This is a test

It’s true — I’ve heard a lot more about student protests of commencement speakers this year. At the Twin Cities branch campus of my university, for instance, there was an eruption of student activism over inviting war criminal Condoleeza Rice to give the commencement address — although part of the protest may have been over the fact that she would have been paid $150,000 to spew a few platitudes for 20 minutes.

We may have been missing the point. Zach Weinersmith explains the situation.


He then goes on to explain the reason behind these costly displays. I give you a choice. You can go read the rest of the comic, which is the easy way out. Or you can go read this paper by Joseph Henrich (pdf), titled “The evolution of costly displays, cooperation and religion: credibility enhancing displays and their implications for cultural evolution”, which will take rather more of your time, requires slogging through a little math and logic, but will enhance your credibility because of your investment in the subject.

The paper is also a little annoying because it will require looking at a university, or any other institution, through the same lens you would a religion. I made that sacrifice, though, so that you can see my opinion as justified and worthy by virtue of my effort.

Now I have to take my wife on a walk to the coffee shop…to help her “determine how much to commit to, or believe in, a particular representation”. I can tell that thinking this way is going to lead to a rather cynical transactional view of relationships.

That human need to control their perceived inferiors

The Onion lampoons an attitude we’ve encountered here a few times before.

With her remarkable ability to determine exactly how others should be allocating their limited resources for food, local woman Carol Gaither is considered to be one of the foremost authorities on what poor people should and should not have in their grocery carts, sources said Thursday.

As verified by multiple eyewitness reports from supermarkets across the Northampton area, the real estate agent and mother of three is capable of scanning the contents of any low-income person’s basket and rapidly identifying those items which people like that don’t need to be buying, based on the products’ nutrition and cost. Additionally, Gaither, 48, is widely regarded as a leading expert in determining which groceries they would purchase instead if they had any common sense or restraint.

Creepy. How is it funny if there really are a lot of people out there like that?

Ben Affleck’s new Batman costume…revealed!

There were groans of dismay throughout Nerd-dom when it was announced that Ben Affleck would be playing Batman in the next movie in the franchise. But then the always over-the-top Kevin Smith saw the costume.

“I saw the Batman costume. More than that, I saw a picture of [Ben Affleck] in the costume…I don’t want to give anything away ’cause that is up to them and stuff, but I am going to say this…I instantly bear hugged [Snyder]. You have not seen this costume on film before. For a comic book fan, it was mind-bending… Because every other movie does this Matrix-y black armor thing…There wasn’t a single nipple on this suit. I think everyone is just gonna be like ‘Holy S**t!’ It’s its own thing. We haven’t been down this path before. Even the hardest core [most skeptical] person will be like ‘Alright, I’m ready.’…It seemed like it was very [Redacted] influenced.”

And as we all know, the most important thing in a superhero movie isn’t the plot or the acting — it’s the special effects and the fancy costumes.

But I have to agree with Smith. I have seen the costume, and it is awesome. It’s going to make the movie for sure. And here it is.

[Read more...]