Re: Echidne Rants About Evolutionary Psychology So I Don't Have To

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I thought this was interesting and this thread is finally the right place to put it:

http://dienekes.blogspot.com/2006/10/blue-eyed-men-prefer-blue-eyed-women.html

evopsych reasoning is discussed within.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 8:58 AM
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Heh. You know, I have some not-terribly close acquantainces in which a blue-eyed couple has a brown-eyed kid; talking about it with her brother (who I know better than the couple), he claimed that the Mendelian two-blue-eyed-parents-will-always-have-a-blue-eyed-kid is oversimplified, and it's not impossible for brown eyes to pop up. I don't know if there's anything to that, or if it's just a family fiction.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 9:03 AM
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Holy shit... four parts?? Can you give us some key excerpts or, like, a synopsis? I'm extremely interested but it would take me months to read all that.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 9:04 AM
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2: I think that's family fiction, LB.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 9:05 AM
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I would, but it's kind of hard to excerpt, in that it's already interspersed responses to quotes from the PT article.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 9:06 AM
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Shorter Echidne: Popular EP articles are full of shit. Dubiously researched and easily pwn'd shit at that.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 9:08 AM
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Pretty dreary stuff she's dealing with. That was interesting in Part I about why the really qualified people have no incentive to engage this crap. Stuff sprouts like kudzu, though; whatcha gonna do?


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 9:11 AM
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It is worth hammering on, though, because the continual drumbeat of nonsense makes even sensible people believe that some of it stands up. And really, I'm not aware of much, if any, EP research with socially interesting consequences -- the sort of thing you'd bother to write a pop article about -- that does stand up.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 9:14 AM
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he claimed that the Mendelian two-blue-eyed-parents-will-always-have-a-blue-eyed-kid is oversimplified, and it's not impossible for brown eyes to pop up.

Heh. He's right about eye color being oversimplified, but if one of my kids had come out with brown eyes I would have been inclined towards a paternity test.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 9:14 AM
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Wot gswift said. Odds of some incredibly rare and poorly understood genetic quirk versus outside paternity ...


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 9:16 AM
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That was my guess -- I didn't push it in the conversation, given that I was talking to the woman's little brother, but I have wondered if I was being unfairly cynical. But I think not.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 9:17 AM
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re: 11

Given the usual estimates of outside paternity (~10% afaik) it's not being unfairly cynical at all.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 9:20 AM
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God, I'm so glad you posted this. Someone linked the Pysch Today list in the comments a few days ago, with the note "This is the best thing I've read in a long time!" (It irritated the HELL out of me. I griped about it at length to Jammies.)

But it seemed too wearying and too daunting to undertake cataloging all the problems with the list, so I let it go at the time. It's totally been eating away at me.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 9:21 AM
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although in this case it's almost certainly the obvious explanation since that's much much more likely, there was a woman I read about who had basically absorbed a fraternal twin fetus in the womb, and the woman's egg cells were from the twin.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 9:21 AM
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You know, we could for fun construct an EP argument about the greater harmony and durability of marriages with one brown-eyed partner.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 9:22 AM
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Because of the free pass on cuckoldry?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 9:23 AM
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14: Ooo, chimeras! Neat.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 9:24 AM
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Yes, or even doubts about it.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 9:26 AM
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15:

why would it be better if my partner had one brown eye?

and what color should the other eye be?


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 9:41 AM
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One of the authors of that EP piece is fond of publishing papers is sloppy with his statistics, to put it mildly:

http://www.stat.columbia.edu/~gelman/research/published/kanazawa.pdf

You would think reviewers and editors of the journals would catch some of the stuff.


Posted by: Mark | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 9:47 AM
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Since I feel like the Evo Psych threads go along with the Econ 101 threads, there's something I feel like bringing up. Recently, I've been in two arguments in which the person I was arguing with denied that people respond to costs at all, or, alternatively, claimed that people's demand with regard to the relevant product was infinitely inelastic. In one case the person with whom I was arguing claimed that raising the tax on cigarettes wouldn't decrease smoking (he alternated between claiming that people wouldn't respond to the costs and claiming 100% black market substitution) and in another the person claimed that congestion pricing wouldn't reduce driving into Manhattan. I didn't know how to respond to this.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 9:53 AM
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(a) Appeal to extreme cases ("Come on, if cigarettes cost $100 a pack, at some point smokers just wouldn't have the money."); (b) Appeal to data ("Well, congestion pricing has reduced driving into London -- what would be different about Manhattan?"); (c) Accept that it's possible that within the range of costs actually under discussion, he might be right.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 9:57 AM
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I can never tell if these sorts of articles are meant to excuse an act I'm likely to commit or convince me to make that act.

with whom I was arguing claimed that raising the tax on cigarettes wouldn't decrease smoking (he alternated between claiming that people wouldn't respond to the costs and claiming 100% black market substitution)

Plumer had something on this: apparently ciggarette taxes are fantastically successful, and tobacco companies lobby hard against them (and even help set up black markets and smuggling operations, IIRC).


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 9:57 AM
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(d) say "quit trolling me."


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 9:59 AM
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Isn't there a little fable though, about the efficacy of tobacco taxes, in The Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant? Something about the controlled substance becoming much more desirable, in Mexico.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 10:01 AM
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Under Spanish rule Mexico was prohibited from producing anything that the mother-country could supply. This rule excluded the cultivation of the grape, olive and many other articles to which the soil and climate were well adapted. The country was governed for "revenue only;" and tobacco, which cannot be raised in Spain, but is indigenous to Mexico, offered a fine instrumentality for securing this prime object of government. The native population had been in the habit of using "the weed" from a period, back of any recorded history of this continent. Bad habits--if not restrained by law or public opinion--spread more rapidly and universally than good ones, and the Spanish colonists adopted the use of tobacco almost as generally as the natives. Spain, therefore, in order to secure the largest revenue from this source, prohibited the cultivation, except in specified localities--and in these places farmed out the privilege at a very high price. The tobacco when raised could only be sold to the government, and the price to the consumer was limited only by the avarice of the authorities, and the capacity of the people to pay.
All laws for the government of the country were enacted in Spain, and the officers for their execution were appointed by the Crown, and sent out to the New El Dorado. The Mexicans had been brought up ignorant of how to legislate or how to rule. When they gained their independence, after many years of war, it was the most natural thing in the world that they should adopt as their own the laws then in existence. The only change was, that Mexico became her own executor of the laws and the recipient of the revenues. The tobacco tax, yielding so large a revenue under the law as it stood, was one of the last, if not the very last, of the obnoxious imposts to be repealed. Now, the citizens are allowed to cultivate any crops the soil will yield. Tobacco is cheap, and every quality can be produced. Its use is by no means so general as when I first visited the country.

Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 10:06 AM
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Rfts and I were gobsmacked by this article and making fun of it in cooments to a post sometime last week. Which is better, the idea that human men have evolved a desire for large breasts to better tell when women are past their reproductive peak, or the idea that universally (and inarguably) blue eyes are preferred?


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 10:14 AM
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Which is better, the idea that human men have evolved a desire for large breasts to better tell when women are past their reproductive peak, or the idea that universally (and inarguably) blue eyes are preferred?

The whole thing is moronic. I don't really believe that anyone has a "type" as regards physical appearance. People might have defaults, but those defaults get reset by experience all the time.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 10:18 AM
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I also liked the guy's "generalized" Trivers-Willard hypothesis, which seems to me to change a perfectly valid observation into something more akin to Lysenkoism.

And someone other than me pointed out a fun one in this sentence: Men have had to conquer foreign lands, win battles and wars, compose symphonies, author books, write sonnets, paint cathedral ceilings, make scientific discoveries, play in rock bands, and write new computer software in order to impress women so that they will agree to have sex with them.

Really? Michelangelo's main goal was to pick up chicks?


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 10:21 AM
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All of these articles are:

'Science discovers Pleistocene values exactly like caricature of 1950s white America!'

It's almost boring even mocking them.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 10:21 AM
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Can't wait for Dsquared to finish his article on how humans invented art so we could tell who was nouveau riche in the Pleistocene..


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 10:28 AM
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Michelangelo's main goal was to pick up chicks?

That's the brilliance of the argument, you see. Michelangelo had to be such a fantastic artist that women would be powerfully enough attracted to him to overcome his resistance, thus allowing him to pass on his genes despite his sexual orientation.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 10:31 AM
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I've just now wondered if the British term for what we call "modeling clay" is a play on "Pleistocene," or just a coincidence?


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 10:32 AM
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29: And when women write sonnets and books, and make scientific discoveries and play in rock bands &c &c, they're doing it for what reason exactly? The specific nonsense aside, does anyone read Pyschology Today seriously? I'll admit to not having so much as flipped through an issue since I was a kid, but I'm under the impression that it's like the Parade Magazine (or worse) of the field.

