Open Discussion – December 2018

Dec 1, 2018

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270 comments on “Open Discussion – December 2018

  • The December open discussion thread is now open.

    If you wish to continue any of the discussions from earlier Open Discussion threads, please do so here rather than there.

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  • Laurie #2

    A no-deal Brexit would indeed be worse but the suggestion that that is the only alternative to the bad deal May is putting forward is just pure government spin, with a view to bullying/terrifying MPs into voting for a bad deal OR ELSE.

    The reality is that there is significant public pressure building for a 2nd vote, and even some senior politicians who have previously ruled a 2nd vote out have been conceding in the last few days that there may be no other realistic alternative.

    The EU have made it perfectly clear that, while they are not prepared to go back and renegotiate THIS deal, the options are now 1) this deal, 2) no deal or 3) no Brexit. And they have also made it clear that they would be willing to suspend the countdown to 29th March if that’s what we needed in order to hold a 2nd vote to resolve the impasse and avoid No Deal.

    So a 2nd vote is CLEARLY the only responsible way forward now. There is now consistent public support for one, and the simple fact is that, whatever the die-hard Brexiteers may claim, almost literally NO ONE who went into the voting booth on 23 June 2016 and put their cross next to Leave had the scenario that May’s deal commits us to in mind.

    Voters were told over and over again that leaving the EU would be straightforward, that it would leave us better off, that it would mean more money for the NHS, that OF COURSE it wouldn’t mean we’d leave the Single Market, and that the UK would hold all the cards in the negotiations with the EU.

    There are indeed some people who hate the EU so much that they genuinely couldn’t give a damn how much pain leaving will inflict on themselves and others. But all recent polls, including an enormous one of 20,000 respondents (for the UK population, polls generally work on the basis of 1700-2000 respondents for reasonable statistical significance), now show that most UK voters now do have a sense of the huge, needless pain Brexit would inflict on themselves, their children and their grandchildren, and have changed their minds and no longer want to go through with it.

    At this stage, I personally think No Deal is the least likely outcome. Not impossible – with ideologues and charlatans in charge, nothing is ever impossible. But I don’t think it will happen. Despite the consensus among the pundits, I don’t rule out the possibility that Theresa May will get her deal through parliament: she has an uncanny knack of getting her own way, and the Conservative Party is notorious for the sheer ruthlessness with which it treats its potentially rebellious MPs. Tory MPs will be coming under enormous, even brutal, pressure to buckle down and do as they’re told.

    But there is a real fightback now. The Sunday Telegraph is today reporting ( that 8 Cabinet Ministers are secretly planning to try to get us into the European Free Trade Association if May’s deal is voted down. EFTA membership would give us full participation in the Single Market but not the Customs Union, meaning we’d still be able to strike our own trade deals, and wouldn’t be covered by the Common Agricultural or Common Fisheries Policies (both of which are hated by the ardent Brexiteers). As a compromise solution, it would have a lot going for it. On the other hand, it’s not a given that EFTA would be willing to let us in – the UK economy is bigger than that of all the other EFTA members combined, and that, together with our proven resentment at being required to co-operate and negotiate and compromise as opposed to just boss other countries about, would make us an extremely uncomfortable addition to what is currently a pretty harmonious grouping.

    But it’s interesting and encouraging because it shows the direction of travel at some senior levels of the government: away from No Deal and towards closer co-operation with our European partners.

    Personally, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if we ended up with another vote now.


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  • Re. the huge pressure that will be being put on Tory MPs to get them to support May’s deal, I’ve just seen this tweet from Robert Peston, one of our leading political commentators:

    I am told by Tory MPs that full force of Conservative Party machine is being mobilised to put pressure on party associations and their respective chairs to put maximum pressure on their respective MPs to back @theresa_may and her Brexit deal. How many rebel Tory MPs will buckle?

    In other words: support the deal or lose your seat.

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  • FWIW – re Brexit – my view is that there will not be a second referendum – because it is perceived to grossly devalue the democratic validity of the first one!

    I think that May’s Brexit agreement with the EU will ultimately win the Commons vote – i.e. the present Parliamentary doubters will change their minds.


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  • Just in general, when in the presence of someone who has made a grave error, a good strategy is to offer them a way to make it right with minimal humiliation, especially when the consequences are very punishing.

    Leadership is important.

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  • Erol says:

    FWIW – re Brexit – my view is that there will not be a second referendum – because it is perceived to grossly devalue the democratic validity of the first one!

    The first referendum didn’t have any “democratic validity”! It was a vaguely worded fraud, designed to con the people with false promises and lies about making them better off!

    Nobody should respect cons or con artists, regardless of how many times they demand respect for their dishonest schemes! !

    As for negotiating wondrous deals outside of the EU, the UK doesn’t even have a team of professional trade negotiators with the necessary understanding of international laws! – and (with an international shortage of such professionals), does not have much chance of recruiting a team which is much use!

    The EU trade negotiators have dealt with trade negotiations on behalf of members since the UK joined in 1973! The UK civil service has nobody with any experience at trade negotiations.

    If they had sought advice, or had  any competence at all, the brexiteers might have noticed this before now!  As it is they are full of Dunning-Kruger confidence, but cannot even put together a coherent plan which they can agree amongst themselves!

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  • Erol


    Our credibility is gone. The only way we can grab some of it back is for a massively pro European leader and the generous get out plan that Laurie mentions (7). We can’t apologise enough for our brexiters for decades to come.

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  • >there will not be a second referendum – because it is perceived to grossly devalue the democratic validity of the first one!


    The fact that the public opinion has flipped increasingly against that fatuous vote once the consequences of such actions has been revealed has already devalued the first one.


    Its a snapshot in time used to define a future for generations. From a recent FT


    >Between June and September this year, pollsters BMG, ICM, Survation and YouGov have all showed narrow leads for Remain over Leave, mostly of less than 3 per cent. Their polling error margins of between 2 per cent and 3.5 per cent mean the results are statistically indistinguishable from a tie. However, there have been about half a dozen polls since June where Remain has recorded leads over Leave of more than 3 per cent. A NatCen survey found a 59 per cent to 41 per cent split in favour of Remain. But NatCen acknowledged that after adjusting for how its survey sample was skewed towards anti-Brexit people, the true margin in favour of Remain was 54 per cent to 46 per cent.


    Younger generations (as seen in exit poll results themselves) overwhelmingly supported remain. Scared old folk are visiting us with a bitter farewell and “fuck you”. As they die the taste for remain will only continue to grow.

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  • A couple of snippets from the news this week. First on the lighter side the mother who’s complaining that airline staff mocked her daughter who she named Abcde pronounced Absidy. I can’t condone mocking the child whose fault it is not but the mother should be tarred and feathered. Outrageous children’s names is a very celebrity thing to do. Zowie Bowie, Ziggy Marley, North West. I think it reeks of narcissism, needing to gain even more attention vicariously by having ones children in the limelight for the wrong reasons. That’s why it seems to be primarily an actor and musician thing although celebrity chef Jamie Oliver didn’t hold back with his kids Poppy Honey Rosie, Buddy Bear Maurice, Petal Blossom Rainbow, Daisy Boo Pamela and River Rocket Blue Dallas.

    Not so much levity for celebrity scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson who has been accused of sexual misconduct by three women. One claims he drugged and raped her which sounds very Cosby and somewhat far fetched. The other two just talk of unwanted sexual advances. I have to say I’m not overly surprised in this instance. I tend to wonder if Tyson’s booming voice and overpowering personality might have manifested in other areas of his life. I do like his work, especially Cosmos, but he irritates me at the same time and I could do with it all being dialled down a couple of notches. At least I have a volume control at my end. It will be interesting to see how this one plays out anyway.

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  • Hi Errol [#6],


     my view is that there will not be a second referendum – because it is perceived to grossly devalue the democratic validity of the first one!

    I find your opinion fatuous.  A second vote would, by definition, be more democratic.

    You’re effectively saying that, in a democracy, the electorate cannot change it,s collective mind.  That’s so incoherent it’s not even wrong.

    I think that May’s Brexit agreement with the EU will ultimately win the Commons vote

    On what basis?


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  • The latest YouGov poll shows 55% for Remain and 45% for Leave. 2 weeks earlier, those figures were 54% and 46%, respectively, so support for Remain is clearly holding up well.

    Only 27% of voters support May’s deal. 45% oppose it.

    (Source: tweets by @YouGov)

    I can’t remember the last time a properly conducted national poll showed Leave in the lead.

    And I really can’t see what would be ‘democratic’ about foisting an outcome on the electorate that that electorate shows every sign of no longer wanting.

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  • @Marco[#14]

    ”I really can’t see what would be ‘democratic’ about foisting an outcome on the electorate that that electorate shows every sign of no longer wanting.”

    I have never seen a sign of the electorate wanting to Leave. The advice given by the Referendum to the Government and Parliament was that those who voted appeared to be split roughly evenly. One estimate of what the result would most likely have been if 100% of the electorate had voted was 50.35% in favour of Remain (see

    Demographic analysis of the votes suggest that, had 16..17-year-olds been allowed to vote (which they were not because of cost), the likely majority for Remain would have been greater still (and, unless maturity tends to breed Leaveness, the majority in March 2019 would likely be even greater).

    And had EU27 nationals who live in, and pay taxes in, the UK been franchised, the majority for Remain might not even be marginal.

    There are other considerations (such as protest voters, those disenfranchised for having lived abroad for more than 15 years, voters swayed by lies, etc.), all of which could have been considered by Parliament had they been allowed to properly debate whether the UK should leave the EU. No such debate has taken place on that very momentous issue. Why? Because of Government lies and because of the Government’s use of politics to override the spirit of representative democracy  (illustrated by the Peston tweet you quoted earlier).

    The biggest lie was that the Referendum was binding. Had it been so, a supermajority would have been appropriate, and maybe more effort would have been made to let the electorate know what the consequences of Leave would be.

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  • I’m feeling the need to change the mood a little, but rather then doing some posing down the pub and looking slightly rough (old pop culture reference, very old) – I thought I’d have a go at understanding free will.

    I recently read Sam Harris’s book on Free Will. While it had the seeming advantage of being terse, I found it unsatisfying. I’m now ploughing my way through (and yes, it does seem hard work at times) Julian Baggini’s offering.

    Although I haven’t finished Baggini it seems probable that he will end with something along the lines of ‘there’s wiggle room in there … somewhere .. where free will might be found’.  Perhaps by pre-judging I’m being too hasty, but there it is.

    As far as I can tell these two authors are, in fact, good examples of the arguments for and against the existence of free will.

    Even though Baggini’s arguments appear to be based on the same tactics as god-of-the-gaps arguments, it doesn’t seem so much of a stretch to me to think in terms of undiscovered country when considering free will.  Nevertheless, just like those god’s living in ever-shrinking gaps, it does also seem a teensy bit desperate.

    Free Will – usually summarised as: If we could rewind the tape of life we have the ability for the story to be told completely differently as we re-record our lives, by changing our decisions and opinions.

    I don’t get it. I don’t believe I could have lived my life differently at any stage and if I did I would have been a different person to the one I was then, and that I am now.

    You may say that this is the whole point, and I would agree with you.

    What do you think?

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  • SOW

    >I don’t believe I could have lived my life differently at any stage 


    When I think about everything about me that had nothing to do with my choices, I don’t see how I could’ve done much differently.

    The parents I have, the sibling I have, the country, state, town, neighborhood I was born and brought up in, the probably random event that I’m female with associated brain chemicals and hormones that direct my reproductive behavior, the men I’m attracted to, the friends I found myself with who influenced me for better or worse, the fact that I’m a good reader and a dunce at math, the 60s and 70s culture that put me at odds with my parents, my three kids and their individual needs and the people around me now who need help and behave in ways that influence my daily life..have I ever been in any control of my own life?!!

    I will now purchase an Air Stream and take off impulsively for the wild, wild West.

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  • Free Will, is that Schrodinger’s Horse?  Flog it all you like, it’s still dead. Or not dead. Or both.

    I’ll propose a hypothesis of free will that might fit  — you have no free will in what you do, but all the freedom in the world to make up excuses for why you did it.  Call it Determinism With Creative License, perhaps.

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  • For me “free will” is a hoax. It is used by people who want to split you from your culture, the better to blame and control you, or to better isolate themselves to magnify their achievements and desserts.

    Will is what we choose for our selves, but it is never, ever unconstrained. Will is constrained by culture, by genetic heritage, by neurons like thus, not like so, by physics, by our bodies, by the smell of freshly baked bread, a curve of a women like so, by moral roadblocks. It is constrained by ignorance and exhaustion, panic, dopamine depletion.


    Far from being a moral tool of a concept it is a hoax, used, ironically, as a tool of manipulation.


    Though a bit simple, try Raoul Martinez. TED talk and recent book “Creating Freedom”.

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  • Dennett’s “Freedom Evolves” is a great treatment of the idea of free will. Concluding with the idea that we grow freedom by our efforts. From the, soon dead, early hunter gatherer with little to no choice we cultivate it. We can now choose from many equally good alternatives (Beef Wellington or Sea Bass).


    Free Choice not free will.

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  • Laurie,

    Missed off both our lists is the constraint of truth. If “free will” is a capacity to diverge, then it may be the very enemy of a commitment to truth, that sternest mistress.

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  • Wait, Phil, “free will” is a capacity to diverge, (yes, right) but how is it an enemy of commitment to truth? Dumb that one down a bit if you will.

    I need to use my free choice, minute though it is, to get as close as I can to my perceived attempt at truth, flawed as it is by my self serving biases.


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  • Laurie 19


    I have a five year old boy waiting for me on the shores of Cyprus since 1966. I keep going back looking for him but neither of us know who the other is so we carry on looking. I imagine him to be dumber than me, as we grow older, but he is happier because he didn’t have to live with the conflict of living in another culture.


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  • Olgun,

    Ah.  It’s so poignant. This is the immigrants’ cross to bear, if you’ll pardon the expression. I do have a window into that anguish but can’t feel it fully. Of course I see it in my husband and now assume it in every other immigrant too. Only three years lived in another culture and that intense homesickness morphed my mind into something different. On return, my Grandmother remarked that I seemed a different person. That was painful.


    In one of Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s books she explained the strange relationship that immigrants have with the old country and discussed the need to go back and send money back even though both of these behaviors caused financial punishment to the immigrant. I know of immigrants here in the States who charge up thousands for these trips home and are criticized for it but the people who were born here don’t understand that five year old boy on the shore in Cyprus and the oversized grip he has on the present day man.


    At about the one year mark in my North African adventure, we were visiting a family who were so over the top in their hospitality. The TV was on in the background and a scene from NY City came on with loud American music and exciting scenery. I started shaking and holding back from crying. The poor family couldn’t figure out what was happening. I feel bad about it now but these memories are strong connections to the past and can’t be deleted. I hope you’ve made your peace with that boy, the man he became, the others in the story and the circumstances. Maybe not a perfect peace but just the best you can do for now. It ain’t easy.



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  • Laurie 26

    Not perfect, as you say but we are alright. Just wish I didn’t envy his confidence so. It only got to the point of tears once, a couple foyers ago. It was a bunch of fourteen year old students, in Cyprus, and they were at the mall behaving just like a group would in the UK but with Turkish Cypriot nuances that mimicked their parents generation and although I recognised it, I was not familiar with it and felt I had missed out.


    The conflict for a five year old me was easier than anything my parents had to face. I was quite happy being British but recent history has had me claim my citizenship in North Cyprus. Brexit has me worried and uncomfortable. Might need a bolt hole for somewhere that I don’t fully feel at home in either and am not always treated as a Cypriot by those there.

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  • Olgun


    Brexit has me worried and uncomfortable. Might need a bolt hole for somewhere that I don’t fully feel at home in either and am not always treated as a Cypriot by those there.

    Ugh, yes. I feel the same way about the Trump disaster here. My husband and kids are dual nationals but alas, I have only the US passport. Resident visa in Algeria but we may all be shopping for an additional one! I wouldn’t say no to that. There are family commitments that hold me here for a time but only for a few more years. Starting to lay the groundwork for possible exit. I need the US economy to hold steady just one more year but we feel a tipping point is imminent.

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  • 29
    Michael 100 says:

    Earlier this year, Professor Noam Chomsky gave a speech at St. Olaf College. You can watch it at  In his speech he addressed the urgent question of whether organized human life will survive because of the threat of nuclear weapons, and global warming.  Earlier today — December 3, 2018 — Sir David Attenborough took the floor at the conference being held in Katowice, Poland:  Here is the text of Sir David’s speech.

    Transcript of the speech by Sir David Attenborough COP24, Katowice, Poland 3rd December 2018.
    Your excellencies, ladies and gentlemen. ‘We the peoples of the United Nations’. These are the opening words of the UN Charter. A charter that puts people at the center. A pledge to give every person in the world a voice on its future. A promise to help protect the weakest and the strongest from war, famine and other man-made disasters. Right now, we are facing a man-made disaster of global scale. Our greatest threat in thousands of years. Climate Change. If we don’t take action the collapse of our civilizations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon. The United Nations provides a unique platform that can unite the whole world. And as the Paris agreement proved, together we can make real change happen. At this crucial moment, the United Nations has invited the world’s people to have their voice heard, by giving them a seat. The People’s Seat; giving everyone the opportunity to join us here today, virtually, and speak directly to you the decision makers. In the last two weeks, the world’s people have taken part in building this address, answering polls, sending video messages and voicing their opinions. I am only here to represent the ‘Voice of the People’: to deliver our collective thoughts, concerns, ideas and suggestions. This is our ‘We the peoples’ message. ( Video : ) The world’s people have spoken. Their message is clear. Time is running out. They want you, the decision makers, to act now. They are behind you, along with civil society represented here today. Supporting you in making tough decisions but also willing to make sacrifices in their daily lives. To help make change happen, the UN is launching the Act Now bot. Helping people to discover simple everyday actions that they can take, because they recognize that they too must play their part. The People have spoken. Leaders of the world, you must lead. The continuation of our civilizations and the natural world upon which we depend, is in your hands.

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  • Guys, what a great response!

    Thank you, every one.

    Laurie B:

    When I think about everything about me that had nothing to do with my choices, I don’t see how I could’ve done much differently.

    I’m guessing you’ll probably be very pleased to hear that Sam Harris says the same, pretty much.


    … you have no free will in what you do, but all the freedom in the world to make up excuses for why you did it.  Call it Determinism With Creative License, perhaps?

    You’re not related to Oscar Wilde by any chance?  I really like that: cheeky, creative and on target!


    For me “free will” is a hoax. It is used by people … the better to blame and control you …

    You might be fascinated to note that Julian Baggini is largely of the same opinion (If I remember correctly he cites a chap named Frede on this point – Frede having studuied and written on this aspect of ‘free will’ a good deal … apparently)

    Anyway, I’m not giving up just yet on free will – though I have to say that when I discovered that free will is a post Greek Founders of Western Philosophy phenomenon … the needle on my Michael Shermer-honed Baloney Detector went ‘boing’ and wrapped itself round the end stop.


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  • Laurie #24

    The question is if you had the choice between the capacity of “free will” whatever that might possibly mean and being right, why would you not choose being right? The desire for freedom of will seems weird to me. Its palpably clear that we are so complex and disparate in our genetic heritage and most particularly our early wiring experience that outside of parasites inflicting upon you tribalisms for their own end I will be a distinct agent. Wish for truth seeking and wish for freedom from exploiting others, but free will?


    The only coherent use of the phrase “free will” is when part of that bigger legal phrase “of your own free will”.

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  • Ollie #25


    I love her initial questions about a birth lottery and its unfairness and profound impact, but I hate its upbeat, to me fatuous, American style conclusion.


    No it does not all get kissed better later. It is too late. We are near set in stone early on by those cultural experiences. The take away should be to act earlier to give children not simply an identity, but rather a robustness that comes from a rich positive and loving experience that builds real resilience and makes them at home in the world in a choice of the all rich cultures we can offer.


