Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Carnival of Bad, Bad, Baaaad History

Welcome to the Carnival of Bad History, a brainchild of John McKay of Archy, who also hosted the First Edition. A little later, Alan put together an issue 1.5 on the homepage, but then it appeared that the carnival was going to die a natural death. Well, not so fast! This is a focused and specialized topic, thus one cannot force the blogosphere to churn out dozens of brilliant essays every week! So, we decided to follow the example of another specialized carnival, the Carnivalesque, and do it quarterly - every three months or so. This gives all of you enough time to write and submit your entries. So, the Carnival is back and it is bigger and better than before. Sit back and enjoy!

Until a couple of days ago I had no idea that Abby and Nate are dating! Wow, how much brainpower combined under one roof! And we have examples from both of them today. First, Abby (aka Existential Me), in Star Wars: Does The Past Change The Past asks probing questions about the way we perceive history and how much it matters if we have experienced past events first-hand or post facto. "Who's Han Solo?" ask the kids.

(St.)Nate writes about The Strange Voyage of Saint Brendan: "According to texts that date back to the Middle Ages, an Irish abbot reached a strange land back in the 5th century. This has inspired some to believe he had reached the New World and even convinced one person to make a repeat trip, even though there's no evidence his story is anything more than fiction." Ah, but we are all Irish on St.Patrick's Day!

Oh, no, no, no, says PZ Myers of Pharyngula, while polishing the horns on his helmet: it was not the Irish, it was the Vikings and Knights Templar tromping all over Minnesota. Viking runes all over the North American continent! It seems so easy, I should start travelling around and discovering all sorts of Serbian Cyrillic writing in ancient America and "prove" that Serbs have come here first! Or perhaps it was the Gauls, particularly the indomitable ones from a little village in the corner of the map, the guys with wings on their helmets. You guessed it:

Asterix!!!! My favourite cartoon character of all times! He is REAL! Ooops... Not exactly. Alun wondered how out of touch with reality an essay could be and still be accepted by an essay bank. With a little help from postmodernism generator, the essay was finished. The results are amazing, with great references to the brilliant works of David Beckham and Dr.Dre. Safety warning: Do not drink or eat while reading this! It's online at Cheathouse and on Alun's blog with a Coda here.

But what if it wasn't real people or even cartoon characters but, gasp, ghosts!? Trish Wilson decided to write about a popular New England legend that will not die because it is so romantic: a popular example of bad history - The Truth About The "Haunting" Of Ocean-Born Mary.

Orac Knows a lot about many things, including WWII and Holocaust, and is wondering how David Irvng became a Holocaust denier. After all, Irving is a pretty smart guy. On the other hand, it is not that surprising what Pat Buchanan said about the Second World War, don't you think?

Which made me remember my own Victory Day post in which I wonder Who Won World War II, confused by a variety of competing stories. If the history is written by victors, and there are so many victors, which account is correct?

It is not just winners who write history. Losers write and re-write it, too: Japanese Lynn-Cheney, by Historians.

Still on the topic of Holocaust, or at least the misuse of the term, Walloper (formerly known as Pseudonymous UNC Student, and briefly last month as Pseudonymous UNC Graduate) found a youth group that asks: Are you a survivor of the abortion holocaust? Well, if you look at year-by-year statistics in the US (and don't forget Poland!), there is something fishy with their conclusions....

Mike Huben sends a link to his page, not a blog: Libertarian Revisionist History, full of links to interesting takes on libertarian distortions of (mainly) US history. By the way, Mike is also looking for criticisms and critical reviews of the book: "Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men: A History of the American Civil War" by Jeffrey Rogers Hummel, which he gathers is strongly revisionist.  Any takers, for the next issue of the Carnival?

Editor's Choice: From Publius at Legal Fiction, a post that dissects how ideologically motivated reading of history, especially legal history, by a Supreme Court Judge can have serious consequences for all of us and our grandchildren.

History of Art is not immune to to misrepresentations, either, as Alun discovers in: Something, somewhere, has gone terribly wrong

Finally, let me finish on a lighter note, with a satire of my own, which just goes to show how little difference there is between humor and some people's serious distortions of history.

Thank you all for coming. This carnival was a real pleasure to host. If you are interested in hosting a future edition, let John know at badhistory AT aol DOT com. I hope the posts you have just read have inspired you to write one of your own and submit it in three months!

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 12:28 AM | permalink | (1 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Monday, May 30, 2005

Meta-Carnival #5

It is time for a new (approximately monthly) round-up of all known blog carnivals. If you want to trace the history of carnivals, see how they are born, grow, metamorphose, mature, reproduce, age and die, as well as more about them, compare this one to the previous Meta-Carnivals: One, Two, Three and Four.

For entering many of the carnivals, you can use the Universal Blog Carnival Submission Form.

Here they are, in no particular order (except that I am more likely to read, link to and send entries to those closer to the top of the list), the link to the homepage/archive (or equivalent blog-post) comes first, followed by the link to the latest issue and, then, by the link to the host of the next edition (or the best place to look for one):

Tangled Bank (science, nature, medicine, environment, and the interface between science and society) Previous Next

The Tar Heel Tavern (North Carolina blogging) Previous Next

Skeptic's Circle (debunking pseudoscience and quakery) Previous Next

Carnival of Bad History (debunking misuse of history) Previous Next

Carnival of Un-Capitalists (economy from a Progressive/Liberal perspective) Previous Next

Carnival of Education (education) Previous Next.

Carnival of the Godless (a skeptical look at religion) Previous Next

Grand Rounds (medicine, nursing, health-care), Previous Next

History Carnival (history) Previous Next

Karnival of Kidz (children: pictures and stories) Previous Next.

Nursing Moments (nursing) Previous Next

Carnival of the Balkans (blogging in, from, or about the Balkan countries) Previous Next (on brief hiatus, but will return soon)

Smarter Than I (best posts selected by readers, not self-selected) Previous Next

New Blog Carnival Showcase Extravaganza (introducing new, young blogs) Previous Next

Carnivalesque (early modern history) Previous Next

Philosopher's Carnival (philosophy) Previous Next

Carnival of Tomorrow, (blogging about the future) is new to me and there are already three issues out: 1.0, 2.0, 3.0.

Blog Tower (best writing of the Progressive blogosphere, thematically not limited to politics) Previous Next

Blawg Review (law and legal scholarship) Previous Next

Friday Ark (animals of all kinds) Previous Next

Carnival of Dogs (dogs) Previous Next

Carnival of the Cats (cats) Previous Next

Carnival Of The Gamers (computer and video games) Previous Next.

