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Episode CCCVII: Flamboyant emergence

I’ve been neglecting you, readers! This has been a killer meeting in Orlando, with the schmoozing starting at 8am and then non-stop talks and then everything dribbling away into exhaustion somewhere north of 11pm. And the wireless sucks. Ophelia has been posting brief dispatches, but I’ve been buried so far.

I give my talk today, and then fly off with a long long travel day…and my flights got juggled about so I’m not even sure when I’m leaving yet. So I figure I better leave you with something good, so here it is: a moment of awesome transcendent beauty.

Squee, sir; I must say with great reverence, squee.

(Episode CCCVI: Why Sean Bean gotta die?.)

Comments

  1. says

    I still have this dream that the Tea Party Movement will lead to a split of the GOP, and the US will evolve into a three party system. A daydreamer can dream, right?

    Sorry, but it’s basically not going to happen without something like Instant Runoff Voting.

    Otherwise the most that happens is a couple decades of replacement, as when the Whig Party died and the Republican Party rose. If not for two very big hurdles, one could imagine the Libertarian Party rising and replacing the Republican Party in fairly short order. One hurdle is that libertarianism has been successfully contained by the Pauls; their followers see and emulate their loyalty to the Republican Party, dreaming of a day when they simply infect a majority with their mind virus.

    Another hurdle is that, unless the Free State Project (a takeover of New Hampshire) succeeds, there’s no region which is especially inclined toward libertarianism. Even if the FSP succeeds, I don’t know if that would be enough. A really successful third party apparently needs to be based in a region which has a distinct economy, such that there is a strong incentive for voters there to break with the national party representing other regions. But the nation today is so deeply interconnected, I just can’t imagine where such a thing could happen.

  2. Esteleth, Who is Totally Not a Dog or Ferret says

    I am all befuddled.
    It is a very rare occurrence for me to remember my dreams, but yet I did.
    Basically, I was a Harry Potter-esque character. I had been given (by Dumbledore, no less) a Evil Box of Evil™ that I had to do something or another with. So I set out doing so, then decided to go see Dumbledore and ask about my research protocols. So, I went to the church my parents attended when I was a child and knocked on the door of the pastor’s study. The door, opened by my third-grade teacher, led to Dumbledore’s office as seen in the movies. There he was, and we had a long chat about the growth conditions of Streptococcus and Cryptococcus. After a while, we got bored with this and decided to go down to the bar I hung out as an undergrad, where we did shots with Jesus. Jesus, a very sloppy drunk, spent the whole time ranting about how stupid Christians are and making passes at Margaret Fell. Margaret sat very primly on a barstool sipping Stella, telling Jesus, “thee is not right in thy head, Friend Yeshua,” and critiquing my knitting.

    WHAT. THE. FUCK.

    Something is wrong with my subconscious.

  3. theophontes, Hexanitroisowurtzitanverwendendes_Bärtierchen says

    Please do NOT post on Kent Hovind thread.

    That is quite a temptation. Almost irresistible.

    Update: The trap was sprung. We caught us a danielhaven:

    Daniel Haven 666

    Now that he has the mark of the beast, he has immediately become more coherent and a good sport. If only we can now coax him to the dark side with cookies and grog.

    Linky to The Beast.

  4. says

    Esteleth, I’d call Rush Limbaugh a fungal infection, but that would be an insult to our good friends the mushrooms (both the edible and the psychoactive kinds).

    Is there anything so horrible that we can compare the far right to it, without someone immediately stepping in to defend the object in question from the association? Clowns, fungus, insects… what the hell can we call these folks? Things That Should Not Be?

  5. cicely ("Intriguingly Odd") says

    My bad cholesterol is good, and my blood pressure is frickin’ awesome! Yay!!!! And The Husband likewise. Double Yay!!!!
    -

    I had thought this would be a reasonable place to come vent about that.

    And it is. If John doesn’t “get it”, I’m sure many of us do.
    -

    Purée sounds OK but we could call it Pâté.

    And serve it on Jeezits™!
    :D
    -

    WHAT. THE. FUCK.
    Something is wrong with my subconscious.

    Nonono, Esteleth! It simply knows the entertainment value of a good, surreal dream. Go with it!
    :)
    -

  6. Esteleth, Who is Totally Not a Dog or Ferret says

    Yes, cicely, I’m down with a bit of surreality. But why would Margaret Fell drink something as shitty as Stella?!

  7. says

    Fullmetal Alchemist

    After reading the first volume of it, it really captivated me (the first mange in some time to have done so), so I rather quickly read all 27 volumes.
    So my question was predicated on the background that I’ve read the manga already. But I think if I ever watch the anime, I’ll go with the second one then.

    Giliell, orientalism

    I did say I have to reserve judgement somewhat until I’ve read Hughart. However, the bits posted by Owlmirror did alienate me. “Ox Number Ten” is not a valid name in ancient China AFAIK, I even Googled for it, and nothing remotely similar came up.
    Also the linguistic joke about 10,000 as a number and as a surname. I’d like to see a believable sentence in Classical Chinese or at least be able to trust the author that he knows what he is talking about (I’ve studied Classical Chinese, though not as much as Latin, so I’m not saying just because I can’t think of a way to make this joke work it wouldn’t be possible). So the excerpt didn’t really give me a good impression on the author.

    Now this entire discussion is complicated for me because as someone of mixed extraction I wear “different hats” here.

    First off, I wouldn’t like any idealisation of the past to happen at all, because all it does is to lead to a wrong picture of history and romanticisation of the past which wasn’t so great after all. (See this recent blog post)
    This is why I prefer TV series like Cadfael or those that make it clear that they’re describing a myth like Merlin.

    Or would you say that Western writers should never make use of the myths, legends and tales of non-western people?
    How do you see movies like Hero or House of Flying Daggers in this context, that come from within those cultures but certainly are about as historically accurate as Kingdom of Heaven is about the Crusades?

    I think that Western writers should only make use of them if they really have a thorough understanding of them. Maybe Huggart actually does a good job, but the record of western writers making use of Far Eastern material speaks against him (the ghost of Fu Manchu looming over everything). (A good counter example is the Judge Dee series, which is written by a diplomat-scholar who really knew about Chinese culture)

    If a Chinese person does it, it’s less egregious than when a westerner does it. From a Chinese perspective, “mistreating” Chinese materials is an example of cultural imperialism, while this is not the case when a Chinese person does it. I personally would still not like any kind of idealisation, Chinese or non-Chinese (but certainly they would have more of a moral right to do it than a westerner).

    Hero dazzled me by its colours and imagery, I saw it much more as an artistic film. People have said it has a fascist message and idealises the past, which probably is true. So for me it was more colours than substance. I also think it is one of the movies that gave Zhang Yimou the reputation of a sell-out.

    House of Flying Daggers I remember even less (I had to watch the two movies for a class), but based on what I tried to remember and looked up on the Pffft, is based on Wuxia mythology. Wuxia is a huge literary genre, probably the most popular one in contemporary China. They’re ostensibly set in some mythical past (usually the Tang era), but usually introduce a lot of supernatural elements so it’s clearly more myth than reality. So I don’t think this is a problem.

    I’ve only seen one Chinese history series, and I don’t think it was that bad. It was called Dongfang Shuo and set in the Han era.

    Japanese TV also regularly produces historical dramas that are quite accurate (called Taiga drama, one notable one was about Sakamoto Ryôma, a far cry from that Samurai stuff that used to be the standard fare of Japanese TV).

    love moderately, third party

    I know the voting system will have to change. I’ve asked before and not gotten any answer: does the constitution actually prescribe a certain voting system? Because if that’s the case, it’s never gonna happen.

    Now in the UK the Lib Dems have also managed to become a third party despite the challenges posed to them by the voting system. Though maybe the UK does not gerrymander as much (UKans correct me if I’m wrong).

    My scenario, still unrealistic, was not so much about libertarians, but sth like this:

    Teabaggers lead to a split and create a batshit crazy right-wing party.
    Pushes the Republicans more to the centre.
    Which in turn pushes the Democrats to the left. Some conservative Dems join the centrist Republicans.

    But no, it’s not gonna happen.

  8. says

    I think that Western writers should only make use of them if they really have a thorough understanding of them. Maybe Huggart actually does a good job, but the record of western writers making use of Far Eastern material speaks against him (the ghost of Fu Manchu looming over everything). (A good counter example is the Judge Dee series, which is written by a diplomat-scholar who really knew about Chinese culture)

    What about building a new fantasy setting using Far Eastern Material and others as influences? *concerned over D&D campaign*

  9. carlie says

    Bill – I’d be quite tempted to obliquely refer to it in discussion, without coming right out and calling her on her hypocrisy. Something like “I’m looking at it from the view of the woman involved, who may be young, in high school even, scared, unable to take care of a baby, and who is facing having her whole life permanently changed, and I feel for her and I think it’s a strong and brave choice to take responsibility by having an abortion”, or the like. Basically, to bring up a hypothetical situation that’s almost exactly like hers was without saying it has anything to do with her, just to try and trigger something deep in her conscience. But that’s just me.