    Childhood was invented in England in the eighteenth century when we invested (literally) in children, their protection, education and happiness. We were richly rewarded (with some of the most inventive and confident young adults to date ready to make the world anew) and the low countries followed rapid suit, then on outwards.

    The solution to our woes may be a reboot. Childhood 2.0.

    If we fix things for kids as a priority, make sure they are loved and cared for, fed, educated and protected (but not “spoiled”) before grown up interests, if we acknowledge that parenthood is selfish unless the commitment to children is prioritised, then we may make quite the moral world, fit for the unborn without even planning to,

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  • 34
    Michael 100 says:

    I’ve been thinking about all the comments regarding free will.  I usually think about the concept of “free will” as it relates to individual actions, but I wonder if there is something to be said about our collective societal free will, or lack thereof.  I’m particularly thinking of the Climate Change conference going on right now in Katowice (see my post #29).  Albert Einstein said that while he was determinist and did not believe in free will, he recognize that he, and presumably the rest of us, must act as though it exists, otherwise it’s not possible to hold people responsible for their actions.  (sorry, I don’t have a citation for that Einstein quote.)  I hope the nations of the world can pretend to have enough free will to curb greenhouse gasses we are pumping into our environment.  If we can do that, maybe we can tackle the other problem which is likely to end life on this planet – nuclear weapons.

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  • Stephen,

    Michael Frede was a fellow at my brothers college.  I didn’t know he did anything on free will, though he did get into early Christian philosophies apparently. I must go look. Thanks.

    Not only do I not support the idea of free will, but nor do I support it from a compatibilist stand point either as I once did. I believe it leads us down paths that ignore the roots of our thinking, that is, how we are almost irrevocably wired from the youngest age in a flux of cultural experience. We are self bred as a species but not self made as individuals.

    Constructivism is my current concern and its implications for how we do morality, politics and the like.

    Baggini has a new book on philosophies in different cultures. I may need to get it…

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  • Phil 33


    But what about the best possible fix for those already effected? The plasticity of the brain and possible bypasses? Both would have to be implemented on the world as it stands wouldn’t it? A Village of the Damded scenario otherwise?

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  • Ollie,  #36


    Yes. Mitigations. Making the best of a bad job facilitates the change, with more functioning people understanding the problems…. but the change must happen.

    What I objected to was the idea that it could all be kissed better, so no worries about early childhood. This is a deeply fallacious attitude as we are rapidly discovering. Early experience is the most formative and permanent. If we only noticed more we could mitigate more, even the toughest of blights on a life like psychopathy can be diagnosed and mitigated if noticed early enough.

    “Kids are tough” is true but the cost on kids is high; on society higher still.

    Born in effect prematurely we are plastic like no other before. Our form is the result of culture’s fingerprints and culture’s neglect… sometimes half made Quasimodos.

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  • Michael,

    If it provoked enough, some extra flesh is put on the bones in his recent book Creating Freedom.

    It details a lot of the stuff I have also been promoting here over the last few years so I am somewhat biased, but, dammit, its right.

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  • As the vote on government ministers contempt of parliament gets underway,  I see a preliminary statement fro am officer of the European Court of Justice has said the UK could unilaterally cancel article 50.
    The UK should be able to unilaterally cancel its withdrawal from the EU, according to a top European law officer.
    The non-binding opinion was delivered by the European Court of Justice’s advocate general.

    A group of Scottish politicians has asked the court whether the UK can call off Brexit without the consent of other member states.

    The Court of Justice (ECJ) will deliver its final ruling at a later date.

    The advice from advocate general Manuel Campos Sanchez-Bordona comes as the House of Commons begins five days of debates on Prime Minister Theresa May’s proposed Brexit deal, with a vote due to be held next Tuesday.

    In a written statement, the ECJ said Mr Campos Sanchez-Bordona’s opinion was that if a country decided to leave the EU, it should also have the power to change its mind during the two-year exit process specified in Article 50 of the EU treaty.

    And it should be able to do so without needing the consent of the other 27 member states.

    Who knows!  Our more dozy politicians might even wake up to the fact that the original referendum was ADVISORY, and they might even START to do their job of seeking expert advice, and serving the public interest!!

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  • Presidentia non grata? Well he was non grata at McCain’s funeral, a man whose captivity at the hands of the Vietnamese he had cruelly mocked, but it would be unheard of for a president to skip the funeral of a predecessor. H.W must have thought so too because he said he wanted Trump there. Maybe wanting to be the bigger man, which of course he was in all respects apart from actual girth, although that’s not saying much because my 15 year old niece is a bigger man than Trump.


    So you’d think with the invite that would be a done deal. Nothing more to say. A sitting president couldn’t possibly refuse to attend. Not with someone as disgusting as Trump it seems. Before he would commit to going to H.W’s funeral he demanded undertakings from everyone giving an eulogy that they wouldn’t criticise him like speakers at McCain’s funeral had done, even indirectly, by praising Bush in a way that might be seen as taking a swipe at Trump such as “Bush was a great bipartisan, a man who believed you put country before party or yourself”. Only after everyone had promised not to be mean to him did Trump agree to attend.


    The barrel it seems is truly bottomless.

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  • Arkrid


    It’s like living in a verbal war zone. Constant barrage of everything from shrapnel to full on bombs. Unrelenting all day, everyday.


    So now he’s controlling what others can say at Bush’s funeral. Control freak. He should be exiled from the funeral. It’s generous of W to try to include him but really, who is left to give a crap about official protocol? But then, that’s me isn’t it? If tradition doesn’t suit my purposes I’m happy to trash it. Trump at that funeral will only be happy when he monopolizes all attention on himself and his idiot wife. Can’t wait to see what Melania is going to wear! She’s out there blowing thousands on a one hour wear outfit. Like a naughty toddler, attention is necessary whether it be positive or negative, no matter. It’s all good.


    Leave the naughty toddler home and let the adults give Bush the send off he deserves.

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  • Well I shall simply start by pointing out that it is not the year 2018, unless our willing to adopt the whole AC, BC Christian calendar. As an Atheist I don’t. Secondly, I would point out that after watching (I feel it should be sir) but Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss touring the world to both clarify and promote Atheism, I feel that dark ages of religion may indeed be behind us very soon. However, there is one religion that we are all members of without choice, without even our knowledge in most cases. It keeps new technologies from coming forward, it keeps the resources that could bring clean water to everybody, locked in one society. And worst of all it keeps us from the stars that died to make us possible. I’m talking of course about money. We are still in the “dark ages of money”.
    I don’t see why most people think we need money just because its been the status quoe since we decided its easier to exchange the promise of goods than that actual goods/valuables. Now the banks aren’t full of gold they are full of more pare or plastic promises. And how is it created? Its created with interest, this means you always need to create more to pay back the interest and it just goes on and on forever decreasing the value of every penny until its utterly worthless in its own system. I think it definitely requires a faith in the impossible, to continue to adopt a system so inherently flawed and easy to manipulate. And is it moral? I would say its not, If your government supports the notion that you cannot put a price on a human life, money makes them liars.
    How does one earn money? Work. For which a person is paid typically a minimum wage, set by the government. Left say its £7.50 an hour, And say that the average human life expectancy is 90 years. 7.5 x 24 x 365 x 90= the value of a human life according to your government. Who else thinks this is what they are worth? Or your kids are worth? I’m sorry but if you pay people for their time are you not owning them for that time? Your liable for them during work time. They defiantly don’t have their time to themselves. Your life is the time you are alive, is it not?
    I feel like I’m the only sane one remaining sometimes. Without money we have no rite to eat or drink or sleep under a roof. Did anyone else notice that in star trek they didn’t have money? Clearly, we will never be a united planet until we leave money in the bank and blow it all up. Then all our cars can run on water and poverty (the lack of money) will no longer exist, overpopulation will become a non-issue as we branch out into the cosmos. Every problem we face today can be sorted with science. But when’s the last time you sat down and thought “I’m so glad science is so well funded” ? for example You can’t ever have the newest latest mobile phone for ore than a week, because a newer better one that was designed a year ago is being released. But we’ve had the latest space technology for ages. The life span of a space shuttle would have far exceeded any model of mobile phone or TV. Why? Because science has to go where the money is! Otherwise there’s no money for the science.
    If your still in favour of money at this point, I will end by asking you this…
    Can you tell me of a better opportunity for greed to manifest itself than the existence of money?

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  • Believe me, Dudley, I share many of your frustrations about inequity. Because of inequity we lose access to the talents of vast swathes of people who could join our adventure going forwards but, through poverty must devote their lives to mere survival.


    I propose, however, that money is an idea that will not be suppressed. Anyone can mint a coin actual or coded and declare it cash. As we have seen recently, with Bitcoin and all of bank’s financial instruments, tokens of value are created all the time and exchange rates spring up to enable their trade.


    Tokens of value (once we set aside inequity) are one of the most democratic levers we have over the world around us. By our daily use we collectively negotiate the relative value of an apple and a haircut, good health and that holiday to the Shetlands, a really good education for your kids and superb clothing. We are astonishingly different in our needs, because of our differing genetic and cultural heritages. We need to find some means to negotiate how we value (internally) every aspect of our lives in a way we can set against everyone else’s needs. Money is that mechanism of objectifying worth.


    Resources are limited, energy, brains to manage, stuff like this and like that, fresh air. We must know what we have and how we can most fairly dole it out. We must do so in an agreeable way. We must know what things are worth to people, the resources we consume and the things we make.


    The problem for you and I both is the debilitating effect of inequity, the suppressing effect it has on our collective ability to achieve. This in many ways is where money shines most. It the the very best indicator we have of unfairness.


    Let me join you in railing against inequity, but I’ll not join you in how you wish to achieve its mitigation, which I think the proverbial baby in the bath water. Fixing this is harder work than it seems, but I do agree that some radical thinking could well help. So for me I think that there may be a measure of wealth that looks at “problems found and solved” that might move us into the post stuff era (when economies are sustainable by virtue of becoming closed, and efficient through being sufficiently equitable) and growth proceeds by intellectual reconfigurations of stuff and virtual stuff.


    FWIW let me recommend “The Spirit Level” by Wilkinson and Pickett of the Equality Trust a member of whom was a frequent poster here.

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  • @Dudley #45

    And is it [money] moral?

    Hi Dudley! I would like to point out a common mistake made in the quote, “Money is the root of all evil.”

    In fact, the actual quote is, “The love of money is the root of all evil.” It isn’t the medium itself that is the problem–it’s the value we attach to it, and I don’t think we are bound to that value unless we choose to be.

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  • The Dow tanked by 800 points again yesterday. A pretty normal occurence in the last two month’s roller coaster as the markets try to parse the latest incomprehensible utterances from President Shit-for-brains. It had risen on what seemed good news about tariffs from Trump’s meeting with President Xi in Argentina a few days ago but of course nothing Trump says or does can be relied on to still be policy in 5 more minutes time. No sooner had he got back home than he tweeted this.

    *Dec 4, 2018 10:03:41 AM ….I am a Tariff Man. When people or countries come in to raid the great wealth of our Nation, I want them to pay for the privilege of doing so. It will always be the best way to max out our economic power. We are right now taking in $billions in Tariffs. MAKE AMERICA RICH AGAIN*

    The most extraordinary part is that Trump still does not appear to understand how tariffs work. Who does he think is paying those $billions he refers to and who is the “we” who is taking them in? Trump has tweeted this before and seems to think it’s the foreign countries who are paying the tariffs to the USA. It boggles the mind that a year after starting to impose them he still doesn’t understand that tariffs are a tax on the American purchasers not the overseas sellers. Has no one in the WH explained this to him yet? Is everyone so afraid of his inability to admit not knowing something and his vitriol and vindictiveness when he has to that they daren’t even try and talk about it?

    Now certainly the tariffs are putting $billions into the federal tax coffers and after the massive tax cuts Trump gave away those are much needed but with imports from China which are mainly low end goods for poor customers it’s Joe Public who is paying them which is ironic because in effect this is just another transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich which has been ongoing for 40 years now. The mega rich benefit from Trump’s $trillion tax cuts and the poor and working class get hit even harder to make up the deficit by tariffs. Yet these idiots still support him. The country is being led by someone too stupid to understand how his tariffs work who is being voted for by people too stupid to understand how he’s screwing them.

    The Nebraska Farm Bureau has just issued a report saying that the cost of tariffs on them so far this year is about $1 billion in reduced crop sales and loss of work for farm workers no longer employed. That’s about 15% or 1/7th of their normal annual farm exports. Farmers don’t tend to operate on margins that have 15% slack built in so that probably means that every Nebraskan farmer is in loss now or close to it. Nebraska produced about $3 billion worth of soybeans in 2017 but retaliatory tariffs imposed by China in Trump’s trade war have reduced sale prices by 40% from $2.50 a bushel down to $1.50. The NFB estimate that between 4000 and 6000 farming jobs have already been lost. Exports of corn and hogs have also been badly hit.

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  • Tariffs are used by developing countries to protect specific industries that are being nurtured. In the US the south was very anti-tariff as it had a a lowest cost commodity (paid for by slavery) in cotton that it wanted every country to take. The north wanted to develop a manufacturing industry and needed to shut out British and European goods, so it imposed (temporarily) high tariffs on manufactured imports until its own industry got sufficiently established. Britain likewise protected nascent industries while developing some of its own. Indeed we can see “free traders” accepting narrow protectionism in other countries, because when eventually set free they might have ingratiated themselves sufficiently with “aid” that a new resource becomes available to them before others.


    Some protectionism is virtuous. See Ja Hoon Chang “Bad Samaritans” for detailed arguments.


    What Trump is doing, however, is incoherent. He is not nurturing nascent technologies (like electric cars, renewable energy) that could use a little defence from the Chinese onslaught, but putting at risk mature businesses whose margins are no longer easily tractable, that will not improve and most certainly not when protected from real market forces.


    This is dunderheaded. More importantly it is the thing most likely to irk his US paymasters, like the Kochs. He is hurting them, and Pence can’t brown nose enough to kiss it better.

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  • 52
    Michael 100 says:

    The eyes of the United States, perhaps other places too, are watching the funeral of George H.W. Bush.  I can never forget, however, that it was Bush who gave us Dan (Potatoe) Quayle as the vice president.  In my opinion, Quayle represented the ignorant wing of the Republican Party that lead to Sarah Palin and ultimately the dunderhead, to use Phil’s characterization, we now have in the White House. 

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  • I didn’t even see this tweet from 29th November before.

    Nov 29, 2018 07:32:13 AM Billions of Dollars are pouring into the coffers of the U.S.A. because of the Tariffs being charged to China, and there is a long way to go. If companies don’t want to pay Tariffs, build in the U.S.A. Otherwise, lets just make our Country richer than ever before!

    So there you have it. Trump really does think China is being charged with tariffs, not the Americans who import Chinese goods. It’s hard to comprehend this level of stupidity about a simple financial transaction other than dementia has set in quite badly already.

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  • From The Daily Beast today:

    Trump on Coming Debt Crisis: “I Won’t Be Here” When It Blows Up.

    Since the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump’s aides and advisers have tried to convince him of the importance of tackling the national debt.

    Sources close to the president say he has repeatedly shrugged it off, implying that he doesn’t have to worry about the money owed to America’s creditors—currently about $21 trillion—because he won’t be around to shoulder the blame when it becomes even more untenable.

    The friction came to a head in early 2017 when senior officials offered Trump charts and graphics laying out the numbers and showing a “hockey stick” spike in the national debt in the not-too-distant future. In response, Trump noted that the data suggested the debt would reach a critical mass only after his possible second term in office.

    “Yeah, but I won’t be here,” the president bluntly said, according to a source who was in the room when Trump made this comment during discussions on the debt.

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  • 55
    Michael 100 says:

    RE:  Arkrid Sandwich ## 53 & 54

    Trump must really think the government can be run like one of his businesses – get other people to put up the original money, soak up everything that can be siphoned off the top, then when it fails walk away with bankruptcy protection, and let the core business rot away until no one remembers it was even there, and let the suckers try to sue him. 
    I was never a fan of George HW Bush – in fact, I campaigned against him in the 1992 election, and was able to go to the Clinton inaugural in January 1993 – but I never felt that Bush was out to destroy the country.  You could disagree with the policies of someone like Bush, but you didn’t have to fear the demise of the republic.  Trump, on the other hand, has no idea what the country is about, he’s only in it for what he can put in his own pockets.  I doubt he ever took a primary-school civics class. 
    If Trump were running up the deficit to rebuild the infrastructure, to provide K through Ph.D. education, to finance health care for everyone, to clean up the environment and stop global warming, to provide a living income to everyone, then the deficit could be justified, especially if he were willing to raise taxes on the top 1 and 0.1% who can afford to pay for a decent society.  What he wants to do, however, is to bilk the American people out of every penny he can get his hands on, and then crawl away like thief. 
    It’s not only the US economy that will be hurt – we know from the 2008 economic disaster when the other Bush was in the White House, that the entire world economy can be affected by what happens in Washington.  I keep recommending David Cay Johnston’s book – It’s Even Worse Than You Think – but Johnston really explains what Trump and his cronies are doing to the country.

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  • Michael,


    The entire world economy…


    The Chinese sailed through the last crisis virtually unscathed though they spent as much mitigating it as the US. Its just that they did a “New Deal” and got a all those benefits for their $700bn, instead of an economy reset by a decade and more.

    They can take it. Its the rest of us’ll be fucked.

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  • There must have been 100 times in the last 2 or 3 years when I’ve thought my mind simply can’t get any more boggled than it already has been but that never lasts more than a few days until the next even more boggling revelation. It’s like some sort of bizzaro world we’re stuck in. I’m trying to get my head round that Trump actually does believe that China pays him tariffs now to let their goods be imported and that he’s actually winning some sort of war which China are paying for. He’s like an onion. No matter how many layers of stupid and venal you peel away there are more and more underneath. Like a million years worth of wallpaper slapped on top of the old or an infinite collection of Russian dolls all stacked inside each other.

    In these times of mental crisis I generally turn to my rock, the fount of all wisdom, and read it to see what sage advice it has. No not the goat herders guide to the galaxy, the original, the hitchhikers one. Trump reminds me of the products of the Syrius Cybernetics Corporation which were so utterly useless it drove their users mad. The Guide goes on to say

    “It is very easy to be blinded to the essential uselessness of them by the sense of achievement you get from getting them to work at all.

    In other words – and this is the rock solid principle on which the whole of the Corporation’s Galaxy-wide success is founded – their fundamental design flaws are completely hidden by their superficial design flaws.”

    I think some of Trump’s supporters must similarly be so bedazzled by his surface flaws of boastfulness, arrogance, aggression and narcissism that they remain blinded to his fundamental ones of utter stupidity, pig headed refusal to learn and total incompetence at getting anything done.

    The great Douglas Adams died in 2001 and I miss him every time I take those wonderful books out of my bedside cabinet and start reading them again.

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  • Just because someone can see a problem, dosent mean they need to have a solution linned up. but I would suggest a recource bassed echonomy, where the automation of work leaves everybody free to persue the things they dream of doing. It would need to be a new way that was planned and taught to our kids. it would be as much a way of life for them as money is for us ecxept you wouldent have interest and things like this destroying everything. Money created capialism and comunism.

    as far as limmited recources goes i suggest you do some research because we have enough for evryone. and enough energy from solar and geothermal power infact more than enough from just the solar energy. just imagin how much better at harvesting it we would be if our focus was in the right place.

