Jordan Peterson’s motivation? I think it’s wrath.

Peterson is really losing it. Here he is in conversation with disgraceful pseudo-journalist Andy Ngo, explaining why Antifa is so evil and animalistic.

You can tell he’s deep-down angry about the existence of the Left — the way his lips writhe as he’s telling his canned Bible story, like some pissed-off backwoods preacher. It’s all about hating god, wouldn’t you know, and Antifa is just an echo of Cain’s sin. Never mind that it’s the other side that’s driving cars into demonstrators and prowling the streets looking for people to beat up. If anything is being echoed here, it’s the Christian martyr complex.

It’s also an indicator of how far the Right as a whole as lost it that these two pathetic, whiny losers are among their heroes.

Lara Logan: A classic example of not even wrong

A Fox News host went on a QAnon show, and the absurdity just blew up from there. She started talking about Darwin.

What is the only thing on Earth that is actually renewable? It’s life. And they can, you know, go back to the big-bang theory and Darwin. I mean, when I found out, does anyone know when, who employed Darwin? Where Darwinism comes from? Well, I mean, you know, look it up, the Rothschilds. It goes right back to 10 Downing Street and the same people who employed Darwin and that’s when Darwin, you know, wrote his theory of evolution and so on and so on. And I’m not saying that none of that is true. I’m just saying Darwin was hired by someone to come up with the theory. Right? Based on evidence. OK, fine.

Um, no one employed Darwin. He was independently wealthy, getting his money from his inheritance (being related to the Wedgwood industrialists helped), rents and business investments, and book royalties. No one paid him to write The Origin, other than John Murray, that is, who was his publisher, and who also published Sir Walter Scott and Lord Byron. Now there’s a grand group of conspirators.

I know of no connection with the Rothschilds, other than that an anti-Semitic hate group (a term that applies to both Fox News and QAnon) wants desperately to connect the Jews to everything.

I did look it up, and didn’t find any links between Darwin and the Rothschild bankers. Well, except for maybe this weird incoherent rant about Rothschild-Khazarian Mafia.

Irony Alert! Darwin’s famous “scientific” voyage to the Galapagos Islands as the resident naturalist aboard the H.M.S. Beagle in 1831 was ostensibly made to catalogue different species of plants and animals, but in actuality was a prelude to pervert the history and Biblical origins of Mankind with the publication of his scientism (fake science) books, On the Origin of the Species (1859) and The Descent of Man (1871).

Of course Darwin (Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Weber, and many, many other scientists and academics, philosophers and intellectuals since the last quarter of the 17th century) were virtually all financed with Rothschild (Fake Jewish Khazarian Mafia) money, (including all his books, essays, articles, and lecture tours) proposing his Theory of Evolution Atheism and Eugenics Racism which brought with it instant national and international fame and celebrity. Why were the Rothschilds interested in financing this obscure naturalist with no scientific expertise in either biology or zoology? Following the Kabbalah Law of Opposites and Babylonian Talmudism, the Rothschild Khazarian Mafia funded these anti-intellectual enterprises with the specific intent to deconstruct and ultimately destroy Christianity by pushing the academic atheism Big Lie that mankind is no different than the animals, and in fact descended from them.

If the crazed grammar doesn’t persuade you, they also published this image.

Yeah. Look it up.

I don’t understand a thing linguists say

Oh man, I got lost fast in this discussion. Anyway, there was an old Sumerian joke going around the interwebs a short while ago. It was totally incomprehensible.

Someone who is apparently an expert in Sumerian (I assume, I have no idea, they could be a highly skilled bullshitter) took the original text apart in an extremely detailed fashion on Twitter. I’ll just have to trust them. Follow the thread if you want to see the train of logic and obscure Sumerian grammatical rules. But they do come to a conclusion, an interpretation of the joke that actually makes sense.

I think it might be the oldest known Dad Joke.


A reader sent in this video of a grass spider laying eggs and building an egg sac. Spiders can be very maternal, although they seem to lose interest once all the babies emerge, and these are ubiquitous grass spiders. My lawn is finally free of snow thanks to a warm spell last week, and I’ve been checking it out every morning for the first grass spiders to put up their tents and cover the grass with their habitations.

If I have any complaint about grass spiders, it’s that maybe they’re too prolific. Over the course of the summer, they’ll expand their empire from the grassy bits down low to the sides of my house, usually by the avenue of expanding up the sides of the water spouts, and by August they’re displacing my favorites, Parasteatoda. But right now, I hope they’re getting busy and filling the place with mosquito-and-gnat eating predators.

What is death, anyway? And how do we tell?