  10. says

    Ing,

    as long as you don’t call it China/Japan/Korea but by some fantasy name, I don’t think it’s a problem.
    Heck, even Andrew Ti from Yo, is this racist, seems to agree. Fantasy is usually not set in the real world.

  11. says

    (That said even in a fantasy setting you could get some racist undertones. I’ve forgotten the title but there is a series of fantasy novels where darkskinned people are clearly treated as evil/inferior.

    But that’s not what I meant by Orientalism anyway. While Fu Manchu was probably also a racist stereotype, most characterisations of the Far East by western writers are not necessarily racist, but romanticise and exotise the Far East just by getting things wrong and seeing everything through a western lens.

    I hope I’m making sense here.)

  12. Esteleth, Who is Totally Not a Dog or Ferret says

    Right, pelamun.
    I used to play Exalted, which is Asian-esque in its stylings and imagery. But (1) it not particular to any Asian culture or country, and (2) there are no references, oblique or otherwise, to Asia, Earth, or any country on Earth.
    Basically, it is as “Asian” as Forgotten Realms in D&D is “European.”

  13. says

    gah. exoticise.

    Muse

    That sounds great. I’d like to try and make it, but time and/or money could be a concern.

    What do I have to do to be in the loop? Do I need to create that Facebook account for Πέλα 문?

  14. says

    as long as you don’t call it China/Japan/Korea but by some fantasy name, I don’t think it’s a problem.

    It’s a fantasy empire that encompass most of what would be Asia on earth. The cultures are inspired by samurai movies, westerns, European folk lore, Asian folk lore, and layman’s understanding of some mythology…so it’s a big grab bag. The original game in the setting was actually a bizarre mashup by using a vaguely oriental inspired setting to have the players involved in a Western style abolitionist underground rail road organization.

  15. says

    I spent some time in the cathedral of American Linguistics, which is a 100+ million $ building designed by Gehry.

    And while it looked really unique (and appealed to my inner architecture aficionado), the linguists and information science people who actually had to work there were complaining about the obliqueness of the building (by which I mean nary a straight line was to be found inside). Apparently very impractical to work in.

  16. says

    That said even in a fantasy setting you could get some racist undertones. I’ve forgotten the title but there is a series of fantasy novels where darkskinned people are clearly treated as evil/inferior.

    Oh yeah we greatly avoided that. My games tend to reject the “Always Evil” for most races. Goblins in this setting for example are one of the most accepted non-human minorities in the Empire.

    But that’s not what I meant by Orientalism anyway. While Fu Manchu was probably also a racist stereotype, most characterisations of the Far East by western writers are not necessarily racist, but romanticise and exotise the Far East just by getting things wrong and seeing everything through a western lens.

    Yeah we avoided romanticizing…even though the culture was a huge mishmash the idea of the Samurai and Shogunesq classes was often portrayed as something bad actually. There were Aristocrats and Lords and Nobles that were nice, but the idea that they inherently had more legal rights than others and especially in the more remote regions were free to abuse their people if they wanted was a big part of the plot.

  17. Mattir says

    Greetings, Denizens of the Horde. No, I have not fallen off the planet, but I did have the week from hell back in January in which I had an avulsion on my 5th metatarsal (tendon pulled off about 1/2 inch of bone – not fun) and my laptop suffered computercide. Spouse got mad at his computer, threw it, and managed not only to cause no damage to his own laptop, but to shatter the LCD of mine. Which is why I now own a spiffy, if guilt inducing, ipad and got to watch SonSpawn advise Spouse about proper management of frustration feelings around expensive electronics. (He recommended going outside to split wood, or pulverizing a thrift store mug with a hammer.) The immobilization of the cast and the general middle-of-winter thing threw me into a bit of a depression recurrence, which I am now digging out of. I’m more conversant with ipad workings, my cast is off and I’m into serious physical therapy (did you know one can get lactic acid burn in the tiny muscles on the top of one’s foot?!), and it’s spring, with increased light levels.

    I’ll be at Reason Rally with the Spawns, and hosting one of the several Horde slumber parties that weekend…

    And Rhinebeck is only 7 months away!

    Hugs to everyone who needs them, congratulations to those who merit them, and friendly waves to everyone else.

  18. Esteleth, Who is Totally Not a Dog or Ferret says

    My critique of modern architecture (broadly defined) is that it seems that most architects lose sight of function. Like, a building is not a static thing that people go past and go “ooh” at. It is a place that people go in and out of, use, and inhabit. Over time, it will be modified.
    The campus center where I did my undergrad was a very pretty building of a modern style. The floor was also stone of a variety that got very slippery when wet. This is in an area where it rains a lot. Add steep staircases (also of the same stone), and you have a recipe for disaster. A year after it was built, the college hired someone to add traction strips into the stairs, so people would stop falling down them.
    The architect didn’t think to do this.

    I also get irritated at the tendency of many architects to ignore the environment of the building – both in the sense of the natural environment (climate, vegetation, etc) and in the sense of the neighborhood. I find a row of (say) Victorian houses with gables then suddenly a Gehry-esque house with glass and sharp edges rears up. The effect is jarring and unattractive, while that same building in a different neighborhood might look quite charming.

  19. says

    Pelamun:

    as long as you don’t call it China/Japan/Korea but by some fantasy name, I don’t think it’s a problem.
    Heck, even Andrew Ti from Yo, is this racist, seems to agree. Fantasy is usually not set in the real world. … That said even in a fantasy setting you could get some racist undertones.

    I’d say that an alternative-universe fantasy employing thinly veneered versions of actual countries could certainly be racist.

  20. Pteryxx says

    (On slaughterhouses and killing animals)

    Drive-by to pass this article along via BB. Account of working undercover in a slaughterhouse, with emphasis on how participants are distanced from the worst aspects of the work:

    Avi: Is anyone working in the slaughterhouse consciously aware of these strategies?

    Timothy: I don’t think anyone sat down and said, ‘Let’s design a slaughtering process that creates a maximal distance between each worker and the violence of killing and allows each worker to contribute without having to confront the violence directly.’ The division between clean and dirty side on the kill floor mentioned earlier, for example, is overtly motivated by a food-safety logic. The cattle come into the slaughterhouse caked in feces and vomit, and from a food-safety perspective the challenge is to remove the hides while minimizing the transfer of these contaminants to the flesh underneath. But what’s fascinating is that the effects of these organizations of space and labor are not just increased ‘efficiency’ or increased ‘food-safety’ but also the distancing and concealment of violent processes even from those participating directly in them. From a political point of view, from a point of view interested in understanding how relations of violent domination and exploitation are reproduced, it is precisely these effects that matter most.

    Source

  21. says

    Pelamun – right, but I was trying to draw a distinction between an entirely imaginary world and one based very much on the real world. Insofar as fantasy ever totally gets away from earth and its limitations… “high fantasy” is traditionally a proxy for medieval Europe, and of course, with big exceptions for magic, most fantastic realms obey the laws of earth-physics.

  22. says

    Yes,

    we’ve had the debate several times already regarding Lord of the Rings. I still remain unconvinced the depiction of the outside races is not racist, but I take under advisement that Tolkien was on record in his letters as a staunch anti-racist.

    What about Songs of Ice and Fire? It certainly fulfills your idea of high fantasy being a proxy for medieval Europe. Though I think the setting is sufficiently divorced from the real world in the series, I didn’t have the feeling that the eastern peoples were portrayed in a more negative light than the western ones, but YMMV.

    Ing, BTW, sounds like a great setting. It also speaks to the anti-monarchist in me..

  23. carlie says

    I also get irritated at the tendency of many architects to ignore the environment of the building – both in the sense of the natural environment (climate, vegetation, etc) and in the sense of the neighborhood.

    There are two buildings on my campus that each had to be retrofitted to add awnings over entrances after their first winter when it became clear that ice and snow shedding off of the roof from three stories up right over the doors was not a Good Design Idea. We typically get 100 inches or so of snow a year here – it’s not as if snow on the roof was a surprise. And the second building was built several years after the first, when they should have known better after the first experience.

    Mattir! Good to see you. Sorry the year’s been rotten so far. :(

  24. says

    I used to play Exalted, which is Asian-esque in its stylings and imagery. But (1) it not particular to any Asian culture or country, and (2) there are no references, oblique or otherwise, to Asia, Earth, or any country on Earth.
    Basically, it is as “Asian” as Forgotten Realms in D&D is “European.”

    Honestly, less so. Forgotten Realms tends to work with the european standin continent a lot more than the rest. The Dragonblooded Empire is a mishmash of Rome and China, Lookshy is Rome and Japan. Most of the materials seem to focus on the South and East, the former being

    Heck, even Andrew Ti from Yo, is this racist, seems to agree. Fantasy is usually not set in the real world.

    …This I don’t understand as letting anyone off the hook. You’re creating clear stand-ins based on another culture. What is the problem in one that isn’t replicated in the other?

