November 22, 2002
puppy power

A neat article from the NYT From Wolf to Dog, Yes, but When? addresses a couple recently released studies about the history of the human-dog bond.

One of the studies found that dogs have a unique ability to intuit things based on human behavior that is not found in either chimpanzees or wolves--even when the wolves are raised by humans.

Chimpanzees will notice where a person is looking but do not take the hint that the box being looked at is the one holding the hidden food. Dogs get the picture immediately, Dr. Hare reports.
Another interesting point raised by the article was that it is possible that humans did not domesticate wolves at all, but rather that they partially domesticated themselves...and changed our evolution as well:
When two species live together for a long time, each usually influences the genetically conferred qualities of the other. People may have selected preferred abilities in the dog, but dogs too may have fostered their favorite qualities in people — not of course deliberately but simply by giving people who used dogs a better chance of surviving than people who did not.
Posted by illovich at 03:51 PM
November 21, 2002

An article at wired is detailing a Lego fansites problems with online Maori partisans that object to the Lego Group's (mis)appropriation of Maori words to be used in one of their product lines...

New Zealand lawyer Maui Solomon wrote to Lego on behalf of three Maori tribes objecting to the use of the Maori words. "It was an unauthorized use of traditional names and language, and it was an inappropriate use" Solomon said. "There had been no consultation, no prior informed consent. And it's a trivialization, especially when you are using names like Tohunga (Maori for priest). So there are cultural and moral issues."

While I support the struggle of indigenous peoples against capitalist hegemony as much as the next guy, I still find myself saying "WTF?"

The last time I checked languages and cultures are not intellectual property that you have to get permission from [who?] to use or reference in your painting, novel or carbonated beverage product...

Don't get me wrong. I think plundering cultures for exotic words, concepts and textures is pretty weak in general, but I also question whether you should have to clear it with [who?] before you do it... and then I ask [who?]

Who has authority over a culture? Who has the sign-off authority? Do the japanese have to ask the editors of the OED for the ok before they put nonsense english on t-shirts?

No, and they shouldn't have to... as much as I despise the Disneyfication of the globe where every culture can be distilled into a funky new version of the american (post)nuclear family, I also can't abide by a world where nationalists attempt to claim ownership and unilateral control of their own language. All lanuage is in the public domain, by definition, ad astra.

Why live in a world where everything is true and nothing is permitted?

Posted by illovich at 04:29 PM
word to abe krieger

Wow, the month is not up but it looks like the inscrutible Abe Krieger has replaced "sexy ann coulter" as my zeitgeist topic. 'gywo' is getting a respectable number of click-throughs as well, but man it seems like everybody is looking for Abe Krieger. I hope they don't think I was too mean in my response to his letter to the Daily News, but hey... he called me a loser (by proxy).

#req: search term
---53: abe krieger
---23: webdav apache
---18: gywo
----8: ann coulter
----5: sexy ann coulter
----4: photographist
----4: ann coulter sexy
----4: q330904
----3: leggos
----2: funny logs
----2: teh suck
----2: ann coulter sucks
----2: perl cocoa
----2: daylin leech
----2: dialog between peter and uncle ben*
----2: foofy
----1: zentner 2002 email addresses
----1: project builder javac cocoa
----1: messenger service spam winxp
----1: momoko kikuchi
---65: [not listed: 65 search terms]

* For regular readers, I actually did this web search and realized that this is a search for something related to the Spiderman movie, and not some lesser known folktale about the first pope and a corporate logo having a conversation.

Posted by illovich at 01:54 PM
November 14, 2002
i would vote for nader again

The Center for Voting and Democracy has published a document titled The 2002 Elections and the Case for Reform, in which they lay out their case for electoral reform in the United States. Interestingly enough, they claim that 75% of elections are close to being infailably predictable:

We can confidently make these projections without knowing anything about the quality of the candidates and inequities in campaign finance because we use "winner-take-all" elections in districts that generally tilt clearly toward one party or the other. This lean is no accident, as state after state enacted incumbent protection plans in redistricting over the past year. With only a few exceptions, incumbents and party leaders gerrymandered districts to guarantee the reelection of incumbents, as well as the over-representation of whatever party controlled the redistricting process in their state. In California, the Democratic Party incumbents actually paid "protection money" in the amount of $20,000 apiece to have their legislative districts drawn to guarantee them a safe seat, an audacious example of political "insider trading."