Rascal Fair (Montana blogging) Previous Next

Cavalcade of Canucks (Liberal Canadians) Previous Next

Blog Of The Day (daily carnival showcasing one blog per day)

Blogging For Books (about books) Previous Next

Storyblogging Carnival (stories writen by bloggers) Previous Next

Carnival of Recipes (yummy) Previous Next

Carnival of the Runners (running) Previous Next

The Carnival Of NBA (professional basketball) Previous Next

Carnival of Comedy Previous Next

Homespun Bloggers Symposium (building and strengthening a blogging community, including audio-blogging) Previous Next

Watcher of Weasels (competitive, "Survivor"-like, "best of" carnival) Previous Next

Carnival of the Optimists (optimism) Previous Next

Carnival of the Liberated (Iraq) Previous Next

Carnival of Vanities (the first, oldest, biggest - the original carnival of best blogging) Previous Next

The Best Of Me Symphony (guest-edited best of older blog-posts) Previous Next

Carnival of Capitalists (economy from a Conservative perspective) Previous Next

Carnival of Revolutions (freedom movements around the world) Previous Next

Asia By Blog (Asian blogs)

Haveil Havalim (Vanity of Vanities Initiative) (Israel and Jewish blogging) Previous Next

BritBlog Roundup (British blogs) Previous Next

Carnival of Cordite (guns) Previous Next

Christian Carnival (Christianity) Previous Next

Christian Views Symposium (answering questions on Christian topics) Previous Next

Celebration of the New Christian Fiction (Christian stories) Previous Next

Vox Apologia (Christian apologetics) Previous Next

Catholic Carnival (Catholicism) Previous Next

Sneak's Wide World of Blogging (host-edited best of blogging) Previous Next

Red Ensign Standard (Canadian Conservatives) Previous Next

Bonfire of the Vanities (the worst blog posts) Previous Next

Bharteeya Blog Mela (Indian blogs) Previous Next

Carnival of Insanities Previous Next


Unfortunately, it appears that Carnival of Sin (seven deadly sins) is dead.

How about the Poetry Carnival (poetry)? Is it defunct? Check here.

Carnival of Poets also appeared to have had only one edition.

If a carnival is missing from this list, or if I messed up a link, please let me know.

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 6:28 PM | permalink | (10 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Two Perspectives on Women in Star Wars

From Liesa of Left In The West, all her words, nothing for me to add:

Two Perspectives on Women in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith

First a progressive perspective from Alternet The Curse of the Pregnancy wonders why Padme’s pregnancy is portrayed as something so bad and limiting to her participation in the film:

Despite the futuristic age in which she lives, things aren’t much brighter for Padme, whose pregnancy renders her oddly helpless. Though supposedly a member of the Galactic Senate, she does little more than sit listlessly in an oversized living room watching the passing hovercraft and the multiple sunsets, waiting for her belly to grow and for Anakin to come home. The only thing that changes are her outfits.

Second what the conservative Focus on the Family’s film critic has to say about the role of women in the movie:

Padmé wears a strapless nightgown in two scenes. A well-endowed alien female (she has long appendages growing out of her head, but otherwise looks human) attends a Coruscant social event wearing a revealing, flimsy white dress. A young Jedi woman’s outfit shows some cleavage as well.

The difference is clear. Conservatives think of women as sinful tempations that need to be controlled instead of active participants in life. Their policies are aimed at controlling these dangerous images instead of encouraging women’s participation in society.

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 4:31 PM | permalink | (2 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Karnival of Kidz

The Sixth Karnival of Kidz is now online. Smile.

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 2:03 PM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Carnival of the Godless

New Carnival of the Godless is up!

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 10:32 AM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Sunday, May 29, 2005

My Book Wish-List

Developmental Plasticity and Evolution by Mary Jane West-Eberhard

Nature : An Economic History by Geerat J. Vermeij

Marriage, a History: From Obedience to Intimacy, or How Love Conquered Marriage by Stephanie Coontz

Niche Construction : The Neglected Process in Evolution by F. John Odling-Smee, Kevin N. Laland, Marcus W. Feldman

What Makes Biology Unique? : Considerations on the Autonomy of a Scientific Discipline by Ernst Mayr

Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo and the Making of the Animal Kingdom by Sean B. Carroll

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 12:02 PM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

New History Of Marriage

Stephanie Coontz has written a ground-breaking study about the institution of marriage called MARRIAGE, A HISTORY: FROM OBEDIENCE TO INTIMACY OR HOW LOVE CONQUERED MARRIAGE. It goes from the marital intrigues of ancient Babylon to the current debates over the meaning and future of marriage.

She will be reading from her book and signing at Quail Ridge Books in about 10 days, on Wednesday, June 8 at 7 pm. I hope I can make it, as I think and write about the topic a lot. I hope I'll have money by then to actually buy the book, read it, compare it to E.J. Graff's "What Is Marriage For" and write a review here.

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 10:47 AM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

The Terror Of Civility

Brian Leiter argues that there is an "excess of civility" today in North America:
...civility is the greatest gift one can bestow on the creationist conmen, the right-wing liars, and the religious bigots--not to mention the hordes of ignorant blowhards in the blogosphere.  To treat their positions with civility is to already legitimate them.  The consequence of doing so is now available for all the world to see:  the intellectually and morally depraved state of public culture in America today.

Well, nobody is civil in the blogosphere these days. And that is why blogs are good: calling it what it is. There is nothing civil in this must-read piece:

In his new piece the prolific Mr. Bageant (whose forthcoming book, from Crown, is entitled Drink, Pray, Fuck, Fight) examines the ongoing abandonment of the liberal left by working-class Americans. "We in the United States are easily the most brainwashed population on earth, when it comes to being exposed to an extremely sophisticated flood of calculated misinformation. Without changing that, we can never win"

(From King of Zembla, hat tip:Paperwight)

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 10:24 AM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Tar Heel Tavern

Tarheel Tavern

The Tar Heel Tavern is up on Iddybud. It looks great - go to a virtual NC Blogger MeetUp!

Next week, we will eat, drink and be merry at Billy, The Blogging Poet's Tavern. For more information, go here. Send your entries to idleblogs AT yahoo DOT com.

If you want to host a future edition of the Tar Heel Tavern, let me know at: coturnix1 AT aol DOT com.

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 12:49 AM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Saturday, May 28, 2005


The Mac is repaired and is at home. I am having hissy-fits with browsers, though. Netscape 7 does not remember any changes in settings, preferences, bookmarks, history, cookies - anything! And it does not "fit to page". Plus, it cuts off margins! For instance, if I go to Sitemeter, I cannot click on "Referrers" because that word is too short - it is cut off on the left margin.

On the other hand, I detest Explorer. It is also slower and does not load all the pages, including many blogs including my own! I'll try to download Firefox or something, or install an older Netscape and see what happens.

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 2:50 PM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Friday, May 27, 2005

If Google Brought You Here

Jim at Decorabilia is doing something really funny. He looks at strange Google searches that land people on his blog and then writes posts that could possibly (tongue-in-cheek) satisfy the searcher. He is compiling such posts here.

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 10:42 AM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

I Am Seeing Red

Red a winning color, researchers report

(Posted May 27, 2005Courtesy Natureand World Science staff)

"Come on you reds!" is a cry heard at football fields throughout Britain. But
those dressed in scarlet may need less help than you might think. A recent
survey suggests athletes are more likely to triumph if they are wearing

Russell Hill and Robert Barton of the University of Durham, U.K. studied
four one-on-one sports in the 2004 Athens Olympic Games—boxing, tae kwon do,
Greco-Roman wrestling and freestyle wrestling—in which combatants were randomly assigned either red or blue clothing or body protectors. Those wearing red, but otherwise matched in skill to their blue-wearing opponents, were more likely to
win, the researchers reported in the May 19 issue of the research journal

The researchers pointed out that red is linked with high testosterone,
fitness and aggression in animals—an effect that might also operate in humans
and subconsciously put an opponent on the back foot.

