Sarasti Lives

Or did, anyway. Or at least something did.

Those of you who’ve checked out the Vampire Domestication Talk might remember the slide from which this inset was taken: a timeline of hominid ancestry, showing the recent divergence of the vampire lineage and its subsequent extinction/reintegration into the human baseline. While the fusion of separate species is commonplace among microbes (the “tree” of life is actually more of a “mesh” that far down), H. sapiens vampiris (or whedonum — the specific taxonomy is still a matter of heated dispute) was by far the most dramatic case in point among the mammals. And when it came to sketching in the backstory for Blindsight, I had to do a fair bit of dancing to explain why a whole other humanoid species could have coexisted with us just a few tens of thousands of years ago, and yet not have appeared in the fossil record.

Turns out I needn’t have bothered. This paper from Nature tentatively reports a newly-discovered hominin1 species coexisting with ours and the Neanderthals about 30,000 – 50,000 years ago; all three are thought to have split off from our common ancestor about a million years back. (A couple of popsci reports on the find here and here; shitloads of others lurk but a Google away.)

With a modest cough, I quote from Blindsight‘s endnotes: “Homo sapiens vampiris was a short-lived Human subspecies which diverged from the ancestral line between 800,000 and 500,000 year BP. ” It was a lucky guess, admittedly; I’m no expert on hominid evolution. And the very existence of this new species remains controversial, based as it is entirely on mitochondrial sequences taken from a single finger bone in southern Siberia. All we know is that those sequences are too divergent from human norms to fit comfortably onto our own twig of the family tree; nobody’s even guessed at how they might manifest phenotypically. Until they do, I can always hope for really good night vision, superhuman reflexes, and a deficiency in the protocadherin synthesis pathways.

In the meantime, though, it’s a cool coincidence, and a take-home lesson: we never know as much as we think we do, so I probably shouldn’t spend so many pages trying to reconcile my skiffy inventions with the real-world state-of-the-art at time of writing.

If nothing else, it might make my books more readable.

——————————————————————————————————————————————————

1“hominin”. What we’ve started using instead of “hominid”. Who knew.

This entry was written by Peter Watts , posted on Tuesday March 30 2010at 01:03 pm , filed under blindsight, evolution . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

244 Responses to “Sarasti Lives”

  1. “Homo sapiens vampiris was a short-lived Human subspecies…”

    Jukka says you tell yourself whatever story you need to make yourself feel better..

  2. Darn Peter, I am eating lunch, and I scroll down seeing that toothy craw in my field of vision… :)

  3. As it happens, those pictures were taken in Hawaii. Albeit several years ago.

  4. Vindication! A true prophet! :)

    While I thought it was a fascinating discovery, I completely missed the whole cryptozoology angle.

  5. You’re not the only SF author to have, er, ‘proposed’ this, although I think you went into more detail than ever before. Another recent example is Kage Baker’s Company novels, with Homo umbratilis, the origin of all those stories about elves living under hills. Umbratilis is much more obviously drawn from autistics than Homo sapiens vampiris is, right down to the near-total absence of theory of mind and lunatic singlemindedness (in their case, amplified by some form of inherited memory).

    But Homo sapiens vampiris is much scarier. I’m sorry, weedy little men with drippy voices are not scary no matter how awful the weapons they can build (and how halfwitted their attempts to use them). A smart predator is always going to be more frightening than a dim species with awesome technical skill that’s spent almost its entire existence hiding from us in case we hurt it.

  6. @Val

    That’s why he has no friends :) http://tinyurl.com/Sarasti (too appropriate a joke not to repeat)

    BTW, it turns out that there indeed is someone with that name on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/people/Jukka-Sarasti/1843105553 .
    Perhaps I should register there and friend him, or something, huh?

    @Peter Watts

    Congratulations, that’s one seriously awesome hit!

    And please don’t give up completely on the fine art of “reconciling your skiffy inventions with the real-world state-of-the-art”. That’s one of the many things that make your works special :)

  7. Here’s another Blindsight nugget off the popsci feed

    MAGNETS CAN MANIPULATE MORALITY
    Magnetic fields targeting the moral center of the brain could scramble our sense of right and wrong.

    http://news.discovery.com/tech/magnet-brain-morality.html

    Back to the co-existing hominids:
    If two co-located species occupy the same niche in the food chain, does that not set off destructive competition? Is it a stable arrangement, evolutionary speaking? Wouldnt the trend be for an extinction of one of the species or a push towards specialization wrt resources? Would predator-prey coevolution spontaneously set in?

  8. Clearly, the essential truth of your books means that the “made up” parts that are possible become inevitable. Like Schrodinger’s cat, the existence/non-existence of those fossils was not determined until you “observed” it in your head.

  9. Peter reminded me: “As it happens, those pictures were taken in Hawaii. Albeit several years ago.” :)

    Why yes, but of course. On that island that has both firey lava and snow. The one with the macadamia nuts, coffee and local belief in some Polynesian Hawaiian Goddess residing there in the active volcano where you can find her golden green hair and obsidian tears all around the Halema’uma’u Pit in Kilauea Volcano…I have…and footprints walking along the lavascape desert… :)

    @rm3154 ~ I saw that magnetic morality story this morning, which I find rather scary, as it seems a bit too easy to manipulate something I had thought was relatively inherently fixed.

    @Nix who pointed out: “…all those stories about elves living under hills…”
    Not being familiar with those particular life forms. Would they be Keebler type or LOTR type? Perhaps like Brownies? We have Menehune (the rascally little people).

    @01 who is deciding: “Perhaps I should register there and friend him, or something, huh?” Yes, please do. Then report back as to why he believes he is a part of Peter’s book…

  10. Jukka S on facebook: pure, unadulterated awesomeness.

    I kinda like that he has no friends… someone screengrab that page for posterity, in case he forgets himself and starts befriending peeps… Although, as far as strategies go, that would have its benefits.

    Don’t have killer speed/strength/wit, I just have the empathy-without-sympathy thing going. Sigh… Denied! I Coulda been a vamp, I tells ya…

  11. I actually thought you handled the vampire thing quite cleverly. I was, at first, turned off by it. Admittedly, mostly in part to Twilight, but I did get past that and end up liking it. In fact, I really liked/was terrified by the whole idea of consciousness in Blindsight.

  12. @keanani
    Okay, I’ll try.

    @Leona
    Actually, the pic I posted above (the tinyurl one) turns out to be a screengrab of that very account’s friend page (I’ve checked the address bar, which wasn’t “anonymized away”)
    So it’s already safe for posterity thanks to the person who first discovered it…

  13. I’m afraid that the Nature article is not reporting a new hominin species; it has been over-interpreted by the media. They’re reporting a new mitochondrial lineage, which might be a homo sapiens one that has now died out, or a previously unknown Neanderthal one Or it might indeed be a new species, but that’s only one of the possibilities..

  14. Oh, and by the way, IIRC, Blindsight vampires did cross-breed with humans with fertile offspring. Doesn’t that make them more of a subspecies than a fully isolated species?*

    *
    I am a ITsec person, not a biologist :)

  15. Hominins are not the new hominids. I am certainly no expert, but apparently primatologists have added “subfamilies”, “tribes”, etc. to Linnaean taxonomy. A hominid is any member of the biological family Hominidae (the “great apes”), but a hominin is any member of the biological tribe of Homininae (which includes the genera Homo and Pan).

  16. I’m a little dubious about this “new hominid” stuff — remember h. floriensis, which the popular (read cretinous) press leapt all over and christened “the hobbit people”, who turned out just to be a population of folks with dwarfism?

    As to “so I probably shouldn’t spend so many pages trying to reconcile my skiffy inventions with the real-world state-of-the-art at time of writing” I agree with others who have commented; having read two of your short stories and being halfway through Blindsight since I found out about you last August, it is one of the reasons I enjoy your writing. Especially since I actually have enough background to understand biology stuff even though I’m missing large chunks of chemistry and physics.

    By the way, this popped up yesterday and I immediately thought of you. Maybe it does come up and I haven’t seen it yet, but it would be interesting if stuff like this:

    Moral judgments can be altered … by magnets.
    http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2010/moral-control-0330

    had come into the mix during a particular part of Blindsight. ( : Scary, huh?

  17. V says: Moral judgments can be altered … by magnets.

    Wow! Really interesting! Thanks for the link.

    A few thoughts.

    1. Moral judgements are so complex that any disruption of thought might effect them. I bet I can get a distinct pattern of moral misjudgements in test subjects merely by administering enough beer. No fancy equipment needed.

    2. Can we assume one absolutely correct moral standard. Whom did the researchers consult to standardize, say, this action as absolutely forbidden, and that one as absolutely permissable. Survey? Kohlberg? Did they ask the Pope? Flip a coin?

    3. Can we safely assume that because we make a temporary “ablation” and a certain skill disappears that AH HA we found the skill’s CENTER; we know where it lives, hahahahaha!
    Consider the old “Jump, froggy, jump” joke. The frogologist progressively cuts off the poor frog’s legs and, after the fourth surgery, concludes that frogs must hear with their legs because the frog no longer moves when the scientist instructs, “Jump, froggy, jump!”

    4. The researcher wants to make a name, and it looks more dramatic to have found a “morality center” than to publish with the idea that, hey, we zapped college sophomore brains with big magnets and it interfered with their thinking, whaddaya know?

    Lastly, wouldn’t it be cool if conversely you could use magnets to make people more moral? I know, nightmare scenario in Watts fiction, but seriously, if I could hold a magnet to my ear and get better moral clarity? I might buy a gadget like that.

  18. Re: Hljóðlegur

    Good points all. Now I find myself wanting to track down their article to find out more . . .

    As to specifics…

    1. Vis a vis beer, I recently read an article in the New Yorker (Malcolm Gladwell, Annals of Anthropology, “Drinking Games,” The New Yorker, February 15, 2010, p. 70
    http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/02/15/100215fa_fact_gladwell) about anthropologists who argued that peoples’ reaction to alcohol is socially constructed, in concert with neuroscientists whose work seems to indicate what it does is mostly shrink our focus to the immediate present and immediate location. Thus, alcohol does not itself change moral decisions. Also, if you’re making a beer goggles centered argument, I think you’re talking more about aesthetic and self-preservation related decision making than about morality.

    2. I presume they did something like talk about murder. Take a look at the other article I cite below, about brain injury. Most people will agree that killing another person at random when that person has done nothing wrong is not a moral action.

    3. Yes, you’re right. There are very possibly multiple regions that handle these. Also, I suspect that reasoning and morality are related in some way, but I am not a philosopher nor a neurologist, although I’ve studied philosophy.

    4. Hell yes. Remember the “hobbit people” (aka h. floriensis?). What a load. And carefully pitched so as to get media attention. That was when I stopped subscribing to Scientific American.

    This also reminds me of a study folks who are also at MIT were doing on folks with specific neural injuries vis a vis the determination of morality . . . injury to the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, to be specific. (http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2010/moral-judgment-0325.html)

    I find myself thinking about the part of Blindsight where Watts talks about people turning inward and having illogical beliefs — for example, people who think their leg is someone else’s leg, or people who can see who believe they are blind — and how no amount of rational discussion can shake those incorrect beliefs.

    And then we go down a complicated discussion of philosophy of mind.

    Do I see mind control technology in the next 50 years? Yes. That said, it is already possible. But unlike media exposure, or isolation and drugs, this mind control would take no time and leave no traces. A cult or a government could reprogram you in 20 minutes.

    Now I just need to argue myself out of believing that . . .

  19. V said: “…remember h. floriensis, which the popular (read cretinous) press leapt all over and christened “the hobbit people”, who turned out just to be a population of folks with dwarfism?”

    Those scientists were probably fans of J.R.R. Tolkien ~
    http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/series/explorer/2215/Overview#tab-Videos/01686_05

    http://www.break.com/tv-shows/explorer/tiny-humans-the-hobbits-of-flores-1781494.html?comments=1

    But what kind of “folks” were they, then?

    p.s. Please do not click on my name if you are not into satire. :)
    For openminded eyeballs only!

  20. V – you should have kept following the H. floriensis story. More evidence keeps coming in.

    Quick summary: very probably not dwarves. Exact lineage still not 100% clear.

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5ji4v9bnIFNqeS-yMAtTNiGiSBfUAD9E9J6001

  21. Another black swan.

  22. keanani –

    On a related note:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIiFGMYpLUc&feature=related

    He’ll be back!

    AHAHAHAHHA. Irritated Jesus is irritated.

  23. What a pleasure it is to read the post and all the comments so far. They reinforce my hopes for the fruitfulness of our literary and scientific curiosity. For combine the two and one gets the potential of fine SF to make us more rational and humane.

  24. Peter humbly revealed: “With a modest cough, I quote from Blindsight’s
    endnotes: “Homo sapiens vampiris was a short-lived Human
    subspecies which diverged from the ancestral line between 800,000 and
    500,000 year BP. ” It was a lucky guess, admittedly; I’m no expert on
    hominid evolution.”

    Kirk: “Mr. Spock, have you accounted for the variable mass of whales and
    water in your time re-entry program?”
    Spock: “Mr. Scott cannot give me exact figures, Admiral, so… I will make a
    guess.”
    Kirk: “A guess? You, Spock? That’s extraordinary.”
    Spock: [to McCoy] “I don’t think he understands.”
    McCoy: “No, Spock. He means that he feels safer about your guesses
    than most other people’s facts.”
    Spock: “Then you’re saying… it is a compliment?’
    McCoy: “It is.”
    Spock: “Ah. Then I will try to make the best guess I can.”
    ~Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

  25. @V: “As to “so I probably shouldn’t spend so many pages trying to reconcile my skiffy inventions with the real-world state-of-the-art at time of writing” I agree with others who have commented; having read two of your short stories and being halfway through Blindsight since I found out about you last August, it is one of the reasons I enjoy your writing.”

    Agreed!

  26. Regarding Facebook’s Jukka Sarasti:

    He declined my friend request.

    Too bad.

    Perhaps not hungry?;)

  27. Peter said: “If nothing else, it might make my books more readable.”

    Perhaps, but is it not better to remain true to yourself in what and why you
    are writing for in the first place?

    Is it not the difference between writing hard science and hard science
    fiction, rather than hard science fiction and soft science fiction?

    If it is a matter of possible bestseller book listing, and you are fine with
    what you have written, then perhaps that is indeed one avenue for you to
    consider.

    I have read all sorts of “science fiction” types of books and some are a bit
    fluffy and too fast a read. They are certainly not a challenge and do not
    really make me think and use my brain as much as it probably should be.

    Perhaps it is the difference between being a popular writer, and being a terrific writer. These do not necessarily go hand in hand, if at all.

    Is your aim for your target readership to go for the quickie or the long, slow and more meaningfull read?

    Ultimately, it is really what is best for you.

  28. If enough people add him maybe he’ll cave. Salvo o’ invites, away!

  29. re @Eric

    Still not convinced by the AP article. But it gives me new articles on the subject to digest. Thank you!

  30. @Nix:
    I was not aware of that Kage Baker novel. That actually sounds really cool.

    @rm3154, and others:
    As you know, I’ve had a lot on my plate lately and am woefully behind on my science blogs. So by all means, keep pointing out these links until I get caught up; I shudder to think of how much cools stuff I’ve missed over the past four months.

    All that said, though, I kindof agree with Hljóðlegur on this one; while the experiment is very cool (and yes, central to my own interests these days), I bet you could get roughly the same results by just giving your test subject a kick in the head before running the scenarios.

    @Mike Scott
    Understoof (i.e., the whole not-necessarily-a-species thing). Still consistent with vampiris, though! (I had the vamps actual taxonomic status uncertain for just this reason; some people thought they were just a population of inbred cannibals with a consistent set of deformities.)

    @01
    I’m surprised you picked that up, the whole fertile-offspring-with humans thing. I thought I’d pretty much avoided talking about their reproductive strategies. But yeah, interbreeding would certainly be essential at least for the modern reconstruction of vamps, since one of the critical vamp-defining mutations is on the Y chromosome. (Modern vamps, being reconstructions, might not competely reflect the ancestral type, though.) Anyway, Dumbspeech actually deals with that.

    @Mike G
    Thanks for clearing up the hominid/hominim thing. This was the first time I’d encountered that term.

    @V
    Really? floriensis was definitely just a function of dwarfism? Could you provide the citation? Last I’d heard that was one of the theories, but not an especially popular one. I didn’t realize it had been resolved.

    @ Eric
    …Or maybe it hasn’t been…

  31. @Allister01

    Perhaps a woman should try, LOL :D ?

    @Peter Watts

    Well, I’m a professional nitpicker, as I confessed above.

    Speaking of nitpicking, something strikes me as being a mite odd about the vamp’s protocadherin deficiency being strictly Y-linked (besides the fact that all the “natural” vampires would thus have to be exclusively male and only benefit from eating human males).

    But, not having a proper background in biology, I’m not sure what exactly, so perhaps I’d better proceed to read up on this stuff and/or annoy a friend of mine who does have a biomedical background (BTW, he’s responsible for giving me Rifters trilogy for birthday, thus introducing me to your works), and get back to you on this issue if my desire to scrutinize hypothetical vampire chromosomes doesn’t subside by then (and if you don’t mind having such discussions with some “internet person”, of course)

  32. @Watts: why protocadherin synthesis?

  33. Oh, I see there have been more interesting posts here. Interesting stuff. I’ve seen/read of a few of these, but not the one linked in the article itself.

  34. Peter said: “…species coexisting with ours and the Neanderthals about 30,000 – 50,000 years ago;…nobody’s even guessed at how they might manifest phenotypically.”

    Two books that I have are actually quite helpful in gleaning the phenotype:

    “The Last Human: A Guide to Twenty-Two Species of Extinct Humans”, G.J. Sawyer & Viktor Deak (2007)
    “Using a ‘Dissection in Reverse” Technique, Sawyer and Deak begin with casts of ancient fossil skulls and add successive layers of muscle, glands, skin, and hair to re-create the faces of our extinct relatives.”

    “From Lucy to Language”, Donald Johnson and Blake Edgar (2006)
    “…[w]e are the most intelligent and most cooperative of all animals that that have ever existed but also the most dangerous.”

  35. @02

    Greetings fellow number!

    I believe that it’s explained in the “Notes and References”, and the presentation which you can find on this very site.

    Long story short:
    According to my understanding, protocadherins are implicated in CNS development, and are remarkably species-specific.
    http://www.wikigenes.org/e/gene/e/245578.html

  36. Oh wow. I love that presentation and somehow had never realised that it was you! Yeah, I should have recognised the url but I always focused on the presentation and not the “random person” who hosted it. I’m not very observant.

    I must admit, I am less enamoured of the idea that your science is turning out to be true. At least I live in a country full of garlic.

  37. Peter said: “…we never know as much as we think we do,…”

    As well as know more than we actually believe we do.

    “…so I probably shouldn’t spend so many pages trying to reconcile my skiffy inventions with the real-world state-of-the-art at time of writing.”

    Why not? Is this not part of the reason those who read your books love to
    read your books in the first place? Certainly harmonizing your skiffy stuff
    makes your speculative hard scifi that much more believable, but is that
    not the charm of your particular writing style?

    Better to be “raravis” rather than a mass-marketing driven clone, besides
    you make hard scifi fun and funny on your blog.

    What is meant by the “quickie” versus the “long, slow, harder” read, is the
    difference between something enjoyable but fast, over with too soon and
    doesn’t make that much of an impact, therefore relatively forgettable,
    versus something more meaty, harder work, much more enjoyable and
    of a highly memorable impact.

    Recent quickie reads for me ~ Stephen King’s “Under the Dome”,
    Douglas Preston’s “Impact” and Dean Koontz’s Odd Thomas Series…

    Harder, slower reads for me (besides your stuffs) ~ Caitlin R.
    Kiernan’s “A is for Alien”, anything Neil Gaiman, and anything Elizabeth
    Bear.

    There is also the possibility of writing along the cross-genre lines:
    “Feeling Very Strange: The Slipstream Anthology”
    ~James Patrick Kelly (Editor), John Kessel

    “Interfictions: An Anthology of Interstitial Writing”
    ~Delia Sherman (Editor), Theodora Goss (Editor)

    “ParaSpheres: Extending Beyond the Spheres of Literary and Genre
    Fiction: Fabulist and New Wave Fabulist Stories”
    ~Rusty Morrison (Editor), Ken Keegan (Editor)

    Expand your horizons so to speak…

    Peter said: “H. sapiens vampiris (or whedonum – the specific taxonomy
    is still a matter of heated dispute)…”

    Speaking of heated, you could always go down a path that enables you
    in catching the wave of the female passion genre, as in making your
    Blindsight Vampire and Human interbreeding result in something
    “dangerously attractive”, such that female readers will want to eat that
    stuff right up. No sparkles required! Although it will have to be a bit
    moody.

    Thereby satisfying your hard scifi readership with one vein of writing and
    then you just mine another that would rocket you to the biggie girlie genre
    of “romance”.

    (I will neither confirm nor deny that I have or do read any of this specific
    female stuff whatsoever…although I do know what it’s all about.)

  38. @Sylvia Wrigley
    “I must admit, I am less enamoured of the idea that your science is turning out to be true. At least I live in a country full of garlic.”

    Reminder:
    Garlic doesn’t work. Angles do (assuming the vamps don’t come up with something…ha ha ha)

  39. Determining species and cladistics in general is a very touchy subject.
    Case in point, everyone and his/her mother finding a lemur
    out in the Malaysian jungle with a different color coat and trying to spin it
    as a new species.
    Finding clear bifurcations among hominids is misleading because there’s a whole lotta inter-tribe humpin’ going on. Let’s be honest.

  40. @keanani

    “Speaking of heated, you could always go down a path that enables you
    in catching the wave of the female passion genre, as in making your
    Blindsight Vampire and Human interbreeding result in something
    “dangerously attractive”, such that female readers will want to eat that
    stuff right up. No sparkles required! Although it will have to be a bit
    moody.”

    Ahem….

    Speculation:

    Given that Blindsight vampires can’t tolerate physical proximity with each other, even if there were female vampires around (note that according to Mr. Watts above, that should be extremely unlikely due to strict Y-link of the protocadherin synthesis defect which keeps bugging me for some weird reason), they would have a very hard time mating with cospecifics.

    Thus, mating with humans would be quite common.

    Given that they are anthropophagic murderous superpredators devoid of empathy and mercy, the most common way to go about that would be rape.

    Possibly, kidnapping with subsequent repeated rape.

    Blindsight vampires rarely play nice (and if they do, it’s a trap!)

    Observation:
    However, while reading Blindsight, my special someone made an offhand comment about Jukka Sarasti being “hot” (Admittedly, we never discussed Blindsight Vampire reproduction…)

  41. @Everybody-who’s-encouraged-me-to-remain-anal-about-my-science:

    I probably will, because that’s just the way I’m wired. But the problem with hewing too close to what’s known today is, your stuff staledates the instant we learn something different tomorrow. The harder the science, the faster the obsolescence. Limiting myself to short stories for the moment, certainly one of the harder pieces I wrote was “The Second Coming of Jasmine Fitzgerald”. It went from cutting-edge to junkyard discard between the time it sold and the time it appeared in print. OTOH, the closest thing to outright fantasy I ever did — “Nimbus”, a completely unscientific story based on a throwaway line from a girlfriend and maybe fifteen minutes of research to dig up some plausible-sounding meteorological jargon — actually turned out to be kinda halfways prescient ten years later, when meteorologists started talking about cloud-dwelling microbes affecting global weather patterns as a side-effect of their reproductive strategy.

    Sometimes, I think you have to Dare To Be Ignorant.

  42. V;

    1. anthropologists who argued that peoples’ reaction to alcohol is socially constructed, in concert with neuroscientists whose work seems to indicate what it does is mostly shrink our focus to the immediate present and immediate location. Thus, alcohol does not itself change moral decisions. Also, if you’re making a beer goggles centered argument…

    Also good points. I wasn’t thinking of beer goggles, I was thinking how hard it is to get the utterly wasted drunk or stoner to do the right thing and give me his car keys.

    Hm. I’d think that a shrinking focus would indeed impact moral decisions, because it might nudge a person away from considering the wider greater good of not killing anyone with his car in a half hour?

    2. …Most people will agree that killing another person at random

    We agree on that. Camus, on the other hand….. ;p

  43. @01 & @02 (and don’t try to tell me you two don’t know each other):

    Yeah, the protocadherin thing is spelled out in the endnotes, but I should have looked at it a lot more critically. I was desperately looking for some reason why vampires needed to feed on humans, why they couldn’t just as easily prey on warthogs or wildebeests (which would have kept them from going extinct after we baselines stumbled on the use of crosses as an antipredator defense). I needed some vital nutrient or compound that could only be found in human prey, and I was so giddy with relief to find that protocadherin paper (hey, it even affected brain development!) that I didn’t look as closely at it as I should have. It was only after the book was out that someone said “Wait a minute, that gene’s on the Y chromosome — so do human females have stunted nervous systems, or what?”

    What. I still don’t know whether that was a typo in the paper or if my own ignorance just led me to glean the wrong implications from it, but it was pretty glaring issue in hindsight. I haven’t had a chance to go back and do a proper reconnaissance just yet, but I have come up with a couple of plausible-sounding post-hoc handwaves in the interim. Assuming I maintain my current level of anal-retentativeness, State of Grace will probably lose two or three chapters to resolving that issue alone. It will stop the plot deader than the Public Option.

    And all you people who encouraged me to stay true to my rigor will have no one but yourselves to blame

  44. @01 & @02 (and don’t try to tell me you two don’t know each other):

    They are legion. In fact, you all might have guessed there is an infinite progression of their brothers….

    State of Grace will probably lose two or three chapters to resolving that issue alone. It will stop the plot deader than the Public Option.

    *spew coffee* *HAR HAR HAR-ING*

    Or so we hope. That’s how we’re assured of a real live Wattsian product. Accept no substitutes! Anyone can write one sentence paragraphs, but your expository chunks are like fingerprints. Calling cards. They’re endemic, like the soliloquey is in Shakespeare.

  45. @ Peter Watts

    “don’t try to tell me you two don’t know each other”

    We are numbers, Mr. Watts.
    We don’t have to know each other ;)

    “Yeah, the protocadherin thing is spelled out in the endnotes, but I should have looked at it a lot more critically. I was desperately looking for some reason why vampires needed to feed on humans, why they couldn’t just as easily prey on warthogs or wildebeests (which would have kept them from going extinct after we baselines stumbled on the use of crosses as an antipredator defense). I needed some vital nutrient or compound that could only be found in human prey, and I was so giddy with relief to find that protocadherin paper (hey, it even affected brain development!) that I didn’t look as closely at it as I should have. It was only after the book was out that someone said “Wait a minute, that gene’s on the Y chromosome — so do human females have stunted nervous systems, or what?”

    What. I still don’t know whether that was a typo in the paper or if my own ignorance just led me to glean the wrong implications from it, but it was pretty glaring issue in hindsight.”

    Ah, that’s the bit that was giving me the headache!
    Normal human females have no PCDHY gene ( they have twice the PCDHX instead)

    The problem seems to be that PCDHX is not human specific, right?

    But, according to the very article you linked in the “notes and references” ( “A comparative analysis of the pig, mouse, and human PCDHX genes” ), human PCDHX is verily species-specific:

    1)
    It is different in sequence (animal PCDHX is 84-86% identical, thus about 15% of the gene’s structure is different, which could affect “performance” )
    2)
    Human PCDHX has the highest degree of “alternative splicing” (okay, I dunno what that means, just picking up meaningful bits from the article, so don’t beat me if I get something wrong) among any PCDHX genes known.
    3)
    In fact, the article says that both human PCDHX and human PCDHY are likely good candidates to account for human-specific features of the CNS.

    Thus, due to the three points above, animal PCDHX products are apparently incapable of acting as human PCDHX products. And thus, if, say, vampires had PCDHX gene broken (and not PCDHY), they would still have to pick the juicy protocadherins from humans, as “zebra/boar/mouse/whatever protocadherin X” can not act in the same manner human protocadherin X does. (according to that very article)

    Thus, a hotfix is hereby proposed:

    You didn’t say that vampires have only PCDHY broken, IIRC.
    Thus, break the PCDHX too! (they will still have no choice but to pick up the product from humans, due to reasons outlined above).

    Bonuses of this hotfix:
    a) Male vampires subsisting on a diet of human females might develop unusual behaviors due to lacking Y protocadherins

    b) Female vampires that eat too many human males might get some behavioral changes from consuming way too much of them Y protocadherins

    c) And yes! Now we have “natural” female vampires.
    Which is hot.
    In a very creepy 7-foot-tall-rapist-monster-cannibal-woman way, but hot nonetheless.
    (confused)
    I can’t help it, I don’t know why

    Oooooofff… my nitpicking sense no longer bothers me. Sweet release :D

    P.S.:
    Mr. Watts, if you like the “hotfix”, feel free to use it as you see fit on whatever conditions you deem appropriate.

    I do not claim any rights in regards to the content of this comment.

  46. @ Peter Watts

    “I probably will, because that’s just the way I’m wired. But the problem with hewing too close to what’s known today is, your stuff staledates the instant we learn something different tomorrow. The harder the science, the faster the obsolescence.”

    The world is still pretty full of Jules Verne’s fans, you know? In 100 years or so (assuming that there will be someone then – insert preferred doomsday scenario here) your novels may be part of the “new steampunk”. It will be probably called “neurosteampunk”.

    “And all you people who encouraged me to stay true to my rigor will have no one but yourselves to blame”

    All hail the mighty infodump! :) it’s one of the reasons we are reading you. Don’t you love to write for a masochistic audience? :)

  47. “Assuming I maintain my current level of anal-retentativeness, State of Grace will probably lose two or three chapters to resolving that issue alone. It will stop the plot deader than the Public Option”

    Relax, you’re nowhere near the Stephenson Expository Threshold. :)

    (Though it’s the little gems that stick with me longest, like Sarasti’s custom data display based on tortured hominid faces… :delighted shiver:)

  48. @Hljóðlegur

    They are legion. In fact, you all might have guessed there is an infinite progression of their brothers….

    You know too much…

  49. @01
    You know too much….

    *erk* Not usually a problem for me.

    May I appease your ordinalship by suggesting going to flickr.com and searching on “teabonics”?

    http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=teabonics&w=all&s=int

    Even knowing that the citizen pinheads in the photos vote, and being at work, I laughed aloud.

