Friday, March 09, 2007

Friday Photography: Grandma in Motion

click to enlarge

Daryl Samuel

Location: Gulfport, Florida

Previous: Hands With Softball / On Alcatraz / Cameras / Lighthouse / Photographer At Work / Patio Chairs / Greek Church / Santa Fe Mailboxes / Rocking Horse / Sunset Sandpiper / Hands / Bird of Paradise / Feeding the Pelican / Sunset Silhouette / Staircase / Mallards / Masts / Greek Column / Paddlewheel / Olive Trees / Madison Square Park in the Snow / Pagoda / Ferry / Sand Tracks / General Store / Taverna Tables / Finger Piano / Bridge at Sunset / Snowfall in Cambridge / Boats

Ed Fitzgerald | 3/09/2007 04:13:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Crystal ball gazing - 2008

It's still early on, but I'm going to take out my crystal ball once again and write a bit about how I see the Presidential campaign of 2008 proceeding -- or how it should proceed.

As I've written a number of times, I believe that a strong emphasis on progressive populism is the key to winning in 2008. My memory is that whenever Gore or Kerry punched populist themes in their campaigns, they surged, and when they heeded their DC-centric advisors and tamed their economic rhetoric, they fell back again.

Even though I'm currently leaning towards favoring Edwards as the Democratic candidate, I don't advocate this emphasis on populism because it's basically Edwards' program -- it's the other way around. I lean towards Edwards because he's currently the only candidate who's forcefully making those arguments. But I think it would be a mistake for the other candidates to believe that because Edwards has been out front with progressive populism, it's necessarily his issue and they shouldn't embrace it. It's a winner for anyone who uses it -- but if no one picks up on it, then I'll still be supporting Edwards.

The problem is this: the corner has clearly been turned with respect to Iraq, the public is very much opposed to it, so running against Iraq is not a winning position, it's now the default position that everyone will take to one degree or another. Even the Republicans will eventually do so — but not until after the convention. Before that, they'll pay obeisance to "staying the course" in order to get the GOP voters to go for them, but after the convention, the nominee will tack away from that position, possibly with some equivalent of Nixon's "Secret Plan" to end Vietnam, something they feel will appeal to the public's general anti-war sentiment. Given that, being anti-Iraq is more of a necessity than something to peg a winning campaign on.

The same thing is true with building a campaign on being anti-Bush/Cheney. Even though the public clearly disapproves of the administration, banging on the evils of Bush & Cheney, while a necessary part of the overall campaign strategy, isn't going to be enough to win, because the public knows that neither Bush nor Cheney will be around in 2009. The Republican nominee will run away from Bush/Cheney, much as Gore (mistakenly) ran away from Clinton in 2000, so it'll be hard to tar him with the misdeeds of the current administration -- they'll undoubtedly co-opt that argument by criticizing Bush and company themselves.

What's left is economic issues, and I continue to think that this is the hidden lever on which this election will turn -- and by "economic issues" I mean the economic state of the middle class, their lack of economic security and the vast amount of risk that's been shifted off corporate shoulders onto the backs of the average household. The great thing about progressive populism is that it can advocate for the middle class and the working poor at the same time, because in the current situation their needs are not antithetical, and the argument can be framed in such a way that it can't be smeared as "culture war". It can be the people vs. big business and not necessarily the rest of us vs. the rich. At the same time, progressive values can be upheld, so it's win/win as far as I can see.

My worry is that the emphasis by party activists on Iraq will force the candidates into what is basically a dead-end issue. Here is a truth that I think people have been slow to realize: The reality is that the Iraq war is essentially already over, the only question is when the plug will be pulled and who will do the pulling.* From what we can judge now, Bush and Cheney clearly won't give up on it, so it will be the next president who does the pulling**, but whoever that is will wind it down in the best possible way they can figure out. That's why making Iraq central to the election is a mistake.

It's natural that in the aftermath of the 2006 election, progressive activists would demand a certain amount of adherance to a liberal agenda from the Democratic Party's nominee, and they would certainly be energized by such a candidate, but (as I've written before) it would be a mistake to choose a candidate purely on this basis, without considering how they appeal to a broader audience. A campaign which appears energized only to liberals, progressives, and the Democratic rank-and-file, because it dwells on our particular sacred cows, is doomed to failure. Gore and Kerry didn't lose because they tried to reach a wider spread of the electorate, they lost because this did so very badly and without using the right approach.

In point of fact, in the peculiar political system we've got, unless there is a third party candidate in the race to pull votes from one of the two major party candidates, there is no other way to win a Presidential election except by reaching out to a broad swath of people, which is why we have the old saw about the necessity of campaigning from the center.


* I say that knowing full well that people will continue to die even as the war winds down on its way to closing out.

** However, it's not outside the realm of the possible that as the election nears, Rove will convince Bush and Cheney that the only way for a Republican to win is for them to shut down the Iraq war. They'd probably be more likely to do that with a candidate they approve of and who shares their ideology (although I'm not sure who that would be right now), but they might end up doing it to help any Republican nominee.

Ed Fitzgerald | 3/09/2007 02:01:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


(3089/898) Brains and beliefs

715) [M]any popularizations of brain science focus almost exclusively on the asymmetry of the left and right hemispheres, speaking of the left as "analytic" and the right as "holistic" and even "emotional". While there is some truth to this, as the same time each hemisphere is heavily broken down into further specializations, of which some are asymmetrical and some are not. For instance, language is usually concentrated in the left hemisphere, face recognition in the right. But low-level visual processes, tactile sensation, and motor control are divided pretty much symmetrically between the two hemispheres. And in addition to the left-right asymmetry, neuroscientists talk about differences in "style" between the top and bottom of the brain, and between the front and the back. So the highly publicized left-right distinction is only one of many.
Ray Jackendoff
Patterns in the Mind (1994)

716) [O]ur brains and our nervous systems constitute a belief-generating machine, an engine that produces beliefs without any particular respect for what is real or true and what is not. This belief engine selects information from the environment, shapes it, combines it with information from memory, and produces beliefs that are generally consistent with beliefs already held. This system is as capable of generating fallacious beliefs as it is of generating beliefs that are in line with the truth. These beliefs guide future actions and, whether correct or erroneous, they may prove functional for the individuals who holds them. [...] Nothing is fundamentally different about what we might think of as "irrational" beliefs - they are generated in the same manner as are other beliefs. We may not have an evidential basis for belief in irrational concepts, but neither do we have such a basis for most of our beliefs. For example, you probably believe that brushing your teeth is good for you, but it is unlikely that you have any evidence to back up this belief, unless you are a dentist. You have been taught this, it makes sense, and you have never been led to question it.
James E. Alcock
"The Belief Engine" in
Skeptical Inquirer (May/June 95)