'Science discovers Pleistocene values exactly like caricature of 1950s white America!

Having seen the Flinstones, we know this to be fact. We also know that outer-space-inhabiting people of the distant future have the same values.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 10:32 AM
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Man, I'm rereading Echidne's demolition, and she didn't even note the authors' bizarre contention that Iran is a magical Shangri-La in which women's body images are totally untouched by the media, which doesn't exist. They've never met Ogged, I take it. Or lived in L.A.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 10:33 AM
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33 - you mean Pleigh-do?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 10:37 AM
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12: aren't outside paternity estimates actually down around 2%? In any case, it would be a very variable number based on social class, etc.

I actually think there's something to the basics of "egg expensive, sperm cheap" affecting behavior. But the Ev Psych as religion types go far beyond this. I mean, how obvious could it be that there's massive culturally based variation in mating behavior, that such behavior changes incredibly rapidly based on social norms, etc.? So why are certain people so obsessively focused only on the portion of variation that's biologically based?


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 10:41 AM
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Because it means that sexism is a biological fact, and liberals are muddy-headed pantywaists for trying to change things. You can substitute "racism" as needed. It's a long-running conservative trope. I once got about halfway done with an essay on the appeal towards engineer-think as an apologia for reactionary thinking and its role in "hard" science fiction that I had vague thoughts of trying to publish somewhere.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 10:56 AM
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re: 37

It's been a while since I read much on it, but I did read a survey article a few years back covering various attempts made to estimate it -- based on blood-type, genetics, verbal report, etc. There was quite a bit of variability in the resulting estimates. I seem to recall 10% as a rough average of the various figures but maybe I am remembering one of the constituent studies.

A quick google finds results ranging from 2% (as you say) up to over 20-30% depending on the methodology. One major survey article says the median rate of paternal discrepancy found across a range of studies is around 4%. So maybe that's a better estimate.

You're right that it varies a lot with high status families at the low (2%) end. 2% is definitely on the low side.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 11:11 AM
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Yeah, snarkout, the part about Iran being shielded from Western media made me laugh. I think I've mentioned before that when I was there, I didn't recognize some of the celebs they were watching through their satellite dishes and they were all, "oh, that's so-and-so."


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 11:16 AM
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The plasticene period preceded the stone age. It was a lot easier to make arrowheads, but they didn't work very well.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 11:23 AM
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23: These sorts of articles make me want to run out on the veldt and spear a social scientist.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 11:29 AM
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I'm disappointed that Echidne didn't point out that first, evolution doesn't mean that just because X exists (if indeed it does, which when we're talking about complicated things like whether men as a group prefer big breasts--by which we mean, what, exactly?), that doesn't mean it's advantageous.

And second, all the "evidence" offered is easily, easily explained by simply pointing to its role in accruing social status. There's zero need to start speculating about Biological Drives when it's obvious that the reason rich guys date hot chicks is that hot chicks signal status, and the reason hot chicks date rich guys is that money signals status as well. Duh.

That and she didn't just break down into helpless fits of laughter at some of the wackier bits.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 11:35 AM
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42: Oh come on. Responsible social science doesn't go around arguing that human behavior is biologically determined. You might as well blame "evolutionists" for this kind of nonsense--after all, it has the word "evolution" in the title!


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 11:41 AM
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Eye color is often but not always mendelian.
This article
is a recent overview.

Popular press about evolutionary psychology drives me nuts. It seems that people (OK, editors) now use science roughly the way they used the bible in the past-- as a source of moralistic anecdotes suitable for cartoon summary. One thing that always irks me is that personality quizzes, which I love, do not get bylined, as some are written by very funny writers.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 11:42 AM
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Random thought.

marcus' reference to the "eggs expensive, sperm cheap" idea leads me to wonder exactly how greater equality affects selection. That is, where men have a breadwinning advantage (and/or women are excluded to some degree) by patriarchal structures, it seems reasonable for a woman to select for earning capacity and loyalty to ensure her and her children's care and well-being. But if a woman is fully capable of supporting herself and her children without a man, what features are most advantageous for her to select for? Do men become completely interchangeable? Will nurturing, at-home-dad types gain the advantage? Should we continue to select for earning potential just to make sure we're not stuck with alimony?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 11:49 AM
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what features are most advantageous for her to select for?

Good partnership skills. Not being an asshole.

Do men become completely interchangeable?

Obviously not.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 12:04 PM
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And second, all the "evidence" offered is easily, easily explained by simply pointing to its role in accruing social status. There's zero need to start speculating about Biological Drives when it's obvious that the reason rich guys date hot chicks is that hot chicks signal status, and the reason hot chicks date rich guys is that money signals status as well. Duh.

Why do we seek status, why is status important, how do we determine status? All of these things are cultural, of course, but at some point behavior is biology, for us just like any other animal. Note this is not an apologia for idiots saying idiotic things, or for sloppily constructed, iffy statistical work.

Also note that I am not drawing larger conclusions about specific behaviors or traits, because that generally is ridiculous. But people study the biological origins of behavior because they know that they're there, and it can provide insight into the way the human body and mind work to understand why it might have gotten to be the way it did. Don't throw out an entire field because you don't like what uninformed idiots do with it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 12:25 PM
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Sure. Nothing wrong doing actual research. It's the endless babbling about poorly supported nonsense that gets to me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 12:39 PM
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44: 48: 49: So, if I take my spear to the veldt and shashlyk a social scientist at random, do the odds favor my improving the breed or not?


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 12:53 PM
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49: me too! Is it still comity when it's so predictable?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 12:55 PM
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Don't throw out an entire field because you don't like what uninformed idiots do with it.

I have to believe there are evo psych types out there who aren't completely full of shit, but I've never read one, and I've read a few. Any suggestions for a lay reader?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 1:17 PM
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48: Chill. I'm perfectly okay with the idea that status-seeking (and indeed, other social activities) are genetically encoded--it's just that (1) the *specifics* of how they work out obviously aren't; and (2) since it's so fucking easy to realize that status-seeking is something male *and* female social animals do, there's really not a whole lot of reason to go looking around for stupid explanations for highly gendered behaviors that don't, in fact, exist.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 1:23 PM
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46: I don't really see why that is relevant. The theory is that women are attracted to social status, and things that signify social status, like body language related to confidence/relaxation, respect from other people, things like that. Its still attractive, even if the original justification (better supply of veldt-meat, better gang of fellow thugs to prevent getting kidnapped) aren't relevant any more.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 1:27 PM
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It seems to me that there are excellent evolutionary reasons for people to be biologically predisposed to pursue social status. But what this means is that you cannot easily separate biology and society -- we instinctually look to environmental and social cues for behavior. We are biologically context-sensitive and flexible, which makes good sense for an animal that lives in a wide variety of environments and has highly developed rational abilities. We are biologically social.

With that said, it seems pretty obvious that there are marked biological limits to our flexibility, and there might be biological elements to how we develop habits and learning...for example, are people more easily socialized when young? I think there's a ton of interesting research to be done on the interaction between our biological and social natures. But the crude populist evolutionary psychology types are so nakedly ideological that they can't be trusted to do this research.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 1:30 PM
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It seems to me that there are excellent evolutionary reasons for people to be biologically predisposed to pursue social status. But what this means is that you cannot easily separate biology and society -- we instinctually look to environmental and social cues for behavior. We are biologically context-sensitive and flexible, which makes good sense for an animal that lives in a wide variety of environments and has highly developed rational abilities. We are biologically social.

With that said, it seems pretty obvious that there are marked biological limits to our flexibility, and there might be biological elements to how we develop habits and learning...for example, are people more easily socialized when young? I think there's a ton of interesting research to be done on the interaction between our biological and social natures. But the crude populist evolutionary psychology types are so nakedly ideological that they can't be trusted to do this research.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 1:30 PM
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For example, the evolved social practice of banning double posters from comment-based internet sites is clearly a socially mediated variant of our basic biological drive to drive non-cooperative members from the primal tribe.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 1:34 PM
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Also, bandwith was a scarce and highly prized resource on the veldt.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 2:39 PM
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I really couldn't bother reading past "You can look up the work of Stephen Sailer" - it was hard enough not giving up at the claim that one would expect to find Psychology Today concluding that racial minorities are inferior.


Posted by: rilkefan | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 3:42 PM
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Understandable, since women's inferiority is, of course, still a respectable topic in mainstream publications.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 3:46 PM
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WTF?

"The prospect of exclusive access to virgins may not be so appealing to anyone who has even one mate on earth, which strict monogamy virtually guarantees."


