Author Archive | Joseph Allen

Racism May Not Be “Natural” (But Being an Asshole Is)

From "2001: A Space Odyssey"

Brain scans have shown that when people see faces of other races, their amygdalas light up like home security systems.  Some tout this as evidence of hardwired racial bias, evolved to keep the oddly colored “other” out of home territory.  But as Robert Wright points out in this recent article, there would be few opportunities for interracial conflict in our geographically dispersed evolutionary past.  The “other” would primarily be distinguished by different visual cues such as tribal emblems, because hostile neighboring tribes would generally be of the same race.

More recent brain scan experiments done on children show that, like menstrual cramps and unstoppable boners, neurological race rage doesn’t kick in until after puberty.  While the question of “nature vs. nurture” is still open, this suggests that cultural forces are at work.

Wright’s line of reasoning is pretty solid when he says, “[T]hough we’re not naturally racist, we’re naturally ‘groupist.'”

Via The Atlantic:

There’s never been good reason to believe that human beings are naturally racist.… Read the rest

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PZ Myers Calls Eben Alexander’s Visions Brain-Damaged ‘Bullshit’

Harvard-educated neurosurgeon Dr. Eben Alexander woke up one morning with a bad case of E. Coli eating his brain. Before he could say “alakazam,” his neocortex had shut down completely, while his incorporeal body was whisked away on butterfly wings into the depths of the Infinite Beyond. He saw visions, was given messages, and upon returning to consciousness, wrote down his story, which he summarized for Newsweek.

Upon reading this account, blogging biologist and professional party-pooper PZ Myers basically accuses Dr. Alexander of being retarded.  Relishing in his contempt for any Swedenborgian realities that may lie beyond atoms and the void, Myers wipes his ass with Newsweek on his famous science blog Pharyngula:

I’ve got to wonder who is responsible for this nonsense, and how it gets past the staff at Newsweek. Every once in a while, they’ve just got to put up a garish cover story touting the reality of Christian doctrine, and invariably, the whole story is garbage.

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Tennesseans Evolved Thumbs After All

Courtesy of Brandt Hardin

Courtesy of Brandt Hardin

People think Tennesseans are remarkably stupid. Like the late Bill Hicks, who continually mocked my state during his comedy routines. “In many parts of our troubled world, people are yelling ‘Revolution!’” he ranted. “In Tennessee they’re yelling ‘Evolution! We want our thumbs!!‘” Whenever Tool or A Perfect Circle would come to town, singer Maynard Keenan always asked Tennessee audiences to put their thumbs in the air. As we held our opposable digits over our heads, Keenan came with the punch line: “Just making sure you have them.” What can I say? Stereotypes are hilarious.

So it is without resentment that this Tennessean wishes Charles Darwin a happy 203rd birthday today. I would love to celebrate with a heapin’ helpin’ of chilled monkey brains, but ’round these parts that would require cannibalizing the locals.

Despite the creationists’ best efforts, Darwin’s theory of natural selection reigns as the unifying concept in biology, and continues to give wider context to such disparate fields as ecology, epidemiology, and psychology.… Read the rest

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Cosmic Cycles of Violence: John Lennon and Dimebag Darrell Gunned Down on December 8

Courtesy of Brandt Hardin

Courtesy of Brandt Hardin

From RockStarMartyr.net:

Pantera’s furious music was propelled by guitarist Darrell Abbott’s maniacal claws ripping across a Washburn fretboard. The music was aggression distilled, warfare on vinyl, the hellish harmonics of testosterone-pumped teenagers smashing beer bottles and crucifixes, the pentatonic expression of sociopathic sexual impulse turned loose on loose pussy, power chords and possession, amplifiers and alcohol, whammy bars and whimsical youth. Pantera was pissed. And yet, no one remembers the jolly Dimebag Darrell being particularly pissed in day-to-day life. Not nearly as pissed as John Lennon was, anyway.

Behind the lead Beatle’s circular granny glasses and tireless promotion of peace burned a fury unmatched by most metal enthusiasts. Lennon was pissed at his parents, pissed at his bandmates, pissed at his stay-at-home wife, pissed at Her Majesty the Queen, pissed at America’s war machine, pissed at the world for not giving peace a chance. Lennon was fucking hostile.… Read the rest

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An Inside Look At Bonnaroo 2011

RFID chips, a privately-funded police state, cult recruiters, and enough soma to make Indra tap out.  Is it just another music festival, or a dress rehearsal for dystopia?  From a rigger’s diary at RockStarMartyr.net:

© Darin Seaman

© Darin Seaman

It took nearly 24 hours of unbroken sleep to recover from my Bonnaroocleosis. Like other workers, performers, and festicle-goers in attendance, I’ve been hacking up silty brown lung-dumplings and blowing whole coal fields of black boogers into rolls of tissue.

