Archive for November, 2011

Spam Fail

November 30, 2011 - 10:25 am Comments Off

“Michael Jackson – The Experience for Xbox. Kinect required.”

Um, yeah. Not only no, but hell no. Where’s a Pedobear sticker when you need one…

New Mexico's Attorney General Is Fucking Retarded.

November 29, 2011 - 6:43 pm Comments Off

Because as Gawker tells us, the AG is wasting taxpayer money warning the citizens of New Mexico about the dangers of….. Pedobear.

Why yes, as a matter of fact I did just hear all of our internet-savvy readers facepalm all the way from here.

For those who spend a bit less time on the intertubes, let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up. Pedobear is a cartoon bear who is associated with stealing and molesting little girls. The history is, relatively, unimportant, but all you really need to know is that 4chan is what kicked Pedobear into high gear as a meme. Yeah, think about that. 4chan and pedos. Who could’ve figured there’d be a link. Anyway, sometimes being used as a vigilante symbol to alert whatever passes for authority that some ass was posting kiddy-porn in a thread, Pedobear sees use at roughly an over 9000 to 1 ratio as a joke. The example in the knowyourmeme entry for a graffiti artist stenciling Pedobear onto billboards advertising the visit of the pope pretty much tells you how the joke works where ever it’s deployed. His natural enemy is Chris “Why don’t you have a seat over there” Hansen.

I’ll cut the news station a little bit of slack. KRQE pretty much panders to the sort of pearl-clutching panic-prone old fart that… well, that the tone of the report suggests.

The AG however is just flat out fucking stupid for running this idiot ball. The Gawker report cites that one of the two pedobear stickers spotted in Albuquerque cutting their millimeter-wide swath of terror through the city was spotted at….the University of New Mexico.

Gosh.

A college kid reads 4chan and thought something of questionable humor or taste was funny enough to put on his car. Can you all see my shocked face from here?

The warning about people buying Pedobear costumes to get close to kids? Spotted at the New York Comic Con. I can’t make up stupid this hard, people.

Great fuckin’ job, Gary King. Maybe next you can warn us about how everybody should avoid eating at Los Pollos Hermanos to make sure we don’t support meth. Fucknut.

Getting Their Attention

November 28, 2011 - 8:43 pm Comments Off

This is mostly inspired by Robb Allen’s post on the subject, partly in that I agree with almost everything he said and partly in that it will take a similar format of nonconclusive points and rambling. Most of all I do not intend to choose a side or argue for the “right” position, because I don’t think there is one. Robb’s post is worth reading particularly because I DO strongly agree with so much of it, though I may reiterate points he made to make this one a bit more coherent.

The Occupy movement has turned from a transitory curiosity and sort of leftyish mirror of the Tea Party movement* to a major test case for what happens when protests aren’t flash-in-the-pan affairs but rather long-term camping events, and what happens when the police are called upon to deal with them in multiple places across the country rather than being a single event. In many ways it’s country-wide laboratory experiment in the test of case of an enumerated right- assembly- coming up against the limits of practical reality, as well as in the different approaches (and excesses) police departments can potentially take.

What I really want to talk about is force, because I see it as the crux of the most serious problems here.

In the first point, Robb is right: blockades of businesses and schools and municipal buildings may look peaceful and nonviolent, but they aren’t. The entire point of passive resistance is to maneuver your opponent into a choice of two options: give in, either temporarily or permanently, or employ force to remove you. Note that this has absolutely no bearing on whether or not the protestors or the businesses or the government or the police are in the right or not- it only describes the reality of the tactic. The lunch-counter sit-ins and marches of the Civil Rights movement had right on their side, but the tactic they were using against their racist opponents was exactly that: either force them to give in and tolerate the other race within their spaces they’d deemed off-limits, or to rally authoritarian force against them and crush the resistance. That is in many cases exactly what happened, and marked ultimate success for the movement- the public at large found the violence against the protestors merely for being darkly complected and in public spaces unacceptable, and political change followed. It was a good deal more complicated than that, but in the realm of nonviolent, passive resistance employed as a tool of political change, it was just that simple. Gandhi’s movement worked about the same way, right up until his opponents ceased to be an empire-weary British populace and became sectarian movements within India itself. The history of passive resistance movements in regimes that have no difficulty murdering passive resistors is much shorter and less noted.

In the second point, no matter how much we manage to delude ourselves that “non-lethal force” is a completely separate entity from lethal force, once you come to the point of having to use force to shift or subdue someone, you have to make the choice to take the chance that you will really hurt them or even potentially kill them- and they might STILL do the same to you. A grown adult is strong, fast, unpredictable, and may have medical problems no one has any way of being aware of. More than that, short of lethal force, the subject may shrug it off and charge anyway- even someone who has been shot several times is still capable of continuing to apply major force and aggression until his circulatory system runs out of go juice and shuts him down. You can stop someone’s heart with a Taser. Pepper spray on someone with asthma may close down their airway. A choke hold may damage someone’s trachea, and again can be fatal. You can cause fatal internal injuries and fractures with a rubber bullet, especially if you hit someone in the head. Whap someone with a stick and you still may cause a fatal bleed somewhere. If you do any of the above the victim may still not be impeded to the point where he or she won’t make a serious effort to do damage to the person responsible, or others.

