Open thread

As usual, use this thread to discuss anything and everything, or to post whatever links you’d like. Self-linking is encouraged.

alice_paper_cutout.jpg

This entry posted in Link farms. Bookmark the permalink. 

39 Responses to Open thread

  1. 1
    Kevin Moore says:

    Ben Stein argues that Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection – or descent with modification – is “dangerous” because it fosters racism and genocide. How many gross misconceptions of Darwin’s theory can you find at this site? Here’s a starter:

    Darwin said that there were certain species that were superior to other species and all were competing for scarce supplies of food or resources, Stein pointed out. But if there was a limited supply of basic resources, Darwinism taught that “you owe it to the superior race to kill the inferior race,” he told reporters.

    According to the late Stephen Jay Gould in “Ever Since Darwin”, Darwin never claimed that some species were “superior” than others, only that through random variation and natural selection, some species proved better adapted (or “fit”) to their environments. Indeed, Darwin argued against any Victorian progressive conception of evolution, and denied that complex organisms like humans were “better” or “more highly evolved” than single cell organisms, and even promoted that evolution allows for complex organisms to become simpler over time, depending on the demands of their environment.

    So, Stein is full of shit: Darwin is not to be blamed for the Holocaust. Not that his fellow scientists were immune to racism or theories of human and racial superiority that fueled the ideologies of Hitler and his contemporaries. But those are not functions of evolutionary theory; indeed, as Gould argued often, evolutionary theory argues against ideologies of superiority.

  2. 2
    Jake Squid says:

    NY Times publishes an article stating that Fibromyalgia isn’t real & that a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia merely makes patients worse.

    Badly researched article can be found here.

    Fibromyalgia Network response & request for your help here:
    http://www.fmnetnews.com/pages/NewspaperResponse.php

  3. 3
    Angiportus says:

    Interesting picture there…making a famous scene 3-d is at least neat…but somehow it squicks me out when someone cuts up a book like that. Just me I guess. “Alice in Wonderland” would have made one great pop-up book.

  4. 4
    Sunny says:

    Anybody here hear anything about the Hacker vs Scientology thing? The hackers have pulled off some neat things so far, but should they be doing what they’re doing?
    If you feel like scientology should be investigated, then they’re vigilantes. But maybe you don’t mind vigilantes.

    Have a topic.

  5. 5
    Madeline says:

    Yay! My blog:

    http://myblasphemousramblings.blogspot.com/

    Art, fashion, writing, college, crafts, knitting, pets, Life of Brian, dancing Mormons, etc., etc.

  6. 6
    Stentor says:

    Kevin Moore: I love how creationists bash evolution both for saying no kind of creature is objectively “better” (“you mean I’m on the same level as the monkeys!?!”) AND for supposedly saying that some kinds are objectively better (a la your quote, and “why are there still monkeys around if humans are more evolved?”).

  7. 7
    Jake Squid says:

    How to tell a good story so that it really doesn’t matter if it’s fact or fiction. The following is from my favorite email in quite some time.

    The next time someone asks you a dumb question, wouldn’t you like to respond like this:

    Yesterday I was buying a large bag of Purina dog chow for Athena the wonder dog at Wal-Mart, and was about to check out. A woman behind me asked if I had a dog. What did she think, that I had, an elephant? Since I’m retired with little to do, on impulse I told her that no, I didn’t have a dog, and that I was starting the Purina Diet again.

    Because I’d ended up in the hospital last time, I probably shouldn’t do it. However, I’d lost 50 pounds before. I awakened in an intensive care ward with tubes coming out of most of my orifices, and IVs in both arms. I told her that it was essentially a perfect diet, and that

    the way that it works is, you load your pockets with Purina nuggets, and simply eat one or two every time you feel hungry. Since the product is nutritionally complete, I was going to try it again, anyway. (I have to mention here that practically everyone in the line was enthralled with my story by now.

    Horrified, she asked if I ended up in intensive care because the dog food poisoned me. I told her that no; I’d stepped off a curb to sniff an Irish Setter’s butt, and a car had hit us both.

