The curiously limited argument from convergent evolution raises an ugly tentacle/fin again »« Balance

Comments

  1. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @MaureenBrian, Brianpansky, & Beatrice, from previous Thunderdome in the 670s to the end:

    MB, I notice that after BP asked us not to use frame questions about BP’s gender personally, no matter how useful it might be. Gender can be a really uncomfortable topic, and I hope your continued use in 681 was the last time we do this with BP, per BP’s request.

    I think that BP is in a place of genuine crisis re: understanding gender. Some of the last few comments seemed to guess that maybe the problem was that BP wasn’t really trying to absorb the new info or wasn’t really open to the new info. That’s not how I read BP.

    But it’s also true that BP asked for a definition of not just gender, but “Gender Identity” specifically.

    When Gender Identity is defined as how one thinks about oneself in relation to the categories “man” and “woman”, he wants to know how this isn’t circular. I tried to point out that man and woman have common understandings that go beyond biological sex (i.e. we know that there are roles associated with “man” and “woman” and punishments for violating those roles, we know that there are ways to nonverbally create or reinforce the impression others might have of us as a man or a woman and that those methods are culturally dependent, etc). But this isn’t enough for BP.

    To be fair, it should not automatically be enough. For some people, it is. For some people, unfortunately, it is too much. For BP it’s not enough. That’s not bad, but it is time for him to read something structured and longer. Kessler & McKenna is the best source I can imagine for that. While I’m certain I could reproduce the most important and relevant aspects of the text from memory, it’s not my job to type up a significant hunk of a book’s argument, nor is it the function of Thunderdome to be a repository for book-length discussions of, well, anything.

    BP’s confusion is an example for all of us, I hope, and not a problem for us. We’ve given a shot at educating on our own and failed, but we needn’t continue it. It’s not that we are deficient, but that the questions BP raises are so thorny and a space designed for conversation is not one sided and pedantic enough – regardless of how much time I may spend here – to really get as deep as BP seems to want and need.

    You can write more or ask more, BP. I support you in your exploration. But I think you probably won’t be satisfied until you check GaEMA out of the library (or buy it) and give the first 1/2 (or a bit more) of the main text and the main text’s conclusion a very thoughtful read. The rest of the text is also useful, and the gender case study/appendix may or may not benefit you, but it doesn’t necessarily go to a definition of Gender ID itself, which was your original question.

    Thanks to all of you for seriously engaging the topic. I’ll be around if more comes up.

  2. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @chigau, #1:

    I think that someone just asked for a definition of gender identity.

  3. says

    Off-topic (sorry, I’ve never really participated in the Thunderdome before), but can someone versed in ‘pitter-to-reality translation explain what they’re on about now that has them whipping up into a frenzy over FtB’s alleged anti-semitism? Is it just the fifth fundamental force, anti-FtB hypocrisy, causing them to go full Godwin after supporting someone commenting that they want to make a suit out of human skin?

  4. Bicarbonate says

    tom foss @4

    I’m not on twitter and don’t want to sign up for it. Have you got another link or could you quote some of what you’re talking about?

  5. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @Tom Foss:

    Part of the definition of Thunderdome is that nothing is off topic.

    Thunderdome: 2 ideas enter. 97.4 more ideas enter.

    As to your substantive request, I shudder to click the link, but here I go:

    Okay, someone named “Becca” (should we presume Rebecca Watson?) is alleged to have used the phrase “ugly jew” but there is no link to context or evidence.

    Then they imply (one could even say “state” because the sarcasm is so obvious that any other interpretation is unreasonable) that disliking actions taken by Shermer & Krause is an “accidental pogrom”.

    Then some continue to debate possible anti-semitism, while others appear to assume anti-semitism. They assert that widespread anti-semitism would “explain” actions by “FtBullies” but they don’t attempt to articulate what those explainable actions might be.

    the one new statement I recognized as confirmed fact is that Brayton did indeed lay into Jackie Mason.

    Appears to be evidence free testeria otherwise, including the “blood libel on the brain” inference from the “attacked Jackie Mason” evidence.

  6. voss says

    In case you have not yet read the story. Luke “Sasha” Fleischman, 18, was riding a bus to her Berkeley, CA high school when she was set on fire by a classmate. Sasha was wearing a skirt and this incident is being investigated as a hate crime of a homophobic nature. She is now in stable, but serious, condition. As a show of support for Sasha, many of her classmates, male and female, wore skirts to school yesterday. The story and inspiring photos at this site:

    http://www.berkeleyside.com/2013/11/08/berkeley-students-wear-skirts-to-support-hate-crime-victim/

  7. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @voss

    No offense intended, but I look forward to the day when there is no conceivable way when a story whose hook is “person set on fire for gender expression” could possibly be perceived as “inspiring” no matter the community response in the aftermath.

    The same goes quntupled for that horrible “Billy Elliot” story that so many people insist is somehow “uplifting”.

  8. Bicarbonate says

    Crip Dyke @ 8.

    We will probably all be dead by that time. Societies change slowly. They also change back and forth.

  9. says

    @Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden #6

    Okay, someone named “Becca” (should we presume Rebecca Watson?) is alleged to have used the phrase “ugly jew” but there is no link to context or evidence.

    Yeah, I gathered that someone’s claiming that Rebecca called Sara Mayhew an “ugly Jew,” and the Real Skeptics(TM) of the ‘pit brigade and associates have uncritically accepted that and seem to be building it into a Skeptic-approved conspiracy theory.

    I just hoped someone had some context, as to why this nonsense was popping up, but apparently not.

  10. Goodbye Enemy Janine says

    A quick correction for voss at #7. Sasha does not identify as any gender but as agender. Sasha also prefers that “they” be used instead of “she”.

    Also, Sasha will be needing skin grafts for the second and third degree burns they received from the “prank”.

    Yes, one of the parents of the kid that set Sasha’s skirt on fire called it a “prank”.

    Great fucking parenting.

  11. says

    Sara Mayhew got sick of waiting for Twitter to undo the suspension of her account (purchasing ten thousand followers as she did is against Twitter’s terms of service) and is back using an old dormant account, @SciencySady – so the accusation originates from Mayhew herself, I believe. The account had been unused for 20 months before being used to attack Watson.

  12. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Janine,

    yeah, he “jokes around” and didn’t want to hurt anyone. Because who would have thought setting someone’s clothes on fire could hurt them?!

  13. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    purchasing ten thousand followers as she did is against Twitter’s terms of service

    I can’t even start comprehending this.

  14. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Beatrice:

    I can’t even start comprehending this.

    You mean how or why?

  15. says

    @Xanthe/Tom The anti-Semitic comment thing goes back to SXSW and this post –
    _skepchick.org/2013/03/sxsw-and-reddits-introspection-problem/

    Bizarrely I remember it as just general comments – the allegation that is – Sara just swallowed it with no fact checking. Was likely random Redditors smearing her due to her stance there. So how this morphed into RW calling SM an “Ugly Jew” I do not have a clue.

    Aratina reckons the original allegation she retweeted was that someone said RW said “She is a Jew tho” … In relation to Sara.
    _twitter.com/aratina/status/397926507105886208

    The background to all this is @metaburbia and @richsanderson, two of the most idiotic in the anti-Watson brigade, stirring up lies by “applying our own standards”. So basically they have taken things like the Shermer allegations and saying we should believe women to “mean” any unsubstantiated allegation is always true “by our standards” … Hence they are morally justified in spreading any lie whatsoever. I know, ridiculous! But these are not great intellects we are dealing with.

  16. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Nerd,

    Both. I realize an overinflated ego could be enough of an answer to why, but still.
    Then there’s someone makes business out of renting twitter followers?! and no, really, you would pay someone to follow you on twitter?!?!?.

    I’m 27, and some days I feel too old to get this inter-net thing.

  17. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    In her case, obviously real live humans aren’t being payed to follow her, so I will change that last question into no, really, you would pay someone to create you twitter followers?!?!?.

    Although, I’m sure some people somewhere are actually being payed to follow their “customers”, and fawn over them.

  18. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Ugh, can’t even type straight any more. Good night

  19. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Daz,

    Notes from my own lack of self-esteem:
    Suddenly having 10000 followers would make it really obvious that I did something shady, since everyone must know I could never get that many followers because I’m me.

    Of course, everyone’s different, so she could be dealing with her lack of self esteem in a different way.

    Either way, that situation is a giant WTF moment to me.

  20. says

    Whoops, the account is actually @SciencySadie. As for the ‘why’ of purchasing followers, I’d be very disappointed to be followed by 20k spam bots rather than real human beings, but I guess I’m not impressed by rent-a-crowd antics – like deliberately retweeting a negative tweet in order to get the originator attacked.

  21. Jacob Schmidt says

    In Mayhew’s defense, I believe she says the fake accounts aren’t from her, and that someone else is targeting her (eg. giving her fake accounts then reporting her for fake accounts). Generally I wouldn’t believe such a convoluted story, but several other people also got hit with similar things around the same time (Popehat, among others), so I’m sympathetic.

  22. says

    @Jacob Schmidt
    The fake accounts aren’t from her only if she was not being truthful when she tweeted this:

    “It was $10 and they’re all quickly disappearing bots”

    Google that quote and look at the cached copy of the tweet to see the context (it involves our blog host here being pestered by her).

    But it is possible that someone sicced them on her as well. Those of us managing the block bot know this from experience; we had an obsessed troll purchase over 40,000 followers for the block bot that we managed to shrug off thanks to Oolon’s programming efforts.

  23. ChasCPeterson says

    Mayhew can’t write for shit, so I can’t really figure out the deal, but here is the origin of the ‘ugly jew’ calumny.
    The ‘Sciency Sadie’ persona seems to have been an experiment in science communication. Or something. See for yourself here. I lasted about 45 seconds.

  24. says

    OK, so somebody heard Rebecca utter the phrase “but she IS a jew” without any context* or connection to Mayhew whatsoever, and somebody else once vandalised Mayhew’s Wiki page so that’s conclusove evidence that Rebecca Watson is an anti-semite.
    Sceptics they are, my ass.

    * I don’t know but there are about a bazillion of contexts where this sentence can be anti-semitic and equally many where it isn’t, so the point is?

  25. says

    Yeah, it’s very strange. Does Mayhew think that everyone having a conversation is talking about her?

    Is Mayhew even Jewish? I don’t see any connection at all, but suddenly they have this bizarre myth that Rebecca Watson is an anti-semite who called Sara Mayhew an “ugly Jew”, with no evidence whatsoever…and it’s also not the kind of thing I would ever expect Watson to say.

  26. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Rebecca isn’t even specifically alleged to have said the words “ugly jew” together as a phrase. She is alleged to have said, “But she IS a jew…” while at SXSW. Someone in the public venue suposedly overheard her saying this latter phrase. That person wrote to Sara asking if Rebecca was talking about Sara. Sara was confused and asked why the person thought it might be about her, as there was no indication at all this had anything to do with Sara. Then she asked if the person so reporting thought of Sara b/c Sara’s wiki page had been “vandalized” with the phrase “ugly jew”. There was never any response, as far as I can tell, but now the fact that someone, at some point, included the phrase “ugly jew” in an edit of Sara’s wiki page combined with the possibility that someone (identified as Rebecca by another someone whose veracity is uncheckable) might have said “But she IS a jew” (assuming that this was overheard correctly) becomes “Ed Brayton is anti-semitic and only criticized Jackie Mason b/c he’s a jew, not because he said something stupid.”

    It’s colossally bizarre.

  27. says

    PZ

    Does Mayhew think that everyone having a conversation is talking about her?

    Yes.
    It’s as if Sara Mayhew never left adolescent egocentrism, you know that aweful phase when you think that everybody else is constantly talking about you is analysing every thing you say while not recognising that everybody else is just thinking about themselves, too.

  28. ChasCPeterson says

    hey, with 25,000 Twitter Followers, somebody must be talking about her! (actually, laughing at her.)

    someone (identified as Rebecca by another someone whose veracity is uncheckable) might have said “But she IS a jew” (assuming that this was overheard correctly)

    I heard that what really happened was that somebody with glasses and a reddish dye-job said “Butchy? Is that you?” but in the local Texas accent. Can’t recall where I heard that…

  29. says

    Open All Hours is apparently doing a Xmas special this year.

    Arkwright: “What does he look like?”
    Granville: ” “He” could be a “She”!”
    Arkwright: “She‽ ”
    Nurse Gladys Emmanuel: ” She: Them that molest mens’ hands with their bodies.”

  30. brianpansky says

    @2
    Crip Dyke

    but it doesn’t necessarily go to a definition of Gender ID itself, which was your original question.

    Well I guess I better see if I can rent it first, before buying.

    The other day you said something about basing the words on stereotypes (post 675, previous thread). So I’ve been reading through some stuff you recommended, and Natalie Reed seems to say it isn’t based on stereotypes (march 2012)

    One of these is the fact that not all trans women are feminine; many identify, or express themselves, as butch, tomboy, masculine [...] By recognizing the existence of such diversity within trans identities, the theory that we concluded our gender identity after the fact by buying into binaries and stereotypes just doesn’t make sense.

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/nataliereed/2012/03/21/gender-expression-is-not-gender-identity/

    The problem of basing it on stereotypes is simple to state I think: it difficulty and burden is built-in for those who don’t easily fit. Meanwhile there will be those who can fit without any effort. That seems like a silly unfair way to do things.

    Anyways, maybe I’ll post something more tomorrow, I’ve got together some links and stuff.

  31. says

    Well, I have Fedora running on the almost dead PoS for now. Haven’t figured out how to resurrect the teeny netbook. We’ll be headed to town tomorrow to get me yet another system of some sort. *sigh*

  32. says

    Chigau, yes, I suppose. Definitely better than trying to use my tablet. So…yay. At least until this thing has another crisis and melts down again.

    Hopefully, I’ll be back up and running in the next couple of days.

  33. says

    Oh, Chas! I wanted to say thanks for mentioning James White the other day. I had fond memories of the Sector General books (a doughnut with barnacles!). Much to my surprise, they are all currently available as e-books, with no DRM by the publisher’s wish.

    I’ve been re-reading them, and enjoying them again, for the most part. The sexism, particularly in Star Surgeon, is of near fatal eyeroll quality, but outside of that, it’s been a great re-visit to books fondly remembered.

  34. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    BIcarbonate,

    We roast them on the stove top.

    I’m sorry about the additional cleaning you’ll have.
    —-
    *waves* at Caine. Give some cuddles to the rats for me.

  35. Bicarbonate says

    Thanks Beatrice. Actually will just need to wipe with a sponge. No big deal. I forgot to incise them before baking. And they are good!! Gonna try some wine with them.

    ——-

    Caine, hope your computer troubles are soon over and we can see more of you around here again.

  36. Bicarbonate says

    rdn @46

    Hi,

    Went and read your link. I certainly sympathize with you and understand why you’re asking for help.

  37. rdnaskela says

    Bicarbonate @50

    Yeah, I live in a hyper-conservative town filled with some good people, but the majority eats that shit up. I’ve seen better writing, and specifically, better take-downs of these poorly reasoned articles, here in the Pharyngula comments section than I’ve seen in major publications. So, I’m hoping someone’s up to the task. I’d tackle it personally, but my skills are more related to refuting religious nonsense, rather than the political bullshit this article spews. Thanks to anyone willing to take some time, and comment.

  38. Jacob Schmidt says

    Caine

    Well, I have Fedora running on the almost dead PoS for now.

    Heh. I’m glad a linux install alleviated your problem. I find it kinda funny that a linux install made my problem much, much worse.

  39. Bicarbonate says

    rdn @51

    I can think of some tacks to take but I am not equal either to a lot of the other people writing here. If you don’t get takers, you might try e-mailing it to PZ to see if he’ll make a post out of it. Then there would be a lot of response. Maybe you should ask a monitor about that first though. I don’t know.

    You can also google topics and quotes on this site like this, for instance if you wanted to find someone reacting to the “do-gooder” whistle, you would google:

    do-gooders site:freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula

    That will bring up all the instances where people have used that term.

  40. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @Brian Pansky:

    You have seriously misunderstood my 675 of the previous thread.

    I said that if it helps, remember that people are making choices about identification with awareness of the stereotypes. Your investigation of Natalie Reed doesn’t conflict with that. Yes, trans* people demonstrate diverse expressions and identifications, but we are acutely aware of the stereotypes, roles, and societal punishments associated with traditional gendering.

    When some of us say that we are women AND tomboys is that different than saying we are women BUT tomboys? To the extent that these statements differ, how can you recognize the existence of that difference, much less analyze it, without assuming awareness of stereotypes, roles, and societal punishments associated with traditional gendering?

    This is what I’m talking about. You want to start with no definition at all of men & women. I want to start with recognition of the facts on the ground. This eliminates circularity, and yet is not limiting if we agree we are only **beginning** with traditional understandings of genders, not ending with them.

    Also:
    From your #38 in this thread, it seems that you assumed that I was speaking of trans folk in my 675 of the last thread. For background, you say:

    The other day you said something about basing the words on stereotypes (post 675, previous thread). So I’ve been reading through some stuff you recommended, and Natalie Reed seems to say it isn’t based on stereotypes (march 2012)

    then quote Natalie Reed saying:

    One of these is the fact that not all trans women are feminine; many identify, or express themselves, as butch, tomboy, masculine

    This is clearly a quote dealing only and explicitly with “trans identities” not with “gender identities” generally.

    Your concern that I’m contradicting Natalie Reed is contradicted by what I actually wrote. In particular, this:

    If it helps in the short run, presume that people know that stereotypes, connections to sexed bodies, and roles with rule enforcement exist. One thing that someone is saying is that they are/aren’t willing to be identified with a word that carries these connotations. Why are they willing? Have they simply never thought about other options? Or have they made a considered choice? They know people are, in general, willing to assume a lot just from that label and are willing to risk you assuming it as well. This tells you about as much as you can learn from “mere” statements of gender identification

    seems to have been misinterpreted by you, the bold and italics especially.

    Not having thought about it is a very non-trans thing to do. Making a considered choice is a very trans thing to do. The set of people who have not made a conscious choice in formulating gender ID is not isomorphic to the set of non-trans people (nor is the set of people who have isomorphic to the set of trans people), but nonetheless, these are recognizable trends and not contradicted at all by Natalie Reed – in fact, she’s making that exact point. I didn’t call out non-trans people as less likely to examine their own gender IDs, but I frankly thought it was pretty obvious.

    The only way that you can interpret my statement as being “about” trans* people is if you interpret doing gender self-identification as something that only trans* people do.

    Please don’t make that mistake.

  41. says

    Jacob:

    Heh. I’m glad a linux install alleviated your problem. I find it kinda funny that a linux install made my problem much, much worse.

    I’m not sure allievate is quite the right word. I suppose it works, given that this is at most, a very temporary fix for a couple of days. This PoS is a brick. It seems I can’t run windows on it at all, without it having a meltdown, and unfortunately, to get anything done, I require winmess. I have barebones firefox running, that’s it. Can’t even get Thunderbird to install, and I’m not going to push it.

    So, what’s your current problem? (Better to focus on other people’s problems than swim in my personal puddle of self pity.)

  42. says

    Crip Dyke:

    The only way that you can interpret my statement as being “about” trans* people is if you interpret doing gender self-identification as something that only trans* people do.

    Heh. I’m most comfy with genderfluid woman.

  43. says

    Giliell:

    I identify as woman. I’m only ever more at loss as to what that actually means..
    Couldn’t give you a consistent definition if my life depended on it.

    Heh. I know what you mean. For me, ‘woman’ means little more than I have the ladybits, and I enjoy having the ladybits. The traditional definitions attached to it don’t much apply.

  44. Bicarbonate says

    Giliell and Caine and Crip Dyke,

    I don’t identify as a woman but recognize that I am one (ladybits) and that people treat me that way and that I have lived a woman’s life. It’s all very hazy to me.

  45. brianpansky says

    @54
    Crip Dyke

    You want to start with no definition at all of men & women.

    Not quite, attributing “want” to me is inaccurate. It’s just a bit difficult to swallow that stereotypes play a large role in the definitions when those stereotypes are the problem a lot of trans people face to begin with.

    I also suppose by “start” you mean “start using those (gendered) words in a particular way” but if there were no definition, the right thing to do would be not to use those words.

    I have a post I’m trying to write up with links etc. I’ll probably include more response to your 54.

    Since the post will be long, I might just post it on tumblr and put a link here. I dunno, for some reason I don’t like the idea of people needing to scroll past a giant post if they aren’t interested. Not everyone has tumblr, so you can post responses here of course, so long as you write my post number so people can find what you are responding to…

  46. Jacob Schmidt says

    Caine

    I’m not sure allievate is quite the right word.

    I just meant that the situation is quite as shitty as it was.

    So, what’s your current problem?

    I bought a new computer a few weeks ago. I was getting some hard disk errors, but there was no functionality loss, except that I was unable to update the OS. I’d heard windows 8 didn’t play well with some hardware, so I decided to replace it with windows 7 when I got the chance.

    I needed linux for a course I’m currently taking. I could access the school’s shell through putty, but the latency was massive. Menial tasks took way to long. Virtual machines weren’t much better. So I decided to just install ubuntu along side windows.

    Turns out that those hard disk errors I foolishly ignored weren’t just from windows, but that there was actually a problem. After the install (which went fine, so no problem was indicated), I tried booting ubuntu and had the whole system fail; it didn’t even boot. It didn’t even get past the pre-boot. When I restarted the thing, I wasn’t given an option to boot windows. I was stuck in grub, with no kernel, no way to boot back into windows, and way to many partitions in my harddrive, 2/3 of which had corrupted file systems.

  47. The Mellow Monkey: Non-Hypothetical says

    Giliell @ 57

    I identify as woman. I’m only ever more at loss as to what that actually means..
    Couldn’t give you a consistent definition if my life depended on it.

    Putting words to an identity or to explain it can be surprisingly difficult.

    I don’t identify as a woman, but I’m at times satisfied with having breasts and a vulva. There are times when I feel very feminine in ways associated with cultural concepts of femininity, but this is not specifically associated with being a woman to me. There are also times when I feel masculine in ways associated with cultural concepts of masculinity, but this is not specifically associated with being a man to me. And there are times when I feel dysphoria about my body and feel like I should have a flat chest and a penis. Or breasts and a vulva and a penis. And there’s no connection between any specific feeling about my body and my sense of feminine or masculine identity.

    I’m not halfway between a man and a woman, as it’s commonly portrayed in descriptions of a gender continuum. I’m neither and comfortable with elements commonly associated with both. I can use binary ideas to try to describe myself, but they’re usually more complex on an individual level than people give them credit for. There can be overlap between different concepts (I feel feminine in this specific way but not that way and at the same time have this experience of masculinity) instead of just one little spot on a continuum.

  48. chigau (違う) says

    I just realized another aspect of privilege in my life.
    I’m an almost 60, assigned and XX and cis female.
    My normal mode of dress is (and has been from childhood) jeans and t-shirt (plus plaid flannel in the cold season) and I don’t get a second glance from anyone.
    But if I want to, I can go out dressed full-on fem and get not a second glance from anyone.
    Not everyone can do that.
    I’m not sure what to do with this (duh, well obviously) realization.

  49. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Dang, first snow of the year, and the temp tonight should be around twenty. But the maples will give up their leaves with that heavy of a frost, which is good. Can’t blow them to the street for the city to vacuum until they are off the trees.

  50. athyco says

    PZ #31:

    Yeah, it’s very strange. Does Mayhew think that everyone having a conversation is talking about her?

    Surely not. Thinking like that would make her zero in on this line supposedly being said (as was mentioned in the Tweet) at the “Pineapple Bar” and immediately link it to the “Go home, pineapple” idiocy that she’d started on her Facebook page*. Surely she’d have to chalk it up to a “let’s you and her fight” goading when she then (1) got not response to her direct question about it being for real, (2) determined that the tweeter was in Australia at the time, and (3) looked up an alphabetical list of bars in Austin and found no “Pineapple” between “Peckerheads” and “Pink Monkey.”

    *After all, it did lead to laughs, a cartoon, an opportunity to poke a FTBullies like Ophelia and (at the time) Ellen Beth, and a declined request from Vacula to call in to the very first Brave Hero Radio show (which he titled “Go home, pineapple”).

  51. brianpansky says

    The problems surrounding who gets called woman, man, he, she, etc (WM from here on out) come from the definitions of those words. I think that is a simple place to start.

    When people use definitions that don’t work for trans people, that causes problems for trans people.

    The definition in our society is “WM is detected by your genitals and determines other things about you. Therefore I can see by looking at you what your genitals are and I know all these other things about you.”

    This definition is entirely broken, it causes problems. That definition must be scrapped because it can never work for everyone. That is comprehensible enough to me. I think we can all agree we need to scrap assumptions based on genitals. (but people will always cry that it works “most of the time”)

    The definitions for WM get scrapped, but then there is a part two. New definition.

    here is natalie reed (March 21 2012):

    [she lists a bunch of things] Gender identity is the part of your gender that’s not any of that, and would stay the same even if that stuff changed.

    No?

    Well, at least it generally makes sense for us. Because our struggle, our identity, our trans-ness itself, is defined by the conflicts along the edges of these things.

    Just trust us, I guess?

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/nataliereed/2012/03/21/gender-expression-is-not-gender-identity/

    It seems to me that FM words get defined as not being anything. Except that it is what a person identifies as. I looked but I couldn’t find the post I think I remember where Natalie Reed talked about how odd that was.

    Moving forward in time (April 13 2012):

    Maybe these paradoxes only appear because I keep trying to analyze a “something” that isn’t really there. Maybe the problem with passing is that there is no problem with passing. Only a problem with humans having a really inadequate way of perceiving gender. Maybe it’s one of those situations where it’s only an important “indispensable” issue because we’ve made it one.

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/nataliereed/2012/04/13/pass-fail/

    Then after more months, December 10th 2012:

    There was a time where I happily accepted “gender identity” and “gender expression” as useful terms and concepts, and went along with the assumed definitions thereof. That’s no longer the case. I’ve since come to perceive a great deal of problems and failures in those terms and the concepts that prop them up: the bizarre insistence on clinging to an essentialism-without-conventional-essentialism that serves as scaffolding for “gender identity”, the inherent belief in codifiably gendered clothing or fashion intrinsic to “gender expression”, and the ultimate necessity of falling back on cissexist, oppositional conceptual frameworks whenever you push the definitions of both terms to the lines that eventually need to be drawn.

    […]

    (much like how “gender identity” is often just an excuse to continue looking at people as being somehow intrinsically a man or a woman or something else, without having to interrogate what those concepts actually mean, while insulating oneself from questions of essentialism)

    I think that the message of trans people (and their allies) to the cis public is ALREADY going to have to be “trash your old definition for the words man and woman”

    The “part two” (make new definitions, gender identity that doesn’t mean much except what a person identifies as) doesn’t seem necessary.

    Try reading some of those articles from the perspective that a lot of our words (she, man, woman, he, etc) are simply broken and we can do without them. We can have one set of pronouns for all humans. So many problems look like they simply vanish to me.

    People would be able to look however, because our language wouldn’t demand that we guess.

    I had read the first half (maybe less than half) of the following post of hers the night I first started thinking of this:

    http://nataliereed84.tumblr.com/post/66351937269/gender-abolitionism-vs-the-micro-genders-of

    But now that I have read the full thing, look at this part:

    (except note that I cut this quote, and I think what I have is very misrepresentation of her position!)

    A thought experiment…lost ALL knowledge of past societies or anything… and it’s a society consisting solely of women.… There’d be a WORD for the tops and a WORD for the vanilla girls and a WORD for the women with gamine body-types, …Because the women would still want to KNOW who might be a good butch dom, who’s already in a monogamous partnership and unavailable, and who might be fun to tie up or whatever.

    yes yes yes yes!

