Seen on the 'Net

Seen on the ‘Net, part whatever

06.05.06 | 9 Comments

I took vacation time last week to spend time with tadpole 2 (TP2). Although I was home, there were some days that I only got 5-10 minutes on the computer. Babies are demanding that way. Anyway, now I’m back in the saddle and will try to post something meaningful in the near future. In the meantime, there’s lots of cool things to see around the web.

Charles Rice wrote an interesting little essay about the speed with which news traveled in pre-industrial-age Europe. It’s a short read, but interesting trivia. Makes you further appreciate the Roman Empire, too.

Neal Hyde imagines a special closed-meeting of Al Qaeda, with entertaining results. Saving the World One Murder at a Time addresses the evils of men wearing shorts and air conditioning.

Meanwhile, John Rogers has a 3 part series on the electoral college. Although his politics lean toward liberal, his points about the collage (which mostly orginate from George Edwards’ book Why the Electoral College is Bad for America) are on target. I’m linking to part 2 because he makes a good point about the polarizing effect of the electoral collage map.

This is all old, actually ancient ground, of course, but I prefer to tread it before leaping off the cliff. The cliff is this, and it is indeed a little airy-fairy for my usual tone: the Electoral Map on its own is the most destructive memetic component in modern American culture. (Emphasis his.)

Basically, he points out that the picture of red and blue states is highly misleading since there were 12 states that were within 3 percent of voting the other color. The infamous map of red and blue states is a false polarization of political (and by inference, social) beliefs that in turn leads to wrongheaded assumptions and downright insulting behavior. Three percent (or less) of voters determined electoral colleges in 12 (almost 1/4 of the US) states, but we’re treating those states as solid blocks of bleeding heart liberals or cold-hearted conservatives. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: people are complex, and making generalizations about any group of 5 or more individuals will almost inevitably lead to wrong generalizations. You can’t say all (group of) voters are this any more than you can say all immigrants are this, Muslims are this, or Christians are this. At least, not without admitting that the words out of your mouth actually only apply to 30-70% of whatever group you’re talking about.

printable pinhole cameraAdvertising for Peanuts lead me to this downloadably camera. It’s a PDF of a paper camera. You cut it out, fold it, and end up with a working pinhole camera. That’s just cool, if you have the time and patience. Unfortunately I have neither, but let me know how it works for ya’.

Found on the Jawbone Radio blog… in case you hadn’t heard, the new batgirl batwoman is/will be gay. (And someone thoughtfully scanned and re-lettered a page with fun results.) I’ll admit my very first reaction was along the lines of This is a comic book! Why is sex even a topic of discussion? But upon further reflection comic book characters have dated for decades, so I suppose that’s legit. I’m not sure about DC’s strategy here. Were they really trying to be cool and “today”, or is it just a ploy? Either way, it’s a stroke of genius. I guarantee the first “on frame” woman to woman kiss is gonna sell out the first print run. Why? Because in comics, much like pron, there are no ugly lesbians. Man code (and simple math) dictates that if one woman is good, two must be better. (By the same token, if one woman is bad, two is worse. I can’t imagine how the Mormons did it. Sure it may seem like a good idea to just go pick up another wife when the first one starts nagging, but then you’d just end with two nagging wives. Before you knew it you’d have half a dozen women ganging up on you every time you stepped foot in the house. Just say no, buddy. Stop the cycle of insanity.)

Also found on Jawbone, somebody made a Thing costume out of real rocks. You’ve got to see it to believe it.

For those of you who are cat lovers (or cat haters for that matter), you MUST check out these cat accessories (scroll down). The cats don’t look particularly happy. I wonder why?

FYI, I WILL be jumping on the bandwagon and posting my own X-Men 3 review sometime in the near future. I’ll try to keep is non-spoilerish.

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Comment by Jerry
2006-06-05 13:16:40

That Thing costume just, uh, rocked.

:) Catwoman was funny too. But why?

