Re: Rumsfeld Says He May Drop New Office of Influence

From: Steve Drew (
Date: Fri Mar 01 2002 - 21:53:49 GMT

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    Subject: Re: Rumsfeld Says He May Drop New Office of Influence
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    Hi Jeremy, Grant and Alan.

    > Date: Fri, 1 Mar 2002 07:20:41 -0500
    > From: "Alan Patrick" <>
    > Subject: Re: Rumsfeld Says He May Drop New Office of Influence
    > Hi - moving from lurking, as this seemed to require a few comments....

    That's how i got here.
    >> The genetic need to defend one's territory against members of one's own
    >> species is ingrained in the DNA of just about every animal on earth. The
    >> funny part is, we don't defend our territory against other species, only
    > our
    >> own.
    > There is a fairly bouyant market in bug sprays, rat powder, and rifles for
    > shooting deer, birds, and other small cute furry things, spiders & snakes
    > are seldom welcomed with open arms. If it ain't domesticated it ain't
    > tolerated.

    Very true. Having leant a few things, i leave the spiders alone as they keep
    the other critters down.
    >> Even the laws of most countries make allowances for people when they
    > defend
    >> "my home, my family, my children, my beliefs, my property." If you shoot
    > a
    >> stranger on the street, you go to jail for murder. If you shoot a
    > stranger
    >> in your home or while they are attacking your children, or your person, it
    >> is called self defense and not prosecuted.
    > Thats pretty unique to the US, actually. In Europe, much of Asia & Latin
    > America, and even most of the other ex-British colonies' legal systems this
    > would not be tolerated.
    >> Have you read Guns, Germs and Steel? Jared Diamond describes pacific
    >> islanders doing it. It's a universal trait that has nothing to do with
    > lack
    >> of food or social chaos. It's the duty of the alpha male of every mammal
    >> species I'm aware of to defend his women and his territory.
    > I thought Diamond's thesis was more that any species that could expand its
    > territory, would. Those that could defend, would do so (he does IIRC mention
    > peaceful humans that could not), but if they had not bred the requisite
    > guns, germs etc they would not succeed anyway, and that those GG&S were more
    > due to geographical luck than any innate humn sub-species'
    > superiority/inferiority.
    > Rgds
    > Alan
    > ------------------------------
    > Date: Fri, 01 Mar 2002 23:39:15 +1100
    > From: Jeremy Bradley <>
    > Subject: RE: Rumsfeld Says He May Drop New Office of Influence
    > At 11:43 PM 28/02/02 -0800, you wrote:
    > Snip....
    >> What were the Serbs and Kosovars fighting about? And the protestants and
    >> catholics in Ireland but land? Territory. Gangs in Los Angeles fight over
    >> "turf." People do this in every country and every culture.
    > Well Grant
    > You certainly mount an impressive argument, but you are wrong that these
    > conflicts happen in every culture. I grant you that when indigenous peoples
    > have been pushed into the bad-lands by invading colonisers they have
    > defended their homelands, but in many cases, before the invasion, tribal
    > civilisations lived in territories that were defined in ancient custom and
    > were so respected that no incursions were made that required defence.

    Unless they got hungry. Fights do occur over resources, eg the UK and
    Iceland over fish, American settlers and the Plains Indians. Australian
    settlers and the Aborigines. To my way of thinking wars have moved beyond
    the sole cause of *resources* and moved into the realms of ideology /
    beliefs / religion. Into memetics.

    The gangs in LA etc are fighting over turf and i agree. the gangs are
    fighting in a restricted geographical enviroment which IMO always causes
    conflict. What they are fighting about is two fold however. Firstly you have
    the geographical in the control of the drug supply etc. But each gang has
    its own mores and custom which are memetic and secondary to controlling
    their turf
    >> The song of the bird and the cry of the cougar are both warnings that they
    >> have staked out a territory and will defend it. Wolves mark their territory
    >> with scent and don't hesitate to defend it against an intruding male wolf.
    >> And the sheep they prey on do the same thing by butting heads over the
    >> females they decide are "theirs."
    >> Have you read Guns, Germs and Steel? Jared Diamond describes pacific
    >> islanders doing it. It's a universal trait that has nothing to do with lack
    >> of food or social chaos. It's the duty of the alpha male of every mammal
    >> species I'm aware of to defend his women and his territory.
    >> Grant

    Yes. Thats intra species, though.
    > You want it both ways. We can't say that we are superior to other animals
    > on the grounds that we think, communicate and solve problems and then
    > justify our baser actions as normal because animals behave in some way. As
    > a volunteer fire fighter, I have risked my life many times for complete
    > strangers, does this make me brain damaged or humane? There is the
    > difference, it is human animal instinct to fight or flee in defence of life
    > or possessions, but it is humane to rise above the base and achieve a
    > collectivist culture where caring and sharing may even take precedence over
    > personal wellbeing.
    > For example, in this country we have a 'green' energy supplier who produces
    > electricity from wind, sun or water. The power costs a little more but I
    > pay this extra gladly because I care more for the people who will follow us
    > into life on this planet than I do for the few dollars. As a result I can't
    > afford a few extra consumer items and that saves energy too.
    > I agree with you that I, even as an ageing male, will fight, even to the
    > death, to protect my children or my grandchildren, but maybe that's because
    > that's because I have been conditioned to think that it is my duty as an
    > 'alpha' male to do so. Nature or nurture?
    > We modern Westerners have an idea, a meme, that human life is sacred and
    > should be preserved at all costs; this is not a universal value. Where
    > does it fit with the Asian tribe placing the oldest women last when
    > crossing a crocodile infested river, or the old Inuit walking out into the
    > snow so as to reduce the burden on the group? Early colonists in Australia
    > reported that in hard times babies were abandoned in order to save the
    > mothers. Human history abounds with cultures in which it was normal to
    > sacrifice the rights and/or wellbeing of the individual for the
    > preservation of the collective. I think that we have departed from that
    > humane norm over the past few thousand years. It could be that modern
    > pressures have caused some degree of brain damage which has caused us to
    > become more animal.
    > As Richard wrote recently, religion provide a set of defaults. The values
    > that you suggest are universal human norms may all be found in the Old
    > Testament and, whether you are atheist, agnostic or calathumpian, if you
    > grew up in a Judao/Christian/Moslem world, those values appear to be normal
    > to you.
    > And no I havn't read Jared Diamond's book. I thought he was a fiction writer.
    > Cheers
    > Jeremy

    Peter Singer, the animal rights activist discusses infanticide at some
    length in 'Practical Ethics'. And on a more personal note, one of my old
    teachers said that if push came to shove and he had to chose between the
    death of his wife and the death of his children, he would chose his
    children. This is not conclusive because he hasn't faced the choice. But if
    you can think it, some one will probably try it.



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