Archive for November, 2010

Forget The Razor Blades, Look At My Penis

November 30, 2010 - 6:12 pm Comments Off

I got nothin’, so I’ll grab something from someone else.

Via Weer’d, Adam Savage vs. the TSA:

Brand Xmas

November 29, 2010 - 2:17 pm Comments Off

Ken over at Popehat already said much of what I would have and likely more articulately at that, but I figure if I adopt a policy of not saying anything someone else hadn’t said better this blog would default to a posting schedule of once a month at best.

Ken was inspired by the ever-reliably-mockable American Family Association, I was inspired by this: Minister Declares End to War On Christmas.

Okay. I have two pieces of news. First, there is no “war on Christmas”. Second, if there was, Christians wouldn’t want to win it.

The “war on Christmas” as this minister and the American Family Association allude to is a politically correct tendency on the part of corporations and political entities that care about such things to strip explicit references to Christianity from generic greetings, well-wishes, and celebrations meant to be all-inclusive. I personally fall into a giant yawning pit of apathy on this issue; on the one hand, minorities have no right not to be reminded that they are a minority, and not using the C-word when the landscape surrounds us with Santa Claus, trees, bells, carols, and the occasional nativity scene strikes me as politically correct silliness in the extreme.

On the other hand, majorities equally have no right to be constantly pandered to and reassured that they are the majority, and insisting on total and universal acknowledgment of TEH CHRISTIAN when their holiday essentially takes over an entire month of the Western year and said nativites and Christmas paraphernalia are so universal is as entitled and asinine as trying to skirt around it is silly.

There isn’t a war on Christmas. Christmas squats upon December in total cultural domination, and extrudes tentacles further outward every year. Businesses are wildly, rabidly in favor of Christmas, because it’s the biggest spending event of the entire year. Governments are in favor of it because it boosts the economy, and also because a population happily occupied with the holidays is one that’s probably not paying it a great deal of attention. Businesses and the odd public organization try to avoid the C-word not because they actually disapprove of Christmas, but because they think they can get more business and more successful events by being inclusive of people that do not, in fact, celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

Take a second look at all the merry holiday stuff scattered over the landscape. Evergreen tree? Pagan symbol. Mistletoe? Likewise. Santa Claus? Shadows of various pagan gods wrapped in a red suit and given a sanitizing connection to a saint no one outside of a few European countries remembers. Even the fact that it’s a winter festival is pagan; Christ was likely born in mid-spring. The Church explicitly set out to deal with the pagans by assimilating and supplanting their pre-existing traditions, which, unsurprisingly for a northern people, included solstice festivals that revolved around feasting, symbolic greenery, and a celebration of light and its eventual return and revival of the land. They succeeded beyond their wildest dreams, and the result is the leviathan that is the modern, mostly-secular, cultural Christmas experience.

If even atheists like me are more or less participating in Christmas because the feasting is nice and it’s a good excuse to get together with the family and give presents and enjoy each others’ company (or not), this should be a big flashing neon sign to Christians that further extending and solidifying the Christian brand name on the holiday isn’t a good idea. It would further what is already going on and what Christianity is fighting against: the branding of Christ, away from a faith and into a generic group identity. The fact that nativity scenes are in the same category as Christmas trees and wreaths and candy cane decorations says that to a large extent, this has already happened: Christmas isn’t about Christ, Christ is step number whatever in Doing The Holiday, the boring bit but the kiddies are so cute in the pageant.

If you make the apathetic, the well-meaning but disinterested, and the actively nonChristian constantly mouth acknowledgment of Christ as part of the holiday experience, you don’t strengthen faith in Christ, you strengthen the name and the concept and the entire faith as something to be mouthed as ritual. I assure you, I have watched what must be hundreds of retellings of the birth of Christ at this point and it hasn’t affected that theism thing one iota. It will not have such an effect on anyone else either.

Of course, if your objection to secularized commercial Christmas isn’t that it isn’t really Christian but rather that you want your brand name to definitively be Christ, Inc, with everyone pressured to go along, well… Merry Christmas and God bless, brother. Satisfied?

Gone Fishin'

November 26, 2010 - 4:46 pm Comments Off

Or gamin’, or catchin’ up on our readin’, either way we’re taking it easy for the weekend before we have to gird our loins for the December Social Crush.