    I thought the guy behind her was going to have a heart attack, he was laughing so hard! The woman behind him was laughing so uncontrollably that she was crying.

    Wal-Mart won’t let me shop there anymore.

  8. 9
    angryyoungwoman says:

    I guess I’ll just put in a little plug for my blog:

    angryyoungwomanblog.blogspot.com

  9. 10
    Daran says:

    Kevin Moore:

    Ben Stein argues that Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection – or descent with modification – is “dangerous” because it fosters racism and genocide.

    In addition to the errors you point out, this is also an Argumentum ad Consequentiam.

  10. 11
    Charles says:

    Kevin,

    Thanks for rebutting mary’s description of Obama supporters over in Mandolin’s thread on Obama’s dog whistle.

    [Here instead of there out of respect for mandolin's request that that line of discussion get out of her thread.]

  11. 12
    Eva says:

    Another plug for my blog: http://evasicons.blogspot.com/

    If something catches your eye, please leave a comment there!

  12. 13
    Radfem says:

    One of the local police unions hired SOS’s Joe Turner to be its consultant for “outreach” and to enhance its image so I did some blogging on that.

    The Southern Poverty Law Center’s take on Turner is here.

  13. 14
    Nancy Lebovitz\ says:

    My blog is Input Junkie, a mix of oooh, shiny!, politics, random thoughts, and one-liners.

  14. 15
    RonF says:

    While it certainly looks clever, cutting up a book to make paper sculpture is as close to desecration as I come from a secular viewpoint. It pains me to see it.

  15. 16
    Ampersand says:

    Angiportus, “Alice” has been made into an astonishingly great pop-up book, based on the Tenniel (sp?) illustrations.

    Angiportus and Ron: Boy, if you don’t like this, then you really won’t like Brian Dettmer’s “Book Autopsies.

    Photo of one of artist Brian Dettmer’s “Book Autopsies,” in which a book is carved to form a new work of art made of revealed images from the book’s pages.

    Personally, I think they’re amazing. Being against book-burnings used as censorship makes sense to me; being against art made from books does not.

  16. 17
    Mandolin says:

    “Being against book-burnings used as censorship makes sense to me; being against art made from books does not.”

    I don’t think it’s an intellectual argument; I think it’s a visceral one. My mother, a librarian, sometimes has the same reaction.

  17. 18
    Mandolin says:

    Speaking of which, here’s a collection of art people have made from phased-out catalog cards:

    http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/pr/cartalog/gallery.htm

  18. 19
    Kevin Moore says:

    Speaking as a librarian, I don’t see a problem with using books as artistic materials so long as the books in question are not rare early edition copies or something similarly hard to replace.

    That said, I sympathize with the visceral reaction. But the artist in me and the librarian in me are always bonking heads. :-)

  19. 20
    Ampersand says:

    I don’t think it’s an intellectual argument; I think it’s a visceral one.

    Yeah, you’re right, good point.

  20. 21
    RonF says:

    From my viewpoint it’s definitely a visceral one. My love of books goes back to my earliest memories. I react badly when I see someone dog-ear a book to mark their place. I wouldn’t underline my college textbooks (I went to college before highlighters were invented, folks). My first merit badge wasn’t Swimming or Basketry; it was Reading (12 book reports and a service project for the library).

  21. 22
    Ampersand says:

    In a comment on another post, speculating about wild choices for President, I wrote:

    My first thought is Tony Kushner. He’d be the first Jewish president and the first openly gay president, which I really think it’s long past time for, he’s got radical-yet-thoughtful opinions on political issues, he loathes conservatives with a passion[*] and as a Pulitzer-winning playwright, the speeches he’d write would be genuinely fucking awesome.

    [*] I no longer believe that Conservatives, as a whole, are reasonable opponents who can be dealt with reasonably. It’s not viable to play tea-party politics when your opponent is willing to riot in the streets and foreclose counting votes in order to win elections.

    Ron wrote a response there, which I want to reply to, but first I’m going to move Ron’s comment to this thread, so we don’t digress Mandolin’s thread.

