May 2005

2005 05 19

Do you read Bradford Plummer? Why not?

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2005 05 18
Attachments of any kind

Posted by in: Anecdotal

I walked over the Brooklyn Bridge yesterday with two friends. One friend noticed a sign posted on the Brooklyn side. Something like: “Attachments of any kind to the bridge are strictly prohibited by law, etc. etc. etc.” But it’s a lovely bridge, and that seems a bit much to ask.

Howls of outrage (2)

2005 05 17
O, it makes me so mad!

I wish I had more time to write about this here, and indeed to write a letter to the editor. However, just take a look at the conclusion the WaPo editorial writers draw after five or six paragraphs recounting the “Carnage in Iraq”:

Yet, as the insurgents increasingly go after Iraqi civilians, one thing has become clear: Theirs is not, as many people maintained before the Jan. 30 elections, a struggle against American “occupation.” It is a fight against a legitimate government trying to operate under the principle of self-rule — and trying for the most part, notwithstanding terrible provocations, to include every ethnic group. As Mr. Rumsfeld said, their only strategy is butchery. That doesn’t mean they are sure to lose; their barbarism can go a long way toward slowing the economic and political progress that Mr. Rumsfeld said is necessary. It does mean that the United States is right to help the Iraqis battle back.

Great! Proof positive that the resistance is resistance to “legitimate government”, not resistance toward a government chosen in blind elections, without the voice of a majority of the minority Sunnis, and which has yet to call for the removal of US troops despite poll after poll saying that the majority of Iraqis want it and despite its being a campaign promise by the current Iraqi political “leaders”. I am of course not advocating violence, but the idea that resorting to the targeting of innocents is somehow a move away from the ultimate goal of getting the US the hell out of here is sheer lunacy. The “insurgents” know where the country is vulnerable, and they’re looking to make a huge dent.

Finally, the WaPo writers make my point, even though they believe otherwise. The US will never allow a regime that is not made in its own image. This is perfectly clear from what Bremer et. al. has done, and what Iraqi political leaders have refused to do. And so resistance toward–and carnage in the hopes of destabilizing–the Iraqi government (i.e., the occupation’s Iraqi government) is indeed resistance toward “the economic and political progress that Mr. Rumsfeld said is necessary.” A government committed, for reasons of might over right, to the US’s vision of economic and political progress in Iraq is a government begging for resistance. Add to that the heavy fortification of the Green Zone, and you have a recipe for a general campaign of violence could appear only to the willfully blind as a campaign against the abstract concept of legitimacy.

Howls of outrage (7)

2005 05 16
Adapting Minds

Good golly, I wish I had time to read this book:

Adapting Minds:
Evolutionary Psychology and the Persistent Quest for Human Nature
David J. Buller

Was human nature designed by natural selection in the Pleistocene epoch? The dominant view in evolutionary psychology holds that it was — that our psychological adaptations were designed tens of thousands of years ago to solve problems faced by our hunter-gatherer ancestors. In this provocative and lively book, David Buller examines in detail the major claims of evolutionary psychology — the paradigm popularized by Steven Pinker in The Blank Slate and by David Buss in The Evolution of Desire — and rejects them all. This does not mean that we cannot apply evolutionary theory to human psychology, says Buller, but that the conventional wisdom in evolutionary psychology is misguided.

Evolutionary psychology employs a kind of reverse engineering to explain the evolved design of the mind, figuring out the adaptive problems our ancestors faced and then inferring the psychological adaptations that evolved to solve them. Evolutionary psychologists claim many discoveries based on this approach, including the evolutionary rationale for human mate preferences (that males prefer nubile females and females prefer high-status males) and “discriminative parental solicitude” (the idea that stepparents abuse their stepchildren at a higher rate than genetic parents abuse their biological children). In the carefully argued central chapters of Adapting Minds, Buller scrutinizes several of evolutionary psychology’s most highly publicized “discoveries.” Drawing on a wide range of empirical research, including his own large-scale study of child abuse, he shows that none is actually supported by the evidence.

Buller argues that our minds are not adapted to the Pleistocene, but, like the immune system, are continually adapting, over both evolutionary time and individual lifetimes. We must move beyond the reigning orthodoxy of evolutionary psychology to reach an accurate understanding of how human psychology is influenced by evolution. When we do, Buller claims, we will abandon not only the quest for human nature but the very idea of human nature itself.

Howls of outrage (5)

2005 05 15

Posted by in: Blegs

Since this space is being used for oh-so-useful things these days, I do feel bad asking this. But ask I shall. Does anyone else get Sunday, April 24’s news when going to this webpage? And if you don’t–i.e., if you get today’s news–do you know why my firefox browser keeps giving me yesterday’s yesterday’s yesterday’s…news? Thanks!

UPDATE: I guess all I had to do was refresh my browser. But this still should not have happened. I had deleted the cache and cookies several times since April, 24. Oh well.

Howls of outrage (4)

2005 05 14
Operation Mirrorball

Explanation here, piece below the fold.
Continue Reading »

A single voice crying in the wilderness (1)

2005 05 14

Posted by in: Anecdotal

I joined a gym here in Brooklyn today. I really can’t afford it, but in the last six months I’ve become a fitness fanatic, and in another way I can’t afford not to. The sign at the checkout counter read:

“Employees” only behind the counter.

Loved that.

The “employee” behind the counter seemed not unfriendly, in a gruff Brooklyn-meathead sort of way. After I had signed the paperwork and paid he said, “OK, you’re all set now, buddy.”

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2005 05 13
Jazz in NYC

Posted by in: Music

My lovely wife has a show tonight (Friday, May 13th) with 4inObjects:

Venue: The Friend’s Seminary (15 Rutherford Pl.) (Right around E. 16th and 3rd Ave in Manhattan)
Time: 7:30pm-9:30pm
Cover: $10.00

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2005 05 13

Posted by in: Language

It is vitally important that no one ever use the word “seemingly” again. Such an ugly, ugly word . . .

A single voice crying in the wilderness (1)

2005 05 12

Posted by in: Language

Two days in a row now, a stranger has called me “buddy.” It may be that my linguistic intuitions are a bit off on this. A lot of New Yorkers seem to use the word in a slightly less condescending and insulting sense than I’m used to. Still, it rankles.

Howls of outrage (4)

2005 05 11
Shorter Saletan

Shorter Saletan: The more creationists lie about their views and intentions, the more impressive I find them.

Howls of outrage (2)

2005 05 11
Moral clarity watch

I’m looking forward to seeing how the Bush administration deals with the case of Luis Posada Carriles.

Howls of outrage (3)

2005 05 09
Blogs have changed everything

At long last, let the silenced voices be heard.

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2005 05 08
Firefox Security Flaw

Posted by in: Software, tech-sci

A fairly serious security flaw has been found in Firefox. But there’s an easy fix, until they patch it: just go into Tools –> Options –> Web Features. Then make sure that “Allow websites to install software” is unchecked. It’s checked by default, which is extremely stupid, so you’ll probably need to do this.

I’m insanely busy now, so I won’t be posting much for at least a week.

Update: Oh yeah, and Mac-heads can wipe that silly smirk off their faces.

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2005 05 04
Weekend Music

Posted by in: Music

On Friday, my lovely wife has a show. On Saturday, there’s Tubapalooza. Details for both shows below the fold.
Continue Reading »

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