717) Our brain and nervous system have evolved over millions of years. It is important to recognize that natural selection does not select directly on the basis of reason or truth; it selects for reproductive success. Nothing in our cerebral apparatus gives any particular status to truth. Consider a rabbit in the tall grass, and grant for a moment a modicum of conscious and logical intellect to it. It detects a rustling in the tall grass, and having in the past learned that this occasionally signals the presence of a hungry fox, the rabbit wonders if there really is a fox this time or if a gust of wind caused the grass to rustle. It awaits more conclusive evidence. Although motivated by a search for truth that rabbit does not live long. Compare the late rabbit to the rabbit that responds to the rustle with a strong autonomic nervous-system reaction and runs away as fast as it can. It is more likely to live and reproduce. So, seeking the truth does not always promote survival, and fleeing on the basis of erroneous belief is not always such a bad thing to do. However, while this avoidance strategy may succeed in the forest, it may be quite dangerous to pursue in the nuclear age.
James E. Alcock
"The Belief Engine" in
Skeptical Inquirer (May/June 95)

718) Beliefs help us to function. They guide our actions and increase or reduce our anxieties. If we operate on the basis of a belief, and if it "works" for us, even though faulty, why would we be inclined to change it? Feedback from the external world reinforces or weakens our beliefs, but since the beliefs themselves influence how the feedback is perceived, beliefs can become very resistant to contrary information. [...] The belief engine chugs away, strengthening old beliefs, spewing out new ones, rarely discarding any. We can sometimes see the error or foolishness in other people's beliefs. It is very difficult to see the same in our own. [...] Critical thinking, logic, reason, science - these are all terms that apply in one way or another to the deliberate attempt to ferret out truth from the tangle of intuition, distorted perception, and fallible memory.
James E. Alcock
"The Belief Engine" in
Skeptical Inquirer (May/June 95)

719) [R]esearch show[s] that mildly depressed people are often more realistic about the world than are happy people. Emotionally happy people live to some extent by erecting false beliefs - illusions - that reduce anxiety and aid well-being, whereas depressed individuals to some degree see the world more accurately. Happy people may underestimate the likelihood of getting cancer or being killed, and may avoid thinking about the ultimate reality of death, while depressed people may be more accurate with regard to such concerns.
research of Shelley Taylor
Positive Illusions (1989)
reported by James E. Alcock in
"The Belief Engine" in
Skeptical Inquirer (May/June 95)

Note: "3089/898" is the designation I've given to the project of posting all my collected quotes, excerpts and ideas (3089 of them) in the remaining days of the Bush administration (of which there were 898 left when I began).

As of today, there are 682 days remaining in the administration of the worst American President ever.

Ed Fitzgerald | 3/09/2007 12:39:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Rampant godlessness! Film at 11!

Oh geez, this will have the wingnuts up in arms. How long before we see claims that the error by the U.S. Mint in striking some of the new George Washington dollar coins without their edge inscriptions, including (horrors!) "In God We Trust", is part of a conspiracy of godless athetist liberals attempting to suppress religion in America? Which is totally ridiculous, because I've been to all the meetings and this definitely was not discussed.

Ed Fitzgerald | 3/08/2007 02:07:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


(3089/898) The Astonishing Hypothesis (2) - Religion

The Astonishing Hypothesis
712) Most of the religious beliefs we have today originated in a time when the earth, while a small place by our standards, was then thought of as being very large, even though its exact extent was unknown. Any one person had direct knowledge of only a small part of it. It was not implausible to
believe that this large earth was the center of the universe and that man occupied the leading role in it.
Francis Crick
The Astonishing Hypothesis (1994)

713) The record of religious beliefs in explaining scientific phenomena has been so poor in the past that there is little reason to believe that the conventional religions will do much better in the future. [...] Not only do the beliefs of most popular religions contradict each other but, by scientific standards, they are based on evidence so flimsy that only an act of blind faith can make them acceptable. [...] History has shown that many mysteries which the churches thought only they could explain (e.g., the age of the earth) have yielded to a concerted scientific attack. Morever, the true answers are usually far from those of conventional religions. If revealed religions have revealed anything it is that they are usually wrong.
Francis Crick
The Astonishing Hypothesis (1994)

714) [H]ow did [religious beliefs] originate in the first place, and why do they so often turn out to be incorrect?

One factor is our basic need for overall explanations of the nature of the world and of ourselves. The various religions provide such explanations and in terms the average person finds easy to relate to. It should always be remembered that our brains largely developed during the period when humans were hunter-gatherers. There was strong selective pressure for cooperation within small groups of people and also for hostility to neighboring, competing tribes. [...] Under such circumstances a shared set of overall beliefs strengthens the bond between tribal members. It is more than likely that the need for them was built into our brains by evolution. Our highly developed brains, after all, were not evolved under the pressure of discovering scientific truths but to enable us to be clever enough to survive and leave descendants.

From this point of view there is no need for these shared beliefs to be completely correct, provided people can believe in them. [...] The very nature of our brains - evolved to guess the most plausible interpretation of the limited evidence available - makes it almost inevitable that, without the discipline of scientific research, we shall often jump to wrong conclusions, especially about rather abstract matters.
Francis Crick
The Astonishing Hypothesis (1994)
[Note that quotes #709 and #714 were intermixed in the original text.]

Note: "3089/898" is the designation I've given to the project of posting all my collected quotes, excerpts and ideas (3089 of them) in the remaining days of the Bush administration (of which there were 898 left when I began).

As of today, there are 683 days remaining in the administration of the worst American President ever.

Ed Fitzgerald | 3/08/2007 01:55:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE



Speaking of Busby Berkeley, in the 1933 musical film Footlight Parade, for which Berkeley created the outrageous musical numbers (that's a still from "By The Waterfall", a copy of which I kept by my desk for years), Jimmy Cagney is a stage director who runs an outfit that puts on "prologues" - short racy musical numbers that are run in movie theatres before the film as an enticement for the audience. One day, an odd little bespectacled man (Hobart Cavanaugh) walks into the office to tell Cagney's personal secretary, Joan Blondell, that he's a "title thinker-upper" ("My real business is in insurance, but I have a lot of spare time, so I think up titles.") What kind of titles? Well, "Girls of Spain," "Girls of France," "Girls of South America"...