    Remember: Descent *is* the highest form of Patriotic

  50. @ Hljóðlegur

    That’s… That’s…That’s painful and hilarious at the same time. :D

  51. @Watts and @01

    This assumes that consumption of PCHDX results in its integration into vampires right? Otherwise, nutrient-wise, PCDHX is amino acids like all other proteins. Nothing particularly special about it once “digested”. Might as well have proposed “Alu sequences” right? Anyways, if you’re looking for scientific rigor, you’ll probably have to explain vampire digestion/nutrient-uptake at some point (though this does not necessarily make for good fiction).

    What if Alus behaved like vampire telomeres? Now, I’m just trying to show how clever I can be. Keep up the good works!

    One other thing to note: Protocadherins make up a large family of proteins that are found on somatic chromosomes as well. Protocadherins are closely related to cadherins, which also make up a large family of adhesion proteins. Many of these adhesion molecules are involved in brain development. Though this doesn’t exactly solve your problem.

  52. @Everyone

    I decided to go and trawl for some more Blidsight-related funniness (speaking of which, Jukka still has no friends … guess you can’t have your friends and eat them too, huh :D ), after all, where there is one, there can be two.

    What I have found (so far):
    The spacebattles.com forums, which I happen to lurk thanks to this very blog ( http://www.rifters.com/crawl/?p=1025 ) currently has an ad-hoc roleplaying thread, innocently named “a (girl)friend for you” (http://forums.spacebattles.com/showthread.php?t=162574), which boils down to player waking up in bed with a blind Blindsight vampire (ha-ha).
    I’m currently reading it…seems that the objective of the game is to postpone being eaten. Funny stuff some people come up with…

    P.S.:
    On an almost unrelated note, I found a very interesting link in that thread: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_echolocation
    blind humans can use echolocation by making clicking noises, navigating unknown environments pretty much like bats…

    Human echolocation… now how cool is that?

  53. @various including Peter Watts
    It does appear the floriensis thing hasn’t been resolved yet. But I am very dubious. See PhD Comics on the Science News Cycle and you’ll see why. I need to go read new articles still, as I said.

    @ Peter Watts
    “And all you people who encouraged me to stay true to my rigor will have no one but yourselves to blame”

    When we talk about rigor I don’t think we mean just the crunchy, specific, there-a-paper-this-year-talking-about-it way (others comment too). To some extent this is interesting, but what gets me with “Blindsight”, for example, are your explorations of bigger questions, like “what’s the evolutionary benefit of sentience” and “are human relationships still driven by ancient mammal dominance strategies” will always be interesting. Answers for that stuff are far off. And they’re topics that appeal to folks across the board, not just sf fans, if you’re thinking on the crass marketability side, *snerk*. I was raised by two professors — one in anthropology and one in philosophy — and I intend to encourage them both to read it.

    In an abstract way, it does appear that you apply your science as well when you explore alien ways of looking at the world, either with the Scramblers or the entity in your most recent Clarkesworld story, and that’s part of its literary strength. I recently finished reading Lem’s “Solaris” (as flawed as I can tell the widely-available translation via French is) and some of what he is trying to explore I see you trying to explore, although from different angles.

  54. Okay, now the software has begun to eat my posts. :(

  55. I’ll try to post my response to fellow number 02 again.

    Hope I’m not upsetting a spam filter, or something

    @02

    Hello fellow number!

    I kindly suggest that you start using the same email for your posts. Seems to prevent one’s posts from getting caught in the moderation limbo.

    this assumes that consumption of PCHDX results in its integration into vampires right? Otherwise, nutrient-wise, PCDHX is amino acids like all other proteins. Nothing particularly special about it once “digested”.

    Well, yes, that assumption is critical for the whole “kindly borrow protocadherins from humans” thing.

    My limited understanding of issues of biology, combined with my google-fu, suggests that while direct absorption of intact proteins is somewhat uncommon, it is not unheard of:

    http://tinyurl.com/ykzrylf

    http://ajplegacy.physiology.org/cgi/reprint/73/3/539

    http://ajplegacy.physiology.org/cgi/reprint/78/1/136

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1032454

    http://www.springerlink.com/content/h743130428073347/

    There is even a “simple” immunological test for detecting this phenomenon in humans: http://www.jimmunol.org/cgi/content/abstract/14/3/143

    Thus, the assumption regarding the capacity of vampires to directly absorb intact human protocadherins from the GI tract is relatively plausible.

    Anyways, if you’re looking for scientific rigor, you’ll probably have to explain vampire digestion/nutrient-uptake at some point (though this does not necessarily make for good fiction)

    Of course, it would be quite interesting to have Mr. Watts cover the issue in somewhat greater detail, though I agree with your doubts regarding the possible plot relevance of describing minutiae of a monster’s intestinal biochemistry.

    Methinks that integrating a small infodump into some dialog should suffice and satisfy all parties involved.

  56. Dumping additional links on the subject of intact protein absorption.

    http://ajplegacy.physiology.org/cgi/reprint/73/3/539
    http://ajplegacy.physiology.org/cgi/reprint/78/1/136
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1032454
    http://www.springerlink.com/content/h743130428073347/

  57. @01

    Your post on echolocation reminded me of the scariest woman I’ve even met.

    My paternal great-grandmother went mad and we knew it. We didn’t know she was blind until much later… She was mostly sedentary, by the end, and so familiar with the creaks and groans of the house (felt through her feet, she claimed) that she could track you through the house like a spider.

    Everyone of my parent’s generation and younger breathed a sigh when she finally died. Wicked accurate with a cane, she was.

  58. btw: re the steady diet of people for access to *protein*: wouldn’t that expose H. sapiens vampiris to prionic diseases? I don’t know much about these things… i guess vampiris could evolve some sort of resilience.

    btw if short of ppl, would vampirii cannibalize each other?

    last: thanks all for teaching me about protocadherins… still all waaay above my head…

  59. @Leona

    It is mentioned in the domestication talk that H. sapiens vampiris has an unusually powerful resistance to prionic disease.

    As for cannibalism among vampires – it’s quite plausible, IMHO (though a “fellow” vampire is relatively poor source of precious protocadherins, I suppose)

    @Jason Stackhouse

    Man, that’s creepy…

  60. @ Peter Watts

    Mr. Watts, I have a question regarding the moderation queue of your blog – it seems that the software is once again putting my comments there despite the fact that I use the same username/email (thus demonstrating that my advice to my comrade was not entirely sound ;))

    Should I register somewhere, or something along those lines?

  61. 01 said a whole bunch of stuff about protocadherins, and followed it up with

    Mr. Watts, if you like the “hotfix”, feel free to use it as you see fit on whatever conditions you deem appropriate. I do not claim any rights in regards to the content of this comment.

    And then 01 and 02 continued to bat high-level biochemistry around in a way that really increased the real-estate value of this place.

    To which I gotta say: Mammals, thank you. I have not yet had a chance to go through that sequence of comments, but man, I can pretty much guarantee you that some of it is gonna show up in the finished product. And you may not claim any rights, but at the very least you’re going to get acknowledged in the endnotes and a couple of free copies. You can’t know, in the wake of recent events, how much it means to see this kind of input popping up spontaneously on the ‘crawl. Almost makes the trolls worthwhile.

    Almost.

  62. Vampires ~ The Undead and the Possible Living

    I was thinking about this, why are so many females into the “undead vampires” and not interested in the
    “alive co-existing with humans” vampires?

    Reading an article from last year by author Ann Rice (I am so behind in my reading that I can actually
    see my rear-end…), she basically renounced the vampire while at the same time likened the interest in
    vampires with angels, as she has renewed embracing her faith. “But vampires are sad creatures. They
    speak to us of confusion and the longing to be human. They struggle in the darkness, lamenting the
    loss of the light.” Parade Article, Sunday, December 20, 2009, pp. 8-9. The analogy to “religion, the
    supernatural and/or spiritual” is clear, as to these “undead creatures”.

    Some thirty-three years ago she “started the vampire rage” with her book, “Interview with a Vampire”,
    but her latest book is about “Angels”. So she likened the interest in undead not-human vampires, as
    seen in the main trifecta pop-cult fad, “Twilight”, “True Blood” and “The Vampire Diaries”, as similar to a
    sort of “guardian angel” figure in each book-show.

    I thought Angels were supposedly genderless and sexless, and it wasn’t until they “fell to earth” that
    they became sexual beings. Perhaps these undead creatures called vampires are the naughty angels
    since they tend to have sex with female humans.

    The difference perhaps lies in the religion-supernatural view versus the science-evolutionary view. I
    could not interest the Twilighty-Sookie Stackhouse-Truly Bloody females in the more science grounded
    view. Perhaps fantasy is better than reality. It must also lie in the Prince Charming, Knight in Shining
    Armor Fantasy so many women still have from childhood dreams.

    So now we have Jukka Sarasti and this is the resurrection of the long-dead creature into a viable “alive
    vampire”. I told you Peter, if you want to pursue one vein in order to ride this pop-cult fad, you may have
    to create a descendant of Jukka such that he would catch the fantasy attention of the Twilight-struck
    human females. Otherwise, for those of us into hard-scifi and more realistic speculative fiction, we like
    your creations just fine.

    Evolutionary Trees
    http://www.darwiniana.org/trees.htm

    The Earliest Hominids
    http://humans4.beyondgenes.com/

    Science
    http://www.sciencemag.org/

    Speaking of things supernatural, some of my immediate biological relatives have informed me of their
    recent baptism into the Mormon Faith. I am not at all surprised, and have wished them well in their new
    chosen faith. Unfortunately, I am a bit influenced as to the history of this particular faith by my memory
    of a Southpark Episode I saw a few years ago. I just hope it does not impact our relationship of which
    has been building only recently. To be clear, I am not an atheist, agnostic or religious human being. I
    am thoroughly science-oriented but still have some spiritual tendencies, albeit rather weak, but still
    there nonetheless.

    Speaking of things evolutionary, another article I read recently argues that humans are meant to run
    barefoot. Harvard Evolutionary Biologist professor Daniel Lieberman states that evolution may hold
    the answer to why humans have leg and foot pain while wearing tricked out athletic shoes. This is all
    quite interesting, and I myself find it rather fun to run barefoot on natural surfaces, such as dirt, mud,
    grass and sand, but still, there are hazards that may harm unshod human tootsies. Like hidden stickers
    and thorns I used to get impaled in my feet on the beach for instance.

    What I want to know, however and somewhat related to this barefoot issue, is why do humans wear
    their shoes inside their living abode? We in Hawaii are influenced by Polynesian and Asian Culture,
    specifically Japanese and Okinawan, to take the shoes off before entering the home. I find it hard to
    believe that anyone would track what is outside into their home via their shoes. Do not humans sit or
    lay on the floor and watch tv or eat? If you have pets, do you not get down on the floor and roll around?
    I think before running around outside barefoot, people would try being barefooted within their own
    home first. That is why many of us over here have harder foot bottoms from all of the barefooting we do. We also find our feet being a bit wider and splayed. Some people even have crab-toes, because we
    can pick things up with our toes like a monkey and pinch others with our feet.

  63. @01:
    I have no clue what’s going on with moderation here. It’s not even consistent within posters; sometimes the same person who passed through unscathed at time x gets moderated at time y. Once or twice that’s due to linkages (you embed too many links in a post, it gets flagged as potential spam), but that’s far from the real reason.

    When the heat is off a bit, I shall look into it a little more. But right now it’s nowehere near the top of the queue.

    @keanani:
    I, for one, pretty much always take off my shoes when I enter my home. Although I do tend to put on other shoes once safely inside.

  64. Peter said: “I, for one, pretty much always take off my shoes when I enter my home.” :) “Although I do tend to put on other shoes once safely inside.” Is it because of the chill or surface of the floor? House slippers? It’s ok if they are the cute fuzzy ones with cat-faces…sorry I just think that would be a cute opposing vision…

    Unconscious Seepage by Brain-Stuffed Maximization Creates Dreams for the Waking World ~

    With regard to your Vampire Domestication Talk, especially the “Taming Yesterday’s Nightmares for a
    Better Tomorrow”, and the fact that you read, think, and envision a lot, does this brain overload not seep
    into your dreams such that you actually come up with your skiffy and probable fact based ideas for your
    stories partly from nighttime streaming ruminations and inner visual movies?

    (I am not speaking about the “Iceberg Metaphor”, “Lucid Dreaming”, Freud or Jung, or anything to do
    with dreams (of a blonde nature ~ i.e. Katee Sackhoff, Tricia Helfer :) ) with tv/movie characters invading nighttime mind visions…no matter how lovely and pleasant that may be)

    (To be fair, after seeing the movie “Aliens”, I did experience aliens invading my dream which was scary,
    so much so I woke myself up to end it. The worst dreams to me are the ones that involve people you do
    not want to spend your waking life with. The weirdest dreams are the ones with your eyes open and
    your body immobilized.)

    Relative to primates and dreams, I recently read an interview with Viggo Mortensen, who stated he had
    a dream about a female chimpanzee, and well, he went on quite bit about how he thought there was
    nothing wrong with his being “intimate” with a non-human. He seemed to speak of it as quite real and
    rather lucid.

    But that is not of what I am speaking of.

    Just curious. Some writers have actually stated that they had a dream that sparked the idea for or
    became the story they wrote.

    Also, Peter, are you going to flesh out the links of “Big Ben”, “Rorschach” and “Necropsy”? Every now
    and again I look over there to see if clicking on those leads somewhere. Or are they meant to be
    mysterious and not opened to reveal anything, not even a teaser?

  65. @keanani:
    Regarding the whole “Twilight vampires as subject of female attraction”, that thing is far weirder than it sounds.
    I did read Twilight (don’t ask. Just. Don’t.), and good’ol Edward had everything from my personal “beware the repeat sex offender” checklist. The guy behaves pretty much how I would imagine a stereotypical, pathetic date rapist to behave like (okay, being male I might have limited understanding of how habitual date rapists look like and what makes them tick, but to the extend I can understand that kind of person, Mr. Cullen qualifies as one)
    The fact that so many women find that behavior attractive is disturbing (much more disturbing than the fact that at least one woman finds Jukka Sarasti hot)

    I think this Youtube video does a nice job of bringing my point across:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-HQhRlfiak

    Oh, and I do change my footwear between street and home, meticulously so. Having a microbiologist as a childhood friend does that to you…

    @Peter Watts:
    To which I gotta say: Mammals, thank you. I have not yet had a chance to go through that sequence of comments, but man, I can pretty much guarantee you that some of it is gonna show up in the finished product. And you may not claim any rights, but at the very least you’re going to get acknowledged in the endnotes and a couple of free copies.

    Mr. Watts, I’ll be honored to get a mention in the endnotes (I believe you have my email, now that I use a real one for posting here).

    @Everyone:
    My trawl for Blindsight-related funnies brought back this:

    http://brontopixel.com/upload_image/4c2775fccefaf02db968d79888de4e3a.jpg
    (It’s uncanny how the color of his velvet pout is consistent with BVamp “flushing”…My childhood memories…will never be the same…)

  66. @01::wrt(theCount) – hilariousness! :-)

    @01::wrt(“It is mentioned in the domestication talk…”) – yeah… I must divulge that I am the world’s WORST fan ever. If you ever become famous, don’t have me as a fan. The fixation on minutiae / interesting detail that makes for really good fandom just never developed in me. I always remember generics. Themes. Big picture. Example: I love the sciFi books on my shelf (PW’s included) in terms of theme and story arc, but try quizzing me on exact names and events therein and you will just want to slap me at the end of the inquisition…

  67. A) Mystery (don’t we all love a mystery?)
    B) Danger (but in public she’s “safe”)
    C) Damaged goods (AKA, “I can fix him”, AKA “Tortured soul”)
    D) It’s not permanent (he’s not the take home type so no worry about commitment)
    E) He’s full of passion (AKA, “He wants me so bad, he can’t control himself, but I’m special so I can tame the savage beast”)

    I would note it’s not only women who fall for this pattern. Seen it in gay bars too.

  68. I would note it’s not only women who fall for this pattern. Seen it in gay bars too.

    @Kanys L – I suspect vampires as erotic objects make perfect sense when the pool of erotic objects looks intrinsically foreign; vampires are us made strange and scary. That’s why you see more young girls hot and bothered by vampires than older women – older ones know men aren’t foreign or scary; they are just people with a penis and a slightly different set of social pressures.

  69. @Jason Stackhouse –
    Relax, you’re nowhere near the Stephenson Expository Threshold.

    I feel that it’s not the size of the exposition, it’s the quality.

  70. @Hljóðlegur

    That’s why you see more young girls hot and bothered by vampires than older women

    Hljóðlegur, allow me to introduce you to Twilight Moms
    http://www.twilightmoms.com/
    http://feastofnemesis.files.wordpress.com/2009/11/twilight_moms_by_inlovewitedwardc.jpg

    men aren’t foreign or scary; they are just people with a penis and a slightly different set of social pressures

    A friend’s girlfriend once told me that men have a notably different brains, namely a different hypothalamus and a different hypophysis, IIRC…

    @Kanys L
    Well, let’s apply that to Twilight :)
    Edward has C in spades, some B, mostly due to his creepy “stalker, shut-in, potential rohypnotist” demeanor (though I doubt that it’s the kind of “danger” that is easy for a woman to sexualize…), and just a little bit of A, but only intradiegetically and only in the beginning.

    Cullen is so “permanent” it hurts, and as for passion… let’s say with Meyer’s writing skills it’s hard to ascertain.

  71. What I miss here is an edit function. Embarrassing typos are embarrassing.

  72. re TWIts in headLIGHTS: In the same way that men can be attracted for exceedingly neotenic or hyperfeminine features in women, so too can women be attracted to the Edwardesque in men. Everyone has the wiring; just a case of how much juice gets shunted to that circuit. BUT:

    While this simply makes men who over-indulge a tad pathetic, at least they’re not stupid as f***, which is what I would call a female attracted to an Edwardesque “rohypnotist”* and who then let that circuitry actually inform her life decisions. Because that could actually have fatal consequences (and yes, reading the book or going to see the movie counts as a life decision… sorry twits).

    Now can we get back to protocadherins? I was actually learning something…

    just stealin’ @01′s word-du-jour.

  73. My “favorite” line from the film:

    EDWARD
    You’re like my own personal heroin stash.

    And let’s not forget vampire baseball.

    BTW, anyone else think Marmite must be what True Blood tastes like? All veggie, but tastes like gore.

  74. @KanysL – lol… until you put it on toast with butter (i confess to *owning* a wee tub of marmite. tis in my fridge as i write)…

    gah. I should stop spewing rubbish onto this blog. I’m going away for awhile…

    Good Luck on the 26th, PW.
    **HUGG**.
    bye.

  75. @01

    Seems to me most of the date rape cases I recall were stock brokers or other professionals who got tired of paying for it. But I see your point about demeanor. George Carlin notwithstanding, sometimes it IS the quiet ones you have to watch out for.

  76. re: Hljóðlegur, Kanys L, 01, Leona

    You set my brain sparking.

    Thinking about circuitry and mate selection here, I find myself seeing another potential dimension of some h. sapiens (of all orientations) being wired for receptivity to mates with h. vampiris/whedonum traits. Somebody else in this thread said something about the implications posed by h. vampiris not being reproductively isolated from humans. I presume the implication of h. vampiris genes being present in Donny Maas’ “junk DNA” is that the result of such matings wouldn’t have been sterile, as the offspring of horses and donkeys (mules) are, or the offspring of early modern humans and Neandertals in Kurtén’s “Dance of the Tiger”.

    So I can see mate selection wiring which functions in favor of sociopathic individuals potentially being used as evidence in favor of prehistoric herd breeding programs intended to control for traits like docility. Yes, Sarasti has to wear a visor so the crew aren’t transfixed by him, but in a society which coded that terror differently . . . Of course, there are always arranged marriages/virgin sacrifies and forced matings to account for, but doesn’t it make sense that predators would prefer to deal with docile subjects just as h. sapiens in our universe breed livestock and pets for docility and master bonding characteristics? Consider Stockholm Syndrome and how some individuals support social rules or political movements that may actually affect them negatively.

    I find myself thinking also of feudal social structures as they were conceived of—-the knights and priests and kings protect everyone else and thus earn their high position—-rather than how they actually worked—-the nobles killed the peasants while at war with each other, funny thing how that still happens. With both these social structures and archetypal traditional western marriages, the notion seems to be that you hand your freedom to the biggest scariest person you can find and they protect you so you can reproduce, even if what you are producing are their young, and they control every aspect of your life, including your ability to see how scary and sociopathic they are. The adaptive benefit of docility, learned helplessness, and suggestibility, as well as fanatical support of an existing social order being that you survive and so do your young.

    It also makes me think of various personal defense trainers’ musings about learned docility as a negative survival trait in assult situations and its relationship to the sort of nesting/mate domestication behavior which Chelsea engages in and causes Siri to react poorly. I can see the negotiating they do is affected by what Sarasti’s ancestors may have done to humanity in that universe. Sarasti is everywhere . . .

    And what do we want when we want a character like that? To be protected from the other slavering monsters out there.

    What do we want when we want to be a character like that? To protect ourselves from the other slavering monsters by being a bigger one.

    One of the things I appreciate about the society we live in is when it gives us opportunities to build masculinities and femininities that are more than that, and to build social structures that are about more than that as well.

  77. Also, again re: Hljóðlegur this on the h. floriensis stuff . . .

    You’re right, it doesn’t seem like anyone has made a decisive argument either way. There is inconclusive evidence that the individuals in question might have had a metabolic disorder or some form of microencephaly; the scholars involved seem to have split into several camps on the subject and I imagine there will be rather more volleys in the war before anything gets decided. But what bothered me was how quick people were to trumpet it as a new species rather than to cautiously and professionally proceed in comparisons with skeletons of people with various congenital abnormalities. Hindsight is 20/20, but remember how long folks thought Neandertals were all stooped and twisted because the first skeletons found were those of individuals suffering from severe arthritis?

    I really wonder how much scholarship nowadays is affected by the struggle for scarce tenure, where whoever can make what they’ve done sound coolest in the popular press (see PhD Comics on this) and slice their salami I mean research into the most LPUs (least publishable units) per square inch of grant funding winning out, not the folks who are the most conscientious or rigorous.

    But maybe that’s not really new . . . evolutionary forces and political ones affect academia like everything else, directly or indirectly.

  78. V:

    I like the idea that the whedonum subspecies increased genes for being able to tolerate sex with sociopaths and sociopaths in general. That’s a great thought. In the interests of full disclosure, I probably also like it because it plays into my prejudiced view that evopsych is so promiscuous a “science” that we can make it explain any effect we think we see in human beings, and even make-believe actors such as the whedonum subspecies sound plausible when cloaked in the evopsych paradigm. As I said before, evopsych is so all-purpose that if it didn’t exist, I’d have to invent it.

    And what do we want when we want a character like that?…What do we want when we want to be a character like that?

    That’s my prejudice, as well Vampires are a mythological and literary construct to let us talk about our favorite topic, us. And what scares us, too.

    One of the things I appreciate about the society we live in is when it gives us opportunities to build masculinities and femininities that are more than that, and to build social structures that are about more than that as well.

    Hell yes. Culture is a giant set of memes that have evolved to aid us a group and trap us as individuals, and the rigid gender role meme needs to be shed or modified. I know many people have a vested interest in the good old days when men were men, women were women, and sheep were scared, but if we are to survive, we need to maximize individuals by the skills they can develop within their set of genes. The very gross cut of male/female is just too crude, given the huge variation within a gender versus within the entire population.

    I also feel, and I know this is weird, there is too much emphasis on one ideal human gene set – that everyone be super-smart, super-beautiful, super-athletic, super-leaders, super-whatever. Homo sapiens suffered a genetic bottleneck recently, what, 70,000 years ago? We need to preserve the diversity, not “perfect” ourselves genetically, because environmental conditions change, and you can’t adapt if you are too narrow in your adaptation to the last conditions.

    Society works better with diverse personalities and natural skills, because the tasks in civilized society vary. Imagine a society solely comprised of engineered extroverted high-dominance win-win athletics types? Utter chaos. There would be fights to the death in the monthly board meetings. I have been doing committee work, and noticing how much more smoothly a certain mix of introvert/extrovert and judgers/perceivers works.

    learned docility as a negative survival trait in assult situations and its relationship to the sort of nesting/mate domestication behavior which Chelsea engages in and causes Siri to react poorly.

    Are you suggesting his genetics made Siri so docile? Or that the ability to become docile helped him as a child, but hindered him in his relationships with adult women?

  79. @Kanys L:
    “Seems to me most of the date rape cases I recall were stock brokers or other professionals who got tired of paying for it. “

    It’s kinda complicated.
    A good chunk of drug-assisted date rapes are not investigated and happen in various “college-related” environments, AFAIK.

    Though I agree that my “expected profile” of a rohypnotist is likely imperfect.

    @V:
    Thinking about circuitry and mate selection here, I find myself seeing another potential dimension of some h. sapiens (of all orientations) being wired for receptivity to mates with h. vampiris/whedonum traits. Somebody else in this thread said something about the implications posed by h. vampiris not being reproductively isolated from humans. I presume the implication of h. vampiris genes being present in Donny Maas’ “junk DNA” is that the result of such matings wouldn’t have been sterile, as the offspring of horses and donkeys (mules) are, or the offspring of early modern humans and Neandertals in Kurtén’s “Dance of the Tiger”.

    So I can see mate selection wiring which functions in favor of sociopathic individuals potentially being used as evidence in favor of prehistoric herd breeding programs intended to control for traits like docility. Yes, Sarasti has to wear a visor so the crew aren’t transfixed by him, but in a society which coded that terror differently . . . Of course, there are always arranged marriages/virgin sacrifies and forced matings to account for, but doesn’t it make sense that predators would prefer to deal with docile subjects just as h. sapiens in our universe breed livestock and pets for docility and master bonding characteristics? Consider Stockholm Syndrome and how some individuals support social rules or political movements that may actually affect them negatively.

    Makes perfect sense.

    Though it doesn’t even require a coordinated “herd breeding” effort on part of Blampires (that’s the accepted portmanteau, right?).

    Let’s put it like that… It appears reasonable that from a strictly evolutionary perspective, being perceived as sex object is vastly better than being perceived as a walking pile of protocadherins as far as encounters with Blampires are concerned.

    Resisting a Blampire’s “advances” either gets one eaten, or crippled and then raped. Both options tend to reduce fitness.

    Thus, by their very existence, Blampires provide a selective pressure that is likely to give advantage to traits such as docility when faced with overwhelming force, “captive bonding” behaviors, and tendency to perceive “blampirelike” entities (that includes vanilla sociopaths and everything that might pass as Jukka’s kin, even if it sorta sparkles ;)) as a valid and even desirable type of sexual partners.

    And thus, Blindsight explains Twilight fandom :D heeheeheehee…

    It also explains why I consider the “idea” of a female Blampire to be attractive (as I confessed in my “hotfix” post)…
    …OK, now this is becoming way too creepy…

    “One of the things I appreciate about the society we live in is when it gives us opportunities to build masculinities and femininities that are more than that, and to build social structures that are about more than that as well.”

    ~click~
    You tell yourself whatever story you need to make yourself feel better ;)

  80. re: 01

    “You tell yourself whatever story you need to make yourself feel better”

    Ok, I should have put -sarcasm- tags around that last sentence in my post, huh?

    Text does not carry tone well.

  81. One important point about Edward… He cannot have sex, so he’s “safe” in that regard too for a teenage girl (perhaps not so for older ladies who want the wolf/tiger in bed too).

  82. re: 01

    I hit send too fast. there was supposed to be a ( : at the end of my last posted reply to you.

    I feel really sexist saying this (toward women as well as men), but if we move from Blampires back to our world, this also explains the way women were traditionally socialized . . . I can’t find good statistics for the incidence of clinical sociopathy (antisocial personality disorder) but I suspect it is overwhelmingly male, based on the statistics for those who engage in serial violent crime.

  83. @Kanys L.:
    One important point about Edward… He cannot have sex

    My reading of the material (cue shudder) suggests otherwise.
    The second brain agrees: http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080201201857AAxPqY2

    @V:
    I hit send too fast. there was supposed to be a ( : at the end of my last posted reply to you.

    You mean the “…build social structures that are about more than that as well…” bit?

    I can’t find good statistics for the incidence of clinical sociopathy (antisocial personality disorder) but I suspect it is overwhelmingly male, based on the statistics for those who engage in serial violent crime.

    Well, the second brain says that prevalence is 3% in males, 1% in females

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antisocial_personality_disorder#Prevalence_.28epidemiology.29

  84. 01 & Kanys L.

    My reading of the material (cue shudder) suggests otherwise.

    HAhahahha – okay, that made my afternoon, ladies. Can EDward get an erection?

    I enjoyed the idea that if his blood isn’t pumping, that his main problem would be whether he had enough hydrostatic pressure to get it up.

    Also, I bet there are thousands of lesbians who would be startled to learn that one cannot have sex without an erect penis. Just saying.

  85. @01

    LOL. Well, maybe he could get erect, just not with Bella (he’s either way too emo or gay).

    But I haven’t read the books, merely going off the film, and I’ve forgotten his beard… er, excuse that he gave her in her bedroom. Something to do with something awful happening to her or him going berserk. Anyone know?

    Alas, my friend, I’ll have to take TVTropes over Ask Yahoo.

    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Twilight

    Breaks down the whole series, includes an entry “Can’t Have Sex Ever”, but it’s apparently only for the first three books. Also explains this whole thread (see “Acceptable Target”).

  86. I cannot believe this thread started at evolutionary biology and has gone the way of vampire erectile dysfunction. *snerk*!

    At least Blampires probably don’t have that problem, based on their proposed similarity to h. sapiens and Donny Maas’ junk DNA, which had to come from somewhere — well, unless the blood transmission method Peter Watts hinted might work (in a viral manner, like herpes, which modifies the DNA) meant that h. sapiens ended up holding onto some of their genetic code. That said, I don’t know why they would want to reproduce with creatures that look like slabs of meat to them. Anyone would have “e.d.” then.

    I suppose they could have reproduced within their subspecies during some sort of mating season — maybe they would evolve estrus or a mating season like tigers so a period of receptivity could occur without them killing each other — they had to have something since Peter Watts says in the presentation that their reproductive rate was roughly similar to that of their necessary prey, h. sapiens. And I do find myself wondering if the lack of reproductive isolation means they could produce fertile offspring with humans . . . I also wonder if, among themselves, they would relate as the big cats do. Other aspects of their anatomy and psychology seem similar.

