Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Jury Duty, Day 1.5

Morning uneventful, with the exception of a brief episode in which some doofus at the next table was heard to opine that "It's just a myth that we're running out of oil" and I practiced my inestimable skills at self-discipline by not throwing a bag of peanuts at his head. Got some writing done on "Pidgin" or "Tardigrade" or "Remus"— the Sunflowers story that the recent fiblets have been coming out of, anyway (any preferences among those titles, btw?).

Buggered off in the afternoon to attend a friend's wedding, at which I'd agreed to serve as ring-bearer only on the condition that I be allowed to raise my hand when the Justice of the Peace reached that point about "If any here know of any reason why these two should not be joined" 1. Idle conversation amongst the assembled prior to the ceremony covered a range of topics including gang rape, alcohol abuse, and the TV series House. Last words spoken by the bride prior to ritual were "Remember: everybody lies," which I assumed was meant in reference to her imminent vows until I realized that I had been screwed and the "if anyone has objections" bit had been deleted from the ceremony. The ceremony ended with the traditional "I now pronounce you married", and a somewhat less-traditional cry of "I change my mind!" from the bride five seconds later.

Went for a gnosh (nosh?) afterwards and met some interesting folks, including the sound wizard who salvaged the mix on Rush's Counterparts album. He tells me both Geddy Lee and Neil Peart are clinical geniuses. (Alex Lifeson, not so much.) Bride wanted to know the spatial radius for allowable infidelity when doing field research; husband pointed out that under Canadian law, someone could be throwing napalm on a helpless victim right in front of you, and you would not be legally required to do anything to stop them or help the victim even you knew the assailant would abort the attack if you asked nicely. This also answers yesterday's unasked question about accessories. Not only is the answer "no", but in Canada we don't even use the word "accessory", preferring instead the more festive "party to the crime". (We don't use the word "felony" either, apparently.)

Also, in this country you apparently cannot legally consent to have your finger cut off.

1Said objection would have been an in-principle observation that Humans — in fact, mammals in general — are not by nature monogamous, and the whole death-do-us-part shtick is more probably rooted in a money grab by religious institutions than in any improbable evolutionary anomaly.

Labels:

20 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cool wedding!

El

June 3, 2008 at 9:23 PM  
Blogger Raja said...

My vote is for Remus.

June 3, 2008 at 10:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I vote against Pidgin. I know what it means, but these days it makes me think of the IM client.

June 3, 2008 at 11:11 PM  
Blogger Meghan said...

Water bears are adorable little dudes... though Tardigrade is not the most euphonious or accessible title.

I like the connotations of Pidgin, and I (a child of the internet age) had no idea it was an IM software.

Remus seems appropriate.

I'm generally bad with titles, though.

June 4, 2008 at 1:35 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Your friend's new wife rocks. (Alternatively, if your friend is the wife, she rocks.)

Remus sounds most appropriate but since I haven't actually checked the thematic connotations of any of the three, I'm just talking out of my ass here.

June 4, 2008 at 5:20 AM  
Blogger TheBrummell said...

...husband pointed out that under Canadian law, someone could be throwing napalm on a helpless victim right in front of you, and you would not be legally required to do anything to stop them or help the victim even you knew the assailant would abort the attack if you asked nicely.

Bonus Quebec exception: if you are trained in first aid (with the certification and everything), you ARE legally required to help someone in obvious distress, but not if there's significant risk to yourself. So, in your napalm-and-nice scenario, if it happened in Quebec and you'd just been certified first-aid-able, you'd have to help if you stuck around until after the attacker ran out of napalm. Asking nicely wouldn't of course work, since you're in Quebec.

June 4, 2008 at 12:19 PM  
Blogger Erik Ordway said...

Tardigrade as they seem to live everywhere and are generally up up for the rough and tumble of extreme condidtions.

June 4, 2008 at 2:24 PM  
Blogger The Lake Fever said...

Maybe it's just that my inner child has always been an asshole, but I can't help but thinking how all the other books would make fun of poor little Tardigrade when he's sitting up on those cold cruel shelves in the bookstore. Plus, I resent that I had to look it up to see what it meant, and also plus, they're clearly imaginary, or possibly genetically engineered and therefore part of some kind of plot.

June 4, 2008 at 4:02 PM  
Anonymous Rakiah said...