    But that’s not what I meant by Orientalism anyway. While Fu Manchu was probably also a racist stereotype, most characterisations of the Far East by western writers are not necessarily racist, but romanticise and exotise the Far East just by getting things wrong and seeing everything through a western lens.

    They get everything about the west wrong too, I would have to point out. The only nerd I know who actually knows medieval european history (So frequently used as the base to make a more romanticized RPG setting) is my girlfriend. Everyone who tries gets critical facts wrong, on such massive scales, as to be comical.

    I’m interested to do things right myself, but I must admit, if a romanticized version of history isn’t okay, even when clearly marked as such, I’m at a loss on how to use any fantasy setting that isn’t completely original (Which seems.. difficult), or taking place in white history/land.

  25. says

    ruteekatreya,

    Fantasy is not history. Myth is not history. But something marked as fantasy yet still employing the name China might just be an exercise in word games (but as I said I reserve judgement until I’ve read the book).

    Bottom line is: western culture is the dominant global culture. It’s not so much about what western writers get wrong about western culture (which is their own anyways), but what they get wrong about non-western culture. In a sense, it wouldn’t even be about non-western writers getting stuff wrong about western culture, as it might be a reflection upon how their own culture is exposed to the dominant western one (Fullmetal Alchemist, why not naming anything after real places, is clearly set in a western setting, but it is evident as a Japanese take on it).

    But I’m bewildered by your “They get everything about the west wrong too” comment. There are plenty of western writers who can get their history right, I’ve listed some examples in one of my earlier posts.

  26. Weed Monkey says

    *runs tongue across teeth repeatedly*

    I had my teeth cleaned of calculus yesterday. It feels really nice.

    The nurse who did the cleaning also told me there are a few cavities that need attention, but as long as I’m not in pain I’m on the waiting list that is 19 months long.

  27. says

    Pelamun, I haven’t read or watched GRRM’s work, so I can’t comment on it. I agree with you about Tolkien: Whatever his intent, he was blind to the racist undertones in his work. Which is not surprising, given his place in society and the time he lived in.

    On the topic of writing other cultures, has anyone else here ever read the essay “I Didn’t Dream of Dragons”? I googled to see if it’s ever been mentioned on FTB or SB before. Doesn’t seem so.

  28. says

    Bottom line is: western culture is the dominant global culture. It’s not so much about what western writers get wrong about western culture (which is their own anyways), but what they get wrong about non-western culture.

    Here’s why I’m having trouble here, I think: I basically take it as a given that anyone making stuff about or based on the past will get it wrong, either due to ignorance or shaving stuff off for plot. What’s the problem with doing this?

    But I’m bewildered by your “They get everything about the west wrong too” comment. There are plenty of western writers who can get their history right, I’ve listed some examples in one of my earlier posts.

    I was thinking of RPGs, specifically, wherein they don’t, and I was unclear.

  29. says

    Awright! Toastmasters Meeting today, totally nailed it, except I forgot the first part of the briefing mantra:

    Tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them.

    Ah well, little thing to work on.

    Ooh, racism in fantasy!

    I avoid that little problem easily. No race is inherently evil or bad. There is racism towards Freeworlders (dark skinned people,) the Sem (animal-human hybrids,) and the Nün elves (at least from the point of view of the high elves.) There are many different races in the world – the obviously Scandinavians of Tavsere, the more Anglo-Saxons of Moore, the Baltics of Wivverin, and the Arabs/Africans of the Freeworld. So we have a broad selection of human races.

    Elves come in dark-skinned, dark-haired versions (Nün,) and light-skinned, light-haired versions (High.) Orcs are various browns, with dark hair. Tallis are mostly green or bluish-green with dark hair. Sem… look like animals with human characteristics or humans with animal characteristics – so, see Humans above – except with cat ears. Gnollen are little short doggy people who I want to hug and pet!!! And lastly the two ogre races, the actual ogres – 7 foot tall, dark skinned, horned, dark haired humans – and the Mesan – slender, gold-eyed, white-haired, dark-skinned humans (so yes, kind of like that race from Dragon’s Age, but I made them up twelve years ago!)

    No racism, no one’s worse than anyone else, no one’s mean or evil except the bad people.

  30. Muse says

    @Ms. Daisy Cutter

    On the topic of writing other cultures, has anyone else here ever read the essay “I Didn’t Dream of Dragons”?

    Yep – I’ve read it. I think it’s a damn fine essay.

  31. cicely ("Intriguingly Odd") says

    Mattir!!!
    *hugs/chocolate/booze*
    I hope your year improves from here on in.
    -

  32. Moggie says

    All those differential equations stuck under your gums must have hurt.

    What a derivative comment!

  33. carlie says

    Come on people – is all this calculus talk really integral to the discussion at hand?

  34. Mattir says

    For anyone who wants to experience de Botton when he’s just being his odd writerly self and not talking about religion for atheists, try The Architecture of Happiness. He has a style that I enjoy, but is idiosyncratic and strange – not everyone will like it, and it’ll make some people want to throw the book across the room. Sort of like sea urchin sushi, which I also adore.

    Anyway, TAOH deals with the art versus liveability issue at length, as well as the issue of whether buildings fit into their surroundings – great example of a Tudor style resort built in rural Japan… (For the record, I’m enjoying RFA, but think that it’s definitely not the book of his that I would start with – Consolations of Philosophy (totally non-religious) and Art of Travel (also non-religious) would be better.)

    Question about Tolkien – from what I’ve read, LOTR was an effort to imagine what the mythology of northern European tribes would have been like if the Christians hadn’t been so keen on destroying all the manuscripts they could get their hands on. From that perspective, I don’t find it racist – it’s a thought exercise. Sure, the mythology itself would have had racist elements, but so would every other mythology of the time. Also, the “always evil” races were derived from tortured and manipulated members of “sometimes evil sometimes not” races – the southern peoples were subjegated by Mordor, not enthusiastic supporters (IIRC).

    If anyone wants an example of the ugliness of fantasy world racism, I think the best example is C S Lewis’ Last Battle rant about the wicked dark people of the south. Even as a 9 year old, I thought it was revolting.

  35. says

    Ms. Daisy Cutter,

    Thanks for the link to the essay. I hadn’t read it yet, it’s really insightful.

    As a mixed person, I’ve always had several hats. So on the one hand I can of course identify with the western culture, it’s part of my heritage too, and I spent most of my life within it, though of course exposed to non-western influences. So of course I don’t share the same experience as the essay writer.

    But at the same time, I’ve experienced the exoticisation of my Far Eastern heritage as well. And even if I could identify more with western culture, I of course also noticed the relative absence of accurate descriptions of my “other heritage” from most works in western culture.

    ruteekatreya,

    Here’s why I’m having trouble here, I think: I basically take it as a given that anyone making stuff about or based on the past will get it wrong, either due to ignorance or shaving stuff off for plot. What’s the problem with doing this?

    Yes, there is a problem. I personally expect that historical fiction portrays the past accurately. I’m not talking about deviation from historical facts for dramaturgical purposes.

    For instance, in the fine HBO series Rome, two women are conflated into one for the character of Attia. Also, not much was known about this person, and dramaturgical liberties have been taken. But I expect the series to get the setting right, to depict the way how Roman society worked right, and I think here the series does a good job (and my closest friends are Latin teachers, they all have the series on DVD).

    I was thinking of RPGs, specifically, wherein they don’t, and I was unclear.

    That wasn’t clear. Well, I have only played Japanese RPGs (and one Korean one recently) on the S-NES, and they were all set in fictional worlds, with a mishmash of European and Asian cultural settings. I think some FF games had a satirical version of Japan, with this weird Samurai village, but that’s a self-parody.

    What are big RPGs set in historical settings? I only know strategy games, like Super-Nobunaga or various ones about the Three Kingdom period in China, but with those I don’t see any problem.

  36. says

    Ing, BTW, sounds like a great setting. It also speaks to the anti-monarchist in me..

    Thank you. The players sure seemed to enjoy it. It wasn’t even explicitly anti-monarchist though (I let the players make their own decisions on the politics and how if at all they wanted to push it). In fact the Emperor at the time of the first game was probably one of the best, ethically with a firm LG alignment…he had decreed limited reforms to give some degree of wellfare to the slave race of the campaign (which were ignored more and more the further away from the capital you got). He was sympathetic to the abolitionist cause for intellectual reasons but for a supreme executive monarch had very limited power as he had to contend with the 8 major noble families and walk a narrow political line. He actually was the person secretly funding the abolitionist group the players were in (which they sadly did not learn until they were tricked into aiding in his assassination).

    The racism is more of a Discworld “Species are the most notable difference and thus have the bigotry priority”. There are regional prejudices with humans and other species but those tend to be dwarfed by the idea that you stand with your species no matter how much you may think those southerners are clueless farming bumpkins, or the northerners are rebellious frigid trouble makers, etc. The main bit of racism came from a) the Empire being a human supremacist one that at best tolerated the “demon” races as second class citizens and at worst labeled them as animals free to be hunted and b) The Kyff (yes the name is a Futurama nod) which were an artificially created race that had been made and bred to be a slave race for the empire. Ironically, the justification at the time was that it was progressive because it lessened the burden of the peasant humans.

