Random musings on a Sunday morning.

Howie Klein on Santorum’s primary win in Louisiana:

Louisiana ranks at or near the bottom of every list of states that measures health, education, economic fairness, infant mortality, poverty, violent crime… almost any kind of achievement that takes a competent government to deliver for its citizens, Louisiana is always in contention with Mississippi and Alabama for the bottom of the barrel. And yesterday, as predicted, Lousiana joined those two misfortunate states in supporting the candidacy for the GOP presidential nomination of Little Ricky “The Rooster” Santorum, America’s ultimate loser.

Good times.  I am reminded — all too frequently as of late — of this:

I never meant to say that the Conservatives are generally stupid. I meant to say that stupid people are generally Conservative. I believe that is so obviously and universally admitted a principle that I hardly think any gentleman will deny it. –John Stuart Mill, 1866

More from Mr. Klein:

Although Romney’s ancestral home, Utah, is the state most addicted to pornography, it’s the red states, states that voted most heavily for McCain– and especially the states that are casting their GOP ballots for “The Rooster”– that have the most pornography use. These Republicans are the most self-loathing, sick motherfuckers on the face on God’s good earth.

A great regular commenter at Pharyngula once said this:

As near as I can tell, the modern Republican Party seems to be an alliance between the evil and the stupid. It is a formidable alliance. The stupid provide the numbers, while the evil provide the “moral flexibility”. -a_ray_in_dilbert_space, OM

To which I would add: the stupid and the evil are not mutually exclusive groups.

* * * * *

I usually ignore banner ads, but this one was so over-the-top I literally LOL’d:

"New York Mom reveals $3 trick to erase wrinkles. Shocking before and after results exposed."

Wow, those are some seriously shocking results!  I mean, I do not as yet have any wrinkles — although I do have the dreaded “laugh lines,” which I fully intend on keeping because those motherfuckers are hard-earned and I treasure them as prima facie evidence of a life well-lived.  But I must admit that neither am I as dew-faced as the young woman in the “after” shot.  That sure is some transformation for $3!  Why, just imagine what this miracle product could do for me!

You know what would really do more for me, though?  When the person behind this face:

and this face:

are both regarded as highly valued members of our society — and as uniquely beautiful, each in her own way.

[Cheesy-ass photo manipulation courtesy of The Palace Photo-Rama ‘n Cat Food Emporium.]

* * * * *

This is a very interesting piece at Alternet on veteran science journalist John Horgan’s new book The End of War, in which he “applies the scientific method to reach a unique conclusion: biologically speaking, we are just as likely to be peaceful as we are to be violent.” My experience reading it was peppered with “wow” moments, and I urge you to read the whole thing.  But this nugget struck me, because it goes straight to a pet theory of mine — that we often get the causality of cultural phenomena exactly backwards:

There’s this wonderful anthropologist Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, who has presented evidence about how war, once it emerged in some of these very early tribal societies, became such an important part of culture that it had a profound impact on male and female roles and identities. And it was the emergence of war that led to male macho-ness, the male embrace of the kind of warrior identity and how being really tough and aggressive was the essence of being a man. It wasn’t that males are intrinsically tough and aggressive and that’s why war happens. It was more that the causality, according to Hrdy, was the other way around. War emerges and then the culture tries to elevate the martial virtues because war then becomes such an important part of the culture.

This passage also hints at support for another pet theory of mine, which is that cultural memes like “war” tend to travel together in synergistic groups just like genes do, and thus wherever we see a warrior culture for men we will also see a breeding-sow culture for women.  (Exhibit A: the Old Testament.)  Warrior cultures also tend to be war-based economies, and it is easy to see why it would be extremely beneficial to such a society to control the means of production:  women quite literally produce soldiers in their bodies (and more breeding sows, of course).  That is:  war and misogyny are memes that travel together in virtual lockstep, organically reinforcing each other.  (There are almost certainly others as well, such as black-&-white thinking, anti-intellectualism, etc.)  Each is an emergent property of the other.  If I am right, on the one hand this points to the intractability of Conservative Personality Disorder; on the other hand, it leads me to hope that if we can diminish one of them, the other(s) will necessarily diminish as well.  Horgan suggests this at the end of the piece, although he has a clear preference for which one should be tackled first and foremost:

I mention somewhere in the book and would like this to be discussed among progressive activists: What should your priorities be? You know, do you work on environmental issues, against global warming? Against poverty and world hunger? Do you work on the advancement of women’s rights? I mean all those are worthy causes. But I actually think that in terms of leverage, of focusing on one thing that can then have a cascade of other positive effects, focusing on militarism and war should be the priority. Because if we can really reduce the militarism of this country, really cut back on our military budget, get rid of nuclear weapons and create a more rational international policy, then I think that a lot of these other things will be much easier to address. Environmental issues, economic injustice issues, female inequality, all those sorts of things.

I’m not sure I agree:  I think it matters less which memes are diminished first than it does knocking out any pillar that supports all the others.  However I am open to his case, and I am definitely going to read the book.  Of course, given the sad and sordid history of our government’s infiltration, sabotage and spying on anti-war movements (perhaps including the assassination of one of the greatest peace activists of all time), I probably shouldn’t be saying so.

Just forget I ever mentioned it.

* * * * *

It’s downright surreal to read Andy Borowitz being serious and scholarly in this interview at Salon.  D00d is brilliant.  This morning’s Twitter gem:

Sunday Thought: I may waste a lot of time on Twitter, but I make up for it by not observing an organized religion.

Amen to that.

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