1. I would go with tardigrade, cus their so cuddly looking and I have a soft spot in my heart for extremophiles...anything that can so hardily withstand heavy radiation, extreme temperatures, de- and re-hydration and extreme pressures damn well deserves to have something worthy named after them.

2. Lee and Peart are die-hard Ayn Rand loving Objectivist twaddle. If you can call that genius then maybe.

Their lyrics (well Peart is the main lyricist) are in great part Objectivist doctrine, and suffer due to said philosophy's outright idiocy.

Great musicians though, definitely, that is why YYZ is such a good tune....it by far has some of their best lyrics ;-)

June 4, 2008 at 4:24 PM  
OpenID bec-87rb said...

Last words spoken by the bride prior to ritual were "Remember: everybody lies," which I assumed was meant in reference to her imminent vows

It's the title of a catch phrase from a House episode, I think?

I love me a good wedding; they're so hopeful, so happy.

BTW, how can I agree that humans are doomed to be non-monogamous, because that implies that evolution has set up only one way for humans to express their reproductive urges, and we know that among the mammals, one is hard-pressed to find expression more variable than that of man? Search your own head - are their sexual things there have no utility for your reproductive success? You betcha there are. Well, there are in mine, anyway.

Rats might be uniform in their practices and desires, but people definitely aren't, so we have Mormons with 150 kids, and Shakers with none, all in close temporal proxmity, and from the same horny species. Evolution lets us have lots of latitude!

Go figure.

June 4, 2008 at 5:52 PM  
OpenID bec-87rb said...

"title of AND a catch phrase from" House, I mean..

June 4, 2008 at 5:54 PM  
Blogger Peter Watts said...

Meghan said...

Water bears are adorable little dudes...

They are. They have toes!


TheBrummell said...

Asking nicely wouldn't of course work, since you're in Quebec.

Point!

Rakiah said...

Lee and Peart are die-hard Ayn Rand loving Objectivist twaddle. If you can call that genius then maybe.

Hey, I'm just reporting what I heard. Evidently they both technically have IQs in the genius range.

Their lyrics (well Peart is the main lyricist) are in great part Objectivist doctrine, and suffer due to said philosophy's outright idiocy.

Still? Dude, you're Living in the Past: last time they cited Ayn Rand (that I know of) was on "2112", and that was early seventies. We all did things back then we aren't too proud of. You look at their more recent stuff, though, and you get a pretty broad range of environmentalism ("Presto" and "Hold Your Fire" for instance), gender politics, even ambiguous anticapitalism ("Big Money" from Power Windows; "Far Cry" from their latest). Rand would never have sanctioned any of those things; she ignored environmental issues entirely, she loathed anyone who used the word "share", and even her strongest female protagonists weren't happy unless they were laughing "bitterly" and wearing bracelets that made them looked "chained".

Not that there's anything wrong with that last, mind you. I just think you might not be giving Rush credit for having, you know, grown up since the seventies (although granted, some of their forays into science fiction back then were pretty painful to behold).

Great musicians though, definitely, that is why YYZ is such a good tune....it by far has some of their best lyrics ;-)

Ah, now the shameful truth comes out: who but a closet Rush fan would even get that dig, much less know enough to make it?

bec-87rb said...

"Last words spoken by the bride prior to ritual were "Remember: everybody lies,""

It's the title of a catch phrase from a House episode, I think?

You know, I'll bet it is: for reasons that remain unclear, the groom and bride made this deal that she'd watch an episode of BSG of my choosing if I agreed to watch a "House" ep of hers. (She's a nursing student.)

BTW, how can I agree that humans are doomed to be non-monogamous, because that implies that evolution has set up only one way for humans to express their reproductive urges, and we know that among the mammals, one is hard-pressed to find expression more variable than that of man? Search your own head - are their sexual things there have no utility for your reproductive success? You betcha there are. Well, there are in mine, anyway.

Rats might be uniform in their practices and desires, but people definitely aren't, so we have Mormons with 150 kids, and Shakers with none, all in close temporal proxmity, and from the same horny species. Evolution lets us have lots of latitude!


Oh, beckster. You don't give nearly enough credit to rats, and far too much to people.