Sometimes, I wonder about philosophers. I can sort of see that considering counterfactuals and even absurd premises is useful and can generate novel insights, but I wonder at how some can adopt the weirdest assumptions. As in this paper, How to Tell If Animals Can Understand Death, which begins like so:

It is generally assumed that humans are the only animals who can possess a concept of death.

Now that is just bad writing. Passive voice, broad statement as fact, no supporting evidence…but mostly, who assumes animals can’t have a concept of death? Not me. Not the general public. I doubt that most ethologists think that. There are far too many empirical observations of animals fearing death, or behaving as if grieving, or avoiding the dead. I think most mammals have an understanding of death; other groups, like birds and reptiles, probably do but are harder for people to read, and may have a very different concept of what death is.

The great mystery is whether spiders have a concept of death, or are simply content to be bringers of death to others.

Anyway, after that initial off-putting sentence, the rest of the paper is much better and more interesting, and is trying to bring some rigor to how we evaluate the conception in non-human animals. I can get into that.

It is generally assumed that humans are the only animals who can possess a concept of death. However, the ubiquity of death in nature and the evolutionary advantages that would come with an understanding of death provide two prima facie reasons for doubting this assumption. In this paper, my intention is not to defend that animals of this or that nonhuman species possess a concept of death, but rather to examine how we could go about empirically determining whether animals can have a concept of death. In order to answer this question, I begin by sketching an account of concept possession that favours intensional classification rather than mere extensional discrimination. Further, I argue that the concept of death should be construed as neither binary nor universal. I then present a proposal for a set of minimal conditions that must be met to have a concept of death. I argue that having a minimal understanding of death entails first expecting a dead individual to be alive, and then grasping its non-functionality and irreversibility. Lastly, I lay out the sort of observational and experimental evidence that we should look for to determine whether animals have the capacity for a minimal comprehension of death.

I appreciate that the concept of death is nonbinary. In particular, what comes to mind is that some religious people don’t have a grasp on it — they think the dead people are still alive in some other realm! — so if we demanded that the concept entails an absolute, definitive appreciation of non-existence, then we’d have to argue that some humans lack a concept of death. The author considers that in the paper, and I think it’s fair to say that a concept of an afterlife complicates the understanding of death, but doesn’t negate it.

Contrary to what is often assumed by animal ethicists, the concept of death should not be viewed in binary terms. Possessing a concept of death is not an all-or-nothing matter but rather something that is subject to gradation. This becomes clear once we consider the case of human children, who do not acquire a concept of death overnight. In fact, the scientific consensus is that it takes them an average of 10 years to fully master the concept of death (Kenyon 2001), but we credit them with some understanding of death before they reach this stage. If we accept a gradation in the case of human children, we should also accept it in the case of animals.

So let’s break down what a thorough understanding of what death is would entail. See, this is where philosophers shine, in organizing the ideas!

1. Non-functionality: death implies the cessation of all bodily and mental functions.

2. Irreversibility: dead individuals cannot come back to life.

3. Universality: all living things, and only living things, die.

4. Personal mortality: death will also apply to oneself.

5. Inevitability: eventually, all living things must die.

6. Causality: death occurs due to a breakdown in the bodily functions.

7. Unpredictability: it is impossible to know in advance the exact timing of death.

That’s where the nonbinariness is relevant. I would say that I personally accept all seven, probably most of you do too, but I know people who would reject many of those points, yet still understand the idea of death. They don’t reject them with good reason, of course, but because of some a priori commitment to supernatural beliefs. So the author distills this list down to a minimal collection of behaviors characters of individuals who understand death.

A creature can be credited with a minimal concept of death once she classifies some dead individuals as dead with some reliability, where ‘dead’ is understood as a property that pertains to beings who:

(a) are expected to have the cluster of functions characteristic of living beings, but

(b) lack the cluster of functions characteristic of living beings, and

(c) cannot recover the cluster of functions characteristic of living beings.

Not addressed: I wonder, then, if by these criteria someone in a vegetative state should be considered “dead”. I know, nonbinary again, but something that might be tested/applied in humans.

All right, now it’s time to apply these ideas to animals. What would we expect to see if an animal understands death? There is a long list of things to look for, but to keep it simple, I’ll just consider how they apply to spiders, as a test case.

1. Varied behaviour towards corpses

This one is a little unfair to spiders. The idea is that the subject should exhibit some confusion about how to respond to corpses, but to a spider, which is primarily a tactile animal, a dead animal more or less becomes invisible and ceases to exist. That they can still feed on immobilized prey suggests there is more complexity than that, though.