Posted by: trialsanderrors | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 4:00 PM
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Leiter and and a coauthor have a nice takedown of attempts to apply evpsych to law here: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=892881 ... it's long, but well-written, and has the virtue of seeming authoritative enough to justify dismissing the entire field for at least another decade or so.


Posted by: X. Trapnel | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 4:04 PM
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"Understandable, since women's inferiority is, of course, still a respectable topic in mainstream publications."

It's a respectable topic here (any swimming post, for example), so ...


Posted by: rilkefan | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 4:06 PM
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Rilke, I'm not following you at all. Can you clarify?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 4:38 PM
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It's kind of interesting the way that this blog can take unexpected turns at any given moment.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 4:43 PM
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Sure is. How about those Red Sox?

They could go to the pennant this year, I'd say.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 4:44 PM
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All of Echidne's blog entries are well worth reading. Her gift is in poking holes at faulty research methodologies and in debunking specious reasoning spread by pop media. These days, anyone can pluck a crackpot idea out of thin air and construct a hypothesis. Readers with less analytical skill will mistake this mumbo-jumbo as "science" or use it to justify whatever misogynistic, racist, or neo-con attitudes-de-jour they want. At least Echidne takes the time to debunk this rubbish for what it is. One of my favorite bloggers !!


Posted by: swampcracker | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 4:44 PM
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Isn't she great? I'm a sucker for the combination of indignation and rigorous argument -- her tone isn't calm and cerebral, but her arguments are solid.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 4:46 PM
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LB: more than solid and rigorous in her arguments, Echidne is special in other ways. After she gets to know you, she will also respond to your comments or ask about you in a thoughtful and kind way. It is what sets her apart from almost everyone else.


Posted by: swampcracker | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 4:58 PM
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I haven't read the ev. psych article or Echidne's response, but my wife (a trained psychologist who generally thinks very little of ev. psych) thought the part about polygyny was "interesting". I don't know what her "interesting" meant, exactly (I'm almost certain she didn't mean "true/correct", for instance), but it sounded more like a positive "interesting" than a purely negative/skeptical one.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 5:03 PM
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66: Red Sox! Red Sox!


Posted by: X. Trapnel | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 5:09 PM
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Sox are looking good, yeah. 'Bout that Youkilis! Um.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 5:13 PM
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Hrm. That's one of those issues where the flaw in the argument is the lack of balance. Sure, men are not monogamous swans. But of course neither are women -- look up at the beginning of the thread for the blue-eyed couple, brown-eyed child proof. And it's my understanding that there are physical tells as well -- just as sexual dimorphism, with larger males, indicates a polygynous species, among primates larger testicles in proportion to body size, like those humans have, tends to indicate a degree of polyandry. (I think I got this from Jared Diamond's Third Chimpanzee; but I'm not googling 'testicles' at work.)

Somehow, that doesn't make it into the PT article.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 5:15 PM
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but I'm not googling 'testicles' at work.

This must seriously impede your commenting here?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 5:17 PM
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I would just kind of like to note that I am mildly surprised to clock in nowhere near my credit score on that little test.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 5:17 PM
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I would like to note that I'm surprised all of you have a clue what your credit scores are.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 5:19 PM
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76: finally, my secret shame revealed. I know it ain't no 700, though.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 5:20 PM
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I actually haven't got a clue. I've never been refused credit, but I simply don't know what mine is. I suppose I should check.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 5:21 PM
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Just google testicles, LB, and I'm sure your credit score will come up


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 5:24 PM
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78: never?? You obviously aren't trying hard enough.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 5:26 PM
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OK, seriously people, identity theft. Yes, I'm Gay Chicken Little about it, but seriously, check your credit score and credit history once every year.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 5:26 PM
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I tried to figure out how to check my credit score once, and it seemed like there were something like 4 different mysterious entities that maintain credit scores, and a lot more companies that sell people access to their credit scores. I couldn't tell which ones were reputable.

What exactly does "checking one's credit score" entail?

It reminds me of how I periodically think "I should go to the doctor for a checkup", but I can't just call the gigantic hospital complex located forty feet from my office and say "I need to see a doctor for a checkup", I need to make some sort of request that would be more specific than that.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 5:31 PM
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You know, I get the GYN checkup roughly yearly, but every so often I wonder if I should get a full checkup, and then, exactly like you, realize that I don't know what this entails.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 5:32 PM
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I believe you call your primary care provider and say, I'd like to schedule an annual physical, or something like that. I confess I don't do it either.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 5:34 PM
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81: McManly, you are Gay Chicken Little about it. I suppose someone can provide statistics about the prevalence of identity theft if it seems compelling, but I still have a really hard time believing that it's something one should worry about in a real way.

This isn't to say that it hurts to check your credit rating regularly.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 5:35 PM
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81: How do you do that, anyway? Other than when you apply for a mortgage?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 5:36 PM
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83: A full checkup includes blood work. It's kind of useful, b/c it lets you find out how your cholesterol is.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 5:38 PM
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85: that's how they getcha. It certainly is a real problem, especially if you have good credit/income. Finding your information is extremely easy. I say this as somebody who dabbled in recreational credit card fraud back in the old days.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 5:39 PM
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There are three credit bureaus to check with. Experian, Equifax, and Transunion (I think). Contact one.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 5:40 PM
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Jesus, people, check your credit reports; identity theft is no joke. You can start here or request it from the individual agencies (linked on that page). They're required to give you a free copy annually if you request it (and also if you're ever turned down for credit).


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 5:40 PM
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I confess I don't do it either.

You bastards, I do this every year, tell my fucking doctor that I expect to get cancer, and he tells me I'm fine a month before I'm diagnosed with cancer.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 5:43 PM
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Proved: doctors cause cancer.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 5:45 PM
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And the fun thing about running your credit report is finding all the little dings you'd completely forgotten about. That $10 bill you neglected to pay 5 years ago? Still on your credit report.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 5:47 PM
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You failed logic too, didn't you, you slacker?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 5:47 PM
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I was too busy doing drugs and stealing people's credit cards.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 5:48 PM
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Productive! You lose!


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 5:50 PM
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I religiously get copies of my credit reports, regularly spaced out through the year, but my credit score seems like an additional product they want me to pay for, and that just feels like a scam. So I ask the Chicken Little types: given that I know and reasonably understand all of my credit reports going back years, is there any additional value in paying for the calculation of this magic "score"?


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 5:53 PM
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I was denied credit last summer. It turned out that the credit agency had no record of anything but my address and one of my previous addresses.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 5:56 PM
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A good habit to get into is requesting a credit report every four months from a different agency, so you're looking frequently for free. Am I in this habit? No, of course not.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 5:56 PM
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On preview: pwned by ogged re: the annual credit report site.

97: Not really. The important thing is to make sure that there are no false or inaccurate entries in your credit report. The score is just lender shorthand, AFAIKBIANAL(ender).


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 5:57 PM
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My insurance offers a non-full physical that does include all the tests: blood work, etc. I'm not sure how the physical differs, since I've made appointments for neither. I'll probably do at least one by the end of the year.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 5:57 PM
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96: if doing drugs counts as productivity I'm going to have to pretty seriously recalibrate my assumptions.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 5:58 PM
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99: Ha! My thoughts exactly, as I've been not getting around to doing this for ages. But I'm absolutely certain it's the right thing to do -- in the abstract!


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 6:01 PM
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Each bureau has a different score. So lame. They should, barring major differences in the information they have, be similar.

Of course, they usually have significant differences. I found something like 5 errors, unreplicated, between two reports.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 6:01 PM
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I probably really should order a credit report, since my bank recently sent me a letter rather out of the blue indicating that due to some error or some sort my account information had compromised, and that my credit card and bank account information was all therefore automatically changing (and my ATM card was dropping dead the next day, and they were mailing me a new one). It was a little eerie because they gave no details as to what happened, they just summarily changed all my account numbers. The letter was clearly written with an intent to make me feel like they were proacticvely taking care of everything while carefully disclaiming any responsibilty for ensuring everything was okay or doing anything other that what they were volunteering to do. The letter suggested I closely watch my credit reports, credit cards and other bank activities in the coming months. Bastards.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 6:02 PM
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The important thing is to make sure that there are no false or inaccurate entries in your credit report. The score is just lender shorthand

On the other hand, I know I have at least one inaccurate entry in my credit report, and correcting it years ago was going to be massive hassle, so I never bothered. Yet it turns out that my credit score is practically through the roof. Go figure.

Point being that, yeah, although I know zilch about the financial industry, I've gotten the impression that the score is rather more relevant than the report itself. No?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 6:02 PM
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It might be worth paying the ten bucks once just to get an idea of how your credit score falls compared to the world at large, if you really have no idea. Unless you've always paid all your bills on time and don't have any debt, in which case who cares.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 6:03 PM
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I've gotten the impression that the score is rather more relevant than the report itself. No?