    But wait how can we sell people energy if they can all just get it free? how can we sell them oil and petrol if their cars run on water? how can we tax them and build neucular weapons if they dont use money? so many people are blind to the real end of our species issues. I DONT CARE IF MONEY IS SIMPLE OR PRACTICAL FOR US! we are not the centre of the universe. The world provided the right mix of species and scenarios for us to come into being and exspand our veiw to see the whole planet that made us. our purpose should be to protect this plannet. When you visit someone elses house, do you not wish to leave it as good or better than you found it? then why the hell would anyone want to just munch and consume their way through 90 years of existence we dont need 50 different companies compeeting to sell us bread or toasters or different brands of smoke alarm? there should jusst be conventoins where the best possible product is designed with the least impact on the enviromrnt as possible.

    i urge you to look at what the cutting edge of science can do. It makes me so angry that people are being paid not to develope things, it makes me scared when i realise that people who dont take that offer seem to just vannish, and it makes me sick when i point out that money puts value on a human life! and none of you seem to agree? even tho this fact alon is a good reason to leave it behing along with all these isms and lables and lack of education… its like the world had been arranged by a toddler it really is. I for one could do a better job in 7 days (if everyone in the world could hear my voice at once) id have this place running like a paradice. i dont want a government where each person is selected by the majority of the public. I would rather have a collective of peole who between them had all the knowlage and all the experience to apply it. I would have education focus on ballence and how its important in everthing from the flow of emotions to the covelant bonds between atoms! the food you eat the exsorcise you do. and so on. education into a new way of life will happen. or we will all die out or have to kull ourselves into “sustainable numbers”

    there are people who love to do everything worth doing, everything that needs doing can probably at some stage be done by a mechine. (i know i would love to maintain robots) so why need money if recources can be collected cleanley by people who love to provide for the community. They in turn backed up by machines that run of solar energy never stopping and the whole system desinged with the knowlage of ballence. As long as you have ballence they will always be enough for everyone. There are people who love to cook and to create laughter and play music. imagine if you diddnt need a licence just to play on the street and you werent hearing people playing because they need money. only playing when the mood takes them, but being able to every time it does. you would only hear true tallent. instead of whatever will sell!

    The peroblem comes when you put a price on everything and allow 1% of the population can own a ridiculous percentage of its wealth.

    time to realise to all intencive purposes human being on this plant have the power to change everything about it for the better or worse… We are evuivelant to what peope call god in that respect. so why cant we take responsibility for our on going mistakes?

    Apply science and reason to my points please, and if your going to beleive we still need money after truly doing that…  then I beleive (as you do) that you are worth only £5,913,000 oh and thats only if you work every hour from your birth to your death. and thats if your lucky enough to be born in a contry that even has a minnimum wage. wake up people. your worth more than money can ever quantify. so why are you selling your finite time on this planet, to someone so they can sell a slightley different version of something that may be totally usless to everyone? because if you dont you cant eat you cat drink you cant sleep under a roof  ITS MADNESS! i bet everyone who lives on a penny a day would agree with me…

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  • We have gone from a world where strong men prey on weak men, to one where rich men FARM poor men. We are all still living in it cant you see? Its the same shit, different day.

    Are any of you really going to sit there and tell me the system works? It may be working for you! but it needs to work for everyone, everywhere. When we are faced with a world issue we souldnt ask what does it cost! just can it be done? cost in a monetary sense has no place in the future we need.

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  • @Dudley #60

    It may be working for you! but it needs to work for everyone, everywhere.

    You are being simplistic. Society works by people contributing to it and then being rewarded  depending upon the level of that contribution. It’s an imperfect – and generally fair system – but can be greatly abused. It’s the abuses that need to be weeded out!

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  • @Dudley #62

    If someone has laboured to create a valuable business employing hundreds of people while producing products that the public desires, then yes, I can say that person deserves to be richly rewarded.

    Entrepreneurship with its associated high rewards is a powerful engine for general advancement and progress. People wouldn’t strive to invent new stuff otherwise.

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  • 64
    Michael 100 says:

    While we all admire those who “(labor) to create a valuable business employing hundreds of people while producing products that the public desires…” we should never forget that no one performs such a task in a vacuum – without the society in which the business exists, entrepreneurship is not possible.  While entrepreneurs are entitled to be rewarded, I have to agree with Dudley Ramsden that they are not entitled to take the rest of us to the cleaners, as it were.  Entrepreneurs have an obligation to pay their fair share of taxes (and by fair share, I mean a very high rate such as was in place in the United States in the decades after World War II), as well as fair wages and benefits (fair being determined in a collective  SEQ CHAPTER \h \r 1bargaining process).  There is no reason whatsoever why we should allow a tiny minority of people to control the wealth of the planet.  That’s an intolerable situation.  The obscene wealth which we allow the super-rich to control is beyond my ability to understand.     

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  • @Michael100 #64


    I totally agree that the right balance has to be attained between the entrepreneur and his co-workers. Everyone in a profitable company should be remunerated well. I am one of those who believes that there should be set a well defined ‘multiple’ regarding the highest vs lowest paid person in a particular company, whatever that might be. In recent years in the UK we’ve seen manager pay awards far outstripping their employee ones which can’t be justified.

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  • I watched the funeral of G. H. W. Bush with my wife (a devoted Catholic) at the church in Houston.  It was filled to the brim with “believers” displaying extreme piety.  Question: Why do SO MANY people apparently believe in God and Jesus?  I felt so in the minority with my atheistic views.  I got think that maybe there is something wrong with ME.

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  • Dudley you still haven’t demonstrated the evil of money per se, only the evil of its inequitable use.

    You need to create a whole system for contriving the things we want, ensuring we don’t get the things we don’t want.


    Clever parasites will game any system. The trick is creating cultures that expose them and deny them reward.

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  • Jan #66


    It feels familiar to me that you should think you are in the wrong. You are not. You can coexist nevertheless. Well, a level higher in the conscious world anyway. 😉

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  • Jan Nowak says:I watched the funeral of G. H. W. Bush with my wife (a devoted Catholic) at the church in Houston.  It was filled to the brim with “believers” displaying extreme piety.

    I think you would find that in most church services; but not necessarily at most funerals -where many may be attending out of  respect for the deceased, rather than from adherence to dogmas.

    However, this was an elite state occasion, so some may have been play-acting to a media audience or to those they wished to impress!



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  • 71
    Michael 100 says:

    RE:  Jan Nowak 66,
    I agree wholeheartedly with what the others have said in response to your post.  At the risk of posting too many times today, I must say that I share your frustration with the insanity being expressed during the Bush funeral.  We must remember that religious belief equals delusion – never forget that.  And, No! there is nothing wrong with you.
    I assume that you, like me, live in the United States, a country possessed by this delusion.  I am, however, convinced that most, but certainly not all, people who profess such belief do so on a very shallow level.  Religion is such an integral part of our culture, that most people simply go along with the gag, unaware that there is no requirement to do so.  Although most don’t hold deeply thought out religious beliefs, neither do they feel intellectually qualified to question them, especially in times of stress such as during a funeral.  Nevertheless, we know that people who profess no religion are an ever increasing portion of the population.
    I think it’s important for unbelievers to speak up when an opportunity presents itself.  If someone expresses a religious platitude, however well intentioned, unless it’s likely to cause real hurt or offense, I have no hesitation is rejecting the cliché.  More often than not, people will admit that they are just saying something that they thought was appropriate.  Also, it lets people know that they are not required to act as though they believe the delusional nonsense.  We are not the odd ones, the believers are.  I think this is what is known as being openly secular.
    On top of everything else, the Bush funeral is nothing but hypocritical propaganda.  If you haven’t already, I urge you to watch the Democracy Now clip the link to which is in my post 58, above.

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  • I see that characteristically of the brainless, visionless, politician, Trump continues to undo the work of the previous administration, and continues to ignore and disparage expert advice!
    The Trump administration has dealt a double blow to Obama-era environmental policies in an ongoing rollback that has targeted scores of rules.
    The Department of the Interior unveiled plans to allow oil drilling on millions of acres that have been off-limits to protect the greater sage grouse.

    And the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said it would end rules limiting carbon emissions on new coal plants.

    The rollback continues despite the US’ own dire warnings about climate change.

    Only two new plants are currently expected to open over the next four years, according to Reuters news agency, but the policy changes could spur more to be built.

    The plan would allow new coal plants to emit up to 1,900lb (862kg) of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour of electricity, replacing the current limit of 1,400lb.

    The Sabin Center notes repeated attempts by Department of the Interior and other agencies to expand onshore oil and gas drilling, including on public lands.

    It also points to repeated proposals to weaken regulations controlling emissions of methane – a highly potent greenhouse gas.


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  • On Tuesday, 27 November 2018 on BBC Radio 4 on ‘Trust me, I’m a Scientist’ RD presented a discussion on problems faced by scientists in communicating their ideas in the current intellectual environment. All sensible stuff, but it seemed to me to miss the point completely. As far as I can see, the primary reason that people don’t want to listen to science is because so much of what is publicised is bad news, global warming being the most obvious example. If we’re not all to be doomed it implies drastic, unpleasant and inconvenient action is necessary. People feel powerless and fearful in the face of this message, secretly think there is little or nothing that can be done about it and just want it to go away. The only way to process this information is to reject it. They may also think that they will be dead before it becomes an unavoidable crisis and therefore it will be somebody else’s problem. It has been widely considered the responsibility of government to respond rationally and logically to problems, but electorates recently have been choosing to elect politicians who deal with severe problems emotionally rather than rationally. The problem for scientists is not how to explain things more logically, but how to get people to listen calmly to unpalatable truths and to respond to them as positively as possible. This may only be achievable by building alliances and winning politically. Persuasion may well be insufficient.

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  • Evil is a concept and I feel money fits the descripton because more people die due to lack of income than die from anything else exept maby the persute of money.

    Its evil because you trade your life for it phill. are you not getting the message? then your worth 6 mill aswell. and i could buy your time if i wanted to

    If i said ill pay you £10,000 a day to sit at home and say “Dudley is right” you would bloody do it. and youd be my slave. BTW in this scenario im just printing the money and laughing at you as you work for it…    thats what goverments do. they pring paper trade it for money at a loss! then make you work for it. then take some back fom you so they can “protect” you with police and nasty laws (most of wich are to stop you from making money)

    I’m sorry but this topic requires alot of open mindedness if you want solutions.

    we did not create this system, our fourfathers did! we were created by this system. the problem is they diddnt have the forsight to see how negative an impact it would have down the line. If they could see how easy it ould be to own a person or indeed a contry with it they’d have said hell no! We have both hindsight and foresight yet we are still using a flawed an outdated system thy you will all admit just dosent work and lets people work their lives away rather that reach their full potential.

    My fiancae ane I live on £500 a month, thats to cover rent food clothes bills the cats food (tuna) its un tennable to say the least. and we are still in the lucky 10% of the worlds population. its madness. in another contry our £500 could feed 20 familys… yes of course its evil.

    Boycott the system make a better one.

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  • Also not every comodity that society needs has a price tag. for example good converstion isnt someting you can buy or be paid for, and yet you could spark a million pound idea in someones head. All of the arts are compleetley valued on taste and its a mess, theres hardley any tallent being put forward these days. no one can sell anything they make without money being taken from other areas. or needing to buy licences hat are so hard to get you my as well not bother.

    Ive never failed at anything ive cared abut doing, carpentry, Dance I even raised £60,000 for cancer charities. Yet i sit here making little to no progress, because there are no jobs where i live. How infuriating it is to know your own potential is being wasted because you dont have the funds to simply live somewhere else. Still its only a waste and no progress because money needs to be the name of he game. The music i can create is beyond anything iv heard, yet because f copywrite issues DJing is so hard to make money on that its a joke where i live. I play piano, drumms, gutar and sing, Rap, Mix and play bass. i tought my self all of this, i have done all of the above, and i am clearly not stupid. so why am i poor? am I of low value to society. am i worth less to you all than a traffic warden?

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  • Dudley,

    But you haven’t indicated how you would guard against the ten percent predators, and 1% high level predators in our population. Whatever system you set up can be exploited. Who decides what to dole out and why on earth do you think you can trust them?

    Maxxing our ability to solve problems (creating wealth of all sorts for all and being able to challenge existential threats that nature will ever confront us with) means maxxing our access to everybody’s talents, which in turn should mean lifting every child out of poverty and educating them accordingly. Healthy and savvy populations can better manage predators and exploiters. Note in the US how its is poor white folk who are the most manipulated and with the least rational view of how the world works. (Black folk know all about slavery and vote rationally in their own better interests (80% Democrat) by contrast.)

    Again, the problems to solve are not mere tokens of value but how we deal with the pathological and pre-pathological parasites and the devastating stupidity of too many folk open to manipulation. Until you address this fundamental problem of a cognitively diverse population and propose solutions or at least mitigations to it you are solving no necessary problems.

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  • I dont get paid for helping the elderly when im out and about, i dont get paid for holding doors for overencumbered people, and i dont get paid for the smiles i bring. but some police were once paid an hourly wage to brake my mothers leg and stuff her into a police van because she was drunk. people are being paid at the moment to make my life deliberatly aukward. Keeping track of it all is impsible when the government soes so much dissinformation that none of you can see how good things could be.

    Any comments on your 6 mill valuations yet people? i kep bringing it up and still nothing. it took me 25 yars to figure it out. so ill be patient…


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  • Dudley, when I talk of “solving problems” I intend by it all aspects of our creativity. A new composition is solving a problem of under-stimulation for someone. Fixing my lunch is solving a problem. “Solving problems” is “doing something valuable”, brushing the street, inventing the brush, inventing the job of street cleaner, inventing the litter bin…

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  • “I dont get paid for helping the elderly when im out and about”
    I think we are coming to the point where not only is a universal basic income required but helping the old and infirm is rewarded. Paid for wearing “Can I help?” badges.

    We will be entering a post industrial age where manufacturing and agriculture will require no human assistance and even many skilled jobs will be replaced by smart systems and we will need to take care our burgeoning old and the new much higher standards for our children. Caring for the elderly and involvement in curating the experience of the next generation is where we need to direct our investment of human resources. Charging manufacturing companies for the right to access rich and demanding consumers and funding the state thereby and using the state as the democratically moderated engine to administer a UBI and reward all for their part time jobs as caring civil servants, helping the elderly, acting as teaching assistants, keeping the neighbourhood  looking good, sponsoring art of all sorts, like in the times of the New Deal…

    This is what we must be imagining. Tokens of value are not evil. It is the lack of care and downright indifference to how we use our created wealth that is evil.



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  • @Dudley #75

    I play piano, drumms, gutar and sing, Rap, Mix and play bass.

    Have you therefore tried to market your musical talent?

    Having a talent for doing something can be a very precious thing, and you should really be trying to exploit it! J.K. Rowling was once jobless, but she had a talent for creative writing!

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  • you diddnt even read it phill. elect people with high IQ not Good  PR

    then you should have people with experience to decide how best to go forward and apply the knowlage. every law re evaluated every person having to re think whats truly important. you all want the world to change but you are the world. YOU NEED TO CHANGE. we tried things your way. this system created us. it creates the evil people. The system I’m takng about wont generate these people in the first place. so stop talking in circals because frankly its boring.

    your worth 6 mill your way. my pay your pricelss.

    But the world isnt ready for the solutions i have. because its full of people who cant see, but think they can.

    Ill be honest i wrote all of this because i wanted some top minds to see it. not to discuss the clearest answer to our probems with the general public. If i could just talk to all the worlds leaders directly i could just show you all a world with no bulshit.

    The hard truth is that there will have to be another big, fake, war before you all die out and the people that rise from the ash will think twice.

    Why are there no lie detecters in a court room?

    Why mak threats when you can make space ships together to get the funk away from the people you dont agree with?

    Id much rather live in an orbital habitat than where i live now. then i could blast music and o one would get bothered by it. Ive even designed one and thought of a way to build it in space with very low cost and low pollution aswell. self sustaining echosystem, night day cycle, solar energy. and it could be your own world. but this dsent exsist. because you all want you petty consumor cancer creating deathratlle of a society instead. people only let it get this bad because most of them thought god would save them after and itd all be fine. you will live nd die in a world created by jesus. for you its the year jesus + 2018 its pathetic.

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  • Dudley


    Please let me recommend to you the book Creating Freedom by Raoul Martinez. In it you will find much ammunition to use in the charge against the parasitic rich.


    If you want to find out where the hyper-selfish thinking of money men is rooted (apart from say the a lame-brain libertarianism, for which read up on Ayn Rand) look at that epitome of Scrooge and hater of society James McGill Buchanon. He is the architect of that most dire of kleptocracies, the USA.

    Democracy in Chains  by Nancy McLean.

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  • Dudley,


    “If i said ill pay you £10,000 a day to sit at home and say “Dudley is right” you would bloody do it”

    Nope. I work in eco-tech because I want to. I like getting out of bed and thinking I am working on our greatest existential threat. I could get far greater rewards, but increasingly I see people choosing intellectual reward. Slavery is slavery. Greed, however, is particular to a subset of folks.

    “elect people with high IQ”

    Hell, no!!! That’s not the specification at all!

    “we tried things your way”

    Not mine. Many here have their own ideas for radical change.

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  • Dudley,

    Psychopaths and the pre-psychopathic are the product of genes not culture. They lack the all important empathy that makes our mutuality work and hold together our cognitively diverse societies. Lacking empathy they work solely for themselves lacking the visceral motor for that empathetic concern for the consequent travails of others.

    Decent early education can identify the trait in the young and mitigate it somewhat, as we are starting to learn. One of the virtues of having lower empathy is the fact that some moral situations can be judged with greater benefits to all. This is why leaders of countries and companies are often drawn from those who rate highly on the Psychopathic Personality Inventory.

    The high PPI individual when faced with the trolley problem (to actively cause the death of  one person to save five others) more often chooses the lives of five, where we more viscerally empathetic cannot bring ourselves to take a life. High PPI individuals are some sort of resource for us but governments and companies need very careful structuring to rein in their self serving natures.


    It is not the poor that are always with us (we can fix that), but the high PPI greedy. And that’s tough.

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  • Dudley

    Ill be honest i wrote all of this because i wanted some top minds to see it. not to discuss the clearest answer to our probems with the general public. If i could just talk to all the worlds leaders directly i could just show you all a world with no bulshit.

    You are communicating your extreme frustration with the system as it exists now and I don’t see much disagreement with your complaints. Nothing wrong with venting, I do it all the time here, but now, I’d be interested to hear from you on some solid rational ideas on how to ameliorate these very daunting problems.


    The hard truth is that there will have to be another big, fake, war before you all die out and the people that rise from the ash will think twice.

    Dudley, this  stuff is not ok. I feel your frustration coming through the computer screen but let’s raise the bar on this exchange. Let’s refine these ideas. Don’t imagine that we’re against you. Phil has recommended some excellent reading resources. We want to know how you feel about those ideas. Ever read anything by Bernie Sanders? What do you think of his plan?


    Come on Dudley. Give us some real meat now. You’re blowing off steam and I agree with you but I’m so sad to tell you, Star Trek will never be real life. If it was, I’d have signed up decades ago. I fancy myself a Deanna Troi, gorgeous empath in perfect spandex uniform.


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  • Dudley


    you diddnt even read it phill. elect people with high IQ not Good  PR

    I think you should know that high IQ is no guarantee of reason based rational political leaders. Plenty of psychopaths have high IQs and plenty of people with all sorts of mental illness have high IQs. It’s not high IQ that will solve our problems. It’s a group of features that makes for good leadership that’s needed. High IQ in leadership certainly doesn’t hurt but when I think of all the features of a good leader it’s not at the top of the list.


    We can discuss those qualities of good leadership too. It’s a topic that interests me greatly.

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  • Milooshea  #76


    You raise a very important point about the “bad news” of climate change. But I would counter offer that Science and Technology offer the single most consistent supply of good news of any sector.

    Sadly, good news is no news. If it bleeds it leads. Worse, vested interests subvert the great mitigations science can make to climate change. The rate of change that a technocracy like China can achieve is astonishing. They make more electric cars than the rest of the world combined. They have open arms to Elon Musk and GM. They make more and install more solar and windpower, have energy storage schemes ten times the size of the US and invest 40% more in the smart infrastructure to hold it all together. Yet over here we get the negative accounts of China’s former state as the major coal user, the cost of new technology to implement, all from vested interests in old technology.


    We hear lurid accounts of the costs of mitigating new technology but because of the 2008 Great Bank Robbery, literally $trillions of US costs in lost trade and simple hand outs to bankers who didn’t know where the next line of coke was coming from were incurred. This amount would handsomely fix this problem and catapult the US back into the 21st century technologies that are currently slipping through its fingers.


