Growing grapes at 11,000 feet

Simple Answers to Stupid Questions:

Fox News asks, "Has Noah's Ark been found on Turkish mountaintop?"

No. No it hasn't.

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Here in America we have two major political parties. One of them is officially opposed to empathy.

Peter Baker of The New York Times discusses the continuing Republican antipathy to empathy in the context of the impending nomination of a new Supreme Court Justice.

For the record, the Republican Party reiterates its stance against this virtue, which is just … odd.

Seriously, what possible reason is there to oppose a virtue — to oppose a virtue that forms the basis for every other virtue?

I get that there was an initial clutching-at-straws desperation that led some reflexively anti-Obama Republican spokesmen last year to get carried away, pretending that the necessary and foundational virtue of empathy was being put forward as some kind of "legal standard." But after this initial desperate assault on the Golden Rule, you'd have thought the Republican Party would have regained its footing and its senses and began walking back from its ridiculous embrace of sociopathy.

But no. The Republican Party remains officially opposed to the Golden Rule. Proudly so. Creepy and weird.

And also explicitly, by definition, evil. Proudly so.

That's not an accusation on my part. That's their chosen slogan. Creepy and weird. Weird and creepy. What the hell sort of person would join an anti-empathy party?

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DRFC

Downingtown Rugby Football Club update:

The girls A-side improved to 5-0 this weekend with an 81-0 win.

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Slightly Longer Answer to Stupid Questions:

"Has Noah's Ark been found on Turkish mountaintop?"

Yeung Wing-Cheung, from the Noah's Ark Ministries International research team that made the discovery, said: "It's not 100 percent that it is Noah's Ark, but we think it is 99.9 percent that this is it."

The expedition seems to have found a wooden structure. They hear hoofbeats, so they're "99.9 percent" certain it must be a zebra. Or a unicorn with zebra stripes.

Representatives of Noah's Ark Ministries said the structure contained several compartments, some with wooden beams, that they believe were used to house animals. The group of evangelical archaeologists ruled out an established human settlement on the grounds none have ever been found above 11,000 feet in the vicinity, Yeung said.

I think if you've found a structure with wooden beams used to house animals, then you can no longer rule out an established human settlement, because you just found one.

The young-earth creationists of Noah's Ark Ministries may have unintentionally thrown a wrench in their own theory. YECs arguing for a historical global flood say that the waters of Noah's flood became the oceans of today. And they think they've even worked out the arithmetic:

God acted to alter the earth's topography. New continental landmasses bearing new mountain chains of folded rock strata were uplifted from below the globe-encircling waters that had eroded and leveled the pre-Flood topography, while large deep ocean basin[s] were formed to receive and accommodate the Flood waters that then drained off the emerging continents.

That is why the oceans are so deep, and why there are folded mountain ranges. Indeed, if the entire earth's surface were leveled by smoothing out the topography of not only the land surface but also the rock surface on the ocean floor, the waters of the ocean would cover the earth's surface to a depth of 1.7 miles (2.7 kilometers).

Never mind that they are, literally, advocating a flat-earth theory. Just look at their numbers: 2.7 kilometers. So what's their newly discovered Noah's Ark doing 1,300 meters above the flood line?

If you had these people read Aesop's story of the Ant and the Grasshopper and then asked them what the story means, they would reply that it means they should start raising money for an entomological expedition to Greece, because holy cow — talking insects!

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What sort of government do you get when you decide you're opposed to empathy?

Guadalupe You get the sort of government that feels free to ignore the veil of ignorance — the sort that never has to worry about injustice, only about making sure that the shoe never does end up on the other foot.

You get something, in other words, like Gov. Jan "Papiere bitte" Brewer's Arizona.

Note to Gov. Brewer and the white people of Arizona who support it's new police-state law: If you're really that upset about being surrounded by Mexicans, maybe you shouldn't live in what was, until relatively recently, Mexico.

They were there first. By centuries. Deal with it.

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Dear History Channel,

I'd be a lot more excited about your miniseries, "America: The Story of Us," if it wasn't crammed into a lineup alongside silly garbage like "Ancient Aliens: The Series."

Modest proposal: Try to be the sort of "history" channel that leaves viewers better informed, rather than worse, after watching your programming. Otherwise, you might as well be running a Bixby Snyder marathon of "It's Not My Problem" re-runs. Running tabloid Art-Bell nonsense alongside your serious, factual shows undermines those shows. Plus, it contributes to the kind of "who can say for sure?" silliness that leads to my waking up to Google News alerts that say things like, "Has Noah's Ark been found on Turkish mountaintop?"