The score is what lenders look at, but it's based on the report, and if there are inaccuracies or evidence of fraud, you need to look at the report to find them.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 6:06 PM
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106: the score is generated from the report. If somebody gets some bad debt in your name, your score will go down. So it's important to make sure there's nothing in the report you don't know about.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 6:06 PM
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104: not only does each bureau use a different score, lenders use whichever is lowest as "your" credit score. They're theoretically supposed to be very close to the same, but the last time I looked into mine (several years ago) there was a one score that was very significantly lower than the other two (and the difference didn't seem to be do to any factual error on the report, so the lender was unable to explain what could have caused it).


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 6:06 PM
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Given that I've been a lameass this year about shit like balancing my checkbook and paying library fines late, I'm a little worried about my credit report, actually. So I don't want to look.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 6:06 PM
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Pwned by ogged, master of logic and lending regulations.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 6:07 PM
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105: You are lucky! You can write the credit bureaus and ask them to put a hold on your account, so that anyone who wants to give you credit has to call you first before they can get your report. This is so incredibly safer it's not even funny, and given how often people actually have to apply for credit cards and mortgages a minimal hassle.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 6:08 PM
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So I don't want to look.

I think this is pretty common. I should admit that I'm not great about doing this regularly either, but I have done it.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 6:08 PM
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110: and by "very significantly" different, I mean "several points additional interest on a mortgage" different.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 6:09 PM
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105: you want them to tell you what happened? Clearly you do not understand how this game works! If they tell you the vulnerabilities in their system, they are compromising their own ability to keep doing the same stupid shit secure their data. Shit, if they didn't have to, they wouldn't tell you about it at all. Ah, those were the days.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 6:10 PM
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I have heard of the process in 113, but don't know how to go about doing it. Is there some sort of easy form?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 6:11 PM
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111: I have to say, even though it would be disastrous to me personally, I find the idea that late payment of library fines would hammer one's credit score hilarious. Something about the image of Little Johnny handing in his overdue Piers Anthony book and tremulously asking the town librarian what will happen to him, only to be told, "There is a fine of ten cents per day, and you will never get a mortgage."


Posted by: X. Trapnel | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 6:13 PM
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The letters I got in the mail seemed to indicate that you could go to one of the credit bureau websites and get the form there. In my case they sent me something saying "fill this out and send it back", then sent me something else saying "someone tried to get credit in your name and we thought it was fraudulent, so put a lock on your account."


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 6:14 PM
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Huh. Thanks, Ogged, for the link. I guess those calls from Old Navy and the stupid library about my paying stuff late didn't show up in the long run. Awesome.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 6:28 PM
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As for the annual physical health check-ups, my friends, do it. Obviously it becomes more important as you age, but if you're in your 30s, you should be doing it.

My health insurance covers an annual physical, which includes, from what I can tell, CBC (complete blood count), urinalysis, testing thyroid function, stuff like cholesterol levels. It'll catch things as mild as anemia; at the very least you get some clues about your nutritional needs. Pay attention to this stuff.

(/end soapbox)


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 6:31 PM
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85: The risk of identity theft is probably overhyped, but it does happen often enough that it's important to keep it in mind and do things like check your credit report regularly. I work for a law firm that handles these kinds of cases; there's some pretty scary stuff out there.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 6:37 PM
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That said, I've never checked my own credit report or score.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 6:38 PM
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121: Oooh Oooh ! I've been waiting for a healthcare thread so I could ask, on topic, if everyone had seen Michael Moore's confrontation with Wolf Blitzer. A Classic. Liberal media folks should study this to learn how to confront bullshit on TV.



Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 6:39 PM
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I have no seen tit. Link?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 6:40 PM
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124, link?


Posted by: Magpie | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 6:40 PM
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Holy shit, I swear that was a typo.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 6:40 PM
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Info here.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 6:45 PM
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CNN has part 2 here, which I just discovered and haven't watched through yet. (But it starts out with Moore telling people, no, this isn't a live interview, this is just a continuation of taping yesterday.)

http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/bestoftv/2007/07/10/blitzer.michael.moore.two.cnn


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 6:48 PM
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Unless you've always paid all your bills on time and don't have any debt, in which case who cares.

If you've never had any debt, you can end up where you don't really have a credit score to speak of. I had to get an FHA loan for our house because I was only 25, had avoided credit cards, and always drove older cars that I paid cash for. It was pretty fucking annoying to basically get told "sure you pay all your bills and have no debt, but we still can't lend you money."


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 6:49 PM
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And Michael Moore himself has the whole thing, it appears.

http://www.michaelmoore.com/


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 6:51 PM
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You can get a free annual report from all three agencies by going to http://www.annualcreditreport.com It takes about 10min to look through them all. It doesn't give you the score, but you can purchase that extra for like $5 per agency if you want.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 6:53 PM
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Yeah. I meant more in a sort of "get car loans and has a credit card, but the balances on the loans are low to zero" kind of way. But if you aren't sure, ten bucks or whatever it is isn't so much of a price to pay.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 6:53 PM
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130: Try being 37 and 40, respectively, having golden credit, and having no credit record when you apply for a mortgage because *some* stupid countries refuse to consider the credit reports in countries just south of their own borders.

Somehow we got around this, but I think it required nonsense like a letter from my employer and the like. And I never was able to get a credit card for business travel. Grr.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 6:57 PM
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gswift in 130 describes almost exactly my situation when I bought my house. Annoying to the point of absurdity.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 6:59 PM
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134 has been your "entitled American" rant of the day. And yes, I realize that having a system in which dogs can get credit cards is worse than one in which getting credit is difficult/a hassle.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 7:00 PM
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My parents, who probably have a sky-high credit rating, recently discovered on one of their regular checks on their credit ratings and whatnot that someone had carefully, carefully set up a second mailing address for all of their financial information. They caught it in time, thankfully.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 7:01 PM
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Okay, I just checked mine. Nothing surprising, mostly student loans.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 7:04 PM
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Wait, my skimming just turned to reading and whoa, what, wait, Sifu... you stole credit card information?! I know you were probably just young and stupid, but jeez, man, I hope you burn in hell. Seriously, burn in hell.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 7:05 PM
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134: you really think it's any better in the other direction?


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 7:12 PM
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four and twenty credit cards, mixed in a blend


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 7:18 PM
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Actually, if you saw the beginning of Live Free or Die Hard, you found out what's going to happen to Sifu. He gets the boom virus!


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 7:20 PM
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Who has 24 credit cards? Am I abnormal in that I only have 2?


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 7:20 PM
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#13: Someone linked the Pysch Today list in the comments a few days ago, with the note "This is the best thing I've read in a long time!" (It irritated the HELL out of me. I griped about it at length to Jammies.)

It was I who first brought the Psych Today article to the attention of the Unfoggetariat, here, and I did it in a spirit of due mockery.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 7:29 PM
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140: Really? The U.S. won't honor a Canadian credit rating?

Who knew? And what's the fucking *point* of having all this information *online* if it's not to let you access it when you move? Bleah.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 7:57 PM
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145: No, they won't. Made it a real pain in the ass (just like you noted in the other direction).


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 8:00 PM
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Wow, that's fucked up. I apologize on behalf of my stupid country, and I also apologize for assuming that the nonsense I was dealing with was somehow specific to yours.

(Shit, one less reason to hate Canada. Must search memory to make up deficit....)


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 8:07 PM
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The women are hotter than you?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 8:11 PM
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147: This isn't my first sojourn south of the border. I've spent enough time on both sides to have a good supply of things to hate in both places!


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 8:11 PM
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Of course we don't accept their credit. Canadian money is purple and festooned with loons, ospreys, and beavers. It's surprising you can use it to buy beer, much less the rye they all drink.


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 8:14 PM
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139: I did indeed. Never did anything with it, though, besides looking at it and feeling proud of myself.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 8:17 PM
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143: I only have one. A friend-of-a-friend, seven or eight years ago, wound up in serious trouble by maxing out one, then transferring the balance to another (he wanted a bonus or something it got him), then transferring that to another, and so on, until he had in the neighborhood of 30 cards. He was 20.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 8:19 PM
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151: wait, okay, that hardly counts as stealing. That's more just being nosy. As long as you didn't ruin innocent people's lives, all is forgiven.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 8:21 PM
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152 reminds me of something I've long wondered: can I purchase something (like, say, a giant television, or plane tickets to Fiji) and never ever pay for it by just paying one credit card's bill with another credit card month after month (always within the interest-free grace period)? It seems you'd only need three or four cards (or maybe even just two) to make this work, and just pay it around in circles. I assume it doesn't work or lots of people would do it, but I'm not sure why it fails.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 8:26 PM
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I'm not sure why it fails.

