EdgeWise 10.3.2004

2004-03-10

Gene that makes us human

Tantalizing bit about the fifteen mutations a single gene has undergone to give us humans such large brains.
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Truth is Funnier Than I Am

A joke feels like a warm little chestnut you can pull out of your pocket, pass around, and warm your hands with, or use to distract attacking weasels. (Warning: do not feed chestnuts to wolverines. It gives them terrible gas.) When one of my jokes comes true, I miss it like the former owner of a pet that had only occasionally defecated upon me. At the same time, it means reality is a joke. Sighing and laughing simultaneously sounds like an asthmatic with a tracheotomy, so I ward off undue medical assistance by wearing a sign that says "Do not resuscitate. This is normal for me."

Recently, someone marked up an Onion article that satirized G. W. Bush with hyperlinks to all the things that came true. Bush: 'Our Long Nightmare of Peace and Prosperity Is Finally Over'

A cellphone with a built in stun gun (taser). When people ask me about my cellphone, I always mentioned that feature as a joke, followed by the caveat ("but it really runs the battery down so I can only stun four or five people a day"). Now, they really have it. Another joke becomes a casualty of reality's infectious sense of humor.
posted at 16:39:12    #    comment []    trackback []
 

Is Civil Disobedience Coercive? Part II

Jeff has been highly patient with my delinquent response. The current discussion (now bifurcated) is pretty interesting, but this week is probably not the best for timely, succinct, and thoughtful responses from me. I'm currently just leaving work and still a bit sick.

We both agree that the Civil Rights era made dramatic progress and that direct action played an important role. More interestingly, what happens to the power of direct action when it is used to support regressive beliefs? When the KKK marches, when the Pro-War people burn Dixie Chicks CDs, etc. Is the power of direct action only due to the legitimacy of the motivating end goal, in historical hindsight? Is the power in the legitimacy of the principled execution (nonviolence, etc.)? Or is direct action's power only when there are outsized and unjustified responses? A combination?

WARNING: The below, while less of a digression than the above from Jeff's post, is probably incredibly boring and pedantic as it deals with a semantic difference. I blame the cough syrup.

In Jeff's latest, on the compelling nature of the civil rights era direct action (and the unjustified responses), I fully agree that I found those events to compellingly demonstrate the severity of the opression, and the remarkable character of those who nonviolently resisted it. I am so persuaded that I have trouble understanding how anyone could not be. However, I do know that there are those who cling to discredited, racist beliefs and were not "forcibly persuaded" by the awesome Pathos and irrefutable principles encapsulated by the events of the Civil Rights era. Jeff still finds this to meet his criteria for "compelling", enough so that he seems to toy with the idea that direct action is so powerful it is almost coercive (but in a good way). I personally draw a line between extremely persuasive and truly "compelling" such that all are unable to think otherwise. To-may-to, to-mah-to. Again, I apologize for even bringing it up.
posted at 00:54:08    #    comment []    trackback []
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