    I think there could be words that are specific, meaningful, only need to be involved in relevant conversations, and they are told rather than guessed. let’s do that. our current words DO NOT DO THAT! O:

    (note that for clear communication, any nonverbal “fashion” signals etc, which she mentions in the actual post, would have to either not exist or only ever be worn by those intending to communicate that statement. otherwise the definition problem arises again.)

  52. says

    Jacob:

    Turns out that those hard disk errors I foolishly ignored weren’t just from windows, but that there was actually a problem. After the install (which went fine, so no problem was indicated), I tried booting ubuntu and had the whole system fail; it didn’t even boot. It didn’t even get past the pre-boot. When I restarted the thing, I wasn’t given an option to boot windows. I was stuck in grub, with no kernel, no way to boot back into windows, and way to many partitions in my harddrive, 2/3 of which had corrupted file systems.

    Oh hells. You have my deepest sympathy. I hope you do better on a fix than I did, which is to say I hope you find one.

    I’m starting to have second thoughts about getting a new computing device tomorrow. I was playing a game on my old tablet, when it just started clicking stuff at random and rebooted for no discernible reason. Then, just a few minutes ago, I opened up my fairly new tablet, clicked to go online and it went utterly blank. Won’t boot. Either the universe has decided to get personal or my electrical disruption field went to maximum plus. Christ, what a fucking mess.

  53. says

    @ Jacob

    hard disk errors

    Have you tried Puppy Linux? It runs completely in RAM and will bring back machines from the dead (perfect for posting here, in other words). It will also allow you to snoop about your system, hard drives included, and figure out what is wrong. Saves to CD and USB storage and needs only 75MHz CPU and 40MB RAM to run¹. It can be addictive, so use with care: Link here.


    ¹ If you have a larger machine, you may want to check out Knoppix for data recovery. On a big machine, Puppy is magically fast – prescient even.

  54. says

    I tried booting ubuntu and had the whole system fail; it didn’t even boot. It didn’t even get past the pre-boot. When I restarted the thing, I wasn’t given an option to boot windows. I was stuck in grub, with no kernel, no way to boot back into windows, and way to many partitions in my harddrive, 2/3 of which had corrupted file systems.

    The Ububtu disk should have a “rescue broken system” option, which of course isn’t much good if you dont know what you’re doing. Agree that checking the hardware with Knoppix or similar should be the first step, maybe the harddisk is fucked and you can get a refund or new one where you bought it. If it shows up in Knoppix, try installing something that is less buggy than Ubuntu, like Manjaro, and see what happens then. But it sounds a bit like faulty hardware to me.

  55. says

    Caine & MM

    Heh. I know what you mean. For me, ‘woman’ means little more than I have the ladybits, and I enjoy having the ladybits. The traditional definitions attached to it don’t much apply.

    I don’t identify as a woman, but I’m at times satisfied with having breasts and a vulva.

    See, that’s where I’m failing.
    Not everybody who has breasts and vulva is a woman, not all women have those etc.
    I used to go by the bio-essentialist route. Then people set me straight on trans issues so that’s out of the window. The definition is simply wrong and shits on people. Doesn’t mean I’m not happy with having both of them.
    I’m also pretty “femme” though I HATE that term. But I’m obviously as much woman when wieliding a sewing needle as I am when wielding the hammer.
    Sure, I perform traditional aspects of femininity*, being treated as a woman shaped my person and my life, and those are useful aspects for a description, but they are really bad for a definition. It’s like saying that bunnies are popular pets, they’re stereotypically portrayed munching carrots and they are often caressed. That’s sure valid information, but it wouldn’t define “bunny”.

    *That word and I. It’s like Nanny Ogg and Bananananas: I know when to start but not when to stop.

  56. Esteleth, statistically significant to p ≤ 0.001 says

    Semi-related:
    An argument broke out on Twitter yesterday, with someone making the argument that not only did sex = gender, world without end amen, but that chromosomal abnormalities were always the result of mercury toxicity from vaccines, and that at no point in the evolution of humans were their organisms that reproduced asexually. The entirety of human evolutionary ancestors reproduced sexually. Because aliens.

    I read the first part of this argument irritated at yet another ignorant transphobic bigot. By the end, I was left utterly baffled and all I could think of was that stupid internet meme of Ron Burgundy saying, “Well, that escalated quickly.”

    And then I was left utterly depressed, because I don’t think that person was joking, and because they aren’t alone in that thinking.

  57. bassmike says

    With regard to Linux: I too endorse Knoppix. I have repaired many ailing PCs with it.It’s my go-to RAM based Linux OS.

    With regard to gender: My understanding that there are many parameters (physical, physiological, hormonal, mental etc) that dictate the way anyone percieves their own gender. These parameters are not binary, so it seems obvious to me that, although a large percentage of the population can unhesitatingly define their gender as either male or female, there is a significant group for which gender is less well defined and indeed fluid.

  58. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Just putting here an apology to regulars. I saw PZ’s Remembrance/Veteran’s Day post go up. I read it. I knew it was going to attract flamingly awful comments. And I’m sorry, but I didn’t read a one. Part of it is law school and big assignment due Thurs. Part of it is just emotional spoons.

    Y’all may not hear anything particularly heterosexist or trans* oppressive. Maybe you think that whatever racism or ableism is in those statements is incidental to their nationalism and jingoism. Maybe you think that the sexism is “merely” a cult of masculinity whose chivalry code ameliorates some of the anti-woman content.

    I’m not saying you do believe one or all of these things. I’m just saying that statistically, you might.

    But when others say war is necessary to defend our values, our freedom, our way of life, I hear, “Bash the fags,” “Kill the kike,” “She was asking for it.” I hear that when someone wants “value” one thing over another, that such valuing can be done through the barrel of a gun, at the point of a knife. There is no bright line between Nagasaki, Tokyo, Dresden, the Blitz, Somne, Antietam, Thermopylae, Iwo Jima, Tripoli, Wounded Knee, Pamunkey, Cottonwood, or the Whitman Massacre and 14 people following me home en masse, surrounding, choking me, harassing me. There’s no bright line between those and being “rouged up” in a men’s shower room for being too femme. There’s no bright line between those and the Stabbing of Joanna McNamara or the murder of Gwen Arujo. There’s no bright line walling off the rape of uncountable black women or the machete killing of hundreds of thousands and the beating of women who came to my shelter.

    “You threaten my values; I beat, rape, murder, and take,” is the worst possible statement of values I can imagine. I just didn’t have the spoons to walk into that conversation and read the words of people who think that they can make a principled defense of blowing up children in August 1945 in the name of fighting imperialism, but deny support to blowing up children in Sep 2001.

    I’m not saying I wouldn’t have been scared out of my mind, but I can’t see myself failing to speak out in 1890 against the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Against a true believer, a catholic supporter of the Pope’s theft of Edgardo Mortara, who pointed in the book and screamed documentary evidence of anti-Christian ritual murder, of Jewish greed and inhumanity, what argument would those folk make that I shouldn’t be killed for opposing the defense of their values?

    I know I should post this in one of the two threads devoted to it, but I seriously don’t have the spoons for that shit.

    I know that I am letting others bear the load of getting rid of that crap, and I’m sorry for not shouldering my share. It is just a bit too heavy these days.

  59. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @bassmike:

    that many people

    can unhesitatingly define their gender as either male or female,

    also shows that many people have no clue that sex and gender are, in fact, different things. If people unhesitatingly defined their genders as either man or woman would in fact be quite a large step up from where we are now.

  60. Esteleth, statistically significant to p ≤ 0.001 says

    I happen to know that I am 46,XX. And that isn’t because I (or someone else) has examined my genitals or any other body part.

    It is because when I was an undergraduate, as part of a lab exercise in my genetics class, students karyotyped themselves. I have lovely Barr bodies.

    At least, cells of my cheek in 2004 were 46,XX with nicely-defined Barr bodies and no obvious chromosomal abnormalities. I could well have a mosaic going on.

    I know that I am female-bodied in the typical pattern. I identify as female. I know that at least some of the cells of my body at one point in time were karyotypically-normal XX.

    I know that I am abnormal in that I know that last bit.

  61. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @BrianPansky, #60:

    I appreciate your investigation of these concepts. I appreciate your genuine struggle.

    Your writings appear from the outside to be deeply confused. You seem to ask for a definition of gender, of gender ID, and of man and woman as if these were terms (or, in the last case, pair of terms) were effectively synonymous.

    Let me get into some specifics, but not that particular confusion first. In #60 you say:

    Not quite, attributing “want” to me is inaccurate. It’s just a bit difficult to swallow that stereotypes play a large role in the definitions when those stereotypes are the problem a lot of trans people face to begin with.
    I also suppose by “start” you mean “start using those (gendered) words in a particular way” but if there were no definition, the right thing to do would be not to use those words.

    So the fact that it’s difficult to swallow has no effect on your preference for the use of stereotypes in the investigation of gender? You’re saying that your previous statements about definitions were entirely objective and that no emotions or preferences can be inferred?
    
That would be weird.

    Thus I think you distancing yourself from “want” is disingenuous. You intend the natural outcomes of your actions. You have stated in any number of ways that it would be better (in any number of ways) to start out without a definition of man & woman, creating an understanding of these terms that is at once de novo and ex nihilo. Your reasons may be perceived better accuracy of the process or an increase in nutritional resources for marine iguanas, but the effect of your words is to advocate for an outcome. Why is it “inaccurate” to say that you “want” the outcome for which you advocate?

    Also, your supposition is wrong. I was pretty clear that we start our investigation of the meanings of gendered terms by acknowledging popularly accepted uses and definitions. The general populace might not understand what sociologists mean by “class”. The popular uses and definitions may even be mutually contradictory in a way that requires the creation of a better definition by people who want to talk about class in more than superficial ways. This does not mean that the very first thing we do is ***use the words according to popular usage***. No. We read and try to understand how those words are being used and what coherent concepts may be present. We try to retain the vital and the useful while stripping away the peripheral, the useless, and the contradictory.

    I advocate the same process here. I am not advocating for popular usage. I am advocating for acknowledging at the beginning that when people use these words they aren’t accidental letter or phoneme combinations: people use them to mean something. They are aware that they are using them to mean something. These are conscious decisions. Any understanding or theory of gender will have to be able to make sense of these things, so setting them entirely aside ab initio because they are “wrong” will only frustrate our investigation.

    ========

    More in other posts.

  62. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @Esteleth, #79:

    I, too, have been karyotyped, from multiple cellular sources. I too am unusual in knowing something about my chromosomal makeup through direct evidence.

  63. brianpansky says

    @80
    Crip Dyke

    Before i finish reading your post, I’ll respond to this:

    So the fact that it’s difficult to swallow has no effect on your preference for the use of stereotypes in the investigation of gender? You’re saying that your previous statements about definitions were entirely objective and that no emotions or preferences can be inferred?

    Sorry, I realized after that my wording was off.

    I do have an emotional preference, I’ll try to explain. If you want to say I “want” something, it’s not that I’m really really wanting the words to be meaningless, it’s that I **do not want** that definition to be used/accepted if it is the source of problems (Inevitably some people will have more difficulty fitting with the stereotypes etc, while other people have it easier. This seems unfair, like I said)

  64. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @BrianPansky:
    I don’t think you’re doing this on purpose. I genuinely believe that it’s difficult to talk about gender and things get very confusing when we finally open ourselves up to potential confusion but have not yet had a chance to resolve that confusion.

    So I’m going to continue to call out things like goalpost-shifts and redefinitions, not because I think you’re arguing in bad faith, but because making these things explicit takes an act of will when things are so confusing and I’m trying to help.

    You say:

    it’s not that I’m really really wanting the words to be meaningless, it’s that I **do not want** that definition to be used/accepted if it is the source of problems

    I never said you wanted the words to be meaningless. You said you wanted to “start” without reference to stereotypes, you wanted to start tabula rasa to write new definitions/understandings. I was very clear you didn’t want to end up with no definitions. When I critique the idea of starting tabula rasa and you respond that you don’t want to finish tabula rasa, we’re not talking about the same thing and productive conversation is difficult. It is difficult and frustrating if you initiate the idea of starting tabula rasa before my critique.

    Can you see that?

    Let’s work extra hard to keep cement shoes on those goalposts, okay?

    Now: I proposed that our investigation of gender ID should include from the start the awareness that stereotypes exist, that enforced gender roles exist, and that people attempting to ID themselves within this gender system are aware of these things as well.

    You opposed this idea.

    Please explain why our starting point should not include this awareness.

    Alternatively, we can agree that we were on the same page on this question from the beginning, but despite our best efforts the goalposts moved with the shifting sands of gender.

  65. brianpansky says

    @80
    Crip Dyke

    (Ok I just refreshed and saw you posted another @83…that “want” stuff was/is definitely a misunderstanding and I’m really going to have to look that one over again.)

    Looking at 80:

    I was pretty clear that we start our investigation of the meanings of gendered terms by acknowledging popularly accepted uses and definitions. The general populace might not understand what sociologists mean by “class”. The popular uses and definitions may even be mutually contradictory in a way that requires the creation of a better definition by people who want to talk about class in more than superficial ways. This does not mean that the very first thing we do is ***use the words according to popular usage***. No. We read and try to understand how those words are being used and what coherent concepts may be present. We try to retain the vital and the useful while stripping away the peripheral, the useless, and the contradictory.

    I advocate the same process here. I am not advocating for popular usage. I am advocating for acknowledging at the beginning that when people use these words they aren’t accidental letter or phoneme combinations: people use them to mean something. They are aware that they are using them to mean something. These are conscious decisions. Any understanding or theory of gender will have to be able to make sense of these things, so setting them entirely aside ab initio because they are “wrong” will only frustrate our investigation.

    Ok, I’ll go through this:

    I was pretty clear that we start our investigation of the meanings of gendered terms by acknowledging popularly accepted uses and definitions.

    [The following paragraph isn't a direct response, but might be related]I roughly described the common old definition at the start of my 68. When someone says “I don’t care what that person says about themselves, they aren’t really a ________ they are actually a _______,” we can see a disagreement about definitions. See how this happens when the objector is using popularly accepted uses and definitions (like the definitions I described at the start of 68) while the person they are talking about is not using those definitions.

    I’m pretty sure we can agree on that?

    We try to retain the vital and the useful while stripping away the peripheral, the useless, and the contradictory.

    Well, this is what I’m trying to do. Man woman she he etc seem contradictory and useless to me. I also don’t see how they communicate anything vital. They may seem indispensable in our language, but using neutral pronouns could work, and any other info people need could be told or requested explicitly (which we already have to do, because assumptions don’t work).

    Did you try reading those articles from the perspective I suggested?

    when people use these words they aren’t accidental letter or phoneme combinations: people use them to mean something

    Yes, and different people are using the same sound combinations, but with different definitions. When this happens with language, it causes problems. But that is only one of the problems, the other problem I see is stereotypes as a basis.

    setting them entirely aside ab initio because they are “wrong” will only frustrate our investigation.

    See above where I mentioned “a disagreement about definitions”. I really think one of the definitions (the old definition) needs to be discarded. Also, investigating what definitions a particular person is using is separate from choosing what language to use.

    For instance, I can investigate the definition of the terms “pro-life”, or “elan vital”, or any number of words, but I can still point out their definitions are based on misconceptions, and shouldn’t be used.

    Of course it’s possible for me to learn something new, and discover that my judgement (of whether to use the terms) is incorrect.

    @83

    I proposed that our investigation of gender ID…Please explain why our starting point should not include this awareness.

    Ya maybe I wasn’t clear in 68 that I wasn’t exactly investigating for a definition in 68. I was mostly providing my position because I thought it would clear up where I’m coming from, clear up in retrospect people’s understanding of my previous posts. Although some of my ideas in 68 were not exactly clear in my mind when I first started asking about stuff the previous days.

  66. brianpansky says

    @83
    Crip Dyke

    And, yes, this is good, thanks:

    I’m going to continue to call out things like goalpost-shifts and redefinitions, not because I think you’re arguing in bad faith, but because making these things explicit takes an act of will when things are so confusing and I’m trying to help.

    : )

  67. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Pet peeve warning:

    Language. Languages. English is not the only one.

    Of course, we could just obliterate all those other useless languages and make everyone use the God given English but if we don’t, de-gendering languages should prove… interesting.

  68. brianpansky says

    @86
    Beatrice

    The problem is going to arise anyways. When someone says “I don’t care what that person says about themselves, they aren’t really a ________ they are actually a _______,” we can see a disagreement about definitions.

    We already have to “obliterate” one of the definitions. It’s already proving to be “interesting”. : /

  69. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Xposted from Zinnia’s discussion of MtF trans women using femininely gendered bathrooms:

    You are addressing this, but not explicitly:

    People conflate “comfortable” and “safe”. If I am in solitary confinement, I might be “safe” but I would certainly not be “comfortable”.

    The productive work of social change cannot be done while “comfortable” is conflated with “safe”. Thus, although it is almost certainly not a thoughtful strategy, conflating comfortable with safe should be seen as a tactic to maintain existing oppressive power structures.

    This conflation deserves not merely disambiguation, but disdain.

    Despite what I saw as a hole in her discussion, you should definitely read the piece. If it is useful to you (and you have the spoons), keep in mind what I said recently on another Thunderdome about gender-determined behavior (which is easy enough to measure in eye-contact experiments, proving eye-contact of different periods for different combinations of genders). We know that there are such things as social rules and that getting them wrong or deliberately choosing not to follow them creates negative social consequences (that’s why we call them rules). If one’s existence is not accounted in someone else’s understanding of gender and its accompanying social rules, then that person’s presence in a situation will result in social vulnerability.

    The real threat, however, comes from **other non-trans people**. Are you supposed to harass a trans person? If you don’t, what cost to your social standing does it entail to fail to provide sufficiently severe harassment? If you do, but harassing isn’t the appropriate response in the gendered context, what cost to your social standing when you choose to harass?

    There is a vulnerability here. Trans* people are not creating this vulnerability, but the presence of trans* people **exposes** this vulnerability. It is our presence that makes the vulnerability visible, and people equate that with our presence causing the vulnerability.

    I don’t want sympathy for the position cis*sexist jerks advocate, but I do want understanding of (and sympathy for) the jerks themselves, as human beings.

  70. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @brianpansky:

    Try reading some of those articles from the perspective that a lot of our words (she, man, woman, he, etc) are simply broken and we can do without them. We can have one set of pronouns for all humans. So many problems look like they simply vanish to me.

    Did you try reading those articles from the perspective I suggested?

    Yes. Twenty years ago I was trying on that perspective, 17 years ago, 14 years ago….

    I’m quite familiar with that perspective, and I did read the long Apr13 Natalie Reed post all the way through – from multiple perspectives, including those you suggested.

    If we had no words for “woman” and “man” would sexism fall away? what about differential diagnosis of heart attack in female humans – if gender correlates to sex, as it does, and symptoms differ by sex, as they do, should doctors wait for karyotyping before proceding with diagnostic procedures? Or should doctors not wait, given the efficiency of gender increasing accuracy in an endeavor where perfect accuracy is irrelevant anyway and waiting for definitive testing puts us outside the window of effective treatments?

    How do we alleviate the harm already done in lives if someone waved a magic wand today and eliminated gendered words/signs from all languages?

    I think you really need to read the Natalie Reed piece more: she’s critiquing gender eliminationism and advocating something quite different. You quote her conclusion approvingly, but also embrace eliminating gender…which is the position against which she concludes.

    How do you reconcile those positions?

    Further, the Reed piece was used by you for a “definition” of gender ID, but in fact what she was discussing was a way of employing/deploying gender ID: framing gender ID as the trait to which essentialism inheres, rather than uprooting gender essentialism altogether. She’s arguing within a trans advocacy vs. trans feminism context, and if you don’t know the distinctions – on the ground distinctions – between trans advocacy and trans feminism, you won’t understand the entirety of what she’s saying…even in sections where, like defining gender ID, you find what she’s saying important enough to quote back here.

    Again, more later.

    Again, I appreciate you struggling with this.

  71. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @brianPansky, 87:

    No. We don’t automatically have a conflict over definitions there. It could be that we both define Napolean Bonaparte as a violent thug and French general who started a heck of a lot of war in Europe over far too many years and crowned himself emperor in 1804. It could be that I’m a psychiatric nurse practitioner and disbelieve your many assertions that you are, in fact, Napolean I.

    I think that what is more interesting in your example is the implied conflict between individual self-definition and socially-imposed definition of the individual. In this type of conflict, what evidence should be used to resolve the conflict? Should some person’s testimony be weighted more than others?

    This is a very important question in gender studies.

  72. brianpansky says

    so much to respond to.

    I was going to be quick. So much for figuring this out over the weekend, at this rate.

    @89

    Well ya, I know Natalie Reed was opposed to abolitionism (that’s why I put a disclaimer before quoting it). But it seemed her critique only applied to enforcing everyone look and behave the same. I’m saying something different. I don’t think I have the same position she effectively argued against:

    Everyone can be different, we just start using language that accurately describes those differences. I’m only advocating the removal of language that is dysfunctional. Requiring guesswork to even do the simplest thing as say “he’s looking for this grocery item, can you help him?” seems very broken. Especially when in 99% of those conversations the designations are not relevant to the topic at hand. All items that need to be described differently from one person to another can be done with better specific words when the need arises. Like in the following:

    what about differential diagnosis of heart attack in female humans – if gender correlates to sex, as it does, and symptoms differ by sex, as they do, should doctors wait for karyotyping before proceding with diagnostic procedures?

    First, correlation is the exact thing that does not work for trans people. (and it isn’t the fault of trans people. It is the fault of using correlation to guess, and being kind-of forced to guess by our pronoun language etc). Remember when I said:

    The problem of basing it on stereotypes is simple to state I think: it [sic] difficulty and burden is built-in for those who don’t easily fit. Meanwhile there will be those who can fit without any effort. That seems like a silly unfair way to do things.

    Second, try removing gender identity from your sentence. You still get to correlate symptoms to “sex” (I’m guessing that means genitals) but you just saved a step. Also, I’m sure you aren’t suggesting a person’s self identified gender would alter the symptoms of a heart attack.

    I think we’d find the same thing in other scenarios. Two sets of pronouns etc don’t look necessary or satisfactory. At least, your example of heart attack symptoms does not seem to demonstrate such necessity.

    @90

    I can’t believe you don’t see a definition conflict : (

    I think that what is more interesting in your example is the implied conflict between individual self-definition and socially-imposed definition of the individual. In this type of conflict, what evidence should be used to resolve the conflict? Should some person’s testimony be weighted more than others?

    This is just another way of saying there is a definition conflict. Just like I said.

    (I’ll just ignore Napoleon and whether or not it is “automatic”) I think the accusations of being crazy for gender identification can come from using different definitions for the same word, while not recognizing this error is occurring, and basically believing one definition to be real, and the other to be “crazy”. It seems so obvious. ugh.

    Misgendering is commonly about definition conflicts. Except the “words” being defined are usually visual communications etc, instead of “words”. Are you familiar with definition conflicts? Not that I’m an expert. I assume your law school would have stuff about them :)

    And yes there are at least two different definitions being used for gender words in our society, you just called them “self-definition” and “socially imposed” definition.

    This is a very important question in gender studies.

    I’ll bet : P

  73. brianpansky says

    @88
    Crip Dyke

    I really think I could have written the following quotes:

    If one’s existence is not accounted in someone else’s understanding of gender and its accompanying social rules, then that person’s presence in a situation will result in social vulnerability.

    Trans* people are not creating this vulnerability, but the presence of trans* people **exposes** this vulnerability. It is our presence that makes the vulnerability visible, and people equate that with our presence causing the vulnerability.

    Except I say “problem” instead of “(social) vulnerability”. Trans people are not creating the problem, but a problem becomes clear. I think the definitions create the problem, like i said at the start of 68:

    The problems surrounding who gets called woman, man, he, she, etc [...]come from the definitions of those words. I think that is a simple place to start.

  74. brianpansky says

    @89
    Crip Dyke

    How do we alleviate the harm already done in lives if someone waved a magic wand today and eliminated gendered words/signs from all languages?

    That is an interesting question, and is worthy of it’s own discussion. Yet it seems both of our positions in this discussion will have to grapple with it, not just me.

  75. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @brian pansky

    try removing gender identity from your sentence.

    You’ll note that “gender identity” nowhere appears in my sentence. Its removal is thus impossible. This is one of the problems: you still haven’t gotten what I said earlier about gender subsuming several concepts, including

    Gender assignment
    Gender identity
    Gender attribution
    Gender role
    Gender punishments/reinforcements

    The last 2 are sometimes thought of as a single category, sometimes not.
    =============
    As for getting rid of the terms being a solution to problems –

    You still have not dealt with the fact that – if you ever get around to defining man & woman – these terms might accurately describe some people. Why would you get rid of them instead of getting rid of their compulsory application?

    Most trans folk could probably deal with such a change, even those who had fought to be included within a category. Most non-trans folk do not have the tools to deal with such a change. I applaud your desire to seek justice for trans* folk, but is your strategy conducive to doing so with minimal associated harm?

    ========
    when you responded to my #90:

    I can’t believe you don’t see a definition conflict : (

    I saw it. I just believed that definition conflict wasn’t the only possible conflict. Agreement over the definition but disagreement over standards of evidence can lead to statements identical in form to yours. The lack of definition conflict in my example means that statements like yours aren’t *proof* of definition conflict, merely evidence.

    Me:… Should some person’s testimony be weighted more than others?

    You: This is just another way of saying there is a definition conflict. Just like I said.

    Now you’ve got me wondering whether you are using “definition conflict” in some technical sense of which I am unaware. How can agreeing that a 4 sided polygon, where all 4 sides are of equal length and each of the 4 interior angles is 90 degrees is a square, but disagreeing that your friend Pamela accurately judged the square-or-not nature of a local building’s footprint, be a conflict of definition? What would it mean to create a category for definition conflicts that included situations where the definition was clearly shared?

    ======
    as for the tongue-out smiley: you’ve been respectful, so I’m assuming there’s a neutral or respectful interpretation of your smiley, but I don’t know what it is. Care to explain what provoked your emoticon to stick out its tongue?

  76. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @brianpansky, 93:

    If you advocate MAD as a peace-keeping strategy and I advocate something else, wouldn’t it be incumbent on you to prove MAD is viable before I have any responsibility to address it?

    Why do I need to grapple with the collateral harms of gender eliminationism when I don’t advocate gender eliminationism?

    I can see where, should gender eliminationism prove feasible, I might need to consider my favorite strategy in the context of at least one alternative and justify preferring mine over another. In the absence of a feasible alternative, all I need to do is prove my strategy feasible and my task is done, isn’t it? What am I missing?

  77. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @BrianPansky, 92:

    The problems surrounding who gets called woman, man, he, she, etc [...]come from the definitions of those words. I think that is a simple place to start.

    imagine that the definitions of man and woman changed not a bit, but that the two were no longer seen as compulsory and comprehensive categories. Further imagine that only the people who actually fit the definition were in and being out carried no stigma (likewise, no stigma attached to being in one category or the other within the man/woman frame). People would make no assumptions about the application of these gendered categories, but only draw conclusions of gender given specific and sufficient evidence.

    Do the problems about which you are concerned still exist? How? In what form?

    If the problems don’t exist, then is it the existence of gender or the compulsory nature of gender that causes problems? Is anyone harmed if large numbers of people with similarly sized breasts happen to love Hello Kitty and Nascar and formulate a catchy name, say KaN, to describe the collective phenomenon? Likewise if there is a group having, on average, similarly sized breasts to the first group but different hobbies, is there a problem with them providing themselves with a collective “noKaN” label?

