Commenter Archive

Steve PittelliComments by Steve*

On “Does Anyone Owe Colin Kaepernick An Apology?

When I was a kid in the mid 1970's, we used to attend the Univ. Michigan home football games. At the time, there was a "black student section," and most of those students didn't stand for the National Anthem. When I asked my mother why, she said that they were "protesting the war, I guess," which wasn't a particularly satisfying answer since the war was over and no one else was sitting for the Anthem. I didn't really think much about it again until recently with the Kaepernick controversy.
I recall in one of the more difficult times of my life turning to patriotism and proudly putting my hand over my heart as the Anthem played, although that wasn't that sustaining. It became difficult for me during the Iraq War, which I actively opposed, when sporting events were effectively being used for propaganda and felt like a turn from patriotism to nationalism, as did displaying a flag. I went to a few sporting events at the time and, rather than make a scene, snuck off to the concession stand during the Anthem. At the height of the War, I had moved to New Zealand and a friend there invited me to a Rugby match. I noticed that they didn't play their National Anthem before the match and he seemed amused when I asked about it, although he then begrudgingly admitted that when he was a kid, they used to stand up before a movie started and sing God Save the Queen.
I haven't been to a game in a long time, and I am not sure what I would do about the Anthem, but I think at this point, rising for the Anthem would only be a way to avoid creating a scene, as I don't really have positive associations with it, anymore.

On “Beware of Crows

A friend of mine, who is Native American, told me an interesting crow story. He said he had stopped off for gas on his way to a sweat lodge, and in a field nearby, he saw dozens of crows surrounding and attacking one crow, seemingly trying to kill it. When he got to his destination, he mentioned it to the tribal elder who was leading the sweat lodge: “That’s crow court,” he told him. He said that if the crow who is supposed to keep watch while the rest of them scavenge doesn’t warn them, costing a life, they dole out this punishment.

On “Joe Biden: Staying Alive

Bill Clinton slithered to the center 3 decades ago and sold out to corporations. It worked, temporarily, because he pulled in a lot of votes from the right. But it only helped him get elected. Then the party was effectively owned by a bunch of people that actual progressives despise, putting up candidates that are merely heeding corporate interests. They've spent decades ignoring the left, while still demanding their votes via some kind of guilt trip. They are banking on appealing to voters on the right to go for Biden over Trump, while still expecting the left to vote for Biden as well. Neither of these things are going to happen in significant numbers. They have no policies or enthusiasm and nothing to build on. They are just trying to stop the bleeding. It is going to be a slaughter.

On “The Perfect Spot.

Petra isn’t bad as a contrast gain. I used to drive down to Los Alamos to Full of Life for the brick oven pizzas.


I’d take Fatte’s or Domino’s over Woodstock’s pizza. I think yours is heavily flavored with nostalgia.

On “2019 Time Capsule

Warren/Castro and they take out Trump in a landslide, which Trump tries to deny.

On “One Million Robbers at Your Door

I love the idea that there might be a couple of thousand people hating on someone on the internet, without them knowing it. I can only dream of that kind of success.

On “Looking at the World Through a Genetic Lens

Hello Maribu,
I see your point, but if you've ever tried to distill a complicated topic into a short essay, then you know that it is difficult not to generalize. I also spend a bit of time "battling" scientists in this field, so maybe my perspective is a bit biased. That said, there are a lot less Stephen J. Goulds (RIP) than there should be. My larger point is that it is, in fact, presented as established science. Most people (scientists and otherwise) are under the impression that genes have been found for various mental disorders. Perhaps that is because the media also generalizes (and sensationalizes), but you rarely hear dissenting information, which is what I was trying to do here.


Thanks, and I definitely agree. I was more focused on the mindset and why I have been taking this on, but certainly there is a lot of money behind these studies, and a lot of opportunities for career advancement in a publish or perish world. Sometimes it is hard to separate out these things, since people tend to gravitate to where the money is, so to speak, and lose their incentive to question the premise. I have the luxury of being retired and lacking a direct incentive.


Well, sure, good luck. My guess is that I'll be writing the same thing in 10 years and getting the same response. Which is what I said 10 years ago and 10 years before that.


I have been making this same argument for over 20 years and it is always "too early" and the answer will be coming "shortly". Maybe, maybe not. I don't argue blank slate or genetic determinism or something else. I argue that we don't know. The current research has not gotten us any closer. You are under the assumption that it eventually will. I can't disprove that, obviously. Plomin is well known in the field and generally respected by behavioral geneticists (for reasons that aren't clear to me). There is a link to my own critique of his book at my website.


Well, if you dismiss people in the field who make such claims, then you have a point and certainly one could argue that Murray is not a fair representative, but Robert Plomin makes similar proclamations in his new book ("Blueprint"), or do you dismiss him as well? I think I was clear in the piece that I am not talking about obvious genetic mutations, so as to your point:
"How that manifests along the general distribution is still more speculative,"
That's not far off of what I said. Speculation is not scientific evidence, and some of that speculation relies on assumptions and biases of those doing the speculating. My overall point is that nothing is settled or proven related genetics and mental traits.

*Comment archive for non-registered commenters assembled by email address as provided.