Evolutionary Psychology, Memes and the Origin of War

Somebody (possibly Henson himself) posted Evolutionary Psychology, Memes and the Origin of War over at Kuro5hin in 2006. I had no idea Kuro5hin still existed, and Henson’s paper could use some consideration of group selection, but anyway it’s a worthwhile and controversial read.

It seems to me that if Henson’s basic thesis is right, our current global political situation is not just eerily similar to that of the mid-1930s, it’s actually the same phenomenon – so we better get it under control.

Don’t be a .local yokel

Wikipedia has a nice technical write up that explains why you should never, ever use the .local suffix the way Microsoft has frequently recommended.

But I like this politically incorrect version better:

Microsoft: “Gee, nobody is using the .local piece of the globally shared Internet namespace, so let’s tell all our customers that it’s best practice to use it for our totally super cool version of Kerberized LDAP service called Active Directory!”

Novell: “Oh noes, Microsoft has made an inferior competitor to our flagship technology! It’ll probably destroy our market advantage just like their inferior networking stack did!”

Linux/Unix: “Oh noes, when somebody attaches the new Microsoft technology to an existing mature standards-based network, Kerberos breaks!”

Microsoft: “HA HA HA HA HA HA HA we are totally following the standard, lusers!”

Linux/Unix: “grumble whine we will patch Kerberos even though we don’t agree.”

Microsoft: “whatevs. Did you notice we broke your DNS too? :)”

Apple: “Hey, IETF, we have this cool new zeroconf technology. We want to reserve the .local namespace for it.”

IETF: “OK, sure, you’ve filled out all the forms and attended all the meetings and there’s two independent implementations so you’ve done everything correctly. We have no valid reason to deny this allocation.”

Novell: “Hey, we were using SLP already, what did you just do?”

Apple: “Oh, whoopsie, did we just eat your lunch? HA HA HA HA HA”

Microsoft: “Hey, what just happened?”

Apple: “HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA RFC6762, lusers!”

Linux/Unix: “grumble mumble whatevs. We can do mDNS.”

Microsoft customers: “OH NOES WE ARE SCREWZ0RRED”

Microsoft: “Meh, you didn’t really want Apple products on your networks anyway.”

:TEN YEARS LATER:

Microsoft customers: “How much would it cost to fix this network?”

Microsoft: “What, were you talking to us? Everything’s fine here. Windows 10 forever!”

VTOL Rocket Roundup

The Experimental Delta Clipper (DC-X) of the 1990s was canceled before it ever made it into space.

The Rotary Rocket Company’s incredibly innovative Roton was designed to land with helicopter blades instead of a parachute or a landing rocket. After the collapse of the small telecommunications satellite market in 1999 the company went out of business without ever building their unique spinning aerospike main engine; without a clear mission, investors were unwilling to fund the various exotic technologies that the company was successfully pioneering.

In 2013 SpaceX’s series of “grasshopper tests” picked up where the DC-X left off.

But SpaceX’s plan to land their Falcon 9 lifter on a seagoing barge has not yet succeeded.

And bringing us up to date, Blue Origin landed the New Shepard on the 23rd. I love the final replay of the landing sequence!

Wrench Wednesday

Once upon a time, tractors and other farm implements came with a wrench that fit all the nuts and bolts on the machinery. Farmers being the clever and parsimonious people they are, they never paid for ten wrenches when just one would do the job! I used to find these things laying all over the place in Uncle Irving’s junkyard; now they are collector’s items.

Page from the 2015 Wrenching News fall auction

British Museum Iron Age virtual exhibit

Heather writes:

One of my web design e-newsletters had a link to the indoors Google Street View of the British Museum. So I wandered around a bit and found this… Celtic Life in Iron Age Britain: A British Museum exhibition of Iron Age objects from collections across the UK.

