March 29, 2007

Skulls and their content

Via Randall Parker comes news of a new study that re-evaluates the stages of human evolution, contending--on the basis of skeletal remains--which raises questions as to when modern humans truly evolved. If we can detect physical changes, can we detect cognitive ones as well?

The psychologist Julian Jaynes suggested in an inelegantly titled volume that a more ephemeral part of our anatomy--our conciousness--evolved even more recently, perhaps as little as three milennia ago. One need not credit all of Jaynes' arguments (his theory rests rather heavily on his confidence in his ability to understand how the ancients understood their art) to recognize that, if skull morphology suggests accelerated evolution, then the growing sophistication of our consciousness might indicate something similar.

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March 28, 2007

On a happier note, I'm watiching Nanook of the North...

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Occidental recommendation

I was rather startled that Amazon kicked this book out as a recommendation for me. It's not fair for me to judge it without having read it, but I can't help thinking that the cover here does provide a clue: A work on Jewish influence in something called the Occidental Quarterly raises suspicions. Then there's this, from one of the book's too enthusiastic fans:

Macdonald, in a single slim volume, explains away the dark, heavy cloud of bafflement and bewilderment oppressing so many Americans since the 1960s.

More pointedly, there has been a profound alteration in the fabric of our American civilization and it was not by accident, neither was it random.

Reading this monograph (and the three academic texts by the author) will forever change the way you see politics, social issues, and even your own religious faith.

Indeed. Whatever the question, the answer appears to be the Jews. It's only their influence that keeps anti-Semites from winning big on Jeopardy...

Curious, I googled MacDonald, and came across this review of Henry Ford and the Jews: The Mass Production of Hate. MacDonald writes,

It is an apologetic work with a depressingly familiar and predictable take on the anti-Jewish attitudes of the period. Baldwin writes that TIJ descends into the “antisemitic rhetorical tradition,” but his book descends into another tradition, a tradition in which the anti-Jewish attitudes and behavior of earlier generations are ascribed entirely to irrational pathologies having nothing to do with Jewish behavior. It is a tradition based on caricature, exaggerations, and misrepresentations of what these people actually believed.

Ford of course had published, under his own byline, a knock off of the protocols of the elders of zion....

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March 27, 2007

Idee Fixe

This has to be seen to be believed. I found this bit fascinating:

The Koran--Like the Bible--Refutes Copernicanism

As in the Bible, the Koran describes the sun as a body that rises and sets, that has a course it follows like the moon has a course it follows, and that the sun’s course is an orbit that produces day and night on the Earth. Since the earth orbiting the sun and the sun orbiting the earth at the same time is not possible, one of these motions must be the Truth of the matter and one must be a deception--a clever one to be sure--but still a deception.

Other presentations on the web page maintain that Copernicanism is a mega-lie and demonstrably so. If that be the case, then the Koran’s agreement with the Bible on this creation matter pits the Moslems, Christians--and those Jews who follow the Creation accounts in the Bible--against those who--knowingly or unknowingly--are following the Creation account in the mystic Kabbala (Cabala).

The Kabbala account plainly sets forth a Big Bang, Expanding Universe concept which operates on Einstein’s mathematical “fantasies” (his own description: Earth book, p.129). These Kabbalist inspired foundational “facts” of modern cosmological “science” now determine how the universe came to be. Add to this the fact that NASA’s multi-billion dollar “Origins Program” is inextricably connected and dependent upon the Kabbalistic Big Bang Paradigm, and it can be readily seen that the strategy for destroying Biblical and Koranic Creationism for Christians, Moslems, and believing Jews is in its final phase.

I don't think I know quite where to begin. Via Neal Boortz...

Posted by Ideofact at 12:09 AM | Comments (0)

March 26, 2007 Crime

The latest issue of the Smithsonian features an article on the digitizing of the Proceedings of the Old Bailey, now available online, searchable by keyword, type of crime, and quite a few other ways.

Until I'd spent some time looking over the articles in the Proceedings, this passage from the Smithsonian piece was rather jarring:

The Proceedings' first issues were thin, cheap and focused on sex and violence, but as time passed, they became more comprehensive and formal, eventually acquiring the stature of an official record; Shoemaker and Hitchcock call them "the largest body of texts dealing with non-elite people ever published." Non-elite indeed! The court records document a tough, teeming London just beginning to flex its muscles as the commercial center of the Western world. The Proceedings made a profit virtually from the first pamphlet issued and thrived for decades afterward. It's easy to see why.

Until you realize that the Proceedings reproduce testimony of victims and witnesses, who often describe their occupations (and how the tools of their trade were stolen, or how they came to see Mr. Hyde trample the child), the bit about non-elites makes it seem as if they were all in the dock at the Old Bailey.

One note (really the reason I started this entry): Newspapers seeking readers might well consider beefing up their coverage of crime--covering victims, criminals, trials, judges and lawyers. Our criminal courts are all but ignored as subjects of interest by elite newspapers, perhaps because the stories that unfold there are of little direct concern to the kinds of people who work at newspapers. But readers, I think, respond well to stories involving law and order--especially if they're well written, or unfold in a dramatic fashion over time.

