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Tuckahoe Joe’s Blog of the Week: Anthropomics (http:anthropomics2.blogspot.com/ )

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I especially like this blog because the author seems to believe (as do I) that intemperate invective is a legitimate method of scholarly criticisms. For example, in one of his blog postings reviewing a book written by another anthropologist, he opines:

“You know what? Fuck him. Fuck his ancestors too. What some inbred twit thinks the about the evolution of human society is about as relevant as what a raccoon thinks. The reason this kind of pervy-Darwinistic thought was repudiated many decades ago is that it was recognized as the vulgar self-interested bio-politics of the rich and powerful. If there is a Darwinian lesson to be extracted from the history of the 20th century, it is probably that the poor require constant protection from the ideologies of the overwealthy and underpigmented.”

Anyway, this week’s blog post appears in Anthropomics (http:anthropomics2.blogspot.com/ ), a blog by well-known geneticist and evolutionary anthropologist Jonathan Marks who describes himself as “faux geneticist, now a faux historian, all the while an evolutionary anthropologist.”

In an article in that blog entitled “Who wants Charles Murray to speak, and why,” he examines the recent revival on the university lecture circuit of the well known racist Charles Murray (remember The Bell Curve), and takes special aim at those arguing that “all ideas deserve a hearing.”

“The Bell Curve cited literature from The Mankind Quarterly, which no mainstream scholar cites, because it is an unscholarly racist journal, supported by the Pioneer Fund, that wacko right-wing philanthropy that has thrown money at wacko eugenicists, racists, segregationists, and hereditarians of all stripes, since its inception in 1937 under the aegis of the wacko eugenicist Harry Laughlin. The Bell Curve also cited the work of that racist wacko psychologist Philippe Rushton – who believed that the mean IQ of Africans is genetically set at 70 and that Africans had been r-selected for high reproductive rate and low intelligence — and then pre-emptively defended his wacko racist ideas in an appendix. Even the wacko evolutionary psychologists distanced themselves from Rushton, appreciating the toxicity of his ideas: “Bad science and virulent racial prejudice drip like pus from nearly every page of this despicable book,” wrote David Barash in the journal Animal Behavior.”

And further on:

“And now the alt-right has gained political ascendancy, and Charles Murray is on a speaking tour.”

And goes on:

“The Bell Curve capitalized on the popularity of the Human Genome Project in putting forth its thesis about the genetic stupidity of poor people in the 1990s. Some geneticists repudiated it, but others recognized, as the geneticists of the 1920s did, that it was good for the business of genetics. When Science reviewed Madison Grant’s The Passing of the Great Race – a classic of American racist thought, which was read in defense of Karl Brandt at the Nuremberg trials to show that the Germans had simply been doing what the Americans were advocating — it concluded with a sobering thought: “This is a book that will … help to disseminate the ever-growing conviction among scientific men of the supreme importance of heredity.” Sure, the genetic theory in question might be insane, might be evil, and it might be false, but it definitely is good for business. More recently, the Human Genome Project was backed up with all sorts of purple prose about how your DNA sequence was the most important thing about you: The Code of Codes, The Book of Man, and the like. They knew it was bullshit then, and that’s why there is such interest in epigenetics now.

“These geneticists are reprehensible because they provide the hereditarian soil for scientific racism. The geneticists may not themselves be racists, but their idiotic statements about what they think their knowledge applies to have indeed sometimes crossed over. James D. Watson, who knows more about DNA than you do, caused a stir a decade ago when he said that different groups of people have different “powers of reason”. The rest of the genetics community disagreed, and challenged his own powers of reason.

And continues:

“We should not be debating the innate intelligence of black people, or of the poor, on college campuses or anywhere. It is a morally corrupt pseudoscientific proposition

“Its like inviting a creationist or an inventor of a perpetual motion machine. The university should not be a censor, but it sure as hell is a gatekeeper. At this point, sometimes they go all radical epistemological relativist and say that all ideas deserve a hearing. But all ideas don’t deserve a hearing. The universe of things that do get discussed and debated on college campuses is rather small in proportion to the ideas that people have debated over the years. Should we stone witches? No. Might the speed of light be 140,000 miles per second, rather than 186,000? No. Might the universe just be made up of earth, air, water, and fire? No. Might Africans just be genetically stupid? Might people who want to debate this point have their fundamental civic morality called into question instead?”

“This also raises bigger problems. Geneticists that mislead the public about what human genetics explains. College faculty that can’t identify pseudoscience. There were, after all, any number of serious refutations of every aspect of The Bell Curve. “
http://anthropomics2.blogspot.com/2017/04/who-wants-charles-murray-to-speak-and.html

So, there you have it. He, basically, argues that modern geneticists, in their interest to promote their trade as relevant, risk becoming the camel with its nose under the tent of right-wing racist fantasists. I agree, fuck them and fuck the genes they rode in on.

(JP- I realize everyone probably knows a racist or two but is anyone aware of any radical epistemological relativists stalking your neighborhood recently?)

