) the categories would have to be geographical (Latino/Hispanic? Jesus…the US Census doesn’t even recognize that as a racial category), 3) the photos should be chosen randomly from a large diverse pool, and 4) one wouldn’t have to do well…just significantly better than random.

    This would demonstrate what? Someone’s personal “observations” about distinctions are worth what, exactly?

  241. #242 Pygmy Loris
    March 8, 2010

    Antiochus Epiphanes,

    The post from Gene Expression that you linked to explicitly advocates a racial interpretation of human biological variation.

    So it’s clear that populations differ genetically and that these differences are relevant phenotypically and informative about race.

    They really mean it. I’ve read Gene Expression off and on and the guys over there have an explicitly racial conception of genetic variation. Papers that they reference sample a tiny portion of humanity from a tiny portion of geographically disparate populations and then say that race is a good construction to explain human genetic variation. This is false. I linked to an article by John Relethford explaining that genetic distance increases as geographic distance increases. This means that if you’re sampling 52 populations from around the world, chances are they’ll be geographically distant enough that the genetic distance appears to be relatively large and the gulf between distinct. Cavalli-Sforza et al. giant monograph The History and Geography of Human Genes produces clinal map after clinal map of genetic variation. And still these fuckers say that genetic variation analysis produces distinct clusters. It doesn’t when you’re sampling enough populations that conver the geographic distance between extremes.

    You give a great example of how the race concept doesn’t fucking work:

    d) My wife is Sicilian, with very dark eyes and hair, and olive skin. Everyone gets her wrong, but not randomly. Mexicans identify her as Mexican (and will speak to her in Spanish, ignoring my blue-eyed pale ass entirely). Indian students think she’s Indian. Middle-Eastern students think that she’s Middle Eastern. No one has ever presumed that she was from Northern Europe.

    You just need to realize that the people who fall in between racial groups are too common for race to be a valid way of looking at human genetic or phenotypic variation. Just because no one ever mistook your wife for Northern European doesn’t override the fact that people took her for a member of numerous geographically distant groups. Remember, phenotypically, Northern Europeans are a rather extreme phenotype and one of the more variable for eye and hair pigmentations. There are very few human populations that have hair colors other than brown to dark brown, Europeans, Tazmanians, Australian Aborigines, and a handful of others. So, two traits (pasty pale skin and naturally blond hair) could tell you someone is Northern European. This isn’t even a suite of traits, but two freaking traits covered by a bare handful of loci. It’s just not that big of a difference even though the phenotype is very distinctive.

  242. #243 MrFire
    March 8, 2010

    Evolution in action!

    GOATS ON FIRE
    |
    |
    CARS ON FIRE
    |
    |
    EXPLODING SHEEP

  243. #244 SC OM
    March 8, 2010

    You may possess sufficient self-respect to refrain from beating that dead horse, but I do not.

    ! Like being rickrolled, but in a good way :D!

  244. #245 WowbaggerOM
    March 8, 2010

    SC,

    If it were just the one time then I’d chalk it up to ‘statistically insignificant aberration’, but – as noted – it’s not the only time it’s happened. For whatever reason I, in person, don’t seem to be able to live up to my words on paper (or a screen); I suspect it’s because people value boldness and I’m a lot bolder with my words than I am with my actions – depending on how I’m feeling at the GAC I could be an enthusiastic babbler – or I could be sheltering amongst the wallflowers and saying very little at all.

    But my antisocial tendencies stem mostly from the belief that, most of the time, I’m not facing an audience likely to be appreciative of me. It’s certainly not from shyness; after all, I’m a stage actor who over the last 7 years has performed in front of hundreds at a time on numerous occasions.

    So, the way I’m looking at it at the moment is an opportunity to go amongst a bunch of people who don’t know ‘meatspace me’ – and who, by virtue of the fact they’re at the GAC, aren’t going to be put-off by outspokenness or snarkiness – hopefully, quite the opposite.

    My kind of people, I guess. I can actually be like I am here, which is closer to the ‘real’ me than most people I interact with in person.

    SC wrote:

    Oh, no! Your writing is wonderful.

    Thanks. It’s nice to hear that :)

    Kel wrote:

    Never forget the words of Homer Simpson: “To alcohol: the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems.”

    Oh, that’s an integral part of my plan. I don’t drink very often so my tolerance is low; it’ll happen quickly enough…

  245. #246 windy
    March 8, 2010

    I haven’t used STRUCTURE in the past, but this weird prior choice regarding the number of populations in which to bin individuals (K) seems suspect to me. I had always assumed that this was parameterized like any other distribution to be estimated in a Bayesian analysis.

    What prior choice? You don’t have to predetermine K to use that program, it gives you the best fit. (But sometimes different numbers of K fit the data about equally well.)

  246. #247 SC OM
    March 8, 2010

    …and kwok on…

    Yes, this needs to be a verb. I support the initiative.

  247. #248 MrFire
    March 8, 2010

    ! Like being rickrolled, but in a good way :D!

    *chuckle*

    Perhaps I should figure out a way to post a recording of my lab’s purification machine in startup mode. It sounds just like the guy…octave-mangling and all.

  248. #249 WowbaggerOM
    March 9, 2010

    badgersdaughter wrote:

    That said, I think there’s a little of the Roxane in most women, responsive to being swept off their feet by someone who, by demonstrating brilliance in thought and pen, hints at brilliance in other… aspects of the relationship.

    Therein lies the problem. I know how to write – other aspects, not so much. Which is fine if you’re nineteen; not so great if you’re…older than that.

  249. #250 SC OM
    March 9, 2010

    If it were just the one time then I’d chalk it up to ‘statistically insignificant aberration’, but – as noted – it’s not the only time it’s happened. For whatever reason I, in person, don’t seem to be able to live up to my words on paper (or a screen);

    But you are your words. Really. It may not be immediate, but…

    I suspect it’s because people value boldness and I’m a lot bolder with my words than I am with my actions – depending on how I’m feeling at the GAC I could be an enthusiastic babbler – or I could be sheltering amongst the wallflowers and saying very little at all.

    OK. Kel, BoS, Rorschach – you had damned well better not let Wowbagger feel like a wallflower. I mean that. Be alert. If he reports that he’s feeling left out for any significant period of time, I will be very angry with you lot.

    *glare*

    But my antisocial tendencies stem mostly from the belief that, most of the time, I’m not facing an audience likely to be appreciative of me. It’s certainly not from shyness; after all, I’m a stage actor who over the last 7 years has performed in front of hundreds at a time on numerous occasions.

    Theater isn’t life, though. :|

    So, the way I’m looking at it at the moment is an opportunity to go amongst a bunch of people who don’t know ‘meatspace me’ – and who, by virtue of the fact they’re at the GAC, aren’t going to be put-off by outspokenness or snarkiness – hopefully, quite the opposite.

    My kind of people, I guess. I can actually be like I am here, which is closer to the ‘real’ me than most people I interact with in person.

    True, and you’ll all have a friggin’ ball.

  250. #251 Ichthyic
    March 9, 2010

    Yep. But they’re all over apparently.

    hmm, I wish I had caught that earlier. been looking to grab a copy of that.

    probably could contact the “ministry” directly; they might still have copies.

    Are you going to see Dawkins speak in CC or Welly this month?

  251. #252 Xenithrys
    March 9, 2010

    Are you going to see Dawkins speak in CC or Welly this month?

    Wasn’t planning to, but he was so on fire on the Q&A programme that I might have to see if there are still tickets for Welly, if I’m in town that day.

  252. #253 Ichthyic
    March 9, 2010

    here is Ray’s “Ministry” in NZ:

    http://www.livingwatersnz.co.nz/

    I wrote them and asked for copies of Ray’s “special” version of Origin.

    since they supposedly have 10K copies, anyone in OZ or NZ who wanted one might try contacting them directly.

    oh, and do check out the site…

    it’s rather obvious that Ray’s “ministry” is more like a store for junk good sales
    :P

    but then, that’s always been rather obvious about Ray; he’s clearly been in it for the cash from the very start.

  253. #254 windy
    March 9, 2010

    Cavalli-Sforza et al. giant monograph The History and Geography of Human Genes produces clinal map after clinal map of genetic variation. And still these fuckers say that genetic variation analysis produces distinct clusters. It doesn’t when you’re sampling enough populations that conver the geographic distance between extremes.

    I’m not sure that only one or the other, clines vs clusters, is right. You could use the same data to do the kind of PCA based analysis C-S did, or you could look for distinct clusters. For example, C-S et al also did genetic distance trees which do depend on “clustering” populations by similarity! And on the maps C-S et al used smoothing to fit their surfaces so that may affect the impression one gets of the genetic variation (they argue that smoothing is justified because of large sampling error of allele frequencies).

    And while the C-S et al sampling density was impressive (was it 491 populations?) I wouldn’t take it as the final word on human genetic variation, since the genotyping methods available then were very limited.

  254. #255 Ichthyic
    March 9, 2010

    btw, not for nothing, this discussion of the definitions and usages of race, sociology vs biology, has been the best one I have seen here… ever.

  255. #256 Ichthyic
    March 9, 2010

    Wasn’t planning to, but he was so on fire on the Q&A programme that I might have to see if there are still tickets for Welly, if I’m in town that day.

    sorry to say, that one’s been sold out for months.

    but, next time you’re in welly, there are a group of us pharyngulites that hang out at Kitty’s from time to time, give me a head’s up and we’ll buy you a round.

  256. #257 Josh, Official SpokesGay
    March 9, 2010

    @Ichthyic:

    not for nothing

    Ah:) You have no idea how oddly comforting it is to see that phrase! It reminds me of the places I grew up (upstate New York, and the suburbs of New York City). Sounds like home to me. Where are you from, Ich?

  257. #258 Xenithrys
    March 9, 2010

    he’s clearly been in it for the cash from the very start.

    Just like Bishop Brian. I love the pastors’ employment contract prohibition on opening a church within 50 km of any Destiny church; obviously more interested in preserving market share than saving souls for Jesus.

    What was that biblical definition of a sodomite again? Proud, eats better than others, and doesn’t help the poor?

    Oh, and RD tomorrow night is sold out it seems.

  258. #259 Ichthyic
    March 9, 2010

    … well, next month, anyway. I’m currently still fighting some bizarre liver ailment that’s laid me away for almost 2 months now.
    :P

  259. #260 Xenithrys
    March 9, 2010

    next time you’re in welly, there are a group of us pharyngulites that hang out at Kitty’s from time to time, give me a head’s up and we’ll buy you a round.

    Excellent, thanks; I’d like that. Actually I live here, but need to be away on field work a bit this month, hence my comment.

  260. #261 Ichthyic
    March 9, 2010

    Where are you from, Ich?

    CA, but NY phraseology made its way westward as I was growing up :)

  261. #262 Josh, Official SpokesGay
    March 9, 2010

    CA, but NY phraseology made its way westward as I was growing up :)

    Well, um not fer nuthin’ but [chonks gum], at least you’re not all like, dooood. Teee-hee.

  262. #263 Ichthyic
    March 9, 2010

    Actually I live here, but need to be away on field work a bit this month, hence my comment.

    ah!

    just shoot me an email so we can keep in touch then:

    fisheyephotosAThotmailDOTcom

  263. #264 Kel, OM
    March 9, 2010

    OK. Kel, BoS, Rorschach – you had damned well better not let Wowbagger feel like a wallflower.

    I’ll try my best, but until I’ve got a few pints in me I’m like a shy three year old – but without any of the cute (or a parent to bury my face in). Then after that I turn all pseudo-philosophical as the volume level becomes inversely proportional to the sense I make.

    But like I said, I’ll do my best.

  264. #265 Rorschach
    March 9, 2010

    SC “Larsen B” OM @ 250,

    you had damned well better not let Wowbagger feel like a wallflower. I mean that. Be alert.

    I think if he can manage to get you to be jovial, he will do just fine at the GAC…:-)

    I’ve left a couple comments at the Age’s comment section where Barney Zwartz has been spouting his usual prejudices once more, comparing the GAC with the PWR(parliament of world religions that was on here in December).
    I wonder how many discussion panels at the PWR had the topic “Islam, Christianity, or Leprechaunism, which one is right?”

  265. #266 Pygmy Loris
    March 9, 2010

    windy,

    There are obvious limitations to the analysis by C-S et al, but no other genetic study I’m aware of has the number of populations covered by them.

    Genetic distance trees do cluster populations. That’s specifically what the technique is supposed to do. I can produce cluster analysis for any set of data. That doesn’t mean that cluster analysis is the best way to analyze the data. Genetic distance trees aren’t really that great for supporting the idea that human variation produces clusters because they depend on the assumption that the variation is best described by such a tree.

    I know we’re talking about genetics here, but the quest for clusters of genetically similar individuals reflects early 20th century craniometry. There’s a PCA graph in the White et al. publication* on the Herto cranium that shows the gigantic cluster of human cranial variation. I remember the graph because it was too small and had too many points on it to be useful, but it did show that humans cluster together, but, with a large enough sample, you’re not going to get very distinct clusters for specific human populations with the possible exception of Australian Aborigines who have the most distinctive crania of any human population.

    Anyway, the whole point is that some genetic variation produces clusters, some produces clines, but none of it supports the idea that race is a productive framework for explaining human variation. This should be enough to dismiss those who think we should talk about biological races in Homo sapiens without even discussing the social implications of racial classification.

    *White TD, Asfaw B, DeGusta D, Gilbert H, Richards GD, Suwa G, Howell FC. 2003. Pleistocene Homo sapiens from Middle Awash, Ethiopia. Nature 423:742-7.

  266. #267 Pygmy Loris
    March 9, 2010

    To add to my post at #266, I don’t agree with the entirety of Cavalli-Sforza et al, particularly their interpretations of the genetic maps in the monograph, but it is a very large global study, so it’s easy to reference.

  267. #268 Patricia, Ignorant Slut OM
    March 9, 2010

    Have no fear, Wowbagger is all set to get at least one message from a slut.

  268. #269 Pygmy Loris
    March 9, 2010

    So, I have seen several burning cars, but never actually been there when the fire started. Traffic does tend to back up for miles when a car catches on fire. Hell, I’ve seen traffic back up for miles because people are gazing at the remains of a burned up vehicle!

  269. #270 Pygmy Loris
    March 9, 2010

    Oh! It’s after midnight CST, so Happy Birthday, PZ!

  270. #271 Ichthyic
    March 9, 2010

    Well, um not fer nuthin’ but [chonks gum], at least you’re not all like, dooood.

    like, gnarly!

  271. #272 Sili
    March 9, 2010

    Happy Spawnularity!

  272. #273 Bride of Shrek OM
    March 9, 2010

    Patricia, Most Awesome Slut Queen @ #268

    Have no fear, Wowbagger is all set to get at least one message from a slut

    ..and I’ve been growing my fingernails, extra special long, just for that extra “oomph” factor.I was never one of those kids in the playground who teased other kids so in one mighty swoop I’m going to let loose 40 years of repressed bully factor on the poor Wowbagger.

  273. #274 Ichthyic
    March 9, 2010

    Anyway, the whole point is that some genetic variation produces clusters, some produces clines, but none of it supports the idea that race is a productive framework for explaining human variation.

    so, when addressing applicable areas of distinct variability, the idea would be to address individual genealogy instead?

    I’m thinking along the lines of specific heritable diseases, that selection has shaped in various populations in various regions.

    what is the best way to *ahem* “frame” that?

  274. #275 Ichthyic
    March 9, 2010

    ..and I’ve been growing my fingernails, extra special long, just for that extra “oomph” factor

    This is YOU?

    grrrrowwwlll.
    :)

  275. #276 Kel, OM
    March 9, 2010

    And since the 9th of March is almost over in Australia, Happy Birthday PZed.

  276. #277 llewelly
    March 9, 2010

    Josh, Official SpokesGay | March 9, 2010 12:50 AM:

    @Ichthyic:

    not for nothing

    Ah:) You have no idea how oddly comforting it is to see that phrase! It reminds me of the places I grew up (upstate New York, and the suburbs of New York City). Sounds like home to me. Where are you from, Ich?

    Careful, Josh. I heard it used a fair amount during the second half of my childhood … spent in Worst Jordan, a suburb of Salt Lake City, Utah. (Although I doubt Ichthyic is from there.)

  277. #278 Ichthyic
    March 9, 2010

    so, when addressing applicable areas of distinct variability, the idea would be to address individual genealogy instead?

    or regional descriptives instead?

    like:

    sub-saharan african
    nordic
    arctic

    etc?

  278. #279 Rorschach
    March 9, 2010

    This is YOU?

    How did you know???
    I especially dream about the dangly bit, then the claws…:-)
    Oh what a great “convention” we will have !!

  279. #280 Pygmy Loris
    March 9, 2010

    Ichthyic,

    I’m thinking along the lines of specific heritable diseases, that selection has shaped in various populations in various regions.

    emphasis mine

    You mean something like Tay-Sachs disease that is most common among Ashkenazi Jews? You’re talking about a population, not a race since Jews are Caucasians. Or perhaps sickle-cell anemia, which is more common among some populations of Africa, but certainly not all? Or thalassemia, which is common among people of Mediterranean ancestry, who are, like Ashkenazi Jews, Caucasians? I could go on, but I think that’s enough. You did, after all, answer your own question. We talk about populations and the selective factors acting on those populations. Those selection factors have not been enough to produce racial variation in humans.

    Native Americans are very similar to Asians (relatively speaking of course), but the current distribution of genotypes among the former is defined by both founder effects from the migrations to the Americas and the rather dramatic selection event that took place after the introduction of Old World diseases in 1492. We can talk about these things by discussing populations and natural selection without ever talking about race.

    so, when addressing applicable areas of distinct variability, the idea would be to address individual genealogy instead?

    In a clinical setting where a person might be getting genetic counseling wrt a potential or existing pregnancy, yes individual genealogy is the most important factor. One great-grand parent who was Ashkenazi could have passed on the allele for Tay-Sachs to you.

  280. #281 Ichthyic
    March 9, 2010

    One great-grand parent who was Ashkenazi could have passed on the allele for Tay-Sachs to you.

    right.

    so what would you classify the term “ashkenazi” as?

  281. #282 Gyeong Hwa Pak, Tai Dam lum Pun
    March 9, 2010

    I’m thinking along the lines of specific heritable diseases, that selection has shaped in various populations in various regions.

    what is the best way to *ahem* “frame” that?

    Whatever do you mean, Ichthyic? Are you referring to phenomenons like sickle-cell anemia amongst Sub-Saharan African and lactose intolerance amongst Asians? Because, it would be hard to frame such things, because those genetic traits are variable, not exclusive. So one can say that most East Asians are susceptible to lactose intolerance more so than Scandinavians, but you must anticipate exceptions to those generalization.

    The system that I’ve used for categorizing people is through ethno-lingual families. Of course, it’s still politically charge and has its controversy, but for the absent of a better system I think it’ll have to due.

  282. #283 Bride of Shrek OM
    March 9, 2010

    Ichthy

    This is YOU?

    ..apart from the weird codpiece thingy and talons it kind of has a passing resemblance. My eyebrows aren’t quite that spock-like though.

  283. #284 Ichthyic
    March 9, 2010

    The system that I’ve used for categorizing people is through ethno-lingual families.

    YES!

    that’s what I was looking for, I don’t think I was clear enough that it was the descriptive terminology I was after, not arguing whether race as a technical term is applicable to human populations.

  284. #285 Janine, Mistress Of Foul Mouth Abuse, OM
    March 9, 2010

    I am grateful that I am not the only one who thought she was wearing a codpiece.

  285. #286 Ichthyic
    March 9, 2010

    …I wonder if it would be worth discussing applying finer descriptive terminologies to animal populations as well?

    I’m not actually a taxonomist, but being involved in researching the evolution of fish behavior from time to time, classifications are always an issue.

  286. #287 Pygmy Loris
    March 9, 2010

    so what would you classify the term “ashkenazi” as?

    How many times do I have to repeat it, population! This is actually exactly how the Ashkenazi are discussed in papers about their genetic origins. Race is entirely inappropriate.

    Seriously, what’s the obsession with “If we can’t use the term race, how do we discuss genetic differences in humans?” Race is no longer used in biology, but they talk about populations all the time. There’s a whole field called population biology that covers this stuff.

  287. #288 Ichthyic
    March 9, 2010

    Race is entirely inappropriate.

    read 284.

    I think i wasn’t being clear enough that I was after specific descriptive terminology, the case against using the term “race” had won me over years ago.

    There’s a whole field called population biology that covers this stuff.

    uh, back off. you don’t need to be condescending. You don’t think someone with a grad degree in zoology from Berkeley has studied population biology?

    maybe it’s just the age difference. When I first studied population biology as an undergrad, it would have been around 1983.

  288. #289 Gyeong Hwa Pak, Tai Dam lum Pun
    March 9, 2010

    I am grateful that I am not the only one who thought she was wearing a codpiece.

    What? Where? I don’t see it? *squint eyes*

  289. #290 John
    March 9, 2010

    I think it’s pretty clear that “race”, as identifiable by physical characteristics, isn’t tied to any other genetic traits. The only thing it tells you is what cultural group a person is more likely to self-identify with. For that specific purpose I would argue you can usually tell with greater than random accuracy what group a person belongs to. Again, this tells you nothing about a person’s genes other than those for appearance. It does hold the possiblity of conveying social/cultural information.

    I find myself curious whether people self-identify based on what groups they feel they fit in with, or how other people have classified/discriminated against them. Even if you self-identified as caucasian, if your appearance led people to discriminate against you for appearing hispanic/black/etc., it could possibly alter your view.

  290. #291 Janine, Mistress Of Foul Mouth Abuse, OM
    March 9, 2010

    That large dangling thing!

  291. #292 Ichthyic
    March 9, 2010

    That large dangling thing!

    yeah, can’t figure out why the artist put that there.

    very stylish armor addon?

  292. #293 Pygmy Loris
    March 9, 2010

    GHP,

    You should talk about the distribution of lactast retention (lactose tolerance). Approximately 75% of living humans are lactose intolerant. Lactose intolerance is the ancestral condition, but lactase retention is the derived (and interesting) condition. It’s also only present in populations that both had access to dairy products and reasons to consume them. Interestingly, lactase retention exhibits a clinal distribution in Europe.

    A quick primer on lactose intolerance.

    The system that I’ve used for categorizing people is through ethno-lingual families.

    Yep. Linguistic patterns often (but not always!) reflect the distribution of interbreeding human populations. It’s easier to marry someone who speaks your language :)

  293. #294 Pygmy Loris
    March 9, 2010

    Ichthyic,

    I’m sorry for being condescending, but you’re hardly the first person on this thread to raise that specific question and #284 wasn’t posted while I was composing my reply.

    Yes, I understand that you would be aware of population biology, that’s specifically why I was so exasperated with the question. If race isn’t necessary to describe variation in other areas of biology, why do we need it for humans?

    I can see why you might want something a little more specific than population, but I don’t feel that way. Populations can be defined at many different levels (I’ve said this before) like local, regional and global. It’s a useful idea and is how we discuss this stuff in biological anthropology. That hasn’t created any problems in getting ideas across that I can see, so I get annoyed when people keep saying “then how do we talk about this.”

  294. #295 Gyeong Hwa Pak, Tai Dam lum Pun
    March 9, 2010

    …I wonder if it would be worth discussing applying finer descriptive terminologies to animal populations as well?

    And you’ve hit the spot. Very descriptive terminologies of human populations, through such means as ethno-lingual groups, is valuable in identifying different cultural patterns amongst people of the a large group. However, it’s a charged issue with many anthropologist supporting it and opposing it. Some feels that it’s dangerous in that mirrors some of the classification processes of scientific racism and colonialism, others fell such classification are appropriate to distinguish groups especially if one group does not agree with a seemingly related group. Not to mention the great deal of politics involved. Example: the classification of Khmer Surin, a distinct cultural group speaking a distinct dialect of Khmer, would be problematic because many Khmer living in Cambodia believes that they are cultural similar to Khmer in Cambodia wish to absorb them into mainstream Khmer culture. OTOH, some Thais believe that the fine and detail classification is appropriate because it would add to the uniqueness of the Khmer Surin. Under both argument lies a great deal of nationalism and racism. Sorry, for the anthropological rant, I’m just throwing things out there because I’m brainstorming for a paper. I’m not targeting you for anything here, Ichthyic.

    Seriously, what’s the obsession with “If we can’t use the term race, how do we discuss genetic differences in humans?”

    See the above rant.

  295. #296 Ichthyic
    March 9, 2010

    If race isn’t necessary to describe variation in other areas of biology, why do we need it for humans?

    that’s a good question actually.

    I bet in my case it’s simply repeated exposure to using various descriptive terms to begin with.

    cognitive dissonance between how I look at animals vs humans.

    sometimes it DOES take multiple re-thinks to decide which descriptive terminology seems a best-fit.

  296. #297 Ichthyic
    March 9, 2010

    I’m also working on coming up 2 months with no more than 3 or 4 hours of sleep on any given day.

    my mind is working… slowly…

    if you’ve ever been jaundiced for any reason, you well know the horrors of the infernal, endless, unceasing itching.

    *scratch scratch scratch*

    I’m going to take a break until tomorrow morning…

    unless I can’t sleep again, in which case I’ll probably gibber something even less useful in a few hours.

    *cries for lack of sleep*

  297. #298 Gyeong Hwa Pak, Tai Dam lum Pun
    March 9, 2010

    You’ve got to jam for you birthday morlam style Go, PZ!!! Oh la noi ouy!!!!!!! grooo!!!!!!

    That large dangling thing!

    Phallic

  298. #299 Rorschach
    March 9, 2010

    Ichty,

    why are you still itchy if plumbing has been fixed?? That shouldnt be the case…..

  299. #300 llewelly
    March 9, 2010

    Janine, Mistress Of Foul Mouth Abuse, OM | March 9, 2010 2:53 AM:

    I am grateful that I am not the only one who thought she was wearing a codpiece.

    It is intended to be a sort of two piece skirt, which has one piece of cloth in front, and one in back, and shows off the legs and hips.(0) (Akin to certain styles of loincloth.) However, the artist went and put curved metallic scales on the front piece, which make it look cylindrical rather than flat, and stiff rather than flexible. Combine this with the taper and you have an unintended codpiece like look – a problem which occurs from time to time in art depicting this outfit.

    (0) This is a ridiculously common outfit for women in RPG-related art. It is a challenge to find a d20 book that does not depict a few women in this outfit. I originally saw it in Snarfquest, where it was used in part to showcase Telerie Windyarm’s relative lack of any sense of modesty.

  300. #301 Ichthyic
    March 9, 2010

    why are you still itchy if plumbing has been fixed?? That shouldnt be the case…..

    indeed.

    *sigh*

    the plumbing has been “fixed” not once, but twice, btw, and still….

    next step: liver biopsy.

    fun times.

  301. #302 Pygmy Loris
    March 9, 2010

    Ichthyic,

    cognitive dissonance between how I look at animals vs humans.

    So, if you were studying a non-human mammal species with similar levels and patterns of genetic diversity to humans, what terminology would you use to discuss that variation? Would you use different terminology if you were only studying a small part of that species?

    WRT behavior, the Gombe chimps (the ones studied by Jane Goodall) exhibit different behaviors from other chimp groups. I’ve read articles that call the various breeding populations, populations, groups, and tribes. Most of the chimp groups that have been studied have distinctive behavioral repertoires that include, but are not limited to, different patterns and types of tool use. No one calls them “races.” It’s simply not terminology I ever run into in the literature on other primates, which is the biological literature I’m most familiar with.

  302. #303 Thebear
    March 9, 2010

    Just popping my head in to blow up a rabbit, pull a ballon out of my hat and say “Happy birthday PZ”

  303. #304 Pygmy Loris
    March 9, 2010

    Ichthyic,

    I do hope you can find out what’s going on with your own biology. The no sleep thing sucks. Good luck with the liver biopsy.

  304. #305 Jadehawk, OM
    March 9, 2010

    it is now 2:36am CST.

    Happy Birthday, PZ.

  305. #306 Gyeong Hwa Pak, Tai Dam lum Pun
    March 9, 2010

    GHP,

    You should talk about the distribution of lactast retention (lactose tolerance). Approximately 75% of living humans are lactose intolerant. Lactose intolerance is the ancestral condition, but lactase retention is the derived (and interesting) condition. It’s also only present in populations that both had access to dairy products and reasons to consume them. Interestingly, lactase retention exhibits a clinal distribution in Europe.

    Pygmy Loris, lactast retention is due in part by a mixture of natural and artificial selection. Intolerance would be the default because it would be advantageous for a mother to divert her resources from one child to the next. Retention OTOH is advantageous to those group who rely heavily on dairy products for nutrients. However, reliance on dairy is a cultural practice as much as it is an issue of available resource. So, in that way it’s both a cultural and biological adaptation. As we come closer to the present, it becomes apparent that dairy products are no longer as essential to human survival but retention is still selected for due to cultural adaptation to dairy. Consider the dairy campaign in the US. With economics aside, the support of dairy is a cultural thing. So here, intolerance is an abnormality, where in reality most people in the world are intolerant.

  306. #307 Rorschach
    March 9, 2010

    the plumbing has been “fixed” not once, but twice, btw, and still….

    next step: liver biopsy.

    I dont like the sound of that.Had a CT yet ? It’s not hard to tell intra- from extrahepatic cholestasis based on blood tests, and unless you have hepatitis or something awful, this should have cleared by now.
    Well, good luck man….

  307. #308 Pygmy Loris
    March 9, 2010

    GHP,

    Yes. I’m fully aware of that. Reliance on dairy is entirely a product of culture because the domestication of dairy sources is a cultural phenomenon. Horses, for example, weren’t domesticated for their milk, but once that milk was available, it became advantageous to be able to use it. Lactase retention is a biological adaptation to a cultural environment. It is a wonderful example of the utility of the biocultural approach to human biological variation.

    Of course there are purely cultural methods of utilizing dairy resources like fermentation. Yogurt is a common product in the Mediterranean and Middle East where lactase retention is not as common as Northern Europe, but dairy sources are abundant.

  308. #309 Josh, Official SpokesGay
    March 9, 2010

    I’m eating a cheeseburger. Just sayin’.

  309. #310 Pygmy Loris
    March 9, 2010

    Josh! You’re a dirty sinner. Cheeseburgers are not kosher :)

  310. #311 Josh, Official SpokesGay
    March 9, 2010

    . .you’re a dirty sinner. Cheeseburgers are not kosher:)

    Why, yes, I am. And, no, they’re not! But they, and I, are delicious. I have serious doubts concerning whether you’re ready for this jelly. And with that, it’s time for SpokesGay to go “poof” into his crisp, luscious cotton sheets. Night-night!

  311. #312 Pygmy Loris
    March 9, 2010

    Night! I think I’m going to try to sleep now too.

  312. #313 Gyeong Hwa Pak, Tai Dam lum Pun
    March 9, 2010

    Which reminds me Pygmy Loris; never ever work on abdominal after drinking a glass of milk. Especially if you’re intolerant to it. (Even slightly, as I am)

    What’s even more culturally adaptive is schizophrenia. We joke about schizo nowadays but there are still some cultures that regard people with it as being close to divine. Hell, I’m willing to bet that many saints and prophets had schizo. (Or were high as was with the case of pre-Incan societies.)

    (sigh. I want to work on my essay, but I’m toggling between Pharyngula and. . . uh. . .never mind.)

  313. #314 SaintStephen
    March 9, 2010

    Well, it’s 12:45AM PST on March 9th, 2010.

    Professor Myers, as of now you are nearly an hour into your 53-year-old dotage.

    My condolences.

    (Should I? Nah… well… okay, I should):

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY !!!

  314. #315 Leigh Williams, Queen of Cognitive Dissonance, OM
    March 9, 2010

    Ichthyic, how awful. Cholestasis is horrible; I had it when I was pregnant with the twins. Had my gallbladder out three months after they were born, too. I had never been that miserable (and exhausted from sleeplessness) before. I do hope you can find out what’s going on very soon.

    I’ve scanned the thread so quickly I didn’t notice if anyone answered this question, but that sorry sumbitch terrorist Joseph Stack burned down his house before he murdered Vernon Hunter by crashing his plane into the IRS building in Austin. Sheryl Stack, his wife, spoke at a benefit concert given for her on Sunday. She and her daughter (Stack’s stepdaughter) lost everything in the fire.

    I have to get some sleep; I’m driving to East Texas tomorrow in a car with a tire problem. I’ve SO enjoyed all the car fire stories tonight, especially the ones dealing with blowouts. ;(

    Reminds me of my car in college, a Volkswagen with fuel injection that tended to blow sparkplugs out of its aluminum head, so that I went down the road trailing fire. Or at least I thought that would happen; it was so long ago I don’t remember if it really did. It’s a wonder I didn’t crash into something since I always drove looking in the rearview mirrors. Good times.

    Happy birthday, Tentacled Overlord. I hope you’re walking around on the plane at least once an hour; at our advanced age, deep vein thrombosis is a real possibility. On that cheerful note, I bid you Many Happy Returns!

  315. #316 negentropyeater
    March 9, 2010

    Happy birthday PZ. All the best…

    btw, does anybody know what is the official birthday of Pharyngula ?

  316. #317 Rorschach
    March 9, 2010

    at our advanced age, deep vein thrombosis is a real possibility

    Aspirine, and walking round the plane and doing calf muscle exercises, is your friend.

  317. #318 windy
    March 9, 2010

    Jadehawk, this quote reminded me of the last subthread:

    “When you had sex with somebody from Detroit Lakes it was just plain sex like everybody else has, unless you had it with somebody from Fargo who knows something”.