We're not "doomed" to be nonmonogamous, we're just built that way. Of course there's variation — there has to be variation, or there's nothing for natural selection to work on — and over time, the variants that produce the greatest number of viable offspring come to dominate the population. Some of us are monogamists, just as some of us are virgins and some are pedophiles; but none of those is all that close to the baseline normal state. (That would be short-term serial monogamy, with a high turnover rate.) But in a broad, statistical sense, us males do pretty much want to fuck anything that moves — and you females, while much choosier than we, are no more fidel*. In fact, you guys keep two distinct search images on hand simultaneously: a softer, Phil-Donahue-like template to marry and be faithful and to help take care of your kids; and a nastier, more bad-boy lover to fuck on the side and mix up the gene basket. (As the saying goes, "One gives the thrills, one pays the bills".)

Really, bec. We've talked about this before on the crawl. Thirty-plus percent cuckoldry rate among Brits, remember?


*As in "fidelity"; I do not mean to imply that you are all in bed with Castro. (Although that would explain his absence from public life lately.) And don't bother telling me that "fidel" isn’t a real word. I'm an author. I'm licensed to neologise.

June 4, 2008 at 7:59 PM  
Blogger Raja said...

Everything I know about Rush I learned from Rock Band.

And now I'm going to see them live on Tuesday night.

June 4, 2008 at 9:25 PM  
Blogger emrex said...

totally personal preference makes me go with "Remus". i associate it with epic stories and legends.

June 4, 2008 at 10:13 PM  
Anonymous Rakiah said...

Peter said: "who but a closet Rush fan would even get that dig, much less know enough to make it?"

I'm not a closet Rush fan, I like Rush, they are talented musicians and have done some great and influential music, I just didn't really like their preachy ideology.

But I admit I stopped really following their "later" stuff around the time they did Grace Under Pressure....when I was in high-school.

So, it is likely that Peart has evolved, and maybe I shouldn't judge so harshly.

June 5, 2008 at 9:48 AM  
Anonymous Tim said...

I quite like Remus.

"the whole death-do-us-part shtick is more probably rooted in a money grab by religious institutions than in any improbable evolutionary anomaly"

I'm not sure. If it was a money grab, surely the religious institutions would encourage temporary marriages. After all they get paid by the ceremony....

June 6, 2008 at 3:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ever since Moo U's invertebrate zoology course, I have had an appreciation for Tardigrades. Although, I also like Taenia, Planaria, Strongylocentrotus, lumbricus, Ascaris and Asterias (although, I think you have already used this one).

Thirty years later and I still can't get those stupid nomenclatures out of my head

June 9, 2008 at 1:51 PM  
OpenID bec-87rb said...

Every time I'm about to quit reading this blog you say something provoking.

In fact, you guys keep two distinct search images on hand simultaneously: [snip] One gives the thrills, one pays the bills.)


Haha! Untrue! Hollywood has gotten to even you, my friend. That template doesn't apply to me, and I'm definitely female. That's just something the stereotype factories made up to sell, I dunno, something. Cars. Dish soap.

I can say as a woman, that most men look fuckable. Bad boys don't look any sexier, not really, although I make some pretense that they do sometimes to fit in with girl talk. Big men look sexier, strong men, if they look naturally strong, and smart men. (There's your evolutionary crap for you.) But bad boys are not intrinsically more stirring. Sorry, I must be missing a gene sequence or two?

over time, the variants that produce the greatest number of viable offspring come to dominate the population.

That's over time, and here in the meanwhile, we have lots of variation, and no one way of being sexual is the rule.

Some of us are monogamists, just as some of us are virgins and some are pedophiles; but none of those is all that close to the baseline normal state.

I think you're wrong, my friend. Normal for human sexuality is being flexible, in learning to love the one yer with, or exploit the one yer with, in whatever fashion or positions the culture declares. The genetic predispositioin is to be imprintable by the cultural template. Ancient Greek men just assumed they would be porking sweet young boys; that was "normal" then. Flexibility. It's the one constant.

That would be short-term serial monogamy, with a high turnover rate.

I do grant that monogamy probably tends to work better when people only live to age 40.

We're not "doomed" to be nonmonogamous, we're just built that way.

When you say "we" you mean "me" or do you mean "you"? I, Peter, am not doomed to be non-monogamous, but I am built to be non-monogamous?

*As in "fidelity"; I do not mean to imply that you are all in bed with Castro.

*look of shock* Who's been talking? It was just that one time, I swear, and he had plied me with tequila and Marxism beforehand. *cries*

June 9, 2008 at 3:22 PM  
Blogger Peter Watts said...

bec-87rb said…

Haha! Untrue! Hollywood has gotten to even you, my friend.