    The problem with climate change I propose is not science and its bad news of a big problem, but its good news of how to fix it with existing technology and new investment, and its true enemies, old money protecting old investments.


    The Chinese love science. They’ll save the world (though it’ll be bad for a generation or two for poor and exposed nations) and they get to eat America’s lunch.


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  • Ollie,

    Indeed, fast trades in anything are an attempt to trick value out of another person. It does not represent investment which can be honourable. Taxing trades is a way of taking value disproportionately out of fast, frequent, non-investing trades, is low cost to administer and should happen.

    Money is not, however, evil and to think it so is to miss who is.

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  • Phil #89

    My evil on evil was the trading of,as the first, and adding tax the other evil. If money is evil then so is bartering. Otherwise we are just gelada baboons grazing on our own little patch chatting to no one in particular


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  • Ollie,

    I could have been more explicit. Buying dollars ahead of when you may need them to purchase dollar-based components in a years time, say, if you are a manufacturer, is one way to better ensure you can guarantee a price to your customer in a years time.

    This creates certainty and irons out volatility in the system. Investing in dollars ahead of time, may cost you more but allows you to be a reliable and still profitable supplier. Insurance may seem like a scam but intelligent risk sharing can be real risk mitigation. Fast trades are simple gambling and bring no associate value.

    Just seen your post…my bad.

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  • Phil #91


    Is there no other way to solve that problem, like ordering a few years in advance  and purchase pending quality? The system hangs in the air like a nuclear deterrent and can be just as damaging as a nuclear strike.

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  • Ollie


    Pre-ordering doesn’t protect you from exchange rate fluctuations, though a seller might carry that risk (if you were a biiig customer) and charge you for it. He might well insure his risk in a reciprocal manner.

    Buying and holding stock is capital intensive and limits your ability to take new business, though you might be able to borrow against 250 tonnes of copper in your possession. Doesn’t work so well with some foodstuffs.

    Taxes are virtuous, not evil. They empower the state to implement services, compassion, one day a UBI and ease us into an entirely different way of working as we become post industrial, perhaps with a mix of state and personal “jobs” and activities, the latter being conventionally money making.

    A tax on all trades is low cost to implement, needing no testing and of itself will suppress the small margin trades that constitute the bulk of  zero-sum, financial gambling. Less frequent trades will tend to be considered, higher return and virtuous investments enabling non zero-sum, value-adding enterprises.

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  • Phil #93

    I have no objection to taxing. Sorry if I gave that impression. It is taxing an already dodgy system that is morally wrong for me. I understand the arguments for and against and trying to think it through, I keep ending up with the main culprit being grown, which can be interpreted, in some cases, as greed. This driver seems to negate a lot of moral crossover. It seems me that we need to work with what we can afford rather than borrow for the future with growth. At least it seems that way to me.

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  • Trump started his tariff war with China because of his crazy perception that a balance of trade deficit is the USA somehow being taken advantage of. In reality it’s the natural effect of a rich country with expensive manufacturing buying more than they sell to a poor country with cheap manufacturing. However his tariffs have had a disastrous effect and the reverse one that he intended. Even with a 25% tariff markup Chinese goods are still cheap for American consumers so they keep buying them. In fact they are buying more than ever. On the other hand American soybeans and pork with a 25% tariff markup are unaffordable for Chinese consumers so they just went elsewhere, to Brazil, Argentina and Canada.

    In Aug, Sept and Oct this year American exports to China were $9.3, $9.8 and $9.1 billion. In the same three months in 2017 they were $10.8, $10.0 and $13.0 billions. The same 3 months imports from China in 2018 were $47.9, $50.0 and $52.2 billions. In 2017 they were $45.8, $45.4 and $48.2 billions.

    Imports have carried on going up. Exports have fallen dramatically. The trade deficit is now even worse. Nice one Donny.

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  • Ollie,


    Investment and insurance are the very opposite of borrowing from the future. It is paying now with the prospect of improving the future. I depend on people investing in my good ideas to facilitate what I hope will be virtuous change.

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  • I’m aware that I am overdue reporting back on

    “Inferior” Angela Saini. How science got Women wrong.

    I’m still wading through it. Its an excellent and interesting account of the history of the issues but I can’t help feeling she is straw manning (sic) Simon Baron Cohen somewhat, whose evidence for difference is substantial and growing, but in the light of neuro-constructivism is potentially evidence of the near permanent wiring of very, very early enculturation. Nor is he excluding this possibility in many of his accounts. Twin studies cannot epidemiologically distinguish very, very early enculturation from genetic influence.

    I will finish but work and other books hi-jack my attention, particularly

    How Emotions Are Made, Lisa Feldmann Barrett

    exactly the evidence for early enculturation having profound differentiating outcomes. Neuroconstructivism est arrivé.

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  • @Phil #87,

    Indeed the “China is the big problem & India” line is constantly tried over here (in Australia) by our politicians.  “We may as well not do anything because China is building x – coal power stations”.  Well actually they cancelled quite a few not so long ago and as you say they are doing much more than we are to put up wind and solar.  We also are currently worlds 3rd or 4th largest coal exporter world wide.  I wonder what happens to the price of a commodity if the worlds 4th largest supplier suddenly decided to leave theirs in the ground.  I wonder what percentage of the Worlds excess C02 (from coal and gas fired power stations) floating about in our atmosphere comes from Australian coal and gas.  Certainly much more I suspect than the tiny percentage of impact of global warming our Australian Politicians like to claim we contribute to the world through our domestic per capita use.   We’re a bit like a nuclear arms dealer claiming no responsibility when the bomb they sold is used on a city “We only sold it to them, we didn’t tell them to use it!”.

    On behalf of thinking Australians I’m sorry we keep offering our coal to the world market for a quick buck at your expense.  Some of us are trying every election to get sensible politicians in power.

    Meanwhile having sold our best solar technology to China we are now buying back our technology to put on our roof tops from China.  SIGH!




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  • Recklesss,


    You may buy the solar panels from them, but the solar energy you people have is astonishing. Solar PV is still falling in price. Its a bit of refined sand on another bit of sand in a metal frame. The sun is the wealth in perpetuity.

    In a decade or so new solar PV technology should appear that will turn the industry on its head. You still have time to invest in a leadership position. (You are doing pretty well on graphene batteries for cars, which should end up being on all cars hybrid and EV whatever the primary energy source is.) InGaN heterojunctions are now a thing and I’m buying my first samples soon. These may create Solar PV with an efficiency of 70% not 25%. They are better suited to very high temperature use so can work with solar collectors, cheap mirror heliostats, in hot climates and at the coast cooperate with cheap desalination plants, using boiling sea water to temperature regulate the PV. This could be much cheaper than coal.


    The point of course about one time heavy polluters like China is the rate of change now, but then technocracies prepared to use science and lay plans covering decades to make money will beat luddite politicians of other countries every time.

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  • 101
    Olgun says:

    Just started watching The Good Place on Netflix. Anyone watching it? So much going on with ethics at the heart of it. Love the script. Casting a woman as the main character with lines I would associate with a man starts the cleverness for me.

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  • Reckless Monkey says:

    Indeed the “China is the big problem & India” line is constantly tried over here (in Australia) by our politicians.  “We may as well not do anything because China is building x – coal power stations”.  Well actually they cancelled quite a few not so long ago and as you say they are doing much more than we are to put up wind and solar.  We also are currently worlds 3rd or 4th largest coal exporter world wide.

    In November, 2018, Lazard found that not only are utility-scale solar and wind cheaper than fossil fuels, “[i]n some scenarios, alternative energy costs have decreased to the point that they are now at or below the marginal cost of conventional generation.” Overall, Lazard found “The low end levelized cost of onshore wind-generated energy is $29/MWh, compared to an average illustrative marginal cost of $36/MWh for coal. The levelized cost of utility-scale solar is nearly identical to the illustrative marginal cost of coal, at $36/MWh.

    Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimates a “global LCOE for onshore wind [of] $55 per megawatt-hour, down 18% from the first six months of [2017], while the equivalent for solar PV without tracking systems is $70 per MWh, also down 18%.” Bloomberg does not provide its global public LCOEs for fossil fuels, but it notes in India they are significantly more expensive: “BNEF is now showing benchmark LCOEs for onshore wind of just $39 per MWh, down 46% on a year ago, and for solar PV at $41, down 45%. By comparison, coal comes in at $68 per MWh, and combined-cycle gas at $93.”

    The coal export business could take quite a knock if importers switch to renewables after squeezing down the coal price for a while, because of cost savings!


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  • Olgun


    Love that show! Phil and I have mentioned it before if memory serves. I haven’t started the latest season yet but looking forward to it. Great characters. At first glance it seemed shallow but glad I stuck with it.

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  • Ollie, Laurie

    I had to rush to the end of season 3.

    I was getting worried that it had lost its mojo. It hadn’t. My daughter and I agreed it finally delivered the moral goods on religion…..

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  • 105
    Olgun says:



    Wish I had seen that conversation. Flicked past the show so many times. That cover is either rubbish or it is very clever. Can’t make up my mind which. It didn’t attract me.

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  • Now, at last, after the mid-terms the catastrophe of lost net neutrality…


    Despite polls showing massive public oppositionto the regulatory rollback and outcry fromnumeroustech companies, telecoms that potentially stand to make a lot of money from less regulation werevery much in favor of it. FCC commissioners voted last year to eliminate the rules in a 3-2 vote that fellsquarely along party lines(with three Republicans in support and two Democrats in opposition), though attorneys general in 22 states and Washington, DC, as well as consumer groups and web company Mozilla, aresuing to reverse the decision.


    might be re-tackled with this new evidence of gross deception involving millions of fake emailed “opinions” in the lead up to it…

    Again politicised US institutions corrupt public services. Trump’s appointee to the FCC Ajit Pai seems in the middle of this.

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  • That White house revolving door just keeps right on turning, as even the deplorables cannot work with Trump for very long!
    The White House revolving door: Who’s gone?

    Donald Trump’s administration has had a very high turnover – with senior officials quitting, being fired or getting eased out at a record pace.
    Here is a run-down of what they did, and why they left, starting with the most recent.

    John Kelly, Chief of Staff – December 2018
    The retired Marine general was initially nominated to oversee Homeland Security before Mr Trump promoted him to chief of staff in July 2017, replacing Reince Priebus.

    However, on 8 December Mr Trump announced that Gen Kelly would leave his post by the end of the year.

    By December 2018 his relationship with the president was said to have deteriorated, with some reports saying the pair were no longer on speaking terms.

    Earlier in the year Mr Kelly was forced to deny that he had called Mr Trump an “idiot” after the quote was included in a book by the veteran investigative journalist Bob Woodward.




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  • OK when i said hi IQ Not PR i ment to say that most of the population are think mindless drones that just vote for shiney faces. IQ was my way of saying we need people who can at leat grasp the basics. and I agree Its not the rite use of the term. As for reading sources I will see if the audio books of these sugestions exsist. but im so dyslexic i can properly grasp a book by reading it.

    I dont think the mega ritch are pssycopaths. and i think we all have alot more controle over our minds than anyone fully realises. for example i have had to turn off my empathy at times in my life. or else id have gone mad. took years to train myself into it again but its more than doable. I wasnt a psychopath tho. i feel these lables we put on the mind of the unique indiviual to be so braud, that they are less than helpfull. if the placeebo effect is a measured occurence. then surly nameing your mental issues will only serve to empwoer them. In short people hide behind their issues and there are many companies that make money of “treating” them, so id say its the people who raised them and the people arround them mixed with the society that allows any genetic predispositons to flurrish. in my world that wouldent happen because everything and everyone would be different. Understand ballence, greed would have no real medium that everyone felt every day all the time. everyone would be provided for. and have the time to help eachother and understand that theres enough to go arround.

    the problem is that everyone is in this odd trance where they will just beleive something because its on TV or because Some god sais so. and then theres the people (lots on here probably) who have taken 1 step on a massive road of realisation and feel they know so much that they just stop looking and dont consider thinking outside the box.

    Life is full of hard choices, people are being killed to keep money where it is. people are going to have to die for us to more forwards. i hope it will just happen from old age. but to be honest you only need to look at how fast the super markets empty when the snow hits to know whats coming soon.

    And phill £10,000 a day would go along way in the world if you chose to sit there and funnel it into something you thought would help. distributing solar pannels to everyone ? 😛

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  • Dudley,


    i feel these lables we put on the mind of the unique indiviual to be so braud, that they are less than helpfull. if the placeebo effect is a measured occurence. then surly nameing your mental issues will only serve to empwoer them. In short people hide behind their issues and there are many companies that make money of “treating” them, so id say its the people who raised them and the people arround them mixed with the society that allows any genetic predispositons to flurrish. 

    What about dyslexia? Placebo effect? Issue to hide behind? A genetic condition that has been allowed to flourish?

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  • And i would, but my audible library got wiped so im not sinking any more dosh into that :/


    not finding the feedback very thought provoking over here, dont think ill bother checking it again.


    If your forced to work to live, your living in a labour camp. All the wall are in your mind but they are there all the same. Constricted and molded from the earliest of ages, you beleive with honesty that you can see the world around you. Never the less the tools you use to make your decisions and form your oppinions are not your own, thus the fruits of your thought making are rotten. but this sweet fermentation blures your illusions making them seem all the more devout. And on it goes as you all teach your kids to listen to anyone older than them, put them on leads like dogs. lie to them to protect them… To many people are overweight, to many people are un educated, to many people think they know whats right but controdict themselves at every turn. and no one is willing to look at themselves and make a change. Richousness over a gross way of life in a society built on war and murder and kept in line by fear. Fear of banrupsy, homlesnes, disaproving peers, being locked away with a load of rapists and murdurers, being finedfor parking here but not there, fear of oher people. and 0 empathy all round. just people who pretend to know what it means. people who think just imagining what it wuldbe like is enough. true empathy takes a conection, to feel the emotions you know, as the other person feels them. When my fiancae broke her collar bone my shoilder hurt for months, stopped when she healed. and thats just the tip of the iceburg when you truly can empathise. so you can all read book that other people have read but all my knowlage comes from exsperiance. most of it horid. Ive been from low to high and back to the middle alredy. poor ritch now poor again. i kow the value of live because ive seen death and its cost. so look at my comments and posts, then look at the resonses. why do i bother? i should remeber what they say about lians and sheep.

    FYI having stayed at the Carlton club, im aware that “go read a book” translates to normall class as “on your bike” so you may want to kep that suggestion to yourself in future phill. Propper etiquette shows it to be rude.

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  • It is, however, rude to endlessly strawman us.


     you all teach your kids to listen to anyone older than them, put them on leads like dogs. lie to them to protect them…

    How could you possibly know this? Do you think that behaviour likely of say American Atheists?


    Why might you imagine your thoughts are original? Cutting a Messianic figure among atheists may be counter productive. Un-evidenced proclamations may be not your best line of attack here.

    It is a courtesy to expand on where our own thoughts have greater evidence available, indeed where we might have got them from in the first place. Everyone here pretty much links to sources of evidence whenever it is available. It is one of the great virtues of this site.

    We are here because in one way or another we wish to break the status quo, are appalled at what we see and ultimately seek political weaponry for change. If you want to change minds, you will need to know where we are in our thinking, what errors you think those specifics represent and provide argument and evidence for change.

    Many people here have had various cognitive challenges. I put my hand up to some and write about them. Some of the folk here in its last ten years have had most clinical mental problems, depression, dyslexia, OCD, schizophrenia, bipolar, autism spectrum, and two psychopaths, one clinical one just high-ish PPI, indeed several of us formed a social group outside of the site to be able to engage each other in these more private matters and broader discussions on science and politics.

    Any of us can have a good idea and we are generally happy to listen to new ideas and see them develop in the challenge.

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  • Dudley,


    I see your comment “go read a book”, more clearly now.

    I did not mean any book I meant any or all of the four I had previously suggested and that you offered that listening was better for you which I took to mean you might “read” them. I apologise if it came over that way. I genuinely think you may be surprised at how many think neoliberalism, laissez faire free markets, libertarianism and such like are innately toxic. I recommended those four books precisely because I thought they would give you ammunition and would enable you to call on them as helpful resources.

    Me I can’t listen to books unless I can stop and backtrack often and easily. I need to think at least as much as I read and over each new presented idea, so I can stitch it together with existing materials. I can’t listen to live radio usefully except as headlines. My daughter has the same overload thing. I, at least, become an idiot in social situations because it is difficult to politely pause and rewind live people….

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  • Phil

    Me I can’t listen to books…

    Interesting. For me, format depends on the degree of engagement I desire with the material. Fiction can be audio. Anything that I need intense engagement with, science mostly, I need the dead tree version. For best retention I need to highlight and take notes in the margins and notes in a notebook that I can review. All other subject matter can be dealt with adequately by E-book. I’m no good with organizing E-book content in my brain for further reference. I refer back to my books often for information and author references within them. It’s onerous to find any reference I want from E-books and audio – forget about it.

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  • format depends on the degree of engagement I desire

    Absolutely, Laurie


    It is possible to convert Kindle content (if you download the AZW file format) to PDFs. This makes them easily searchable and copy and paste-able. I’ve done this once a while ago and I’m planning much more in future.

    A format designed for research from the get go would be awesome. It might be there is a greater risk of theft, so chunk sizes could be constrained, but there is also surely something that can be done for student use?

    Fiction is often easier for me in audio form, given the low density of information, though if I had a taste for some character or fact dense detective fiction I’d be sunk. I suspect I would could not manage In the Name of the Rose as an audio book. Much fiction though is better in audio form as my mind can wander…

    I love the radio, BBC R4 and R3, but once something interesting has been said I have to turn it off for several minutes. Thank goodness it comes with a pause button these days.

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  • 124
    Michael 100 says:

    Last evening, I saw as story that it has been determined that Voyager II has left the solar system.  I could not help but think of Carl Sagan’s blue dot quotation.  Here is a link to a BBC story:  The instrument was launched in 1977, and it entered interstellar space in November 2018.  The enormity of space never ceases to amaze me.  The BBC story says that Voyage I will reach another star system in about 40,000 years (time flies when you’re having fun).  I wonder if human beings will be around to mark when one of the Voyager crafts enter another solar system.
    I would like to propose the beginning of a campaign to erect statutes of great scientists, not the least of which was Carl Sagan.  In the United States we put up statues to 19th century racists – although some are beginning to be brought down.  Why not celebrate great minds like Charles Darwin, Michael Faraday, James Clark Maxwell, Albert Einstein, etc., etc., etc.  Maybe if we started celebrating such people, it would be one more bit of encouragement for children to study science and other STEM subjects.  I can imagine such monuments on courthouse squares, and on the lawns of schools, colleges and universities.      

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  • Michael 100 says:
    Last evening, I saw as story that it has been determined that Voyager II has left the solar system.

    NASA is making a point of NOT making this claim, but stupid sensationalist journalists keep repeating it!

    The Voyagers have not “left the Solar System”.

    They have crossed the Heliopause and left the Solar atmosphere.

    They have years to go before they even reach Kuiper Belt!

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  • 127
    Michael 100 says:

    Alan, you may be correct, but I just went to, and found the following information, dated December 10, 2018, what follows, is an excerpt from the NASA page: 

    “For the second time in history, a human-made object has reached the space between the stars. NASA’s Voyager 2 probe now has exited the heliosphere – the protective bubble of particles and magnetic fields created by the Sun. … Voyager 2 now is slightly more than 11 billion miles (18 billion kilometers) from Earth. Mission operators still can communicate with Voyager 2 as it enters this new phase of its journey, but information – moving at the speed of light – takes about 16.5 hours to travel from the spacecraft to Earth. By comparison, light traveling from the Sun takes about eight minutes to reach Earth.

