Wednesday, September 8, 2010

He Wants Your Money

Jason tells me that this film is being made by a writer from MAD magazine. I wonder if it's not really about a government that writers from MAD might have dreamed up had they been in a malicious mood:

Decapitation Strategy

Strategy Page gives us an update on military operations in Afghanistan. Here's part of it:
Between April and July of this year, U.S. and allied (including Afghan) special operations forces killed nearly 400 Taliban leaders, and arrested another 1,400 Taliban. All this was mostly done via night operations by commandos (mainly U.S. Special Forces and SEALs) and missile attacks by American UAVs. This is part of a trend.
This “decapitation” campaign was successful in Iraq, and earlier, in Israel (where it was developed to deal with the Palestinian terror campaign that began in 2000.) Actually, the Americans have used siimilar tactics many times in the past (in World War II, 1960s Vietnam, the Philippines over a century ago and in 18th century colonial America.) But the Israelis developed decapitation tactics customized for use against Islamic terrorists.
In some cases, the Special Forces efforts have been so successful that the Taliban has been unable to get anyone to take the place of dead leaders. In some cases, the Taliban have called on friend and kin in the Afghan government, to try and get the Americans to stop. This puts these Afghan officials in a tight spot. While they are officially on board with this campaign against the Taliban, they also have members of their tribe, or even close relatives, who are in the Taliban. That’s not unusual in Afghanistan, where even the most pro-Taliban tribes have members who are not only pro-government, but actually work (most of the time) for the government. That’s how politics works in Afghanistan.
Unfortunately, the major media rarely report any of this stuff. Listening to the evening news one would think that all is doom and gloom in Afghanistan and that U.S. forces are on the verge of being run out of the country by the Taliban with their tail between their legs. Of course, this is how they reported on Iraq, too. It seems that when it comes to American efforts abroad the media can't help but focus on the clouds and ignore the wide swaths of blue sky.

Polyamory and Gay Marriage

Over the last few days we've commented a couple of times on an article in Scientific American by research psychologist Jesse Bering. In the essay Bering makes this assertion:
...human beings are not naturally monogamous but rather have been explicitly designed by natural selection to seek out ‘extra-pair copulatory partners’—having sex with someone other than your partner or spouse for the replicating sake of one’s mindless genes—then suppressing these deep mammalian instincts is futile and, worse, is an inevitable death knell for an otherwise honest and healthy relationship.
Let us for the sake of discussion grant that human beings, at least male humans, are not naturally monogamous (I happen to believe that that's true. Men have to be taught to value monogamy). What are the implications of this for the future of marriage once we remove the legal barrier to homosexual marriage? If the natural state of humans is polyamory and if in our enlightened times we decide that the gender of the individuals entering into marriage no longer matters, what reason could there possibly be for saying that the number of people in the marriage matters?

Bering gives us a peek at the future debate. It will go something like this: Polyamory is a natural urge. To stifle peoples' natural urges is oppressive. Therefore it is oppressive for a society to deny people the right to form unions of any number of people they wish.

Once we've accepted the proposition that the gender of the married persons doesn't matter there'll be no basis for resisting the argument that the number of people in a marriage shouldn't matter either. And once we acknowledge that polyamorous marriages should be permitted for those who desire them, marriage will cease to have any real meaning or significance and will probably cease to exist.

Bering doesn't think that people will really want to form group marriages because, human nature being what it is, jealousy will obtrude forming an insurmountable obstacle. This is, in my opinion, naive. Polyamory has existed in various permutations throughout human history, and there will certainly be those who will wish to have it legitimated by the state once the philosophical and religious objections have been bulldozed out of the way by same sex marriage. Whatever people can do some will surely do. To think otherwise seems to reflect an inadequate understanding of human nature, and I'm surprised that a research psychologist doesn't recognize this.