I'm not getting this from Hollywood, becster: I'm getting it from years of reading and conversations with evolutionary biologists who are far more up on the lit than either of us.

That template doesn't apply to me, and I'm definitely female. That's just something the stereotype factories made up to sell, I dunno, something. Cars. Dish soap.

That's an example of "argument by anecdote", and it's a common fallacy. The fact that something doesn't apply to you, or me, or a friend of ours does not mean it's not a perfectly legit statement at the population level. You could claim that North Americans as a group are profoundly ignorant about science, and any number of data streams — SAT scores, the prevalence of creationism, recent Pew-survey results showing that almost half of all US adults can't answer the question "how long does it take the Earth to complete an orbit of the sun?" even when it's presented in multiple-choice format — would back you up. If I then came along and said you were buying into Hollywood stereotypes because "that doesn't apply to meI have a Ph.D. in science!" would you consider that a substantive rebuttal?

Hell, forget argument-by-anecdote; that Hollywood crack almost qualifies as borderline ad hominem.

That's over time, and here in the meanwhile, we have lots of variation, and no one way of being sexual is the rule.

Of course we have variation. Whether there's a "rule" for human sexuality depends on your definition of the term. If you define "rule" as something that applies to every individual, no exceptions, then sure; but by that token you can't even describe humans as bipeds "as a rule", because then you'd be excluding amputees and thalidomide babies. If, on the other hand, you mean overall patterns that apply to the majority of the species, then there are most certainly "rules"; and the fact that we tend to fuck around is one of 'em.

I think you're wrong, my friend. Normal for human sexuality is being flexible, in learning to love the one yer with, or exploit the one yer with, in whatever fashion or positions the culture declares. The genetic predispositioin is to be imprintable by the cultural template.

And where do you suppose the cultural template comes from?

Ancient Greek men just assumed they would be porking sweet young boys; that was "normal" then. Flexibility. It's the one constant.

I would argue that "cost of reproduction" is the one constant; for example, human societies in which females keep harems of males are also those in which males are the sex that invest the most energy in reproduction, and vice versa. This is completely consistent with what we see in other species, from phalaropes to elephant seals. (I wonder if there's a similar underpinning of ancient Greek sexual mores, although I know nothing about that culture; maybe they were just following the bonobo model.)

Likewise, "morality"; religion likes to claim that humans would be amoral psychopaths without fear of some God-of-the-week to keep us on the straight-and-narrow, but in fact we see the rudiments of moral behavior in a wide variety of other species as well. Rats and monkeys are presumably nonreligious, but they'll still refuse food if that reward causes suffering to a buddy. They'll still get pissed off at perceived injustices. It makes far more sense to conclude from this that our morality is innate, that it's not only older than religion but older than Humanity as a species; the kiddie-diddlers in funny hats have simply jumped on that bandwagon and stolen credit for it.

When you say "we" you mean "me" or do you mean "you"? I, Peter, am not doomed to be non-monogamous, but I am built to be non-monogamous?

I mean "we" as a species; I make no specific claims about you as a person or any other individual data point in that 6.2-billion-strong cloud. I do, however, note that said cloud does seem pretty damn concentrated along certain mean values, and that those are the same mean values that other species with similar reproductive energetics tend to cluster around.

Seriously, bec, you gotta read some of the literature on this before you start throwing around objections like "but I'm not like that!". There's an enormous amount of data on this stuff, and we've come a long way from the "Men are philanderers women are monogamous" models of yesteryear. (Largely because women are now doing a lot of the research themselves, and noticing things that men have been too preoccupied by their own prejudices to see.) I think it may have been Chris Rock who quipped that "a man is as faithful as his options". I'd broaden that to include women as well. At any rate, given that half the marriages* fail even in a society founded by Puritan religious zealots with an unhealthy servilitude to anyone waving a cross — not to mention the fact that the answer to the question "which public figure will be next to get outed taking hand jobs from hookers?" appears to be "Whoever introduced the most strident 'family-values' bill the week before" — I'd say you're skating on pretty thin ice.


*And this is even counting sexless, joyless, miserable marriages which persist "for the kids" or because of social pressure and/or inertia as successful!

June 10, 2008 at 9:42 AM  
OpenID bec-87rb said...

Too good not to reply to, but my reply was tl, so I defaulted to sending you an email.

Nobody is here for debate, right?*

*I so want to use an emoticon smiley here, you have no idea. No idea.

June 11, 2008 at 1:21 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home