The Silence of the Sioux Falls Argus Leader

South Dakota bloggers, both Republicans and Democrats, are slamming the Argus Leader‘s hypocritical and sanctimonious non-coverage of the Clean Cut Kid imbroglio.

Like almost everyone else, the behavior of the mainstream media can be predicted this prediction: They love themselves, their friends, and their families more than they love you. The Argus Leader‘s combination of political and personal bias is sickening. The Sioux Falls paper is not reporitng on political news happening down the block, though both regional (Yankton, Rapid City) and national (The Hill, Associated Press) sourcs are.

Fortunately the Mount Rushmore State has a blogosphere capable and responsible enough to criticize the Argus Leader when it’s wrong. And this is one of those times.

The Collapsed Bridge in Minneapolis was Bombed by the Government!

No it wasn’t. That’s crazy.

Those who argue that we should not do this or that because it would allow enemies in the “Gap” to frame an issue one way or another should focus more on the conspiracy- and outrage- based nature of politics in the Gap.

Whether we unleash swamp-monsters on unsuspecting housewives or nuke Mecca, those trapped in the Gap experience humiliation because of their weakness and backwardness, not our misdeeds

On an Irradiation of Mecca

A stopped clock is right twice a day, and Tom Tancredo is one such nonfunctioning timepiece. Wrong on nearly everything that matters, he is nonetheless right that a nuclear strike by Muslim terrorists on the United States should be responded to with a nuclear strike on Mecca. If I may extend Tancredo’s logic beyond what he himself may be capable of, the Plain of Arafat, the Plain of Mina, and the Masjid al-haram should be irradiated such that human visitation becomes impossible for thousands of years.

New Yorker in DC, responding to my defense of such retaliation against Shlock’s assault, writes:

I believe that the main premise of [Tancredo's and tdaxp's] argument, that terrorists can be deterred if we make it clear that we will attack that which is of most value to them (i.e. the Kaaba and other religious sites such as Mecca, Medina, etc.), is wrong.

I ask Nykrindc this: Was the invasion of Afghanistan likewise wrong, as it destroyed something operationally most valuable to our opponents (a state-supported base)?

The answer is no: besides being a clear case of proportional response, the Afghan invasion also made the conditions of 9/11 much harder to replicate. The Roman response to the Jewish War — the destruction of the Temple — did the same. Rome destroyed the conditions that allowed a faith based on priestly worship to exist. “Jews” as a community continued, of course, but the religion of the Levites was gone forever.

In the same way, an obliteration of Mecca that leaves the city radioactive topples one of the five pillars of Islam.

People say that Islam needs a reformation. Reformed variants of Judaism thrived twice, both in response to a grand shock (the Destruction of the Temple, leading to Christianity, and the abolition of the European ghettos, leading to Reform/conservative Judaism).

On the other hand, if you are happy with the Islamic status quo — and remain so after a nuclear attack on the homeland — there is nothing to change! No such outrage is necessary.

Cognitive Development, Part III: Infant Cognition


Yet while researchers are repeatedly surprised about how much they seem to know, it is stunning how poorly babies can put this information together useful. With respect to conditional knowledge, they are incompetent. The text notes that “To ask… why the child bangs when provided a banging scheme and a compliant object to bang with is much like asking why she breathes when provided with lungs and air” (Flavell, Miller, & Miller, 2002, 66). Babies appear to be odd creatures, knowledgeable about the world but lacking agency.

For example, the famous A-not-B error is where a child searches for an object in a behaviorally learned location, even if the object is clearly somewhere else (Butterworth, 1977). The child has declarative knowledge of where the object is, and procedural knowledge of how to retrieve it, but does not have the conditional knowledge to tie these schemata together into a plan of action. This can be rephrased as lacking the ability to correctly inhibit behaviorally learned procedural responses even when declarative knowledge of the situation is clear(Diamond, 1991a; 1991b). A further example of this is that the A-not-B error is only made if the child has to wait an age-dependent time interval (Diamond, 1985). If the infant acts immediately, the declarative schema foremost in his mind (that the object is over there) is activated. If the infant acts after a delay, the procedural schema best learned is activated. What is missing is neither behavioral nor procedural knowledge, but the ability to conditionally tie these together.

Eventually, conditional knowledge comes about. Just as adult problem solvers use analogies (similarities between schemata) to get what they want (Henrich et al., 2001; Gardner, 2003), infants begin to show this behavior by 10 months (Chen, Sanchez, & Campbell, 1997). Logically manipulating category membership to reach logical conclusions occurs by 14 months (Mandler & McDonough, 1996).

In my introduction, I mentioned that it was good that conditional knowledge comes last. This is good because infants simply do not know too much. Operating on faulty schemes can be worse than not-operating at all. The developmental program of babies’ allow them to grow their procedural and declarative knowledge first, before allowing them to integrate these schemata into conscious actions. The “terrible twos” are terrible enough without them happening at two months, instead of two years.


Cognitive Development, a tdaxp series
1. Introduction
2. Infant Perception
3. Infant Cognition
4. Representation and Concepts
5. Reasoning and Problem Solving
6. Social Cognition
7. Memory
8. Language
9. Questions and Problems
10. Bibliography