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Tuckahoe Joe’s Blog of the Week: The Washington Center for Equitable Growth blog ( http://equitablegrowth.org/working-papers/inventor-america-exposure/ )

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The Washington Center for Equitable Growth blog ( http://equitablegrowth.org/working-papers/inventor-america-exposure/ ) reproduces an interesting study entitled Who becomes an inventor in America? The importance of exposure to innovation. In it, the authors examined over 1.2 million inventors from patent records linked to tax records. They found:

First, children from high-income (top 1%) families are ten times as likely to become inventors as those from below-median income families. There are similarly large gaps by race and gender. Data on test scores in early childhood suggest that differences in innate ability explain relatively little of these gaps.

Second, exposure to innovation during childhood has significant causal effects on children’s propensities to become inventors. Growing up in a neighborhood or family with a high innovation rate in a specific technology class leads to a higher probability of patenting in exactly the same technology class. These exposure effects are gender-specific: girls are more likely to become inventors in a particular technology class if they grow up in an area with more female inventors in that technology class.

Third, the financial returns to inventions are extremely skewed and highly correlated with their scientific impact, as measured by citations. Consistent with the importance of exposure effects and contrary to standard models of career selection, women and disadvantaged youth are as under-represented among high-impact inventors as they are among inventors as a whole.

We develop a simple model of inventors’ careers that match these empirical results. The model implies that increasing exposure to innovation in childhood may have larger impacts on innovation than increasing the financial incentives to innovate, for instance by reducing tax rates. In particular, there are many “lost Einsteins” — individuals who would have had highly impactful inventions had they been exposed to innovation.

 

PONDEROUS PONDERINGS AND MEANDERING EPHEMERA:

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Like most people I guess, I have lived more than one life — in my case at least three. We all live our own timelines of course, from birth to death and whatever might happen in between. I seemed to have lived my life in about five year or so increments usually ending in some life altering collapse, often self-inflicted. After that, there would be about three years or so in between each phase of wandering  as I tried to put my life back together.

My second life was the almost 15,000 books I have read in the past 75 years or so, most of them fiction — and most of the fiction fantasy — the farther from the mundane the better. I do not read words. Only images run past my eyes.

My third life is my dreams. Often they impinge on my waking memory and I believe things occurred in my life that never happened. For example, for years I believed there was a seacoast town I would periodically visit. I knew the people, the shops, streets and so on. One morning, I thought it would be pleasant to visit the place for a day or two. I searched for how to get to it and discovered it did not exist. It made me wonder not whether I was crazy or not but what else it was that I remember that also may be fantasy. On the other hand, I could be stuck in an ontological cul de sac or is it an epistemological dead end. There is no question, however, that I live in a metaphysical planned unit development with Descartes my neighbor on one side, Schrodinger on the other and Timothy Leary showing up once a week with a philosophical leaf blower strapped to his back.

 

The Christian Torah.

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The Sermon on the Mount: The Christian Torah.

I have always wondered why evangelical and fundamentalist Christians or the Religious Right seem so fixated on the Old Testament, causing them to do annoying things like insisting the Ten Commandments be displayed in public buildings or choosing some provision in Leviticus to justify support or opposition to someone’s behavior that they do not agree with. After all, they claim to be Christians, and as Christians the Sermon on the Mount sets out the Law and rules of behavior for Christians much like the Torah does for our Jewish Brethren. Christ himself states he had come to perfect the Law not to abolish it and that the perfected law was contained primarily in the Sermon on the Mount. Therefore shouldn’t a good Christian insist the Beatitudes and not the Ten Commandments be posted at the base of the courthouse steps?

2 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons[a] of God.

10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.

12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Matthew 5:2-12

Of course, it would be unconstitutional. But, wouldn’t it be a good thing to see Christians start behaving like their savior asked them to?

And, shouldn’t those Christian ministers and priests, Rather than telling their parishioners what they must do, ask them instead to discuss among themselves something like:

If, a family, escaping war, famine or poverty washes up on your country’s shores without sustenance, what would Jesus do and why would you not do the same?

Alas, I have sadly come to believe that all too many American Christians are hypocrites. Dante, as I recall places hypocrites in one of the lowest circles of Hell.

The longest single episode of the Inferno, launched when Virgil confidently believes the promise of the devils guarding the fifth ditch, concludes when the travelers make a narrow escape into the sixth ditch and Virgil learns from a hypocrite that he has been duped (Inf. 23.133-48). Dante adorns the hypocrites in religious garb–hooded cloaks similar to the elegant ones worn by the Benedictine monks at Cluny (in France)–in accordance with the biblical condemnation of false piety: just as Jesus compares hypocritical scribes and Pharisees to tombs that appear clean and beautiful on the outside while containing bones of the dead (Matthew 23:27), so the bright golden cloaks of Dante’s hypocrites conceal heavy lead on the inside (Inf. 23.64-6).

I like that image of the Religious Right — all “heavy lead” on the inside.

Wake Up America: Democratic Nations vs the Autocracies of Corruption.