Well, that was me a little over 15 years ago, only it wasn't titles for prologues that I sat around thinking up. I was working with some musician friends at the time, and I was thinking up names for the band. None of them ever got used, as far as I know, so they're still up for grabs. Sure, they may be a little stale, but the price is right: I give them to you for free -- just send me a backstage pass to your first big gig and credit on your first CD.
  • Strange Attractors [my favorite]
  • Creative Psyche
  • Lucid Gestalt
  • Angel Beat
  • Creative Anarchy
  • Science of Chaos
  • Down Time
  • Spectral Nation
  • Wild Thing
  • Meat Trucks
  • Hopeless Cathedrals
  • Impossible Criminals
  • Burst to Earth

  • Fast Colors (or Colorfast)
  • Primary Colors
  • True Colors

  • Chrometones
  • Dronetones
  • Chromalodeon
  • Bandoneon

  • Neon Tetras
  • Neon Supermarket
  • Neon Dream
  • Neon Web

  • Big Neon
  • Big Bang (or Bang!)
  • Big Time
  • Big Deal
  • Mister Big
  • Big Talk
  • Big End
  • Big House
  • Big Noise
  • Big Shot
  • Big Stick
  • Big-Wig
  • Think Big

  • Dynamo
  • Big Dynamo
  • Neon Dynamo

  • Pop Life
  • Pop Rocks
  • Pop Tarts

Sitting around daydreaming and thinking up names for band is certainly a pleasurable activity, and I wouldn't want to deny the experience to anyone, but just in case you're stuck and need something to prime the pump, try one of these.

Ed Fitzgerald | 3/08/2007 01:51:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

My Man Peyton

Remember the 1936 movie My Man Godfrey? Carole Lombard is a charming but spoiled rich girl who on a treasure hunt to find a "Forgotten Man" meets down-and-out William Powell, who's living on an ash heap alongside the East River in upper Manhattan, just blocks from classy Sutton Place. On a whim, she decides that he will be her "protege" and she hires him as their new butler -- her eccentric family has a history of wearing down their domestic help with their bizarre exploits. Being a Hollywood film, she falls in love with him and in the end they get married, but not before Lombard and her even more spoiled sister have learned some lessons about treating people decently, no matter what their station in life. (And being a Hollywood film, it has to be that Powell is actually a blue blood from Boston who's down on his heels -- it wouldn't do for there to be marriages across economic strata lines. Such marriages in Hollywood movies always come to a bad end.)

During the Depression, movies like Godfrey which displayed the excessive lifestyle of the rich and powerful were very popular, especially if they were comic and the rich folks in it were vaguely ridiculous. Like the over-the-top extravagances of the Busby Berkeley musicals, people enjoyed both the vicarious thrill of experiencing the lavish lifestyle of the upper crust, and the subtle put-down of them: clearly most of them didn't deserve what they had. (Most of the worst offenders had inherited or married their wealth -- in Godfrey, for instance, although it's never explicitly stated, the father is a businessman who seems to have earned his money and then married into wealth. By the code of these films, that should make him an OK guy, and indeed the film is much more sympathetic to him then it is to the rest of his family.)

Anyway, these thoughts came to mind when I read this story, from Deadspin:
So, less than a month after you've won the Super Bowl, you've got a bevy of entertainment options and endorsement opportunities. Or, you can just ignore both and sleep on a beach somewhere, maybe make out with balding country music stars your wife, just take it easy.

Or: You can accept $200,000 to show up at a Sweet Sixteen party.

According to one of the (anonymous) party attendees, Manning spent the past weekend as the main attraction at a girl's Sweet Sixteen party; he was rumored to have been paid $200 grand for a two-hour appearance. (Cedric the Entertainer was also there, which must have been confusing, since "The Entertainer" is also Peyton's nickname.)

According to an attendee:

"The first hour was the actual birthday ceremony which included Manning hiding behind a cake with a baker's hat on, then Manning took off the hat and surprised the birthday girl and the rest of the crowd. The second hour was Peyton standing next to a background and a professional photographer, where the entire party lined up to take pictures with him one by one. The pictures were printed and framed and given to the guests as they left."
If Daddy's Little Girl just has to have Peyton Manning at her Sweet Sixteen party, then Daddy's Little Girl will get Peyton Manning. No self-respecting father would let a couple of hundred thousand dollars get in the way of their daughter's happiness.

My prediction: we're not in anything even remotely similar to the Great Depression, but the increasing divide between the Haves and the Have Nots, and the deterioration of the state of the middle class, augers well for the return of movies and TV shows which feature the bizarre and ridiculous (or callous and arrogant) behavior of the rich and famous and powerful. Superficially, they may look as if they envy their subjects, but they'll also be undermining them at the same time.

(As for Manning -- does he really need the money that badly, that he would put his dignity up for sale like that? Is he not paid enough? One would hope that perhaps he did it for a friend, in which case, why charge a fee -- if the report is correct.)

Ed Fitzgerald | 3/07/2007 05:16:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


(3089/898) The Astonishing Hypothesis (1) - Psychology

705) I am not concerned here with how the two halves of the brain differ, except that language is normally on the left. I do not need to worry about whether the right-hand side has somewhat special properties, such as being rather better at recognizing faces. Nor will I consider the extreme view expressed by some that while the left side is a "person", the right-hand side is merely an automaton. Obviously the right side lacks a well-developed language system and is therefore in some sense less "human" since language is a unique ability of human beings. [...] The balance of professional opinion is strongly of the view that, apart from language, the cognition and motor capacities of the two sides, while not exactly the same, have the same general character.
Francis Crick
The Astonishing Hypothesis (1994)

706) When we trace the history of psychology we are led into a labyrinth of fanciful opinions, contradictions, and absurdities intermixed with some truths.
Thomas Reid
quoted by Francis Crick in
The Astonishing Hypothesis (1994)

707) Psychology is a very unsatisfactory science.
Wolfgang Kohler
quoted by Francis Crick in
The Astonishing Hypothesis (1994)

708) By modern standards, Freud can hardly be regarded as a scientist but rather as a physician who had many novel ideas and who wrote persuasively and unusually well. He became the main founder of the cult of psychoanalysis.
Francis Crick
The Astonishing Hypothesis (1994)

709) The single most characteristic human ability is that we can handle a complex language fluently. [...] This ability leads to another strikingly human characteristic, one that is seldom mentioned: our almost limited capacity for self-deception.
Francis Crick
The Astonishing Hypothesis (1994)
[Note that quotes #709 and #714 were intermixed in the original text.]
710) Evolution is a tinkerer.
Francois Jacob
"Evolution and Tinkering" in
Science (#196,1977)
quoted by Francis Crick in
The Astonishing Hypothesis (1994)

711) Give me a fruitful error any time, full of seeds, bursting with its own corrections. You can keep your sterile truths for yourself.
Vilfredo Pareto
quoted by Francis Crick in
The Astonishing Hypothesis (1994)

Note: "3089/898" is the designation I've given to the project of posting all my collected quotes, excerpts and ideas (3089 of them) in the remaining days of the Bush administration (of which there were 898 left when I began).