    Why are you saying the labels need to be gone instead of the labels need to be accurate and non-compulsory? What is it that makes “gone” the better option?

    I choose shifts towards accuracy and non-compulsivity because of my philosophical bent against controlling others. To the extent that I would be “controlling” others, I would merely be insisting that others not use social power to coerce or control yet other people.

    Why do you choose elimination over accuracy and non-compulsivity?

  78. brianpansky says

    @Crip Dyke

    [meta] There are so many misunderstandings happening here. We’re not totally following each other in this discussion. I thought my position was simple and well communicated, and I thought I understood your objections etc…

    For sure I need to take some time to re-read and stuff. I also have school homework to do : (

    I guess for now I hope you can see my “word abolitionism” idea is very different (I think) from the particular variety that Natalie Reed was arguing against. That is the article that gave me the idea.

    Ok, I need to pull away from the computer and do stuff. But this is really hard to stop thinking about.

  79. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Congratulations, Caine.

    I hope the rest of the work goes smoothly.

  80. brianpansky says

    @Crip Dyke

    Oh, hey I just saw this:

    as for the tongue-out smiley: you’ve been respectful, so I’m assuming there’s a neutral or respectful interpretation of your smiley, but I don’t know what it is. Care to explain what provoked your emoticon to stick out its tongue?

    I’m guessing you mean where I said “I’ll bet : P”, yes it was supposed to be friendly. I probably could have said “that sounds like an understatement : P” instead of “I’ll bet : P”. I can see that the definition stuff is a problem, so when I thought you said the definition problem was a very important question in gender studies, that seemed like quite a bit of an understatement.

  81. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @brianpansky:

    it’s totes fine.

    It’s clear that either I’m reading you badly or you’re writing things that ramble confusingly and don’t always use consistent language or, more likely, both, but underneath that, though we have a lot of agreement, there are some places of disagreement and I thought you had just expressed one, so I was cautious in my interpretation of the next statement which **might** have been emphatic agreement (and turned out to be so) but wasn’t sufficiently unambiguous to me in the moment.

    I hope it’s clear that however I may mis/read you, that I hold you in respect and definitely respect the process that you’re going through in your attempts to come to deeper understandings of gender (and, almost certainly though not as directly related to our conversation, sex).

  82. brianpansky says

    @Crip Dyke

    or you’re writing things that ramble confusingly and don’t always use consistent language

    haha, but I thought you were using inconsistent language, or something, that’s why I tried to clarify with “gender identity” when you did the heart attack example and… Apparently something else was afoot, and I’m still baffled there, but I guess I’ll leave it for now.

    but wasn’t sufficiently unambiguous to me in the moment.

    ya, that happens.

    Ok so anyways, I might need to leave “word abolition” out of the conversation, and focus once again on just concepts mostly.

  83. says

    CD, thanks.

    Theophontes:

    You are looking suitably Linuxy. :)

    Hahahaha, ah, thank you. I’m afraid it’s not a linux flavour, though. Too much windows based software and hardware that I can’t afford to replace. The red and black matches my kitchen. :)

    Mister is going to keep the PoS and load the latest Knoppix on it. I think it may run okay as long as it’s a linux only machine. We’ll see. Now we have to try and resurrect my little netbook. Gotta get ahold of a copy of win 7 starter first.

  84. jonmilne says

    Hi, I require help with regards to a debate with someone I’m debating with about evolution. The topics have had to do with a) The way that evolutionary theory has been put to practical use, and b) The nature of bacterial species and the Lenski affair. I’ll dedicate this post to how Chris responded when talking about a) first.

    So I pointed out a good few resources that discuss, in very good detail, how evolutionary theory is put to practical use, namely http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc//CA/CA215.html , http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/search/topicbrowse2.php?topic_id=47 , and http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/news/060301_crime . He responded thusly:

    Chris: “Well, I’ve followed at the links, and they aren’t showing the practicality of evolutionary theory itself. First of all, the type of evolution all these uses were apparently ‘built’ on is microevolution – intraspecific mutations. Your links are silent on how the theory of macroevolution, which deals with the origin of species, is of practical use.

    Secondly, it mostly discusses how techniques developed in the still-continuing attempt to derive a sleek, gapless theory on the origin of species have found practical uses elsewhere. In analogy, it’s like saying “Hey, we use the centrifuge for separating mixtures e.g blood, but now we’ve found out that we can also use it to help adjust astronauts to the extreme gravities of rocket launching”. Does that mean that separating mixtures gave rise to the space program?

  85. jonmilne says

    Now, for the part about bacterial species and the Lenski affair.

    I pointed out the following: “There were 3 different, unrelated mutations required for the citrate transporter to be enabled. The citrate transporter itself was actually present in the original genome, but the 3 other mutations that were required to allow it to operate in the way that it now does were not. Otherwise they wouldn’t be mutations and E Coli would always have eaten citrate.”

    To which Chris asked:

    Chris: So where did the citrate transporter itself originate from? At what point on the evolutionary timeline did it enter the bacterial gene pool? Or did the first organism have all possible biochemical processes coded in its genes?

    Then, when I brought up that there are tons of bacterial species and saying that the “bacteria remaining bacteria” argument is a fallacy, as well as also pointing out that the E.coli in Lenski’s experiment did what E.coli are normally not able to do (and I used an analogy of humans gaining mutations that would allow them to not only drink poison and live, but drink poison and actively live off it) Chris responded:

    Chris: Yeah, see, there’s a problem with bacterial “species”, if they can actually be called that. Bacteria form a giant, connected gene pool in which individuals rapidly change, drop and take up genetic material at will or whatever passes for will in prokaryotes (through horizontal gene swapping and all that). So there are possibly infinitely many species of bacteria. Their situation is hardly comparable to that of most multicellular, sexually reproducing organisms.

    On a prokaryotic level, developing the ability to metabolise citrate could be called a “major evolutionary shift”, seeing as frankly there’s not much to classify them on. And I will still call this a microevolutionary change, because are they still not called E. coli? Or do you call them E. citratus or something now? Even if you were to call them E. coli citratus, guess what? Still same species.

    Humans, on the other hand, are classified as Homo sapiens based on much more than our metabolic activity on a single chemical, or at least I seriously hope so. For example, a fair amount of the population is lactose-intolerant, because they cannot metabolize lactose properly. Does that make them non-human? I don’t think so. I daresay there are people in remote tribes who have built up an extraordinary resistance to and now enjoy foods that would be poisonous to the majority of the world’s population. Does that make them any more or less human? I really don’t think so.

    I’d appreciate any help you guys can provide with these.

    Thanks,

    Jon :)

  86. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @JonMilne:

    Addressing myself to Chris:

    First off, you didn’t ask how macroevolution had practical use, you asked how “evolutionary theory” was of practical use. Evolutionary theory guides the research into divergent inheritance over time, whether over a lot of time leading to large divergence or whether over a little time, leading to less divergence. The theory guides the research. It leads to specific topics being prioritized as more likely to be successful and thus leads to such practical decisions as allocation of research funds as well as decisions about which analytical tools to use.

    Second, if we didn’t have an evolutionary theory, we wouldn’t have found DNA when and how we did: genetics would have been set back decades, though with the increased pace of scientific research that alternate universe might be less behind us today than it would have been in 1950.

    Third: who cares about practical relevance? Is it true? I could tell you what I had for breakfast on Nov 1st, and it would almost certainly be of no practical relevance. Nonetheless, my statement would either be true or not true. Are you saying that you don’t care about truth?

    Fourth: You want citations to papers on evolution, but when given them assert that they are about “infraspecific” mutation which, according to you, has nothing to do with theory relating to the origin of species. Cite the papers on which you assert a theoretical wall that proves the inapplicability of the laws of inheritance and evolution governing many mutations to the occurrence of a single mutation.

    if you can’t prove that there is a distinction rendering the theory inapplicable, then obviously the same theory is at work in both cases and all “practical uses” of what you call “microevolutionary theory” are instances of “macroevolutionary theory”.

    Burden of proof, Chris: suck on it.

  87. says

    @ Cripdyke & brianpansky

    I’m just lurking on the outskirts of your conversation. This is quite appropriate, as I would have little intelligent to add. I feel not just rusty, but that I know less than I thought I did on such matters.

    Though what may be of some little interest, is that I came upon the subject of gender, sex and architecture at varsity, via Beatrize Colomina’s book (she was the editor at least) called Sexuality & Space.

    The architects featured, I studied in further detail as a way into understanding the corollations between gender/sexuality/architecture. These first two seem such intrinsic aspects of what it means to be human animals, that it is fascinating to see how these translate into the built environment (and hence back into human the human psych.)

    What is perhaps interesting – particularly from the outside, looking in to the various authors discussions, is just how important it is (as brianpansky has noted) to get one’s ducks in a row. What some writers do is cast the matter as a simple dichotomy of “male/female”. A real problem I have with that is that one could explain things equally well with any number of other dichotomies. Not least (particularly as this is architecture) with something like Nietzsche’s Apollonian/Dionysian sensibilities. Or go the whole hog and see this as an ongoing interplay between the Doric and Ionian.

    One example was a discussion of the manly Louis Sullivan, whose sober, manly facades would convince one that he was a man’s man. Except: Well those doorways kinda throw a spanner in the works with their womanly frivolity. (Picture here) Oh noze, teh ghey! We could of course look at it from a different dichotomy: The serious, sturdy and sincere Doric sensibility arising in the main façade, yet somehow brought into balance by that of the riotous Ionic muse in the doorway. Or let old Nietzsche have a go. Or something else.

  88. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Jon, Chris is unable to understand macroevolution = many microevolutions. Until that gets pounded into his sealed against evidence brain, he will refuse to understand anything.

    Make him prove his deity exists with the equivalent of the eternally burning bush, something not explained by science. As accepted by a majority of working scientists. His OPINION is irrelevant.

    Example of stupidity:

    Their situation is hardly comparable to that of most multicellular, sexually reproducing organisms.

    Evolution works the same way large or small. Minor changes via mutations, mostly to regulatory genes, and a new species can develop given separation and time. Look at all the animals that can still breed, even if the offspring is sterile. They had a common ancestor.

  89. says

    The other architects were:

    The ever loving Adolf Loos, who designed his wife’s bedroom (Picture here)

    And the mean-spirited misogynist, Le Corbusier. If he was around today he would likely be arrested as a stalker. His target was Eileen Gray, behind who’s house he built a stalker cabin to keep an eye on her, and in front of who’s house he committed suicide. (There are many more reasons why we can deem him to have been a creepy fuck, but this will do for now.)

  90. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @jonmilne…

    When I said the theory guides the research, one practical application is into how Thalidomide causes differences in fetal development that lead to less capable bodies. We can study the basics of limb formation in flies and use that to guide research into limb formation (and how it might be affected by Thalidomide) in humans because of the evolutionary relationships between all bilaterians.

    Likewise, there would be no such thing as testing things medical treatment on animals if there were not relatedness: it’s the relatedness that makes studying the immune systems of rats relevant to understanding the immune systems of humans. Every single drug that was tested in animals? That’s a practical outcome of the theory of evolution. Even the protocols that lead us to test things in rats first and primates later? Those protocols are applications of the theory of evolution to practical problems.

    If evolutionary theory is not both true and practical, explain why we would go from rat models to primate models to human trials? If there is no speciation over time, then primates are just as unrelated to Homo Sapiens as rats are to Homo Sapiens and even as Rattus rattus is to Rattus norvegicus. Why doesn’t shifting from one rat model to another cause chaotic, unpredictable changes in a wide range of results? Common descent, douchegabber.

    Evidence, Chris: Suck on it.

  91. says

    @ jonmilne

    which deals with the origin of species

    Did he just bring up Darwin? Mwahahaha.

    Chris does not understand what is meant by the term “species”. Insist that he toss up his definition. (This will be like clay pigeon shooting.)

    Does that mean that separating mixtures gave rise to the space program?

    This is false equivalence. He is making up irrelevant analogies and then flinging them at you. I don’t think it is wise to get into discussing such analogies with him.

    He has accepted the god-narrative. He will keep making up shit that he feels is consistent with that narrative. If he believed in Santa Claus, he would give you a detailed account of how Santa buckles his belt. He would make inferences and deductions about Santa and come up with all kinds of credible (if only within the narrative) reasoning about what he tells you with conviction. He will get all technical and detailed. This in spite of never being told. This in spite of a complete lack of Santas.

  92. Rey Fox says

    Having another run-in with one of those boring agnostic types, I got to wondering. By now it has become apparent that there are quite a lot of atheists who just use their I-figured-out-there’s-no-god(all-by-myself!) to be arrogant sexist assholes. Is there a similar anti-social-justice mindset among the agnostics? Are they more humble and willing to acknowledge their privilege? Or do they mostly overlap with the “dictionary atheist” crowd?

  93. says

    Rey:

    Is there a similar anti-social-justice mindset among the agnostics? Are they more humble and willing to acknowledge their privilege? Or do they mostly overlap with the “dictionary atheist” crowd?

    It might just be the agnostics I’ve run into, but they have tended to be uninterested in any depth of conversation, as they consider themselves to be sniffily superior in having the only ‘correct’ position. There’s been a lot of emphasis on technically correct, so yes, I’d place them in the dictionary slot.

  94. Esteleth, statistically significant to p ≤ 0.001 says

    Oh, Caine! This isn’t really a Thunderdome question, but you’re here and I’m curious.

    Are you familiar with the band One Republic? Some of their music uses themes/sounds that I’m hesitantly pegging as being possibly Native-derived (and, for good measure, their latest album is called “Native”) and the artwork looks to my untrained eye as using iconography similar to some of the Plains nations. I guess I’m asking if – to your knowledge – they’re being imperialistic dirtbags grabbing at cultural traditions that aren’t theirs or not.

  95. consciousness razor says

    Are you familiar with the band One Republic? Some of their music uses themes/sounds that I’m hesitantly pegging as being possibly Native-derived (and, for good measure, their latest album is called “Native”) and the artwork looks to my untrained eye as using iconography similar to some of the Plains nations. I guess I’m asking if – to your knowledge – they’re being imperialistic dirtbags grabbing at cultural traditions that aren’t theirs or not.

    Well, I won’t speak for what’s acceptable in terms of being influenced by other cultures and being more imperialistic and dirtbaggy about appropriating them. But after listening to a bit of Native, the music is run-of-the-mill pop/rock/electronica. Maybe you’d call some of it “world music.” And like “Western” pop generally, certain forms of African music are influencing/being appropriated more than anything else. (Of course, European folk music is ultimately the source of the “classical” influences.) Maybe you think that’s okay, or you just don’t realize it. But I said I wouldn’t comment on that.

    Anyway, in this case, I don’t hear anything reminiscent of any sort of Native American music. Not even a little bit. None that I’m familiar with. That’s the music. The album art is definitely suggesting Native Americans with those particular animals (also the style of the painting), not natives somewhere else or of nowhere in particular. Maybe they just don’t know about other animals, or they think those animals represent something unrelated to NA culture while it just so happens they’re using the “native” language to do something else. But it’s awfully hard to see how that could be the case.

  96. says

    I expect they are using the Indian stuff to make this album seem on the spiritual side, it’s the way a lot of non-Indians use it, and they don’t seem to care much about reality, just working off the jumble of stuff in their imagination.

  97. consciousness razor says

    I didn’t realize it was a Christian band. Then it’s definitely appropriative, to the extent they’re representing their own religious culture, some form of Christianity, and taking significance from another. I guess they have to cover up the stink of Christianity somehow.

  98. Esteleth, statistically significant to p ≤ 0.001 says

    Well, I definitely picked up on the Christian elements, but I was curious about what I thought were Native elements.

    Hmpth.

  99. jonmilne says

    Well Chris responded like this when I emailed him:

    Chris: Well allow me to first right away debunk your point about DNA, because you couldn’t be more wrong about the way we found DNA, when you credit it to the theory of evolution: http://www.nobelprize.org/educational/medicine/dna_double_helix/readmore.html . Notice how the discovery of DNA springs from Mendel, not Darwin. Nice try though. You can’t credit this to evolution. Hell, you’d probably strengthen an IDer’s case, since they could just argue, to quote an IDer who I actually HAD this argument with, that “the discovery of DNA springs from an ID perspective, from the regularity of reproduction and not from a study of random mutations, and that DNA’s discovery came from the good old fashioned technique of taking an apparatus apart to see how it works, and that all reproduction does is produce limited variation and that there just is no mechanism whereby Darwin’s cumulative magic could occur. DNA explains exactly what we observe at the macroscopic level – variation, but limited variation”. Even I as a pro-evolutionist couldn’t debunk that.

    Contrary to what you think, I’m actually an open-minded pro-evolutionist, which means that unlike many people I am willing to both accept and question the theory. Because guess what? It’s not a closed case, which explains why thousands of scientists continue to modify the hypothesis and search for data to support it. As for your insulting proposal to define species, what’s wrong with Wikipedia?

    Oh, and to very briefly expand on the analogy I made earlier earlier – the centrifuge is real, and it’s use in separating mixtures is real, and it’s newer use in helping astronauts adjust is real, and so is genetic studies and the rest, as are their use in finding evidence for the theory of evolution, and so are their “newer’ uses in medicine, programming – they are all real. So with all this in mind, can you explain why I cannot draw a parallel?

    Now, with that out of the way, let me also say this: Of course I care about truth. Why else would I be here? My point was that it is in fact the case that the golden age of science is drawing to a close. There are suddenly too many problems demanding solutions, as well as dangerously shifting economics, for most scientists to obtain funds for research into ‘fun science’. A clear example is the constant battle over NASA funding. A few decades ago people everywhere extolled the space program and celebrated the men that landed on the moon. Now people call it a white elephant and demand for better healthcare.

    Now with regards to my views on micro and macro evolution, in a nutshell: scientists, and man in general, have not observed the production of or succeeded in producing a “new” species from an existing one while maintaining the fortuity clause. Fortuity itself is a human-defined, not physical/chemical, concept. Hence even if we observe a new species emerging from a pre-existing one, the fact remains that we cannot determine or ‘measure’ the fortuity of said speciation, because just what is fortuity in scientific terms anyway? The conclusion is that

    1) all of humanity’s experiments so far have been on an intraspecific level, and hence origin of species theories have not yet been actively tested

    2) until said theories are tested, they remain plausible explanations and not truths, and plausible explanations are subject to questioning and modification. Therefore people who question such theories are not necessarily idiots. After all, the scientists whose work you and I are using to debate this issue question their theories all the time, which is what leads to progress.

    And by the way many microevolutions do not necessarily equate to a macroevolution. Microevolutions adapt an established organism to better fit the niche it already occupies, and in a certain light could be seen as attempts to ensure the survival of that particular species. Macroevolutions involve new niches. To give a weak analogy (seeing as they’re human-designed), consider the bicycle as a mode of transportation. ‘Microevolutionary’ adaptations to the basic bicycle design have given us the sleek, ultraefficient, sometimes absurdly priced bikes we use today. They occupy the same ‘niche': cheap, not-so-fast locomotion, exercise, etc. But to move into a new ‘niche’ – the one demanding a faster ride and no tiring leg-pumping – the bicycle incorporated the engine and became the motorbike. Small adaptations of a basic bicycle design could not have achieved that. It takes a radical overhaul of what a bike is. Now consider that biological systems are far and away more complex, and that while the worst that can happen to an erroneous motorbike design is that the prototype blows up and the team goes back to the drawing board, with living organisms the slightest modification to the body system is potentially fatal (if you need proof, look at cancer statistics), i.e. said modification does not get passed on. And yet you insist that the modifications to species are primarily fortuitous.

    Finally, you just prove my point. Evolution, as a natural phenomenon, should work the same way in all circumstances. The way the current theory of macroevolution explains it, it doesn’t. There are flaws. That is why I am questioning. That is the same reason why physicists are on the search for a Grand Unified Theory that can explain all physical phenomena, because having a Newtonian/relativistic/wave-mechanics patchwork doesn’t cut it. As I said, if you actually took time to read my posts with an open mind, you’d notice that I say the same thing a number of times: I am not trying to disprove evolutionary theory. I am questioning certain aspects of it in the hope of contributing to the search for a gapless theory.

    Having a common ancestor is not all there is to the theory of evolution. A complete theory also has to define, in clear molecular biological terms, exactly how speciation occurs. “We think” and “we can assume” don’t cut it.

    Would you mind explaining in scientific terms how one compares the evolution of bacteria, an asexual life-form that is such an exception (what with gene swapping) that it has its own definition of species, and that of multicellular sexual life-forms that can be accurately classified on morphology, physiology and anatomy alone?

  100. jonmilne says

    Danmit, I’ll try that again:

    Chris: Well allow me to first right away debunk your point about DNA, because you couldn’t be more wrong about the way we found DNA, when you credit it to the theory of evolution: http://www.nobelprize.org/educational/medicine/dna_double_helix/readmore.html . Notice how the discovery of DNA springs from Mendel, not Darwin. Nice try though. You can’t credit this to evolution. Hell, you’d probably strengthen an IDer’s case, since they could just argue, to quote an IDer who I actually HAD this argument with, that “the discovery of DNA springs from an ID perspective, from the regularity of reproduction and not from a study of random mutations, and that DNA’s discovery came from the good old fashioned technique of taking an apparatus apart to see how it works, and that all reproduction does is produce limited variation and that there just is no mechanism whereby Darwin’s cumulative magic could occur. DNA explains exactly what we observe at the macroscopic level – variation, but limited variation”. Even I as a pro-evolutionist couldn’t debunk that.

    Contrary to what you think, I’m actually an open-minded pro-evolutionist, which means that unlike many people I am willing to both accept and question the theory. Because guess what? It’s not a closed case, which explains why thousands of scientists continue to modify the hypothesis and search for data to support it. As for your insulting proposal to define species, what’s wrong with Wikipedia?

    Oh, and to very briefly expand on the analogy I made earlier earlier – the centrifuge is real, and it’s use in separating mixtures is real, and it’s newer use in helping astronauts adjust is real, and so is genetic studies and the rest, as are their use in finding evidence for the theory of evolution, and so are their “newer’ uses in medicine, programming – they are all real. So with all this in mind, can you explain why I cannot draw a parallel?

    Now, with that out of the way, let me also say this: Of course I care about truth. Why else would I be here? My point was that it is in fact the case that the golden age of science is drawing to a close. There are suddenly too many problems demanding solutions, as well as dangerously shifting economics, for most scientists to obtain funds for research into ‘fun science’. A clear example is the constant battle over NASA funding. A few decades ago people everywhere extolled the space program and celebrated the men that landed on the moon. Now people call it a white elephant and demand for better healthcare.

    Now with regards to my views on micro and macro evolution, in a nutshell: scientists, and man in general, have not observed the production of or succeeded in producing a “new” species from an existing one while maintaining the fortuity clause. Fortuity itself is a human-defined, not physical/chemical, concept. Hence even if we observe a new species emerging from a pre-existing one, the fact remains that we cannot determine or ‘measure’ the fortuity of said speciation, because just what is fortuity in scientific terms anyway? The conclusion is that

    1) all of humanity’s experiments so far have been on an intraspecific level, and hence origin of species theories have not yet been actively tested

    2) until said theories are tested, they remain plausible explanations and not truths, and plausible explanations are subject to questioning and modification. Therefore people who question such theories are not necessarily idiots. After all, the scientists whose work you and I are using to debate this issue question their theories all the time, which is what leads to progress.

    And by the way many microevolutions do not necessarily equate to a macroevolution. Microevolutions adapt an established organism to better fit the niche it already occupies, and in a certain light could be seen as attempts to ensure the survival of that particular species. Macroevolutions involve new niches. To give a weak analogy (seeing as they’re human-designed), consider the bicycle as a mode of transportation. ‘Microevolutionary’ adaptations to the basic bicycle design have given us the sleek, ultraefficient, sometimes absurdly priced bikes we use today. They occupy the same ‘niche’: cheap, not-so-fast locomotion, exercise, etc. But to move into a new ‘niche’ – the one demanding a faster ride and no tiring leg-pumping – the bicycle incorporated the engine and became the motorbike. Small adaptations of a basic bicycle design could not have achieved that. It takes a radical overhaul of what a bike is. Now consider that biological systems are far and away more complex, and that while the worst that can happen to an erroneous motorbike design is that the prototype blows up and the team goes back to the drawing board, with living organisms the slightest modification to the body system is potentially fatal (if you need proof, look at cancer statistics), i.e. said modification does not get passed on. And yet you insist that the modifications to species are primarily fortuitous.

    Finally, you just prove my point. Evolution, as a natural phenomenon, should work the same way in all circumstances. The way the current theory of macroevolution explains it, it doesn’t. There are flaws. That is why I am questioning. That is the same reason why physicists are on the search for a Grand Unified Theory that can explain all physical phenomena, because having a Newtonian/relativistic/wave-mechanics patchwork doesn’t cut it. As I said, if you actually took time to read my posts with an open mind, you’d notice that I say the same thing a number of times: I am not trying to disprove evolutionary theory. I am questioning certain aspects of it in the hope of contributing to the search for a gapless theory.

    Having a common ancestor is not all there is to the theory of evolution. A complete theory also has to define, in clear molecular biological terms, exactly how speciation occurs. “We think” and “we can assume” don’t cut it.

    Would you mind explaining in scientific terms how one compares the evolution of bacteria, an asexual life-form that is such an exception (what with gene swapping) that it has its own definition of species, and that of multicellular sexual life-forms that can be accurately classified on morphology, physiology and anatomy alone?

  101. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Notice how the discovery of DNA springs from Mendel, not Darwin. Nice try though. You can’t credit this to evolution.

    The fuckwit seems to think the final authority on evolution is Darwin. He ignores the 150 years of progress, and the “modern synthesis”. What an irrelevant point, just like all his other nonsequiturs. WHERE IS HIS PEER REVIEWED SCIENCE?

  102. ChasCPeterson says

    Notice how the discovery of DNA springs from Mendel, not Darwin.

    yeesh.
    Mendel’s experiments showed that inheritance (itself an empirical observation dating, one presumes, all the way back to the first proto-human who noticed that a child resembled her mother) depended on a particulate, rather than a blending, substance. But identification of DNA as the particulate substance in question dates directly from the Avery-MacLeod-McCarty experiment, which showed that DNA was responsible for “transforming” one phenotypic “type” of bacteria in to another. I dunno. That sounds sort of evolution-like to me (though not, to be sure, ‘Darwinian’).

  103. Esteleth, statistically significant to p ≤ 0.001 says

    I honestly don’t get the constant harping about how such-and-such “disproves Darwinism.”

    I bet that I could flip through a given issue of Nature and find papers that contradict something that Darwin said.

    So what? Darwin has been dead for 130 years! Of course there have been advances in the field since his death! I doubt very much that he himself would be surprised that parts of his theories have been discarded when new data has come in.

    But then, I guess it makes sense – most creationists are authoritarian in their mindset, and are always bending back to a single source. So they think that we are the same way, where Darwin is our Jesus and Origin is our Bible.

  104. The Mellow Monkey: Non-Hypothetical says

    Re: OneRepublic and the album Native

    The animals in the cover art are supposed to represent each member of the band and not all of the animals (a gazelle is included) are native to North America. There was no doubt some appropriation going on with the style and various choices made, but it’s really just a jumble of bullshit that some people have assumed = generic spirituality. Aspects of shamanism and totemic beliefs get appropriated all the time by Christians who don’t see them as being part of real religions. They’re defanged and considered harmless and while the specific iconography might come from some particular culture (quite often Plains Indians in North America, but not always), the actual appropriation is wider than that. They are, in a way, conflating all “noble savages” at once.

