Dec 1, 2019

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96 comments on “OPEN DISCUSSION DECEMBER 2019

  • Welcome to the December 2019 open discussion thread.

    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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  • 2
    Michael 100 says:

    To Be # 53, November discussion:  

    in response to what I had written earlier, you wrote:  “I don’t need to “assume” Jesus was a real person, any more than I need to assume that Caesar Augustus, Buddha, Gandhi, Hitler, Hawking, Tutankhamen etc. were real people. The historical figure of Jesus is the most written about figure in all of human history, none of it by his own hand.”

    You might want to check out Professor Jerry Coyne’s web site today.

    Prof. Coyne is a very respected scholar.  He’s recently been on an expedition to Antarctica.  In any event, today he commented on the “news” story that a piece of Jesus’ manger was returned to Bethlehem.  I put news in quotes because I consider such stories to be nonsense.  In his piece, Dr Coyne wrote:  “Further, it’s not clear whether Jesus—if he lived, and I’m not at all convinced that the Jesus story is based even minimally on a real person—was born in Bethlehem rather than Nazareth.”

    It doesn’t make a lot of difference to me whether or not Jesus was real — I happen to agree with those who think Jesus is a mythical character that somehow got confused with a real person, but the fact that he has been extensively written about is of no consequence.  As Dr. Coyne writes:  “It always bothers me that, despite the fact that there is no extra-Biblical evidence for the existence of someone on whom the Jesus myth is based—even an itinerant apocalyptic preacher …”

    There are a lot of atheist scholars who argue that Jesus was an itinerant preacher who was later made the subject of myth.  One such is the highly respected Dr. Bart Ehrman, of North Carolina.  On the other side is Richard Carrier, a scholar who argues that Jesus was probably entirely mythological.  Both have written books on this subject and both appear in numerous YouTube videos. There are a lot of scholars who have opinions on both sides of this question.  My own feeling is that as time goes on, Dr Carrier’s position will be widely accepted. 

    P.S. are we sure that the Buddha was a real person?

  • Michael 100 says:

    in response to what I had written earlier, you wrote:

    To Be # 53, November discussion:  

      “I don’t need to “assume” Jesus was a real person, any more than I need to assume that Caesar Augustus, Buddha, Gandhi, Hitler, Hawking, Tutankhamen etc. were real people.


    are we sure that the Buddha was a real person?

    Buddha, – is a figure from the mythology of the distant past, who may have existed but the evidence is unclear. –

    Tutankhamen,  We have his tomb, his body, his mummy case with his cartouche.

    Caesar Augustus, We have coins, statues, inscriptions and written records.

    Gandhi,  We have film footage, written records, and  living witness statements.

    Hitler, We have film footage, written records, and  living witness statements.

    Hawking, We have film footage, written records, scientific papers, and  living witness statements.

    Clearly lumping these together the character “Jesus” from bible stories, for whom there is nothing contemporary other than a few vague passing references in some Roman manuscripts,  is a false equivalence and purely wishful thinking.

  • 4
    Michael 100 says:

    In the section:  Elizabeth Warren Was Asked About Her Plan to Protect “the Rights of Atheists  It seems like the discussion is drifting toward health care.  Rather than posting these comments there, I thought I’d come over here.  I hope that’s appropriate.
    In the United States, even those with an excellent group health insurance plan, for which they and their employers can spend tens of thousands of dollars per year, can expect to pay deductible fees, co-payments and/or co-insurances payments, all defined in the individual insurance policy.  This can amount to from ten or fifteen dollars, to hundreds, or thousands of dollars depending on the terms of the policy and the medical care performed.  If the patient is unable to pay, after a period of time deemed to be reasonable by the provider, the bill can be referred to a collection agency who does not distinguish between an over due bill for a use car or for an open-heart surgery.
    I have never walked into a doctor’s office or a hospital without being asked to produce my insurance credentials.  Without that insurance card, I would probably be asked to leave a signed blank check at the office or find another clinic at which I would be happier.  Furthermore, no one can tell you with certainty what anything will cost, or what you will pay.  That will be determined after the fact, probably by someone other than who provided the service.  It’s like going into a restaurant and ordering the chief’s surprise – SURPRISE!
    For a good description of this insane system and explanation of how it developed, see An American Sickness by Elisabeth Rosenthal.  Whenever anyone proposes an alternative to our insanity, it’s pointed out that if we’re not careful we could lose the best medical care in the world and end up with something like they have in England – the reforms lose every time, or at least they did until the Affordable Care Act – which is woefully inadequate.

  • Michael100

    Oh, I suppose you’re right to move the health care discussion here. Noticed this too late.
    As an example of your point above, I had a hiatal hernia surgery this year and although I knew that the surgery would be paid in full by my BCBS policy, I was shocked to receive a bill in the mail for more than $900.00 for one of the pretests I was required to take. When I inquired after the reason for the charge I was told that the professionals who performed the test were not in my preferred insurance network! There was no warning of this at any time and I cut a check for the procedure while cursing them straight to hell. I’m lucky to have the ability to maneuver financially here but other families would’ve been devastated. Sickening predatory is what it is.

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  • 6
    Michael 100 says:

    Health care is a subject I’ve take a real interest in lately.  In July I discovered I needed an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion.  The surgery took place August 29 — total success.  I have a good group health plan and. because of my age, Medicare Part A and Part B.  As a result of my above average insurance, my financial exposure is minimal — except for the cost of the insurance policies, but that’s another story.  When I contemplate what I would need to be prepared to pay if I wasn’t so well insured, it makes my head spin.  The sad think is I really believe (I hate that word) that nothing is likely to change, no matter who is elected president.

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  • I don’t have the same instinctive aversion to believe, faith and soul – but that’s probably a reflection of the far, far smaller role religion plays in everyday life in the UK than in the US. No one I’d be likely to be having a discussion with would dream of pouncing on words like this and declaring my secular usage of them some kind of victory for their religion (actually, the only Brits I know who do this are the fiercer kind of atheist, but to me it feels like an over-reaction). I “believe” that the current election in the UK is a battle for the “soul” of the nation, and I really do wish I could have “faith” that it’s a battle we’re going to win. Secular all the way. I totally get that it must feel different in a religion-dominated society like the US, though, and yes, I’d avoid using them there, for that reason.

    The phrase that really, really enrages me is “It wasn’t meant to be”. It drives me nuts, partly because it’s so lazy (by WHOM or by WHAT was “it” not meant to be? And why? – these things are never specified or even, apparently, thought about), but mostly because it’s so passive and so defeatist, and rests on the assumption that we’re somehow just helpless victims of fate and resistance is futile: all we can do is go bobbing along through life and just hope the fates will look kindly upon us. And by the same token, it treats the suffering of others casually too. It’s a manifesto for helplessness, for indifference, for passive acceptance, for giving up. It offends me in my deepest “soul” 😉

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  • One phrase I particularly despise is: “everything happens for a reason”.

    Yes, I hate that one too, Centauri. For the same reason as “It wasn’t meant to be”: it creates the illusion of helplessness, of pointlessness, and it encourages passivity in the face of obscenities we should be doing everything in our power to overcome. Because in this context, “reason” doesn’t mean “cause”; it means “purpose”.

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  • Marco,

     a reflection of the far, far smaller role religion plays in everyday life in the UK than in the US.

    I think it’s a good point. Also, perhaps those of us who have taken our exit from religious organizations that we were forced to attend may, as I do, live with substantial resentment and interpret these words and phrases as a dog whistle calling us back to where they think we belong.