Our people find you and cut you, that's why.


Posted by: Mastercard | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 8:29 PM
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Finally, a way to finance my perpetual motion machine.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 8:31 PM
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machine. Finally, a way to finance my perpetual motion


Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 8:33 PM
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154: Usually there is no grace period on cash advances, which is what paying credit card bills with a credit card counts as. As do those "checks" that your credit card company will send in the mail. Sometimes there is also an inital 2%-3% fee in the amount of the cash advance.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 8:35 PM
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158: okay, but that seems eay enough to work around. I could set up two sole-proprietorships in my name, and have them buy the television from one another month after month, right?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 8:38 PM
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Fuck! But then I'd be a merchant paying merchant fees! Those damn credit companies think of ever possible way to screw you!


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 8:39 PM
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If I understand what you are suggesting correctly, credit card companies charge the merchant something like 50 cents plus 2%-3% of the transaction amount to process it. This is why you will see "minimum credit card payment $10" signs in some restaraunts.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 8:40 PM
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pwned. Even making money from credit card companies via fraud is harder than it seems - most of that gets pushed back onto the merchant. They're stingy bastards.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 8:46 PM
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One thing a lot of people are doing is getting cards with grace periods, taking cash advances, and investing them in short-term CDs. When the CD comes due, they pay off the balance and cancel the card. It's not a particularly fast way to make money, but it does work.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 8:48 PM
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Canadian money is purple and festooned with loons, ospreys, and beavers.

This is making me giggle, something I very rarely do, I'll have you know. Canadian bills are also one-sided, by which I mean that they have a right-side-up. Weirdos.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 8:48 PM
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Sorry that would be cards with grace periods for a cash advance.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 8:49 PM
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Or possibly paying for the CD with a credit card. Hey, who asked you to listen to me!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 8:50 PM
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163: People have been known to do this with student loans as well.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 8:51 PM
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Say, that is clever!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 8:52 PM
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most of that gets pushed back onto the merchant

Yup, exactly right. "ChargeBack" is the "SexyBack" of the financial world. If you want to do business with a company, online or otherwise, you should ask about their PCI Compliance procedures. Not that they'll know what you're talking about. (And not that I do this every time; crap.)


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 8:52 PM
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163: I've seen that trick. The hit to your credit vs. potential profit doesn't seem to balance favorably. You have to take out a *lot* of credit to make any money (and take out that much again three or six months later), and you're probably only earning 5%. That's going to debilitate your credit pretty quickly, and for what? A couple hundred bucks, max?

(Ex., with three-month grace periods (and three month cds), you'd have to open $40k in new credit accounts to earn roughly $500 (at 5%)). Is that worth it?)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 8:55 PM
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164: Bah, Canadian currency is vastly superior.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 8:55 PM
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Example in 170 was supposed to say "in one year."


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 8:56 PM
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There are people I know who do the cash-advance-short-term-investment game, and make maybe $500 a year at it, by working on several cards. It's easy to lose track and get smacked around with fees and charges that cancel out your gains, so it's mostly a hobby for people with too much free time.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 8:57 PM
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163: I am doing this right now with one of my cards. It had 1 year no interest so I used it, pay the minimum and stuck what I would have paid for the card in a money market account. It will probably make me $150 all told which isn't a lot but hey it is basically free money. I don't intend to cancel the card since it also has decent rewards.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 8:57 PM
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170: why would it debilitate your credit?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 8:58 PM
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I would just like to complain that my evening has suddenly become the evening of annoying noises. A pot on my stove boiled over, so now it is trying to light itself, causing a click about once a second. And I have a blue jay in my back yard that is calling extremely loudly about once every second and a half. The syncopation just makes it worse, and makes me wish for a firearm.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 8:58 PM
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173: Yeah, that's the real problem I'd guess. No really worth the time.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 8:59 PM
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175: increases the ratio of debt outstanding to available credit, and also debt-to-income, both of which feature prominently in credit ratings.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 8:59 PM
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174 Addendum: I wouldn't do this for a living or often, but I was going to get the card anyway so might as well get the extra $150.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 9:00 PM
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173: yeah, that's the sense I get.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 9:01 PM
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176: don't shoot your stove.

178: as long as the debt is outstanding, sure. Once you're done it seems like it would improve your credit, since you'd handled a bigger debt load without any problems. Obviously wouldn't work if you needed to be able to incur a large amount of debt during that year, but if you didn't, what's the harm?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 9:03 PM
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And I have a blue jay in my back yard that is calling extremely loudly about once every second and a half. The syncopation just makes it worse, and makes me wish for a firearm.

When the blue jays make their move for domination, the liberals are totally going down.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 9:04 PM
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There is also a raccoon that comes in my back yard and makes noises at night. If I had a firearm, I could shoot it, too. My co-worker offered his throwing knives, but I would have to actually get out of bed to use them.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 9:07 PM
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183: I feel like there's possible downsides to shooting guns in bed, but I guess I'm one of those citified types.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 9:09 PM
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Does anyone know anything about airsoft guns? I figure that they might not be lethal against vermin, certainly not with only one shot, but I would also probably be less likely to get in trouble with the law if I turned my back yard into a shooting gallery.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 9:09 PM
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183: Cute raccoon! Cleaning up after your irresponsible garbage-leaving tendencies! You, jerk.

[/bphd]


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 9:10 PM
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You shoot them out the open window. The window frame limits my field of regard, but there is still a small area where stray rounds wouldn't hit my roommate while she slept.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 9:11 PM
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185: Airsoft guns won't kill vermin. My friends shoots stray cats with one all the time. It doesn't even break the skin. Does make them jump though.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 9:12 PM
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I would have to actually get out of bed to use them

Isn't the main problem that you'd have to retrieve them?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 9:13 PM
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Isn't the main problem that you'd have to retrieve them?

Naah, if I could make a convincing (to myself) effort to exterminate the vermin, I'd be content to leave the knives out until the morning. The higher level of skill required to use them and the limited supply of shots would also be problematic, but I think it's the inability to use them from bed that would be the dealbreaker.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 9:17 PM
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The Sheridan Blue or Silver Streak will kill a squirrel instantly with a head shot from about 20 feet. Might be a little light for raccoons unless you're very good with it.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 9:21 PM
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You could pick up a laser sighted wrist rocket.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 9:23 PM
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191: I didn't know they even made .20 caliber pellet guns. I thought they were all .177 or .22.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 9:25 PM
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$150? Seems like a reasonable price to pay for the ability to exact revenge on those who trouble me. Even if it wouldn't kill the raccoons with one shot, I figure that either they will get the hint and stay away, or if I hit them enough they might succumb to lead poisioning.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 9:29 PM
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This outfit looks like the place to do some research.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 9:36 PM
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The blue jay seems to have vacated the premises with the coming of nightfall. Stove is still ticking. I expect the raccoon to arrive any moment now.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 9:36 PM
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Man, that slingshot I linked to is pretty neat. I want one now.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 9:37 PM
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You should buy one. Does the web site say if they take credit cards?


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 9:43 PM
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These guys do.

Plus, they don't have a midi of the peanuts theme embedded.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 9:52 PM
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A bargain, and unlikely to wake somebody besides.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 9:54 PM
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Wow it looks like they make a .50 cal air rifle.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 9:54 PM
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How Ted Nugent kills stoves.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 9:55 PM
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200... looks like for forty bucks I can also get glow-in-the-dark hunting darts! Plus, I have a large rib cage and therefore lung capacity. So tempting... and they take paypal to boot.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 10:00 PM
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Okay, now that would be hilarious.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 10:02 PM
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Hmm... do I want the .40 caliber so I can get the 8 shot blowgun repeater or the .50 caliber Amazon Native because it has a cool name, and is bigger?


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 10:06 PM
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The women are hotter than you?

Dude, it's Canada. I live in SoCali. They're much, much colder.

As to whether or not they're better-looking, you misjudge me. I'm not one of *those* chicks. My confidence in my own loveliness is too assured to be so fragile.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 10:10 PM
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In the U.S.A. it is legal to have and use except in the states of California and Massachusetts.