As of today, there are 684 days remaining in the administration of the worst American President ever.

Ed Fitzgerald | 3/07/2007 02:43:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Why all the celebration?

Much too big a deal is being made about the conviction of Cheney's ex-chief of staff Irve Lewis "Scooter" Libby. Yes, it's a good thing, certainly it serves as yet another of the thousand cuts that have injured the credibility of the Bush/Cheney administration, but the main factor that contributed to the decline of the public's belief in the administration was, obviously, Iraq. If the public hadn't turned against the war (which they have), and if we hadn't prevailed in the 2006 election (which we did), I would see a reason for taking what comfort we can from the Libby verdict, but in the light of the fact that some people were predicting that the Plame affair would destroy the administration, with dozens of people, including Karl Rove and perhaps even Cheney, indicted, I'd say that the conviction of one man on perjury-related charges is pretty small beer.

After all, what has been the overall effect of the Plamegate scandal on Bush and Cheney? As far as I can see, it's pretty negligible. They ejected Libby, who fell on his sword, and... and that was pretty much it. They haven't changed their way of doing business one iota, they haven't restrained themselves, nor are they likely to. They're getting more general criticism, among the people and the press, for their shenanigans, but it hasn't stopped them and it won't -- they'll go on doing what they intend to do right up until the last moment. (Which will possibly include a pardon of Libby at the last possible second.) So why all the dancing in the street?

I think part of the problem is that the progressive blogosphere is really just too immersed in politics to see the relative value of events like this. If you read firedoglake or The Next Hurrah during the trial, you would get the impression that it was a spectacle to rival the O.J. Simpson trial, that millions of people were hanging on every word and every nuance of the proceedings, due to their vital interest in the outcome -- and that's just not the case. The people, in general, really didn't give a damn about the trial, which couldn't even hold its own against the death of Anna Nicole Smith for their attention. It just wasn't that big an attraction, and as a result its effect on the Bush administration is likely to be minimal.

Again, I'm happy that Libby was convicted, it's certainly better than his being acquitted. I'm glad that another cut has been afflicted on Bush and Cheney, which is better than nothing happening to them, but I demur from celebration, because I just don't think it's warranted: the election of 2006, that was something to celebrate -- this is just nice.

Ed Fitzgerald | 3/07/2007 01:40:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

(3089/898) Sex, Lies and Social Science

703) The social scientist is in a difficult, if not impossible position. On the one hand there is the temptation to see all of society as one's autobiography writ large, surely not the path to general truth. On the other, there is the attempt to be general and objective by pretending that one knows nothing about the experience of being human, forcing the investigator to pretend that people usually know and tell the truth about important issues, when we all know from our lives how impossible that is. How, then, can there be a "social science"? The answer, surely, is to be less ambitious and stop trying to make sociology into a natural science although it is, indeed, the study of natural objects. There are some things in the world that we will never know and many that we will never know exactly. Each domain of phenomena has its characteristic grain of knowability. Biology is not physics, because organisms are such complex physical objects, and sociology is not biology because human societies are made by self-conscious organisms. By pretending to a kind of knowledge that it cannot achieve, social science can only engender the scorn of natural scientists and the cynicism of the humanists.
R. [Richard] C. Lewontin
"Sex, Lies, and Social Science" in
New York Review of Books (4/20/95)

704) It is characteristic of the design of scientific research that exquisite attention is devoted to methodological problems that can be solved, while the pretense is made that the ones that cannot be solved are really nothing to worry about. On the one hand, biologists will apply the most critical and demanding canons of evidence in the design of measuring instruments or in the procedure for taking an unbiased samples of organisms to be tested, but when asked whether the conditions in the laboratory are likely to be relevant to the situation in nature, they will provide a hand-waving intuitive argument filled with unsubstantiated guesses and prejudices because, in the end, that is all they can do.
R[ichard] C. Lewontin
"Sex, Lies, and Social Science" in
New York Review of Books (4/20/95)

Note: "3089/898" is the designation I've given to the project of posting all my collected quotes, excerpts and ideas (3089 of them) in the remaining days of the Bush administration (of which there were 898 left when I began).

As of today, there are 685 days remaining in the administration of the worst American President ever.

Ed Fitzgerald | 3/06/2007 09:01:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


(3089/898) The Wired world (c. 1995)

  • Tools are not talent

  • Money ≠ success

  • Integrity cannot be bought

  • Consume the minimum produce the maximum

  • Talk is a poor substitute for action

  • Create yourself before someone else does it

  • Don't do what people tell you to do

  • Trust your heart

  • Confront and document

  • Believe nothing
Josh Rosen, Mats Myrberg & John Dalton
(OSC) [Our Stinking Corporation]
poster in graphic accompanying
"Consume the Minimum,
Produce the Maximum
by Michael Goldberg in
Wired (12/94)
[Note: Typography and capitalization has been altered for clarity of presentation.]

696) What gives humans access to the symbolic domain of values and meaning is the fact that we die.
Regis Debray
interviewed by Andrew Joscelyne in
"Revolution in the Revolution" in
Wired (1/95)

697) The history of US technology is the history of a recurring US dream: new inventions will empower the individual more than the corporation. Despite numerous events to disprove it, the dream has not died.
Steve G. Steinberg
"Hype List" in
Wired (1/95)

698) In the endgame, chess programmers say, humanity is doomed.
Jeffrey Goldsmith
"The Last Human Chessmaster" in
Wired (2/95)

699) [When you buy music, you get] the privilege of ignoring the artist's intentions. You can take two copies of the same record, run though them with an electric drill, warp them on the stove, fill the grooves with fine sand and play them off-center and out of phase half-speed on twin turntables through a Fender Vibro Champ amplifier with the vibrato on maximum and the volume at 11.
David Toop
liner notes for John Oswald's
Plunderphonics (CD, 1989)
quoted by David Gans in
"The Man Who Stole Michael Jackson's Face" in
Wired (2/95)

700) We must distinguish between musical laziness and transforming a musical object using your own creativity. But there's absolutely no way you can put that into a statute.
Carl Stone
quoted by David Gans in
"The Man Who Stole Michael Jackson's Face" in
Wired (2/95)

701) [T]here is at least one good reason to care about Elvis [Presley]: the rock icon let the genie out of the bottle for good. The music he synthesized somehow dealt a devastating blow to the system; it was the force that finally liberated the culturally impoverished young. The controllers and overseers never really recovered their moral force and authority, and they never regained control. Cable and computers and all the new digital and screen technologies make it unlikely they will ever again.