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Comment by Kyle
2006-06-06 00:18:10

I disagree with a part of your supposition: I think you can say that certain groups are fairly homogenous in their beliefs. Like, for instance, if the basic tenants of their religion teach their followers to kill anyone who isn’t on their side, or enslave them. You either buy into that 100%, or you don’t. If you don’t, then you’re automatically not one of them, are you?

You can be open minded about a group, but keep in mind that stereotypes exist for a reason. They exist because they hold true greater than 50% of the time, at least. They can be 100% true, even. Sometimes, we ignore what’s actually correct in an attempt to be open-minded. It can result in almost Darwinian consequences.

Sure, there’s probably a conservative or two in New York. But what’s that got to do wtih the price of tea in China??

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Comment by Prest0
2006-06-06 09:13:25

Sorry, but I stand by my statement.

Not that one can’t be open-minded to a fault. Certainly that’s true. But recognizing that there’s a wide range of beliefs within a single label of Democrat or Republican isn’t quite the same thing. Falling into the trap of believing that a single label can sum up a person’s entire beliefs, actions, character, being, is pretty dangerous and foolish too.

Comment by Kyle
2006-06-06 14:33:30

My point was your generalization was WAY too broad. Comparing apples and oranges, as it were. There’s a difference between the divides between Republicans within their own party, and people whose religion says subjugate and kill everyone who isn’t part of your religion.

I think some groups can be judged homogenously, as it were. If you start to mircoanalyze every group, you’ll be able to find distinctions between the group members, no doubt. But the group exists because of common traits, regardless of their individual differences. I suppose it depends on what level your analysis focuses on.

You can say all members of this particular group are violent and want Christians to die. You can analyze that group at the micro level, and discover that some of them like puppies. Some like strawberry ice cream. Some like puppies with strawberry ice cream…You get the point. The level of analysis; for me, doesn’t need to go beyond the fact they want to kill me.

Comment by Prest0
2006-06-06 15:08:11

Okay, since you keep coming back to the Islamist example like a terrier after a rat, let’s go ahead and look at it. Labels define things. These things I label “ice cream” have certain qualities we all agree share certain traits of “ice creamy-ness”. These go beyond ingredients or taste, but also include temperature. But the label “ice cream” does not describe flavor. Equating “ice cream” with “vanilla” is an example extrapolating the meaning of a label one step too far.

Islamists, by the very nature of the label, are Muslim people who want to Qur’anic law and a Qur’anic based government. This means rejecting the legitimacy of democracy, frequently with violence. Heck, it equally means rejecting communism or any other -ism, too. To an Islamist the “rule of the people” is the antithesis of their belief. However, while all Islamists are Muslim, not all Muslims are Islamists. We know this if for no other reason that estimates place Muslims somewhere in the neighborhood of 1 billion followers worldwide. If all of them were Islamists, we’d already have experienced WWIII. So “all Islamists want to kill us” = “Muslims want to kill us” is another example of extrapolating a label one step too far.

Comment by Kyle
2006-06-06 00:20:04

Yeah, the Thing costume was cool. Drudge had the Batwoman thing on his site last week. Disturbing, to say the least. And pretty pointless. Like making Northstar from Alpha Flight gay. What the heck was the point of that???

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Comment by Prest0
2006-06-06 09:15:40

Basic math. One hot woman good, two hot women better. You’re right about the Northstar thing though. That was pretty pointless.

Comment by Ed
2006-06-07 15:24:57

hmm….but the Islamists do want to kill us…….Okay, I KNOW that’s not true of all of ’em, but it sure is true of a vocal majority in the middle east. I sure would like to see a moderate uprising among those Islamists that say they are against killing and violence. It “SEEMS” that even the moderates applaud when a terrorist kills a westerner.

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Comment by Prest0
2006-06-07 16:37:18

Ah, but are you perhaps not distinguishing between an Islamist and a Muslim? Remember by definition Islamists actively persue an Islamic state. So yes, you’re right. However, however, not all Muslims are Islamists. That’s my point about labels.


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