Friday, March 31, 2006

Snakes on a Plane

I don't know what's funnier: the concept and background of this movie, or the FARK thread it inspired. It's a heartwarming story, really, one of those rare moments when corporate America really gets it:

In any event, "Snakes"-ophiles already were hard at work. Chris Rohan of Bethesda, Md., created an elaborate, R-rated audio trailer that lovingly mocks the title and movie. "It's a genius title," Rohan said. "It's so stupid it's great. It invites satire, but it's something you just love. It's something I can't explain. You either get it or you don't."

The audio bit uses a Jackson sound-alike shouting, "I want these mother snakes off the mother plane!" Soon, the growing legion of fans added their voices as they demanded that that phrase also appear in the movie.

Apparently, the studio got the hint. When Ellis assembled Jackson and others for the recent shoot, the filmmakers added more gore, more death, more nudity, more snakes and more death scenes. And they shot a scene where Jackson does utter the line that fans have demanded.

This is going to be brilliant. I can just feel it...

Thursday, March 30, 2006

The Lobbying Reform Bill

The Senate's lobbying reform bill passed today. It's kind of a joke really, but at least it serves as a roll call of senators who prefer more than token gestures (i.e. the 8 who voted against the bill):

Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK)(go figure...)
Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC)
Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI)
Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC)
Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) (I don't know why Inhofe voted against..)
Senator John Kerry (D-MA)
Senator John McCain (R-AZ)
Senator Barak Obama (D-IL)

The few, the proud, the U.S. Senators who care about our federal government.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Why Do We Care About Dirty Bombs?

I mean I know they've been a part of the scare-tactic arsenal for some time now (the terrorists have dirty bombs! like omigod!!), but hasn't the whole dirty bomb concept been pretty well debunked by now? Apparently not. It seems our border security is being tested based on whether or not they can prevent a dirty bomb from entering the U.S. Honestly, do these people not know how to use wikipedia?

Sunday, March 19, 2006

I Swear I'm Not Getting My Hopes Up...

Not again. Americans really have no right to complain about the quality of their presidential candidates. It seems like every four years at least one truly good candidate steps up. And then is promptly and utterly destroyed...

We've Got 'Em on the Run!

I haven't blogged anything for a month, but I really couldn't pass this by. Donald Rumsfeld wrote a column for the Washington Post to let us all know that our opponents know they're losing in Iraq. It was annoying at first when he would try to convince everyone that up was down, then it came to be funny, but now it's just kind of pathetic. The more the situation (and popular opinion of it) changes the more this man's bullshit stays exactly the same. It will be interesting to see how Iraq plays out in the mid-term elections. It is rapidly becoming very unpopular, but the Democrats still seem to be (as seen with Feingold's censure effort) incredibly squeamish over anything relating to security. If they drop the ball on this again, I will be physically ill.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Me Get Woman, Me Rule Earth

I am quite disappointed with Phillip Longman's article The Return of Patriarchy in the March/April 2006 issue of Foreign Policy. The main thrust of his article is that conservative patriarchies are on the rise because individuals in such family structures tend to propagate. In contrast, liberals are having fewer children, thus putting their viewpoints and belief systems in decline. I would like to discuss some points specifically:
1. "Fearful of a future in which the elderly outnumber the young, many governments are doing whatever they can to encourage people to have children."
This is not a critique of the article so much as the governments involved. Underlying the worry of falling fertility rates is the real problem: that each generation does not fund its own retirement. So long as this is the case, there will always be imbalances. The modern population should be allowed to find its new equilibrium, especially if it is declining. On a systems level, we tax the earth enough as it is. Why should we be promoting higher fertility when we don't truly need it? Let's fix the underlying problem.
2. "Indeed, falling fertility is a recurring tendency of human civilization. Why then did humans not become extinct long ago? The short answer is patriarchy."
Longman gives little evidence of recurring drops in fertility and even less evidence that patriarchy is what enabled humans to avoid extinction. I think the shortest answer here is sexual drive. Beyond that, it is likely that maternal behavior is the strongest factor in the survival of our species. This behavior is extremely potent and has genetic, neurobiological underpinnings. In other words, it is not simply learned.

3. Longman's main (if only) piece of evidence of his hypothesis is that states that voted for Bush in 2004 had a 12% higher fertility rate than Kerry states. What exactly does this mean? We don't know the belief compositions of these states, nor do we know whether liberals or conservatives (or somebody else) in these states are procreating more than others.

4. Let's assume for the moment that conservatives really are procreating more. Does this mean that an entire population will shift attitudes or beliefs? Of course not. Longman makes the assumption that the only way to spread one's beliefs is through genetic legacy (or perhaps familial legacy). His argument relies on the assumption that, by not having children, an individual's beliefs or attitudes simply die out. In contrast, I propose that those individuals who do not have children have all the more resources and time to spread their beliefs and attitudes throughout the world. My point is that his assumptions are far too simple for a system as complicated as culture.
5. "But as long as the patriarchal system avoids succumbing to these threats, it will produce a greater quantity of children, and arguably children of higher quality, than do societies organized by other principles, which is all that evolution cares about."
Evolution? I think it is a stretch to say that patriarchy is still under any selective pressure of evolution, as he is suggesting here. If he is referring to a sort of social evolution, then I will give him some leeway.
6. "Advanced societies are growing more patriarchal, whether they like it or not."
After reading the entire article, I have failed to see any good evidence for this. Perhaps one of you out there will see more.

Note that I have not taken any ideological position in these critiques. Rather, I think Mr. Longman has written a piece that appears to be more sensation-driven than logic- or data-driven. It is an interesting hypothesis, but with little to back it up, and with no consideration of plausible alternatives, it is just another man's opinion.