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[links] Link salad has crossed the threshold, and it has overturned the order of the soul - Lakeshore
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Jay Lake
Date: 2012-08-09 05:26
Subject: [links] Link salad has crossed the threshold, and it has overturned the order of the soul
Security: Public
Tags:christianism, climate, culture, food, gender, guns, links, mars, media, personal, politics, process, race, religion, science, sex, sports, tech, weird, writing
Story Bone — Steve Buchheit with a brief, entertaining rant about the portrayal of dwarves in fantasy.

An interesting and largely civil discussion about firearms and society in the comments section of my post from yesterday on guns [ jlake.com | LiveJournal ] — Mostly on the LJ side.

Disney Researchers Add Virtual Touch to the Real WorldA new computer interface can modify the feel of almost any surface—potentially adding a new dimension to games and augmented reality apps. This be some weird science.

Crystal-clear images from Mars rover thrill NASA scientists — Not to mention how the rest of us feel about it.

Curiosity landing site: the whole mess — Where all the hardware wound up.

Mike Bloomberg's Soda Ban and the Case for Paternalism — Ta-Nehisi Coates on food choices. Yes. This.

Disabled Spectator Arrested for Not Visibly Enjoying Olympic Event — This is in the UK, where civil rights in the American sense don't quite exist (nor do they here so much any more, but I digress). Still, a very weird story.

Archaeologists Officially Declare Collective Sigh Over “Paleo Diet”You simply do not see specific, trans-regional trends in human subsistence in the archaeological record. People can live off everything from whale blubber to seeds and grasses. You want to know what the ideal human diet consists of? Everything.

Ancient skull deepens human-origins mystery — Warning: facts not valid for Young Earth Creationists.

Hey White Guys intro — An interesting video on race, gender and privilege.

What do Christian fundamentalists have against set theory? — Man, I got nothing here. (Thanks to [info]seventorches.)

Bryan Fischer: Children Of Same-Sex Couples Must Be Saved Through ‘Underground Railroad’ Kidnapping — And conservatives wonder why the rest of America thinks they're nuts.

Dams, reservoirs are new global warming culprits — It will be interesting to see if this line of evidence pans out on further investigation.

No, Harry Reid is No Michele BachmannIt is difficult to find a better example of the strange mixture of paranoia, bad faith and self-pity that is behind so many conservative claims of media bias. This, in a nutshell.

Komen president resigning, founder shifting roles — Wow. I really am surprised. Conservative dishonesty rarely carries penalties for those in positions of senior leadership.

Top Ten differences between White Terrorists and Others — Juan Cole is sarcastic but accurate. Remember, according to the GOP, Real Americans with guns can't be terrorists. The DHS got in a lot of trouble with conservatives for stating the obvious in this regard.

?otD: What did they mean when they said "repent"?




8/9/2012
Writing time yesterday: 0.5 hours (WRPA)
Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride
Hours slept: 6.75 (solid)
Weight: 236.4
Currently reading: The Essential Engineer: Why Science Alone Will Not Solve Our Global Problems by Henry Petroski

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jordan179
User: jordan179
Date: 2012-08-09 12:49 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Disabled Spectator Arrested for Not Visibly Enjoying Olympic Event — This is in the UK, where civil rights in the American sense don't quite exist (nor do they here so much any more, but I digress). Still, a very weird story.

This kind of demonstrates the importance of the Fourth Amendment -- but note that this comes from the very same Constitution whose Second Amendment you just got through denigrating in an earlier post. We don't get to pick-and-choose like that, save by the process of amendment itself.

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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2012-08-09 14:36 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Erm, my criticism in an earlier post was of conservative picking-and-choosing, not an example of my own picking and choosing. Obviously, you're free to read my words any way you wish, but I think you're applying a deliberate misreading here.
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jordan179
User: jordan179
Date: 2012-08-09 12:50 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Top Ten differences between White Terrorists and Others — Juan Cole is sarcastic but accurate. Remember, according to the GOP, Real Americans with guns can't be terrorists. The DHS got in a lot of trouble with conservatives for stating the obvious in this regard.

America has had little problem with non-white terrorists since the 1970's and the most radical fringes of the Black Power movement.