The report is one of the latest in a series of findings supporting the controversial idea that subconscious signals can affect our brains and, perhaps, our actions.
Recently, scientists have also found that so-called subliminal messages, such as
words flashed on a television screen too quickly to be noticed consciously, do
have such effects—despite the fact that early research backing this notion was

How about the alternative hypothesis that judges and referees favor red? I doubt that top athletes do anything but maximum at the Olympics, no matter what ever else is happening around them. They break bones and keep going!

All the sports these researchers looked at are judged subjectively. How about (objective) team sports where one side either scores (a goal, a basket, etc.) or does not? Do red jerseys win more often? How about other subjectively judged sports where the blue/red (and other colors) are not assigned randomly, e.g., figure-skating (red dresses win more often?) or horse dressage (chestnuts and palominos tend to beat bays, browns, greys and blacks?).

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 10:23 AM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink


Only in America! Actually, only in San Francisco:

The month of May is International Masturbation Month and the Center for Sex & Culture in San Francisco is holding it’s 4th annual-fundraising Masturbate-a-thon on the 28th of May. Participants of the event seek sponsorship for each minute they engage in masturbation. The money raised helps to fund the Center for Sex & Culture, a volunteer organization which provides sex-positive education, support & publicly accessible information.

To get involved go to : Come for a Cause! (http://www.masturbate-a-thon.com/)

About the Center for Sex & Culture : Click Me!!! (http://www.centerforsexandculture.org/)

So what are you waiting for, events are being held in San Francisco so if your in the area, lend a hand and get involved!!!

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 9:49 AM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Strange fruit

Kansas schools bear strange fruit,
Psalms in the science,
Darwin yanked from the root,
Genesis lesson in biology,
Strange fruit rip'ning from these faculty
Enlightened scene of the modern West,
The stickered books and the scripture test,
Bust of Ben Franklin, wise and free
Then the sudden hint of Khomeni.
Here is fruit for preachers to pluck,
For pundits to gather,
for zealots to suck,
For TV to rot, for high school to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop.

Based on the Lewis Allen poem sung by Billie Holiday

For the audio file, visit
Murky Thoughts

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 9:47 AM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Skeptics' Circle

The Ninth Edition of Skeptics' Circle is up on St.Nate's blog. Some excellent reading, as always...

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 8:06 AM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

On Lakoff, Religion and Language: The Rising Tone

Over on Rockridge Forums, George Lakoff wrote a post about religion (go read the whole thing). Among else, Lakoff writes:

"...the difference between conservative and progressive Christianity is whether God is seen as a strict father or nurturant parent.

The strict father God is punitive: Follow His commandments and you go to heaven. Disobey and you go to hell. Since you're all sinners, He'll give you a second chance. His son has suffered so much he has built up enough moral credit to pay for the sins of everybody. If you accept Jesus as your savior, He'll wipe the slate clean as if you've been born again; but this time you'd better get it right or else. Do what your church says and you'll go to heaven; disobey and you'll go to hell.

The nurturant God offers Grace, which is metaphorical nurturance. To get grace, you have to be close to God; you can't earn Grace; it's given freely and unconditionally; it must be accept ed actively; it fills and nourishes you, protects you, heals you, makes you a moral person. Moral Politics is the link between theology and politics. Conservative theology and politics are both structured around strict father morality, just as progressive theology and politics are both structured around nurturant parent."

As a born-and-raised atheist, I see no problem with the above. This is pretty much the same way I see the differences between the fundamentalist and progressive theologies.

However, Caleb does not like this and comments (among else, go read the whole longish post):

"For instance, it was entirely possible for some antebellum reformers to see God as a Nurturant Parent but to see the state as author itarian and thus ungodly. A small but vocal group of radical abolitionists thought that all human government was sinful precisely because a state could not be nurturant in the way that God was.[]These were people, in other words, who had a Nurturant Paren t view of God and a political posture that Lakoff and Grodzins would probably label "progressive," but who also failed to see the state as a Nurturant Parent."

I tried to respond in comments but my stupid computer balked at that preposterous idea, so my comment is here, and I hope that Caleb will detect it through his sitemeter:

"There is nothing contradictory in being a "Nurturant Parent" person and seeing a Strict-Parenting government as authoritarian. One is expected to se e it that way. The notions of "state" differ between the two worldviews, too, as SP (Strict Parent) folks are hierarchical, thus see state, of neccessity, as a top-do wn organization (King, or President CONTROLS the subjects), while NP (Nurturant Parent) folks see state as a complex system (bottom-up) of players (hopefully ALL citizens) all working together to provide the best possible organization that will lead to th e greatest good for the greatest number - thus no need for a hierarchy: the President is equivalent to a family member who was voted to be in charge of garbage and recycling for the month, while another member is voted to do the cooking, etc., until the next month's elections when the roles change."

Brandon latches onto some word definitions that Lakoff uses in this piece, e.g., "literal", "realist" and "rational" and disagrees with the way Lakoff uses these terms. I was hoping for a more sophisticated analysis of the actual substance of the article, but it was not there. Is that just a face-saving technique?

I think the KEY paragraph in the article (not mentioned by Caleb or Brandon) is this one:

"One of the important consequences of the Moral Politics analysis is that morality is independent of religion, that each religion may have strict and nurturant versions. This is the reverse of the usual assumption that morality comes from religion (since many people learn about morality through religious schooling). If morality is independent of religion, as seems to be the case, then it is no mystery that one can be moral but not religious."

Yes, yes, yes. It does not matter how you define the word "literal": it is impossible to have a truly literal reading of the Bible - the internal incosistencies are too big. Thus, each group of people, e.g., each denomination, cherry-pic ks the statements from the Bible (or Koran or whatever), decides what to take literally, what figuratively/metaphorically, and what to completely ignore, thus building its own cartoon version of theology. This cartoon version is what the priests preach a nd the flock hears (see the post below about the actual familiarity of Christians with the contents of the Bible).

Some of those cartoon versions are consistent with SP worldview and invoke SP frames, while others are consistent with NP worldview and invoke NP frames. If you are growing up in a SP household, an SP cartoon version of religion will "feel" good to you, as it will be consistent with your moral system - obedience being the key moral strength. Likewise for NP folks - empathy being the key moral strength.

Thus, one's moral code/system PRECEDES one's theology (and church/denomination membership). You pick the cartoon version that jibes with what you already believe, not the other way round. To make it even easier for you, yo ur parents have already picked the church according to their (and thus your) moral system, so you do not even have to do any shopping around for the cartoon version of your liking (unless your worldview changes in adulthood as you travel, read, think, and bump into people who think differently, e.g., at a University).

The key is that it is not the church that teaches you morals, but your moral code that makes you pick one church over another. You choose the least amount of friction and cognitive dissonance by joining the church whose cartoon version of theology most closely matches your own moral system that you acquired much earlier through your parents' childrearing style. If your parents used Dobson's books, you will be a fearful femiphobic fundamentalist and you will feel great in a fundie church. If your parents consulted Spock, Brazelton and Leach, you will feel good in a liberal church, or no church at all.

Prompted by all this, Chris chimes in, but quickly abandons any discussion of religion. Instead, he attacks Lakoff in an uncharacteristically ad hominem way. He picks one paragraph in one of the older Lakoff's books, disagrees with it, and from that concludes that Lakoff is an idiot. This surprises me as Chris is the first to chide others for making this very mistake of summarily dismissing people according to a single pet peeve.

The paragraph in case deals with the rising inflection in questions and falling inflection in statements (Chris quotes the whole thing - go read). Lakoff hypothesizes that UP has to do with unknown (thus one asks questions about it), while DOWN has to do with known (one makes statements about it).