    I guess sex in the big cities IS different! ;)

  318. #319 Walton, Extra Special Dumpling of Awesome
    March 9, 2010

    Re Discworld books, my favourites are probably Men-at-Arms, Feet of Clay, Going Postal and Making Money. Thud! was also very good, though a little bit darker and more complex.

    Discworld has definitely got much, much better as time has gone on. The early ones (Colour of Magic, Equal Rites and so on) were much less sophisticated, and more focused on parodying fantasy genre tropes.

  319. #320 negentropyeater
    March 9, 2010

    I feel sorry for our itchy Ichty.
    Hope you can find out what’s going on and get better soon.

  320. #321 llewelly
    March 9, 2010

    hebear | March 9, 2010 3:32 AM:

    Just popping my head in to blow up a rabbit …

    Whyever did you massacre an innocent rabbit? And if it had to be killed, couldn’t you have kept it in one piece, so as to make the tasty meat easier to harvest?

  321. #322 John Morales
    March 9, 2010

    btw, does anybody know what is the official birthday of Pharyngula ?

    PZ and Wikipedia?

    According to Alexa Internet, Pharyngula.org was started on 19 June 2002.[2] It started out as an experiment in writing instruction for a class. Students were required to submit mini-essays to be published online. After the project was finished, Myers still had the web-publishing software, and started to use it personally. The blog is named after his favourite stage in embryonic development, the pharyngula stage. Pharyngula moved to hosting at ScienceBlogs in 2005.

  322. #323 Feynmaniac
    March 9, 2010

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY PZ!

    I hope those Australians get you some good gifts. However, I don’t think anyone could top this present.

  323. #324 Thebear
    March 9, 2010

    llewelly: When you’re going for the wacko-clown-style celebrations, chunky is the only way to go.

  324. #325 scooterKPFT
    March 9, 2010

    #327

    Whyever did you massacre an innocent rabbit?

    Aren’t we supposed to start crucifying rabbits pretty soon ?

  325. #326 Tigger_the_Wing
    March 9, 2010

    Aren’t we supposed to start crucifying rabbits pretty soon ?

    I refuse to crucify any but pre-Cambrian rabbits!

    Happy Birthday PZ (fewer than 110 minutes left of it here).

    Tee hee? you are now a year older than me (for a few months, anyway).

  326. #327 WowbaggerOM
    March 9, 2010

    ..and I’ve been growing my fingernails, extra special long, just for that extra “oomph” factor.I was never one of those kids in the playground who teased other kids so in one mighty swoop I’m going to let loose 40 years of repressed bully factor on the poor Wowbagger.

    Why is it when I get home from seeing a show (or shows in this case) and decide to check in rather than go straight to bed I always end up reading about one of the women doing awful things to me?

    Gah. No wonder I’m single!

  327. #328 llewelly
    March 9, 2010

    scooterKPFT | March 9, 2010 5:37 AM:

    Aren’t we supposed to start crucifying rabbits pretty soon ?

    No no no. You’re supposed leave out a basket full of grass. Then a bunny will hop by and lay a few chocolate eggs in your basket.

  328. #329 Carlie
    March 9, 2010

    Then a bunny will hop by and lay a few chocolate eggs in your basket.

    Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if it’s oval, brown, and came out of a bunny’s butt, it probably isn’t a chocolate egg.

  329. #330 Sven DiMilo
    March 9, 2010

    For the record, I totally meant this:

    walking away, from this discussion and from the topic in general from here on out.

    And that is why I will not be responding to the continuing discussion, rife though it is (IMO) with misrepresentation, misleading rhetoric, dogmatic assertion, party-line toeing, framing, simplistic gloss, condescension, seemingly willful ignorance, straw-figures, academic-disciplinary heel-digging, emotional reaction, and a notable lack of grounding in evidence.

    It is my choice to let it all stand rather than waste time arguing.

  330. #331 Antiochus Epiphanes
    March 9, 2010

    Fuck me…human population genetics is fraught with peril–who would have guessed for such a lame species. Nonetheless, muchas gracias SC, Sven, Pygmy Loris and others for the enlightening* discussion.

    *For me, anyway.

  331. #332 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 9, 2010

    Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if it’s oval, brown, and came out of a bunny’s butt, it probably isn’t a chocolate egg.

    Now she tells me.

  332. #333 Antiochus Epiphanes
    March 9, 2010

    Oh…and happy birthmas, PZ.

  333. #334 SC OM
    March 9, 2010

    btw, not for nothing, this discussion of the definitions and usages of race, sociology vs biology, has been the best one I have seen here… ever.

    :). Just want to clarify, because I think too often this is presented as a question on which there a disciplinary division. The first piece I linked to on this thread was by Graves:

    Joseph L. Graves, Jr. is University Core Director and Professor of Biological Sciences at Fairleigh Dickinson University. His research concerns the evolutionary genetics of postponed aging and biological concepts of race in humans. He is the author of The Emperor’s New Clothes: Biological Theories of Race at the Millennium, and The Race Myth: Why We Pretend Race Exists in America. He was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1994.

    Again, just a clarification – I don’t think you meant “vs” in that sense (more “in sociology or anthropology and in biology”), but it’s a common, and problematic, presentation.

    who would have guessed for such a lame species.

    I enjoy your posts about plants, by the way.

    Nonetheless, muchas gracias SC, Sven, Pygmy Loris and others for the enlightening* discussion.

    Thanks to you, too.

  334. #335 KOPD
    March 9, 2010

    Anybody else watch the Daily Show last night. Jason Jones interviewed Dan Barker. I didn’t see the whole thing, but it’s hard watching them make fun of somebody you like.

  335. #336 Stephen Wells
    March 9, 2010

    Can we archive this entire thread for the next time somebody pulls the “Pharyngula commentators just agree with each other in lockstep” card?

  336. #337 Sven DiMilo
    March 9, 2010

    and my resolve to stfu is sorely tested already

  337. #338 Celtic_Evolution
    March 9, 2010

    Just a quick public service announcement to remind those of you who have not already visited this month’s molly award thread to go on over and put in your two cents for February…

  338. #339 Celtic_Evolution
    March 9, 2010

    Can we archive this entire thread for the next time somebody pulls the “Pharyngula commentators just agree with each other in lockstep” card?

    The clearest sign that a commenter only reads the most obviously anti-religious / anti-woo threads and doesn’t even bother with any others is when they make the “echo-chamber” claim. You will find hearty debate and disagreement between the regulars here in a thread at least weekly…

    …or whenever Walton shows up.

    *ducks*

  339. #340 bbreuer
    March 9, 2010

    Happy Birthday, PZ! (Should be your 5th (mod 8), right?) Enjoy your trip once you’ve unfolded out of the airline seat.

  340. #341 Carlie
    March 9, 2010

    Now she tells me.

    The fact that the bunnies themselves sometimes eat them does lead to confusion.

  341. #342 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 9, 2010

    Since there isn’t enough bacon here (really, is there ever enough bacon?)

    World’s largest BLT

  342. #343 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 9, 2010

    Anybody else watch the Daily Show last night. Jason Jones interviewed Dan Barker. I didn’t see the whole thing, but it’s hard watching them make fun of somebody you like.

    Yeah I watched it. It was ok. They were totally making fun of him for going after a Mother Teressa stamp.

    Never could really make a good case against her because of the taunting.

    And this is the daily show.

    Mildly funny.

  343. #344 KOPD
    March 9, 2010

    Hearing the audience giggle anytime he suggested she was less than perfect got a bit grating, too.

  344. #345 SC OM
    March 9, 2010

    Hearing the audience giggle anytime he suggested she was less than perfect got a bit grating, too.

    Yes. Yes, it did. I wish someone had referred to Hitchens’ work on her.

  345. #346 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 9, 2010

    Hearing the audience giggle anytime he suggested she was less than perfect got a bit grating, too.

    Totally.

  346. #347 Lynna, OM
    March 9, 2010

    This news is from a Catholic news outlet, so I guess not all Catholics are onboard when it comes to the new rapprochement with the LDS Church.

    Glenn Beck said last week on his eponymous radio and television shows that Christians should leave churches that preach ?social justice.? Mr. Beck equated the desire for a just society with?wait for it?Nazism and Communism.

    The article is titled Glen Beck to Jesus: Drop Dead. There’s a short video showing Beck holding up a Nazi symbol and the communist hammer and sickle.

    I beg you, look for the words ‘social justice’ or ‘economic justice’ on your church Web site. If you find it, run as fast as you can. Social justice and economic justice, they are code words. Now, am I advising people to leave their church? Yes.

  347. #348 jenbphillips
    March 9, 2010

    Sven,
    perhaps an alternative outlet would be to add some widgets to your Threadtracker2000 graphing project to track episodes of confrontational dialogue on teh Thread…you know, like how they wire up the Right and Left wing listeners during political debates and record their level of agreement, etc?

    Did you get my email?

    Ichthyic:
    Sorry to hear about your liver, man! I had cholestasis when I was pregnant with Kid B, and it sucked–very uncomfortable and scary as hell because of the risk of fetal death if the amniotic fluid accumulates too many bile salts. Lucky for me (and for Kid B) the cure was as simple as not being pregnant any more, so we just had to pace the floor for a few weeks until she was baked enough to be induced. I hope your condition will improve soon, friend.

    PZ Myers:

    Happy Birthday!!!!

  348. #349 Paul W.
    March 9, 2010

    strange gods before me ?:

    About the Pandagon article…

    (for reference here’s the link:
    http://pandagon.net/index.php/site/comments/well_then_maybe_it_isnt_so_cute/)

    I haven’t read the original Levitt and Dubner article, and I’m not defending that—it may be as bad as Amanda says.

    There are some things Amanda says that I disagree with.

    One is that she’s apparently arguing—badly IMHO—that men’s positive motivations in going to prostitutes is not just to alleviate a shortage of sex, from their point of view, but to get a woman to submit. She’s arguing that it’s about female submission.

    I do think that’s important for some men, who are straightforwardly misogynistic; they enjoy making a woman do something sexual that she doesn’t want to do precisely she doesn’t want to do it, rather than in spite of her not wanting to do it.

    I suspect that most customers are not in fact motivated by that, and I’m pretty sure most are not least not mainly motivated by that. (I could be wrong.)

    Amanda’s arguments about men’s motivations are, IMHO, invalid, and come to (AFAICT) false conclusions.

    I’m not saying that actual prostitution isn’t exploitative, or even that the customers are not mostly somewhat misogynistic in a weaker sense.

    Some men know but don’t care that they’re exploiting women sexually. That is a kind of misogyny, but not the blatant kind that Amanda seems to want to attribute things to. They’re not actively out to hurt women, but they’re willing to exploit women selfishly.

    That’s very bad, but it’s not all I took Amanda to be saying.

    There are other men who pay for sex who do not realize how much the woman doesn’t want to do it, and how desperate she likely must be to do it anyway.

    That too, is bad, but not as personally, morally bad as knowingly exploiting a woman to the extent some men are willing to do, much less the blatant misogynists who do it because they enjoy that kind of misogynistic power/submission/degradation thing for its own sake.

    I’m not saying those guys aren’t all morally in the wrong. If they’re ignorant of the realities, that may well be largely their own fault. They should be aware of patriarchy and misogyny, and not assume (like some simplistic libertarians) that anybody who voluntarily engages in a financial transaction is by definition not being exploited, given the way the world actually works.

    Imagine somebody whose political/economic views are roughly similar to Walton’s a year or two ago, but whose sexual views are more like mine, such that he’d consider going to a prostitute for sex, in principle.

    That kind of person might think for ideological reasons that he’s not hurting anybody by actually patronizing a prostitute—he’s paying her, and it must be worth it to her, and he can’t be in the wrong. That may in fact be reprehensible and sexist in a certain sense—it’s morally negligent to be so oblivious to the realities, and use goofy ideology to justify behavior with bad consequences for others, even if you’re entirely sincere.

    That may have similar practical consequences to being an outright woman-hating john who enjoys demeaning women mostly for the sheer joy of it. It keeps the fucked-up system going, unchanged, and that’s A Bad Thing.

    I do know that, and it seems to me I have to spell that out, because some people don’t seem to acknowledge the distinctions I’m making, and maybe assume that if I say johns are not mostly outright woman-haters, I’m justifying the whole system, as is, and letting johns off the hook for any moral culpability. I am not.

    One thing I disagree with Amanda about is the significance of the anecdote about a woman who got more responses on to a personal ad when she said she was an “escort.” That does not necessarily imply that men would prefer paid for sex to free sex, or any of the further conclusions she derives from that. It may only mean—and I suspect that it mostly does—that they figure that their chances of success are higher with a woman if it’s a simple financial transaction than if it’s a normal dating situation. That may be ultimately a bad thing in some sense, too, but not the simplistic sense of outright misogyny that Amanda seems to cast it as.

    She casts it as wanting to pay for a “subservient sexbot,” which in some sense maybe it is, but I don’t think it’s a fair way of putting it.

    That’s one reason I came up with the hairdresser analogy. Are hairdressers’ clients just looking for “subservient hairdresserbots”? In some weak sense, I guess they are, but it’s just not clear to me that’s necessarily a bad thing, up to a point.

    (Consider women who like to be pampered at spas, getting their hair done, getting a massage, etc., rather than developing friendships in which friends do that sort of thing for each other. Are they just looking to pay people to be their slaves? In a very weak sense, I might say yes. In a very bad sense? No, not usually—not unless they’re real assholes to underpaid help who put up with being treated badly because they’re economically desperate. I do think there is typically a degree of exploitation involved, because too much money is concentrated in the hands of too few people, who get to treat others like slaves to some extent. But in most cases, that’s not the kind of thing you should simplistically describe in loaded terms about dominating hairdressers and masseurs and using them as subservient X-bots because you feel entitled to slaves who you’re out to degrade for the sheer malicious joy of it. Maybe you just like the way a massage feels, and think it’s reasonable to pay somebody to do it.)

    My wife could have a friend do her hair, if she made it worthwhile for that friend to do it, and mabye picked her friends on that basis. And she would likely enjoy it, if the friend did. She likes being pampered. Her hair is easy to do, given the kind of hair she has and the way she does it, and she doesn’t need a pro to do it. (It mostly consists of separating little bunches of hair into locks, then twisting pairs of locks together into braid-like things. No problem. Anybody could do it. Easy as pie, but tedious.)

    But she is not willing to do what it takes for a friend in order to get a friend to do it. She’s not going to take on the more difficult task of doing some other women’s hair, or put a lot of effort into finding the right “compatible person” to have a mutually satisfactory relationship that involves doing each other’s hair.

    It’s not worth the trouble to her, or arranging her life around to that extent. So she’ll either hair-wank (do her own hair) or hire a hair whore (hairdresser) to do it for her for money.

    And I think that’s okay. It doesn’t mean you should scorn her for being selfish and unwilling to treat other people as human in order to get them to want to cooperate with her and give her what she wants. That would be ridiculous.

    That’s the kind of thing some people have been saying about men who want more sex, but don’t want it to be a great big deal, and especially men who would be willing to pay for it.

    Maybe hairdressing is a bad analogy for prostitution, and I’m sure it is for many people. Many people have attitudes about sex—or hairdressing, in Ol’ Greg’s case!—that make it a qualitatively different kind of thing, and I’m not saying they shouldn’t. (Although I would like them to think about it, and especially avoid projecting that qualitative distinction onto others who do not feel the same way about sex, or sometimes don’t.)

    If it’s a bad analogy in a strong sense, so that nobody should see it as a reasonable transaction for some people to engage in, or even many people to engage in under some circumstances, it’d be good to make clear exactly why.

    (I don’t know if that’s anybody here; most people speaking up do seem to acknowledge that prostitution is not intrinsically an evil thing, in principle, if the people engaged in it can see it as similar to the hairdressing thing, and are treated and paid appropriately. I did get that kind of message from Amanda’s posting—she was directly attacking typical johns’ motivations for paying for sex in way I thought was simplistic, invalid, and fairly condemnatory.)

    I think that’s worth making explicit, even if nobody here’s disagreeing, for a couple of reasons. One is that many people in the larger world do see prostitution as a Bad Thing even under those circumstances, and that’s one thing that’s wrong with public discourse about it—the problems are often misdiagnosed. The other is that even for people who agree on that special case, it serves as a useful reference point for discussing what really is and isn’t wrong with how prostitution actually works, and what should or shouldn’t be done about it.

    For example, if Amanda’s right about men’s horrible motivations for paying for sex, then making it legal (and safer, much less abusive, better paid, and less stigmatized) wouldn’t make as much difference as I think it would, because that would take the fun out of it for typical johns.

    They’d avoid legal prostitution, because they not only want dirt-cheap sex, they want to degrade and abuse women, and that wouldn’t be allowed in legal brothels. There’d be a small market for legal prostitution, and still a big one for the fucked-up illegal kind we have now.

    If she’s right, that’s very interesting and very important. I don’t think she is right, at present; I’d need a much better argument to be convinced.

    It’d be interesting to see some good statistics about the effects of legal prostitution on illegal prostitution. (Ideally statistics that could discriminate between illegal prostitution because it’s cheap black-market sex vs. because it’s degrading to women, and the johns want that.)

  349. #350 Ol'Greg
    March 9, 2010

    As the lockdown on web surfing here at company X continues I notice that as of today this is about the only site I can access.

    Even Yahoo and CNN are blocked. But Pharyngula is gold.

    Maybe some one in core services is a fan…

  350. #351 Lynna, OM
    March 9, 2010

    Gay folks sing in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. This story comes to us from a former security guard who worked in Temple Square.

    In the mid-1980s there were a substantial number of men in the Mo Tab Choir who were Gay. One of my duties as guard of the West Gate was to let the choir members into the Snappertackle for rehearsals on Thursday nights. One of the men in particular started flirting with me outrageously. Since I was coming out at the time, I welcomed his flirting and shot some back at him. He let the other Gay men in the choir know that I was “family” (Gay-speak for “member of the Phi Alpha Gamma [FAG] fraternity”) and they agreed to invite me to one of their after-hours “parties” (read orgies)!
         When W. invited me, I politely thanked him but declined – I was just a tender morsel of chicken (Gay-speak for a young gay man) and wasn’t into boinking any chicken-hawks (older gay men) at the time. But I did find it hysterically funny and deliciously subversive that the Lard’s Choir had quite the Lavendar Section (including 2 or 3 Lesbyterians).

    Source: http://www.salamandersociety.com/foyer/security/ Scroll down to “Sitcoms from Ex-Temple Square Gumshoe”. The Ex-Gumshoe tells several tales, and the story about the gays is #2.

    The mormon tabernacle choir continues to be associated with the gay community. Though the LDS Church manages to hide the connection, gay mormons themselves take a more appreciative and ironic approach.

    In the background, the music of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing the greatest hits of all-time musicals, provided the ideal scene for Gay Mormons to discuss current Mormon issues, being gay and LDS and the quite accepting attitude towards Gay Saints from the London members. In the spiritual part, we talked about the Word of Wisdom and its personal meaning to each individual.

  351. #352 Sven DiMilo
    March 9, 2010

    Did you get my email?

    I did, and am appreciative.

  352. #353 Ol'Greg
    March 9, 2010

    That too, is bad, but not as personally, morally bad as knowingly exploiting a woman to the extent some men are willing to do, much less the blatant misogynists who do it because they enjoy that kind of misogynistic power/submission/degradation thing for its own sake.

    Oh hey again. You see this is I think part of why we seem to have an impasse. I really don’t subscribe so much to Kantian intent. The end means more to me than the means. Whether you intentionally participate or not it is still a contribution to the problem.

    It really only matters a small bit to me that it was out of privileged ignorance than intent.

    So yes, perhaps neglectful homicide is less bad than intentional murder, but in terms of affect on society I don’t really think it is.

    A habitual suspended-license-defying drunk driver that hits a pedestrian on accident is really no less a social danger to me than a person who willingly walks out looking for a victim to kill. Provided that they each only have one death attributed to them, but each have a high probability of repeating the behavior that cost a life… I don’t see that much difference between them in terms of what threat they pose.

    Lots of people are nice people but do terrible things.

  353. #354 Lynna, OM
    March 9, 2010

    Ichthyic, I was very sorry to hear about the cholestasis. I don’t really know what to say, except that I hope you have the best medical care. Keep us deformed.

  354. #355 Paul W.
    March 9, 2010

    whoever that is @ 223:

    I’ll give some auntie-ish advice to the guys here who are talking about Not Getting Any.

    Am I among the people that’s directed at? I’ve gotten several comments that seem to indicate that some people think I’m soliciting dating advice, can’t get a date, can’t get laid, don’t know how to talk to women, don’t know how to treat a woman as human, etc., and maybe even that I’m fishing for a sympathy fuck.

    For the record, none of that is true. I do okay, and I think I understand a lot of things people assume I don’t. I clean up pretty good, and can be a charming and nice guy and considerate guy in meatspace, and (I think) in bed.

    (In case anybody was wondering don’t pay for sex, either, BTW, for a number of reasons, not least among them being in a committed, monogamous relationship with a woman I love, who wouldn’t like that, and serious moral concerns about whether it would be wrong, given the way prostitution actually works in the U.S., even if I was single. And of course the health risks, etc. are important, but those issues don’t come up for me personally because of the prior reasons. I’m not just ignoring those things when I make different points.)

    First, seriously, stop talking about fucking as something you “get,” and lose the economic model. See if you can’t quit thinking that way. It’s an interesting exercise and you’ll avoid stepping on some corns.

    Sorry, no can do. It’s just a fact that many people, both women and men, do wish they got more sex. Many also do wish they got more other relationship goodies, and I think it’s good to be clear on when and why those things do go together, and why maybe they sometimes don’t have to.

    And there are economics-like issues that are important with regard to sex. (And many other aspects of relationships.)

    There are supply/demand problems about what people want, and what they have to offer, and they’re very important.

    I think almost everybody realizes that in some respects—e.g., that there’s a problem with so many preferring people who are “good looking,” nice, interesting, charming, not fat, etc. than the available supply can satisfy. Not everybody is going to get what they want, and some people aren’t going to come close.

    I also think it’s important to spell out the market-like issues, because they’re real and important in understanding how problems actually arise. In particular, relatively small differences in supply and demand can have big effects.

    Realizing that makes it easier to avoid simplistic, greedily reductionistic blaming, because you can see that fairly big problems can be due to comparatively small differences—e.g., in statistical distributions of attitudes among men and women. People can be mostly similar human-type people, and still the differences can have major effects. Market-like supply/demand situations often “blow things out of proportion,” and it’s important to know that even if the effects are real and problematic, it’s not because the other people are so hugely different.

    It’s a real problem, and it’s worth talking about here—but certainly, it’s often the wrong thing to talk about on a date, or when fishing for a date. It’s way too fraught.

    One reason this is a good place to talk about such things, for many of us, is that we don’t live anywhere near most of the people we’re talking to, so we can talk about stuff we auntie might advise us not to if we were looking for dating advice.

  355. #356 AJ Milne
    March 9, 2010

    Wow, look at the date*…

    Happy Birthday, PZ.

    (*/Yeah… Umm… Time to sleep, looks like…)

  356. #357 Lynna, OM
    March 9, 2010

    BYU Management Society to award NOM [National Organization for Marriage] director Orson Scott Card

    The Washington, D.C. Chapter of the BYU Management Society (BYUMS-DC) announced today that it would honor best-selling author and columnist Orson Scott Card at its annual Gala Dinner on April 24, 2010. Card will receive the chapter’s Distinguished Public Service Award and will deliver keynote remarks about his views on ethical leadership today and his experiences as a prominent member of the literary and academic communities.
         ”We are proud to be honoring Orson Scott Card during this year’s Gala Dinner,” said Sen. Gordon Smith, Chairman of the Advisory Board. “His words and his example have reached millions of people, and his spirit of mentorship and service have much to offer our community.”

    In addition to directing the homophobic National Organization for Marriage, Orson Scott Card is known for his personal animus toward gay marriage:

    Laws against homosexual behavior should remain on the books…to be used when necessary to send a clear message that those who flagrantly violate society’s regulation of sexual behavior cannot be permitted to remain as acceptable, equal citizens. — Orson Scott Card

    How long before married people answer the dictators thus: Regardless of law, marriage has only one definition, and any government that attempts to change it is my mortal enemy. I will act to destroy that government and bring it down, so it can be replaced with a government that will respect and support marriage, and help me raise my children in a society where they will expect to marry in their turn.
         Biological imperatives trump laws. American government cannot fight against marriage and hope to endure. If the Constitution is defined in such a way as to destroy the privileged position of marriage, it is that insane Constitution, not marriage, that will die. — Orson Scott Card

    The NOM members are trading on O.S.C.’s past literary successes:

    “We?re extremely honored that Orson Scott Card has joined with NOM in our shared mission to protect marriage and the faith communities that sustain it,” said Maggie Gallagher, president of NOM, “He is one of the great science fiction writers of our time and a real voice of courage and intellect on behalf of marriage.” — Margaret Srivastav

  357. #358 Lynna, OM
    March 9, 2010

    Exotic Antimatter Detected at Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider

    Scientists studying high-energy collisions of gold ions at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC), a 2.4-mile-circumference particle accelerator located at the U.S. Department of Energy?s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory, have published evidence of the most massive antinucleus discovered to date. The new antinucleus, discovered at RHIC?s STAR detector, is a negatively charged state of antimatter containing an antiproton, an antineutron and an anti-Lambda particle. It is also the first antinucleus containing an anti-strange quark. The results were published online in Science Express on March 4, 2010….
         This study of the new antihypernucleus also yields a valuable sample of normal hypernuclei, and has implications for our understanding of the structure of collapsed stars….

  358. #359 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 9, 2010

    Exotic Antimatter Detected at Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider

    WE’RE

    ALL

    GONNA

    DIE!!!!!!

  359. #360 Paul W.
    March 9, 2010

    Ol’ Greg:

    That too, is bad, but not as personally, morally bad as knowingly exploiting a woman to the extent some men are willing to do, much less the blatant misogynists who do it because they enjoy that kind of misogynistic power/submission/degradation thing for its own sake.

    Oh hey again. You see this is I think part of why we seem to have an impasse. I really don’t subscribe so much to Kantian intent. The end means more to me than the means. Whether you intentionally participate or not it is still a contribution to the problem.

    I suspect we disagree less than you think we do.

    I’m not very Kantian. I’m a pretty Utilitarian kind of guy, who worries about social justice and outcomes.

    The main reason I care about motivations is instrumental—I don’t think we can solve problems, and get better outcomes, if we’re mistaken about what the problems actually are that lead to those outcomes.

    So I care about people’s motivations because I do think the outcomes are most important, not because I don’t.

    It really only matters a small bit to me that it was out of privileged ignorance than intent.

    At the bottom line, in terms of how bad I think any particular situation is, I agree emphatically.

    In terms of how to change things, so that you get a better bottom line—e.g., less exploitation—I think it’s critical to know what changes will have what effects.

    That’s why my disagreement with Amanda at Pandagon is relevant. I think her diagnosis of the etiology of injustice is wrong, and I think she dismisses a “cure” (or more accurately, a very worthwhile partial remedy) as hopeless, when it’s not.

    If people agree with her on how the injustice comes about, they likely won’t do what I—and you—think would likely make things better, i.e., legalizing prostitution, and working at doing it right. (In the ways you emphasized, which I agree with—e.g., making sure working conditions are acceptable, with health insurance, etc., and destigmatization.)

    If we just vilify johns as if they were the worst sort of despicable woman-haters, I don’t think that’s going to help much. The despicable woman-haters aren’t going to care much what a bunch of liberal feminists think about them, and the ignorant privileged schmucks will correctly think we have no clue about why they do what they do, and not listen to us.

    If we do understand the real etiology of the problem (and it’s what I think it is), we can do things that are much more constructive. We can raise the consciousness of some people who aren’t really woman-haters, and get them to realize that what they’re doing is wrong, some won’t do that. More importantly, if we can spread an accurate understanding of the problem, we can get laws changed and make a big difference.

    So yes, perhaps neglectful homicide is less bad than intentional murder, but in terms of affect on society I don’t really think it is.

    I agree in the sense that outcomes are what’s most important—people dying unnecessarily is very bad, whether it was murder or just an irresponsibly ignorant neglectful accident.

    But if you characterize the problem as being one of having a lot of cold-blooded murderers around, you’re not going to be able to fix the problem. You’ll go looking for murderers who don’t exist, and fail to make sensible laws about what risks you can take with other people’s lives.

    When what you need is something like OSHA, you shouldn’t be talking simplistically about rampant cold-blooded murder. (Even if, in some cases, corporate behavior is exactly that cold-blooded, just as some men really are flaming misogynistic assholes.) It obscures the main problems and their realistic solutions.

  360. #361 Sven DiMilo
    March 9, 2010

    Question for clarification:
    When Pygmy Loris (@#23) writes this:

    Many cases that reach the point where forensic anthropologists are called in have very little identifying information with the remains. Individuation is the process of narrowing down the list of missing persons that the remains could be. In the USA, ancestry is important because we have a huge cross-section of human variation represented in our population. Being able to say this set of remains is an African-American female allows the forensic anthropologist to focus on traits that vary among missing African-American females, while ignoring males and females from other populations. Also, an accurate determination of ancestry allows for more accurate assessment of stature and, if necessary, more accurate tissue depths for facial reconstruction.

    …is (s)he using typological categories of ‘race’ (under cover of ‘ancestry’ and one of two different usages of ‘population’), or not; and if not, why not?

    Assuming the answer is ‘not’, then why am I, in asking about exactly this kind of geographic-ancestry-informative genetic variation, repeatedly accused of defending typological ‘race’ concepts even while explicitly denying that I am doing so?

    I would really like to know the answers to these questions even though I do not intend to participate further in discussion of the general topic.

  361. #362 cicely
    March 9, 2010

    Happy Birthday, Dr. Tentacles!

    WE’RE

    ALL

    GONNA

    DIE!!!!!!

    Yep. Sooner or later. When we get around to it.

  362. #363 Sili
    March 9, 2010

    I give up.

    I’ve come up with two replies to two threads in five minutes. And both had already been posted!

  363. #364 David Marjanovi?
    March 9, 2010

    What that panel needed was an Aboriginal rep who stood up to Fielding and said that by claiming the earth is only 10,000 years old he was being strident and offensive and intolerant regarding their religion and culture.

    Then we’d have seen uncomfortable.

    I’d pay money to see that.

    “OH. DRAMA.” – Death

    Is that one so old that Death still talked in quotation marks back then? In most books he doesn’t.

    Nightwatch is Terry’s finest. Anyone who says different should be shot. Hard. Until it hurts.

    Schism?

    Deep Rifts.

    “keep your rosaries off my ovaries”

    :-D

    and “Runs With Scissors”.

    Four thousand throats can be cut in one night by a running man.
    ? Klingon proverb

    Sorry. Couldn’t resist.

    Someone should graph “looking like Santa” with “how radical you can be and not be hated/killed” (I’m sure there’s an equivalent for women – maybe substitute Sastra for Santa :)).

    :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D

    Believing in supernatural explanations removes all mystery, because you stop asking why and how. Reality is so much more fascinating.

    Can’t be said often enough.

    On a plane for 19 hours? What the hell am I going to do without new content on Pharyngula for a whole 19 hours?

    No new content? And what is this thread? :-)

    Perhaps you’d like to join the Mutual Intellect Appreciation Society. :-)

    First, the irony: Sven and I in recent emails both expressed our determination to take a break from arguments here. Now we’re in one with each other. We’re pathetic.

    :-) :-) :-)

    I love SIWOTI syndrome :-)

    He is definitely The Man*. [?]

    *And he has The Vote.

    X-D

    My lungs briefly collapsed from silent laughing, as if 100 m below the sea surface.

    Since David has been neglecting his duty of linking to teeth-related articles, I’ll have to do it myself: pig lobotomizes self with tooth

    That was deliberate. It was meticulously planned. See? This way I get to find out that you’re reading Tet Zoo all on your own now ^_^ ^_^ ^_^
    :-)

    The word “black” in French specifically refers to racial classification

    That is, the English word black has been imported into (young, hip) French for precisely that purpose.

    There are very few human populations that have hair colors other than brown to dark brown, Europeans, Tazmanians, Australian Aborigines, and a handful of others.

    Which others?

    (And, er, how well are the native Tasmanians documented? <shudder>)

    ‘meatspace me’

    Mini-Me ;-)

    OK. Kel, BoS, Rorschach – you had damned well better not let Wowbagger feel like a wallflower. I mean that. Be alert. If he reports that he’s feeling left out for any significant period of time, I will be very angry with you lot.

    *glare*

    Seconded.

    For example, C-S et al also did genetic distance trees which do depend on “clustering” populations by similarity!

    But? the best representation of the results of a phenetic* analysis isn’t a tree. It’s the distance matrix that was used to calculate the tree.

    * As in “phenotype” and “phenomenon”.

    I think if he can manage to get you to be jovial, he will do just fine at the GAC…:-)

    :-D
    :-)

    The system that I’ve used for categorizing people is through ethno-lingual families.

    That only works some of the time, because languages aren’t inherited the same way as genes.

    Whyever did you massacre an innocent rabbit? And if it had to be killed, couldn’t you have kept it in one piece, so as to make the tasty meat easier to harvest?

    “Innocent”? Probably it was the Killer Rabbit. That must also have an impact on the taste of its flesh.

    Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if it’s oval, brown, and came out of a bunny’s butt, it probably isn’t a chocolate egg.

    ROTFL!

    World’s largest BLT

    What an appalling waste of bacon. Lettuce? Tomato? American “bread“? Urgh.

    The fact that the bunnies themselves sometimes eat them does lead to confusion.

    “Sometimes”? They eat everything twice. That’s simply how their digestive system works, hindgut bacteria and all.

    (Not 3 times, mind you. Twice.)

