Friday, April 27, 2007

Narrative Exadaptation

Gene Expression: How the Sabians saved civilization?:
One of the historical myths of our era is that the Arab Muslim saved the Greek achievement for Western civilization. The argument is that there runs a line of tradition starting during the Greek Classical period down to the modern post-Enlightenment era which was preserved by the efforts of the House of Wisdom. This is false insofar as the Byzantines also transmitted Greek works to the West, and the refugees who washed up on the shores of Italy during the late medieval period as Constantinople fell before the Turks helped spark the Italian Renaissance. But the Byzantine role is not sexy because it doesn't serve a multicultural narrative (before the contemporary period the emphasis placed upon Islamic civilization's role in preserving Greek learning was used as a cudgel against Western Christianity).
Razib may be wrong (or right) here, but I find it interesting that some narratives continue to exist long after the relevance of their original purpose has attenuated. Like exadaption in biology.

Gere faces Indian arrest warrant

An Indian court has issued an arrest warrant for Hollywood actor Richard Gere after he kissed Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty in public.
Apparently, three pecks on the cheek might get him an obscenity rap.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Disney's Robin Hood and the Dukes of Hazzard

Just good ol' boys,
Wouldn't change if they could,
Fightin' the system like a true modern day Robin Hood.
(Theme song lyrics sung by Waylon Jennings)

Recently, I've been watching Disney's Robin Hood (1973) because of my kids, and I was struck by the parallels with the TV show, The Dukes of Hazzard (1979-1985). Both of these feature a minstrel / balladeer and a bumbling Southern-accented sheriff, with two brotherly countryfolk fightin' the system (Robin Hood and Little John / Bo and Luke Duke). The correspondences continue: Maid Marion morphs into Daisy Duke, King John into Boss Hogg, and Friar Tuck into Uncle Jesse. Of course, there are differences. Peter Ustinov's portrayal of an effete King John (a lion) is miles from Sorrell Booke's gluttonous Hogg. Nevertheless, the similarities impress me more than the differences.

Homage, rip-off, or coincidence?

Sunday, April 15, 2007


Mark Liberman of Language Log looks at what that legal profession's term of art of means: Language Log: Conclusive = good; Conclusory = bad.

That very word, "conclusory," is what you learn quickly your first year in law school when you find out that your first attempt at legal writing is no good.

Monday, April 09, 2007

The Way of the Fathers: Which Church Father are you?

Which Church Father are you?

You’re St. Melito of Sardis!

You have a great love of history and liturgy. You’re attached to the traditions of the ancients, yet you recognize that the old world — great as it was — is passing away. You are loyal to the customs of your family, though you do not hesitate to call family members to account for their sins.

Find out which Church Father you are at The Way of the Fathers!

Fundamentalist Scientists

Razib of Gene Expression discusses the presence of scientists and engineers among fundamentalist movements in "Nerds are nuts".

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Idol Top 9 Report Card

I was on vacation so I skipped last week, but booting Gina Glocksen from the competition while retaining both Sanjaya and Haley was a travesty. I read that the producers were warning her that she risked losing middle America with her tongue stud, which is a shame since she had been growing the most in the competition.

Laptops in Class?

Thoughts on banning laptops in class.