Medieval Cats

Medievalists.net has an article titled Why Cats were Hated in Medieval Europe that I liked. It references Irina Metzler’s article Heretical Cats: Animal Symbolism in Religious Discourse which seems to be only available in German, and Joyce Salisbury’s The Beast Within: Animals in the Middle Ages which is available in English as an ebook.

15th century manuscript from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Medievalisterrant chimes in with a post on Cats as pets in the Middle Ages.

Happy St. Brice’s Day

November 13th, 1002 Æþelræd Unræd ordered the slaughter of all the Danes in England. Although at that point Aethelraed could only really enforce his will in about a third of his domain, this ill-advised plan did manage to cause the death of Harald Bluetooth’s daughter Gunhilde, and in some histories the St. Brice’s Day Massacre leads directly to the conquest of England by the Danish King Sweyn Forkbeard (Gunhilde’s brother) and Sweyn’s son Knut the Great.

NASA Ames

Mercifully, the whole thing is starting to fade, to become an episode. When I do still catch the odd glimpse, it’s peripheral; mere fragments of mad-doctor chrome, confining themselves to the corner of the eye. There was that flying-wing liner over San Francisco last week, but it was almost translucent. And the shark-fin roadsters have gotten scarcer, and freeways discreetly avoid unfolding themselves into the gleaming eighty-lane monsters I was forced to drive last month in my rented Toyota. — William Gibson, The Gernsback Continuum

The photoessay This Used to Be the Future reminded me of a childhood spent reading yellowed 1940s science fiction.

1958 General Motors Firebird III

Cryptic sword

British Library museum shelfmark 1858,1116.5

13th century double-edged European knightly sword, 2lb 10oz (1.2kg), 38″ (964mm) long and 6½” (165mm) across the quillons. Found in the river Witham, Lincolnshire, in July 1825, and presented to the Royal Archaeological Institute by the registrar to the Bishop of Lincoln. The blade was broken near the tip and mended “in modern times” according to the British Library website.

Said to bear an indecipherable inscription “+NDXOXCHWDRCHWDRCHDXORUN” inlaid in gold wire on one side, but to me it looks more like “+NDXOXCHWDRCHWDRCHDXORVI+”.

India re-legalizes santhara

Jainism is arguably the oldest religion continuously practiced by mankind. Arguably, because Hindus say their tradition is older, and will often claim that Jainism is merely a splinter sect of Hinduism. Jains typically disagree, but Jains are non-violent and nominally atheists – so they don’t get a lot of respect from the violent theists that control most of the world. In any case both religions are so ancient that their origin stories are unlikely to have escaped embellishment by later generations.

Anyway, the BBC is reporting that India’s Supreme Court has revoked their earlier decision that made it illegal to voluntarily stop eating and drinking as a spiritual practice. Since this is often the only avenue a bedridden, terminally ill person has to gain release from incessant suffering, I have to applaud.

London underground. No, not that one.

New Statesman:

How many of these once perfectly functioning and possibly still serviceable diggers are petrified underneath central London, like those Romans preserved cowering in the corners of houses in Pompeii? Estimates vary. One property developer I asked reckoned at least 1,000; another put the figure at more like 500.

BLDBLG:

London is thus becoming a machine cemetery, with upwards of £5 million worth of excavators now lying in state beneath the houses of the 1%. Like tools invented by M.C. Escher, these sacrificial JCB*s have excavated the very holes they are then ritually entombed within, turning the city into a Celtic barrow for an age of heroic machinery.

I suppose this is all very well and good until somebody blunders into a plague pit.

*A “JCB” is what a Briton calls an excavator made by Lord Joseph Cyril Bamburg, CBE.

How many unemployed?

In this post-Reagan era, you can use the Government’s “official” count of unemployment – which is broken up into categories from U1 to U6, but everybody uses the U3, currently 5.3% – or you can check out John Williams’ Shadow Government Statistics, with puts the current count at 23%. Williams attempts to use the pre-1990 method of calculation (which is difficult because the government is trying really hard not to obtain anything resembling real unemployment figures) so that you can compare modern unemployment figures with historical data.