  87. @Kanys L:

    But I haven’t read the books, merely going off the film, and I’ve forgotten his beard… er, excuse that he gave her in her bedroom. Something to do with something awful happening to her or him going berserk. Anyone know?
    Well, his reasons were both him hurting her, going berserk, and horrible stuff happening.

    Well, their later ordeals demonstrate that everything he told Bella is true – especially the “horrible stuff” bit. Twampire pregnancy and subsequent jaw-mediated cesarean aren’t pretty. Like, at all

    P.S.: The “childbirth” almost made reading this stuff worthwhile, BTW ;)

    Alas, my friend, I’ll have to take TVTropes over Ask Yahoo.

    But technically, he can, so he’s hardly “safe” in the full sense of the word. In fact, the sheer number of times he declares that they must not have sex makes him pass off as…not so safe. ;)

  88. At least Blampires probably don’t have that problem, based on their proposed similarity to h. sapiens and Donny Maas’ junk DNA, which had to come from somewhere — well, unless the blood transmission method Peter Watts hinted might work (in a viral manner, like herpes, which modifies the DNA) meant that h. sapiens ended up holding onto some of their genetic code.

    “Virusing away” such large chunks of DNA doesn’t strike me as likely.

    Also, if I recall correctly, it’s hinted that there might be a viral “trigger” to human->Blampire conversion (pretty much what happened to Donnie during his gene therapy), not that Blampirism can be infectious.

    That said, I don’t know why they would want to reproduce with creatures that look like slabs of meat to them.Anyone would have “e.d.” then.

    It seems to me you are anthropomorphizing Blampire sexual drives here ;)…

    Fun tangential thought: what would be a Blampire’s opinion of human sexuality? }:-E

    I suppose they could have reproduced within their subspecies during some sort of mating season — maybe they would evolve estrus or a mating season like tigers so a period of receptivity could occur without them killing each other — they had to have something since Peter Watts says in the presentation that their reproductive rate was roughly similar to that of their necessary prey, h. sapiens.

    Quite plausible.

    Or maybe just, pardon my french, ambush and rape. A Blampire would likely be able to ambush and temporarily restrain another Blampire.

    Most likely a combination of those two and crossbreeding with humans. Which makes for some neat variety in Blampire reproductive strategies.

    There is, however, another fun Blampire reproduction problem: child rearing. Child rearing might be problematic if at some point one is liable to develop a desire to off your offspring :)

    Fun solution: brood parasitism. Have humans raise the monstrous brain-eating cannibal offspring.
    Off course, lack of reproductive isolation helps here a lot – if one of the parents is a human, the human is likely to bond with the child even despite the fact that the child is, well, a flesh-eating monster, and will likely struggle to shield the child from both risks coming from other human tribe members and the elements until the little Blampire is old enough to care for him/herself.

    At this point, the little Blampire would likely invite its human parent for dinner.

  89. Correction: off his/her offspring.
    Damn, I lack the proofreading discipline needed to survive without “edit” button :(

  90. re: 01

    Interesting points all. Now I wonder

    –SPOILER WARNING, highlight to see this–

    how with those sort of strange reproductive difficulties they could take over the planet.
    Brood parasitism seems likeliest, but if you’re making lots of little half vampires . . . I guess you just switch them over with exposure to the appropriate viral trigger. Or maybe I read that ending wrong.

  91. @V:

    IMHO, their “peer-hate” response should arise only when physical vicinity to another Blampire is confirmed via visual, olfactory or some other savanna-compatible means (makes perfect sense in terms of evolved rival response).

    A high-tech society into which they were introduced during events of Blindsight offers ways to socialize without physical vicinity, or visual contact (just like you and me now)

    A bit of further speculation:

    Blampires figured this out and used various IM/email/whatever-they-have-in-future to negotiate a cunning takeover plan which likely included near-total subversion of human technological infrastructure.

    They didn’t take over in the “biological” or “reproductive” sense, but they effectively run everything….politics, law enforcement, science, economics, healthcare, mass media…
    And they coordinate their actions extremely well as long as they don’t have to actually see each other “in the flesh”, so, humanity’s pretty much boned.

    I wonder how close my humble speculation is to what we’ll see in “State of Grace”…

  92. @01 Creepy, indeed. I wish it stopped there… Though I have a well-cultivated appreciation for normalcy, as a result. Watching the leaves change, planting flowers with my kid; it’s the frakkin life, let me tell you. :)

    @Hljóðlegur

    “I feel that it’s not the size of the exposition, it’s the quality.”

    Oh, I wasn’t knocking Mr. Stephenson’s work, I should be clear on that. (Unless your response was a ‘that’s what she said’ joke. In that case, I say, shame on you, sir or madam. Shame.)

  93. @Peter Watts

    Great!
    Peter, the degree to which your works tend to…um…intersect with reality is uncanny and awesome at the same time. I mean, there already were several articles proposing use of artificially organized neuron cultures for piloting airplanes and managing industrial automation (I could find them,if anyone is curious). And now, this peculiar hominins… ;)
    I guess congratulations are in order.

    @01
    First and foremost, I envy your attentiveness. I totally missed the whole “Y-linked” bit and its implications (both for Blampires and baseline women)…

    Second, I must applaud your hotfix – I have a bioscience background, and I can’t come up with a better idea (so far…)

    Third, I suspect we have met before… 01, which color is the best? :)

    P.S.:
    And yes, before somebody asks, I’m that guy who made that crazy “Blampire lover” thread on SB. A kind soul informed me that it has been mentioned in the comments on Peter Watts’s blog and suggested that I check out… so here I am :)

  94. @Jason

    *hangs head in shame*

    Actually, though, I just meant that plot-throttling exposition isn’t always a crime, if it makes sense in context. Smart nerds stopping what they are doing to give an impromptu mini-lecture on some point of science fact is exactly what smart nerds do in real life. Smart nerd characters doing that in a story is naturalistic.

    Enjoyed Peter’s wry acknowledgement that he drops exposition boulders onto speeding plots occasionally.

    You see: literary transgressions done consciously are plausibly art, (see the lack of punctuation in Joyce’s Ulysses, for instance, or the conversation with the devil in Bros. Karmozov) whereas ignorant unheedful transgressions are Robert Heinl—, no, wait, I mean to say, are simply bad form.

    *ducks tomatoes from the RAH fan contingent*

  95. heh heh, I meant Brothers Karamazov. Speaking of heedless. *eye roll*

  96. @Hljóðlegur

    “literary transgressions done consciously are plausibly art”

    Certainly. As always, the only relevant question is, does it work?

    (Warning: big hunk of opinion follows.)

    You’re entirely correct that Mr. Stephenson’s characters digress naturally and believably. (KSR comes to mind, as well; Mars, anyone?) In terms of internal consistency, he’s already got a pass to talk about the history of coinage or mechanical computing for six pages while the world comes unhinged; it’s what nerds do, right? (No pejorative.)

    But where he’s crossed the Threshold is this: the digressions become such a large share of both perceived value for the reader and of the actual word count of the book, itself, that an inversion takes place. It becomes possible to read the work -as a container narrative for his research-.

    Does it still work? Hell, yes, it does, but it’s become a stylistic shibboleth. You either value it, even read -for- it, or the work is impenetrable.

    I haven’t earned the right to talk about my own style, yet, but it’s safe to say I’m the opposite; tone and implication are my weapons of choice. (Opposite in terms of sales, too, heh. I cover a good chunk of the bills with non-creative writing, but my lifetime fiction sales have yet to pay two month’s rent.) Not that I consider the approach superior, it’s just what works for me…

    Hey. Wow, Hljóðlegur, I haven’t ‘talked’ that much all week.

  97. Gonna weigh in again here, because really: this is what this ‘crawl is supposed to be about. The Michigan judicial system makes me forget that sometimes

    Re -productive rates: in terms of canon to date (i.e., the Fizerpharm presentation), these are inferred from body size and metabolic rate, not from direct observation. We assume that vamps and humans have compatible reproductive rates because they’re both large-bodied mammals whose common ancestor split too recently to allow much divergence. But given that the initial followup studies focused entirely on male inmates of the Texas penal system, actual vampire copulation had not been observed at the time those results were presented. The field is wide open.

    @Jason: judging by tales of your great-grandmother, you have way creepier relationships than your True Blood namesake ever did. In fact, your great-grandmother may have been part vamp; what she did, in a very limited way, is kinda how the vamps implant crucifix glitches into baseline humans in Dumbspeech.

    @keanani: My “house slippers” are actually retired, threadbare running shoes no longer fit for running after months of pavement-pounding. They are neither cute nor fuzzy, but they sometimes have cat faeces.

    Also, re: the dead “Big Ben”, “Rorschach” and “Necropsy” links. I do hope to build pages at the ends of those (I even have a couple of scrambler-autopsy jpegs that have seen limited exposure on the web). I basically gave up on this site shortly before Blindsight was released, out of sheer discouragement. Tor was obviously expecting the novel to be dead at birth, I didn’t think the cover was going to help much, and it just seemed like a waste of effort to keep shoveling sand against the tide. Fortunately that prognosis proved a bit more dire than the reality, but I never did get around to finishing the job.

    Still, if/when I have something official to announce on the Dumbspeech front, there’ll be plenty of time for major renovations then. And I’ll finish off the old wing before adding the new.

    @All:
    I am going to steadfastly refuse to comment on the whole Twilight/Blindsight crossover thread, because I do after all still have the shreds of a reputation to protect. But I encourage you all to keep at it just the same. Because certain ideas sprouting from the Twilight discussion can bear succulent mushroom-like produce.

    For example:

    Fascinated by the thoughts that baselines might have evolved to tolerate/enjoy rough psychopathic sex because such inclinations increase their chance of survival in a system where vampires are the apex predator. Vampires aren’t strictly necessary; plenty of us baseline males have aggressive tendencies that presumably promote fitness, but also make them the furthest things from SNAGs in the sack. You want your child to share those traits, you learn to like sex without foreplay.

    Rape is always an option, but a suboptimal one: my understanding is that the odds of successful fertilization go way down when sex isn’t consensual. (It’s also interesting that at least some circumstantial evidence suggests that sociopaths have more kids than the rest of us.)

    I like the idea of vampires as an instigating force shaping baseline humans for docility (although once again, you don’t really need to invoke vampires when you have so many ruthless baselines floating around). Not sure whether deliberate breeding by the vamps would be necessary or even likely, given the solitary nature of the breed. Any deliberate domestication program would have to be undertaken by a lone vamp (or, I suppose, a single family lineage— I haven’t really delved into the strength and duration of any familial ties amongst these beasts), given their bloodthirsty isolationism. OTOH, there’s something kinda cool about the idea of a lone vampire, waking up every few decades to cull his personal herd to desired specs and then going back to bed. Wouldn’t it be nifty if that was the strain that ended up giving rise to the rest of us…

    A related thought on vampire intelligence vs. human technology: there’s really no such thing as vampire “culture”, since vampires are so insanely antisocial. They are far, far smarter than us in terms of raw intellect; but since they lack anything approaching our capacity for cultural transmission, each of them has to reinvent the wheel from scratch. This balances the playing field somewhat, and greatly hamstrings their ability to develop their own technology.

    But:

    1. Give them a look at our technology, and there’s a really good chance they’ll be able to figure it out, hack it on the fly, and probably improve it. You could argue that this makes them a much greater threat now than they ever were back in the Pleistocene.
    2. Once they realize how advantageous cultural transmission can be, it’s trivial for them to figure out ways to cooperate without meeting in the flesh (V, I’m way ahead of you here; I could even prove it by showing you the outline I wrote a couple years back, but then I’d have to kill you). Think of warchalking for autistic homicidal supergeniuses, to name just one strategy obvious even to us baselines. Still, such collaborations will tend to be self-limiting, since vampires are monomaniacally selfish and will weigh the benefits of collaboration against the disadvantages of sharing valuable intel with competitors.

    Both these elements figure in Dumbspeech.

    And yes, Hljóðlegur, evopsych can be used in all sorts of handwavey, just-so-story ways to justify pretty much everything. (We called the folks who went down that road “Foamies”, short for “foamy adaptationists”.) But there are babies in the bathwater.

  98. Hey. Wow, Hljóðlegur, I haven’t ‘talked’ that much all week.

    Just waiting til you had something good to say, probably.

  99. @Peter

    “OTOH, there’s something kinda cool about the idea of a lone vampire, waking up every few decades to cull his personal herd to desired specs and then going back to bed. Wouldn’t it be nifty if that was the strain that ended up giving rise to the rest of us…”

    Invoking the Toba catastrophe would be convenient. Managing a herd of 1-5k h.sap breeding pairs during an upper paleolithic apocalypse is fertile ground, itself, even without a vampiric Moses. :)

    “judging by tales of your great-grandmother, you have way creepier relationships than your True Blood namesake ever did.”

    Yeah… We don’t do family reunions, really. The tendency is to grow up and -run like hell-. Settle down a few hundred miles away, raise a family, and watch your children very, very carefully. (My daughter either lucked out, genetically, or is far too clever. Time will tell, eh?)

  100. You guys got me thinking, too. I just think slowly.

    We know that each Blampire will betray and cut the throat of any other it interacts with as soon as it is advantageous to do so; it’s their nature. Human beings are communal and cooperative, but even they occasionally do it; Blampires will be unable to stop themselves past a certain point. They’re evolved to be solitary predators, so working cooperatively will be unnatural.

    We have a model already in the population of human conmen – “everyone else is a potentional doop, and will become one as soon as it suits my needs.” Blampirism is just a more lethal verson of that tendency.

  101. Ok, I’m going to take free license to be a little stupid here because even if, as Peter Watts said, he’s way ahead of us in some way, we may get some mushrooms out of this.

    @Peter Watts
    The warchalking . . . Ted Chiang had a very early story, which appears in his first collection, about two completely unique supergenuises who end up fighting each other because their goals are so different. They communicate through the stock market, at one point. And by handwaving telepathy later on. I assume you mean something like this (minus the handwaving telepathy). Still, I keep getting hung up on
    Still, such collaborations will tend to be self-limiting, since vampires are monomaniacally selfish and will weigh the benefits of collaboration against the disadvantages of sharing valuable intel with competitors.
    So maybe they cooperate like bees — not consciously, but because they’re all driving society the same way. I can’t see how one wouldn’t rise above the others in the end though, one who was really good at predicting its opponents’ moves and perhaps even passing as human, at least for a while (everything is only for a while).

    Anyway. . .

    I know modern architecture is death on vampires, but for some reason I picture one getting up once every few centuries, protected by a clan of human servants, helping along the Enlightenment, encouraging Mies Van Der Rohe (for example), causing the resurrection of the rest of its species in a world where they would be chemically dependent for a time…working from the shadows.

    I just find myself thinking of old 1990s World of Darkness LARPS and tabletops where it always took a big pile of ghouls (human servants) to get things done. This is totally sideways, but there was a a whole vampire clan in those who were fleshcrafters (with handwaving magic, of course, sadly) called the Tzimisce. Sometimes they turned several combined ghouls into war machines.

    Ok, so there’s your pile of fertilizer. I’ll come back to see if anything grows. *snerk*

  102. One more sack of fertilizer , maybe this was chewed up before . . . wither the vampire women?
    The more I look at the model, the more I wonder what role vampire females would have, since the costs of reproduction are not on their side. They might end up having to bond to offspring at least until it left the den, as it were, as well, which complicates the social picture indeed as discussed above.

    Can something without self-awareness have self control?
    I can imagine a lot of messy deaths resulting from vampires getting annoyed when breeding, and that not necessarily contributing to the success of their breeding operations

    Oh well, you said you were way ahead of me. I guess I’ll just have to wait to see Blampire pon farr . . . .

  103. @V:

    Can something without self-awareness have self control?

    I think that is a crucial question, and it’s not an either/or. The vital thing is how much self-awareness must a human cousin have to have in order to have self-control?

    the more I wonder what role vampire females would have, since the costs of reproduction are not on their side.

    Well, this is a human variant, a mammal, one of the great apes, so there is probably an extended period of post-natal brain development and parental care. Let’s say the lady vampire can raise the babies pretty much alone – that makes them look more like cats, doesn’t it?

    I think cooperation amongst male Blampires is dodgy at best. But related female cats work cooperatively to some extent for baby-care, as do female primates, so I would assume that if any Blampires would bridge the non-cooperation gap imposed by their physiology, it would be sets of related females, sets of sisters, especially.

    This has market appeal, too. More men read scifi, and some fancy female vampires….

  104. @Peter Watts

    Hi Peter!

    I don’t know if my previous post reached your blog… If it didn’t, I promised to ask a friendly “rapespert” regarding whether “odds of successful fertilization go way down when sex isn’t consensual.”
    Her opinion:
    Currently, there is very little evidence that would cause one to believe that rape decreases conception probability in humans or is otherwise suboptimal as far as human reproduction per se is concerned.
    In fact, the current “hot topic” debate is whether rape confers additional advantages as far as humans are concerned. There is a lot of inconclusive and nonconstructive debate here, but there is a fairly decent study that suggests that rape increases the odds of successful fertilization in humans:http://www.washjeff.edu/users/jgottschall/Papers,%20etc/rape_pregnancy.pdf
    Mankind is fucked up like that.
    I blame vampires :)

    P.S.:
    Peter, if you don’t mind, may I ask you a rather trivial Blampire question? The question is: Do they have anything like a “sense of humor”?
    Cats, who have even less self-awareness than Blampires (or do they ;)? ) are capable of “playful” behaviors such as famous “cat and mouse” games with their prey… Blampires would likely have that too…
    But what about verbal humor? Could one theoretically craft a phrase that would “amuse” a Blampire in any conceivable way?

  105. link reposted for everyone’s convenience:
    http://www.washjeff.edu/users/jgottschall/Papers,%20etc/rape_pregnancy.pdf

    @everyone
    is there a decent quote tag here?

  106. Here’s a thought: perhaps self-awareness DOES convey a survival advantage…against other types of human. Perhaps the reason the other humans (Denisova hominid, Neandertal, etc) disappeared is that, due to being self-aware, h. sapiens is the baddest mother on two legs when it comes to competing against close relatives.

  107. @everyone:
    01′s random musings on the subject of rape as reproductive strategy (because why not?)…

    One has to wonder, why exactly is “rape-like” (because seriously claiming “rape” in bugs or ducks is a bit problematic, methinks, and thus a distinction should probably be made) common in some species to the point of rape-related selection pressures define major features of the phenotype (those hapless ducks), while relatively less prominent in others?
    While I don’t think I can find a paper to back it up, I think an interesting, and testable, hypothesis to entertain would be that it depends, to a significant degree, upon how likely is a “rapist” male is to notably injure the “victim”.

    Humans are more or less capable of restraining a victim without causing major injuries, and rape is a fairly well-known behavior with them.

    Blampires would have approximately same capacity for overpowering cospecifics without major injury.
    But…But the…ahem….punchline…is that they would be far better at coercing baselines – and assuming that Blampire/human sex works as advertised, and that Blampires don’t have good communication skills (and thus have problems with the consensual route with humans), rape would be a very common reproductive strategy for Blampire/human reproduction (perhaps even non gender specific – after all a female vampire is supposed to be strong enough to subdue a human male and smart enough to figure out how to force erection on his part)…

    And, like I said, resisting a Blampire is sheer suicide for a normal human in a one-on-one encounter with no force multipliers.

    This is a notably disturbing line of thought.

    @Hljóðlegur:
    “”I would assume that if any Blampires would bridge the non-cooperation gap imposed by their physiology, it would be sets of related females, sets of sisters, especially.

    This has market appeal, too. More men read scifi, and some fancy female vampires….”"

    a market interested groups of female Blindsight vampires? hell yes!
    …~ahem~…

    @RandomJ:
    Best color is black. Yes, I think I know ya :) funny that we meet here of all places…
    long time no see… where did you vanish for so long?

  108. This is a notably disturbing line of thought.

    Actually do vampires really need humans, or in fact other vampires, to reproduce in a technologically sophisticated era? Neolithic — not so much. But in an era where Theseus exists?

    Yeah, you need to get samples, you need a way to mature some of them based on how you get them — but mechanical wombs?

    Hypothetically possible.

    I really like this idea so much more than human coops. Coops. Like chicken coops. Except they’re fertilizing rather than harvesting eggs. But then again. Mr Watts likes him some scary, after all.

    Well, if the book’s too triggery, I just won’t read it. haven’t had a problem so far though. Chronic clinical depression tends to force one to be resilient sometimes, making books that would depress other people not bother you as much.

  109. Also, cloning. Although you maybe can’t reproduce indefinitely this way perhaps, although what I heard about that might be bogus.

  110. One has to wonder, why exactly is “rape-like”

    Yeah, part of this whole discussion hinges on the problem that rape is a legal term, not a biological one. It’s based on consent & competency and the idea that women and sexual access are property. It’s definitional – if no one presses charges, was it rape. It messes you up if you try to use what is a modern legal and social construct to imagine what naked spear-making humans would think 50,000 years ago.

    It’s one reason that the sociobio studies of rape, like the interesting one cited above by RandomJ, are such an unholy mess – you can’t even come up with a good definition when discussing people. You don’t even know you are talking about a cohesive population.

  111. There are several (insect and avian) species in which rape is just how it’s done. (Bed bugs, bean weevils, water striders, ducks…) Is our discussion being warped by an anthropic concept of consent among female vampires?

  112. Ah, should have read 01 more carefully. Withdrawn, with apologies.

  113. Oh, it’s me who should apologize for all the missing and misspelled words, those don’t help to bring a point across.
    As an excuse, I’m posting from mobile…

  114. @01 who said: “…(much more disturbing than the fact that at least one woman finds Jukka Sarasti hot)” :) Oh boy. Seems that some women do fall for the beast…

    I have not been on this thread since I spoke of Viggo Mortensen’s dream, and all this time I thought there was a heated discussion about hominids and Peter’s vampires, but oh oh, I see it became Twilighty and the issue of date rape has emerged, hmm…I have to read everyone’s stuff before I could say anything about anything…

  115. @Hljóðlegur ~ Thanks for the video link of “Jesus -Terminator”. :)

  116. Ah, here it is, and I see that I had sparked this with my goofy ramblings, :)
    Yeah, yeah, leave it up to me to go off on that somewhat erotic tangent..

    01 said: “Given that they are anthropophagic murderous superpredators devoid of empathy and mercy, the most common way to go about that would be rape.”

    Hmm, well, this may be true. I suppose Peter would have to weigh in on this. I reckon I should look down below to see if he has. As in “Peter’s reproduction strategies”. This subject was touched upon in the newscrawl thread regarding “Blampires vs. Blindsight Vampires” posted months ago.

    However, I will posit a naked statement that perhaps there is a difference between the hunger-eat human drive and the sex-drive such that these cold superpredators may behave differently according to the biological drive.

    and: “However, while reading Blindsight, my special someone made an offhand comment about Jukka Sarasti being “hot” (Admittedly, we never discussed Blindsight Vampire reproduction…)”

    Alright, 01, so your sweetie has found Jukka “hot”. I am supposing it has to do with him being badass and superintelligent? Can’t exactly be his “looks” per se, although for women, the visual is not as important as a myriad of other favorable factors.

  117. However, I will posit a naked statement that perhaps there is a difference between the hunger-eat human drive and the sex-drive such that these cold superpredators may behave differently according to the biological drive.

    Well, I suspect that one major difference is that when acting upon the reproductive drive, vampire wouldn’t maim or kill the victim, unless victim resists beyond vampire’s ability to subdue.

    And, given that, according to the paper my friend posted above, there are no reasons to believe rape decreases fertility in humans, and given that Blampires aren’t exactly very good at building relationships, Blampire->human sexual relationships are likely to range between “not nice” and “outright rape”,with inclination towards the latter.
    In fact, only severe outside environmental pressures (people. with guns. a lot of) or a long term plan (need to “appear” nice and “civilized” until time is right) could discourage a Blampire from taking an apparent, violent shortcut.

    Alright, 01, so your sweetie has found Jukka “hot”. I am supposing it has to do with him being badass and superintelligent? Can’t exactly be his “looks” per se, although for women, the visual is not as important as a myriad of other favorable factors.

    According to her, it has to do with Jukka being intelligent, “primal” and “also for handing Keaton’s ass to him” (actual quote. Yes, she has little sympathy for poor zombie…). Being tall is likely a bonus too…
    Wonder if I should send her a link to this thread…

  118. Peter said: “What. I still don’t know whether that was a typo in the paper or if my own ignorance just led me to glean the wrong implications from it, but it was pretty glaring issue in hindsight. I haven’t had a chance to go back and do a proper reconnaissance just yet, but I have come up with a couple of plausible-sounding post-hoc handwaves in the interim. Assuming I maintain my current level of anal-retentativeness, State of Grace will probably lose two or three chapters to resolving that issue alone. It will stop the plot deader than the Public Option.”

    Well, just take your time and do what ya do best…anal-retentative or not. Hard science made harder with hand waving diffusion softening the edges.

    “And all you people who encouraged me to stay true to my rigor will have no one but yourselves to blame.”

    That’s the kind of blame I can live with.

  119. @01 ~ Hee hee, did you not catch that I said “Blampire vs. Blindsight Vampire”? Those are the same thing. My bad, it should have been “Twivamps vs. Blampires”.

    @01 who said, regarding his sweetie who said Jukka is “hot”: “According to her, it has to do with Jukka being intelligent, “primal” and “also for handing Keaton’s ass to him” (actual quote. Yes, she has little sympathy for poor zombie…). Being tall is likely a bonus too…”

    Ok, ok, my being a human female I can weigh in on this from that point of view ~ qualities “some” females may find “attractive” in a Blampire such as Jukka that would cause such females to rate Mr. Sarasti as “hot” on that “sexual attraction scale”:

    (Despite the rational mind screaming danger, get a grip, what are you thinking girl?)

    Intelligent? Check. Primal? Hmm, is this to do with “animal magnetism”? Uh…check. Handing someone their ass (poor Siri) who may need to have it done? Check. Gifted vertically (height)? Check.

    Womanly tendency to have warm and fuzzy feeling for the poor sods out there who can’t help being all badassy, dangerous, different, misunderstood and ice-pick cold, but still are just lonely life forms really in need of a warm bear hug, understanding and life-changing love? Check. :)

    Poor zombie? Hmm, that would be Edward Cullen, for he is a form of the living dead, unless you mean because Jukka is a “zombie” for lack of “emotions” and “connection to others”. But then did not Jukka Sarasti show a hell of a lot of angry passion lashing out at somewhat more zombie-like Siri?

    And then 01 said: “Wonder if I should send her a link to this thread…” :)

  120. “Poor zombie? Hmm, that would be Edward Cullen, for he is a form of the living dead, unless you mean because Jukka is a “zombie” for lack of “emotions” and “connection to others”.”

    – I was referring to Siri, who is, or rather was, somewhat like a philosophical zombie…

  121. Jason Stackhouse said “There are several (insect and avian) species in which rape is just how it’s done. (Bed bugs, bean weevils, water striders, ducks…)”

    Hi Jason :)

    Rape? Well, even that term is “human”. Perhaps one should ask the question what constitutes “forcible copulation” amongst non-humans? As we can see, a female praying mantis mates and eats the little guy mantis at the same time. I saw this in my own backyard when I was a wee one.

    I will go so far to posit that even some female dogs are not exactly receptive even when the are in heat, as I myself have witnessed with my own family canines by accident, and the “mating” was a boo boo on my part. Shooting them with cold water from a backyard hose did not help though. I even tried to pry them apart, and that resulted in yelps. I guess being a kid and all, I did not realize they were kinda stuck for a reason. I was in deep kimchi cause months later 10 little dobringers were born, two died at birth, but they were conceived and born.

    And then darn, it happened again.

    Also, anyone who has ever had a male dog knows that they may go after some part of humans. Is this canine behavior thusly “rape-like”? The dog is attempting forcible canine copulation on a human. Sure, the poor dog misses the mark cause humans are not dogs, but going after a human leg like it was something to hump, I really don’t know why the doggy mind would compel him to do such a thing.

    But then I remember when a group of us little kids had to avoid certain neighborhood dogs because something made them misdirect their doggy feelings, and they would manage to grab some kid from behind, apparently mistaking a little human kid for a female dog. Man, the things you learn about them facts of life as a kid, that no one warns you about.

  122. @keanani:

    Well, ducks have two distinct reproductive behaviors, one notably more “rape-like” than the other. Female ducks have evolved insane anatomical features that apparently decrease success rate of the “violent” approach, but males just evolve creepy counter-adaptations that maximize “duck rape” efficiency.
    Second brain sez: http://www.cosmosmagazine.com/node/1277
    Duck genitals locked in arms race…sucks to be a duck, lol :D

  123. @keanani –
    Perhaps one should ask the question what constitutes “forcible copulation” amongst non-humans?

    I wanted to weigh in here, sorry if I am getting in between.

    I just think it’s a very good question. The words “rape” or even “forcible” become very problematic when the participants are unable to form intent, can’t conceptualize personal responsibilty, and do not have the level of learned components to their sexuality that primates do. A dog cannot rape.

    This is because of the ideas underpinning the words: forcible implies intent to thwart the will of another, and we have no direct evidence of the will of bean weevils, and definitely no direct evidence that dogs have all the component ideas needed to understand the word “rape” – ideas of sin, sexual guilt, personal autonomy, individual rights, and other really complex stuff. The dog humps my leg because it is a good enough approximation of another dog to trigger his/her desire to mount something.

    If one mantis eats the head of another during sex, that is non-moral, intent-less, simply an act. If I bite off your head during sex, that is a moral and legal crime. There is no confusion on that, I assume?

    Yr welcome re Jesus/Terminator. I guffawed.

    @01:
    there are no reasons to believe rape decreases fertility in humans

    May I suggest that this is by no means the definitive study, and it makes an unwise leap between estimating conception rates in modern conditions to assuming this translated directly into rates of rape children in the evolutionary history of people.

    Evolution only really acts when your offspring successfully reproduce, and a child who increasingly looks like someone who harmed you might get less parental care, for one thing. For another, there is an assumption that “rape” (or even “sex”) had the same meaning to a tribe of hunter-gatherers umpty thousands of years ago, before sin and courts and language with which to discuss where it was impolite to put ones penis without asking.

    Ask yourself, how many more children conceived via rape were terminated starting in the 1970′s?

  124. @Hljóðlegur:

    May I suggest that this is by no means the definitive study, and it makes an unwise leap between estimating conception rates in modern conditions to assuming this translated directly into rates of rape children in the evolutionary history of people.