Ironically, the Boomers, the very people transformed by Elvis' and his heirs' music, are now clucking the loudest about pornography online, violence in TV shows and videogames, dirty lyrics in music, the hypnotic effect of MUDs [Multi User Dimensions]. Their parents' voices seem to have gotten stuck inside their heads, stored for decades on genetic chips for eventual playback with their own offspring. At the core, that's what the endless attacks on rap, hackers, videogames, and cable are all about: control. The guardians, the elders and their media, want it back.

[...] Presley presided over the birth of a great new means of expression, one of three such flowerings in America since World War II. The second was television. from cable to music video. The third is the Net.
Jon Katz
"Why Elvis Matters" in
Wired (4/95)

Note: "3089/898" is the designation I've given to the project of posting all my collected quotes, excerpts and ideas (3089 of them) in the remaining days of the Bush administration (of which there were 898 left when I began).

As of today, there are 685 days remaining in the administration of the worst American President ever.

Ed Fitzgerald | 3/06/2007 01:49:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE

Monday, March 05, 2007

(3089/898) The Language Instinct (4)

690) At the level of the whole brain, the remark that there has been selection for bigger brains is, to be sure, common in writings about human evolution [...] But if you think about it for a minute, you should quickly see that the premise has it backwards. Why would evolution ever have selected for sheer bigness of brain, that bulbous, metabolically greedy organ? A large-brained creature is sentenced to a life that combines all the disadvantages for balancing a watermelon on a broomstick, running in place in a down jacket, and, for women, passing a large kidney stone every few years. Any election on brain size itself would surely have favored the pinhead. Selection for more powerful computational abilities (language, perception, reasoning, and so on) must have given us a big brain as a by-product, not the other way around!
Stephen Pinker
The Language Instinct (1994)

691) [Critic John] Simon has [...] discovered the trick used with great effectiveness by certain comedians, talk-show hosts, and punk-rock musicians; people of modest talent can attract the attention of the media, at least for a while, by being unrelentingly offensive.
Stephen Pinker
The Language Instinct (1994)

692) So what are the modules of the human mind? [...] Being a bit foolhardy myself, I will venture a guess as to [what they are] [...] aside from language and perception [...]
  1. Intuitive mechanics: knowledge of the motions, forces, and deformations that objects undergo.

  2. Intuitive [or "folk"] biology: understanding of how plants and animals work.

  3. Number.

  4. Mental maps for large territories.

  5. Habitat selection: seeking of safe, information-rich, productive environments, generally savannah-like.

  6. Danger, including the emotions of fear and caution, phobias for stimuli such as heights, confinement, risky social encounters, and venomous and predatory animals, and a motive to learn the circumstances in which each is harmless.

  7. Food: what is good to eat.

  8. Contamination, including the emotion of disgust, reactions to certain things that seem inherently disgusting, and intuitions about contagion and disease.

  9. Monitoring of current well-being, including emotions of happiness and sadness, and moods on contentment and restlessness.

  10. Intuitive psychology: predicting other people's behavior from their beliefs and desires.

  11. A mental Rolodex: a database of individuals, with blanks for kinship, status or rank, history of exchanges favors, and inherent skills and strengths, plus criteria that evaluate each trait.

  12. Self-concept: gathering and organizing information about one's value to other people, and packaging it for others.

  13. Justice: sense of rights, obligations, and deserts, including the emotions of anger and revenge.

  14. Kinship, including nepotism and allocations of parenting effort.

  15. Mating, including feelings of sexual attraction, love, and intentions of fidelity and desertion.

To see how far standard psychology is from this conception, just turn to the table of contents of any textbook. The chapters will be: Physiological, Learning, Memory, Attention, Thinking, Decision-Making, Intelligence, Motivation, Emotion, Social, Development, Personality, Abnormal. I believe that with the exception of Perception and, of course, Language, not a single curriculum unit in psychology corresponds to a cohesive chunk of the mind. Perhaps this explains the syllabus-shock experiences by Introductory Psychology students. It is like explaining how a car works by first discussing the steel parts, then the aluminum parts, then the red parts, and so on, instead of the electrical system, the transmission, the fuel system, and so on. (Interestingly, textbooks on the brain are more likely to be organized around what I think of as real modules. Mental maps, fear, rage, feeding, maternal behavior, language, and sex are all common sections in neuroscience texts.)

Stephen Pinker
The Language Instinct (1994)

693) There is no English Language Academy, and this is just as well; the purpose of the Academie Francaise is to amuse journalists from other countries with bitterly argued decisions that the French gaily ignore.
Stephen Pinker
The Language Instinct (1994)

The Language Instinct694) Imagine you are watching a nature documentary. The video shows the usual gorgeous footage of animals in their natural habitats. But the voiceover reports some troubling facts. Dolphins do not execute their swimming strokes properly. White-crowned sparrows carelessly debase their calls. Chickadees' nests are incorrectly constructed, pandas hold bamboo in the wrong paw, the song of the humpback whale contains several well-known errors, and monkeys' cries have been in a state of chaos and degeneration for hundreds of years. Your reaction would probably be, What on earth could it mean for the song of the humpback whale to contain an "error"? Isn't the song of the humpback whale whatever the humpback whale decides to sing? Who is this announcer anyway?

But for human language, most people think that the same pronouncements not only are meaningful but cause for alarm. Johnny can't construct a grammatical sentence. As educational standards decline and pop culture disseminates the inarticulate ravings and unintelligible patois of surfers, jocks, and valley girls, we are turning into a nation of functional illiterates [...] English itself will steadily decline unless be get back to basics and start to respect language again.