    “The most compelling evidence of Voyager 2’s exit from the heliosphere came from its onboard Plasma Science Experiment (PLS), an instrument that stopped working on Voyager 1 in 1980, long before that probe crossed the heliopause. Until recently, the space surrounding Voyager 2 was filled predominantly with plasma flowing out from our Sun. This outflow, called the solar wind, creates a bubble – the heliosphere – that envelopes the planets in our solar system. The PLS uses the electrical current of the plasma to detect the speed, density, temperature, pressure and flux of the solar wind. The PLS aboard Voyager 2 observed a steep decline in the speed of the solar wind particles on Nov. 5. Since that date, the plasma instrument has observed no solar wind flow in the environment around Voyager 2, which makes mission scientists confident the probe has left the heliosphere. …”

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    Michael 100 says:

    Alan, you may be correct,

    I seem to be out of date on this, as the current information suggests they have passed over the Kuiper Belt. Sorry about the wrong information.

    However, this does not alter the fact about them NOT having left the Solar system, as they have not yet traversed the Oort Cloud!

    Voyager 1, the fastest and farthest of the interplanetary space probes currently leaving the Solar System, will reach the Oort cloud in about 300 years and would take about 30,000 years to pass through it.
    However, around 2025, the radioisotope thermoelectric generators on Voyager 1 will no longer supply enough power to operate any of its scientific instruments, preventing any exploration by Voyager 1. The other four probes currently escaping the Solar System either are already or are predicted to be non-functional when they reach the Oort cloud; however, it may be possible to find an object from the cloud that has been knocked into the inner Solar System.




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  • 129
    Michael 100 says:

    Trump is the master slight-of-hand artist.  There is an evil method to his madness.  The real damage that he’s been doing is not making a laughing stock out of the United States at the United Nations and elsewhere – which is bad enough, and which would ruin a normal politician.  He has the country talking about his threat to shut down the government over his insane idea to build a wall to keep out people seeing asylum, or his nonsensical dribble about “beautiful clean coal.”  That list is seemingly endless, but    while everyone is paying attention to his antics, the real damage is being done by his henchmen who are destroying the government.  I just saw a story on DCReport, which says:
    “The Trump administration has quietly shuttered a government-run study seeking a cure for HIV because Christian conservatives object to research using human fetal tissue. The move comes while the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) conducts an audit on the use of fetal tissue in research as it determines whether to continue funding such research.”  (my emphasis)
    The full story is found at  This is a perfect example of why religion and science are incompatible.  And, it goes a long way to explain why the Christians love trump so much – he’s as phony as they are, but he is totally on board with their agenda.  Every day, there is more evidence of the damage done by Trump and his Christian cronies.  Once again, I recommend David Cay Johnston’s book – It’s Even Worse Than You Think.     

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  • 130
    Michael 100 says:

    I just read that George Cardinal Pell was convicted on the charges of sexually abusing children.  Apparently he’ll face more charges in another trial early next year.

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  • Thanks Phil and Alan for your input about solar.  First chance I’ve had to get back to the forum in a few days as I’ve been pretty busy with end of year stuff at school.

    I was listening to an economist Bjorn Lomborg on a podcast discussing priorities in relation to Global Warming compared to others.  He basically concluded that doing too much would have less impact on human well being than other things like dealing with tuberculous etc.  Have you guys heard of him before or are you familiar with his arguments.   I could help thinking well for one solar and wind are now cheaper than coal so any new power being put in would be madness to put in coal.  Also I couldn’t help thinking of our oceans acidifaction and so forth and of course he is an economist and I don’t trust them anywhere near as much as a scientist in terms of risk (tend to not consider the whole argument).  Anyway anyone familiar with this guy?


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  • Hi Reckless,


    Lomborg is an old foe, particularly egregious early on, displaying much scientific ignorance. He has “improved” but still defensively, so he looks less wrong.

    His latest ignorance centres around not understanding how investment works and may fail to work. There are not choices to be made between smart grids or TB mitigation. We will be carbon free for reasons of reliability, sustainability and political security. All investments in renewables also lifts the value of earlier such investments, a tipping point will be reached and the laggards will experience great losses and hardship.


    It is not about using government funds, but governments fixing the financial institutions to access lost capital, lost to fatuous gambling, or simply sequestered out of the economy. It is political in needing to Drain the Swamp of Crony Capitalism of old money protecting old/dying investments.


    Rising sea levels are our most immediate threats with the latest loss figures from Greenland and Antarctic Cap melts. Expect big rises in dysentery and disease around the Indian subcontinent.

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  • Thanks guys,

    What I suspected,  I was very suspicious of what he was suggesting to stop global warming in its tracks.  What was he suggesting would be required for this?  So at this point clearly no one should be arguing to put in a new coal fired power station, it’s cheaper now to do RE.  Over the next 10-15 years x number of coal fired power stations will shut down all of these obviously should be replaced with cheaper generation.  I don’t think many conservatives unless they are brutally dishonest would argue that more expensive new coal fired power stations should replace old cola fired power station AGW aside.  So I didn’t know what the assumptions he was dealing with were?  He was mentioning lifting power in the third world.  I always suspected that much more good would be done with small RE in small villages combined with natural gas from livestock could lift much of the problems in the third world and not require massive power infrastructure and massive centralised coal fired power stations.  If India is pursuing massive centralised power now, it strikes me they will end up with more expensive power in the long run cause massive local damage to the environment and of course greater problems in the mid to long term but I was not familiar enough with his work to know any of his base assumptions.

    So Ta


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  • The nature of the extended Trump support base is coming to light at last!
    Russia used every major social media platform to influence the 2016 US election, a report claims.
    New research says YouTube, Tumblr, Instagram and PayPal – as well as Facebook and Twitter – were leveraged to spread propaganda.

    The report, released today by the US Senate, exposes the scale of Russian disinformation efforts.

    Its authors criticise the “belated and uncoordinated response” by tech firms.

    The report was put together by University of Oxford’s Computational Propaganda Project and the social network analysis firm Graphika.

    It is the first analysis of millions of social media posts provided by Twitter, Google and Facebook to the Senate Intelligence Committee.

    While Facebook and Twitter have previously disclosed Russian interference, little has been known about the use of other platforms.

    The report suggests YouTube, Tumblr, PayPal and Google+ were all affected, with Russia adapting techniques from digital marketing to target audiences across multiple channels.

    “It’s a whole family of social media sites,” says Dr Philip N. Howard, director of the Oxford Internet Institute. “We think the goal was to make the campaigns seem more legitimate.”

    The research details a vast campaign spearheaded by the Internet Research Agency (IRA) – a Russian company that has been described by the United States Intelligence Community as a troll farm with ties to the Russian government.

    The report says Russia had a particular focus on targeting conservatives with posts on immigration, race and gun rights.

    There were also efforts to undermine the voting power of left-leaning African-American citizens, by spreading misinformation about the electoral process.

    Another report, also released today by the Senate, by the research firm New Knowledge, similarly highlights Russia’s efforts to target African-Americans.

    It explains how Russia’s IRA were focused on “developing Black audiences and recruiting Black Americans as assets,” which included encouraging activists to stage rallies.

    One IRA campaign highlighted in the Oxford and Graphika paper, Black Matters US, existed across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Google+, Tumblr and PayPal. These various accounts would promote each other’s posts and events.

    When Facebook suspended the group on its platform, the group’s Twitter account complained about the move and accused the social network of “supporting white supremacy”.

    “What is clear is that all of the messaging clearly sought to benefit the Republican Party – and specifically Donald Trump,” the report says.

    “Trump is mentioned most in campaigns targeting conservatives and right-wing voters, where the messaging encouraged these groups to support his campaign.

    The main groups that could challenge Trump were then provided messaging that sought to confuse, distract and ultimately discourage members from voting.”


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  • As a gay man, I am militant in my atheism, however being through 13 years of catholic education, its difficult to undo all that. The mental health affects of religion i know are utterly toxic having become obsessive over the subject. I recall being told that the prophets of the bible were unknown to each other yet their work shares similarities. The following link refers to God “stretching out the heavens” which creationist use to compare to the ever expanding universe theory.

    Can anyone offer a rebuttal to this, did the “prophets” actually know each other or copy their “teachings”. I know early man was probably just observing the skies above him, however this causes me a great deal of anxiety as my RE teachers used this as “proof” of gods existence.



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  • Hi David and welcome to the conversation.

    I want to say that I agree with your statement that, “it’s difficult to undo all that”. Many contributors here have had to undo all that just like you are doing right now. I was brought up in the Methodist church until I finally was allowed to leave it in my teens but it’s taken me many years to rethink the world in a secular way with an ethics based morality and drawing on all of the knowledge that science has to offer.

    Please be patient and work through this slowly and methodically. It will really take you some time to process the substantial paradigm shift that is taking place in your mind. It’s not your fault that you were indoctrinated as a child, just when important world view ideas are being loaded into your brain.

    I hope you draw on the experience and knowledge of this community. We can be a great support for you as you replace religious dogma with a much better secular way of thinking. Also, try to find friends and support people in your area that you can meet with and pick their brains. I never had internet support or met an atheist until my late forties so I spent many years feeling like I was an aberration. I hope that doesn’t happen to you.

    As for the prophets knowing each other or not, I want to ask you if this is really a crucially important question in our lives . We know that the Bible is really just a collection of old Middle Eastern mythology and fables. Much of the material in the Bible is cruel, as we expect from that time period in that place, and much of the material cannot be supported by any good secular historical research. If this is true, then why in the world is it important to know if the prophets knew each other or not? I don’t even believe that they were real people who walked the face of the earth at all! Did they know each other? I don’t know and I don’t care. They are irrelevant to our lives.

    Did God stretch out the heavens? I’ve never heard this creationist fable before but as you point out, it sounds very much like a post hoc desperation attempt at enveloping the big bang explanation of the universe into a simplistic childish story that indoctrinated persons need so as to avoid confronting the truth of the matter – that the Bible is nothing but ancient mythology bearing no resemblance to  the elegance and parsimony of our greatest science theories.

    I certainly realize that we must interact with others in this life who are still under the deleterious effects of their own childhood indoctrinations and I realize that we must try to be compassionate in those interactions, but I hope mostly that you don’t waste a single moment more of your valuable thinking on these silly matters. I hope you read or listen to books that move you forward into a thrilling world of ideas that we deal with every day here. Ask questions! Challenge statements!

    Welcome to the reality club.

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  • Hi Laurie,

    thanks for your reply. I should have pointed out at the start that I am also a ocd sufferer. Little doubts can plague the mind and I’ve been caught off guard recently.

    Religious ocd is a common subtype and one I’ve had for years I just want to be over it so to speak. I know religion can be easily beaten with logic and science.

    You are absolutely right to say however that indoctrination occurs at the worst possible time when we are learning about the world around us. Religion has caused me so much grief and anxiety.

    Old anxieties die hard I suppose.

    thanks for your reply once again



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  • David says:

    The following link refers to God “stretching out the heavens” which creationist use to compare to the ever expanding universe theory.

    Creationists wearing their “faith interpretations blinkers”, can interpret any words to mean whatever they fancy they should mean.

    The existence of galaxies was only discovered by Hubble, and it is only recently that the Catholic Church has admitted that Galileo was right, and the Earth was not the centre of the universe with  celestial spheres carrying the Sun and stars overhead around it among dancing angels!

    In 1633, the Inquisition of the Roman Catholic Church forced Galileo Galilei, one of the founders of modern science, to recant his theory that the Earth moves around the Sun. Under threat of torture, Galileo – seen facing his inquisitors – recanted. But as he left the courtroom, he is said to have muttered, ‘all the same, it moves’.

    Last week, 359 years later, the Church finally agreed. At a ceremony in Rome, before the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Pope John Paul II officially declared that Galileo was right. The formal rehabilitation was based on the findings of a committee of the Academy the Pope set up in 1979, soon after taking office.

    So did Biblical prophets have any clue about the big-bang?  No Chance!

    The trials were not a confrontation between science and faith, says Coine, because ‘Galileo never presented his science to the Inquisition. Science wasn’t even at the trial’.

    Retrospective denial of facts and responsibilities, is also a feature of religious apologists!


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  • It’s just the idea that people writing more or less word for word the exact same thing. When supposedly they didn’t know each other I reiterate my atheism, but how do you respond so that?

    This was used in school as proof of God’s existence that there’s consistency in their “prophesies”. I know it’s very easy to find places where the bible is contradictory. But it’s annoying more than anything. I want to have a rebuttal for their nonesenss

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  • David #139


    My first of call for these stories are the Egyptians and stories handed down. If it is a fact that they didn’t know each other then the rest is just speculation hanging on that fact. They dint know each other and then……it all goes blurry with might be’s



    I found the the link below which really belongs with the might be pile.


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  • David





    a person regarded as an inspired teacher or proclaimer of the will of God.
    “the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah”

    seer, soothsayer, fortune teller, clairvoyant, diviner; More


    (in Christian use) the books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and the twelve minor prophets.

    Do you really believe that there is such a thing as a person who has the power to communicate with God(s)? If you don’t believe in a thing called God and you don’t believe that there are people who have supernatural power to communicate with the supernatural being called God then the whole discussion is completely moot! A big waste of your time.

    I don’t believe in a supernatural being called God. I don’t believe mere humans have the ability to communicate with supernatural mythological figures. I seriously doubt that those prophets ever existed in the first place and if they did then they were just  a bunch of slick con artists that went down in the fables as prophets by some poor credulous people in an ancient time.

    I don’t know what I did wrong with this weird formatting.

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  • I don’t know what I did wrong with this weird formatting.



    Laurie, that’s the formatting for quotes – you activate it by clicking on the “ symbol on the edit window. While on it, if you hit a return and your cursor is no longer indented, then you’re back to non-quote formatting.

    Of course, AlgorhythPhil might have done that just to annoy you…

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  • 149
    Michael 100 says:

    RE:  David 139May I recommend that you find the Convert’s Corner under the “Community” tab at the top of this page.  On September 5, 2018, someone published an entry entitled “The religions were interesting to me, but none were persuasive.”  Like you, the author grew up as a catholic, and even joined a religious order before it dawned on him that his belief in god was identical to his belief in Santa Claus.  Perhaps you will find something in common with that author.
    Regarding your questions about the prophets knowing each other, may I recommend a book that’s on my “must read” list entitled “The Bible Unearthed” by Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman.  It’s my understanding that the authors make the case that much of the old testament was mythological.  I suspect you have already come across books by Bart Ehrman, a professor of biblical studies in North Carolina, but if not, you might look up some of his books and find Youtube lectures he’s given.    I agree wholeheartedly with LaurieB who asked if it really makes a difference.  I suspect that most, if not all the characters in the bible, including Jesus, were made up by unknown authors for reasons that you and I will probably never fully understand – perhaps they were deluded or power hungry.  I don’t know if they were sincere or devious, but again, what difference does it make what someone thought, someone who lived before Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, … Einstein, Richard Dawkins, Lawrence Krause, Karl Sagan, Christopher Hitchens – I could go on and on.  You must remember that the great religious thinkers all (and I emphasize “all”) lived before it was understood that the earth is not the center of the universe around which the other “heavenly bodies” revolve.  The only thing that boggles my mind is how anyone living in the 20th or 21st centuries could possibly still believe that the supernatural world exists – I just don’t get it.  I suspect that most people who attend churches (and statistics tell us that the numbers are dropping) do so for reasons other than deeply held beliefs.                                                                                       In any event, just sticking around this site will provide you with a wealth of information.  Most, if not all, of the contributors have a lot more experience and knowledge than I do.  I learn something new every day, including leads to really great reading material.

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  • Olgun

    That nail clipping thing is so absurd. I learned about it as an adult and laughed out loud at the frightened look on that woman’s face as she warned me. Its a perfect illustration of how conventional religion is all interwoven with the pagan beliefs and sorcery that preceded it. If Islam is the true deal then why are they so afraid of sorcery? If it was so much bunk then why even give it the time of day? I’ve also been warned about the strands of hair left in combs and brushes. The evil eye is a whole other idiocy.

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  • David

    Religion has caused me so much grief and anxiety.
    Old anxieties die hard I suppose.

    That’s part of the plan. Keeping the congregation in a state of fear over going to heaven for the eternal reward or burning in Hell for all eternity for minor infractions will keep them coming back on a regular basis. There’s something very dastardly about scaring little kids and brainwashed adults with threats of torture. It’s child abuse that has lasting consequences for adults too.

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  • I’m a huge Dave Allen fan so much respect for the fact he was Irish and active in the 70s very brave to do what he did.

    Religion has been the butt of many of a comendians jokes.

    Like i say im a ocd sufferer, thing like this make me think “suppose it’s all real” I know is just my mind short circuiting.

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  • Laurie #150

    …Its a perfect illustration of how conventional religion is all interwoven with the pagan beliefs and sorcery that preceded it…

    In some cases, a superstitious rite, well established within a given religious tradition, ends up contradicting one of the philosophical cornerstones of the religion itself.

    I have occasionally wondered why people (particularly in English-speaking countries) consider it their solemn duty to greet with a “God bless you!” anybody, including perfect strangers, who has just sprayed their immediate surroundings (greeter included) with a sizeable amount of pathogens. Surely, a “Curse you!” would be a much more fitting comment.

    I mentioned this the other day to a young woman who, laughing, told me that the origin of the greeting has to do with an old belief that, when one snezzes, a bit of the soul gets snorted out. If this is the true origin of the greeting (Alan check needed), it follows that whoever uses it implicitly acknowledges the soul as a material entity…

    Obviously, just having some fun here…

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  • Cantaz

    I once read a book titled Holy Shit, A Brief History of Swearing by Melissa Mohr. It was so interesting! One thing about swearing is that it is based on cultural norms of just what is insulting or shocking and what is not.

    In ancient Rome, it wasn’t so shocking to call someone the (American) equivalent of faggot but it was very insulting to imply that they were the receiver of the penis whether they be male or female. On the other hand, references to genitals were of little emotional impact. I think we can find evidence of this pattern in the works of Shakespeare as well.

    As for curses, they were taken much more seriously in the past than they are now. It was dangerous business to cast a curse at someone and to speak of God in disrespectful ways was downright frightening. Zounds!

    It definitely seems more fitting to curse someone for sneezing than to ask God to bless them after the fact. What good does it do? Meanwhile I’ve been bombarded with a million virulent microbes. So disappointing.

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  • David

    Ok, suppose it IS all real! So what if it is? What if we come to awareness in front of those pearly gates and figure out that we’ve made an unfortunate calculation? If that happens (It won’t) then we’ll just present the case that even though we didn’t spend every waking moment begging and groveling to the big daddy in the sky, we devoted ourselves to living the best life we could manage to live.

    If we live by our ethical obligations and do the minimum of harm during our short time on the planet and take extra care to help others when we can, isn’t that already hugely better than most of the devout assholes who are currently sitting pretty in heaven?

    Don’t even tell me that hours of Bible reading, eating stale little “blessed” biscuits, donating heaps of cash, confessing delicious sins, and years of bums on benches can earn more heaven points than helping young people get through school, giving nutritious food to poor kids, visiting with elderly and helping them in many ways and making them feel valued as friends. This is what’s really important. We don’t need a building or a leader wearing lace nightgowns or gross biscuits or dusty old nasty books to get us into heaven.

    Be good for goodness sake!

    I honestly think I have a decent chance of winning my case. 😉

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  • Dec 18, 2018 at 8:10 pmLaurieB says:So what if it is? What if we come to awareness in front of those pearly gates and figure out that we’ve made an unfortunate calculation?

    There used to be a rather splendid cartoon (unfortunately no longer available), of a priest, an imam, and a rabbi presenting their case to Thor!  So much for Paley’s blinkered calculations based on “faith”!

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  • David #143

    …This was used in school as proof of God’s existence that there’s consistency in their “prophesies”…

    Proof… that’s a heck of a strong term, isn’t it? Particularly when one is claiming  the existence of an infinitely powerful, all-knowing supernatural entity.

    I assume the prophets they talk about are the so-called major prophets of the christian old testament. These religious figures supposedly lived roughly between the 8th and 2nd century BC. In other words, they were not contemporaneous.

    What is more likely to be the real reason for the claimed “consistency” in their prophecies? A miraculous revelation from a supernatural being, or the fact that later prophets could have very well heard of the earlier prophecies?

