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Scott

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Links for August [Aug. 29th, 2012|12:12 am]
Scott
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USA Today reports that 65% of Americans think Obama would be more qualified than Romney to deal with an alien attack. Some may say this sort of poll is frivolous, but I like it. It cuts through the discussions of who has the better hair or the less negative campaign, and goes straight to who you would trust with an existential threat to the human race so unexpected that all domain-specific knowledge would probably be useless.

Mesmerizing, in a very creepy way. Warning: very creepy, in a mesmerizing sort of way.

I dislike Putin and am just as happy as everyone else to see him embarrassed, but the Guardian has a point about the West's hypocrisy on Pussy Riot.

Since everyone in the Universe already has a twitter account, the logical next step was for the Universe itself to get one. Hilarity ensues.

A handy heuristic for realizing you might be the bad guys: if you have to ban the word "truth".

Christians Against Nike. I don't care what you say about Poe's Law, no way a faker put in this much effort.

Zipf's Law is crazy good at predicting the sizes of cities in a given country (conworlders take note!) Except, it seems, in dictatorships, where capital cities turn into parasites.

One of the Catholic blogs talking about the relationship between church and state, ("Christ" and "Caesar") mentioned that there was a fringe scholar who believed Jesus was Caesar (see also here). I don't know if it's kosher to use "canny" as the opposite of "uncanny", but I'm just going to go ahead and say that the similarities are canny.

OKCEnemies' methodology involves looking up your worst enemies on OKCupid, then publicizing how horrible they are. Useful for those who accidentally regained some faith in humanity and need to get rid of it pronto.

KimKierkegaard on Twitter does a surprisingly good job of combining half a Kim Kardashian quote with half a Soren Kierkegaard quote. Why does this work so well?

The new focus of the search for extraterrestrial life in our solar system: Enceladus.

3-D printing is pretty cool, and Obama's even directly subsidizing it now, but they may eventually mean unlimited free firearms for everyone. Unless, of course, someone can build in simple precautions like the ones Photoshop has against currency. I find myself hoping they can't, not because I think the mall would be a nicer place if everyone had AK-47s, but because it sounds like it would make dictatorships in Third World countries a lot harder to maintain.

The main predictor of economic growth is the rule of law? Question mark because of obvious political agenda here.

God Hates The World. This website is amazing. It's one of the best I've ever seen. The Westboro Baptist Church (aka God Hates Fags) have created an interactive map where you can click on almost any country in the world and get snappy, well-organized information on why God hates that country in particular that without warning degenerates into the most insane ranting you will ever hear. Also: either God is actually kinda okay with Kyrgyzstan, or He just forgot about it.

From nancylebov: The Tragedy of the Healthy Eater. I've had good results just eating bread all the time.

Poll on religion shows religiousity has declined 9% globally in the last five years, with it positively collapsing in places like Ireland.

The current Earl of Sandwich, descendant of the Earl of Sandwich who invented the sandwich in 1762, owns a chain of sandwich shops. That's pretty legit.

Did you know: Queen Elizabeth II is a descendant of the Prophet Mohammed?

Although this is kind of less impressive when you consider that the rest of us probably are too.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: adelenedawner
2012-08-29 05:49 am (UTC)
That one with the chimp seems to be a viral ad from the Planet of the Apes movie from a while back.

Also the Tragedy of the Healthy Eater link is borked.
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[User Picture]From: squid314
2012-08-29 08:59 pm (UTC)
Thanks. I fixed Healthy Eater and removed the chimp thing since it wasn't legit.
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[User Picture]From: mindstalk
2012-08-29 06:12 am (UTC)
I feel conflicted. I like the Rule of Law explanation but they keep quoting Niall Ferguson, who's been revealed as a lying liar who lies about ACA and macroeconomics, and he seems to be an apologist for British imperialism as well.
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[User Picture]From: cartesiandaemon
2012-08-29 07:38 am (UTC)

Queen Elizabeth II is a descendant of the Prophet Mohammed?

Hm. I agree Elizabeth almost certainly IS a descendant of Mohammed. But I'd ideally like to see some more details. I don't think Elizabeth is descended from Edward IV through English and British monarchs. She probably is through intermarriage with the nobility, but if that's supposed to be convincing to non-geanealogists, I'd prefer to see a specific line of descent made explicit. And its lack makes me wonder about the first 700 years of descent -- those intermediate kings, do we have reliable attestations that the first was descended from Mohammed's grandson, or did he just claim it to look impressive? I don't know; I hope the author of the blog post knew, but he didn't say so.
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[User Picture]From: gareth_rees
2012-08-29 01:52 pm (UTC)

Re: Queen Elizabeth II is a descendant of the Prophet Mohammed?

