Saturday, January 05, 2008

Is Senator Obama a Rorschach Test?

Dick Meyers at CBS News has an interesting piece on voters' projections of the Democratic Candidates (Hat tip: Anchoress ). He says of Obama:

Sen. Obama is a Rorschach test. I see hope! I see brains! I see a whole new kind of politician! I see an amazing life story! I see an orator! I see a natural! I see a hero!

Well, real people aren't Rorschach tests. They aren't blank slates. And by January 2008, Senator Blank Slate, D-Ill., will be a messy chalkboard. He may well be a fabulous chalkboard with cool stuff all over it. But more likely, he'll be pretty much like an American politician, though perhaps one who is a great guy, with a big brain and a powerful voice.

When I listen to people talk about Obama, I hear nothing but vague ideals mentioned such as "change, new ideas, something different than the mainstream, fresh voices," yada yada yada. But one thing I don't hear a lot about are his views on policy. What is his stand on Israel? How is he going to fund Universal Health care for everyone without cutting back on the quality of care and/or sacrificing research & development? If he cuts out taxes for 7 million seniors, how does this square with his belief that "everyone should pay their fair share," or does this only apply to corporations? How do you negotiate with terrorists? I have a lot more questions that I hope will be answered prior to the election, because we need more in a President than a breath of fresh air.


Friday, January 04, 2008

Are Extroverts Better Liars?

I occasionally find something of interest in my trade magazine--Monitor on Psychology--that is worth sharing. In a section entitled "Science Watch," I found an informative article entitled, "Liar, liar, neurons fire" about how as we get older, we often learn to lie more convincingly. The article also points out that extroverts and the socially adroit are better liars:

Gombos found that lying places a high cognitive load on a person's executive functioning, especially working memory and decision-making. Just as Sam Rayburn implied, if you tell a lie, you have to keep careful track of what you say. But some people are naturally better at this than others. Gombos cites some earlier research by British psychologist Aldert Vrij that shows that "socially adroit" people make better liars.

"People who are natural actors are especially good at lying because of their abilities at social control and role-playing," Gombos says. "And extroverts lie more often—and better—than shy people."

Gombos thinks it may have something to do with people's ability to mentally detach themselves from the truth while telling the lie.

"If they believe the lie, it's easier to be convincing," Gombos says. "I think it really underscores just how complex lying can be."

What I find puzzling is that our society often rewards those who are extroverts who are good at manipulating people over those who are shy but honest. Think about it, a good looking man or woman who is an extrovert gets away with a lot more than the rest of us who are average looking and more reserved. It should be the reverse.
GM Roper has some thoughts on Universal Health Care.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Interview: Bob Zubrin on Alternative Fuel

zubrincov.jpgToday, we interview aerospace engineer and author, Bob Zubrin, about his new book, Energy Victory: Winning the War on Terror by Breaking Free of Oil. Zubrin has a surprisingly simple plan for reducing the power of OPEC and keeping dollars out of the hands of terrorists and their supporters, all while reducing greenhouse emissions. He discusses whether or not Congress will pass flexfuel legislation, why dependence on foreign oil puts America at risk, and why he is a critic of hydrogen fuel. You can read more about his work at

You can listen directly -- no downloads needed -- by going here and clicking on the gray Flash player. You can download the file and listen at your leisure at by clicking right here. You can get a lo-fi version suitable for cellphones, Treos, and dialup connections by going here and clicking "lo fi." And, of course, you can always get a free subscription via iTunes. Free! Show archives are at Zubrin's website is at

This podcast brought to you by Volvo Automobiles. Music is "Indistinguishable from Magic" by Mobius Dick.


Tuesday, January 01, 2008

The Improper Use of a Weapon

A law student and beauty queen has been indicted for torturing her boyfriend --sorry registration seems to be required (Hat tip: Fred Ray):

A University of Arizona law school student and beauty queen has been indicted on charges that say she and three others held her former boyfriend captive for 10 hours while torturing and robbing him.