Hint: the most anti-American Muslims are white (Arab and Iranian).
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2012-08-09 14:47 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm pretty sure Timothy McVeigh was white.
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jordan179
User: jordan179
Date: 2012-08-09 15:53 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Indeed he was -- as were the 9-11 hijackers. McVeigh was from the northwestern fringe of the white diaspora; Al Qaeda is from the southeastern.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2012-08-09 16:45 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You have an extremely non-standard definition of 'white' if you classify the 9-11 hijackers as white. This is on a par with calling Obama a 'socialist'. That may be valid conservative code talking, but it makes you sound foolish and misinformed to anyone not thinking from deep inside the conservative frame.

"You keep using that word. It does not mean what you think it means."
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jordan179
User: jordan179
Date: 2012-08-09 17:37 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You have an extremely non-standard definition of 'white' if you classify the 9-11 hijackers as white.

Arabs are anthropologically "Caucasian" and have been seen as "white" most of my life. The first I heard of Arabs being "non-white" was in propaganda arguing that the 2003 invasion of Iraq was "racist," an argument which required that the Arabs be recast as "white." As far as I know, the Arabs have always considered themselves to be white, and themselves as superior to Sub-Saharan Africans on those grounds as a secondary factor (the primary of course being on the grounds of religion).

Which begs the question -- just what race do you consider the Arabs? Or, for that matter, the Iranians? Do you see them as the same race? Or do you consider the Iranians as "white" and the Arabs as "non-white?" And are the Israelis the same race as the Arabs?

That may be valid conservative code talking ...

"Code" for what? How exactly am I insulting the Arabs by pointing out that they are Caucasians?

... but it makes you sound foolish and misinformed to anyone not thinking from deep inside the conservative frame.

Again, why is it "foolish and misinformed" to classify the Arabs according to anthropology rather than the political fashion of the day? As what should I be classifying them? And note that "non-white" isn't a race, it's simply the set of everyone not currently being classifed as "white."

Still less, of course, is "Muslim" a race -- it's a religion, and a universal one (open to people of all races) at that.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2012-08-09 17:52 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Erm, more or less in order.

Race is a social construct for the most part. "White" is a term that a century ago used to exclude Irish and Italians here in the United States, and in some other countries would include President Obama. Ethnicity is a valid anthropological concept that comes closer to what you are trying to convey.

In the contemporary American political and social context, "white" means "persons of European descent with pale complexions." South Asians are Caucasians, anthropologically speaking, but no one, including any South Asian I ever met or heard of, considers them white. For you to be ignoring this universal usage based on some details of anthropology strikes me as argumentatively disingenuous. I know you know better, I know from prior discussions you're smarter than that.

As for Arabs, so far as I know, they consider themselves Arabs. Iranians consider themselves Persians so far as I know, and see themselves as quite distinct from Arabs. Israelis generally consider themselves Jews, quite distinct from both Arabs and Persians. Yes, you can get into a bunch of historical and linguistic anthropology around Semitic peoples, but really, do you honestly *think* that Arabs consider themselves "white" in the contemporary American sense of the term?

"Code talking" wasn't meant to convey the idea that I thought you were insulting anyone. My apologies. I meant it to indicate that you were using meanings or speech registers specific to a cultural and or linguistic group that would be generally not understood by outsiders. This is a slang term I've been aware of for years, drawn by analogy from the WWII sense of the phrase.

To your last point, you're relying on narrow, technical definitions of words over their much broader generally understood meaning, and then pretending that when you are understood, that is a listener/reader error. I suppose this gives you some apparent moral high ground, but mostly makes you sound like a troll (in the Internet sense of the term, not the Scandinavian sense) to anyone who doesn't share your views.
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jordan179
User: jordan179
Date: 2012-08-09 19:57 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
In the contemporary American political and social context, "white" means "persons of European descent with pale complexions."

Granted, and this was formulated by Europeans during the 18th-19th centuries who were trying to justify their domination over non-Europeans on racial terms. This leads to a lot of surprises when Americans actually meet North Arabs or Iranians; who are often lighter-skinned than many Southern Europeans.