The annual Bonnaroo dust storm could be a preview of the world after a nuclear cataclysm, where those so privileged will wring their desperate satisfaction from tingling chemicals, sun-seared flesh on display, and the pulsating rhythm of pleasure machines, leaving pathetic Plebeians to pick through the scraps.

Once again, I had a blast under the mushroom cloud.

Monday, June 6: Say “Moo” motherfucker

I’m late as usual to pick up Glen the Red, a fellow rigger who packed his camping gear and work tools hours ago.… Read the rest

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CBS Reporter ‘Sexually Assaulted’ Amid Egyptian Celebration of Democracy

Lara Logan

Lara Logan in Iraq.

There is always a dark element to herd behavior, be it “authoritarian” or “revolutionary.” Melissa Maerz reports in the LA Times:

Lara Logan is recovering in an American hospital this week after being sexually assaulted and beaten by a mob in Egypt’s Tahrir Square late on Friday.

The same day that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepped down, Logan was surveying the mood of anti-Mubarak protesters for a “60 Minutes” story when she and her team “were surrounded by a dangerous element amidst the celebration,” CBS said in a statement Tuesday. The network said that a group of 200 people were then “whipped into a frenzy,” pulling Logan away from her crew and attacking her until a group of women and Egyptian soldiers intervened …

During her time in Egypt, Logan had been outspoken about the Mubarak regime’s efforts to intimidate foreign journalists. “We’re being prevented from telling this story,” Logan said during a recent CBS broadcast.

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January 1: The Death Day of Hank Williams

Joseph Allen writes at Confessions of a CyberCasualty:

HankWilliamsWEB

Courtesy of Brandt Hardin at DregStudios.com

It’s that time of year again, when self-deluded pretenders swear off deadly vices, and morbid rubberneckers tally up the annual rock n’ roll body count. 2010 saw the passing of Ari Up of The Slits, garage rocker Jay Reatard, Ronnie James Dio (who brought the devil-horns hand gesture to heavy metal,) Malcolm McLaren (the media manipulator responsible for the Sex Pistols’ public personas,) and R&B’s paraplegic panty-drencher, Teddy Pendergrass.

Today also marks the 48th anniversary of Hank Williams’ tragic death. Found cold and blue in his ’52 Cadillac at the age of 29, sodden with morphine, chloral hydrate, and Pabst Blue Ribbon, he became the seminal celebrity martyr.

Dubbed the “Hillbilly Shakespeare,” Hank Williams blazed like a backwoods bonfire, enthralling honky-tonk hayseeds from coast to coast. He recorded 66 songs in 6 years, not counting the posthumous releases or spoken-word tracks as his alter-ego, Luke the Drifter.… Read the rest

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Damanhur: My Sci-Fi Theophany Under the Mountain

December, 2007. The distant Alps are covered in snow. Small flakes swirl in the wind, dancing around red clay statues of muscular giants and voluptuous goddesses, reminiscent of Egypt. Most prominent is the falcon-headed god, Horus, facing the Fire Altar where the looming statues converge.

I start to walk into the grove of the Earth Altar, but my guide Shama tells me I should go no further.

“It is dangerous for anyone who is not spiritually prepared,” she warns me. “Very dangerous.”

I would be willing to chance it, but I suppose rules are rules.

In the distance is Monti Pelati, the sacred mountain of the Damanhurians. It is said that more Synchronic Lines converge there than any place in the world. These lines are like the Earth’s magnetic field — only magic. They were discovered psychically by the founder and leader of the Damanhurians, Falco.

This is a place of power, of mystery.… Read the rest

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The Shadow Scholar – The Man Who Writes Students’ Papers Tells His Story

AnonymousIf you ever wondered why America’s great centers of learning churn out this endless parade of half-asses and mouth-breathers, our friend Ed Dante tells us how they make the grade. From the academic journal The Chronicle Review:

The request came in by e-mail around 2 in the afternoon. It was from a previous customer, and she had urgent business. I quote her message here verbatim (if I had to put up with it, so should you): “You did me business ethics propsal for me I need propsal got approved pls can you will write me paper?”

I’ve gotten pretty good at interpreting this kind of correspondence. The client had attached a document from her professor with details about the paper. She needed the first section in a week. Seventy-five pages.

I told her no problem.

It truly was no problem. In the past year, I’ve written roughly 5,000 pages of scholarly literature, most on very tight deadlines.

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