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[User Picture]From: cartesiandaemon
2012-08-29 02:12 pm (UTC)

Re: Queen Elizabeth II is a descendant of the Prophet Mohammed?

You're right, sorry.

Do you know anything about the previous descent?
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[User Picture]From: gareth_rees
2012-08-29 02:33 pm (UTC)

Re: Queen Elizabeth II is a descendant of the Prophet Mohammed?

It's online in various places, e.g. here. There are several dodgy connections, for example the identification of Zaida of Seville (niece and daughter-in-law of Al-Mu'tamid ibn Abbad, the last king in the Abbaddid dynasty of Seville) with Isabel, wife of Alfonso VI of León and Castile.

Edited at 2012-08-29 02:36 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: cartesiandaemon
2012-08-29 03:00 pm (UTC)

Re: Queen Elizabeth II is a descendant of the Prophet Mohammed?

Ah, thank you! That's really interesting. I had a quick look when I saw the original description, but I gave up too quickly.
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[User Picture]From: maniakes
2012-08-29 07:30 pm (UTC)

Re: Queen Elizabeth II is a descendant of the Prophet Mohammed?

There's a couple other things you could have been thinking of.

One is the argument that Elizabeth II isn't a legitimate descendant of Edward IV. Richard III claimed the throne following Edward IV's death under the claim that as Edward had previously broken an engagement (which, at the time, was considered legally binding without Papal dispensation), his marriage was invalid and his children were bastards. Moreover, Richard claimed that since his other older brother, George Duke of Clarence, had been executed for treason, George's surviving children were barred from inheritting. If we accept Richard's claims, the royal line should have instead run through Richard's sister Elizabeth, Duchess of Suffolk.

The other issue is that Edward IV himself may have been illegitimate, and not descended from his previous royal ancestor Edward III. Allegedly, Edward IV was conceived when his mothers' husband (Richard, third Duke of York) was away travelling, and by all accounts E4 strongly resembled his mother but had little or no resemblance to his father. If this is correct, E4's descendants aren't royal at all, andthe rightful royal line would run through George, Duke of Clarence's descendants: George's treason conviction was based on him allegedly planning a coup against E4 on the grounds of E4's illegitimacy. However, Elizabeth II's ancestors also include other royal lines, most notably the Tudor line of descent from the Lancaster branch of Edward III's descendants, so Elizabeth's still descended from Edward III (and through him, all the way back to William the Conqueror) either way.
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[User Picture]From: cartesiandaemon
2012-08-30 04:24 pm (UTC)

Re: Queen Elizabeth II is a descendant of the Prophet Mohammed?

Thank you. Yeah, that seems likely, but I can't claim it as an excuse. I didn't expect the chain to have _no_ claims of illegitimacy.

I just didn't remember whether _all_ of the upsets in the monarchy since Edward IV (Henry VII, James VI&I, William&Mary, George I) had been descendants of previous monarchs or not.
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[User Picture]From: maniakes
2012-08-30 05:38 pm (UTC)

Re: Queen Elizabeth II is a descendant of the Prophet Mohammed?

AFAIK, every English monarch since William the Conquerer has been (at least notionally) a direct descendant of his. The only possible exceptions I know of are Oliver and Richard Cromwell, who although they were de facto monarchs, never officially claimed the title (the First Protectorate Parliament offered Oliver the crown, which he refused, instead taking the title of "Lord Protector", which had previously been the standard English title for a regent reigning on behalf of an underage, absent, or insane monarch).
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[User Picture]From: marycatelli
2012-08-29 12:39 pm (UTC)
It's amazing, the fuss about Russia. Disturbing the peace is an offense just about everywhere -- and aren't hate crime laws designed to give stiff sentences for those sorts of offenses?

Meanwhile, Putin opponents have been murdered with less to-do.
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[User Picture]From: max_i_m
2012-08-29 11:27 pm (UTC)
>Disturbing the peace is an offense just about everywhere.

Indeed. Punishable in most places by a fine, or a short administrative arrest (on the length scale of days, weeks or months).

> aren't hate crime laws designed to give stiff sentences for those sorts of offenses

This is, to me, the crux of the matter. Pussy Riot was prosecuted for hate crime, while in my evaluation of reality they did not commit a hate crime. The lyrics that seem to have caused most offense are "Mother of God, chase Putin away." This has been interpreted as insulting to Christianity.

The issue is increasing use of hate-crime legislature to 1) stifle political dissent and 2)to punish any manifestation of rhetoric against the Russian Orthodox Church, which has entered a close relationship with United Russia party.
The bigger issue is a complete lack of judicial independence in Russia.