Thanks.

  • Another Chris

    @Lee: I agree about prophecies being élitist. If I ever write an epic world-saving fantasy novel, the people who save the day are going to be clearly non-chosen.
    And yes, as symbols for the various problems of the real world, Dark Lords (or dragons, for that matter) are incredibly simplistic. They work well from a narrative perspective, though.
    That’s another problem I have with the typical Hero’s Journey story (and it was turned up to eleven in the new “Alice in Wonderland” movie): slaying a dragon isn’t anything like coming of age. The only way you could believe that is if you haven’t come of age yet.

  • Lee Ratner

    Kish: I never really approved of the some people are worse off lesson. Its an excuse not to do anything to improve your life and even having a little satisfaction that some people are worse off is more than a little worrying. Its like me taking pleasure in the fact that even though I don’t have a girlfriend, at least I wasn’t sexually abused at anytime in my life. I mean really, what type of person would think like that?
    Another Chirs: I’ve been moving away from fantasy novels and into literary fiction for my reading tastes over the years. The only fantasy I read anymore is Pratchet and the Elric, Lankhmar, an Earthsea stories. I prefer some moral complexity. Now I mainly read history and literary fiction.
    Brad: I meant to say this earlier but your hero’s journey cartoon was made of win.

  • Kish

    Kish: I never really approved of the some people are worse off lesson. Its an excuse not to do anything to improve your life and even having a little satisfaction that some people are worse off is more than a little worrying. Its like me taking pleasure in the fact that even though I don’t have a girlfriend, at least I wasn’t sexually abused at anytime in my life. I mean really, what type of person would think like that?
    People Death disapproved of. That was the point. You were very much not supposed to approve of them.

  • Spearmint

    slaying a dragon isn’t anything like coming of age. The only way you could believe that is if you haven’t come of age yet.
    Very well put. I may have to steal that line.

  • Will Wildman

    slaying a dragon isn’t anything like coming of age. The only way you could believe that is if you haven’t come of age yet.

    Technically, we don’t have empirical data on what it’s like to slay a dragon, either.

  • http://j.com/ Tonio

    slaying a dragon isn’t anything like coming of age. The only way you could believe that is if you haven’t come of age yet.
    From an old issue of Mad Magazine:

    Sex in the Middle Ages was a beautiful experience that was both uplifting and poetic. On their wedding night, the knight would take the lady in his arms, whisper softly in her ear, gently hold her closer, kiss her tenderly, and then in a fit of passion he would run out and kill a dragon. But being very proper people, the Establishment in the Middle Ages frowned on Pre-marital Sex, and unmarried knights seldom went all the way. So usually in the case of engaged couples, the knights would go out and merely wound a dragon. And of course in the case of inexperienced teenagers who were just getting their feet wet in Sex, the young knight would go out and yell at a dragon. History tells us however, that not all knights found pleasure in slaying dragons. To them , destroying a poor, ugly beast was cruel and offered no sexual gratification. So they elevated Sex to its highest level in the Middle Ages. They went on crusades and killed thousands of heathens and other people. But more about religion later.”

  • Pius Thicknesse

    Geez, what a bunch of killjoys over fantasy literature. :P

  • hapax

    slaying a dragon isn’t anything like coming of age. The only way you could believe that is if you haven’t come of age yet.
    /hapax looks at current WIP/ Oh, dear.

  • Spearmint

    Technically, we don’t have empirical data on what it’s like to slay a dragon, either.
    No, but we do have data on slaying other things, like bears or your own virginity. And r-squared on the slaying-maturity correlation plot is 0.
    /hapax looks at current WIP/ Oh, dear.
    There’s nothing to say your protagonist can’t do both. It’s just that one doesn’t imply the other.

  • sophia8

    @mmy:” ..people who want to tell me about some miracle cure that is available at the organic shop, people who think praying over me will make it go away and people who tell me that alternative Chinese medicine cures the problem. ”
    Yes, i know exactly how that feels. I have tachycardia, which is a condition where my heart will suddenly and unpredictably go from a normal 70-odd bpm to 200+ bpm. It’s not a fatal condition – just inconvenient, annoying and very uncomfortable. An attack can last from anywhere from two minutes to several hours; because it makes me weak, dizzy and faint (the blood is getting pumped around so fast that my brain and muscles can’t get enough oxygen) I have to lie down flat and wait it out. I’ve had this for years, talked to cardiologists and my GP about it, read up on it; I belong to a Yahoo group of fellow sufferers where we exchange tips and information. So I know quite a lot about it, how to treat it and manage it and what medications to take and so on.
    But I’m leary of mentioning that I have this condition when in conversation with strangers. Because, at least eight times out of ten, they’ll say something like “Oh you must go and see my homeopath…” or “There’s this brilliant Chinese doctor….” or “Have you tried [name of herbal remedy]? It’s supposed to be good for the heart!”
    Yes, I know they mean well. But I’m afraid I’ve shouted at some of them.