  22. 23
    RonF says:

    He’d be the first Jewish president and the first openly gay president, which I really think it’s long past time for,

    I think that this kind of thinking is dangerous. If you like his politics, fine, but it’s not, has never been, and will never be “time for” anyone to be President, or Senator, or dog catcher, because they would be the first (or second, or …) gay/black/Hispanic/Catholic to hold the position. If someone’s religion, color or ethnic background becomes a major factor in their election, my guess is that we are ignoring some other things that are actually important.

    I no longer believe that Conservatives, as a whole, are reasonable opponents who can be dealt with reasonably. It’s not viable to play tea-party politics when your opponent is willing to riot in the streets and foreclose counting votes in order to win elections.

    Well, I definitely favored counting all the votes in Florida. I thought it was bogus that the vote count was cut off, and Lord knows I didn’t want to see Gore become President. But fair’s fair. The integrity of our Republic depends on the integrity of the vote.

    However, I’d like to point out a serious error in your statement. Those weren’t conservatives that pressed to stop counting the votes (what street riots?). Those were Republicans. Trust me, the two are not the same.

    In fact, in the conservative blogosphere these days, plenty of conservatives are having the same discussion about Romney and McCain that you are all having about Obama and Clinton – neither one is truly conservative anymore than Obama and Clinton are truly “progressive”. Lots of people are trying to figure out which one’s least worst and if they can bear to hold their noses and vote for one of them.

  23. 24
    Ampersand says:

    If someone’s religion, color or ethnic background becomes a major factor in their election, my guess is that we are ignoring some other things that are actually important.

    For the large majority of US history, someone’s religion, color, ethnicity, sexual orientation and sex have been major factors in who is elected, especially to high office. And, with all due respect, I think it’s easier to overlook this, or diminish its importance, if you happen to be Christian, white, outwardly hetero and male — the exact traits that 100% of US presidents up to this time have shared with you.

    The reason people who share these traits with you, Ron, keep on being elected isn’t that white straight Christian men are better suited to the job (as I’m sure you’ll acknowlege). It’s that no one else has been given a fair chance. And yes, it’s time for that to end; and I will never be convinced it has ended until we see an atheist president, and a gay president, and a female president, and a POC president.

    It’s long past time the unwritten but ironclad rule that only straight Christians can be president is broken. That’s my position, and I’m sticking with it.

    And I’m glad you favored counting the votes in Florida — you and a few like you are why I said conservatives “as a whole,” not “all conservatives.”

    And I don’t make much of the difference between conservatives and Republicans, Ron. There is no insult to democracy or the Constitution that will actually cause conservatives to criticize leading Republicans in any way that matters — or cause them to not vote Republican — so for all practical purposes most conservatives are Republicans.

    As for what riot, I was referring to this.

  24. 25
    Robert says:

    Amp, if ginning up a crowd of people to make noise about something invalidates a movement, you can pretty much put the left in a bucket and shoot it, like, a million times.

    And if being pragmatic about the perfectibility of elections invalidates a party, you can put the Democrats in what’s left of that bucket and squeeze off a few million more rounds.

    There are no virgins in any of these whorehouses.

  25. 26
    Mandolin says:

    “There are no virgins in any of these whorehouses.”

    A good, non-sexist analogy that definitely doesn’t play into common conceptions about the relative value of female virgins versus women who’ve had sex.

  26. 27
    RonF says:

    Conservatives are people who favor upholding a certain set of principles in politics and elsewhere. Republicans are people who favor keeping a certain set of politicians in office and a certain set of people in power and trying to craft a platform that will attract enough votes to do so. If those principles are conservative, so be it. If those principles are liberal, so be it. But if we’ve learned anything over the last 20 years, it’s that there are few Republicans who actually value conservative principles.

    I no longer believe that Conservatives, as a whole, are reasonable opponents who can be dealt with reasonably. It’s not viable to play tea-party politics when your opponent is willing to riot in the streets and foreclose counting votes in order to win elections.

    So I think my actual choice — even though this is a boring choice, because it’s a politician — would be Barbara Lee, who has been more consistently correct on foreign policy than any other politician I’m aware of, and whose politics are very progressive.