    The words and phrases we’ve mentioned here are promoted by the believers as something to admire and hold sacred and they are used in a religious form of virtue signaling that they give no real thought to. Those words and phrases have meaning just like many traditions we observe without really thinking about them. If I participate in a ritual like a traditional wedding or use words like “soul” or “faith” then I feel dishonest. It confuses me when another atheist uses the words and phrases and participates in religious traditions. Of course, that’s more my problem than their’s.

    I’m just pondering conversations we’ve had here regarding religious memorials, crosses and such, in the public domain. Were the Americans more belligerent against them than the Brits?

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  • Laurie,

    Just for clarity, I don’t participate in any religious traditions – I don’t even go to a carol service, though I do enjoy Christmas carols and honestly, 90+% of the attendees at Christmas services over here don’t believe any more than I do. I totally agree that attending, say, a wedding and repeating religious forms of words would be dishonest, because in that context I really would be stating that I believed things that I don’t actually believe, and as a matter of principle, I avoid doing that!

    My point is simply that faith and soul and believe are words that have entirely secular meanings and usages in addition to their religious ones, and that in the UK, those secular meanings are pretty much the default unless the words are being spoken in a specifically religious context. We talk about having faith in young people, faith in legal processes, faith in education etc – it just means we put our trust in them, in this kind of usage there’s really no religious sub-text at all. Christians use “faith” to mean faith in God, but that doesn’t mean the rest of us do. If someone over here starts a sentence with “I believe”, the chances of them following up with something religious are very slim indeed. And if something’s “good for the soul”, it just means it’s uplifting/soothing/restorative in some way – it’s just a turn of phrase, not a statement of religious belief.

    But I really do understand that you have a different environment over there. I’d feel much more strongly about it all if I had religious people constantly trying to preach to me or tell me I was a sinner or destined for hell etc. the way it seems many of you do. As I was popping out earlier, an elderly chap came up my drive waving an envelope at me and announcing it was a Christmas card from his church (if I hadn’t happened to be outdoors, he’d have just popped it through my letter box and gone away again). I declined politely, and he just said “No problem” and went on his way. No hassle, no big deal, no glare, no argument, no attempt to preach – it was a complete non-issue. And that is literally the closest I’ve come to having religion rammed down my throat since last Christmas (or maybe Easter) when he did the same thing! The thing about British Christianity is that it tends to be either constitutional/ceremonial/structural (as in bishops in the House of Lords – which I definitely don’t approve of; and religious assemblies in schools – ditto; or Thought for the Day on the BBC Today programme – which really is very annoying but I stopped listening to that ages ago in any case, since that particular programme’s politics are more annoying still) … or very very private. There are some evangelical and pentecostal churches over here, and the Scottish presbyterian churches are very fundamentalist too, but even so, they tend to be fairly enclosed communities. They may certainly try to impose their views on communities at large (the Scottish presbyterians fought tooth and nail against Sunday trading, even Sunday ferries, for instance, though those are battles they have lost), but even they don’t tend to do it in personal interactions with people outside their own congregations. I can’t remember the last time anyone paraded their religion in my face – religion is considered a bit of a taboo subject over here: on the whole we only discuss it with people who we know share our own views on it, whether for or against. Besides, over here it’s a minority interest: a small proportion of Brits go through the religious motions, but it really is a very tiny proportion indeed who feel passionately about it and frankly, they’re generally considered to be a bit odd.

    I can’t really comment on the religious memorials in the public domain issue. Again, I totally get that it’s a different context for you: your constitution is supposed to prohibit them, ours actively provides for them. For me it’s just a legal issue. I’m totally out as an atheist; almost all my friends are atheists; I’m not aware of any of my neighbours being religious … and I’ve simply never heard anyone express any feelings about crosses in public places at all. They’re just wallpaper: part of our history. The only scenario I could imagine in which they would evoke protest would be if a new memorial were being built: in our diverse society, with people from many different faiths and none at all, I think there’d be a demand for any new public memorial to be inclusive. But I actually suspect that would pretty much go without saying in any case, and no protest would be necessary.

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  • Marco,

    Around ten years ago, a cousin of mine took a tour of England with some family members. His branch are a bunch of pious protestants of some sort and at a family get-together he exclaimed that those churches over there are nearly empty on a Sunday!  Having had no perspective on this whatsoever, we all stood there processing this statement with crickets chirping in the background. -But I do get it now, haha.

    It’s very interesting, really. Thanks.

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  • Just reverting to the subject of the sneaky privatisation of the UK’s National Health Service, an excellent thread on the issue has just been posted on Twitter by an NHS campaign group:

    We tend to equate privatisation with either having to pay direct for treatment received or needing to take out private medical insurance but, as this Twitter thread makes clear, there is plenty of scope for privatisation even with a free-at-the-point-of-need system like the NHS, and it inevitably undermines it. When the state purchases services from a private provider, it is no longer just paying for the services, it is also paying for those providers’ profit – either through extra costs or reduced service for the same money.

    I don’t remotely rule out the possibility – likelihood, even – that the Tories in their current, rabidly right-wing incarnation will abolish publicly funded healthcare. Several of the current Cabinet members are on record as having advocated the abolition of the NHS in its current form. But even if it does remain free at the point of need, as at present, more and more privatisation is taking place, and that is already having a negative effect on overall NHS funding and morale.

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  • 15
    Michael 100 says:

    Marco #14.  I’m curious about the length of time it takes in UK for a major medical event.  I’ll use my situation as my starting point and ask if you have an idea if the time frame would be comparable where you are.
    In my case, I went to my primary care physician on July 1.  I thought I might have been developing a carpel tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow, or something similar.  Right off the bat, he told me that what I was describing sounded to him like a pinched nerve in the cervical spine.  He sent me for a nerve conduction study which ruled out carpal tunnel.  Next, I went for an MRI of my neck which showed spondylosis at three levels, and I was referred to a neurosurgeon who recommended surgery in the near future.  He recommended that I undergo surgery before the end of the year to prevent further nerve damage.  The MRI also showed something suspicious on my thyroid, so a CAT scan was ordered to have a better look.  When that showed a couple of nodules, it was decided that they should be biopsied to rule out cancer.  I saw another doctor who did a needle biopsy and sent the tissue to a specialized laboratory in Texas, where it was determined that there was no cancer.  While all that was going on, I required cardiac clearance, and was seen by a cardiologist for an echo cardiogram and a nuclear treadmill test, which showed that my heart is in good shape.  By mid-August, I was cleared by everyone for surgery, and the insurance company authorized payment, and surgery was scheduled for August 29.  I reported to the hospital the morning of surgery, spent the night in the hospital, and went home the next day.  I had a three-level anterior cervical discectomy and fusion.  I stayed home for about a week, mostly because I didn’t want to drive while wearing the neck brace.
    I think that’s a typical time line around here – first complaint on July 1, and surgery two months later on August 29, and the surgery could have happened quicker but for the need for the other clearances.  Do you agree, LaurieB, or anyone else?

    One of the criticisms of single payer health systems is that the wait for services is sometimes quite long.  Critics here in the USA always point to Canada and UK to tell Americans that we don’t want “socialized medicine” that they (Canadians and Brits) are stuck with.  I’m sure that if the Democrats retake the Senate and White House in 2020, the fear mongers will come out and warn that if we pass socialized medicine, we’ll have to wait in line for months and months to have any kind of medical care.  I’m curious to know the reality.