    And that’s clearly what the band was intending. In an interview, they state that the name Native was meant as a reference to all indigenous people. It’s like a sort of über appropriation.

    It’s also not the kind of thing I can personally work up much vitriol about. It’s tiring and annoying, but it’s the sort of microaggression that is just so much easier to try to ignore. If I get upset about this, there are a thousand other things I run into on a regular basis that I should be raging about. I just can’t spare the spoons.

  105. says

    MM:

    It’s also not the kind of thing I can personally work up much vitriol about. It’s tiring and annoying, but it’s the sort of microaggression that is just so much easier to try to ignore. If I get upset about this, there are a thousand other things I run into on a regular basis that I should be raging about. I just can’t spare the spoons.

    Oh gods, this ^. The “oooh, look, raw primitive spirituality” mishmash is done every day by people. It’s one of the ongoing things that’s easier to ignore.

  106. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @Chris:

    Having a common ancestor is not all there is to the theory of evolution. A complete theory also has to define, in clear molecular biological terms, exactly how speciation occurs. “We think” and “we can assume” don’t cut it.

    here you reveal yourself as truly dishonest. You attempt to say that DNA’s characterization was *not* guided by evolutionary theory, but then you say that clear molecular biological explanations of what is occurring during speciation is a mandatory part of the theory.

    Grow up: stop lying. Mendel was forgotten until evolutionary biologists rediscovered him and brought his work to a wider audience. It was evolutionary biology’s drive to provide explanatory frameworks on more and more levels – this one on the level of molecular biology – that made Mendel’s work relevant.

    These were also tests of evolutionary theory. ET requires the existence of descent with variation, therefore it requires a mechanism of descent with variation. ET predicts, evolutionary biologists get chemists and x-ray crystallographers interested in validating or falsifying the prediction, and finally ET succeeds.

    Deal with the evidence in its context. Saying ET didn’t drive the search for DNA is absolutely ridiculous. Saying Mendel drove the search and the discovery is like saying atomic physics drove the search and discovery: sure, since x-ray crystallography played the role it did, it would be deceptive to assert DNA wasn’t characterized in part through studying atomic physics. But atomic physics didn’t drive this discovery.

    Would you mind explaining in scientific terms how one compares the evolution of bacteria, an asexual life-form that is such an exception (what with gene swapping) that it has its own definition of species, and that of multicellular sexual life-forms that can be accurately classified on morphology, physiology and anatomy alone?

    Evolutionary theory.

    Next question?

    No, seriously, when the mechanics are different, the mechanics are different, but population studies and population epidemiology can still give you important information about change over time, and experiments can tell you whether that change over time is responding to forces that can be characterized as selection pressures.

    The things that are common to evolution in living things? That’s evolutionary theory. The things that are specific to kingdoms, phyla, or families? That’s evolutionary mechanisms.

    Finally, you just prove my point. Evolution, as a natural phenomenon, should work the same way in all circumstances.

    Why don’t you have the courage to quote the part that you believe proves your point, Chris?

    Also, why do you believe “evolution” should work the same way all the time? Genetic drift doesn’t falsify evolution b/c of natural selection. If by your statement you mean that the mechanism should stay constant, you’re wrong. If you mean “evolution” means change over time, and if things aren’t changing over time then there is no evolution, you’re dead on. Have a cookie. But that’s saying nothing about the mechanism.

    **Natural Selection** says something about mechanisms. **Genetic Drift** says something about mechanisms. Hell, such things as the study of transcriptases say something about mechanisms, though on a differnet analytical level than the one on which natural selection can be said to be a “mechanism”.

    “Evolution” by itself says nothing about mechanisms.

    Microevolutions adapt an established organism to better fit the niche it already occupies, and in a certain light could be seen as attempts to ensure the survival of that particular species. Macroevolutions involve new niches.

    A semi-acquatic mammal hunts, crocodylomorpha-like, along the shore line. Eager for any nutrition its body can process, it will eat the odd fish that washes up dead on the shore or floats nearby while the mammal is submerged. This only constitutes perhaps 2% of its dietary calories, however.

    30 generations pass…

    Its descendants gain small mutations that let it hold its breath a little longer to hide better from its prey. Spending more time in the water, it nabs dead fish a bit more often, making it about 4% of dietary calories now. New niche? Same niche?

    30 generations pass…

    Descendants of that modified generation get a bit bigger, to better capture and hold the growing animals around it. However, the rapid growth enabled by large meals means having to kill larger animals, which is more easily done in the water than out. The new generation has taken to dragging its prey into the water for the kill, to gain a bit of a boost by making it harder for the land animal to breathe during the attack. New niche? Same niche?

    30 generations pass…

    Descendants of that more modified generation gain the ability to dive a little deeper – just a meter, maybe 2 – to better drown growing animals around it by exploiting nearby deep water. Fish become more available now. They are up to maybe 8% of dietary calories. New niche? Same niche?

    30 generations pass…

    Descendants of that still-more modified generation gain more muscular tails and the tiny webbing between its ancestor’s fingers become elastic flaps of skin allowing the paws to function more efficiently as a paddle in order to better catch nearby fish when big game are scarce. The propulsion makes a dramatic difference in the ability to catch live fish. Although still a big-game hunger, the species is averaging 30% calories from fish just by virtue of having more available to eat. New niche? Same niche?

    30 generations pass…

    Descendants of that pretty-darn modified generation have teeth that are shaped a bit differently -thinner, sharper- and digestion that copes better with excess water to take advantage of the fact that fish supplies are steady even when big game *is* around, and hunting big game 50% of the time is less risky than hunting big game 70% of the time. Fish calories approaching 50%. New niche? Same niche?

    30 generations pass…
    and maybe another 30 generations pass…

    Descendants of that now unmistakably modified generation see their tails get more muscular and their upper limbs shorten since the tail is much more efficient in propulsion and their limbs are no longer as necessary to shore-line hunts now that even a broken-legged animal of this type could swim after and catch fish, but that animal certainly couldn’t live off of big game. Still, the paws/paddles are more efficient for steering, so they aren’t being lost through step changes in inheritance…they’ve just become larger and flatter over generations to better do their job: providing the rudder. Though these are relatively small changes, it makes a big difference to being able to catch fish as the species becomes noticeably faster than a few local fish species and can stay underwater longer, thus having more opportunities to make the catch. Fish are now more than 90% of the diet, with only opportunistic feeding on land animals that die near shore or -through sickness or for other reasons- present a particularly easy kill. Because that opportunistic feeding includes grabbing some pretty big prey, the infrequent feasting on mammals and birds still makes up 8-10% of calories. These descendants aren’t actively hunting on land anymore. Still, they eat both mammal meat and fish meat. New niche? Same niche?

    80 generations later and the species is continuing to adapt with more powerful tails and better rudder-limbs. Breathing, which was already good for hiding underwater during hunting, becomes even better, especially at quickly exchanging the old air, with its excess CO2, for fresh air with more O2. Quick changes enable longer periods under water, which means faster swimming, more time hunting, and more success. Being in deeper water more often means opportunity feeding on land animals is reduced. Fish is now 98% of the diet.

    New niche? same niche?

    What is it Chris?

    Seriously, I didn’t add an internal combustion engine. Are you going to say a full-time water feeder focussed on fish is the same niche as a shoreline ambush hunter?

    Each child occupies **substantially** the same niche as each parent, but not precisely so. Tell me: what is the physical law that precludes this happening?

    all of humanity’s experiments so far have been on an intraspecific level, and hence origin of species theories have not yet been actively tested

    So, so wrong.

    until said theories are tested, they remain plausible explanations and not truths,

    They have been tested. I noticed you didn’t discuss the use of mouse/rat models and drosophilia models in studying human diseases.

    Every single bit of animal medical research is using evolutionary theory to predict a certain amount of utility for human insight in the animal model. It’s also using evolutionary theory to predict the confounds and limitations of the model. This is over a **massive** species gap. The last common ancestor of fruit flies and humans looked not much like either one. It had a mouth, anus, and eyes. It had sensory organs to detect the presence of certain chemicals. It had a nervous system. It had a digestive system. It had muscles that permitted voluntary movement. It could almost certainly detect temperature changes in its environment. It was bilaterally symetrical. Off the top of my head, I don’t know of any other gross anatomical or histological characteristics of that scale that that ancestor shared with both its human descendants and its fruit fly descendants.

    And yet, the animal model works, yielding insight into developmental pathways and problems in humans.

    That is predicted by ET. And the prediction is borne out. It has been tested thousands of times and never disconfirmed. Whenever we assert that we will find more genetic changes in a certain set of genes between squid and sharks than between sharks and humans, we are making a testable prediction. Then, on an ongoing basis, we do genetic tests, we measure animals on a molecular level, and the predictions are confirmed, time and again.

    Moreover, ET predicts that when we look in rocks that are older than the current day we will see the ancestors of current species look more and more like the same-age ancestors of different modern-day species. It also predicts that the more different we are now, the older will be the rocks that contain the youngest plausible mutual ancestor of any two animals chosen.

    Does that prediction bear fruit? yep. Again and again and again.

    What you call macroevolution is tested by making predictions about, among other things, the approximate age of rocks in which we will find animals that could plausibly have given rise to different groups of species.

    And it’s right. All the time. No fossil bunnies in the precambrian.

    make a prediction, do a test – in this case by digging in some old sedementary rocks. Are your predictions violated to an extent that actually implicates the possibility ET might be wrong? No? Predict again & do another dig.

    Lather, rinse, repeat.

    Show me ONE TIME that constraints of ET have been violated by the data found at an experimental dig.

    One time.

    The idea that this hasn’t been tested is idiotic, Chris.

    So with all this in mind, can you explain why I cannot draw a parallel?

    Because you can’t write worth a damn? Without saying what two things you are attempting to find parallel, I can’t help you. Try quoting the things to which you are responding, or just thoroughly expressing yourself. Your laziness makes conversations unproductive.

    Now, with that out of the way, let me also say this: Of course I care about truth. Why else would I be here? My point was that it is in fact the case that the golden age of science is drawing to a close.

    We were talking about whether evolutionary theory is true and you brought up, “Has ET produced centrifuges?” Whether ET has produced any practical thing like centrifuges (it has, btw) has no bearing on whether or not its true.

    Talking about the golden age of science is changing the subject. Either make an argument that ET is not true, or go off and read things about how ET is studied, tested, and confirmed on a daily basis by a million researchers, or in some other way engage the actual topic at hand. The topic at hand is whether or not ET is true. If ET has produced centrifuges, that would be evidence it is true, but the lack of such centrifuges, by itself, no more makes ET untrue than the inability to create a practical product out of the knowledge that I had pizza for dinner last night makes untrue the statement that I had pizza for dinner last night.

    And, as an aside, have you noticed that in the last 20 years we’ve discovered **all the exoplanets ever**. Have you noticed that it’s only been in the last 10 years that we’ve done our first, tentative measurements of exoplanets’ atmospheres?

    Have you heard of whole genome sequencing?

    Have you heard of Moore’s law? You think that’s just engineering that’s happening at 23nm production scales?

    Have you heard of memristors?

    Have you heard of the recent discovery of a potential extra-universal source of gravity pulling super-clusters of galaxies in a direction and at a speed that cannot be explained by anything in the visible universe? You realize that that might lead to the confirmable discovery of something that could only be called **another universe** don’t you?

    Gosh, if only there were great discoveries left to make! But nope, we know everything now. Except we haven’t done a single experiment bearing on speciation, because Chris doesn’t know what an experiment is. But that’s okay, it’s only an explanation for the diversity of life that Chris asserts we don’t know in this age after the death of the golden age of science. Can’t be important. There isn’t anything left to learn that’s really, y’know, **important** in the way that smearing wet bread in a petri dish is important.

    Might as well go home and read the Epic of Gilgamesh: that’s where the real knowledge is.

    Chris: they name is either deceitful or deluded.

    take your pick.

  107. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @Chas, #132:

    thank you for the reminder about that. I wish I’d included it, but since you got there while I was typing anyway, it just makes for great Horde synergy.

  108. says

    Some have already commented, but here is a bit more to work with:

    But to move into a new ‘niche’ – the one demanding a faster ride and no tiring leg-pumping – the bicycle incorporated the engine and became the motorbike. Small adaptations of a basic bicycle design could not have achieved that.

    Except they could. See, the colonizer of a new niche doesn’t have to be perfect. Since the niche is new, competition is weak and less than perfectly adapted organism can survive and prosper. It doesn’t have to be a “radical overhaul”. There’s time. After all, strong competition isn’t going to arrive until somebody manages to make the transition to fit the new niche.

    This seems like basically just another irreducible complexity claim; claims which have been quite thoroughly debunked.

    with living organisms the slightest modification to the body system is potentially fatal (if you need proof, look at cancer statistics)

    Indeed, look at cancer statistics. But also look at statistics for how many mutations occur in total. Then compare the two and note that cancer is actually a fairly rare outcome. If every mutation lead to a cancer, humanity (and indeed, multicellular life) would never have gotten off the ground.

    Each human being is born with dozens of mutations. We should all be little balls of cancerous mush if what you say is true. Fact is that many mutations are quite tolerable and have no significant effect on fitness.

    Furthermore, since all the negative mutations are, as you say, quickly weeded out, that leaves only the individuals with positive or neutral mutations. That’s why even in species with stable selection pressures, changes accumulate over time.

    Yet another point is that organisms appear quite tolerant in regards to accumulation of useless DNA. To compare that to the bike from earlier, that means that you can attach all sorts of little odds and ends to the bike without slowing down significantly.
    So, you can attach the fuel tank and the throttle before the engine ever appears. And, you can have a screwdriver and two combs attached as well, for the hell of it.

    In other words, you can have a whole lot of junk that may or may not become relevant at some future point. Genetic drift means that a certain number of completely irrelevant mutations will be fixed in a population. These can form the basis of later adaptive changes, assuming that the environment changes in some particular way.

  109. says

    Gah!

    A humble request for some help with the education of a liberal dude. I’m all argued out. Highlights include the denial of the existence of male privilege, “it’s oligarchy not patriarchy” and general cluelessness of how class and power gradients work in society.

    Thanks in advance hoarde. :)

  110. Nick Gotts says

    Except they could. See, the colonizer of a new niche doesn’t have to be perfect. Since the niche is new, competition is weak and less than perfectly adapted organism can survive and prosper. – LykeX@138

    QFT. Watch a tree kangaroo, for example.

  111. Rob Grigjanis says

    Crip Dyke @136:

    Have you heard of the recent discovery of a potential extra-universal source of gravity pulling super-clusters of galaxies in a direction and at a speed that cannot be explained by anything in the visible universe?

    Do you mean dark flow? I gather that’s not looking so good, but maybe there have been more recent developments.

    Some researchers suggested that, instead, other universes could be pulling on matter in ours, creating the flow. But other groups looking at WMAP data did not detect the controversial motion.

    The latest search is based on a new, higher-resolution map of the cosmic microwave background from Planck. The Planck team says their multi-pronged analysis also found no evidence of galaxy clusters gushing along in a coherent stream.

  112. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @Rob Grigjanis, 142:

    Thanks!

    When I first read it, I was suspicious – it seemed quite remarkable, but as we don’t really know anything about universal boundaries and we don’t know enough about gravity, I thought it was possible.

    Good to know the current state of research on it.

  113. says

    @ Chris (via jonmilne)

    As for your insulting proposal to define species, what’s wrong with Wikipedia?

    Because Wikipedia says we can’t. The whole concept of species is linguistic … and fuzzy. This is why you need to propose a working definition. And so that we can have a nice clear target to shoot down.

    Oh, and to very briefly expand on the analogy I made earlier earlier …. they are all real. So with all this in mind, can you explain why I cannot draw a parallel?

    Chalk is real. Cheese is real. Is one a good analogy of the other?

    You are setting us up to introduce the “blind watchmaker” argument. The design process is a process that is informed by iterations and ammendments. Good ideas are incorporated into newer iterations and bad ideas ejected. In this way we could say that each new design cycle is born out of the previous. But we cannot take the analogy further than this. And we certainly cannot reverse the analogy and say that, mutatis mutandis, lessons learned from design “evolution” (a less misleading term would be “the design process”) somehow can inform our knowledge of biology. It simply cannot bear up.

    My point was that it is in fact the case that the golden age of science is drawing to a close.

    Feynman also raised this issue, but for a completely different reason. Science has won a lot of the battles. We are, in many respects and aspects, just mopping up.

    And by the way many microevolutions do not necessarily equate to a macroevolution

    Chris, you are going to have to define your terms again. We are talking about evolution, you are now setting up a false dichotomy between “microevolution” and “macroevolution”. (A Ken Ham-ism, if ever there was.)


    @ jonmilne

    I think Esteleth nailed a rather insurmountable problem in such debates at # 133. That is pretty hardwired into the religious mindset.

  114. brianpansky says

    hey yall,

    Since I’ve got so much school work I need to do, it seems likely that I won’t be continuing discussion about gender etc.

    Still, thanks Crip Dyke and others!

  115. jonmilne says

    Chris again, his first email reply back:

    Chris: Well, there was quite a number of wrong things in your reply, so I’m just going to number them:

    1) The truth matters, yes, but people (especially governments) happily sacrifice truth for hard, fast results. If I was a financial institution, for example, and two scientists approached me – one for a grant to explore for fossils, and one for a grant to test a new, more efficient cancer diagnosis method – guess who I’d give my money to?

    2) Well, I can concede this point about Mendel. Biology is already the most “backward” of the natural sciences, and without the questions that Darwin raised we’d almost certainly be further back still. Sadly, though, that’s not the main point.

    3) Going “Evolutionary theory. Next question?” is like saying “God”. You haven’t answered the specific question I’ve asked you. How do you compare their evolution? Give me quotes, state parts of the theory, whatever, but explain to me how you can equate the evolution of asexual prokaryotes and sexual eukaryotic macro-organisms.

    4) On “working the same way all the time”, Maybe it’s too much phy/chem/math in my head. But natural phenomena work the same way at the basic level all the time. For example, whether its a twenty-million-volt bolt of lightning or a three-volt flashlight, the basic principles of current, resistance and voltage as well as conductivity hold true. On the basic level of DNA, evolution should work the same way. But the current theory doesn’t give that standard way. It works perfectly well for bacteria, but as you climb the complexity ladder things start to fall apart. The fortuity clause, for instance. I’ll address that in my next reply, which is immediately after this one so hold your horses..

  116. says

    @Caine #140

    Arbourist, there’s a metric fucktonne of reading, [...]”

    Thank you Caine. :)

    Actually the wiki is one of the places where I started and it is a most fruitful educational zone. The thread is winding down, as well dishonest liberal dude won’t read, nor will he consider the possibility that he’s wrong.

    The perplexing nature of the debate led me to a interesting (read frustrating) fun fact about trying to define Patriarchy in context of our modern society. There isn’t a place easily found (I only searched for a couple hours, so fairly limited) where one can define and place the P within a modern context that is dude accessible.

    For instance, the definitions at finally feminism 101 are good but lack that next step of connecting it to how society is run. Citing IBTP usually doesn’t work because advanced blaming hurts entitled man fee-fees faster than you can say Andrea Dworkin.

    I guess I’m looking for a resource that has clear causal connections that highlights the effects of the P on society. It would answer questions like –

    1. The wage gap in society can be attributed to patriarchy because…

    a) women not considered to be people until recently
    b) workplace bias vs. women and the work they produce
    c) familial expectations\pregnancy
    d) gender roles
    e) differing socialization of women and men etc.
    f) hostility to female entrance to the workforce
    g) all the ones I missed.

    And then those subsections would all have links to relevant information and evidence that could be used to persuade rational people about one of the fundamental concepts in feminist theory.

    One can find great bits of and pieces on the web, like the Bell Hooks definition of Patriarchy, but it is just one small part of synthesizing a encompassing evidence based examination of what the P is and how it works in society.

    As I write this I think this might be a good topic for the crowd sourcing power of the wiki as tackling it all would be akin to thesis level work for just one person. So might I make the suggestion of adding a Patriarchy and its effects section to the the pharyngula-wiki, I can think of no better place outside of academia, for such a resource.

    Thanks again for the help Caine.

  117. jonmilne says

    Chris, Part 2:

    Chris: 5) Now for the 30 generations part. Your argument illustrates the problem I have with the current evolutionary theory: fortuity. You yourself have to admit it: the way you say it, it doesn’t sound fortuitous at all. It sounds like something responding to its environment. If a mosquito buzzes by my ear and I swat it, is my swatting fortuitous? I don’t think so.

    If evolution is a response to an organism’s environment, then it doesn’t make sense for the mutations that power evolution to be random, fortuitous events. And another thing. It’s easy to toss out words like ‘mutation’ like no man’s business, but do you know what mutation really entails? I’ve done a fair bit of in silico genetic study (okay, okay, that just means I work with DNA and protein models on my laptop :D ) and believe me, it doesn’t work the way most people think it does.

    Most mutations in DNA occur in the 98% of non-protein-coding, non-phenotypic DNA. The 2% of DNA that gets expressed as physical characteristics are not magical information banks. They’re sequences of molecular structures called nucleotides which happen to fit into certain other molecules when the double helix is unzipped, which fit into certain other molecules which fit into another molecular structure called amino acids, which then form peptide bonds with each other to produce polypeptides and eventually proteins (this is a basic description of DNA translation/transcription). Said proteins then react or control reactions with other biochemical molecules, inhibiting some and accelerating some, which (in a way that no-one claims to understand yet) somehow ends up in you having 206 bones, for instance (as well as thousands of other characteristics).

    Now, there is an infinite amount of proteins that can be formed by the combination of the twenty amino acids that DNA codes for. Not all of them have appreciable biological function, and as a result there is a relatively very limited number of proteins that organisms utilize. Something, even in the simplest organisms, recognizes this, and that is why nature goes to extra lengths with mechanisms in place to stop protein-coding DNA from mutating. Let me give you the simplest of these mechanisms: the amino acids and their respective codons in DNA. Codons are groups of three nucleotide bases. A little permutation math quickly shows that there are thus 64 possible codons (since there are four bases, 4*4*4). But these 64 codons only code for 20 amino acids. How? Amino acids can be coded as more than one codon. For example, leucine can be coded as CTA, CTC, CTG, CTT, TTA and TTG. Why? So that if there is an error in transcription, for example if a base is dropped, there is still a healthy possibility that the protein will turn out alright. A CTA codon that turns to CTC will still code for leucine. That’s fighting against mutation. There are other such mechanisms.
    Why does nature fight the mutation of protein-coding DNA? Because it can so easily go very, very wrong. Take haemoglobin for instance. Haemoglobin-A (“normal” haemoglobin) and haemoglobin-S (found in sicklers) differ by ONE amino acid in a chain made up of hundreds of molecules. That’s the mutation of a single codon out of the millions in DNA. Not much, right? But that single amino acid changes the entire secondary, tertiary and quaternary structure of the protein, so that haemoglobin-A binds oxygen efficiently while haemoglobin-S molecules tend to bind to each other instead. One amino acid, and look how it affects sicklers. That’s just one example of how even a viable mutation to protein-coding DNA can go so, so wrong.

    This is why I will continue to insist that fortuitous mutations cannot drive evolution. The sheer amount of coding required to produce major physiological/anatomical characteristics is a clue. One does not simply develop elastic webbing between one’s digits through a fortuitous mutation. A population does not simply become more oxygen-efficient. Let me give you a direct example. Michael Phelps’ muscles can utilize oxygen much more efficiently than mine. The DNA of the cells of his muscles reflects this, because due to the stress of his career only efficient cells would survive long enough to divide into new muscle cells. That’s natural selection, and it is not fortuitous because it is the result of rigorous exercise and training, a controlled diet and an aquatic career. However, that is an epigenetic change to somatic (body) cells, and is not reflected in the genes of his gametes. Michael Phelps’ kids would not automatically be any more oxygen-efficient than the next baby. They would not automatically thrive in water. Without the same rigorous lifestyle of their dad, they would turn out like the average human. If they take up his lifestyle, then any epigenetic changes they undergo would not be fortuitous. Even still, the same results are not guaranteed. Pro swimmers don’t necessarily have pro swimmers as kids.

    6) Has it still not gotten through to you that I am not saying that evolution didn’t occur? Has it still not gotten through to you that all I am saying is that it may not have happened the way we currently think it did? Are you ever going to stop talking long enough to listen to what I am actually saying?

    I will say again that there is more to evolution and evolutionary theory than having a common ancestor. Think about genealogy. Is it enough to say that your family descended from your great-great-great-grandfather “insert name here”? No. It’s also still not enough to simply draw up a family tree. To produce a complete, accurate history of your family, you also have to trace the relationships themselves and the lives of the individuals to find out how your grandmother met your grandad and so on. In doing so, you might find out that their marriage wasn’t the happy affair everyone told you it was, and that your mum isn’t actually your grandad’s biological kid. And then you have to shift your family tree. The “truth” you accepted before is suddenly a lie. Similarly, so far no-one has observed, studied and documented the development of a new species, and until that happens there are parts of evolutionary theory (like the fortuity clause) that will remain plausible explanations and not truth. Thus they are subject to questioning and modification.

  118. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Next question?” is like saying “God”.

    Sorry, your deity exists only between your ears Chris. Otherwise, you would point to the solid and conclusive physical evidence for it.

    How do you compare their evolution?

    Compare what to what? Evolution is a science. Anything to do with your imaginary deity is RELIGION. Religion cannot refute science. Only more science can do so. Where is your links to YOUR PEER REVIEWED SCIENCE CHRIS?

    On the basic level of DNA, evolution should work the same way. But the current theory doesn’t give that standard way. It works perfectly well for bacteria, but as you climb the complexity ladder things start to fall apart.

    Citation to the peer reviewed scientific literature need Chris. That statement is your unevidenced OPINION. Which can and is dismissed without evidence. Evolution works the same at all levels. You have shown NO EVIDENCE otherwise, and your inane and fuckwitted questions aren’t and never will be scientific evidence. They are nothing but sophistry, word weaseling, and ignoring the facts.

  119. jonmilne says

    Chris Part 3:

    Chris: 7) I didn’t bring up ET producing centrifuges. I made a comparison between ET and DNA studies on the one hand and the space program and centrifuges on the other. My point is that people had been studying genetics before ET came around, so it is possible that DNA would still have been discovered, although probably later than it was.

    8) As for exoplanets, notice what I said about the opposition to the space program.

    9) Duh I know of whole genome sequencing. I have the genomes of humans, tigers and a number of bacteria on my laptop. Bacteria genome sequencing leads to better understanding of the diseases they cause and the possible medical applications of some of the beneficent ones (like Lactobacillus). I don’t even have to explain how human genome sequencing is important. Your point?

    10) Moore’s law and memristors have given us more efficient computers. Again, your point?

    11) Potential extra-universal source of gravity. Refer to what I said about the opposition to the space program. After the math is worked out using already conveniently available computers and observations are made using already conveniently available telescopes and other machines, do you really think anyone with any financial acumen at all will, for example, fund an expedition to this newly discovered universe?

    12) There are LOTS of discoveries to be made, most of them in the field of biology. Which, as I recall, is what we were discussing. There are still enormous gaps in our understanding of life. And researchers are trying to fill in these gaps, especially the ones with practical bearing on how our species is going to survive. I doubt anyone now will seriously try to set up a project to produce or observe the production of a new species of macro-organism, because really, what would be the point? A new mouth on a planet that’s already struggling to feed the ones it has? But once upon a time scientists would have screwed the expense and tried to produce one for the sheer heck of it. That was the golden age of science. It’s ending. It’s sad, yes, but people don’t care enough anymore.