    These two statements seem to be in conflict. I guess that not counting votes that one is not in favor of isn’t limited to conservatives. From the Wiki page on Rep. Lee:

    [Barbara Lee] was one of the 31 who voted in the House to not count the electoral votes from Ohio in the United States presidential election, 2004.

  27. 28
    Ampersand says:

    Robert, what the noise is being made about matters. There’s a huge and consequential difference between yelling “US out of Iraq” and yelling “stop counting the votes!” The latter sentiment is foul, disgusting, and an insult to the very idea of democracy, and in my life in the US I’ve only ever seen conservative demonstrators express it.

    RonF, I’m drawing today and don’t have time to research that House bill Lee voted for; there are legitimate and illegitimate reasons to count electoral college votes (for instance, if the electoral college votes represented cheating rather than actual votes by voters). If Lee favored it for illegitimate reasons, that would indeed cause me to change my choice of her for President.

    (By the way, I personally believe that Bush won the Ohio vote in 2004 legitimately — but that’s a question that someone can disagree with me on in good faith. If Lee in good faith believed that the Ohio electoral college votes in 2004 represented cheating, not the will of the voters, then that would in my view be a legitimate, good-faith reason for her to oppose counting the electoral college from Ohio, at least until the question could be resolved. On the other hand, if she only said that because she favored Kerry, then that’s foul and disgusting.)

  28. 29
    Gilliebean says:

    If someone’s religion, color or ethnic background becomes a major factor in their election, my guess is that we are ignoring some other things that are actually important.

    IMHO, this sounds a little too much like the “there’s nothing wrong with using the generic he, it doesn’t affect people’s thinking.” Well, studies show that using the generic he *does* make a difference — numerous studies have shown that when children are read a story about a person or group of people only using “he” as the pronoun and then asked to draw who they pictured, nearly all of them draw the person or group of people as a man/men. When they use “they” or “he or she,” the resulting pictures are much more varied. (Another study used a story of a family of “cavemen” vs. a family of “cavepeople” — sure enough, the kids who were read the former drew cavemen, the kids who were read the latter drew cavemen, cavewomen, and cavechildren.) These things that seem so easy for straight, white, middle-class Christian men to ignore* are, in fact, important.

    Don’t get me wrong — I don’t think that just any woman or person of color or whoever should be president. It goes beyond that for me — they have to have politics, principles, and ethics I can support as well. But, the thing is, there are women, and people of color, and gays, and Jews, and so on that are qualified. And it is about time that we elected one of these qualified people — both for the qualifications they have for president, and for the additional aspects that they can bring (being a woman, a person of color, and so on). Because it will make a difference.

    *Let’s be honest here — race and gender and religion and sexuality and so on most definitely do matter to straight middle class Christian men, no matter how “colorblind” and “genderblind” etc. they claim to be. That becomes more and more obvious by their outright opposition to any one of these people being seriously considered for office. The justifications for that opposition is seen for exactly that, a justification (for sexism, racism, homophobia, etc).

  29. 30
    Robert says:

    The latter sentiment is foul, disgusting, and an insult to the very idea of democracy…

    Your argument defending Lee is the same argument that would defend those protestors – sometimes it is legitimate to stop a vote count, or to take whatever other procedural steps are necessary. “Stop counting the votes” is a battle cry of freedom if it’s opposing an illegal count. I don’t recall the timing of the Florida mob scene (whether it was before or after the disgusting and undemocratic and foul Supreme Court ruled that the count should stop) and I don’t think it really matters; events demonstrated that the count was in fact invalid, and the legal system ratified it. That’s the same legal system that you always insist we have to honor when it’s ratified some pro-choice principle.

    and in my life in the US I’ve only ever seen conservative demonstrators express it.

    You have an n of 1, and as RonF pointed out, you haven’t seen shit. You saw people on TV that a political party whipped up to do some direct action; you couldn’t provably pin an ideology on any non-public figure in that crowd to save your life. A party affiliation, sure.

