Tuesday, March 07, 2006

You've seen this, but....

Who Reads What

* The Wall Street Journal is read by the people who run
the country.
* The Washington Post is read by people who think they
run the country.
* The New York Times is read by people who think they
should run the country and who are very good at
crossword puzzles.!
* USA Today is read by people who think they ought to
run the country but don't really understand The New
York Times. They do, however, like their statistics
shown in pie charts.
* The Los Angeles Times is read by people who wouldn't
mind running the country -- if they could find the
time -- and if they didn't have to leave Southern
California to do it.
* The Boston Globe is read by pe! ople whose parents used
to run the country and did a far superior job of it,
thank you very much.
* The New York Daily News is read by people who aren't
too sure who's running the country and don't really
care as long as they can get a seat on the train.
* The New York Post is read by people who don't care
who's running the country as long as they do something
really scandalous, preferably while intoxicated.
* The Miami Herald is read by people who are running
another country but need the baseball scores.
* The San Francisco Chronicle is read by people who
aren't sure there is a country ... or that anyone is
running it; but if so, they oppose all that they stand
for. There are occasional exceptions if the leaders
are handicapped minority feminist atheist dwarfs who
also happen to be illegal aliens from any other
country or galaxy pro! vided, of course, that they are
not Republicans.
* The National Enquirer is read by people trapped in
line at the grocery store.
(yes, I know this has been around for more than three years. I read it again, and laughed, and so there)

Friday, March 03, 2006

Species Preservation Instinct

An interesting post, from Prettier than Napoleon.

Money quote:

I mentioned to a friend last night that I had been underwhelmed by Battlestar Galactica and quit watching after the first few discs.

"I bet I know exactly when you started to lose interest. The part just after most of humanity is destroyed, when we zoom in on a couple and Adama says, 'They better start having babies.'"

"Not true, although I don't understand why they can't just float around in space until they die of old age. Why should the people who are still alive rearrange their own lives for the sake of people who aren't even born?"

"See, this is what I mean. The show is uninteresting to you because you don't find the central conflict compelling. You have no species preservation instinct."

"Species preservation instinct"? Wow. NONE of us have species preservation instinct. Group selection "instincts" at that level are just fabrications of fevered brains.

You go, PTN. Don't back down.

March 15: "Kill an animal and eat it" Day

March 15 is, as it is every year, "Eat an animal for PETA day" or (a variant) "Kill and eat an animal day." (I prefer the second, for reasons I'll let Coturnix explain below).

On the reasons why PETA is worth protesting....

An interesting archive, now defunct in terms of new posts.

And, the classic "People Eating Tasty Animals."

This one is rather fun. And the subtlety and style of Yobbo is always worth savoring.

Thanks, as always, to my Triangle homey Coturnix, who though he is deeply confused about many things, is a shining light of reason on this question (and also on the problem of lateness).

From last year, about this time, my rumination:

At the Mungowitz house, we snack high on the food chain. I don't know if God gave man dominion over the beasts of the field, but She certainly gave me an ATM card and big-ass cart to drive along the Kroger meat aisle. That may be even better than dominion.

A lot of the beasts of the field, and the forest, and the oceans, and the air.... they all smack my plate, and they are soon sacrificed to my enjoyment. And nutrition. Meat is GOOD for you, and the reason it tastes good is that thousands and thousands of years of evolution have selected for taste buds that are pleasurably stimulated by the taste and texture of meat. No other way to get that many calories, AND that much iron and protein, so quickly. MMMMmmmm...burgers.

And, the view from Coturnix:

Nobody knows, understands, and loves nature, animals and ecosystems as well as hunters do. Carnivores require large territories. Urban growth has eliminated carnivores from many areas of the country. In a few places, it is possible to re-introduce them, as has been recently done with wolves. In most places, that is not possible. In the absence of predators, the herbivore populations have a huge growth in numbers and densities, stripping their habitats of food and ending up starving to death. In such case, it is our moral duty to step into the role of the top predator and carefully and selectively reduce the herbivore numbers. Hunters really know how to do it right, often better than ecologists do. It is a tough life. No lion sleeping with the lamb. In such a situation the herbivore has three choices: a) to die a slow painful death of starvation, disease and parasites; b) to die after a short and brutal chase by a pack of wolves that starts eating it before it is even dead, or c) to die instantly of a bullet. For a) death is inevitable. For b) there are some slim chances of escaping. For c) only very few animals are killed, thus chances for every animal to survive and reproduce are much greater. If you were a doe, and these were your choices, what would you choose? "Bambi" has ruined the reputation of hunters among city-dwellers who are alienated from nature - folks who tend to join PETA and ALF out of ignorance of how nature works and under the influence of 100 years of Disneyfication (that is actually a technical term for this) of nature.

I include this last because I was rather flip at the top of this post. I like animals; I am happy to work to prevent cruelty to animals, or prevent their suffering. One can oppose the terrorists at PETA, and still be a big fan of animals. Both of our dogs are "rescue" animals, from the shelter, rather than purebreds purchased from a puppy mill.

But on March 15, I am going to eat fresh game. And still-living plant flesh. Because I'm a plant-killer, too.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Good Stuff

Vegreville posts several very nice thoughts, and links.

Academic AWOL

Why being an academic is pretty great

I agree most, perhaps, with these reasons why being an academic is fun:

3. It's great to see a student suddenly understand something new.
4. It's great to understand something new myself. Learning is fun, and that is what I mainly do.

I almost always teach at least one overload class. If you don't like teaching, what are you doing?

Does it hurt my research output? Probably not. Being a chairman is a lot like a full lobotomy (except the scars last forever), so my research output is hardly impressive anyway.

Price Discrimination

Revealing that, when price discrimination is possible, talk is NOT cheap.

Duke Dinner Dance

There really is a Duke Faculty Dinner Dance, every December.

Very fun. From this year's dance, my lovely wife and I having big times.