This document supports something I've believed since the early 90s... that our electoral system needs to be switched from a two party duopoly to a more scalable representational system.

I'm certainly not an expert, but our current elections work like so: 4 candidates run for office, and if the canditates receive 28%, 24%, 24% and 24% of the vote respectively, the candidate that received 28% of the vote wins, even though 72% of the voters made a different choice. I realize that the numbers are rarely that extreme, but I exaggerated to make a point...

Many people in the US support a party other than the Republican or Democratic parties... I generally favor the Green Party (but I'm a Nader Green), plenty of people are Libertarians, then there's the Pirotians, the Communists, &c.

All of these people deserve some sort of representation, but given our two party system, they'll never get it because they don't constitute enough of a voting block in a given area (even if there are a million greens, they all live in different neighborhoods) and thus they never matter electorially. Even if they are able to advance a certain issue, they never have "their own" working for them somewhere in government... which in turn leads to even more collecting of money, hiring of lobbyists and ends up with Washington D.C. being clogged with the "special interests" that supposedly run the show these days.

Unfortunately, I have no idea how to begin advancing an idea such as switching our government to a parliamentary type system... I know that an important emergency cleaning step is needed, and that's to remove all private financing from elections and temporarily switch to a purely publicly funded electoral machine, where every candidate on the ballot is given equal resources and time on camera, and getting rid of slimy attack ads coming from 3rd parties.

Only temporarily, of course.

Posted by illovich at 12:06 PM
November 13, 2002
writing shit about new snow for the rich is not art

poem: elaborate moon delicate stare enormous rain sordid language write a repulsive star you gorgeous languid sea

$10 shareware fridge magnet simulator called Issa got announced today and I checked it out.

It's cheaper than a box of the real ones, and you get to add your own word lists. Downside? No "make them stick to your actual fridge" functionality.

Posted by illovich at 12:33 PM

just when you thought you had heard all the excuses in the book....

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Customs agents said they
found 13 pounds of Ecstasy pills in the luggage of a Dutch woman who expressed surprised (sic) at the discovery — she told investigators she thought she was smuggling gold.
I didn't even realize you had to smuggle gold. Well, I guess there's a lot of things I don't know, so there you go.

Posted by illovich at 11:20 AM
November 12, 2002
life under bush and ghosts

Philadelphia's City Paper just had a nice cover story about Ghost Towns in Pennsylvania. It seems like everybody knows about Centralia, the burning ghost town in Western PA. But I had never heard of Celestia, an old millerite community Sullivan County PA. which sounds really cool... or Laquin, both of which sound interesting and creepy to visit, if I felt like driving the 6 hours to get there.

Nothing about bush I know. I just felt like referencing the byrne/eno record, k?

Posted by illovich at 03:09 PM
November 11, 2002
almost done with puberty, which is braggable

I wondered before: if I was a ninja, where would I get my news? I mean, sure I'm a geek and I read stuff like macintouch...but if I was a no-nonsense stealthy killing machine, where would I find out about new throwing star music and throwing star clothes?

Now I can just go to The Official Ninja Webpage and get all I need to know.

Note to venture capitalists: Take a hard look at this site, becasue when I get my fortune all sewn up I am definitely putting Ninja, Please into production.

Posted by illovich at 11:36 AM
and now....m.c. search!!!

Well, just a quick check of stats... not so good yet this month...I must be off the zeitgeist. I feel really bad for whoever searched for "webdav apache" and wound up here. "shoo sex" I don't even want to know... and "dialog between peter and uncle ben" I have to do that search myself.

#reqs: search term
-----2: webdav apache
-----1: shoo sex
-----1: fuzzzy
-----1: momoko kikuchi
-----1: sex blog
-----1: giant footprint
-----1: dialog between peter and uncle ben
-----1: druid quadding

Posted by illovich at 10:00 AM
November 05, 2002
I have to admit, it's getting better

Well, the problem seems to have been a wierd disk usage error at my isp (my fault). I had thought I was being clever and gave my user a quota of 5 mb for email, not thinking that that might be a 5 mb quota, period.

So I removed that and wehn the system updated I rebuillt the site and it seems to be working again, except for the comments to my culture war story, which still are invisible.