Back Monday or Tuesday.

Send It To Sleep In The Saltwater

November 24, 2010 - 2:06 pm Comments Off

We’ve all been at Thanksgiving’s grimmest scene: at the table, gazing upon the majestic turkey that granny or an equivalent clan elder has produced and carved, and hoping to be the first one passed a plate so that you can pounce on the dark meat- because the white meat, alas, is as dry as the Gobi desert and about as flavorful and appealing as its sands.

This need not be, and I will tell you the single best way you can prevent it- certainly much more effective than mucking your oven about basting the outside while the interior slowly surrenders its precious bodily fluids.

To a large extent, this is not actually Granny’s fault; when she learned to cook, turkeys were large but normally proportioned birds. Nowadays the demand for breast meat on poultry has encouraged breeders to produce birds with more and more breast, to the point that the resulting animal is very nearly spherical and somewhat alarming to regard while alive. This is not an optimal shape for roasting. An optimal shape for roasting looks like, well, a roast; wider than it is tall, uniformly shaped, and composed of muscle tissue that has uniform requirements for cooking until done. A turkey, meanwhile, has a large interior cavity that is not filled with muscle tissue, limbs, and a gigantic muscular structure on one end that has different requirements than the smaller and differently shaped ones on the other. While the thighs at the bottom of the oven finish cooking, the gigantic breast at the peak of Mount Bird overcooks.

While there are assorted ways to cope with these fundamental problems, the easiest way to prevent the breast from turning into a re-enactment of a mummy movie is to brine the turkey.

While immersing the bird in salt water for a day or a day and a half doesn’t necessarily strike a cook as intuitive, it actually helps immensely. In a solution of 3%-5% salt, two things happen: for one, the muscle fibers are disrupted and loosen, so the cells’ overall capacity to hold liquid rises. For two, osmosis happens and the muscle cells suck up the salt and the water alike- and hang onto it. As a bonus, they’ll also suck up other molecules that happen to be in the liquid- like aromatic herbs and other seasonings added to the brine for flavor. As an even better bonus, due to the way the liquid seeps in, even if you don’t have time to do a properly long brine the meat on the outside of the bird most likely to suffer overcooking gets its benefits first. Water will still be lost at the same rate during cooking, but the meat will have sucked up so much additional moisture that the overall loss will have been effectively cut in half.

So, if you are in charge of the turkey for your family’s Thanksgiving affairs, mix up a solution of brine (we use Alton Brown’s, hail the Good Eater), and dunk your turkey in it the night or afternoon before you plan to cook the bird. Watch the white meat fly off the platter as fast if not faster than the dark- and enjoy your family’s adulation as Conqueror of the Roast Beast.

Whatever Would We Do Without More TSA Commentary?

November 23, 2010 - 3:57 pm Comments Off

(Since Tam already stole the good title for this post. And yes, I’m starting things off with a multi-sentence parenthetical. Deal with it.)

Oh no, everybody break out your world’s smallest violin! TSA doesn’t like the grope-fests either!

The union reports that some members “have reported instances in which passengers have become angry, belligerent and even physical with TSOs (transportation security officers). In Indianapolis, for example, a TSO was punched by a passenger who didn’t like the new screening process,”

If any of the Indianapolis Mafia who pop in here happen to be able to locate this person, I will personally send a whole case of nerd beer to thank them. At the very least a gift certificate for a nice dinner somewhere. That person is probably going to spend the rest of his or her natural life in the Greybar Motel for daring to offend one of the masters, but the offer stands.

Union President John Gage called on TSA to provide an educational pamphlet to each passenger describing both their rights and the details of the new procedures, which include full-body scans and enhanced pat-downs. “This absence of information has resulted in a backlash against the character and professionalism of TSOs,”

Oh, our rights? You mean we didn’t give up all of them when we gave up a lot of rights by buying a ticket? I do not think “absence” means quite what you think it does, Comrade Gage. This backlash against the highly dubious character and utterly absent (see what I did there? Huh? Huh? High five!) professionalism of the TSOs is being fueled precisely because we’re getting more information about the performance art being foisted on us at taxpayer expense in the name of “making us safe.”

“Our concern is that the public not confuse the people implementing the policies with the people who developed the policies,” said Sharon Pinnock, the union’s director of membership and organization.