2. Unhygienic/maladaptive behaviour towards corpses

Interesting. Disposing of or burying corpses is indicative of a hard-wired response, while maladaptive diddling of dead bodies implies that their behavior is not hardwired, and suggest the possibility that they could acquire more complex ideas about death. Hmm. I’ve seen spiders drag corpses into their nests and festoon the place with the bodies of their prey, so maybe this is a positive for them.

3. Different treatment of corpses vs. asleep individuals

Recognizing the difference between asleep and dead (or comatose and dead?) sounds like an important concept. But what does a sleeping spider look like? I can’t tell. Can they?

4. Investigative behaviour towards corpses

Hey, you wanna see a dead body? When a spider finds a dead animal, and hoists it into her nest in the same way she would a bit of bark or a leaf, is that curiosity? I don’t know.

5. Aggressive behaviour towards corpses

Nope, I don’t see that in spiders. If they can’t eat it or mate with it, there’s no reason to fight it.

6. Caring behaviour towards beings with limited functionality

In spiders? Ha ha, no.

7. Mourning behaviour towards corpses

This one is tricky. The author cites returning repeatedly to corpses, or in the case of primates, carrying dead infants around. My spiders don’t exhibit parental care (other than the fact that they don’t eat newborns, which is a generous notion of “care” — I was a good daddy because I didn’t gnaw on my children, either), but sometimes their nests look like graveyards.

8. Eventual ignoring or abandoning of a corpse

No fair! It’s a sign of understanding when they haul a dead baby around, but also when they throw the dead baby aside? OK, spiders are very good at ignoring corpses.

9. Age or experience-relative difference in behaviour towards corpses

As animals mature and gain experience, their treatment of the dead may change, indicating that their behavior is learned. I haven’t seen that in spiders — the babies are ravenous little beasts, the adults are ravenous big beasts. They’re also so short-lived and usually solitary, so they don’t have the opportunity to learn.

While I appreciate the effort, I think one problem here is that the author is more familiar with domesticated mammals than more alien species. Can you compare, for instance, the concept of death between carnivores and herbivores? How does a vulture view death? How do you practically assess the concept of death in a solitary ambush predator that doesn’t engage in the kinds of social interactions we take for granted? Maybe spiders are acutely aware of the meaning of dead vs alive, in the sense that it is their business to make live things dead, but they don’t have the kind of behavioral repertoire that would allow us to assess that fact.

I guess I’m just going to have to ask them this morning.

You have to stop & think … who would invite Madison Cawthorn to an orgy?

Cawthorn made a surprising admission: he has been invited to an orgy by Washington fat cats he previously admired.

Whoops. We can exempt a whole slew of liberals from the suspect list, since he wouldn’t have admired them. I don’t know what criteria orgy hosts use to select their guests — I’ve never held one or been invited to one, which feels a little bit like an embarrassing admission about me — but I suspect most people on the left side of the aisle find his views repulsive.

So now the guessing games begin. Which Republicans are staging orgies in the Capitol?

(This is not a very titillating thought exercise. If you’re trying to suppress your libido, just picture a Republican sex party in your head, all interest in sex will vanish quickly.)

I’ve never been to Mississippi. I guess I never will.

There are politicians there who want to murder me.

Robert Foster, a former Mississippi House lawmaker who lost a 2019 bid for governor, is using his social-media platform to call for the execution of political foes who support the rights of transgender people.

He ran for governor of the state. He lost. But he still got 18% of the vote — I am not reassured at the thought that about a fifth of the state didn’t find that automatically disqualifying.

This guy wants to kill me for being an atheist, too.

Do I need to mention that he’s a Republican?

The pandemic must end so my father’s ghost can rest

I know, it’s nowhere near ending, especially since policy-makers make stupid policies to appease right-wing nitwits. But I have a personal reason for getting this over with.

I had to shave off the beard so masking is more effective. This means that I have to regularly use a razor. Therefore, I have to use shaving cream. So I’m standing in the bathroom with a can of Barbasol in one hand, I look in the mirror, and instantly I am transported back half a century, and there’s my dad, teaching me how to shave off the unsightly sparse shrubbery sprouting from my face. He’s laughing, because I had no idea how much shaving cream to use, and had a gigantic mass of the stuff I was smearing on in great thick glops, making a big mess.

That memory comes roaring back every time I have to shave. There I am in the moment I’m about to dispense the stuff, and there’s the ghost of my father, hovering over my shoulder, chuckling and monitoring how much shaving cream I’m using. I don’t mind seeing Dad again, but then I have to disappoint him by using only a judicious quantity.

And that’s my personal reason for wanting the pandemic to end: so I can stop shaving, and stop triggering that memory, and stop letting my father down. Alternatively, I suppose I could indulge him and splat a big ol’ cream pie in my face every morning.