  364. #365 Paul W.
    March 9, 2010

    Hmmm… thinking about what I wrote:

    I’m not very Kantian. I’m a pretty Utilitarian kind of guy, who worries about social justice and outcomes.

    The main reason I care about motivations is instrumental—I don’t think we can solve problems, and get better outcomes, if we’re mistaken about what the problems actually are that lead to those outcomes.

    I gotta confess that overstates my motivation for social justice somewhat, and understates my evident motivation to geek out trying to Figure Things Out and express them.

    I don’t want to make myself sound like Mr. Righteous, as though all I care about it the social justice bottom line. Obviously, I’m also an intellectual wanker, though I don’t think it’s mostly an either/or thing.

  365. #366 Lynna, OM
    March 9, 2010

    Nanoparticles and gold rule … again:

    Another weapon in the arsenal against cancer: Nanoparticles that identify, target and kill specific cancer cells while leaving healthy cells alone.
         Led by Carl Batt, the Liberty Hyde Bailey Professor of Food Science, the researchers synthesized nanoparticles – shaped something like a dumbbell – made of gold sandwiched between two pieces of iron oxide. They then attached antibodies, which target a molecule found only in colorectal cancer cells, to the particles. Once bound, the nanoparticles are engulfed by the cancer cells…

  366. #367 cicely
    March 9, 2010

    I’m not sure where that blockquote went wrong.

    Test:

    WE’RE

    ALL

    GONNA

    DIE!!!!!!

  367. #368 Matt Penfold
    March 9, 2010

    I don’t want to make myself sound like Mr. Righteous, as though all I care about it the social justice bottom line. Obviously, I’m also an intellectual wanker, though I don’t think it’s mostly an either/or thing.

    Don’t do yourself down Paul.

    You are just like the most people here. Decent people, trying to work out what is right, and what is the best thing to do, acting on imperfect information and quite often cocking things up on the way. Or to put it more concisely , you are human.

  368. #369 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 9, 2010

    What an appalling waste of bacon. Lettuce? Tomato? American “bread”? Urgh.

    But

    but

    look how big it is

  369. #370 David Marjanovi?
    March 9, 2010

    look how big it is

    They cheat. It’s a long row of sandwiches next to each other. And some of the bread is burnt in some places.

  370. #371 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 9, 2010

    They cheat. It’s a long row of sandwiches next to each other. And some of the bread is burnt in some places.

    Yeah I know. I don’t have the energy to continue my faux amazement.

  371. #372 David Marjanovi?
    March 9, 2010

    Warning to SC: you might be smothered in adorableness if you click on the links below, unless perhaps if you already know what’s said there.

    Best joke of the week :-}

    The same thread links to this.

  372. #373 Gyeong Hwa Pak, Tai Dam lum Pun
    March 9, 2010

    That only works some of the time, because languages aren’t inherited the same way as genes.

    I didn’t say it was perfect David, only that it’s the best one I can think of (since people tend to marry within the same language).

    And in some cases it may help to understand population drift, such as distinguishing Ryukyuan from Japanese.

  373. #374 Pygmy Loris
    March 9, 2010

    Sven,

    …is (s)he using typological categories of ‘race’ (under cover of ‘ancestry’ and one of two different usages of ‘population’), or not; and if not, why not?

    There’s a significant portion of biological anthropologists who think that ancestry determination is the same thing as typological race. It’s not. When a forensic anthropologist is determining the ancestry of a particular set of remains, they are using various markers on the skeleton, including measurements, to decide which socially determined group people would have assigned the person to in life. The reason forensic anthropologists do this is because our society does it, not because it helps to explain variation. There are forensic anthropologists who think that race is a good tool to explain human variation. They’re wrong and they’re in the minority.

  374. #375 a_ray_in_dilbert_space
    March 9, 2010

    PZ, Many Happy ones. Born in the year of Sputnik! Back when Americans actually thought science mattered and called on Nazi scientists to reach the moon. Now that’s good ol’ Murkin ingenuity.

  375. #376 Rutee, Shrieking Harpy of Dooooom
    March 9, 2010

    Gao. Saw the Daily Show last night. I don’t mind the little shots the infotainment (Dont’ get me wrong, it’s still some of the best News Media in MErika, I just recognize that there should be no way in hell I can say that) get at Atheists, but I do mind greatly when they take much longer shots like the one over the Freedom from Religion foundation opposing a Mother Theresa Stamp.

    I mean, Colbert even had a guest who had a book documenting why Mother Theresa was a horrid bitch! Why does she have to be treated as a humanitarian?

  376. #377 a_ray_in_dilbert_space
    March 9, 2010

    You know, the talk of race got me thinking. Back when I was in the Peace Corps in Africa, I can remember being shocked by the varied physical appearances of the Africans. My experience with African Americans (who mostly came from around the Bight of Benin) and National Geographic had simply not prepared me for how different one tribe looked from another.

    If you discount skin color, two people living in villages 50 km apart could look as different from each other as they looked from people of other races. There were some villages where I could go on Market Day and just sit and watch a veritable United Nations of Africa in front of me.

    That was when I started to question whether race was a distinction without a difference–not because there aren’t different races, but rather because there is so much diversity, a simple categorization cannot accommodate it.

  377. #378 otrame
    March 9, 2010

    Walton said

    Discworld has definitely got much, much better as time has gone on. The early ones (Colour of Magic, Equal Rites and so on) were much less sophisticated, and more focused on parodying fantasy genre tropes.

    Quite true. Although the earlier books are fun, they are less… well, “significant” is the only word I can come up with. I feel like he really found his “voice” with Men at Arms. He is our century’s Mark Twain.

    One that hasn’t been mentioned that is one of my 2 or 3 favorites is Jingo. That is a work of sheer brilliance from beginning to end, and has a much better set of fulfilled prophecies than the bible.

  378. #379 Gyeong Hwa Pak, Tai Dam lum Pun
    March 9, 2010
  379. #380 https://me.yahoo.com/a/eJREANl71tBZaeOyZkJr9VcGGg4h#2f844
    March 9, 2010

    Paul W. @ 355: whoever that is @ 223:
    “I’ll give some auntie-ish advice to the guys here who are talking about Not Getting Any.”
    Am I among the people that’s directed at?

    That’s me, Ron Sullivan, Queen of Forgetting I have to Sign These Damned Things Separately No Matter How Often I Go Tweak GooHoo.

    Answer: No. In fact, to some extent I was trying to make an end-run around what you’re talking about to talk to Those Other Guys (for a waiterly def. of “guys”).

    There are supply/demand problems about what people want, and what they have to offer, and they’re very important.

    One thing the supply/demand model makes easy is marketing. Marketing in the Mad. Ave. sense of telling people what they want and making it the norm. Also pumps up perceived scarcity. Not so good to carry around in one’s head when looking to meet mates or dates.

    I think almost everybody realizes that in some respects—e.g., that there’s a problem with so many preferring people who are “good looking,” nice, interesting, charming, not fat, etc. than the available supply can satisfy. Not everybody is going to get what they want, and some people aren’t going to come close.

    The sticky word there is “what.” Really. The “good looking” and “not fat” bits are of course strongly subject to fashion, which would be a clue that there’s marketing involved.

    I have a standing joke that it’s all pheromones. It’s a joke, not even an hypothesis, but I’ll bet it’s not orthogonal to how things work when we let them, and not just for me.

    I thought I liked tall green- or blue-eyed black-haired thin men and women until I met LotP, who’s barely taller than I am, hazel/brown eyed, off-blond rather the way I am, and red-bearded. (It was only a mustache then. He was kinda skinny but we’ve grown old and well-fed together.)

    At the time I was in the middle of my catting-around phase, if you will. I say “middle” because the only change I made was in focus. I wasn’t looking for anything OR anybody; in fact, Berkeley was only supposed to be a stop on the way Elsewhere.

    The thing is, he didn’t fit any of my criteria, insofar as I had them. (That was mostly from noticing whom I’d fallen for in the past.) He just was Right.

    I’d bet he’d frame it (sorry) a bit differently, but there it is. He {something} right, and smelled is as close as I can get but not quite on target. Of course I didn’t know until we were together. He’s my intellectual match and a thoroughly kind and decent person with talents galore and a wicked wit, but I didn’t know that when we jumped into bed.

    Market ideas would not have worked for either of us, and I’m betting on Ugol’s Law that we’re not outliers, much.

    I’d legalize prostitution just for harm reduction, by the way. And not as the end of a solution, just as Step One. Wanna help, folks in general? Vote, donate, and stop using “whore” as an insult.

  380. #381 Caine
    March 9, 2010

    David Marjanovi? @ 364:

    Is that one so old that Death still talked in quotation marks back then? In most books he doesn’t.

    Death talks in capital letters. Yep, that’s still going on.

  381. #382 Gyeong Hwa Pak, Tai Dam lum Pun
    March 9, 2010

    Do you guys mind if I rant about cancer here?

  382. #383 SteveV
    March 9, 2010

    ?I have a standing joke that it’s all pheromones.?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KHp_Y7wCRaw
    and I couldn?t resist ? god, devil, OT, food etc.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Ev8KtBoHrs&feature=related

  383. #384 Lynna, OM
    March 9, 2010

    More threats to a Danish Newspaper, as Christopher Hitchens notes in Slate:

    I have just finished reading one of the most astoundingly stupid and nasty documents ever to have landed on my desk. It consists of a letter from a law firm in Saudi Arabia, run by a man named Ahmed Zaki Yamani, to a group of newspapers in Scandinavia…
         Celebrating this abject decision at a triumphant press conference in Beirut last week, Yamani repeated his bizarre claim to be the lawyer for no fewer than 94,923 descendants of the outraged prophet…
         The thing would be ridiculous if it were not so hateful and had it not already managed to break the nerve of one Danish newspaper. In Ireland a short while ago, a law against blasphemy was passed, making it a crime to outrage the feelings not just of the country’s disgraced and incriminated Roman Catholic Church but of all believers. The same pseudo-ecumenical tendency can be found in the annual attempt by Muslim states to get the United Nations to pass a resolution outlawing all attacks on religion. It’s not enough that faith claims to be the solution to all problems. It is now demanded that such a preposterous claim be made immune from any inquiry, any critique, and any ridicule.
         This has to stop, and it has to stop right now. All democratic countries and assemblies should be readying legislation along the lines of the First Amendment, guaranteeing the right of open debate on matters of religion and repudiating the blackmail by law firms and individuals whose own true ancestry would not bear too much scrutiny.

    Source: http://www.slate.com/id/2247256/

  384. #385 Sili
    March 9, 2010

    Do you guys mind if I rant about cancer here?

    No. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

  385. #386 Caine
    March 9, 2010

    Gyeong Hwa Pak @ 382:

    Do you guys mind if I rant about cancer here?

    Rant away.

  386. #387 Jadehawk, OM
    March 9, 2010

    two birds with one stone.

    And I’m greatly amused that he picked Costa Rica, which hasuniversal, nationalized healthcare :-p

  387. #388 SteveV
    March 9, 2010

    As an engineer (and a Bristolian) I am rather prone to ask questions that include ?yeahbut what?s it for?? And I know that the proper answer in science and art often boils down to ?it?s not for anything, it?s just beautiful?
    Yeahbut, this discussion about the definition of race, what?s it for?
    Surely everyone here can agree that we are all human, that we all share a very recent common ancestor but that there are wide variations between populations.
    However, my limited understanding of statistics leads me to believe that knowledge of a person?s (opposed perhaps to a population?s?) genetic inheritance is largely useless as a predictor of anything really useful about that person.
    *plaintively* what?s it for?

  388. #389 Qwerty
    March 9, 2010

    Rev BDC @ 342: Your tongue must be getting in the way of your typing again as your link to the world’s largest BLT actually linked to the world’s longest BLT.

    And did you have to mop up your keyboard after salivating on it while reading said article?

  389. #390 blf
    March 9, 2010
    “OH. DRAMA.” - Death

    Is that one so old that Death still talked in quotation marks back then? In most books he doesn’t.

    Unfortunately, my older Discworld books are not at hand so I cannot check, but my recollection is Death never talked in quotemarks. Assuming he did in some books, I wonder if that’s a difference between the N.Manic and proper (Britoons) editions?

  390. #391 jenbphillips
    March 9, 2010

    Jadehawk @ 387:

    Ha! Truly, you can’t make this shit up. The Lulz at Limbaugh’s expense are somewhat tempered by the presence of the rampant wackaloonery at HuffPo, however. Just today there’s another antivax rant by Jenny McCarthy and a 9/11 Truther spew by Jesse Ventura. *sigh*.

  391. #392 Caine
    March 9, 2010

    blf, in the U.S. editions, Death always speaks in capital letters.

  392. #393 Gyeong Hwa Pak, Tai Dam lum Pun
    March 9, 2010

    Okay here it goes,
    ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE IS NOT BETTER THAN CONVENTIONAL.
    The people in my cultural perspective of cancer class seem to think that altmed is okay just because it makes people happier, it avoids “death”, and it?s cheaper (which it ain’t). They think it’s more affective because of that. NO IT’S NOT. Whether or not it makes makes one happy is completely irrelevant to whether it’s affective. It doesn’t fit internationally accepted scientific standards, it’s not affective. I understand that hope can be good for the individual as a promoter and enabler. But god damn it, I dare anyone to show me proof that hope kill cancer cells. There are much better ways of having hope without deluding oneself and wasting one’s money on altmed. Furthermore, it’s not the point of the class to say altmed is better; the point of the class is to understand the narratives, the cultural implications, the economic factors of cancer and its various treatments. But just because people turn to altmed due being economically disadvantaged, doesn’t make it affective.

  393. #394 Knockgoats
    March 9, 2010

    I can’t accept the “hairdresser” analogy. – Badgersdaughter

    Oh, I have no problem with that analogy – my wife cuts what little remains of my hair :-p

  394. #395 Knockgoats
    March 9, 2010

    I have been grading all fucking day and I am going to have to keep going all fucking night. – Sven DiMilo

    I suggest that to even things out, you make sure you fuck all grading day, and keep going all grading night :-p

  395. #396 Walton, Extra Special Dumpling of Awesome
    March 9, 2010

    Knockgoats, you might be vaguely interested in one of my replies to strange gods, above at #175.

  396. #397 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 9, 2010

    Rev BDC @ 342: Your tongue must be getting in the way of your typing again as your link to the world’s largest BLT actually linked to the world’s longest BLT.

    Longest / largest. WHATEVER

    DID YOU SEE HOW FREAKIN’ BIG IT WAS

  397. #398 Martin R
    March 9, 2010

    Happy birthday, PZ!

  398. #399 Alan B
    March 9, 2010

    #390 blf / #392 Caine

    My wife has collected all the Terry Pratchett books as they have come out in the UK which makes them all (worthless?) first editions.

    As far as I can make out, Death always speaks in small capitals and without quotation marks. Other characters use single quote marks.

    I can’t speak for any other countries.

  399. #400 Paul W.
    March 9, 2010

    Caine@392 ends with

    Death always speaks in capital letters.

    GHP@393 immediately responds:

    Okay here it goes,

    ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE IS NOT BETTER THAN CONVENTIONAL. [...]

    Is GHP Locutus of Death?

  400. #401 jenbphillips
    March 9, 2010

    Considering how many preventable deaths are caused by adherence to ‘alternative medicine’, that’s probably not too far off, Paul W.

  401. #402 https://me.yahoo.com/a/eJREANl71tBZaeOyZkJr9VcGGg4h#2f844
    March 9, 2010

    A counter to my own advice, tho’.

    Auntie Ron Sullivan

  402. #403 blf
    March 9, 2010

    blf, in the U.S. editions, Death always speaks in capital letters.

    Excuse me, where did I say or imply he didn’t? I was speculating only on whether or not what he said was ever quoted, and if it ever was, whether or not that was one of the edits for the N.Manic editions (like the reversal of the single and double quotes; in the Britoon editions, Britoon quotemarking convention is used; in the N.Manic editions I’ve seen/have, N.Manic quotemarking convention is used).

  403. #404 Qwerty
    March 9, 2010

    I always picture Death silently pointing his bony finger at Ebenezer Scrooge’s headstone in A Christmas Carol. He actually speaks? In CAPS?

    Rev BDC – Do you think the “longest or largest or whatever” BLT was a BYOM* event?

    *bring your own mayonnaise

  404. #405 KOPD
    March 9, 2010

    …think that altmed is okay just because it makes people happier, it avoids “death”, and it?s cheaper

    That’s why I like the site whatstheharm.net . It’s a collection of stories of people injuried, disfigured, sued, or killed by everything from feng shui to cults to ear candling.

  405. #406 Gyeong Hwa Pak, Tai Dam lum Pun
    March 9, 2010

    Is GHP Locutus of Death?

    HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT I’M NOT DEATH. BWAHAHAHA!!!9!
    If Josh, OSP gets to be he Locutus of Gays, then I get to bet a Locutus of something right?

    Considering how many preventable deaths are caused by adherence to ‘alternative medicine’, that’s probably not too far off, Paul W.

    Which brings me to another point, one of the girls in our class noted how a child was taken away from his parents because they refused chemo in favor of altmed. She noted how sad it was to adhere to conventional medicine. But the child lived, and that’s the fucking point. I can point a number of incidences where faith healing, an altmed, lead to dead kids which defeats the purpose of medicine.

  406. #407 blf
    March 9, 2010

    [Death] actually speaks? In CAPS?

    Not exactly, and not exactly. It’s made clear in several of the books Death’s words just seem to show up as-if they were spoken, but without all that messy business of being vocalised and vibrating air and so on. Besides, how would Death speak? What does he have to make the air vibrate et al.? Hence the surprise that, maybe in some versions (presumably only in the older books), what he communicates is in quotemarks.

    And it’s (always?) typeset as small caps, not full-sized caps.

  407. #408 Owlmirror
    March 9, 2010

    OK, so, so while everyone else is talking about s-e-x, I will post something about d-e-a-t-h. No, not “Talks Like This”, but rather, world-spanning annihilation of life. Complete and massive extinction. Death on a level beyond imagining. DEATH! 1

    That’s right, this is about Chicxulub.

    Boom.

    I first read about Gerta Keller’s competing hypothesis (that the Chicxulub impact was not responsible for the K-Pg mass extinction, but rather, that the iridium spike and subsequent extinction event correlated with some other event (impact/vulcanism) that took place some hundreds of thousands of years after the Chicxulub impact) some years ago, and was reminded of it, and of her belief that she has more evidence in support of this competing hypothesis, while recently reading Don Prothero’s 2004 book about the radiation of mammals in the Paleogene and Neogene periods. I asked about the topic here on the Thread, and David Marjanovi? noted that :

    Gerta Keller fails to take into account what has to be expected: that the (in the upper part) vertical walls of the 20-km-deep primary crater collapsed, leading to K material falling into the crater. No wonder she finds K microfossils in drill cores from the crater infilling.

    However, Keller also seemed to be claiming that she had found tsunami deposits from Chicxulub in Texas and Mexico which included stuff like burrows and such, and on top of that, the iridium layer. Well. If she were interpreting that correctly, then there was indeed a distinct time period between the impact and the K-Pg event — whatever that actually was.

    Alas, no-one had a response to that at the time. Alan B provided some information about the K-Pg boundary, and David Marjanovi? added some additional information, but didn’t analyze Keller’s claims. Josh the geologist was also too busy to address it, when I asked again.

    Fortunately, the March 2010 paper in Science noted earlier in the Thread (The Chicxulub Asteroid Impact and Mass Extinction at the Cretaceous-Paleogene Boundary, reference 0 below) addresses Keller’s claims while providing all of the evidence in favor of the Chicxulub impact being the direct cause of the K-Pg boundary layer and extinction event.

    I do not normally have access to Science, but I now have a PDF copy of the document, by various means. 2 I am glad to see that they address Keller’s claims, and the paragraphs that do so I shall copy here.

      A contrasting hypothesis is founded on the interpretation that the clastic unit is a long-term depositional sequence genetically unrelated to the Chicxulub impact event (14, 31); lenslike spherule deposits locally present below the clastic unit in Mexico would then correlate to the base of the uppermost Cretaceous planktic foraminiferal zone (14, 31). This interpretation also proposes a latest Cretaceous age for the impact breccia found within the Chicxulub crater with the implication that all intermediate to distal K-Pg boundary sites lack the resolution and completeness to firmly establish a correlation to the Chicxulub impact event (14, 32). Additionally, the assertion that the Chicxulub impact preceded the K-Pg mass extinction by ~300 thousand years predicts that the PGE anomaly at the top of the clastic unit resulted from a second large impact event (14). In this scenario, either the second impact event or the Deccan flood basalt eruptions caused the K-Pg mass extinction (14).

      However, sedimentological and petrological data suggest that the lenslike ejecta deposits in Mexico were generated by impact-related liquefaction and slumping, consistent with the single very-high-energy Chicxulub impact (figs. S5 to S9) (23). A range of sedimentary structures and the lack of evidence for ocean floor colonization within the clastic unit in northeastern Mexico indicate rapid deposition (figs. S6 to S8) (22, 23). Moreover, the presence of shallowwater benthic foraminifera in the clastic unit (33) contradicts a long-term depositional sequence (14); if in situ, their presence requires unrealistically rapid relative sea-level changes of >500 m. Lastly, high-resolution planktic foraminiferal analyses in the southern Mexican sections demonstrate that the Chicxulub-linked clastic unit is biostratigraphically equivalent to the officially defined base of the Paleocene (i.e., the red clay layer) in the El Kef section, Tunisia (Fig. 2 and fig. S1) (20).

      A pre?K-Pg boundary age for the Chicxulub event has also been argued on the basis of the sequence at a Brazos River site in Texas and from within the crater. If a 3-cm-thick clay layer interbedded in Upper Cretaceous shales at the Brazos River site originated from the Chicxulub impact, the impact occurred significantly before the K-Pg boundary (31). Yet, in this clay layer there are no spherules or shocked minerals that would provide evidence for an impact origin, and its high sanidine and quartz content supports a local volcanic origin similar to ash layers found below the K-Pg boundary in Mexico and Haiti (table S3 and figs. S10 to S12).

      Within the Chicxulub crater, an ~50-cm-thick dolomitic sandstone unit between the impact breccias and the lower Paleocene postimpact crater infill has been interpreted as undisturbed sediments deposited immediately after the impact (fig. S13) (32). Rare uppermost Cretaceous planktic foraminifera within this unit were proposed as evidence that the impact preceded the K-Pg mass extinction (32). However, this sandstone unit is in part cross-bedded, contains ejecta clasts (fig. S14), and also includes planktic foraminifera of Early Cretaceous age (figs. S14 and S15) (34, 35). These observations, as well as grain-size data (36), indicate that deposition of this sequence was influenced by erosion and reworking after the impact and therefore provide no evidence for a long-term postimpact and pre?K-Pg boundary deposition.

    So, as I understand them, the first paragraph quoted summarizes Keller in general, the second and fourth go into more detail of what David M. wrote about infilled material in the crater and so on, the third explains Keller’s additional claims based on her finds in Texas, but argues that the alleged tsunami deposits are from earlier in the Cretaceous and long pre-date the Chicxulub impact in the first place.

    References:
    ===========

    0: Schulte, P. et al. 4 2010. The Chicxulub Asteroid Impact and Mass Extinction at the Cretaceous-Paleogene Boundary. Science 327, 1214. DOI: 10.1126/science.1177265

    Reference numbers used in quoted paragraphs from reference 0:
    =============================================================

    14. G. Keller, W. Stinnesbeck, T. Adatte, D. Stüben, Earth Sci. Rev. 62, 327 (2003).

    20. I. Arenillas et al., Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 249, 241 (2006).

    22. J. Smit, W. Alvarez, A. Montanari, P. Claeys, J. M. Grajales-Nishimura, Spec. Pap. Geol. Soc. Am. 307, 151 (1996).

    23. P. Schulte, A. Kontny, Spec. Pap. Geol. Soc. Am. 384, 191 (2005).

    31. G. Keller et al., Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 255, 339 (2007).

    32. G. Keller et al., Meteorit. Planet. Sci. 39, 1127 (2004).

    33. L. Alegret, E. Molina, E. Thomas, Geology 29, 891 (2001).

    34. J. A. Arz, L. Alegret, I. Arenillas, Meteorit. Planet. Sci. 39, 1099 (2004).

    35. J. Smit, S. V. D. Gaast, W. Lustenhouwer, Meteorit. Planet. Sci. 39, 1113 (2004).

    36. T. J. Bralower et al., Geology, in press.

    Note that the supplementary figures and tables referenced are in the supplementary material, which is a PDF that can be freely downloaded by all.

    ________________________________________

    1: Cake is not an option.

    2: After a long and arduous hike through wastelands, forests, hills, and tunnels, and a mysterious coach-ride, I arrived at an institution of higher learning, where I proceed to use my secret ninja skills, as well as a grappling gun, rappelling harness, lockpicks, alarm disabler, fake fingerprints and retinas, USB computer system cracker (with large onscreen display as it cracks each character of a password), and many other devices and techniques that I just now threw in to add verisimilitude, excitement, and local color to an otherwise bald and insipid narrative. Fortunately, no-one was killed or even maimed in my adventure, although some security guards might be a bit sore from slipping on the ball bearings I tossed to distract them while they chased after me. 3

    3: Or maybe the PDF fell off the back of a truck. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

    4: There are 41 authors listed on this paper (one of whom died during the final revision), which is only 5 pages long (not counting the supplementary material). I nearly think that might very well be called a cross-disciplinary consensus. 5

    5: Or, in the atrocious slang of modern youth, a lot of scientists are saying to Keller et. al.: “Geology: You’re doing it wrong.”

  408. #409 David Marjanovi?
    March 9, 2010

    and stop using “whore” as an insult.

    Ouch. Half of Europe says “whore!” when they have a hammer-thumb encounter. :o)

    Though the same languages have a tendency to use it as an expression of surprise… so maybe it has already started shifting. It definitely has in French.

    Is that one so old that Death still talked in quotation marks back then? In most books he doesn’t.

    Death talks in capital letters. Yep, that’s still going on.

    Death talks in capital letters without quotation marks around them, except in the oldest few books.

    Or were the quotation marks stupidly added in the German translation? Of the few Discworld books I’ve read, at least half weren’t in the original… :-(

    two birds with one stone.

    And I’m greatly amused that he picked Costa Rica

    <high-five> :-D

    He’ll have to go to China to find the current American system (only a bit worse… yes, worse).

  409. #410 Janine, Mistress Of Foul Mouth Abuse, OM
    March 9, 2010

    This past weekend yet again had me grateful for modern medicine. My eight year old niece got pneumonia. I was so serious, she was on oxygen for two days. But that is the point, it was serious but not life threatening. A few decades past, a child like that might have drowned.

    Thankfully, her parents are so brainwashed, they did not even consider alternative methods of treating her.

  410. #411 Owlmirror
    March 9, 2010

    And it’s (always?) typeset as small caps, not full-sized caps.

    Some early editions of some books do have full caps. They are wrong.

  411. #412 Ol'Greg
    March 9, 2010

    PaulW… I’m not sure which or who you’re talking to, but I’ve never considered your personal life actually. Up until you mentioned it, that is.

    As for Walton, anything that I say to him on that subject is said as a peer and not as some kind of expert or aunty. I forget exactly how old he is but I think he’s only five or so years younger than me.

    And I say it only because I think the kind of negative anticipation he sets up for himself probably hurts his chances as much or more than the actual constraints themselves.

    That and I just generally like his online persona.

    I get pretty down on myself but it’s not about relationships but rather professional options and the ever-nagging worry that I’ve not done anything important enough, met my own potential, or developed enough talent, picked the right jobs, been good enough at x, y, z… made enough money, won enough awards, worked enough towards social improvement, helped people enough… blah blah blah.

    Now as for “fat” or “good looking” as an either/or in the dating pool. I don’t know that it’s so simple. I had a terrible crush on a hugely tall fat bald guy who made a decent wage probably but nothing too overwhelming. Why? I dunno, I liked him. There’s more to attraction than fitting some specific ideal. Then again I guess it’s established I’m weird girl anyway.

    Eh… but I was in a relationship and in general I’m not that sort of person to go damaging one relationship for another.

    Maybe in some ways I’m just a much bigger optimist when it comes to meeting people though.

  412. #413 jenbphillips
    March 9, 2010

    @ Owlmirror:

    Yes, I saw the Science paper this week–seems pretty settled to me.

    As a related aside, my family and I recently watched a BBC program(me) entitled “What really killed the Dinosaurs?” which presented Keller’s alternative hypothesis, among others. My husband was quite enthralled with the presentation of Geology/Paleontology in this piece, and at one point turned to the rest of us and gushed “Wow, wouldn’t it be fun to be a scientist?!!”
    (For those of you who don’t know, I am, in fact a full time, PhD-havin’ scientist–in molecular genetics)
    I cocked my eyebrow at him and he qualified, slightly less gushily:
    “Um, I mean, that kind of scientist”

    Yeah, right, sweetheart. The “fun” kind. Jackass.

  413. #414 David Marjanovi?
    March 9, 2010

    Thanks a lot for that presentation, Owlmirror! Could you send the pdf my way?

  414. #415 Caine
    March 9, 2010

    Janine, I’m glad your niece is okay. That had to be frightening.

  415. #416 Ol'Greg
    March 9, 2010

    Thankfully, her parents are so brainwashed, they did not even consider alternative methods of treating her.

    Tell me about it! I’m glad to hear she is ok. That can be so dangerous.

    I have pneumonia currently and even as a healthy adult I have been toggling between extremely sick/barely breathing and somewhat weak for the past two months. Currently awaiting another chest xray and a decision on what to do next or what antibiotics to try. Luckily no one is suggesting Reiki or removing toxins from my feet as a treatment. The upside is I’ve lost 7 lbs already … at this rate I’ll be able to fit into my clothes from highschool by next month!

    But seriously I’m really glad to hear that she’s recovered.

  416. #417 David Marjanovi?
    March 9, 2010

    Yeah, right, sweetheart. The “fun” kind. Jackass.

    :-D

  417. #418 WowbaggerOM
    March 9, 2010

    KOPD wrote:

    That’s why I like the site whatstheharm.net . It’s a collection of stories of people injuried, disfigured, sued, or killed by everything from feng shui to cults to ear candling.

    Ooh, I like that. I’m going to use it as my url everywhere I post from now on.

  418. #419 Janine, Mistress Of Foul Mouth Abuse, OM
    March 9, 2010

    Thank you. Cannot say she is completely recovered but she is off the oxygen and allowed to go home.

    Ol’Greg, two months? Good luck with that. I hope it has not been too bad of a financial drag.

  419. #420 Knockgoats
    March 9, 2010

    I saw that Walton@396, fine as far as it goes, but there’s really no need to wait! None of their pledges to respect civil liberties will turn out to mean what they seem to mean, should they get a majority. Much the best guarantee against further authoritarian measures is a hung Parliament, which looks to be a real possiblity, though I think the odds are still on a Tory majority. The constituency where I vote is currently Labour, with LibDems and SNP almost tied for second place. I’ll probably vote SNP because of their opposition to Trident replacement.

    I’m having trouble even keeping up with the Endless Thread alone, let alone the rest of Pharyngula!

    Oh, and a very happy birthday, PZ! As it happens (or, if the universe is deterministic, was bound to be the case at the moment of the Big Bang), you’re just one day older than my younger brother.

  420. #421 Owlmirror
    March 9, 2010

    Could you send the pdf my way?

    My mysterious psychic ninja powers tell me that [first].[last] AT gmx.at will soon be present at a PDF-falling-from-back-of-truck incident.

    Which, of course, has nothing whatsoever to do with my mysterious psychic ninja self. What can you do? These things happen.

  421. #422 Knockgoats
    March 9, 2010

    Oh, again – very best wishes, Ichthyic.

  422. #423 Ol'Greg
    March 9, 2010

    That’s why I like the site whatstheharm.net . It’s a collection of stories of people injuried, disfigured, sued, or killed by everything from feng shui to cults to ear candling

    That site is great!

    When I was young I worked for a while selling vitamins in one of those sports nutrition type stores that shall remain unamed. There is some shady stuff in there, but after a while I found myself more often than not talking people out of doing really really really stupid things like drinking creatine to “boost” their kidneys, or drinking weird concoctions because they need gall bladder surgery and don’t want to get it, or ear candles. I remember one woman just arguing with me forever about ear candles. We didn’t carry them.

    But the saddest were the travelers and the truly disadvantaged. We were by an airport in a ghetto part of town. People would stop by as they flew back to visit relatives in far flung places, some times trying to bring something back to help them.

    We would get people coming in who had family in very poor places wanting vitamins to cure things like typhoid.

    We would also get very sick locals who couldn’t afford a doctor all the time. It was really sad to tell some one that they really probably need like flagil or something and should really see a doctor even if they have to pawn their tv or something to do it.

  423. #424 jenbphillips
    March 9, 2010

    Re: “what’s the harm” specifically with regard to cancer, this account is one of the most horrifically compelling that I have ever read. In general, the SBM blog has a ton of great stuff about Cancer Quackery if anyone is interested.

  424. #425 Ol'Greg
    March 9, 2010

    Ol’Greg, two months? Good luck with that. I hope it has not been too bad of a financial drag.

    I know. It’s crazy. Yeah it sucks as far as money goes but the bills haven’t hit yet, just the copays and scripts so we’ll see how I fare later.

  425. #426 Knockgoats
    March 9, 2010

    Eek! And all the best to Janine MOFMA,OM’s niece and Ol’Greg, too. The worst I can offer is that a chunk of amalgam filling fell off upper right 5 while I was flossing on Sunday, food keeps getting stuck in the resulting cavity, and I’ve had to fix a dental appointment! (I can feel the waves of Pharyngulist sympathy washing over me already…)

  426. #427 blf
    March 9, 2010

    I remember one woman just arguing with me forever about ear candles. We didn’t carry them.