Ich habe nur Befehlen gefolgt! Ich habe nur Befehlen gefolgt!* Sell it somewhere else, Toots.

Some travelers have vowed to disrupt airport security Wednesday in a protest timed for the busiest travel day of the year, as millions of Americans fly off for annual family feasts.

“TSOs are trained security professionals,” Pinnock said. “Despite this call for chaos and disruption, it’s our belief that our members and people we represent will respond as the security professionals that they are.”

Y’know, I’m actually in 100% agreement that they will respond as the professionals that they are- petty thugs with delusions of adequacy, parodies of authority that even Cartman thinks are over the top, quislings lacking the common sense granted a simple turnip, and they will not take being challenged smoothly in stride. When an organization collectively lacks the simple common sense to step back and say “It’s just a pair of fingernail clippers. These are not a threat” and ignore a policy seventeen steps beyond idiotic, I do fully expect them to respond as the security professionals that they are.

When someone opts out of the X-ray scanners, they’re opting in for the pat-down,” Lewis said. “And once we explain what the pat-down is, you can’t go back and change your mind and say ‘OK, I’ll go through the scanner.’

Case in point.

Aviation and security blogger Steven Frischling said he has received comments from TSA front-line screeners complaining of verbal abuse.

Good.

Another said: “Being a TSO means often being verbally abused. You let the comments roll off and check the next person; however, when a woman refuses the scanner then comes to me and tells me that she feels like I am molesting her; that is beyond verbal abuse.”

No, you insipid little puddle of syphillis-infected clown semen, that is not beyond verbal abuse. Beyond verbal abuse is grabbing her breasts and crotch because she wouldn’t let your buddy look at her naked. Searching a prosthetic breast is beyond verbal abuse. Throwing a shit fit because the guy all the kids in special-ed thought was slow thought a nipple ring was the activation device to a bomb- AND THEN TRYING TO MAKE HER PULL THE FUCKING PIN- is beyond verbal abuse. You want beyond verbal abuse? Ask Breda about “beyond verbal abuse” and then quit your sniveling and whinging, you miserable little toad.

Pistole noted that those getting body searches constitute “a very small percent” of the 34 million people who have flown since the new policy went into effect.

The obligatory depressing part. Just lie back, think of England, and it’ll be over soon is the attitude for most of the public.

“The thing to keep in mind is that stress affects screeners as much as it does travelers,” said Tom Murphy, director of the Human Resiliency Institute at Fordham University. Murphy has provided customer-service training to screeners at many U.S. airports. “While senior government officials explore how to achieve optimum security in less intrusive, and therefore less stressful, ways my recommendation to travelers is to try to see this from the screeners’ point of view.”

I can’t see it from their point of view, I can’t find my lobotomy pick.

Winch says the best thing TSA administrators can do for employees doing enhanced pat-downs is to provide an extra layer of managerial and supervisory support.

Oh good. More management always helps. Especially government management.

Stewart Baker, who worked at the Department of Homeland Security as its first secretary of policy under President George W. Bush, suspects the new security protocols and the aggressive reaction of some passengers is hurting TSA morale.

I seem to recall the TSA had some advice for people who don’t like the procedures. Something along the lines of “If you don’t like it, don’t fly.” Will someone else desperate for a job step in and fill the slot? Yes they will. But then it becomes their problem to reconcile with the fact that sexually molesting people leads to negative backlash. And maybe they’ll be of less robust stamina and will perform their own opt-out.

“TSA has made a lot of progress in training its officers to be professional even in the face of unhappy passengers, but the latest protocols — and press coverage of the most inflammatory stories — have led to a much higher level of hostility,” said Baker.

“Instead of making this Wednesday National Opt-Out Day in which a bunch of self-appointed guardians of liberty slow down the line for everyone by asking for pat-downs,” said Baker, “maybe what we need is a day when everyone who goes through the line says, ‘Thanks for what you do.’ ”

Die in a fucking fire, you affront to decency, you worthless drip from the ass of an incontinent hippopotamus, you festering abscess on the body of human dignity.

*Marko, Christina, any other German-speakers in the audience, if I fubar’d that too badly I’d be obliged of the correct version in comments or where ever. Fixed thanks to Marko. Danke.