Posted by Ideofact at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)


Here is one I would like to contemplate at a future date: We should be worshipping the money changers in the temple.

Posted by Ideofact at 01:21 AM | Comments (0)

Depressing. The links in the comment spam below, which appear to go to p0rn in a romance langauge, don't even work. I suppose I'll have to work hard just to reestablish a better class of comment spam....

Posted by Ideofact at 01:10 AM | Comments (0)

Nice piece on Zbigniew Herbert. Oddly enough, it seems cinema favors only the most naive poets (see number 12) (and yes, naive is kind).

Posted by Ideofact at 01:05 AM | Comments (0)

March 23, 2007

FLEA REMINDS ME -- THis film is actually quite wonderful:


Details here; trailer here.

Lovecraft, I think, is underrated. Abandoning the supernatural, he created Darwinian horrors.

Posted by Ideofact at 12:28 AM | Comments (0)


This unfortunate story, in which a German judge ruled that a physically abused wife was beyond the protection of German law by virtue of being Muslim, reminds me of a book I came across in a university bookstore a while back.

The title escapes me, but the theme was that in the post-September 11 world, anthropology and anthropologists had to step up and prove their relevance, indeed, that what had gone wrong post-9/11 had been due, in no small measure, to the lack of attention to the expertise anthropologists had to offer.

Intelligence and perspective is always welcome, but I'm not sure that anthropology is well-suited to understanding conflicts among cultures (and I use among intentionally). I tend to think most anthropologists would be uncomfortable with the notion that Western standards of justice, ideas about the equality of women and marriage, should be applied universally to other cultures--even to immigrant groups living in the midst of another culture.

The husband in this case may well be acting consistent with the expectations of a man of his culture--but that is, by and large, a problem with anthropology can't address (and regrettably, that a German judge couldn't address).

Nevertheless, I think anthropology has a great deal of relevance, but it must be an anthropology with sharp elbows.

Posted by Ideofact at 12:24 AM | Comments (0)

March 22, 2007

Tired Bond?

WHEN DID MOVIE HUMANS -- at least action movie humans -- cease to be human? A long time ago, I suspect. I remember when I first became conscious of it -- seeing the ridiculous fight scenes in the remake of the Mummy, and thinking at the time that horror is impossible if your hero can be hurled 25 feet across a room into a stone wall, and bounce up with less ill effect than a Warner Bros. cartoon character would suffer from a similar pratfall.

I recently tried to watch Casino Royale, but was so disappointed by the first action sequence -- climbing jumbo construction cranes without a hint of anxiety over heights, then leaping from one crane to another to a building and then down -- that the human scale is lost. Sean Connery's Bond threw up after smashing a tarantula with a shoe; I think most people would want to throw up or hold on for dear life on a construction crane. But our heroes are no longer human.

My wife didn't mind the action sequence. She objected to the scene in which Bond seduces the villain's mistress, a cliche so predictable (and done with all the set up one normally expects of a porn movie) that the word that came to mind was joyless.

Fleming was never so predictable. The salvation of the series lies in mining the untapped brilliance of its originator.

Posted by Ideofact at 01:59 AM | Comments (0)

WHAT DOES IT SAY about human nature that slavery, rather like poverty and baldness, is always with us? In kingdoms of reaction and in the enlightened West...

Posted by Ideofact at 12:52 AM | Comments (0)

March 07, 2007


In my day job, I've been forced to think a good deal about journalism and the future of journalism. One thing I've been thinking--one thing that occurs to me--is that we need a more anthropological approach to journalism. By which I mean, journalists should approach the things they cover as cultural phenomena which they cannot possibly experience as an insider and can only approach as an outsider; hopefully, their stories would then produce the same kind of disorienting effect in the reader I get from reading ethnographies about cultures in which, say, infanticide is not only not a crime, but is regarded as a rational and exemplary choice.

Posted by Ideofact at 12:17 AM | Comments (0)

THE PICTURE BELOW is Bernard Shaw. I think of him often, most recently after hearing about Al Gore's energy us. From the Preface on the Prosects of Christianity:

Unless a religious turn in ourselves has led us to seek the little Societies to which these rare birds belong, we pass our lives among people who, whatever creeds they may repeat, and in whatever temples they may avouch their respectability and wear their Sunday clothes, have robust consciences, and hunger and thirst, not for righteousness, but for rich feeding and comfort and social position and attractive mates and ease and pleasure and respect and consideration: in short, for love and money. To these people one morality is as good as another provided they are used to it and can put up with its restrictions without unhappiness; and in the maintenance of this morality they will fight and punish and coerce without scruple. They may not be the salt of the earth, these Philistines; but they are the substance of civilization; and they save society from ruin by criminals and conquerors as well as by Savonarolas and Knipperdollings. And as they know, very sensibly, that a little religion is good for children and serves morality, keeping the poor in good humor or in awe by promising rewards in heaven or threatening torments in hell, they encourage the religious people up to a certain point: for instance, if Savonarola only tells the ladies of Florence that they ought to tear off their jewels and finery and sacrifice them to God, they offer him a cardinal's hat, and praise him as a saint; but if he induces them to actually do it, they burn him as a public nuisance.
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March 06, 2007


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March 04, 2007

WE'RE back....

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