To a linguist or psycholinguist, of course, language is like the song of the humpback whale. The way to determine whether a construction is "grammatical" is to find people who speak the language and ask them.
Stephen Pinker
The Language Instinct (1994)

Note: "3089/898" is the designation I've given to the project of posting all my collected quotes, excerpts and ideas (3089 of them) in the remaining days of the Bush administration (of which there were 898 left when I began).

As of today, there are 686 days remaining in the administration of the worst American President ever.

Ed Fitzgerald | 3/05/2007 05:19:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Using Eagleton's death to make a point

Thomas Eagleton, former Senator from Missouri, and briefly the Democratic Vice Presidential candidate in 1972, died today at the age of 77.

One of the low points of the McGovern campaign in '72 was when it came out that Eagleton had been hospitalized for depression, and had received electro-shock therapy. McGovern famously said he would stand by Eagleton "1000%", and then dumped him shortly afterwards. I think of this every time a major league baseball manager gets a public vote of confidence from the ownership of the team, which frequentlyly means he's going to be dumped pretty damn soon.

William Greider in the Washington Post, Tuesday July 25, 1972, just 11 days after Eagleton had been chosen by McGovern:
Senator Thomas Eagleton, the Democratic nominee for Vice President, unexpectedly revealed today that he was hospitalized three times between 1960 and 1966 for psychiatric treatment, suffering from "nervous exhaustion and fatigue."

Under questioning, he said the illness involved "the manifestation of depression" and that twice he received electric shock therapy, which he described as a recognized treatment for that type of ailment.

Sen. George McGovern, the Democratic Presidential nominee, promptly expressed full confidence in Eagleton, and said he would discourage any talk of dumping Eagleton from the ticket.

Eagleton revealed his medical history after reporters for the Knight Newspapers had confronted McGovern staff members with accounts of it [...]

James M. Naughton, New York Times, July 30, 1972:
The Democratic nominee declined on Tuesday even to consider Senator Eagleton's offer to withdraw from the ticket, saying that its make-up was irrevicably set. Three days later, he began orchestrating an attempt to persuade Mr. Eagleton to withdraw from the ticket.

Having asserted on Tuesday that "there is no one sounder in body, mind and spirit than Tom Eagleton," Mr. McGovern was telling reporters aboard his chartered campaign plane last night that "the one thing we know about Eagleton is that he has been to the hospital three times for [mental] depression."

The Democratic Presidential nominee publically admonished his staff to stop gossiping about what effect Mr. Eagleton's disclouse might have on th Democrats' chances in November. A day later, he contrived through his staff to assemble a group of reporters for a casual discussion on the same subject.

Mr. McGovern appeared, even to disillusioned members of his campaign staff, to be saying one thing and doing another -- which was the charge he had been preparing to make in the campaign against President Nixon.

In the Democratic primaries, Senator McGovern managed to convey the impression that he was somehow not a politician in the customary sense -- that he was more open, more accesible, more attuned to the issues and more idealistic than other candidates.

But his reaction to Mr. Eagleton's disclosure may have seriously impaired that image.
According to Hunter Thompson in his classic Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 (and Thompson, it should be said, was both a trenchant observer of politics and sometimes almost completely unreliable), the choice of Eagleton was a fluke. Before the convention, when McGovern had the nomination just about locked up, he had floated a list of possible running mates which Thompson derides as full of hack politicians, but was really hoping that Ted Kennedy would take it. McGovern waited so long for Kennedy to decide, that he ended up having to make a fast choice, and Eagleton was selected without any real due diligence on his background -- they basically took Eagleton's word that there were no skeletons in his closet.

It may have been the kiss of death for the McGovern campaign, very early on, but it's rather doubtful that McGovern would have won in any event. He had taken the nomination through skillful use of the newly revised party rules about primaries and the convention, crafted by a reform commission that he himself had headed up, and not by having a particularly large base of support within the party. Given that, he was unlikely to have received a lot of votes in the general election in any case, even if his campaign hadn't started off with such a tremendous gaffe as the Eagleton affair. Of course, we'll never know, but in the end he won only Massachusetts and the District of Columbia, and the government remained in the vindictive hands of Richard M. "Tricky Dick" Nixon.

I mention all of this only because it's my observation that certain elements in the progressive blogosphere are hell-bent on making another different, but similar, mistake. They insist that the only factor which ought to count is a candidate's commitment to the liberal agenda, especially after so many years of disastrous right-wing rule. On the other hand, I contend that the most important factor is can the candidate attract enough votes to win?, and I'm satisfied that a general agreement with progressive values is a sufficient guarantee that if elected the result will be better off for the country -- much better -- than if we allowed the Republicans to continue to reign. I'm interested primarily in the ability to get elected, for that reason. If we could elect solid liberals to the White House with only the votes of liberal voters, then it wouldn't matter, we could get behind whoever was the most progressive, but that's not the case, and too damned many Democrats and liberals just don't seem to want to understand that.

Listen, 2008 is not 1972. In 1972 McGovern's anti-war stance probably alienated more voters than it attracted, because he was ahead of the curve, and he was running against a not unpopular sitting President. In 2008, an anti-war stance is what a majority of the population agrees with, and the outgoing President is among the most unpopular in the modern era. The wave is with us, not against us as it was in 1972, but that doesn't mean we can throw caution to the wind and not pay attention to having the best candidate, with best possibility of winning.

[The excerpts from WaPo and Times news reports from 1972 were quoted in HST's Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72]

Ed Fitzgerald | 3/04/2007 11:09:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


From the cave into your living room

This is a little weird: a report says that the GEICO caveman series of commercials is being developed as a sitcom for ABC.

I've been meaning to say something about those ads, but didn't at first because, although they were funny and grabbed my attention, I couldn't figure out if they were in some way offensive. Maybe I've just gotten used to them, but now I don't think they are. I do think that they're very, very good in many ways, little subtle satires that poke holes in the media punditocracy, identity politics, corporate callousness, the insipidness of therapists, and generally heap abuse on societal prejudices.

So, while my wife doesn't like them, I do -- the series are among the few commercials which I will actually stop and watch when zipping through the commercial breaks while watching programs on my DVR. I don't know squat about GEICO and how it is as an insurance company (nor do I carry much in the way of empathy for insurers), but they surely have damn good advertising people working for them.

However, all that being said, I'm afraid that making the commercials into a sitcom is probably a bad idea, another example of the Peter Principle (or its equivalent) in action. One of the charms of the ads is that they're so short and don't wear out their welcome even with multiple viewings. They've also featured a number of different characters (at least 8 of them, by my count) which helps to keep the boredom factor down. I'd worry that a sitcom will overexpose us to the characters they choose to include.