If you’re using enough force to actually stop or seriously impede someone who really means to resist being moved, or attack, you’re using enough force to really hurt or even kill them. Some methods have better ratios than others, but none of them are safe. Contrariwise, if you intend to keep doing what you’re doing to the point where only force can move you, the force it will take to do so is NEVER guaranteed to be safe. Whether you actually force the people trying to shift you to that option or they jump the gun, it’s never “just” going to be a wrestling match, electric nappy-time, or a quick dose of lively seasoning.

Making that all more difficult to deal with is the idea of peaceable assembly and exactly where the real-world limits to that are. We can (probably) agree that an assembly that actively cuts off other people’s freedom of movement and associations isn’t actually all that peaceable and will eventually require some sort of intervention, but the limits of peaceably occupying a public space (like, I don’t know, a public park) are a lot blurrier. I think we can also all agree that decreeing that only the only permissible protests are those that inconvenience no one (particularly the target of the protest) effectively neuters the concept of protesting itself- if I were to make a comparison, it would seem to be roughly akin to gun laws that don’t allow you to have a gun on your person or in your home in any condition to be used with less than ten minutes of uninterrupted activity.

Cops shouldn’t physically abuse protesting citizens that are neither breaking a law nor offering resistance. Protestors shouldn’t (or shouldn’t be able to) claim complete innocence when forcing the authorities into choices that effectively boil down to total capitulation (to what demands, exactly?) or forcible removal. We shouldn’t pretend that the police have some sort of magic option for dealing with “just kids” or “just protestors” or “just” anyone that involves force greater than a stern talking-to but doesn’t involve the possibility of really hurting the just-whoever. Protests that aren’t actively doing or condoning damage or impeding anyone from normal business are completely legal and a sacred right… but at some indefinable point the sheer logistical problems they create, create problems that aren’t within their rights to cause or perpetuate.

So much simpler to just take a quick look at who’s protesting and figure out whether they’re wearing a red jersey or a blue one. Then you can figure out whether the cops giving them a pepper shampoo would be brutality or just desserts with a minimum of mental effort. Which is, of course, why it’s the commonest option by far.

*From what I can tell of the honest arguments from both camps- I don’t buy in to the idea that any given movement is defined by its most lunatic and incoherent of supporters- both are upset that government and big business are deeply complicit with each other, but one side largely blames business and the other largely blames government for the same essential problem. I say that if you have a group of people that stands to gain huge benefit from securing pieces of the system for themselves, whether their association is corporate or legislative will have no particular bearing on how corrupt they will become- and they will.

Bonus Linkery

November 23, 2011 - 6:40 pm Comments Off

As long as we’re tied up doing the cooking and hosting thing, one of our oldest friends has cowboy’d up and started her own party. Check out Human Poptart and get her off to a good start. She’s weird in the awesome kinda way and needs to come visit again at some point. Hint, hint.

Stuffed

November 23, 2011 - 6:23 pm Comments Off

Pardon the radio silence, but as you may have guessed we are very busy this holiday week, actually doing the whole hosting shindig for a change instead of lurking about and bringing pie.

Light content if and when we have the time and inspiration. Until then, please visit the blogs on the sidebar for quality entertainment.

Thought Exercise

November 21, 2011 - 3:06 pm Comments Off

Twice in as many days now I have run into someone making the argument, either as part of a tongue-in-cheek science fiction story* or as part of a serious attempts to explain male psychology, that men and women shop differently because “men are hunters and women are gatherers”. Specifically, in both cases, this apparent obvious distinction is reflected in that men have one thing in mind when they shop and go in and get it directly without looking around much, and women linger and pick up other things unrelated to the original thing and spend a lot of time examining everything.

Rather than simply directly dissecting this premise, let’s do this as a series of questions. The first part is for everybody, the second part is for people who have actually hunted and/or gathered (wild mushrooms, shellfish, herbs, other wild foods that you don’t take with a rifle or bow).

When you are in charge of something- household meal planning, your family’s needs for clothing/supplies, your family’s vehicle/machine/infrastructure maintenance, your family/job’s IT needs, your family’s medical/veterinary needs- does this change how you shop for things that apply to that responsibility versus one-off items you are sent out for or discover a pressing need for at that moment?