Kumari Fulbright, a law clerk for U.S. District Court Judge Raner Collins, was indicted Dec. 18 on five felony charges – armed robbery, aggravated robbery, kidnapping and two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Check out the comments to the post--some people, in the examples below, are asking what the boyfriend did to deserve being bitten, threatened, and held at gunpoint:

I wonder what he did to her that made her do this? I would like to hear her story. Was this drug related? Obviously this is big from a law student to the dark side. Something pushed her over the edge.

What did her former boyfriend do to her that she felt she could torture him? Where are her other former boyfriends?

Other commenters are more concerned with her looks or her sexiness than with her criminal acts:

Beauty queen? Did she have a gun on the judges?

Don't know if this makes me a bad person or not, but that story kind of turned me on a bit.

With this attitude, it's no wonder women's acts of violence are held to a double standard and not taken as seriously as men's. Women are sexy and cute if they commit violent acts or they are forced to act violently because of the actions of a man. They are not autonomous beings who are responsible for their own behavior. How sexist is that?
Happy New Year! Hope 2008 is a great year for everyone here.

Monday, December 31, 2007

Boys, Toys, and Aggression

It seems that playing with toy weapons is good for boys (Hat Tip: Instapundit) :

Playing with toy weapons helps the development of young boys, according to new Government advice to nurseries and playgroups.

Staff have been told they must resist their "natural instinct" to stop boys using pretend weapons such as guns or light sabres in games with other toddlers. Fantasy play involving weapons and superheroes allows healthy and safe risk-taking and can also make learning more appealing, says the guidance.

It conflicts with years of "political correctness" in nurseries and playgroups which has led to the banning of toy guns, action hero games and children pretending to fire "guns" using their fingers or Lego bricks.

But teachers' leaders insisted last night that guns "symbolise aggression" and said many nurseries and playgroups would ignore the change.

The Brit's advice sounds similar to what Gerard Jones, the author of Killing Monsters: Why Children Need Fantasy, Super Heroes, and Make-Believe Violence has also argued--that young people love fantasy violence because it gives them the coping skills they so desperately need. He states that instead of banning games like Doom, we should harness the tremendous power of fantasy to help our kids better navigate the world around them. He interviewed me for his book and this is what I had to say:

...Kids don't grow up understanding their own aggression. Teachers and parents say, sit still, be nice, cooperate, and they don't give kids the opportunity to play with the aggressive feelings that come up for them. Dads are often afraid to wrestle their sons to the ground, kids aren't allowed to pretend to kill each other, and they're certainly not taught to fight in any sort of controlled way, or even to stand up to someone who's giving them trouble. With all of the emphasis in our schools now on getting kids in touch with their feelings, the scary feelings like anger are just kind of wished away. A kid says, 'I feel like I love you' and we say 'Awwww.' He says, 'I feel like I want to kill you' and we say, 'No, you don't.' So a kid runs into some real conflict in life and he feels the rage coming up in him and he doesn't know what to do with it.

We never taught him what to do. Games can teach boys (and girls) how to deal with aggression. Brits, listen to the government advice and incorporate fantasy and make-believe violence into play--along with critical thinking skills. Rather than make kids more aggressive, it might just teach them to modulate aggressive feelings in a more constructive way.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Gun Bloggers Meet-up

Glenn and I met up with a bunch of the gun bloggers yesterday for a few rounds of shooting and then for dinner. The guests included SayUncle, Sebastian at Snowflakes in Hell, Bitter at The Bitch Girls, Les Jones, and Tam at View From the Porch Blog. I got some great shooting tips from everyone, including Say Uncle who tried to teach me not to flinch (not an easy feat) and from Bitter and Tam on the best guns for women with smaller hands (for more on grip techniques, check out Women Learning to Shoot). Everyone at the meet-up was knowledgeable and respectful of weapons and really knew their stuff. I was amazed at the variety of weaponry and got to try out an AR-15 which I have never shot before. See the pic.