    Well, please note that I didn’t use it as evidence of rape being a notably advantageous strategy (as the paper itself intends to imply), merely as evidence as to it not conferring a disadvantage in terms of fertility rates per se (and thus a valid strategy for a hypothetical entity that has a hardwired penalty to nonviolent relationships and a congenital “bonus” to speed, strength and intelligence)

    As for the jump from modern conception rates to ancestral rate of birth – it seems logically meaningful. After all, ancestral environment offered no emergency birth control and a…let’s say very limited termination options.

    Ask yourself, how many more children conceived via rape were terminated starting in the 1970’s?

    Hm, well yes nowadays we meticulously terminate such pregnancies.

    But ancestral tribes in savanna didn’t have a wide array of termination options, AFAIK…
    Am I misunderstanding you?

  125. @Hljóðlegur ~ Excellent response! That was what I was alluding to in my indirect way.

    By no means am I lessening what we humans know or define as “rape”.

    I certainly did not intend for my goofy musings on books that appeal to females by making some descendant or hybrid of a Jukka Sarasti and human or hybrid more so attractive in order to go down a vein of writing (that is not really what Peter should be doing, but I presented it as a possibility in order to make bucks on the side…) that has morphed yet again into troubling tangents of sex and gender conflicts.

    Holy pineapple, this to quite an extent, I recall, was already blathered about in huge wordy postings by myself in that other newscrawl thread about the battle of the book vampires. So I won’t subject anyone to that again, here or anywhere. :)

  126. 01 said: “c) And yes! Now we have “natural” female vampires.
    Which is hot. In a very creepy 7-foot-tall-rapist-monster-cannibal-woman way, but hot nonetheless. (confused) I can’t help it, I don’t know why.”

    Hmmm, so your sweetie thinks Jukka is hot and you think the above is hot. What is it with some of us humans and attraction to the dangerous?

    The rational mind is being fought by something underlying the reality of said danger… :) That’s why some of us read because we are safe in our own minds. I hope.

    As to the fact that more males are into Science Fiction~the books I read may or may not be geared toward that readership, but it doesn’t matter if the book is a terrific read.

    Peter has either gender being more so the lead, as in Starfish, Blindsight or The Island, and it works for whomever is reading, in my opinion. Of course those books specific for females such as the massive market of the “Romance Genre” would most likely be read, if not only be females.

    I suppose that since I kinda sparked this Twilighty issue, I don’t see Jukka types as really vampires in any sort of pop-cult sense, but as an alternative to the vampire mythology and legends. A more rational and probable reason for it. Certainly there are inherent similarities with pop-cult vampire lore, and even Ad Astra has a panel discussion about Vampires (and I wonder if Peter’s Vampires will be included?).

    Therefore the fantasy aspect is really aimed at Jukka types, which in and of itself is a bit more shocking since it is saying that the prey is attracted to the predator, with all of its attendant assumptions, ramifications and possible outcomes.

    Reproductive strategies aside, humans are sexual beings, and as such this would be a probable issue regarding the fact that humans do not necessarily, if usually, mate because of reproduction and do not only do so because of being in heat per se. The other reasons are why.

    The social aspect as to human females and this issue can be quite loaded and controversial, as I myself have read articles on “such things”. Suffice to say that it has something to do with female sexuality and all that that engenders and carries across human history and life.

    Yes, I am beating around the bush, I do not really want to say specifically what it is that I am driving at, but I hope the drift is sensed.

  127. @Tommaso Zillio who said and coined: ““neurosteampunk”. Cool!

    “Peter ‘Neurosteampunk’ Watts” ~ has a futuristic-dude ring to it.

    and in response to Peter’s statement: “And all you people who encouraged me to stay true to my rigor will have no one but yourselves to blame”, Tommaso said: “All hail the mighty infodump! it’s one of the reasons we are reading you. Don’t you love to write for a masochistic audience?”

    Exactly! :) See Peter, there is a reason why you gotta suffer for your art of writing hard brain-workout stuff…

  128. Hljóðlegur said: “I think cooperation amongst male Blampires is dodgy at best. But related female cats work cooperatively to some extent for baby-care, as do female primates, so I would assume that if any Blampires would bridge the non-cooperation gap imposed by their physiology, it would be sets of related females, sets of sisters, especially.”

    For some reason, I am also reminded of elephants, where the females rule and group, usually related females, sisters, mothers and daughters, taking care of the young and boot the males out to go seek and rut…

  129. Yay, I read through this whole newscrawl. (I actually printed it off in hardcopy so I could make red pencil marks near things I wanted to respond to) (Yeah, and that is why my postings are one after another as if I am spamming Peter’s blog! Since I am fitting in responding to some of the many issues, points and potential discussions that I am finding stimulating).

    I must say that there is such a level of brain power on here that it is a bit intimidating, but terribly exhilarating.

    I don’t mind confessing that my level of brain power and knowledge on some stuff is not up to par, but at least I can understand and follow along, but still there are a few words, concepts or nerdy-hard scifi insider stuff I will not find in my lousy dictionary. I’m intelligent, but dumber than some on here. :)

    I suppose the test, the bar to get over, to post on Peter’s blog may be at the bare minimum, the ability to read, understand, enjoy and like his books, stories and writings.

    Kanys L. said: “sometimes it IS the quiet ones you have to watch out for.”

    Yeah. This is exactly what I tell some people regarding me.

    V said: One of the things I appreciate about the society we live in is when it gives us opportunities to build masculinities and femininities that are more than that…”

    I am interpreting this to mean that which is beyond the socially constrained “norms” of he-man and she-woman, but something other as in along an everchanging scale in flux whereupon someone who is “shemale” or transgendered, or someone who is hermaphroditic, would not have to choose between two rigid and strict concepts of human gender and sex-based categories…as in Lola, L-O-L-A, boys will be girls and girls will be boys it’s a mixed up crazy world…

    @Hljóðlegur ~ Sheep should only be scared if they are ewes…

    Re: Genetic Perfection and the pursuit of it, I would hope most people would not find this appealing. Certainly there are some people who want to pick for traits, as in females going to sperm banks filled with the sperm of men with selective traits for intelligence, tall height, racial/ethnic ancestry, a clean medical history, not a criminal, not a sociopath, etc. This is allowed.

    What I find interesting is that several unrelated females end up with the sperm of the same man, and therefore their children are all half-siblings. Then there was a doctor who was giving his own sperm to every woman he was helping with infertility problems, so he effectively preempted his patient’s rights and choices by assuming his sperm would create superior and viable progeny.

    If one were to say compare the issues that inbreeding amongst humans has caused by attempting to maximize the favored genetic material, as many royals of the past had done, then you see all sorts of problems, mutations or problematic recessive genes cropping up and manifesting themselves in the phenotype or in some traceable defects all along the family history tree.

    The husbandry of domesticated dogs is a good other species example of this where the pure breeds have more problems due to the inbreeding for superior traits that would hopefully win a dog show, but the poor dog suffers from congential defects or compounded problems that are inherent in a specific breed. Mixed breed and mutt dogs fair much better.

    Another example would be thoroughbred horses bred for their speed, beauty and body type, but what has resulted are the tragedies like Barbaro, and that lovely filly, where the weight of these horses on such long spindly legs with weakened leg bones/ankles results in horrible leg, ankle and hoof breaks that you really cannot save the horse.

    All sorts of ethical questions are raised as to what constitutes the balancing of breeding for favorable traits against the potential suffering of the bred life form.

    Certainly in the plant world, especially amongst flowers, all sort of types and hybrids are produced driven by the beauty loving humans and the pleasure given by the appearance and scent of flowers. The difference between flora and fauna is that we humans ascribe suffering only amongst animals, therefore the ethical issues only apply to animals.

    As to introvert/extrovert and judgers/perceivers ~ I am so superduper glad I am INPF (Briggs-Myers test). Yeah, the still waters run very deep for me. What a racket this world be, even more so than it already is if there were solely extroverts. It certainly was not easy being so introverted, quiet, lefthandy, right brained, pegged as “aloof, anti-social, awkwardly shy and not leader-like” just because I was not like the so-called majority.

    I can’t understand why and how some humans can talk so darn much. I suppose that my inherent nature biases me to liken human chatty yacky tendencies as being “noise pollution”. Man, every single day at work, it is something to deal with. Hence the sonic escape via music. But of course, there has to be diversity, variety and balance. As long as I can find some hidey-hole escape pod of silence after the pummeling my brain takes from the daily gossip, high volume drag down conversations and stink talk… :)

    01 said: “It appears reasonable that from a strictly evolutionary perspective, being perceived as sex object is vastly better than being perceived as a walking pile of protocadherins as far as encounters with Blampires are concerned.”

    I agree with this. But of course, much better to save yourself from swift and certain death, (although I do not at the moment recall if Peter had stated just how Blindsight vampires kill their prey, as in quick kill, or is it something more painfully aware slashy like wht Siri was given a bit of), and most likely have to surrender or submit to Blampire reproductive strategies instead. However, some humans would fight to the death rather than be raped.

    Also, the concept of “sex object” would most likely be different from the human concept, especially since this concept is influenced by today’s standards, and not what it may be like in the far speculative future and not at all what is , unknowable (until Peter does some illuminating) as to what exactly is the so-called sexuality of Blampires.

    Alright, alright, I will say it clearly then, what is not being addressed is whether Blampires also have sexual intercourse for purely pleasure and not just reproductive strategies as in rut for progeny only. This could be a difference between humans and Blampires, therefore that would up the probability that human females would not have any sort of positive experience of bit piece out of such an act if male Blampires were not interested in even their own kind enjoying such an act.

    So this then circles on back to that forcible copulation behavior. As well as the incredulous notion as to why then, would any female human find a Jukka Sarasti hot?

    That social implications stuff I was alluding to with regard to female humans and stuff like this is somewhat of a no-no, but I have read articles recently in women’s magazine regarding this thing about women and that stuff. The stuff is controversial as well as said to be “normal”. So I will leave it there.

  130. Hljóðlegur ~ Have you seen this video about an egg? :)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1z-XTeyV8Dk

  131. @01 who said: “I was referring to Siri, who is, or rather was, somewhat like a philosophical zombie…”
    Alright, I read your sentence as a continuation of Jukka, but now I see you were referring to Siri. :) I felt sorry for him too.

    @01 & Jason Stackhouse re: echolocation. A few years ago there was a news report on people who did just this, and they were shown to click their way around inside their home as well as outside. The analogy to bat echolocation was made.

    There is a group of people in Africa who communicate via clicks.

    It is known that those who lose one sense seem to gain or acquire a greater capacity of any of the other human senses. Those born blind, I have found, seem to have quite accute hearing. It was rather eerie when a nude art model, in one of my college drawing classes, who was blind, would pretty much “look” at people based on her hearing, and it was not necessarily based upon someone talking to her. She was accurate almost all of the time. I volunteered to walk her to her ride across the campus and she did not need much help from me leading her along.

    Sometimes I find it easier to close my eyes and navigate thusly in the dark rather than try to see in the dark and walk about. I also use my hands to feel my way around. Sometimes I experiment with walking about in areas I am familiar with in the very early morning, still dark like the night, with my eyes closed. Memory, of course plays a part, but trying to sense your surroundings is an interesting exercise in really connecting with other senses beyond vision. I also sometimes close my eyes in order to hear something better. I think the inherent distractions of vision are part of the reason.

  132. @keanani:

    Hmmm, so your sweetie thinks Jukka is hot and you think the above is hot. What is it with some of us humans and attraction to the dangerous?

    Dunno.
    I realize that by any stretch of imagination, female Blindsight vampires aren’t supposed to be attractive (behaviorally, they are monsters, physically they are “unusual” at the very least) and yet…um…for some reason, I’m ~cough~ inclined to believe they are “hot”…
    Yes, that’s odd.

    Are human evaluations of sexual attractiveness supposed to make any sense ? :)…

    BTW, I’ve sent the link to my gf, so expect her to comment sooner or later.

  133. @keanani
    “There is a group of people in Africa who communicate via clicks.”

    The Khosian languages, some Bantu… click consonants are almost unheard of outside South and East Africa, at least as a backbone of daily language.

    IIRC, Jared Diamond makes a compelling argument (though tracing linguistic drift) for the earliest of human languages being click-intensive. He traced shared word forms across several languages and demonstrated that words lose, but never seem to gain, clicks.

    All that aside, though? They sound *awesome*.

  134. Oh, my…this thread grows too fast!

    Where should I start… Oh boy, perhaps with rape?
    Okay…

    @keanani & Hljóðlegur

    While I generally agree with the sentiment that “rape” in animals does not offer a perfect model of rape in humans (well, what that would be a silly thing to demand anyways), it seems to me that technically, you don’t need a capacity for legal consent to establish behavior as being “close enough” to rape. You don’t need a capacity for distinct eloquent will or self-awareness.

    See, while we can’t really establish the nature (or even the very presence) of a subjective experience in animals, we can establish the fundamental similarity of certain physiological and behavioral response. While it is impossible to ascertain the presence of “suffering” in, say a duck (suffering as a self-aware experience, a-la “OMG! that hurts like hell!”, complete with an internal narrative and shit-whatnot), it is most certainly possible to establish a pain response, and most certainly possible to ascertain presence of fear response, etc. etc. etc.
    So, we can at least be reasonably sure that ducks (oh, let’s keep with the ducks, they are such a lovely example :D) have something that is pretty similar to what we call “pain”, something that is pretty similar to what we call “fear” etc. etc.

    So, what about rape? … um, okay, I’m getting there.

    Let’s agree that a certain species of duck (um, let’s say Anas plathyrhynchos, the most common “offender”) has a set of specific, consistent “pain” responses, a set of specific, consistent flight responses somewhat functionally similar to what one could call “fear” in a human context…Not a big deal.

    Now, let’s review mating behaviors of said species ( aaaargh!…). Let’s see, there is the “vanilla” pairing behavior, which is not associated with any dramatic responses consistent with pain and/or fear.

    And there is a very different situation when a female is targeted by a group of males, and demonstrates all classic “fear” responses, and only them. At no point does the female change this behavior, going out of its way to avoid the “gang”. Males proceed to chase, strike down, peck and harass the female duck until it is too tired to resist. At this point they proceed to take turns in copulating with this female (female tries to avoid this, but is usually too exhausted, also, apparent pain responses can be often observed here, too)

    The picture is so apparently violent that it has earned a semi-official term, “Rape Flight” (because female tries to fly away, is chased, struck down and, well, see above)

    Fun fact 1 sometimes, this results in female duck’s death due to inflicted injuries.

    Fun fact 2 this stuff is so traumatic (in a very basic, physiological sense) that a selective pressure favoring females that don’t bear “rapist offspring” has arisen. Natural response of “rapist ducks” to anti-rape adaptations that have arisen, is, of course, more of the same. That is, more elaborate tools and increased rate of forced copulations to compensate for decreasing per-act fertilization rate.

    I am fairly certain that, given the presence of a non-violent variant of mating behavior, the violent alternative can be called “rape like”, at the very least.

    Oh, by the way, what would a nice, mated male duck do if a gang of not-so-nice males rape its mate?
    <fun fact 3 At least in some species, it will attempt to rape the rapists and/or rape its mate. No, really. Honest, I’m not making this up. Here, a nice paper about nice mated mallards: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/short/197/4305/788

    Thus, whenever you feel bad about anything, just think about how awesome it is that we are ape-descendants, not mallard-descendants.
    That’s a very happy thought right there.

    Now, about human rape in human ancestral environments.
    While our savanna-dwelling ancestors didn’t have the legal framework to establish rape in the sense we do so now, and likely had a rather different concept of “rape” (likely a more bare-bone, constrained one), it is likely that from a strictly behavioral perspective, both “consensual (woman is conscious, does not resist) and non-consensual (woman is forcibly rendered unconscious, or remains conscious and offers an apparent degree of resistance) coitus existed.
    The study in question would benefit from having a definition of “rape” more in line with the most bare-bone, violent forms that would likely be predominant in ancestral environment (because seriously, some states in US recognize sex obtained through fraud as rape, which would most certainly be utter nonsense as far as cave-dwelling primitives are concerned), but it’s good enough for the purposes for which I used it in this discussion – that is, to demonstrate that currently, there isn’t any coherent evidence suggesting that rape was a disadvantageous strategy in ancestral environment, and that the opposite hypothesis (that is, the one that states that it was a rather successful strategy over a pretty large chunk of human evolutionary history) is the subject of active (if not exactly flawless) debate.

    Oh.
    Well…

    @01
    Re: Best colors
    Man, what an encounter. I’ve sent an email to your old “bad” mailbox. Check that festering pile of spam you have there.

    @01
    Re: Female blampires
    Human sexuality makes no sense.
    I though everyone above age of 30 sort of got used to it. It’s just the way it is (I, for one, blame the vampires, because it is very pleasant to blame a hypothetical entity that can’t strike back at you ;) )

    @ keanani
    Re: vampire pleasure responses
    “”Alright, alright, I will say it clearly then, what is not being addressed is whether Blampires also have sexual intercourse for purely pleasure and not just reproductive strategies as in rut for progeny only. This could be a difference between humans and Blampires, therefore that would up the probability that human females would not have any sort of positive experience of bit piece out of such an act if male Blampires were not interested in even their own kind enjoying such an act.”"

    Well, given that they were more or less close to humans, that sexual “experiences” are profoundly dependent on ancient brain structures that have a notable degree of similarity between mammals, and that Blampires were supposed to have, per Blindsight, a degree of self-awareness (less than humans, but still), it is quite reasonable to conclude that Blampires do derive a sort of subjectively experienced pleasure from sexual acts.

    However, that would not mean that a Blampire would be capable of considering his/her/its “partner”‘s pleasure, unless some external pressure would urge the Blampire to imitate such a considerate behavior.

    A shitton of humans do not care about their partner’s experience despite being fully aware and capable of experiencing sexual pleasure.
    Why would a Blampire care?

    @Jason Stackhouse

    On “clicks”.

    Those languages are mentioned in Blindsight’s notes&refs (it’s stated that Blampires have a sort of click-based, Hadzane -like protolanguage hardwired, hence their click-ticks)

    That, combined with an article on humans using “clicks” for echolocation, gave me the idea regarding a click-echolocating bind female Blampire (which seems relatively plausible, since they have been stated to have hardwired “click reactions” anyways), and thus the “(girl)friend for you” ad-hoc roleplay thread 01 posted above was born.

  135. A sunny, breezy Hawai’i day…my afternoon reading was this:

    Our Earliest Ancestors by Ann Gibbons
    http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/The-Human-Familys-Earliest-Ancestors.html

    Smithsonian Magazine, March 2010 Volume 40, No. 12 (pp. 34-41)
    http://www.smithsonianmag.com/issue/March_2010.html

    Ardi is a real cutie :)

  136. We can certainly learn from nature ~ female South American cane toads inflate their bodies by puffing up with air in order to thwart a male she does not want to mate with, as well as help prevent drowning when a whole bunch pile, latching on to her.

    A female human full of platitudinous piffle like a bloated balloon high on helium could perhaps get a similar result.

  137. RandomJ said: “A shitton of humans do not care about their partner’s experience despite being fully aware and capable of experiencing sexual pleasure.”

    But of course! Thanks, a new word for me to learn ~ “shitton”. :)

    I was thinking more so of the life form on the receiving end of the advances as deciding what to do vased upon all of this, and that.

    “Why would a Blampire care?” Indeed. :)

  138. More fun stuff!

    New early human species announced
    http://humanorigins.si.edu/resources/whats-hot/new-early-human-species-announced

    Smithsonian Human Origins Program
    http://humanorigins.si.edu/

  139. @RandomJ

    “While I generally agree with the sentiment that “rape” in animals does not offer a perfect model of rape in humans (well, what that would be a silly thing to demand anyways), it seems to me that technically, you don’t need a capacity for legal consent to establish behavior as being “close enough” to rape. You don’t need a capacity for distinct eloquent will or self-awareness.”

    I wanted to say as much, myself, but couldn’t quite get past the subjective human baggage “rape” carries. It seems that, especially with species practicing traumatic insemination or lacking courtship altogether, that ‘eloquent will or self-awareness’ are quite beside the point :)

    Wait a minute. Shitton. You from Upstate NY?

  140. (“Hey, let’s talk about hardwired rape behavior and then tell each other where we live!” Permission to lie: granted.)

    heh

  141. RandomJ: I am fairly certain that, given the presence of a non-violent variant of mating behavior, the violent alternative can be called “rape like”, at the very least.

    You’re projecting human concepts onto the ducks.

    I think we need a different word from “rape” when volition cannot be established. For instance, there are animals where the standard mating procedure is to grab the female and, while she screams, inseminate her. In that case, are you going to claim that because the female is in a fear state and screams, that every instance of such a species mating is “rape”?

    No, it’s just their pre-programmed procedure. Rape is a human legal and moral term. Some men and women enjoy being subdued, experiencing a fear response, and being penetrated while they are pinned, or so I hear, and yet it’s not rape, because they consented to it. From the outside, the act looks exactly the same as a rape. The crucial determinant is whether the person being subdued consented.

    The moment you can ask the duck if she consents, and she can reply, we’ll talk.

  142. @Hljóðlegur

    “I think we need a different word from “rape” when volition cannot be established. For instance, there are animals where the standard mating procedure is to grab the female and, while she screams, inseminate her. In that case, are you going to claim that because the female is in a fear state and screams, that every instance of such a species mating is “rape”?”

    Oh, it’s still rape. IANAB, but it seems that, in species lacking a courtship structure, the ability of a male to force themselves on an actively resisting female is a concrete test of fitness. If it -wasn’t- rape, anyone could do it.

    It doesn’t carry the same moral weight as human-on-human rape, certainly; you’re exactly correct that it is meaningless to apply human moral judgements to other species. (When the aliens land, I will regret those words.)

  143. Hljóðlegur said: “Some men and women enjoy being subdued, experiencing a fear response, and being penetrated while they are pinned, or so I hear, and yet it’s not rape, because they consented to it.”

    This is the stuff I was referring to that I read about in recent woman’s magazines about female sexuality. It was likened to or even labeled “rape fantasy”, however, the notion was really one of surrendering or submitting in consent after the “struggle” and not being forced to engage in the act via force.

    The books out there that women are eating up is chock full of this scenario and iterations thereof.

    I think that crossing the line threshold from role-playing fantasy to nonconsensual forcible copulation or penetration in humans, is the giving or denying of consent.

    The problem arises when the consent turns into nonconsent, as in one person changing their mind because perhaps she or he did not realize what they were getting themself into, or just plain old chickening out, which as humans, we do, and have the right to do. This then leads to what is actual consent and when was it given? Once consent is given is it too late to retract it?

    When someone says “no” or “stop” at any point, that should be the end of the activity.

    You really have to know and trust the person to engage in something of this nature, in order to be safe and secure, confident that “no” means no at whatever point it is chosen.

    Fear response, some anticipatory thrill excitement or going out of one’s comfort zone are also reasons why people go to scary horror movies, ride rollercoasters, bungee jump or take a flying leap off of rocks into the ocean below.

    Freedom, for humans at least, includes that consenting adults can do what they want in the privacy of their personal space and relationship.

  144. @Jason Stackhouse

    “”Wait a minute. Shitton. You from Upstate NY?”

    Actually, I’m from Moscow. Yes, that Moscow. The cold one.

    I just like the word “shitton” ;)

    @Hljóðlegur

    “”You’re projecting human concepts onto the ducks. “”

    I had begun projecting human concepts onto the ducks the moment I claimed that ducks have something notably similar to “pain” and something notably close to “fear” (we don’t know for sure if those are truly similar to pain and fear we experience, we just observe notably similar behavior in response to similar stimuli)

    Also, I acknowledge that there is a degree of difference, hence using “rape like”, not just “rape”

    “”For instance, there are animals where the standard mating procedure is to grab the female and, while she screams, inseminate her. In that case, are you going to claim that because the female is in a fear state and screams, that every instance of such a species mating is “rape”?”"

    It’s notably rape-like.

    I would also try to see if female demonstrates evasive behavior before the procedure, throughout the procedure and immediately after it.
    If it does (true for ducks, that’s why they are poster-boys of rape in nonhumans, together with bottlenose dolphins), this becomes even more rape-like.

    “”No, it’s just their pre-programmed procedure. “”

    So, it has to be a (mostly or entirely) acquired behavior to qualify as rape?
    Doesn’t such definition of rape presuppose absence or, at the very least, insignificance of genetic influences in formation of such behavior?

    Don’t get me wrong. Rape is, to a very large degree, a cultural construct. Just like gender.
    However, just like with gender, there seems to be a notable biological influence determining the formation of this phenomenon.

    I am pretty sure, for instance, that if some hypothetical country (“Crapdesertstan”) made rape of its female citizens perfectly legal for anyone who buys a proper license (~5000 USD / month, because Crapdesertstan really needs money of them foreign tourists), the nature of subjective experience of Crapdesertstan’s female citizens would not change just because Crapdesertstan has a shitty culture, a shitty government, and a legal system that rules every act between a woman and a license-holder consensual (even if the act results in injury or death of the receiving party)

    “”Some men and women enjoy being subdued, experiencing a fear response, and being penetrated while they are pinned, or so I hear, and yet it’s not rape, because they consented to it.”"

    Ouch. Now that’s a touchy subject, ouch. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.

    *inhales deeply*

    Okay… first and foremost, sometimes (no safe words, no typical roleplay aspects, etc) there is no way for a third party (law enforcement, etc) to ascertain consent in such a relationship, so it’s only “not rape” until one of the partners decides to screw over the other one, for some reason (human beings can be very mean, you know…)

    However, if I was a hypothetical third party very hard-pressed to try and draw some kind of line that could live up to the challenge of objectivity at least partially… I’d check if there are consistent signs of PTSD and avoidant behavior in any of the parties involved.

    Presence of those would raise a red flag, for sure.

    @keanani

    “”I think that crossing the line threshold from role-playing fantasy to nonconsensual forcible copulation or penetration in humans, is the giving or denying of consent.

    The problem arises when the consent turns into nonconsent, as in one person changing their mind because perhaps she or he did not realize what they were getting themself into, or just plain old chickening out, which as humans, we do, and have the right to do. This then leads to what is actual consent and when was it given? Once consent is given is it too late to retract it?

    When someone says “no” or “stop” at any point, that should be the end of the activity.”"

    What if, * hypothetically*, the receiving party (the one that plays the “victim” role in a hypothetical rough “rape fantasy” BDSM session) does not want “No” and “Stop” to be recognized as safe words (and there is a certain technicality revolving around the fact that “safe words” only work as long as there is no gag in the scenario)?

  145. P.S.: Why does everyone have a fancy avatar, and I seem to have something so faint it that it is barely even visible? Is there a way to change it?

  146. Man, did it the blog software just eat my long, long response to Hljóðlegur and everyone else, or is it just being held for moderation?

  147. Science news related to things vampiric:

    “Blood groups can be converted”
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/6517137.stm

    @RandomJ ~ My avatar, or what I was calling “identifier square” isn’t fancy. :) However I do like mine cause it looks like a Hawaiian Maile Lei unspooling…

    Some people seem to have their own personal avatars, the rest of us got what we got when we first posted here. Ask Peter if you can have another one. Sure it’s faint, but it is pretty. :)

    One thing I learned, if your post is in mod, then YOU will see this on your computer on this blog, stating that your post is awaiting moderation. If you post and it seems like it bounced into no man’s land, then it may be lost. Hard to tell. One time I posted, and it seemed to be bounced perhaps like spam, then I later reposted, and lo and behold the original one posted so it was a double post.

    Best thing to do is to copy and paste your potential posting and save it elsewhere, just in case.

    Here is something I posted many hours ago and it has not surfaced:

    More fun Stuff!

    New early human species announced
    http://humanorigins.si.edu/resources/whats-hot/new-early-human-species-announced

    Smithsonian Human Origins Program
    http://humanorigins.si.edu/

  148. @keanani
    I was thinking more so of the life form on the receiving end of the advances as deciding what to do vased upon all of this, and that.

    While risking to come off as a dim and insensitive person, I have to inquire as to why would a person who happens to be on the receiving end of a vampire’s “advances” care about whether said vampire is capable of experiencing subjective pleasure / engaging in purely recreational sex?

    The only positive way in which a blindsight vampire’s capacity for recreational coitus might affect the person on the receiving end is that it might encourage blampire to use a condom… which isn’t that much of an improvement, IMHO….

    @RandomJ
    P.S.: Why does everyone have a fancy avatar, and I seem to have something so faint it that it is barely even visible? Is there a way to change it?

    It has to do with gravatars and your luck. Check out http://en.gravatar.com/

  149. @01 who said: While risking to come off as a dim and insensitive person, I have to inquire as to why would a person who happens to be on the receiving end of a vampire’s “advances” care about whether said vampire is capable of experiencing subjective pleasure / engaging in purely recreational sex?”

    No, not at all. :) I was not clear perhaps as to what I was trying to say. It is the “person who happens to be on the receiving end of a vampire’s ‘advances’” of whom I was speaking, and not the vampire, as to “experiencing subjective pleasure / engaging in purely recreational sex” in regard to deciding whether to submit or fight to the death.

    Therefore the choice as what to do or not to do is upon the one being “attacked”.

    The choice as whether to comply, enduring pain, or not to do so and possibly die.

    I was factoring in the idea that if male vampires did not care or give female vampires any sort of pleasure or other physical positive in the mating act, then would this not factor into what female humans would choose to do?

    The confusion as to what I was trying to analogize regarding vampire mating, was whether female humans are treated the same way as a female vampire would be. My questioning was thusly premised upon the issue that if a female vampire was forced to copulate, and the experience was not favorable for her, then what options does a female human really have? I then factored in the thorny question of whether vampire sexual relations had any positive benefits, other than possible reproduction of offspring?

    Bluntly put, as my questioning mind has not seen anything definitively stated by Peter that Blindsight vampire sexual relations are anything but a painful and violent affair, is there the possibility that since it is quite obvious both male humans and male vampires by possession of that sperm shooter, and their sex drive is partly driven by their needs (as in sexual pleasure and tension release) that females, vampire or human would also experience some physical pleasure? Why? Well would not males not want to keep females around who endured sex and bore offspring for them to have some sort of bond with them?

    If the bond for a female human is not going to be anything warm and fuzzy with a vampire suitor, then what is it going to be? Fear? Life or death? Some sort of physical bonding? Is wanting to stay alive, period, more powerful than having to repeatedly endure fear, pain, being attacked and living like a brood mare?