    We have a good system here for those of us fortunate enough to have good insurance plans, usually a benefit of employment for a large company or institution of some sort.  However, too many people are unable to unable to afford any insurance or have such terrible plans that they might as well not have anything at all.  Although President Obama, did the best he could to reform the insurance system, the Republicans made sure that the legislation which was finally passed was inadequate, to say the least.  It was their stated intention to repeal any reform and leave millions of Americans at the mercy of any kind of illness or injury.  There are a lot of reasons why a single payer system wasn’t passed, but that’s another story.  But what we have now, leaves far too many people unable to cope with accidents or illnesses, all of which can strike anyone at any time.  This is why Bernie Sander’s movement is so popular.

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  • You’re quite right, Michael, waiting times for non-life-threatening conditions in the NHS are too often too long.

    The problem isn’t the single payer system per se, though: it’s that for far too long now the single payer has been a Tory government that begrudges every penny spent on public services and has been intent on diminishing the NHS so that they can eventually say, “Look, people, it isn’t working: you’ll get a better service if we privatise it.”

    It’s true they pay lip-service to their love of the NHS – given the public’s devotion to it, it would be electoral madness not to. But none of their claims stand up to scrutiny. For example, they loudly shout about the NHS now getting more money than ever before. But that’s no measure at all. First, you have inflation. Then, you have an ageing population that is living longer and longer than ever before, and therefore requiring a lot more medical care. And finally, you have advances in medical technology and treatment options that cost a great deal of money to implement. So the amount being spent in absolute terms may be more than was spent in the past, but the need is now greater, and the options are now greater, so the funding required is way more than this Tory govt is willing to provide. But make no mistake: this is a political choice on the part of a government that worships at the altar of low taxation and low public spending. Other choices are available, and I strongly believe that a tax increase to cover significant additional funding for the NHS would be a relatively easy sell to everyone except the billionaire donors to the Tory party and the billionaire owners of the Tory press.

    The delays, where they occur, aren’t always just down to money, either. A very high proportion of NHS staff come from overseas. The NHS is totally dependent on them (in fact, in the past, the Tories have refused to fund UK nursing colleges properly on the basis that we can always get the staff the NHS needs from overseas.) And yet the Tories have for years openly pursued a “hostile environment” where immigration is concerned, and since the Brexit referendum, especially, xenophobia has become rampant. The real uncertainty about their rights post-Brexit combined with significant amounts of racist abuse from Brexity patients has led a LOT of EU doctors and nurses to throw in the towel and leave the country. The Tories plan to introduce a £30,000 p.a. salary threshold for work visas for EU citizens post-Brexit. Newly qualified nurses start on £24,214 p.a. and that doesn’t reach the visa threshold until they reach Band 5 (£30,112), four promotions later. And frankly, even medical staff earning above the threshold don’t need to come to a country that is doing its utmost to make them feel unwelcome.

    All of this is creating enormous issues for the NHS: underfunding, understaffing, low morale. But none of it is an inevitable consequence of having a single payer system. Only of having Tory governments that really, truly are not committed to it.

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  • 17
    Cairsley says:

    Michael  #15

    In New Zealand, where I live, we, like the UK and Canada, have a publicly funded healthcare system. In these three countries (and several others similarly governed) weathier people can also purchase private insurance and avoid waiting-times by having treatments done at their own expense in either public hospitals or private hospitals, depending on what is locally available. I have noticed that some in the USA are claiming, perhaps as a scare-tactic, that publicly funded healthcare will remove one’s right to private health insurance. What a mendacious non sequitur! I wonder how many Americans are silly enough to fall for that one. It assumes the ridiculous disjunction: either one is entitled to private health insurance or one is not entitled to any healthcare at all. In other words, if you can’t afford it — tough! As though healthcare were a fashion commodity or status symbol and not a basic necessity in any civilized society.

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  • Michael100

    first complaint on July 1, and surgery two months later on August 29, and the surgery could have happened quicker but for the need for the other clearances.  Do you agree, LaurieB

    Yes, I agree. My surgery was months from diagnosis by my own choice. I dragged it out myself so I’d have my post-op help free and clear but at the diagnosis consultation the surgery office told me that they were ready when I was.

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  • While we are on medical issues, I see that belated action has been taken in Samoa against an antivaxxer amid a measles epidemic, where delusional foreign nutters are causing and aggravating the problems!
    Samoa has arrested an anti-vaccination campaigner as the country continues to battle a deadly measles outbreak.
    Edwin Tamasese was charged with incitement against a government order after he was detained on Thursday.

    The outbreak – which has killed at least 63 people, mostly young children, since October – is in part blamed on people spreading false information, claiming vaccinations are dangerous.

    The current crisis in Samoa has also triggered many foreign anti-vaccination campaigners to weigh in and criticising the country’s drive to immunise its children, which is trying lift the level of measles vaccination coverage to more than 90%.

    It seems that the anti-vaxxer nuts, latched on to  a mistake by nurses which killed two children as an opportunity to promote their stupidity!

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  • 20
    Michael 100 says:

    I would like to know what it costs to participate in a National Health Service in UK, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, or any other country that has a good system.  Are the premiums a percentage of payroll taxes, or how does it work?  I assume it’s different in each country.  If a patient goes to a clinic or hospital for routine health care or something more serious, does the system pay 100 percent of the cost of care, or are there deductibles, copayments and coinsurance fees?  What happens if the patient is unable to pay after receiving services?  Below, is an example of how things work here in the US.  I’m sure if you asked a hundred people what they pay for coverage and for services, you would get a hundred answers.  That’s part of out problem, there is no uniformity – everyone’s situation is different. 
    David Packman is a progressive commentator in Boston.  Earlier this year he underwent an emergency appendectomy.  He has been sharing the cost of the procedure to demonstrate the absurdity of our system.  David’s health plan is one provided by the State of Massachusetts upon which the Affordable Care Act is based.  To see what he pays for his policy and what it covers, go to  Yes, David got the care he required, and he is able to afford the out of pocket expenses, but those same expenses could bankrupt a lot of people.  For example  As Elisabeth Rosenthal says in her book An American Sickness, the collection agency to which debts are referred, is not a medical provider and doesn’t distinguish between a debt for a Rolex wrist watch or for a heart transplant.
    Having read Dr. Rosenthal’s book, I have some understanding about how this absurd system developed, but it leaves my head spinning when ever I think about it.  Having developed little by little over the decades, the system is so entrenched that a complete re-do is, I think, extremely unlikely.  So far, any attempts at increased access have been woefully inadequate.  All solutions have involved requiring everyone to have health insurance in the same way that everyone who owns a car is required to have accident insurance, but the health insurance policies are expensive, and still leave people with unaffordable expenses.  And, while you can choose to own a car or ride the bus, no one chooses when illness or injury strikes.  21st century health care is expensive, and as long as a few people are able to accumulate obscene wealth, the rest of us will have to figure out how to pay the doctor – and the hospital, and the physician assistant, and the nurse, and the receptionist, and the billing clerk, and the x-ray and laboratory technicians, and the nurse’s aide, and the cleaning staff, and the … ad infinitum.