>Meanwhile, Putin opponents have been murdered with less to-do.

At least Putin would not claim that he had anything to do with the murders or that the murders were the right thing to do. Sentencing Pussy Riot for "lenient" 3 years is an official act of the court, done while attempting to maintain the appearance of a society based on rule of law. The uproar is saying that this attempt is not working.

If a Putin opponent is sentenced to death in a Russian court for their opposition we will know the two processes have converged.

I agree that their actions are questionable. They did disturb public peace, and some opposing action was justified. I am sure they expected such action. The pros and cons of their action are to be evaluated on their merits. In particular one may apply the reasoning recently promoted in this journal to see if the usual reasons for not disturbing public peace apply in this case. I agree with the Guardian that unquestioning apologetics is out of place. I do not see that "the west" is "hypocritical" however. I think the issues with the rule of law in the west, while significant, are nowhere near what goes on in Russia.









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[User Picture]From: marycatelli
2012-08-30 12:30 am (UTC)
Of course they committed a hate crime. Invading a church to indulge in such antics is a hate crime. Just imagine if someone pulled this off in Jeremiah Wright's church.

The problem is that hate crime laws are evil -- but if you're not prepared to accept that, you have to accept that even when you prefer the criminals to the victims, they are hate crimes.
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[User Picture]From: max_i_m
2012-08-30 12:41 am (UTC)
I currently believe that if they did something equivalent in Jeremiah Wright's church there would a lot of outrage but not be a hate crime prosecution. I am not an expert on these matters so I should be easy to convince otherwise (no guarantees, though).

I believe that hate crime laws as practiced in Russia at the moment are evil. I have general dislike for hate-crime laws, but I am unaware of their application and misapplication by the judicial system in the US (which the mentioning of Jeremiah Wright leads me to believe is the relevant context). The public shaming/activist campaigns etc etc are a different story, in more ways than one.

I admit I do not have sufficient interest to do extensive googling on my own, but if you have references to specific instances of problems caused by hate crime laws in the US (or more generally in the West) that you think are worth knowing about, I'd be glad to know. Thanks.
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From: siodine
2012-08-29 02:45 pm (UTC)
You've got a pretty awesome blog going here, but I think you should find a less teenage locale.
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[User Picture]From: hentaikid
2012-08-29 03:08 pm (UTC)
Livejournal? Livejournal was for teenagers before myspace was. Anyone still hanging around here isn't likely to be a teen.
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From: siodine
2012-08-29 03:31 pm (UTC)
What matters is the appearance, "hentaikid". I don't think people like Edward Feser would feel as comfortable linking to squid314.livejournal.com as they would to susskind.com or susskind.blogspot.com. Even better, become part of a community of respectable bloggers.
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[User Picture]From: hentaikid
2012-08-29 03:51 pm (UTC)
Agreed, signalling is important. But, sometimes it can be used inversely.
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[User Picture]From: squid314
2012-08-30 04:20 am (UTC)
Thank you re: the awesomeness.

As for LiveJournal, it's pretty good in helping connect people, in the sense that most of the people who read this are part of the LJ community, found it through LJ, and read it only through the native LJ syndication system. I don't know how many of them would follow me if I went somewhere else, and I predict the blog would be less trafficked.

Also, if I wanted to go legit I would need to actually think up a decent name for the blog and figure out what I wanted it to be about, which I have very happily avoided thus far.
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[User Picture]From: cartesiandaemon
2012-08-30 08:44 am (UTC)
A plausible intermediate step might be to get a blog which crossposts to LJ.
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[User Picture]From: maniakes
2012-08-29 07:20 pm (UTC)
I want to make a Birther joke, but I can't decide whether to joke that the Queen's a secret Muslim sleeper agent, or that perhaps people think Obama's better qualified to fend off an alien invasion is because they think he's an illegal alien himself and thus better able to understand how aliens operate.
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[User Picture]From: squid314
2012-08-29 09:01 pm (UTC)
See, I was going to go the "Haha, Romney is an alien because he's so impersonal, so he would be able to understand how the aliens operate" route.

Then I smacked myself and avoided anything so predictable.
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[User Picture]From: grognor
2012-08-30 01:58 am (UTC)
Why don't you have a Twitter account.
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[User Picture]From: squid314
2012-08-30 04:21 am (UTC)
I hate Twitter, don't understand what it's there for, and doubt that anything that can be said in fewer than a hundred and forty characters is remotely worth saying.

(before you count, that sentence was 165)
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[User Picture]From: nancylebov
2012-08-30 12:26 pm (UTC)
I've read the comments on the healthy eater link (back when there were about 300 of them), and I had no idea that sometimes Lyme disease and MS are mistaken for each other.
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