The fact that I do not know if this is testable may just be due to the limits of my intellect, but on the purely common-sensical, lay-person grounds, Lakoff's idea sounds right. If yo u have asked me this question yesterday, before I read that paragraph, I would have probably come up with the same explanation, something along the lines of:

We make statements about the familiar. We live on the surface of the Earth, thus we are most fa miliar with our immediate surroundings DOWN here. We ask questions about the unfamiliar. We, and especially our ancestors, see UP, i.e., the heavens as unfamiliar: the Sun, Moon, stars, clouds, lightning, wind, snow, rain.... all that mysterious stuff i s high above. That is why we place God there. A Just So Story, but plausible.

But, as I was thinking this I was thinking about English language. Then I thought: I would have concocted exactly the same story 20 or more years ago, at the time I was t hinking in Serbo-Croatian language. So, how about the most powerful research method - the comparative method? I have heard over the years native speakers of English, German, Dutch, Swedish, French, Italian, Romanian, Finnish, Hungarian, Polish, Chech, Slovakian, Slovenian, Serbo-Croatian, Macedonian, Russian, Albanian, Gypsy, Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, Chinese and Japanese. I have tried, briefly, to learn a few of those languages. If I remember correctly, ALL of those languages have rising intonations in questions and falling in statements. What can account for this? Either common descent or convergence.

If it is common descent, i.e., the intonation can be traced to one of the earliest languages out of which all the other languages evolved, then one can think of two possiblities. One, tribal elders sat down one day and decided that questions in this new thing called "language" should have a rising tone, while statements whould have a falling tone. This "fiat hypothesis" does not sound plausible (and even if it is, their choice may not be completely arbitrary). It is much more likely that the intonation arose spontaneusly, naturally, out of some deeper sources of human nature. Lakoff's metaphors serve just as well as any others one may think of.

If it is convergence, then some natural cause is even more likely. There is, apparently, a propensity for humans to raise their voices at the end of questions, and to lower them at the end of statements. Why?

Questions are not the only kind of senten ce with rising intonation. Exclamations do the same thing. Rising tone asks for attention, while a statement often states the obvious - the shared knowledge, i.e., the phatic language, the intimate language. Raised voice carries farther, too. When the officer shouts "atten-SHUN!", if you are 500 yards away you will hear it, at least the "shun" part. And while bellowing the orders, the officer RAISED his head in attempt to get his voice carried as far as possible, in order to stretch the vocal cords s o he can shout louder, and in order to look taller, thus more imposing. With intimate language, sharing common knowledge, one crouches, bows, whispers, talks DOWN. This would connect the meaning of UP and DOWN in the physical realm to the meaning of LO W and HIGH in the realm of sound - not an arbitrary connection, I suppose.

What is the situation in Creole languages? How about languages that kids create spontaneously? Do they raise voices at the end of questions, but not statements? Do they even need to understand the language of adults (I assume some are around) in order to "pick up" the different tones of statements and questions?

So far so good, nothing to dismiss Lakoff out of hand for. Perhaps his details are incorrect, but in general he is onto something here. Anyway, he is aware of his fallibility. That is why he put up the Rockridge site and forums. If you look at that post of his, it is chock-full of questions. He is asking people to comment so he can learn. As an NP himself, he is uncomfortable with the hierarchy, even if he is on top (Lakoff talks, everyone listens!). He prefers a communal enterprise, a conversation that will educate everyone, including himself. Isn't this why blogs are better than MSM??

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 1:11 AM | permalink | (4 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Carnival Of Education - Week 16

Welcome to the Carnival of Education . Every now and then, the carnival leaves the midway and is hosted by someone else. It is my honor and pleasure to be the host this week.

Carnival of Education is one of those rare blog carnivals that immediately took off and quickly became big, good and popular. Apparently, many educators are blogging or perhaps many bloggers are concerned with education - is it something about the personality of a person that makes one want to be both a teacher AND a blogger? Actually, my other blog was conceived as a teaching tool, while this one is much more "lose" and meant for miscellaneous ranting (please look around while you're here).

Let's jump straight into it, as there are so many posts, demonstrating the vast diversity of topics, angles and viewpoints that characterize this carnival so well. I was hoping that some obvious taxonomical pattern would emerge that would help me organize the entries in some coherent way, but as the diversity is so great, I just decided to link them in the order they arrived in my mailbox. Here they are:

Adam Gurri of Sophistpundit: An Educated Jury. There's Sex Ed, so why not Juror's Ed? Democracy requires educated and informed citizens, in courts, as well as everywhere else.

The Science Goddess of
What It's Like on the Inside: The Red Queen Finally Catches a Break. Ah, the many meanings of the phrase "The Red Queen"!

Eduwonk comes NCLB Special Ed Policy...Don't Blame The Disabled Kids.... "Though disabled kids are being fingered as the reason for a lot of schools not making AYP, the fact is that with the achievement gaps that now exist in all kinds of communities they're being scapegoated."

Ben DeGrow of
Mount Virtus: No Surprises Here: A Can't-Do Reaction to First Class Education. Where does the education money go?

Victoria of
HomeSchoolMomTips: More Schools Needed, and earlier? Or, how to get the parents more involved.

Dan of
Polski3's View from Here sends his latest Teacher to Teacher piece: Test/Quiz Versions and End of Year Rush.

Clarence of
Remote Access sent Virtual Worlds about a wonderful teaching moment, starting with Middle-Earth and spreading all over the real Earth. This led to a question about what is school really for, in Disposable Information.

Michael Kantor of
Half Sigma: Advice for getting into an elite college: be a leader. Some advice for young people applying to college.

Editor's Choice: PZ Myers of
Pharyngula: What I'm Doing Today. A wise and inspiring Welcome speech to the incoming biology freshmen.

Andrew of
The Daily Grind is in a bind about what the 9th graders are supposed to know, in Testing the Testing Waters.

Joe Knippenberg of
No Left Turns writes on religious expression in a school talent show: here: distinction between public and private expression is apparently lost on some people.

Ginny of
A Series of Inconsequential Events writes about warring factions at her School: Oh, no she di-ENT! It's parents out of control, this time...

Mark Lerner sent a post about the Earth School. "The Earth School tries to be diffe rent in that it focuses on providing its students a rigorous academic curriculum while focusing on the natural sciences and the arts." I wish I could send one of my kids there!

Steve Pavlina wrote about the ways of Overcoming Fear of Public Speaking. Steve begins: "One way to overcome fear of public speaking is to be afraid and speak anyway" and follows with The Matrix, flying airplanes and Toastmasters, with valuable advice through out.

Bill Gram-Reefer of
Halfway to Concord: A modest proposal to save our schools - this post was written by California Sen. Tom McClintock.

Alun of
Archaeoastronomy writes an exercise in Critical Thinking, or rather the lack of it. He wondered how out of touch with reality an essay could be and still be accepted by an essay bank. "I thought it might be interesting to show that even if you don't get caught you'll be handing in something poor." The essay is online both in the Cheathouse essay bank and on his blog, and he follows up with some more commentary here.

Greg of
Rhymes With Right, in Saying What Needs To Be Said argues for the return of vocational education.

Warren Meyer of
Coyote Blog: The Teacher Salary Myth: "I like most every teach I have met, and respect the job that they do. However, I am tired of their unions succesfully crea ting the myth that teachers are paid worse than ditch diggers." Warren provides some hard data and an incisive commentary.