    I admit that, until just now when I looked it up with Generalissimo Google and on Wikipedia, I always thought ear candles and ear candling was satire.

  427. #428 'Tis Himself, OM
    March 9, 2010

    Paul Simon and Willie Nelson singing “Graceland”:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VNIEtwZ1OYQ&feature=related

  428. #429 Rorschach
    March 9, 2010

    Lynna @ 384,

    thanks for that link, great article by Hitchens, if only politicians would listen.Maybe this is something that can and should be brought up at the GAC this weekend.

    I’m off to claim ownership to my new rental place, notably by train, because my car is going to be in service for 2 weeks after the rear-ending the other day, great fun !
    I might not mention the fact that I have an empty beachside house during the GAC to too many people haha…It’s in the burbs tho.

  429. #430 negentropyeater
    March 9, 2010

    Ear-candling?
    WTF!
    I learn about new crazy stuff every day thanks to Pharyngula.

  430. #431 WowbaggerOM
    March 9, 2010

    I might not mention the fact that I have an empty beachside house during the GAC to too many people haha…It’s in the burbs tho.

    I don’t think you have to worry too much; there’s no time to do much else other than go to the convention – unless you’re talking about Sunday afternoon/evening after RD finishes up. Then we might be inquiring…

  431. #432 Kamaka
    March 9, 2010

    Uh-oh!

    I think Pharyngula has been smited!

  432. #433 Rorschach
    March 9, 2010

    unless you’re talking about Sunday afternoon/evening after RD finishes up

    I have an 8am start Monday, and given lack of car that means getting up at 6 and taking the train to work…:-(
    But that’s not saying that one can not have a few Absacker on Sunday evening…:-)

  433. #434 Antiochus Epiphanes
    March 9, 2010

    Ear-candling, huh? Whatever happened to hydrogen peroxide and a cotton ball? As a child, I loved to listen to the muddy fizz and feel the now hot liquid pouring from my earhole at session’s end.

    TMI?

    I had soem earwax problems, OK?

  434. #435 Carlie
    March 9, 2010

    Antiochus – did you have to use castor oil in your ear first to help soften it all? That’s the really gross-feeling part.

  435. #436 'Tis Himself, OM
    March 9, 2010

    Cecil Adams has an article on ear candling.

    When the candle had burned down to two inches we snuffed it and examined the treated ear with the otoscope. No change, except that possibly the wax was dented where the candle had been stuck in. Upon slicing open the candle stub, however, we found a considerable quantity of brown wax and whitish powder. The manual had the audacity to intimate that the powder was candida yeast extracted from the ear, conceding that possibly “1% to 10%” was from the used candle. The disappointed MDs were more inclined to say it was 100 percent, but just to be sure we burned another candle in the open air. When we sliced it open we found wax and powder identical to that in the first. Conclusion: it’s a hoax. Ain’t it always the way? Maybe we’re not doing enemas anymore, but we’re winding up with the same old stuff.

  436. #437 blf
    March 9, 2010

    I always used just a hollow tube. One end in the ear, one in my mouth, and a really good blow. The wax, dead mice, live bats, and occasional hedgehog would, with enough huffing and puffing, be dislodged and blown into the internal hollowness. They rarely come out the other side, however, as they were captured by the really dense bit at the centre, spiralled inwards, and eventually vanished beyond the event horizon.

    Disposing of the used tube was really easy. Just shove it further into the ear. It sides nicely down the now-cleaned channel until one end is attracted to the dense bit in the centre. Then it starts getting pulled in, deeper and deeper, and disappears inside with a WHOOSH!

  437. #438 Walton, Extra Special Dumpling of Awesome
    March 9, 2010

    Ol’Greg, I’m sorry to hear about your illness. Get well soon.

    Regarding @#423, I’m increasingly inclined to the view that (despite the serious systemic faults of the NHS over here) there are substantial advantages to universal public funding of healthcare. Certainly, at a minimum, government should fund the provision of healthcare for those on particularly low incomes. No one should have to rely on quack remedies, or leave untreated conditions to worsen, because of being unable to afford basic primary care.

    I would add that I don’t support the NHS model of healthcare provision, whereby government actually administers hospitals directly and employs physicians and health workers. A major practical failing of the NHS model is that the public expect and demand to be provided with every cutting-edge treatment (look up the Herceptin controversy, for an example), but are simultaneously unwilling to pay the substantially higher taxes that would be necessary to fund the best care for everyone. Not to mention the dangers of political interference in the provision of medical care, and the fact that the NHS does many flagrantly stupid things (like funding homeopathy with taxpayers’ money), because it is the politicians and bureaucrats, not doctors or healthcare professionals, who call the shots.

    But some variant of the Canadian or Australian “universal insurance” model has much to commend it, IMO. Government shouldn’t be running hospitals or telling healthcare professionals how to do their jobs, but it should provide funding so that everyone, regardless of wealth, has access to a basic level of medical care. By analogy, it’s like the difference between government running farms and producing food (which would be a bad idea), and government providing welfare payments so that those with no income can afford food (which is a good idea, and is done in all civilised societies).

  438. #439 David Marjanovi?
    March 9, 2010

    if the universe is deterministic

    *cough* *cough*

    My mysterious psychic ninja powers tell me that [first].[last] AT gmx.at will soon be present at a PDF-falling-from-back-of-truck incident.

    The pdf hurled itself successfully in my general direction. :-)

    I always used just a hollow tube. One end in the ear, one in my mouth, and a really good blow.

    …???

    But anyway. I knew about ear candles (saw an ad maybe 10 years ago), and I raise you young French royalists. I found out about them when I saw a sticker in the métro a few days ago (100% jeunes ? 100% royalistes, no, duh!) and wanted to post the link right away, but it’s just so surreal that I kept forgetting!

  439. #440 Rorschach
    March 9, 2010

    This just in :

    Faith Falls Down Under

  440. #441 Lynna, OM
    March 9, 2010

    Owlmirror, thank you for that marvelous post. Can you send the PDF to me as well? If so, send to lynna[at]artmeetsadventure[dot]com.

    Rorschach, glad you enjoyed the justified rant from Hitchens. I didn’t include in my post the excerpts from the offensive letter. I was, however, glad to see that Hitchens gave us a good sampling of the outrageous, lawyerly idiocy of the threatened “litigation”.

  441. #442 Antiochus Epiphanes
    March 9, 2010

    Carlie–No castor oil. I bet that feels gross. I have never actually even seen castor oil as it turns out.

    Does it help?

  442. #443 Bride of Shrek OM
    March 9, 2010

    My dad’s an ENT and he reckons that between cleaning up the messy outcomes of earcandling and doing myringoplasties to patch eardrums that some idiot’s pushed a hole through by using cotton buds, he’s paid for weddings for 3 daughters.

  443. #444 otrame
    March 9, 2010

    ol’ Greg, hon, a few years ago I had pneumonia for more than a month. It took everything I had to get to the bathroom when I needed to and then I would lie in my recliner and sweat for an hour. ugh.

    It was a viral pneumonia, so antibiotics didn’t help. When it dragged into it’s second month I was moaning to my doc about feeling better but not better enough and she said, “Hmm. Let’s try this.” She treated me for mild asthma. Three days later I was back at work. I then realized that some things that had happened in the past had been mild asthma attacks. Apparently the pneumonia had triggered a worsening of the asthma. These days if I get a cold I always end up back on asthma meds. It only occasionally (less than once a week) bothers me otherwise.

    Anyway, I can sympathize and I hope you get better soon. It is a miserable feeling.

  444. #445 Kel, OM
    March 9, 2010

    I have an 8am start Monday, and given lack of car that means getting up at 6 and taking the train to work…:-(

    Am I going to be getting in your way?

  445. #446 Finch
    March 9, 2010

    Crossing the international date line to skip your birthday PZ?

    Also: Ear Candles=freakin weird. I just don’t get it.

    Also the second: An article in the WSJ about Mosab Hassan Yousef. It was from March 5th, it’s called ‘They Need to Be Liberated From Their God’

    The thing that’s weird about it, is that he insinuates that they need to be liberated from the Islamic and Jewish gods to become Christians.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703915204575103481069258868.html

    Freakin’ weird.

  446. #447 Owlmirror
    March 9, 2010

    Can you send the PDF to me as well?

    I cannot confirm or deny any PDFs being put onto trucks in precarious positions.

    However, my mysterious psychic ninja powers tell me that by a remarkable coïncidence, a carrier pigeon winging its way from a secret military base to Area 51 will accidentally drop a PDF right over your e-mail inbox.

    Fancy that.

  447. #448 David Marjanovi?
    March 9, 2010

    I’ve now read some of the manifest of the Young Royalists. Tedious! “We are that youth who, proud of their History [yes, capital H], loving their country”…

    At least the Serbian royalists my dad once found on the Internet had the decency to make a rhyming one-liner: bez kralja ne valja ? “without a king it doesn’t work”.

  448. #449 Lynna, OM
    March 9, 2010

    Area 51 is one of my favorite places. There’s so much desert, so many long vistas … and a surprising number of unexplained PDFs arriving from who knows where — PDFs that contain sexy stuff like “bedding planes” and “impact-ejecta-rich red clay layers” and “ballistically ejected shocked quartz grains”. Bliss.

  449. #450 maureen.brian#b5c92
    March 9, 2010

    Psst! Don’t let Walton see this.

  450. #451 Becca
    March 9, 2010

    apparently it’s now illegal to have a miscarriage in Utah – or so the law could be interpreted to read.

    http://current.com/12udc4c

  451. #452 Ichthyic
    March 9, 2010

    The worst I can offer is that a chunk of amalgam filling fell off upper right 5 while I was flossing on Sunday, food keeps getting stuck in the resulting cavity

    ha! add that exact same issue to my list of woes.

    lost 75% of a filling in that exact spot 2 weeks ago.

    most irritating thing? toungie loves to probe the empty spot over and over again.
    :P

    I have pneumonia currently and even as a healthy adult I have been toggling between extremely sick/barely breathing and somewhat weak for the past two months.

    yeeouch. I think you and I are competing for most debilitating illness of the month. Like you, at least I’ve lost weight. I’m under 100kg for the first time in 10 years (lost 8kg so far).

    Isn’t it fun to feel like a walk to the corner store is a 5 mile hike up a mountain?

    Yeah it sucks as far as money goes but the bills haven’t hit yet, just the copays and scripts so we’ll see how I fare later.

    *sigh* Mine hit me at the worse time possible, right while they were processing my medical exam for my 2 year work permit. If it had hit 2 weeks later, I would have been fully covered by NZ health.

    as it is… I’m currently looking at out of pocket for 100% of 4 hospital stays and 2 surgeries.

    Hey, at least it’s a far cry cheaper than in the states. everything here is 1/3 to 1/10 as much as it is in the states, from the surgeries to the hospital stays to the scrips. seriously, the scrips here are almost all subsidized, even for non-citizens, and average about 3.00 NZD. Things i used to pay 80.00 for in the states are literally less than 10% of that here.

    Still, buffybot and I here have reached the proverbial bottom of the barrel this month. My family is non-existent at this point, so hopefully the “inlaws” will be able to come to the rescue.

    On the bright side, at least I managed to finegle a temporary work permit out of immigration here, and while it won’t cover any medical, it did at least let me apply for a sweet job here.

    now if i can just get healthy enough for the interview…

    anywho, I’m pullin’ for ya. pneumonia sucks, but if you’re getting good homecare and good drugs, you should be able to kick it pretty soon, yeah?

  452. #453 'Tis Himself, OM
    March 9, 2010

    David Marjanovi? #448

    I’ve just read La réforme des institutions politiques (reformation of political institutions) of Les Jeunes Royalistes. They’re apparently Orleanists supporting le Comte de Paris.

  453. #454 llewelly
    March 9, 2010

    KOPD | March 9, 2010 9:06 AM:

    Anybody else watch the Daily Show last night. Jason Jones interviewed Dan Barker. I didn’t see the whole thing, but it’s hard watching them make fun of somebody you like.

    I don’t own a tv, but after reading your comment, I went and saw it on atheist media blog, where I posted this:

    Oliver Stone’s JFK, Loose Change, Zeitgeist, and other garbage have convinced many people that every mention of the word “conspiracy” indicates a lunatic.

    But a few years ago, Bin Laden, a number of Saudia Arabians, and a few other muslims conspired to attack the WTC and Pentagon. No, there’s no evidence Bush was connected to it, and Al Qadea never had much power, but it was nonetheless a conspiracy. Nixon’s CRP is another example of a real conspiracy, and they did enable Nixon to win the 1972 election by an enormous margin – see All The President’s Men. But they didn’t manage to keep the secret long enough for Nixon to finish his 2nd term in office. They had enough power to prevent significant punishment of nearly all of the people involved, but many lost most of their political power and had their reputations damaged. Conspiracies do happen in real life, but they’re almost always far simpler than anything depicted in most novels, they seldom stay secret as long as the conspirators intend, and they often break up due to differing aims of the conspirators. And although some have had widespread (but not necessarily strong) influence, there’s no evidence of one that has had influence everywhere.

    The RCC does have a lot of power – but most of that power is out in the open. And it does have a lot of influence on the US government, but most of it is indirect and imprecise; they don’t call shots directly, but they do play a big role in keeping gay marriage illegal, and restricting abortion. I doubt any RCC official made a direct suggestion to the USPS. Rather, it’s more likely that the RCC’s aggressive, long-running PR campaign for Mother Teresa led ordinary US citizens to independently suggest the stamp to the USPS, or to USPS people making the decision. That’s actually how the vast majority of influence works – not through secret channels, but through the opposite – through messages we are all so heavily bombarded with that we can’t possibly ignore the message.

    I doubt Dan Barker is the conspiracy theorist this funny, but obviously cherry-picked joke depicts him as. More likely, he was trying to explain that the RCC’s influence on the US government exceeds most people’s estimation, and he was quoted out of context. I’d like to see the full interview.

  454. #455 Ichthyic
    March 9, 2010

    @lynna 354:

    Keep us deformed.

    grossly.
    ;)

  455. #456 jenbphillips
    March 9, 2010

    That is so disrespectful to the deformed. You might as well just start openly supporting eugenics, you godless monsters!

  456. #457 Ichthyic
    March 9, 2010

    godless monster

    and proud of it!
    ;)

    as an addendum to the discussion of race/genealogy/populations/phenotypes and genotypes, did anyone catch this article:

    http://scienceblogs.com/geneticfuture/2010/03/genetic_ancestry_testing_peopl.php

  457. #458 Quackalicious
    March 9, 2010

    Dearest Nerd O?Deadhead,
    It?s nicest when you see red.
    Logic you lack, try to stay on track
    Or at least remember what was said.
    You say I?m a quack and a fool,
    But I?m using a much better tool,
    They?re studies, my friend, and so I will send,
    You to medline, or maybe to school.
    The rest of you lot, have you even got,
    A single reputable statistician?
    Or do you rely, like that O?Deadwood guy,
    On a psychiatrist and a magician?

  458. #459 Caine
    March 9, 2010

    Quackfraud, you aren’t talented, witty or interesting. Just a con-man who has zero evidence for all your huckstery claims.

  459. #460 Ichthyic
    March 9, 2010

    man, the fact that you spend so much time HERE on a fucking BLOG, desperate to somehow convince us that you really are doing an honest living, when it’s so obvious you ARE NOT, tells me volumes about your self-esteem.

    what a loser you are, quacky.

    …and what’s more, you evidently know it.

  460. #461 Becca
    March 9, 2010

    I think Dr. Quack doesn’t want to engage in conversation, but just likes being the subject of our discussion. He never seems to add anything to the discussion except to try to stir things up. Best ignore him, I suspect.

  461. #462 'Tis Himself, OM
    March 9, 2010

    Why is the woomeister spending so much time and effort to convert the rational to irrationality?

  462. #463 Feynmaniac
    March 9, 2010

    Quack,

    After reading that poem I was going to write ‘don’t quit your day job’, but it probably do a lot of good if you did.

  463. #464 John Morales
    March 9, 2010

    Wow, would-be doggerel by Quackalicious.

    Dearest Nerd O?Deadhead,
    It?s nicest when you see red.

    Nah, he’s deriding you, not being apoplectic.

    Logic you lack, try to stay on track
    Or at least remember what was said.

    He was always ahead of you.

    You say I?m a quack and a fool,

    :)

    But I?m using a much better tool,

    Which would that be?

    They?re studies, my friend, and so I will send,
    You to medline, or maybe to school.

    You forgot the citations.

    The rest of you lot, have you even got,
    A single reputable statistician?

    Bring on the statistics.

    Or do you rely, like that O?Deadwood guy,
    On a psychiatrist and a magician?

    We rely on ourselves.

  464. #465 Caine
    March 9, 2010

    Feynmaniac, it would be good if Quackster got an actual job.

  465. #466 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 9, 2010

    The Quackster still has the same problem as when he started. We aren’t falling for his woo. His woo is dangerous to his patients victims, maybe even hastening their death due to non-treatment. And he wonders why nobody is listening to his garbage. Good, reproducible data that impresses the good MD’s who post here, and the medical consultants for magazines like Skeptical Inquirer is absolutely required. So he has nothing but woo filled hot air. An explosive combination with a bad case of the stoopid.

    By the way Q, we scientists look at all data, including the data showing your ideas to be woo filled verbal salads without any congency. Find another job for the safety of your victims. Telephone solicitor or used car salesman, or even just a pick-pocket, are far, far more honest jobs.

  466. #467 badgersdaughter
    March 9, 2010

    Quackalicious @ 458:

    My mother trusted altie med
    To take care of her ills
    Because her friends messed with her head
    And sold her lots of pills.

    My mother trusted in the Lord
    And also quacks like you
    And spent more than she could afford
    To make her dreams come true.

    The cancer got her in the end
    But not without a fight.
    That’s how I lost my dearest friend.
    I miss my mom tonight.

    I’m writing this, sad, and perplexed
    why you are such a quack.
    I live in fear I might be next,
    and like Mommy, won’t come back.

    Fuck you, you bastard. How many mothers did you kill this year?

  467. #468 badgersdaughter
    March 9, 2010

    And that pathetic, substandard bit of doggerel is all the breath I’m wasting on that goddamned walking case of negligent homicide.

  468. #469 Kel, OM
    March 9, 2010

    Hey, if he has the evidence then let him present it. After all, that’s all people are asking for here. What evidence is there that his work is a) efficacious, and b) that what we call medicine is not. If he can do that by not cherry-picking papers (three positive and fifty negative / neutral papers – if you cite the three and not the other 50 you are cherry picking) and that the studies have a large sample size, double blinded and quality controlled, well then I’m all for him presenting his case.

    If he can demonstrate scientifically that his techniques work, then I’ll stop calling him a quack and change my mind on those therapies. He says he has the capacity to do this, so unless he’s just talking out of his arse let him give the chance to present his case. Though I’m betting its just rhetoric – it always is with quacks.

  469. #470 Caine
    March 9, 2010

    badgersdaughter:

    Fuck you, you bastard. How many mothers did you kill this year?

    Quackster would never answer this, at least never answer it honestly. That two-bit fraud won’t even admit that he does harm. For all the people who die as a consequence of altmed woo and those who peddle it, the harm ripples out, leaving anger and grief in its wake. One more reason to constantly call these thieving liars out at every opportunity.

    The Quackster, pile of steaming shit he is, wouldn’t even address a question posed to him about Andreas Moritz, the cancer quack. Instead of doing a bit of reading and answering (as to whether Moritz is a quack and harmful), he pled ignorance. Big surprise. He doesn’t dare diss another quack, because if he did, he’d have to be honest about what a criminal he is himself.

  470. #471 Caine
    March 9, 2010

    Kel, OM @ 469:

    Hey, if he has the evidence then let him present it.

    He already has. His idea of evidence is articles from the journal of alternative medicine. Nothing there.

  471. #472 Jadehawk, OM
    March 9, 2010

    Aren’t we supposed to start crucifying rabbits pretty soon ?

    I know I’ve linked to this before, but it’s very relevant

    That was deliberate. It was meticulously planned. See? This way I get to find out that you’re reading Tet Zoo all on your own now

    pfffft….

    (Not 3 times, mind you. Twice.)

    how can they tell if something was already eaten twice?

    Best joke of the week :-}

    nerd-love is awesomely adorable

    The Lulz at Limbaugh’s expense are somewhat tempered by the presence of the rampant wackaloonery at HuffPo, however.

    yeah, I know. if I had the time, I’d have looked for a less stupid source for that. but i didn’t.

    He’ll have to go to China to find the current American system (only a bit worse… yes, worse).

    that was my first thought, too. the irony of that struck me as interesting, to say the least.

    young French royalists.

    surreal indeed. too bad I can’t read any of that for even the most basic level of comprehension. at least past the “youth is the fire of the world” (?!) part; and something about teeth.

    ——

    I’ve quick-red the thread and my eyeballs hurt, so I seem to have missed the particular posts in which people are describing their ill states of health; so I’ll just send a generic “get better, y’all” out to every pharyngulite who’s ill right now. because I’m not rereading this thread.

  472. #473 windy
    March 9, 2010

    That’s actually how the vast majority of influence works – not through secret channels, but through the opposite – through messages we are all so heavily bombarded with that we can’t possibly ignore the message.

    Case in point,

    http://www.truthout.org/fiction-marja-city-was-us-information-war57470

    For weeks, the U.S. public followed the biggest offensive of the Afghanistan War against what it was told was a “city of 80,000 people” as well as the logistical hub of the Taliban in that part of Helmand. That idea was a central element in the overall impression built up in February that Marja was a major strategic objective, more important than other district centres in Helmand. [...]
    Marja is not a city or even a real town, but either a few clusters of farmers’ homes or a large agricultural area covering much of the southern Helmand River Valley.

  473. #474 Pygmy Loris
    March 9, 2010

    Jon Stewart is tearing some jackass journalist apart on The Daily Show tonight. Woohoo!

  474. #475 Pygmy Loris
    March 9, 2010

    Jon Stewart fucking rocks! Why are the some of the best interviews on the freaking comedy channel? What the fuck is wrong with our real news organizations?

  475. #476 Feynmaniac
    March 9, 2010

    Jon Stewart fucking rocks! Why are the some of the best interviews on the freaking comedy channel? What the fuck is wrong with our real news organizations?

    So true. Whenever I think about it I am reminded of this painting.

  476. #477 monado
    March 9, 2010

    Good night, all! Happy birthday, PZ!

  477. #478 Pygmy Loris
    March 10, 2010

    Feynmaniac,

    I love that painting! It’s strangely reminiscent of Jon Stewart’s apparent mood as of late.

  478. #479 ronsullivan
    March 10, 2010

    Badgersdaughter, my hat is off and my heart goes out to you. That’s all I can say.

    Re: less-toxic woo, I live in Berkeley. Yeah I’ve seen ear candles. Scared me half to death; all I could see was my hair catching fire. I’m waiting for toenail candles to appear as a treatment for that damned toenail fungus that seems to be everywhere* in the last decade. I walk downtown and, two blocks from my house, I pass a block that’s mostly taken up by North Atlantic Books (publisher of the toroidal-tiger guy) and some crystalaurahealing store that advertises ~healinnnnng~ ~readinnnnnngs~ by phone, and a chiropractor.

    *OK, mostly on toenails. I’d like to see the epidemiology of that, though.

    Other than The Luggage, Death is my favorite Pratchett character, Foul Old Ron notwithstanding. I covet The Luggage. You can keep your minions, your henchpersons, your butlers, even your goons; I want The Luggage.

    Anyone here read Terry Bisson?

    how can they tell if something was already eaten twice?

    I’d imagine it tastes different.

    I’ve seen two cars on fire that I can recall offhand. One was a few blocks from me and I never did see a driver. The other showed up when we were doing a Christmas Bird Count up in Yolo County, not too far from Davis but pretty much middle of nowhere. It was rainy; we were coming down the canyon road, and we heard this odd {whoomp} and came round the bend to see a brand-new sporty-muscle kinda car that we’d noticed on the way up, only this time it was in flames. Just off someone’s long dirt driveway on a patch of newly-green grass, a safe distance from the house and any trees.

    I’m reaching for the phone but there’s a young guy on a cellphone walking down the driveway. We stop; he sputters something about the car just bursting into flame, he dunno, visiting friends, just noticed… He seemed oddly calm though. The four of us muttered, “Insurance fire,” more or less in unison.

    Pulled off to do more counting around the next bend and kept hearing more {whoomp}s, which I took to be the tires and something volatile, by turns. Took a good ten minutes for the county firetruck to come past us.

    I must say it was picturesque, all that mossy damp winter green and deep brown and this thing in flames in the middle of it.

    Fr gawdsake, Icthyic, Ol’ Greg, everyone, get better! Y’all are scaring me half to death. Virtual hot toddies to all; Icthyic, you can collect yours when you’re up to it. Cripes, can you even take sedatives when your liver’s acting up? Should I row over there and hit you with a brick?

  479. #480 Caine, Fleur du mal
    March 10, 2010

    Ron, a login with your name, yay!

    I covet The Luggage.

    Who wouldn’t covet The Luggage? Wouldn’t find me turning away a nifty Sapient Pearwood trunk.

  480. #481 Stephen Wells
    March 10, 2010

    As a result of the Daily Show, I now perceive BBC news journalism as satire. In the USA only Stewart will sit politicians down and say “You screwed up completely, how come?”, whereas the Today programme does that every morning, to everybody. I once heard them flat-out tell a Lib Dem spokesman that their policies were largely irrelevant as they were never going to form a government. It was true, but it seemed a little harsh.

  481. #482 Ichthyic
    March 10, 2010

    I’m reaching for the phone but there’s a young guy on a cellphone walking down the driveway. We stop; he sputters something about the car just bursting into flame, he dunno, visiting friends, just noticed… He seemed oddly calm though. The four of us muttered, “Insurance fire,” more or less in unison.

    ahh, don’t be so sure.

    decades ago my cousin used to be a cattle rancher, and had to drive thousands of miles each week to price feed and figure out which markets to best sell his products in (both just beef, and prime studs).

    well, he drove a VW rabbit, and he put so many miles on that thing so fast, I think it must have melted the injectors or something, because I was visiting one day about a year after he bought the car, and I SAW it just… catch fire right in his driveway. He was around back (it was a big place, so “round back” meant at least 10 mins away), and I didn’t know where the water hoses or anything like that was (hell, I was only about 13 anyway; probably thought it was pretty “gnarly” to watch it burn anyway).

    thing just burned up, right there on the spot.

    He was pretty calm about it too, surprised, but calm.

    Should I row over there and hit you with a brick?

    I would seriously consider that offer, if it wouldn’t take you so damn long to get here by rowing.

    got myself a scrip for some sleeping pills, and hope that will work to put me out at least every other night (doc says definitely DO NOT use every night, or you will get dependent on them :P )

    If you make it over here within the next week, you can slam my head with a brick every other night, maybe?

    cheers

  482. #483 Owlmirror
    March 10, 2010

    Oh, hi,

    I can has facepalm for bad science “noooz”?

    I happened to find the sciencedaily news release about the Chicxulub paper, and noted that it was annoyingly vague on the whole Keller hypothesis:

    “The panel was able to discount previous studies that suggested that the Chicxulub impact occurred 300,000 years prior to the KT extinction. The researchers say that these studies had misinterpreted geological data that was gathered close to the Chicxulub impact site. This is because the rocks close to the impact zone underwent complex geological processes after the initial asteroid collision, which made it difficult to interpret the data correctly.”

    Not helpful for those of us who want details, so I’m even more glad I got the PDF. But that’s not the bad science in and of itself.

    One of the related stories linked to was about a paper that the K-Pg extinction was not responsible for the diversification of mammals. The actual paper is whatever it is, but there’s a line in the news release that is one of the most mind-bogglingly wrong sentences that I’ve ever read in a science news release, and I only have a layperson’s knowledge of the palaeontology of mammals.

    These are the clauses of the sentence that fill me with frustrated SIWOTI syndrome:

    However, most of these groups have since either died out completely, such as Andrewsarchus (an aggressive wolf-like cow)

    Wait… what?

    1) Andrewsarchus is not a “group” (or if it is, it’s not a particularly large one). I suspect that someone originally said/wrote mesonychids, and offered Andrewsarchus as an example of a mesonychid, and the reporter bollixed up that reference and explanation very badly. Note that the identification of Andrewsarchus as being a mesonychid is now in doubt, and it is tentatively considered to be more likely an artiodactyl.

    2) No-one knows if Andrewsarchus was actually “aggressive” or not. This is a minor quibble, I suppose, but the real fuckup is next.

    3) Mesonychids were related to artiodactyls, and Andrewsarchus may have been an artiodactyl, and artiodactyla does include cows … but saying that Andrewsarchus was a cow is as stupid and confused as calling Darwinius 1 a human. It’s just mind-bogglingly dumb.

    Did some malevolent creationist edit down a paragraph that actually explained what mesonychids were into that horrible result?

    ___________________________________________

    1: Yes, I’ve seen the work that emphasizes that Darwinius was almost certainly not even ancestral to humans, which is kinda my point. Andrewsarchus was not even ancestral to cows.

    ——

    +1

  483. #484 Rorschach
    March 10, 2010

    Kel @ 445,

    Am I going to be getting in your way?

    Uhm, to be honest I hadn’t thought of Monday morning lol, you mighn’t want to be kicked out at 6am haha…
    Travelodge or Victoria Hotel should have rooms though if it’s too inconvenient.

    PZ is in the air already, and only 2 days to go, yay !!!

  484. #485 Caine, Fleur du mal
    March 10, 2010

    Ichthyic:

    got myself a scrip for some sleeping pills, and hope that will work to put me out at least every other night

    I hope that doesn’t make the liver situation worse. You’ve been ongoing with that for way too long already. Sleep is good though. We could always contract the hitting you with a brick out, I’m sure Bride of Shrek wouldn’t mind…

  485. #486 llewelly
    March 10, 2010

    I hope everyone who is ill gets better.
    Apologies to anyone who thought they deserved a specific well wishing.

  486. #487 Ichthyic
    March 10, 2010

    We could always contract the hitting you with a brick out

    meh, I’m living with another (rare posting) pharyngulite (buffybot), who just saw that post and has now eagerly volunteered herself for the job, since I’ve been keeping her awake many nights too.
    :)

  487. #488 Kel, OM
    March 10, 2010

    Uhm, to be honest I hadn’t thought of Monday morning lol, you mighn’t want to be kicked out at 6am haha…

    Nah, that’s fine. Leaving Melbourne by 8 anyway to get back to Canberra. I’m sure there’s some place I can grab a coffee and a danish while I wait for my mates to get ready.

  488. #489 Rorschach
    March 10, 2010

    Talking about PZ, something for you evo-devo folks out there to chew over :

    Sonic Hedgehog found in mice ectoderm

    And more GAC in the news :

    HeraldSun opinion piece regarding the GAC

  489. #490 Buffybot
    March 10, 2010

    I’ll just nip out and get a brick.

  490. #491 Janine, Mistress Of Foul Mouth Abuse, OM
    March 10, 2010

    Oh dear, now I am slipping back to Python again.

    “Nurse! Apply the anesthetic!”

  491. #492 Rorschach
    March 10, 2010

    Python ! What coincidence, somehow I was thinking of John Cleese earlier !

    Cleese Interview 2009

  492. #493 Carlie
    March 10, 2010

    And a longtime question FINALLY gets answered! (I kept hearing of Ichthyic’s having found love amidst the postings, but somehow missed it when it happened and didn’t want to ask who it was.) I hope the pills (or brick) brought sleep.

    Owlmirror, ScienceDaily continues to be a source of disappointment for me. I was so excited for the site when I found it, until I realized that although it’s all science news, it’s science news as reported by the person who usually does the Out on the Town segment and is substituting in the science section for the day or something.

    Antiochus (from upthread): no idea if oil really helps. It seems like it would, but I never experimented with it. I was quite young and those were the doctor’s orders.

  493. #494 Rorschach
    March 10, 2010

    In case anyone wonders what the CEO is up to, I suspect it’s this :

    QF94 LAX to MEL

  494. #495 Sili
    March 10, 2010

    The worst I can offer is that a chunk of amalgam filling fell off upper right 5 while I was flossing on Sunday

    I knew it!

    All that semifascistoid pestering to get us to floss is reallu just a plot be dentists to drum up more business.

    /tinfoil

  495. #496 WowbaggerOM
    March 10, 2010

    In case anyone wonders what the CEO is up to, I suspect it’s this: QF94 LAX to MEL

    Poor bastard. I’m not a good flyer; I’m not that enthusiastic about the hour or so I’ve got to spend in the air to get there. It doesn’t help that on two occasions while landing I’ve had inappropriate songs on either the internal music player or my own: Crash Into Me by Dave Matthews (that’s obvious) and Lucky by Radiohead – less obvious, but it features the chorus ‘pull me out, of the aircrash; pull me out, of the lake’ – not exactly reassuring…

  496. #497 Walton, Extra Special Dumpling of Awesome
    March 10, 2010

    You people have all been a terrible influence on me. I seem to be rapidly turning into a hippie leftie commie unsound liberal; I even found myself listening to and enjoying this anti-war song last night. :-)

  497. #498 WowbaggerOM
    March 10, 2010

    Right, I’m off to bed. After tonight only one more sleep to go ’til the GAC starts. Sweet!

  498. #499 David Marjanovi?
    March 10, 2010

    Psst! Don’t let Walton see this.

    :-D

    Second comment from there:

    “Clearly the Tories want power – they always have. The difference this time is that they cannot articulate why! The country is fed up with Brown but his calls on the current economic situation have been largely correct, whereas Cameron is clueless. Even though Brown got us into this mess the electorate is perhaps coming to the uncomfortable conclusions that he may have the best route for getting us out of it.”