Helpful Travel Tip Number Glork

November 21, 2010 - 6:08 pm Comments Off

So you don’t want to have a picture of your pixelated naked junk spread across the internet and opt for the groping. But how to fight back at the intrusion without actually curb stomping the worthless little lickspittle? Simple.

1. Announce “You touch mine, I touch yours.”
2. Endure gropefest.
3. Reciprocate. Grab the agent’s crotch/boobs.
4. Put on your shocked face. Prepare to stammer a little.
5. “Oh man. Oh man, I’m so sorry. I don’t know how to tell you this, but… I felt a Lump.”

Hat tip to Brock Samson

Friday Fluff: TV Trends We Could Do Without

November 19, 2010 - 3:37 pm Comments Off

…Which are inapplicable to the large proportion of you that either don’t watch television period or watch it off sources like Hulu!

– The 1800 Tequila commercials. I seriously don’t understand the marketing strategy here, because my reaction to every single one of these commercials aired is a deep and profound desire to punch their spokesman in the face until my arm gets tired, then use someone else’s arm. I realize that someone clever in the comments is about to find out that it’s clearly “working” because I’m talking about it and even linking to it, but despite the fears of people that seem to think advertising is mind control, something can really get my attention in a way that completely precludes my purchasing the stuff.

Advertising involves a number of strategies, and the usual one with spokespeople is to offer an image that viewers would in some way like to emulate or identify with. The current 1800 strategy seems to be marketing their product as the tequila for insufferable douchebags. I don’t know who this gets them customers with, but I suspect their market share overlaps with Axe body spray’s.

– Discovery Channel, we need to talk. And what we need to talk about is your obsession with making televised reality drama about dangerous, macho professions. I realize this has gotten you some results and acknowledge the model seems to be working out well for you even if a portion of your viewership has gotten as tired of sweaty people mumbling at the camera as they are of mechanized shark jaws, so this is more of a personal plea. I do not need to know that every last high-risk, macho profession on earth is apparently composed of people who are as high-strung and bitchy as sorority pledges. I would prefer to continue living out my days thinking that loggers and truckers and professional bear-punchers are more likely than said pledges to be above temper tantrums and pouting even if this is not actually true.

-All alleged “learning” “health” or otherwise educational channels: look, we get that midgets are for some reason compelling to watch. But after a certain point we reach oversaturation, and once we pass that point we reach this really awkward place where we can’t see them as anything BUT ordinary people who happen to be short and squeaky and at the same time achieve deep discomfort with the fact that there are what seems like dozens of shows whose only reason for existence is “midget drama is much better than trucker drama because it sounds like everyone’s on helium and little people are funny when they stomp and posture like they were regular”. If you’re comfortable with this market model, please rename yourselves the Exploitation Network because at least then the cognitive dissonance will be gone.

– WHAT IS WITH THE SHOWS BASED ENTIRELY AROUND PEOPLE TALKING ABOUT HOW NERVOUS THEY ARE IN THE DARK I DON’T EVEN. I can at least understand the existence of shows like Haunted History and A Haunting because ghost stories can be fun even when cheesily re-enacted, but these shows aren’t really ghost stories, or scary, or in any way interesting. There’s usually some sort of historical scary or unpleasant event associated with whatever place they’re filming in, but instead of being drawn and acted out with a kid in blue makeup they’re breathlessly and ham-fistedly told in brief by some hyperactive douche shining a flashlight in random directions. The rest of the show is people jumping at noises and waving things that go beep. I can sort of understand how this might theoretically be fun to do, but who is watching?

In conclusion my entertainment needs would be much better satisfied if all the time currently filled out by the above were entirely replaced with Top Gear reruns.

Pretend harder! We're almost there!

November 18, 2010 - 4:51 pm Comments Off

Let’s just take stock for a sec, shall we?
The right to move about freely? Pretty well gone. And vastly more people support these sort of activities for “making us safer” than oppose them, even with the current backlash against TSA. Think that’s going to come to anything? When was the last time “I’m sort of a big deal on the internet?” actually worked, hmm?

Freedom of expression, to speak our minds freely? Good luck with that. But that internet blacklist will only be about pirates and websites where you can download Transformers 2 without paying! Promise! And not using your cell in the car will make you safer! (And for even happier news, COICA there passed the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously today.)

Well we can still make our own choices about stuff in our own homes! Sure. If you pick the right things.

