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Showing posts from April 9, 2006

a pointless post about a pointless episode

Gossip has traditionally not been the subject of a multilevel evolutionary analysis that hypothesizes different utilities of gossip for individuals and groups. Wilson and colleagues (2000), however, designed and administered hypothetical paper and-pencil tests of reactions to self-serving and group-serving gossip. In samples of undergraduates in the northeastern United States, they presented subjects with a series of hypothetical vignettes that varied the interests of the fictional gossiper. Wilson et al. (2000) found a consistent pattern of approval for group-serving gossip and disapproval for self-serving gossip. In one set of varied scenarios, respondents found no fault with gossip exposing cheaters on a test, while gossip that derogated fellow classmates (i.e., competitors) drew harsh reactions. –Utilities of Gossip across Organizational Levels: Multilevel Selection, Free-Riders, and Teams Kevin M. Kniffin and David Sloan Wilson, Human Nature, Fall 2005. LI has been pondering a pa

the antichrist in america

Yesterday I was listening to Terri Gross, on NPR, interview a woman who has made a film about Betty Page. Betty Page, the woman said, is still alive. Page saw the film, in fact – it was screened for her by Hugh Hefner. So there was some talk about that, and then Terri Gross asked, with incredulity straining her voice, And Betty Page is still religious? She meant that since Betty Page had been a sex industry worker, in the old days, that she couldn’t reconcile such things with being a Christian. And I thought, wow. The stupidity. It is that shock one gets from the media, you know. The flaubertian frisson. The gross, intolerable, stupidity. I have never, ever heard a TV or Radio journalist ask this question of or about a wealthy person. Yet, there is nothing in the Gospel about being tied up and spanked. Frankly, I don’t know what Jesus would have made of that. Or Paul. But one thing we know, at least, about the scriptures is that there is one thing that keeps you out of heaven: we

calling back the dawgs of war

LI believes in détente with Iran. My friend, the Brooding Persian , doesn’t. Now, my friend, Mr. B.P., has the advantage of Persian birth, an infinitely greater knowledge of the history, culture, and politics of Iran, and all of the tacit knowledge brought by recent and prolonged immersion in the country, while LI sits on his ass in Texas and reads newspapers. So the advantage is all to Mr. B.P. However, we are still unconvinced. We are also unconvinced that the evident belief of some in the Bush administration that we should start the bombing of Iran any day now is actually going to be realized. It is easy to get hysterical about how incompetent the Bushies are and how bloodthirsty they are, but it is best to put this in context: the thing about history is that it operates by thens. Those who think it is the year 2002 all over again fail to reckon with the consequences of the year 2002, or the year 2004. The war in Iraq, for one thing, seemed like, and was, a short term economic winn
Here’s a news item that will be well hidden in the NYT or WAPO. The president of Colombia, the strongest American ally in South America, is making moves that would be hyper-criticized if they were made by the greatest American devil figure in South America, Chavez. This is from Global Insight Daily Analysis: “Incumbent Colombian consul to Italy and former head of the South American country's intelligence service, Jorge Noguera, has denied involvement in an alleged plot to kill Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez. Colombian counterpart Alvaro Uribe has recalled the one-time Administrative Department of Security (DAS) chief from his current post in the European country to answer allegations that were published recently by two magazines in Colombia. Noguera is accused of overseeing the plot in conjunction with Colombian paramilitaries. Claims that the DAS had been infiltrated by paramilitary groups brought about Noguera's resignation in late October last year (see Colombia: 26 Oct

the double face of illegitimacy

In the run up to the invasion of Iraq, LI quoted a phrase of Benjamin Constant’s that seems to haunt the whole misadventure: “When villains violate the forms against honest men, one knows that this is just one more crime. One is attached to the forms exactly insofar as they are violated; one learns, in silence, and by misfortune, to regard them as sacred things, the protectors and preservers of the social order. But when the honest men violate the forms against the villains, the people no longer know where they are; the forms and the laws present themselves now as obstacles to justice.” Constant was active in the French revolution, and he saw the price paid by violating the “forms.” Unlike Burke, he was on the side of the revolution. Young as he was, he saw, as Burke did not, that the French monarchical system had decayed past the point of salvage. But he also appreciated, as Ste Just never did, that the republic is built on forms. As Paine once put it, while monarchy is based on wil