02 June 2007

Batman v. Alien v. Predator?



FWIW, Alien v. Predator (playing poker).


Scroll to the bottom of this page for a discussion of the mini-gun used in the movie Predator. The scene where it is fired by an individual in a standing position never did make much sense to me.

See the scene for yourself here.

31 May 2007


Is this actual footage of a bigfoot attacking a human? You decide!


Is this footage from another attack? Or just a clever hoax?

30 May 2007

Public Understanding Of Science

So, what does the public know about science? Well, if this poll (taken in 2001) is any indicator, both the European (or rather, E.U.) and American publics still have a lot to learn. Also note that at least with regard to the thirteen questions asked in the survey those answering for the E.U. performed more poorly on most of the questions than did the American respondents. For me the question that disturbs me the most is that concerning the nature of our planetary system - that is whether it is heliocentric or not. That the survey produced such large numbers of Americans and Europeans answering that the Sun revolves around the Earth (over 20% and 30% respectively) scares me somewhat.

29 May 2007

Leo Strauss & Historicism

Leo Strauss was opposed to historicism. He argued that its development since the Enlightenment was at the base of much what was wrong with modernity. In other words, Strauss argued that there are indeed certain fundamentals and that historicism's focus on the uniqueness of historical periods ignored these fundamentals to society's detriment.

This doesn't make Strauss a "fundamentalist" in any religious sense, or an advocate of orthodoxy. Indeed, he viewed these fundamentals in some ways as impossible to answer questions (e.g., just think of the classic problems which philosophy has faced since its advent). Of course some of these "fundamentals," or the rather immutable aspects of humanity, were indeed "fundamental" in the sense of being notions which were true throughout the ages. His notions on the natural inequality of man is one of these.

Strauss wanted some of these fundamentals hidden, particularly the "fundamental" question of whether we are a special creation or not. It seems that he thought to question this openly amongst non-philosophers was to endanger human society.

While I find the notion of "fundamental questions" to be a fascinating one and one which gets at the crux of a number of issues, I find his outright rejection of historicism to be troubling.

First let us note that Strauss did not reject history as a field of study. Indeed, he found it to be a good way to discover the nature of the "fundamental questions," since history illustrates the difference between the tradition of one culture and other cultures and thus the potential difference between tradition and nature. However, the use of history to justify what one might call historical particularism bothered him.

So what troubles me about Strauss' rejection? Well, it seems to me that up to a point that historicism can be useful as a means to, hmm, "enforce" tolerance. In other words, too much emphasis on "fundamentals" can lead to as much bloodshed as too little focus on it.

Germany's First 20th Century Genocide

Most folks are likely ignorant of Germany's First Genocide - namely the genocide committed in what is Namibia in the first decade of the last century. While local conditions, grievances, etc. had much to do with the violence which erupted at the time, early 20th century race theories also played their part and much of the themes found in the Third Reich's activities in WWII can also be seen in the genocide in Namibia. This includes the same sort of domestic propaganda used against the various non-European peoples in Namibia as was used against Jews in the 1930s and 1940s. Just as in WWII, Germany ran concentration camps in Namibia. Also as in WWII there was an extermination order (though in the case of Namibia it was formally rescinded). Further, as the Jews (and others) under the Third Reich had to wear special identifiers, so elements of Namibia's indigenous population had to wear a tag which was worn around their necks. Finally, individuals involved in the genocide in Namibia were directly involved in the creation of the Nazi party and individuals like Hess, Hitler, Mengele, etc. were directly connected to these people.

28 May 2007

Dictator Of The Month

I came across this neat site today which profiles and "scores" various dictators. Er, I guess, enjoy.