Yapping Yak


Tag Archives: world

Speaking of Chimpanzees

Frances De Waal TED Talk on morality among mammals.

Today is a gloomy rainy cold April day in Boston. Sunday. I have to study at school. Sad already. Actually, studying is not sad at all for a nerd like me, but studying a subject that is taught by a totally lunatic brainless phony academic is just excruciating. I guess the type of less evolved lawyer (who stayed on the tree)(which also explained his demeanor).  [chimpanzee shoutout #1]

But some tom yum soup, and a nice TED talk (which is becoming more and more rare) brightened up my day.

So Frances talked about a few experiments on mammals, illustrating them possessing some qualities that prompted behaviors that would be deemed “moral” in our human dictionary (which also is accompanied by some free loading activities, which kinda makes his arguments more convincing), such as monkeys showing anger when receiving less desirable treat and the one who actually receives nice treat refusing the treat (good sport!), monkey choosing token that give him and his partner food rather that the one only giving him the food (as long as the partner is behaving), and monkey helping others getting food when himself not wanting the food.

Then it comes to the best part of the talk:  he said wall street protesters are just like the angry monkey who gets cucumber rather than grape for a task performed. Fanatic monkeys!!!  [chimpanzee shoutout #2]

It is not only just fun to look at animals playing human. I really like the perspective (although have been under the influence of similar school of thoughts, it’s still nice to see real examples) supporting an holistic evolutionary theory. Also supporting my view that religion is only a phase in human history, a necessity to provide an explanation and a framework of human social morality, which would eventually be replaced as science advances. Religion captures, rather than dictates, what it means to be human. [atheist/agnostic redneck woo-hoo]

A conventional view towards world/life is structured; it gives order, conforming to our stability seeking instinct. The clear line drawn between human and animals is an example of that. Some things you ought to do as human, some things get frowned upon among humans, and some things are bad bad bad to do any humans.

But if we have a blurry line, and acknowledge the gradual nature of “morality”  – view it as a spectrum, or better, a more fluid concept – and acknowledge the biological and evolutionary root of morality/human social standards, naturally we would be insecure. We don’t like vagueness.

De Waal was trying to show us the gradualism and spectrum. Discard the grand structuralist theory!


So what were they saying about language dictating thoughts in 1984? I dunno. Haven’t read the book yet. But I guess it is far from being a scientific argument.


Look Into My Eyes!

A Piece of New from AJE

In the days following the rogue US soldier’s shooting spree in Kandahar, most of the media, us included, focused on the “backlash” and how it might further strain the relations with the US.

Many mainstream media outlets channelled a significant amount of  energy into uncovering the slightest detail about the accused soldier – now identified as Staff Sergeant Robert Bales. We even know where his wife wanted to go for vacation, or what she said on her personal blog.

But the victims became a footnote, an anonymous footnote. Just the number 16. No one bothered to ask their ages, their hobbies, their aspirations. Worst of all, no one bothered to ask their names.

In honoring their memory, I write their names below, and the little we know about them: that nine of them were children, three were women.

The dead:
Mohamed Dawood son of  Abdullah
Khudaydad son of Mohamed Juma
Nazar Mohamed 
Shatarina daughter of Sultan Mohamed
Zahra daughter of Abdul Hamid
Nazia daughter of Dost Mohamed
Masooma daughter of Mohamed Wazir 
Farida daughter of Mohamed Wazir
Palwasha daughter of Mohamed Wazir
Nabia daughter of Mohamed Wazir
Esmatullah daughter of Mohamed Wazir
Faizullah son of Mohamed Wazir
Essa Mohamed son of Mohamed Hussain
Akhtar Mohamed son of Murrad Ali 
The wounded:
Haji Mohamed Naim son of Haji Sakhawat
Mohamed Sediq son of Mohamed Naim

Look into the man’s eyes for 5 secs, and tell me you don’t tear up. 

