Saturday, November 03, 2007

Fall back flashback

From an article in the New York Times, February 27, 1967...

...legislators are getting protests from farmers who object to doing chores in the morning darkness, from drive-in movie proprietors, from early-to-bed, early-to-rise communities, from the mothers of children who will not sleep until the sun goes down, and from indignant defenders of "God's time."

State Senator Bobby Rowan of Enigma, GA, rose recently in the Senate chamber and said:

"Not since Biblical times has there been a man who could change sunrise and sunset, but the bureaucrats are attempting to do it."

And Gov. Harold E. Hughes of Iowa, who has promised to veto any legislative action that would keep his state off daylight saving time, was criticized sharply by a rural delegation a short time back.

A spokesman for the group, Hugh A. Vail of Indianola, told the Governor that daylight saving time would weaken are resistance of Iowa's children to Communism.

"A child gets up in the morning under daylight time and cries because he has lost an hour of sleep," Mr. Vail asserted. "A parent has to whip him to get him to go to school. Maybe he has had breakfast and maybe not.

"He whines all day. When he comes home, his parents give him aspirin. We are living in a drug age. The schoolchildren are so busted that they have to have drugs. Then when Communism comes along, what are we going to do?"
(I don't have an actual picture of Mr. Vail, but this is how I imagine him.)

I can only assume that, were we having this debate today, somebody would claim that accepting Daylight Savings Time means the terrorists have already won.

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Autumn Open Thread

The image comes from Kalle Koskinen's Photo Gallery.

It's a gorgeous fall day here in Columbus too. Going to take the dogs out for some playtime.

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Thursday, November 01, 2007

Goodbye, Cousin Washoe

Image from Friends of Washoe web site

Washoe the chimp has died. I hope she's somewhere cool.

Scientists have announced the death of the first animal to break the language barrier, a female chimpanzee called Washoe who could communicate 250 words in human sign language.

Washoe was not only the first animal to learn a human language, she also passed on what she had learnt to her adopted son before dying on Tuesday at the ripe old age - for a chimp - of 42.

Her death was announced by scientists at the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute at Central Washington University, where she had lived in a research centre.

"Her name sign is formed with the fingers of a 'W' hand flicking the ear on the same side," read her biography on the Friends of Washoe website.

"Washoe is the first non-human animal to acquire a human language and her adopted son Loulis is the first to acquire a human language from another chimpanzee," it said.

Washoe, born in Africa in 1965, was the main subject of the 1997 book "Next of Kin: What Chimpanzees Have Taught Me About Who We Are," written by the institute co-director Roger Fouts.
From a description of the language studies conducted with Washoe...

...Washoe was now also able to coin new words: the first time she saw a swan her trainer asked her 'What's that?' and she responded with 'water bird'. Washoe would often sign spontaneously, initiating sign language 'conversations' with her trainers. She also, quite spontaneously, developed 'swear words' - words which she added on to her other utterances to indicate displeasure. For example she would sign 'dirty' before someone's name if they had displeased her. The implications, then, is that she was using the words she had learned to fulfil communicative intentions: she was actually using language, rather than producing stimulus-response behaviour.
Washoe's Biography

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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Who're You Gonna Call?

Happy Halloween, everybody!

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Monday, October 29, 2007

Open Thread

Took Brady (the collie) to the dog park yesterday. He had fun. I had fun watching him have fun. It's a good thing.

Another busy week ahead of me, but here's an open thread.

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Howard Dean: Right again

A post by Subway Serenade/Astral Technician

When Howard Dean spoke at DemocracyFest on of the things he spoke of at length about was how the Democratic National Committee was reaching out to find common ground among evangelical and other Christian groups. He made the point that these folks are moving away from the hard right positions of "God, Guns and Gays," and moving toward issues of the occupation of Iraq, poverty, social justice and environmental stewardship. Dean said that there is much common ground that can be explored in the next election cycle.

Last night I found this in the New York Times:

The extraordinary evangelical love affair with Bush has ended, for many, in heartbreak over the Iraq war and what they see as his meager domestic accomplishments. That disappointment, in turn, has sharpened latent divisions within the evangelical world — over the evangelical alliance with the Republican Party, among approaches to ministry and theology, and between the generations.

Meanwhile, a younger generation of evangelical pastors — including the widely emulated preachers Rick Warren and Bill Hybels — are pushing the movement and its theology in new directions. However conceived, though, the result is a new interest in public policies that address problems of peace, health and poverty — problems, unlike abortion and same-sex marriage, where left and right compete to present the best answers.

The backlash on the right against Bush and the war has emboldened some previously circumspect evangelical leaders to criticize the leadership of the Christian conservative political movement. “The quickness to arms, the quickness to invade, I think that caused a kind of desertion of what has been known as the Christian right,” Hybels, whose Willow Creek Association now includes 12,000 churches, told me over the summer. “People who might be called progressive evangelicals or centrist evangelicals are one stirring away from a real awakening.”

This ten page article in the Sunday Magazine offers much to consider as progressives try to find common ground with a constituency that was led astray by wolves in sheep's clothing (Fallwell, Dobson et al) that for far too long has held sway over the public presentation and perception of American Christianity.
“There was a time when evangelical churches were becoming largely and almost exclusively the Republican Party at prayer,” said Marvin Olasky, the editor of the evangelical magazine World and an informal adviser to George W. Bush when he was governor. “To some extent — we have to see how much — the Republicans have blown it. That opportunity to lock up that constituency has vanished. The ball now really is in the Democrats’ court.”

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