    13) No, actually. Living organisms have points of irreducible complexity, MAYBE because of the “life” thing. You can’t continue to take apart the biochemical mechanisms of an organism forever, because at some point it would die. DNA is an example. For more on that, actually read my other replies.

    14) Of course the first proto-motorbike wasn’t perfect. Notice I said “radical overhaul of what a bike is”. In other words, the designers have to rethink what a bike should be to come up with a motorbike. One has to rethink what a fish should be to come up with an amphibian. So would you mind explaining how purposeless modifications to the blueprint of a bicycle can give the blueprint of a motorbike?

    15) And, by extrapolation, how purposeless mutations of DNA sequences could possibly give the adaptations necessary to help a fish make the transition from obligate aquatic to facultative aquatic?

    16) How you replied about cancer statistics and human mutations goes to show how much you don’t understand about mutations. I’ve already said it in an earlier reply, but I’ll repeat it here: those mutations mostly occur in non-protein-coding DNA. When mutations occur in protein-coding DNA, such as with hemoglobin, they are generally bad news. And since protein-coding DNA is what codes for the phenotype of an organism, it’s mutations of protein-coding DNA you must use in support of evolution.
    Cancer is not one of the random, ‘ignorable’ mutations of non-protein-coding DNA that everyone accumulates. Cancer is as a result of a mutation of sections of protein-coding DNA called oncogenes. Oncogenes normally code for proteins that induce natural cell death by apoptosis and regulate the growth of the cell. A simple mutation to these genes means that the proteins produced are not quite the same, and I’ve already shown what ‘not quite the same’ means for a sickler. The new proteins do not have the biological function they’re supposed to as a result of a difference in structure, and so you have cells that won’t stop growing, cells that won’t shut up and die like they’re supposed to. Voila – cancer. (Yes, that is all cancer is). Like sickle-cell anemia, that’s what happens when fortuitous mutations occur in protein-coding DNA.

    17) By the way, none of DNA is junk. As I have already said, most of those tolerable mutations occur in non-protein-coding DNA. Fortuitous mutation to protein-coding DNA = almost always bad news. Seeing as protein-coding DNA is expressed as proteins, I fail to see how it can hang around irrelevantly. Except you’re saying that it’s possible to introduce a random new protein into the extremely delicate balance of the cell’s biochemistry and not have any effect. I think I’ve already shown how it doesn’t work like that, with cancer and with sickle-cell anemia.

    18) And, another thing – and this is the last point – be careful how you use analogies. How could you possibly ride a bike that has a throttle and a fuel tank but no engine, with conflicting mechanisms getting in the way of the gears and all that dead weight? A living organism has to do just that – live. It can’t just tag on characteristics, because said characteristics could very well get it killed. Or prevent it from living in the first place. In analogy, if you did manage to ride this engineless bike, the worst that could happen to it is that it’d go really slow and not be very maneuverable. Living organisms that go really slow and are not very maneuverable and don’t have a defence to make up for that generally get eaten.

  120. says

    Arbourist, if liberal clueless dude will go to the utterly insane trouble of reading a book, I highly recommend Manhood in America: A Cultural History by Michael Kimmel. It gets at the very root of what you’re looking for.

  121. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    *accidently posted on the “heresy” thread
    Chris:

    I will say again that there is more to evolution and evolutionary theory than having a common ancestor.

    Then Chris, it is up to you to provide the peer reviewed scientific evidence to back up that claim. Or, if you have honesty and integrity, shut the fuck up about it if you cannot or are unwilling to publish your alleged evidence in the peer reviewed scientific literature. All you have is unevidenced and fuckwitted OPINION which is dismissed.

    By the way, none of DNA is junk. As I have already said,

    Unscientific liar and bullshitter said bullshit….Film at eleven. Until you evidence every assertion you make Chris, from the peer reviewed scientific literature, not one word of your Gish gallop is believed. Welcome to how real science works, not your idea of how it works. Your word is worthless. Your links to real peer reviewed scientific evidence, golden.

  122. Esteleth, statistically significant to p ≤ 0.001 says

    Jonmilne, I have a suggestion to helpfully explain to him how a mutation could be simultaneously beneficial and harmful, and thus be subject to selection. I’m not sure of how well he’ll receive it, but here goes:

    In a gene located on chromosome 11, which codes for the protein β-globin, most people have an adenine nucelotide that results in glutamic acid being the amino acid in the sixth position, by primary sequence. However, in some populations, there is a high rate of a single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) that transforms that adenine into a thymine. The result of this is that the glutamic acid at position six becomes a valine.

    People with this SNP have an elevated rate of their β-globin spontaneously crosslinking inside their hemoglobin, which results in premature rupture of their erythrocytes. If they are homozygous for the mutated allele, this happens at a much higher rate than if they were heterozygous, and these individuals are prone to a severe illness whereby their erythrocytes are malformed in a distinctive manner that gives rise to the name of the illness: sickle-cell disease. These individuals suffer from anemia and poor circulation, and the various illnesses resulting from these conditions.

    It would be easy enough to say that this mutation is straight-up harmful. People with sickle-cell disease are less likely to be healthy adults, which negatively impacts their ability to have and care for children. The prediction would therefore be that, minus a countervailing pressure (e.g. inbreeding), the rate of this SNP would gradually fall in the population, a clear-cut example of negative selection. In fact, outside of certain populations, this SNP is very rare.

    Now, what are those “certain populations”? Is there anything that they have in common? The SNP has a high rate in people from the areas surrounding the Mediterranean, the middle East, sub-Saharan Africa, and parts of India. A bit of time examining relevant maps will show that the allele has a high rate of expression in areas where there is (or was, in relatively recent history) a high rate of malaria infections.

    This co-occurence is not a coincidence – a person who is heterozygous for the SNP allele enjoys a significantly lowered susceptibility to malaria: their erythrocytes are less vulnerable to infestation by the parasite and as the cell is more likely to rupture prematurely, the parasite has a lessened ability to reproduce inside the body. It should be noted that people who are heterozygous are not noted for suffering a great deal from their mutated β-globin – they have enough healthy β-globin to supply their tissues.

    We thus have a gene with two alleles, whereby:
    (1) Someone who is homozygous for either allele is at high risk for suffering from a life-threatening illness, but
    (2) Someone who is heterozygous is at a substantially lower risk for either illness.

    The advantageous situation is, therefore, to be heterozygous. Being homozygous (of either variety) is bad.

    So:
    (1) We have a gene with a SNP – the easiest variety of mutation to occur randomly.
    (2) Someone who is heterozygous for the mutation (the most likely pattern if it is a random mutation) will, if they live in an area where malaria occurs, be healthier than their homozygous peers and more likely, thus, to leave behind children who themself carry the mutation. The child of a person who is a carrier of the mutation and a person who is not a carrier has 50% chance of themself being a carrier and demonstrating the same health and fitness of their carrier parent. It should be quite easy to see how the rate of the SNP would rise precipitously in a population that is at-risk of malaria. However, in a population that is not facing that risk, there would be nothing selecting for the SNP, so its rate would be unlikely to rise.
    (3) The child of two carriers would have a 25% chance of being homozygous for the SNP, which results in a severe disease phenotype. This would create a downward pressure on the SNP prevalence, as people who are homozygous (all of whose children would be at least carriers) would have a lower probability of having children. The World Health Organization estimates that the carrier rate in sub-Saharan Africa ranges between 10% and 40% (herd immunity will kick in here, where an absence of susceptible hosts will drive down the overall infection rate – the risk of lacking the SNP and being bitten by a mosquito that has previously fed on someone who also did not have the SNP and who was themself infected is lowered the higher the carrier rate rises).
    (4) In areas where malaria was formerly high but is now dropping, the rate of sickle-cell disease has been falling, suggesting the removal of the pressure favoring heterozygosity is dropping: homozygotes for the non-mutated allele are as healthy as their heterozygous peers. Likewise, people descended from ancestors who lived in those areas who live in different (low-malaria) areas show the same pattern of gradually falling rates of sickle-cell disease. For example, African-Americans who are descended from people from sub-Saharan Africa have a carrier rate of about 8.3%, and this rate is falling.

  123. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @Chris, via JonMilne

    There is much idiocy in your writing.

    First, “golden age is over” – even the nostalgia was better in the old days, right?

    What constitutes a “golden age” – awesome discoveries to be made or lots of money to spend? You seem to flip flop a little, but focus mostly on the fact that in the past, scientists would have said damn the money, let’s do X b/c it’s awesome and can teach us things, even though it is ridiculously expensive.

    So all of my listing of amazing science – science producing wonderful new knowledge – is irrelevant b/c people didn’t spend massive amounts of money to get it? A golden age of science can’t be golden b/c we’re doing awesome science, we have to be burning through tons of cash?

    Well, chris, the exoplanet seeking I described, I’m sure you’ll fund the next round on your own. Kepler, the planet-hunting space-telescope was only $600m or more. The next one can’t be much more than the spare change in your couch. Let’s see, google, google, right! It’s a budget-mission. I guess you’re right. Science is just burning no cash whatsoever. Only $200m, so I’m sure you’ll pay for it and let the space orgs squeeze in an extra mission of some kind, right?

    Those scientists just shrug their shoulders when something is expensive. Why they limited the Square Kilometer Array to a bi-national spread site with 1.8 billion euros on the infrastructure and scientists flying back and forth between the two – probably economy!

    And what’s with the LHC? They spent 9 billion dollars/7.5 billion euros collecting a few hundred Higgs particles whose weight in comparison to a gram is far less than a gram’s weight in comparison to the planet Earth. One might think that someone might be able to call that burning through cash, but you & I know that that would be unreasonable. The meek scientists probably spent most of their careers turning down money so they could build their small-scale “only as big as we need to confirm what we already know” project. No fighting for every dollar and spending it all to push fundamental knowledge as far as we can. Nope! Not for today’s scientist.

    The Golden Age is over – nothing to discover, or, if there is, scientists just won’t blow enough money on it.

    I’m sorry, I have to pour a glass of wine and cry myself to sleep for a bit. It’s just so sad that it’s gone.

    ===========
    Okay, back now. I think I can hold back my tears for the rest of this.

    I will continue to insist that fortuitous mutations cannot drive evolution.

    You think I’m not being scientific, and you think you are. But you are asserting something with dogmatic force that not only hasn’t been proven, it’s got a lot of evidence against it. Why are you doing this?

    Your silly someone else was really my grandfather…no, wait, let me quote:

    there is more to evolution and evolutionary theory than having a common ancestor. Think about genealogy. Is it enough to say that your family descended from your great-great-great-grandfather “insert name here”? No. It’s also still not enough to simply draw up a family tree. To produce a complete, accurate history of your family, you also have to trace the relationships themselves and the lives of the individuals to find out how your grandmother met your grandad and so on. In doing so, you might find out that their marriage wasn’t the happy affair everyone told you it was, and that your mum isn’t actually your grandad’s biological kid. And then you have to shift your family tree. The “truth” you accepted before is suddenly a lie. Similarly, so far no-one has observed, studied and documented the development of a new species, and until that happens there are parts of evolutionary theory (like the fortuity clause) that will remain plausible explanations and not truth.

    You do understand that part of the definition of a species is whether or not it breeds with another, related population, right? These are **population** dynamics, not individual dynamics.

    So if scientists do whole genome sequences on 300k related individuals of a species and follows them over many generations, and discovers that individual 424g818539 won’t breed with individual 423g879420, do we have a separation of populations into 2 new species? Given how many individuals **didn’t** breed with every other individual in the population, how would the ancestry of specific individuals prove or disprove speciation? And if we do prove it, how much longer do we need to carry on the experiment to prove your so-called macroevolution?

    Wouldn’t a better way be to make predictions using an hypothesis, then see if the hypothesis is falsified on test, and if we consistently get results consistent with the occurrence of “macroevolution” as you insist on calling it, with not a single result that rules out macroevolution, would it make sense to call the hypothesis confirmed? And if you have quite a number of hypotheses all based on the assumption that macroevolution is true, and some of them don’t pan out, but never ever does the falsification of an individual hypothesis actually disconfirm ET itself, wouldn’t you call ET – massively confirmed and never disproven – established?

    Your intuition that positive mutation is just too unlikely is not a falsification of ET. And yet:

    I will continue to insist that fortuitous mutations cannot drive evolution.

    Insist, you say. Insist. You won’t continue to do actual experiments to prove just how unlikely it is that X or Y will happen. You won’t sit down and work out population sizes and generational lengths to determine how many viable mutations crop up in teleosts each year. You won’t do any useful work on the problem.

    You’ll only insist that you know something can’t happen.

    You want a cookie for that?

    ====================
    Let’s move on with your stupidity. First, mutation in a coding gene is not the only source of differential traits that can be passed on to offspring. Mutation in regulatory sequence is actually a much stronger driver of morphological variation. Webbed fingers vs. unwebbed fingers is much more likely to be the difference in regulation than a difference in protein coding.

    You laugh off “the way I say it” with generations passing “[macroevolution] sounds plausible”. And then you talk up how little of the genome codes for proteins and name a couple of mutations that have highly deleterious consequences. What you don’t say is that nearly all the genes we have have orthologs in other species.

    You haven’t said anything about how medical research uses animal models. We may not know the genetic code of the last common bilaterian, but that doesn’t stop us from using statistical analysis to quantify relationships between slugs, flies, and fish. Nor does it stop us from quantifying our relationships with each of those animal groups.

    Really, your argument boils down to a sophisticated, “were you there?” rebuff. This shows a massive naiveté as well as a massive misunderstanding of science itself. Remember your:

    there are parts of evolutionary theory (like the fortuity clause) that will remain plausible explanations and not truth

    F = ma is a plausible explanation, not “truth”. ET is plausible. A magical hard line that rules out my earlier ambulocetus-to-pakicetus hypothetical course of development is not plausible. You can say it was unlikely that development would occur in this way – and you’re right! If a million things were different – a vicious aquatic predator already existed, say – those in the next generation who liked to go a little deeper would die a little faster, and those who were better at running would survive a little better, with odds pushing things towards leaving the shoreline and developing in a cheetah-ish direction…for a time.

    Looking backwards and asking how implausible is it that this specific variation appeared in the population is useless. The probability is 1. It happened. That can make design seem a very attractive alternative explanation. Atrractive enough that some smart people will unthinkingly say stupid things like:

    I will continue to insist that fortuitous mutations cannot drive evolution.

    Not: “You would have to have populations of animals in the [insert very large number here] with life cycles frequently measured in weeks or months to support the total number of gametes it would require for life to achieve the millions of different functioning systems that appear on this planet”. No, that’s not what you said. You said:

    I will continue to insist that fortuitous mutations cannot drive evolution.

    You don’t even insist that fortuitous mutations cannot happen. Just that they can’t drive evolution. Because that’s a law somewhere. Chris’s law. What’s the best formulation of this law, Chris?

    If something happens only because it has so many chances to happen and not because it is, at any given moment, likely to happen under my nose, then the ChrisForce will prevent that unlikely event from having any observable effect on the universe.

    I, Chris, insist that this is so.

    You’ve made the assertion that what you are calling fortuitous mutation cannot drive evolution. Cannot. Provide evidence for the mechanism that prevents rare fortuitous mutations from having observable effects in populations over time.

    We’re waiting.

    =========
    Oh, and while we’re waiting, let’s go back to “things go all to hell if a little tiny piece is changed, therefore only 20 amino acids”.

    Foxp2, Chris. Foxp2. You keep insisting that one little change is so likely to be deleterious that it just can’t happen. But the ubiquity of orthologs belies this. Fish have a different set of versions of FoxP2 than bats who have a different set than monkeys who have a different set than apes other than the great apes who have a different set than chimpanzees who have a different set than humans. There are a hell of a lot of FoxP2 versions out there, Chris. There’s even more than one in humans that **doesn’t** result in communication disorders.

    We experiment with this all the time, knocking out an animal’s version of a specific gene and putting a human version in. Mostly the animals thus created aren’t monstrous bundles of deformation that die in utero. Mostly they function, but often function differently. In some environments that difference might benefit the animal, in some it might hurt the animal: what makes a gene beneficial is not merely the gene, but the environment in which it is found.

    it might be easier to remember the horror of Tay-Sachs than the ubiquity of Foxp2 [which, apparently, might have a benefit to chimps if it mutated, right?] but your use of the availability heuristic is not proof that

    fortuitous mutations cannot drive evolution.

    Provide some data, Chris.

    Again, we’re waiting.

  124. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Esteleth, I love you.

    I read as far as this:

    People with this SNP have an elevated rate of their β-globin spontaneously crosslinking inside their hemoglobin,

    And thought, wait, that cross-linking, that would have macro-effects on the cell if it proliferated, wouldn’t it?

    …um, wait, one way it could have macro effects is to provide a hard link across the cell, with the cell dimpled in at opposite sides…

    …have I heard of anything like that?

    …oh, or one side could be stable for some reason and the other side might dimple in…

    …which would look like, wait! Is she talking about sickle-cell?

    then I read:

    which results in premature rupture of their erythrocytes.

    thinking: wait, does sickle cell cause rupture? I don’t remember. Maybe she’s talking about something else. But it could be sickle cell, right?

    whereupon I read:

    If they are homozygous

    Oh yeah, she’s going to turn out to be talking about sickle cell, isn’t she…

    for the mutated allele, this happens at a much higher rate than if they were heterozygous,

    Okay, that’s it. I’m calling the hypothesis confirmed. That is exactly the pattern of sickle cell.
    =========

    I won’t narrate any more of my thoughts, but

    1) it was fun hearing someone give an explanation of something about which I have a tiny bit of knowledge. I probably won’t remember much of that, but I might remember 6th position thymine, and I’ll certainly remember the mechanical cross-linking (I hadn’t previously known the mechanical cause of the structural variation).

    and
    2) I can imagine Chris going through this and having similar reactions. I think the very awesomely detailed causation cascade, combined with the fact that he’s almost certain to have general information about the disease, can cause him to react just as strongly to your explanation as I did.

    Hopefully that strong reaction is just as positive as mine…

  125. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Ack, thymine in position 16-18, by codons. Valine by position 6 in amino acid sequence.

    Carrying on learning.

  126. chigau (違う) says

    Caine
    It amazes me that they can get into brazil nuts.
    I usually manage by giving it to the SO to crack.

  127. Esteleth, statistically significant to p ≤ 0.001 says

    Crip Dyke, the SNP is either GAG -> GTG or GAA -> GTA (same effect), which means it is the second nucleotide in codon 6. That is, nucleotide #17.

  128. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Beavers are Rodentia and they go right through trees, so I’m not surprised.

  129. says

    @ Chris (via jonmilne)

    Esteleth and Cripdyke have pretty much swept the floor already, but let me mop up a little with a damp cloth:

    Michael Phelps’ kids … They would not automatically thrive in water.

    Michael Phelps has a near ideal body shape for a swimmer. He has relatively long torso and short legs. If he were to have a child with a partner who had a similar body type, chances are good their kids would have these same physical attributes. They would be born with an incredible advantage in terms of swimming ability. Whether they later choose to utilise this advantage is a separate matter. But unlike most of us, they are not precluded from following in their father’s footsteps simply on the basis of inappropriate body type.

    And then you have to shift your family tree.

    Chris cannot see the woods for the trees. Individual happenstances are not what we are talking about. It is a question of populations. (We should make a list of words Chris does not understand. To “species” we need to add “population”.)

    So would you mind explaining how purposeless modifications to the blueprint of a bicycle can give the blueprint of a motorbike?

    Here is Paley’s “Watchmaker Argument” in all its gormlessness.

    Take it away Prof. Dawkins:

    “Paley’s argument is made with passionate sincerity and is informed by the best biological scholarship of the day, but it is wrong, gloriously and utterly wrong. The analogy between telescope and eye, between watch and living organism, is false. All appearances to the contrary, the only watchmaker in nature is the blind force of physics, albeit deplored in a special way. A true watchmaker has foresight: he designs his cogs and springs, and plans their interconnections, with a future porpose in his mind’s eye. Natural selection, the blind unconscious, automatic process which Darwin discovered, and which we now know is the explanation for the existence and apparently purposeful form of all life, has no purpose in mind. It has no mind and no mind’s eye. It does not plan for the future. It has no vision, no foresight, no sight at all. If it can be said to play the role of watchmaker in nature, it is the blind watchmaker.”

  130. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I get the feeling “Chris” is doing copypasta from a web site. Try quoting a paragraph in google and see what comes up. This is a standard creobot ploy. Call him on it if that is the case….

  131. ChasCPeterson says

    ‘course Brazil nuts are not nuts at all; they’re seeds. The fruit they grow inside of is like a wooden softball, with a 10-mm-thick hardwood shell. Nevertheless, rodents gnaw through them (agoutis and the like, basically ROUSs). funfact: the gnawed-through husks lie around on the forest floor and fill partially with water, and poison-dart frogs breed inside these little aquaria.

  132. Arren ›‹ idée fixe oblique says

    Chas: that fascinating funfact prompts me, as a longtime lurker, to say that I’m glad you’ve stuck around through all the fracas. Your posts often make for interesting reading.

  133. says

    @ Nerd

    I used a plagiarism checker and got 92%,100% and 97% original for the recent responses. Compare that with my own # 166 which gave 47% unique content. (The program does not recognise that I linked to my source and named the person I quoted.)

    It would appear that the comments I checked are above board. That a person predisposed to presupposition would reinvent the “Watchmaker Argument” from scratch (here the “Bicyclemaker Argument”) does not surprise me in the least.

    Link: Plagiarism Checker.

  134. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @theophontes

    Or he didn’t reinvent it, but nonetheless wrote the above in his own words. Either way would be unsurprising.

  135. says

    Chas:

    ‘course Brazil nuts are not nuts at all; they’re seeds. The fruit they grow inside of is like a wooden softball, with a 10-mm-thick hardwood shell. Nevertheless, rodents gnaw through them (agoutis and the like, basically ROUSs). funfact: the gnawed-through husks lie around on the forest floor and fill partially with water, and poison-dart frogs breed inside these little aquaria.

    I didn’t know they were seeds. I’ll have to do some searching, I’ve never seen the fruit. It sounds like something the rats would thoroughly enjoy. Is the fruit eaten by anyone else? How cool is it that the detritus is recycled so nicely? Thanks, Chas.

  136. says

    Huh. According to the Pfffffffffft:

    In Brazil, it is illegal to cut down a Brazil nut tree. As a result, they can be found outside production areas, in the backyards of homes and near roads and streets. The fruit containing nuts is very heavy and rigid, and it poses a serious threat to vehicles and persons passing under the tree. At least one person has died after being hit on the head by a falling fruit.

  137. says

    @Amphiox

    They have focussed on the mutation of the FleN gene in this experiment. Do you know if they tracked any other genes in this or similar experiments? More mundain results are obviously also interesting, in that they would demonstrate the random nature of mutation. Rather than a Chrislike “decision” by the Pseudomonas to “design” the outcome by tweaking only that relevant gene.

    Another interesting meta-detail in the article: the writer made a mistake in his article. He then went back and corrected his mistake in clear fashion. It is not just science which corrects itself when wrong. It is also good journalism. If only religious texts could display such basic honesty.

  138. Tony! The Immorally Inferior Queer Shoop! says

    Recent Facebook update, followed by a response from a friend (which in turn, prompted a response from me)

    It’s like these raging homophobic shitstains crawl out of the woodwork to spread their intolerance and hate every time there is a victory in the fight for equality. It’s sickening how badly they want to turn the clock back to a time when discrimination, oppression, hatred and civil rights violations of marginalized people were part of everyday life. Fuck them. I’m gay. I’m not ashamed. I care more about people than these so-called loving Christians ever have.

    That is what I wrote in response to reading this Right Wing Watch article:
    Suppressing gays through the law

    FRIEND-Why do you feel like this one person speaks for the entire Christian community. I love you man but I’ve read more hate from your posts than I can remember. I feel your pain but spreading hate to those who hate… thats like putting a fire out with gasoline. Two wrongs don’t make a right. I’m a Christian, Im a registered Republican and I don’t hate. Its getting real scary in this country that I love that the freedom of speech brings out hate in people. Is having an opinion so bad, I know you have opinions about politics and rights and even if I don’t agree with them… I respect them. Free your heart from all kinds of hatred. Much love.

    Me- yes I do not like people like this. Imagine being part of a group of people who are denied 1000+ rights that every other member of society possesses. Then add in the fact that some of those oppressing want to kill those oppressed, imprison them or treat them like Russia currently is. Also, I dislike ‘two wrongs dont make a right’. It attempts to paints an issue as having two equivalent sides. People like the scumbag in my post want to cause real, demomstrable harm to LGBT people. When we cry out and say “fuck that”, people like you criticize us for daring to speak up and assert our basic human rights. In addition, those christians who supposedly “love” LGBT rarely speak up in opposition of these scumbags. I am mad. Rightfully so. There is nothing wrong with anger. When human rights are violated, people should be outraged. You think I am wrong to be so mad? WHY ARE YOU NOT MAD?! Why are you not speaking up and speaking out against people like that? Why are you attempting to silence me-who is simply vocal in criticizing hateful bigots-rather than the people trying to fuck over LGBT people? Its easy to say ‘free your heart from hatred’ when your human rights–HELL, being treated as a human being–is being denied by oppressive hateful bigots hiding behind religion as an excuse for their bigotry. That is what is wrong. That is what is fucked up. You don’t like my outspoken opinions? Feel free to delete me from your friends list. I only want people who agree that I and other oppressed people are human beings, deserving of full rights in the eyes of society and the law. I do not want, nor do I need wishy washy people who prefer to direct their opprobrium at me, rather than the assholes who are more deserving.

  139. Tony! The Immorally Inferior Queer Shoop! says

    Thanks Caine.
    He responded back with:

    There is no right when spreading hate against anything. If a person wants to be a bigot… that is that persons opinion and right. Just as they are hateful and mean and are morally unjust. I’m not trying to silence you by any means. But negativity against negativity… that only adds fuel to the fire. Do I believe in equality in all the human races… absolutely. How is having an opinion wrong? Apparently you haven’t heard about the Jews in Germany from 1937-1945… How many died? My grandparents were denied 1000+ rights when they moved from Germany to the US in 1939, They even had to change the spelling and pronunciation of their last name. What about the MSNBC reporter who went air saying that Palin(who i believe is an idiot) should die and some one should defecate in her mouth. The Christians and republicans are not the only groups spreading hate. Certain countries in the Middle East and Asia that publicly murder anyone who is gay. Is this right….HELL NO!!!! but its been that way for centuries. A friend of mine who has no opinion on same sex marriages was humiliated on an airplane…. all because they believed if you don’t have a opinion then you’re racists. I don’t want to delete you, I consider you as a friend. I like your passion of your views, even if I don’t agree with all of them, I RESPECT THEM. I love that you speak up….. But instead of speaking hate and negative words…. spread peace, help people, educate them on the views that you believe in. To only want people that only agree with you and not listening to positive counterpoints or others opinions…. Then you’re just as closed minded as the the people you hate. I’m not trying to deny any bodies rights, but you seem to want to deny theirs. Love ya man

  140. Tony! The Immorally Inferior Queer Shoop! says

    I dont have the patience to deal with that crap anymore.
    Defriended.

  141. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Then you’re just as closed minded as the the people you hate. I’m not trying to deny any bodies rights, but you seem to want to deny theirs.

    Jebus, what a twerp. Can’t understand the only way to fight bigotry is with being loud, vocal, and shining a bright light on the bigotry. They try to hide behind apologists like your ex-friend, who really needs to read and understand MLK’s letter from a Birmingham jail, where he calls those who keep saying “I agree with you, but you still need to be nice” the real problem. As they were.