The founder of this carnival,
EdWonk, writes about Censorchimps: The California Sub-Species. "Student journalists sued their Bakersfield high school district Thursday in an effort to keep the school's pr incipal from censoring student newspaper articles on homosexuality." EdWonk comments.

Joanne Jacobs has two football-related items that are fun: Football frenzy about misapplied (financial) math, and Misapplied math about football (testing) frenzy. It took reading several Letters To The Editor in Raleigh News and Observer for me to figure out what the problem was in the second one: it was an arithmetic problem posing as a math problem, and it has something to do with rules of football with which I am unfamiliar - thus I would have done the arithmetic correctly but the math wrong!

Jenny D: AP revisited. Are AP courses really what they are touted to be, or should be?

Steve of
Outside The Cave : Reflections On Responsible Blogging Lesson. Important for all of us.

Mike of
Interested-Participant: Teaching Too Much Blamed for Dropout Rate. "One could say that Ontario is spearheading toward education by osmosis. All that's necessary is to reduce course content to a low-enough level whereby a half-asleep student can still absorb enough knowledge to pass the final exam".

Matt of
Going to The Mat: Writing—The Most Important Skill Not Taught Today. The title says it all.

Kimberly wrote about a Comprehensive Review at UC-Berkeley.

Dave Foster of
Photon Courier: Penny in the Fusebox. It's about the factors leading to uncontrollable student behavior in classrooms, with particular reference to the recent arrest of a kindergarten student.

Janet of
The Art of Getting By: If You Can't Be An Athlete, Be An Athletic Supporter.

And to finish with a touch of humor, another Editor's Choice
In Which Ms. Frazzled is Made Highly Uncomfortable in Public.

Next week, the carnival returns home. Submissions for Week 17 of The Carnival Of Education should be sent to owlshome [at] earthlink [dot] net. Send your contributions no later than 10:00 PM (Pacific) Tuesday, May 31st. The midway should open Wednesday morning.

Thank you all for coming. Also, as this carnival is so large and I am currently operating on a very primitive old computer, please let me know ASAP if a link is bad, or an entry missing ASAP, so I can promptly fix any error that I may have made. Thanks.

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 8:31 AM | permalink | (1 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The Philibuster Deal

Lots of predictable responses to the philibuster deal out there. Here are some different and original angles:


More Thoughts On The Deal

Played Againg

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 3:23 PM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

If a latte-drinking Volvo-driving effete librul is this dumb...

When was the last time this guy was in an American classroom? His article reveals - looong ago. He has no idea who is teaching science in many schools, particulalry rural school: whoever the principal can find. He also does not understand much of biology either, but as a journalists should have done his homework (like EdCone did yesterday, see the post below).

Having Fun With Intelligent Design
by David Morris, on today's AlterNet, is unbeliavable! Introducting a tough theoretical book, like Elizabeth Lloyd's, to kids who have not yet received the thorough instruction on evolutionary theory? Will not work. Teaching Fred Hoyle's seedlings from space theory? Is he nuts? Teaching Erich von Daniken in schools? Ubelievable. Please, give me a break!

Update: I was dismayed and uncomfortable at how many bloggers LIKED this article. Have I missed something? But now I can sleep better, as PZ Myers feels exactly the same. Also, whereas I just quickly ranted above, he explains in detail why each of the points I screamed in this post is correct, so go and get edified there.

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 8:46 AM | permalink | (2 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Monday, May 23, 2005

Yoda Kicks Ass!

There is a reason why I will never be a movie critic: I just like 'em too much. Especially the movies with no artistic pretensions. I regress into my inner child, get bloated on popcorn and root for the good guys.

I just came back from the theater: Cotur nix Jr. and I had a boys' night out to see the Sith. I loved the special effects, the creatures, the fights. My palms were itching for a light sabre. I could not care less about the quality of the plot, acting, characters, or the deeper meanings of it all. I was just totally there, inside the action, adrenaline high...

Yoda is the greatest!

Lance and PZ on political and religious commentary on the Sith, particularly on Orson Scott Card.(fixed the link to Lance - it was initially pointing to the wrong post)

Amygdala gives a blow-by-blow in a series of posts, including some dialogue that never made it into the movie. Very cool.Ï

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 10:07 PM | permalink | (2 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Who By Fire?

I always knew that Leonard Cohen was much bigger in Europe than in the USA so I was pleasantly surprised when I heard "Who By Fire" as a backdrop to a story I heard th eother day on Day To Day on NPR about a drug dealer who found it dangerous to get out of the business. Apparently, the show got a lot of mail, people asking "what was that song"?

I know Chone is a genius, but I was impressed that hearing a few seconds of one of his old songs was enough for people to recognize this little fact.

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 5:46 PM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Beyond Anatevka

I was sure that the fourth Tevye's daughter married a Black man and the fifth daughter married another woman, but this author had different ideas. On a more serious note, this is a very interesting article about Jews in the 20th century.

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 12:54 PM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Some Thoughts On Use Of Animals In Research And Teaching

test for Bora Posted by Hello

The story about the class dissection of a dog stirred quite a lot of controversy, including heated exchanges in the comments of these two posts on Pharyngula.

I joined in late to that discussion, not because I missed it, but because I did not know what to say before I knew more about the case, and also because I have my own, very strong views on the general matter. I assumed that an animal rightist would show up, and I did not want to get banned from Pharyngula for the use of foul language in exchange with such a person.

I am glad I waited, as the two additional articles cleared up some stuff. This is a topic I wanted to write on my blog since I started it, yet could never make myself actually do it (though I copied/pasted some forum comments early on and asked a question about it here).

I got into biology because I love animals. I have a cat, a dog, some tetras, used to have horses... I was going to be a vet, but war interfered, I came to the State s, and I had to start all over again, thus I chose grad school and basic science over repeating the whole vet school.

My research is on whole animals, i.e., I have done hundreds of surgeries (and even more euthanasias). While I have acquired mastery of t he skills which makes it easier, I still never like killing an animal. And I work with what is essentially poultry - a highly unintelligent and not very pretty bird: the Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica).

We spend at least 6 months discussing eve ry experiment that we may want to do (and may have already got NIH funding for beforehand) before we decide if it is worth doing and if we are certain that we have perfected the experimental design in a way that will maximize the usefulness of the experim ent. The important guiding principle is that we want to minimize the number of animals we use, minimize the pain, and maximize the benefit we gain from doing the experiment.

Then, we spend a couple of months dealing with IACUC (Institutional Animal Care and Use Commitee) over the details of all the proposed experiments before they are approved, although they had initially approved the experiments as described in our grant proposal (NIH requires the IACUC approval to be sent with the proposal). Often we have to
modify the procedure, or even abandon an experiment, due to IACUC non-approval (IACUCs are semi-fascist organizations IMHO).

Our old tech was a vet, and I am an almost-vet, so they let us do stuff alone, though they sometimes pop-up to check in o n us: they want to know when and where we do procedures so they can come and see. For each new procedure (e.g., lesioning a different brain nucleus than the one we did last week), the IACUC vet is there to make sure that we do it "right".