Motherfucker.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 10:10 PM
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Blomatic dart repeater

Biomatic like, you have to turn it yourself? Go for the Amazon. It looks awesomer.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 10:11 PM
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Also, do not hassle the blue jays or raccoons. They, like the squirrels and crows, have a finely honed sense of mischief, and if you fuck with them they *will* organize and take you down.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 10:11 PM
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207: bastards! Well, ship it to teo and pick it up. Dead raccoons tell no tales.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 10:12 PM
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You people just will not be satisfied until even the few animals that have learned to adapt to urban living are wiped out, and you can enjoy your fertilized lawns and illusions of Absolute Control Over the Environment in peace, will you?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 10:14 PM
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Yeah. I wonder if they'll ship me the relevant accessories but not the blowgun. I mean, it's not like I can't order aluminum tubing from McMaster-Carr.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 10:15 PM
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Hey, I'm not shooting anything, but I feel my role (trying to convince Jake not to by a gun specifically to shoot it from bed) is highly virtuous.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 10:15 PM
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212: yeah, I mean, I don't think blowgun technology differs all that much from spitball technology, when you get right down to it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 10:17 PM
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213: buy, dude. Not 'by'. Buy.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 10:17 PM
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My lawn is not fertilized, except by my roommate's dog. In an ideal world, said dog would chase off or eat the raccoon as a part of the human-canine social compact, but this particular dog is too lazy and mellow to do such a thing.

Blowgun ammunition is also illegal. It's only a misdemeanor, though, and I have a hard time imagining a scenario in which I could get caught. Plus, I'm sure there's a Second Amendment challenge to be made.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 10:19 PM
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The right to keep and blow arms?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 10:19 PM
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Say, this is even more convenient!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 10:22 PM
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Something. I wonder if this means that the breaking the ends off of 15 mL pipets and then using 28 ga syringe needles poked through a square of that stretchy wax shit the name of which I cannot remember that we used to do in the bio lab would be illegal in California. I mean, The People's Republic of KKKalifornia.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 10:23 PM
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You could mount one of these in the tree.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 10:23 PM
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Well, ship it to teo and pick it up.

Wait, what?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 10:27 PM
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You know what would make surfing the web for blowguns that I cannot legally by much more fun? Beer.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 10:27 PM
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How about just using a bungee cord to make sure the lid is tightly attached to the garbage can? Voila.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 10:30 PM
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I mean, if you're willing to drive a thousand miles to pick up a blowgun, fine, but it doesn't seem like the best approach.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 10:30 PM
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What makes you think there's a garbage can in my back yard? I have my green compostable garbage can out there, but it's full of, well, grass clippings and weeds. I don't imagine that would be any more attractive to a raccoon than the pile of grass clippings and weeds that was there before the garbage can. This thing just likes keeping me up at night.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 10:32 PM
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209, meet 186. I had your back, B. Haters be damned.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 10:36 PM
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I saw your 186, Stanley. You're a good man.

Jake, buy some earplugs.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 10:40 PM
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The creepy tale of Dr. Larry Ford, stumbled upon while trying to find more information about California's blowgun ban.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 10:43 PM
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I wouldn't dream of shooting a raccoon in a park or something. But everyone should be able to see the hazards involved in letting wild animals that frequently carry diseases, lose the fear that keeps them away from humans.

Still no raccoon, however, so maybe it's found greener pastures, or fuller garbage cans.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 10:51 PM
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Obviously when you ban blowguns, only crazy potential bioterrorists will own them.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 10:51 PM
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But everyone should be able to see the hazards involved in letting wild animals that frequently carry diseases, lose the fear that keeps them away from humans.

Bah. How many cases of raccoon-caused human rabies are there in this state in a given year? Maybe one?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 10:53 PM
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Answer!


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 10:55 PM
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232: Seriously, being hypervigilant about vaccination is a much easier way to deal with rabies and trying to wipe out "pest" species.

With the exception of specific pests that get targeted for economic reasons, it basically does no good to erradicate pest species. Even if you drive one species off, something else will take its place. As long as humans produce garbage, something will eat the garbage.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 10:59 PM
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The ricin-tipped darts and anti-government propaganda were a particularly nice touches.

As for rabies, probably none, since there have only been 32 cases in the whole US since 1980 (!). But you can still get nasty-ish bacterial infections.

If I had actually bought a blowgun, I'm sure I'd have used the "stun darts", both so I didn't have to worry about stepping on any that went astray and so I didn't have a dead or wounded animal to deal with. And were I leaving out food waste, I agree that I'd be asking for whatever wild scavengers I got.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 11:01 PM
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Oh, leave the poor raccoon alone. They're cute, and it's way cool that they've learned how to live in cities.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 11:04 PM
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It's funny how the rhetoric of wildlife control has changed. It used to be that people tried to get rid of "pests." Now they try to get rid of "invasive species," although most people admit that once a species gets established, it is impossible to evict.

Both "pests" and "invasive species" have the same basic weediness. They reproduce quickly and do well in heavily built up environments. All the language has added is "not from around here"


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 11:05 PM
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Im fond of our resident raccoons, especially now that our cats are gone. We don't have rabies around here, and they don't get into the garbage, so what's not to like? Urban wildlife = pets who require no attention.

I once had a baby raccoon come out of the woods and nuzzle against my legs for snorgles. ZOMG a baby raccoon!!1!1!11! It was like somebody detonated a cuton bomb.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 11:06 PM
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They used to climb on the balcony outside my third-floor window in Seattle and press their little human-hand paws to the glass. Luna (the cat) would get SO pissed and his and smack the glass from the inside, and they'd just sort of look at her like, "yeah, right."


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 11:07 PM
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235: It *is* cute. I like it when animals have to get smart to live with humans. The blue jay Jake is complaining about is another example.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 11:08 PM
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detonated a cuton bomb

That sounds *exactly* like something PK would say. He's always going on about the weapon of cuteness and killing people through cuteness rays and being slain by the lasers of cute and so forth.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 11:10 PM
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Better 239: I like it when the human-built environment winds up selecting for more intelligent species.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 11:10 PM
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239: Actually jays and other corvids are just fucking smart to begin with, humans or no. They're fabulous.

PK says, "okay here's how to make a cuton bomb. Put something cute inside something ball shaped, with an opening of course. Cushion it inside so the cute thing will be okay. Throw it, and it will blast apart, the cute thing will come out and slay everybody with cuteness."


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 11:12 PM
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The raccoons at Henry Coe State Park down by Gilroy have become so tame that they will climb up on the picnic table mere feet from you and eat your food as you sit there. I blame people who feed them either intentionally or by leaving their food out. But man, did my mood towards them change after the one ate all my dinner when I was watching the fire.

I also do not advocate widespread (or any) raccoon-extinction drives. I just want to communicate to this one that there is nothing for it to eat in my back yard, and sound reasons that it should stay away.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 11:12 PM
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242: hence my correction.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 11:14 PM
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Blue jays also drove away the bluebirds that I built a bluebird house for when I was ten years old. Bastards.

That said, I was very very impressed and a little bit scared by the tool using crows.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 11:15 PM
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Throw it, and it will blast apart, the cute thing will come out and slay everybody with cuteness.

Unspeakably awesome. Drop this cuton bomb on him for me.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 11:17 PM
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I mean, it's not like I can't order aluminum tubing from McMaster-Carr.

A friend of mine in the phil dept used to work for McMaster-Carr, and said that they tack on a pretty big markup to the stuff they sell, because they get it to you so fast. Better, probably, to find another supplier if you're not in a hurry.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 11:20 PM
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245: There is also this crow which the filmmakers say drops nuts in traffic to crack them open and waits for the light to change to pick up the contents. More a "funny animal picture" than scientific documentation, though.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 11:20 PM
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So B is defending the notorious bully of the avian world?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 11:21 PM
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More cuteness - my parent's newborn llama.

McMaster also sells quantity one to someone using a credit card over the internet. This is worth a bit of a markup.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 11:22 PM
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These are excellent, though I've only had them so far with grapefruit juice, not the prescribed orange.

I'm very happy I finally bought bitters.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 11:26 PM
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249: Hey, I like you, and for much the same reasons, actually.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 11:28 PM
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#248: That's from Sir David Attenborough's The Life of Birds. You don't doubt the Attenborough.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 11:33 PM
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Oh, I didn't know the source. (Although I suppose I should have recognized the voice.) That makes it much cooler!


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 11:36 PM
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La llama que llama


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 11:50 PM
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Returning to an earlier subject, how do the credit card companies know if you're paying a credit card debt with a credit card? Its not hard to figure out, but wouldn't doing so be illegal? For all debts public and private and all that? I ask because I have formulated a scheme by which I will improve my credit endlessly. Once this has been accomplished I will use my free airmiles to fly to Bolivia, where I will choose the furriest alpacas and abscond with them back to California, where I will ride and pet them and sell their wool. Big Cotton would rather this sort of thing not happen: I suspect a cartel.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 07-10-07 11:52 PM
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The credit card company you owe money to is expecting to get a check or EFT. Instead, you tell them "Hey, call up Mastercard and charge this to number 5466 ." They then tell you to pound sand.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 12:10 AM
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Damn html entities. 5466 <blah blah blah>


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 12:12 AM
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Also, it should be known, llamas are stupid. I once ran up and said "Llama!" to a llama, and it fell over. It got up again, but you'd expect an organism to evolve a defense against that sort of thing.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 12:16 AM
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Stupider than sheep?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 12:24 AM
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Sheep and llamas don't need brains. They've got looks instead.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 12:26 AM
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Raccoons aren't cute when they prey on kittens.