    It’s amazing how people are willing to accept uncritically the flimsiest evidence coming from ancient religious traditions as rock-solid, while at the same time they question rock-solid, modern scientific evidence (like that supporting evolution and global warming) as the product of conspiracy theories… intellectual hypocrisy at its best…

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  • Very disturbing just now watching the BBC ten o’clock news. It started off with Trump,Trump,Trump deciding to pull troops out of Syria and then went on to the new biggest threat to America being China but didn’t mention Trump once we n that report. Because of the first I have no confidence in the second or the BBC for that matter.

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  • I’m pretty happy with the BBC, compared with any US outlet. Al Jazeera remains stellar, however.


    Rich Americans will take their investments to China. Musk. GM. GM already sells 30% more cars into China than the US. China already makes more electric cars than the rest of the world combined. Technocracies will always beat kleptocracies.


    The US must get smart dirigiste enough, not Lysenko faux technocratic, with coal fuelled Escalades.


    The problem is very much pre-Trump. The USA got broken in 1980. Sanders has the pragmatic, less ideological plan, a more mixed economy.

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  • Phil #162


    I am questioning my focus when I watch the BBC but my concern is more what they leave out rather than what is said. You get all the fillers on Al Jazeera which put a whole new perspective on things. Even Newsnight seems to have gone a bit soft lately.

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  • Coming in late on this, but there was mention of cultural rules around nail clippings and possibly hair (on a hairbrush).

    It’s always struck me as curious that tales of witchcraft have these items (hair and nail clippings) as ingredients required to target a curse to a specific individual.   Is that a long standing thing, or has it all been made up more recently,  by JK Rowling and her predecessors?

    Because, if it is part of the Ancient Lore, it seems to be fortuitously apt to require a sample of the victim’s DNA to make a targeted affliction.   Almost as if someone foresaw the day when DNA-specific targeted pathogens could be engineered in a laboratory.  If we’re not there already, we’re probably not far off.

    I’d appreciate your thoughts on this curiosity. Or prophecy.

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  • Cantaz # 159

    It’s amazing how people are willing to accept uncritically the flimsiest evidence coming from ancient religious traditions as rock-solid, while at the same time they question rock-solid, modern scientific evidence

    Of course they would do that! The former ‘evidence’ promises a ‘happy’ afterlife, while the latter plainly doesn’t, and even predicts an apocalypse through global warming which many people recoil at, and ultimately reject because of the notion that the deity of the former wouldn’t allow it to happen! The unfortunate fact remains that the majority of the earth’s population is incapable of critical thought.

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  • Hi Ollie.


    I don’t get to watch Newsnight so often these days. Because of work and travel I am mostly radio. I will go and check a few whole episodes. Perhaps though it is better to compare and contrast BBC News 24 with Al Jazeera?


    Cantaz, Erol, all.

    I’m currently reading “The Enigma of Reason”, “A New Theory of Human Understanding,” byDan Sperber,

    A new hypothesis, of course, still to prove itself, but with some power to explain I think.

    Reason he argues is the evolutionary response to the need of persuading others. This has profound implications for our muddling it with logical processes or evidence or corroborated evidence. He maps out a whole evolutionary progress of this tool for mutuality, parting it once and for all at base with any personal route to enlightenment. Much irrationality gets explained by this.

    I’m hoping, as the book progresses, the advent of formal logic and reliable evidence finding  is seen as subsequent to a good enough evolutionary round of competitive persuading, demanding of truths, finally bringing the new cultural tools back for personal, reality testing and enlightenment. This would be like a mirror of our developed sense of self. Many think we modeled others before we thought to model ourselves. Others, now and in the past, make us and equip us.

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  • Phil #167

    “The Enigma of Reason; A New Theory of Human Understanding”

    Yet another last-minute item for my Christmas-gifts wishlist!

    Reason he argues is the evolutionary response to the need of persuading others

    I’m curious to read the details of his rationale for how this would have resulted in greater reproductive success at the dawn of the human species, when, as far as we know, people lived in small troops of hunter-gatherers, likely all genetically related to each other (siblings, cousins, etc)… perhaps the best “reasoners” had greater success in “persuading” potential mates from other troops?

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  • Olgun and Cantaz

    When I think about this hair and nail clippings idea, I’m wondering if hair and nails clippings aren’t just a part of the human body that is easy to collect and hold as representative of another person that we have an oversized interest in. What else do we cast off on a regular basis? Urine and feces which have serious downsides to collectors.  haha. Oh, and sweat – It might sound bizarre on the face of it but it’s not entirely unusual for someone to hold an article of clothing that belongs to the beloved which has been worn for a time and now smells just like them. Also hoarded for psychological pleasure are objects that were important and loved by the other and now exist as a direct reminder of the importance of their former owner.

    I am also reminded of the emotional attachment to photographs Supposedly, there were primitive tribes that prohibited the taking of their photos because they believed part of their soul would be stolen along with that photo. There’s power in these representational objects. They exist as a transition between two people, sometimes for good and sometimes for bad. It seems an easy leap to make. If a very personal object that I hold in my hand can bring someone’s presence directly to me emotionally then I could use it for personal comfort or use it for more nefarious purposes – to harm them.

    I have objects here in my house that belonged to my wonderful grandparents, great uncle, etc. and when I hold them and even just look at them they have a comforting effect on me. Although I don’t believe they have a connection with any spirit world or supernatural connection, I can see how someone who does believe in afterlife and spirits and souls would definitely give these objects a magical quality. If that object is an actual part of that person’s body – like their hair or nail clippings or anything else that could be collected, well then that would be even closer to having that person right there with us. It’s a direct connection.


    Dear RD if you’re out there. I was wondering if perhaps the next time you see fit to have those locks trimmed if you could just reach down on the floor and scoop some up and just forward the object to me at your earliest possible convenience – tied with a thin satin ribbon, let’s say….




    And now that I think about it…some of those iconic Pinker curls to add to my collection..I’ll own a small piece of his soul…Only to be used for good, I swear it!

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  • O’Hooligan

    I learned about the hair/nail clippings from elderly people in North Africa. Even as I was being warned about callously discarding these items, some of the young people in earshot were seen to roll their eyes about their elder’s superstitions. I think these superstitions must be very old and not made up by Rowling.

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  • Phil #167


    Yes, that would be a better comparison but the rest need to be better as they have the masses as viewers. Dumbing down is not an option for me. There seems to be some sort of censorship but am not sure what that entails. I like to think it’s because they feel socially responsible and it is thought out but it feels like it’s more controlling than that.

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  • Laurie #169

    On reading OHooligans questions, my mind went directly to two things. One was the images of elephants stroking the bones of dead relatives and the other was Bruce Parry, I think, talking to a cannibal who said he had killed and eaten the liver of a man who, had killed and eaten the liver of his brother and now he thought he had the power of three men. If the elephant had pockets, would it put a piece of those bones in it and carry it around with it?


    If we take the non-spiritual curses of the Egyptians, in my link above, who used the wrath of someone living in their curses, then it doesn’t take much imagination for it to work it’s way into the spiritual world as stronger deterrents were needed. The threats of the wrath of gods then escalate and we get the one vengeful Abrahamic god of today. As I have come to learn by being on this forum, there is no definitive beginning for these things but a gradual evolution and survival rate socially driven. I saw quite a few of the Turkish evil eye trinkets in the council flats I worked in. Many in English households brought back from a holiday or given to them by a Turkish neighbour. I often wondered what effect this would have on these people, and how they would pass it on to their families, as one asked me to be careful as I removed one of these eyes of the wall so I could do my work. She believed it was helping her ward off jealous neighbors.

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  • Phil #167

    Your ‘Enigma’ book looks quite interesting – I’ve just requested a copy through our local library.

    For me, in very simplistic terms, in order to reason one needs to always ask ‘why’ and then drilling down to its most basic level. Many people seem too lazy to do that!

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  • Damn you Cantaz and your meddling with my fantasies!!


    Even so, I guess I’ll take the clippings and do the best I can with them. Despite my initial disappointment I’m sure it would all work out for the best. Always look on the bright side I always say!  😀

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  • LaurieB says:

    I learned about the hair/nail clippings from elderly people in North Africa. Even as I was being warned about callously discarding these items, some of the young people in earshot were seen to roll their eyes about their elder’s superstitions. I think these superstitions must be very old and not made up by Rowling.

    In terms tribal hunter gatherers, it is quite likely that from millennia back  they were aware, that their dogs could identify and track people (or animals) from the scent on hair. –

    Or that prey animals could be scared off by the scent of humans.

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  • Phil #167

    The more I think about it, the less convincing it seems that “persuading others” may have been what originally set off the selection pressure for the emergence of reasoning abilities in humans. First off, it’s unclear to me how an individual with higher reasoning abilities would be better at convincing other individuals not so gifted – I’d expect them to have a heck of a time following the smarter gal’s or dude’s reasoning.

    Likely, the better reasoner would be better at taking advantage of the poorer reasoners, but in this case how is the new theory different from “The machiavellian intelligence” type of theory?

    Need to read the book…

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  • Cantaz


    Even worse on a phone. I go back to home page and hit the last post made on that thread. Phil has already asked for an up button but think we need a down too.

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  • 182
    Michael 100 says:

    RE: Cantaz 179, who asks if there is a way to get to the bottom of long threads when using a tablet.  Here is a suggestion:  On the very first page, rather than clicking on the open discussion button, go down just a little way to “recent comments,” and click on the most recent comment on the thread you want to read.  That will take you to the last page of the thread.

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  • Cantaz #178

    For myself I am persuaded about persuasion. This is cultural as well as genetic evolution and the need for co-operation in better hunting, better gathering, agriculture, division of labour and bigger groupings to create societies with differing functional parts, and re-learn the virtues of more distant borders, points to a need for sophisticated co-operation.

    Language probably became sophisticated around forty thousand years ago with the advent of tenses and abstract ideas. This need to persuade may have been a driver for its appearance. I’d like to think so as I have my own hypotheses in relation to this, including the invention of grandparents, instructional folk without the ability to get their own food, but able to “sing” for it.



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  • Phil #183

    I obviously agree on reason having played an important role in persuasion, even very early in cultural evolution – I am skeptical though that persuading others was the original fundamental factor that conveyed a survival/reproductive advantage which caused reason to evolve.

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  • Cantaz,


    Are you sure you are not over specifying reason? It starts with giving reasons why your companion should do X with you. These start simple. I can’t carry this home and we can share it. If I distract the lion for long enough you should be able to steal the rest of the gazelle. It then progresses to, don’t help him, help me, I’m stronger and can carry more.

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  • Just finished watching a program on wolves and dogs around the world. Seeing the grey wolves first sort out hierarchy and then where they are placed when hunting, regardless of their success, I couldn’t help but think their next step, once language kicks in, would be a comity to brainstorm and get better results. Those that can plan better and who might not be high ranking get a say and move further up the ranks?

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  • Phil,

    Are you sure you are not over specifying reason?

    Maybe I am.

    my skepticism about the “persuasion” idea comes in part fom my observations (a long while ago) of chimpanzee behavior. Often times the “smartest” chimps (e.g., better at figuring out how to get to hard-to-reach food, by using “tools”, for example) were low ranking ones (often females). Typically, the more dominant chimps (invariably a male at the very top) would just keep an eye on the low-ranking chimp, let it finish its feat of reasoning and then bully it and just steal the food from it by force… of course, early humans were not chimps, but even in our modern times there is plenty of evidence suggesting that “persuasion” is often very effectively achieved through threats, veiled or not (typical example, the idea of hell).

    Of course, it is quite likely that there were multiple overlapping factors which contributed to the original selection pressure for the emergence of reason, so claiming that just or mainly one factor was responsible for it is likely an oversimplification.



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  • Olgun # 187

    I agree that would be an impressive act of persuasion, but one could explain it quite well under the “Machiavellian intelligence” theory… same for the “clever monkeys” in Attenborough’s clip (thanks much for sending, BTW); this was the point I made in previous comment to Phil (see #178).


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  • The best argument that I can counter the persuasion argument for reasoning is indeed the parallel alternative or supplementary development of some kind of logical skills.


    An all time favourite



    But in part this is the result of a progressive “conversation” with the researcher, leading to a cascade of skills. In the wild solutions are much more modest and even then they may have an element of interaction. Indeed, we get into the evolving world of memes, first of all via muscle memories, hitting with stones to make a noise or defend, persuading others of its merit by your obvious emotional engagement. The stronger ones hit shellfish, later, to good effect.

    Just to note, reasons don’t have to be true in any sense, but in evolving there is an arms race of truth and lying, validation and discovery.

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  • @David  #139

    Hi David welcome,

    I’ve been off the site for a number of days as I’ve been on holiday’s in a nearby island paradise Lovely.

    Anyway, took an interest in your comments and had a brief look at the site in question.

    Have a look at the wording in all the statements, does anything seem specific or truly descriptive in any way that could be considered scientific.  Aside from the numerous flaws in what is being said for example all have the earth being created before the rest of the universe which is in complete contradiction to the actual evidence and would require a trickster god to set it up to make the universe look older than earth, all of these comments are vague and hand waving and illustrate magical thinking.  To then use post hoc rationalisation is amusing.

    Now go and have a look at this


    Notice how these are able to be clear and unambiguous once you have figured out the code – yes it assumes in this case that aliens are highly technological but God had it easier, people already shared language and some could write.  So the complexity clear communication in the bible is far easier and yet we get vague statements that read like magic and have none of the precision required in genuine unambiguous communication.  Just something thrown in there like the size of an atom, the existence of electrons, along with predictions would have been useful.  Even something like the recipe for soap and a religious demand to use it before meals would have saved countless lives.  Nothing.

    There is a very good way of testing these sorts of predictions and the validity of these passages as descriptions of say the Big Bang.  Did anyone use these to predict the big bang?  If not why not?  The answer of course is no it was Hubble discovering spectroscopic traces of red light shift in most galaxies that led to Hubble’s law and then the implication of this that led to the conclusion that once the universe had started in a massive expansion.

    The religious are very good at re-purposing vague passages to mean something else – what is telling is that they are useless at making a prediction that leads to new knowledge **until** it is discovered independently by science in this case, then they exclaim that they knew it all along and god was revealing it to us from the beginning.  Is their god really not capable of directing writing in his name sufficient to actually communicate specific information?

    If our civilisation crumbled and re-built itself and someone was able to discover a large city library intact (somehow the language had survived) how much of the knowledge of our modern world could be re-built?  Could we re-discover welding, casting of metals, making alloys, electronics, atomic structure, the nature of DNA, Chemistry, manufacturing processes, how to build and fly aircraft?  Yes we could in fact I’d argue that if you could take a set of high school text books back a couple of thousand years we might have reached the Moon 1500 years ago.

    Now how much of a crumbled civilisation could we re-build with the bible? We could re-discover the need to burn witches, to stone homosexuals, the need to avoid pork, animal sacrifice, that bats are birds, the ability to measure someones holiness on the basis of their willingness to kill their own child and so on and so on.  The internal contradictions would be as apparent and as open to interpretation that within a decade or so of its acceptance we’d have numerous religious sects, heresy trials and so on.

    Science builds civilisations, philosophy builds civilised humans (at its best), religion tears us apart.


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  • Having looked at the economic consequences of his trade wars , government shut down, and general stupidity, guess what the results of Trump’s own analysis has come up with as an answer?
    President Donald Trump has lashed out at the US central bank for stock market turmoil, saying the American economy’s only problem is the Fed itself.

    It’s those damned economists who keep measuring things, and lack “faith” in Truponomics!  🙂


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  • Oh FFS. President shit for brains finally visits the troops and thern tweets a photo of his big fat orange face grinning with Seal Team 5 whose location is meant to be secret. There’s a village idiot out there somewhere who would be rightfully indignant if he got compared with Trump.

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  • So now we’re all (hopefully!) beginning to emerge from the Christmas food, drink, games and family visits, what are your thoughts about 2019?

    Will Trump still be president this time next year?
    Will he run in 2020?
    If Trump were impeached or stood down of his own volition, would Mike Pence really be so very much worse? (I was so struck by those pictures of him doing his mannequin impression in that stormy meeting between Trump and Pelosi & Schumer the other week. That’s not how I picture a man hungry for power. Don’t you think that, whatever his other failings, he would at least be more likely to listen to his advisors than Trump is? Or is he just playing dead, biding his time, waiting to jump into Trump’s shoes should they become vacant?)

    And in Britain, with 92 days to go until the Brexit date set by our triggering of Article 50 (11pm GMT on 29th March), will it actually happen?
    Will May’s lies about the only options available to the country being either her deal or no deal work with MPs? Will they allow themselves to be bullied into supporting her deal?
    Or will they hold out for a People’s Vote, given that every single major poll over the last 2+ months has shown that most of the electorate now wants one?
    Or … will the government just kick its heels and stall and drag things out so as to just get past 29th March and let No Deal happen by default (given that Parliament will never vote for that)?
    Will there be a general election, and if there is, will it change the current composition of the House of Commons significantly?

    We never know what the New Year will bring, and it always holds some surprises, but I can’t remember a time when so many hugely significant things were so entirely up in the air. It’s all just speculation, of course, but it beats most other party games and I’d be interested in people’s thoughts …

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  • What a fascinating article, Olgun. And how prescient – nearly 46 years old! 

    I think it makes a very strong argument. I’d add to it, though, and say that potential candidates for the presidency need to be vetted far more rigorously in future. It’s just not good enough to say that if Candidate X can get enough votes, s/he can be catapaulted to the most powerful position in the world despite being utterly unsuited to that position in intellect, experience and character. No multinational corporation would appoint a reality TV ‘personality’ as CEO: to even make it through the initial vetting process, every candidate for the position would need to be able to demonstrate genuine knowledge and understanding of the business sector concerned, masses of relevant experience, suitability of every kind. The same should be true of the presidency. Running a country is not the same as running a business. It’s certainly not the same as turning yourself into a ‘celebrity’. 

    And the vetting is all the more urgently required in the internet age, when the brashest, most ignorant loudmouth can froth up far more followers than more thoughtful, better informed, more rational and more pragmatic commentators can ever hope to do.

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  • Marco

    My first thoughts are, how far do we go with this vetting system? When and if it fails that is. Do we then DNA profile them and experiment that way?

    Leaders also have the pressure of  party politics that sway decisions and can lead to adherence to wrong decisions as in the case of Brexit. Committee decisions can be more stabilising through a slower process can’t it?

    I just wish that people with better brains than mine get on with it and fix whatever needs fixing


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  • Yes, it’s not straightforward and would need to be carefully thought through. You’d need to be careful to ensure that establishing credible experience and qualifications for the job didn’t, in effect, ensure the fossilization of the status quo.

    Still, in the same way as many countries have citizenship tests that test the applicant’s knowledge and understanding of the country, its history, its institutions, how it works, etc, there must be a way of checking a presidential candidate’s understanding of the basics.

    Some kind of proven experience of public sector/government office shouldn’t be too much to ask, surely? No one would allow someone who’d never passed a driving test to drive a bus; it is absurd to allow a complete rookie to be US president!


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  • Marco


    Yes of course, I am not objecting to the vetting system. Just wondering if it’s future proof and will it still be open to abuse?  (The position itself as an entity) We seem to be governed by the system we have created and not in control. I worry more about that than some future super computer taking over the world.

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  • No, I can’t say I lose any sleep over the thought of future super computers either. Perhaps I should! 🙂

    I just think we need to get back to the realisation that there is such a thing as reality; truth; evidence; expertise; experience; knowledge; understanding … and that major decisions should not be based merely on preference or opinion or gut feel or prejudice. Anyone wishing to be POTUS should first demonstrate evidence of their suitability – in something more than a mere popularity contest. I don’t really see that it should be so very difficult to devise a test demonstrating the necessary degree of knowledge and experience without going so far that it’s testing for a set of political stances rather than just political understanding. There are facts about how the system works, and how the country is governed, and how international institutions work etc, that exist regardless of whether someone is Republican or Democrat or Trumpian. There are facts about the US constitution. There are facts about what it is legal to do under both US and international law. I think a potential president should be able to demonstrate reasonable understanding of all those things.