    They’re apparently Orleanists supporting le Comte de Paris.

    Didn’t find that while skimming. Which page is it on?

    (What I did find is that they believe a king as supreme judge would guarantee the independence of the judiciary. TSIB.)

    I know I’ve linked to this before, but it’s very relevant

    …and I should have clicked on it the first time, but didn’t!!! A bit of redundancy is a good thing.

    pfffft….

    Sorry. Here, have some awesomely toothed almost-marsupials.

    how can they tell if something was already eaten twice?

    Looks and smells different, or so I’ve read.

    nerd-love is awesomely adorable

    Can’t be said often enough.

    too bad I can’t read any of that for even the most basic level of comprehension. at least past the “youth is the fire of the world” (?!) part; and something about teeth.

    I’ll translate the juiciest parts later today and/or tomorrow and/or on the weekend. Some are funny. Perhaps all. :-)

    The “fire” part is the one word I saw I didn’t know. Dictionary sez… yes, fire, but more poetic: 1. (Kohlen-)Glut; Feuersbrunst; 2. fig. (Liebes-)Glut. Embers; blaze/conflagration; figuratively embers, embers of love. :-} So… it’s not only way over-the-top poetic imagery (“when it cools off, the whole world’s teeth chatter”), it’s also revolutionary imagery. The Revolution sits so deep in the French consciousness that even the royalists are revolutionaries :-Þ :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D

    Teeth? I need to check.

    I once heard them flat-out tell a Lib Dem spokesman that their policies were largely irrelevant as they were never going to form a government. It was true, but it seemed a little harsh.

    And gave the spokesman a welcome opportunity to rant about defeatist attitudes, rally the voters to dare the unimaginable, say “Yes, we can!!!”…

    Did he make use of it? I bet he did.

    Oh, hi,

    I can has facepalm for bad science “noooz”?

    Any day of the week, and twice on Sundays! :-)

    Did some malevolent creationist edit down a paragraph that actually explained what mesonychids were into that horrible result?

    This is such a classic case of Hanlon’s Razor that even the truth machine wouldn’t argue with me over that.

    meh, I’m living with another (rare posting) pharyngulite (buffybot), who just saw that post and has now eagerly volunteered herself for the job, since I’ve been keeping her awake many nights too.
    :)

    :-)

    Sonic Hedgehog found in mice ectoderm

    I didn’t even know it’s expressed in the mesoderm. <shrink> However… quote from there…

    The discovery, to appear online in this week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that Sonic hedgehog’s role in the growth of appendages is far more complex than originally thought. Developmental biologists may have to rethink established theories about how limbs are patterned in vertebrates ? an effort that could provide insight into human birth defects.

    “We used technology where a viral protein seeks out specific sequences of DNA,” said Cortney M. Bouldin, a graduate student in the Interdisciplinary Program in Biomedical Sciences in the department of molecular genetics and microbiology. “We concentrated on disabling a protein essential for Sonic hedgehog signaling. Although it has been removed from the limb before, we wanted to specifically remove it from the ectoderm. When we did that, in the latter stages of development, we saw extra cartilage and the early beginnings of another digit.”

    Now it gets interesting. Now it gets seriously interesting. The ways digits are patterned and formed is a hot, hot field these days. Major controversies rage over birds, salamanders, Tulerpeton, Ichthyostega, Acanthostega… lungfish even…

    Oops. I need to run. Read you all later, best wishes to the way too many ill threadizens.

  499. #500 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 10, 2010

    And for post 500

    Pure awesomeness

  500. #501 Bobber
    March 10, 2010

    Badgersdaughter, #467:

    Much sympathy for your grief.

    Much admiration for your ability to channel it in such a pointed, and necessary, manner.

  501. #502 llewelly
    March 10, 2010

    Rev. BigDumbChimp | March 10, 2010 8:35 AM:

    Pure awesomeness

    I’ve been playing D&D since I was 11, and I didn’t get any of those.

  502. #503 boygenius
    March 10, 2010

    I seem to be rapidly turning into a hippie leftie commie unsound liberal

    Walton, you say that like it’s a bad thing. ;) Thanks for the link to One Tin Soldier. Man, I haven’t heard that song since the ’70s when I was too young to grasp the meaning or social context of the lyrics. I just remember it being a catchy tune.

  503. #504 Walton, Extra Special Dumpling of Awesome
    March 10, 2010

    I agree with badgersdaughter and Bobber. Alternative medicine is, all too often, dangerous bullshit peddled by con artists; and all too often, people rely on it in lieu of real healthcare, and die needlessly.

    I’m deeply unhappy that the NHS in this country funds homeopathy, as though it were a real medical treatment – which it is not.

  504. #505 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 10, 2010

    Have you seen The Big Lebowski?

  505. #506 boygenius
    March 10, 2010

    I’ve been playing D&D since I was 11, and I didn’t get any of those.

    You’ve never seen The Big Lebowski?

    Blasphemy!

  506. #507 Walton, Extra Special Dumpling of Awesome
    March 10, 2010

    What’s so intrinsically funny about French royalists? I don’t know what this particular group stands for (as I understand it, there are a number of different French royalist groups, reflecting the turbulent history of the French monarchy itself), but I firmly believe that a constitutional parliamentary monarchy, such as we have in Britain, would be preferable to the current French system of government.

    Constitutional monarchy can genuinely work very well. In Spain, King Juan Carlos I supervised the country’s peaceful transition to democracy after the end of the right-wing Franco regime. In Bhutan, the current King, Jigme Sigye Wangchuk (sp?), has recently introduced a new constitution and is gradually moving Bhutan, previously a very traditional hierarchical society, towards a liberal-democratic political system. And some of the most liberal and stable countries in Europe, such as Sweden, Denmark and Luxembourg, are constitutional monarchies.

  507. #508 Sili
    March 10, 2010

    coïncidence

    Vive le Tréma! Morte au Trait d’union!

  508. #509 Sven DiMilo
    March 10, 2010

    oy, way behind. Apologies if this proves redundant, but my pre-coffee dander is raised here by this recurring claim:

    If race isn’t necessary to describe variation in other areas of biology

    I?m not talking about human ‘race’ any more, as resolved, but I am compelled to point out that the claim that [formal designation of geography-based sub-specific taxonomic units is never done in modern biology] is bullshit.
    Despite active philosophical arguments that still go on, other areas of biology do, in fact, still use trinomial subspecific epithets all the time. Nobody calls them ?races? of course, for reasons that ought to be obvious from the discussion above. (This converges also on the subject of ?metapopulation? dynamics, as hot a topic currently as ecology ever gets.) But do not imagine that there is widespread agreement among biologists that subspecies are not useful for concisely referring to obvious geographic variation. Because they are (with suitable caveats: of course they are not treated as real Platonic typological entities, and there are taxonomists that refuse to use them on such grounds (Deep Rifts!); in any case, nobody imagines bright dividing lines, and in fact the phenotypic and genetic correlates of hybrid zones are well studied in many species?surprise, they?re not always ?clines?). Among other uses, subspecific designation has useful applications in conservation biology (again, together with ?metapopulations?). Believe it.
    This fact does not have any direct bearing, of course, on the empirical questions I tried to raise in the first place about the geographic distribution of human phenotypes and genetic variation.

    Populations can be defined at many different levels (I’ve said this before) like local, regional and global. It’s a useful idea and is how we discuss this stuff in biological anthropology.

    You are happy with a fuzzy term that can be applied at will to various levels of hierarchical reality? You are happy to be able to refer to a group of populations as a population and then have to explain every time so that people know what you?re talking about? Because that?s sort of the opposite of the point of all the rest of scientific terminology, i.e. precision and unambiguity. Did it ever occur to you that one of the reasons you are using such a useless technical term?useless because by itself it means nothing–might be because your cultural-anthro colleagues across the hall have made it suicide to approach any concept that even seems vaguely like ?race?? That what makes it a ?useful idea? is specifically that it neatly elides ?race? and its cognates from the every-day vocabulary?

    fuckfuckfuck I?m stepping in it again
    going away to catch up more tacitly later

  509. #510 Lynna, OM
    March 10, 2010

    @464

    You forgot the citations.

    Actually, the Quackmeister did provide references to studies earlier, but those studies were dismissed, in detail. But the Quackmeister did not let the dismissals sink in because that would require, you know, integrity.

    Most of the Quackmeisters references to studies appear here:
    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/03/episode_xxxv_under_the_underpi.php#comment-2326879 That’s in the underwear thread (two chapters ago), comment #588.

    ‘Tis provided a link to a reply here in comment 592

    In the chapter that followed the underwear (The Predictable Descent), Quack complained in comment #70 that his studies had not been refuted. He received answers @81, @86, and @314 from Sastra; and @94 from David M.

    Then Quack provided more references to a homeopathy document here, in comment 290. He also blathered on about how he had not casually thrown away the Rosa study on therapeutic touch (he capitalizes “therapeutic touch”, but I can’t bring myself to do likewise). And he defended nurses who continued the practice despite the fact that it had been shown to be a fraud. This is the comment to which Sastra replied @314.

    And … there’s more, but I can’t be arsed to ferret them out. Suffice it to say that no matter what refutation you provide, what skeptical sources you refer the Quackmeister to, there will be no dent made in his confidence. And, he will provide references to yet more questionable studies and blatant woo.

  510. #511 negentropyeater
    March 10, 2010

    but I firmly believe that a constitutional parliamentary monarchy, such as we have in Britain, would be preferable to the current French system of government.

    And why so ?

    And some of the most liberal and stable countries in Europe, such as Sweden, Denmark and Luxembourg, are constitutional monarchies.

    And some others aren’t, such as France, Germany, Switzerland and Finland.

    What is the benefit of a monarch.

    And btw, the french monarchists are a majority of far right conservative racist Christian fundie loons. They don’t even represent a total of 1% of the electorate, so why do you care about them ?

  511. #512 Walton, Extra Special Dumpling of Awesome
    March 10, 2010

    And btw, the french monarchists are a majority of far right conservative racist Christian fundie loons.

    Some of them may well be. But that doesn’t mean that instituting a constitutional monarchy is actually a bad idea in principle, or that only right-wing loons can be monarchists. There is a perfectly sound liberal argument for constitutional monarchy.

    What is the benefit of a monarch.

    Providing a genuinely non-political head of state, who can represent the whole nation rather than a particular political party. I think it’s healthy to have a division between the head of state and the head of government, and for the head of state to be non-partisan and apolitical. A monarchy can also create stability in times of national crisis – as with Juan Carlos I in Spain, and the transition to constitutional governance after the end of the Franco era.

    Germany and Finland are not counter-examples, because they both have ceremonial Presidents who perform more-or-less the same functions that the Queen does in Britain, while real power is vested in the Prime Minister (or Chancellor, in the case of Germany) and cabinet.

    They don’t even represent a total of 1% of the electorate, so why do you care about them ?

    What’s that got to do with anything I said? I didn’t say I “cared” about them; I asked why some people found the idea of monarchism so funny.

  512. #513 David Marjanovi?
    March 10, 2010

    Pure awesomeness

    Too bad I know far too few of these characters?

    Wikipedia is True Neutral*, even though it shows in ways completely different from those of the Big Lebowski.

    * Seems to have been removed from tvtropes.org. :-(

    What’s so intrinsically funny about French royalists?

    British royalists are merely conservative. Never change a running system, don’t change horses in midstream*, and so on.

    French ones want to change a running system.

    * Unless the one you’re flogging is dead (source).

    I firmly believe that a constitutional parliamentary monarchy, such as we have in Britain, would be preferable to the current French system of government.

    Why?

    OK, there are? peculiarities to the French intermediate between presidential and parliamentary democracy, but those can’t be what you mean.

    Constitutional monarchy can genuinely work very well.

    Absolutely*, but that’s because of how little power the monarchs have and/or which person happens to be the monarch (and could just as well be an elected politician). Monarchy itself serves as little more than an overexpensive tourist attraction (?oh, yeah, and endless fodder for the yellow press).

    Plus, as my dad likes to mention, the British monarchy is a violation of human rights ? the Queen doesn’t have the right to vote! :-Þ

    * Heh. I overlooked the pun.

  513. #514 Walton, Extra Special Dumpling of Awesome
    March 10, 2010

    Absolutely*, but that’s because of how little power the monarchs have and/or which person happens to be the monarch (and could just as well be an elected politician). Monarchy itself serves as little more than an overexpensive tourist attraction (?oh, yeah, and endless fodder for the yellow press).

    Mais non. That might well be true in time of peace and stability, but there are times when a constitutional monarch has actually led his or her country towards greater democracy and liberalism. See some of the examples I quoted earlier: Spain in the post-Franco era, and modern-day Bhutan, being examples of the transition to democracy being led by a monarch.

  514. #515 Ol'Greg
    March 10, 2010

    And, he will provide references to yet more questionable studies and blatant woo.

    What never ceases to bother me about it is how easy it would be to demonstrate real effect.

    If something like reiki really helped the immune system fight disease then reiki might show a measurable effect on something like herpes.

    Valtrex was able to… although not by boosting the immune system whatever that really means anyway. Look I’m not smart enough or educated enough to know how antiviral drugs actually stop replication, but I do know that they actually have to pass trials to show that they reduce symptoms of the disease, and also to ensure they won’t as or more dangerous to health themselves.

    (oh and for the record, no I don’t have herpes, I just thought it made a good example. But even if I did, why the fuck are people so up in that shit anyway?)

    Alt med doesn’t have to do this, and that’s what scares me. I’m some one who drank colloidal silver when I was young. I didn’t know any better. I just couldn’t afford a doctor that month and I needed to be able to get to work and back. Now I’m just glad that it was probably just water because I’m not freaking gray. We shouldn’t have people out there touting this stuff to the ignorant and desperate.

    Hell, when I started taking the silver there was a whole website (no defunct) where the people hawking the stuff were claiming it curing all sorts of ills. They were situated in Mexico (how convenient) and had lots of pictures of the wonderful recoveries, including before shots of giant tumors erupting from the skin. Looking back on it that is very sad. I’m completely certain that almost all of those poor people in the “before” shots are dead, or worse yet that the images were just stolen from some medical database somewhere with no regard to the patients depicted.

    I would be irate if I found out that photographs from a surgery or illness had been stolen and used to falsely advertise crap.

    If “boosting the immune system” with alt med worked it would be able to do so in a clear measurable way.

    but then they’ll cry big pharma.

    Now I’ll be the first to argue about the price and availability of effective drugs and “big pharma’s” place in that right along with “big insurance” as well… but no one is keeping the magic of C-Silver or Reiki secret.

  515. #516 El
    March 10, 2010

    “Constitutional monarchy can genuinely work very well. In Spain, King Juan Carlos I supervised the country’s peaceful transition to democracy after the end of the right-wing Franco regime”

    Franco named Juan Carlos as his heir. He didn´t supervise the transition he took advantage of the situation, nobody wanted another civil War so the parties made a lot of concesions, and they voted the nonarchy in the Spanish Constitution.

    Now they are voting the new abortion law and the catolic churh will excomunicate all the politicians that vote yes to the law, the funny thing is that all the spanish laws have to be signatured by the king, and the Church is not going to excomunicate the King.

  516. #517 David Marjanovi?
    March 10, 2010

    Vive le Tréma! Morte au Trait d’union!

    <snarl>

    Mort et au tréma et au trait d’union !

    Despite active philosophical arguments that still go on, other areas of biology do, in fact, still use trinomial subspecific epithets all the time.

    Homo sapiens sapiens
    Homo sapiens neanderthalensis

    I don’t think much has become of H. s. idaltu which was named a few years ago. The Crô Magnon man was called H. s. fossilis in the 19th century, but that was just silly.

    Providing a genuinely non-political head of state, who can represent the whole nation rather than a particular political party.

    Who can, however, just as easily side with one party against the others. Turned out well in Spain and Bhutan, turned out bloody in Nepal.

    I think it’s healthy to have a division between the head of state and the head of government,

    Absolutely. But then, I can’t think of a democracy that unites these functions other than the USA.

    and for the head of state to be non-partisan and apolitical.

    As far as possible, yes.

    A monarchy can also create stability in times of national crisis – as with Juan Carlos I in Spain

    Because he was already in nominal power. Like Italy, Spain had been a monarchy throughout the dictature. The difference is that the last king of Italy supported the dictature and was kicked out for that in 1945 (or -6, I forgot). Had there not been a king, a king couldn’t have provided continuity and could hardly have created stability.

    Also, so far there’s no reason to call him the First. Francis Joseph of Austria-Hungary was called the First till 1918? then people stopped doing it, and the old monuments look a bit embarrassing now.

  517. #518 El
    March 10, 2010

    He is the First, because he is the First named Juan Carlos, his son will be Felipe the VI, I think.

  518. #519 David Marjanovi?
    March 10, 2010

    nonarchy

    Among the best typos ever.

  519. #520 Pygmy Loris
    March 10, 2010

    Sven,

    Despite active philosophical arguments that still go on, other areas of biology do, in fact, still use trinomial subspecific epithets all the time. Nobody calls them ?races? of course, for reasons that ought to be obvious from the discussion above. (This converges also on the subject of ?metapopulation? dynamics, as hot a topic currently as ecology ever gets.) But do not imagine that there is widespread agreement among biologists that subspecies are not useful for concisely referring to obvious geographic variation.

    Holy fucking shit! Really? Yes, Sven, I’m well aware of the use of subspecific designations in taxonomy. Do you think the variation in extant Homo sapiens is enough to warrant multiple subspecies? I’ll give you a hint, it’s not. That’s why race is not a useful concept for human variation. Not because I’m afraid of my cultural anthropology colleagues down the hall.

    You are happy with a fuzzy term that can be applied at will to various levels of hierarchical reality? You are happy to be able to refer to a group of populations as a population and then have to explain every time so that people know what you?re talking about?

    But you don’t have to explain it every time. Go read some of the fucking literature for biological anthropology. I linked to a whole issue of the American Journal of Physical Anthropology just for you and you, apparently, cannot be bothered to read it. Check out one of the three books I recommended. Do something besides regurgitating the same, tired “cultural anthropologists are poisoning the discussion of human variation with their un-scientific ideas.” You’ve ceased to make any sense at all because you are so wedded to your own position.

  520. #521 Dust
    March 10, 2010

    Generalissimo Francisco Franco
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    wait for it
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    Is still dead!

  521. #522 Paul
    March 10, 2010

    @David

    True Neutral

    All I know is my gut says maybe. You can’t trust those neutrals, with their heart full of neutrality.

  522. #523 Pygmy Loris
    March 10, 2010

    David,

    Homo sapiens sapiens
    Homo sapiens neanderthalensis

    Yep, but I think most paleoanthropologists have moved to regarding Neandertals as a unique species. There’s always a bunch of posters at the AAPA meetings about it though :)

    I don’t think much has become of H. s. idaltu which was named a few years ago.

    If by not much you mean “has become widely accepted,” then yes, not much has happened :) The few papers I’ve seen on BOU-VP-16/1 support the original publication. The cranium is just outside the range of variation for anatomically modern Homo sapiens.

  523. #524 Paul
    March 10, 2010

    Gah, I swear I checked my href. Oh well.

    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TrueNeutral

  524. #525 Walton, Extra Special Dumpling of Awesome
    March 10, 2010
    nonarchy

    Among the best typos ever.

    Nonarchy = the rule of nine? If so, I suppose the US Supreme Court is a nonarchy.

  525. #526 Pygmy Loris
    March 10, 2010

    Paul,

    Why would you link to TvTropes? Now I’m gonna lose at least a couple of hours to the internet.

    Must resist wiki. Must resist wiki. Must resist wiki.

    Ack, I clicked on it! Someone save me! :)

  526. #527 Feynmaniac
    March 10, 2010

    Pre-coffee thoughts: the monarchy is a medieval relic. It goes against the idea of democracy and equality. Even if the head of state and head of government should be separate having a monarch isn’t the only way to go about it, nor do I see why it’s even a good way. To me the argument just seems like a rationalization for a silly tradition.

  527. #528 cicely
    March 10, 2010

    And after you’ve all read all of the Discworld books, I’d also like to recommend Good Omens, for which Pratchett teamed up with Neil Gaimen.

    “Do Notte Buy Betamacks.”

  528. #529 Walton, Extra Special Dumpling of Awesome
    March 10, 2010

    Pre-coffee thoughts: the monarchy is a medieval relic. It goes against the idea of democracy and equality.

    Yes, constitutional monarchy is non-democratic. But democracy isn’t some intrinsic magic good in itself. In evaluating a political system, we should not automatically assume that democratic=good and undemocratic=bad; we should look at the actual outcomes a given system produces.

    I don’t deny that democracy tends to be preferable to absolutism – if only because it provides us with a means of overthrowing a tyrant without assassination or violent revolution. But democracy isn’t good in and of itself. Sometimes democracy produces authoritarian and illiberal outcomes, as with Proposition 8 or the Swiss ban on minarets, or the popular election of judges in many US states leading to demagoguery and miscarriages of justice. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t have a democratic political process – we certainly should – but there is a strong argument for incorporating non-democratic elements into a liberal constitutional system.

    So in evaluating whether constitutional monarchy is good or bad, it is not sufficient to point out that it is undemocratic; being undemocratic is not intrinsically a bad thing. The fact is that constitutional monarchy, in present-day Britain, works. The Queen is a competent, hardworking, and sincerely non-partisan and independent head of state. I expect and hope that her successors will be similar. And as they say, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” This also answers your point about monarchy being a “medieval relic”. Yes, perhaps it is; but the fact that something is old does not intrinsically make it bad. If constitutional monarchy is working well, why would we need to change it merely because its origins are medieval?

  529. #530 Lynna, OM
    March 10, 2010

    Speaking of national health services offering woo-based treatments, and of religion creeping into health care, here’s a story about a Canadian man seeking treatment for alcoholism. He doesn’t like the references to god and to higher powers in AA.

    Winnipeg man who has struggled with alcoholism for decades says he has filed a complaint with the Manitoba Human Rights Commission over the lack of a treatment program that’s free of religious or spiritual elements.
         Rob Johnstone said he has battled alcoholism for 40 years and can’t find a treatment program that doesn’t rely on religion or spirituality as part of the recovery process….

  530. #531 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 10, 2010

    The Twelve Steps of AA (though I think these are old and have been slightly modified).

    1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.

    2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

    3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

    4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

    5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

    6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

    7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

    8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

    9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

    10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

    11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

    12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

  531. #532 jenbphillips
    March 10, 2010

    Lynna @530:
    Alas, that’s a pretty common theme–there was a case here in Oregon a few months ago about a man who was refusing court ordered AA treatment because of the religious overtones. The Center for Inquiry has raised the profile of several secular substance abuse programs, (one such, SOS, is an international organization. I’ve not had a need for such services myself, but I’m glad they exist for nonbelievers, and I’m infuriated that, thus far, the “persecuted majority” doesn’t see anything wrong with forcing people into a god-soaked rehab program.

    It’s hard not to attribute the phenomenon of so many recovered addicts becoming ultra-religious to the tone of these AA/NA meetings.

  532. #533 Lynna, OM
    March 10, 2010

    An ex-mormon sounds off about the funeral for Marie Osmond’s son (typos and spelling errors are in the original):

    I went to the funeral of Marie Osmond’s son on Monday. A few of my thoughts. First, President Monson shows up. Most if not all missionaries that have died or are killed in the service of the Lord doesn’t get a visit from the Prophet. He also hasn’t shown up at any military funerals of members of the church. So why go to Marie Osmond’s gay son funeral that killed himself???
         Second I have been told over and over that funerals are a missionary tools and are to be about Jesus and the atonement. All the talks by the family were about him.
         Third at my mothers funeral they would not let me play her favoriate song from John Denver because it was not church approved. Well at the Osmond funeral they had a guy play a guitar and one of his sister sang some pop song.
         Forth Monson said no one know what will happen to him and why???? Come on you are a prophet you should have insight on this or at least you could of asked why after all you are a prophet. They said he will be with them in the next life. News flash he was gay and killed himself and probably masturbated I don’t think so. He will be with all of us in Hell.
         Fifth, at the grave side they started to sing We Thank Thee Oh God For a Prophet, come on. Plus Monson was smiling and joking around with people shaking hands like a celebrity totally inappropriate for a funeral. All the people could talk about was the Prophet being there not the funeral. People were shaking hands and asking to have pictures taken.
         Anyway just some thoughts of what I saw. Boyd Packer would of been pissed. So the next time a bishop says you can’t play a song you want at a funeral or it has to more about Christ you tell him that if Osmonds can do it with the Prophet there we can.

    As far as I know, the talk about Marie Osmond’s son being gay is rumor, not fact. It’s claimed that Monson was/is a long-time family friend, and that’s why he was there. The bit about Prophet Tommy Monson using the event to shine a bit of light on himself looks to be true. The fact that some mormon bishops use funerals as opportunities to recruit new members and/or to chastise inactive members is correct. And yes, celebrities do get away with breaking Boyd Packer’s funeral rules more than do lowly peon members, but I don’t know why that would surprise anyone.

  533. #534 Paul
    March 10, 2010

    Walton, you skipped relevant parts of Feynmaniac’s post. Most importantly.

    To me the argument just seems like a rationalization for a silly tradition.

    He wasn’t saying “Not democratic ergo wrong”. He was pointing out that your stated preference for constitutional monarchy instead of simply having another system to split the head of state and head of government is simply post-hoc rationalization for the existing system. Do you really have a response to that? I’m curious.

  534. #535 Dust
    March 10, 2010

    Interesting rant from the ex-morm, Lynna (Mistress of Morridor) OM.

    The idea of the Church not allowing a greiving family to select a given piece of music to play at a family members funeral is cruel, in my way of thinking.

    Using any funeral as an recriutment tool is really—-ick, disgusting!

    I find arguing where the alleged soul of a suicide will spend eterenity to be especially foul…and know some families will suffer even more after a family member completes a suicide because of this, its just sick.

    Being as I’m an atheist, and person and members of the immediate family of the recent suicide in my family are also non-believers, we aren’t suffering more because of such an archacic belief.

  535. #536 Walton, Extra Special Dumpling of Awesome
    March 10, 2010

    He wasn’t saying “Not democratic ergo wrong”. He was pointing out that your stated preference for constitutional monarchy instead of simply having another system to split the head of state and head of government is simply post-hoc rationalization for the existing system. Do you really have a response to that? I’m curious.

    Yes, it is post-hoc rationalisation of a system which developed for long-gone historical reasons. But I just don’t see why this matters. Constitutional monarchy is working fine; why insist on throwing away something which works, for the sake of ideological purity? What is actually wrong with the way the British constitutional monarchy functions in practice?

    I will admit that I have an aesthetic appreciation for the rituals, traditions and titles which surround traditional constitutional monarchy. But as far as I’m concerned, this is entirely harmless. No one has yet even attempted to point out any actual deficiency in the functioning of constitutional monarchies in practice.

  536. #537 Feynmaniac
    March 10, 2010

    Walton,

    But democracy isn’t some intrinsic magic good in itself.

    There’s nothing magical about it.

    But democracy isn’t good in and of itself.

    I disagree. In general it’s fair that people have a say in the way their community is governed, especially if it ends up impacting them. It’s by no means always going to be produce the best possible results, but you can give that argument for any system. We should try to maximize democracy while at the same time ensuring personal freedoms, minority protection, etc.

    Monarchy directly goes against the idea that people are created equal. In practice there’s much inequality, but we should try to eliminate it in every instance we can.

    The Queen is a competent, hardworking

    Competent? I’m sure she waves to the cameras and shakes hands with people very well, but that’s hardly a challenge.
    Hardworking? Please.
    Even if she was the bestest person my beef really isn’t with her but with the institution.

    The fact is that constitutional monarchy, in present-day Britain, works.

    And this rock keeps away tigers. Do you see any tigers around?

    At best you can say the monarch doesn’t do serious harm. What you can have with a monarch you can have with an elected head of state, without all the extra costs that come with it or the approval of an inherited position*.

    Yes, perhaps it is; but the fact that something is old does not intrinsically make it bad.

    What I was trying to say is that it’s one of those traditions that only survives because it’s a tradition. Sort of like the church. Here in Canada I’ve heard people try to justify the monarch based on “tradition”. That to me isn’t an argument. Those making other arguments seem to me to also be motivated by a sense of tradition and everything else is just a elaborate rationalization.
    ___
    * Yes, there are already many who benefit tremendously from inheritance in other instances. However, we should to try to minimize this in every case we come across.

  537. #538 Pygmy Loris
    March 10, 2010

    Dust,

    Using any funeral as an recriutment tool is really—-ick, disgusting!

    It’s also pretty normal for many denominations. I’ve been to several funerals where the preacher called for people to convert right then and there. It’s really uncomfortable for me and intrudes on what I see as the purpose of a funeral, remembering the deceased.

  538. #539 Ol'Greg
    March 10, 2010

    I wrote something and then thought better of posting it. But yeah, it felt good to write.

    I’ll just put this bit in since it’s relevant to what Rev,BDC posted.

    I do have that problem with AA. It’s based on old protestant born again conversion models. It’s been adapted a lot, but I think it goes without saying also that it doesn’t work for some. Rather it only works when it’s working.

    The thing is it doesn’t matter anyway, it’s not like there’s a cure for addiction. AFAIK addicts are still addicts. The best ones just get better at living without their addiction destroying their life.

  539. #540 Feynmaniac
    March 10, 2010

    Arghh…..if #537 seems poorly written blame it on my pre-coffee state of mind.

  540. #541 aratina cage
    March 10, 2010

    I saw this headline while searching for the Global Atheist Convention in the news:

    GAC defeats Blessed Trinity

    and thought, “Things must be getting off to a good start down under.”

  541. #542 Sili
    March 10, 2010

    Mort et au tréma et au trait d’union !

    Splitter!

  542. #543 El
    March 10, 2010

    In Spain the budget of the Royal House is not public. But we know that we pay for the King’s House, the Houses of the infantas (the daughters of the king), the family of the king, the family of the Princess. That’s why I think it will be less expensive to have a democratic Republic.
    Juan Carlos is the heir of a dictactor. And the head of a a nonarchy because he represents Spain, he signatures the laws, he is pictured in the stamps and no much more. He spends the rest of the time hunting drunk bears in Russia, sailing in Mallorca, and practising his Christmas speech.

  543. #544 Dust
    March 10, 2010

    Pygmy Loris:

    I’ve been to several funerals where the preacher called for people people to convert right then and there.

    WOW! I did not know that. Quite disrespectful in my view.
    *********************************

    I spent several years in GA (Gamblers Anonomyus) which is a 12 step program. The Lord’s Prayer was said after each meeting.

    Was a weak non-believer at the time, and the prayer did cause me some uncomfortable feelings. But in the group I orginally started with, the woo and ‘working the steps’ really wasn’t that strong or pushed on the individual. Just having a fellowship of fellow gambling addicts who were serious in trying to change their lives is what made the difference to me.

    Haven’t been to a GA meeting in years, so don’t know how strong the religious aspect is currently. Would vary from group to group I imagine.

  544. #545 Feynmaniac
    March 10, 2010

    I’ve been to several funerals where the preacher called for people to convert right then and there.

    Wow, do they have no sense of shame?
    /rhetorical

  545. #546 Paul
    March 10, 2010

    Yes, it is post-hoc rationalisation of a system which developed for long-gone historical reasons. But I just don’t see why this matters. Constitutional monarchy is working fine; why insist on throwing away something which works, for the sake of ideological purity?

    This tangent didn’t start with someone proposing ending the English monarchy out of ideological purity, it started with you questioning why people are laughing at French people who want to revert to monarchy. Keep your system, fine. But don’t generalize to There is a perfectly sound liberal argument for constitutional monarchy and not expect people to point out that you’re just defending your current system instead of making said liberal argument honestly. I’d be curious to see the “liberal argument” for implementing a constitutional monarchy, which is much different than England’s situation where the decision would be whether or not to abolish it. How are you going to liberally defend giving one person unquestionable authority as head of state? Pointing out past successful examples of constitutional monarchy working isn’t an argument, any more than pointing to past benevolent dictators is an argument that liberals could support a dictatorship.

  546. #547 Walton, Extra Special Dumpling of Awesome
    March 10, 2010

    Yes, it is technically true that the same constitutional effect, and the separation of head of state from head of government, can be achieved in non-monarchical parliamentary systems like Germany, Ireland or India.

    But to illustrate the difference: Imagine you had a venerable old mahogany table in your dining room that you’d inherited from your great-grandparents. Would you throw it out, merely because it was old and unnecessarily ornate, and replace it with a cheap functional pine table? After all, the pine table would perform exactly the same function: you could still eat your dinner off it. But what would be the point in getting rid of a perfectly good, and aesthetically pleasing, piece of furniture simply because it wasn’t strictly necessary?

  547. #548 negentropyeater
    March 10, 2010

    Walton,

    But that doesn’t mean that instituting a constitutional monarchy is actually a bad idea in principle, or that only right-wing loons can be monarchists.

    When the vast majority of those who have this crazy idea are loons, then I wouldn’t waste too much time on it.

    Providing a genuinely non-political head of state, who can represent the whole nation rather than a particular political party…

    Germany and Finland are not counter-examples, because they both have ceremonial Presidents who perform more-or-less the same functions that the Queen does in Britain

    So you mean a “whole nation” is represented by a useless head of state who only goes to funerals and shit ?
    That kind of head of state is only good when chopped off and put on the end of a stick. That’s the kind of “representation” that’s useful.

    The person who represents Germany in all the things that matter is the chancellor.

    A monarchy can also create stability in times of national crisis – as with Juan Carlos I in Spain, and the transition to constitutional governance after the end of the Franco era.

    Nonsense, he could have been dead it wouldn’t have changed a thing.
    The king today is just another one of those make believe manufacturer of consent who works hand in hand with the Church to put the populace to sleep.