South Asians are Caucasians, anthropologically speaking, but no one, including any South Asian I ever met or heard of, considers them white. For you to be ignoring this universal usage based on some details of anthropology strikes me as argumentatively disingenuous.

So I'm supposed to limit my own displayed knowledge to popular culture, and am criticized for pointing out anything not contained in that culture? This is an interesting notion: would you prefer if I also did this regarding paleontology, and assumed that all prehistory was contained in the "Age of the Dinosaurs" and the "Ice Age?" Or went all the way into idiocracy, and became a Young Earth Creationist?

I'm trying to combat misperceptions, not yield to them.

In any case, it's even more complex than that, because the Semites (Arabs, Berbers, Jews etc.) are mostly Caucasian (shading to Negro in North Africa) and the Eastern Indo-Europeans (Aryans) include the Iranians, Pakistanis, and at least the North Indians, shading to Negrito groups in South India. (In fact, nothing better demonstrates the arbirtrariness of "Caucasian," "Negro" etc. than the Egyptians or the Indians, who are right on the racial borders).

... do you honestly *think* that Arabs consider themselves "white" in the contemporary American sense of the term?

Why, no. They consider themselves "white" in a manner more analogous to the Old Southern sense of the term, including the belief that they are entitled to enslave black people. Which is to say, they are far more racist than are most contemporary Americans.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2012-08-10 16:30 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
We're drifting way off topic here, but I wanted to respond to this remark of yours:

So I'm supposed to limit my own displayed knowledge to popular culture, and am criticized for pointing out anything not contained in that culture? This is an interesting notion

In my opinion, you continue to be what linguists call conversationally non-cooperative here. (That's a Gricean term, if you're not familiar with it, but all the links I can find that talk about it point to fairly dense academic sources. It's a subject apparently too esoteric even for a Wikipedia article, though I think their article on Grice somewhat covers the topic.)

What I can't figure out is whether you're knowingly doing it. One reason some people classify you as a comment troll is because of this behavior.

So, let me spell this out.

No one is criticizing you for having knowledge exceeding the level of pop culture awareness. I should hope you do, that all of us do, and in other respects, you have demonstrated a fairly deep knowledge and thoughtful mode of expression. That's one of the reasons I keep engaging with you.

But when it comes to politically-charged topics, at least within your zone of interest, you often retreat into literal or legalistic interpretations of things. For example, your anthropological comments upthread here.

So let me give you an unloaded example of this kind of conversational non-cooperation I perceive you to be engaging in, and specifically in terms of your question about displayed knowledge.

Astronomers consider any element heavier than helium to be a metal. This is why you read/hear comments about stars with low metallicity or high metallicity. That use of the word 'metal' is a contextually-dependent term of art in stellar astronomy.

When an astronomer goes to a cocktail party with other astronomers, and someone starts talking about metals, they're all capable of choosing either the pop culture speech register (where "metals" indicated iron, copper, and so forth) or the astronomic speech register (where "metals" refers to elements with an atomic number higher than 2, thus including elements such as neon and carbon). This choice is generally made from context, including factors such as prior conversational topic, who is speaking, other associated word choices (nobody but astronomers uses the word "metallicity", for example), and so forth. Or someone can simply declare the context through a flat statement.

When an astronomer goes to a cocktail party with random other people who aren't astronomers, and someone starts talking about metals, the very strong presumption on the part of any reasonable person is that the pop culture speech register is being invoked. If someone else says they're studying metal sculpture, the astronomer doesn't start inquiring sarcastically how they manage to fabricate sculptures with neon. (And of course, if they were talking to a neon light sculptor, another conversational context is invoked.) An astronomer who ignores context in that manner is being conversationally non-cooperative, and will be perceived as either a big dick or someone with serious social deficiencies.

So what we have here is you shifting into fairly technical anthropological discourse without making any particular effort to signal the change in speech register, then being offended at the confusion you cause in doing so when your statements use terms with multiple overlapping meanings that can be interpreted wrongly by someone who hasn't tracked the change in speech register. That's conversational non-cooperation in a nutshell.