Recently we had to switch from injectable anesthesia (ketamine/rompun mix) to inhalation anesthesia under completely sterile conditions (the latter being completely neccessary for avian surgery but IACUC does not follow reason or scientific evidence - just emotion). My wife, who is a nurse, laughs at me - and I have funny pictures to show: wearing a
mask, a hat, sterile gloves and the iddy-biddy (100g) bird with an inhalation mask on a sterile field...it's a riot. That level of sterility and anesthesia is not used in humans!

Eleven years ago, when I just started, we did surgeries on a desk, the anesthetised bird secured to the desk with masking tape, cleaned our tools with alcohol swabs, and had never had any infections or other problems - the birds' immune system is just too strong for such stuff to occur. Actually, the "old" system was faster and we had more deaths in-surgery with inhalation surgery and the vet present as the bird remains anesthetised too long (while the vet is slowly checking every step and talking through it). I used to do 20 pinealectomies per day. Now I am happy if I can do six and all birds survive. But, as I sad, IACUC has nothing to do with reason, science, or investigators' experience. They often insist on practices that are actually worse for animals' well-being than what the investigators, who have spent decades studying the particular species, suggest.

As a result, less and less people use whole animals in research. The hassle is just too great. People are switching to in vitro s tudies, mostly molecular biology. But results of molecular studies are just hypotheses to be tested in whole
animals. We do expensive molecular stuff, the results are picked up by scientists in Asia, Europe and elsewhere and tested in whole animals, often leading to patents and money.

Even in my own work, I am writing proposals guided not by the importance of experiments that need to be done, but by how likely is it that the experiments will be approved by IACUC. Most of the latest stuff was pure behavio ral testing, non-invasive measurements, and selective breeding protocols - we are going back to the stuff that could have been
done in the 19th century because a bunch of bureaucrats do not let us do sophisticated stuff.

I have written a lot (especially in the fourth part of my WWDD series of posts) on the negative effects of the "bandwagon" mentality in science, and the utility of old techniques in asking new questions. I have made the most exciting discoveries using, as a technique, only COUNTING (OK, I had to count every day for three years, but still....). But, what we need is the freedom to use whatever technique and approach is suitable for a particular question we are asking. Everything else is slowing down science.

In the end, the activity of IACUCs has a chilling effect on animal research in the USA, producing, de facto, a result favorable to PETA and ALF: precipitous decline in whole-animal research in this country (I wish I could lay my hands on the actual numbers so I can document this, but IACUC, like other paranoid organizations, will not let me see the files). I have told them that they are the most efficient executive cell of the domestic terrorist organization. You bet they did not like that! Do you think I can get them haule d away to Guantanamo?

IACUCs have the same effect on using animals in teaching, particularly at med schools. Using computer simulations does not come close to the experience of the real hot animal. Not to mention that every simulation looks the same, whi le every individual animal looks different. No matter how many dogs you have opened up, each looks different
inside. Sure, each has a heart, a stomach, a liver etc, but the relative sizes and positions, consistency, color, etc. are all different. If you l ook in an atlas of human anatomy (or any mammalian anatomy), there are three major arteries coming of the aortic arch right after the aorta leaves the heart. If you have dissected, for instance, a couple of hundred
cats, you would have seen anywhere betwe en one and six arteries coming off the aorta. The diversity of the innards is not reflected in atlases and simulations and ill-prepares the future surgeons.

I am aware that the UK system is even stricter than in the US, as the anti-vivisection movement i s much stronger there than the PETA is in the USA. However, in the USA every University has its own IACUC and they differ from each other.

In my school, we have hundreds of people working on animals as we have a big vet school, as well as large departme nts in zoology, animal science, poultry science, plus you need rabbits for the department of immunology (and some biochemists use them, too). However, the number of people has dropped precipituously lately, mostly after the arrival of the new Chair of the IACUC who looks and behaves just like John Bolton. He is under scrutiny now, and may get ditched because so many people complained (and while the experiments and grants are stalled University loses the overhead funds), but starting that process took year s of effort. However, talking to some other people in other schools, it appears that their IACUCs are just as bad if not worse. A guy from UVA, for instance, was amazed that I was allowed to remove eyes from birds - something unimaginable in many other s chools. I am assuming that having a vet school on
campus actually helps in this matter. Thus, it's the matter of luck: what kind of idiot is running your IACUC.

The influence of animal rights groups, who purposefully and successfully blur the lines betw een themselves and genuine animal protection organizations is growing, especially in urban areas, where people are, of necessity alienated from nature. The emotions run high. The "Bambi" view of life is rampant. Kids of farmers and hunters have been expos ed to freshly killed animals and will find the dog dissection in the classroom interesting. Actually, seeing it done CORRECTLY by a vet, as opposed to what they've seen at home on the farm, may teach them something about respect towards animals and the ex istence of animal pain.

Not all, or even most, urbanites are rabid animal rightists. A small subset is. However, you are hard pressed to find any of them in rural communities. In other words, most animal rightists are urban, but not most urbanites are a nimal rightists. I have seen somewhere (in a book collection of studies on the problem) the stats for their membership, and it is hugely urban, mostly in their thirties, mostly single women with no kids: a population that does not replace itself through h aving and indoctrinating own kids, thus needs to recruit.

The inability of people, blinded by pathological emotion, to make a distinction between animal protection (important and wonderful activity) and animal rights (a philosophically untenable position leading to terrorist behavior), is one of my pet peeves (see the links at the end of this post for detailed explnations of the distinction between the two). I had to deal, in the past, with students who had taken an "ethics" course with Tom Regan - they were a pain to deal with: all anger, no reason. Fortunately, he has retired, though he seems to be churning out books every couple of months or so, and is constantly on the radio and in the papers. The very use of language of "rights" is legally improper, philosophically untenable, and intentionally misleading.

Two main ideologues of the movement, Tom Regan and Peter Singer have, with no outside help, destroyed each other's arguments a long time ago. The rest of them are just emotional sheep, bombing r esearch facilities, threatening the lives of researchers, and releasing the animals into the wild where they are promptly slaughtered by predators within hours - isn't that terrorism?

Debating an animal rightist is in many ways more difficult than debati ng a Creationist. It takes a mind trained in logic and a thorough immersion in the issue. I have seen it done by competent people and do not feel competent enough myself to do it.

Usually an animal rightist starts the argument with a Regan argument. Once you start deconstructing it he/she switches to a Singer argument, although the two are completely logically incompatible (though we have seen time and again the great capacity of a human mind to hold simultaneously two or more mutually exclusive beliefs). You start eviscerating Singer's argument, the person quickly switches back to Regan. By quickly switching back and forth a few times like this, the animal rightist places you in a trap in which you may err and say contradictory things to which the respo nse is "Gotcha!". This activity should be left to the professionals with experience.

Our treatment of animals is a proper subject matter of ethics, but using the language of "rights" and following it through is what turns the argument upside down and int o the looney-land. The word "rights" in the ethical and legal sense HAS to be applied only to humans. When people try to extend it to animals, all sort of nonsense results.

One of the commenters on Pharyngula wrote:
"Since the 1970s, literal ly hundreds of books and articles have been published on the subject by academics, most of them professional philosophers. The majority of those writers are sympathetic to animal liberation. [] Of course, those who write in the field are no doubt not a re presentative sample of all philosophers and academics, but it should at least give pause to those who ridicule the idea of animal liberation."