    The second game going on now takes place some 500+ years later with the actions of the first game moving it towards a more democratic government and one friendlier to non-humans.

    The religion system we came up with was very fun to. It is a setting that ultimately has no after life. Eventually all spirits release their grip on reality and slide into Mu(Nothingness). Spirits can hold on as ghosts or become nature/elemental for a brief time but eventually everything dies. The Gods themselves are immortal yet moral. Gods are made up of Geniuses that are like the essence and power of the god. The Geniuses themselves need a spirit to act like a host and they join to form an incarnation. Eventually every Incarnation will grow tired and prepare to die so they’ll find someone else they can pass the Genus onto so they’re free to die. Most Gods can be fully killed if you can kill the mortal body without a way for it’s Genus to jump to a new body.

  37. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Rev – is it for fat girls, or to make girls fat?

    I’m still trying to figure out wtf the point of that name is.

  38. ChasCPeterson says

    me, I’m trying to figure out why the Rev was running the search string “fat girl sleep”

  39. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    me, I’m trying to figure out why the Rev was running the search string “fat girl sleep”

    Sometimes you learn things from twitter you didn’t want to know

  40. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    If anyone should wander into their local purveyor of adult spirits and finds a bottle of Pappy van Winkle Bourbon of any age statement, I will pay you handsomely for it.

  41. Esteleth, Who is Totally Not a Dog or Ferret says

    Mattir,

    from what I’ve read, LOTR was an effort to imagine what the mythology of northern European tribes would have been like if the Christians hadn’t been so keen on destroying all the manuscripts they could get their hands on.

    Not exactly. LotR (and its companion books) was supposed to be the mythology of the English, to replace what got erased by the Norman conquest of 1066. Tolkien was a linguist and historian of pre-medieval Europe, so he studied myth and legend. IIRC, he was super-bothered by the fact that what most people think of as “English mythology” is actually a derivation of Norse (like Beowulf) or Norman French import (like 90% of the King Arthur cycle). This lack can be mostly attributed to the concerted effort the Normans made in the years post-conquest to stamp out everything that was English qua English. Most of what survived (mythologically, culturally, linguistically, legally, etc.) is an English/Norman mishmash. The surviving near-intact myths that are British qua British (i.e. not Norman) are either Scottish or Welsh, which is all well and good, but to Tolkien’s mind, this further emphasized the lack of an English story.
    LotR is stylistically similar to the myths of other Northern and Western European cultures, because Tolkien did that deliberately. Cultures do not evolve myth cycles in isolation from each other, after all.
    WRT the racism in the books, yes, it is totally there. Tolkien himself acknowledged this. In his personal life, he was anti-racist (read his totally BAMF-worthy letter to Joseph Goebbels, for example), and he did acknowledge that some of the characterization of the Bad Guys™ in his writings were racist. He also admitted to being uncomfortable about this, but basically said that he did his best to not go overboard about it and also slip in multiple references to how, while they were Bad Guys™, they were still people (see, for example, Sam’s pondering over the dead Haradrim soldier in The Two Towers – this speech was given to Faramir in the movie).

    Incidentally, I totally agree with you WRT Lewis. I loved the Narnia books as a kid. Somehow or another, the racism in The Horse and His Boy went over my head (or was just stamped down by how badass I found Aravis), but The Last Battle made me sick. It’s horrid.

  42. says

    Yes, there is a problem. I personally expect that historical fiction portrays the past accurately.

    I don’t. I’m probably a bad historian for it. But simultaneously…

    What are big RPGs set in historical settings

    I think when you say this, you are drawing a line between romanticized versions of a culture that aren’t actual history, and actual history. It’s becoming apparent to me that this is considered a major difference by others, so there’s something of a disconnect in view point here. Sorry!

  43. says

    I think when you say this, you are drawing a line between romanticized versions of a culture that aren’t actual history, and actual history. It’s becoming apparent to me that this is considered a major difference by others, so there’s something of a disconnect in view point here. Sorry!

    Part of the problem is that you didn’t really specify what RPG you meant, so you just left me to do some guesswork here.

    So instead of me trying to guess again, please tell me precisely what you mean by:

    - romanticized versions of a culture that aren’t actual history
    - actual history

  44. says

    Talking about mortality of immortal beings, does anyone understand where demons go in Supernatural after they really truly die? I first thought Purgatory might be it, but I don’t think the numbers add up. Also I think Purgatory was defined as the place where the souls of the vampires and shape-shifters go.

  45. says

    Pelamun, I think you should try reading some Hughart to get the idea. I think I shall reread them soon, too. They are beautifully written, gentle and wry.

    I do suspect that the trilogy might suffer from Orientalism. It was written in the 80s, and when I read it I was less likely to notice the subtler kinds of racism. Orientalism/exoticising still seems to me to be on the relatively low-harm end of racism; it’s othering but also it’s in a positive way. Like the “Asians are good at maths” stereotype, annoying for the recipient, but not exactly a bad thing to be accused of. So it’s harder to see, unless you’re attuned to it.

    But I do like the idea of a derivative fantasy mythology that’s not based on Europe. And the line between appreciation and appropriation is a pretty complex and wiggly one. Interpreting another culture for a western audience – yes, please. Patronising and outright stealing, no thanks. Tricky.

  46. Don Quijote says

    I haven’t read all of this TET so I’m sorry if you have already covered this. In view of the stance of many Republican politicians and pro-life organizations in the US, how come nobody seems to be screaming about the death of a 2-week old baby in Brooklyn?
    Apparently this baby died of Type 1 herps after undergoing the ritual of metzitzah b’peh by a mohel. The report says that the authorities are investigating this case with the help of the local community.
    It is obvious that the parents of this unfortunate infant and the community know exactly who the culprit is but they are not saying.
    So, it is immoral to abort a few cells from a woman’s body but ok to kill a baby if it is on religious grounds.
    I don’t know what the law is in the US but these parents and the community should be charged with being accessories before the fact and or perverting the course of justice.
    Mind you, from what I read, the NYC police dept. are probably more interested in pepper spraying innocent people than investigating this, after all, it is a religious tradition.

  47. changeable moniker says

    is all this calculus talk really integral to the discussion

    Only partially.

    A really successful third party apparently needs to be based in a region which has a distinct economy, such that there is a strong incentive for voters there to break with the national party representing other regions. But the nation today is so deeply interconnected, I just can’t imagine where such a thing could happen.

    Oil. Texas. Just saying.

    Please do NOT post on Kent Hovind thread.

    Too late! (Both senses.)

    you ought to have to type [your passphrase] in 10 times on initial setting, followed by a once weekly email reminding you to go type it in another 10 times. But there is no easy way out.

    Two-factor authentication?

    What we need is science-based obestetrics that treats women as capable agents and not as necessary evils. We don’t need naturalistic “hands-off” woo that sugarcoats pregnancy and birth as an “ancient, tested system”.

    I’m not sure if I’ve said this before. I’ve definitely typed it but I’m not sure I hit post. If it weren’t for modern obstetrics, I’d be missing two kids and a Mrs. (Given it was #2 who came out normally, that means three kids and a Mrs.)

  48. onion girl, OM; social workers do it with paperwork says

    We’re at almost $500 for PZ’s birthday; if you haven’t yet, go here: http://tinyurl.com/pzbday to play. :)

    Daisy Cutter, I’m sorry, I just caught your note about Planned Parenthood, and you’re totally right. I should have added it, but my plan to keep adding new sites to the list failed due to the ongoing work crazy.

    I can actually see light at the end of the tunnel though; hopefully I should be back to a completely regular work schedule by April, and maybe be able to get back to reading/posting regularly.

    Email is still the best way to reach me, because I’m only popping in and out of Pharyngula.

  49. says

    Dhorvath (@496):

    We’re all good. I didn’t mean for my response to you to seem confrontational; that it did was no doubt spillover mood from Other Stuff®.

    ***
    carlie:

    If I did that, she’d probably out herself accidentally: IIRC from our shared youth, she’s not good at talking in code in front of Unknowing Others™.

    ***
    Weed Monkey:

    Everybody has already beaten me to it, but…

    I had my teeth cleaned of calculus yesterday. It feels really nice.

    I wish I could get the damn trigonometry off of mine! ;^)

  50. says

    Regarding Wuxia in 509

    Wuxia is a huge literary genre, probably the most popular one in contemporary China. They’re ostensibly set in some mythical past (usually the Tang era), but usually introduce a lot of supernatural elements so it’s clearly more myth than reality. So I don’t think this is a problem.

    I do need to study Wuxia more so I’d like to say my views might change on it.

    Some of it may indeed fall under the rubric of Chinese romanticisation of the past. If it’s become part of the literary canon like Romance of the Three Kingdoms or Water Margin, then these are works worth studying for their cultural impact alone, but I’m not so sure about the contemporary Wuxia novels, like the hugely popular ones by Jin Yong. It’s been on my list for quite some time.

    Alethea

    Certainly, I’ll put on my list.
    Now, since I’m bicultural, I can’t fully appreciate how a Far Eastern person would see these positive types of stereotypisation. I think though that any incorrect characterisation of your culture can lead to a sense of alienation and cultural expropriation. I’ll discuss this though further with some of my friends from Taiwan.

  51. Weed Monkey says

    Sorry, non English-speaker here. :P

    I browsed the Pfft for a word to describe that gunk that eventually gets deposited on one’s teeth, and found ‘calculus’, which seems to have been hilariously wrong. What would be the right word?

  52. SallyStrange: bottom-feeding, work-shy peasant says

    So I just got this in my email inbox…

    Dear Pro-family American,

    The Radical Homosexuals infiltrating the United States Congress have a plan:

    Indoctrinate an entire generation of American children with pro-homosexual propaganda and eliminate traditional values from American society.

    Their ultimate dream is to create a new America based on sexual promiscuity in which the values you and I cherish are long forgotten.

    I hate to admit it, but if they pass the deceptively named “Student Non-Discrimination Act,” (H.R. 998 & S. 555) that’s exactly what they’ll do.

    Better named the “Homosexual Classrooms Act,” its chief advocate in Congress is Rep. Jared Polis, himself an open homosexual and radical activist.

    And it’s dangerously close to becoming the law of the land.

    H.R. 998 already has 156 co-sponsors in the House!

    And S. 555 already has 37 co-sponsors in the Senate!

    That’s why I need you to act quickly — right away — to protect our nation’s youth.

    So I guess I’ll be calling my Congressional rep to urge him to support the bills. A country devoted to sexual promiscuity strikes me as a damn sight better than one based on the morals that lead people to oppose anti-bullying bills.

  53. says

    @ SallyStrange

    How did those people get your email address?

    “Homosexual Classrooms Act”

    Doesn’t sound too bad to me. I might have to email my own congressman and tell him to support the bill (although, he’s a conservative douche, so I may be wasting my time).

  54. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    So I wonder if all the hipsters will start supporting Pat Robertson now that he’s come out pro legalizing pot and just hand wave or ignore his other totally disgusting bullshit?

    It worked for Ron Paul

  55. carlie says

    I’m a bit leery of the source, but according to the New York Daily News, that Sears shirt was available in children’s sizes until yesterday, along with a children’s shirt reading “don’t make me kick you in the fallopian tubes” and several other lovely sayings. Sears claims it was selling for third-party marketers and had nothing to do with it.

  56. says

    Part of the problem is that you didn’t really specify what RPG you meant, so you just left me to do some guesswork here.

    So instead of me trying to guess again, please tell me precisely what you mean by:

    - romanticized versions of a culture that aren’t actual history

    Making a setting wherein a culture or set of cultures is used as a template for the setting, without heavily importing the real world. Ex: Rokugan (Legend of the Five Rings; based incredibly heavily on Japan), Filgaia (Wild ARMs; based heavily on the USian Wild West myths, and I know I’m mixing Console RPGs with tabletop here)

    - actual history

    Trying to use, you know, the real world and actual historical events (Accurately portrayed for the most part, which you referred to earlier with the fiction you referenced). I can’t say I’ve ever seen an RPG do this, though. World of Darkness ends up more a hollywood version of history, f’rex.

    I can’t really rely on my own experience for this. I can see obvious problems that could appear, such as treating other cultures as some unknowable other full of mystical knowledge waiting to be taught, but I’m having trouble trying to tell whether that’s what you mean by ‘wrong’ or not; obviously that level of wrong is avoidable, but if, for instance, you mean “No no, Shen Zhou (Legends of the Wulin, based on Chinese Wuxia)’s portrayal of bureacratic structure is entirely wrong”, I’m not sure what to make of it. I mean, I can sympathize, because it’s bad history, and I can think of dozens of similar examples (Like European feudalism not really being a thing, or how people think everyone had the English system of titled nobility, or how nobody knows what an elective king is…), but would it be appropriation to get that kind of detail wrong?

    I must be explaining this poorly as hell =.=

  57. says

    What do my fellow bloggers use to check their blog stats ? I have 3 stats tools in use, and all 3 give me completely different numbers, and I really dont know what to believe. Anyone with any hints or tips ?

  58. says

    For example, say for the last 24 hours, if statcounter gives me the number of pageviews as X, then netstat gives me currently X+420, and google analytics gives me X+1735. It’s not even ballpark.

  59. says

    StarStuff,

    the wordpress.com counter seemed alright, and I never compared it with other tools. But it’s not included in wordpress.org software, so I had to find my own when I changed over. And now it’s become a random number generating affair, by the looks of it.
    (that was meant to be newstat in my 585, not netstat)

  60. SallyStrange: bottom-feeding, work-shy peasant says

    How did those people get your email address?

    I think it was that funky survey PZ linked to a while ago…

  61. Rey Fox says

    I think it was that funky survey PZ linked to a while ago…

    Delgaudio? Yeah, that had quite the aroma.

  62. says

    pelamun,

    does the constitution actually prescribe a certain voting system?

    No.*

    *Sort of, for the President. It appears to specify that the Electoral College are the first round of a two-round system, and the Congress shall be the second round if necessary. But I can read a backdoor — while this is unlikely to be taken up legislatively, it would be constitutionally permissible — that each state’s Electors could do IRV among themselves and then transmit those results to DC where they’d then enter the two-round system.

    Constitutionally, IRV could be used for every other election in the nation, including the popular vote for the President. And the Electoral College is widely despised; I expect to see it gone in three decades.

    Now in the UK the Lib Dems have also managed to become a third party despite the challenges posed to them by the voting system.

    They also have regional strongholds.

    Though maybe the UK does not gerrymander as much (UKans correct me if I’m wrong).

    Redistricting is performed by Boundary Commissions, though there are accusations of gerrymandering.

    Teabaggers lead to a split and create a batshit crazy right-wing party.

    I think you mean possessed by demons.

    I’m relieved that you know a split won’t happen. These can be dangerous temptations when they start to sound convincing, these fantasies of the enemy’s imminent self-destruction.

  63. A. R says

    Does anyone on TET have experience producing elderflower cordial? I’m due to have a large quantity of elderflowers available in a few months and I think a cordial would be a great way to use them.

  64. Sili says

    I love elderflowers. I need to make a batch this year, since I’m running low.

    It’s really easy in my experience, but perhaps I’m doing it wrong.

  65. cicely ("Intriguingly Odd") says

    Does anyone on TET have experience producing elderflower cordial?

    I don’t, but this recipe looks pretty straightforward.
    -

  66. Sili says

    Bill Dauphin, avec fromage
    7 March 2012 at 6:15 pm

    So let me get this straight: They want to give away breast enlargement to a woman… but not to a woman who might actually have a medical need for it? Did they also exclude breast cancer survivors?

    Of course not! They’re not monsters.

    Those women just weren’t hot enough to win.

  67. A. R says

    I’m leaning towards this recipe from the Pfft: “The flowerheads are best collected fresh and new when the tiny buds have just opened and come to bloom before the fragrance is tainted with bitterness. The cordial is made by steeping the elderflower heads in a concentrated sugar solution so the flavour is infused into the syrup. The flowers are then removed and a source of citric acid and lemon juice is added to help preserve the cordial and add tartness. The mixture is then covered and left to infuse before being strained to release as much juice as possible. For drinking the cordial is typically diluted with either water or sparkling water though tonic, soda or gin are also used.”

  68. The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa) says

    speaking of which, my first ‘proper’ attempt at mead is nearing completion, or at least the stage of bottling it and letting it ‘age’ for a while

    I’m very proud of myself for resisting the temptation to ‘taste test’ it all to death.

  69. says

    StarStuff and Pelamun: If you want to read some truly blistering commentary on KONY 2012, I recommend this post.

    Russell’s online bio makes me think that blogger was too kind to him.

    Sally, quoting some wingnuts:

    Their ultimate dream is to create a new America based on sexual promiscuity…

    Do they mean, a giant gay black metal Disneyworld featuring cannibal punk rockers and Thomas Paine as Spongebob Squarepants?

    Love Moderately: I clicked through. Then I did a Grandpa Simpson. Where would one even start with that post?

  70. Nutmeg says

    Dear self,

    Please stop dating guys you aren’t attracted to.

    Sincerely, Nutmeg

    ***

    On the plus side, I finally got the whole first kiss thing over with. On the minus side…well, yeah.

    ***

    In more cheerful news, I would like to take a moment to sing the praises of physiotherapy. I managed to give myself golfer’s elbow by doing too much front crawl last fall, and I’ve had to scale down my swimming a lot. Two sessions and three weeks into physio, I’m finally able to start increasing the number of laps again. Yay for science-based medicine!