    If you honestly want to tell me that you can’t conceive that a Democratic group would ever invade a public office involved in an electoral function and demand that things go their way…well, ok.

  30. 31
    Radfem says:

    Thank you, Mandolin for your comment.

  31. 32
    ms_xeno says:

    [delurks]

    Brian Dettmer’s collages fucking rule. I’m going to start calling him…

    …The Dettmer…

    in the same hushed, reverential tones that all the JOSS freaks use when talking about…

    …The Joss.

    That is all.

    [relurks]

  32. 33
    Daran says:

    Well, studies show that using the generic he *does* make a difference — numerous studies have shown that when children are read a story about a person or group of people only using “he” as the pronoun and then asked to draw who they pictured, nearly all of them draw the person or group of people as a man/men. When they use “they” or “he or she,” the resulting pictures are much more varied. (Another study used a story of a family of “cavemen” vs. a family of “cavepeople” — sure enough, the kids who were read the former drew cavemen, the kids who were read the latter drew cavemen, cavewomen, and cavechildren.) These things that seem so easy for straight, white, middle-class Christian men to ignore* are, in fact, important.

    Cites?

  33. 34
    RonF says:

    IMHO, this sounds a little too much like the “there’s nothing wrong with using the generic he, it doesn’t affect people’s thinking.

    Well, I don’t think it sounds like it at all. What this looks like to me is an inapplicable diversion.

    Let’s be honest here — race and gender and religion and sexuality and so on most definitely do matter to straight middle class Christian men, no matter how “colorblind” and “genderblind” etc. they claim to be. That becomes more and more obvious by their outright opposition to any one of these people being seriously considered for office. The justifications for that opposition is seen for exactly that, a justification (for sexism, racism, homophobia, etc).

    Amazing. What a way to sweepingly objectify people on the basis of race, sex, economic class and religion. This is a blatantly racist statement. It’s also a blatantly sexist statement. And whatever words speak to discrimination on the basis of religion and economic class. Not to mention that it ignores the fact that there are plenty of white middle-class men who are supporting Sens. Clinton and Obama if the exit polls are to be believed. And it also seems to me to say that objections to their candidacies by white middle-class Christian men must be rooted in racism, sexism, etc., and that it cannot be rooted in any objective criteria. Apparently the reasons given on numerous threads on this very blog for not favoring either one of them are legitimate for everyone else but are known by you to not be held by white middle-class Christian men.

  34. 35
    Kate L. says:

    My favorite English teacher ever used to say that a book that was not dog eared, written in and worn was not a well loved book. It may be one of the reasons he is my favorite teacher.

    My husband cringes everytime I fold a page or underline something, but I always think of dear old Mr. Mauer and never feel bad. I have a copy of Little Women that made it through 3 other kids before me and was well loved by the time I got it. It has tear stains on the pages where Beth dies. :) I love that book.

  35. 36
    RonF says:

    Perhaps my physical attitudes towards books stems from the fact that I used to hang out at the public library a lot. The librarians and I all knew each other by name. I would spend an hour or two there after school from about 5th grade on. They gave me (after consulting with my parents) an adult card because there was nothing in the children’s section downstairs (it was a different floor of the building) that interested me. So a whole lot of the books I read when I was a kid were library books, where dog-earing and underlining and such was all strictly forbidden.

  36. 37
    Gilliebean says:

    Cites?

    Pretty much anything by David and/or Myra Saker — particularly Failing at Fairness.

  37. 38
    Daran says:

    Pretty much anything by David and/or Myra Saker — particularly Failing at Fairness.

    Unfortunately “Failing at Fairness” isn’t available online, while a brief perusal of Myra’s and David’s websites hasn’t turned up anything which addresses the specific facts you claim, but I haven’t undertaken an exhaustive search. You’ll have to be a bit more specific than “Pretty much anything by”.

  38. 39
    Radfem says:

    Maywood Police Department in California has appointed its second interim chief who’s a convicted criminal. Actually about one-third of the department consists of officers who failed probation, were fired for other reasons and/or are convicted criminals.

    Not surprisingly, every outside agency from the feds to the State Attorney General’s office is investigating.