  • Michael #20

    It’s hard to say exactly how much we pay in the UK, because the NHS is funded from general taxation and National Insurance, and neither of them is allocated solely to the NHS. NI, for instance, is also used to build our entitlement to state benefits such as the state pension, maternity benefit, etc. Also, the % of income tax we pay is dependent on how much we earn. And the first part of any income is tax-free in any case. Plus there are various tax allowances, for married couples, for example, which mean you get an additional chunk of your income tax-free.

    But to give you a simple example (figures may be out by a few pounds either way, but broadly speaking should be near enough):

    Take a married employee earning £30,000 pa.
    In the current tax year, the first £12,500 of that would be tax-free, leaving £17,500 income that would be taxed at 20%.
    However, the tax due would be reduced by £237, thanks to the marriage allowance.
    So s/he would pay £3263 in income tax.

    In addition, there’d be National Insurance. The amount paid depends on our weekly earnings. The first £166 per week is exempt from NI.
    Our sample person earning £30k p.a. is earning £577 per week, so will pay NI on £411 of that. The NI on salaries at this level is 12%. So that’s £49 per week, or £2548 p.a.

    They would therefore have to pay a total of £3263 + £2548 = £5811 p.a. in income tax and NI. That equates to £484 per month on a gross salary of £2500 per month. But remember that covers everything funded by central govt, not just the NHS.

    Employers also have to contribute to their employees’ NI, at the rate of 13.8% on all earnings above that first £166 pw, which is exempt. So our example’s employer would contribute a further £2930 in National Insurance. There are also a number of exemptions – for employees under 21 and apprentices under 25, for example.

    When it comes to treatment on the NHS, the vast majority of it is free at the point of need. There’s an explanation of how it works here:

    The only thing that most patients have to pay anything at all for is dentistry. In England there is also a prescription charge, which I believe is £9 per item. The prescription charge has been abolished in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. However, even in England there are extensive exemptions from the prescription charge, based on income, certain medical conditions, age, etc.

    Other than that, literally everything you require as part of your healthcare is free at the point of need. Every appointment, every test, every examination, every x-ray, every scan, every consultation, every assessment, every operation, every anaesthetic, every ambulance, every hospital stay and (in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) every medication – everything.

    The beauty of it is that it covers everyone, regardless of their personal financial circumstances or medical history, or even whether they’ve ever paid income tax or NI. It’s a progressive tax too, with those who earn more paying more (though many of us would argue that those on higher incomes don’t currently contribute enough). So, however stressful their medical condition may be, no one needs to worry about how to pay for their treatment. Treatment is provided on the basis of need, not on the basis of the patient’s insurance status or ability to pay.

  • 22
    Michael 100 says:

    Marco #20.  Thanks for that information.  I would say that the cost of your insurance is reasonable.  Its neither free nor prohibitively expensive.  But the best part is that having paid your taxes and insurance: “… the vast majority of [treatment] is free at the point of need … literally everything you require as part of your healthcare is free … it covers everyone, regardless of their personal financial circumstances or medical history, or even whether they’ve ever paid income tax or NI.”  That’s as it should be.  The confusing US system of increasingly high premiums, annual deductibles and co-payments is the cause of an enormous amount of, in my opinion unnecessary, financial anxiety and distress for people who can least afford it.

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  • Michael 100 says:

    I would like to know what it costs to participate in a National Health Service in UK,

    In England the NHS is free at point of delivery for hospital use and visits to doctors.

    Apart from those on social security benefits, we pay standard fees for dental treatment and prescription medicines.

    Prescription medicines are free to those over  retirement age.

    We pay for spectacles,  but tests are free for retirees

    There are car parking charges at hospitals.

    Emergency ambulance pick-ups are free.


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  • 24
    Michael 100 says:

    Alan:  “Emergency ambulance pick-ups are free.”  That’s a good point.  I just checked my plan and learned that it provides that I would pay nothing for service for “accidental injury” and 15 percent of the plan’s allowance for non accidental injury service,  I suppose that means that if I’m in a bad car accident, I can be taken to hospital via ambulance at no cost to me — within a hundred miles of the accident, but if I have a heart attack, I’ll be billed 15 percent of what the plan allows for such service.  That’s not bad, but I’ve heard horror stories of people being hit with excessively high ambulance fees.  Again, too many people here have no insurance or substandard plans that collect high premiums and pay as little as possible.  It also demonstrates the fact that people need to be able to read an insurance plan very carefully — mine is 132 pages long and very specific about what is and what is not covered.      

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  • 25
    Cairsley says:

    Thanks to Marco for providing a good general answer to Michael’s question about the costs of a publicly funded national healthcare system. As Marco first points out, the funding of the system comes from the government’s tax revenue, and the exact proportion of that spent on the health system is determined year by year in the government’s annual budgets. It is much the same system in New Zealand and Australia. Visits to a doctor in New Zealand may incur a fee of somewhere between $5 and $50, but there are many kinds of exceptions too; and there are usually prescription fees to pay, but again only token amounts — I think the last one I paid was a little dearer than usual at $20. Much of the healthcare is managed by nurses working in neighborhood medical centres, and it costs nothing to see a nurse, e.g. to have one’s ears cleared of wax or blood samples taken and so on. But, if one has to go to hospital, at no point is one required to pay anything or give insurance details, and no matter what kind of treatment or operation one undergoes there, no bill will follow, either to make one regret having survived the treatment or at all.

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  • Interesting and timely article in Current Affairs: The Data Show That Socialism Works


    Socialists believe that society’s means of production should serve everyone. To get there, socialists advocate for state-owned firms and funds, public goods and universal welfare programs, democracy in government and at the worksite, and labor unions and other forms of worker power. Capitalists and their ideological allies argue all these institutions impede the freedom of owners of private property — who are the true engines of prosperity. Through their investments and ingenuity, capitalists produce so much wealth that even when they hoard most of it, everyone else is ultimately richer, healthier, and happier. Societies that get in the way of capitalists, even for noble purposes, are doomed to fail and be miserable. And yet, when we look at the countries that have most impeded the freedom of capitalists, we find the opposite: People living under socialism are the ones most likely to be living the good life.

    Full article, complete with stats and charts:

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  • Marco #26: in other words, socialism would/should be the best form of society, except some (most…) humans are greedy.

    I’ve never studied such matters, bit it seems that most people (who aren’t in a socialist regime) don’t like the idea of socialism because they see the problems in other socialist countries. But (as I see it; correct me if wrong) the problems aren’t caused by the socialism per se; rather by the people at the top NOT acting socially (socialistic?).

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  • ShadowMind

    I just read the interesting article that is linked in #26 by Marco. Two variables in a socialistic government that make all the difference are Democracy and worker unions. Some of the countries with all of those problems are weak on those two while the socialistic countries with the highest quality of life are strongly democratic and have strong worker unions.

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  •  Marco  # 26    “… People living under socialism are the ones most likely to be living the good life…(Current Affairs).”


    However,  experience all around the world,  from Albania to Zimbabwe,  has  shown that the practical experience of living under socialism is precisely the opposite.  I respectfully suggest you widen the scope of your reading.

  • rogeroney #29

    1. You know nothing about the scope of my reading.

    2. It would appear you haven’t widened yours even to the article in question, since it addresses that very issue.

    Have a good day.

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  • Thanks, Marco #26

    Its like an update of the work behind “The Spirit Level” Wilkinson and Pickett.

    Just borrowing this to use elsewhere.

    So, Roger. You’ll have your data to cite?


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  • ShadowMind #27

    But (as I see it; correct me if wrong) the problems aren’t caused by the socialism per se; rather by the people at the top NOT acting socially (socialistic?).

    I think that’s a fair summary of the conclusions of the article. No one could deny that there have been real issues of democratic deficit and even economic failure in many of the highest-profile socialist countries. Yet there’s nothing inherent to socialism that requires an absence of democracy, or totalitarian rule. And actually – as argued very effectively in the article, I think – if we look at the most successful countries in the world on a whole range of indicators (including economic), they are overwhelmingly pursuing a democratic socialist course.

    Dog eat dog might create immense wealth for an infinitesimally small proportion of the population, but it does not create healthy, successful, productive societies or economies. (And nor does totalitarian socialism either, of course, but that’s not what’s on offer in either the US or the UK.)

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  • 33
    Michael 100 says:

    Marco #26.Thanks for the link to the article in Current Affairs. It’s nice to have that kind of data. As LaurieB states, the key is democracy and a strong independent labor movement. Just from personal experience, I can attest that life was better here in the US during the period after WW II when organized labor was strong – after many bloody battles in the earlier decades of the 20th century – and when taxes were more progressive. True, there were large pockets of poverty in the US, and Jim Crow was the law of the land in the southern states.Nevertheless, for the industrial working class, life was much more affordable. All that began to change in the 1970s when the captains of industry decided to crush organized labor.They organized themselves under the banner of The Committee for a Union Free Environment and set about in a systematic way to decertify unions and prevent workers from organizing in new plants. They were assisted in their efforts during the administrations of Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. As a result, labor unions, while not completely disappeared, have lost most of the power they once had to improve the lives of their members and society as a whole. And, at the same time the wealth gap had widened beyond belief.

    Mr. Warino points out that the debate often gets unnecessarily mired in terms such as capitalist or socialist.  Indeed, some of the comments that followed your post point to examples of oppressive dictatorships that mascaraed as socialism.

    Yesterday, Sunday December 8, there was a piece in The New York Times which I think can serve as a companion to Mr. Warino’s article. The article is entitled:Finland Is Our Capitalist Paradise, by Anu Partanen and Trevor Corson.  They write:

    “But the Nordic nations as a whole, including a majority of their business elites, have arrived at a simple formula: Capitalism works better if employees get paid decent wages and are supported by high-quality, democratically accountable public services that enable everyone to live healthy, dignified lives and to enjoy real equity of opportunity for themselves and their children. For us, that has meant an increase in our personal freedoms and our political rights – not the other way around.”

    It’s high time we trade in our “dog eat dog” mentality for an understanding that, as Eleanor Roosevelt said: “When it’s better for everyone, it’s better for everyone.”

  • Michael100

    Well said. Labor unions here are a mere shadow of their former formidable selves. Super capitalists won’t be happy until they control a large slave class that will beg for scraps. No pensions, no health care, no food assistance,  no limits on wall street or predatory bankers, university unaffordable, public schools starved for funds, corporate profits much more important that environmental integrity, corruption, graft, bribery, voter suppression and blatant nepotism. All of the above are a recipe for disaster and we’ve seen attempts at every one of them.

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  • (Disclaimer: this socio-political stuff is WAAY outside my knowledge and experience, so if I misunderstand (or am completely wrong about) something, feel free to correct me.)

    I’m neither for nor against unions, but I feel that they are only needed if the “boss” (CEO, manager, whatever) isn’t acting in a social//socialistic manner. IE: if the workers are getting a fair wage, they don’t NEED to stand together to demand it. As with the government as a whole, if everyone is acting in a socially responsible way, everybody wins!

    Unfortunately, some humans are greedy, and don’t care who they step on to “win”. Scandinavia (in particular) seems to have pushed the inherent greed aside, whether through simple evolution, or education, or both.

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  • 36
    Michael 100 says:

    Shadowmind #35.

    In my younger days, I was a very active member of an industrial union.  My father before me was a union member.  In those days, a 40 hour a week job provided a living wage for the wage earner and their family.  By that I mean, a nice home with all that goes with it, health care, vacations, etc.  None of that happened by accident or because of the good will of the employers. Whether because of the Minneapolis teamster strikes, or the Detroit autoworker strikes, or the countless strikes around the country from the international ladies garment workers on the east coast to longshoreman strikes on the west coast. Workers’ rights were won one bloody battle at a time.  Have you ever wondered why most of the world celebrates Labor Day on May 1? Look up the Chicago hay market martyrs. When I was a union man, I use to study those events.  I knew how my rights had been won.  

    The captains of industry had been forced to bargain with their organized employees.  President Roosevelt had forced them to make major concessions to provide many other things that came to be taken for granted.  They were never happy about those concessions however, and they conspired to take them back as quickly as possible.  I’m just remembering the role religion played in their efforts to undo the New Deal — see One Nation Under God by Kevin Kruse, which I wrote about In the Book Club some time ago.  They really got going in the 1970s with the Committee For A Union Free Environment. Local by local, unions were busted.  Only the strongest survived, but even they were crippled.

    As a result we see working families struggle to make ends meet, forget about a good life such as is enjoyed in the Scandinavian countries.  At the same time we have seen the reintroduction of a guided age for the very wealthy who resist paying their fair share of taxes, let alone fair wages and benefits.

    I don’t know if American worker will ever wise up again, but I think it’s safe to say that without a strong democratic labor movement, we will not see economic justice.  The interests workers and employers will only intersect with strong independent labor unions along with truly democratic government.

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  • Michael100 #36;

    Thanks for your reply.

    You basically reinforced my point: it was only because the employers weren’t providing a decent wage that the workers had to unionise. If the employers had been responsible from the start, the strikes (and worse) wouldn’t have been necessary.

    It’s kind-of an extension of the “class system”; workers are (perceived to be, by the upper-class “bosses”) lower class, and therefore not deserving of better (wages, living conditions, etc); carried on from way back in the industrial revolution (and before…).

    (Note that this is not how I think things should be; just my interpretation of how things are…)

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  • ShadowMind

     If the employers had been responsible from the start, the strikes (and worse) wouldn’t have been necessary.

    There’s a problem with this statement. In standard business ethics, the employer (business management) has certain ethical and legal obligations to employees but these concerns fall far behind their primary obligation to the stockholders. This primary obligation is to maximize profit. How do we maximize profit? One piece of this is to keep the payroll down to bare minimum along with all other expenses. Management answers to the stockholders and not the employees.

    This aspect of business ethics is clearly spelled out in textbooks of business ethics and is on full view even in small businesses as well. Expecting business managers and stockholders to demonstrate compassion and generosity to the employees is naive.

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  • My thanks to epeeist for this link to Lord Ashcroft’s polls website

    Just like his post brexit-poll poll it shows how the opinions of old men are foisted on the young who most have to live with the consequences.

    The gender split is notable.


    So then its farewell to the EU most likely. Farewell to coherent eco-enhancing trade and job creation to rather staunch the wound of recession by engaging with eco-indifferent countries. Farewell to Scotland who now truly deserve not to be dragged down into the gutter. Farewell to a shot at more socialist infrastructure as the English Tories become freed up from those Scottish red-heads…


  • phil rimmer says:

    Farewell to coherent eco-enhancing trade and job creation to rather staunch the wound of recession by engaging with eco-indifferent countries.

