peristaltor: (The Captain's Prop)
The Wife™ is having a bit of trouble with someone. Essentially, this asshat is acting like because she is a woman, he doesn't have to respond in a timely manner to shit he and he alone is authorized to approve.

In the spirit of mocking him, I asked her, "Given my obvious superiority as a man, I hereby ask that you refer to me by the honorific 'Your Guyness.'"

She laughed.
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I had a moment of extreme coincidence the other day. I spent the early part of the day transcribing a bit of interesting info from Oren Harman's The Price of Altruism. Let me share the coincidence. )

And now, let me rant. )

X-Posted to [ profile] home_effinomic

peristaltor: (Default)
I have for several weeks now been contemplating subjects, as the phrase goes, way above my pay grade, specifically why today's economic woes might be far more severe than even a press known for glorying in maim and gore is willing to investigate. It's been difficult, to say the least. There is so much I simply don't know. Hey, don't believe me? Go back to an old entry, Understanding the Economic Clusterfuck, and read the new prefixed addendum and disclaimer I recently added:

Disclaimer, June 16, 2010: Much of the information you read below is wrong. I wrote this before I read [ profile] ellenbrown's Web of Debt. Therefore, I missed details extremely important to the thrust of this post.

For example, below I state that interest is created through loans. This is incorrect. The money issued at the time the loan is finalized is the money actually created. Money is literally loaned into existence by banks, not printed by the Federal Government as everyone seems to assume.

I'm sure I'll post an update soon. For now, though, I intend to leave the post below intact. It will give me a chance to review what I've learned over the years by showing me what I believed in the past to be true. I apologize for the mis-information.

With that kind of track record, I should just quit while I'm far, far, far behind. Ah, but that's the danger of learning new stuff and wanting to share it. Try as I may to make declarations of firm substance and indisputable truth, I find myself constantly learning something else that's new to me and needing to correct the record. Yes, if I just shut up and said nothing I would say nothing wrong. But if I were that kind of person, I wouldn't be much of a blogger, now would I?

For that reason, I have decided to lay as much as I have on the table and see what newly acquired items of factual interest in the future obviates the table's heap into a steaming pile of poo. Let's start with the reason I think markets work -- Sir Francis Galton. )
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In his latest book, The Ecotechnic Future, John Michael Greer notes the problem of increasing yields in organic crops using the most obvious fertilizer source, one that literally falls out of farmers' asses:

So why has the world been unable to get its fertilizer together on this issue? What keeps composted humanure and urine from being a primary resource base for farmers struggling to replace dwindling inorganic sources of plant nutrients? Much of the reason reaches deep into the crawl spaces of the industrial world's imagination. People who object to composting human waste very often cite concerns about pathogens or odors, but it rarely takes long to reach the emotional level of a five-year-old clenching his eyes shut and squealing, "Ewww, ick!"

C.S. Lewis pointed out . . . that modern attitudes about dirt and biological waste have their source in what might be called biophobia -- a pathological fear of the realities of biological life, coupled with an obsessive fascination with the sterile, the mechanical and the lifeless. Biophobia guides the creation of human environments so sterile that, according to recent research, many currently widespread illnesses may be caused by excessive cleanliness. The same attitude, I'm convinced, drives the horror many people feel when faced with the prospect of eating food fertilized with composted (human waste).

(John Michael Greer, The Ecotechnic Future, New Society Publishers, 2009, p. 114.)

Biophobia. At last, I have a dismissive descriptive to pepper my missives.
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I started writing the Deist Miasma series with high hopes, but little else. I was missing something, a crucial piece of evidence (as opposed to suspicion) that may have finally surfaced. It's a preliminary study that requires some expansion, but it reinforced the niggling thoughts that started this series enough to motivate me to finish it. Onward, interested parties! )
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"Also, 'shit' does have quite a noble semantic history. It comes from words relating to 'separate,' and is apparently related to the word "'science.'"

So says Rose George, author of The Big Necessity -- Adventures in the World of Human Waste in an interview* by The Economist. If true, this might explain my interest in both science and shit.

*This link references the print review of the book. Ms. George makes the comment in the audio podcast, a direct link to which I could not locate due to The Economist's byzantine search restrictions. I say, grrr. . . .
peristaltor: (Default)
Very recently, researchers led by Richard Lenski announced something momentous: For the first time in recorded scientific history, researchers have been able to observe evolutionary change in progress, confirming and refining Darwin's epochal 1859 theory on the genetic level.

Flasks of evolved E. coli

One would think that this coffin nail would have silenced the Creationist crowd forever. It didn't. If anything, it momentarily energized them. )

Addendum, July 24, 2008: Just for fun, I headed over to Conservapedia and looked up the latest bashing entry for "evolution." I found this sentence:

The theory of evolution posits a process of self-transformation from simple life forms to more complex life forms, which has never been observed or duplicated in a laboratory.

Weird. With such recent communications with the researcher who just observed and duplicated evolution in the lab, one would assume Schlafly would have rushed to his site to make corrections. . . wouldn't one?

