The Third Chimpanzee

This is a good, though somewhat dated, book about the rise of Homo Sapiens. While eminently readable and full of interesting information, I found the focus on nuclear or environmental holocaust to be a hindrance.

The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal by Jared Diamond is an interesting book.

I found out about Jared Diamond when Captain Arrrgh lent me his Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies many moons ago. I loved that book. So I was expecting something great here too.

The Third Chimpanzee is about human history and how we developed the way we did. It talks about sexuality and sexual selection, language, art, agriculture, drugs, and conquest. In many ways it is a very similar book to Nick Wade’s Before the Dawn. In fact, I should have read The Third Chimpanzee first since it was written more than a dozen years ago.

The first half of the book is a good exposition of several human traits and accomplishments and efforts to trace their origin. However, late in the book, Jared Diamond turns pessimistic. As he says in the theme for the book:

How the human species changed, within a short time, from just another species of big mammal to a world conquerer; and how we acquired the capacity to reverse all that progress overnight.

This last part is what worries Diamond and what makes the book so pessimistic in tone as he discusses world conquest, genocide and the environment. His last chapter titled “The Second Cloud” is about what he terms the environmental holocaust and the epilogue is titled “Nothing Learned, and Everything Forgotten?”

While I share some of these concerns with Diamond, I am a technophile and somewhat of an optimist. Also, I think The Third Chimpanzee would have been a much better book without this focus on future catastrophes.

Avoid Dell Hell

My Dell laptop is again giving me trouble. It looks like Dell gave me a defective motherboard last month.

Four years ago, I made a terrible mistake. I bought a Dell Inspiron 5100 laptop. I wrote about my troubles here and then recently here. Since then (i.e. last month), I have had RAM trouble which was finally replaced this week (courtesy of the extended warranty I have due to a class action settlement).

When I replaced the memory, the hard disk started giving errors. I am still in the process of recovering data from the hard disk. And finally today I discovered that the memory problem is still there, which means that it is most likely a defective motherboard (replaced just last month). After an hour chatting online with Dell Tech Support, my laptop is going back to Dell for a motherboard replacement.

To recap, since April 2003 when I bought this machine, I have had the motherboard replaced 3 times (and it should be replaced again now), memory twice, hard disk once, the processor heat sink a couple of times, the AC adapter twice and the whole computer once (I now have the Inspiron 5150).

Tomorrow, I am off to Fry’s where I’ll get parts for a new desktop and build it myself.

UPDATE: Read my latest post about how Dell gave me a new Inspiron 1501.

Blog Rating

So how much bad language do I use on my weblog? Is my blog safe for kids?

Via Matthew Yglesias, I find out that my blog is not appropriate for kids.

Online Dating

May be I should tone it down a little.

برقعہ اور جہاد

لال مسجد کے مولانا عبدالعزیز نے دھمکیاں تو خودکش حملوں کی دی تھیں مگر خود برقعے میں بھاگنے کی کوشش کی۔

اسلام‌آباد میں لال مسجد میں جو کچھ ہو رہا ہے وہ قابلِ افسوس ہے۔ 19 لوگوں کی موت کا سن کر ہی انسان پریشان ہو جاتا ہے۔ مگر اس سب کی ذمہ‌داری کافی حد تک آنٹی عبدالعزیز اور عبدالرشید پر آتی ہے۔ کچھ چینیوں کے اغواء کے بعد حکومت کا اپریشن یقینی تھا۔ مگر اس طرح کے حالات میں بھی کچھ باتیں انسان کو ہنسنے پر مجبور کر دیتی ہیں:

اسلام آباد میں قانون نافذ کرنے والے اداروں نے لال مسجد کے خطیب مولانا عبدالعزیز کو اس وقت گرفتار کر لیا جب وہ برقعہ پہن کر مسجد سے فرار ہونے کی کوشش کر رہے تھے۔ پولیس نے مولانا عبدالعزیز کی اہلیہ ام حسن کو بھی گرفتار کر لیا۔

ڈپٹی کمشنر اسلام آباد چوہدری محمد علی نے اس بات کی تصدیق کرتے ہوئے بی بی سی کو بتایا کہ مولانا عبدالعزیز برقعہ پہن کر جامعہ حفصہ کی ان طالبات کی لائن میں کھڑے ہو گئے جنہوں نے حکومت کی طرف سے عام معافی کے اعلان کے بعد خود کو حکام کے حوالے کر دیا تھا۔ انہوں نے بتایا کہ تلاشی کے دوران لیڈی پولیس کانسٹیبل نے جب بظاہر ایک خاتون کا برقعہ اتارا تو اندر سے مولانا عبدالعزیزبرآمد ہوئے جس پر انہیں گرفتار کر لیا گیا۔

اب میں کیا کہہ سکتا ہوں کہ کیا یہ وہی شخص ہے جس نے خودکش حملوں کی دھمکیاں دی تھیں؟

اپڈیٹ: یہ پوسٹ تو بس کچھ طنزیہ اور مزاحیہ انداز میں کی تھی۔ لال مسجد کے سارے قصے کے بارے میں کہنے کو بہت کچھ ہے مگر کس کس کی غلطیاں نکالوں کہ اس حمام میں سب ننگے ہیں۔ اگر لال مسجد والے غلطی پر تھے تو حکومت نے بھی کچھ صحیح نہیں کیا۔

Independence Day

Today is July 4, the 231st anniversary of the adoption of the American Declaration of Independence.

Here is the American Declaration of Independence drafted by Thomas Jefferson and adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776.

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, —That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.—Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

  • He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
  • He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
  • He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
  • He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
  • He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
  • He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
  • He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
  • He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
  • He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
  • He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
  • He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
  • He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
  • He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
  • For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
  • For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
  • For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
  • For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
  • For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
  • For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
  • For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
  • For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
  • For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
  • He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
  • He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
  • He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
  • He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
  • He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

The Kid wants to see fireworks this year. We think she’s old enough not to get frightened by the noise. So we’ll go see July 4 fireworks after a number of years.

Happy Independence Day!