Food! The most basic thing we need after water! We totally call the shots there! Are you getting the picture yet, Skippy? Yes, you read that right. Food production as something to be controlled by Homeland Fucking Security. Seed-saving illegal. Hasn’t everybody been going on all week about just what an awesome job they did with the TSA?

Really, do I have to go on? The war on some drugs? Asset forfeiture? Kelo v. New London* SWAT teams serving warrants (and their abysmal rate of even getting the right house)? Oh, we got Heller and McDonald to help out with the guns (that won’t be used for that), sure. Here’s the “congratulations.”

Stop calling this a free country.
Stop calling this a good country.
“It’s shittier in ________!” does not confer automatic goodness simply because we are, for the moment, slightly less shitty.

Roberta is absolutely 100% correct:

IMO, this country is irreparably broken. I can’t fix it. Most people do not seem to want it fixed. Politically, I am committed to stickin’ an umbrella in the spokes, every chance I get.

Stick it in the spokes. Monkeywrench. Cause havoc where you can, even though the overall effect will simply be to annoy some low-end pusher of red tape, and probably make a red flag when they eventually decide to swat you down, but kindly stop pretending that “Yay, we voted some of them out!” or “Hooray, a well decided court case!” is going to do a damn thing to fix the fact that the vast majority of the people in this country are simply broken.

Kevin Baker likes to comment on these sort of observations that there’s “Tough history coming.” No, there isn’t. Look at the countries where things are worse. England, France, Spain, Canada… there are no revolutions there. There won’t be any here. The odd threeper might finally decide to stop squawking and actually pop off, and will be dismissed as the loony of the week, forgotten as soon as Monday Night Football starts. This can is going to be kicked down the road well beyond our lifetime. Dig your heels in to try and slow this freight train if you feel the urge, but me, fuck it. I just found Airwolf on netflix instant stream.

*Fixed, thanks Kevin. Must’ve been looking at a beer bottle or something.

Me, I Watched A Lot of Mr. Wizard

November 17, 2010 - 5:51 pm Comments Off

Because my ego is easily stroked and because I believe I can comment on it in the time I have available to write tonight, a post by Jenny at Call To Wings about education and the lust to learn calls us out indirectly.

The post overall is an argument that Jenny acquired intellectual curiosity and a well-developed knowledge base despite rather than because of our public schooling system, and it’s one I agree with. Although truly great teachers (who are often swimming against the system) can help a lot, I believe it’s mostly up to both parents and the children themselves to install and develop that spark to know and discover that forms the real core of human intelligence; you can lead a horse to water, and so forth. My own parents were well-off enough and urbanly located enough that I never stepped foot in a public school and instead went to a rather good private school for most of my education, but I would still say I learned more on my own lookout than I did there. (What I DID learn from an expensive private education was how to do things properly when I would otherwise have been too lazy or disinterested to, like how to build an argument out of brick and mortar rather than a thinner skein of opinion and unsupported assertion.)

In speculating about how she would build a proper education for children of her own, she says:

But broad strokes version – complete elimination of “self esteem” BS, drastic reorganizing of “Language Arts” away from the fashion I had of contemporary pop-lit works to allow room to restore at least the rudiments of Latin and Greek (you know, making grammar school grammar school again), much more emphasis on Classical history.** Math and logic concepts certainly should have been introduced earlier in a form like Travis describes – the sciences I confess I’m still not experienced with on my own to offer a legitimate discussion on. I’d love to hear what the Nerds would have to say on that.

As I argued many moons ago, when building an education, you really can’t skip dry fact because it provides the library of facts and concepts that you must have in order to relate one to another and start seeing larger patterns and understanding things on a systematic level. So there’s no getting around serving a child regular large helpings of sometimes-dry fact when it comes to imparting a science education.

What you can and should do, however, is begin exercises in developing those skills as soon as you’ve got enough facts on a particular subject to begin doing this process.

If you have a family dog, you have all the laboratory animal you need for an entire unit on how learning works and the basic principles of conditioning. (Bonus points for the child if he or she can correctly identify how you have been applying these principles to them.) If you have family members about to have a child or feral cats breeding in your neighborhood, this is a fun way to apply simple Punnett squares as a game once you have gone over the most basic and simple of genetics.