*Addendum, April 5, 2009: Forgive me, readers, for I have omitted. When I first started The Deist Miasma, I fully expected to answer that last question, Why the creationists felt so threatened by the scientific explanations of life. After all, the "Fundamentally" in this post's title refers to the fundamental, underpinning assumptions Behe, Schlafly and Walker all hold that forces their science attacking actions. I wrapped up the third and last installment, though, and forgot to answer that question. Why? I am a lazy, forgetful idiot. Let me rectify that omission now, with a supplement to the original entry that runs from the asterisk to the LJ cut.

Pure Shit?

May. 16th, 2008 08:37 pm
peristaltor: (Default)
Many words have meanings commonly accepted today but of unknown origin. I may have stumbled upon one such: pure.

For example, look at the Online Etymology Dictionary's take on "purify":

c.1300, "free from spiritual pollution," from O.Fr. purifier (12c.), from L. purificare "to make pure," from purus "pure" (see pure) + root of facere "to make" . . . . Meaning "free from extraneous matter" is recorded from c.1440. . . . (Emphasis mine)

Interestingly, the next entry below "purify" is defecate:

1575, "to purify," from L. defæcatus, pp. of defæcare "cleanse from dregs, purify," from the phrase de fæce "from dregs," pl. fæces "feces. . . ."

Some recent reading suggests the two definitions may be more alike than we would like to think. Remember, folks, many words in our randomly-gleaned junk pile of a language predate printing, coming from the tradespeople who, though extremely competent at their lives and the tasks that professionally occupied them, never read or wrote a word. The words they used were eventually written, but often only after being filtered through the author's zeitgeist. For example, since many of the writers in the Middle Ages were monks, words tended to be filtered religiously. A monk might, for example, take a word known well to the common people and use it poetically to impart a religious lesson or image.

"Pure-finders" in London refer not to those of a religious bent, but on people who collect dog turds, or "pieces of pure," and sell these to leather tanners:

The pure collected is used by leather-dressers and tanners. . . . The dung has astringent as well as highly alkaline, or, to use the expression of my informant, "scouring," qualities. When the pure has been rubbed into the flesh and grain of the skin (the "flesh" being originally the interior, and the "grain" the exterior part of the cuticle), and the skin, thus purified, has been hung up to be dried, the dung removes, as it were, all such moisture as, if allowed to remain, would tend to make the leather unsound or imperfectly dressed."

Henry Mayhew, London Labour and the London Poor, New York: Penguin, 1985, p. 143 (the articles comprising the book were compiled in book form first in 1851).

Here we see pure -- again, bits of dog shit -- used to purify the skins not religiously, but to make them "free from extraneous matter." "This is done to 'purify' the leather, I was told by an intelligent leatherdresser, and from that term the word 'pure' has originated," the quoted source specifies.

I don't know. Sure, in English "pure" as a piece of poop might reflect its part in leather purification; but what of "purify?" Leather tanning has been around a hell of a lot longer than most religions today. Perhaps the purity of the skins predated the purity of the soul. I find some comfort in realizing that the monks might have borrowed a term from the tanners, just as the word "test" came from metal workers and a glass lens refers to nothing more lofty than its shapely resemblance to a bean.

Of course, what other conclusion can one expect from the Peristaltic Testator?
peristaltor: (Default)
I started writing this in November, but faltered, and started again, and faltered again. I find the entire topic just too important to treat lightly, but too emotionally fraught to resort to the bludgeon of didactic accusation. Telling people "You're evil!" just gets you dismissed.

I'm not trying to make that accusation. Ah, but just making the argument that the words used to vilify those that wish us dead could be better applied to many of our leaders. . . . I hope you can see the difficulty. The trouble: Those should know of our country's history with fascism have been blindsided by sloppy use of the word. Over the decades, few remember what the word actually meant to those that coined it. )
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Back in (IRRC) Philosophy 102, Logic, we learned the dirty little secret of Victorian literature. Sherlock Holmes sometimes got it wrong.

Seated to the Right,
An Entertaining Occassional Mis-Speaker

You see, he was widely quoted as presenting the conclusions he based upon evidence as a "deduction." That is incorrect. A deduction is specifically used to remove evidence or conclusions from consideration. For example, if Mary has a solid alibi for being elsewhere during the crime, and the time of the crime can be solidly established, one can deduce that Mary cannot have been the perpetrator.

However, when it came to reconstructing the scene of a crime, Sherlock's speciality, the addition of detail was necessary. One needed to know more than who didn't do it. One needed to know who did.

This, folks, requires induction.

Furthermore, when one induces based upon evidence, one does not "prove" anything. An induction is a speculative reconstruction based upon evidence; by definition, proof is deductive -- and therefore conclusive -- not speculative.

Evidence of more. )
peristaltor: (Default)
I perused Henry Hazlitt's "Economics In One Lesson", a 1946 short book purporting to introduce beginners into the complexities of economics by briefly reviewing the basics. However, he does not review the basics at all. )


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