Ah well... and I'm sick by the way. Throat hurtin', nose stuffy, dry hackin' coughy sick. beh.

Posted by illovich at 11:56 PM
November 04, 2002
suddenly, everything sucks

If you view this page regularly you might notice that the pages are looking different each time you come. This is completely a mystery to me. I see it too, and I'm not changing any files...what seems to be happening is that Moveable Type is choking on my page halfway through serving it up... and some of the comments don't show up. For example, Abe Krieger actually responded to my post about his letter to the daily news (!!!), and I responded to it, but they both seem to be invisible at the moment.

Anyway, I'm sorry for the inconvenience, and I'll have it fixed as soon as I can, and I really hope that the database that all the entries are in isn't screwed to hell.

Posted by illovich at 06:54 PM
Ultima ratio regum

If you like making music...or just noise, I guess...and you like doing it with a computer, it may be time to listen to Reason. Generally, that's a debate tactic, but in this case, I'm actually suggesting that you go to a website and listen to the crazy sounds put out by this software, called Reason.

Posted by illovich at 06:46 PM
November 01, 2002
culture war

On 10/31/2002, The Philadelphia Daily News published a letter/opinion by a presumed citizen of Philadelphia, Abe Krieger entitled GOP world / Democratic world. Although Mr Krieger is clearly less slick and perhaps also less intelligent (while more simplistic) than many of his more well-known colleagues in the conservative movement, I felt that his letter contained a number of points that are widespread enough among conservatives that it merited an analysis and response.

"First and foremost, Republican is the party of life's winners - Democrat of life's losers. Those who work hard and become wealthy as a result are almost always Republicans; those who have neither the mental capability or the determination to succeed are almost always Democrats."
To wit: "If a man is young and a republican, he has no heart. If he is old and a democrat, he has no money." (A. Whitney Browne)

Mr. Krieger's opening salvo is the central self-congratulating pat on the back of society's "winners" that make up the Republican Party. It would be easy to make crass remarks about our current president's C- GPA at Yale, his multiple failed oil business or the remarkable wealth and privilege that he has enjoyed all of his life, but that's too easy...and it only speaks to one of them.

Frankly, the Republican Party is about money and power. Period. This obviously will attract many of society's "winners" (which I note in Mr. Krieger's definintion are "those who work hard and become wealthy as a result"), while alienating those who are shut out of the game....those who are born poor or as members of minority groups (or worse, both) and the members of the middle class who realize that their choice of vocation will shut them out of the upper tiers of the middle class (for example, the scum bag teachers Mr Krieger talks about later).

However, I see much evidence that the "winners" we are speaking about are republican only because they wish to hang on to as much of their money as possible, even when if it violates the public good. The wealthy are never so solely because of their own labor...any position or vocation that creates great wealth rests upon a huge economic system that it needs in order to perpetuate itself.


What I mean is, if you are a sports figure making $10 Million a year, you need a huge sports organization, a stadium and related industries to sustain and justify your salary. The question "losers" like myself ask is, is it fair that a sports star has 5 homes and 10 cars when the people who sweep the stadium as the lights go down don't have access to acceptable medical care? This is not to question that the sports star not be fabulously compensated...but rather if those who must work to keep their heads above water (supporting the infrastructure that supports us all) deserve a base standard of living.

Of course, I don't really define myself as a "loser." As a well educated professional who is relatively self-actualized, I feel like a "winner" if anything. But in general, I try not to think in terms like that, because it's easy to grind yourself down when you see yourself in competition with everyone.

"Interestingly, blacks and Hispanics - notably Cubans - who ascend from poverty to success tend to move from the Democratic to Republican party; those left in poverty stay Democratic. Those who would rather be right than good tend to be Republican; good than right, Democrat. Most Reform Jews are Democrats; the more dedicated Orthodox Jews [emphasis added] are Republican."
This is an interesting ploy, using mostly what I suspect is his own anecdotal evidence to support his base, self-congratulatory assumption: those minorities who are winners aka willing to "work hard and become wealthy as a result " (and by extension I assume, more like Mr. Krieger) are good, and also by his self-reflexive definitions, more likely to be republican, while the rest of them are not good, and by extension more likely to be democrat.

He offers no evidence to back his claim up, and most evidence that speaks clearly to respond to his point that I have access to is also anecdotal. A recent study suggests that latino voting patterns are more complex than Mr. Krieger believes... and if actual research matters at all:

"Nevertheless, Mollyann Brodie, vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation says the the Pew Hispanic Foundation and Kaiser Family Foundation study released Thursday found strong support for positions generally identified with the Democratic party. "You'll note that Latinos are considerably more likely to say that they prefer a larger government that provides more services even if it means paying higher taxes, than they are to say they prefer a smaller government that provides fewer services," she said.

Not surprisingly then, researchers found that about half of the 1,300 Latinos surveyed identified themselves as Democrats. Only 20 percent claimed to be Republican."

Additionally, I find his views on Jews to be laughable, being a member of a community in the Philadelphia suburbs that boast a large and diverse Jewish population. Mr. Krieger's assertion that "Orthodox Jews" are "the more dedicated" of Jews (and of course, being more dedicated, more likely to be republican) is a slap in the face to reform and conservative Jews. I can't comment on the likelyhood of any group belonging to any particular party. I can only mention that the Orthodox Jews I was sitting near at the Daylin Leech/Wallis Brooks debate I attended seemed on the democrat side of the isle. But hey, I'm willing to admit that I have no statistics to back me up.
The Republican Party offers opportunity; Democrats offer handouts in return for votes. Republicans preach peace through strength and honor; Democrats preach peace through capitulation and payoffs. The "special interest" groups all have a home in the Democratic Party because the Republicans have no use for them. The vast majority of both teachers and criminals are Democratic (hmm)[emphasis added]. Republicans love America because they understand that America is special; Democrats, at their core, loathe America because they loathe themselves.[emphasis added].

This is where Mr. Krieger goes for broke and in the process reveals himself for the bigot he is, and expresses the new sentiment among conservatives that I feel is so dangerous to so-called liberals and really anyone outside of the Right's circle of comfort--the idea that Democrats/Liberals/Those who dissent from the conservative "majority" loathe America.

I fear that the "culture war" often ranted about by Buchannan and his ilk is fast approaching out society, but not quite the one Mr. Buchannan originally identified in the past.

In my view: We, the people live in two Americas. One America is an ideal democracy, where all people are equal under law, the constitution and bill of rights are among the highest achievements of humanity, and the people individually and collectively decide their own destinies.

The other is the remnant of the monarchy that we freed ourselves from so long ago... where the flag is a holy relic, the President unquestionable and rights a convenience that can be given and taken at the government's convenience. This is the america of oil barons and company stores and strike breaking goon squads, the america of slavery and indentured servitude. This is the america none of us remember, because our great-grandparents and grandparents abolished it, partly through determination, and partly with luck.

But it's coming back, and people like Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh and the esteemed Mr Krieger are it's standard bearers.

I'm not going to lie to you and tell you to vote democrat, because sadly the democrats are just bearely more palatable representatives...and like the republicans they are more beholden to the rich who fund their campaigns than to the people who they should be representing. I don't know what it's going to come to...sometimes I think we can fix the situation as a nation, sometimes I fear that we will simply devolve into an plutocratic police state, others that we will simply slowly wind into deeper and more dismal stages of civic corruption.

But what you should keep in mind are the battle lines that are being drawn in the culture war. Unfortunately, the conservatives are drawing most of the lines. Liberals must stop playing a defensive game, or prepare to put their armbands and be marched into camps.

And when someone tells you that liberals hate America, remind them who it is that's currently shredding the soul of the USA...the Constituion and the Bill of Rights. Not liberals. I myself love america, but I don't care about the flag or the pledge of allegiance or any of that ritualistic crap...that's serf mentality. An American doesn't kneel to the flag, or pledge anything to the flag. The flag is a piece of fabric that never did anything for you. If you're an American, you owe your freedom and rights to the constitution and the bill of rights... and my view is that the people who want to tear those documents up to trade up for a little extra security are the people who really hate america. The people who want you to have to carry a national id card are the ones who really hate america. Anyone who wants to role back your civil liberties really hates america. At least, they hate the America that I live in, but they love the other America, the one that they are building at a breakneck pace right now.

Choose a side. And keep your eyes open. And don't be afraid to shout down any knucklehead who says you hate America.

Posted by illovich at 06:05 PM