    All the gullibles who think they “have got Brexit done”, will now discover that there are 40+ trade agreements with other countries through the EU, which are being thrown away, and which will have to be renegotiated by the UK, using BoJo’s collection of failed Tory MPs and Ministers.
    Such agreements take competent negotiators YEARS to set up and check properly, but the Brexiteer fantasists who have wonderful delusions about their own capabilities and their promises, plan to renegotiate ALL of these and more in a matter of months!
    I blame the election loss on the failure to provide any effective opposition during the last 3 years, as much as Tories allowing  ERG brexteers to hi-jack their party.
    Labour has been hi-jacked by the Momentum Corbinite bubble which came in on cheap discounted membership for eligibility for leadership election votes.
    Corbyn made dud calls on ALL the major decisions associated with Brexit – supporting article 50 with no plan, refusing to co-operate in a temporary government of unity to block no-deal, and bringing on an election in which he side-lined Brexit to focus on his extensive left wing social policies.
    Many of these social policies were needed to remedy the years of cuts, but mixing them with Brexit, 3 years of waffling over a position on the public interests of the issues, and then including his leadership as an issue in an election on Brexit, was crass stupidity!
    Labour is busy repeating the failures of “Militant Tendency” and Michael Foot, which secured 19 years of Tory rule in the 1980s!
    McCluskey’s Euro-phobic morons, could well have enabled the exiting of “EU bureaucracy” – and secured those “more competitive and efficient” 9 – 9 – 6 working conditions (achieving parity with Chinese workers), for their union members!

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  • Corbyn made dud calls on ALL the major decisions associated with Brexit – supporting article 50 with no plan, refusing to co-operate in a temporary government of unity to block no-deal, and bringing on an election in which he side-lined Brexit to focus on his extensive left wing social policies.


    This is exactly it, Alan. The sheer political incompetence of the man!

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  • Dear Professor Dawkins,

    here is a daily dose of unexpected hilarity for you: I was actually raised a logical-positivist child!

    Kind regards,

    a (no longer logical-positivist, but still philosophically minded) fan

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  • I see the official RCC policy of cover-up, is now being relaxed a bit!

    The Pope has declared that the rule of “pontifical secrecy” no longer applies to the sexual abuse of minors, in a bid to improve transparency in such cases.

    The Church previously shrouded sexual abuse cases in secrecy, in what it said was an effort to protect the privacy of victims and reputations of the accused.

    But new papal documents on Tuesday lifted restrictions on those who report abuse or say they have been victims.

    They said the lifting of the rule in such cases would improve transparency and the ability of the police and other civil legal authorities to request information from the Church.

    Information in abuse cases should still be treated with “security, integrity and confidentiality”, the Pope said in his announcement.

    He instructed Vatican officials to comply with civil laws and assist civil judicial authorities in investigating such cases.

    After years of obstructive secrecy and eventual huge embarrassments when matters have come to light, Vatican officials are going to introduce the novelty of co-operating with civil law enforcement in the countries where offences have been committed!! (perhaps!)

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  • Laurie, Michael and other US friends,

    I’d be very interested to read your thoughts on the impeachment.

    I’m torn on the subject. Of course he deserves to be impeached, that goes without saying. The man is utterly corrupt. But he’ll clearly be acquitted in the Senate, so he’ll claim that as vindication, and as further proof (sic) that the Democrats are just haters who will stop at nothing to get him and, by extension, the people who voted for him. I was looking at a poll tracker on the subject yesterday, and although there is now a majority of people in favour of impeachment, it was a tiny, tiny majority – less than 1%, I think.

    With the next election so close now, is there not a huge risk that the impeachment will backfire? Energise his supporters still more? Yes, he will HATE going down in history as being impeached, but right now I’m more concerned about his chances of another 4 years than I am about his ego.

    On the other hand, how can the world’s biggest and arguably most important democracy simply stand back and NOT defend the most basic principles of honesty and decency in presidential office?

    It’s so hard to know how to play things these days. It doesn’t seem to matter what we do, or what arguments we make, that populist wave just keeps on rolling.

    What do you think?

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  • Hi Marco

    What choice did congress have, really? Ignore abuse of power as alleged in the whistle blower’s complaint, and confirmed by multiple testimonies taken under oath? Ignore the disregard for checks and balances, as demonstrated by congressional subpoenas being blocked by the Trump administration?

    As much as seasoned politicians such as Pelosi hate to open that particular can of worms, there was no way history would have excused our elected representatives overlooking a blatant disregard for our Constitution and laws, regardless of whether there is an election campaign under way.

    Pelosi understands her responsibilities, and has a firm grasp of her place in the history books.

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  • 49
    Michael 100 says:

    Marco #47.  I agree with what Vicki just posted in #48.  I think I’m in the majority of citizens who are convinced that the evidence shows clearly that the president of the United States is guilty of the high crimes and misdemeanors for which he was impeached by the House of Representatives.  The Democrats in the House of Representatives made a convincing case that the president abused the power of his office, and then obstructed Congress’ oversight.  Trump’s behavior was what the founders of the Republic feared the most – foreign involvement in our election process and the president placing him/her self above the law like a king.  We can’t have that!!

    We all know that Trump will not be removed from office, but in my opinion this impeachment is more substantive than the other two impeachments in our history.  My knowledge of Andrew Johnson’s impeachment is superficial at best, but I lived through Bill Clinton’s impeachment.  I supported his candidacy for president both times with money and labor.  While it was agreed that Clinton had engaged in unspeakably, embarrassingly, tawdry behavior about which he lied, the Senate declined to remove him from office.  I think it should be remembered that the Republicans had the votes to remove Clinton but declined to do so – in other words they were impartial jurors.  Two of the Republican Senators who voted not guilty were women – Susan Collins and Olympia Snow.  Nevertheless, impeachment remains a black mark on Clinton’s presidency – as well it should.  On the other hand, the Republicans in the Senate now, have made it clear they will not be impartial, and will do just as the President wants them to do.  I would be the last to defend what Clinton did, but I don’t think he put the Republic in danger.  On the other hand, what Trump has done, and probably continues to do, strikes at the very foundation of our democracy.  The fact that the Republicans in Congress fear him so much is a sad state of affairs, to say the least.    

    Now an interesting question is whether the Speaker of the House is obliged to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate for a trial?  I don’t know the answer to that, but I suspect that if Nancy Pelosi declines to do so, she will be on firm legal, as well as political, ground.  In my opinion, Pelosi is probably the smartest political person in the country now, and I’m of the opinion that the Republic is in good hands under her leadership.  Regardless of whether he is convicted in the Senate, Trump has been impeached in the House of Representatives and that will never be erased from his record.

    I think the impeachment will energize the Democratic voters in 2020.  Keep in mind that in 2016, a majority voted for Hillary Clinton.  Trump was elected, not by a majority of the people but by a majority of the electoral college votes.  Hopefully the next Democratic nominee will be more skilled at securing the votes such that the electoral college must follow the will of the majority of the voters – that should be Political Science 101.  In my opinion, Trump only appeals to people who are ignorant of the basics of how government works – the idiots who wear red hats and attend his rallies like Trump because he is a con-man who appeals to their prejudices and lack of knowledge.  Now, the Democrats have made it clear that Trump’s behavior is criminal and impeachable.  I think that in 2020 intelligent Republicans – yes there are some – will not vote for Trump again just because he is their nominee.  They may not vote for the Democrat, but if they don’t vote for Trump, that’s good enough.  If Trump is reelected, then the Republic is in real danger.

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  • Thanks Michael and Vicki both. Interesting to hear your thoughts.