  71. says

    Bold is my emphasis:

    One time in 1991, when Obama was serving as the first black president of the Harvard Law Review, he spoke affably of the first black tenured Harvard Law professor, Derrick Bell, while he was peacefully protesting the lack of diversity on Harvard’s faculty. And then Obama hugged him. He might as well have given Sauron a reach-around.

    I can’t stop laughing at this turn of phrase, especially in the context of how profoundly stupid this “scandal” is.

  72. says

    Love the wonkette. Let no-one say Americans can’t do sarcasm! Though wait, I must go see if that’s their sarcasm or some idiot for real. It’s so hard to tell.

  73. SallyStrange: bottom-feeding, work-shy peasant says

    @ Daisy

    Heh. Maso-kabbalist videodrome complex.

  74. Cassandra Caligaria (Cipher), OM says

    Frustrating facts: I have a photo-and-writing project inspired by the NudeRevolutionary thread and the way that women’s bodies are viewed (as well as the fact that like pretty much everybody else, I have body issues, and the fact that like a lot of us here, I have selfhood issues). Unfortunately, I can’t figure out what kind of space I would be comfortable sharing that project in. Waa.

  75. firstapproximation says

    Looks like Harold Camping is finally admitting the world didn’t end:

    But we now realize that those people who were calling our attention to the Bible’s statement that “of that day and hour knoweth no man” (Matthew 24:36 & Mark 13:32), were right in their understanding of those verses and Family Radio was wrong.

    If it makes you feel any better you were both wrong. Your wrongness was just more funny.

  76. says

    Edwin Kagin suggests he doesn’t understand why any black people would be turned off by AA’s slavery billboard, says it is “wonderful,” and says that criticizing it is like claiming that slavery didn’t happen.

    I’ll defend the billboard, despite its vague similarity to the “Holocaust on Your Plate” campaign. Kagin seems to be (deliberately?) misunderstanding the objection to it, though.

  77. chigau (2ICBDFL) says

    My current earworm is a mashup of:
    Elvis (Don’t Cry, Daddy),
    The Righteous Brothers (Unchained Melody) and
    平井堅 (大きな古時計) (a Japanese version of My Grandfather’s Clock).
    I may be dead by morning.

  78. Menyambal -- damned dirty ape says

    Hello, Menyambal here after a few months.

    I’ve had computer troubles and physical ills, so haven’t been up to registering on the new log-in system. But someone mentioned Mailinator, which got me a temporary address (so I didn’t have to find my passwords and face the backlog on a real e-mail account). Thanks.

    I have been reading these past months, flat on my back, and surfing with a laptop on my tummy, trying to not cough or laugh. I have had to laugh many times while reading Pharyngula comments. Thanks to all for the great writing.

    I have a kitten perched on the top of my tummy as I recline, now. I need to go on a diet, but then the kitten would have nowhere to sit. Rosey, I call her, and she keeps trying to nurse on our formerly-male cat, Tommy.

    I may try to get out to see the “John Carter” movie … or may not. I grew up reading the Barsoom books–which nobody else seemed to know about–and probably can blame them for some of my own character traits (adventure, gallantry and atheism, and a sense I don’t belong here). The movie trailers look like somebody really loved the Star Wars prequels and Avatar (all of which sucked) and had only read the back of one of the books. It really does look like it will be as bizarre a book-to-movie as the Conan movie with Arnold S.

    Thanks again.

  79. chigau (2ICBDFL) says

    Menyambal
    Hello.
    Welcome back.
    Grog and a kittytoy coming to your usb.

  80. says

    Good news, everyone!

    There has been an interesting extension of the work in “Strategies for Resisting Persuasion” by Jacks and Cameron (frequently cited by abb3w). And this one is free to download!

    “There Must Be a Reason”: Osama, Saddam, and Inferred Justification; Monica Prasad et al; doi 10.1111/j.1475-682X.2009.00280.x

    One of the most curious aspects of the 2004 presidential election was the strength and resilience of the belief among many Americans that Saddam Hussein was linked to the terrorist attacks of September 11. Scholars have suggested that this belief was the result of a campaign of false information and innuendo from the Bush administration. We call this the information environment explanation. Using a technique of “challenge interviews” on a sample of voters who reported believing in a link between Saddam and 9/11, we propose instead a social psychological explanation for the belief in this link. We identify a number of social psychological mechanisms voters use to maintain false beliefs in the face of disconfirming information, and we show that for a subset of voters the main reason to believe in the link was that it made sense of the administration’s decision to go to war against Iraq. We call this inferred justification: for these voters, the fact of the war led to a search for a justification for it, which led them to infer the existence of ties between Iraq and 9/11.

    It was covered by Joseph at Corpus Callosum.

    (BTW, if anyone can send “Strategies for Resisting Persuasion” to my email, I’d appreciate it.)

  81. theophontes, Hexanitroisowurtzitanverwendendes_Bärtierchen says

    @ chigao, Second In Command Benign Dictator for Life

    Our ruse worked!

    We have managed to turn an apologist for Kent Hovind into the Antichrist! (He has even commented coherently.)

    My nefarious goal has been achieved.

  82. Cassandra Caligaria (Cipher), OM says

    I’m sick, my friend says from exhaustion, with something that may or may not be the flu. This is the worst possible time, as, in addition to my usual crushing translation load which has not in any way relented, I have a paper due tomorrow in German, a quiz tomorrow in Greek, two major papers (that I haven’t started) due next week, plus a video and a presentation. I also just found out that my plans for break are shot now, and they were the thing I was looking forward to in order to hold it together somewhat. So now I keep having fits of crying and am shaking uncontrollably pretty much all the time and I feel like I’m going to throw up. Which is an excellent state, let me tell you, to pull an all-nighter in.

  83. says

    More on confabulation, after a corpus callosotomy procedure:

    “And here’s where things get really tricky. If you show a picture of, say, a chicken claw to just the left side of the eye (which means the picture will only be processed by the right hemisphere of the brain), and one of a snowy driveway to just the right side of the eye (which means it will only be processed by the left hemisphere), and then ask the individual to point at an image most closely related to what he’s seen, the two hands don’t agree: the right hand (tied to the left input) will point to a shovel, while the left hand (tied to the right input) will point to a chicken. Ask the person why he’s pointing to two objects, and instead of being confused, he’ll at once create an entirely plausible explanation: you need a shovel to clean out the chicken coop. His mind has created an entire story, a narrative that will make plausible sense of his hands’ discrepancy, when, in reality, it all goes back to those silent images.”

  84. Menyambal -- damned dirty ape says

    Chigau, thank you.

    When Harold Camping making the news, it seemed obvious to me that the Rapture had occurred long ago, and we’ve been living in the Tribulation ever since. I figured out that the Rapture must have taken place in 70 AD, during the siege of Jerusalem, or so. I then figured out that the whole Rapture business was a retcon meant to imply exactly that. And I found others who had figured out the same. Why can’t Harold Camping figure that out?

    Anybody know how to get a picture in my WordPress profile?

  85. Menyambal -- damned dirty ape says

    Cassandra, good luck to you.

    I am holding a kitten up to my screen for you.

  86. says

    And apparently Sears isn’t all bad — one of the T-shirts read “I’ve been to hell / It’s full of christians“, according to one source.

    Couldn’t find it now :(

  87. says

    oh sorry didn’t read the article well enough

    the Dutch couple didn’t charge extra. The Catholic Church whose cathedral had put up the statue of the angel with the cellphone, was unhappy about not being able to make money off of this, so they installed a call line that charges 80cts a pop. However while the Dutch couple answer in person, the Church hotline just gives you a tape recording. So the villain of this story is the RCC after all. No surprise here.

    http://de.nachrichten.yahoo.com/direkter-draht-in-den-himmel–%E2%80%9Ehallo–hier-spricht-der-kleine-engel%E2%80%9C.html

    I need to blog this.

  88. John Morales says

    Ace of Sevens @629, you write that as if those options were mutually exclusive.

    (They ain’t)

  89. says

    @pelamun:

    The article reads almost like it’s trying to reverse psychology Christians into accepting skepticism and atheism o.o

    “Read the Bible” “Find out why they’re atheists” “They may relate solid scientific evidence” “No True Scotsman is a fallacy”

  90. says

    Hi there
    I think I’m posthumely ruining my childhood.
    I always thought my parents were cool people, which is part of why I was so taken aback by the fact that I’m suffering from mental health problems. It’s not like I had a difficult childhood…
    I always thought I had cool people.
    You know, the kind of parents who are supportive if you go on an anti-war demo, and who would never try to discourage their daughter from college.
    My parents supported me when I had a fight with my history teacher over the Dutschlandlied.
    They were not like my friends’ parents who could never accept that their children were anti-war or anti-religion.
    Fact is, they actually were exactly like my friends’ parents. It’s just that they got a few positions about the world right.

    pelamun
    Will comment on the Orientalism issue later, but probably not before the weekend is over

    Mattir
    Sorry for your troubles
    *hugs are coming*

    CC
    If you want help and cheating with the German, send it to giliellÄTyahooDOTde.
    Will be on more or less for some 5 more hours

  91. birgerjohansson says

    Drive-by posting: News to read during the weekend.
    — — —
    “Drug helps purge hidden HIV virus, study shows” http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-03-drug-purge-hidden-hiv-virus.html (could this David Margolis be related to Lynn Margolis?)
    — — —
    Paolo Macchiarini from the Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm: “Engineering whole organs: Closing in on a potential solution to the organ donor shortage?” http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-03-potential-solution-donor-shortage.html
    — — —
    “HIV rates for black women in parts of the US much higher than previously estimated” http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-03-hiv-black-women-higher-previously.html
    “The incidence rate observed in HPTN 064 is based on findings from women enrolled from six geographical areas in the US where HIV and poverty are known to be more common.”