How U.S. Tax-free Money Goes to Help Isareal on the West Bank

I read the excerpt of a tax journal paper on TaxProf Blog and its link to a NYT article two years ago.

I really don’t know enough to say anything on the Palestine-Isareal issue. It is tragic to both sides, as well as the whole human society.

But gaming the system and undermining principles, that I can’t tolerate.

Insecurity Is the Achilles’ Heel to Invincibility

(picture from the great Sanskrit epic, Mahabharata)

Confession: I have an Indian fetish. I paid for this song, which makes me feel indescribably nostalgic. But I have yet to see this movie. I am such a bad fetish. It’s interesting to see how a foreign culture and a foreign language (which I completely do not understand), can comfort me to such a great extent. It feels like a super-extended umbilical cord, clouded by layers and layers of fog.

Oh I don’t know. But this is not the point.

Professor P shared with us a (unofficial maybe) story  from the great Sanskrit epic, Mahabharata. We were talking about how realization is the Achilles’ heel to the U.S. taxation system, and apparently the idea of Achilles’ heel is just so common to all great cultures in the world that it’s a shared theme in mythology cross board. I mean, we all gotta have an invincible hero of some sort, as we all dream of being invincible, and the only logic way to make an “invincible” hero die, is to give him an Achilles’ heel.

I cite the links for future reference and entertainment purposes. I didn’t have the patience to read the long-winding saga at this ungodly hour. I somehow do not handle saga or myths stories well. They confuse me.

Anywho. So basically this warrior person, Drona (I think), is not a good person (according to Prof. P), and he is involved in this legendary Trojan-y war between two great forces. Warrior is a prince of some sort, and his mother is an incredibly pious woman, so pious that she blindfolded her throughout her marriage so that she can empathize and put herself in the same situation with her husband, the king. Some god was greatly touched and decided that she shall have the ability to render anything invincible upon gaze, but only the first gaze after she took off her blindfolds.

This king’s wife, queen person, didn’t like her son’s behavior, but still, she would like him to be safe. So, she told the son: go get naked, and come back. Her son, a grown man in his 30s, couldn’t make himself appear fully naked in front of his mother, thus he came out wearing a piece of loincloth. He then proclaims: mother, I am ready.

Mother took off blindfold, and gazed upon him: gasp, how come are you not NAKED?

So warrior is invincible except for the part covered under the loincloth. Of course he died, got hurt in the crucial part/thigh.

Great story. It stroke me as more interesting than the Greek version, as it seems to implicate some serious Oedipus-like complex here. Something in that line. I mean, mommy was helping you get invincible; quit being so INSECURE and hiding. A secure person wouldn’t feel disturbed by showing part of his body, which was born out of another part of his mother’s body, to his mother, not to mention it is a serious matter. Also, Indian culture is kinda interesting in many areas involving sexes. I am not educated enough to say anything about it. But I think they are just brilliant in picking out this as the vulnerable part. I mean, heels? Seriously? Definitely not as profound literary choice as genitals.

Maybe it suggests the corruptibility and fallibility of males and the tension between genders. The interest can never be aligned. Men fall because of their insecurity.

Well friend RG contributed significantly to the above preposterous talk. Today, we had an iceskating outing followed by lunch. Over steak fajitas, we decided that, actually, the Greek version wasn’t too shabby either.

Why did the Greek mother bathe her baby that way anyways? I mean, does ANY MOTHER lifted her child up at the heels, like lifting up a fish or chicken, and bathe him/her headfirst? Ok, maybe it is their ancient way of bathing, but woman, let your kid go! Full immersion!

So is this why Greek lost to Spartans, who allegedly kill weak babies from the outset? Further, is this why Greek are complaining about cutting their pensions? Is this why Greek didn’t like paying their taxes and made their country in such a horrible debt crisis?

And nobody shall take any preposterous talk seriously. I say a lot of things. If you buy it all, there is something wrong with you. Let’s not live with the loincloth. K?

And actually, I wish I were this witty. I am just a typewriter.