Perhaps the only hope for the show would be if they keep the satirical level high, up in South Park territory, and continue to use the concept to explore and deflate various corners of our society -- without descending into normal moronic sitcom land. The caveman as the ultimate outsider could be a powerful lever to look under some of the more immovable stones of our culture -- but, frankly, I have a hard time believing that a commercial TV network, especially ABC, would allow that to happen. Nevertheless, I'll keep an eye out.

(This site has some of the commercials, plus a supposed "trailer" for a supposed feature length movie, which is actually bits from the various ads edited together with other footage.)

Addenda: Another report says
ABC has ordered a pilot called "Cavemen." It follows a group of cavemen (and possibly cavewomen) as they deal with their day-to-day in 2007, says the Washington Post. It's sort of like "Friends," except with a lot more facial hair.


There's no guarantee that the show will make it to air. The same writer behind the ad campaign will be writing the pilot. -- Rachel Cericola
And yet another:
Cavemen" will revolve around three neanderthals who must battle prejudice as they attempt to live as normal thirtysomethings in modern Atlanta.

TMZ reports that the New York Times covered a new Nielsen study that found, "...even when people watch recorded shows later, many are not fast-forwarding through the ads. On average, Nielsen found, DVR owners watch 40 percent of commercials that they could skip over -- perhaps because they like ads, don't mind them or simply can't be bothered."

The advertising copywriter who helped create the "cavemen" ads is writing the pilot, ABC said.
(I can report for myself that I only let the commercials run when watching TV via DVR when I am too busy doing something else to stop and fast forward -- that is, when the TV is basically on in the background and doesn't have my full attention. Even then, I'll usually mute them.)

"Cavemen as 'Friends'" won't cut it, I'm afraid -- if that's where they're heading, the show is likely to be a flop.

Incidentally, I note from my surfing that at least some people interpret the commercials as being "about" the whining of minorities, but I think that's not the case. Given the circumstances that the world of the ads presents, the complaints of the cavemen (especially the sophisticates featured in the first series) seem quite reasonable, and the actions of GEICO (the fictitious company of the ads, not the real one) are irresponsible and duplicitous (in their continuation of the "So easy a caveman could do it" campaign even after apologizing for it when the cavemen complain). What we see is not "whining", but a minority speaking out for itself with a legitimate complaint, asking only to be respected and not denigrated without cause. The ads are funny not because of the actions of the cavemen, but because of the various targets it makes fun of, including (and especially) GEICO itself -- a trait they share with other GEICO ad series.

(In any case, the ads are ultimately "about" selling insurance, nothing else.)

Update (3/8): The caveman's lineage in the world of entertainment.

Ed Fitzgerald | 3/04/2007 04:55:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


(3089/898) The Language Instinct (3)

The Great Chain of Being (click to Wikipedia)
686) Modern evolutionary biologists are alternately amused and annoyed by a curious fact. Though most educated people profess to believe in Darwin's theory, what they really believe in is a modified version of the ancient theological notion of the Great Chain of Being: that all species are arrayed in a linear hierarchy with humans at the top. Darwin's contribution, according to this belief, was showing that each species on the ladder evolved from the species one rung down, instead of being allotted its rung by God. Dimly remembering their high school biology classes that took them on a tour of the phyla from "primitive" to "modern," people think roughly as follows: amoebas begat sponges which begat jellyfish which begat flatworm which begat trout which begat frogs which begat lizards which begat dinosaurs which begat anteaters which begat monkeys which begat chimpanzees which begat us. (I have skipped a few steps for the sake of brevity.) ...

But evolution did not make a ladder; it made a bush. We did not evolve from chimpanzees. We and chimpanzees evolved from a common ancestor, now extinct. The human-chimp ancestor evolved not from monkeys but from an even older ancestor of the two, also extinct. And so on, back to our single-celled forbears. Paleontologists like to say that to a first approximation, all species are extinct (ninety-nine percent is the usual estimate). The organisms we see around us are distant cousins, not great-grandparents; they are a few scattered twig-tips of an enormous tree whose branches and trunk are no longer with us.
Stephen Pinker
The Language Instinct (1994)

687) People see chimpanzees, the living species closes to us, and are tempted to conclude that they, at the very least, must have some ability that is ancestral to language. But because the evolutionary tree is a tree of individuals, not of species, "the living species closest to us" has no special status; what that species is depends on the accidents of extinction. Try the following thought experiment. Imagine that anthropologists discover a relict population of Homo habilis in some remote highland. Habilis would now be our closes relatives. Would that take the pressure off chimps, so it is not important that they have something like language after all? Or do it the other way around. Imagine that some epidemic wiped out all the apes several thousand years ago. Would Darwin be in danger unless we showed that monkeys had language? If you are inclined to answer yes, just push the thought experiment one branch up: imagine that in the past some extraterrestrials developed a craze for primate fur coats, and hunted and trapped all the primates to extinction except hairless us. Would insectivores like anteaters have to shoulder the proto-language burden? What if the aliens went for mammals in general? Or developed a taste for vertebrate flesh, sparing us because they like the sitcom reruns that we inadvertently broadcast into space? Would we then have to look for talking starfish? Or ground syntax in the mental material we share with sea cucumbers?

Obviously not. Our brains, and chimpanzee brains, and anteater brains have whatever wiring they have; the wiring cannot change depending on which other species a continent away happen to survive or go extinct. The point of these thought experiments is that the gradualness that Darwin made so much about applies to lineages of individual organisms in a bushy family tree, not to entire living species in a great chain.
Stephen Pinker
The Language Instinct (1994)

688) [A]nother bad argument about why chimp signing must be like human language [...] is based on the finding that chimpanzees and humans share 98% to 99% of their DNA, a factoid that has become as widely circulated as the supposed four hundred Eskimo words for snow [...] The implication is that we must be 99% similar to chimpanzees.