  142. chigau (違う) says

    re: gasoline to put out a fire
    To stretch an analogy Red Adair put out oil-well fires using nitroglycerine.
    and bulldozers
    and hundreds of people

  143. Jacob Schmidt says

    ‘course Brazil nuts are not nuts at all; they’re seeds.

    Another fact: set them on fire, and they burn like they’d been doused in acetylene.

  144. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @Tony!

    Ask him if he left a comment at the site of the people who want to make our lives and relationships a reason for imprisonment.

    If he didn’t, then clearly his “both sides are bad” shtick is a lie: obviously he finds your words – saying “leave me alone” in an uncivil way – more worthy of condemnation than commanding your followers to vote to imprison others.

    Let him chew on that…
    ========
    this is only a suggestion of course, do take care of yourself.

  145. Tony! The Immorally Inferior Queer Shoop! says

    Crip Dyke:
    I was hinting at that subtly. Given much of what he has said, I should have used an anvil. Subtlety was lost on him.
    He has been defriended anyways. No skin off my back.

  146. says

    @ Tony

    But instead of speaking hate and negative words…. spread peace, help people, educate them on the views that you believe in.

    “Turn the other cheek” in other words¹. Jeebus was the ultimate apologist for authoritarianism.

    Your defriend seems to be a bit naive too. What did they think a person educated in your (our!) views would do differently? That they would become any less angry at such gross violations of human rights?


    ¹ Matthew 5:39 – But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

  147. says

    Travelling home on the smelly bus, I just realised that today is the day on which I have circled the sun yet again.

    {the dancing tardigrades start to sing a capella}:

    Shovelled 16 stone,
    and what did I get?
    Another year older and deeper in debt!
    muscle and blood and skin and bone,
    I owe my soul to the company store….

  148. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    Vasco opts for baked beans.

    Awww, Vasco looks just like my Cleo. Makes me want ratties again even more.

  149. Pteryxx says

    my 2c re Tony, theophontes: afaik, Jesus may have turned the other cheek but he didn’t sit back, shut up and stop calling people out on their BS, either. (And neither did Gandhi or MLK – I was just reading the Montgomery story-manual-comic since it’s free online.)

    http://www.crmvet.org/docs/ms_comic.htm

    By the way, I wondered if “no skin off my back” had racist origins, so I looked and apparently that’s *not* where a phrase came from, for once.

    (source) (‘nother source)

    —-

    Caine: eee thanks for more rattie pics! Everything in the world needs more rattie pics.

    (*ponders naked guy pics posed with rats**)

    (** reference to this*)

  150. Tony! The Immorally Inferior Queer Shoop! says

    I wonder which of my friends will take umbrage to this status update of mine:
    ” I have no problem with people who hold views that are different than mine. I *do* have a problem when people hold views that are discriminatory, racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic, or any such view that would deny basic human rights to anyone. I embrace the First Amendment: Freedom of Speech is an incredibly important right. However, Freedom of Speech does NOT mean freedom from Criticism. If a hate filled bigot is spewing their bigotry and I become aware of it, chances are I’m going to say something. And when I do, odds are it is not going to be quiet. Because shit doesn’t get done by sitting meekly in the corner asking the privileged people for scraps. If you don’t like that PLEASE defriend me”

  151. says

    Happy Birthday, Theophontes! My world is a better place for having you in it. May you have many more solar rotations, all filled with happiness and contentment.

    UnknownEric:

    Awww, Vasco looks just like my Cleo. Makes me want ratties again even more.

    Vasco is gorgeous, and he’s *huge* too. A big ol’ bear of a rattie.

  152. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Happy Happies, Theophontes!

    May you have many more solar rotations, all filled with happiness and contentment.

    And even multiple revolutions!*

    *see what I did there?

  153. Pteryxx says

    *happy revolutions to Theophontes*

    Just found on that Civil Rights site, a discussion of philosophical versus tactical nonviolence:

    http://www.crmvet.org/info/nv2.htm

    Those of us who were tactically nonviolent did not love our enemies, nor did we believe that our redemptive suffering would convert racists and segregationists to a new outlook of interracial brotherly love. Rather than changing hearts, our focus was changing behavior — through persuasion if possible, but if that was not possible then by coercion. On the broad scale that meant building political movements to win legislation, sway court decisions, and alter social values that would then force racist businesses, institutions, government agencies, and individuals of power to change their behavior regardless of their personal opinions. On a narrower local scale — a particular business that discriminated against people based on their race, for example — we would try persuasion, but if that failed we would try to coerce a change in their behavior through disruptive nonviolent tactics such as a sit-in or boycott or shop-in.

    These two views were not hostile to each other — they were just different. Both groups worked well together, simply agreeing to respectfully disagree. Dr. King made it quite clear that he was not demanding that others adopt his personal philosophy of nonviolence, and we who were tactically nonviolent respected the courage and commitment of the philosophicals. The two views were not antagonistic because both encompassed the fundamental premis that nonviolence is about active resistance — not passivity. In the words of SNCC organizer and Freedom Singer Bernice Johnson Reagon:

    “Many times when people talk about nonviolence, they think of a sort of passivity, a peacefulness. If you are talking about the Civil Rights Movement and our practice of nonviolence, you have to think of aggressive, confrontational activity, edgy activity; action designed to paralyze things as they are, nonviolent actions to force change.” [Music in the Civil Rights Movement]

  154. says

    @Pterryx

    The problem jeebus created for Himself is that, instead of proclaiming a progressive message for His times, He proclaimed a message valid for all times. He gave a free pass to slavery and all the depravities endorsed by the old testament.

    If His message with “turn the other cheek” was not to give priviledge a free pass, then that failed to come accross. Important to note: Tony is not endorsing physical violence, merely laying claim to the right to be clear and unequivocal in his denouncement of iniquity. Beating people up and beating around the bush are both detrimental.

    @Tony

    Thanks. I am now 94 rock-years old.

    Getting back to your #203. It looks good. And it is likely to save you all the stress you recently experienced.

    As an aside, I wonder what is the most succint way to say what you said there. It could serve as a handy template.

  155. Pteryxx says

    Theophontes, much welcomes. I don’t actually know very much about jeebus (years of tuning out fundie education) but I’d just as soon rather spend my effort studying MLK. <_<

  156. ChasCPeterson says

    brazil nuts burn? Cool!
    (here‘s proof, in what has to be the most boring video of poor lab-safety practices ever made…shut down that Bunsen, ffs!)

  157. Pteryxx says

    …another story from that Civil Rights website: Prince Edwards County in Virginia closed its public schools rather than integrate them. I can’t find but minimal coverage of any of this stuff elsewhere; not much on Wikipedia, for instance.

    http://www.crmvet.org/tim/timhis59.htm#1959pec

    Based on “Brown II” the U.S. District Court rules that Prince Edward County does not have to desegregate immediately, and they continue their dual white and “Colored” public school systems for four more years. But because the Prince Edward County case is part of the original 1954 Brown decision, it has less legal room to maneuver and delay than other Virginia counties. Time finally runs out in 1959, when a follow-up court case to enforce the Brown decision requires that the county’s schools finally admit some Black children to “white” schools.

    Unable to stall any longer, the county board of supervisors then stops appropriating money for all public schools rather than accept even token integration. A segregationist committee known as the “Defenders of Liberty” is set up to raise money for private schooling of the county’s white children. A foundation is established to fund and run the “private” — white-only — Prince Edward Academy for elementary and high-school students.

    Both the state of Virginia and the county divert taxpayer funds to support this so-called “private” academy by providing tuition grants (today, they’re called “vouchers”), special tax-breaks, and scholarships to whites who enroll their children. Almost all of Prince Edward County’s white students attend the Academy (a few white families who refuse to accept such “welfare” simply do not send their children to school).

    This leaves 1,800 Black children without any education at all. …

    [...]

    Prince Edward County’s public schools remain closed for five years, from 1959 to 1964 when the Supreme Court finally rules in Griffin v. County School Board of Prince Edward County that closing public schools to preserve racial segregation is illegal.

  158. Pteryxx says

    Caine, you hang out here more than Lounge, iirc?

    Excerpt from Michael Kimmel (Manhood in America) ‘s latest book:

    America’s angriest white men: up close with racism, rage and Southern supremacy

    These are the sons of small-town America, the Jeffersonian yeoman of the nineteenth century, disfigured by global restructuring and economic downturns. They come from the “large and growing number of US citizens disaffected from and alienated by a government that seems indifferent, if not hostile, to their interests. This predominantly white, male, and middle-and working-class sector has been buffeted by global economic restructuring with its attendant job losses, declining real wages, and social dislocations. While under economic stress, this sector has also seen its traditional privileges and status challenged by 1960s-style social movements, such as feminism, minority rights, and environmentalism.”

    The sons of these farmers and shopkeepers expected to—and felt entitled to—inherit their fathers’ legacy. And when it became evident it was not going to happen, they became murderously angry—at a system that emasculated their fathers and threatens their manhood. They live in what they call a “Walmart economy” and are governed by a “nanny state” that doles out their birthright to ungrateful and undeserving immigrants. What they want, says one guy, is to “take back what is rightfully ours.”

  159. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    theophontes: Gelukkige verjaarsdag!
     __________________________________________________________________________
    I’m approaching 40, and I thought for sure that I had a complete catalog in my head of “things that burn”. I’m giddy like a school boy. I will be purchasing all the brazil nuts that I can afford. and playing with fire all week long.

  160. opposablethumbs says

    Many many happy returns to theophontes. (ha, I seem to be back online after being cut off by the grace of British Telecom for a while there …. what better moment to restore the connection, I say :-) )

  161. Tony! The Immorally Inferior Queer Shoop! says

    Pteryxx:
    That Salon article you linked to @216 was very informative. It shows that eliminating religion will not fix the problems of humanity.

  162. Tony! The Immorally Inferior Queer Shoop! says

    aaaand sometimes I miss the obvious. Did not realize that was an excerpt from Kimmels book.

  163. cm's changeable moniker (quaint, if not charming) says

    *notices confetti*

    *uses micrometer-scale opener to pop the tops off a selection of TardiBeers™*

  164. says

    This is… disturbing: But sadly not shocking.

    Psychologists presented men between the ages of 18 and 46 with the statements [from lads’ mags'] and gave them different information about the source of the quotes. Dr P. Hegarty said “men identified more with the comments made by rapists more than the quotes made in lads’ mags, but men identified more with quotes said to have been drawn from lads’ mags more than those said to have been comments by convicted rapists”, so at least they didn’t want to agree with rapists. This disturbing evidence shows that lads’ mags are continuing to normalise aggressive sexism under the perception that it is more acceptable when it appears in a popular magazine.

    [Source]

  165. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    it is an activity of opprobrium towards those racist, greedy people that exploit Black South African diamond miners.

  166. Tony! The Immorally Inferior Queer Shoop! says

    Theophontes-
    For some reason, I think Crip Dyke could distill my #203 into a succint standard response.

    Speaking of responses, if anyone has time and desire, I could use some assistance responding to my father. We have been texting back and forth today, and have reached a point where I am uncertain how best to proceed:

    Dad: Great ideas! [me: I told my parents and sister that Misogyny: The Worlds Oldest Prejudice or Kimmels new book would make nice xmas presents.]Santa will probably grant your wish this year because you’ve been a faithful servant.
    Me: Hmmm, not sure what faithful servant entails when one is a nonbeliever…
    Dad: Just keep on living…
    Me: Well given that there is only one alternative which you cannot take back…
    Dad: No. There is always a choice; “alternatives” imply such, no matter how untenable.
    Me: You took that the unintended way.
    Me: I meant that since there is only one alternative to living–dying–the choice is clear…live.
    Dad: Unless there is really, really, really something to die for
    Me: True…
    Dad: I would die, if no other alternative, for you, Christine, Mom, and my Dad!
    Me: I suspected that.

    On another note, Zimmerman is in jail…

    Dad: You can call it what you want: karma, fate, whatever. What goes around, comes around. He deserves what he gets!
    Me: I do believe he is justifiably imprisoned at the moment. I do not feel there is any sense of karma, cosmic justice, or just world (Google the ‘Just World Fallacy’), so this is not a cosmic balancing of the scales. The universe is indifferent to humans. In fact, much of the universe contains conditions hostile to life. This is one of the reasons we humans should strive to be compassionate and seek to reduce suffering. We are the only ones in recorded history who have shown the ability to do so (if the gods of various mythologies existed, including the biblical god, suffering, death, torture and more would be exponentially greater–recall for instance that the biblical god committed genocide by way of Noahs flood).

    Dad: Existence is not a computer program, nor a “BORG-like” technology. There are too many other dynamics that are inextricably interwoven around an unknown ( unknowable) matrix.

    Me: True, but when it comes to reality, we can only act upon what we do know, rather than unproven, untestable, unreplicable “knowledge”. I am not speaking of emotions here, but determining knowledge. Thus far, science has proven the be the most reliable system we have created to come to the best understanding of the world around us. No, it is not perfect, but built into the scientific method is the peer review process, as well as replicability. Science is also self correcting. So called ‘proven’ science can and has time and again been overturned by a greater understanding of the world around us. Please note again, I am not referring to interpersonal relationships or emotions.
    We can speculate on the unknown all we want, but until the unknown becomes known and verifiable, speculation adds nothing. I can speculate that invisible elves steal my socks overnight until the cows come home. But what proof is there? Do we live in a universe where invisible elves exist? So far, the evidence points to no.
    My atheism is not a refusal to believe in the improbable. It is a lack of belief in anything supernatural, bc through the whole of human civilization, none of the gods and creatures man has invented have ever been proven to exist. Time and again, naturalistic explanations have replaced supernatural ones. The reverse has yet to occur. Given this history…this 14 billion year body of evidence…it is much more reasonable, practical, pragmatic, and realistic to withhold belief in the supernatural until if and when sufficient evidence supports it. Of course, then it would be merely natural.
    (The above also applies to pseudoscientific beliefs like Reiki lines, homeopathy, acupuncture and CAM)

    Dad: There is a “world” yet to be widely explored because it is weird, strange, and unbelievably paradoxical. Quantum Mechanics is a world where the “supernatural” happens. Where reality takes a different form. Where an atom is a particle and a wave at the same time. World renowned scientists at the CERN research facility in Switzerland have discovered the “GOD Particle” using the Large HADRON Collider. “Spookiness at a distance” says Albert Einstein. The particle cannot be seen, felt, or torched, only inferred. One cannot prove consciousness but we know it exist. I AM THAT I AM.

  167. says

    @ Beatrice, Esteleth, Mister, Theo, AE,Tethys, opposablethumbs, cm’s

    Wow, so much confetti! Thanks all.

    @ Crip Dyke

    The Tardybeers ™ are quaffed by the dancing tardigrades. The empty bottles are filled with hexanitrohexaazaisowurtzitane and plugged with glitter. These to be flung at the Juggernaut of Corruption that the Mining Mafia have rolling over the Highveld.

  168. ChasCPeterson says

    I’m pretty uncomfortable with this extensive transcription of private intra-family correspondence. Tony!, does your father know you’re sharing his words for his son with the entire freaking world? No? I urge you to think about that.

  169. consciousness razor says

    Tony:

    Dad: You can call it what you want: karma, fate, whatever. What goes around, comes around. He deserves what he gets!
    Me: I do believe he is justifiably imprisoned at the moment. I do not feel there is any sense of karma, cosmic justice, or just world (Google the ‘Just World Fallacy’), so this is not a cosmic balancing of the scales. The universe is indifferent to humans.

    Another way of putting it: we are a part of the universe which can make the world more just, because we aren’t indifferent about ourselves. It won’t be more just without our intentions and actions to make it so, because the world itself (as a whole) doesn’t intend things to happen. Good and bad things can happen by chance, but that’s not justice, only luck. Waiting around for good things to happen (without our intervention) isn’t justice either. Being satisfied that such things happen is fine, but there’s no one to thank when it happens. It’s understandable that we’re inclined to feel thankful, because in our everyday social lives there often is someone to thank. But having that sort of feeling does not mean there is someone. We have strong emotions like that, but they can easily be misdirected.

    Dad: There is a “world” yet to be widely explored because it is weird, strange, and unbelievably paradoxical. Quantum Mechanics is a world where the “supernatural” happens. Where reality takes a different form. Where an atom is a particle and a wave at the same time.

    However strange it is, it’s still just physics. Quantum mechanics is mechanical, unsurprisingly. It’s natural. There are no gods or angels or whatever hiding from us, making particles do all of the strange things they do. That’s not what anyone means by supernatural. So this is changing the subject.

    World renowned scientists at the CERN research facility in Switzerland have discovered the “GOD Particle” using the Large HADRON Collider.

    That’s only a name some people gave it.* It’s got nothing whatsoever to do with the existence of gods, but with the existence of physical fields and the resulting particles. What people do we know exist, based on the name “Higgs Boson”? A guy named Higgs and another named Bose, neither of which is a god. Of course, we have all sorts of other evidence for them, not just a name.

    *After tossing the original name “Goddamn particle” which they gave it out of frustration. No need to make things more frustrating by being fixated on a word, after they’ve (apparently) found the damned thing. They did actual work, which we shouldn’t forget; they didn’t just borrow a word to make some silly rhetorical point about religion.

    “Spookiness at a distance” says Albert Einstein.

    He wasn’t implying quantum mechanics was actually talking about spooks (or ghosts, supernatural entities, etc.). But it’s true that he didn’t like the way some were interpreting the results. That’s basically why he used the condescending language. And he was definitely being condescending: this is not Einstein citing spookiness approvingly as if it were a legitimate scientific concept. Again, focusing on a few cherry-picked words, not the substance of the issues, is only going to confuse things rather than make them clearer.

    The particle cannot be seen, felt, or torched, only inferred.

    You don’t have to go all of the way to elementary particles to need inferences. All of our “normal” experiences need them. But the whole point of particle physics is that they do interact with each other, so with the proper instruments, we can see them and feel them. It just isn’t “directly” seen by a human being without the use of those kinds of tools. Take a distant star for example, to make it seem less mysterious: the fact that we use a telescope to see it doesn’t make the evidence any less empirical. It’s letting something else do the seeing for us, which means it’s still a case of “seeing” not something completely different.

    One cannot prove consciousness but we know it exist.

    I assume you agree that consciousness exists, so I’m not sure where this is supposed to be going, except that it’s an example of something mysterious or not fully explained by science. That may be, but it doesn’t mean it’s supernatural. And we certainly can “prove consciousness” is real. That isn’t a problem at all. Descartes had no idea what he was dealing with, but he proved it just fine four hundred years ago.

  170. Tony! The Immorally Inferior Queer Shoop! says

    Chas:
    I do not see where the discomfort stems. Is it bc of the familial nature? Would it be diffrrent if this were texts between two friends?

    Obviously, there is nothing I consider private. To be sure, I do not know how my father would feel (though I do lean toward thinking he would not have a problem).

    Would summarizing have worked better? I thought relaying his specific words would be best when asking others for assistance.

  171. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @theophontes:

    hexanitrohexaazaisowurtzitane

    More learning for me! I am a little smarter today, though, really, I would have preferred to learn about other topics than newly proposed material strategies for the efficient destruction of things and people.

    Still, more knowledge = good, and I had no idea such a thing as hexanitrohexaazaisowurtzitane existed.

  172. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    RiBL*

    *rolling in bathtub, laughing

  173. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    So, in re: blogging of the Crip Dyke which was discussed some time back.

    There’s an old website of an org which I helped found. It’s been sitting unused, unupdated for some time, though folks still read it and make use of its resources. I’d like to update it, but, again, have no time for learning site-management or web-deve skills.

    Is there anyone here who would be willing to do add some functionality to an old site (adding blog functions to a static site & maybe reorg content & links) while maintaining strict confidentiality so as to preserve a wall between my off-line ID and my on-line ID?

    The website in question is a social justice site, but I won’t link to it for obvious reasons. Hopefully you can decide from your own reading of my comment history if you think a less confrontational but otherwise still very Crip Dyke-y project is worth your time.

    Will cross-post to Lounge, since I know that not everyone reads both.

  174. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    I’m such a bad feminist.

    Not only did I wear a pink scarf today, but it’s a glittery pink scarf.

  175. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    ZOMG, Beatrice!

    I’m so much worse: I let a friend’s daughter use my polish to paint her nails! With 6 different colors! Including silver-glitter! I’m corrupting the next generation!

  176. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    New discussion thread:

    How did you betray feminism today?

  177. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Oh, nail polish.
    I love nail polish. Today’s choice: light yellow.

    I have small child-like hands, so I like to let my fingernails grow a bit longer so that my fingers have a more “adult” appearance.

    So, long fingernails and nail polish.
    /bad feminist

  178. says

    Beatrice:

    Not only did I wear a pink scarf today, but it’s a glittery pink scarf.

    Pffffft. Last week, I wore my Vera Wang 4 inch wedge shoes…into town. I’m gonna wear ‘em again tomorrow. Why, I’m might even powder up my face!

  179. Tony! The Immorally Inferior Queer Shoop! says

    Beatrice:
    Uh oh. I hear they call out the Feminazi Police Force for such infractions…

  180. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Caine,

    Vera Wang 4 inch wedge shoes

    *gasp* (no, really, I’d break my neck on that height)

    Why, I’m might even powder up my face!

    *faints*

    Oh, oops, I guess being all fainty brings me deeper into bad feminist negative points.

  181. says

    Beatrice:

    *gasp* (no, really, I’d break my neck on that height)

    Hee. I love 4 inch heels. I *like* being tall. Of course, that means I don’t want to be all stereotypically dainty and small, but high heels…oh gods, my poor pink ladybrains!

  182. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @Tony!, #245:

    The Femistasi are coming to your house to ask you some questions about why you are portraying the glorious revolutionary sistren in a way that associates them with the Fascisti.

    Do not leave your house, surveillance is already in place. Do not move suddenly, we do not want you to be responsible for a shooting incident that injures bystanders: we would have to bill your family for the damage after your death.

  183. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    So…. class is in a break and I can’t stop thinking about this, so it looks like I’ll have to just write about it.

    I was recently on a panel discussing how society treats and judges “trans* women” (which took on its usual formulation of “MtF trans* women, despite some small effort on my part to problematize the idea that only MtF trans* folk would ever ID with the label trans*).

    Some of that discussion to the form of critiquing how spaces are policed. One trans* panelist pointed out that the only way to really “know” the “gender”* of someone was to do “vagina checks”. Despite the clumsy language, the audience understood that the panelist was discussing forced penetration to detect and exclude MtF trans* folk from various spaces, because Safety!

    Another panelist, also trans*, said:

    Vagina checks? I can do those! I’ll volunteer …for vaginas only!

    To be fair to her thinking, she was working of the assumption that no one present could possibly believe that this was a reasonable strategy, that no one present would ever be or had ever been involved in the Rape-for-Safety trade.

    To be fair to her actions, she treated raping others as a fucking joke. I was so pissed. I have no idea what she was thinking. She had mentioned Janice Raymond in her earlier comments, so I know she’s perfectly well aware of the trannies-rape-all-women** trope. I don’t hold her responsible for the trans-hating reaction of people who believe that crap, that’s not why I bring it up. It’s just that she’s aware of this so she should be aware of how deadly serious this is, and yet she still treats it as a laughing matter.

    No one in the audience challenged her statement. The moderator didn’t challenge her statement. I was trying to be professional and thus let the moment slip so my challenge to her statement came at the end, after a few people had left.

    Moreover, I was so focussed on finding a way to redress this, that I realized after it was over that I hadn’t addressed racism, like, **at all** and that’s usually a central feature of my presentations as I discuss who is visible and who gets the big end of the violence stick.

    That’s on me. I can’t blame her for that, I could have remembered. But joking about raping women b/c they don’t look sufficiently close to feminine standards? That’s sick as F. It’s enough to make a person despair for the ability of movements for social change to do more good than harm.
    =========================================
    *don’tgetmestarted,don’tgetmestarted,don’tgetmestarted….

    **spellcheck gave me: grannies-rape-all-women. Sigh. Why do computers make me think about things I would prefer not to spend time thinking about?

  184. says

    @ Crip Dyke # 239
    Would it not be easiest to start a new WordPress blog? If you have the rights to the domain name, you could sluice traffic through it. AFAIK, it would cost about $18 per year.

    If you want some help with graphics I could help you, as I will have some spare time over the next two weeks.

    @ Caine

    [Theo]

    He really looks like he loves his chocolate milk. “Like Virtual Parent, like Virtual Rodent.”, as the saying goes. (Though I have also been known to surreptitiously add a shot of rum to the woarm brew, of a cold winter evening.)

    @ Hekuni Cat

    Thank you.

    Just another 934,852,840 kilometers ’til the next one. I hope you are all along for the ride!

  185. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    It may not get any warmer than 23°C here today. I was advised by the morning guy on the boob-tube to wear a sweater.
     
    chigau: have you considered throwing on a sweater? Or a pullover or jumper, or whatever they call those things in the low-latitude nations?

  186. chigau (違う) says

    Antiochus Epiphanes
    I am wearing most of my sweaters.
    I don’t know what I’ll do when I have to go outside.

  187. Ogvorbis: Broken, failing, hurting. says

    It is -25°.
    Wind chill is -33°.

    chigau, is that real temperatures, or that C abomination?

    ======

    Happy Monday to one and all.

    Filling out an online questionnaire for my security clearance.

    They expect me to know this shit?

  188. chigau (違う) says

    Oggie
    Totally the abominable C°.
    re: security
    What? You don’t know where your wife’s grandmother is buried?

  189. says

    Theophontes:

    He really looks like he loves his chocolate milk. “Like Virtual Parent, like Virtual Rodent.”, as the saying goes. (Though I have also been known to surreptitiously add a shot of rum to the woarm brew, of a cold winter evening.)

    He does love his chocolate milk! He loves hot chocolate too, even when it has a shot of peppermint schnapps in.

    Chigau, 11F here, supposed to snow today. Ugh.

  190. Ogvorbis: Broken, failing, hurting. says

    What? You don’t know where your wife’s grandmother is buried?

    Worse than that.

    I forgot what year I was married. And Wife’s birthday. But I remembered her SS#.

  191. Esteleth, statistically significant to p ≤ 0.001 says

    *confetti* and *cake* and *tasteful gifts* for Caine and Lynna!

  192. The Mellow Monkey: Non-Hypothetical says

    Happy birthday Caine and Lynna! A very lovely friend of mine is also celebrating her 56th birthday today.

    Must be one hell of a special day with all these awesome people coming into the world.

  193. Jackie teh kitteh cuddler says

    I’m such a bad feminist that all my kids paint their nails, regardless of gender.
    My eldest son wore a pink tie to school today.
    I just re-glittered my little punk-diva’s favorite pumps. (Modge podge, chunky glitter and triple thick acrylic sealant do the trick)
    Now she wants some glitter spray to put in her pixie cut.
    There is enough glitter in my house to make Glam-phase David Bowie uncomfortable. Each tiny shard must be like a knife in the heart of teh feminisms.

  194. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Caine and Lynna
    Let me pile on the birthday wishes. I hope both of you have a great day and keep in mind that your efforts here are appreciated.

  195. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Yay for Caine & Lynna!

    Oh, also? Happy Birthday to Caine & Lynna!

  196. says

    Thanks, A_Ray & CD!

    MM:

    Must be one hell of a special day with all these awesome people coming into the world.

    Heh. I’m not sure I can be counted, as I wasn’t supposed to be born in November. I was supposed to arrive in late January.

  197. Desert Son, OM says

    [Enter DESERT SON, Thunderdome left, in a storm.]