  92. David Marjanović says

    Link dump, part 1 of 2:

    *Microraptor* had black iridescent feathers.

    Press release with high-resolution downloadable artistic reconstruction:
    http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=123392&org=NSF&from=news
    Alas, the lower legs are rotated; you can do that, I can do that, but no dinosaur other than the European honey buzzard has ever been capable of that. The fingers are likewise rotated (the claws should point into the page), and there’s no evidence for naked skin or scales on the snout.

    Press release with links to media and link to chat tomorrow:
    http://www.amnh.org/science/papers/microraptor_2012.php
    http://www.amnh.org/news/2012/03/new-finding-dinosaurs-feathers-were-black-with-iridescent-sheen/

    Video (3:29):
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJGiPzcalwU

    German news feature:
    http://www.wissenschaft.de/wissenschaft/news/315204.html

    Paper:
    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/335/6073/1215
    The supplementary information should be free.

  93. KG says

    Looks like Harold Camping is finally admitting the world didn’t end – firstapproximation

    Oddly, they didn’t include an account of the death of Harold Camping as a false prophet:
    Deu 18:20 But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.

  94. David Marjanović says

    There are 4 lights 6 links!!!

    Maybe it helps if I hide them in HTML instead of just copying the whole thing from a plain-text e-mail?

    ░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░

    Link dump, part 1 of 1:

    ░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░

    Microraptor had black iridescent feathers.

    Press release with high-resolution downloadable artistic reconstruction. Alas, the lower legs are rotated; you can do that, I can do that, but no dinosaur other than the European honey buzzard has ever been capable of that. The fingers are likewise rotated (the claws should point into the page), and there’s no evidence for naked skin or scales on the snout.

    More press release stuff with links to media and link to a chat tomorrow!

    Video (3:29).

    German news feature.

    And finally, the paper! The supplementary information should be free.

  95. David Marjanović says

    There are 4 lights 6 links!!! But it still gets held in moderation. Well, I’ll try less.

    PZ, do you happen to know what triggers the spam filters and what doesn’t?

    ░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░

    Link dump, part 1 of 2:

    ░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░

    Microraptor had black iridescent feathers.

    Press release with high-resolution downloadable artistic reconstruction. Alas, the lower legs are rotated; you can do that, I can do that, but no dinosaur other than the European honey buzzard has ever been capable of that. The fingers are likewise rotated (the claws should point into the page), and there’s no evidence for naked skin or scales on the snout.

    More press release stuff with links to media and link to a chat tomorrow!

  96. David Marjanović says

    And so, part 3 of 3:

    ░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░

    It’s possible to make violin strings out of spider silk (silk from 300 spiders per string). Video of such a violin being played here – too bad I don’t have sound on this computer.

    ░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░

    The genome of the western gorilla has been sequenced. Western and eastern gorillas are considered separate species these days; the mountain gorilla is a subspecies of the eastern gorilla. Map of the occurrences of all 4 gorilla subspecies.

    15 % of the human genome are more similar to that of western gorillas than to that of chimps. In other words, the chimps have evolved in the last 5 to 6 million years, too.

    Genes for hearing have evolved equally fast in humans, chimps and western gorillas. In other words, language isn’t that special.

    German news feature; paper (open access)!

    ░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░

    Now to read up on the troubles of CC and Mattir. CC, I’ll check my e-mail often during the next several hours, though I’ll go home earlier today than usual (my sister comes tomorrow, and I have to pick her up from the train station in the morning).

  97. consciousness razor says

    It’s possible to make violin strings out of spider silk (silk from 300 spiders per string).

    That’s interesting, not too surprising I guess, but I wouldn’t hold my breath for a spider string piano.

    Video of such a violin being played here – too bad I don’t have sound on this computer.

    Sounds nice. It seems like it has an airy quality that you don’t quite get with normal strings. But the dude is also barely moving the bow, playing very softly in a limited register, and it’s just a short clip anyway, so I couldn’t really make a good comparison. Still, I’m guessing these probably don’t have the strength of a metal or synthetic string*, in which case he’s being careful to not exert too much pressure.

    *You scientismist people can go ahead and calculate that if you want. I’m going to stick with making it up for now, as that seems to be working. My head hasn’t yet exploded, and I have to assume (again, you can do the math for me) that’s what would happen if I were ever wrong.

  98. Mattir says

    For the record, my troubles are mostly over and I’m just digging out – I tend to disappear when I’m troubled, so that’s when I need the usb hugs. Avoidant attachment was very useful at keeping me safe as a small child, but the style has its flaws as a lifelong strategy…

    Also, I had the horrifying realization last night that a young woman I know, bright, scientifically gifted, beautiful, is seriously considering becoming a nun and dropping out of her merit-based full ride scholarship university education. And not a lesbian commune social action do useful work sort of nun, a habit-wearing semi-cloistered variety that teaches theology. Spouse responded that “there are no victims, only volunteers”, but that particular line of victim-blaming 12 step propaganda is wearing quite thin given that this 20 year old woman has been raised in this viral culture, the local Catholic church is busily praying for her, and she’s been sent on “vocation encouragement” retreats for her whole life. I’m sick with fury, and the world is losing a talented materials scientist/engineer. Her parents will be thrilled.

    Sigh. Off to lift weights with my ankle and finish preparing for my merit badge class for tomorrow. At least I have an official job where what I do is learn new stuff well enough to introduce teenagers to a topic, which is basically what I would be doing with my time in a law or psychology job anyway, only there it would be called “procrastination.” Tomorrow’s class is soil and water conservation, and I’ve enjoyed the preparation immensely. Next month is plant science. (Also, for the worried among you, I tend to run my presentations by actual professionals in the field in question before I give the class, so as to avoid doing the teaching-wrong-stuff thing which is all too common.)

  99. says

    This Moment of Mormon Madness is an excellent example of the pushy, somewhat threatening style mormons use against others, especially when they are defending the LDS Church against what they perceive to be attacks from within their own community in Utah. There are just enough fake smiles to put up a wall of plausible deniability … unless you’ve seen this all before and recognize it for what it is. A threat.

    Helen Radkey, the woman responsible for documenting the mormon church’s breaches of the agreement they made not to proxy baptize holocaust victims (not to mention others, like Obama’s mother, Carl Sagan, and Hitler), that woman is being harassed. Excerpts from the story:

    Helen Radkey … is accusing a former church official of making a veiled threat this past Sunday.

    The Salt Lake City researcher said a former LDS bishop, Larry Shaw, called her Sunday night ‘to silence me as a dissenter.’ She also said that he invited her ‘back to the Mormon church. I declined the offer, giving Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon a pass.’

    Shaw told HuffPost that he called Radkey ‘as a friend’ to express the love the church offers. He denied threatening her in any way.

    According to Radkey, Shaw ‘told me, years ago, as a Mormon bishop in Salt Lake City, that God would kill me if I laid a hand on the Mormon church. The first question he asked me tonight was how is my health?

    She said that Shaw asked her three separate times about her health in an hour-long phone call and that she interpreted that as ‘insidious personal harassment.’ She also said Shaw, now a coordinator at a church school in Atlanta, ‘implied that I might soon be going to the other side because of my age…

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/08/helen-radkey-mormon-baptisms-harassment-accusation_n_1333267.html

    The LDS Church has been scrambling to stem the tide of bad publicity. They claim to have made technical changes to the database that will prevent unauthorized necrodunkings.

    Radkey and others argue that the church’s technological change appears to be aimed more at her than at the eager baptizers.

    Jewish genealogist Gary Mokotoff said the change made by the church was designed to deny Radkey and other researchers the ability to uncover efforts by overzealous Mormons to posthumously baptize people outside their families. “It is not an effective way to block Holocaust victims but could seriously prevent Helen from searching for victims,” he said.

    “Mormons are so desperate to block investigative access to their huge uncontrolled file of baptized names, they are tracking those who access this data, and locking out those, like myself, who find controversial names, names they would conceal,” Radkey contended via email.

  100. says

    for these voters, the fact of the war led to a search for a justification for it, which led them to infer the existence of ties between Iraq and 9/11.