When you have a broad responsibility for an aspect of your family’s/job’s needs, is it more efficient to only seek items as a pressing need for them is discovered, or is it more efficient to keep a running mental tally of things that are or will be needed in the future, including when you are seeking one thing that is needed right now?

Are there often gendered differences in who is responsible for meals and family clothing and childcare needs?

Are men famous for simply grabbing a tool for a technical job without lingering to compare and contrast costs and features, or browsing other options?

Are women famous for their long, lingering appraisals of their options and potential other purchases in Auto Zone?

Are their differences in the types of choices available, and market structure of, men’s clothing versus women’s and childrens’?

Part two, for the hunters and gatherers among us:

Is a hunt more like choosing to focus on a specific desired prey, then directly going to it and bagging it? Or is it more like a long search for something elusive that could be in many possible places?

Are environmental details relevant when judging where prey might be found? Is it better to focus exclusively on the thought of the prey and move forward, or to analyze the area before choosing a direction?

Are impatience or tunnel vision beneficial traits to a hunter?

When gathering, is it better to just go out into the wild and pick up whatever you find, or is it better to have a specific type of item, time, and place in mind and seek that directly?

Is a lack of focus a beneficial trait to a gatherer?

Are either hunting or gathering even really all that much like going to a store in the first place?

Bonus question: Should people arguing from an apparently simple premise, or using it as the foundation of speculative fiction, ask these sorts of questions before they argue it?

*This was a brouhaha in the science blogger community recently. The original story is a veritable lasagna of layered stupidity. Go here if you want to read all about it.

Bad Blend

November 18, 2011 - 5:33 pm Comments Off

There’s a cool article at the Primate Diaries about Ilya Ivanov’s bizarre efforts to create half-human, half-chimpanzee hybrids and some of the mythology associated with it, as well as what really happened and what really motivated it. (Short version: it wasn’t Communism or any other ideology, it was one scientist- who was justly famous in his field- and his strange obsession with whether something could be done regardless of whether it should.)

The myth associated with it, which seems to originate from a fundamentalist Christian organization trying to link “Darwinism” to toxic ideologies, is that Stalin ordered Ivanov to crossbreed apes and humans in order to create “super-soldiers” for him. Johnson at PD does a fine job of taking apart the historical inaccuracies (suffice to say Stalin did nothing of the sort), but I’d like to comment on the scientific weirdness of the whole premise.

One of the consequences of our strange psychological relationship with “nature” is that we tend to think of our species as a whole as somehow outside of it and diluted from whatever our “natural” origin and state is. We tend to think of humans as frail but brainy creatures and animals, apes included, as fabulously strong and healthy and fierce. This effect tends to spill over to the animals we’ve domesticated, like dogs, and a fair amount of the civilization-savage dichotomy often affects them as well.

The thing of it is, though, is that all animals, humans included, are finely and specifically adapted to whatever niche they fill, including artificially selected animals. The human-ape super-soldier of the imagination is summed up in the quote by Creation Ministries’s fictional Stalin:

Stalin is said to have told Ivanov, ‘I want a new invincible human being, insensitive to pain, resistant and indifferent about the quality of food they eat.’

While whether Stalin would actually have thought like that- the man was no scientific genius- is open to speculation, but whether that would have been the result actually obtained by crossing humans is not. Apes aren’t insensitive to pain nor indifferent to the quality of food they eat. They are stronger than humans, but that greater strength is a combination of sheer lever physics given their different builds and a bias to gross motor skills over fine- stronger, but clumsier. Much worse than that, even if an ape has a theoretically higher pain tolerance, he has far less of an urge and ability to cooperate, or to tolerate discomfort in the name of group solidarity- regardless of how much pain he actually felt, an ape would be vastly more inclined to scream and rip your nose off for inflicting it in the first place.

Ape-human hybrids wouldn’t be super soldiers, they’d be worse humans and worse apes at the same time; perhaps stronger, but also much more poorly adapted to bipedality and fine motor coordination, so unable to march or operate weapons nearly as well. They’d be vastly worse cooperators, and thus much more likely to fight within their group than to watch each others’ backs. They’d have less patience and capability to delay gratification, so you can throw soldierly discipline right out the window. They wouldn’t be as bright, which might be an advantage in the mind of someone whose picture of the ideal soldier is less ability to question, but with vastly less inclination to be obedient that wouldn’t matter either. Some super-soldier.

Again, this applies to dogs as well. There’s a lot of legend and myth-making (as well as some scattered cases of actual doing) about dogs and wolves and breeds of dogs supposedly outcrossed with wolves to make them better sled dogs or fiercer guard dogs; again, wolves are well-adapted for being wolves and working dogs are vastly better designed to be working dogs. A wolf parent wouldn’t make a sled dog a better or tougher sled dog, it would make him a less efficient runner (the extra mass wolves have in their fore, neck, and jaws for taking down large prey would be dead weight to a sled dog), more likely to fight within his team, vastly less inclined to take orders from a human, and equally less inclined to work himself to exhaustion for the fun of it or on someone else’s say-so.