    In the Lounge I did read cheers announcing
    anniversaries of birth for some
    among the commentariat. Though to tread
    this combative chamber doth thrill my thoughts
    with some fear, yet hither I appear
    to join my voice in joyful chorus.
    Let us exalt! Happy Birthday to Caine!
    Let us herald! Happy Birthday to Lynna!

    [Exit, pursued by a bear.]

    Still learning,

    Robert

  198. Tony! The Immorally Inferior Queer Shoop! says

    Before I click and learn what a “butter crock” is…

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY Caine!
    HAPPY BIRTHDAY Lynna!

  199. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Interesting. In Canada they/we have their/our own Keys.

    Last night’s overnight forecast for the South Channel Islands between Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland called for a low of, let’s see, ah, yes!

    1.

    Of course, now it’s a balmy 7, so don’t worry too much about the local lows… Unless you’re living in Vancouver as part of the largest gathered population in Canada of persons without homes.

    =======
    I have twice been to the Florida Keys, once for a conference in early December. Out during the evenings after conference content was done for the day, I was wearing shorts and skorts and things. The locals were wearing long pants and complaining about the “cold snap”.

  200. Esteleth, statistically significant to p ≤ 0.001 says

    “Exit pursued by a bear” is, hands-down, the best (and most WTF) thing Shakespeare ever wrote.

  201. Tony! The Immorally Inferior Queer Shoop! says

    Janine:
    thanks for the link.
    I was not ready for the descriptions of how these people were killed. It has taken me aback.

  202. Tony! The Immorally Inferior Queer Shoop! says

    Wow. 2013’s Insensitive Award goes to
    http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2013/11/20/2974121/sandy-hook-video-game/

    In an online video game, players follow shooter Adam Lanza’s footsteps the day of the Sandy Hook Elementary school mass shooting. Called “The Slaying of Sandy Hook Elementary School,” the widely condemned simulation takes players through the shootings of 26 children and adults before it shows their “score”:

  203. says

    @ Caine and Lynna

    {a chorus of dancing tardigrades forms center stage in traditional garb. sings to accompaniment of tambourines}


    Veels geluk liewe maatjies
    omdat jul’ verjaar
    mag die Here Bere julle seën
    en nog baie jare spaar

    (Translation from Afrikaans: Lots of luck lovely friends, because of your birthdays, may the Lord Bears bless you, and spare you for many years to come.)

    @ Desert Son

    FIFY:

    Exit, pursued by a waterbear.

  204. Jacob Schmidt says

    I’m such a bad feminist that all my kids paint their nails, regardless of gender.

    But…but… you’re feminizing men! That’s obviously the worst thing ever!

    In all seriousness, I wish I’d learned how to paint nails as a kid. Learning as an adult is a pain in the ass. I’d paint my nails more if I was able to do it better and quicker. At the moment, I’m dependent on my partner to do it well.

  205. says

    I don’t think anyone has posted this yet. There’s a bit of obliviousness in the comments, but I think it’s pointing in the right direction.

  206. Ogvorbis: Broken, failing, hurting. says

    Theophontes:

    Exit, pursued by a waterbear.

    But tardigrades are always tardy. Which is why they get such poor grades.

  207. Tony! The Immorally Inferior Queer Shoop! says

    FossilFishy in The (current) Lounge & Theophontes from (last) Thunderdome:

    While I am not entirely certain what I have done that has impressed either of you, the compliments are appreciated.

  208. says

    @ Tony

    Pretty much what Fossily Fish said over in the Lounge. You seem to have taken to this place with a passion and it is reflected in your comments. That is a compliment of both yourself and Pharyngula I guess. You are not the only one, but for some reason – perhaps an accident of the comments I read – I just felt like posting some kudos.

    I am stuck in Shenzhen for the next two weeks or so. This is not all bad, as I can catch up on stuff I never get around to otherwise. And I have just had a wonderful long foot-massage, followed by a hot bath. In selecting slippers, I had a choice between white and pink. Normally I would unthinkingly go for the white pair. But tonight I felt brave. This comment was brought to you by a person in pink slippers.

    @ Ogvorbis

    Watch this space wrt Tardigrades.

    @ cm’s

    How to pronounce Omnomnomnom correctly. (Ratties take note.)

  209. Ogvorbis: Broken, failing, hurting. says

    Watch this space wrt Tardigrades.

    Not to worry. They’ll be late. It’s in the name.

  210. opposablethumbs says

    This comment was brought to you by a person in pink slippers.

    :-D

    There’s something infinitely appealing about the idea of a tardigrade in Shenzhen wearing pink slippers (four pairs, presumably) in part because of the resonance of commenting exchanges initiated thousands of miles away meeting on Pharyngula.

  211. Ogvorbis: Broken, failing, hurting. says

    Theophontes:

    They are a little tied up currently.

    Tardigrades are into bondage? What do you use for rope? What do you use for a safe word?

    Delivering the uniforms.

    Oh. That kind of tied up.

    hotel bathrobes and pink slippers.

    I was thinking more along the lines of cowboy boots, chaps, and a cowboy hat. Maybe a vest.

    I guess I have a vested interest in the hat part.

  212. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    a tardigrade in Shenzhen wearing pink slippers (four pairs, presumably)

    !??????????????!

  213. Ogvorbis: Broken, failing, hurting. says

    Well, theophontes, I can agree with the vinegar chips (just enjoyed a bag of them — finished 15 minutes ago). But the bathrobe? No hat? No cowboy boots? I may have to bow out of this fully malfunctioning soviet.

    [whisper]

    We can still read the whispers.

  214. Jackie: ruining feminism one fabulous accessory at a time says

    Damn….
    I have got to make that my desktop wallpaper.

  215. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Jackie: ruining feminism one fabulous accessory at a time

    For me? It’s so delightful! You shouldn’t have. [faux dismissive hand wave]

  216. Jackie: ruining feminism one fabulous accessory at a time says

    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden,
    I’m ruining it for everyone.
    If there is anything else I can ruin just for you, please let me know. I’ll get right on it. :)

    Have you seen Gravity?

  217. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @Jackie:

    Are you asking just me if I’ve seen Gravity? Or T’Domers generally?

    I haven’t. Is it a recent movie? Like during school? For the last 16 mo. if it wasn’t a major blockbuster that came out during the summer and had ads on the sides of buses, then I haven’t even noticed it. Even then, I probably haven’t seen it (though I did see Avengers last year in the theater b4 my life became a mad rush, and in the last couple months I’ve seen Wolverine and Man of Steel streaming on line, and Despicable Me on DVD with my kids. I’ve heard tell other movies exist, but to the extent I watch things at all right now, things that tax my brain are not really high on my list.

  218. says

    @ Tony

    [Mollies]

    IIRC, they were stopped for logistical reasons. There was a new Molly announced, to be given for a single, rather than cumulative, comment. I don’t actually know what happened to it and it seems to have died a slow death somewhere out on the endless wastes of cyberspace.

    What we DO have (at least here on Teh Thunderdome) is the Ms Molly Badge¹. It is not official or anything. It was created with the sole purpose of undermining the eBil oBerlawd’s authority on this thread, leading to the establishment of our own breakaway socialist people’s republic just for fun. If you can think of anyone who deserves such an award, simply post your suggestion.

    ¹Ms Molly just happens to be my cat (or vice versa). The name has nothing to do with Pharyngula and was Spawnphontes idea. It is spoken with a slow Southern drawl.

  219. says

    Ssshhhhh! Get down behind the couch. Then, when PZ comes by, wondering why it’s so quiet, we turn on the lights and yell “surprise!”

  220. Ogvorbis: Broken, failing, hurting. says

    [psst. bracketed whispers are still there.]

    Do it like this:

    – ————- ———- ————– —– —– ——— ———- ——— —– – ——— —– —–.

    See? Totally secret.

  221. says

    @Ogvorbis
    Yep.
    On a completely different note, have you ever had that thing happen where you think of something funny to say and then once you write it out and read it over again, it turns out to actually be more creepy than funny?

  222. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @Tony!

    Is that what you meant in the other thread?

    Sure. I’d wear it with pride, coming from you.

  223. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @Ogvorbis, re: bracketed whispers:

    What’s gonig on there? How can anyone read the message – or is no one allowed to read the message?

  224. Ogvorbis: Broken, failing, hurting. says

    Crip Dyke:

    I was merely pointing out that putting one’s whispered conversation in brackets does not mean that no others can ‘hear’ the conversation. I was merely pointing out that, for full security, to make sure that no one can possibly ‘hear’ the conversation, “—- —- — – —— ——,” works better.

  225. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    I feel like a doofus. I thought there was some html for turning letters into dashes unless/until some condition was met.

  226. says

    I should not have eaten so many spicy noodles so late at night. I am sure to have nightmares.

    And eerily enough, Gerald de Palmas’s “J’en reve encore” (I still dream) starts playing on the radio:

    … Et même si je m’ améliore
    Oh j’en rêve encore
    Même cassé, ivre mort
    Oh j’en rêve encore
    Encore, encore

    Ne plus rien sentir
    Inconscient, minérale
    Plus le moindre désir
    Plus de peur ni de mal

    Mais même si je m’ améliore
    Oh j’en rêve encore
    Même en sachant que j’ ai tort
    Oh j’en rêve encore
    Encore, encore …

    @ Crip Dyke

    There are some rather strange little artifacts of iterations long past, still drifting about in the water ’round these parts. “Sekrit Messarges” is one of such.

  227. Ogvorbis: Broken, failing, hurting. says

    @Crip Dyke:

    I feel like a doofus. I thought there was some html for turning letters into dashes unless/until some condition was met.

    No need to feel that way. Not grokking my “humour” may be a sign of snanity.

  228. Ogvorbis: Broken, failing, hurting. says

    theophontes:

    Unless one is using fussilli, in which case it would come out like this: “~~~~ ~~ ~ ~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~, ~~~~ ~~~ ~~~~ ~~~~~~.”

  229. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @Theophontes: I prob saw it at some point back on sciblogs, given that the spelling “sekrit messarges” feels like it is feebly plucking at a string of memory, but I couldn’t have recalled it even that far without your help.

    Institutional memory – it’s a good thing.
    =======
    Also, heartbreaking song. Thank you so much for sharing it. My french is good enough to read such, but I could never write something like that. I marvel at someone with a way with words in any language where I have the minimal skill to recognize it.

    Me, I may be a Salieri and not a Mozart but the joy that brings is more than enough to fill a life.

  230. opposablethumbs says

    Unless one is using fussilli, in which case it would come out like this: “~~~~ ~~ ~ ~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~, ~~~~ ~~~ ~~~~ ~~~~~~.”

    :-D :-D :-D

  231. says

    @ Crip Dyke

    Institutional memory – it’s a good thing.

    In case you ever wondered how a tardigrade could post comments on blogs, this is not through any intelligence on its own part. What little goes on, in what passes for grey matter in the little critter’s noggin, is not much to speak of. Rather: it is a well constructed computer interface, that allows it to draw on the rich veins of exosomatic knowledge preserved in the interwebz, that makes its ambitions so terrifyingly realisable.

    Also, heartbreaking song.

    He is brilliant, if somewhat melancholy. (Though that was one of his few songs he did not write himself.) For myself, I am trying to learn French, using a combination of Duolingo and listening to French radio.

    Salieri and not a Mozart

    Sorry, no youtube in China. Far too subversive!

    @ chigau

    Now I’m hungry.

    Chez Theo only caters for virtual appetites.

  232. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @theophontes:

    In the movie Amadeus, Salieri was portrayed as a highly educated composer but without any personal brilliance. It left him able to recognize the genius of Mozart, able to perceive not just that the music was beautiful, but how it was beautiful, how many molds had been broken while yet producing something of such polished finish. This tortured him, knowing that he could never write music this way. Recognition of genius without capacity for genius was, for him, a curse.

    For me it’s a source of beauty. I think this is really what I strive for in every area I study: I’ll never be a physicist or a paleontologist, but I gasp reading about a study of exoplanetary atmosphere via spectroscopy which must account for atmospheric absorption and re-emission even after collecting data through a reflecting telescope whose primary mirror had to be formed in a parabola meters across, but polished to sub-wavelength perfection, and whose secondary mirror had to be all that – **and deformable** but deforming only the exact amounts and locations to leave the light color undistorted.

    Looking the masterful tactics of Charles Hamilton Houston in crafting Missouri ex rel Gaines before Sipuel v Board of Regents U of Oklahoma before Sweatt v Painter before his protege took on the Topeka, Kansas Board of Education, I get chills thinking of the long-term planning, the deep understanding of not just the law, but of legal culture, US exceptionalism’s grounding in contractarian pride, and the delicate interplay of personal vanity with presumptions of meritocracy, that enabled this man to fundamentally reshape the US constitution without once holding office of trust or power with the US government. My whole body literally tingles as I write this paragraph.

    There is nothing I enjoy more than an encounter with true genius.

  233. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Caine,

    I just sent you an email.

    (sorry for occupying you while you’re occupied with a horse)

  234. Lofty says

    Ogvorbis

    Shocking.

    Interesting question: Seeing how the driver emerged pretty much unharmed from his metal cage (bet his ears were ringing though), how would lightning travel through a carbon fibre structure? Perhaps vehicle manufacturers need to guard against 1: 100 000 000 events by inserting lightning rods into next generation vehicles, especially those full of batteries.

  235. Dhorvath, OM says

    Crip Dyke,
    I am a mechanic, not an engineer. I have some familiarity with your perspective. Shoulder bump.

  236. David Marjanović says

    Hey! Acolyte! It’s spelled verboten, because it’s pronounced with a long /o/ and (in places where that distinction exists) a short /t/.

  237. says

    @ Crip Dyke

    [Salieri ] Recognition of genius without capacity for genius was, for him, a curse.

    From what little I’ve read, Salieri has come in for critical reappraisal. Centuries after his death, people have started to regard his own genius.

    In an age that idealises wealth and fame, it is particularly poignant for us to realise that if he had eschewed his feelings of inadequacy¹ and simply listened to his own voice more, he might have achieved even more.

    From Princeton.edu :

    Salieri helped to develop and shape many of the features of operatic compositional vocabulary and his music was a powerful influence on contemporary composers.
    …his influence was felt in every aspect of Vienna’s musical life. Franz Schubert, Ludwig van Beethoven and Franz Liszt were among the most famous of his pupils.


    ¹ Perhaps the movie (I don’t recall seeing it) exaggerated this for dramatic effect. He was, objectively considered, a person of considerable brilliance in his own right.

  238. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @theophontes, #350:

    Sure, I’ll agree that Salieri was more than he was portrayed, but i was saying specifically:

    In the movie Amadeus, Salieri was portrayed as …

    I doubt there are many of us here who have spent more time reading about Salieri directly than have spent watching Amadeus and reading articles/reviews about Amadeus.

    I haven’t, anyway.

    But again, main point is that recognizing genius? Damn good times.

  239. says

    @ Crip Dyke

    Is it then not terrifying to realise how much genius has gone to waste? How little is ever recognised? How many Srinivasa Ramanujan’s didn’t (and don’t) get turned to grist for failing to find their GH Hardy’s?

    And those whose ideas are so ahead of their times? Hedy Lamarr’s ideas solved problems that did not even exist in her own time. It is only now that we can properly understand her ideas.

    And then all the brilliant ideas who’s time never comes, superseded by the vicissitudes of our endless advance?

    On the other hand, that only makes a timely and appreciative recognition all the more precious.

  240. opposablethumbs says

    QFT your entire comment, theophontes.

    all the brilliant ideas whose time never comes, superseded by the vicissitudes of our endless advance

    is beautifully put.

    Not to mention Shakespeare’s sister, too. The chances of a Ramanujan coming to the notice of anyone in a position to grasp and promote their genius have been and are even smaller if they happen to be a woman.

    I often wonder how much humanity has lost because of all the centuries – millennia – when women have been denied any access to education at all, let alone a voice; women had even less of a chance of even learning to read, much less be listened to by a local teacher/influential person and given even a meager chance to pursue self-education

  241. says

    @ opposablethumbs

    *blushes*

    .

    We have not even started to mention the direct opposition that was brought against people.

    My old maths professor told me about the kinds of explicit misogyny that was rife in the universities of his time. The professors were often very mean to begin with, but woa betide any woman that tried to master his discipline. He would not be pleased until she was reduced to tears and quit. It was practically impossible to get through the system on the basis of such bullying and obstructionism. How many great minds were run out of the system in like fashion?

    In South Africa, most black students had to make do with so called “Bantu Education”. A system that was specifically designed to hobble black intellectual advancement within the country. Dr Hendrick Verwoerd (who was later to become Prime Minister):

    “There is no place for [the Bantu] in the European community above the level of certain forms of labour … What is the use of teaching the Bantu child mathematics when it cannot use it in practice? That is quite absurd. Education must train people in accordance with their opportunities in life, according to the sphere in which they live.”

  242. says

    “There is no place for [the Bantu] in the European community above the level of certain forms of labour … What is the use of teaching the Bantu child mathematics when it cannot use it in practice? That is quite absurd. Education must train people in accordance with their opportunities in life, according to the sphere in which they live.”

    This is a much more succinct version of what Randall Collins took thousands of words to say.

  243. says

    @ Caine

    Unlike the rather obtuse Randall, Verwoerd was exceptionally bright. Just that he had a devil on one shoulder (YHWH) and an angel (science¹) on the other. And the devil won. Or that he was merely a dyed-in-the-wool bigot, who brought his twisted vision to life with scientific rigor and a biblical sense of mission.

    ¹ He had wanted to continue with his theological studies, but was forced by circumstances to change to Psychology. He studied in Germany before the war, but (contrary to some accusations) was not enamored by Nazi ideology. His Professors were later banned by the Nazi’s. His political position, as quoted previously, was at odds with his stated academic position. In my reading: it was not that he saw black people as intellectually inferior in any way. (This is even implicit in the quoted text.) It was that the elevation of the Afrikaner took precedence to everything else. And in order to achieve that goal, all other social groups would have to be either co-opted or forced to the margins, both intellectually and spatially.

    As a scientist he understood fully well that people are born equal. He understood with perfect clarity that the differences between races are trivial and superficial. As a politician he endeavored to change all that. He was all the more evil in that he completely comprehended the artificiality of the Apartheid system that he created.

  244. says

    The mystery of my inability to post anywhere at FtB has gotten worse. I couldn’t post at Biodork, Maryam Namazie’s, Mano Singham’s, Greta Christina’s and now Dispatches. The latter is one of the few other blogs I occassionally leave comments. I am not in moderation on any of those blogs. I literally hit submit and my comment never shows up.
    It still does here, but for how long is anyone’s guess.

    Annoyance has grown.

  245. says

    ***

    Trigger Warning: Rape

    You may need to look at puppies after reading this one. It is a particulary repulsive rape case I read about in the Guardian involving a member of the Lostprophets.

    I do not understand why Ian Watkins would
    I was ready to say I could not understand why someone would commit such horrible acts. But then I remembered the Steubenville case and the Maryville case. Jock culture. Is there a similar “rock n roll culture”? Where money and fame combine and intersect rape culture? I hate this feeling. Like I am looking for justification for the actions of a rapist. I know I am not. I am trying to understand why he did the things he did. It’s just that…viewing that path is unsettling.

  246. Lofty says

    chigau

    This comment is just to ensure that the TZT Thunderdome does not die.

    How can an undead thread die? Shortly before the heat death of the universe you’ll hear a faint tapping noise and “Is thys thinnge on?”.

  247. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @Tony/Theophontes

    While favorite colors are generally claret-reds and certain purples (the rich ones, that have the intensity of darker purples but still have the energy of “bright” purples – you know what I mean: not lavender or watered down, but not too dark to be fun), I suppose it might be contextual though, in terms of the image against the background not clashing (if there are limited options – if any background color can just be slapped on, well then use the above as a guide).

    You can always e-mail me about postal details.

    ==============
    @Lofty

    “Is thys thinnge on?”.

    You mean, comradde physioprof will still be alive? As a zombie? As an artificial intelligence? Is this an “ash nazg gimbatul” thing?
    =============

    Does it bother anyone here (:cough: giliell :cough:) that I know more of the Black Speech than I do elven?

    Come to think of it, I also know more spanish, hebrew, portuguese, latin and ASL than I know elven (not to mention french & english) and have a better handle on the hebrew, cyrillic, and phoenician alphabets than I do on elvish characters or those runes I once deciphered in the Hobbit instead of just looking them up in the LotR appendix.

    Do I have something against being too nerdy or what exactly is my deal with elvish?

  248. opposablethumbs says

    “Is thys thinnge on?”.

    I think it’s Pratchett (ancient recording device discovered in Thud).

  249. says

    I’m spending my time watching a very smart person justify the idea that gods must be disproven, and science has to say ‘We don’t know’ until so XD

  250. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I’m trying to get David Wilford to bring his whatever it is argument over here from what he is making to be zombie thread.

  251. cm's changeable moniker (quaint, if not charming) says

    From what little I’ve read, Salieri has come in for critical reappraisal

    Re. Amadeus, that needs an historical reappraisal, too. That film is heavily, heavily fictionalised! (The idea that Wolfie just wrote out fair copies of transcendent music ex novo is belied by the letters he wrote to his father about how f***ing hard he was working on them.) Fun film, though, although I can’t remember; did K. 231 make it to the final cut? :-)

    Related! Free tuition:

    Write Like Mozart: An Introduction to Classical Music Composition

    Sign me up, Scotty.

    What did I mean to say? Erm.

    Oh, yes.

    Next time the five-year-old (yes, there’s been another birthday *balloons*) wants a ‘shoulder carry’, I’m gonna challenge her that we should take the shoulder carry to the next level.

    Hong Kong Open Dragon Lion Dance Competition 2011 – Champion

    Knowing her, she’d probably be well up for it … doh!

    *toodlepip*

  252. chigau (違う) says

    not related to the immediate above
    related to … other things
    from now on:

    Anyone in meatspace who uses the word “nuanced” in my presence, if within reach, will be slapped.

    If not within reach, will be subjected to a lecture on “You keep using that word … “.

    Thank you.

  253. cm's changeable moniker (quaint, if not charming) says

    chigau, long words have
    previously not appealed
    until now! what gives?

    :-)

    (I’m in a really weird mood lately. On the one hand I discovered In-a-gadda-da-vida. On the other hand I discovered that at about 11:20, it’s basically God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. After that either the Doors or Cream, I can’t tell .. zzz.)

  254. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Nerd @378:
    Ah, is that why the ‘reason & hurt feelings’ thread is still active?

    Correct. The thread, should have died a couple of weeks ago. A single cryptic/non-sequitur post per day is keeping it alive.

  255. chigau (違う) says

    cm #384
    I just lost a better comment because iPads suck.
    “nuance” used to actually mean something about subtlety and cleverness.
    Now it seems to mean, “I put a bunch of stuff in my comment and if you didn’t get it, it’s because you don’t got no nuance.”

    In-a-gadda-da-vida
    is a message from the gods
    pay attention

  256. cm's changeable moniker (quaint, if not charming) says

    *message received*

    I shall ensure that merry gentleman are rested, godlyly.

    What I’m secretly listening to: Norah Jones.

    In the morning …

  257. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    What I’m secretly listening to: Norah Jones.

    Ah, my second favorite singer, behind Karen Carpenter.

  258. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    sad thunder dome: needs visitors.

    We don’t want it to start wearing TET’s clothes and hurting people, do we?

  259. says

    Gawddang Caine your horse can’t clear the Great cyberWall of China.

    Tonight in a penthouse suite overlooking the beach in Qingdao. Tomorrow into the breach: I go to Harbin, which is apparently -13 °C. (That is extremely cold for Shenzhenren.)

    I sure could do with a hot chocolate and some of chigau’s rum.

  260. says

    Theophontes, pilamayaye.

    Looked up baiju. Yeah, that’s the stuff. Mister went wandering one evening (wasn’t supposed to, but…) and ended up at a Mongolian camp, stayed the night there, got drunk outta his mind.

  261. Jackie: ruining feminism one fabulous accessory at a time says

    #s 312 & 313,
    Crip Dyke & Dhorvath,
    I was offering to ruin the end of a suspenseful movie for you. :P

    I loved the Despicable Me movies! We just got Netflicks and I’ve told my friends that I’ll never see them again. Who needs a social life? Not me. I have old episodes of Buffy to watch. :)
    Speaking of things having to do with Anthony Stuart Head:
    The best part of the holiday was waking up to my husband making a Turkey in his apron, singing and dancing to “It’s a Thankless Job” from Repo, a genetic opera. I don’t care how awful the in-laws were, it was all worth it just for that.

    Now begins the time of year when I try to sneak leftover turkey into our meals. Today’s leftover solution was white chili and it was good.

  262. Jackie: ruining feminism one fabulous accessory at a time says

    Dhorvath,
    LOL. Sadly, I cannot ruin a movie from the inside.

  263. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    We just got Netflicks and I’ve told my friends that I’ll never see them again. Who needs a social life? Not me. I have old episodes of Buffy to watch

    I did exactly that with my netflix, and then, a couple years later when Ms Crip Dyke & I got together (and I found out she had never seen buffy), we went through all of them together. – Just finished up a month or two ago, actually. (Yes, it took us almost 2 years, but I’m in law school and we’re parents, sue us).

  264. Jackie: ruining feminism one fabulous accessory at a time says

    (Yes, it took us almost 2 years, but I’m in law school and we’re parents, sue us).

    I understand completely.

  265. chigau (違う) says

    Well, this place needs a kick in the pants.
    Whattaboot that Nale Elan vs. Dian(n)e thing?

  266. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    I will give it to Chas that when we had our recent dust-up over gender vs sex in the field of biology, he was right when he said that the problem is much more pronounced in science journalism than in science itself.

    So, okay, I’ll give you that. However, science journalism is only as bad as scientists permit it to be.

    Moreover, maybe it is the scientists themselves, just that they are speaking differently when they speak to the press than they do when they are held to the precision expected of them by their peers.

    Case in point: This utter jackass.

    Chris Martine, let me just say your work is the kind of well-poisoning we *don’t* need. If you can’t tell the difference between plant structures and tweaking the noses of the gender prejudiced, maybe you should just bow out of science forever.

  267. says

    theophontes @395:
    “fits and starts”?
    My friend, have you not seen 28 Days Later*?

    *yeah, technically not zombies, but if it quacks like a duck and sounds like a duck and moves eats like a duck…

  268. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @Theophontes:

    Top left is a zombie duck by our own Caine.

    One can, of course, prefer to interpret it as a “frankenduck”, but really, since we’re talking reanimated tissue, what’s the difference? That Frankenduck is to Zombie Ducks as a square is to a quadrilateral? Then we’re still in zombie land, and Caine can still claim to have made my favorite zombie duck *evah*.

  269. cm's changeable moniker (quaint, if not charming) says

    Clear skies, frost, bright stars!
    Power cut now? Yay! (Except
    then, no internet.)

    Jupiter is high and proud in the constellation of Gemini. Not sure what that means horiscopally, but thought I’d share.

    Just in case I get my wish. ;-)

  270. says

    Chas:
    Yup.
    It’s one of those things I grew up with and never really questioned. Singing Xmas songs is just what you do this time of year. Tradition, yada yada. I wasn’t raised in a church going home, so I heard these songs only around xmas time. The Jesus/Christmas link wasn’t heavily drilled into me like so many others. I knew that there was a link, and that people felt that Jesus was born on Christmas day, but not much else.

    In addition, I realized years ago that when I listen to music, unless I’m actively trying to parse the words and understand what is being said, I often don’t know what a song is about, even if I know the lyrics. I have to actively ignore the instruments, and the beat and rhythm and focus solely on the words. When I do that, though, I can’t enjoy the music.