    ?L’homme ne sera jamais libre tant que le dernier roi ne sera étranglé avec les entrailles du dernier prêtre.” Dennis Diderot
    (Man will not be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.)

    I asked why some people found the idea of monarchism so funny.

    No you didn’t. You asked :

    “What’s so intrinsically funny about French royalists?”

    French royalists aren’t funny. They’re loons who think there is a benefit in reverting back to a system of “droit divin” when we already cut the head of our king and more than 99% of the French don’t want it back.

    Vive la République

  548. #549 El
    March 10, 2010

    Viva la República¡

  549. #550 Walton, Extra Special Dumpling of Awesome
    March 10, 2010

    This tangent didn’t start with someone proposing ending the English monarchy out of ideological purity, it started with you questioning why people are laughing at French people who want to revert to monarchy. Keep your system, fine. But don’t generalize to There is a perfectly sound liberal argument for constitutional monarchy and not expect people to point out that you’re just defending your current system instead of making said liberal argument honestly. I’d be curious to see the “liberal argument” for implementing a constitutional monarchy, which is much different than England’s situation where the decision would be whether or not to abolish it. How are you going to liberally defend giving one person unquestionable authority as head of state? Pointing out past successful examples of constitutional monarchy working isn’t an argument, any more than pointing to past benevolent dictators is an argument that liberals could support a dictatorship.

    Hmmm. This is more difficult. I wouldn’t advocate, in general, that current republics introduce (or restore) constitutional monarchy. It’s fundamentally something that can only really be established by history, and in a lot of countries it would be entirely out of tune with national cultural traditions and historical development. But at the same time, I’m a passionate supporter of maintaining constitutional monarchy in those countries in which it has a historical basis. And it’s perfectly possible, given recent political turbulence there, that Fiji (which is part of the Commonwealth, but became nominally a republic a couple of years ago) will soon choose to re-establish Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state, making it the first nation of the 21st century to restore its monarchy.

    While I have a decent layman’s knowledge of the history of France, and have visited plenty of times, I’ve never lived in France and don’t have a deep enough grounding in contemporary French political culture to know whether the restoration of the monarchy would ever seriously work. But I don’t think it’s an inherently silly idea.

  550. #551 Pygmy Loris
    March 10, 2010

    Walton,

    I will admit that I have an aesthetic appreciation for the rituals, traditions and titles which surround traditional constitutional monarchy.

    One could make the same exact argument for the RCC.

    The whole debate about keeping/reinstating a monarchy is hilarious to me. Some of the brainwashing patriotism of elementary school did manage to wear off on me so I think the idea of inherited titles is absolutely something to fight against. Thinking about why I feel that way led me to oppose inherited wealth in general.

  551. #552 Pygmy Loris
    March 10, 2010

    Dust, Ol’Greg, Rev. et al.

    For a couple of people I know, finding religion was effective in helping them overcome their addictions. I don’t argue with them about the source of their strength because I worry that it could send them back into the spiral of destructive behavior, but it bugs me that they don’t realize it wasn’t god that cured them, but their own mind.

  552. #553 Walton, Extra Special Dumpling of Awesome
    March 10, 2010

    One could make the same exact argument for the RCC.

    Yes, but the difference is that the RCC (along with all organised religions) makes a series of pseudo-factual (but non-empirically-backed) claims about the nature of reality, and uses these to found a series of complex and arbitrary prescriptions about how one should live one’s life. Her Majesty the Queen does neither of these things, last time I checked.

  553. #554 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 10, 2010

    Dust, Ol’Greg, Rev. et al.

    For a couple of people I know, finding religion was effective in helping them overcome their addictions. I don’t argue with them about the source of their strength because I worry that it could send them back into the spiral of destructive behavior, but it bugs me that they don’t realize it wasn’t god that cured them, but their own mind.

    And that’s perfectly fine. I know and knew people who struggled with addiction and frankly anything they can do to help themselves I’m in no position to be critical.

    HOWEVER, the reason I posted those is because everyone uses AA as a go to alcoholism treatment (being that is it the most famous as far as I know) and is immediately sucked into the “you must use religion to help you past this” when there are other options. Once they become a part of AA (especially if it is court mandated) they have incredible pressure to follow through with AA’s program.

    Lets not even talk about Narconon.

  554. #555 Paul
    March 10, 2010

    One could make the same exact argument for the RCC.

    Curiously, Walton also said much the same thing about Church (of England?) after coming out as a nontheist here (I don’t mean to sound like a stalker!).

    But I don’t think he is using said aesthetic appreciation of pomp/ceremony as a serious argument as to why monarchy should be retained. But then, how would that really be different than wanting to “retain one’s culture”, which most people don’t see as an intrinsically bad thing. The problem with the RCC is that their culture specifically fosters cruelty and maltreatment, not merely that it is trying to retain an old-fashioned culture. To really compare it to the monarchy you’d have to show that the culture created by the monarchy has similar detrimental/criminal effects.

  555. #556 Paul
    March 10, 2010

    Yes, but the difference is that the RCC (along with all organised religions) makes a series of pseudo-factual (but non-empirically-backed) claims about the nature of reality, and uses these to found a series of complex and arbitrary prescriptions about how one should live one’s life. Her Majesty the Queen does neither of these things, last time I checked.

    If that’s your argument…what about Prince Charles?

    Sorry, couldn’t resist. His alt-med and organic woo is so irritating.

  556. #557 strange gods before me ?
    March 10, 2010

    Shorter Comrade Walton: “The problem isn’t the dictatorship of the proletariat. The problem is it’s a dictatorship of the proletariat.

  557. #558 Janine, Mistress Of Foul Mouth Abuse, OM
    March 10, 2010
  558. #559 Ol'Greg
    March 10, 2010

    For a couple of people I know, finding religion was effective in helping them overcome their addictions.

    Yes. Me too. Although I don’t *worry* about them anymore per se. In fact, I really don’t care what happens to any of those people so long as I never have to see or hear from them again.

    When addicts are a part of *your* destructive cycle it’s a whole ‘nother game.

  559. #560 Ol'Greg
    March 10, 2010

    One could make the same exact argument for the RCC.

    A friend I quite like just became Catholic for this reason. Strangest thing. I mean… I like the windows too but damn!

  560. #561 negentropyeater
    March 10, 2010

    are you an adept of goalpoast moving ?

    Imagine you had a venerable old mahogany table in your dining room that you’d inherited from your great-grandparents.

    We don’t have that mahogany table in France anymore. We chopped it into pieces more than 200 years ago.

    If in Britain you want to keep that mahogany table because you think it looks good, your choice. I personally think it takes a lot of space and is expensive to maintain, and not that pretty.

    But that is not a valid argument to defend the concept of constitutional monarchy.

    You wrote :
    ” I firmly believe that a constitutional parliamentary monarchy, such as we have in Britain, would be preferable to the current French system of government.”

    The only reasons you have provided so far to support this “firm belief” are that a monarch provides a benefit in times of war (which is ridiculous, it was the fact that Britain is an Island that was a benefit during the war, not the existence of the king) or stability in transition towards democracy (which is false in the case of Spain the king wasn’t a benefit, he was just clever enough not to be in the way. Moreover, it is a ridiculous argument when a country is anyhow already a democracy).

  561. #562 Jadehawk, OM
    March 10, 2010

    But what would be the point in getting rid of a perfectly good, and aesthetically pleasing, piece of furniture simply because it wasn’t strictly necessary?

    because it’s taking up half my office, and if I sell it to some collector of antiques I can afford buying a new desk AND pay for my yearly health checkup.

  562. #563 Walton, Extra Special Dumpling of Awesome
    March 10, 2010

    If that’s your argument…what about Prince Charles?

    Sorry, couldn’t resist. His alt-med and organic woo is so irritating.

    Clearly, I don’t agree with Prince Charles on the issue of non-evidence-based medicine (I refuse to call it “alternative medicine”, since this wrongly implies that it is in some way a valid “alternative” to scientific medicine). But this is a personal opinion of Prince Charles, not an intrinsic part of the institution of the monarchy. Indeed, if and when he becomes King, he will be expected to avoid becoming involved in controversy or forcing his beliefs on others, and will have to be entirely politically neutral when acting in his official capacity. This is completely different from the RCC, which is an organisation whose entire purpose is to promote a particular set of dogmatic beliefs and behavioural prescriptions.

  563. #564 strange gods before me ?
    March 10, 2010

    The thing is it doesn’t matter anyway, it’s not like there’s a cure for addiction. AFAIK addicts are still addicts. The best ones just get better at living without their addiction destroying their life.

    This itself is an AA dogma. Does it also have empirical support, or is it only a secular-sounding translation of “we are all absolutely debased sinners, who will fall again without God”?

  564. #565 strange gods before me ?
    March 10, 2010

    are you an adept of goalpoast moving ?

    Welcome to my hell.

  565. #566 Feynmaniac
    March 10, 2010

    Yes, but the difference is that the RCC (along with all organised religions) makes a series of pseudo-factual (but non-empirically-backed) claims about the nature of reality and uses these to found a series of complex and arbitrary prescriptions about how one should live one’s life.

    Would you then be in favor of removing from the Queen the title of ‘Supreme Governor of the Church of England’? Or changing the national anthem of the UK, ‘God Save the Queen’*?
    __
    * Religion AND monarchy! Come on, UK.

  566. #567 Walton, Extra Special Dumpling of Awesome
    March 10, 2010

    OK, negentropyeater, I retract what I said about monarchy in France. I don’t seriously suggest that the French should re-establish their monarchy.

    But I don’t think there is any case whatsoever for abolishing the monarchy in Britain or the Commonwealth.

    A correction on one thing, incidentally; the British monarchy is not actually “expensive” to maintain. Although the British treasury does fund the Civil List (that is, the money set aside for the maintenance of the Royal Household), and on indirect expenses such as security protection, the cost of this is offset by the fact that the revenues from the Crown Estate (the lands and holdings attached to the Crown) are paid into the public treasury. So the Queen’s net cost to the British taxpayer is near zero – and that isn’t even taking into account the tourism revenue that the monarchy brings to the British economy.

  567. #568 Jadehawk, OM
    March 10, 2010

    on second reading, it’s not even a mahogany desk, it’s a fucking dinner table.

    what the fuck do I need a dinner table for? Especially one I’d have to take care of, cuz every droplet of water would make it lose value? Definitely sell. it’s a fucking waste of space :-p

  568. #569 Ol'Greg
    March 10, 2010

    This itself is an AA dogma. Does it also have empirical support, or is it only a secular-sounding translation of “we are all absolutely debased sinners, who will fall again without God”?

    Good point. Honestly I don’t know. Is there empirical support for methods of curing addiction? Also, what causes addiction? I don’t know that any of these questions are even well understood or have something with good supporting evidence to answer them? Honestly, I could simply be ignorant here.

    Another one I think maybe is to question other underlying problems. For instance most of the addicts in my life including those related to me have malevolent narcissists to the point of sociopathy in some. AA can’t do jack shit for that, and quitting drugs or drinking is kind of lipstick on a pig. Ultimately you are still left with a person who will break your face, steal your credit cards, rape your cat, and light the drapes on fire before showing up the next day saying “Sorry for partying can you pay this warrant off for me?”

  569. #570 Walton, Extra Special Dumpling of Awesome
    March 10, 2010

    Would you then be in favor of removing from the Queen the title of ‘Supreme Governor of the Church of England’? Or changing the national anthem of the UK, ‘God Save the Queen’*?

    Yes to the first, no to the second. I think the Church of England (and the Church of Scotland) should be disestablished, and the UK should become a fully secular state. Secularism is not incompatible with monarchy; Sweden disestablished its national church in 2000, and the sixteen “Commonwealth Realms” which share Queen Elizabeth II as head of state (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Tuvalu, the Solomon Islands, Jamaica and so on) are all secular states without established churches. So we can keep the monarchy but scrap the legal entrenchment of religion. (This would also allow us to abolish the current anachronistic ban on Roman Catholics, and spouses of Roman Catholics, succeeding to the throne.)

    As to the national anthem, I don’t have any problem with the fact that it refers to “God”; it’s a very generic reference. I can quite happily sing “God save the Queen” without believing in any sort of literal or personal God. It’s just a tradition; no different from atheists celebrating Christmas or Easter, for instance, despite the religious origins of these festivals. The essential sentiment underlying “God save the Queen” is support for the Queen, not belief in any specific conception of “God”. I really see it as a metaphor.

  570. #571 Walton, Extra Special Dumpling of Awesome
    March 10, 2010

    Jadehawk, I think you’re taking my metaphor a bit too literally. :-)

  571. #572 Feynmaniac
    March 10, 2010

    But I don’t think there is any case whatsoever for abolishing the monarchy in Britain or the Commonwealth.

    Speaking as a Canadian I don’t see why my head of state should be some unelected old woman living across the ocean.

  572. #573 a_ray_in_dilbert_space
    March 10, 2010

    The Royal family costs the British taxpayer less than $1.50 per subject. Look at it this way: those sausage-eating Hannoverians are among the cheapest belly laughs on the planet!

  573. #574 Ol'Greg
    March 10, 2010

    Sorry for being stupidly ignorant of French history and current affairs (so much so that I should keep my mouth shut although I’m obviously not going to) but do people even know who would be in line for the crown anymore? Weren’t all the royal heirs killed?

  574. #575 Walton, Extra Special Dumpling of Awesome
    March 10, 2010

    Speaking as a Canadian I don’t see why my head of state should be some unelected old woman living across the ocean.

    Well, I could talk about how the shared monarchy provides a symbolic unity between Canada, the UK, and a range of other countries around the world, from Tuvalu (the third smallest country on earth) to Jamaica to Papua New Guinea.

    But instead, I’ll restrict myself to talking about purely practical considerations. Imagine Canada were to become a republic tomorrow. The actual change to your political life would be minimal; the Governor-General would be replaced with a ceremonial President, who would perform exactly the same functions that the Governor-General currently performs, and would be indistinguishable in all but name. (This is what happened when Ireland, India, Dominica, Mauritius, Malta and other Commonwealth realms severed their links to the monarchy.) The Canadian Parliament, the Cabinet, the courts and your other political institutions would most likely continue in exactly their current form.

    But while this change would be completely symbolic and non-substantial, it would also be very expensive in terms of administrative costs. Think of all the rebranding. You have the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, several “Royal” army regiments, the Royal Military College of Canada, and a whole host of other “Royal” organisations that would have to be re-branded nationwide at taxpayer expense. Your national coat of arms and insignia would have to change. And what would you do with the Lieutenant-Governors of the provinces? So I don’t see how you, as a Canadian citizen and taxpayer, would benefit in any way from abolishing the monarchy. You might, of course, feel some bizarre sense of “national pride” in severing your links with Britain, but I would hope you don’t hate us that much. :-)

  575. #577 Becca
    March 10, 2010

    I’ll take anybody’s mahogany furniture that they don’t want – I love antiques, even though they look out of place in my very 70s ranch-style house.

    Monarchy, though? not so much. Although sometimes I’ve felt that we *should* separate out the symbolic and governing features of our USian government – let the glory hogs have the lime light and leave the work to the professionals.

  576. #578 Ol'Greg
    March 10, 2010

    This right here is why I toyed with alt religions for so long. I freaking love celebrations and rituals. I love the action of tradition even though, very often with me, the bottom has fallen out.

    I still do the little things but they don’t seem as fun unless people really get into it! Heh… but the thing is what people do is all so different anyway.

    But I’m not sure if “God save the queen” is so meaningless?

    I sure don’t think “One allegiance under God” is.

  577. #579 Walton, Extra Special Dumpling of Awesome
    March 10, 2010

    Sorry for being stupidly ignorant of French history and current affairs (so much so that I should keep my mouth shut although I’m obviously not going to) but do people even know who would be in line for the crown anymore? Weren’t all the royal heirs killed?

    No. There are several different pretenders to the French throne. Confusingly, both the descendants of the original Bourbon royal family, and the descendants of the Bonaparte Emperors, today claim the vacant throne of France. (Clearly the former have a rather better historical claim.)

    Even more amusingly, until the eighteenth century, the Kings of England also claimed the title of King of France (through a rather dubious genealogical claim). This is no longer the case, but Queen Elizabeth II is still the Duke of Normandy (not Duchess, for some reason), hence why she is the sovereign of the only remaining part of the Duchy of Normandy, namely the Channel Islands. :-)

  578. #580 Jadehawk, OM
    March 10, 2010

    Jadehawk, I think you’re taking my metaphor a bit too literally. :-)

    hardly. I feel about monarchies precisely the same way as I feel about useless but ornate possessions: why would I keep them? they only take up space and are a pain to maintain.

    pretty much the only good argument for the British monarchy is to keep it as a tourist attraction.

  579. #581 a_ray_in_dilbert_space
    March 10, 2010

    Ol’ Greg,
    The French have an embarrassment of riches as far as Royal claimants:

    http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080318000501AA9QvX3

    Remember that the D’Orleans branch ruled after Napoleon I during the Restoration.

  580. #582 Sven DiMilo
    March 10, 2010

    Janine @#558: Sun Ra?!!
    I think you just found an intersection of our musical-taste Venn diagrams.

    I met the man (the legend) back in 1981 or so. I asked him how he would prefer to be addressed. His answer, as closely as I can recall: “Some call me Sun Ra, others call me Mr. Ra…you can call me Mr. Ree.” (say it aloud)

  581. #583 Ol'Greg
    March 10, 2010

    Complete blockquote fail… wtf did I do?

    #578 was supposed to include this:

    I can quite happily sing “God save the Queen” without believing in any sort of literal or personal God. It’s just a tradition; no different from atheists celebrating Christmas or Easter, for instance, despite the religious origins of these festivals.

  582. #584 negentropyeater
    March 10, 2010

    While I have a decent layman’s knowledge of the history of France, and have visited plenty of times, I’ve never lived in France and don’t have a deep enough grounding in contemporary French political culture to know whether the restoration of the monarchy would ever seriously work. But I don’t think it’s an inherently silly idea.

    Of course it would work.

    We’d put the monarch in the chateau de Versailles (which is a bit more grandiose than Buckingham Pallace), transform the chateau de Fontainebleau and its forest into his hunting lodge, and in exchange, he’d do a few weddings and funerals of other royalties and a few trips to the ex colonies, and we’d get a few more tourists (as if Paris, the world’s number one tourist destination, needs more of them).
    Oh, and also we’d make sure his family is involved in a few romantic scandals so that the press gets something groovy to write about and the populace focusses on these love affairs so that it avoids complaining too much about the economy and other societal problems.
    Best case, he’d have a very pretty daughter-in-law who gets killed in a car accident in a tunnel somewhere in Paris so that we’d have a mega mourning event that keeps people rivetted in front of their TV sets around the world so that we can place lots of advertisements to sell cosmetics, french fashion garments and wine.

    The question isn’t whether it would work but why would we want to do such a silly thing ?

  583. #585 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 10, 2010

    I freaking love celebrations and rituals.

    Who doesn’t like a party

    /runs

  584. #586 Pygmy Loris
    March 10, 2010

    So the Queen’s net cost to the British taxpayer is near zero

    Why does the royal family have estates and such? They didn’t do anything to deserve them. Imagine, if you will, that those estates are, quite properly, property of the UK, not the royal family. The monarchy is costing you the revenues of those estates in the form of maintaining the monarchy.

    So I don’t see how you, as a Canadian citizen and taxpayer, would benefit in any way from abolishing the monarchy.

    So says the British monarchist :P

  585. #587 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 10, 2010

    Janine @#558: Sun Ra?!!
    I think you just found an intersection of our musical-taste Venn diagrams.

    Space is the place

    Saw him live in the 80′s at this art museum in my hometown.
    Coincidentally, this was the same art museum that hosted Serrano’s Piss Christ and was the start of that whole uproar.

  586. #588 strange gods before me ?
    March 10, 2010

    OMFG COREY HAIM IS DEAD????

    I had such a crush on him when I was a kid.

    I need a hug.

  587. #589 Pygmy Loris
    March 10, 2010

    Rev.,

    I don’t I made myself very clear in my post about addiction. The whole point I thought I was making (but now I don’t think I did) was that it’s annoying that people attribute their recovery to god when they did it themselves. Lots of people use recovery from addiction as a proselytizing tool. God didn’t save them from the bottle because god isn’t real.

  588. #590 Ol'Greg
    March 10, 2010

    Of course it would work… but why would we want to do such a silly thing ?

    L M A O!

    You pretty much described perfectly what the British monarchy looks like to many of us in the rest of the world.

  589. #591 Walton, Extra Special Dumpling of Awesome
    March 10, 2010

    Why does the royal family have estates and such? They didn’t do anything to deserve them. Imagine, if you will, that those estates are, quite properly, property of the UK, not the royal family. The monarchy is costing you the revenues of those estates in the form of maintaining the monarchy.

    This is more complicated than you think. There is a distinction between those estates which are owned by “the Crown”, and those which are owned by the Queen in her personal capacity as an individual.

    The lands comprising the Crown Estate, and some of the royal residences such as Buckingham Palace, are property of the Crown. The Crown is a corporation sole (i.e. a corporation consisting of a single person), and therefore has a legal identity separate from the Queen herself. Since “the Crown” is also the legal personification of the British state – hence why prosecutions are brought in the name of the Crown, and the military and civil service are said to be “Crown servants” – this property is, in a sense, owned by the nation. The Queen does not own it personally, and would not keep it if she were to abdicate.

    By contrast, there are other royal residences and properties – Balmoral and Sandringham, for instance – which are owned by the Queen in her private capacity. If she were to abdicate, or if the monarchy were to be abolished, she would remain owner of these properties as a private citizen. In fact, this became an issue when Edward VIII abdicated; his successor, George VI, actually had to buy Balmoral from him, as, unlike the Crown properties, Balmoral was the King’s private property and did not pass automatically to his successor when he abdicated.

  590. #592 Feynmaniac
    March 10, 2010

    So I don’t see how you, as a Canadian citizen and taxpayer, would benefit in any way from abolishing the monarchy.

    It doesn’t really rank high on my list of priorities. I do however think it should be put to a vote and have Canadians for themselves decide whether to keep the Queen as head of state or not.

    You might, of course, feel some bizarre sense of “national pride” in severing your links with Britain, but I would hope you don’t hate us that much. :-)

    Nah, it’s more like a 35 year old needing to finally move out of their parents’ house. The only time you really see Canadian “national pride” is during beer commercials (I’m half serious).

    In any case, at this point we’re more like Americans than we are like you.

  591. #593 MrFire
    March 10, 2010

    Hi Walton. I think this is the first time I’ve engaged you, and regrettably, it is to criticize something you wrote.

    But what would be the point in getting rid of a perfectly good, and aesthetically pleasing, piece of furniture simply because it wasn’t strictly necessary? [emphasis mine]

    I think this begs the question. Isn’t the point of this discussion that the monarchy is not perfectly good?

    In my opinion, a more apt metaphor would be that it is a sawdust-and-balsa-wood composition, plated over with an attractive mahogany veneer. Moreover, it has only been kept viable through constant jury-rigging and repairs.

    My hypothetical family has been passing down a lemon the entire time!

  592. #594 Walton, Extra Special Dumpling of Awesome
    March 10, 2010

    strange gods, don’t forget that I replied to you above at #175, and that we had a conversation from the previous thread which we never finished.

  593. #595 strange gods before me ?
    March 10, 2010

    Not now, Walton, can’t you see I’m in mourning?

  594. #596 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 10, 2010

    Rev.,

    I don’t I made myself very clear in my post about addiction. The whole point I thought I was making (but now I don’t think I did) was that it’s annoying that people attribute their recovery to god when they did it themselves. Lots of people use recovery from addiction as a proselytizing tool. God didn’t save them from the bottle because god isn’t real.

    Yeah I wasn’t being critical of your points I was, clumsily as is my way, trying to point out that the god stuff is unnecessary and tricks people into believing that is what helped them. Pretty much what I think your point was.

  595. #597 Pygmy Loris
    March 10, 2010

    Walton #591,

    The legal vagaries of the holdings of the Queen are of no concern to me. The Queen’s private holdings are just as much property of the UK as the Crown holdings. It’s not like George VI went out, got a job, made some dough, and then bought Balmoral. Where did his money come from? Really, these things shouldn’t be the private property of the Queen or any other member of the royal family because the funds to buy them are rooted in the monarchy itself.

    Anyway, I’ve got a meeting with my committee chair, so I’ve got to go.

  596. #598 Walton, Extra Special Dumpling of Awesome
    March 10, 2010

    Not now, Walton, can’t you see I’m in mourning?

    Apologies. I only just spotted your post at #588.

    OMFG COREY HAIM IS DEAD????

    I had such a crush on him when I was a kid.

    I need a hug.

    My condolences.

    *virtual hug*

  597. #599 strange gods before me ?
    March 10, 2010

    Thank you.

    A million dead Iraqis, and now Corey Haim? Truly this is the straw that broke the atheist camel’s back.

  598. #600 Ol'Greg
    March 10, 2010

    Oh since Strange Gods brought up Haim’s death if no one else has mentioned it Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse is also dead.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/08/arts/music/08linkous.html?ref=music

    I’m really sad about that actually.

  599. #601 Pygmy Loris
    March 10, 2010

    Mr Fire,

    In my opinion, a more apt metaphor would be that it is a sawdust-and-balsa-wood composition, plated over with an attractive mahogany veneer. Moreover, it has only been kept viable through constant jury-rigging and repairs.

    ROTFL! That’s a fantastic metaphor!

    Okay, I have to go.

  600. #602 strange gods before me ?
    March 10, 2010

    That’s a shame, Ol’Greg. I think me and you are going to have to get sloppy drunk at the clubs tonight.

  601. #603 Brownian, OM
    March 10, 2010

    So I don’t see how you, as a Canadian citizen and taxpayer, would benefit in any way from abolishing the monarchy.

    As long as you continue to frame humans in those two identities as if they were the only ones that matter, you’re going to continue to be baffled by human behaviour and unable to predict it.

    Hell, I’d gladly pay to rid ourselves of the monarchy if it meant those fucking inbred leeches had to get real jobs, but as that’s not likely to happen soon (too many fox-hunting aristocracy brown-nosers in the UK, apparently), I’m with Feynmaniac that it’s not all that big a deal.

    The only time you really see Canadian “national pride” is during beer commercials (I’m half serious).

    And Olympic gold-medal hockey games. We don’t even go to the bathroom unless it’s between periods.

  602. #604 Dust
    March 10, 2010

    I’ve thought about the ‘I’m a recovering addict’ meme alot, as I’ve quit not just complusive gambling but drinking as well. To me, there is something very negative about being in a never ending recovery state. I’ve recovered already! I don’t drink or gamble any more-just like I avoid doing things that would break my bones-something I have also recovered from.

    The always recovering but never getting there meme serves a diservice to those who can, actually, recover and move on. It slows down the process in my view.

    I don’t know enough about the people who have’nt been able quit their addictions, but I do wonder if the ‘never able to recover’ idea does not serve then well either.

    Just my thoughts.

  603. #605 Walton, Extra Special Dumpling of Awesome
    March 10, 2010

    I do however think it should be put to a vote and have Canadians for themselves decide whether to keep the Queen as head of state or not.

    This referendum would involve a very large expenditure of taxpayers’ money, for something which you admit to be an unimportant issue.

  604. #606 Brownian, OM
    March 10, 2010

    This referendum would involve a very large expenditure of taxpayers’ money, for something which you admit to be an unimportant issue.

    You know nothing of Canadians and our love for referenda.

  605. #607 Walton, Extra Special Dumpling of Awesome
    March 10, 2010

    Why does the royal family have estates and such? They didn’t do anything to deserve them… The legal vagaries of the holdings of the Queen are of no concern to me. The Queen’s private holdings are just as much property of the UK as the Crown holdings.

    But on the same view, no one who has inherited land or wealth from his or her family really “deserves” it; all inheritance of property is, by definition, a consequence of the accident of birth. The logical conclusion of your argument would be that we should have a 100% inheritance tax, or that inheritance itself should be abolished and all property should revert to the state on someone’s death. I presume you wouldn’t actually advocate that, as it would be a very extreme position.

  606. #608 Physicalist
    March 10, 2010

    @ strange gods before me

    I never met Corey Haim personally, but I was an extra on “The Lost Boys.” Those were good times.

    I’ll join y’all in a drink tonight in memory.

  607. #609 Walton, Extra Special Dumpling of Awesome
    March 10, 2010

    In any case, at this point we’re more like Americans than we are like you.

    That’s quite sad. Deep down, I still think of Canada as the Dominion of British North America. :-)

    (Yes, I’m kidding… *runs away from rampaging mob of Canadians*…)

  608. #610 Brownian, OM
    March 10, 2010

    I presume you wouldn’t actually advocate that, as it would be a very extreme position.

    .

    Why not? No playing field could be said to be level as long as inheritance of property exists.

  609. #611 Ol'Greg
    March 10, 2010

    To me, there is something very negative about being in a never ending recovery state.

    I tend to agree. Another thing is it sets up a dynamic where the addiction still controls the life. For instance for a time our whole life revolved around some one not drinking just like it revolved around their states while drinking. Nothing changed, life was still a complete obsession with that person’s needs in which nothing else mattered much. Except we were supposed to be happier about it…

    Joys.

    When I think on it though the addiction itself seems like the small thing. It’s all the crap surrounding it, the culture, the mental problems, the societal shame, misplaced senses of duty, manipulative use of love, uncertainty, the skewed priorities that matter. The addiction, well it was a suppurating ulcer, but the real problem was more like a large invasive tumor that went right through to the bone.

  610. #612 strange gods before me ?
    March 10, 2010

    I never met Corey Haim personally, but I was an extra on “The Lost Boys.” Those were good times.

    That’s awesome!

    Of course he was not exactly a great actor. But I was too young to appreciate that. What mattered was that he was cute, and he battled vampires.

  611. #613 Paul W., OM
    March 10, 2010

    Walton,

    I find it weird that you don’t seem to take seriously the idea that many people are pretty disgusted by ceremonial classism and an actually hereditary ceremonial monarchy.

    What would you think of outright ceremonial racism and/or sexism? E.g., a law that just says the ceremonial French monarch must be as genetically pure a white male as science can define. (Which is clearly not very, but why not?) Or maybe chosen at random from a pool of such people?

    Or how about a little reverse discrimination, with a law saying that the ceremonial monarch must not be male, and must be human but as distantly related to past monarchs as possible?

    I, for one, would like that better.

    I know some British people who think that aristocrats are in fact genetically superior, on average, to typical commoners, because of centuries of selective breeding that is in fact correlated with something or other they think is of value.

    Given the heir apparent’s “good breeding,” excellent educational opportunities, and penchant for promoting alt med, I gotta say yikes. Given the tories’ largely aristocratic top leadership, I gotta say double yikes.

    You shouldn’t be able to have ceremonial classism on top of actual classism. The latter is disgusting. The former is adding insult to injury, IMHO.

    If you’re going to send a signal about the value of such traditions, I facetiously suggest that you do with Charles what has traditionally been done with powerless monarchs who prove their unfitness to lead—put the guy’s head on a pike in some very public place, and destroy the evidently fucked-up hereditary royalty system.

    But that’s just me. I’m not British. I don’t get it.

    But if the French have an admirable tradition about monarchy, I think that has to be the tradition of destroying it. Restoring the monarchy, even symbolically, would send exactly the wrong signal, going against their best and most hallowed tradition.

    I’m all for the traditional French treatment of monarchs and aristocrats—KILL THEM AND TAKE THEIR STUFF! (Merely ceremonially, of course, in the case of killing them. Not actually killing people over not-very-consequential politics is an important tradition, too. But as for taking their stuff… well, yeah, to the extent that there are aristocrats still benefiting from the hereditary system, and still richer than average because their ancestors exploited people under an unjust system, or just because they benefit from social perks of being “aristocrats,” then actually take their stuff.

    I think the French non-aristocrats might want to offer their aristocrats a compromise. They might reinstate the monarchy as a purely ceremonial position, in return for nationalizing all the inherited wealth of all hereditary aristocrats. (And not just as a one-shot deal.)

    For ceremonial purposes, the King gets to show up to funerals and cut ribbons and such, and when the TV cameras are off, he gets to live in a modal French house on a modal French income, and hang out with modal French people—no particularly rich or powerful people, and absolutely no aristocrats.

    Oh yeah, and once a year, on the anniversary of his ascension to the thrown, he’s brought in shackles to the ceremonial guillotine, and the blade drops to the point where the edge touches his neck, and actually nicks it so that it bleeds.

    Then that blood is used to write I SUCK DONKEY DICKS across his bare chest, and he’s led in a procession through Paris, in which he’s pelted with rotten tomatoes—real ones—and made to wear the smelly mess for the rest of the day, to underscore the point that hereditary aristocacy stinks.

    I think that might send a more appropriate message about French traditions, like fraternite and egalite, and a violent opposition to the horrendous institution of monarchy.

    I’d pay to see that kind of sideshow, which could be a great fundraiser for the needy.

  612. #614 MrFire
    March 10, 2010

    ROTFL! That’s a fantastic metaphor!

    *puffs up proud*

    Thanks Pygmy Loris – good luck with your committee chair meeting!

    To be fair, I should correct part of my comment @593:

    Isn’t the point of this discussion that some feel the monarchy is not perfectly good?

    Don’t want to give the impression that it was somehow a foregone conclusion.

  613. #615 blf
    March 10, 2010

    Rome school criticised for installing condom machine for pupils:

    Amid national controversy, the Kepler scientific secondary school today became the first in the Italian education system to install condom vending machines for students. The machines, in the girls’ and boys’ toilets, will sell cut-price condoms just a few miles from the Vatican; the Kepler is in a lower-middle class district of Rome, just outside the city’s ancient walls.