    It also seems reasonable to require candidates to demonstrate that they have complied with all applicable state and national laws – by making their tax returns public, for instance.


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  • Marco, Olgun


    Interesting ideas. As I was reading them, I couldn’t help but remember the many American folk who have blustered in my presence about the value of voting in “outsiders” to political high office because they see all career politicians as hopelessly owned by the system and special interest groups. Well, they got their outsider alright! So outside the system that he doesn’t even know how the system works and throws a wrench into it every time he turns around!

    These same people are somehow aware of certain other countries that will go unnamed, that draw from a small elite pool of candidates for their highest offices in the land (it’s France) and end up with a government that is completely out of touch with the concerns and struggles of the majority of citizens. President Carter was considered to be a regular guy and also George Bush Jr was described here as being someone you could just sit down and have a beer with. We all know how that turned out.

    There must be a huge Dunning-Kruger effect here regarding what qualifies someone to be considered for the office of President of a country. American simpletons who thought that Trump or Bush Jr had a perfectly acceptable collection of qualifications, intellect, accomplishments and moral standing to steer this country in the right direction on the world stage can only be explained by Dunning-Kruger.

    I’m hoping that the Democrats can manage to produce a Presidential candidate who has a top education, combination of compassion and fierce resolve, a worldview driven by data, ethics and humanist values, and has managed to keep their personal life free of repulsive scandal somehow but on the other hand is viewed by most of us as down to earth and approachable too. Too much to ask? Who is our candidate?

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  • Laurie

    I don’t know who our candidate is. I’m not familiar enough with leading Democrats generally, though there are a few I warm to. I’ve always liked Elizabeth Warren, but I gather she isn’t hugely popular. I was also extremely struck by Marty Walsh, Mayor of Boston, and the stand he took against Trump’s anti-Muslim policies.

    What about Kamala Harris?

    While I have a lot of time for Bernie Sanders’ policies and values, I’m afraid he just doesn’t come across to me as a credible candidate for president. I don’t find him a very charismatic orator, and for all I’ve just gone on about the importance of experience and understanding etc, a bit of charisma never goes amiss in a politician, does it? And in any case, I’d really prefer to see a younger man to take on the challenge.

    Do you have any suggestions?

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  • Marco

    I can’t say as I’m leaning any particular way yet. Warren and Walsh are both Boston politicians and I can’t analyze their popularity outside of my own Massachusetts bias. I’d be so happy to let Bernie loose on the country and bring us into the 21st century but I can’t guess how he’d do in a national election. There’s no doubt that the young people love him and now after the appalling Trump debacle maybe there’ll be a liberal backlash in Sanders’ favor. I hear steady buzz about Biden. It’s been low key but consistent. He’s no spring chicken either but maybe just unobjectionable. I’m watching the younger set too and I think the new Democratic House of Reps in the new year will showcase their rising stars. That will be interesting.

    Regarding your points on Pence above, I think he’s holding himself in the background of high profile situations in the form of a saintly Mr. Clean. Always stoic, self controlled, with an air of the holy ghost wafting around him. The combined hope of the chosen faithful emanates from his humble countenance. From their perspective, God has placed Trump to blaze the way in preparation for Pence who waits righteously, patiently to bring this Sodom and Gomorrah back to a real life city on a hill.

    I’m afraid of the thought of Pence leading this country as I don’t believe he is actually sane. Wishful thinking on my part would see both Trump and Pence indicted for crimes, removed from office, leaving the new Speaker of the House Pelosi ensconced in the oval office with a smile like the cat that ate the canary.

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  • Interesting, Laurie – thank you. My biggest concern about Bernie Sanders is that he wouldn’t actually get elected, so if there’s real support for him my objections melt away. Young people’s support is important … but is it sufficient, though? Is it mirrored by more general support too?

    I’d certainly take Biden, despite my preference for someone younger.

    I’d also really like to see a woman in the role at long last, but do you think the US is ready for a female president yet? It feels ludicrous to be even asking the question in the 21st century, but so much of the US seems to be trying to reprise Little House on the Prairie that I do wonder. Hilary Clinton was so obviously the stronger candidate last time around, and yet here we are …

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  • Me, #207

    And in any case, I’d really prefer to see a younger man to take on the challenge.

    OMG, I have managed to appall myself. I have literally no idea where that “man” came from. I wouldn’t prefer to see a “man” at all: I’d actually prefer to see a woman. But what I really meant was “younger candidate”.

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  • Marco

    but do you think the US is ready for a female president yet? 

    Heh, again, there’s no way for me to see outside of my substantial bias on that question. I really thought we had that one in the bag for sure in the last election. A woman who had come up through the political ranks, had on the job training, the education, competence and resilience but still couldn’t trounce the totally flawed odious opponent. Hopes were dashed on the rocks that night. I’ve lost all trust in a large number of fellow Americans to analyze our situation and come up with effective solutions. This has caused some cognitive disorientation for those of us on the political center and left of center here.

    Previously if asked about a woman President I would’ve said that we were definitely ready. Of course we are ready! But now I can’t trust my feelings on that anymore. Something I keep in mind though – I would never have said that we were ready for Obama. Never. And I’ll never forget the tear jerking thrill of his victory that night and his inauguration and everything that followed from that. It was a powerful victory against reactionary forces here. If we can replicate that victory with a female candidate it will be just as poignant for us as a statement of where we are going as a country together.

    Women did very well lately in the lower elections around the country. This is important to create a pipeline that supplies our best and brightest to the higher offices at a later date. Good role models in high places and a well functioning pipeline that starts at local levels will pay off in the future for us.

    Oh, and don’t even worry about the “younger man” thing. Ha. It’s a linguistic relic of the bad old days. These slips happen in the middle of exchanges of ideas. Shrug. A few days ago in conversation with my mid twenties daughters I referred to the Native Americans as “Indians” and was sternly corrected by them in mid sentence. After that, they turned on each other with one claiming that some Native Americans now prefer the term Indian rather than Native American. I’m just trying to keep up but obviously not doing a great job of it.

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  • Yes … Obama does give me hope, though there’s a part of me that wonders if Trump isn’t the direct result of his election. Is it possible that a hard core of voters were so outraged by the election of a black president that they swung even further to the Right, and were therefore fertile ground for Trump’s poison? Believe me, I would love to be wrong on that, but I have long seen politics as a pendulum: the pendulum swings so far in one direction until it reaches a point where it inevitably swings back again in the other direction. Progress isn’t a continuous line, it’s a constant back and forth, two steps forwards, one step back … and sometimes even the other way round, as now. Which isn’t an argument for not pushing it as far as possible, or for not electing black and/or female presidents, of course.

    Like so many others, I was utterly horrified when Trump got the nomination … but there was a bit of me that felt relieved too. It seemed as if the contest was over before it had even begun, and that Clinton must be an absolute shoo-in against such a ludicrous opponent. History 10, Marco 0 🙁

    It’s great about the newer women coming through, though. There is hope. And all the signs are that 2019 is going to be a significant year, with Mueller closing in and more and more talk of impeachment.

    On a purely technical/legal point (and not necessarily directed at you, Laurie), I know presidents are limited to two terms of office, but how would that work if Pence were to replace Trump before the end of his first term? Would he be able to contest the next two elections, or only one?

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  • Olgun

    Strange article. Your summary is more accurate, I believe: the need to break the old system was the biggest factor. And HC represented the old system, through and through. And she wasn’t inspirational (enough), and she appeared to offer more of the same rather than full-on change.

    But those failings have nothing to do with feminism, whether ‘elite’ or ‘white’. They have to do with being part of the political furniture. They were partly personal (she doesn’t have the warmth or charisma that so characterised the Obamas) and partly institutional. But not in any way a reflection on feminism.

    And while I agree that neither Thatcher nor May (have) covered themselves with glory, why extrapolate from that to imply that women shouldn’t be in charge? (Or have I misunderstood your comment? – it seems out of kilter with the other things you post, so perhaps I have.) That is far too small a sample to draw conclusions from. Besides which, there have been several good female leaders outside the shores of Little England. Look at Scandinavia, New Zealand, even India. And if a couple of dismal examples is enough to put you off a whole sex for political leadership, then I’ll have no difficulty in rattling off enough examples of terrible male leaders to make you never want to vote for a man again.

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  • Marco




    You won’t need to go there Marco. I welcome a woman to the role. All I ask is she brings the woman in her to the role and not try to compete with the men on the other end of the spectrum. My mum came home from the factory one day asking if the rumour that Thatcher was a man was true. The way I see May is a Thatcher wannabe but trying to show originality with those reciculous cloths she wears. For me, she is not physiologically sound to make the right decisions. Our system now doesn’t seem to support the family or the community and throughout the Thatcher years, it was even worse. There doesn’t seem to be much love making its way down from the elite, just ‘practical’ decisions that those of us on the lower rungs of the ladder bear the brunt of.


    I took the feminism slant to be that feminist supported her just for being a woman which lost her more votes than gained. Another factor but not a strong as the need for change.

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  • Olgun

    Phew! Just in time – I was just about to start melting the wax and getting the pins out 😉

    To be fair (and serious), though, I suspect the fact that Thatcher and May both adopted ultra-tough personas may largely be a reflection of society’s male-oriented ideas of what constitutes a good leader. Tough. Hard. Determined. Unsentimental. As well as the fact that women frequently have to out-male the males in order to be taken seriously, especially in a male-dominated environment such as government.

    We are all the losers from this. Women generally bring a different – and often demonstrably more effective – set of skills and qualities to leadership, and we should be encouraging those rather than dismissing them as too “soft” or too “emotional” or whatever.

    I wouldn’t wish either a Thatcher or a May lookalike on the US electorate (they’ve already suffered enough …) But a Merkel? She’s a conservative but has absolutely solid social values, is deeply pragmatic, totally committed to discussion and negotiation and compromise, and is widely respected (other than among the foaming-at-the-mouth far right, of course) – I think she is genuinely a tough cookie, but the very fact that the toughness is genuine gives her the confidence to insist on certain highly moral values in her politics. I’m not a conservative (big or little C) and I do believe both British and US society are in urgent need of a major shake-up, but all the same: what wouldn’t I give for her (or her clone) to be in 10 Downing Street or the White House right now.


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  • I  think Qllie’s article didn’t make its case, perhaps because it had done so in a link to a related book…

    “In False Choices, an all-star lineup of feminists contests this simplistic reading of the candidate. A detailed look at Hillary Clinton’s track record on welfare, Wall Street, criminal justice, education, and war reveals that she has advanced laws and policies that have done real harm to the lives of women and children across the country and the globe. This well-researched collection of essays restores to feminism its revolutionary meaning, and outlines how it could transform the United States and its relation to the world.”

    I think the highlighted part is entirely sustainable. Privilege blinds her to harms that disproportionately affect women.

    Link follows.

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  • Marco


    Couldnt agree more, on all counts.


    Merkel has no delusions about being a woman in a mans world. This showed with the faces she pulled whilst sitting next to Trump. All else follow etiquette and allow the bully his moment.

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  • Marco

    From Wiki:
    United States[edit]
    Main article: Federal government of the United States
    In the United States, the president of the United States is elected indirectly through the United States Electoral College to a four-year term, with a term limit of two terms (totaling eight years) or a maximum of ten years if the president acted as president for two years or less in a term where another was elected as president, imposed by the Twenty-second Amendment to the United States Constitution, ratified in 1951.

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  • I think ya’ll are looking at this from the wrong angle, top-down.

    Our legislative branch is about 19% female–there is where laws for families are made, and there is where change needs to happen. That is the branch of government that is supposed to represent its constituents. Last I checked, the percentage of female constituents wasn’t 19%.

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  • You have a point, Vicki, but female politicians aren’t just about policies for families or representing female constituents, though I absolutely take your point about the unjustifiable imbalance, and that male politicians have not given either of those things sufficient priority. I’m all for boosting female influence at the legislative level too.

    The point I’m making about the desirability of a female president is that women tend to bring a different approach and a different set of skills to leadership positions. Obviously it depends on the woman in question and simply being female doesn’t guarantee anything, but a good female leader is generally less authoritarian, less dogmatic, more consultative, more open to input, more emotionally aware, a better communicator, and puts more emphasis on persuasion than bullying. I think having a female president with those qualities could make a huge difference to the entire nature of US government, international relations, and global concerns such as climate change etc.

    Besides, having a female president (a good one, anyway) would provide a fantastic role model to other women, get the wider population used to seeing women in positions of real power, and thereby encourage more women to stand for elections of all kinds, and more of the electorate to vote for them. So I think it would help to promote equality at all levels.

    Obviously the most important qualities in a potential president are that they have the skills, experience, values and character for the job, and that they stand a realistic chance of getting elected. Give me a male candidate with those qualities over a female one without them any day. But men have basically always been in charge, and I would be genuinely interested (and hopeful) to see how putting real global power in the hands of a woman panned out.

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  • I fully agree with you, Marco.


    Besides, having a female president (a good one, anyway) would provide a fantastic role model to other women, get the wider population used to seeing women in positions of real power, and thereby encourage more women to stand for elections of all kinds, and more of the electorate to vote for them. So I think it would help to promote equality at all levels.

    More than anything else (and there was much to praise) I think Obama’s election served as a role model to black families everywhere. He and Michelle filled that role flawlessly. And the best part, IMO, was that his example extended beyond just one demographic. Ah, a woman who could fit that bill would go far towards narrowing the gender gap at the highest levels of government.

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  • Most Admired Woman

    Michelle Obama – 15%
    Oprah Winfrey – 5%
    Hillary Clinton – 4%
    Melania Trump – 4%
    Queen Elizabeth II – 2%

    Most Admired Man

    Barack Obama – 19%
    Donald Trump – 13%
    George W Bush – 2%
    Pope Francis – 2%
    Bill Gates 1%

    How can this be translated into political capital?


    Dream ticket  M. Obama A.Ocasio-Cortez united on a Green New Deal with much Sanders proposed legislation to redirect and re-energise the financial sector to lift inbound investment of smart infrastructure and businesses. Sustainability is the shrewdest political investment in a country’s future.

    poll link follows

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  • Phil

    Michelle Obama could not have ruled out running for president more categorically. And she has done so in terms that would be used very effectively against her by her opponents if she were ever to change her mind (“not temperamentally suited”, “I don’t wanna be president! … My path has never been politics. I just happened to marry somebody whose passion was politics. Just because he likes it doesn’t mean that I like it!”, etc.)

    But her high approval ratings certainly give an indication of the kind of person/character/values required.

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  • I know, I know (sigh). The proposal was entirely fanciful.


    But, but, but, there has to be some way to harness that approval…..especially when there is such a too inexperienced/too old void to be filled…

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  • Some excerpts from The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker on female leadership in high places:

    From chapter 8 Inner Demons, pages 525-528


    Social dominance is a guy thing. It’s not surprising that men, the more dominance-obsessed gender, have stronger tribalist feelings than women, including racism, militarism, and comfort with inequality. (147) But men are more likely to find themselves at the receiving end of racism too. …Men’s attitudes toward women may be paternalistic or exploitative, but they are not combative, as they tend to be with other men. …Sexism ultimately arises from the genetic incentive of men to control the behavior, especially the sexual behavior, of women. Tribalism arises from the incentive of groups of men to compete with other groups for access to resources and mates.

    The gender gaps in overconfidence, personal violence, and group-against-group hostility raise a frequently asked question: Would the world be more peaceful if women were in charge? The question is just as interesting if the tense and mood are changed. Has the world become more peaceful because women are more in charge? And will the world become more peaceful when women are even more in charge?

    The answer to all three, I think, is a qualified yes. qualified, because the link between sex and violence is more complicated than just “men are from Mars.” In War and Gender the political scientist Joshua Goldstein reviewed the intersection of those two categories and discovered that throughout history and in every society men have overwhelmingly made up and commanded the armies. (148)

    …But women have not been conscientious objectors through all of this bloodshed. On various occasions they have led armed forces or served in combat and they frequently egg their men into battle or provide logistical support, whether as camp followers in earlier centuries or industrial riveters in the 20th. 

    …The discrepancy between what women are capable of doing in war and what they typically do is no paradox. In traditional societies women had to worry about abduction, rape, and infanticide by the enemy, so it’s not surprising that they should want their men to be on the winning side of a war.

    But over the long sweep of history, women have been, and will be, a pacifying force. Traditional war is a man’s game: tribal women never band together and raid neighboring villages to abduct grooms. (150)

    As we shall see in chapter 10, societies that empower their women are less likely to end up with large cohorts of rootless young men, with their penchant for making trouble. (159) And of course the decades of the Long Peace and the New Peace have been the decades of the revolution in women’s rights. We don’t know what causes what, but biology and history suggest that all else being equal, a world in which women have more influence will be a world with fewer wars.

    Dominance is an adaptation to anarchy and it serves no purpose in a society that has undergone a civilizing process or in an international system regulated by agreements and norms. Anything that deflates the concept of dominance is likely to drive down the frequency of fights between individuals and wars between groups. That doesn’t mean that the emotions behind dominance will go away – they are very much a part of our biology, especially in a certain gender – but they can be marginalized.

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  • @Phil #230


    …especially when there is such a too inexperienced/too old void to be filled…

    Which brings me back to Congress. OcasioCortez is still wet behind the ears, and there is much to learn in her new role. But there is time. She is young, and has made a few miscalculations. Let’s see if she, and others like her, can learn the political ropes effectively. Let’s cheer on their careers, and when (if) they run for the top spot, they will do it with experience under their belts, and a resume of changes made during their tenures.

    One of my fears post-Trump is a national mood that swings too far the other way, alienating those of us who tend to lean middle. IMO, that is almost as oppressive as the hell unleashed on us by the neocons, and just as unreasonable. 

    I get the value of a woman president, but more as a role model than someone who actually effects change. Again, Obama is a good example of that.

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  • Marco 229


    (“not temperamentally suited”, “I don’t wanna be president! … My path has never been politics. I just happened to marry somebody whose passion was politics. Just because he likes it doesn’t mean that I like it!”, etc.)

    Phil 230

    But, but, but, there has to be some way to harness that approval…..especially when there is such a too inexperienced/too old void to be filled…

    I respect her self assessment and agree. (not sure about the temperament thing) but with polls like that showing very high levels of public respect and affection, we can easily make a case for her very important role in the leadership of this country and even beyond it. That doesn’t mean she has to be President. She must find the most effective role for herself that is perfectly suited to her skills and talents.

    I picked up a textbook I have here on my shelves: Business Ethics and Ethical Business by Robert Audi. This is my quick go-to on matters of organizational leadership. I started reading the chapter on leadership (chapter 11) and immediately was struck by his opening discussion on ethos. In light of the current administration this section was particularly depressing when considered along with all of their disastrous ethical violations. It’s a poisonous ETHOS as well as catastrophic ETHICAL violations.

    Page 98. The ethos of a group is (roughly) its prevailing standards of acceptable behavior. The prevailing standards of a group are those actually adhered to by a suitably large proportion, normally a majority. It need not be all; dissenters may exist and, in some cases, be comfortably accommodated. Why isn’t ethos equivalent to ethics? The notion of ethos is sociological and concerns de facto patterns: what IS rather than what OUGHT to be. A corrupt society (like that of the Nazis) may have an ethos, but, being grossly immoral, little or no ethics. 

    To recall an earlier distinction, the ethos of a company is determined by what is VALUED in it, but ethics – which may or may not be part of its ethos – is largely a matter of what is in fact (morally) VALUABLE.

    Good leadership can be top-down, and hierarchical patterns of one kind or another are common in business. Top-down leadership provides an incentive for a CEO to have a strong ethical influence on corporate (government) culture…Here, as with ethics generally, what one does may have much greater influence than what one says. 

    Good leaders EMPOWER others. They generate enthusiasm and show how things can be done. …Power can force compliance, but leadership inspires loyalty.