If you’re doing evolution and have already covered anatomy at the thigh-bone’s-connected-to-the-knee-bone level, you can make a game out of looking at pictures of skeletons of animals that do roughly the same thing but have totally different skeletal structures depending on how they evolved; a bat versus a bird versus a pterodactyl, or a fish versus a dolphin. It’s a simple way to show an important principle- evolution has to work with the structure it has right then, but it can do lots of different things with them.

If you’re covering states of matter in chemistry, that’s the time to make up a batch of Oobleck to play with. You can demonstrate the ideal gas law and the reality of pressure with a piece of dry ice and a pop bottle- though you probably want to accompany that with a firm warning about what will happen if said child ever gets to screwing around with this on his or her own.

Play with concepts; actually compare apples and oranges as an exercise. The facts learned in the process (like the classification of types of fruit based on their development) may never be useful, but the habit of automatic questioning and analysis is as valuable as those bases of logic and math proficiency.

Given the overall result of the rest of the education system, journalists provide a rich source for exercising powers of logic, analysis, and premise-questioning. When you see stupid in print, this is a good exercise for the nuts and bolts of dissecting the nonsensical. As a side bonus, this also provides healthy development in reasonably questioning authority- though as efficient learning machines as children are, this skill will probably be applied to you at some point.

Wild steak is attacking!

November 16, 2010 - 3:20 pm Comments Off

Guess what day it is today kids! It’s rag on the stupid science reporting day! Again!

(YAAAAAAAAAAAAY!)

Title of article: “Steaks and lamb chops calm stressed out men by bringing out caveman instincts”. No shit!

Women who want to calm down their husbands after a stressful day at the office should serve him a big steak, scientists said today.

I’m actually pretty sure that’s not what they said, but regardless this has to be one of my all-time favorite “scientists said”s going. It’s such a priceless gem of the “science says natural order perfectly encapsulated in 1950s gender roles” genre.

Contrary to popular opinion that a hunk of red meat may make men aggressive,

Show of hands: who reading actually held the opinion that red meat makes men aggressive?

Psychologists said they were shocked by research findings which show that far from bringing out the ‘caveman instinct’ in modern men, seeing meat lowers any aggressive tendencies because it reminds males of friends and family at meal time.

Women, as we know, do not eat meat, nor do they eat with their families. But they do serve it.

The researchers, from McGill University in Montreal, Canada, said seeing meat provokes a sense of non-agression that could be related to family feasting among the earliest humans.

Ways to check the validity of the meat = non-aggression hypothesis: see if you can achieve the same result with a picture of potatoes au gratin.

Lead researcher Frank Kachanoff admitted he was ‘surprised’ by the findings.

I can only suspect that lead researcher Frank Kachanoff was raised in one of those families where everyone skitters off to their rooms with their plates after getting themselves dinner.

He said the idea that meat would prompt aggressive behaviour makes sense as it would have helped our primate ancestors with hunting.

And now I know that the closest Frank Kachanoff has ever come to hunting is Elmer Fudd cartoons.

Look, Frank, the result is not all that counterintuitive. See, meat is what you get when you’re done hunting. Before you have meat it’s an animal. Seeing cows doesn’t make people notably aggressive either, for that matter; “aggression” isn’t actually that useful a response in hunting. Interest is- aggression would waste energy, especially for a predator that isn’t nearly as fast or as strong as its potential prey.

On a more serious note I’m not kidding at ALL when I think that at least three hunting trips in pursuit of large game, NOT in a “canned” hunt or over bait, should be a requirement before any biologist, anthropologist, or psychologist is allowed to publish a paper theorizing about how hunting shaped us. Because I have seen about seventy too many hypotheses actually published that could be refuted by a weekend in the woods.

Kachanoff believed that humans may therefore have evolved an innate predisposition to respond aggressively towards meat.

SERIOUSLY FRANK IN WHAT POSSIBLE UNIVERSE WOULD HAVING AN AGGRESSIVE RESPONSE TO YOUR FOOD BE ADAPTIVE.

What’s making me especially nutty is that the idea that people don’t automatically link their food and the activity related to its source based on fixed “caveman instincts” shouldn’t be unusual. All you’d need to do is observe the number of people that are not vegetarians and yet think hunting is “barbaric”.

He cited the fact that some sports coaches feed their players big hunks of red meat before a game in the hope of pumping up their aggression.

….IN WHAT ALTERNATE DIMENSION? WARNER BROTHERS?

