September 2015


From “The Trial of Ruby McCollum”:
“In a way, but in a limited way, these men [who “poured out all the resentment of the centuries”] had a point. But by the measuring stick of history their contention has no standing for the reason that force is lacking to back it up. From the cave man to the instant minute, to the victor has gone the spoils, and the primest spoils are women. We will know that the blessed millennium has arrived when this is no longer so.”

An amusing read from the perspective of the present, which is in fact a new millenium and significantly different for some of the social issues which concerned Hurston, if not quite measuring up as “the blessed millennium”.

Last year I got into a discussion at agnostic’s about the extent to which Ed Gein inspired Robert Bloch’s Norman Bates of Psycho fame. I referenced Bloch writing “The Shambles of Ed Gein” about the real case, but had been unable to find it online. I’ve finally read it and placed a transcription here. It was surprising to read that Bloch didn’t subscribe to any daily newspaper at the time, and thus got his info from word-of-mouth which just focused on murder & cannibalism rather than the more distinctive traits common to Ed Gein & Norman Bates. There wasn’t even an element of cannibalism in the movie, and the most distinctive thing about the real case to Bloch (murders happening in a small town community where everyone knows everyone’s business) isn’t given much focus in it either. As I haven’t read the book, I can’t say to what extent that differs (though I’ve hear the depiction of Norman is closer to middle-aged Ed than fairly young Anthony Perkins). So I’ll concede a bit to “Robert the Wise” on some of those similarities in character being mere coincidences, but as there are no first-hand accounts of Bloch saying Calvin Beck was an inspiration I am not willing to wholly concede.

Robin Hanson is writing a book on the mind with Kevin Simler (my hat-tip goes to Robert Koslover). Simler’s name wasn’t immediately familiar with me, but he has a blog titled Melting Asphalt. It contains exactly the sort of material you’d expect to find from someone writing such a book with Robin. Reading over his old posts (he helpfully has his personal favorites along with the most popular ones listed on the sidebar), it appears he’s also written at Less Wrong & Ribbonfarm. I had already come across the essay Ads Don’t Work That Way, but the one I’d most like to point others to is Music in Human Evolution. It attempts to tie together music/dance, “confrontational scavenging” and burial/cannibalism among the earliest hominids to leave the trees for the savanna. Sounds strange, but comes across as quite plausible.