Well, since 1850s, literally hundreds of books and articles have been published on Creationism, mo st by academics, most of them professional philosophers. The majority of THOSE writers are sympathetic to Creationism.... On the other hand, people who actually know something about evolution do not bother to write about Creationism very often - it is a d istraction. There are thousands in the former group, millions in the latter. I bet the situation is the same in animal rights world. Those who support it tend to write about it. Those who don't, don't bother, though they overwhelmingly outnumber the forme r, leaving the illusion that the animal rights philosophy is more broadly supported than it really

"As for the idea that Singer and Regan have annihilated each other's arguments, you could say the same about John Stuart Mill and Immanuel Kant (in whose footsteps Singer and Regan follow; or perhaps I should say, on whose shoulders they stand)".

Mill and Kant are Dead White Philosophers and the fact that they annihilated each other's argument (if they did) paved the way for p hilosophy to move on. This would be a pitiful world if Mill and Kant were still the latest word in philosophy. Same goes for Regan and Singer. Both are the thing of the past - the subject of study by HISTORIANS of philosophy, just like Mill and Kant. J ust like Darwin, for that matter: a genius for sure, but biology did not get stuck on the "Origin" as a sacred text and has, instead, used the subsequent 150-something years wisely and built an impressive scientific edifice.

Comparison between animal rig htists and Creationists is not just for the fun effect, or because both endulge in similar debating tactics. The similarity is deeper: both groups are anti-evolutionary, though one comes from the Conservative core, and the other is a distant radial offshoot off the Liberal core. How?

First step in the AR (animal rights) argument is seemingly evolutionary: arguing for the geneological unity of Life, in orde r to put animals on the same level of the playing field.

The second step is already contradicting evolution by making humans "special", i.e., separate from other species by a particular trait: only humans are villains and thus worth killing.

The thi rd step is very anti-evolutionary as the AR-ists construct a Great Chain of Being. All species need to be linearized so AR can draw a line somewhere, animals above it having rights, organisms below the line not having rights.

The criteria for ordering species on the Chain, and for drawing the cut-off line are usually invoking intelligence, possibility of consciousness, or ability to perceive pain. However, the emotionality of the criteria is revealed by the actual Chains they propose and the position s of the cut-off lines: such Chains Of Being are even more anti-evolutionary than NZBear's TTLB Ecosystem.

Above the line are cute, fuzzy, furry, pretty animals. Below the line are ugly, venomous, dangerous critters with "ick" factor. Mammals and bir ds tend to be above the line, but rarely rattlesnakes, alligators, snapping turtles and bullfrogs (including Jeremiah). Some RA-ists would like to protect the tuna, but not the sharks, barracudas, lampreys and hagfish. The only invertebrates having righ ts are Monarch butterflies (though lobster is being mentioned recently).

Even worse, every AR-ist constructs his/her own Great Chain Of Being and decides where to draw the line, resulting in internecine struggles. Not a single one, however, follows th e "rights" logic to its final conclusion: Thou shalt not kill bacteria! If you want to make an AR-ist mad, you only need to utter a single word: "Cabbage". It hits the nerve and provokes fits of outrage precisely because there is no argument against it.

OK, this post is getting too long. I urge you to go look through the comments on the two Pharyngula posts I linked to at the very beginning (you can skip over my comments there as most of it is right here), as well as check out the links below, particularly Brian O'Connor's blog. I have missed a number of points here, but you can see them in some of my earlier posts, e.g., here and here.

I do not personally endorse everything on the following websites, webpages, and blogs, but they are useful sources of information for further discussion and contain further good links: Objectivist Center, Sover Net, Animal Law, Ampef, RDS, AALAS, Animal Crackers blog (Brian O'Connor), VARE, Animal Scam, Anti-PETA, Animal Rights, NAIA, Animal Welfare, Animal Law, Fur Comission, Animal Advocacy, Animal Concerns, WAF, Fat Pet, People Eating Tasty Animals..

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 12:30 AM | permalink | (2 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Excellent Local Op-Ed On Evolution

Ed Cone wrote a great Op-Ed in today's Greensoboro News & Record: Darwin Deserves Better. In it, he links (at least in the online version) to Pharyngula, my favourite blog and my first blog-stop in the morning (now that Publius was visited by the stork and is too busy changing diapers to blog). I am glad to see that Ed is a Pharyngula reader. It is unfortunate timing that his editorial comes out on the day that the Pharyngula server is down!

Apparently, Ed is getting a lot of reader responses by e-mail, and he is blogging his responses here, here, here, here, and here.

This may be a good time to write a supportive letter to the editor....you can check out today's letters to the editor of NYTimes for good examples..

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 9:06 PM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Odes To Morpheus

The one-time Happy 200th Anniversary Carnival of Morphine is now up. Go there and have fun (and fall asleep from the overdose)!

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 12:54 AM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Friday, May 20, 2005

Almost A BloggerCon!

Yesterday I had lunch with Dave aka Nonny of AnonyMoses and Jude of Iddybud. They were travelling around the state, visiting bloggers (and other important sites) in Greensboro and the Triangle area. We ate at Crazie Mae's Cafe, a local-woman-minority-owned diner/restaurant around the corner from me in Southern Village.

The food was delicious as always and the conversation was great fun. I feel I was talking too much, though.... We chatted about blogging, politics, John Edwards, horses, towns, Balkans and Mayas (for instance this Maya), among else.

Dave recently invited me to join the new group blog Idea Consultants. I will read it for a little while before I start posting, as I want to see what kind of stuff is appropriate (I doubt that my 3000-word political rants fit there). So far, it is very interesting. See, for example this recent post by Nick Lewis: The Evolutionary Origins Of The Weblog..

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 10:04 PM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Thursday, May 19, 2005

What Kind Of Blogger Are You?

You Are a Pundit Blogger!

Your blog is smart, insightful, and always a quality read.
Truly appreciated by many, surpassed by only a few

What kind of blogger are you?

This one actually looks like me! The room is waaay to tidy, though, and the view out of the window is completely wrong: I see trees, birds, and children playing.

Take the test yourself (hat tip: Archy)

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 10:41 AM | permalink | (3 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Update On The Dog Dissection Case

Update on Pharyngula

This person is trying to clear some stuff up on the internets:

Hello everybody,

I am a local of the area concerning the dog controversy. Whether people agree with it or not, I don't care. But this has sparked some heat because things are not reported correctly and I would appreciate it if you all could please help pass the truth along because PETA and other animal rights activists don't have the full story. I'm a former student of this teacher. I love him and he has taught me a lot whenever he's taught me and my class. He's a very hands on teacher (don't worry, not with
the dog because that was in a clinic by a licensed veterinarian), who has always been known for taking his students out to measure moss on trees and ecology of streams, etc.

This man has provided a hands on education for many of his students whom went on to be doctors, veterinarians, and other jobs relating to the medical field. Well, I'd like to
give you the official statement of the Human biology class that went to vivisection of the dog, my cousin being one of the students of this class. As you read their statement, as given in the Sanpete Messenger of May 18,2005, please keep in mind that 6/10 of these students are CNAs and the others are going into the medical field, except one I believe. They write:

"We write this letter in defense of the teacher, the veterinarian, the administration, and the students that were involved in Gunnison Valley High School's dog controversy. We, who wrote this letter, are the majority of the students in the human biology class that went and witnessed an exploratory abdominal surgery on a dog. The rumor mill has thrown out a lot of misinterpreted, totally crazy, and completely wrong rumors about what really
occurred. The first accusation was that the parents were unaware of what was going on. That is not true. All of us who attended were in the office when the secretaries called our parents to ask for permission, and our parents had to personally talk to the administration to say that we were allowed to go. The rumors about what type of dog it was has changed from a rottweiler, to a bassett hound and then changed again
to a terrier. The truth is that the dog was not any distinct breed, and must have been a cross between a few different breeds. Another rumor is that our class dissected a live dog. The dog was under anesthesia and was prepped for a sterile surgery. The students were simply observers of an exploratory abdominal surgery on a dog that was to be euthanized because it was violent and unadoptable. In our human biology class we have been learning about the digestive system. Using a plastic mannequin we had learned all of the parts of the digestive system, but it was not the same as a real life experience seeing the parts functioning and as they really are. We feel that this out-of-classroom lesson was very educational and we learned much because of it.