    I don’t disagree for one moment that Trump is a huge threat to the USA (and the world, come to that) and that he totally deserves his impeachment. I also share your high regard for Nancy Pelosi, Michael.

    It’s just an interesting parallel of a discussion that’s taking place in the Labour Party here in the wake of its disastrous showing in last week’s general election. Many (though certainly not all) in the Labour Party want it to stick to its newly rediscovered socialist principles and elect a Corbyn-lite to replace Jeremy Corbyn when he steps down as leader shortly. And I do get that (even though I’m not one of them). To my mind, the whole system in the UK has been shown to be thoroughly unfit for purpose over the last 4+ years, and I’d have absolutely no objection to a truly radical overhaul. I can see why people who felt that kind of overhaul had nudged within sight don’t now want to revert to the tamer, tweak-it-round-the-edges, more centrist model. But at the same time, no political party can achieve ANY of its goals if it can’t get itself elected – and there never was any way the UK was going to vote Jeremy Corbyn (or any future Corbyn-lite) into 10 Downing Street. If the Labour Party elects a centrist leader this time, it will mean abandoning quite a lot of its more radical agenda; if it doesn’t, we’ll have endless Tory governments who’ll drive the UK so far to the right that even the centre will come to seem radically left-wing.

    It’s a balancing act between principles and pragmatism. And it seems to me this impeachment business might be, too. I don’t really have any views on it myself, though. Of course he deserved to be impeached; I’m just a bit afraid it will backfire and strengthen his appeal (in the susceptible quarters) come November. But I take both your comments on board and hope very much that you’re right.

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  • Michael 100 says:

    Marco #47.  I agree with what Vicki just posted in #48.  I think I’m in the majority of citizens who are convinced that the evidence shows clearly that the president of the United States is guilty of the high crimes and misdemeanors for which he was impeached by the House of Representatives.  The Democrats in the House of Representatives made a convincing case that the president abused the power of his office, and then obstructed Congress’ oversight.

    It will be interesting to see if the Republicans stand firmly together in endorsing and denying Trump’s crimes, of if the necessary handful of them decide they have had enough of him, and tip the balance of power in the Senate!


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  • It will indeed, Alan, though I shan’t be holding my breath.

    I can’t re-access this NY Times article now, as I’ve hit my limit for the month, but I seem to recall that when I was looking at it last night, it showed that rather a lot of Republican senators would have to do the decent thing. And what are the chances of that? There was a time when it would have been thinkable, but I doubt very much that that time is now. Both the US and the UK are in the hands of rogues and charlatans these days. (We can dream, though!)

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  • Marco,

    Late to this party as usual but I do agree with Vicki and Michael. There was no choice and this impeachment MUST go down in official history. I wanted it from the beginning so I’m an easy sell and I’ve also known he would not be removed from office by the senate just on the numbers. If it fires up his base I don’t think it’s significant. I’ve now accepted that a great number of my fellow Americans support some vile ideas and are completely ignorant of the principles that this country was founded on and what the founding fathers held dear. They’ve outed themselves as selfish, ignorant bigots. So now limping along to the election and who can even guess what will happen then? I’m not optimistic at all, sad to report.

    Thanks again for helping us Yanks to understand the Brexit mess and consequences.

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  • Hi Laurie

    I wanted it from the beginning so I’m an easy sell…

    I was against it initially. Right up to the whistle blower’s allegations. I would have preferred censuring, and there were multiple instances where that would have been appropriate.

    But the whistle blower’s complaint was too tangible to overlook. Further, the closed-door testimonies corroborated the allegations. At that point, Pelosi had no choice but to act.

    I find it very interesting that the GOP is up in arms against Democrats, against career federal employees, against the impeachment process itself, yet not one Republican has come out in support of Trump’s character. Not one.

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  • 55
    Michael 100 says:

    Here’s a link to some good commentary by David Packman on yesterday’s historic events. 
    It has some video of Trump, in 2008, saying that George W Bush should have been impeached for getting us into the Iraq war by lying about weapons of mass destruction.  Trump also opines that President Clinton should not have been impeached.  David addresses the question of impeachment in the face of knowledge that the Senate will acquit. 

    David asks if there will be violence if Trump is removed from office, and concludes that there will be if Trump either is removed or loses the 2020 election.  I agree with David that Trump’s supporters are crazy enough to take up arms, but I keep wondering who they are going to shoot.  Also, if one or two crazies ambush police or members of Congress, they will be stopped immediately.  While they have an amazing arsenal of weapons, I doubt they know what to do with them.  They are dangerous people, but I hope our federal, state, and local police know how to deal with them.  I’m reminded of the lunatic who went armed to the pizza parlor to free the children who were being sexually exploited by the Hillary Clinton campaign.  I hope people that stupid are few and far between — even among the Trump supporters.  Maybe the angry Trump supporters think they will riot in the streets — most of them are so decrepit they have a hard time getting to a Trump rally, let alone manning barricades in the streets.  I think they might hold angry protest meetings, but I think — I hope — that actual violence is unlikely to any significant degree.

  • Vicki

    I find it very interesting that the GOP is up in arms against Democrats, against career federal employees, against the impeachment process itself, yet not one Republican has come out in support of Trump’s character. Not one.

    Substance has gone out of fashion. In the UK a Tory government has just been elected with a huge majority after a campaign in which they deployed every trick in the book to avoid talking about any actual issues whatsoever.

    Substance is out. Bluff, bluster and bloviation are in. Can democracies get dementia? It certainly feels like it just now.

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  • Michael100

    It’s an outrage that the Trumpists hold violence and armed revolution over the heads of their fellow Americans if their dear leader is thrown out of office either by vote or legal removal. Can you even imagine if Obama’s bunch threatened the same?! I can’t believe we’ve come to this.

    My answer to these people is that I don’t believe that this threat of violent revolution will intimidate half of Americans and convince them to cower in submission while a corrupt ignorant incompetent President runs amuck on the world stage.

    Trumpists aren’t the only ones with guns. Plenty of liberal Democrats have plenty of guns and from my observation of revolutions out in the world, mass quantities of guns tend to show up in the presence of men who intend to wage war on each other, or need to defend themselves and their families, somehow.

    One important factor in a situation of national violence is the question of which way the military will go. Who do the officers support? And who do the enlisted soldiers support? We have a National Guard that has been deployed in times of violent trouble here in the States and of course they would be deployed again if needed. As with the military branches, if the National Guard was ordered to shoot at their fellow citizens, what would happen?

    An outbreak of violence that brings the police and military out of their barracks must seem far fetched to  those who bluster and wave their privately owned guns around with so much machismo but I remember the anti-Vietnam war riots on campuses as a teen and the National Guard called out for school desegregation in riots too. Those were frightening events in American history and there’s no reason why it wouldn’t happen again.

    My question to the Trumpists who threaten violence is – Would you be willing to go to jail to defend Donald Trump? Would you be willing to accept the death of your son or daughter who in an attempt to kill their fellow Americans, was shot themselves and now lies six feet under in the local cemetery? Is Trump really worth all of that?

    Think it through. Enough of simplistic analyses. Things are much more complicated than you think. Be careful what you wish for.

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  • My feeling has been that impeachment will be a political disaster. For all the immorality of Trump’s self-serving actions the greater immorality is the policies that he is implementing. He must be cleanly fought and beaten on those.

    With Brexit the actual prevailing will of the people (as indicated by ongoing opinion polls) was for remain and quite dramatically so among the young. Disastrously the election was (probably deliberately) made about more issues.