    Cardinal Agostino Vallini, who stands in for the pope in his capacity as bishop of Rome, deplored the initiative as “trivialising sexuality”.

    The Kepler’s headteacher, Antonio Panaccione, invited other schools “not to take fright, and do the same”. His comments and those of others reflected the continuing influence in Italy of Catholic teaching on sexual matters.

    The Italian student’s union, which noted that the French Lycée in Rome had been making condoms available to its pupils since 2001, said in a statement: “Only in Italy would this cause a stir.” It added: “A number of secondary educational institutions in western countries distribute condoms, as do many schools in the US.”

  614. #616 jenbphillips
    March 10, 2010

    Ol’ Greg @ 569:
    As far as the effectiveness of AA methods…not so much, it would seem. Here are a couple of sources on that score:

    http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-effectiveness.html
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2746426/

    As to the causes of addiction, it’s one of those snakepits of complex environmental, psychological and genetic factors (inasmuch as the latter two categories can be separated from one another). Several genes have been implicated in influencing one being more–or less–prone to addiction, but it’s a question rife with complexity.

  615. #617 Ol'Greg
    March 10, 2010

    But I was too young to appreciate that. What mattered was that he was cute, and he battled vampires.

    I was a fan of the vampires.

    I believe that movie had a short clip of Bauhaus in it. I was a very small child. I freaking loved Bauhaus.

    It’s like legend. When I grew up I wanted to marry Tim Curry and eat all that black fruit and have that awesome dress. Actually…

  616. #618 Janine, Mistress Of Foul Mouth Abuse, OM
    March 10, 2010

    Walton, about twelve hours ago, that loud moron in the current Palin thread did respond to one of your points. I was hoping that you would take to time to show him how mistaken he is in his assumption about you.

  617. #619 Walton, Extra Special Dumpling of Awesome
    March 10, 2010

    I know some British people who think that aristocrats are in fact genetically superior, on average, to typical commoners, because of centuries of selective breeding that is in fact correlated with something or other they think is of value.

    Seriously? Really?

    I’m British, have lived all my life in southern England, have been active in the Conservative Party for some years, and know a significant number of real aristocrats. I’ve never heard a single person say a word about “selective breeding”, nor have I ever known anyone at all who harboured the attitudes you describe. That kind of absurd elitism is long since dead.

    In my experience, the only people who actually give a damn about “class” and aristocracy tend to be the social climbers, who want to pretend their background is more aristocratic than it is. Those people who are real scions of the aristocracy usually downplay the fact as much as possible.

  618. #620 Ol'Greg
    March 10, 2010

    I dunno but I think if we started a ceremonial monarchy in the US it would be done as a reality TV show.

  619. #621 Feynmaniac
    March 10, 2010

    Paul W.,

    You shouldn’t be able to have ceremonial classism on top of actual classism. The latter is disgusting. The former is adding insult to injury, IMHO.

    You said it better than I could.

    Well I’m off. Can’t wait for the next subthread and the YouTube regarding monarchy it will probably contain.

  620. #622 Brownian, OM
    March 10, 2010

    I never met Corey Haim personally, but I was an extra on “The Lost Boys.” Those were good times.

    Really? I’ll drink one in your honour too then, Physicalist. Er, for those of us who never miss a showing of TLB, even when it’s on Peachtree (“Holy spit! My own brother, a goldurn shirt-tucking vampire!”), could you point out who you were and in what scene? Please tell me you got to rock out to Tim Cappello on the beach.

  621. #623 strange gods before me ?
    March 10, 2010

    I was a fan of the vampires.

    Mmmmm. Jason Patric and Kiefer Sutherland were dead sexy.

  622. #624 Ol'Greg
    March 10, 2010

    I know some British people who think that aristocrats are in fact genetically superior, on average, to typical commoners, because of centuries of selective breeding that is in fact correlated with something or other they think is of value.”

    Seriously? Really?
    I’m British, have lived all my life in southern England, have been active in the Conservative Party for some years, and know a significant number of real aristocrats. I’ve never heard a single person say a word about “selective breeding”, nor have I ever known anyone at all who harboured the attitudes you describe. That kind of absurd elitism is long since dead.

    Are you sure? Because here in the US that kind of thinking is alive and well.

    In fact, years ago in a history class we had to do some genealogical research and report on it (this was a college class so it was supposed to be significant research). It was pretty easy for me. One side of my family is well documented and goes back a very good while. When I reported I was criticized (by peers not the prof) for including too much information about the “unimportant” (read low born or immigrant) members and also had a couple people *compliment* me. Not on my writing, but on my genetic material I guess. As if being connected to those old names meant I was a better sort than the average American.

  623. #625 aratina cage
    March 10, 2010

    What mattered was that he was cute, and he battled vampires.

    And werewolves.

  624. #626 Knockgoats
    March 10, 2010

    The British monarchy as furniture…

    Walton’s “venerable mahogany table” metaphor is very apt: typically these are huge and hideous pieces of 19th century vintage, entirely unsuited to modern life and forever getting in the way – and it is of course in the 19th century that most of the “immemorial” traditions of the British monarchy originated (on this, see “The context, performance and meaning of ritual: the British Monarchy and the Invention of Tradition, c. 1820?1977″ by David Cannadine, Ch. 4 in Hobsbawm and Roper The Invention of Tradition). I’d certainly get rid of such a table if I had one to get rid of!

    I’m British, have lived all my life in southern England, have been active in the Conservative Party for some years, and know a significant number of real aristocrats. I’ve never heard a single person say a word about “selective breeding”, nor have I ever known anyone at all who harboured the attitudes you describe. That kind of absurd elitism is long since dead.

    Come off it, Walton. You (among others) were absurdly impressed by that lunatic “Viscount” Monckton; if he’d been Mr. Monckton, no-one would ever have listened to his ravings. Anyway, if “that kind of absurd elitism” is dead, why haven’t all the “real aristocrats” given up their titles? Some among them still own vast tracts of land, let alone other forms of wealth.

    The British monarchy is the apex of the British class structure – which is why Walton wants to keep it. It is also (as “The Crown”) the excuse for the unaccountability of the British state – the reason we are subjects and not citizens. Off with their heads!*

    * I mean, of course, off the stamps, coins, banknotes etc :-p

  625. #627 Brownian, OM
    March 10, 2010

    In my experience, the only people who actually give a damn about “class” and aristocracy tend to be the social climbers, who want to pretend their background is more aristocratic than it is.

    Like the non-aristocrats who defend aristocratic institutions like the monarchy and fox-hunting?

  626. #628 Feynmaniac
    March 10, 2010

    What mattered was that he was cute, and he battled vampires.

    But did he make witty remarks and pop culture references while battling vampires?

  627. #629 Knockgoats
    March 10, 2010

    On addiction and AA, there was an article in today’s Grauniad about a secular and science based alternative to the “12-step” bullshit, which substitutes one addiction for another (admittedly, the substitute may be less damaging). You can read about this here: Smart Recovery.

    I’ve recommended before the book Love and Addiction by Stanton Peele and Archie Brodsky.

  628. #630 Ol'Greg
    March 10, 2010

    typically these are huge and hideous pieces of 19th century vintage, entirely unsuited to modern life and forever getting in the way

    Hey hey hey! Now bash the monarchy all you want but do you have to be so mean about the furniture?
    :P

    Or rather, if anyone wishes to dispose of such a table, please drop me a line.

  629. #631 Paul W., OM
    March 10, 2010

    Walton:

    Seriously? Really?

    Seriously, really. It may be a weird statistical fluke, but I’ve met a very few English academics who said they thought the upper classes are genetically superior to the lower classes, on average, if only marginally.

    They also professed valuing upward mobility and intermarriage, acknowledging that the upper and lower classes overlap a lot in any interesting characteristics, and that many of the best and brightest are in fact of common stock, and that it would be stupid to simply perpetuate the aristocracy as such. (And one talked about the positive value of interbreeding, because of dangerous inbreeding among the aristocrats.)

    But still, yes, there really are some Britons who think that there’s something slightly genetically special about aristocrats, on average. Perhaps not coincidentally, the people who said that to me had substantial aristocratic blood. (And Oxbridge educations.) But I would be surprised if there weren’t a few commoners who believed it, too, just as there are a few blacks in the U.S. who do believe that blacks are inferior to whites, on average.

    I’ve also heard similar things about Jews from a very few Jews, who attribute the peculiar successes of Jewish people in academia, etc., partly to a higher incidence of good genes for being smart and hardworking or something that promotes high achievement somehow.

    Given that there are a lot of people in the U.S. who believe the “Bell Curve” stuff about superiority of whites to blacks—though of course it’s just a minor difference in means, and the distributions mostly overlap—I don’t really find either very surprising. It’s the same basic thing.

    I would guess there are survey studies about such attitudes in Britain, but haven’t looked into it. I would be delighted to find out that such attitudes were extremely rare.

    If they’re not, that seems like a good reason to abolish the Monarchy and stop pandering to the fetishization of hereditary “traditions.”

  630. #632 strange gods before me ?
    March 10, 2010

    Those people who are real scions of the aristocracy usually downplay the fact as much as possible.

    This itself is aristocratic fashion, and has been long enough to be noted in The Great Gatsby.

  631. #633 Walton, Extra Special Dumpling of Awesome
    March 10, 2010

    It is also (as “The Crown”) the excuse for the unaccountability of the British state – the reason we are subjects and not citizens.

    Actually, that is false on both counts. Firstly, since the British Nationality Act 1981, we are, legally, British citizens. “British citizen” is not strictly synonymous with “British national”, since citizens of British dependent territories (such as Bermuda or Gibraltar), as well as certain people born in former colonies before they achieved independence, are considered to be “British nationals” but not “British citizens”.

    As to the Crown being “unaccountable”, it is strictly speaking true that the Crown is immune from certain forms of civil process (though less so now than historically, since the Crown Proceedings Act 1947). But modern English law has developed to deal with this. If your rights are violated by a government agency, you can either (depending on the circumstances and the type of right violated) seek judicial review of the decision in the High Court (under section 31 of the Supreme Court Act 1981), or bring a private civil action against the minister, department or public body responsible.

    There are also certain “royal prerogatives”, such as the right to declare war or conclude treaties, which can be exercised by government on behalf of the Crown without parliamentary oversight. But these are nothing to do with the Queen personally; and it is, ironically, the Conservatives who are proposing to abolish some of the prerogative powers (since the prerogative was abused, inter alia, by the current government to ratify the Treaty of Lisbon).

  632. #634 Brownian, OM
    March 10, 2010
    Those people who are real scions of the aristocracy usually downplay the fact as much as possible.

    This itself is aristocratic fashion, and has been long enough to be noted in The Great Gatsby.

    Why? If nobody actually cares about the aristocracy, why hide it?

    No, the reality is that they want to be treated just like everyday ordinary people, without the attendant lack of wealth and power that characterises real commoners.

  633. #635 Ol'Greg
    March 10, 2010

    As far as the effectiveness of AA methods…not so much, it would seem. Here are a couple of sources on that score:

    jenb, thanks for the links. Yeah, most people I know follow a path where they get waaaaay into AA, then fall off the wagon, then get waaaay into AA, then… etc.

    Some of them eventually do stop using though. I’m really not sure it has anything to do with AA.

    And some people really do just seem less prone to addiction. Crack, for instance, is something most people get addicted to if they use it for a little while. But some people seem to be able to stop using it, and others seem completely lost to it.

  634. #636 strange gods before me ?
    March 10, 2010

    And Brownian wins Episode XX[X]VII of The Thread.

  635. #637 Physicalist
    March 10, 2010

    Brownian:

    Please tell me you got to rock out to Tim Cappello on the beach.

    Yes, I was indeed part of the crowd on the beach of “Santa Carla” (as they labeled my hometown, IIRC), during the concert scene (with Tina Turner’s sax player, as we thought of him). I could point out my silhouette at the back of the crowd for a fraction of a second (I’m tall, and I had a tall girl on my shoulders), but you can’t really see me.

    Those were great nights though. Huge bonfires burning on the beach for hours. Everyone partying down. Movie stars and cameras. (And, of course, vampires . . . )

  636. #638 iambilly
    March 10, 2010

    I’ve been in training all day learning to teach people to breath into dummies. And they say government workers are, well, um, something.

    Back to flaming cars up at the top.

    I’ve been in two cars which caught fire. One was a 1978 Ford Fairmont station wagon with a 3-speed manual transmission. We had a lead in the head gasket and oil was blowing back onto the tranny. I was driving to work (whitewater raft guide) and, suddenly and without warning, the engine died. I drifted for quite a ways down the country road (no idea how fast I was going as the speedometer, though it went up to 120, stopped the needle at 70mph) and pulled off onto the shoulder. I tried to restart the car. Nothing. A guy in a Jeep stopped behind me, got out, walked up, and told me there were flames coming from under the center of the car. Luckily, he had a fire extinguisher and we extinguished the fire. The only real damage was that the rubber boot around the gearshift melted, so for the next four years, we could watch the road through the hole.

    The second time, I was not driving. My pal and I rebuilt many VW beetles and microbuses (we always ended up with extra parts (we figured if we rebuilt enough, we’d have a whole extra engine) left over from the engine). One day, we were driving in Northern Virginia (heading to do some hay bailing at a farm) and Darrell looked behind us and wondered (aloud) what all the smoke was. I saw none in front of us and plenty behind us so I suggested it was the beetle. We stopped (no way to pull off) and, sure ’nuff, there was smoke enveloping the back end. He tried to pop the engine cover and came away with the most amazing blister. We stepped back and watched the fire consume the engine compartment, the magnesium wheels on the rear, then the back of the car, then the cabin (including the $800 stereo (keep in mind, this was 1984 so that was a lot of money)) and finally the front end and the front wheels. By the time the fire company arrived, there was nothing left.

    Other car fires I have seen (but was not involved in) include a Porsche 928S (“All right, who’s the U-Boat commander?”), two Subarus up in New Hampshire, an MGA (also in New Hampshire), and a school bus (used as crew transport at a wildland fire). So, yes, they do burn. All of them.

    And vampires? They suck. Now Vampires are cool!

  637. #639 iambilly
    March 10, 2010

    That’s a leak in the head gasket, not a lead. Sorry.

  638. #640 Janine, Mistress Of Foul Mouth Abuse, OM
    March 10, 2010

    Walton, thank you for that. But I think it is obvious that cable is having an argument with figments in his mind, not with the people on the thread.

  639. #641 redrabbitslife
    March 10, 2010

    1- Corey Haim was 38? Crap, I’m getting old.

    I loved him in The Lost Boys, and in general back then, too.

    2- The Monarchy- I’ve always found it bizarre that a supposedly modern country could have a hereditary head of state. Well, and that a constitutional monarchy should lack a written constitution.

  640. #642 Walton, Extra Special Dumpling of Awesome
    March 10, 2010

    Brownian @#627: My own background is entirely non-aristocratic, and I don’t pretend to be anything I’m not. So I’m not sure what you might be alleging.

    I support the monarchy for the reasons I have outlined on this thread. Yes, there is a certain amount of non-rational aesthetic preference involved on my part. But when the monarchy isn’t doing any harm, and has several advantages which I have outlined, I don’t see why it would be justified to get rid of it.

    Most people’s arguments on this thread have been purely ideological. If you dislike the symbolic significance of the monarchy, or believe that inheritance of wealth or status is intrinsically wrong, then that’s fine – but that’s a very ideological, doctrinaire view. I take a more pragmatic approach; if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. And no one has yet offered a really substantial pragmatic reason for abolishing the monarchy. The Queen does a sterling job as head of state, and any sort of change in this regard is, IMO, simply a solution looking for a problem.

  641. #643 strange gods before me ?
    March 10, 2010

    A movie for the times:

    Born Rich, by Jamie Johnson, heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune.

  642. #644 Walton
    March 10, 2010

    I’ve changed my moniker back. I decided the whole “Extra Special Dumpling of Awesome” thing, as cute as it was, may have been a little lacking in gravitas. :-)

  643. #645 Paul W., OM
    March 10, 2010
    Those people who are real scions of the aristocracy usually downplay the fact as much as possible.

    This itself is aristocratic fashion, and has been long enough to be noted in The Great Gatsby.

    As I understand it—mostly from picking things up from novels, so I could be totally wrong—there are several factors at work.

    My impression is that some of this goes back to the Industrial Revolution, at least, and the rise of the middle class with trading and The Empire.

    One reason is that you don’t want the commoners to resent you for putting on airs, even if you think the airs are actually justified. (Some aristocrats do, or did, and some don’t.) A bit of noblesse oblige, a little bit of not wanting to get whacked on the head by some pissed-off uppity lower-class commoner, or seriously screwed with by a powerful “middle class” (non-aristo) commoner.

    (Come to think of it, a fair fraction of the understated wealth, don’t-flaunt-it breeding thing among the British upper class probably dates back to the French Revolution—there’s a striking example to learn from, if ever there was one. Time for a low profile and a secret handshake.)

    Another reason is that you don’t want to be confused with the (comparatively) nouveau riche middle class—i.e., commoners with money.

    (For Americans who aren’t savvy to the traditional British sense of “middle class,” it’s not at all what we would call middle class. It’s mostly what we would call upper-class in American terms—a minority of people who are comparatively wealthy, and often from families that have been wealthy for generations—but not aristocrats, with aristocratic pedigrees going back many hundreds of years. Most of what counts in America as upper-class “Old Money” “society” is middle-class nouveaux riches in traditional British aristocratic terms—AFAIUI, not being British or an expert by any means, and not even having put any actual study into it.)

    It would be very surprising to me if there wasn’t a significant if small percentage of upper-class British people who felt at least a little bit that way, to this day, given rich “society” people I’ve known in the U.S., some of whom just feel lucky to have been born rich and connected, and some of whom feel a bit superior and entitled to it.

  644. #646 Ol'Greg
    March 10, 2010

    The Queen does a sterling job as head of state, and any sort of change in this regard is, IMO, simply a solution looking for a problem.

    Hey Walton, do you think this opinion would change if her successor did a terrible job as a head of state?

  645. #647 Paul
    March 10, 2010

    The Queen does a sterling job as head of state, and any sort of change in this regard is, IMO, simply a solution looking for a problem.

    The current monarch does a good job, therefore a hereditary monarchy is good? What happens when the next in line is a bumbling idiot, but becomes Queen/King due to legacy?

    Heredity is a rather medieval way of handling any position of significance, and it seems odd to defend its legitimacy, even if it’s something that works with the current placeholder.

  646. #648 Paul W., OM
    March 10, 2010

    Ol’ Greg:

    Or rather, if anyone wishes to dispose of such a table, please drop me a line.

    OK, I’ll let you know where the page is for bidding on it on eBay, like the rest of the suckers for ugly, awkward, traditional old junk.
    :-P

  647. #649 amphiox
    March 10, 2010

    Hey Walton, do you think this opinion would change if her successor did a terrible job as a head of state?

    It wouldn’t be unprecedented for a monarchy to crumble when a successor to a competent monarch proves to be, well, not so competent.

  648. #650 Knockgoats
    March 10, 2010

    Walton@633,
    You are being absurdly legalistic, failing to take any account of historical context and current realities. I know the Crown prerogative is not personally exercised by Liz Windsor, but the Government has inherited and uses those powers. We are subjects and not citizens in fact, because we do not have constitutionally protected rights – something you’re always prattling on about, IIRC. You really can’t be a consistent civil libertarian and a supporter of the British monarchy. The British constitution needs revamping, and getting rid of the monarchy is a key part of that: there should be no hereditary privileges. BTW, I would support 100% death duties on anything over some reasonable sum, which certainly shouldn’t be above £1m.

  649. #651 Walton
    March 10, 2010

    Hey Walton, do you think this opinion would change if her successor did a terrible job as a head of state?

    Maybe. But the Queen is still in good health, and if she lives as long as her late mother did, Charles is unlikely to succeed for a long time, if at all. He will in turn be succeeded by William, who should be a good king, on balance.

    But in principle, yes. Most British people support the monarchy at present, as the Queen is very widely respected on a personal level; but if any future monarch were ever to, for example, abuse the position for partisan political purposes, it is highly likely that support for republicanism would become more widespread.

  650. #652 amphiox
    March 10, 2010

    Walton, thank you for that. But I think it is obvious that cable is having an argument with figments in his mind, not with the people on the thread.

    Cable has a mind? Where’s your empirical evidence for that?

  651. #653 MrFire
    March 10, 2010

    Party like it’s Episode XXXVIII, people.

  652. #654 Walton
    March 10, 2010

    We are subjects and not citizens in fact, because we do not have constitutionally protected rights

    True. But that’s nothing to do with the monarchy. There are many constitutional monarchies which have written constitutions, and constitutionally-protected rights and liberties enforceable by the courts, but still have a monarchy. This is the case in Sweden, for example, and Denmark, and the Netherlands, and Belgium, and Spain, and to some extent in Canada (though the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms has some limitations). So it is a fact that there is no practical reason why we cannot introduce a written constitution and bill of rights, yet keep the monarchy. Likewise, we can easily get rid of the prerogative powers and yet keep the monarchy.

    Your opposition seems to be purely ideological; you dislike the principle that someone can be head of state by virtue of inheritance. That’s fine; you’re perfectly entitled to be an ideologue. But, along with most of the British people, I prefer to take a more pragmatic and evidence-based approach.

  653. #655 amphiox
    March 10, 2010

    Nonarchy = the rule of nine?

    Minbari Grey Council!

  654. #656 cicely
    March 10, 2010

    “Look, strange women lying on their backs in ponds handing out swords … that’s no basis for a system of government.”

  655. #657 Knockgoats
    March 10, 2010

    And some people really do just seem less prone to addiction. Crack, for instance, is something most people get addicted to if they use it for a little while. Ol’Greg

    Peele and Brodsky, who I referenced, argue that addiction has very little to do with the specific properties of chemical substances and everything to do with insecurity, anxiety, and lack of personal autonomy and purpose. They note that the “symptoms” of many people who have just been rejected by a partner often resemble those of “cold turkey” from opiate addiction; and conversely, many US troops in Vietnam habitually used heroin, but most gave it up without difficulty when removed from that terrible situation.

  656. #658 Walton
    March 10, 2010

    A small correction to my post at #654: In fact, the courts in the Netherlands do not have power to review primary legislation for compliance with the constitution. But all my other examples were accurate, and my point stands.

  657. #659 Paul W., OM
    March 10, 2010

    Walton:

    My own background is entirely non-aristocratic, and I don’t pretend to be anything I’m not.

    That might be a reason that aristocrats might not let you know if they did think aristocrats were a bit genetically special, on average.

    (Why they’d tell me, who’s poor Southern white trash and/or poor Irish Catholic from way back on all sides, I have no idea… except maybe I’m very far away most of the time, or perhaps that I’m “a credit to my race.” :-) … :-/ )

    It might also be partly that you’re a generation younger, and your age cohort is substantially less classist than mine. That would be cool.

  658. #660 Janine, Mistress Of Foul Mouth Abuse, OM
    March 10, 2010

    I have to share this with everyone. Walton is my hero.

    Walton, please do not take this as me making fun of you. But, dammit, I have to laugh!

    I have no said a word about royalty. That is because it is rather blunt and without nuance. The English got one thing right in 1649.

  659. #661 Ol'Greg
    March 10, 2010

    Peele and Brodsky, who I referenced, argue that addiction has very little to do with the specific properties of chemical substances and everything to do with insecurity, anxiety, and lack of personal autonomy and purpose. They note that the “symptoms” of many people who have just been rejected by a partner often resemble those of “cold turkey” from opiate addiction; and conversely, many US troops in Vietnam habitually used heroin, but most gave it up without difficulty when removed from that terrible situation.

    I’m really going to have to read that Knockgoats.

  660. #662 Walton
    March 10, 2010

    Peele and Brodsky, who I referenced, argue that addiction has very little to do with the specific properties of chemical substances and everything to do with insecurity, anxiety, and lack of personal autonomy and purpose. They note that the “symptoms” of many people who have just been rejected by a partner often resemble those of “cold turkey” from opiate addiction; and conversely, many US troops in Vietnam habitually used heroin, but most gave it up without difficulty when removed from that terrible situation.

    If that proves to be true, then it confirms my view that drugs should be legalised. Rather than trying to stamp out substance abuse via the criminal law, which is an expensive, authoritarian and pointless endeavour, I would argue that the most rational approach to reducing drug addiction is to pay much more attention, as a society, to mental and emotional health. If everyone who had a substance abuse problem was able to access comprehensive treatment, not just to deal with the addiction but also to cope with the underlying mental and emotional issues that led to the addiction in the first place, it seems to me that this would be far more effective in reducing drug addiction than the current discredited “War on Drugs” approach.

  661. #663 Walton
    March 10, 2010

    I have to share this with everyone. Walton is my hero.

    :-D :-D :-D

    Maybe I should change my moniker to “Walton, Janine’s Hero.”

  662. #664 Brownian, OM
    March 10, 2010

    Brownian @#627: My own background is entirely non-aristocratic, and I don’t pretend to be anything I’m not. So I’m not sure what you might be alleging.

    Maybe it’s a North American thing, but defending the institutions of the elite when one isn’t a member of that elite can be seen as trying to curry favour with the elite while distancing oneself from one’s true class (See Uncle Tom). However, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t engage in that under certain situations, so I’m not really impugning your motives as much as doing a little piss-taking, Walton. ;)

    I decided the whole “Extra Special Dumpling of Awesome” thing, as cute as it was, may have been a little lacking in gravitas. :-)

    I liked it. If anything it demonstrated your playfulness and made you seem a little more well-rounded, complementing the often more serious tone of your comments. Do you need more gravitas?

  663. #665 Knockgoats
    March 10, 2010

    True. But that’s nothing to do with the monarchy. There are many constitutional monarchies which have written constitutions, and constitutionally-protected rights and liberties enforceable by the courts, but still have a monarchy. This is the case in Sweden, for example – Walton

    You miss the point. Such things are compatible with monarchy in general (although a really egalitarian society is not): they are not compatible with the British monarchy, which is not a constitutional monarchy. You cannot divorce an institution from its historical, legal and political context. The British monarchy is the epitome – the crown, indeed – of a system of hereditary, religiously-justified privilege and unaccountable state power. You can prate about “ideologues” all you like, Walton, I don’t think you’re even convincing yourself, let alone anyone else. In practical terms, I most certainly would not trust the monarch to be politically neutral in a crisis – I would be astonished if they did not side unequivocally with the rich and powerful. They would, if necessary, give legitimacy to a military coup against an elected government that seriously threatened elite interests. Which is, of course, the real reason you want to retain the monarchy – you know they would as well as I do. (Incidentally, if you think that Prince Tampon is going to stop shooting his mouth off if he ever becomes King, you’re crazy.)

  664. #666 Walton
    March 10, 2010

    The English got one thing right in 1649.

    Noooo no no no no. Oliver Cromwell was a Puritan fundamentalist authoritarian bigoted joyless wingnut. The Commonwealth was, in many respects, one of the worst and most illiberal periods of British history. From the perspective of individual freedom, things got a lot better after the restoration of Charles II.

  665. #667 Brownian, OM
    March 10, 2010

    Oliver Cromwell was a Puritan fundamentalist authoritarian bigoted joyless wingnut.

    Yeah, but his band is pretty rockin’.

  666. #668 Walton
    March 10, 2010

    They would, if necessary, give legitimacy to a military coup against an elected government that seriously threatened elite interests. Which is, of course, the real reason you want to retain the monarchy – you know they would as well as I do.

    Don’t be ridiculous.

  667. #669 Knockgoats
    March 10, 2010

    It’s true Cromwell was highly authoritarian, but the Commonwealth was the first time democratic ideas got any sort of hearing in Britain: the Levellers, Diggers and Ranters were the political ancestors of 18th and 19th century radicals in both Britain and America. Walton, I’m afraid you still have a schoolboy view of history.

  668. #670 Paul W., OM
    March 10, 2010
    The English got one thing right in 1649.

    Noooo no no no no.

    YEEESSSS YES YES YES YES.

    Oliver Cromwell was a Puritan fundamentalist authoritarian bigoted joyless wingnut. The Commonwealth was, in many respects, one of the worst and most illiberal periods of British history. From the perspective of individual freedom, things got a lot better after the restoration of Charles II.

    You’re not refuting the proposition that they got one thing right in 1649.

    Which I’d agree they did, even if they fumbled the implementation rather dramatically.

  669. #671 John Morales
    March 10, 2010

    Walton,

    But this is a personal opinion of Prince Charles, not an intrinsic part of the institution of the monarchy. Indeed, if and when he becomes King, he will be expected to avoid becoming involved in controversy or forcing his beliefs on others, and will have to be entirely politically neutral when acting in his official capacity.

    I can only imagine what the Kings of old would’ve thought of this notion.

  670. #672 strange gods before me ?
    March 10, 2010

    They would, if necessary, give legitimacy to a military coup against an elected government that seriously threatened elite interests.

    Don’t be ridiculous. That could never happen.

  671. #673 Janine, Mistress Of Foul Mouth Abuse, OM
    March 10, 2010

    Walton, why do you think I said one thing? I know some people still have a justified hatred for Cromwell.

    And, please, change your moniker to Janine’s Hero. I am sure that will knock some people for a loop.

  672. #674 Brownian, OM
    March 10, 2010

    Don’t be ridiculous. That could never happen.

    Of course not. Monarchs and their non-elected representatives clearly know their place.

  673. #675 Ol'Greg
    March 10, 2010

    If that proves to be true, then it confirms my view that drugs should be legalised. Rather than trying to stamp out substance abuse via the criminal law, which is an expensive, authoritarian and pointless endeavour, I would argue that the most rational approach to reducing drug addiction is to pay much more attention, as a society, to mental and emotional health

    Honestly I think that drugs should be legal even if it were false. Simply because I think criminalizing addiction only serves to worsen the problem for addicts, but also for whole community of people surrounding addicts. Not to mention it gives rise to a massive criminal industry and helps fund terrorism.

    I guess a nicer and more honest way to say what I sort of was trying to say is, yes, intuitively I think addiction really is just another manifestation of various mental issues. Those issues may take a variety of forms. People who’s general emotional and mental state is healthier really do seem to be able to recover better if nothing else.

    What I said earlier was unfair, because I do many people actually (myself included) that have regularly used substances which people can become addicted to without losing focus on life, and also have quit using them with ease.

    In fact, until I got ill I was drinking quite a bit because I was going out with friends almost every night. But feeling ill kills the enjoyment of that, and away went the drunken fun.

    But then again there is physical addiction too.

    People who have injuries have to break the addiction some times to the drugs.

    Also smoking, which as far as I have seen is a pain in the ass to kick that most people fall back from a couple times. Luckily I never picked it up, although I will admit to having a fondness for the occasional use of the hookah (hipster scum!)

  674. #676 Knockgoats
    March 10, 2010

    Not in the slightest ridiculous Walton. Anyone who supports the Tories supports elite privilege; and the elite will never give up their power if they think there is any way of hanging onto it.

  675. #677 SpriteSuzi
    March 10, 2010

    Brief topic detour – PZ gets a veiled(unless you’re a Pharynguloid!) reference in the latest Mr. Deity…it comes at about 2:50.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GTTwSJK_XMI

    check it out ;)

  676. #678 Knockgoats
    March 10, 2010

    For Americans who aren’t savvy to the traditional British sense of “middle class,” it’s not at all what we would call middle class. It’s mostly what we would call upper-class in American terms – Paul W.

    I’d say you’re talking about the upper-middle class. “Middle class” is now much broader – basically, if you own your own home, you’re middle-class by at least one criterion. However, we do still recognise that there’s a working class, whereas, as I’ve come across it (though i think someone corrected me), in the US you’re middle class if you’re not destitute or on welfare.

  677. #679 windy
    March 10, 2010

    But when the monarchy isn’t doing any harm, and has several advantages which I have outlined, I don’t see why it would be justified to get rid of it.

    No harm? Do you think it’s fair to have one person groomed to that position from birth like a trained monkey, and loaded with all sorts of responsibilities he/she didn’t choose?

    I can only imagine what the Kings of old would’ve thought of this notion.

    Or of the idea that they are like old pieces of furniture…

  678. #680 Walton
    March 10, 2010

    Honestly I think that drugs should be legal even if it were false. Simply because I think criminalizing addiction only serves to worsen the problem for addicts, but also for whole community of people surrounding addicts. Not to mention it gives rise to a massive criminal industry and helps fund terrorism.

    Yes, I agree entirely. The current “War on Drugs” is doing no one any good (except maybe the private correctional industry), is massively expensive, highly authoritarian, ruins lives and is nevertheless almost completely ineffective.

  679. #681 aratina cage
    March 10, 2010

    Pope’s on fire! The Pope’s brother admits to repeatedly slapping choir boys in the face as punishment as well as doing nothing to investigate abuse allegations brought to his attention by the children.

    “At the beginning I also repeatedly administered a slap in the face, but always had a bad conscience about it,” [Georg] Ratzinger said, adding that he was happy when corporal punishment was made illegal in 1980.

    Ratzinger said a slap in the face was the easiest reaction to a failure to perform or a poor performance. How hard it was very greatly, depending on who administered it.(source: AP)

    Isn’t it time to dissolve the child-abuse operation that is the Roman Catholic Church once and for all? There seems to be no end to its depravity.

  680. #682 CJO
    March 10, 2010

    However, we do still recognise that there’s a working class, whereas, as I’ve come across it (though i think someone corrected me), in the US you’re middle class if you’re not destitute or on welfare.

    In the US, you will occasionally hear reference to “the working middle class,” but it’s become a relic mostly, with the decline in organized labor and the manufacturing sector. I always took it as an essentially classist distinction, though. Like “real” middle (read: professional) class people in Michigan and Ohio had to admit that their factory worker neighbors had just as much money as they did, but they couldn’t admit them to their class without a qualifier.