Several of the kids in our human biology class are CNAs, or going into the medical field. Learning from textbooks gives us information, and videos allow us to see the information working, but neither of those tools allows us to ask questions from someone who had everyday experience. Yes, we love animals. We know that without animals, the ecosystem would not be able to function properly, but we also understand that they make so many things possible. The first prosthetic heart was tested in a cow; lab rats have been used to test all sorts of medicine. Without scientist's poking and prodding, America could still be a third world country. Without scientists, the greatest cause of death would still be communicable and preventable diseases.

We are ashamed of how this has been blown out of proportion. News reports stated that several parents and students called and complained, but it was only two students from the class who complained. The rest of the students, along with our parents, full-heartedly support the veterinarian, our principal, and our teacher. We are saddened that this incident could scar the reputation of all three men and our high school. We write this
hoping that people will get the right facts before they attempt to make a judgment that will permanently damage people lives. The GVHS human biology class."

So that's it. The internet has an important role in today's information for the world. Unfortunately, anybody and their dog can get on "report" and distort truth. I'm just going to different chatboards to put everybody's mind at ease so there not steamed up over nothing and giving the teacher, veterinarian, and administration, the unneeded frustration and threats that they receive daily from animal rights activists. Thank you and please feel free to copy and paste and pass along this letter to protect these integrable educators. Thank you.
Aaron Peterson

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 10:46 PM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Scheiber almost gets Lakoff, yet remains blind

Wooden Frame
by Noam Scheiber

Noam tries really hard to understand it. And he writes a decent article. He does not naively fall in the trap of equating framing with branding as many other liberals do. Yet, his own bias blinds him to the core message of "Moral Politics". After all that reading and interviewing, and despite apparently understanding what it is all about, he STILL wants to advise Democrats to tack to the Right? Is he insane or is it just that his feet smell bad?

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 10:56 AM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Why have a book if you never read it?

Some interesting statistics, via Jane:

Some statistics:

* About 92 percent of American own at least one copy of the Bible.
* The average household has 3 copies.
* About 67 percent of Americans say that the Bible holds the answers to the basic questions of life.
* The Bible is the world's all-time best seller.
* At least 20 million copies are sold each year.
* Gideon International annually distributes more than 45 million copies.

Biblical knowledge (Biblical illiteracy is rampant):

* Perhaps 15 percent of Americans participate in Bible studies.
* The number of people who read the Bible, at least occasionally is 59 percent.
* Less than 50 percent of Americans can name the first book of the Bible (Genesis).
* Only 1/3 of Americans know who delivered the Sermon on the Mount (more people identified Billy Graham rather than Jesus).
* Twenty-five percent of Americans don't know what is celebrated on Easter (the Resurrection of Christ, the foundational event of Christianity).
* Twelve percent of Christians think that Noah's wife is Joan of Arc.
* Eighty percent of born-again Christians (including George W. Bush) think it is the Bible that says "God helps them that help themselves." (Actually it was said by Benjamin Franklin.)
It is not just ignorance of science, but also ignorance of religion, that is widespread in America. Does this totals to ABSOLUTE ignorance? Where do people get their disinformation? Can we step in and provide some information instead. As argument from authority obviously works on many people, how can we replace the local fire'n'brimstone preacher, as well as Hannity, as the "authority" for many more people?

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 9:33 AM | permalink | (4 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Do Storks Fake Orgasms?

I am not a storkist - I am a proud secular reproductionist - this is so funny, yet so true....in a way.

And, speaking of storks, have you seen this article in today's NYT about female orgasm (hat tip:Ed)? We had a discussion about this on a blog a few weeks ago, but I cannot remember on which blog now. Alcock is all-cock: his Animal Behavior textbook is very popular although he is an un-sophisticated genocentric sociobiologist dolt. On the other hand, Elizabeth Lloyd is one of the most brilliant evolutionary theorists ...well, ever. And notice how Hrdy tacitly agrees with her by refusing to disagree. Now I have to buy the book!!

Update: And, speaking of storks...why is everybody blogging about storks today!? Anyway, we may all be having fun, but Publius is serious. He was REALLY visited by a stork and given a package containing a baby, a daughter. And I thought he was a secular reproductionist! Help - my faith is shaken! Everyone, go and say congratulations!

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 11:29 PM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Star Wars: Revenge of Dick Cheney (the movie)

According to this, and I have not seen this hypothesis on any Lefty blog, new Star Wars movie is allegorically anti-Bush (is every movie, according to wingers, anti-Bush: Incredibles, Robots...?). I will have to see for myself, I guess, but the anti-Kerry counter-hypothesis is silly to say the least: The Great Army Of Massachusets! I am trembling already. After all, Darth Vader has been Dick Cheney's nickname for years. Perhaps Lucas tried to play with that a little...M

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 6:02 PM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Wingnut Sex: Collector's Edition

The theory is quite complex, but to oversimplify it: childrearing (Dobsonian) practices of conservative parents result (statistically speaking) in psychological problems in sexuality (femiphobia) of their children who, due to sexual anxiety, grow up to be come conservatives themselves. For more details dig through my Archives by Category: "Sex, Gender, Marriage" and "Understanding America", or google "femiphobia".

I like looking at the theory and at the big picture, but I have suggested on someone's blog about a week ago that we should also start cataloguing all the known instances of sexual perversion of wingnuts, both elected GOP officials and leaders of Right-wing organizations. If the theory is correct, this should be easy: scratch a wingnut - any wingnut - and you will find sexual psychopatology.

Now I see that several bloggers feel the same way and some (who are much better than me on this) are starting the catalloguing process. Now, professional collectors, like philatelists and numismatists, may shake their heads and say that it is not worth it. What makes an item valuable is rarity. Incidences of wingnut perversion are cropping out daily left and right and have been for quite a few centuries now, making them worthless - there are just too many of them.

However, we are not interested in re-sale value. Such a compilation can be much more useful in defense of modernity as a killer tool for the next electoral campaign - remember: knowledge is power! More we know about their hanky-panky idi osyncrasies, better we can defeat them next time they are up for re-election. Perhaps we can even build, over time, a whole frame, in Lakoffian sense, of GOP standing for "Gross Old Perverts".

Here are some of the bloggers that I know of who have starte d to compile the list. I am sure there are many more:
Jane and Walloper easily came up with three cases each. Elayne Riggs and Shakespeare's Sister are making the same call to action. Pam's blog already has a huge compilation of sex-crazed nuts. Echidne and Digby are also on it.

Update: Someone has started making a serious list. The webpage also contains a link to this article that discusses the study I wrote about here. (Hat tip: Shakespeare's Sister via Jane)f

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 5:38 PM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink