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December 30, 2007

Hezbollah La La La La La La La

Sorry about the delay in posts, but the latest issues of Biblical Archaeology Review found its way through my mail slot once more (that sounds somewhat ribald) and I've been busy thinking up captions for their monthly contest. This was the best I could do:

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I have to admit that I was tempted to go with "OK, now are you going to tell me which one of you took a shit in the Ark of the Covenant?"

Moving right along...

When last we worked on out tiny plastic Roman soldiers, we were just starting to pint them, which means it's time for another bit of sage-like wisdom: after you do your semi-sloppy initial painting, treat each of your soldiers individually. In other words, work on your soldiers one-at-a-time, not as group. I can't explain why this technique works, but it just does. Trust me; you'll get better results

Once you've finished with all of your touch-up painting (an there will be a lot of touch up painting), let your soldiers sit for twenty-four hours (that's becoming a mantra) before getting a wide piece of tape and taping it sticky-side-up to a piece of cardboard. Now stick your soldiers onto the tape.

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Once you've secured them, walk 'em outside and spray them with gloss cote (make sure that you check the can because spraying them with white primer will make your soldiers angry). Now, so they don't scatter about; mount them (huh huh) on a piece of balsa wood (in retrospect, I shouldn't have gone with the bright green "grass" as it makes my soldiers look like they're marching on Astroturf)

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Repeat this process a dozen times and you'll have about a little over half of a cohort. If you'll want an entire legion, you'll have to paint approximately five thousand figures. After about two years, you should have gotten about this far:

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December 26, 2007

Schlossen Cutoff

blasphimg.jpgTiger, tiger, burning bright
In the food court? That shit ain't right

Today is happy day! After nearly a week of threatening actual action, I'm finally going to post something about Attis:

Attis was a Phrygian (possibly Lydian) deity who was also consort of the goddess Cybele (the "Mother of the Gods"). He's mostly remembered for castrating himself on whim and being reborn as a pine tree. Attis' conception was also a little unusual in that he was the offspring of a hermaphroditic demon whose penis had been cut off by the gods. Somehow this amputated love-muscle turned into an almond tree, the fruit of which somehow found its way into the womb of Attis' virgin mother. Man, you never hear about cool shit like that on Dr. Phil.

Why Attis' virgin birth may have contributed to the Jesus myth (The author of the Gospel of Luke enticed gentiles by incorporating familiar pagan motifs into the nativity story, while the author of the Gospel of Matthew appealed to Jews by stressing Jesus' descent from the House of David on his father's side – if Jesus was born of a virgin, why was Joseph's lineage important?), the self-castration practiced by many followers of Cybele may have also inspired the celibacy - or ritual castration - of Christian priests.

Whether or not Cybele and Attis were and influence on the Catholic Church, they almost certainly influenced the Roman Emperor Elagabalus (ruled 218 - 222 CE). Elagabalus, a Syrian who was all of fourteen when he ascended to the throne and enjoyed dressing was a woman and "playing wife" to his male slave, was assassinated shortly after he revealed his plans to castrate himself.

And now a word or two about tiny plastic shields.

You've probably figured out that I didn't paint those designs on the shields of my tiny plastic Roman soldiers. Yes, they are, indeed, decals. And they're found here. Download 'em and then play around with resizing them (print them on regular paper, cut and test against the shields) before printing them on full sheet labels (Avery 8165)

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Next time we'll put the finishing touches on out TPRA and sing some campfire songs or something.

December 24, 2007

Wherein I Disown My Parents

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"Deep within the heart of every evangelist lays the wreck of a car salesman."
- H L Mencken

I don't blog very often about my personal life because this site, despite its title, isn't really about me. It's about the other important things in life: History, Archaeology, Linguistics, and Lisa "Blair" Whelchel. That said, I've chosen today, a day when families all over this once-great land of ours, to shame with you my secret shame. You see, and this is a very difficult thing for me to admit, last summer my parents moved below the Mason Dickson Line.

Listen, I'm not having an easy time seeing the keyboard through the tears that welled up in my eyes, so I'm going to ask all you to turn away from your monitors for a minute while I have a word, in private, with my folks.

Way to fuckin' go, Mom and Dad. Sweet Southern-Fried Jesus Jerkin' Off in the Stockroom at a Winn Dixie, who the fuck moves to a part of the world where all of your neighbors look the courtroom crowd from Inherit The Wind? Why not just join the Taliban why you're at it? Do you're getting for Mithrasmas? A burqa for Mom, a white hood for dad, and a Mike Huckabee sign for your front lawn. Everything that's currently wrong with America can be traced to the Red States. Do you think it's just a coincidence that tele-evangelists have Southern accents? I swear on Reverend Moon's crown that if the North declared war on the South tomorrow, I'd enlist in the morning, make it through basic training by lunch, and would be leading a squadron of tanks into Virginia by dinnertime.

That was cathartic. In fact, I feel so much better that I'd like to talk about tiny plastic roman soldiers.

Now that you've applied primer to your TPRS (as well as their shields) and let them sit for twenty-four hours, it's time to carefully "snap" them off the pencil onto which they've been glued. Before you start painting, I'd just like to once more emphasize the importance of both a magnifying device and a good, flexible desk lamp. Painting 1/72 scale figures with these items is tough enough: without them it's nearly impossible.

Here's the order in which I paint: Base first (the first coat on the base, along with the first coats on the fronts and backs of shields is one of the few times that you can use a "larger" brush), then paint from the "inside-out", starting with flesh, then tunics, then armor, then scabbards, straps, weapons, etc. In other words, you should start off with something like this:

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And a few days later have something like this:

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A few days??? Yes, a few days. Here's the most valuable tip I'm likely to impart to you: painting TPRS is intricate and time consuming work that cannot be rushed. So, take frequent breaks. I only work on my TPR army for about a half hour a night on weeknights and whatever time I can get in on the weekends. Remember, this is supposed to be fun.

While I'm handing out tips, I should probably say a word or two about historical accuracy vs. artistic freedom. For the best results, stick as closely as possible to what your soldiers would've actually worn (This info can be found on Hat's website as well as in Osprey books, and on many public restroom walls), because they'll look much more realistic. That said, there's nothing more disturbing than someone who takes his (and I say "his" because women much too smart than to waste their lives painting tiny figurines) TPRS way too seriously. Recently a visitor to my home commented that some of the colors and patterns on the clothing of my Syrian archers (see pic below) might now be historically accurate. I was forced to point out the actual Syrians employed by the Romans were also much taller than mine.

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Next time we'll finish up painting and I might even have something to say about Attis.

December 22, 2007

Blair Weighs In (at 400 lbs) on Britney's Sister

Gratitude on a galactic scale to longtime caller/first time listener Kendra who alerted me that one of my nightmares had leaked out of my head while I was asleep.

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"Because we are doing the best we can as moms. We really are. I know that she's doing the best she can as a mom as well."

- Lisa "Blair" Whelchel using the words "best" and "mom" in their broadest possible senses.

When last we left our tiny plastic Roman pals, they had been glued to pencil for twelve hours. It's now time to take the soldiers, their pencil-shaped tour bus, and spray can of white primer outside where you'll give the little Latin Legionaries a quick, light coating of primer. They should look something like the Edgar Winter Band when you've finished.

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They'll need to wait at least twenty-four hours until you can start painting them. In the meantime, grab another pencil (make sure it has plenty of eraser on it); unbend a paperclip and stick one end in the pencil's eraser; thread the soldiers shields unto the paperclip; bend the far end so the shields won't slide off; apply primer, and leave them to sit for twenty-four hours, until they're ready to be painted.

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OK. Next time, we'll start painting our 1/72 scale army and maybe they'll be a word or two about Atiis.

December 20, 2007

Bona Natalis Solis Invicti, Roland (AS)S. Martin

rsmartin.jpgCondolences to Dennis Kucinich on the death of his brother, Perry.

Our story so far...

Apologies of the massive kind for the lack of bloggage last night. I went to the City Paper Natalis Solis Invicti party, had a few too many beers; came home and went straight to bed. Speaking of the CP. My review of Rome and Jerusalem has been posted/publish.

At least the delay hopefully gave you a little more time to gather up your supplies, for this week's "Master Class" in How to Paint Tiny Plastic Roman Soldiers. by the way, in the last post, I failed to mention two more things you'll need: a pencil and a paper clip. If you don't have these, Staples is open until 11 O'clock in most major cities as well as in Sacramento.

In order to rid today's post of any sense of continuity, I'll be peppering it with excerpts from CNN's I-Report: How do you talk to kids about Britney's sister?. And while were on the subject of CNN, you have to check out this steaming pile of Neanderthink from Roland S. Martin. Don't forget to use the comments section to let Ms. Martin know what you think of him. And remember, "scrotum-muncher" is hyphenated.

Ready to get started? No? Well, fuck you, Charlie, 'cuz here we go:

The first thing you'll need to do is to use your X-acto knife to free four or five soldiers (I'll be using four in this example because I already have a Tesserarius painted) from their plastic surroundings. Also use the x-acto knife to clean off any excess plastic hanging off the soldiers (there usually isn't very much if any)

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"I'm a 24-year-old mother, and my sister became a mom for the first time at 16. Her second son was born when she was 19. All you can do is educate your children. If you tell them what not to do, they'll do it. Once they hit the teenage years, and they start being allowed to go out with their friends and start dating, you have to trust that what you taught them is/was enough. When my daughter gets older, I plan on educating her on the consequences of premarital sex (she was born out of wedlock, but I was a bit older -- 23, to be exact). Just watching my sister struggle with her decision to give her son up was tough."

Thanks Lauren Middleton of Dublin, Ohio. Now we all know that you and your sister are a couple of sluts. Just kidding.

Now that your soldiers are on the loose, show them a good a time by giving them a bath in hot, soapy water.

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Honestly, I have no goddamn clue why you're supposed to soak your soldiers (huh huh); I mean, it's not like they got filthy sitting in a box, but every expert I've consulted insists that this be done, although it does seem somewhat counterintuitive to bathe Barbarians.

And for those of you who wrote in asking which kinds of tiny plastic soldiers are Gay and which ones aren't, here's a quick rule of thumb: If your solders aren't from a Mediterranean region and are living after 400 CE, they are definitely Gay. Sorry, that's just how it is.

Now, let your soldiers dry for at least three hours.

"I have a 9-year-old daughter and an 11-year-old son. I will use this as an opportunity to talk to them about why they should wait for marriage or at least until they're older to begin having sex. After the Vanessa Hudgens nude photo scandal and now this, I think we're going to stop watching television for a while. At least until I can make my kids understand that actors are not the people they portray on the screen. My heart just breaks for Lynn Spears. I hope 2008 is better for her than 2007 has been."

hey, Frances Cleveland of Alabaster, Alabama, now might be a good time to to talk to your kids about why it's important not to be the sort of moron who turns off the TV just because some juvenile bimbo has a bun in the oven.

Once your soldiers have dried, you'll need to break out the Elmer's and glue them to a pencil, thusly:

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Leave them be for at least twelve hours.

" I'm telling the kids "Zoey101" has been canceled. I hope Nickelodeon does the right thing and cancels the show. She is a role model for young girls. Looks like she's following in the footsteps of her sister."

That's right, Arden VanNatten of Schenectady, New York; lying to your children is always the best policy.

Next time, we'll apply primer and do a little painting. Oh, and I might even get around to saying a thing or two about the god Attis.

December 18, 2007

Tiny Plastic Roman Blog

All this week I'll be walking you through the steps of painting your tiny plastic Roman soldiers (and I'm not speaking metaphorically). Hopefully, this will help to answer the question I get asked most often: "Why the Hell is it taking you so long to paint damn soldiers? I mean. The joke went stale months ago." If you'd have no life whatsoever and would like to follow along, here's what you'll need:

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1) 1 box on tiny plastic Roman soldiers. These are really the key element in this project. I'll be using Imperial Roman Extra Heavy Legionaries in this example (These soldiers were known for their off-kilter sense of humor: which means that they used to get their kicks by crucifying prisoners in "funny" positions), but you can use Dacians, or Assyrians (whoa, those are kinda cool), or whatever you can get away with shoplifting from your local hobby store. Just make sure that it's an ancient civilization, otherwise you're Gay (not that there's anything wrong with being Gay, unless, of course, you were picked up along I-35 and brainwashed). A box o' soldiers should set you back less than ten bucks.

2) 1 spray can of white primer (Model Masters) and 1 spray can of gloss cote (Testors). These'll run you about five bucks each. To learn even more about spray paint, be sure to rent Citizen Ruth.

3) 1 bottle of Elmer's Glue. I'm pretty sure Elmer's glue is free because I don't remember ever paying for bottle: it's always just around.

4) 1 magnifying glass thingy on a stand. Like the idiot I am, I actually painted about forty soldiers before I wised up and bought one of these for five dollars at a flea market.

5) 1 X-acto knife. I paid fifty cents for this one at a yard sale. And then I stabbed the old lady who sold it to me. Circle of Life, man. Circle of Life.

6) At least 2 "5/0" and 1 "0" brushes. I'm going to say I paid about five dollars total for these three brushes. I'm also going to say that I would think twice before letting Mike Huckabee's son dog-sit. Christ of the Ozarks! Take a gander at the Huckabee Family/The Hills Have Eyes Christmas ( Natalis Solis Invicti to the rest of us) card, if you dare!

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7) Paint. I prefer Testors and Model Master (which may actually be the same company). The good folks at Hat were kind enough to post a painting guide for uniforms.

OK, you've got twenty-four hours to gather your supplies and to work yourself into a frenzy, because tomorrow night I'll start showing you how to paint you tiny plastic soldiers. I might also be saying a word or two about the god Attis.

December 17, 2007

Put the Persian Solar Deity Back In Christmas

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"...I will on no account vote for a smirking hick like Mike Huckabee, who is an unusually stupid primate but who does not have the elementary intelligence to recognize the fact that this is what he is."

- Christopher Hitchens from This Is Not a Test

Vienna and I spent yesterday celebrating the birthday of one of her heroines, Catherine of Aragon. It was probably the only holiday I'll enjoy this month. You see, despite being a life-long Atheist, I used to really enjoy Christmas (or Xmas, to be more historically accurate). I loved backing gingerbread houses and listening to the Chieftains' Bells Of Dublin. In short: Xmas and I had reached a sort of "understanding" wherein Xmas didn't make a lot of noise about Jesus and I didn't mention a certain Persian solar deity. And that worked just fine until the Galileans started in with this "War on Christmas" bullshit, thereby ruining a perfectly good holiday. You fuckers want a war? Ok, you've got it...

Mithras!


Having started out as a Persian Sun God roughly around 1400 BCE, Mithras (AKA "Mithra"; AKA "Mitra"; AKA "The Good Shepard") become a popular deity among Roman soldiers from the first through the fourth centuries CE. This accounts for the rapid spread of the Mithriac Mystery Cults throughout the Empire.

Now, here's the fun stuff about Mithras:

  • Mithras was born of a virgin, who would later be known as "The Mother of God"
  • Mithras had twelve disciples
  • Initiates into the Cult of Mithras underwent a ritual Baptism before taking part in the Mithriac ceremony which included the drinking of wine, which represented Mithras' blood, and the eating of bread which symbolized Mithras' body.

"He who will not eat of my body and drink of my blood, so that he will be made one with me and I with him, the same shall not know salvation." - Mithriac liturgy
  • Mitras' day of worship was Sunday.
  • Mithras' birthday (Natalis Solis Invicti: Birthday of the Invincible Sun) was celebrated on December 25th
  • The leader of the Mithraic religion, who officiated from the Vatican Hill in Rome, was known as "Pater Patrum" ("Father of the Fathers" form where the word "Pope" derives)

When faced with the above and other similarities between Christianity and Mithraism, the early Church Fathers concocted an interesting hypothesis: Satan had created the story of Mithras prior long before the birth of Jesus in order to later confuse the laity.

In hoc signo

Now, you've all heard the story about how Emperor Constantine had a vision of the cross, so he had his soldiers paint crosses on their shields and was therefore victorious in battle, and immediately converted to Christianity. Well, that's not exactly true. The "symbol" Constantine had his soldiers paint on their shields was actually the greek letters chi (X) and rho (P), which also happened to be symbols for Mithras; oh, and Constantine was looking up at the sun when he received his famous vision (But momma, that's were the fuuuuun is). By the way, Constantine didn't convert to Christianity on the spot: he waited until he was on his deathbed in order to get in the maximum amount of sinning before asking for forgiveness.

Arbor Day Goes Fuckobazoo

This brings us to the weird part of the bible wherein Jesus gets pissed off at a fig tree for not bearing fruit out-of-season, so he condemns it to death. Pretty inexplicable behavior, right? It is unless you stop to consider that at the time the New Testament was being written, the chief rival to Christianity was Mithraism: and the tree most sacred to Mithras was, you guessed it, the fig tree.

"Mithras bless us every one!" said Tiny Tim, the last of all.

December 13, 2007

For Cover Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf

Our story so far...