    It is characteristic of morality to demand that we ask, at appropriate points, whether we are doing enough. Consider the indefinitely demanding (Ethical) goal of beneficence. There are IDEALS of beneficence; these can be achieved only by SUPEREROGATION- going beyond just fulfilling our obligations. An ethical leader not only avoids being unethical but seeks to fulfill certain ideals that call for positive conduct that EXCEEDS the requirements of duty.

    We can distinguish, then between leadership that is simply ethically adequate and leadership that is truly admirable from the moral point of view.

    Virtue and ideals have an attractive power that should not be weakened by conceiving ethics as stating only constraints or only the standards society has a right to demand leaders meet.

    When I read this section in the book for the first time it had quite a mind blowing effect. Good enough leadership is just not good enough. We have the right to demand much more than good enough. We have the right to hold our leaders to HIGHER standards of morality and behavior than we do every other ordinary Joe.

    Now in retrospect, we all see what we had in the Obama administration and his wife was definitely a part of that. We see this in contrast to the current occupant of her previous role who is on video making shitty statements and has done nothing but pay lip service to any murky issue in society now.

    Not only do I acknowledge that both Obamas will take public positions on issues in our society, I EXPECT  them to use their massive popularity and respect to take positions of ethical supererogation as our text above has explained.

    Good leadership REQUIRES going above and beyond the call of duty in government, business, family and just as a component of being a “good person” in daily life. This concept was a paradigm shift for me years ago. I keep this in the front of my mind now every day and judge others on their grasp of the topic and the behavior they display because of that. Only sorry it took me so many years to solidify it in my own mind.


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  • Excellent post, Laurie.

    The gulf between all of that and what we currently have in the White House is too obvious to need spelling out.

    I see Trump’s latest stunt is to threaten to completely close the border with Mexico if he doesn’t get the funding for his bloody wall (hang on: I thought that couldn’t be done without … his wall??), which economists are saying would almost certainly trigger a recession. Trump in a nutshell. Nothing but brute force in his armoury. And to hell with the consequences for anyone else.

    The values outlined by Robert Audi are a million miles away from what we currently have, but we have to hope that Trump, too, marks the furthest point of the political pendulum, and that competence and decency will be restored after the next election.

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  • It seems that a mother and two children were escaping from an extreme cult, so the cult’s god delusion required them to be recaptured!

    Jewish ‘Cult’ Tied to Brooklyn and Mexico Is Accused of Kidnapping 2 Children: Aron Rosner is accused of conspiring with members of the religious group Lev Tahor to transport two siblings south of the United States border.

    Full story:

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  • Laurie #233

    …Power can force compliance, but leadership inspires loyalty…

    Marco #234

    …Trump marks the furthest point of the political pendulum…

    Trump too is clearly inspiring loyalty in his base, which is likely the major factor for his approval ratings having remained remarkably stable at or above 40% over the last 10 months, regardless the numerous acts of cock-sure incompetence and arrogant disregard for ethical norms he has shown meanwhile.

    I do hope Trump marks the furthest point of the American political pendulum too, but I cannot help feeling that, to some extent, he is also the unfortunate product of a strong undertow current which has been particularly prominent in American culture, probably from its inception; the idealization of the individual vs. the group, the excessive admiration for “entrepreneurs”, with their “go-it-alone”, “winner-take-all” mentality. It is no coincidence that one of the most (if not the most) offensive remark one can make to another person in the USA is “you’re a loser”.

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  • Laurie,

    read your post which quoted Steven Pinker on violence with women in power.  I agree by the way with everything in there but would like to explore a minor aspect of it.

    I remember as a kid watching Margret Thatcher (the Iron Lady) sending men off to the Falklands so clearly as Steve Pinker suggests its complicated.  I wonder – and this is speculation so not an assertion if the women we are selecting for power are too often women that share very masculine qualities.  So do we need more feminine characteristics in the powerful?

    The other aspect I’ve noticed is competition and violence is often expressed through men but often there is female influence behind it.  So as a high school teacher females are less likely to be involved in a physical confrontation but most of the violence is perpetrated by them.

    Let me explain my situation first though.  I teach in a low socioeconomic area.  Many of my students are poor and rough and being high school students also a certain amount of extreme hormonal drives, in those with poor self control…  Most conflict in my school is girls getting pissed off because some guy she was dating or was just simply keen on is going out with some other girl.  This girl might have been a friend or someone in another group.  We then get a battle building, often it ends in threats and gangs of girls setting out to beat up the girl who has had the misfortune of falling for the wrong bloke.  Anyway the guy in question will get word of this occurring (which is why bloody mobile phones need to be banned – an argument I never win), he will then seek to defend the girl and you end up with cousins and older brothers being called in from out of school and there will often be a physical confrontation in the car park after school. Somewhat more regularly than you’d like this ends in police involvement.

    The fighting will usually be mostly the males at this stage but most often this will have been triggered because some girls honour was perceived to have been slighted.  As I said I teach at a rougher school so perhaps that is the governing influence here but boys fights tend to be mainly one against one, shorter and over with (not always but mostly).  The really big confrontations usually centre around some popular (but rough) girl being dumped or cheated on.  How this plays out on a grander political scale I’m not sure.  I just find my personal experience does not gel with the standard perception that women are not violent.





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  • Reckless

    All good points, but I don’t think anyone is suggesting women are never aggressive, or that no woman is ever aggressive. Nor that sex is the only factor in determining tendencies to aggression: socio-economic factors, role models, inarticulacy, social expectations etc etc will all play a part. Any discussion that compares and contrasts patterns of behaviour in men and women will inevitably be a generalisation.

    But studies have shown that female leaders generally outperform male leaders on 4 out of 5 personality traits identified as key to good leadership:

    Women are generally better at communicating clearly, motivating and supporting their teams, following through, and being open to new and better ideas (i.e. not insisting they must always know best). 

    That particular study focuses on the business sphere, but there is an interesting article here about women and government: 

    A higher share of female legislators correlates with less military spending and less use of force in foreign policy, even after controlling for other explanations like partisanship, according to an analysis by researchers from Texas A&M University of data from 22 established democracies from 1970 to 2000.

    Yet when women are in executive positions, the opposite is true: They are more hawkish than men. The researchers said that could be in part because of a need to overcome stereotypes of women as weak. Margaret Thatcher, Golda Meir and Indira Gandhi, all of whom governed in conflicts, were described as governing like men.

    While most of the article resonates with me, I would question whether this hawkishness in executive power is generally true. The list of elected female heads of state and government – – contains many women who certainly weren’t/aren’t known for their hawkishness, and I do wonder whether the hawkishness ascribed to Thatcher, Meir and Ghandi isn’t more of a reflection of the national cultures/specific national circumstances than of women in political power generally. 

    After all, Germany, Iceland, Finland, Denmark and Ireland have all elected female prime ministers and/or presidents – some of them internationally highly respected and admired – and I’ve never heard the term ‘hawkish’ applied to any of them. But then, modern Germany is not a hawkish country, and Iceland, Finland, Denmark and Ireland never have been. 

    But India and Israel both faced particular challenges, and Britain, let’s face it, built and maintained its entire empire on hawkishness, aggression and military might. And I see in today’s Sunday Telegraph that the British Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson, is saying that of course we won’t lose international standing post-Brexit, because we’re going to be setting up new military bases in the Caribbean and South-East Asia (, so the C19 mindset is well and truly alive and kicking in supposedly C21 England (I use ‘England’ rather than ‘Britain’ quite deliberately). Little wonder, then, perhaps, that our two female leaders so far have been decidedly hawkish and self-consciously ‘tough’. 

    By contrast, though, you could look at Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland. She’s certainly a tough cookie, in the sense that she’s nobody’s fool and has a very clear picture of what she wants and bags of determination to get it; but the policies she has spearheaded are anything but ‘hawkish’ and she has repeatedly promoted a more compassionate politics.
    To be very clear: I am not eager for just *any* woman to become US president. It’s not the womanhood as such that will be important, so much as the particular skills and traits that are generally more present in good female leaders than in male ones.

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  • Olgun

    I’m a Trudeau fan. But look at what makes him generally a more humane kind of leader: he has much more in common with female styles of leadership than with classic macho male ones.

    No one’s saying there’s no such thing as a good male leader. But it’s going to be 2019 the day after tomorrow, and it’s about bloomin’ time we stopped kidding ourselves that the most powerful roles need to be occupied by men by default, or that women, if they’re going to occupy them, need to adopt traditional masculine personas. It’s about time we started genuinely appreciating the specific strengths that tend to be associated more with women than with men. If ever there was a time when the world urgently needed more of a consensus-building approach, it is now.

    By the way, I follow the European media quite closely and I can’t recall the fact of Angela Merkel’s being a woman ever being an issue in Germany at all. I literally can’t recall a single article that focused on it (which isn’t to say there has never been one; just that, in the mainstream, it hasn’t been something considered worthy of being dwelt on). The focus has consistently been on her performance, her politics, her policies. Some people have approved, others have disapproved, some loved, some loathed her, but I haven’t seen either the approval or disapproval being cast as an argument either for or against women in political leadership positions. Other countries still have some catching up to do, it seems …


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  • Thanks Marco, Phil


    Sitting here watching a mountain Gorilla Gorilla with wildlife cameraman Gordon Buchanan on tv, and how close and intimate he is with his orphaned son, the male side of me felt threatened. 😊

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  • Its glorious to be a mammal… The primary roots of empathy…

    Wow, this will make the headines: “Breaking News – Trump’s physician reveals the president is not a mammal!”.

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  • The key fact is that mammals do empathy and cuddles with the aid of fur. Each fur follicle has a special nerve attached, the c-tactile afferent nerves terminating in the basal something or other to trigger the release of oxytocin to calm an infant for feeding and bonding or a suspicious mate by slow stroking. It forms the emotional response to others which through mirror neurons we extend into that mutualising mechanism we know as empathy.


    With Trump I suspect the fluffy acrylic orange rug on his head simply isn’t plugged in to anything.

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  • Marco,

    >and I do wonder whether the hawkishness ascribed to Thatcher, Meir and Ghandi isn’t more of a reflection of the national cultures/specific national circumstances than of women in political power generally. 

    Yes I wonder about that too.  Do the male dominated power structures tend to exclude from executive positions women, or do women that seek these positions of ultimate power have attributes that are more aggressive.  I’ve had more female bosses than male in the last 20 years and all but one of the male bosses have been far poorer leaders than the women.

    In Australia we had Julia Gillard who in spite of controlling a minority government (requiring support of 3 independents) and being vilified for her gender and having to put up with constant derogatory comments from surprising sources (Germain Greer made rather negative comments about the size of her bum).  In spite of all of this she managed to negotiate some huge amount of legislation and got 49.5% of her legislation through parliament and into law more than any other prime minister in the last 30 years or so.  And this is with some of the most aggressive opposition and negative media and ended shortly with Australia’s great recent past time of musical chairs prime ministers. There’s a lot I think she got wrong most of this bowing to pressure in her party and trying to media manage instead of being the Julia we all knew in Parliment before (don’t argue with her you’ll end up a smoking wreck).  Much of her real personality was held back as she attempted to be prime ministerial something our best politicians of the past just didn’t do.

    Women can clearly lead and I’d argue she has been our best Prime minister in a couple of decades.  It’ll be interesting to see how this shapes up over the next decade or so as more women end up in leadership.

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  • News just breaking that Elizabeth Warren has announced that she’s setting up an ‘explorative committee for president’, indicating her intention to run for President in 2020:

    To me that seems like great news – I’ve always liked and admired her, and think she’d make a great president.

    Question for Laurie (but not just for Laurie, obviously!): do you see her as a desirable and credible candidate too?

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  • Dec 31, 2018 at 9:14 am
    Marco says:

    News just breaking that Elizabeth Warren has announced that she’s setting up an ‘explorative committee for president’, indicating her intention to run for President in 2020:

    I was just looking at that news on the BBC.

    US Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren has announced that she is establishing an exploratory committee to consider a presidential run in 2020.
    The move, the first by a high profile Democrat for 2020, allows Ms Warren, 69, to ramp up her fundraising.

    It’s about time the Democrats started to get some credible candidates in place!


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  • Alan

    Yes, the news has given me a flicker of hope as we go into the New Year. Without clearly identified potential candidates to take him on, opposition to Trump has felt undirected, somehow. When the alternatives start to become visible, audible, tangible, people will have something definite to focus on and picture and get behind.

    I have to say, for me, this is great news at the end of 2018. Hopefully there’ll be more high-profile Democrats coming out of the woodwork soon, too.

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  • Marco

    Heh, this is exactly the topic of my household right now. I just saw that announcement on TV too. I’m conflicted. I’m very pleased to have Warren as my state Senator. She’s a great advocate for her constituents. She’s a perfect fit for this liberal state.

    Will that translate to the entire country? I have some doubts. I have to assume that at least thirty percent of the country despise her. She took quite a beating from Trump over the whole Pocahontas Native American ancestry stupid ordeal. Stupid of course but it left her dented.

    That’s as close as I can come on this for now. I’ll be interested to see the public expressions of interest or lack of it when her commission gets in full swing.

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  • Warren is a polarizing figure even in her heavily Democratic home state. The editorial board of the Boston Globe, noting that she won re-election with fewer votes that Republican Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker, encouraged her not to run for president.
    “Those are warning signs from the voters who know her best,” the paper wrote. “While Warren is an effective and impactful senator with an important voice nationally, she has become a divisive figure. A unifying voice is what the country needs now after the polarizing politics of Donald Trump.”

    From the Guardian 2 hours ago.

    First, this “polarising” fear should not be feared too much. Non-frightening Clinton couldn’t cut it. The left truly has to be re-inflated or the US may become irretrievable. The jibes against Warren of being inauthentic are jibes. Nevertheless..

    Second, this is where running mate Cortez and the Obamas on tweet duty can dismiss charges of inauthenticity.


    Anyway it has started. A new, potentially better, year even now is rolling over the planet.


    Happy New Year, folks.


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  • Laurie, yes, I’ve seen accusations that she’s divisive before now, which is kind of why I asked the question. I don’t understand why, though … ? Is she divisive within the Democrats as well as in the country at large?

    But I think Phil is right, in any case. Won’t at least 30% of the country despise either of the two main candidates who make it through to the last round? Hasn’t every single president the US has ever had been despised by at least 30% of the country?

    I admire what I’ve seen of her values. If there’s a better candidate out there to actually win the election and be able to put them into practice, that’s absolutely fine by me, but it really is essential that Trump doesn’t get a second term AND that the disgrace of his first isn’t just swept aside and forgotten about asap, but that the US uses it as the turning point to start building a fairer, more equal society that harnesses the skills and talents of all its members, not just those with the “right” skin colour, the “right” background, the “right” contacts and the “right” bank balances.

    The US needs one hell of a shake-up … and I suspect that any candidate proposing one will inevitably prove divisive and, conversely, that any candidate vanilla enough not to be divisive will also be too vanilla to make the changes the country so desperately needs.

    And let’s face it, Trump’s going to be childishly spiteful and insulting and mocking of anyone who stands against him, isn’t he? So the jibes are just going to be part of the journey, whoever it is making it.

    As for the Obamas doing their bit to support her, I’m guessing they’ll want to wait to see who else puts themselves forward first?

    What about someone like Maxine Waters? I’ve been hugely impressed by the way she’s stood up to Trumpery these last couple of years.

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  • Phil

    That comment sent me looking up her bio. 80? How can she be 80?!?! But given that it turns out she really is 80, yes, of course you’re right: she’s way too old.

    But you presumably know your beloved Bernie Sanders is only 3 years younger?

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  • Marco

    For a while now I have had to concede Bernie is too old….dammit!


    In other news, Amazon has just delivered

    Kevin M. Kruse “One Nation Under God”

    “How Corporate America Invented Christian America”

    That New Deal and the sheer competence of the godless State in WWII really frightened the Moguls.

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  • I surely will.


    Though the subtitle seems rather a publisher’s oversell it does convincingly collar the 1950s as the location of the deep roots of politically exploited religiosity and the inexorable rise of it ever since.

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  • Marco

    Is she divisive within the Democrats as well as in the country at large?

    I’m not sure she is divisive because of her ideas. Let’s watch her performance in upcoming debates and then check the polls. I fear she will be judged as being too weak for the pugnacious American public. Can she kick ass when it really counts? This is an important quality in an American President (sorry to disappoint you like this.) We all know how the political right feels about Trump and his cowboy values. They love it! But now, the left will be jittery about presenting a “weak” candidate who will let the Chinese, Russians, and you all across the pond, kick us around like “losers” haha. They need to capture the remorseful Trump voters (difficult to guess how many this would be.) This doesn’t bode well for an intellectual, thoughtful statesman-stateswoman who takes the helm here and will seek to repair all damage done and quickly direct this ship to come about and plot a courageous course to progressive reform. As you said, any candidate who is so vanilla as to present as not objectionable to most American voters would be too vanilla to become an exceptional leader too.

    Be on the lookout for the phrase “Not Presidential” I’ve heard it said about Warren a few times. When applied to women it means weak. Maybe the same for men. Hmm. Or it could mean that they are suited for the office they currently hold but that for some reason they just don’t have special qualities needed for the higher offices they seek. It could mean they just don’t have that kick ass charisma that is so admired here.

    Bernie has outlined the way forward in his books and has the affection of lefties and especially young people but as you’ve acknowledged, he’s not young himself.


    As for the Obamas doing their bit to support her, I’m guessing they’ll want to wait to see who else puts themselves forward first?

    Definitely true. Way too soon for them and any other Democratic leaders to say a single word in support of any candidate.

    Don’t forget that there are two individuals on a Presidential ticket. The two individuals must represent the interests and locations of as many voters as they possibly can. We have the North-South-East-West divide. Catholic-Protestant-Jewish constituencies and the predictable old money elites, new money wealthy- poverty and working classes who are hanging on by a financial thread. All of these groups have long standing antagonisms against each other and our politicians in high places must be chameleons to pull together a majority of voters in a national election.

    This complex equation is the reason you must feel me dithering on these candidates. Additionally, I must disclose my substantial bias as a secular female New Englander of a certain age.

    the disgrace of his first isn’t just swept aside and forgotten about asap, but that the US uses it as the turning point 

    I’m worried about this. I’m remembering the Watergate fiasco and the quick pardon of Nixon that was said at the time to be the best strategy for US to move forward past the problems. I don’t know if that is actually true. Then George Bush Jr with his disastrous war that was swept under the carpet while we mop up the mess for decades after it. I must truthfully say that I’m worried that reparations for the utter stupidity of the current administration’s actions may never materialize.

    Much of this comment is based on feelings and not data. We will have data soon.

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  • Thanks, Laurie. And don’t worry about it being based on feelings rather than data. It was really your thoughts and feelings as an American yourself that I was seeking. It’ll be a while before there’s any data available, so for now, your personal assessment is helpful and illuminating.

    I hate to say it, but I almost have to agree about her not having a presidential presence. It’s the wobbly voice, perhaps. I don’t know.

    One thing, though: if the Democrats pick a candidate based on who’ll appeal most to the Trump base, there’ll be very little point electing a Democrat in the first place. That said, someone who offers, not more of the same, but radical change of a kind that actually can bring some stability and security and prospects into their lives, may well be onto a winner. I guess it ultimately depends on how much Trump’s support is the anguished cry of the downtrodden (which could be addressed through truly progressive policies) and how much on the release of previously suppressed nationalist and racist sentiment (which never could).


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  • Incidentally, I completely agree that it is way too early for Obamas, say, to actually express support for anyone, but given the lack of a clear, strong enough, Dem or Independent 2020 contender, we need to test how the imperfect might be patched up. Will this mix work or that?


    A factor that may be worth considering is that, in truth, the country has enough procedural momentum to not need much governing. Damage is done slowly. This is the “What’s the worse that could happen?” defense for, say, an inexperienced latina.

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  • I’m waiting for the 2019 Jan thread to post the following link, but I guess partying at RDnetMod Towers has been excellent.

    Mr Tim Minchin and the Born Woke Youth Theatre Collective….

    15 Minutes.

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