Feeding players big hunks of red meat right before a game wouldn’t pump up aggression, it would fill their stomachs and slow them the fuck down. Eating big hunks of red meat doesn’t make you aggressive, it makes you sleepy. Because of basic goddamn biology.

Giving athletes big hunks of red meat for dinner is a good idea, because it’s big hunks of protein and athletes (and hunters) need it. Has anyone here ever actually heard of tanking up on meat right BEFORE the game cited as a good idea? I sure as fuck never have.

Images of a grunting or growling animal snarling at anyone who tries to take their meat away also reinforced the idea.

Images of Dad standing at the barbecue preparing the meat, then roaring viciously at the family and running to a corner while gnawing the steak and growling to himself probably helped too.

People != wolves. Hell, the popular image of wolves isn’t wolves. Meals among naturally formed wolf packs are pretty peaceful; it’s meals among a group of unrelated wolves thrown together in a captive exhibit that are fraught. Prisoners aren’t really known for their warm family meals either.

However, experiments led by Mr Kachanoff found that the opposite was true and that the sight of meat had a calming affect on males and made them less agressive.

He conducted psychological tests in which aggression levels were tested among 82 men who were asked to look at a variety of photographs, some of which featured cooked meat.

The volunteers were told they could ‘punish’ a colleague if he made a mistake during a simple sorting task involving the pictures.

Most of the time when conducting psych experiments, the real problem is constructing your test so that the volunteers don’t guess what you’re after and skew the results.

I somehow don’t think it was a problem in this design.

The researchers believed the pictures of meat would prompt the participants to inflict more punishments, but found the opposite was true.

Mr Kachanoff said: ‘We used imagery of meat that was ready to eat. In terms of behaviour, with the benefit of hindsight, it would make sense that our ancestors would be calm, as they would be surrounded by friends and family at meal time.

Well spotted.

I would like to run this experiment again, using hunting images.’ Mr Kachanoff said he was inspired by research on priming and aggression, that has shown that just looking at an object which is learned to be associated with aggression, such as a gun, can make someone more likely to behave aggressively.

He said: ‘I wanted to know if we might respond aggressively to certain stimuli in our environment not because of learned associations, but because of an innate predisposition. I wanted to know if just looking at the meat would suffice to provoke an aggressive behavior.’

This is an extremely modern outlook- the conflation of all acts technically classified as “violent” as fueled by a unitary trait called “aggression”. It’s also again betraying the point of view of someone who has never hunted and has no idea what it’s actually like. It reminds me of another crackpot evo-psych theory I once saw that men are less social than women because hunting is a “solitary” activity and gathering isn’t- again showing someone who has never hunted nor gathered.

In most societies at most times in our history, hunting is very profoundly a group activity; for a society without rifles or ATVs, any and all hunts of large game would be cooperative group activities. Gathering is less efficient when you have a lot of people grouped up tightly, whereas hunting is moreso. (It’s still a good idea to be in a group to gather for defense from predators, though.)

I can pretty much predict his results for him, based entirely on priming rather than evolution: those men in his study group who grew up hunting will associate images of hunting with group bonding activities and be less inclined to arbitrarily punish a colleague. Those men who did not and associate images of weapons primarily with violence in general will be moreso.

Evolutionary experts believe it is useful to look at innate reflexes in order to understand trends in society and personal behavior.

Good evolutionary theorists know that the first thing you do is check and see whether you have a good reason to suspect a reaction is actually an innate reflex. In order to do this you check your results across cultures, across historical examples, across backgrounds, across genders, and across as many possible human lines as possible. You also check for no-brainer known information, like “people associate mealtimes with family downtime”. To use the above study as an example, using a female control group would have told you a lot.

You don’t start with “here’s a bunch of flimsy stereotypes, they must be evolved innate traits”!

They said this latest research was important because it looked at ways society may influence environmental factors to decrease the likelihood of aggressive behavior.

Oh, okay. This is about “we’d all be more peaceful if we were vegetarians and no one hunted”. News to India, and for that matter the Inuit.

I decided to post before I finished reading the article, with the intent to fisk it as I went along and then wrap it up with a more serious treatment of the idea behind the research thinking it was mostly just a retarded reporter. But no, apparently this was built entirely on poor practice and misconception from the start. Never mind, it’s just stupid.