    However, you did bring up another angle perhaps, and that being whether a human female would cause something akin to bonding in her submission and compliance with her aggressive “suitor”.

    if I have missed something about Blindsight reproductive strategies that has clearly leveled my questioning on this issue, please point that out. I do not recall seeing anything of that sort.

    Perhaps in light of this, even though the evidence thus far seemingly proves Blindsight vampires, males particularly, since we really only had Jukka to “get to know”, are most likely not feeling sorts of fellas, there has been no depiction whatsoever as to whether the sex-drive being similar or different from the hunger-drive. That is why I am questioning this. Just curious.

    Only Peter knows the answer to this question. Any one of us can come to our own conclusions or assumptions, but since I am female, I will take the side of the girls, both human and vampire, and give voice to their sexual rights. :)

  150. @keanani – This is the stuff I was referring to that I read about in recent woman’s magazines about female sexuality.

    Don’t believe one word you read in “women’s” magazines about anything, much less female sexuality.

    Women’s magazines are designed to do one thing: sell more women’s magazines. Check the covers sometime. They are engineered to make women feel insecure and in need of improvement , so they will buy the damn thing to get guidance on how to improve. THEY ARE NOT YOUR FRIEND. They are hucksters with their greedy hands in your wallet.

    My favorite example was catching sight of one in line at the grocery, the cover of which had in big letters something like, “HOW TO TAME THOSE THIGH TROUBLE SPOTS,” and below it, “10 Easy New Dessert Recipes Your Family Will Love!”

    @Jason and Random –

    I still have to object to the word “rape” or “rape-like” when it applies to ducks or anything else whose conscious state we can not at least in some nominal way verify.

    This is why: words that imply consent imply or volition may lead us to seriously wrong or at least insupportable conclusions. It is unscientific to begin with a dangerous untestable assumption as axiom and start postulating from there. It leads us into error. (Prolly one reason so much of sociobio chaps my butt.)

    Words that imply are especially bad, because even if we declare the implications as void for this usage, they creep back when you start discussing. It’s unavoidable. That’s one reason individual disciplines have their terms of art, to avoid just such traps. It distinguishes science from politics, for instance.

    I would have a similar objection if you tried to tell me that ducks “love” each other when they have pair-bonded non-violent sex: that is unsupportable and poor thinking.

    @ RandomJ specifically – *inhales deeply*

    Okay… first and foremost, sometimes … there is no way for a third party …to ascertain consent in such a relationship, so it’s only “not rape” until one of the partners decides to screw over the other one, for some reason (human beings can be very mean, you know…)

    *ding-ding-ding*

    Exactly. The definition of sexual activity, even when we restrict ourselves to human beings, where the descriptor “rape” rightly belongs, is still muddy, right? It’s not something where a dispassionate third party can observe and 100% of the time make a determination that “rape” has occurred. And we can talk to the parties involved about their intent and violition, unlike with the ducks!

    This makes the case of observing duck “gang rape-ishness” even more hopeless. Heck, once we allow me to imagine the duckette as suffering a rape scenario, then why am I not allowed to imagine a tragic duck group S&M scenario that simply got out of hand? Mallard #2: But she never quacked the safeword! I had no idea she was drowning!

    You see where I am going? Using human words for non-human behaviors can lead to some pretty dodgy imaginings, because we project other human attributes once we start down that road.

    That’s all I’m saying.

  151. Hmmm, apparently I misunderstood what “infodump” means. If it is a negative connotation, then that is not what I mean, sorry. :)

    What, exactly does it mean? To dump a lot of information?

    I am still learning the terminology.

  152. @keanani

    Regarding Blampire reproductive behavior and their capacity to feel pleasure…

    For one, lack of such capacity in males would imply lack of such capacity in females (unless Blampires have crazy sexual dimorphism of CNS).
    Which would make Blampire-on-Blampire action really, really odd – basically, something along the lines of an automatism ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automatic_behavior ). That does completely resolve the “cospecific hate” problem they have, though.

    It also makes one wonder whether reasoning capacity is intact in such state (would a vampire recognize immediate danger if threatened during coitus?)

    Implications for human/Blampire relationships… well, for one, lack of any “rational bonding” (see below). All in all, really weird scenario.
    More importantly, given the fact that Blampires are closely related to humans, a rather implausible one.

    Now, if Blampires do have “sexual pleasure” and capacity for recreational sex…
    The effect on Blampire / Blampire sex is quite more complex. It depends whether their “mutual hate response” can be overridden by sexual arousal (not unlikely) or, in case of “hate response” in female, placated via “courtship bribe” in form of food (yup, like in some spiders). The latter, or combination of the two options, would provide ample amounts of nightmare fuel narrative-wise.

    The effect on human/Blampire sex would be, most notably, possibility of “rational bonding”. See, even while Blampires are terrible sociopaths, they are supposed to be extremely smart ones, thus if they derive some pleasure from sex, and can use sex for recreational purposes, they would value a sufficiently…*cough*…”pleasing” human partner more than they would value “other meat”, just due to realizing that, pardone moi, another good fuck is harder to find than another random walking protocadherin pile.

    Though what exactly would such a creature consider “sufficiently pleasing partner” is a very open question, and might vary between different vampires (after all, even cats have sexual preferences).

    P.S.:
    Just in case Peter finds any of the above freeform musings to be of use, I follow 01′s example and hereby state that I do not claim any rights in regards to the content of this comment.

    P.P.S.:
    To lighten the mood (all this talk of rapist vampires is a mite…uncanny), here’s a Jukka Sarasti motivator born from 01′s witty one-liner: http://i718.photobucket.com/albums/ww190/VR1/motivatore7f13db8916fcedd8809f76519.jpg

    “”Hmmm, apparently I misunderstood what “infodump” means. If it is a negative connotation, then that is not what I mean, sorry. :)

    What, exactly does it mean? To dump a lot of information?”"

    Something like that.

    A very classical, crude infodump goes like this: RandomJ looked at her, perplexed “What, you… really never heard about abzymes? Oh well. Long story short, it was observed that certain antibodies typical for Lupus erythematosus and certain other autoimmune diseases exhibit unusual… cue 2-20 kb of pure unadulterated immunology ;).
    This can affect the pace and integrity of narrative. A lot. And thus requires a degree of care when used.

    @Hljóðlegur

    “”I still have to object to the word “rape” or “rape-like” when it applies to ducks or anything else whose conscious state we can not at least in some nominal way verify.”"

    Why don’t you object to the use of term “pain” in regards to animals? After all, we can not ascertain the cognitive equivalence of “our” pain and the animal’s experience (or even the existence of said experience). Only behavioral similarity.

    “”Exactly. The definition of sexual activity, even when we restrict ourselves to human beings, where the descriptor “rape” rightly belongs, is still muddy, right? It’s not something where a dispassionate third party can observe and 100% of the time make a determination that “rape” has occurred. And we can talk to the parties involved about their intent and violition, unlike with the ducks!

    This makes the case of observing duck “gang rape-ishness” even more hopeless. Heck, once we allow me to imagine the duckette as suffering a rape scenario, then why am I not allowed to imagine a tragic duck group S&M scenario that simply got out of hand? Mallard #2: But she never quacked the safeword! I had no idea she was drowning!”"

    Like I said later on, a third party might attempt to unravel the situation by observing post-incident behavior.

    More generally, as far as I can see, whimsical hypothetical duck BDSM aside, it boils down to whether there can be some consent-equivalent and “volition”-equivalent (definition problem here, see below) in a non self-aware entity.

    I think that’s a very…Blindsight-y question :D

    Assuming horses are NOT self-aware (that’s separate can of worms), would a particular horse that only lets you ride it after being fed some sugar be “giving consent” for being employed in the role of transport vehicle (and denying consent for being used as transport should man fail to yield sugar)?

    If so, why?

    “”You see where I am going? Using human words for non-human behaviors can lead to some pretty dodgy imaginings, because we project other human attributes once we start down that road.

    That’s all I’m saying.”"

    Well, then we’d better start the terminological purge with terms like “fear” and “pain” and “hunger”.

    Because we can’t ascertain whether an animal’s “fear”, “pain” and “hunger” are equivalent to human fear, pain, and hunger.

    P.S.:
    The definition problem – how do you define “volition”? This is important, because under some definitions, my roomba can be said to have “volition”.

    @01

    “”It has to do with gravatars and your luck. Check out http://en.gravatar.com/“”

    Apparently I’m outta luck.

    The site does not allow me to register because “account already exists” (I didn’t create no account on WordPress or gravatar, dammit!) but does not allow to reset password because “account already exists”

    Yer fancy com-pewtors hate me…

  153. @ RandomJ

    regarding

    http://i718.photobucket.com/albums/ww190/VR1/motivatore7f13db8916fcedd8809f76519.jpg

    I bow a deep bow.

    Question: would that work better as a t-shirt or a mug? I want that image in my life.

  154. from the thread that would not die: links ahoy Mateys!

    http://forums.spacebattles.com/showthread.php?t=148242

    the blindsight fanfic (context: blampire reproduction) has been mentioned on rifters before. Oddly enough, the previous context also involved the word “rape”

    http://www.rifters.com/crawl/?p=502

  155. Reading this thread had me musing. And I’m sure all of this has been said in multiple places before, but just to reiterate: Why do people like vampires? Well, why do they like cat girls? Why do they like FPSes with chicks in tight leather? It’s all about sex and violence. (Admittedly my second two examples are very male, but there seem to be enough more feminine chicks on this thread to give their own examples).

    Because we are vampires, in a very real way, and that seems to be a concept at the core of “Blindsight”. It seems fitting that they would show up in the work of a man so fascinated with the parts of our brains that are not us, the parts of brains which are invulnerable to us-ness.

    So if Blampires are violently atavistic in terms of violence, why should we expect anything different in the sex department? Part of the interplay between Siri’s memories and what we see of Jukka seems to reinforce that on some level sex is ultimately about power. It isn’t just that, and Mr. Watts allows for that because he understands gray areas.

    But seriously, why else do you think rape and molestation happen? Because men (or women) who feel like alphas and want to keep their position, or omegas who want to gain one, express their desire for or ownership of power through sexual violence. Not just violence, sexual violence. Because even more than just plain violence, sexual violence gives you shame as a weapon. How else can you hurt and invade someone so badly that it is as if they were enchanted by one of those evil spells that keeps them from being able to speak about what has occurred? That’s one of the reasons you see so much violence in situations where people feel powerless, or feel the need to express their power. Prisons, border crossings, courtrooms, families, churches, schools, barracks . . . show me anywhere humans live within a hierarchy, and I’ll show you a place where sexual violence happens.

    And why ultimately do we want vampires? Because we want power over the parts of ourselves that resembles them, even as we give into those parts of ourselves by wanting them. It is positively Escherian. We love vampires because they are flawless and smooth and sure of themselves, and because they remind us why we want to be human. Sometimes, as with Twilight I suspect, people forget the value of humanity.

    A world ruled by Blampires is definitely one in which a woman raised adhering to a rigid church would encourage young girls to go get pregnant by and marry alpha male monsters.
    Sex can be human and loving, but perhaps one reason sexual impulses end up in the “evil” bin in some cultures is that it can be hideous and self-serving and atavistic as well. Just like humans, it can be monstrous or sublime.

  156. @rm3154

    “”I bow a deep bow.

    Question: would that work better as a t-shirt or a mug? I want that image in my life.”"

    IMHO, it would work on a mug “as is” (that is, motivator printed on a black mug would work “right out of the box”)

    Getting it to work on a T-Shirt is possible, but would require one to get a mite more creative.

    “”from the thread that would not die: links ahoy Mateys!

    http://forums.spacebattles.com/showthread.php?t=148242

    the blindsight fanfic (context: blampire reproduction) has been mentioned on rifters before. Oddly enough, the previous context also involved the word “rape””"

    Ha ha, two tastes that…*cough* ;)

  157. Well, then we’d better start the terminological purge with terms like “fear” and “pain” and “hunger”.

    Because we can’t ascertain whether an animal’s “fear”, “pain” and “hunger” are equivalent to human fear, pain, and hunger

    We can’t ascertain that, I agree. We can also refrain from imputing it to them if you prefer, for safety’s sake. Strictly speaking, I agree with that.

    I would note that fear, pain, and hunger are basic brain states, not actions, as rape is. If I were guessing, I would guess we are more likely to share these states with other animals with limbic systems than we are to share the idea of rape, which is a complex legal,moral, and sociological action. Dogs have no juris prudence that we have evidence of, for instance.

    a third party might attempt to unravel the situation by observing post-incident behavior.

    Sure, but, again, in the case of people, you can ask them. In the case of ducks, we are only inferring. Observation after the fact does nothing to establish the fact that the mallards “decided” to “rape” a female duck.

    I think where we may be getting messed up here is in bringing our experience of sex and overlaying that on the ducks? We decide to engage in sexual activities – masturbation, for instance. You have learned there are specific times and places where this is allowed. and you exercise volitional control over when and where you do it.

    If you don’t, you will be beaten, shunned, arrested, etc. So you refrain.

    Dogs, ducks, et cetera are just not that flexible, and it’s not a matter of not having fingers, It’s that their sexuality is much more hardwired to speciific stimulus and hormonal conditions, and, given their lesser neocortex, we should probably assume a dog doesn’t have the capacity to interpose the idea that “it’s impolite to hump RandomJ’s leg if I haven’t asked him first” between the drive and the action. You do, however, being way more complex and your sexuality having a much higher learned component.

    whimsical hypothetical duck BDSM aside, it boils down to whether there can be some consent-equivalent and “volition”-equivalent in a non self-aware entity.

    Fair enough. What consent-equivalent do you suggest for a non self-aware entity?

    Assuming horses are NOT self-aware, would a particular horse that only lets you ride it after being fed some sugar be “giving consent” for being employed in the role of transport vehicle (and denying consent for being used as transport should man fail to yield sugar)?

    If so, why?

    I have to say, “no.” If we assume the horse is not self-aware, he cannot give consent to be a transport vehicle. Neither can he deny consent. The horse has no “natural rights” in re this.

  158. How do we gauge the morality of actions done to beings which cannot give consent? How is riding an unconsenting horse different from using spurs on it or turning it into glue?

  159. V wants to know: How do we gauge the morality of actions done to beings which cannot give consent? How is riding an unconsenting horse different from using spurs on it or turning it into glue?

    Excellent question. What is the difference? Anything to do with degree of estimated harm to the horse? I’m asking, not telling, mind you.

  160. re: Hljóðlegur

    Can someone who considers a being unworthy of having rights actually estimate the degree of harm he is causing it? Consider the traditional corporal punishment of children.

  161. V :

    Good thought. What if we have the someone overestimate the harm, to give us a buffer? Or have more than one someone, to prevent outliers from causing harm due to gross underestimation of harm?

    Are there more concrete, biological measures of harm?

  162. V asked: “How is riding an unconsenting horse different from using spurs on it or turning it into glue?”

    Riding an unconsenting horse ~ attempting to ride a horse before it is broken? Bucks you off.

    Riding a broken horse ~ it consents by its submission? Sometimes it refuses to budge, and sometimes it bucks you off. Sometimes it runs like hell then turns suddenly of its own volition. Seems to be the possibility of making something fall off its back. Evidence of lack of consent?

    Riding a horse is vastly different from slaughtering it ,selling its meat to Europe and Japan, piecing it up and making glue.

    Is using a crop, rope or bridle different from spurs? What about those humans who can ride a horse bareback without any bridle, reins, rope, spurs or crop? Why does not the horse refuse this?

    I already know that a horse can refuse to give a human a ride. I rode such a horse and it was all too easy for him to make it known.

    He simply ran into low trees, causing me to lay backwards on his back, effectively wiping me off by tree branches coming at me. A backwards somesault into the mud ended the ride before it really began.

    All I could do was walk the “tired of giving humans a ride” horse back to the stall.

    “If you ever get close to a human, and human behaviour, you better get ready to get confused…there’s definitely, definitely, definitely no logic…”

  163. *lightbulb*

    Can someone who considers a being unworthy of having rights

    Is this a moral chide? Don’t mistake me, friend. I was not declaring my personal moral assessment there on horse autonomy or equine rights. What I am saying is that under the current legal system, horses don’t have rights, and that, scientifically, we have to be careful what we assume about their mental states.

    But I am not in favor of abusing our animal friends, morally speaking. I’m not a total monster, you know. :)

    @keanani –
    I agree, making a horse into glue is quite morally different from inducing it to let you ride it.

    Also, we and the horse are not totally mismatched in the later, power-wise, even if the legal system affords them no rights: you are much smarter than he is, so you can sell the horse on the idea of being transportation, but the horse is so much stronger than you that he can physically refuse the transportation role.

  164. re: Hljóðlegur

    This was not a direct moral chide to you. And I should mention that I do eat animals. But I feel weird about it, and may stop doing so. I’m not a crazy animal-rightist, but I feel weird about many humans’ relationships with animals. Probably because I don’t have any in my life at the moment and haven’t for years. Thing is, to vamps, are we animals, or slabs of meat? Is there a difference? I know that in Bindsight when Suri saw as Jukka did, afaik, he saw slabs of meat with eyes.

  165. Well, hello there everyone!

    I’m the girlfriend 01 was referring to.I guess I am thereby expected to comment on the entire “Blampire sex” thing… And so I will.

    First and foremost, I don’t really know why I think Jukka is sexually attractive, so V’s theory is as sound as any, though it seems like something a psychoanalyst and/or a literature critic might have said (no offense, just a typical outlook. BTW, V, do you happen to be any of those? ;))
    I just happen to find him…well…okay, as far as descriptions from the book go, I find Jukka S. very attractive (by the way, is there any “official” Jukka Sarasti art over there?). That definitely has to do with him being smart, badass and tall (also likely has to do with him being a rational sociopath, and yes, I agree that it is not very wise to have a preference for such people)

    Also, the degree of self-control he exhibits – I mean, he is a being evolved “for
    killing and eating humans. For the story’s entire duration, he’s locked with humans, and he doesn’t murder and eat a single one, and instead works hard to solve the Scrambler issue. Oh, okay, he has beaten up Siri, but as 01 has already informed you, I have little sympathy for the creepy bugger, he had it coming. And it served Siri well, by the way ;)

    Now, speaking of self control, we know that a vampire can have enough not to murder the juicy crew of Theseus, going beyond his evolved feeding behaviors.
    So why wouldn’t a Blampire go beyond his allegedly brutal evolved reproductive behavior, if that serves some kind of long term goal?

    P.S.: and, since I am already posting my silly comments on Mr. Watts’s blog…
    As a Balmpire aficionado ;) I would like to use this opportunity to express hope that Mr. Watts doesn’t kill them off in the sequel :)

  166. re: 03

    I am neither a psychoanalyst nor a literary critic by profession, but I was raised by an anthropologist and a philosopher, have an MA in Writing and Publishing, and write reviews for extra cash or fannish interest. So I suppose you’re close.

  167. Haha, my stereotypes, they work (cue mad scientist laughter) :D

    Seriously though, I didn’t expect my random guess to land anywhere near that close.
    I wonder if I’ll be able to make any other good guesses from reading people’s opinions (RandomJ and 01 are not fair game because I happen to know both of them IRL)

  168. Do me! Do me!

  169. Placeholder on “The Thread That Would Not Die”:

    Sweet Smoking Jesus. Turn my back for a couple of days and this thread doubles in length. Now I must comment on the comments.

    Back in several hours…

  170. keanani said:
    Hmmm, apparently I misunderstood what “infodump” means. If it is a negative connotation, then that is not what I mean, sorry. What, exactly does it mean? To dump a lot of information?

    Pretty much. Every time Michael Crichton begins a paragraph with “He found himself explaining that electron microscopes worked by…”, and you skim ahead and find that he’s still expositing two pages later, that’s an infodump. When someone says “As you know, Bob, the Schwarzchild radius of a black hole is equal to…”, that’s an especially grievous infodump (“Rod and Donning”, we call it) because the characters are reciting facts that they both already know, and should therefore not have to say. Science fiction is especially bad for infodumpery because you can’t assume the reader is familiar with the world you’ve invented; you therefore have to insert way more information into the story than you would in your average mainstreamer, and one way of doing that is having your characters talk idly and at length about how the coffee-maker/warp-drive works.

    I myself try and avoid infodumps as much as possible, choosing instead to try and insert offhand but telltale bits and pieces seamlessly into the background. This has generally had two effects: 1) half the readership complains that I’m way too infodumpy, because I haven’t been seamless enough; and 2) the other half complains that my writing is opaque and impenetrable because I never explain anything up front.

  171. That’s one of the things I loved about the kudzu6 drop: wasn’t immediately obvious what it’s function was, IIRC. Stay with #2… it’s what makes them worth reading the second time as noted by Mike in a previous thread (who read Blindsight four times!).

    Now, the game Eclipse Phase: some of the absolute coolest ideas ever put in a PnP RPG ever, but the rules are going to make play slow as, well, explaining how an electron microscope works. They need a faster version at least for combat. At least that’s my recollection those not-so-many months ago that seem-like-years. Needs vampires, though. :)

  172. When I mentioned the term “infodump” in my post above (2 weeks ago…) I meant it ironically as an answer to Peter remarks. I actually do not find Peter either infodumpy nor opaque. But then again, I grew reading lots of authors that are considered infodumpy (like Emilio Salgari in my pre-teens years… heck the Italian translation of “infodump” is “Salgarism”…) or opaque :-) . Yet, I had no problem understanding Peter’s books, even reading them in English (who’s not my original language), and I can’t stand Crichton’s dialogue – too contrived.

    I guess the “problem” with Peter’s prose is not actually in his prose: it’s in the depth of the ideas. Of course it is difficult to understand – the ideas themselves are original, complex and with a lot of consequences in the novels. But that’s what we like, Peter :-)

  173. **
    Hljóðlegur said:
    “Do me! Do me!”
    **

    [La Femme Provocateur] oh, I’d love too, but I’m probably way too far away ;) [/La Femme Provocateur]

    Well, it seems to me you have a fondness for so-called “soft sciences” and appear to harbor a personal dislike reductionism.
    My guess is that you might be either some kind of sociologist, a reporter/journalist, or a worker in adjacent fields. It’s not impossible that you’re an academic psychologist, but IMO you aren’t weird enough for that.

    How close am I?

    **
    Peter Watts said:
    “Sweet Smoking Jesus. Turn my back for a couple of days and this thread doubles in length. ”
    **

    Mr. Watts, may I exercise a bit of inappropriate curiosity and ask, on an almost unrelated tangent, does the system have you read all the comments flagged for moderation? Just curious…

  174. 03 asked: “does the system have you read all the comments flagged for moderation?”

    The system holds all posts by newcomers for moderation; once I’ve approved their first post, all subsequent comments are supposed to get approved automatically unless I’ve manually stuck that poster on moderation watch (which I hardly ever do). Some posts with a large number of links get defaulted to the spam folder, which I check periodically before flushing to catch the legit stuff (albeit after a delay).

    I still don’t know why some comments from approved folks get held for moderation. It doesn’t even happen consistently; the same person can make two comments — neither with enough embedded links for the spam filter to kick in — and while one of them will pass, the other will end up in the moderation queue. It’s irritating, but not as pressing as other things in my life, so I haven’t tracked the reason for that down yet.

  175. Jason Stackhouse said:
    Invoking the Toba catastrophe would be convenient. Managing a herd of 1-5k h.sap breeding pairs during an upper paleolithic apocalypse is fertile ground, itself, even without a vampiric Moses.

    Ooooh. I’m gonna make a note of that. Toba happened too recently to affect vampiric origins, but certainly they could exploit it as it occurred…

    V Said:
    because even if, as Peter Watts said, he’s way ahead of us in some way

    Hey, only in terms of vampire socialization.

    Ted Chiang had a very early story, which appears in his first collection, about two completely unique supergenuises who end up fighting each other because their goals are so different.

    I remember that one. Liked it a lot.

    So maybe they cooperate like bees — not consciously, but because they’re all driving society the same way.

    Okay, that’s actually getting into the territory of a whole other tale I’m working on. Name of Sunflowers. For exactly that reason.

    I know modern architecture is death on vampires, but for some reason I picture one getting up once every few centuries, protected by a clan of human servants, helping along the Enlightenment…

    This might also explain why the middle-eastern and Indian cultures were so far ahead of the west scientifically, right out of the starting gate; higher proportions of vampire genes in the local baseline population (hey, why else would those cultures show such a strong preference for arches and curves and other architecture that so backburnered the right angle?)

    . . . wither the vampire women? The more I look at the model, the more I wonder what role vampire females would have, since the costs of reproduction are not on their side.

    Do we know for certain that there are vampire women, or rather, that vampire women are necessarily like vampire men?

    Can something without self-awareness have self control?

    Don’t see why not. Don’t even see why self-awareness would be relevant. (Of course, that’s kind of an old question around here…)

    Actually do vampires really need humans, or in fact other vampires, to reproduce in a technologically sophisticated era? Neolithic — not so much. But in an era where Theseus exists?
    Yeah, you need to get samples, you need a way to mature some of them based on how you get them — but mechanical wombs?

    I’ve actually sketched out a scene where this issue is raised, and it is revealed that in fact modern vamps can not reproduce naturally and have to be cobbled together at human behest, because they’ve been genetically tweaked for sterility as a failsafe measure. I still haven’t decided whether to go with that, though — it may be a bit too reminiscent of the female-dinosaurs-only trick in Jurassic Park.

  176. RandomJ said:

    Hi Peter!

    Hi!

    … there is very little evidence that would cause one to believe that rape decreases conception probability in humans or is otherwise suboptimal as far as human reproduction per se is concerned. In fact, the current “hot topic” debate is whether rape confers additional advantages as far as humans are concerned. …

    I did not know that. Thanks for the link I’ve downloaded the pdf, and look forward to reading this. (Man, think of all the sexual assault cases we could throw out of court…)

    Do they have anything like a “sense of humor”? …Could one theoretically craft a phrase that would “amuse” a Blampire in any conceivable way?

    There’s a bit near the end of Blindsight where Sarasti asks for forgiveness because “I don’t know what I’m doing.” This is 1) on the heels of Siri’s realization that Sarasti may not be conscious; and 2) a deliberate inversion of Christ’s (alleged) words on the cross (“Forgive them— they don’t know what they’re doing”), which also puns off the whole Crucifix glitch thing. I’m going to go out on a limb and say this is a case of a vampire making a joke. It may not be funny, but I maintain it’s at least clever.

  177. And then everyone got into this extended discussion of blampire repro strategies — which dived down into the briar patch of how to define “rape” in humans and other species — in which 01, Hljóðlegur, Jason, keanani, RandomJ — hell, half the damn list weighed in.

    I think everyone made good points, in some cases better than I could have (although I see that despite the obvious fascination with duck rape, nobody has yet cited the recent published report of interspecies duck necrophilia currently doing the rounds). On balance, RandomJ‘s perspective is probably closest to my own, and the position I have the most trouble with is Hljóðlegur‘s — not so much because of her predication of “rape” on “intent”, as on her assumption that other species aren’t capable of anything approaching “intent” in the way we regard such things.

    I agree that bedbugs aren’t capable of “rape” as we understand it, even though traumatic insemination would certainly be a crime in this society. And RJ‘s made the point that our Pleistocene ancestors probably “raped”; those males were perfectly capable of forming intent, and of realizing when their targets were unwilling. But it’s still an iffy proposition to call such behaviour rape in the modern sense because there wasn’t any kind of legal framework or (as far as we know) much moral proscription against that kind of behaviour. In that sense the very concept of rape is a purely cultural artefact, independent of the cognitive chops of the individual, and in that sense — and only in that sense — I would have to agree that (as H puts it) “A dog cannot rape”.

    The problem I have is with the kinda egocentric position that we have “no direct evidence that dogs have all the component ideas needed to understand the word rape“, and should therefore conclude on that basis that a dog can’t do such things. I have no direct evidence that any of you understand the word rape either; it’s a parsimonious conclusion, but I have to infer it from behavioural cues, including language (and if someone happened to be mute or aphasic or simply unable/unwilling to speak English, I’d be pretty much limited to the same gross behavioural cues I’d use when judging our canine friends).

    I’m not just rehashing the old all-you-zombies wank here. I’m not trying to devalue the complexity of human cognition; I just don’t like seeing nonhuman cognition undervalued, and I bristle when Hljóðlegur sneers at RandomJ‘s attribution of “human” traits to nonhumans. I think other species generally have more on the ball than most people think; we see the rudiments of politics, morality, and even religion in other species, and every new study seems to reinforce the sense that the differences between them and us are more of degree than of kind. I’d wager that female orangutans (for example) can be pretty damn traumatized when raped by their males, and whether orangs have a formal legal framework for their mating strategies is neither here nor there.

    I guess what I’m saying is that if we’re going to come up with an operational definition of rape, it should be based on something more empirical than unproven assumptions about another individual’s cognitive and moral circuitry, at least until such a time as we can observe those neurological states directly (which may not be too far in the future, I guess). In the meantime I’m perfectly happy forgetting about legal constructs; I’ll stick to defining rape in operational terms.

    Vampires, of course, are too smart to waste any time defining it at all.

  178. @03 –

    Loved your guesses! Two questions – did I say anything specifically that led you to assign sociologist, psychologist, journalist? For instance, use of certain vocabulary, or was it a global impression? Also, what do we mean by “reductionism”?

  179. I recall seeing some speculations on whether Neolithic biologists bred a race of slaves (us) on Usenet a few years ago. That would fit some of the speculations on this thread.

  180. Kees Moeliker’s Ig Nobel Prize winning paper on gay duck necrophilia:
    http://www.nmr.nl/nmr/binary/retrieveFile?instanceid=16&itemid=2574&style=home

    PW: And RJ’s made the point that our Pleistocene ancestors probably “raped”; …But it’s still an iffy proposition to call such behaviour rape in the modern sense because there wasn’t any kind of legal framework or much moral proscription against that kind of behaviour.

    Well, two people here can agree on something. That’s a good start.

    PW: I agree that bedbugs aren’t capable of “rape” as we understand it, even though traumatic insemination would certainly be a crime in this society.

    I like the term “traumatic insemination” for scientific purposes. It’s a better formulation than “rape,” because it describes what our duck, dog, bedbug is doing in terms of the injury to another, but it implies no intent. Consider: If I build a machine that tracks down ducks and forcibly inseminates them, in the vernacular, it’s a rape machine, but scientifically speaking, I have built a traumatic insemination machine. I bear responsibility for the construction and release of the device, but the machine itself has no intent, hence no moral and legal responsibility.