    Also, as I’ve become more aware of how deeply religion permeates society I’ve gotten increasingly annoyed/frustrated. These days, I notice things that I wouldn’t have thought twice about in years gone by. The blinders have largely been removed, but as I found out today, some of them are still in place.

  271. Rob Grigjanis says

    Tony @414: Jesus-drenched, yeah, but not all dreck. I love this traditional song performed by Pentangle.

    As you point out, our society is permeated by religion. More than a hundred of JS Bach’s works have the word ‘Jesus’ in them (one of my favourites), and there are others with ‘Gott’, ‘Herr’, ‘Himmel’ and so forth.

    Geoffrey Burgon’s setting of the Nunc Dimittis is another lovely piece.

    I guess because I’ve been an atheist since childhood, and grew up in the relatively benign ambience of English Anglicanism (‘tho I’m baptized Lutheran), the words/titles don’t bother me. In fact, I find some lyrics very moving. After all, they are finally human expressions, even if filtered through dogmatic nonsense.

  272. Rob Grigjanis says

    Oops, effed up html. The folk song link wasn’t properly closed. The Bach link is in the brackets.

  273. ChasCPeterson says

    RG: thanks for those links. I’m reminded of Lewis Thomas:

    Perhaps the safest thing to do at the outset, if technology permits, is to send music. This language may be the best we have for explaining what we are like to others in space, with least ambiguity. I would vote for Bach, all of Bach, streamed out into space, over and over again. We would be bragging of course, but it is surely excusable to put the best possible face on at the beginning of such an acquaintance. We can tell the harder truths later.

    We could throw the Child ballads up there for good measure.

  274. says

    @ Chas

    if technology permits, is to send music

    This is also a cool idea, ’cause if the aliens are sufficiently advanced they will learn to speak “Bach”. Imagine they arrive on earth meaning to say “Take us to your leader, Earthlings” and it comes out as a delightful fugue.

    @ Rey Fox

    This is where we air unpopular opinions, right?

    Cage fight!

  275. says

    Rey Fox:
    I haven’t seen it myself.
    Is there anything specific you didn’t like about it?

    Oh, and this is supposed to be the knock down, drag out, take no prisoners, arena where we hash out arguments inbetween battling the antifeminists, fundie fools, CAM worshippers and AGW denialists.
    It hasn’t seen much action lately though.

  276. says

    Wow. They say that atheists are waging a war on Christmas. We got nothing on Scott Walker:

    “Instead of venturing into the cold this Black Friday,” it began, “stay in and give your children a gift that will keep on giving. This year, we are celebrating the Holiday Season with a Black Friday special that is better than any deal found in stores. Donate $5, $10 or $25 to help Governor Walker get reelected and save your children from a future of double-digit tax increases and billion dollar budget deficits.”

    It continued by noting that any “electronics or toys” that parents buy for their children “will undoubtedly be outdated, broken, or lost by the next Holiday Season,” whereas a contribution to the Walker reelection effort will help to create “a Wisconsin as great as the one [Walker] grew up in.”

    To be fair, the email stating this was sent by Walkers’ deputy Taylor Palmisano.
    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/12/03/wisconsin-governor-scott-walker-encourages-parents-to-donate-to-his-campaign-instead-of-buying-children-christmas-presents/

  277. cm's changeable moniker (quaint, if not charming) says

    *reverse gear drive-by*

    Despicable Me didn’t do much for me.

    Hm.

    Edith: Are these beds made out of bombs?

    Gru: Yes, but they are very old and highly unlikely to blow up. But try not to toss and turn.

    Edith: Cool!

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1323594/quotes

    *shriek of tyres*

    Randy Scruggs

    (if youtub recommends more videos, I heartily recommend you watch them)

    *haze of exhaust fumes*

  278. ChasCPeterson says

    re: Bach: a nice version of my perennial favorite
    re: Fairport: I have loved Sandy Denny from the first syllable I heard her sing (which was Liege and Leaf). That last line of ‘Matty Groves’ is one of the most powerful lyrics ever written imo.

  279. cm's changeable moniker (quaint, if not charming) says

    Calendarist says “Happy Friday”!

    Local wildlife update:

    Hark! Mating foxes
    No, haiku won’t do when it comes
    To that sort of thing

    Oh, wait, apparently it will.

    Thankfully they’ve fucked off now.

    (Quite literally: they get stuck together for up to an hour afterwards.)

    *toodlepip*

  280. QueQuoi says

    Hi Horde!
    Thought I’d take a cold evening in which I’m feeling lonely and particularly exasperated with the world to say thanks to the commentariat and Professor Poopyhead for everything you all do for me everyday.
    Your thoughts and words and truly righteous anger get me through many a tough time.

    That’s it.
    Just a little appreciation from a daily lurker and very occasional commenter.

  281. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    The Horde always appreciates positive reinforcement.

  282. chigau (違う) says

    Not about anything here but
    international travel is a gigantic pain in the anatomy

  283. says

    chigau

    and it puzzles me that overweight baggage can be alleviated by money

    Why? The reason for weight allowances quite likely relates at least somewhat to the amount of fuel needed to fly it from point A to point B. More weight=more fuel expended (to a larger extent than might be expected without working out the math), but more $ will pay for that fuel.

    RE:music
    They’re not Child Ballads, or christmas related, but there’s very little god in them :
    When the Boys are on Parade, performance Andy Irvine, lyrics by Marcus Turner

    The Deserter, by Fairport Convention, singer Simon Nicol, Lyrics John Richards. Not to be confused with the song sung by Sandy Denny with Fairport Convention called “The Deserter” as well, from a much earlier album. That one’s a traditional ballad whose author is unknown, also sometimes titled “Ratcliff Highway”

    And, on a completely different note:
    Aragon Mill
    Performed by Planxty, written by Si Kahn.

  284. chigau (違う) says

    Dalillama
    I’m aware of the weight/fuel thing.
    When I fly on smaller planes in northern Canada they weigh the passengers’ checked bags prior to fuelling
    the plane.
    They also weigh the carry-on bags and the passengers.

  285. chigau (違う) says

    The poll linked by drowner #439 requires a login but if you do so, I’d like to suggest that you choose the Sesame Street answer.

  286. consciousness razor says

    cm:

    So, we have innumerable guitars all tuned up just so.

    Now this.

    Curse you, Steve Vai.

    Hmm, that’s interesting. I’m not sure of the magnitude of the effect. I haven’t done any math, but I suppose I get that the differing tensions and masses of the ‘effective’ strings (the lengths at whichever frets) should require a little adjustment for very-nearly-perfect tuning. But doing so would put you slightly out of tune with any guitars/basses with standard frets, to the same extent that you were “fixing” your own tuning, meaning the whole group should be doing it or else you’re actually making things worse. And with winds or voices, they’ll never be exactly in tune anyway. So, the only benefits would come from playing with very accurately-tuned keyboards or synthetic instruments (or playing solo, with or without indefinitely-pitched instruments like drums). With those few exceptions, as I’m sure you understand, the big problem is getting an entire group together, not so much being extremely in tune with yourself (across your whole range and in different keys). So I doubt it’s really worth it. I mean, even if you had the money to toss around, it’s probably not worth a curse. I really hate to say it, but if it’s that much of a concern, using an auto-tune program would be much cheaper and could be used equally well in any situation. Or play fretless — that would be my choice, because even though it’s more challenging, the technical issues disappear and it’s possible to play any pitch at all whenever you want.

  287. says

    This is also a cool idea, ’cause if the aliens are sufficiently advanced they will learn to speak “Bach”. Imagine they arrive on earth meaning to say “Take us to your leader, Earthlings” and it comes out as a delightful fugue.

    Given that ideas of music change so much within one species from different cultures I find it more likely any alien (presuming they have a sense of hearing as we understand it) would be unable to recognize our work as art. More likely is to have it be mistaken as random data or noise

  288. ChasCPeterson says

    Except that “random” and “noise” are concepts with actual objective meaning, and (with the arguable exsception of completely outside free jazz and the like), music means just the opposite. The music of Bach, in particular, consists of rhythm, harmony, and repeated melodic patterns that are the very antithesis of random noise in a mathematical sense, completely apart from esthetics. Humans can recognize patterns (and regional dialects, and individual differences, and changes of styles over time) in the sounds made by whales and birds, and Bach is so much more very ordered and mathematical than those “songs”. No human culture that ever existed would fail to recognize Bach as music, even if they didn;t “like” it. And no alien civilization capable of receiving the radio (or whatever) transmissions could possibly fail to recognize the mathematical patterns even if they had no concept of “music”.

  289. consciousness razor says

    And no alien civilization capable of receiving the radio (or whatever) transmissions could possibly fail to recognize the mathematical patterns even if they had no concept of “music”.

    Yep. But I might put it a different way. If they can have a concept of “organized” and a concept of “sound,” it’s hard to see how that’s not the same thing as a concept of “music.” I just don’t see how they could be too stupid to put the two together. Obviously, radio transmissions (or whatever) aren’t sound. So the issue is still whether this intelligent species has a sense of hearing; or if they experience sound very differently from us, whether they have some super-duper advanced alien technology* to emulate a human experience of it with brain implants or drugs or whatever. If not, they might be able to recognize and evaluate such patterns visually (or maybe they’ve got no vision either, who knows?), but I’d say that if they have some kind of sensory apparatus with which to send and receive some kind of information, they’d at least recognize it as an artform, even though they’d have a very different kind of experience by using a different sensory modality. They presumably wouldn’t find mathematical proofs or scientific information embedded in the music (not in Bach’s at least), so it’d be pretty reasonable to conclude that (1) it’s artificial and (2) it wasn’t made to do anything like that. What’s left? If someone made it, then why — what was it made for? Maybe they’re just not curious enough to find out. But for one thing, it’s to enjoy the experience of it, because some things simply are enjoyable. I suppose any intelligent species would have evolved not just pattern-recognition but a strong motivation to find patterns and create them, along with a fairly positive disposition toward regularity and stability. So they would make art too, and they’d know it when they see it.

    *Because we get that for free, any time someone says the word “alien” and isn’t talking about immigrants.

  290. consciousness razor says

    Also, since people are in the habit of calling all sorts of musical works a “song,” even when there’s no singing, I’m more than willing to give it to birds and whales, without the scare-quotes. And come on, just admit it: birds can sing some pretty interesting things. ;)

  291. says

    . If they can have a concept of “organized” and a concept of “sound,” it’s hard to see how that’s not the same thing as a concept of “music.”

    Imagine a species that has evolved in an environment where a sense of smell is much more useful than a sense of hearing. They can hear and have a concept of organization but for them a series of scents arranged in certain patterns or odors is aesthetically pleasing. They have never developed a concept of using sound for aesthetic purposes, they lack “music”.

    I suppose any intelligent species would have evolved not just pattern-recognition but a strong motivation to find patterns and create them, along with a fairly positive disposition toward regularity and stability. So they would make art too, and they’d know it when they see it.

    Assuming far far FAR too much. I would say it is just as likely to meet an alien species that has never developed a sense of ‘art’ either in general or as we know it. One could even imagine this backfiring horrendously if the aliens have such a strong disposition towards regularity and stability that they find something that doesn’t fit that model horrendous. The sense of creating paterns or imposing them on the universe could cause them to find our music, find it doesn’t match anything they’re familiar with and seek to eliminate the source.

  292. says

    Except that “random” and “noise” are concepts with actual objective meaning, and (with the arguable exsception of completely outside free jazz and the like), music means just the opposite. The music of Bach, in particular, consists of rhythm, harmony, and repeated melodic patterns that are the very antithesis of random noise in a mathematical sense, completely apart from esthetics. Humans can recognize patterns (and regional dialects, and individual differences, and changes of styles over time) in the sounds made by whales and birds, and Bach is so much more very ordered and mathematical than those “songs”. No human culture that ever existed would fail to recognize Bach as music, even if they didn;t “like” it. And no alien civilization capable of receiving the radio (or whatever) transmissions could possibly fail to recognize the mathematical patterns even if they had no concept of “music”.

    It is possible if they are of a certain mindset that when they conclude it doesn’t’ encode a message or anything like that despite it’s mathematical order that is nonsense. Imagine an alien SETI finding it saying “well it sure LOOKED like an alien signal but it doesn’t actually mean anything so it must just be an interesting phenomena”

  293. says

    he music of Bach, in particular, consists of rhythm, harmony, and repeated melodic patterns that are the very antithesis of random noise in a mathematical sense,

    Something like a test patern, static loop or the like could also give a repeated pattern and even rhythm though.

    I don’t think they wouldn’t see it as ordered, I think that it is possible they’ll mistake it for an anomaly or for a fragment of something else.

  294. ChasCPeterson says

    an environment where a sense of smell is much more useful than a sense of hearing.

    An environment that somehow allows chemicals to diffuse but prevents any pressure fluctuations? My imagination fails.

    when they conclude it doesn’t’ encode a message or anything like that despite it’s mathematical order

    And just how would they conclude that? Do you suppose if we received an alien transmission we’d have the slightest clue what message it encoded? Order and pattern is all any SETI project is looking for. Music has more of that shit than actual language most of the time.

    I don’t think they wouldn’t see it as ordered,

    But that’s exactly what you said in the first place. You used the terms “random” and “noise”.

    I think that it is possible they’ll mistake it for an anomaly or for a fragment of something else.

    I have no clue what you mean by “a fragment of something else”, but I am quite certain that no organism capable of receiving electromagnetic radiation and analyzing it for amplitude and/or frequency modulation could ever mistake Bach for “an anomaly”.

  295. consciousness razor says

    An environment that somehow allows chemicals to diffuse but prevents any pressure fluctuations? My imagination fails.

    Mine does too, I guess.

    But as I already said, they wouldn’t need to have a sense of hearing in order to recognize it as an artwork. (By that I simply mean that it’s artificial, not that they have to enjoy it or whatever.) They could see it or feel it with a sense of touch, just as we can visualize and feel vibrations, as well as use any number of instruments to measure/record information about those specific senses and augment the range from our limited perceptual abilities to the physical limits. Are they really incapable of having any sight and hearing and touch? If so, then how exactly were they supposed to have found the signal in the first place? They definitely couldn’t have smelled it through the vacuum of space. And I thought we were only discussing species which could find a signal, because they’re intelligent and have some form of sensory experiences which allow them to do so. It doesn’t matter if they translate it into some other form of sensation, as long as they’ve found it. At that point, the only thing left for them to do is reason about what it is. Maybe they’d come up with some wild ideas, like that it’s a statistical fluke or that physics just so happened to go utterly haywire for a couple of minutes, but things like that wouldn’t be anywhere close to the most reasonable conclusion.

  296. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    ZOMG, Theophontes!

    Architects?

    I swear that was a Tom of Finland drawing!

  297. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    I have no clue what you mean by “a fragment of something else”, but I am quite certain that no organism capable of receiving electromagnetic radiation and analyzing it for amplitude and/or frequency modulation could ever mistake Bach for “an anomaly”.

    What if these aliens were especially stupid?

  298. ChasCPeterson says

    What if these aliens were especially stupid?

    hmm, good point.
    Maybe we better use Metallica instead.
    *sticks tongue out*

  299. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    Maybe we better use Metallica instead.

    Wouldn’t aliens have to be smarter to detect pattern in Metallica than Bach?
    *neener-neener, Bach at you*
     
    Also, if I experienced synesthesia in which aromas were conflated with sounds, I would hate to smell Def Leppard.

  300. consciousness razor says

    Maybe we better use Metallica instead.

    A low blow, right there…. Probably not low enough.

    Wouldn’t aliens have to be smarter to detect pattern in Metallica than Bach?

    I understand how the sophistication or complicatedness of the music might make it seem harder to appreciate on a deep level, but as far as recognition goes, I think it’d be the reverse. Metallica’s using very simple harmonic and rhythmic patterns, over and over: very easy to spot. But Bach makes it easier. He’s using all sorts of them, all over the place at lots of different scales. Don’t get me wrong: there aren’t any fractals, strictly speaking, but no matter how you examine it, you couldn’t possibly miss some sort of relationship in some aspect of the music or another. Whatever you might think of their music, Metallica simply didn’t put in the work to do that. However they might want to justify that artistically, it just wasn’t their concern. Another factor here is that distorted sounds and arrhythmic patterns conceal relationships that would otherwise be more obvious. It’s not as if Bach’s would be rendered metronomically in pure frequencies, but simply put, the relative clarity of the timbres and rhythms requires much less perceptual work. He was stylistically much more inclined to expose patterns rather than hide them.

  301. consciousness razor says

    I must add that even if you weren’t a synesthete, you’d hate to smell Def Leppard.

  302. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    Another factor here is that distorted sounds and arrhythmic patterns conceal relationships that would otherwise be more obvious.

    That’s more or less what I’m getting at. Metallica is closer to being a random signal than is Bach. “Probably a pulsar”, the stupid aliens may say.

    Whatever you might think of their music, Metallica simply didn’t put in the work to do that.

    Even as a fan of metal (though far from the biggest fan of Metallica), I agree completely.

  303. consciousness razor says

    That’s more or less what I’m getting at. Metallica is closer to being a random signal than is Bach. “Probably a pulsar”, the stupid aliens may say.

    Err, yeah, sorry if the way I put it came across as if I was disagreeing with you. I wasn’t.

    But I think we both agree even that is extremely unlikely. However stupid they may be, since that could always be an excuse, it’s not going to be a reasonable conclusion they could draw given the available evidence. Not Metallica, not Wesley Willis, not John Cage: none of it would be mistaken for randomness, unless of course there’s interference, the signal is too weak or something like that. Then it wouldn’t be misinterpreting the signal they were listening to, but listening to actual noise which is covering up the actual signal.

  304. says

    I didn’t say deaf I said smell being more useful than hearing. I’m just throwing stuff out there I don’t think assumptions about how alien’s would think or what they would recognize can be made.

  305. says

    I have no clue what you mean by “a fragment of something else”, but I am quite certain that no organism capable of receiving electromagnetic radiation and analyzing it for amplitude and/or frequency modulation could ever mistake Bach for “an anomaly”.

    So if we found some signal that is seemingly just a random loop of a pattern but doesn’t seem to indicate anything other than that pattern you don’t think anyone would dismiss it as something like EVP?

  306. consciousness razor says

    So if we found some signal that is seemingly just a random loop of a pattern but doesn’t seem to indicate anything other than that pattern you don’t think anyone would dismiss it as something like EVP?

    But if we’re talking about a musical recording, it would indicate lots and lots of things, about our own psychology among other things. It’s not just one pattern, but a massive conspiracy of patterns all screaming in unison “someone meant for this to happen.” The frequencies have a very specific distribution in the form of a scale, limited to a specific range, limited dynamically, etc. There are clusters of relatively clean and harmonically-meaningful pitches occurring together and in sequences, being divided and subdivided into further parts which are coherently juxtaposed with one another in all sorts of ways not simply put into a loop. None of that’s random. And it’s not just that all of these things happen to fit within certain parameters, but that even within those limits they fit together in an orderly way to produce something that looks … well… intentional. And it all happens over a long period of time (physically, extending for just a couple minutes requires an enormous number of what would be “random” interactions), whereas something like EVP is a short and relatively featureless blip that can statistically happen and doesn’t need anything else in the way of explanation. Even a short and simple little piece is a gigantic amount of meaningful information, whether or not it says or “indicates” anything in some language or another. So they’d have to explain how that got to be the way it is, if we’re not stipulating that they must be really stubborn or unreasonable. But take the example of a recording of someone talking about anything you like — same basic stuff as a bit of music, right? Are you going to say that doesn’t seem to indicate anything other than itself? What would it be like if it did seem to indicate something else? And how is it that we’re able to tell the difference between things that do and don’t, even when it’s a novel and unfamiliar experience, but they aren’t?

    Sure, there’s some kind of gray area where they could reasonably make a mistake, but you’d have to find a seriously pathological case of “music” to get to that point. And I wasn’t arguing that no one at all would remain unconvinced no matter what you toss at them, but that if they’re intelligent and can perceive it in some form or another, they’d have a pretty decent chance of figuring out that it’s art. Because art is just the sort of thing that intelligent species with perceptions do: they manipulate their perceptions by making stuff, which is what art is. I don’t see a reason why living on a different planet would change that. And I don’t need to speculate about what in particular their thoughts on it would be, just that they couldn’t be so different from us that they’d completely miss the point and write it off as noise. If they were, then they wouldn’t have been looking for anything. If they’re looking, I’m a lot more pessimistic that they (and we) would never find anything, because space is so mind-bogglingly big and so on.

  307. says

    @ Indigo Jump

    I don’t think assumptions about how alien’s would think or what they would recognize can be made.

    One mark of intelligence would surely be that they use tools to extend their own capacities and overcome such limitations as you describe. Obviously if they are completely incapable of observing the transmission, even with their instruments, then the whole question becomes moot. Likely (inasmuch as it can be) they can intercept radio waves and make “sense” of them. Even if, as in your example, they are deaf and rely rather on their sense of smell.

    There is a helluva lot that we are quite incapable of sensing unaided by technology (radio waves!), yet we can still make sense of such phenomenon. Even if only within our own limited terms. Metallica might well be phenomenal when converted to smell.

  308. ChasCPeterson says

    if only we could figure out how to represent the first 20 prime numbers as scents & odors and send that out into space…

  309. chigau (違う) says

    There’s fucking carolers next door.
    They alerted the cat.
    i’ve turned off the lights.
    Do you think I’m safe?

  310. says

    @ chigau

    Do you think I’m safe?

    If in doubt, call cops.

    smell as music

    Wait until I get started on euphemisms for “cutting the cheese”:

    Ars musica.
    anal acoustics
    backdoor trumpet
    Butt trumpet
    gluteal tuba
    musical butt

    Or check out the real musicians like Le Pétomane or Mr Methane. These are the kind of ambassadors we shall need when the aliens land.

  311. says

    The discussion about the sensory perception of theoretical extraterrestrials reminded me of this:

    The Obsidian Deeps is a black and lightless void in a remote section of space. As a means of adapting to the lightless void, the inhabitants of the Deeps have evolved an advanced sense of hearing, while at the same time losing their sense of sight. Among the blind creatures of the Deeps was Rot Lop Fan a brave and noble member of his people and an ideal candidate for the Green Lantern Corps. Rot Lop Fan was approached by Katma Tui to join the Corps and serve as a Green Lantern however her request was meaningless to the blind alien. Being from an entirely blind race, Rot Lop Fan had no concept of light or color. The terms “green” and “lantern” had no meaning to him, and could not be translated by the power ring.

    The resourceful Katma Tui reasoned that if she could not explain the concepts of light, she would translate using sound. She instructed Rot Lop Fan to imagine a sound with a pleasing resonance. This he did, as a sound in the F-Sharp range. With the concept of sound, Rot Lop Fan could manipulate the energy of the power ring.

    http://greenlantern.wikia.com/wiki/Rot_Lop_Fan

  312. says

    Boy it sure is easy to make me sound stupid by constantly misreading what I plainly said isn’t it? ffs

    A) no I dont think you can assume aliens would have a concept of art.

    B) I really don’t know why the fuck I bother

  313. ChasCPeterson says

    It doesn’t matter whether the alien beings have a concept or ‘art’ or not. It doesn’t even matter if they can hear. The primary message of any beacon signal (which is what Thomas was talking about in the quote that started the discussion) is “we are here”. That requires only that the signal be both ordered and complex enough that it is unlikely to be mistaken for randomness or noise. What secondary messages are even possible? Nothing encoded as a human language; the meanings of language are completely arbitrary and highly contigent on a specific history and (probably) brain anatomy and physiology. Simple patterning could convey the message “we know what pi is” or “we know what prime numbers are”.
    Thomas’s (somewhat poetic) point, I think, is that music conveys the message of “we are here and we can use certain mathematical relationships” no matter how the radio signal is transduced. It doesn’t have to be converted to sound. Transduced to visual patterns or scents or just analyzed as arithmatic patterns of frequencies, the combination of order and complexity would give a strong signal that could only be interpreted as intelligently produced.
    Of course, even the structurally simplest music (say, I don’t know, The Ramones) could probably accomplish that much. (Or a short, simple melody; remember Close Encounters?) How much communication is even theoretically possible beyond that? Thomas merely sez that “[Music] may be the best [language] we have for explaining what we are like to others in space, with least ambiguity.”

  314. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    Marathon grading going on here*. I just graded a paper that counted Canada among the set of developing nations. I still have many miles to go.

     
    *The reason that I haven’t weighed in at all on the “Reification of the Gene” thread. I have a lot to say there. I may have to start my own blog when I turn my grades in.

  315. Arawhon, a Strawberry Margarita says

    I just wish to express how much of a clusterfuck the vegan thread became and how much I hate it when many veganism advocates forget about us extremely poor people who can’t exactly switch over because of budget , health, and/or accessibility issues. And that PZ handled it well but many new commenters and a couple trolls made it hard to raise certain objections without being labeled on the “bad” side.

  316. says

    Holy cow, the defensive carnivores, oh my! Yeesh. I’m not going to wade into that mess, but as of last week, I’m back on B12 injections because I haven’t been eating any meat. Got many noisy lectures again.

  317. dysomniak, darwinian socialist says

    Yes, because it’s impossible to buy vegetables with food stamps. That’s why I’m starving right now.

  318. says

    Arawhon, I’m one of those with specific health issues, and I’m supposed to eat meat on a regular basis. I know how tough it can be for people. It’s easier for me, being in North Dakota, because I can source meat from people who treat their cows well, don’t ship calves off, don’t do things the Big Ag way at all, grass feed, slaughter humanely, all that. I also get local eggs and dairy from people I know, etc. There are also farmer’s markets for veg, the Hutterites for chicken, yada, yada, yada. It’s not at all that easy for most people, who are in the middle of a city and have very limited options.

  319. says

    dysomniak, it might be helpful if you weren’t in full self-righteous asshole mode. You don’t know the specifics of Arawhon’s situation, and if you had any actual desire to help them make dietary changes, you might make some noises about finding out more, or at least relating how you cope in your situation.

  320. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I saw the vegetarian thread and decided to give it a pass. To many self-righteous obnoxious jerks who preach, preach, preach, and forget it is a choice. Sounds like with folks like dysomniak, it degenerated to what I expected bad attitude wise. I don’t care if people are vegetarian. If they visit, we set out vegetarian dishes for them. But I give them no special respect like they seem to expect, like a lot of godbots.

  321. says

    I had written a longish comment* for that vegetarianism thread, but once it was finished I noticed there were dozens of new comments that made my contribution out-of-touch with the current state of the conversation, so I deleted it. Some threads are simply too fast for me.

    I may follow it and try to examine the references that don’t depend on expensive gadgets to be read, though.

    * It included several important** points, such as that Bacteria aren’t animals.

    ** This was Sarcasm.

  322. Arawhon, a Strawberry Margarita says

    Caine, Fleur du Mal
    Its basically all three for me, though your ability to get ethical animal products is one of the things I miss from when I grew up in ND.

  323. says

    Caine

    * It included several important** points, such as that Bacteria aren’t animals.

    Oh, I say! Shocking. Utterly shocking.

    You know, the more I think about that comment, the more I’m relieved I decided not to post anything at all.

  324. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    The FDA just issued two (count ‘em two) warning letters the Dr. Stan Burzynski, of anti-neoplasm infamy!

    Jebus, I hear the perp shackles and the lockout chains warming up. One doesn’t repeatedly ignore 486’s without something dire happening. (At my place, we try to have the plan in place BEFORE the FDA leaves).

  325. ekwhite says

    Nerd:

    I am so looking forward to reading about the US Marshals showing up at his doorstep. My best guess is sometime in April. Giving warning letters both to him and to his clinic is damned serious. His lawyer can start shopping for yachts now. :)