But geneticists are appalled at such reasoning and take pains to stifle it in the same breath that they report their results. [...] In terms of the information content in the DNA [1%] is 10 megabytes, big enough for Universal Grammar [the Chomskian innate grammar organ] with lots of room left over for the rest of the instructions on how to turn a chimp into a human. Indeed, a 1% difference in total DNA does not even mean that only 1% of human and chimpanzee genes are different. It could, in theory, mean that 100% of human and chimpanzee genes are different, each by 1%. DNA is a discrete combinatorial code, so a 1% difference in the DNA for a gene can be as significant as a 100% difference, just as changing one bit in every byte, or one letter in every word, can result in a new text that is 100% different, not just 10% or 20%. The reason, for DNA, is that even a single amino-acid substitution can change the shape of a protein enough to alter its function completely; this is what happens in many fatal genetic diseases. Data on genetic similarity are useful in figuring how to connect up family trees (for example, whether gorillas branched off from a common ancestor of humans and chimps or humans branched off from a common ancestor of chimps and gorillas) and perhaps even to date the divergences using a "molecular clock." But they say nothing about how similar the organisms' brains and bodies are.
Stephen Pinker
The Language Instinct (1994)

689) [A]lthough natural selection involves incremental steps that enhance functioning, the enhancements do not have to be to an existing module. They can slowly build a module out of some previously nondescript stretch of anatomy, or out of the nooks and crannies between existing modules, which the biologists Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Lewontin call "spandrels," from the architectural term for the space between two arches. An example of a new module is the eye, which has arisen de novo some forty separate times in animal evolution. It can begin in an eyeless organism with a patch of skin whose cells are sensitive to light. The patch can deepen into a pit, cinch up into a sphere with a hole in front, grow a translucent cover over the hole, and so on, each step allowing the owner to detect events a bit
better. [...]

Darwin is history's most important biologist because he showed how such "organs of extreme perfection and complication" [as the eye] could arise from the purely physical process of natural selection.
Stephen Pinker
The Language Instinct (1994)

Note: "3089/898" is the designation I've given to the project of posting all my collected quotes, excerpts and ideas (3089 of them) in the remaining days of the Bush administration (of which there were 898 left when I began).

As of today, there are 687 days remaining in the administration of the worst American President ever.

Ed Fitzgerald | 3/04/2007 03:18:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Checking for dirt

I would like the world to know that when you search unfutz, via Google, for dirty words, you only get 56 hits! If you do a similar search on Google Blog Search, you get only 22 hits. Since I've posted 2339 entries, that gives me an SCR (Squeaky-Clean Rating) of either 97.6% or 99.06% depending on which search you believe. Either way, those are awesomely wholesome numbers, I'd say.

If you're wondering what this is all about, read this.

P.S. A cynic might point out that given this blog's history of being totally ignored by the vast majority of the blogosphere, it's possible that only 56 of my posts have been indexed by Google in the first place, giving me a dismal SCR of 0%. Well, I wouldn't say that was impossible, but a quick check showed that in actuality, 454 of my posts have been indexed by Google, a pathetic 19.4% of all entries. (I do better on Google Blog Search, where almost half, 1143 posts, have been indexed.) If that wasn't bad enough, my SCR therefore increases to a much less healthy 87.6% (or a decent [literally] 98.08% on Google Blogs).

If I were you, I'd keep my eye on this, and if my SRC drops any lower, I wouldn't let any minor children read this weblog -- they might be warped for life.

Addenda: Kevin Drum:
[T]his gives me an excuse to reprint my favorite political quote of recent years. It's from Sir Richard Mottram, a British civil servant, commenting on a particularly embarrassing PR fiasco:
We're all fucked. I'm fucked. You're fucked. The whole department is fucked. It's the biggest cock-up ever. We're all completely fucked.
Get that man a blog!

Ed Fitzgerald | 3/04/2007 02:08:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Swiss near miss

Swiss in Liechtenstein 'invasion'

The traditionally neutral Swiss army has staged an unplanned invasion after troops blundered into Liechtenstein.

A 171-strong Swiss company got two kilometres into its neighbour before realising the mistake and heading back.

Liechtenstein authorities made light of the intrusion, saying they only knew about it when the Swiss told them. [... The] incident began on Wednesday night during a routine training exercise for the infantrymen in the Alpine forests close to an unmarked section of the border.

The company commander led his men in the wrong direction in bad weather but gave the immediate order to return when realising the error.

"It was all so dark," one soldier told the Swiss newspaper Blick.

A spokesman for the Liechtenstein authorities said: "It's not like they invaded with attack helicopters."
Typical of the Europeans these days, the Liectensteiners are much too tolerant of their aggresive, war-mongering Swiss neighbors, who have been historically jealous of Liechtenstein's... well, I'm not sure what they're jealous of, maybe it's just that Liechenstein has a Prince and they don't. In any case, if Liechtenstein had followed the precepts of the Bush Doctrine, we'd now have 16,000 square miles of charred Swiss in the middle of Europe, and wouldn't that teach them a lesson they'd not soon forget!

But noooo, wimpy little Liechtenstein doesn't even have an army, and didn't even know about the invasion until the Swiss told them about it (the pansies).

Damn, those Europeans couldn't get a good war going if their lives depended on it.

Ed Fitzgerald | 3/04/2007 12:38:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Ed Fitzgerald

Clowns to the left of me,
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Here I am...
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03/23/2008 - 03/30/2008
03/30/2008 - 04/06/2008
06/01/2008 - 06/08/2008
09/21/2008 - 09/28/2008

search websearch unfutz

Bullshit, trolling, unthinking knee-jerk dogmatism and the drivel of idiots will be ruthlessly deleted and the posters banned.

Entertaining, interesting, intelligent, informed and informative comments will always be welcome, even when I disagree with them.

I am the sole judge of which of these qualities pertains.

All e-mail received is subject to being published on unfutz without identifying names or addresses.

I correct typos and other simple errors of grammar, syntax, style and presentation in my posts after the fact without necessarily posting notification of the change.

Substantive textual changes, especially reversals or major corrections, will be noted in an "Update" or a footnote.

Also, illustrations may be added to entries after their initial publication.
the story so far
unfutz: toiling in almost complete obscurity for almost 1500 days
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the proud unfutz guarantee
If you read unfutz at least once a week, without fail, your teeth will be whiter and your love life more satisfying.

If you read it daily, I will come to your house, kiss you on the forehead, bathe your feet, and cook pancakes for you, with yummy syrup and everything.

(You might want to keep a watch on me, though, just to avoid the syrup ending up on your feet and the pancakes on your forehead.)

Finally, on a more mundane level, since I don't believe that anyone actually reads this stuff, I make this offer: I'll give five bucks to the first person who contacts me and asks for it -- and, believe me, right now five bucks might as well be five hundred, so this is no trivial offer.

original content
© 2003-2008
Ed Fitzgerald


take all you want
but credit all you take.

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