Posted by: froz gobo | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 12:26 AM
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Hey, nature, red in tooth and claw. Kittens will grow up to prey on mice, and we eat lambs and calves. Life is cruel.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 12:29 AM
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Beautiful, yes... Cute, no.


Posted by: froz gobo | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 12:30 AM
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263: and so should we be!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 12:31 AM
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And especially un-cute when you want kittens around to eat the bunnies rabbits.


Posted by: froz gobo | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 12:32 AM
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re: 245

Crows are damned smart. Someone's been doing research on the social/machiavellian intelligence of crows [not just their tool using abilities which, as already noted, are amazing]. Basically the rough intelligence hierarchy seems to go humans > chimps > crows > other primates > everything else.

http://www.newscientist.com/channel/life/mg19426091.700-the-scheming-minds-of-crows.html


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 12:33 AM
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I also do not advocate widespread (or any) raccoon-extinction drives. I just want to communicate to this one that there is nothing for it to eat in my back yard, and sound reasons that it should stay away.

I'll second that pellet gun suggestion by Biohazard. Got one when I was 10 or so. My dad still uses it back in L.A. to shoot squirrels in the pecan tree.

It's multi pump, so you have the option of giving it two or three pumps. Enough to sting, but won't penetrate the hide. I used to do it to stray cats and racoons all the time.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 12:40 AM
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But their tiny little brains! Do they have the same complex outer cortex layer thingy that humans and other smart primates do?


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 12:41 AM
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256: iirc the smart birds have most of their brains in the back rather than the front. Its an extension of the optical processing systems.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 12:44 AM
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In the U.S.A. it is legal to have and use except in the states of California and Massachusetts.

There's things I miss about living in Cali, but that fun killing nanny bullshit is not one of them.

I will also now go into bird snob mode for a moment to point out that in California what you're seeing is a scrub jay, not a blue jay .


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 12:47 AM
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is this the right thread to confess that I was largely responsible for the atrocities committed in Rwanda?


Posted by: derauqsd | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 12:51 AM
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It might be a Stellar's jay, gswift smartypants.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 12:54 AM
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272: yes.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 12:55 AM
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260:
Yes, stupider than sheep. Most sheep have been bred for maximum wool production for thousands of years. Llamas, on the other hand are the rejects of the same enterprise: successfully bred llamas are called alpacas. The llamas that are left are either short-haired or far enough away from a city that breeding for profit is impractical. It is this latter category with which I have experience. Wool is a secondary product: coca is first. Llamas are much more valuable as meat sources than their fur might be as an export good.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 12:55 AM
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Now you have to leave forever, though. Take this goat.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 12:55 AM
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re: 269

I think we are learning that the whole brain-structure thing is maybe a bit mammalian-biased. Parrots are also super-intelligent despite their relatively small brains. Although crows and parrots have pretty big brains relative to body mass. In fact, I gather that proportionally, brain weight relative to body mass, they are in line with primates. Some of the corvids are the same.

If you get a chance watch the footage linked below of those New Zealand parrots (Kea) doing puzzle solving, it's amazing. Right up there with the crows above. Young wild parrots can solve the most amazing puzzles to get at food [they also like dismantling cars].

http://youtube.com/watch?v=gRW4ztbY8Ok


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 12:56 AM
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It's not brain size, it's relative size, and organization. Dolphin brains are much bigger than ours, even relative to body weight, but they show very little of the cortical organization you see in humans. What the crow's trick is, I don't know, but there's certainly no reason to think our higher brain functions are the most efficient.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 12:59 AM
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It might be a Stellar's jay, gswift smartypants.

Yeah yeah. But in a residential area, odds are it's a scrub


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 1:01 AM
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I own a video about this particular parrot that's really incredible.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 1:03 AM
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280: count language log as skeptical about what African Gray Parrots really learn.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 1:05 AM
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Among other things, when left overnight at the vet's, the parrot in the video begged his owner "don't leave! i'll be good!" So sad!


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 1:05 AM
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If you shoot a crow in sight of other crows, they raise holy hell. The ruckus will draw every crow within earshot. Not hard to get a hundred crows flapping around the yard. Naturally, it's then time to shoot a few more of the noisy fuckers.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 1:07 AM
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281: Seems to me he's skeptical about whether or not they're psychic and whether they could read novels.

That said, yes, prior stories of animals that could count and stuff usually ended up being a situation where the animal was carefully monitoring human reactions, like relaxing slightly when the animal reaches the correct number. But my memory of the Alex video (which I did watch a long time ago) is that it seemed the researcher had done a pretty good job of controlling for those possibilities.

Plus, that whole vet thing.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 1:08 AM
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283: Dude, you're a jerk. Crows are awesome. Did you know that adolescent male crows will deliberately attack humans and eagles in order to show off for their peers? I learned this when I got attacked (twice!) on campus by bratty crows and did some research to find out what the hell they were doing.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 1:10 AM
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Did you know that adolescent male crows will deliberately attack humans and eagles in order to show off for their peers?

Yes. Kaboom!


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 1:11 AM
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Also, crows harass the hell out of owls. I like owls damnit. So I shoots me some crows.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 1:12 AM
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284: Alex does seem pretty funny. I hear Octopi can have pretty good senses of humor, too.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 1:12 AM
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I thought one of the primary moral rules of people who hunt was that it's shitty to kill animals you don't intend to eat.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 1:14 AM
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B we already know you're trying to get gswift to eat crow.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 1:16 AM
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I read a lot about Alex the African Grey when I was doing my dissertation research, because he has sophisticated mathematical abilities, and there was some question as to whether he was counting or recognizing visual patterns. I never got the sense that anyone doubted Pepperberg's basic research. The question was really about how you can generalize from this case.

It was really creepy to see a video of Alex later on and find out how much like a human he sounds when he talks.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 1:16 AM
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I thought one of the primary moral rules of people who hunt was that it's shitty to kill animals you don't intend to eat.

I have exceptions for pests and non native species. Harassing my beloved horned owls gets crows firmly in the pest category.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 1:17 AM
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Birds like house sparrows are a two-fer. Invasive exotic fuckers actively drive out less aggressive native species.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 1:20 AM
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Fuck this anti-immigrant speciesism. My barn is full of European Starlings and I just love them.

Humans are in no position to complain about invasive species.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 1:22 AM
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Why does Rob hate biologic diversity?


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 1:28 AM
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I could kind of countenance the anti-non-native species thing if it didn't seem like a thin veneer of "it's okay to shoot animals i simply don't like." Which strikes me as being ridiculously self-serving. Yeah, crows harass owls. Owls eat mice. I don't go around killing owls because I'm so fond of mice; moral judgments like that are the province of humans, not animals.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 1:28 AM
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"biological diversity", invasive species ate my last two letters


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 1:30 AM
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I could kind of countenance the anti-non-native species thing if it didn't seem like a thin veneer of "it's okay to shoot animals i simply don't like."

Seriously, it's my upbringing. Dad's a professional biologist. I was out doing field work with him from grade school on. I really hate exotics.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 1:32 AM
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Yeah, I gotta say, culling invasive species, and those particularly attuned to humans, seems like a perfectly reasonable technique for trying to abrogate some of the environmental devastation we've directly or indirectly caused to this planet.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 1:33 AM
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By biggest beef with the anti-immigrant speces issue is philosophical: it is based on an assumption that *any* impact humans have on the environment is unnatural and therefore bad. I see no reason to object more to birds adapting to human built environments than aphids evolving to be co-dependent on ants. I need some criteria besides "not human caused" to declare a part of nature valuable.


Posted by: Rob Helpy-Chalk | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 1:38 AM
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Okay, but crows aren't exotics. And in fact they themselves have suffered pretty major population hits, if I am remembering correctly, from West Nile.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 1:38 AM
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300: But, but, bridges? Houses? Roads? Power plants?

We necessarily have to defile the environment. The fact that what we are doing does, in fact, defile it does not seem to me to prevent us from doing what we can to manage our effect.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 1:40 AM
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302: Rob's right, though. We're part of nature too, and we're doing what any highly successful species does to its ecosystem. And possibly, if we don't correct our own overbreeding and overconsumption, we'll suffer the same fate other highly successful species do and see our population dying back so that the ecosystem can recover.