  • CaryB.

    Hey Sophia, I know how you feel, but listen, I know this FANTASTIC Sumerian doctor…
    *ducks and runs*

  • Pius Thicknesse

    @sophia8: I had a professor who had some variant of that; I forget the details but his heartbeat would do that sometimes and he had to wear a special wristwatch-like thing that noted his heartbeat. It was an atrial fibrillation though.
    Did your doctor ever give you a device like that? Just curious.

  • Another Chris

    Nothing says that fantasy has to be morally shallow. A lot of it isn’t.
    But I’m currently seeing this debate on another forum as well…

  • Ing

    “Also, while Evil is the fast route to power, being Good always wins out in the long run because heroes will fight to restore you to your throne, the land will suffer if you’re not its ruler, and sometimes you get Promoted to God/dess.”
    I like to point out to people on this topic, that Machavelli, the poster child for manipulative bastardness, exposed that you can be loved or feared, or ideally both, but never hated. If people love you they’ll go out of their way to help you, if they fear they’ll stay out of your way, if they outright HATE you they’re willing to risk harm to themselves to harm you.

  • Ing

    “(Note to self: NEVER AGAIN read “Transmetropolitian,” then talk about Glen Beck.)”
    On the Transmet reference, anyone else notice how much Huckabee looks like The Beast?

  • hapax

    I like to point out to people on this topic, that Machavelli, the poster child for manipulative bastardness, exposed that you can be loved or feared, or ideally both, but never hated.
    I like to point out to people who cite THE PRINCE that if one has read the rest of Machiavelli’s writings (or, heckopete, *any* of his other writings or even a biography of him), it is practically impossible not to conclude that THE PRINCE was meant as a savage political satire, a pointed parody of the “Advice to a Young Ruler” genre, and that all the people who have been taking it as a serious political treatise for centuries are making poor Niccolo gyrate ‘neath his gravestone.

  • Ing

    “I like to point out to people who cite THE PRINCE that if one has read the rest of Machiavelli’s writings (or, heckopete, *any* of his other writings or even a biography of him), it is practically impossible not to conclude that THE PRINCE was meant as a savage political satire, a pointed parody of the “Advice to a Young Ruler” genre, and that all the people who have been taking it as a serious political treatise for centuries are making poor Niccolo gyrate ‘neath his gravestone.”
    And this being relevant to the point how now?

  • Launcifer

    Hapax: Death of the author, Chief. It probably doesn’t matter quite what Machiavelli intended – or it matters far less than how people choose to interpret the work. FWIW, his discourses on Demoncracy and Republicanism rather rock.

  • hapax

    this being relevant to the point how now?
    Oh, not at all. I just feel so bad for the fellow, passionate liberal idealist that he was, when people mention him as the icon of manipulative political expediency.
    Pretty much the Stephen Colbert of his day, except that far too many people failed to get the joke.

  • Ing

    “Oh, not at all. I just feel so bad for the fellow, passionate liberal idealist that he was, when people mention him as the icon of manipulative political expediency.
    Pretty much the Stephen Colbert of his day, except that far too many people failed to get the joke. ”
    Ah, ok. Sorry for being so defensive, but I do actually like Machy. I know he probably was being partly satirical, but I thought that he made a few good points in his work about the at minimum practicality of morality/decency. I was talking about Machiavelli the character, (ie. Colbert with the T silent, not Colbert with T pronounced)

  • sophia8

    @Pius Thicknesse: No, Tachycardia and atrial fillibration are different conditions. AF is irregular heartbeats with no rhythm; tachycardia is very fast but completely regular and rhythmic (there’s also its opposite, bradycardia, which is an abnormally slow rhythmic beat). AF accompanies heart disease, so a gadget that tells you when your heart starts losing rhythm can be a lifesaver for such people.
    Tachycardia by itself doesn’t kill (although it can feel like that – when it first strikes, it can be terrifying) and I don’t need a gadget to tell me when my heartrate jumps to 200bpm.

  • Pius Thicknesse

    @sophia8: Ah. Thanks for explaining the differences.


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