    There are simultaneous tracks of thought in consideration of the bigger question – commonsensical, philosophical, scientific, moral, legal, religious, literary, etc. – when analyzing what we see. On any big abstract question, which “goggles” you choose limit and inform your analysis.

    I will have to agree to disagree with anyone who claims a being can rape without the concept of rape, because by my lights, that is over-employing the vernacular, commonsense form of the word, and that’s where my problem lies: I would be keenly interested to see scientific evidence that a dog understands the word “rape” to mean “mount,” but also understands that the rapist must use force or coercion; that there are laws about it; that he is guilty of a moral trespass; that if he imagines the point of view of the rapee, he accepts personal responsibility for the act; or even that he tries to justify rape by thinking it has evolutionary value. Because, man, that would be one hell of a dog, and I wouldn’t leave the house without a shotgun.

    PW: The problem I have is with the kinda egocentric position that we have “no direct evidence that dogs have all the component ideas needed to understand the word rape“, and …therefore …a dog can’t do such things. I have no direct evidence that any of you understand the word rape either.

    Such clarity! None of you has direct evidence that I exist as a separate being with self-awareness. Philosophically speaking, I could be a sockpuppet of anyone here, we could all be split off personalities of one man or woman alone in a room, talking amongst themselves.

    However, as a former biologist, Peter is, he says, a proponent of the idea that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and that, scientifically speaking, one assumes the null hypothesis. In the absence of evidence that Fido has the neocortical structures and social inculcation to conceptualize even the sub-parts implicit in the word “rape,” for scientific purposes, don’t we have to assume the null hypothesis for now? Do we have fMRIs that show brain activity in canines when contemplating rape looks the same as for a human being? That would be a start. Aren’t we in danger of huge analytical errors if we prematurely negate the null hypothesis and start building a theory of dog cognition and behavior based on facts not yet in evidence?

    PW: …we see the rudiments of politics, morality, and even religion in other species, and every new study seems to reinforce the sense that the differences between them and us are more of degree than of kind.

    We do? Please don’t take offense, but I see generalization here, scientifically speaking. Note that, yes, I am predisposed to behave, in the everyday world, in an animist way – to hear the wind in the grass and see agency. And I behave in the everyday world as if my native theory of mind in re anything alive were proven true scientifically. RJ probably talks to his Roomba, the same way I may greet the spider in my bathroom in the morning, even though we assume scientifically they are not self-aware. Doesn’t understanding this is a natural proclivity make anyone wary when we start projecting human subjective states onto non-humans or at least, non-primates?

  181. Oh what a lovely thread we have woven
    Vampire ducks rape lovers struggling to recall the safe word.
    Contemplate the divine aspects of positron emission tomography. Surely the Lord knows the if it’s _real_rape_ or if the duck is faking; all else is hubris.

    But really… Where are we going with all this? The quest for operational definitions can take one to such strange places. Is it time to unarchive that dusty copy of “A slave girl of Gor”?

    Now I don’t want to impose; just making a suggestion. All very humble. But wouldn’t it be fun to wrap this thing up with a musical number?
    so with thanks to Gilda Radner

    A rooster says Good Morning
    With a “Cock-a-doodle-doo” – Good Morning!
    A horse’s neigh is just his way
    Of saying, “How are you”.
    A lion growls “Hello”
    And owls ask “Why” and “Where” and “Who”.
    May I suggest you get undressed
    And show them your wazoo – Oh,

    The animals, the animals,
    Let’s talk dirty to the animals.
    Fuck you, Mister Bunny.
    Eat shit, Mister Bear.
    If they don’t love it, they can shove it.
    Frankly, I don’t care – Oh,

    The animals, the animals,
    Let’s talk dirty to the animals.
    Up yours, Mister Hippo
    Piss off, Mister Fox.
    Go tell a chicken, “Suck my dick” and
    Give him chicken pox – Oh,

    The animals, the animals,
    Let’s talk dirty to the animals
    From birds in the treetops
    To snakes in the grass – But,
    Never tell an alligator, “Bite my…” No!
    Never tell an alligator, “Bite my…” Yes!
    Never tell an alligator, “Bite my snatch!”

  182. @Peter “Ooooh. I’m gonna make a note of that. Toba happened too recently to affect vampiric origins, but certainly they could exploit it as it occurred…”

    Sure. Controlled breeding would be a cinch.

    If you can work in the Bronze Age collapse (record keeping and monumental architecture? Not in -my- cows) and Sea Peoples, you’ll be two-for-three on my recent obsessions. I’m sure I can dig up something that’d work as a commemorative plaque…

    @Hljóðlegur “I like the term “traumatic insemination” for scientific purposes. It’s a better formulation than “rape,” because it describes what our duck, dog, bedbug is doing in terms of the injury to another, but it implies no intent.”

    It literally describes stabbing a female in the guts with one’s penis and spraying sperm into the wound. Trauma. Cracked exoskeletons, blood, and sometimes death (either from immune response or, especially in crowded conditions, being stabbed to death. With penises).

    You have no idea how hard it was to resist channelling Warren Ellis while writing the above. v1 of the paragraph didn’t just push good taste, it rolled it in a rug and beat it to death. With its…

    Right. Moving on.

    @Hljóðlegur “However, as a former biologist, Peter is, he says, a proponent of the idea that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and that, scientifically speaking, one assumes the null hypothesis. In the absence of evidence that Fido has the neocortical structures and social inculcation to conceptualize even the sub-parts implicit in the word “rape,” for scientific purposes, don’t we have to assume the null hypothesis for now?”

    After awhile, it becomes more of a stretch to hold on to this null hypothesis than to grant a creature internal states. If a non-human female demonstrates behavior which resembles escape, struggle to avoid copulation, and pain response, why isn’t she trying to escape, not wanting to have sex, or hurt? Humans don’t have a monopoly over internal states, ours are just more complex and hardware-intensive.

    Earlier, I said that projecting human moral judgements onto other species was meaningless. That is not the same as denying non-human animals have meaningful internal states.

  183. I’m a bit short on time, so for now, I’ll just point out that term “traumatic insemination” can not be used to describe duck shenanigans.

    It’s a very specific term that is reserved for situations when females lack a proper orifice that can be used for insemination (usually, there is an orifice, but due to some quirk, it fails at facilitating rendezvous of gametes), and males use sharp pointy body parts (usually, but not always, integrated into the copulatory organ. In some species of exotic bugs male just gnaws a new hole in the female, IIRC) to literally cut/stab a new one, usually (but not always) in the general projection of internal genitalia.

    Fun spider fact: there is a species of spiders (Harpactea sadistica) in which males inject sperm right into the female’s ovaries. Traumatically.
    This virtually guarantees successful insemination, making for very effective sex. Caveat? There are cases when the female doesn’t survive, because having eight holes in your abdomen is no small deal, even for a spider. Still, losses are rather negligible and it’s not like a male spider can’t go find and stab more females just to make sure…
    Effective spiders are effective.

    P.S.:
    No, I don’t talk to the roomba. But I like to watch it go about its chores, it kinda…fantastic, in a way.

    And this talk about roomba gives me a…curious idea:
    one could study evolutionary dynamics of “rapelike” behaviors and related assumptions by modeling them in self replicating robots/software constructs (the latter would be more efficient, the former would make for a better Discovery channel feature).

    More later…

  184. Got another variation that would work? _______ insemination?

  185. Just read an interesting bit on whether or not animals “lie”, which could be important to the topic. Here’s Lewis Hyde (Trickster Makes This World) on that question:

    { …Do animals lie?

    The answer is both yes and no. Animals of course communicate with one another. Birds call from trees, whales sing in the oceans, the deer gives its hoarse warning cry, or—to take the famous example—the honeybee dances to tell the hive how far away the flowers are, and in what direction. Moreover, in most cases these animals are telling the “truth” when they communicate with one another. Honeybees do not lie. Their “language” is constrained by instinct; no bee ever comes to the hive and says “The flowers are due west” when in fact they are northeast. The deer does not cry wolf when there is no wolf at hand.

    Having granted all that, however, it is not hard to think of complications and exceptions. Surely there are deceptive animals. There are insects evolved to look as if they are twigs or dead leaves; there are flowers that eat insects by luring them with false advertising. In the Louisiana swamps, one finds the remarkable alligator snapping turtle, one of whose features is a “lure tongue,” a stubby white appendage which it sticks out until an unsuspecting fish checks to see if it’s edible. The frightened possum pretends to be dead, as does the pangolin. In the classic case, when the fox threatens the mother grouse, she pretends to have a broken wing so as to lead the fox away from her nest. … }

    He goes on to say that in each of these cases, it’s still instinct and that leaves these species vulnerable to any predator that gets “wise” to the ruse.

    To switch back (and this rather supports the sexist position, doesn’t it?) when it comes to any sort of forced insemination, the male must have some sort of advantage over the female if a species is going to propogate. Perhaps conversely, the opposite may be true if the male is not able|willing to use rape as a tactic where the female is in “control” of the situation (though obviously sometimes—certain bird species for example—the male is the attractor or at least until she gets close enough to pounce on).

    But maybe that’s in part what consciousness is good for: to learn, to evolve without having to rely on the weeding out process alone. Species who spend longer periods with their parents tend to use more learned and less instinctual behaviors (besides humans, certain canine species are known for this). I think consciousness probably also serves a buffer between reality and the vast ocean of the unconscious, but that’s just a wild ass guess. :)

  186. after watching all this discussion about “rape like” i just got a new conclusion about this……

    rape to the opposite sex is justified when is about procreating and not when someone do it just for the fun of it(like when men rape women or teenage girl or little girls).

    ok, there is an original story(that people mistake for “fan fic”)in scifi style and is an very erotic story of an humanoid alien just arrive to an apartment were it live a nurse woman, then the alien got out of his ship and saw the woman and suddenly star raping her and pregnant her with many alien babies.
    in the scene of the story were the alien is still raping the nurse, he send in a telepathic way to the nurse’s mind why he is doing this(flashback):

    the alien come from a planet were his entire species is dying and for some reason(the author never explain it)that species can reproduce anymore(most of those aliens seem to be very sterile), so the aliens decide to send their most stronger male and that can still sire children to space and his job is first to find another alien species whose genes are compatible with them and get one of the opposite sex in order to star breeding and repopulate his dying species.

    after the nurse saw this explanation in her mind she decide to let the alien to take her to his planet and keep mating with her on his planet to help him to repopulate his species.

    if you want to read this original little scifi story then go here:

    http://www.greyarchive.org/

    you need password and name to enter to the section were the story is and if you want i can send that story, i have it and i can send you with no problem with my mail:

    saintseiya80@hotmail.com

    in my opinion(just my opinion that is)the rape of that humanoid male alien to that woman was justified, since is was the only way to save his species.

    so it seem with all that discussion that a rape is only justified when the intention is to breed and not just plain pleasure or because you have a pathological obsession with porno and sex or dominate other people trou sex
    with out thinking or because you just feel like it.

    the rape between humans species never seem to be justified, even though there is always a success of siring a child after that act.
    the problem is that men who rape women, don’t rape them because they want to procreate or because they want to spread their genetic seeds….they rape women just because they feel like it or because a pathological obsession with sexual pleasure, and while doing this they cause horrible fiscal and scicological problem to those women and their children(if those women do not abort them)too, so there is no benefit in those kind of rapes between humans.
    and the same goes with women raping men for the same silly reason.

    well there you have my analysis….bye bye.

    but the vampires of mister Peter seem to have no other choice but to rape humans of the opposite sex in order to create new vampires and not let their kind extinguish again. since no human would go willingly to mate with any of those vampires of Peter’s universe since according to the description they are as ugly as the vampires from the Nosferatu’s clan from the masquerade game. and beside ugly they are also scary in behavior too.

  187. Jason Stackhouse: After awhile, it becomes more of a stretch to hold on to this null hypothesis than to grant a creature internal states. If a non-human female demonstrates behavior which resembles escape, struggle to avoid copulation, and pain response, why isn’t she trying to escape, not wanting to have sex, or hurt? Humans don’t have a monopoly over internal states, ours are just more complex and hardware-intensive.

    Earlier, I said that projecting human moral judgements onto other species was meaningless. That is not the same as denying non-human animals have meaningful internal states.

    We agree that projecting human moral judgements on animals is fruitless.

    I’m not sure you take my full meaning; I am not saying that animals don’t have meaningful internal states – I assume they do. I am nervous about using descriptors of those states that are so cram-packed with meanings that are parochial. It’s more respectful to the animal, to my eye, to look at the animal for what it is than to project complicated human motivations and desires on him/her.

    I get really really nervous when we start doing this for scientific purposes.

    Heck, forget dogs, how about mute humans? Remember how researchers were so excited that disabled people with severe muscle-control problems were able to communicate via keyboard if an assistant steadied their hands for them? OMG (they kindly projected onto these poor bastards) they were locked inside bodies with almost no muscle control! And now they can be free to communicate!

    Only .. it turns out the assistants were unconsciously guiding their hands. The assistants were so moved by their plight, and wanted to help so much, they imagined what these disabled people were thinking, and helped them type what they imagined. LIke Clever Hans, the disabled person was unable to answer any questions about events that occurred outside the view of the assistant.

    How about “non-cooperative copulation”?

    If you are raped, the event occurs between you and your attacker, but you acted in observable ways that did not further the event. That way, we are not replying any either parties’ motivation in the description. Leaves the internal states as more black box.

  188. Hljóðlegur said

    Kees Moeliker’s Ig Nobel Prize winning paper on gay duck necrophilia:

    Yes, that’s the one!

    However, as a former biologist, Peter is, he says, a proponent of the idea that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and that, scientifically speaking, one assumes the null hypothesis. In the absence of evidence that Fido has the neocortical structures and social inculcation to conceptualize even the sub-parts implicit in the word “rape,” for scientific purposes, don’t we have to assume the null hypothesis for now?

    The null hypothesis, by definition, is that there is no difference between the control and experimental groups. In this particular case the null hypothesis is that we are not especially unique among mammals, that far more connects us than separates us from the dogs and the marsupials and the cetaceans. Granted, this is generally anathema to those with religious beliefs (it may be why you’ve reversed the definition of “null hypothesis” in this case) but then, so was the heliocentric solar system. Most people’s default assumption is that they’re somehow special; rather than treating this as a hypothesis to be tested, they regard it as self-evident through art and symphonies and mathematical theorems. Anything that pushes us further from the center of the universe — which is to say, most scientific discoveries — meets resistance.

    Do we have fMRIs that show brain activity in canines when contemplating rape looks the same as for a human being?

    Your implicit assumption here is that all humans contemplating rape — sociopaths, schizophrenics, priests, baselines — will all display the same MRI signature. Now that‘s a null hypothesis.

    PW: …we see the rudiments of politics, morality, and even religion in other species, and every new study seems to reinforce the sense that the differences between them and us are more of degree than of kind.

    We do? Please don’t take offense, but I see generalization here, scientifically speaking.

    We see ostracism of exposed cheaters in social species. We see care-giving behaviour extending across species boundaries. We see repeated evidence of some kind of “theory of mind” in other species — I’ve seen cats set up ambushes for each other that would be impossible without the ability to predict the behaviour of the target. We see explicit and deliberate vocal deception in chimps (e.g., one member of a foraging group, after finding an especially succulent food patch, was observed to make loud sounds of dissatisfaction — “nothing here, not a fucking thing” — while gorging himself silly). We’ve got neurological evidence that at least the rudiments of “anxiety” (by which I mean a fear response that occurs absent any aversive stimulus within the perceptual sphere, implying at least a rudimentary “imagination”) exist in everything from the bony fishes on up. We see elephants treating their dead in ways which would immediately be described as grief and reverence if the same behaviours were observed among any human tribe; pretty much the only reason people can summon to sneer about anthropomorphism in these cases amounts to “they can’t be like us. We’re different.” We’ve got MRI studies showing that social distress, loneliness, and heartbreak light up the same parts of the brain that respond to physical injury. We’ve got mirror neurons in monkeys.

    Put all that together, now. Ostracism of cheaters, defense of the helpless: basic morality, empathy. Theory of mind, behavioural predictions: models of third-party intent. If you’re telling me that one of the smarter mammals can’t form an intent to use an individual for his own ends while knowing that he’s hurting her, and doing it anyway, then I’d guess you just haven’t been following the news. And what more do you need for “rape” than “the sexual violation of a victim you know is suffering as a result of your actions”?

    For that matter, if you insist that rape doesn’t exist without some kind of “moral awareness”, one could counter that human sociopaths are incapable of rape. Don’t know how far we want to go down that road.

    rm3154 said/quoted many things at length, and while I have to say “Dude, I take your point”, I can only conclude that that “rm” must stand for Roving Minstrel. I like your lyrics.

    Jason Stackhouse, on April 18th, 2010 at 2:37 pm Said: Edit Comment

    Chris in MN said

    Just read an interesting bit on whether or not animals “lie”, which could be important to the topic.

    See above. Chimp example. Hard to describe that as anything but a deliberate attempt to mislead.

  189. @Hljóðlegur

    “”Fair enough. What consent-equivalent do you suggest for a non self-aware entity?”"

    Well, I would suggest using behavioral clues, as long as those are applicable.

    If the creature in question is demonstrating the same responses in generic trauma (like poking with sharp things, or electrocution) and coitus, and demonstrates consistent avoidant behaviors both before and after both types of events, we can conclude that the process is as close to “nonconsent” as it could be in a non self-aware entity.

    Sex is not the only thing that could be assessed this way – any behavior where the animal appears to struggle and show responses known to be associated with “pain” and “fear” can be reasonably deemed not-quite consensual.

    Off course, there will be a degree of difference between an mouse struggling to fight its way out of a cat’s grasp and a man struggling to get out of a tiger’s grasp,.but I think that there is also a degree of similarity to the processes going on in the mouse’s CNS and in the man’s CNS.
    You see, there is a widely recognized correlation between form and function. Function of pain responses, is pretty blatantly obvious -damage avoidance. It would be somewhat unusual if the “implementation” of this function on the neurological level did not have a degree of cross-species similarity (esp. in related species).

    Off course, it would be nice to have separate, less loaded terms for animal behaviors, but currently, to my best knowledge, we simply call animal pain responses pain (even despite the fact that we don’t know whether pain is “experienced” by the animal in a humanlike fashion or if it is merely a “robotic” response not unlike how the roomba “flees” from the barrier things) and any explicitly combative/forced copulation “rape”.

    “”Got another variation that would work? _______ insemination?”"
    No, at least nothing that would be in widespread use in relevant fields

    your “noncooperative insemination” could work, if only people actually researching animal behaviors would adopt it.

    Also, I would like to point out that while in modern human context, the definition of “rape” carries a lot of lawyerspeak baggage, the core of the phenomenon is mostly of non legal nature.
    “Rape” as we know it would most certainly exist even in societies that do not legally recognize it.

    @Peter Watts
    “” I did not know that. Thanks for the link I’ve downloaded the pdf, and look forward to reading this. (Man, think of all the sexual assault cases we could throw out of court…) “”

    you’re welcome, glad to be of use.

    I doubt, however, that potential for existence of inherited CNS features that make one more likely to engage in sexual violence, and evolutionary soundness of rape as a reproductive strategy, can have any bearing on legal and/or normative status of sexual violence.
    Having CNS features that make one more likely to engage in “vanilla” violence don’t fly as defense as long as the perpetrator is below the legal insanity threshold. Also, no judge or jury would buy the “but it was a very effective strategy back in Pleistocene!” defense.

    “”There’s a bit near the end of Blindsight where Sarasti asks for forgiveness because “I don’t know what I’m doing.” This is 1) on the heels of Siri’s realization that Sarasti may not be conscious; and 2) a deliberate inversion of Christ’s (alleged) words on the cross (“Forgive them— they don’t know what they’re doing”), which also puns off the whole Crucifix glitch thing. I’m going to go out on a limb and say this is a case of a vampire making a joke. It may not be funny, but I maintain it’s at least clever.”"
    *takes notes*
    So Blampires prefer complicated, intertextual puns as far as humor is concerned.

    Hmmm…that’s interesting, thank you very much!

    Do we know for certain that there are vampire women, or rather, that vampire women are necessarily like vampire men?

    Well, Val the Vampire from the fiblet in the “In progress” section seems much, much meaner than good old Jukka…

    *RandomJ’s wanton speculation*

    Perhaps typical Blampire sex roles are reversed?
    I am inclined to predict that such turn of events would likely increase the popularity of Blampires ;) (but from evolutionary perspective, that makes them kind of bizarre, methinks)…

    By the way, as far as Blampire reproductive behavior is concerned, it seems to me that given their mean temper and “hate-ons” they get when encounter each others, the most sane approach to cospecific mating for a Blampire male would be to present the female with valuable human prey as a gift, and copulate right after she has consumed the protocadherin rich treat, or perhaps while she is still busy gorging herself on the human present.
    Such behaviors are not unknown in species where female presents immediate danger for the male, and given that Blampires are superintelligent, could be devised by a Blampire male/recognized and accepted by a Blampire female without the need to evolve such “gift giving” instincts for millions of years.
    Need to come up with such smartass tricks to succeed at Blampire-Blampire copulation would place a nice additional intelligence-favoring selective pressure on Blampires.

    P.S.:
    Also, I happen to have some anecdotal evidence that women with sub-clinical ASPD respond extremely well to such approaches (too bad no journal would accept such a paper ;) )…
    */ RandomJ’s wanton speculation*

    @fembot17

    Ummm…
    errrrr….
    *cough*

    Uh…

    okay, I’ll only comment on this bit (because the rest is…uhhh…okay):

    “” but the vampires of mister Peter seem to have no other choice but to rape humans of the opposite sex in order to create new vampires and not let their kind extinguish again. since no human would go willingly to mate with any of those vampires of Peter’s universe since according to the description they are as ugly as the vampires from the Nosferatu’s clan from the masquerade game. and beside ugly they are also scary in behavior too. “”

    Well, as far as appearance is concerned, they seem to be uncanny, not ugly per se.
    I think there was an “approved” Jukka sketch somewhere on Peter’s old blog (long time lurker here)…
    Ah, here: http://www.rifters.com/real/gallery/sarastisketch.jpg
    Doesn’t strike me as ugly, as far as my standards of male appearances go (though being a straight male, I am very limited in my ability to comment on “male beauty”)

    Also, this thread contains at least two posters who think that Blampires are sexy :D…

  190. **
    Hljóðlegur said:
    “Loved your guesses! Two questions – did I say anything specifically that led you to assign sociologist, psychologist, journalist? For instance, use of certain vocabulary, or was it a global impression? Also, what do we mean by “reductionism”?”
    **

    Well, your general focus and opinions are typical for sociology-related crowd as far as my experience goes. Journalists often share a good deal of those opinions sometimes, though your concern with scientific accuracy is not very typical for the average journalists and might suggest some academic background.

    Like I said, you don’t strike me as “odd”, and pretty much every academic psychologist I ever met did. A lot. Thus I named psychologist as the last and least probable.

    As for reductionism, well, reductionism as “a philosophical position that a complex system is nothing but the sum of its parts, and that an account of it can be reduced to accounts of individual constituents.”.
    It seems to me that you find it subjectively unappealing ;)

    Did any of my guesses land close enough? I’m curious!

    **
    RandomJ said:
    “Also, this thread contains at least two posters who think that Blampires are sexy”
    **

    This thread also contains at least one person who would probably have sex with a Blampire as long as he would get to publish the resultant findings in some kind of peer reviewed journal ;)…

  191. @RandomJ
    Perhaps typical Blampire sex roles are reversed?
    I am inclined to predict that such turn of events would likely increase the popularity of Blampires ;)

    Yes, indeed :D

    but from evolutionary perspective, that makes them kind of bizarre, methinks

    I’m curious… How so?

    …as far as Blampire reproductive behavior is concerned, it seems to me that given their mean temper and “hate-ons” they get when encounter each others, the most sane approach to cospecific mating for a Blampire male would be to present the female with valuable human prey as a gift, and copulate right after she has consumed the protocadherin rich treat, or perhaps while she is still busy gorging herself on the human present.
    Such behaviors are not unknown in species where female presents immediate danger for the male, and given that Blampires are superintelligent, could be devised by a Blampire male/recognized and accepted by a Blampire female without the need to evolve such “gift giving” instincts for millions of years.
    Need to come up with such smartass tricks to succeed at Blampire-Blampire copulation would place a nice additional intelligence-favoring selective pressure on Blampires.

    1) nitpick:
    You already mentioned the “copulative bribe behavior”

    2) your post has inspired me to cobble together a Blindsight vampire motivator of my own. All I need now is a pic of some woman who might resemble one… that, or a terrified Mexican…

  192. thanks mister RandomJ for answering part of my post, i guess my idea of offering here that erotic rape like fic of the alien and the nurse in this blog wasn’t a good idea and i know that make you and rest of the members uncomfortable, sorry my bad.
    and thank you very much for that Jukka accurate art, he look like a sort of monkey with many sharp teeth

    and i like the idea of the other member of this blog of a male vampire that bring a fresh human victim to the other vampire female that would mate with him and after she eat or drink the blood of the victim then she mate with him.

    you know, when 2 Tasmania devil are going to mate well….their “romantic” affair is not a nice one since just like the vampire of mister Peter, they don’t get along with their own kind(not even in mating season)even the mother tent to be very aggressive with her cubs when they are ready to leave their home and be independent.
    in few words, everything in the Tasmania devil’s life is VIOLENT, the mating, the birth of the cubs, the way the mother treat her cubs specially when they are a little older.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tasmanian_Devil#Reproduction

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bdCFhxZMWM

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kzfx-5VG8Zk

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BEg4_ByAbQo

    anyway this species are a very perfect model that can help us to imagine how those blampires behave with their children and how their children behave with other vampires children and how those vamp children would behave even with their own brothers and sister of the same mother and father and how a mating scene between 2 blandpires would look like.
    and also how the female vampire would treat her own children.

    another subject that we should disccus here is the vampire uprising that is about to happen in the new peter watts novel:

    http://www.rifters.com/real/in_progress.htm

    also at the end of the novel blind sight, this Siri keaton says that according of what he can heard from earth transmit ions there is something very wrong going on there and then he comes with the conclusion that the vampire just got tired of the humans using them as if they were computers to fix their every day problems and so they finally rebel against them and now they are killing all the humans and keaton think that after they finish the humans they would kill between themselves since they can’t stand each other and this is why keaton think he would be the only sentient being when he finally arrive to earth.

    i was thinking, if the vampires of mister Peter manage to conquer the humans after the war, then would they make human farms? in order to manage in a more efficient way their food source?

    but then i found this about what would likely happen if a vampire species put humans in a farm:

    http://www.dark-village.de/scifi/thread.php?threadid=931

    in that forum one member says that humans in farms as food source would not work at all and i understand his POV in this post.
    but the rest of you what do you think of it?
    this would be another cool subject to talk about too.

    another thing that don’t make sense to me is that according to keaton the vampires eradicate the human race in this uprising war of their.
    if this is truth them those vampire are very stupid to destroy the ONLY food source they have since after this they would die of hunger.
    what is your opinion about it guys?

    ok thanks for the replay guys!

  193. Here, as promised, inspired by Random’s speculations…
    http://brontopixel.com/upload_image/639b68869211edd19468c61b7907310b.jpg
    Unfortunately, didn’t find a scared Mexican or a sufficiently creepy woman, so decided to go with a happy (so far ;) ) Mexican kid instead

  194. @3 – Good guessing!

    I’m a computer person now – management and productivity data, databases, spreadsheets.

    I did used to play “the media” during legislative procedure training courses – put out a newspaper, interviewed “legislators,” so a little mock journalism. My schooling proper was in experimental psych, so I count a partial hit there, too.

    reductionism as “a philosophical position that a complex system is nothing but the sum of its parts, and that an account of it can be reduced to accounts of individual constituents.”.
    It seems to me that you find it subjectively unappealing

    Hmmm, I think complex systems consist of parts that may be modeled, with these caveats:

    1. the models are not the parts themselves and people forget that (the “this not a pipe” problem.)
    2. the interaction of the parts needs itself to be modeled to understand the action of the whole.(e.g., you could model the mechanical action of every part of a car, but if you fail to add the model of energy and entropy, for instance, you are missing a big part of the car’s activity.)
    3. it’s always more complicated than you think. *wink*

    So, am I an anti-reductionist? I will leave it to you to decide. :)

  195. Here’s an additional twist for the chimps…Are they aware that they are lying to the other chimps, or are they convincing themselves (eg, are they in denial?) when they pretend the stuff they’re gorging themselves with does not exist or tastes bad? Seems like that might dampen the enjoyment of the
    meal, since in order to conceive of the ruse, the mind must consider the possibility that the lie is true.

    Kind of like Hollywood brats who get nosejobs. A horrible idea because they will now never know if that other person loves them for them, or their phony nose (which was probably just fine in the first place pre-op).

  196. some quotes from the blindsight novel that seem to mention some sort of “vampire uprising” on earth while keaton listen to the radio transmission from his space ship:

    siri keaton:

    “I’ve been listening to the radio during these intermittent awakenings. It’s been generations since we buried the Broadcast Age in tightbeams and fiberop, but we never completely stopped sowing EM throughout the heavens. Earth, Mars, and Luna conduct their interplanetary trialog in a million overlapping voices. Every ship cruising the void speaks in all directions at once. The O’Neils and the asteroids never stopped singing. The Fireflies might never have found us if they had.
    I’ve heard those songs changing over time, a fast-forward time-lapse into oblivion. Now it’s mostly traffic control and telemetry. Every now and then I still hear a burst of pure voice, tight with tension, just short of outright panic more often than not: some sort of pursuit in progress, a ship making the plunge into deep space, other ships in dispassionate pursuit. The fugitives never seem to get very far before their signals are cut off.
    I can’t remember the last time I heard music but I hear something like it sometimes, eerie and discordant, full of familiar clicks and pops. My brainstem doesn’t like it. It scares my brainstem to death.
    I remember my whole generation abandoning the real world for a bootstrapped Afterlife. I remember someone saying Vampires don’t go to Heaven. They see the pixels. Sometimes I wonder how I’d feel, brought back from the peace of the grave to toil at the pleasure of simpleminded creatures who had once been no more than protein. I wonder how I’d feel if my disability had been used to keep me leashed and denied my rightful place in the world.
    And then I wonder what it would be like to feel nothing at all, to be an utterly rational, predatory creature with meat putting itself so eagerly to sleep on all sides…”

    ok my question here is…those “clicks and pops” that keaton heard in the radio(i think)of his ship, are those transmissions made by several vampires while hunting together other group of humans that are trying to scape earth with their space ships?
    i think keaton is saying of “persecutions” between 2 space ships, is that right?

    and here is another quote of keaton:

    “we humans were never meant to inherit the Earth. Vampires were. They must have been sentient to some degree, but that semi-aware dream state would have been a rudimentary thing next to our own self-obsession. They were weeding it out. It was just a phase. They were on their way.

    The thing is, humans can look at crosses without going into convulsions. That’s evolution for you; one stupid linked mutation and the whole natural order falls apart, intelligence and self-awareness stuck in counterproductive lock-step for half a million years. I think I know what’s happening back on Earth, and though some might call it genocide it isn’t really. We did it to ourselves. You can’t blame predators for being predators. We were the ones who brought them back, after all. Why wouldn’t they reclaim their birthright?

    Not genocide. Just the righting of an ancient wrong”

    it seems to me that keaton is saying some sort of spoiler of the next project of Peter Watts that could be of “vampire wars” in a terminator style but with out a sentient AI and it machines army, instead it would be an army full of hungry vampires.

    i realy hope mister Peter write about this vampire apocalipsis since from that new novel we could learn MORE about those cool creautes Peter created, and also answer to us all those questions that me and other are making here of vampire mating with other humans/vampires, their hunting style, etc….

    about the vampire’s human farms i found this in a forum, i know is just another fan fic thing but stil give us a glance of how vampires would deal with domesticated humans in a farm:

    http://thextakeover.proboards.com/index.cgi

    another examples of human farms:

    http://james.seng.sg/files/public/blood-farm.jpg

    http://cache.gawker.com/assets/images/io9/2009/10/Daybreakers_Payoff.jpg

    http://g-ecx.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/ciu/6d/11/8c82810ae7a0d5bfb026b110.L.jpg

    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/PeopleFarms

    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ToServeMan

    oh, somebody tried long time ago to create vampires in a similar way to mister Peter version but never work well:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lost_Souls_%28novel%29

    and Damon Knight wrote a short story about a plant-based vampire, called Eripmav.

    Tim Powers’ The Stress of Her Regard portraying vampires as silicon-based life forms from a pre-Cambrian period of Earth’s history, roused from eons of hibernation when one of their kind was surgically implanted inside a human being. They combine features of vampires, sirens, sphynxes, and Pygmalian’s statue.

    another scifi vampire too:

    http://stargate.wikia.com/wiki/Wraith

    and H.G. Wells War of the Worlds too.

    Vamped by David Sosnowski the vampires here have human blood farms and also hunt humans for sport and the protagonist is a vampire that adopt a human girl and have to hide her from his neighbors because all of them are vampires.
    in this novel the humans are a danger species just like in the movie(also with vampires in scifi style)Daybreakers.

    here is a topic i opened in a scifi forum of stories were humans are treated like livestock animals for food or whatever:

    http://www.sffworld.com/forums/showthread.php?t=25934

    and these humans are the closes thing to the vampires model of mister Peter Watts:

    http://firefly.wikia.com/wiki/Reavers

    the Reavers have many many similarities to the vampires of Watts, although these violent wild humans act more like crazy animals with rabid deceased. and they are not as smart as the blindpires.
    and the reavers also do a lot of BAD thing that the vampires of Peter would do to a human victim, but also the reavers cooperate with each other something that the vampire of mister Peter would probably never do(i think).

    ok good night everyone.

    PD: can someone here can think about of what kind of jokes the vampires of peter watts would say of humans?

    examples: 50 ways to cook a human? :-P

  197. RE: Peter Watts

    (wow, I’ve fallen behind on reading this thread)

    >>. . . wither the vampire women? The more I look at the model, the more I wonder what role vampire females would have,
    >>since the costs of reproduction are not on their side.

    >Do we know for certain that there are vampire women, or rather, that vampire women are necessarily like vampire men?

    I know there are females based on you mentioning Siri seeing one near the beginning of “Blindsight”. Of course he may not have seen what he tought he saw, but I for one think it would be a pretty low trick, writerly speaking, to say he only saw a puddy cat. : > I’m not being literal here of course, but you get what I mean.

    >>Actually do vampires really need humans, or in fact other vampires, to reproduce in a technologically sophisticated era?
    >>Neolithic — not so much. But in an era where Theseus exists?
    >>Yeah, you need to get samples, you need a way to mature some of them based on how you get them — but mechanical >>wombs?

    >I’ve actually sketched out a scene where this issue is raised, and it is revealed that in fact modern vamps can not reproduce >naturally and have to be cobbled together at human behest, because they’ve been genetically tweaked for sterility as a
    >failsafe measure. I still haven’t decided whether to go with that, though — it may be a bit too reminiscent of the female-
    >dinosaurs-only trick in Jurassic Park.

    It is very much reminiscent of that trick. : P Now, admittedly I don’t know if you’ve decided where Little Vampires Come From in the first place; for some reason I assumed Jukka was tweaked as a kid. That they just went and rounded up the same folks they got from juvie and institutions, perhaps with some false hope rehab program, and turned them into vampires owned by the government. I know they couldn’t depend on a steady supply of serial killers since they are so very rare, but given the state of the juvenile justice system in the US, let alone bootcamp programs parents fed up with their kids send them off to, let alone all the abandoned and abused street kids. Do I really need to finish this paragraph?
    That said, even if you did take the JP approach, I can see vamps using cloning to reproduce in some fashion albeit a handwaving one, since the Theseus technology does seem to be from an era that would have that, especially based on how far we’ve gotten already in our days. This may be a fail on my part, but I’m just musing here.

    Also, on a thing you’ve said to another person, I forget who now:

    >I did not know that. Thanks for the link I’ve downloaded the pdf, and look forward to reading this. (Man, think of all the sexual >assault cases we could throw out of court…)

    This smells very bad due to a certain amount of historical precedent. I will give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you are being facetious. Actually, based on your comments below vis a vis defining rape, I KNOW you are being facetious, and you scored some points with me there.

    But for the interest of others reading this thread . . .
    So in the middle ages and after, well up until the modern era, rapists would use conception as an argument
    Check out “Women and Gender in Early Modern Europe”, by Merry E. Weisner. I can’t find the bit I’m looking for (doing this at speed) but you’ll note on page 61 (accessible on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0521778220/artbiz2000-20, if you have an account — my copy isn’t to hand at the moment)
    “As noted above, her pregnancy might be used as a disproof that rape had occurred, but not all jurists accepted the notion that conception proved consent.” That people are doing studies on this alarms me; it suggests not scientific interest so much as a sociopolitical axe to grind which has been reforged from some very old metal.
    I should also note an article in the New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/25/magazine/25desire-t.html discussing research that physical arousal in women does not always signify consent but is instead a self-protective measure based on biophysics. Given other studies which I can’t remember the authors or titles of at the moment (I am sure someone else will oblige) that the mechanisms of arousal seem to increase the likelihood of conception . . . I think you can fill in the rest of the blanks.

    /begin conservative baiting/ If anyone uses the word feminist or a variant thereof as a slur in a response to me, he or she can eat something inedible for their next meal. Perhaps Glenn Beck, or if they’re feeling ambitious, Rush Limbaugh. I may not have read up all my gender theory, but dammit, I AM A FEMINIST. And that goes hand in hand with being a thinking person. They are not mutually exclusive things. /end conservative baiting/

    Re Jason Stackhouse
    Some of the things you said definitely explain a nightmare I had several nights
    after this thread began.

    Also, re his comment “If a non-human female demonstrates behavior which resembles escape, struggle to avoid copulation, and pain response, why isn’t she trying to escape, not wanting to have sex, or hurt? Humans don’t have a monopoly over internal states, ours are just more complex and hardware-intensive.”

    Don’t forget, sex is a dominance tool (see my comments above) as much as it is a reproductive one. Males can do this to other males, too. In fact, I wonder why vamps wouldn’t use it that way. I hope that Mr. Watts will tell me differently.

    Re Mr. Watts again: One of my pet peeves is when people write imaginary civilizations into the dawn of human history that left no traces behind (not just fossil record, byt anything else) and had advanced technology. I know you won’t commit that last sin, but if you do Bronze Age people . . . I trust you’ll do them right, but please, do them right. I want to give this book to my mom without her rolling her eyes too much at archaeologically unfounded silliness.

    I should note that it should be clear (other people argue for me dammit . . . if I have to I will) that roughness between consenting partners is a different animal (pun intended) than sexual aggression because it doesn’t seem to be tasked as a dominance display, and that distinction should be kept in mind.

    And whoever mentioned the “copulative bribe behavior”, I likes the concept. It would ring true for me if it were used.

    Although I did not appreciate the end of 01′s response to the last person talking about that, it came across as slur, which was probably not intentional.

    I’m not going to dignify fembot17 with a reply.

  198. V pointed out: “I should note that it should be clear (other people argue for me dammit . . . if I have to I will) that roughness between consenting partners is a different animal (pun intended) than sexual aggression because it doesn’t seem to be tasked as a dominance display, and that distinction should be kept in mind.”

    I thought this was clear to all, if not most all…

    S&M aside, roughness between consenting partners, or even groups I suppose (we are talking about human behaviour, afterall) is not your ancestors’ “missionary stuff” of “polite silence and getting it over with” to “serve some higher purpose”.

    So we beat about the bush, only to circle on back to what is the primary point in this discussion, “hominid predator sexual behavior”, since we have strayed from the path of evolutionary biology and the speculative possibility of Jukka-type life forms…

  199. @01

    re: motivator

    lol, poor choice of bribe, man ;).
    Children have small(er) brain mass (less juicy protocadherins).

    @03

    “” his thread also contains at least one person who would probably have sex with a Blampire as long as he would get to publish the resultant findings in some kind of peer reviewed journal “”

    YEAH!

    FOR! SCIENCE!
    Seriously, that would be a paper to die for…
    *crickets*

    P.S.: I’m a bit surprised you didn’t comment on the Jukka sketch…

    @V:
    “” That people are doing studies on this alarms me; it suggests not scientific interest so much as a sociopolitical axe to grind which has been reforged from some very old metal.
    I should also note an article in the New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/25/magazine/25desire-t.html discussing research that physical arousal in women does not always signify consent but is instead a self-protective measure based on biophysics. “”

    Well, I see nothing alarming about carrying out such research per se – after all, even if human physiology does have quirks that increase the probability of conception from rape, that can hardly be used as grounds for changing our normative stance on such activities.

    And thanks for the NY article, intriguing stuff.

    It should be noted, however, that erectile response in males is technically involuntary, too, thus triggering and sustaining a nonconsensual erection in a healthy human male is not a big problem (this fact was discovered when scientists turned their attention to cases of female-on-male rape)

    “” Don’t forget, sex is a dominance tool (see my comments above) as much as it is a reproductive one. Males can do this to other males, too. In fact, I wonder why vamps wouldn’t use it that way. “”

    It seems to me that “dominant” and “submissive” behaviors would be fairly vestigial in blindsight vampires, due to them being strongly antisocial creatures.

    However, I think that upon learning about humans interpreting sexual intercourse in such terms, they would likely use it in such manner when this course of action is likely to give the blampire some kind of “edge”.

  200. @RandomJ –

    Hljóðlegur: Fair enough. What consent-equivalent do you suggest for a non self-aware entity?

    RJ: Well, I would suggest using behavioral clues, as long as those are applicable.

    Your [snipped] explanation seems reasonable. Damage-avoidance seems universal, very low level and basic if you want a creature that doesn’t go immediately extinct, and if the animal has a nervous system, we are probably not in too much danger to assume he experiences pain. We could call his behavior “avoidance” if we wanted to be really super careful about our assessment.

    I also agree there will be a degree of CNS similarity between the man struggling with the tiger and the mouse struggling with the cat, but are we safe in assuming more high-level thoughts around “consent.” Even we start with struggling and other overt behaviors that, if translated onto you or I, would declare non-consent?

    Consider this one example – you may have noticed wild birds appear panic-stricken when being handled – they bite, they struggle. Evolutionarily, going down without a fight is a losing strategy for tasty prey animals. Here’s the interesting part: securing the upper legs between your fingers, and letting the bird’s belly rest on your knuckles will often cause them to stop struggling. They go rapidly from flapping wildly to what looks suspiciously like relaxation, regarding you steadily.

    Now, to my eye, the bird appears to have stopped minding that I have him pinned. May I assume “consent” on the part of the bird because he has stopped trying to flee or fight? Would I do better to assume that the bird has a set of behavioral programs that prompt it to hold very still until my predator fingers relax just a little bit, so he can flee?

    Or squirrels, whose predator-avoidance program includes “freeze.” Can I infer, because Nutkin stopped dead in front of my wheels, that he “consented” to being flattened? Or would I be safer to assume his predator avoidance program kicked in at a bad moment?

    I know none of this is perfect. I’d just like to advocate that we choose explanations that are less complicated rather than more when we can’t ask our subjects what they were thinking. More of a Temple Grandin approach.

    Your “noncooperative insemination” could work, if only people actually researching animal behaviors would adopt it.

    One day, when I am Emperor, I shall decree it. *trumpet blast* So let it be written, so let it be done. XD

    Also, I would like to point out that while in modern human context, the definition of “rape” carries a lot of lawyerspeak baggage, the core of the phenomenon is mostly of non legal nature.

    See, there you and I are going to have to agree to differ. The core of non-cooperative copulation is a set of behaviors seen across the animal kingdom, yes; the core of rape is that sort of behavior expressed as considered, planned violence, used to enforce cultural rules, or committed with knowledge that it violates a complex set of cultural rules codified into law.

    Rape is an extreme expression of non-cooperative copulation, so it needs its own word to get across the true event. It’s analogous to killing – animals and plants kill each other for food, people kill each other with cars, babies kill their mothers by being born. Deliberate unlawful depriving of another of his life, however, is “murder.” Can we agree to disagree on this one?

  201. @V

    It wasn’t a racial slur (pardon to any Mexicans in range), more of a joke based around popularity of Mexican food

    @01

    Well, looks like I’m not the kind of person who could succeed at dating a vampire ;)

  202. lol. copypasted my own nick instead of Random’s…

  203. PW: And what more do you need for “rape” than “the sexual violation of a victim you know is suffering as a result of your actions”?

    I need a table or a chart, because this trying to explain a multi-layer’d concept via a linear pipe like language is killing me. Definitely need something more spatial. Or maybe you wouldn’t agree with me even if you did see what I was saying, idk. Hm.

  204. Wow. This -is- the thread that keeps on giving. Three cheers for rape and vampires!

    @V “Some of the things you said definitely explain a nightmare I had several nights
    after this thread began.”

    Oh? Do tell. I collect quality nightmares. (That sounds a lot creepier than it is. I’m just interested in what scares people. Close your eyes and think of Science?)

    “One of my pet peeves is when people write imaginary civilizations into the dawn of human history that left no traces behind (not just fossil record, byt anything else) and had advanced technology. I know you won’t commit that last sin, but if you do Bronze Age people . .”

    God, yes. Bothers the hell out of me in fiction, but even more so in real life… Frakkin hippies. :shakes head:

    I think we’re safe in this case; both because it’s Peter at the helm and because his vampires seem more adoptive/adaptive than innovative. I’d expect them to do amazing, unprecedented things with novel applications of Bronze Age technology, but not to go building cloning vats and recoilless rifles.

    (Have you researched the Collapse at all? Seriously interesting stuff.)

  205. It looks like the software is hating me once again :(
    If it ate my comment, here’s an approximate repost. If it didn’t and it’s just still waiting for approval, then pardon my double post please

    @01

    “” lol. copypasted my own nick instead of Random’s… “”

    Welcome to the hivemind ! We have cookies here!

    @Hljóðlegur

    “” Rape is an extreme expression of non-cooperative copulation, so it needs its own word to get across the true event. It’s analogous to killing – animals and plants kill each other for food, people kill each other with cars, babies kill their mothers by being born. Deliberate unlawful depriving of another of his life, however, is “murder.” Can we agree to disagree on this one? “”

    Perhaps we should.

    However, keeping this short (in case this will end up as a double post), how would we call experience of a woman who was…well, forced into intercourse in a society which does not recognize rape (all successful penetrations are voluntary by definition, because this hypothetical country is that mustache-twirlingly evil)?

  206. re RandomJ

    Does what the society thinks really matter?

    It seems really repugnant to me to even ask the question, when most rapes and other sexual assaults go unreported because women are blamed and told they are making it up or were asking for it.

    An act of violence is an act of violence whether some misogynist society recognizes it or not. I find it interesting that we’re also assuming only women are raped.

  207. @V

    “” Does what the society thinks really matter?

    It seems really repugnant to me to even ask the question, when most rapes and other sexual assaults go unreported because women are blamed and told they are making it up or were asking for it.

    An act of violence is an act of violence whether some misogynist society recognizes it or not.”"

    It seems to me that you misinterpret my position in the discussion.

    My opinion is that, while legal structures are important for defining rape in modern society, the core of this phenomenon is not of legislative nature, and thus “rape” would exist even in an environment where no legal institution recognizes it as such (whether due to plain absence or due to extreme misogyny is irrelevant for the discussion, but extreme misogyny version makes for a better thought experiment, IMO).

    “” I find it interesting that we’re also assuming only women are raped. “”

    Oh, that’s a kind of silly cognitive automatism on my part :)
    pardone moi.

  208. @V

    “” Does what the society thinks really matter?

    It seems really repugnant to me to even ask the question, when most rapes and other sexual assaults go unreported because women are blamed and told they are making it up or were asking for it.

    An act of violence is an act of violence whether some misogynist society recognizes it or not.”"

    It seems to me that you misinterpret my position in the discussion.

    My opinion is that, while legal structures are important for defining rape in modern society, the core of this phenomenon is not of legislative nature, and thus “rape” would exist even in an environment where no legal institution recognizes it as such (whether due to plain absence or due to extreme misogyny is irrelevant for the discussion, but extreme misogyny version makes for a better thought experiment, IMO)

    “” I find it interesting that we’re also assuming only women are raped. “”

    Oh, that’s a kind of silly cognitive automatism :)
    pardone moi.

  209. Uh…
    I am pretty sure I hit the “submit” button, but the usual “waiting for moderation” thingus didn’t appear. here comes repost…

    @ V

    my position is that what society thinks is not crucial for the phenomenon of rape to exist.

    The whole point of the hypothetical “super-misogynist” society was to illustrate that, even when the legal framework does not recognize the phenomenon of rape (at all, by design), the phenomenon doesn’t just vanish.

    As for only females being raped… auto-assumption of victim’s sex is just a silly mental quirk on my part, probably due to such cases having a higher statistical presence (AFAIK)

  210. **
    RandomJ said:

    “FOR! SCIENCE!
    Seriously, that would be a paper to die for…
    *crickets*

    P.S.: I’m a bit surprised you didn’t comment on the Jukka sketch…”
    **

    that’s a good one, actually…

    As for Jukka…
    What can I say, he’s…uh…primal. You know, the “large chiseled jaw” kind of male beauty. That’s to “beauty” what spicy Thai soups is to taste – not everyone could properly appreciate this kind of experience. But you know that already, don’t you, Random ;)

    P.S.:
    Just be patient – it doesn’t show me the “moderation” messages as well…

  211. hey 03, i’m a woman that is also staring to find also Jukka attractive too. he he he.

  212. (PW could have guessed I’d do this, hahaha.)

    How much html will this little window handle? Test of sample table:

    Can This Event Be Considered “Rape”?

    Actor#1Actor#2Reaction Analysis ModeAnalysis Mode Analysis ModeAnalysis ModeAnalysis ModeAnalysis Mode

    Pene trator Attempted Penetratee Behavior Meta phoricalFeminist Ethical Legal Vern acular Bio Lit.

    bedbug bedbug flight;struggle yesno no no yes yes
    duck duck flight;struggle yes<no no no yes yes
    dog dog flight;struggle yes< no no no yes yes
    dog my leg shove dog off yes maybe no no no maybe
    elephant elephant flight;struggle yes ? no no yes yes

    ape ape flight;struggle yes maybe no no yes yes
    mine owner the earth Espera DeCorti weeps yes maybe yes no yes no

  213. Okay, not that much, apparently. I tried. Good thing I didn’t bother with the entire table, then.

  214. Crap, I’ll just go with the linear and verbal then:

    Hljóðlegur :… Peter is … a proponent of the idea that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and … one assumes the null hypothesis. In the absence of evidence that Fido has the neocortical structures and social inculcation to conceptualize even the sub-parts implicit in the word “rape,” for scientific purposes, don’t we have to assume the null hypothesis for now?

    Peter: The null hypothesis … is that there is no difference between the control and experimental groups. In this particular case the null hypothesis is that we are not especially unique among mammals…

    Ah, a excellent catch! What if we assume the null hypothesis on a slightly different proposition: There is no difference in cognition between me and your cat, as revealed by observable behaviors. Sounds pretty safe. You have already asserted that the cognitive differences between people and other animals are largely degree and not kind. Let’s take a look!

    We’ll switch lives for a day –
    I’ll scratch and scent mark the furniture, nap on your chair, climb your fridge, lurk behind the door then *Jump!* out at you, meow, yowl, pee on the cat litter, wonder what you’re eating and if I can get some of it, knead your legs with my knuckles, and let you scratch me behind the ears. The kitteh can do my work – I have some specific transactions I’d like to filter from a reporting modality. No opposable thumbs, but he can type, I assume. I can show him the basic Excel functions he needs. Wait, your cat can read English, right?

    Okay, that was silly. What I mean is that we wanna believe animals are more like us than they are because we love them. You’ll admit they trigger a misplaced parental reaction in us. I don’t believe we’re insulting the kittehs if we notice their cognitive skills are funneled toward different ends than our own; differences in kind isn’t a bad thing.

    There is no absolute pinnacle of evolution, would you agree? Human animals and cats are adapted for their niches, so the more different the lifestyles, the more differences in kind and degree of traits we see. Can you agree to that? Small carnivores should have some skills that large omnivores don’t, and vice-versa?

    P: .. we are not especially unique among mammals…Granted, this is generally anathema to those with religious beliefs……but then, so was the heliocentric solar system. Most people’s default assumption is that they’re somehow special … they regard it as self-evident through art and symphonies and mathematical theorems. Anything that pushes us further from the center of the universe — which is to say, most scientific discoveries — meets resistance.

    Okay, now you’re implying because I’m a deist, I believe mankind is superior to all other species, and you’ve compared me to science-hating geocentrists? You wound me. Next time I’m the cat, I’m not letting you scritch my ears, no matter what food you’re holding.

    P: … We see repeated evidence of some kind of “theory of mind” in other species — I’ve seen cats set up ambushes for each other that would be impossible without the ability to predict the behaviour of the target.

    That last one is of interest – theory of mind, because it goes to consciousness. Cross-species care-giving or ostracism of cheaters need produce nothing in the way of religion, morality or politics. Theory of mind is basic to all of those. If I am a dog who lets piglets suckle alongside my pups, how is that “moral”? My parenting urges have been co-opted, maybe.

    You said, “What adaptive purpose does consciousness serve?” and, “Okay, can you imagine a non-conscious biological agent that could do the same thing? And I kept saying, ‘Yes.’ I couldn’t find anything consciousness was absolutely essential for.”

    Whoa! Put those thoughts together – Are you positng theory of mind without consciousness?

    Also, can you describe cat ambush technique in terms of non-conscious events? I think you said you could.

    PW: … pretty much the only reason people can summon to sneer about anthropomorphism in these cases amounts to “they can’t be like us. We’re different.”

    Nope. I’m not sneering, it’s not either/or. A digital likeus/notlikeus is a false dichotomy, or misleading, anyway.

    PW:If you’re telling me that one of the smarter mammals can’t form an intent to use an individual for his own ends while knowing that he’s hurting her….And what more do you need for “rape” than “the sexual violation of a victim you know is suffering as a result of your actions”?

    Put away your moral outrage, please; I’m not advocating rape here. I never said no non-human animal can form intent. I said we should be very careful in assuming they can and then extrapolating from there. I am advocating mindfulness.

  215. This is coming in from the outfield, but I realized something last night which may have some bearing on the sorts of things we’re thinking about here.

    Last night I realized that folk dancing teaches you to think (well, not “think” . . . . neurologically process) like a Blampire, specifically modern western square dancing, devised, I am told, by Perl programmers, and popular with engineers.

    So I’ve been taking a weekylish square dancing class since last September. You’re supposed to learn up through Plus level in 13 lessons. I flunked the first time so this spring I’m in the process of taking it again, and I think I’ll get my club badge this time. I had wondered for months why, every evening after class, if I turned one way I had the instinct to turn a corner and turn the other way as soon as possible. I realized that square dancing was doing something analogous to the Tetris effect, but it wasn’t until last night that I understood why it had that effect to the extent it did. It took me that long to engage the intellectual side of my brain with what my motor cortex had been screaming at it for months.

    You can turn on your pattern recognition circuitry and turn off your brains, and suddenly it just works. The motor cortex does the driving. It becomes nothing more than a pattern of alternating motion, and once I was in the “zone” that was all I was aware of — not the other people I turned with or past, not myself, just the pattern. When you really get it, when you turn complex thinking into instinct — if you think you suddenly can’t do it. Ever come to yourself in the middle of playing your memorized piece at a piano recital? It’s gone, as soon as you remember that you exist and there are people watching you.

    “. . .You can teach a man to draw a straight line, and to cut one; to strike a curved line, and to carve it; and to copy and carve any number of given lines or forms, with admirable speed and perfect precision; and you find his work perfect of its kind: but if you ask him to think about any of those forms, to consider if he cannot find any better in his own head, he stops; his execution becomes hesitating; he thinks, and ten to one he thinks wrong; ten to one he makes a mistake in the first touch he gives to his work as a thinking being. But you have made a man of him for all that. He was only a machine before, an animated tool.” –The Stones of Venice, John Ruskin

  216. @V:

    Neat.

    Though in baseline humans :), as far as I can judge, formation of meaningful automatic behaviors requires a great degree of conscious honing beforehand.

  217. This thread is a gift that keeps on giving.

    Hljóðlegur, perhaps you could make that table in an image format, upload it onto one of the free image hosting services, and then just post a link here?

  218. Fiendishly clever. For ease of use, what free image hosting service do you favor?

  219. http://brontopixel.com/

    Very easy, requires no registration.

  220. @Hljóðlegur “Whoa! Put those thoughts together – Are you positng theory of mind without consciousness?”

    Theory of mind, turned inward, yields post-hoc consciousness. That’s my non-professional understanding, anyhow.

  221. @1 – This thread is a gift that keeps on giving.
    Hljóðlegur, perhaps you could make that table in an image format, upload it onto one of the free image hosting services, and then just post a link here?

    Okay, I have taken a swing at this:
    http://brontopixel.com/upload_image/fdb05ccd96d1276c075672767f471394.png

    Alls I’m saying is that when groups of intelligent people absolutely butt heads on a topic, especially when the definition is part of the problem? We might be looking at a complex problem in which layers of parallel analyses exist simultaneously; this allows the debate participants to howl and twist and be sure they they are Right, and they are, from within their analysis mode. The problem exists 3, 4, 5, n dimensions that way, but the use of English obscures this, being largely linear. Not absolutely linear, because words change with context and and have connotations existing in parallel to denotation, but you read it linearly, and it gets you thinking that way.

  222. V said: “I find it interesting that we’re also assuming only women are raped.” :) I know I am not part of that “we’re”. Oh course anyone or anything can be “raped”, whether human or not, animate or inanimate.

    The discussion was more or less primarily following females, whether vampire or human as being “raped” because we are looking at sexual behavior and reproduction between humans compared to or with vampires…at least that is what I thought it transgressed into. I suppose we are indeed making it a female being raped issue, mostly, but I am sure most on here know it is not an assumption that only women are raped. Did not someone make an issue of female ducks?

    Were we not also speculating upon agressive behaviour and hence the tendency for males to be more so testosterone driven and therefore more “aggressive in behaviours” generally? Would Blampires, whether male or female rape one another? Is that the “normal” way of going about sexual activity?

    Alright, I will concede that a family pet who happened to be spayed and female, would sometimes attack her big stuffed polar bear and actually imitate a male dog in her cute amorous affectations providing us humans with some laughs as to how a sweet little female went all sexual on the bear’s arm. Curiously, she would sniff what she had humped and then she would go at it again. I suspect her spaying made her “male doggy hormones” more dominant, perhaps.

  223. Hljóðlegur said: “…when we start projecting human subjective states onto non-humans or at least, non-primates?” In response to what Peter had said: (“…we see the rudiments of politics, morality, and even religion in other species, and every new study seems to reinforce the sense that the differences between them and us are more of degree than of kind.”)

    All the non-humans that I have known in my life thus far had been quite attuned to human behaviours and emotions, from my perspective. The aforementioned female dog who loved her stuffed bear would oftentimes pick up cues from the humans in her family. She was particularly sensitive to family members’ anger, laughter, silence and sadness. Oftentimes she would follow the crying human and try to get their attention by grabbing the clothing and yank on it so you would have to address her, then she would try to climb up on you until you picked her up, then she would get at your face to look at and lick it.

    Whether they exhibited “human subjective states”, is open to interpretation. I remember another dog, a male dobie that we adopted, who had apparently been abused, because anytime someone raised their arm, or brought a rake up to rake the yard, etc. he cowered. But he was the sweetest dog. What I noticed was that whenever any one of us would talk to a neighbor or a stranger, he would watch our face intently for some reason. Looking for visual cues as a dog would in a pack?

    As for the concept of rape~ as I know that many non-human animals mate, have sex, engage in reproductive copulation usually because of the female being in heat. Humans engage in sex anytime. No need for being in heat. Maybe the mood and not having a headache, but otherwise humans have sex for all kinds of reasons, and not just reproduction like so many other animals. So is being in heat, for non-humans a form of, a signal of consent to copulate? I suppose that one could argue that certain domesticated animals are indeed being raped, but at the direction of humans, as in a mare being hackled and the stud stallion is able to mount her without her being able to reject him via her kicking hooves. This would not be a natural mating.

    RandomJ said: “Also, this thread contains at least two posters who think that Blampires are sexy”.
    Alright, everyone fess up. There is definitely more than two. Hmm, 03, fembot, possibly 01…anyone else? I raise my paw thusly.

    “Erotic rape”? Another way to state consensual rough & tumble S&M-type aggressive sexual activity?

