Sunday, October 30, 2005

I've been thinking about this Slate article by Jon Katz for a while now. I'm sure he's correct that it's wrong to anthropomorphize canine behavior and thought patterns. I've written myself that part of the greatness of dogs is that they are not people, and I don't disagree with the expert when he says "Dogs are not aware of time, even as a concept," or "these are primal, predatory animals driven by instinct."

But even discounting for human projection, I think there's something going on inside those panting heads that binds us close to our dogs. Maybe a productive way to look at it is not just elevating the thoughts and actions of the dog, but understanding that our own thoughts and actions are rooted in our own animal natures. Our fear, anger, joy, lust, etc. may be overlayed with rational thought and self-awareness, but aren't they at least to some degree primal and instinct-driven?

Let's face it, humans can analyze and explain their behavior, but a lot of what we do is driven by non-intellectual factors like hormones and instinct, with an overlay of consciousness that sometimes seems almost an afterthought. Maybe a productive way of looking at dogs is less that they are like us than we are like them.

Read this description by Katz: "Nothing seems to make them more comfortable than doing the same thing at the same time in the familiar way, day after day: We snack here, we poop there, we play over here. I am astonished at how little it takes to please them, how simple their lives can be if we don't complicate them."

Now ask yourself if he's describing dogs or your college roommates.

3:34:18 PM   permalink   comment []

Everybody quoted in this NYT Week in Review piece seems so confused about the tendency for DC insiders to commit perjury rather than just telling the truth. Here's one idea: telling the truth would cause enormous political damage, so lying and getting charged with perjury is a rational political calculation.

2:33:42 PM   permalink   comment []

David Boyd posts about 10 scary movies.

The scene in Nightmare on Elm Street where the kid shows up in class in a bodybag was brilliant. The insight that bodybags are to the modern imagination what scythe-wielding skeletons were to earlier generations was genius.

I saw Halloween on first run, at age 16 or so, with a theater full of noisy teenagers. We scoffed at the evil-can't-be-killed ending. I did not sleep for two weeks.

The Shining was more entertaining than horrifying, although those little girls were freaky. What really scared me was the conversation my girlfriend and I had with her mom afterwards. We went on about the movie until her mom, a twice-divorced faded Virginia aristocrat who would have been at home in a Tennessee Williams play, took a drag from her cigarette and a sip from her highball and told us that a certain point in life, the scary stuff isn't what happens in movies...That one still gives me chills.

10:01:50 AM   permalink   comment []

A look at Philadelphia's municipal wireless plan. Wiring -- wirelessing? -- downtown Greensboro from, say, Cone Hospital to Lee Street, and A&T to UNC-G, would be a lot cheaper than the big Philly plan. And funding from, say, a group of foundations would bypass the political fight around public financing...

Update: Ben Hwang, who actually knows something about this stuff, responds. I agree that we should be looking ahead on the tech front -- notice I did not use the name "WiFi" in my post" -- and corporate involvement would be great. But Action Greensboro is a natural sparkplug for the effort. An example: Why not get AG to fund the intitial infrastructure, and get corporate support to pay the connectivity bills? I am aware of the plan to light up Elm Street, but I think that we need a bigger vision.

9:46:26 AM   permalink   comment []

Also in the Times, a podcasting primer with quotes from Lisa Williams, Dave, and Doug Kaye.

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DarkTimes a daily roundup of the hidden matter in the NYT opinion universe.

Brooks goes all disingenuous on us with "The Prosecutor's Diagnosis: No Cancer Found."

Nothing else to see here, move along. "Over the past few weeks, oceans of ink and an infinity of airtime have been devoted to theorizing about Rove's conspiratorial genius and general culpability -- almost all of it hokum. Leading Democratic politicians filled the air with grand conspiracy theories that would be at home in the John Birch Society."

He just cannot understand why anyone thinks there might be more to the Plame story than we already he trots out Hofstadter's "The Paranoid Style in American Politics," and offers this: "It is never enough to believe their opponents have committed honest mistakes or have legitimate purposes' they insist on believing in malicious conspiracies." Yeah, that must be it.

Rich goes in the opposite direction in a piece called "One Step Closer to the Big Enchilada." Lede: "To believe that the Bush-Cheney scandals will be behind us anytime soon you'd have to believe that the Nixon-Agnew scandals peaked when G. Gordon Liddy and his bumbling band were nailed for the Watergate break-in."

More: "The coming prosecution of Lewis (Scooter) Libby in the Wilson affair is hardly the end of the story. That 'Cheney's Cheney,' as Mr. Libby is known, would allegedly go to such lengths to obscure his role in punishing a man who challenged the administration's W.M.D. propaganda is just one very big window into the genesis of the smoke screen (or, more accurately, mushroom cloud) that the White House used to sell the war in Iraq."

And playing the role of Baby Bear in this Goldilocks story is Kristof, who ledes with an admission that he was wrong to compare Fitzgerald to Javert, says Democrats should not be happy because "This is a humiliation for the entire country," and then gets to the point made in the headline: "Time for the Vice President to Explain Himself." He also says Bush should "clean house...It's fine for Mr. Rove to work as a Republican political adviser, but not as White House deputy chief of staff."

Kicker: "He quotes Cheney from 2000 saying it was time to restore honor to the White House, and says, "You were right, Mr. Cheney, in your insistence that the White House be beyond reproach. Now it's time for you to give the nation 'a stiff dose of truth.' Otherwise, you sully this country with your own legalisms."

9:31:15 AM   permalink   comment []