  681. #683 Ol'Greg
    March 10, 2010

    in the US you’re middle class if you’re not destitute or on welfare.

    Hahaha… I was raised working class in the US. The class exists, it’s just pretended away or romanticized as the “Joe Six-Pack” trope. The idea is you brought it on yourself and if you just worked a little harder you’d be middle class. Otherwise get a credit card and pretend to be middle class anyway.

    Urban underclasses and the like are very visible, and the working classes from my experience to everything possible to try and distinguish themselves from them. Which includes pretending to be middle class even though it works against their interests to do so.

    Buying a house on a 30k household salary in a job that requires physical health and with kids is gambling with your life. My family made it. But there are plenty of working class people who end up right in that nasty underclass because of it.

    And now, so long as I don’t get fired, I am proudly lower middle class! Wheeeeee :D

  682. #684 Walton, Janine's Hero
    March 10, 2010

    Not in the slightest ridiculous Walton. Anyone who supports the Tories supports elite privilege; and the elite will never give up their power if they think there is any way of hanging onto it.

    Well, in a sense, almost everyone is willing to tolerate “elite privilege” in some form. In virtually any kind of society, some people will garner certain advantages for themselves and their families; and their children will, in turn, grow up in conditions of greater unearned privilege than their peers. This is true whether a society is capitalist or not; do you think that the children of party officials in Cuba, say, grow up in the same conditions as the children of ordinary workers? Even if you eliminate the inheritance of actual wealth or property, there are still a number of intangible privileges – power, elite social connections, better education – which the elite in any society will pass on to their children.

    The only way to eliminate the perpetuation of privilege across generations would be to eliminate the family entirely, and raise all children in communal creches rather than in the home, therefore completely destroying heredity as a social institution. IIRC, Alexandra Kollontai advocated something like this in the early years of the Russian Bolshevik regime, but it was too radical even for Lenin, and the idea was very quickly dropped.

    So when you say that “anyone who supports the Tories supports elite privilege”, you are, in a sense, correct – but so too anyone who supports Labour, or the Liberal Democrats, or the Greens, or the Scottish National Party, “supports elite privilege” in this sense. If your statement is construed that broadly, it becomes more-or-less meaningless.

    FWIW, I do believe that inheritance tax, on estates of more than a certain value, is perfectly justified. Indeed, I’d support a rise in inheritance tax and a corresponding cut in income tax. While “unearned wealth” versus “earned wealth” is perhaps an overly simplistic dichotomy, it’s still true, by most measures, that earned income is more “deserved” than inherited wealth, and therefore it’s justifiable to take a higher proportion of the latter than the former.

  683. #685 Stephen Wells
    March 10, 2010

    I vote for buying all the opium that Afghanistan can produce and using it for medical opiates; including putting all heroin addicts on a medically-supervised, pharmaceutical-grade maintenance dosage.

    Afghanistan gets an economy, drug traffickers lose their product and their market simultaneously, crime rates drop.

    Now that’s a war on drugs that Sun Tzu could support.

  684. #686 Caine, Fleur du mal
    March 10, 2010

    aratina cage @ 681:

    At the beginning I also repeatedly administered a slap in the face, but always had a bad conscience about it,” [Georg] Ratzinger said, adding that he was happy when corporal punishment was made illegal in 1980.

    FFS. So, he felt bad about slapping the shit out of kids, but couldn’t stop until it was illegalized? Riiight. There’s not even a pretense to morality, ethics or compassion in that. Moral monsters specializing in making people’s lives hell.

  685. #687 Bride of Shrek OM
    March 10, 2010

    H All

    Just leaving for the airport for my flight to Melbourne for the GAC. It’s looking like a great programme and I’m sure there will be a more than a few of us reporting back on Monday.

    PZ should have arrived in Melbourne already so it would seem the Gathering has begun….There can be only one!

    See you Monday people, have fun!

  686. #688 aratina cage
    March 10, 2010

    Caine, Flowers of Evil, I know! It’s insane how they think they are above the law and that a simple “sorry” and a brisk flight across the border to some other unsuspecting community is all that any of them ever needed to do to make up for their crimes against children.

  687. #689 Janine, Mistress Of Foul Mouth Abuse, OM
    March 10, 2010

    Bye, (No Longer A)Bride! Have fun storming the castle!

    Just how much of our Oz brigade are going to be MIA? Will there be incriminating photos and videos?

    Walton, it is official. You are a smartass. Good on ya!

  688. #690 Caine, Fleur du mal
    March 10, 2010

    aratina cage, I was reading a story yesterday about yet another child molesting priest and how he escaped justice. Not a surprise in the least. What bothers me most is that they don’t even play lip service to the notion of morality. The church has long been a shelter to some of the worst corruption ever seen, and it’s hard to understand why they are still allowed to get away with the evils they perpetrate.

    They’ve certainly had their fangs blunted, but if any organization ever needed to be destroyed, it’s the catholic church. It just organized crime with colourful costumes.

  689. #691 PZ Myers
    March 10, 2010

    I am in Melbourne! And I don’t have time to start a fresh thread!

  690. #692 Pygmy Loris
    March 10, 2010

    Walton,

    I presume you wouldn’t actually advocate that, as it would be a very extreme position.

    I most certainly would. Inherited wealth is one of the greatest inequities of our society. It is completely inconsistent with any idea of equality of opportunity, meritocracy, or democracy. Also, I don’t feel this is rather extreme. Before the advent of agriculture, it was the norm.

  691. #693 Bride of Shrek OM
    March 10, 2010

    68 Pharyngulites at the dinner on Saturday night and an estimated 100 or so to turn up to Friday arvo drinks. Monumental effort to get it all organised but it’s all done now and nothign left for me to do but drink copious amounts of alcohol.

    ..must rnu for airport, poor form to miss the flight I think!

    Bye

  692. #694 aratina cage
    March 10, 2010

    Caine, agreed! (And I see that should be “Flower of Evil” not “Flowers…”.)

  693. #695 Pygmy Loris
    March 10, 2010

    To all Pharyngulites who get to be in Melbourne: Have a great time! I’ll be up here in the States being jealous.

  694. #696 Feynmaniac
    March 10, 2010

    The Commonwealth was, in many respects, one of the worst and most illiberal periods of British history

    Well, the British Empire took a very illiberal approach other people’s (aka, 1/4 of the globe) rights.

  695. #697 'Tis Himself, OM
    March 10, 2010

    I know some people still have a justified hatred for Cromwell.

    Hatred, yes, justified, not so much. However there are few people so devoted to hating as the Irish* and using long past events as justification for their hatred.

    As Michael Flanders explained in a bit of doggerel about the Irish:

    He blows up policemen or so I have heard,
    And blames it on Cromwell and William the Third.

    *The various folks in the Balkans do a pretty good job of hating each other.

  696. #698 Caine, Fleur du mal
    March 10, 2010

    PZ:

    I am in Melbourne!

    Yay! I hope your back is feeling okay.

    Bride of Shrek, OM:

    68 Pharyngulites at the dinner on Saturday night and an estimated 100 or so to turn up to Friday arvo drinks.

    Wow, it’s a horde! :D Sounds like great fun.

  697. #699 Walton, Janine's Hero
    March 10, 2010

    Also, I don’t feel this is rather extreme. Before the advent of agriculture, it was the norm.

    You being an anthropologist and all, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that you would take a very long-term view. :-)

    But I’m intrigued. What are the specifics of what you propose? Would you abolish the whole legal concept of inheritance (thus getting rid of wills and probate completely) and have all a person’s property vest in the state, as bona vacantia,* on his or her death? Or alternatively, would you simply have a 100% inheritance tax on all estates over a given value?

    I can understand your point, but I don’t think you’ll ever find much political support for this proposal. Like it or not, the idea that a person ought to be able to pass on wealth and property to his or her children is very firmly entrenched in Anglo-American society; I doubt that’s going to change in our lifetimes. But you’re the anthropologist, not me, so I don’t know how quickly such culturally-entrenched notions of familial economic relations can change.

    *(Bona vacantia is the legal term for property which has no owner. In England, such property goes by default to the Crown – i.e. to the state.)

  698. #700 'Tis Himself, OM
    March 10, 2010

    And I don’t have time to start a fresh thread!

    That’s what you want us to believe.

  699. #701 Feynmaniac
    March 10, 2010

    So when you say that “anyone who supports the Tories supports elite privilege”, you are, in a sense, correct – but so too anyone who supports Labour, or the Liberal Democrats, or the Greens, or the Scottish National Party, “supports elite privilege” in this sense. If your statement is construed that broadly, it becomes more-or-less meaningless.

    There are degrees to which someone can support the elite. In the US both the Republicans and Democrats support elites. However, the poor and middle class end up doing marginally better under the Democrats. Yeah, as long as there are humans there’s gonna be inequality, but we should at least make the effort to minimize it.

  700. #702 Feynmaniac
    March 10, 2010
    Hey Walton, do you think this opinion would change if her successor did a terrible job as a head of state?

    But in principle, yes. Most British people support the monarchy at present, as the Queen is very widely respected on a personal level; but if any future monarch were ever to, for example, abuse the position for partisan political purposes, it is highly likely that support for republicanism would become more widespread.

    So it’s possible in this system, where one inherits the title of head of state, someone totally fucked up (which frequently happens when you inbreed) can take the position, abuse their power and you hold that “it ain’t broke”?

  701. #703 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 10, 2010

    I guess the question now is how many posts before my computer at work decides to hack up a hairball with this thread. 1000 posts ought to do it.

  702. #704 Ichthyic
    March 10, 2010

    You might, of course, feel some bizarre sense of “national pride” in severing your links with Britain, but I would hope you don’t hate us that much. :-)

    the people who should hate being a part of the UK are the ones the UK completely sold out when they joined the EU…

    New Zealand.

    New trade deals the UK made with europe after union completely bypassed all the deals they had had with New Zealand goods for decades and decades.

    threw the NZ economy into the shitter single-handed, and it has never, and likely never will, recover to its former state.

    and STILL, there are plenty of British Loyalists here enough to interfere with NZ breaking away and making its own constitution.

    bloody irrational.

  703. #705 Lynna, OM
    March 10, 2010

    @677: Great Mr. Deity episode! Thanks for the link. Not only did Lucy refer to biologists that desecrate the host, but she also mentioned that mormons are universally homophobic. Mr. Deity replied that he could see them being homophobic and that it used to be cute, but not any more.

    Regarding transubstantiation: “You mean they’re literally eating his flesh and drinking his blood? It’s not symbolic? I thought it was symbolic. Boy! We’re going to need a lot more Jesus!”

  704. #706 Pygmy Loris
    March 10, 2010

    Walton,

    But I’m intrigued. What are the specifics of what you propose? Would you abolish the whole legal concept of inheritance (thus getting rid of wills and probate completely) and have all a person’s property vest in the state, as bona vacantia,* on his or her death? Or alternatively, would you simply have a 100% inheritance tax on all estates over a given value?

    I would probably simply propose a 100% tax on large estates, or perhaps on large inheritances. If you want to divide your $10 million between a whole bunch of inheritors, or give it to charity that should be allowed because it’s not contribuiting to the entrenchment of economic privilege. Inheritance of sentimental family heirlooms and such poses little problem to me, but I really feel it’s immoral to have inheritances large enough to support descendants indefinitely. This leads to established, hereditary aristocracies.

    I can understand your point, but I don’t think you’ll ever find much political support for this proposal. Like it or not, the idea that a person ought to be able to pass on wealth and property to his or her children is very firmly entrenched in Anglo-American society; I doubt that’s going to change in our lifetimes.

    That’s what makes it an ideal. The Grand Duchy of the Loris will be run in such a manner.:)

    But you’re the anthropologist, not me, so I don’t know how quickly such culturally-entrenched notions of familial economic relations can change.

    That’s a good question. Intense social upheaval can change cultures relatively quickly. The Industrial Revolution had a dramatic effect on the role of families in society, gender roles, geographical organization of society, etc. Sometimes, though, cultures just don’t change even when they’re clearly maladaptive. The Vikings in Iceland found this out the hard way.

    I do tend to take a long view of human history. For example, the (American) middle class is largely a product of changes in income structure during the last 150 years. Our current subsistence systems haven’t been around that long either. Agriculture only accounts for 5-10% of the 100,000 year history of Homo sapien sapiens. Prior to the development of agriculture, there simply wasn’t enough excess to have large inheritances, nor was there a way for our nomadic ancestors to transport such things. Inherited status and inherited wealth go hand in hand. I don’t think either of these things was a particularly good development.

    Agriculture that is intense enough to support large urban populations while not requiring huge rural populations to produce food stuffs is also a very, very recent development. Most of the things we take for granted on a day to day basis are a product of the reduction in the need for agricultural labor. Some of that reduction is only 40-50 years old. The mechanical cotton picker only came into heavy use in the 1960s. It did radically change the geographic structure of human communities in the American South. That’s really recent.

  705. #707 David Marjanovi?
    March 10, 2010

    In addition to attending a talk on paleogeography called “Dessine-moi les visages de la Terre” (Draw me the faces of the Earth), I finished an entire figure for a manuscript today :-) …so that the Thread grew by over 130 comments since I checked last time :-)

    (And it still hasn’t been closed, upon refreshing and over 40 more comments!)

    I even found myself listening to and enjoying this anti-war song last night. :-)

    That outstretched arm with fist reminds me of communism. Young Pioneers and stuff. <slightly open, smug grin>

    @David

    True Neutral

    All I know is my gut says maybe. You can’t trust those neutrals, with their heart full of neutrality.

    The article is still there (I fixed the link), but it doesn’t mention Wikipedia anymore. :-(

    Yep, but I think most paleoanthropologists have moved to regarding Neandertals as a unique species. There’s always a bunch of posters at the AAPA meetings about it though :)

    As usual it depends on the species concept. There are 147 out there (as of February 2009), pick yours…

    If by not much you mean “has become widely accepted,” then yes, not much has happened :) The few papers I’ve seen on BOU-VP-16/1 support the original publication. The cranium is just outside the range of variation for anatomically modern Homo sapiens.

    Ah, good to know, thanks. :-)

    Nonarchy = the rule of nine? If so, I suppose the US Supreme Court is a nonarchy.

    Walton… you just took a (lame) joke and improved on it.

    That’s a rare skill.

    Splitter!

    Lumper!

    hunting drunk bears in Russia

    :-D

    I’ve never lived in France and don’t have a deep enough grounding in contemporary French political culture to know whether the restoration of the monarchy would ever seriously work. But I don’t think it’s an inherently silly idea.

    Not only is it inherently silly, it’s utterly laughable.

    Indeed, if and when he becomes King, he will be expected to avoid becoming involved in controversy or forcing his beliefs on others, and will have to be entirely politically neutral when acting in his official capacity.

    But to what extent will that actually happen?

    (And what’s that about all those rumors that his son William might be crowned right away instead of him?)

    Jadehawk, I think you’re taking my metaphor a bit too literally. :-)

    She’s spot-on and could succeed John Stewart.

    Prehistoric Vero Beach carving may be Americas’ oldest artwork.

    If it’s genuine, and if that’s really a mastodon on it, that is fucking fascinating.

    Too bad the finder has to auction it because of his… wait for it… wait for it… waaaaaaaiiiit for it… medical expenses. He’s disabled and can’t work much.

    It added: “A number of secondary educational institutions in western countries distribute condoms, as do many schools in the US.”

    I conclude that “schools in the US” are not “secondary educational institutions” :-D

    Peele and Brodsky, who I referenced, argue that addiction has very little to do with the specific properties of chemical substances and everything to do with insecurity, anxiety, and lack of personal autonomy and purpose.

    That seems to differ a lot between the chemical substances in question ? alcohol being one that creates a lot of physical addiction very easily, more so than many “hard drugs”, some of which don’t seem to do that at all (I forgot which ones).

    But I haven’t read your reference.

    Maybe I should change my moniker to “Walton, Janine’s Hero.”

    I’m seriously disappointed that Janine hasn’t changed hers to “unfair maiden” yet!!!

    You’re not refuting the proposition that they got one thing right in 1649.

    Which I’d agree they did, even if they fumbled the implementation rather dramatically.

    Cromwell did say one good thing, though: “I beseech you in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken!”

    Incidentally, The Natural History Museum (formerly the British Museum (Natural History)) is still on Cromwell Road. That sort of history-is-good-in-general approach to street names is otherwise limited to Paris, I think.

    Now that’s a war on drugs that Sun Tzu could support.

    Indeed! As he wrote: “First win, then go to battle.”

    Wow, it’s a horde! :D

    :-)

    (Or rather ” :-( ” because I’m not there.)

  706. #708 Pygmy Loris
    March 10, 2010

    David,

    As usual it depends on the species concept. There are 147 out there (as of February 2009), pick yours…

    Thus you have articulated one of the many reasons I don’t like dealing with paleoanthropology. There are enough problems with species concepts among living organisms adding fossil species into the mix is just a pain :)

    Seriously, though, most of the texts I’ve read recently that give a specific name use Homo neandertalensis. A lot of us get around the species question by talking about anatomically modern Homo sapiens and Neandertals.

  707. #709 WowbaggerOM
    March 10, 2010

    Paul W wrote:

    Oh yeah, and once a year, on the anniversary of his ascension to the thrown, he’s brought in shackles to the ceremonial guillotine, and the blade drops to the point where the edge touches his neck, and actually nicks it so that it bleeds.
    Then that blood is used to write I SUCK DONKEY DICKS across his bare chest, and he’s led in a procession through Paris, in which he’s pelted with rotten tomatoes—real ones—and made to wear the smelly mess for the rest of the day, to underscore the point that hereditary aristocacy stinks.

    Extra! Extra! PZ and the Pharyngulistas are threatening people with execution by guillotine and forcing them to commit acts of bestiality – is this science? Read about it now in the special new ‘Our Loyal Pissants Take Things Completely Out Of Context’ page of The Intersection!

  708. #710 Carlie
    March 10, 2010

    strange gods before me – I just found out about Corey a couple of hours ago, and also had a huge crush on him (he’s right at my age). I’ll give you that hug if I can get one too.
    (He was the cute Corey; the other one was just too scruffy. And I loooooooved Lucas.)

  709. #711 Lynna, OM
    March 10, 2010

    And now, so long as I don’t get fired, I am proudly lower middle class! Wheeeeee :D

    Writer (author) living below the poverty line — that’s me. I’d be doing better if I had health care. I don’t mind just getting by. Roof over my head, running water, enough food — all luxuries depending on your point of view. I wouldn’t be able to travel to the San Rafael Swell to do the research for a story without my brother’s help. He’s taking his truck, paying for all the gas, etc. Of course, we camp out on the types of public land where no fees have to paid, we cook our own food, never stay in hotels or motels no matter how bad the weather — very cheap way to travel. Relative poverty can be a good thing when it forces you to experience the weather and the scenery with no filters, with no temporary escape to civilization.

  710. #712 strange gods before me ?
    March 10, 2010

    strange gods before me – I just found out about Corey a couple of hours ago, and also had a huge crush on him (he’s right at my age). I’ll give you that hug if I can get one too.

    Of course, Carlie! *hugs* I knew you had good taste. :)

  711. #713 David Marjanovi?
    March 10, 2010

    There are enough problems with species concepts among living organisms adding fossil species into the mix is just a pain :)

    That’s probably a large part of the reason why people avoid referring any new species to a genus of Mesozoic dinosaur (specifically including the Mesozoic birds) and name new genera instead. Indeed, sometimes they don’t even actually name genera, but just make up names that look like binominals and call them “new taxon” instead of “new genus & species”… completely worthless under the Code, but nobody ever talks about this. Maybe there’s omertà about it. :-)

    Seriously, though, most of the texts I’ve read recently that give a specific name use Homo neandertalensis.

    Yes, that seems to be a sort of general convention these days. :-)

  712. #714 windy
    March 10, 2010

    What is this “too scruffy” Carlie speaks of? I don’t understand.

    As long as we’re on the subject of death, Lolly Vegas died last week.

  713. #715 Rorschach
    March 10, 2010

    Janine @ 689,

    Will there be incriminating photos and videos?

    We’ll try our best…:-)
    But I guess during the convention we will have to be at our best behaviour, because I expect a flotilla of tone concerned media folks and xtians to be around and watch the evil atheists’ every step !

  714. #716 Pygmy Loris
    March 10, 2010

    In reference to the prior discussion on human variation, I found a photo of fetal rickets (Vitamin D deficiency).

    Here it is.

  715. #717 WowbaggerOM
    March 10, 2010

    But I guess during the convention we will have to be at our best behaviour, because I expect a flotilla of tone concerned media folks and xtians to be around and watch the evil atheists’ every step !

    We should put together some kind of betting pool to see how many – and how much- things said by those interviewed are taken out of context to ‘show’ how rude and disrespectul atheists are towards believers – when of course any honest person would report that it’s the beliefs being criticised, not necessarily those who hold them.

  716. #718 Bobber
    March 10, 2010

    The concept of class never seemed to come up in my home as I grew up, and I’m not sure if that was intentional on the part of my parents, or if they, too, bought into the “we’re all middle class” mythology. It was only many years later that I was able to look back and realize that I was a product of a working class home – dad was a barber, mom (who was an Italian immigrant with very little English language skills and no formal education past the 5th grade) worked in factories. We never had much extra – I mean, I thought everyone wore hand-me-downs, that spam was on everyone’s table, that everyone had to go to work at 15 in order to start saving money for college. I suppose that I never really took notice of my situation in relation to others because even though I wasn’t showered with luxuries, I certainly never wanted for the basics – a home (cramped as it was), heat in winter (though we did suffer with coal and kerosene during the worst of the fuel crisis of the 70s), and food (being the child of an Italian mother has its culinary advantages) – but I am now keenly aware, when I look back, as to how much I had to work, even as a teenager, in order to have a little extra for the arcade and the ninety-nine cent theater on the weekend.

    I sometimes wonder what “privilege” (in this context) might have felt like.

    Oh, and so it gets another mention, Strange Gods linked to Born Rich – which is an excellent film, and answered a few of my questions about that privileged life.

  717. #719 Lynna, OM
    March 10, 2010

    If it’s genuine, and if that’s really a mastodon on it, that is fucking fascinating.
    Too bad the finder has to auction it because of his… wait for it… wait for it… waaaaaaaiiiit for it… medical expenses. He’s disabled and can’t work much.

    Hmmm. Maybe I’d better take a closer look at my rock collection, which pretty much surrounds my house.

  718. #720 Kel, OM
    March 10, 2010

    But I guess during the convention we will have to be at our best behaviour

    pfft, like the only thing that’s going to hold us back from the raping and plundering (we’re vikings right?) is that the media could take such things out of context? Get out of here.

  719. #721 Jadehawk, OM
    March 10, 2010

    Writer (author)artist/designer living below the poverty line — that’s me. I’d be doing better if I had health care. I don’t mind just getting by. Roof over my head, running water, enough food — all luxuries depending on your point of view.

    *points to self*

  720. #722 Rorschach
    March 10, 2010

    I have already had to repeatedly pinch myself this morning when I was standing on my balcony overlooking the 8-lane Westgate Freeway, if I look to the right there is the Hilton Hotel, and I was like, PZ friggin Myers is over there…:-)

    Next thing you tell me there is a hot redhead on a plane on her way to meet me this arvo.Get out of here.

  721. #723 Kel, OM
    March 10, 2010

    I really wish I was that excited. At the moment I’m more concerned with what I’m going to do on Saturday night than I am that I’m going to hear a whole bunch of intellectual heroes of mine talk.

  722. #724 WowbaggerOM
    March 10, 2010

    I guess the biggest question is this: where are those of us at the dinner going to go when the drinks stop (10.30 IIRC)?

  723. #725 aratina cage
    March 10, 2010

    The endless thread is growing too quickly. Four of the monster’s subthreads now fill the “Top Posts” box. I’m afraid PZ is going to have to drag the brute out back and take an axe to it to stop it from taking over the blog.

  724. #726 Rorschach
    March 10, 2010

    where are those of us at the dinner going to go when the drinks stop (10.30 IIRC)?

    About 20 pubs and clubs that even I can spontaneously think of in a 200m radius from the CC, that’s not even counting the ones in the City proper…:-)

  725. #727 strange gods before me ?
    March 10, 2010

    Oh, and so it gets another mention, Strange Gods linked to Born Rich – which is an excellent film, and answered a few of my questions about that privileged life.

    I hadn’t remembered this until I started watching it again, but near the beginning there are two interviews which mention that they make a point of not talking about their wealth, because it makes people uncomfortable, and it’s “tacky.”

    Like I said, not talking about wealth is a matter of fashion, and Walton is a tremendous sucker if he thinks it’s an indicator that they don’t really think they’re better than us. Indeed, not talking about money is one of the ways they indicate that they’re better than us; it’s a shibboleth because only people who need more money need to talk about money.

  726. #728 WowbaggerOM
    March 10, 2010

    About 20 pubs and clubs that even I can spontaneously think of in a 200m radius from the CC, that’s not even counting the ones in the City proper…:-)

    I guess we just let those not going to the dinner find a place and we can show up there once we’re done. Would warning them that a drunken, enthusiastic swarm of godless-types are going to descend upon them like a school of hungry piraña be a good idea?

  727. #729 Bobber
    March 10, 2010

    …only people who need more money need to talk about money.

    Indeed, certainly within my family and circle of friends, money eventually would come into the conversation – when you count pennies and need to decide whether to fill up your gas tank today, or just leave it half-full so that you can buy a few extra loaves of bread from the Wonder Bread discount outlet… well, yeah, money comes up all the time. It still does. Of course, I’m still counting pennies, and so are my parents, and so is my sister… oh, if I had only started working at 13 instead of 15, I might be rolling in dough now! [/snark]

  728. #730 Kel, OM
    March 10, 2010

    I guess we just let those not going to the dinner find a place and we can show up there once we’re done.

    Sounds like a plan.

  729. #731 'Tis Himself, OM
    March 10, 2010

    …only people who need more money need to talk about money.

    I talk about money a fair bit of the time and I’m reasonably comfortable.

  730. #732 Ichthyic
    March 10, 2010

    ..only people who need more money need to talk about money.

    then that’s ALL i should be talking about, I guess.

    shall we discuss current usd->nzd currency exchange rates?

  731. #733 Ichthyic
    March 10, 2010

    PZ friggin Myers is over there…

    he’s much smaller in person.

    really.

    quite an unassuming guy, never leads the conversation, etc.

    be gentle with him!

  732. #734 Usagichan
    March 10, 2010

    Coming from (but no longer residing in)the UK, I don’t really agree with any of Walton’s more sophisticated arguments for the Monarchy. I find the perpetuation of privilege they represent frankly unpalatable, and excepting dear old Liz herself (the epitome of genteel blandness, at least in public)they seem a pretty unattractive bunch.

    The thing is, short of having no Head of State, I don’t see the alternatives as being very attractive either – Some of the criticism of the monarchy has been regarding expense – I wonder how much it costs to maintain a non-royal Head of State, let alone run the pre-requisite elections?

    From a purely practical perspective, I don’t see the executive power wielded by the elected Prime Minister in the UK as noticeably different from any of the various elected Heads of State globally.

    On the whole I am slightly puzzled as to why Countries that currently have the Queen as nominal Head of State would want to either add a political replacement that could lead to the unbalancing of established political institutions (unless said institutions needed unbalancing, in which case definitely dump the Windsors) or a Ceremonial replacement that would cost so much more. Maybe its something to do with ‘Patriotism’ (a concept I find hard to relate to – I dislike at least as much of the UK as I like, a proportion that seems to be applicable to most places and experiences – the accident of my birthplace seems somehow irrelevant).

    Or is having no Head of State a viable alternative? Could we do without a figurehead representing us? I wouldn’t get rid of the Royals to replace them with a President, but get rid of them and not replace them? Perhaps that’s the way to go.

  733. #735 Owlmirror
    March 10, 2010

    Speaking of monarchy…

    ?[Once I was the] King of Spain?

    (Incidentally, if you think that Prince Tampon is going to stop shooting his mouth off if he ever becomes King, you’re crazy.)

    I think he gets it from his father (and if anything, Charles is actually more discreet).

    I saw the film “The Queen”, and liked it, but noted that Prince Philip was rather rude. When I checked Wikipedia on him that night, I found that his character in the film was actually toned down — he’s infamous for racist and sexist (and a few other “-ists”) mouthing off at anyone and everyone, and a list of remarks was included.

    Wikipedia has gone through many edits since then, but still links to this and similar pages.

    An obvious comeback to his question “Aren’t most of you descended from pirates?” is “The same question could be asked of the royalty of any nation…. Your Grace

    But really now.

  734. #736 Ichthyic
    March 10, 2010

    Charles is actually more discreet

    maybe too much so?

    I hear tell when he visited NZ, NOBODY came to meet him.

    the expected crowds, were… absent.

    I think there was a group of protesters shouting about having a mobile breast exam vehicle moved, but that was about it.

  735. #737 Owlmirror
    March 10, 2010

    Anyone who thinks that “aristocrats are in fact genetically superior” needs to read up on Charles II of Spain.

    I’m just saying.

  736. #738 Ol'Greg
    March 10, 2010

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vuN5EmF0QiU&feature=related

    I like this song. I had never heard it before.

    Sorry, random I know.

  737. #739 WowbaggerOM
    March 10, 2010

    I hear tell when he visited NZ, NOBODY came to meet him.

    Why would anyone want to go to see Charles? Heck, I find the idea of going to airports to see famous people to be completely stupid – there’s no point; they’re not doing whatever it is they’re famous for, such as acting or playing sport or music or whatever – but Charles is a guy who does nothing and is nothing worth paying any attention beyond being the first child of a parent who happened to be a monarch.

    I don’t object to the redundant monarchy in principle; I just find having any interest in them (as people) to be one of the more ridiculous habits of terribly inane people.

  738. #740 Sven DiMilo
    March 10, 2010

    ha, delayed portcullis

    here we go

  739. #741 Ichthyic
    March 10, 2010

    Heck, I find the idea of going to airports to see famous people to be completely stupid

    Myself as well, yet I think I might have hesitated saying that to a Di fan, once upon a time…

    I rather like not having crowds stomp me into pavement.

  740. #742 Ol'Greg
    March 10, 2010

    Anyone who thinks that “aristocrats are in fact genetically superior” needs to read up on Charles II of Spain.

    I’m just saying.

    Oh that is just a sad sad story. Although it is nice to see some one correcting the story about his lisp affecting language.

    Long ago I wanted to become a linguist.

    Oh and then I noticed the person explaining the shift was the ever-popular David Marjanovi?.

    *sigh*

  741. #743 Sven DiMilo
    March 10, 2010
  742. #744 strange gods before me ?
    March 10, 2010
    …only people who need more money need to talk about money.

    I talk about money a fair bit of the time and I’m reasonably comfortable.

    But you don’t need to, you’re just gauche.

  743. #745 Lynna, OM
    March 10, 2010

    Jewelry and rock buyers are subjected to various claims about the beneficial effects of stones. Here?s one example:

    Botswana agate is sometimes called the change stone because of its mystical property of helping one handle change in a positive way…Relief from depression and/or grief is another metaphysical property of agate. …increases creativity… helpful in overcoming addictions and other compulsive behavior patterns…. It is also a stone of sensuality….can help rid the body of toxins, as well as help in the healing of broken bones.”

    And here’s another example:

    CALCITE: World teacher and crystal of spontaneity and joy. Calcite is found in a variety of colours, which are all derived from the colourless form. A powerful energy amplifier calcite releases electrical impulses when placed under pressure. Calcite is an evolving crystal of the new millennium.
         Calcites energies are multidirectional and any energy directed at it will return double to the sender, showing us that if we direct spontaneous love to someone, our openness ensures it will return double.
         Calcite is capable of disrupting and dissipating magnetic fields around electrical apparatus….Calcite is one of the best teaching crystals, helping us to remember who we are, and why we are here. In simple terms, calcite invites us to become childlike and experience spontaneous joy as a way to heal deep wounds. To get out of our logical thinking and into the heart space of just being, and experiencing the spontaneity of the many teachings calcite has for us in this new millennium.

    Well! Imagine that! My brother, Steve, and I thought we?d better test our plume agate and inform the buyers:

    Warning:
    Prudent Man and PrueHeart Plume Agate fine tunes one’s bullshit detector. It may drastically, and mystically, reduce your tolerance for bullshit.

    Now we wait to see if our bullshit about bullshit increases sales.

  744. #746 Lynna, OM
    March 11, 2010

    Will have to ask my brother Steve, but I think calcite is even more common than agate. I have a piece of perfectly clear calcite in my rock garden. This is why I?m so spontaneous, childlike, and stupid. I haven?t noticed any amplified energy, but no doubt I?m doin? it wrong. I have not directed energy directly at my chunk of calcite. If I did, I?d receive back double the energy. So, if you see me sitting, mesmerized, in my rock garden, staring at a piece of calcite, rescue me, because I might be about to explode with energy. Either that, or my mind is so open that my brains have fallen out.

  745. #747 strange gods before me ?
    March 11, 2010

    A powerful energy amplifier calcite releases electrical impulses when placed under pressure.

    I wonder if even this is bullshit. Results for piezoelectric calcite on google are all woo sites.

  746. #748 Sven DiMilo
    March 11, 2010
  747. #749 Ol'Greg
    March 11, 2010

    What’s up with all this Sun Ra!?

    I think I love you people.

  748. #750 Usagichan
    March 11, 2010

    But Lynna, you must have noticed they keep away tigers… very useful for keeping away the tigers, yer clear calcite. And attracting invisible intangible unicorns – your rock garden’s probably thick with invisible intangible unicorns…

  749. #751 Sven DiMilo