The one possible safety valve we have is that we *are* awfully clever, and we're able to realize that this is happening. Whether or not we're also able to effectively address it remains to be seen, I suppose. I'm okay in a way Rob seemingly isn't with the argument that one way of addressing it is to cull invasive non-native species (though I'm also suspicious of people being purists about this sort of stuff), but it's silly to just assume that if X human-caused change changes things, then X human-caused change is "bad."


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 1:47 AM
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I can't figure out how you disagree with me.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 2:03 AM
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Dude, at one point tiny blue green algae changed the content of the atmosphere from 1% to about 20%, a change which I am glad of. Dramatic change is the history of the planet.

Changing the world is not a big deal. The question is whether you are changing it for better or worse. Personally, I prefer changes that favor big intelligent species like ours. I'm using the very crude ethical principle here that things are valuable to the extent that the resemble me and mine, whom I cannot help but value. It's all Hume, really.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 2:05 AM
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it is based on an assumption that *any* impact humans have on the environment is unnatural and therefore bad.

What it's based on is that biological diversity is valuable, and worthy of preservation.

I see no reason to object more to birds adapting to human built environments than aphids evolving to be co-dependent on ants.

Gah. That's not what's going on here. The objection is to a drastic loss of biological diversity being caused by humans bringing in species that never would have made it to these environs on their own.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 2:24 AM
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crows aren't exotics. And in fact they themselves have suffered pretty major population hits, if I am remembering correctly, from West Nile.

Crow populations were inflated all to hell anyways. And, horned owls are a metric shitload cooler. Worth sacrificing a few crows to ensure their prosperity.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 2:26 AM
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B, you should hate owls because they reinforce the oppressive obsession with thinness that disproportionately affects women in our society.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 2:40 AM
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306: eh, if the environment remains stable, species will diversify, just like drug lords dividing territory among themselves.

308: That's a cool video.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 3:03 AM
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and there was some question as to whether he was counting or recognizing visual patterns

The Quinean part of me finds itself thinking: pattern recognition, combined with production of the appropriate sound token? Dude, that looks like counting to me.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 3:56 AM
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eh, if the environment remains stable, species will diversify, just like drug lords dividing territory among themselves.

Yeah, let's initiate a bunch of mass extinctions, because in a million years something will have filled the niches.

Fuck a bunch of that.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 3:56 AM
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I hope someone engineers viruses to target invasive crap like starlings and house sparrows, so I can gleefully fly cross country in a crop dusting plane spraying it far and wide.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 3:59 AM
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re: 312

Yeah, we have a really good history on those kinds of corrective measures.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 4:04 AM
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310: It was all cognitive psychology, so they had flow charts representing different cognitive mechanisms, and made empirical predictions based on the hypothesis that one flow chart or another represented the birds' mind properly. I think even Quine couldn't argue that such talk was empty.

312: I should stop baiting. Obviously I am not in favor of mass extinctions, and obviously I recognize that humans are inducing the same.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 4:31 AM
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Maybe we could give give out free air rifles, and pay bounties on exotic birds.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 4:33 AM
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re: 314.1

I could imagine a Quinean response that argued that 'represented the birds' mind correctly' was a pretty damn stupid criteria for theory-sucess. Correctly captured bird's behaviour, on the other hand, would be good. Of course, in this case, if you're right, one theory would still be better than the other (even for a good Quinean).


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 4:35 AM
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My barn is full of European Starlings and I just love them.

Over here we have to cover public buildings in chicken wire to stop the little buggers from dissolving them with bird shit. You like them so much, we'll send you the rest.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 5:14 AM
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The whole "spin my debts from one card's introductory zero/low interest rate to the next" thing happened in Britain two or three years ago. Google "rate tart" for details. Enough people seem to have done it that the credit card companies found it necessary to have different terms for purchases and balance transfers.

It was also possible to spin the money into a high interest bank account and make a turn of up to 6 per cent. Obviously this sort of arbitrage is never going to last.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 5:56 AM
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This is probably the moment to confess that it's me who actually runs "Viktor Bout"'s international gun-running business. Hence all the posts about it on my blog.


Posted by: xelA | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 5:59 AM
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The thing is that the credit score is not actually a benediction or an outward sign of inner grace; it's a profit management tool for the banks, and these days, having a flag on your name as a "rate tart" or systematic user of the credit-free period is going to get you turned down for that kind of product just as much as a credit flag. In my experience, the banks are much better at checking up on things than Manchester police were in following up the 143 murders attributed to Harold Shipman, which were actually me.


Posted by: derauqsd | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 6:15 AM
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I thought that beard was familiar.

I suppose this is the time to admit that most of the shootings investigated by Operation Trident were me.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 6:29 AM
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I'm White Van Man.


Posted by: Nakku | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 6:38 AM
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Also, I'm the guy responsible for the rise of estuary english.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 6:40 AM
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And in fact they themselves have suffered pretty major population hits, if I am remembering correctly, from West Nile.

They got wiped out in my area. Try as I might, I have been unable to feel bad about this.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 6:58 AM
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I have increased the cholesterol levels at my office by bringing in hot Krispie Kreme donuts. Please forgive me.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 7:06 AM
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I need to ask forgiveness for not reading the comments in this thread, because so many are about money management, so that I don't know when this theme of trivial confession even started. But it's the only active thread.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 7:10 AM
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trivial confession in response to not-so-trivial confession. See closed thread for details.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 7:11 AM
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Friend, I knew why it started, just not the preceeding relevant comments in this thread.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 7:21 AM
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Did I ever tell you guys that I once killed a man and ate his flesh? Funny story.


Posted by: JL | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 7:36 AM
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This thread has gone here, there and everywhere!

Unfogged rules.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 7:36 AM
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I'm feeling a little wrecked about the closed thread, and I'd be happier if it didn't turn into a running gag. But do what you like.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 7:37 AM
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331: Yeah, me too. But if you can't laugh at the horribly unfunny, what can you laugh at?


Posted by: Nakku | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 7:39 AM
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Yeah, 331 has a point. Also 332!


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 7:51 AM
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I like to live by Elvis Costello's advice:

"I used to be disgusted, now I try to be amused."


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 7:57 AM
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331: I think closing off comments was wise, but you might want to consider redaction, in part or full. Then it can pass more safely into unfogged-lore, and be the subject of yet another inside joke that nobody gets.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 8:00 AM
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I've avoided reading the closed thread, but since the topic of extinction and biodiversity came up earlier in this one I thought maybe I'd toss this link out for anyone who might still be interested. The prose in the article is horribly purple, but the subject is one of the most important and underreported ones out there, so.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 8:01 AM
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you might want to consider redaction, in part or full.

Agree, but for different reasons. There's no need at present to perpetuate that awful indiscretion.


Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 8:11 AM
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The thinking is that it should stay up for a bit, so we don't have to keep on explaining what happened to the regulars. It'll probably get redacted pretty soon.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 8:12 AM
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"snorgles"?


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 8:27 AM
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SNORGLES. I am envious.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 8:28 AM
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I can has snorgles?


Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 8:29 AM
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It's a snog, it's a snuggle
It's a snorty kind of struggle


Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 8:30 AM
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I was attacked by a blackbird in Montréal.

Apparently it built its nest on one corner of a hedge that has about a billion people walking by the other side of it every day, such that if someone hears bizarre bird noises and sticks his head between the hedges to see what kind of bird it is, the person's head ends up about six inches from the nest, thus enraging the blackbird. It actually swooped down on me, and then swooped down on the next couple of people who walked by. So I called my girlfriend and said "Just thought you'd like to know, I was attacked by a blackbird, but it didn't do any damage." She got really concerned, and then about a minute went by before I realized that she'd thought I said "I was attacked by a black person".


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 8:35 AM
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Red-winged blackbirds are notorious for this. I used to think that my hair color, which was very close to the color of their wing flash, was the reason I was so often buzzed, but all these anecdotes suggest it may merely have been a propensity to walk near the nests (obliviously).


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 8:40 AM
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XVI

I was attacked by a blackbird in Montréal.
I called my girlfriend and said,
"Just thought you'd like to know,
I was attacked by a blackbird."


Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 8:40 AM
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Did anyone see the article in National Geographic a couple months ago about the massive environmental changes wrought by the Jamestown colonists? Interesting stuff.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 8:46 AM
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I suspect people who hate crows of seriously lacking a sense of humor.

The owl video GB linked is awesome. Poor owl.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 8:57 AM
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Crows are okay, but ravens are where it's at.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 9:01 AM
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Friend of mine when I was a kid had a pet jackdaw for a while. I think he probably robbed it from a nest, so the story isn't 100% cute. It was an amazing thing, though. It was quite sociable.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 9:45 AM
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