  224. RandomJ said: “Off course, it would be nice to have separate, less loaded terms for animal behaviors, but currently, to my best knowledge, we simply call animal pain responses pain (even despite the fact that we don’t know whether pain is “experienced” by the animal in a humanlike fashion or if it is merely a “robotic” response not unlike how the roomba “flees” from the barrier things) and any explicitly combative/forced copulation “rape”.”

    What is the difference between “humanlike pain” and “robotic response pain”? Robotic response to “pain stimuli” is like a robotic vacuum cleaner coming up against a barrier, say a couch, and therefore makes a turn to get away from the barrier~ so non-humans respond robotically to pain and not because of some sensory loaded “fear” or “feeling” of pain because it hurts?

    Children learn that touching a hot stove hurts after they place their hand on the hot coil, then they learn to “associate that stove is on therefore it is hot and that will hurt my hand if I touch it”. We are told not to stick our finger in an electrical outlet in the wall because you would electorcute yourself. So we have the knowledge that this is something one should not do because we are told this. I accidently got my finger in one and actually felt that electrical current going into my hand. Which experience was more frightening? Being told or actually experiencing it?

    What makes a mother mouse kill her whole litter of babies? Just the same behaviour in any mammals who commit infanticide? A mistake on her part? Having had “pet mice” for a short while, I observed that just like the rabbits, the father mouse would mate with his own female offspring and have offspring that were both his “grandkids and children”. Trying to separate the males from females in order to prevent this was hard. Of the resultant mice, some seemed a bit “wild”, not that adaptable to human touch.

    One female was mated, probably by a direct lineal relative, and she had a litter. Well, ants got into her container, and we had to get each and every baby mouse out to get the ants off. After cleaning her, her babies and the container and putting all back inside, she proceeded to sniff over her babies and then she bit each and every one tearing the babies open and therefore killing all of them. I was so upset and angry with this rodent murderess that I got her by the tail, as she tried to crawl up her tail to bite my fingers, and I placed her in a container of water where she swam about until she drowned. I then got upset for killing the mouse. So was my mouse murder of a more “conscious” nature fueled by human emotions and her infanticide some sort of animal “instinct” in not recognizing her babies?

    Evey baby bird that I tried to save was definitely “afraid” for the fast little beating heart could be felt and it would try to get away with not ready to fly wings. Trying to use a dropper and feeding it a mash of bugs and cereal in order to help it never really worked even though the baby bird would eventually adapt to being fed by a human. Does a slug “feel pain” at a conscious level when salt is poured onto it? As a child I had wondered about that when my grandfather got rid of the slugs in this manner.

    Pain as felt by non-humans~ how does any one really know what it is that they feel? As one argues against applying subjective human emotional states to non-humans one could just as easily argue that what we believe are “human traits” are really just universal animal traits that are expressed to varying degrees and in a myriad of ways across a spectrum of animals.

    I am of the belief that there are behaviors in non-human animals that are akin to our “humanly feelings and emotions” that cannot be explained away as not being of value just because these life forms are not human.

    Again, as an example, I will relate another story about that female dog who had sexual relations with her polar bear dolly~ she was a little house dog who was potty trained to go to the bathroom in a specific cage lined with newspapers (we tried to do the kitty litter thing but that did not work). Everytime she was having “problems” with her defacation, bowel movements, as in stuff caught in her fur on her backside, she had the runs, or otherwise had anal issues, she would come up to someone walking slowly with her head down, tail dragging, and wait to be “heard”. It was she who trained the humans to understand this particular behavior as signaling that something was amiss with her and it was always to do with her butt. (If a dog can be said to have a butt)

    Whenever she did this, you would bend over and pick her up, lift her tail and see what was bothering her. Then she just allowed you to clean her behind, tail and fur. Afterwords, she would then be her usual lively self. Some dogs, of course, will butt drag on the rug to deal with such problems themselves. But still, the fact that some dogs do more than that reveals something more than some animal instinct to wipe one’s butt becuse something is clinging there.

  225. I’m baffled by the eroticism of Jukka Sarasti.

    I remember reading Blindsight and thinking, “uh oh,” when I realized it included vampires in a hard sci fi milieu. In literature, vampires have become lazy writer shorthand for forbidden sexuality, or sometimes addiction, so it boded poorly, I thought.

    The saving grace for this daring move was that the vampires seemed to me not eroticized. The description of this creature was that he was fear-inducing, not alluring. The other characters didn’t seem attracted to him, they seemed to react with cold fear and a desire to flee. That didn’t strike me as being about sexual fascination, but about instinctive predator/prey interactions.

    The vampire stood for the superior evolutionary track of no consciousness, not forbidden desire. They were heading in that direction, after all. Poor old conscious mankind managed to win in the novel, but at the end we see intimations that it was a battle won, not a war, and that non-conscious intelligence will eventually triumph, because it is a more adaptive trait. It struck me that this Watts fellow had cleverly decided to forego Anne Rice’s cheap trick, and subverting a literary cliche by using it in a new way.

  226. Hljóðlegur said: “I’m baffled by the eroticism of Jukka Sarasti.” Indeed. So am I.

    “The saving grace for this daring move was that the vampires seemed to me not eroticized. The description of this creature was that he was fear-inducing, not alluring. The other characters didn’t seem attracted to him, they seemed to react with cold fear and a desire to flee. That didn’t strike me as being about sexual fascination, but about instinctive predator/prey interactions.” Exactly.

    It is not about what is going on in the book. It is what is going on in the reader’s head. One can read erotica or view porn, but ultimately it is what the brain creates in reaction or response to whatever is sexually stimulating whether it is logical or not.

    I believe it may possibly lie in Jukka’s very anti-Edward Cullen nature of the vampirism in that we are not speaking of sparkly supernatural dead-undead former human beings…hmm, that or some of us female humans have some pretty exotic erotic tastes, I suppose. Or latent mixups between primal fears and desires. Who knows?

  227. Hljóðlegur said: “…non-conscious intelligence will eventually triumph, because it is a more adaptive trait.”

    Is this not yet another catalyst for in-depth and meaningful discussion? Apart from the eroticism and seemingly illogical fetishism of Jukka Sarasti?

    This particular crawl thread could go on into infinity discussing and dissecting the allure of the predatory Blampires and any offshoots from that in relation to sex ~ perhaps everyone who wishes to do so had better bookmark it as it will soon slip into the realm of old posting, to be unseen and unvisited.

    Otherwise, there will surely be many opportunities for anyone to ressurrect this discussion elsewhere, as we have seen Allister effectively do with the junk sociobiology piece in order to breathe life into his “Peacock Theory”.

    Perhaps the sociopathic behavior is part of the allure?

  228. Hm.. under that logic, anything in the novel could be an erotic object, and the author’s intent is beside the point – I could read the detailed descriptions of the space ship and find that fap-worthy.

    Do you agree that the descriptions of the vampire are not specifically erotic? Not in the way twilight or the Anne Rice’s vampires are presented?

    Perhaps the sociopathic behavior is part of the allure?

    Please explain to me what is erotic about sociopathy?

  229. Hljóðlegur asked: “Please explain to me what is erotic about sociopathy?” I would not know myself for it is not my personal stance. I am merely just asking the question if indeed it is something to consider for some humans. At least we have seen how some females find murderers and serial killers attractive, so much so that they seek love and marriage with that man who is in prison for his crimes.

    I would go so far as to nakedly posit that for some females, it is the allure of the dangerous coupled with the adrenaline fueled fear that causes excitement tantamount to a sexual thrill or tittilation that would propel such a female to beyond logic, reason and personal safety seek to put herself in harms way with a sociopath.

    To be clear, I am simply stating that human beings can find all sorts of things or life forms erotic, stimulating, attractive or interesting, whether it is rightful, logical, absurd or beyond belief. I am not stating that I am speaking about myself per se.

    I merely felt that is was better to be real and honest in order to engage in this discussion by admitting that like some other females on here, I did feel attraction for something that was not depicted as such. I really don’t know what explantion would be for it and am not sure I want to stumble along in some semblance of speculative articulation. I do, however, believe that perhaps some of my own personal attractants to male humans may reside in that particular character, but it does not thusly conclude that I find sociopaths attractive or have a weird death wish fetish of some sort.

    Hljóðlegur asked: “Do you agree that the descriptions of the vampire are not specifically erotic?” Of course!

    and then asked: “Not in the way twilight or the Anne Rice’s vampires are presented?” Certainly. The usual vampire mythology has been one of a male vampire who had the powers of seduction to gain control over weak-willed females. The whole staring into the females eye-thing and then neck biting is so obviously “erotic” that it has unwittingly made female humans all swoony and in love with unreal, nonexisting life forms that is played out in the realm of fantasy that diffuses into their real life worlds. The fang skin penetration is so obviously a metaphor for sexual penetration. Why else do the females in the movies and books get all practically orgasmic over being bitten?

    I personally do not find Rice and Twilight Vampires attractive in that sense. They are definitely enshrouded within the whiff and allure of eroticism such that if they were not, then the author would have a bit of a hard time selling his/her books to the target audience. Which gender is it that is the primary target for and most likely to “love vampires” audience?

    Speaking of disturbing, sex, conscious, predatory, instinct, depravity, human foibles, what is alive, reanimated dead, and sociopathic behaviors:

    Have you seen the movies “Splinter” (2008), “Strangeland” (1998) and “Red Road” (2006)?

    I accidently saw that notorius Japanese Movie “Realm of the Senses”, at a too young age to view such “adult stuff”, but this movie has been a cult classic for it’s themes and depictions…

  230. In science news, genetic and evolutionary~

    Mammoths had “antifreeze” blood!
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8657464.stm

    “The researchers sequenced haemoglobin genes from the DNA of three Siberian mammoths preserved in the Siberian permafrost where they died tens of thousands of years ago.”

    “Scientists then tested the ‘revived’ mammoth proteins and confirmed that three highly unusual changes in the haemoglobin sequence allowed mammoth blood to deliver oxygen to cells even at very low temperatures.”

    “‘It has been remarkable to bring a complex protein from an extinct species back to life and discover important changes not found in any living species,’ said co-author Alan Cooper, director of the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA at the University of Adelaide.”

  231. @ keanani

    “”What is the difference between “humanlike pain” and “robotic response pain”? Robotic response to “pain stimuli” is like a robotic vacuum cleaner coming up against a barrier, say a couch, and therefore makes a turn to get away from the barrier~ so non-humans respond robotically to pain and not because of some sensory loaded “fear” or “feeling” of pain because it hurts?”"

    Roomba has those things called “Virtual Barriers”. They are used to mark “no go” zones for the robot – you place them in its path, and it will actively avoid coming into their vicinity.
    For someone who knows nothing about roombas, or, for that matter, any robots, a hypothesis that Virtual Barriers hurt the little noisy thing would be a perfectly plausible one.
    An animal that lacks a humanlike “self”, the “I AM” thing, pain responses wouldn’t amount to much more than that – avoidance routines triggered by a set of stimuli.

    Interestingly, no matter how we cut it (I wonder if this pun would qualify as Blampire humor :) ), everything with a nervous system has pain response (some things without neurons have responses one could call pain as well).
    Meanwhile, not everything that has a nervous system can be assumed to have a “self”.

    And while I generally understand that for someone of highly empathetic character, imagining other beings of flesh and bones as mere automatons in problematic and unpleasant, it’s still a worthy thought to entertain – after all, at some point, the self is definitely no longer to be found in a living being.

    “”Pain as felt by non-humans~ how does any one really know what it is that they feel?”"

    IMO, the whole salt of the issue is that no one knows that (and it will take an immensely comprehensive understanding of neuroscience and cognition in general to take a stab at this issue)

    “”I am of the belief that there are behaviors in non-human animals that are akin to our “humanly feelings and emotions” that cannot be explained away as not being of value just because these life forms are not human.”"

    That is possible. In some cases quite likely even.

    @Hljóðlegur

    First, thanks for the table. I think it’s mostly accurate, except for the dog’s humping, legally that would be frotteurism if both participants were humans, which is usually qualified as sexual assault.

    “”I’m baffled by the eroticism of Jukka Sarasti.

    I remember reading Blindsight and thinking, “uh oh,” when I realized it included vampires in a hard sci fi milieu. In literature, vampires have become lazy writer shorthand for forbidden sexuality, or sometimes addiction, so it boded poorly, I thought. “”

    I suspect that the whole “vamps as silly sexual metaphor” issue is somewhat interesting in that before the “erotic vampires” of Dracula, mythology already had like, a shitton of critters that were specifically dealing with this whole “forbidden sexuality” issue.
    Like the mancubi and succubi, things which are now almost utterly forgotten and were pretty obscure to begin with.

    One has to wonder why exactly a fanged, blood-drinking “forbidden seducer/seductress” kind of managed to “get stuck” in the cultural mainstream while mythological creatures with exactly the same behavior profile, but lacking fangs and weird mannerisms, float at the threshold of oblivion.

    “”The description of this creature was that he was fear-inducing, not alluring. The other characters didn’t seem attracted to him, they seemed to react with cold fear and a desire to flee. That didn’t strike me as being about sexual fascination, but about instinctive predator/prey interactions.”"

    A few things I believe might be relevant to eroticism of J.S.

    1) Humans tend to eroticize power. Blampires are pretty powerfull (in more than one sense)
    2) Some humans do tend to eroticize fear. It’s sorta complicated, even paradoxical, but human sexuality rarely makes sense.
    3) Blampires have a rather peculiar cranial profile characterized by massive jaws and appropriately large supporting structures. http://www.contactmusic.com/pics/lb/guillaume_depardieu_131008/gerard_depardieu_647084.jpg need I say more ;)?
    4) Blampires are tall. Which is often considered attractive.
    5) Blampires are badass. Whatever that means. Being “badass” allegedly increases your sex appeal
    6) Tendency to eroticize sociopathic behavior is a known phenomenon, the whole “bad boy/bad girl” shebang is a rather mild case of it. From the top of my head, I can’t recall if there was a dedicated term for this sexual preference though…
    7) They. Are. Vampires. Hard scifi ones, but vampires nonetheless. Vampiresex cultural phenomenon has long since gained a life of its own (actually very weird, see above).
    8) Unlike many other vampires, Blampires don’t cry. And don’t whine and bitch about how horrible it is to have superpowers. I can certainly see appeal in this.

    From the above, one could possible gleam how some people manage to eroticize Jukka.

    That, or there was a selective pressure for choosing vampirelike partners in the past ;)

    “”Do you agree that the descriptions of the vampire are not specifically erotic? Not in the way twilight or the Anne Rice’s vampires are presented?”"

    They were not written to be mainstream erotic and most likely not intentionally erotic. But given the above, it’s perfectly understandable how they ended up being eroticized by some demographic
    (what we have now in terms of Blampire lovers in this thread, one male and two females? One male and three females?).

    Also, human sexuality makes no sense. It’s an obvious fact. :D

    P.S.:
    Me personally? Hmmm… female ones – I I like tall women, several of my friends with benefits are in the sociopathic range anyways (one intentionally subclinical ASPD), so it strongly depends on whether the unusual cranial features would be too off-putting or not.

    Jukka specifically…I can hardly eroticize, not in small part due to lack of capacity for eroticizing males… And yet…

    …Come to think of it, Blampires are graceful creatures, strong, decisive and endowed with a purity of cause, “unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality” (c).

  232. 8) = 8 ), by which I mean that the “cool” emoticon was intended to be “bullet point number eight”.

    Blog software keeps not loving me.

  233. To distance the human term of “rape” with all of it’s requisite human-centered attendant ramifications of “morality”, “legality”, “intent” and “perception”, etc., we have~

    “traumatic insemination” (Hljóðlegur) & “It literally describes stabbing a female in the guts with one’s penis and spraying sperm into the wound. Trauma. Cracked exoskeletons, blood, and sometimes death (either from immune response or, especially in crowded conditions, being stabbed to death. With penises).” And “If a non-human female demonstrates behavior which resembles escape, struggle to avoid copulation, and pain response, why isn’t she trying to escape, not wanting to have sex, or hurt?”(Jason Stackhouse)

    And Chris in MN said: “…when it comes to any sort of forced insemination, the male must have some sort of advantage over the female if a species is going to propogate. Perhaps conversely, the opposite may be true if the male is not able|willing to use rape as a tactic where the female is in “control” of the situation (though obviously sometimes—certain bird species for example—the male is the attractor or at least until she gets close enough to pounce on).”

    Well, perhaps it is apparent that at least in humans, sex does not have to be traumatic or forced, involve raping and forcible insemination because we evolved to have the experience of “sexual pleasure” as an incentive to have sex in the first place. Does anyone know for certain if any non-humans experience sexual pleasure and orgasms? So what exactly is the reason for the male penis head, and it’s equivalent in the female’s clitoris, being a nerve-ending concentration existing exactly for that very purpose of pleasure when engaging in any activity that does not necessarily have to even involve copulation, penetration and intercourse?

    Human beings are “sexual beings”. Are non-humans also? Other primates? Why do dolphins sometimes direct their sexuality towards human swimmers? Why does a parrot “get jealous” over his mistress’ boyfriend, who is “seen” as a rival? Dogs I do know associate sex and pleasure. Anyone who has ever had a male dog that you shared your affection with probably experienced doggy behavior that would lead you to conclude this.

    Peter said: “…pretty much the only reason people can summon to sneer about anthropomorphism in these cases amounts to “they can’t be like us. We’re different.” Agreed, but it would be that “some people” ascribe to this. So many humans have “pets” that are not treated like non-humans at all but very much a valued, loved and essential member of the family.

    Peter also said: “If you’re telling me that one of the smarter mammals can’t form an intent to use an individual for his own ends while knowing that he’s hurting her, and doing it anyway, then I’d guess you just haven’t been following the news. And what more do you need for “rape” than “the sexual violation of a victim you know is suffering as a result of your actions”? Exactly.

    And said: “For that matter, if you insist that rape doesn’t exist without some kind of “moral awareness”, one could counter that human sociopaths are incapable of rape.” Logical conclusion certainly.

    And: “Don’t know how far we want to go down that road.” Ah yes, the long and winding road that may lead right back to us. Or a mirror forcing us to stare at our own face.

    RandomJ! :) Forgive me for not responding to your post just yet. I need to read it and think in order to respond meaningfully. Soon. As you are aware, this thread just keeps on giving, and I went back up the collumn to catch what I could somewhere after April 16th or so.

  234. @RandomJ~
    “For someone who knows nothing about roombas…”

    I still like to do as much manual labor as I can in order to feel that I am contributing to my own upkeep for as long as I can. :)

    “…everything with a nervous system has pain response (some things without neurons have responses one could call pain as well). Meanwhile, not everything that has a nervous system can be assumed to have a ‘self’.” Agreed!

    “And while I generally understand that for someone of highly empathetic character, imagining other beings of flesh and bones as mere automatons in problematic and unpleasant, it’s still a worthy thought to entertain – after all, at some point, the self is definitely no longer to be found in a living being.”
    Well put. Thank you.

    RandomJ said in response to Hljóðlegur: “A few things I believe might be relevant to eroticism of J.S. ~

    “1) Humans tend to eroticize power. Blampires are pretty powerfull (in more than one sense).” Hmm, especially for some women, power (and money) is a powerful attractant in men. Or women.

    “2) Some humans do tend to eroticize fear. It’s sorta complicated, even paradoxical, but human sexuality rarely makes sense.” Who said the human species was logical? Whether it is fear that is eroticized or that fear, and even anger, leads to sexual excitement, shows the supposed illogicality of human states of emotion and resultant behaviors there from.

    “3) Blampires have a rather peculiar cranial profile characterized by massive jaws and appropriately large supporting structures.” Ah, Gerard Depardieu. Saw him recently in that movie(DVD) “Dark Portals: The Chronicles of Vidocq” (2001).

    “4) Blampires are tall. Which is often considered attractive.” Yet another superficial human designation of attractiveness standards. :)

    “5) Blampires are badass. Whatever that means. Being “badass” allegedly increases your sex appeal.” Badassry leads to that factor of excitement resulting from the unknown, unpredictability and fear that lead so many humans astray in an intentionally blind search down the seedy alleys of their naughty minds for more excitement in their lives no matter how apparently illogical, dangerous and scary that path is and the possible resultant outcome of their need over what society deems safe and sane.

    “6) Tendency to eroticize sociopathic behavior is a known phenomenon, the whole ‘bad boy/bad girl’ shebang is a rather mild case of it. From the top of my head, I can’t recall if there was a dedicated term for this sexual preference though…”
    “Sexual deviancy”? “Sexual Tomfoolery”? “Brainless sexfiend”? “Irrational nymphomaniac”? “Immoral beasty human”?

    Or, just another “normal” state of human sexual attraction and behavior?

    “7) They. Are. Vampires. Hard scifi ones, but vampires nonetheless. Vampiresex cultural phenomenon has long since gained a life of its own (actually very weird, see above).
 Unlike many other vampires, Blampires don’t cry. And don’t whine and bitch about how horrible it is to have superpowers. I can certainly see appeal in this.”

    Human-Vampire sex is certainly a cultural phenomenon, in and of itself, BUT, it still does not explain why female humans desire it. Culture certainly influences humans as to their way of living, choices and identity, among other things, BUT no way can it be said to be that much of an influence as to cause female humans to want “vampiresex”. I suspect that it is female humans who want sex with vampiric beings that has spawned the pop-cult vampire industry.

    Vampire roots go far back into the realm of “folk tales”, Vlad the Impaler, the Marquis de Sade, the broad spectrum of human sexuality and fetishism. One has only to look at Greek Legends where humans had sex with non-humans and humanoid-animals to get the sense that human beings have been thinking about and performing sex in ways that has been reined in by notions of morality, codes of conduct, religion and laws.

    Hmm, that whole undead thingy that all pop-cult vampires exist, as compared to Peter’s very alive, existing within the same animal life as humans Jukka Sarastis, makes me think of how female humans who lust after Edward Cullen types, who are for all intents and purposes “dead” yet “supernaturally, or spiritually alive”, or just some sort of “reanimated nonliving zombie”…why does it possibly seem a bit like “necrophilia”? A living female human wants to get in on and do the mattress mambo with a dead unlife-form is pretty much what it is. Desiring to have sex with the “dead”. Just a warped thought.

  235. Further illumination on the concept of “badass”, of which I have known to connote something along the lines of someone being able to do what needs to be done, taking care of things, with confidence, intent and purpose without fear, without worrying thoughts or being hindered by what others may think, or any standards of laws, morality, religion, codes, social or cultural norms in order to do it ~ the end result may be bad, but the reason would justify the means.

    An example of “badass” characters in pop-cult movies would be Charles Bronson’s “Vigilante”, Clint Eastwood’s Harry Callahan in “Dirty Harry”, Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Conner in T2 or Sigourney Weaver’s Lt. Ellen Ripley in “Alien” and “Aliens”. (Wannabe badassers would be Steven Segal and Jean Claude Van Damme building their real persona upon far-eastern martial arts fakery, as opposed to say Bruce “Enter the Dragon” Lee or Jackie Chan’s comedic badassery)

    Badass is not necessarily a bad thing per se. If at all. Many human beings go to movies to have that vicarious experience of identifying with a badass character. Whether it is about being a badass or a strong character people would like to identify with, apparently many humans think badass kicks ass in the cool-factor stratosphere.

  236. And said: “For that matter, if you insist that rape doesn’t exist without some kind of “moral awareness”, one could counter that human sociopaths are incapable of rape.” Logical conclusion certainly.

    First off, that’s a pain to refute because the verbal trickery employed has be refuted before we can begin. I said a dog can’t rape, or at least, we have to consider that he cannot if we plan to make further analysis, because there is a lack of evidence of understanding of the complicated social, legal and moral meanings in the word, “rape,” as used by human beings.

    I never said you have to “feel” the immorality of causing others pain in order to be a rapist. Let’s say a sociopath decides to rape – no rage issues, no deep hatred of women, just a sociopath’s inability to have his emotions light up in parallel to the emotions of another, plus a sense of male entitlement.

    A sociopath isn’t out of touch with reality. He understands perfectly that what he is about to do is illegal, that most of his society considers what he is about to do immoral, and he may even understand what it is to suffer, but not care that he inflicts it.

    He certainly knows that if he is caught, he will be punished. If he goes ahead, he has committed rape because he knew beforehand the facts of the societal and legal restrictions on that kind of behavior. That he feel deep shame and moral guilt isn’t required at all here.

    Here’s an interesting example for contrast:
    http://www.lawso.ucsb.edu/projects/review/issues/2003-2004/hmong.pdf

    Consider the thorny legal, moral, feminist, and civil rights problem caused by Hmong populations transplanted to the United States bringing with them as an allowable practice “marriage by abduction.” An adult man may kidnap a girl as young as 14 by force, hold her for several days at his dwelling, and sending negotiators to her family to barter a bride price for her. This is perfectly acceptable behavior there; here it’s kidnapping and rape of a minor, and will get you a lengthy jail term.

    So, is it rape? The groom has a quite different take on this than the sociopath, and feels an equal lack of remorse.

    It’s not as simple as you’re suggesting.

  237. @keanani
    Human-Vampire sex is certainly a cultural phenomenon, in and of itself, BUT, it still does not explain why female humans desire it. Culture certainly influences humans as to their way of living, choices and identity, among other things, BUT no way can it be said to be that much of an influence as to cause female humans to want “vampiresex”. I suspect that it is female humans who want sex with vampiric beings that has spawned the pop-cult vampire industry

    I don’t think the vampiresex phenomenon is specific to females. There’s plenty of female vampire characters pandering to a male audience.

    But yes, I agree that it’s more likely that the reader’s attitudes are driving this phenomenon, not the other way around (though some feedback likely does exist)

  238. The ending of the article is a bit too tidy, but I think the whole may interest folks here. Have some pop science!

    The Moral Life of Babies
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/09/magazine/09babies-t.html?pagewanted=1&ref=homepage&src=me

  239. 01 said: “There’s plenty of female vampire characters pandering to a male audience.” But of course! Those old Christopher Lee movies had some of them… :)

  240. @Hljóðlegur

    While I agree that creepy Hmong “husbands” have a different concept of rape as far as “legal-y” things are concerned, I think that it is of especial relevance to see if a given “wife by abduction” exhibits behaviors indicative of severe distress and suffering, and/or psychological changes typical for victims of abduction with subsequent rape.

    Preemptively, I would like to state my opinion that if what Hmong women subjectively experience during such cultural shenanigans is not different from what one would expect in rape, then yes, Hmong culture regards a form of rape as acceptable, nothing more and nothing less.
    I see absolutely no reason to exhibit cultural “sensitivity” in that case.

  241. Regarding the “cultural practice” of “marriage by capture”, and after reading the article by Ms. Jennifer Ann Young, one could only conclude that the American Legal System sees “Hmong females” as “Hmong” first, and not as human beings and/or Americans first. I find it quite ludicrous just how warped the pc-police and the too open-ended concept of “diversity” and “all cultures can do what they want” are still defended when it results in the direct denial of any human beings’ rights whomever they are.

    There has to be a balance and compromise. A two-way street that alows for cultural freedom AND respects, defends and protects the rights of individuals. Human being first, nationality second and ethnocultural identity third.

    I believe that no culture, tradition, religion, ideology, etc. is above any human right. The same American Judicial System that allows the excuse of “it’s my cultural practice defense” for the abuse of another’s rights within a country that is supposed to stand up for the rights of individuals first, and not a “whole culture” as trumping basic human freedoms and dignities, also has to grapple with “honor killings”, “female genital mutilations” and “sexual enslavement of girls”.

    What I find most interesting and telling, is the fact that so much of the “cultural diversity defense” and “allowance of plurality” to show others that anyone and everyone from anywhere can continue their “cultural practices”, even if it is wrongful, seems to be most impacting upon females.

    What I find most troubling is that anyone would defend some “cultural right” above a “females’ individual right”. Other U.S. States can perhaps learn a lot from how Hawai’i has managed to unite its’ diverse people without infringing upon any individual’s rights with a cultural-trump defense. Of course the fact that it is indigenous Hawai’i culture that has infused the local culture and united the diversity of cultures and ethnicities should be noted.

    I am so glad I am a human-mutt. I identify as a human being first and of the human race. Fluidity, openess, adaptability and balanced tolerance. No color, race, ethnicity, religion, culture or tradition comes before or trumps that.

  242. Perhaps the Sarasti eroticization is similar to tentacle-erotica, which is about fantasy and not reality:

    “Depictions of eroticised violence, even of the non-tentacular variety, are hardly rare. We create them because the vision of beauty violated by the monstrous instinctively fascinates us, and when it’s done, we shy from it, and that’s instinctive, too. ‘There is nothing that arouses a stronger response in human beings than either sex or violence,’ Takayama is oft-quoted as saying. ‘A mixture of the two is very powerful indeed.’ Tentacle fantasies are an extension of this, whether one is an observer, subject, or the tentacle beast itself. Violence and the erotic urge have their tendrils wrapped around the very foundations of our psyches.”

    ~Sucker Love: Celebrating the naughty tentacle, by Amanda Gannon (with quote by director Hideki Takayama)

  243. See, that’s another kink that I cannot get my brain around. I can see what’s erotic about a cephalopod – the weirdness, the fluid balletic grace, the strength, and the idea of so many arms, arms that can taste as well as touch.

    When I first discovered the Japanese tradition of tentacle porn, I thought, “How odd that they envision the octopus as diabolical, hurting a woman, forcing tentacles into her orifices. ”

    I had never even considered that when looking at these strange beasties and finding them suggestive, and it hadn’t occured to me that others would either. I’d been utterly blind to that part of it; my immediate thought was of what the octopus would feel like to touch? What would the suckers feel like to the fingertip, suckers and fingertips being slightly analogous structures.

    Not that they mightn’t be dangerous, because I knew they had beaks, but I was also imagining what it would be like to be one. Experientally, what is it like to be that soft and flexible? What is it to have so many arms with no prioperceptive feedback about location, but to be able to grasp and taste with your “fingers”?

    To meet The Other is thrilling and I can see the tinge of eroticized danger in the discovery of Otherness, but to be the Other sounds just ecstatic. What does he see, with those weird w-shaped pupils, what is salient to him? Those were the erotic features to me, not the idea of cross-species rape, so you can imagine how surprised I was (rule 34?) to find out that I wasn’t the only freako that thought cephalopods a little sexy, and that other people found them sexy for completely different reasons.

  244. note:
    Not all Japanese tentacle sex is about rape, or any degree of violence.

    In fact, the alleged genre progenitor (an old painting depicting woman engaging in carnal delights with a giant…ummm…octopus-thingie) depicts consensual tentaclesex.

    Just sayin’