Likewise, a guard dog with a wolf parent might at best have bigger teeth and jaws, but would be equally less cooperative, more likely to challenge its own charges for dominance, less inclined to protect the group at all costs, and less territorial. For either a guard dog or a sled dog, a wolf parent would make it less able to thrive on a lower meat and higher “scrap” ration in its food, making it more expensive to feed.

Apes are well-adapted to being apes and humans are well-adapted to being humans, as wolves are well-adapted to being wolves and dogs are well-adapted to being dogs. The things that make them strong in their own roles wouldn’t necessarily bring anything useful to the other, and even when we go to war we aren’t being more “animal” and needing those strengths, we’re doing another human thing in our particularly human (or doggy) way.

Elephants In A Nutshell

November 17, 2011 - 4:04 pm Comments Off

Mitt Romney: “I’m a nonthreatening white guy, I was governor of someplace I’d rather you forgot because the important part is I was governor, and IT’S MY GODDAMN TURN.”

Michelle Bachmann: “I am here to prove that American women can be every bit as rigid, tone-deaf, blithely intolerant, and ignorant as American men. If you are of my tribe, vote for me, and if not, you’re probably some sort of dirt-sucking Democrat anyway.”

Herman Cain: “I can run a real business like a real American leader, so please try to ignore that I can’t run my own campaign.”

Ron Paul: “I stand for liberty, principle, fiscal sanity, reason, gravitas, grit, calm leadership, and BANANA BANANA FRUIT PUNCH PIE WHAT TIME IS IT”

Newt Gingrich: “Despite our similar powers, I have no relation or allegiance to Jason Voorhees. Vote for me and my undead skeleton army.”

Rick Perry: “Because you cannot possibly go wrong with governors from Texas. I forgot the rest. Look at my chin, is that not the chin of a leader?”

Jon Huntsman: “I’m to the right of Barack Obama. That’s good enough for the Republican nomination, right?”

Rick Santorum: “I’m the other socially conservative nonthreatening white guy. The other other one, the second Rick. Please don’t Google me.”

Gary Johnson: “Hello? Is anyone out there? I’m so cold and alone…

Actually, You Can Stop The Signal For A While

November 16, 2011 - 12:02 pm Comments Off

In the spirit of explanation (seriously guys, the concern is appreciated, but if we go down we go down don’t pester other folks’ comments trying to internet-detective us- we’ll say so if we’re pulling the plug deliberately) what happened is someone’s account on the server we run the site off got hacked and rooted, and Jihadi Joe killed the server’s virtualization setup so the couple dozen sites that would normally get sorted and routed in software all got dumped to one site for the whole server, full of the message of islam’s peaceful and loving nature and how awesome it is to hijack servers other people are paying for, and then tech support at the colo shoved their heads up their asses and have taken the better part of a week to do what should’ve been a hour or two fix because it does not take that fucking long to change out a hot-swappable drive and re-image it.

And the first time I told that to a non-techie friend while we were down, I’m told all he heard was Charlie Brown’s Teacher, so for our non technical readers, here’s your version of what happened.

Back in the before time, it was one website per special giving-stuff computer, or “server.” Then someone got clever and came up with a way to put a bunch of websites on one server, and change things around based on special little bits of information that the users never know about, just as a basic part of how they ask to see a website. So theoretically, me, Matt, Sal, NFO, FarmGirl and Tam could all have our blogs on one physical special-giving-stuff-computer machine, but the magic elves would make sure Tractor Tracks sent out info on how not to piss off your cashier, and booksbikesetc would send out information on obscure WW1 pistols that six people have heard of including the designer, NFO’s website would give you naval aviation jokes, and so forth.

Then, one fine Saturday morning, Jihadi Joe killed those magic elves, so they couldn’t sort things to make sure the right info got to the right people, and all that particular machine’s elves knew how to offer up is Peace & Love & Stonings & Hijacking and yi-yi-yi music. People wanted their obscure WWI pistol information, and other people wanted their over-long scientific analysis of pop phenomenon and pointless profanity but there were no elves that knew where that douchecocking information lived anymore!

Then the stupid doubled-down. The tech monkeys at the place where the special-giving-stuff computer physically lives couldn’t figure out how to pull a small box out of a slot, insert a new box that looks just like it into the now empty hole, and press a button to trim and shape and form that part to behave as it’s supposed to. Really, they made a monkey fucking a football look dignified, elegant, and capable of all sorts of rocket surgery.

And now we’re back. The end.

11/11/11

November 11, 2011 - 7:03 pm Comments Off

We have posted about Veterans’ Day before. I do not think we’re going to improve on it.

Go there instead.