I have enough respect for you not to assume you're just being a big dick, and I don't know you well enough to have any idea whether you have social deficiencies. Leaving those two possibilities aside, the assumption I arrive at is that this is a debating style for you, specifically choosing narrow or legalistic interpretations to hinge and redirect arguments on, then taking an offended stand when you are misunderstood. I suggest you might be more successful in your discussions if you are cognizant of what happens when this speech register shift occurs.

Or, of course, I could be dead wrong about all of this, in which case you are free to decide if I'm being a dick or socially deficient.

Edited at 2012-08-10 04:31 pm (UTC)
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jordan179
User: jordan179
Date: 2012-08-10 17:44 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm sorry ... I thought that when you were using the term "white" as a racial indicator you meant "Caucasian," which is what the term would mean anthropologically. I did not realize that you meant only "white European," which is the formulation which would apply from the POV of present-day European-descended white supremacists.

This is not the product of a "social deficiency," it is due to the fact that you were using the term precisely in the area where the two definitions come starkly into conrflict. The reason I emphasized "present-day," btw, is that if you go back just 75-100 years, you would find that the European-descended white supremacists most definitely did include Persians (and sometimes even Arabs) as "white" (though, interestingly enough, tended to see Jews as "nonwhite," or even in a sinister category of their own).

Getting back to your original point, if we define Arabs and Persians as "nonwhite," then America is much more at danger today from "nonwhite" than "white" terrorists, by your chosen definition. White terrorist groups are small and lack foreign governmental support; by contrast, terrorist groups from "nonwhite" Arab and Persian lands are large, well-funded and have support from Terrorist States.

So the conclusion you didn't want to reach has been reached -- and, ironically, only because of your suggested redefinition. Are you sure that was what you intended?

I don't know if you were being a "dick or socially deficient," I suspect that you're just trying to believe two incompatible things (Arabs/Persians are nonwhite, but we have the most to fear from white terrorism) which only become compatible if we add the observation that Arabs and Persians are racially closer to Europeans than they are to Africans or East Asians.

Of course, I don't think that race is the deciding (or even an important) factor here. Other Caucasian groups are relatively disinclined toward terrorism compared to the Arabs and Persians, and (the few surviving) non-Muslim Arabs and Persians also tend not to become terrorists.

I think it's religion, and the reality is that the vast majority of people of Arab and Persian descent are Muslim. Islam inclines to terrorism because of a combination of the supremacist nature of the Koran with an elevation of religious over political leadership. There, but for the grace of St. Thomas Aquinas, might have gone Christianity; there, but for the Roman-inflicted diaspora, might have gone Judaism, so I suppose we should count our blessings.
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houseboatonstyx
User: houseboatonstyx
Date: 2012-08-11 19:47 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
No relation to the topic of race here, but may I just say a quick word in defense of conversational non-cooperation? As a pretty far Leftwinger, when I post to Rightwing conversations I often don't waste bandwidth by trying to craft a bridge between the others' assumptions and my point of disagreement on the thread. Instead I just post what would have been my bottom line: usually some piece of evidence not yet mentioned.
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S-47/19-J
User: shsilver
Date: 2012-08-09 17:59 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Komen president resigning, founder shifting roles — Wow. I really am surprised. Conservative dishonesty rarely carries penalties for those in positions of senior leadership.

Well, I wonder how many letters they received in postage paid envelopes they sent out like mine. When offered the chance to donate $25 and have a matching grant, I thanked them for the opportunity and explained I would be donating $50 to Planned Parenthood instead.
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houseboatonstyx
User: houseboatonstyx
Date: 2012-08-11 20:28 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
[ Archaeologists Officially Declare Collective Sigh Over “Paleo Diet” — You simply do not see specific, trans-regional trends in human subsistence in the archaeological record. People can live off everything from whale blubber to seeds and grasses. You want to know what the ideal human diet consists of? Everything. ]

I missed the disclaimer at the bottom of that article; maybe it was added later.
"–To avoid further confusion: this is a work of fiction. The experts do not exist. Their arguments, however, most surely do."

Taking it seriously, I'd posted this at the article site:
I’m sure some hungry ‘cavemen’ ate whatever they could find, even if it made them sick. Reproducing then dying is not our ideal of fitness. Where’s a study that looks at what healthy cavemen who had a wide choice of food, ate before they had fire? Or is that getting too obvious?


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