Remember yesterday when I said, "Anyone not celebrating the birth of the Prince of Peace will be killed!"? Well, it seems a group of Galileans took me seriously (temporarily causing Muslim/Jewish unity). Oh, and it turns out that humans, with the exception of twenty or so New York subway riders, are evolving fast than was previously thought.

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Aid or Invade number thirty-something has been posted and blah, blah, blah...

Look, I'm just too depressed from last night's colossally lame America's Next Top Model finale to keep writing. It was bad enough that they cut Victoria early on for being smart, but Saleisha (once read that names that begin with the letter ‘S' are the names of SNAKES! is the second worst choice in the show's history: the worst choice being last cycle's "winner" Jizzlene - the spokesmodel who can neither speak nor model.

December 12, 2007

O Knowledge Tree, O Knowledge Tree

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Our story so far...

Mike Huckabee continues to clear a path for the nomination of Ron Paul; Barack Obama is the new Steadman; Dana Perino is the new Sherri Shephard; and it turns out that James "Race and IQ" Watson is 16% Black.

Meanwhile, in the town where I was born...

The local Freethought Society has set up a "Tree of Knowledge" among the holiday religious paraphernalia outside the courthouse. I'm going to visit it next Saturday before some Galilean knocks it over. Anyone not celebrating the birth of the Prince of Peace will be killed!

"So many people who I work with on a daily basis, who are really struggling with faith, look and say, 'You know what? I'm embarrassed. Because you're an atheist, you're trying to say therefore we're going to sabotage what is a holiday, a religious holiday."

- Father Jonathan Morris, crying like a little girl on Fox & Friends

"You should not look at it as a sabotage. Because your faith should be strong enough where anybody standing there with a question would not intimidate you."

- Margaret Downey, gift-wrapping the good Father's ass before handing it back to him.

Sorry about the puny post, but I'm on-call this week. Look for a series of posts on Mithras coming soon!

December 10, 2007

Huckabee, You Dumb Motherfuckabee

huckabee1.jpgOur story so far: When socially conservative Republicans (also known as "the simple folk") discovered that Rudy Giuliani was banging his mistress on the tax payers' dime, Mitt Romeny wears magical Mormon underpants, and Fred Thompson lived up to the promise of being another Ronald Reagan only in that he's a driveling old fart, they turned to Mike "Young Earth" Huckabee (oddly, a social conservative with a rather progressive economic policy). Of course, moving to the front of the pack also means that every half-assed comment you've made since you learned to talk will come back to haunt you.

As it turns out, back in 1992, Mike Huckabee suggested that AID victims be quarantined. Apart form the obvious Civil rights issues carting away the entire first three rows at a Cher concert to a deserted island might raise, there's also a glaring logistical problem: Shipping everybody with AIDS off to Molokai, just might make people with AIDS a little reluctant to get treatment. Mike defended his statement by saying:


"I had simply made the point -- and I still believe this today -- that in the late '80s and early '90s, when we didn't know as much as we do now about AIDS, we were acting more out of political correctness than we were about the normal public health protocols that we would have acted."

By that "logic" you could make a point for quarantining all Fundamentalists. Seriously, we don't know what sort of neurological ailment makes Fundies think the world is 6,000 years old and dinosaurs were the ballast Noah's Ark, or actually give a shit whether or not the two guys down the street get married. We don't even know if it's contagious. All we do know about the disease is that it affects Fundamentalists' hand/eye coordination, causing them to fly planes into buildings.

December 09, 2007

Becoming "That Guy"

mithmas1.jpgI like to think of myself as a "polemicist" although I'm pretty sure most people just call me a "dick". Let's explore!

Last night I went to Molly's Bookstore (If I had to make a list of my favorite places on Earth, Molly's would be up in the top four: rubbing elbows with the Ile de la Cite, The British Museum, and the O'Farrell Theater [I wish they had a gift shop]) for a Big Tea Party party.

So, at one point there's a clip from BTP's coverage of the 2000 Republican National Convention showing on a screen that had been set up in the front of the store and all the people around me start lamenting the "Gestapo tactics" used by Philly's police force (to my knowledge no one was carted off to a concentration camp). That's when, just to me, I said, "Yeah, it's a shame all those working class cops wouldn't be more accommodating to the children of privilege who were protesting." An uncomfortable silence followed.

That's the sort of thing I do. Had I been in a room full of cops, I probably would've taken the side of the protesters (and would be writing this from my hospital bed). I'm OK with this. What I've not OK with is turning into an Atheist version of sort of Galilean who can't shut the fuck up about Mr. Jesus. Here's an example of what I'm talking about:

Last night, before the party, some friends were hanging out in our living room (which Vienna insists should be called a "parlor") when one of them casually mentioned that they been giving some advice by a psychic. Instead of mentioning that one of my heroes, the Emperor Julian often consulted oracles, I launched into a diatribe about what a load of bullshit psychics are, how they prey, almost exclusively on women*, and then instructed my friend to checkout Skepchick. Later, at Molly's, my friend and I were looking over the chapters in Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion (which I picked up at Molly's for only seven bucks!) when she spotted the title of chapter eight: "What's Wrong With religion? Why Be So Hostile?" "Good question", she said.

Point taken. Earlier, when I vehemently denounced all that psychic crap, had I acted no differently from the Bible-thumping Galileans who condemn psychics because they make Mr. Jesus cry? Or was my response akin to what I would've said had my friend announced that she had consulted a Klansman about what to do about Jewish neighbors? The question before you my brethren (and I say "my brethren" because all of the women-folk are over at the psychic goddess rodent droppings site) is "just how zealous should we be in our condemnation of the irrational? What defines the thin line between standing up for reason and being a flaming asshole?

Talk among yourselves.


Further reading:
Frank Schaefer: Crazy for God
Gore Vidal: Julian

December 08, 2007

Putin on the Fritz

potf.jpgI'm certain that I must've mentioned the Lifetime Network movie Cyber Seduction: His Secret Life, because there's no way that anybody could write about life in twenty-first century America without mentioning that masterpiece of agitpoop (that's the second word I've coined this week), but just incase you've just started experiencing "the talkies on the picturebox", here's a plot synopsis straight from the good folks at the Lifetime factory:

In just a few mouse clicks, good-natured student and athlete Justin Peterson (Jeremy Sumpter) went from your average hormonally charged teen to an Internet porn addict. He puts his future and family into total turmoil by letting curiosity turn into obsession.

The film's most memorable line is uttered by a secondary character who snarls, "Internet pornography ruined my marriage" Ladies, if you're shocked, shocked!, to find porn on your husband's computer, then you'll also be shocked to learn that he has a penis hidden in his trousers.

I mention this only because I was shocked earlier this week when I discovered pictures of Vladimir Putin on my computer.

RA: Um, honey, what are all these pictures of Pootie Poot doing on the PC?

Vienna Anonymous: I think he's hot.

RA: You do know he's a totalitarian right? He's like a total totalitarian.

VA: But he's a hot totalitarian.

Please keep in mind two things, folks. The first is that this is the same woman who makes me double-check all the locks in the house whenever she has her weekly nightmare about the Cybermen, and that in the first American election in which women could vote, they tended to vote for the handsomer of the two candidates: Warren G. Harding.

Stormin' Mormon

Be sure to check out Chris Hitchens' boot-to-the-groin of Mitt "Kolob" Romney's "Vote for me, 'cuz at least I'm not an Atheist" speech.

And in other Faith-based news...

Galileans are lining up along Interstate 35 and we can only hope that they're doing it an night in non-reflective clothing.


"Everything we do, we want to make sure scripture is backing us up. I-35 being Isaiah 35, it just matched."
- Pastor Charlie Lujan of Austin's PromiseLand Church

December 06, 2007

Race and IQ Part III (How About A Little Head?)

sherrishemp.jpg At long last, the final post about Race and IQ!

If I stood before a group of my fellow and said that White males are overwhelmingly more likely to become serial killers than any other group, everyone would quietly nod, sip their lattes and go back to thinking about whether they should ask for the mug or the tote bag the next time they pledged money to NPR. If I stood before the same group of people and casually mentioned that Blacks, on average, score lower on IQ tests then members of any other ethnic group, I'd be dragged to the parking lot where dozens of Volvo drivers would take turns running me over in the safest possible way.

This is because most of us who walk upright and have mastered the art of eating with a fork find the idea of a racial or genetic component to IQ to be utterly repugnant. Where did the idea come from, anyway? I mean, is there any evidence to support the idea that the difference in IQ scores between racial groups I genetic in origin?

Yes!

But is there any good evidence that the difference in IQ scores between racial groups I genetic in origin?

No. Not really.

In his
series of posts on Slate that inspired this series of posts
, William Saletan cited MRI scans which showed that the average, Asian-American child's brain is larger than the average European-American child's brain, which happens to be larger than the average African-American child's brains [Insert Inverse Brain-To-Penis Ratio Joke Here]: The bigger the head, the bigger the brain, the smarter the child. Phrenology is back!

The problem, as Saletan admitted to in a mea culpa that was later devastatingly commented upon by Stephen Metcalf was that Saletan's piece had relied upon the very unreliable work of J. Philippe Rushton and Arthur Jensen. Rushdon is the head of the Pioneer Fund, an ultra-creepy eugenics research organization. For a comprehensive beat-down of Jensen, be sure to read Stephen Jay Gould's The Mismeasure of Man.

So, here's what you need to take away from all this ethnobabble:

I wouldn't be offended if scientists - real scientists. Not some joker in a white lab coat from the Louis Farakan Institute for Mocking Honkies - were to conduct a study on why the vast majority of serial killers tend to be White males, so I think it's perfectly acceptable for scientists - real scientists. Not some joker in a white hood from the David Duke Institute for the Promotion of Bullshit - to look into why there's a difference in IQ scores along racial lines. But I wouldn't want a Black person to look at me and think "Holy shit! The odds are that he's a serial killer". And I sure as shittin' would never look at a Black person and think "The odds are that they're dumber than me."

Unless that Black person is Sherri Shepherd.

OK. Can we get back to tiny plastic Roman soldiers now?

December 05, 2007

Thank Darwin for Sherri Shepherd

It's been a Hell of a week. I've been swamped at work and I had a book review and an Aid or Invade to finish, so I was kind of looking forward to wrapping up the Race and IQ trilogy. And then Sherri Shepherd (hurry, before those posts get deleted), yes the same Sherri Shepherd who recently claimed that she didn't know whether or not the Earth was flat, sat on her rotund ass on national TV and claimed that Christianity predated all other religions.

The Greeks threw Christians to the lions? Who know? That's some pretty impressive Neanderthink (I get the feeling I'll be using that word rather frequently), Sherri. And I've lived through eight years of Bush the Dumber.


So how does one person get to be that stupid? [We'll take up the question of why someone that stupid is allowed to remain on TV some other time]. Could it possibly be genetic?

Tune in next time when we find out.

December 01, 2007

Race and IQ Part II (Electric Boogaloo)

tgdpj.jpgWhile plenty of people are content to act like dicks, nobody wants to be called a dick, or Dicky McDick-a-Lot, or Sir Dick of Head, or The Incredibly Strange Creature Who Stopped Living and Became a Mixed Up DICK, or...well, you get the idea. Maybe that's why it socially acceptable to ask why men commit more violent crimes than women do (which just only goes to prove that women are only good for one thing...OK, two, if you count cooking), but it's taboo to ask if there is a link between ethnicity and IQ.

As we saw in the last Thoughtless, on average, groups score higher than others on IQ tests. But why?

Theory Number One: IQ Tests, just like society, are loaded with racist, culturally and economically biased bullshit
On the surface this seems like a slam dunk, until one descends form one's soapbox and actually looks at the data. If the tests are racially biased then why do American Blacks outscore Blacks living in Africa? For that matter, why do Asians outscore Whites? And if you toss trans-racial adoption into the mix you'll find that find that the pattern of Asians* outscoring Whites, Whites outscoring Hispanics, and Hispanics outscoring Blacks still holds up.

As for economic bias, well, white children from households earning below the national average income outscore black children from households earning above the national average income. This, of course, does not explain away Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch.

So environmental factors don't play a part in IQ scores? No, I didn't say that.

The overwhelming majority of people who study IQ agree that as much as 50 percent of the variations in IQ between groups are cause by nutritional, disease, and educational factors. Malnutrition alone may cause an individuals IQ score to drop by as much as 10 points (that's five trips to the net). Government spending on social programs over the last 50 years may help to explain why the gap between average White and Black IQ scores in the US has decreased:

So there, are you happy now you Liberal tree-hugging fans of the Nanny State? It's clearly environmental, not genetic, factors that play the key role in determining IQ.

Or maybe not.

Next time we'll take a look at Theory Number Two (he-he, "Number Two") and hopefully wrap this thing up so we can get back to important stuff, like little, plastic soldiers.


* Driving test sores for Asians were unavailable.