Friday, June 29, 2007

Who's tamed who?

Firedoglake was discussing this news about Mitt Romney. Whatever their politics, a lot of people do not at all like the story of him loading the family dog into a cage strapped onto the top of the car for a long road trip.

Well, that's Mitt's problem. But a commenter at FDL quoted this from a New York Times article:

Unlike other domestic animals, which were tamed by people, cats probably domesticated themselves, which could account for the haughty independence of their descendants.

My thoughts on that:

It’s now thought that when a species of animal is domesticated, over time and many generations its brain shrinks a bit. If the critters no longer have to search for food because humans are feeding them, the “search for food” function of the brain atrophies. This is normal. Evolution. Life adapts.

Paleontologists are finding evidence showing that when wolves started hanging with humans and turning into dogs, both their brains AND ours shrank a bit. Each species specialized in tasks the other couldn't do as well, like sniffing out prey (dogs) or hitting it with a spear (us), and life adapted. We both changed.

In other words, dogs and humans simultaneously domesticated each other. We are two symbiotic species, and neither would be what it is without the other. I look at my dog sleeping on my expensive leather couch, and not only does this not surprise me, but I suspect I know who got the better end of the deal.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Subpoena Time!

I see that congressional subpoenas are going to start arriving at the White House, especially in the Office of the Vice President. Sen. Leahy's running out of patience, and it's about time. Keep yer popcorn handy, cause the legal fireworks are about to start.

Of course, it would be nice to subpoena Tricky Dick v.2.0 personally, drag his ass in and make him testify. But to do that, you'd have to find Mr. Undisclosed Location and actually serve the papers on him, and I don't think Cheney will be inclined to cooperate. In fact, I think it might go something like this:

[h/t CHS at FDL]

Squirrels Don't Let Squirrels Climb Drunk

Some pumpkins were left outside for a while in a Minneapolis neighborhood. Fermentation occurred, as daytime heat caused naturally occurring yeasts to process the sugars in the pumpkins into alcohol. A hungry squirrel came along. He got more than he bargained for.

The report is that he was fine the next day, but SQUIRREL what a hangover!!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Get It Right, Jesse

There's not much sadder than people who have historically been victims of prejudice embracing it wholeheartedly. Bishop Harry R. Jackson is a prominent black clergyman, founder of the High Impact Leadership Coalition. He certainly knows all about the bitter history black people have suffered in this country. Yet in his article Why Do Gays Hate Religious Freedom? he lies outright about S-1105, the Matthew Shepard Law now before the Senate, which proposes to include gays as a protected group under federal Hate Crime laws.

Now, you can have legitimate doubts about Hate Crime laws, especially since intent has always been a legitimate concern when prosecuting a violent crime. But the point is that someone has to actually commit a violent crime before the laws come into effect, thereby adding extra severity to the punishment. In no way do they "muzzle" anyone, prevent anyone from expressing his or her opinion, as this charming ad implies they do. So long as you're not expressing your opinion by committing violent crimes -- and I trust, Bishop Jackson, that you are not -- they don't apply to you. (Read the text if you want to check me.)

But these people are simply fanatics, who have left reason far behind. Another black pastor, Rev. Gregory Daniels of Chicago, announced from the pulpit, "If the KKK opposes gay marriage, I would ride with them." Yeah, that's gonna work out real well. Even Jesse Jackson, who should know better, has opposed gay marriage by trotting out the "I'm A Bigger Victim Than You" card, saying, "Gays were never called three-fifths human in the Constitution."

Now hold it right there. If you're going to drag in that outdated provision -- it's in Article 1, Section 2 and was repealed by the 14th Amendment -- at least try to understand it. Most assume that in counting a slave as 3/5 of a free man, slaveholders and their political allies were expressing their hatred and contempt of their black chattels, not even affording them the dignity of being a full human being.

Wrong. Slave states actually wanted slaves to be counted as full human beings, 5/5 of a free man. The free states wanted to count them not at all, as 0/5 of a free man. Why? Because the relative political power of the states, embodied by the number of seats each state had in the House and in the Electoral College, was determined by the number of persons in each state as determined by the census. Not the number of voters, or even citizens. Persons.

If slaves counted as full humans, that would increase the power of the slave states relative to the free states by upping their census numbers and giving them more seats. If they counted not at all, the reverse would be the case, which is what the opponents of slavery wanted. They had quite a battle about it at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, and the eventual compromise, 3/5 of a free man, actually favored slave states a little more than free states.

Of course, if everybody understood this it would deprive orators of a nice rhetorical flourish. But at least I wouldn't be rolling my eyes so often.