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Today, the news was all about He who is not my President’s trip to North Korea where he once again demonstrated that there is no dictator, no matter heinous, that he cannot love and no ally, no matter how staunch their support, that he would not stab in the back if it suited him. That he has turned the United States into a country without honor seems to not faze him one bit.

The way I see it, without the US leadership, the democratic nations of the West are ill-equipped to confront the Autocracies of Corruption now arrayed against them. Without America, these democracies do not have the military might or the unified covert political infrastructure to compete with what is becoming clear are, if not the co-ordinated then the concurrent, political attacks by the major autocracies like Russia and China.

The actions of He Who Is Not My President might not be treasonous per se in that he is not strictly conspiring to surrender political control to a foreign entity but it is a chaotic revolution of sorts by which our operating democracy slowly is becoming replaced by a tyranny while still retaining the trappings of a republic. Sort of like what happened in Rome. Augustus Cesar did not change the structure of the Roman Republic. He merely appointed himself and his family members to all the government jobs that really mattered. It took about 70 years for the family to be ousted by the military and by then even the trappings of the Republic had been all but abandoned.

 

See also:

Slapstick Fascism, (https://trenzpruca.wordpress.com/2018/05/17/slapstick-fascism/)

Within 150 Days Donald Trump Successfully Ends the World Order in Place for 80 Years. (https://trenzpruca.wordpress.com/2017/06/30/within-150-days-donald-trump-successfully-ends-the-world-order-in-place-for-80-years/)

 

Tuckahoe Joe’s Blog of the Week: Alan Lomax Recordings.

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The Association for Cultural Equity (http://www.culturalequity.org/index.php) is an organization set up by the renowned musicologist Alan Lomax to preserve the world’s musical traditions. During one of those many episodes of American history when anything “foreign” even music was considered a threat, the FBI file compiled about him describes him as:

“Neighborhood investigation shows him to be a very peculiar individual in that he is only interested in folklore music, being very temperamental and ornery. …. He has no sense of money values, handling his own and Government property in a neglectful manner, and paying practically no attention to his personal appearance. … He has a tendency to neglect his work over a period of time and then just before a deadline he produces excellent results.” (from the FBI file on Alan Lomax, 1940–1980)

The website contains a number of recordings of musical performances and interviews with musicians captured by Lomax over the years. Although the entire collection is now available from the Library of Congress, this site contained some of the most interesting of his recordings especially those of little-known blues musicians from America’s south.

Not a Book Report because I am Going to Take a Ship Instead.

Tower of Babel

As I have mentioned in the past, one lives several lives. Among them are:

— the day to day slog through your personal timeline;

–the life one tells oneself in the running comments in one’s mind while passing through that slog;

— one’s dreams;

— and for those who read a lot of fiction, the life of those tales as, over time, they meld into their own narrative.

I read a lot of fantasy fiction so my narrative is often more like a steampunk fairyland than mundane life as we know it. I do not need to play VR games to experience that life. It has become part of me. For example:

          October 15th— It has been ninety-three days since I last saw Marya vanish into the underwear bazaar and forty days since I shook hands with Goll. The burn on my hand has healed, though it looks like a splot of candle wax dried upon my palm. It is strange to look at, strange to think that I will always have this mark with me now. When I consider the scars my friends have accrued, Edith’s malicious branding, Tarrou’s carved scalp, and Adam’s undone eye, I feel fortunate. Now, the port and weigh station tick along like two clocks. The station house is tidy as a library, and the autowagons run as regularly as the tides. I have Goll fairly convinced that I am Port Master Tom Senlin, a reliable man who is satisfied with his salary and his lot. He believes that I have forgotten my old crusade.

 
           A ship arrived today with a miraculous cargo. The captain himself escorted to the station the four waterlogged crates. He opened one, and showed me layers of straw packed about a crust of ice—ice!—which he had harvested himself, from the horn of a mountain, before flying to a port, not a sky port, but an honest oceanic port, where he took on his precious cargo: five hundred oysters. He pulled one of the horned shells from the ice pack to prove the oysters were still tightly closed and redolent of the sea. He deftly cracked it open with a pick and offered me the shimmering morsel to sample. What had always seemed peasant’s food to me before now was a capsule of a lost home and an old life … I have never tasted anything so wonderful.

 
           That captain walked away from the port with a king’s purse, which the port coffers quickly recouped and doubled after selling the treasures to a private cantina. But more importantly, that unpolished, unremarkable captain left me with the clear revelation that a man with a ship is capable of all sorts of miracles. If five hundred oysters, those most perishable of creatures, can be plucked from the sea and carried to the heart of a continent, unspoiled, is anything impossible with the advantage of a ship? What good is money? It can be skimmed and extorted, taxed and burgled! Tickets will strand you. Customs will rob you. I do not need money to buy passage upon a ship. I need a ship entire and my own. Let Goll think I have lost my resolve! I am determined. I will find her.

 
            I am going to take a ship.
                       Bancroft, Josiah.Senlin Ascends (The Books of Babel) (pp. 242-244). Orbit.

 

I have taken other ships, in my waking life, in my dreams, and in other books. This one seems interesting, don’t you think?

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