    Or they could have been watching Faux News and listening to the administration’s propaganda. There’s no reason to think people made up the scenario when it was laid out before them by the right wing press.

  101. theophontes, Hexanitroisowurtzitanverwendendes_Bärtierchen says

    @ irisvanderpluym

    What does one get the Ebil Oberlawd who has Eberything?

  102. says

    The Sailor @ 645, yes indeed. Watching Fox News will do it every time. While switching channels last night I was accidentally exposed to that fact-free zone. Two doofuses were discussing the fact that conservatives outnumber liberals in the USA by 2 to 1. Therefore conservatives are right.

    Mattir @643: About the young woman who is throwing away her bright prospects in scientific fields for a nun’s cloister …. that kind of religious-community effect always depresses me no end. It’s as if I can feel and see the person’s potential being truncated.

    That’s another human being who will never truly reach her full potential, and who will probably not even become an adult.

    Yes, this is our loss (or society’s loss), but more importantly, it’s the young woman’s loss.

  103. says

    Happy birthday, PZ!

    Onion Girl: No worries, thanks for adding it. (I wish I were able to donate right now… I gave to PP during the Komen shitstorm, and I am just emerging from a perfect storm of various expenses.)

    Hi, Menyambal. I hope you feel better soon.

    CC, can you take an “Incomplete” for the semester, or make a similar arrangement with your dean? Because if you’re that sick, exhausted, and demoralized, the odds are not good that you will be able to pull all of that off and get good grades.

    Mattir: That’s horrendous news, about that young woman. (I wonder if she’s facing sexism or other challenges at university and is getting no support, and that’s influencing her decision.) And wtf with that victim-blaming aphorism from your spouse. My hatred for smug, self-satisfied, brainless 12-step slogans knows no bounds.

  104. theophontes, Hexanitroisowurtzitanverwendendes_Bärtierchen says

    @ Sinophiles (that includes you pelamun)

    Here are some of my pictures of the underground fortress and passages under the Great Wall. Enjoy. (Link to Flickr.)

  105. says

    SQB: That cartoon has generated an impressive chunk of BAAAWWW on the XKCD forum, complete with flounce!

    This is bullshit. So we are suppose to equate ANY AND ALL attempts to pick up, go out with, or otherwise “score” with a girl as misogyny against or objectification of women? Further, we are also suppose to believe that acting on these ideas is simply a mental defect in our brains completely insurmountable; ie. If you cannot get a girlfriend, its because there is something wrong with your brain?

    In an ideal world you’d be able to be honest and straight with women about your intentions and eventually everything would work out. Do you want to date? You would get a simple yes/no answer. You want casual sex? Also a yes/no answer. ANY guy who has put himself out there knows this peaches and roses scenario does not exist and never will. You have to be cool. You have to be smooth. You have to pretend not to care. You have to flirt. You have to act natural at the same time. etc.

    He does not realize it but the “pick-up artist” of this comic is actually the winner here. This woman he’s taken an interest in has proven herself to be an utter bitch. Better to be single than to be with a stuck-up snot who believes in some sort of genetic superiority based on intellect (the foundation of said belief being completely rooted in pseudo-science).

    With all due respect- actually, fuck that. Fuck you, Randall. I don’t care if I get banned since I don’t care to read your comic EVER again. This is too close to home. Bookmark deleted; no more recommendations.

    One of the various people laughing at him says, “Odd. Your ‘peaches and roses’ scenario has always worked for me.” Another person replies, “Next time, try asking a girl in an elevator.” 0_o

    (Is this our Azkyroth? Well said.)

    What.

    Incidentally, Feynman was clearly a PUA of the Neil Strauss school (‘You’re worse than a whore’, anyone?), and we all think he was cool, right?

    With additional details. Ugh. Especially:

    If you believe you can’t ask a respectable woman to have sex with you, and you can’t accept a slut, then manipulating a respectable woman seems far preferable to rape.

    JFC. NO. The preferable thing to do here would be to excavate your head from your misogynist ass. Failing that, to cut open a major artery and take a swan dive into a shark tank.

    Friendships should grow smoothly out of relationships. When they have problems, you should be there for them, night after night, selflessly, until one day, in a moment of weakness, and loneliness, they give in.

    I need ALL THE SHOWERS now. D:

  106. Rey Fox says

    #654: For fuck’s sake. It’s “supposeD” to do all that stuff. With a “d” on the end. “Suppose” is a verb.

    This has been my grammar tangent for the morning.

    (Kind of like “useD to (x)”, but that’s such a weird language construction that I don’t feel comfortable correcting anyone on it.)

    (I thought the first half of that comic was sort of unnecessary and leading, but I guess there’s a lot of folks who really don’t know where “negging” comes from. But isn’t that what Google is for?)

  107. Rey Fox says

    Just so we’re clear, I’m addressing the forum guy there. Was too lazy to blockquote.

  108. chigau (2ICBDFL) says

    theophontes

    What does one get the Ebil Oberlawd who has Eberything?

    Have you considered giving PZ the position of Benign Dictator For Life?
    I’m sure he’d know what to do with it.

  109. theophontes, Hexanitroisowurtzitanverwendendes_Bärtierchen says

    @ chigau

    Have you considered giving PZ the position of Benign Dictator For Life?
    I’m sure he’d know what to do with it.

    [whisper] Good idea. Far too much hard work for me. The authority is a real kick but the responsibilities … meh.[whisper]

    Dear Ebil Oberlawd, I hereby bequeath upon you in perpetuity and foreber, the title of “Benign Dictator for Life”, with sniny italics and furry bolding and CAPS for special occassions.

    {winks at chigau}

  110. Dhorvath, OM says

    The limitations are yours to accept or deny, but they are there nonetheless. We are wise to your evil charlatanry.

  111. says

    Yeah, happy birthday, PZ!

    Of course, you do know you’re about nine months older that that, don’t you?
    <ducks />

  112. consciousness razor says

    The “Benign” part is only blatant pandering. It’s just a formality and doesn’t mean anything. You only have until the Ides of March, so I’ll start taking Benign Dictations as soon as you’re ready.

    {whisper: smart move, theophontes. Smart move.}

  113. theophontes, Hexanitroisowurtzitanverwendendes_Bärtierchen says

    @ Dhorvath

    We are wise to your evil charlatanry.

    {theophontes stifles a nervous gasp, smiles broadly}

    Moi? Mais non!

  114. chigau (dodged a bullet) says

    Well, They™ say® that all of our cells are replaced every 10 years, so it’s not really him.

  115. McCthulhu, now with Techroline and Retsyn says

    @SQB:

    “Of course, you do know you’re about nine months older that that, don’t you?”

    Nonsense! Everyone knows that we are all the exact same age. All your little fiddly-bits (some high foreheads like to use esoteric terms like ‘subatomic particles’) are around 13.7 billion years old. PZ doesn’t look a day over 12 billion.

    Happy birthday PZ, you triskaidekagigagenarian!

  116. theophontes, Benign Bullet Dodger in Chief says

    [whisper] chigao, time to lay low for a while. In the interim, try and diffuse matters here. TTFN. BRB. [/whisper]

  117. says

    Do you think Mitt Romney’s handlers get tired of watching him fail to be a normal human? I can’t help but imagine them standing back stage, face-palming every time he says something like that.

    Oh, look, it’s PZ’s birthday… Happy Birthday, PZ!

  118. Rey Fox says

    —————————-
    Happy Quantum Aging Day, PZ!
    —————————-

  119. mastmaker says

    Folks, please guide me here.

    Being an atheist of 20+ years, I rarely have to debate anybody about God, faith and other stuff. Recently, I was forced to debate a colleague around the proverbial water cooler.

    He belongs to one of the three major world religions. He criticized the other two (one of which is my erstwhile religion) while I am too polite to say to his face what I think of HIS religion.

    I talked of American conservatives using Abortion rights and Contraceptives as a way to keep the women in control, and he said if someone thinks the the child she is pregnant with is one too many mouths to feed, she might as well kill one her other children, rather than the terminate the pregnancy.

    I have a few questions here:

    How do you debate a colleague/friend/acquaintance of faith other than your original faith (i.e. the one that you belonged to before you became an atheist) without seeming to be attacking their religion. This is one of the main reasons I refrain from criticizing someone’s religion. This is not a very effective tactic.

    When amateur debaters like us start talking about something, we are forced into positions where we are defending whatever the other person WANTS US TO DEFEND! For example, when we defend abortion RIGHTS, we are instead forced to defend ABORTION itself. I DID NOT talk about abortions with coat hangers when they make it illegal, which is what our position is. We do not defend abortion, we just defend the sad truth that Abortion will occur dangerously and often fatally when they are forced underground.

    How do you make them realize the irony that they are simultaneously (a) opposing the minority persecution in places where they are minority and (b) supporting the majority rule where they are a majority and (c) supporting the oppression by conversatives in the countries where they are a minority, just because they are conversatives themselves?