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A state of affairs to be lamented

Posted by Ben
on 05.06.11

Sam Harris, who is a twit, is getting attention in outlets great and small for his new work of deep thoughts thunk deeply (he is "convinced that every appearance of terms like 'metaethics', 'deontology', 'noncognitivism', 'antirealism', 'emotivism', etc directly increases the amount of boredom in the universe")—and, as the "great" link attests, not even the attention of the sort he'd deserve to get if he deserved to get any at all. Why, precisely, the NYRB should take notice of him, for this, in this way, is difficult for me to determine; presumably it has to do with his popularity as a capital-A Atheist, one of those characterized in a book that merits NYRBly attention to a far greater extent (for such reasons as its being interesting, thoughtful, and accessible, but it exceeds Harris merely by not being idiotic) as the "undergraduate atheists" ("if we may call them that without reflecting adversely on actual undergraduates"), partly because "it is clear that each of these polemicists is capable of writing what he does only by having neglected the relevant postgraduate texts". And yet this latter work has gone neglected in its pages.


 

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Hey now, they're an all star.

Posted by Stanley
on 05.06.11

Occasionally, the thought occurs to me: somewhere out in the world, there probably exists someone whose all-time favorite band is Smash Mouth. Which is just deeply strange, you know?

And yet certainly there are worse things one could position as one's all-time favorite whatever.


 

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You should probably add this to your workout mix

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 05.06.11

On Fridays we go out for breakfast tacos. This morning, Hawaiian Punch was dancing to an irresistible song. So Jammies shazaamed it, (which is so futuristically awesome) and it was this song:

Please excuse the misogyny inherent in the system.


 

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I Am Disturbed By This List

Posted by LizardBreath
on 05.05.11

111 male characters of British literature in order of bangability. I'm not really sure what most of the entries are doing on the list at all. Falstaff? King Lear? Edward Murdstone!?!!?! (Found at Laura's.


 

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Taking Notes

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 05.05.11

I'm reading someone's syllabus, and they are giving advice about note-taking. They stress doing it right the first time, so that you don't have to go back through and rewrite them. I wish they hadn't stated that as though it were a universal truth.


 

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Schema

Posted by Ben
on 05.05.11

The Origin of the Novel in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind
The Origin of Dentistry in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind
The Origin of Doorways in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind


 

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NYC Meetup?

Posted by LizardBreath
on 05.05.11

X Trapnel is in NY tonight (Thursday 5/5) through the weekend. Anyone up for a bar night, perhaps at Fresh Salt? As per usual, I'm around tonight and tomorrow, but unavailable on the weekend; anyone else interested should pipe up in comments.

Update: And someone else mentioned a near-future NYC visit in comments, but I'm drawing a blank. Whoever it was should pipe up, though. Man, I miss Becks living in NY -- I like hanging out with people, but I'm the world's worst organizer.


 

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"Now that marriage should last"

Posted by Ben
on 05.04.11

Still, if it does not, that will be all right.


 

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Squared off shoulders

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 05.04.11

If I hadn't been well-socialized, I'd naturally use a much more masculine stance, posture, and body language than I do. As a teenager I consciously decided to carry myself in a more feminine way, but it's pretty unconscious now. I always assumed this was because I had older brothers, but I really have no idea. Maybe it's just me. Maybe it's all women. Also I have no idea how I carry myself when I'm alone, because there's certainly androgynous ways to hold yourself, and how can you really categorize the slouchy way you're watching TV? I'm not that feminine in public, but less so when I'm alone.

One thing I really like about playing women's soccer, as opposed to coed soccer, is that I can revert to a masculine carriage, and it's expected and blends right in. Maybe half or more of the women use masculine posture and stance, both during the play and not. It's nice to have a context like that.


 

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Torturing Prisoners Remains Wrong

Posted by LizardBreath
on 05.04.11

That was always the real argument against it. The 'ticking time bomb' argument -- that it wouldn't really be wrong to torture someone if you absolutely knew it would save innocent lives -- never had any force in demonstrating that torture isn't wrong, it just meant that if you can stipulate any facts you like, you can invent a situation where doing anything, no matter how evil, is less bad than the alternative. (See Waring, B., By The Power Of Stipulation..., 2004)

So whether or not we got the information that led to being able to find and kill Osama by torturing prisoners is neither here nor there -- Osama wasn't a ticking nuclear time bomb in Times Square, and killing him wouldn't have been worth torturing a single prisoner. Which means that whatever the reliability of this story indicating that the prisoners we indubitably tortured didn't give us information leading to the courier who led us to Bin Laden -- the useful information appears to have come from a prisoner who was cooperative without significant harsh treatment -- doesn't matter. If Khalid Shaikh Mohammed had spilled his guts about Bin Laden's location while being waterboarded, torture would still be wrong.

Update: Dahlia Lithwick is good on this:

There are reports that it was ultimately Guantanamo detainees who disclosed the identity of the trusted courier who, along with his brother, might have been protecting Bin Laden. Thus, the argument goes, Guantanamo is in fact an intelligence godsend that should be kept open indefinitely. And already some of America's most zealous torture apologists are taking the position that without the torture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Faraj al-Libi, all of this valuable information could never have been obtained and that we should be thankful that the "enhanced interrogation program" was in place all along. Again, this is a coded argument for torturing the next terrorist and the one after that.

The problem with arguments of this sort is that they are unfalsifiable: We can never prove or disprove assertions that the intelligence that led investigators to Bin Laden would not have been obtainable without the use of torture. At the same time, there will never be a way to know conclusively whether information procured through torture from Guantanamo detainees might have been obtained by legal means in ordinary prisons. Interrogation experts have long suggested that this is the case, but of course they cannot prove it, either. And as Marcy Wheeler reminds us, that doesn't begin to account for all the stupid things that were done with false information obtained through torture. Nobody's bragging about that today.


 

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Who Says A Third Sex Post Is Irrelevant?

Posted by LizardBreath
on 05.04.11

So there was this article in the WSJ about women's and men's relationship to porn that might have interested people if the rape discussion hadn't drowned it out.

I'd say this comment thread is all porn, no rape, but you people will probably end up talking about home decorating tips if I start giving out orders. Do what you will.


 

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Since we're already talking about sex...

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 05.03.11

Sai Gaddam and Ogi Ogas wrote a book described as

Two maverick neuroscientists use the world's largest psychology experiment-the Internet-to study the private activities of millions of men and women around the world, unveiling a revolutionary and shocking new vision of human desire that overturns conventional thinking.

Judging from Doctor Science's post over at Obwi, a better description would be "Two screw-ups with poor research methods write a book about how their preconceived conclusions were validated, despite lots of evidence to the contrary."

They dive into the world of fan-fic, and conclude that men like to tickle the pickle in isolation, whereas women prefer to have quilting bees where they pick each other's brains like a team of hungry Miss Marples.

Anyway, Ogas got an article in the WSJ, among other coverage. It seems to be getting some attention.

Unrelated Update But A Third Sex Post Seems Redundant: "A Texas high school cheerleader who was kicked off the squad for refusing to chant the name of a basketball player - the same athlete she said had raped her four months earlier - lost a U.S. Supreme Court appeal Monday." Jesus fucking christ.

Via Jammies


 

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Decades later

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 05.02.11

Grim but interesting first-person account by a woman who brings charges against a man who raped her in 1984. The original crime is ghastly, but the letter of apology and subsequent correspondence is mind-boggling.

Via Tedra


 

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Ding-dong.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 05.01.11

NMM to Osama Bin Laden.


 

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