    Impeachment is a gift to the Republicans. Too many Americans will see his bartering with the Ukrainian president as smart politicking. The subsequent election will not be about immoral policy.

    Mind you, I have to add I am super depressed/angry atm

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  • Phil

    Yes, that is my fear too. For far too many Republicans, none of this is about policies or values any more. It’s much more like a baseball team that they support because … well, they just do, and they always have, and it’s part of their identity, and it doesn’t matter how many games that team loses or, more relevantly in this case, how much that team cheats or how viciously it beats up the other side when the umpire isn’t looking and then denies it even though the whole stadium saw it happen … It’s about fierce tribalism, and the more their tribe seems to come under attack, the more it will cohere. I’m just stating my fear, by the way: not making any pronouncements about what will actually happen in November. But overall, this impeachment has made me more, not less, nervous about November 2020.

    As for feeling super-depressed and angry at the moment, believe me, I’m right there with you, and so is every Progressive in the UK. Add in ‘in deep shock’ and ‘genuinely terrified of the (metaphorical) carnage the Tories will now unleash’, and we’ll still all be right there with you. Very worrying times indeed.


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  • Marco

    Interesting article from Christianity Today. This quote was important to put before the true believers:

    “Can we say with a straight face that abortion is a great evil that cannot be tolerated and, with the same straight face, say that the bent and broken character of our nation’s leader doesn’t really matter in the end?”

    They may be in too deep to take that in effectively but the way these things work is that sometimes an idea just sits there on the edge of the mind and eats away at the current paradigm until that and other contradictions cause the structure of the paradigm to collapse.

    The other thing that’s out there for the evangelicals is the fact that Mike Pence, fundamentalist Christian is sitting there with that sanctimonious smirk in position number two. I think it’s part of their big plan to use Trump for all he’s worth and then Mr. second-coming-of-Christ will step in to complete the vision of America as a pure Christian state.

    I won’t be surprised to see the American evangelical Protestants and devout Catholics up and turn on Trump in a split second when their combined leadership issue that edict.

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  • Hi Reckless.

    The election was only 9 days ago, and already he’s announced draconian measures including photo ID for voters (ostensibly to tackle an all but non-existent voter fraud ‘problem’ but actually to disenfranchise millions of the poorest voters who are far less likely to have either a passport or a driving licence, and who are the least likely people to vote in any case, so most likely to be put off even more by having an additional hurdle to jump over), restrictions on the freedom of the judiciary, threats to the BBC (hilariously claiming they were biased against him in the election, when actually, if there was bias, it was very much the other way round),  a redrawing of constituency boundaries (making Tory victories even more likely), and enshrining in law that the govt cannot request an extension to the transition period due to expire at the end of 2020 – making it next to certain that we will end up on something very very little better than WTO terms with the EU, since proper free trade agreements take far longer than 12 months to negotiate.

    Added to that, he has backtracked on promises to protect workers’ rights and the rights of child refugees to come to Britain post-Brexit. Oh yes, and he’s abolishing the govt department in charge of Brexit, which crucially means that the Parliamentary Committee scrutinising Brexit will be abolished too, meaning that he’ll be free to do whatever he likes on the Brexit front, without any kind of proper scrutiny. And he’s also backtracked on promises to allow Parliament a full role in influencing and scrutinising Brexit decisions and future trade agreements (the US one being of particular concern here, of course). So not only will there be no scrutiny, he’s basically planning to be as secretive as possible about everything, and will then rely on his massively increased cohort of ultra-tame Tory MPs to wave everything through parliament.

    How do I feel about him and his election victory? Livid. Devastated. Horrified. By the end of this 5 year term we will be well on our way to being the 51st state of America in all but name, and we’ll be living under the most dictatorial, authoritarian rule in our history.

    How did it happen? Well, the one thing that DIDN’T happen was that the whole of the UK suddenly fell in love with Boris Johnson. In 2017 the Tories got 13.6 million votes; this time they got 13.8 million. The really big factor was the collapse of the Labour vote – from 13m to 10m. With the UK’s hopeless First Past The Post electoral system, and so many marginal constituencies, very small swings in voting patterns can have huge consequences.

    As for the reasons for Labour’s collapse, there are several contributing factors, but by far the most important one was Jeremy Corbyn himself. He simply wasn’t liked or trusted. He didn’t inspire confidence in his abilities. Well, he did, but only in people who already shared his views. But his views are well to the left of what most people in the UK are ready to countenance. Personally, I never rated him and have been deeply frustrated with his lacklustre performance as Leader of the Opposition over the last few years, but at the same time I always thought the hostility towards him was over the top, and I also think the last few years have shown the UK to be so fundamentally, structurally unfit for purpose in the 21st century that I would have actively welcomed a prime minister who was willing to throw it all up in the air and rebuild it virtually from scratch – or even just TRY to. But that’s far from being the majority view.

    Interestingly, if you poll individual plans from Labour’s manifesto, they prove popular. But there were so many of them that all people could see was the potential for chaos, and almost no one thought there was any realistic chance at all of Labour actually being able to substantially deliver. It damaged their credibility.

    The other two factors were Brexit and the overwhelmingly Tory-billionaire-owned UK media. I’m a passionate Remainer, but I do accept that the country (well, the UK; not MY country, Scotland, which is very clearly pro-EU) is split down the middle on the subject, and so I actually thought Corbyn’s approach in this election was a sensible one: to try to negotiate a better Leave deal with the EU that would involve a closer relationship and therefore less economic and social harm than is currently planned, and then to put that to the country again in a second referendum that also had Remain on the ballot paper. But it had the effect of alienating both stalwart Leavers and stalwart Remainers, and besides, any attempt at nuance or compromise in UK politics is invariably portrayed in the media as unforgivable weakness and an unacceptable quality in a prime minister.

    One of the really fascinating things that became apparent to me in this election was that, whereas not liking or trusting Jeremy Corbyn or Jo Swinson invariably meant that people couldn’t bring themselves to vote Labour or Liberal Democrat (respectively), not liking or trusting Boris Johnson didn’t have the same effect. I think there were two factors in play there. The first is the astonishingly prevalent yet largely unspoken feeling (largely sustained by the Conservatives themselves, of course, along with their billionaire newspaper tycoon buddies) that the Conservatives are the natural party of government, the default, if you like. You need active reasons to vote for any other party; and in the absence of those active reasons, you vote Conservative. (Again: I’m mostly talking about England here; Wales, too, though to a lesser extent. Scotland and Northern Ireland see the world differently.) The other is that people don’t EXPECT to like or trust the Tories. They KNOW they’re lying shits, so that’s already priced in. When Boris Johnson bluffed and blustered and lied and dodged his way through the entire election campaign, that was just to be expected. If the leader of literally any other party had attempted to do the same thing, the media and electorate would have made mincemeat of them.

    First Past The Post (and the adversarial, unnuanced, 2-party politics it promotes) and the billionaire press have a hell of a lot to answer for.

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  • What made evolution give fish fins, tails, mouths, eyes? What made evolution give birds the wonderful wings on which they fly? And to give people legs, a hand that is well managed by a person through the brain !!! Why is the auricle located near the ears and not above the eyes? Is this a coincidence? Why is everything so thought out? It’s not like the “hands” of evolution!

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  • Chrystyna, you’ve posted very similar questions before ….

    Here …

    and here …

    and here …

    and each time you have been answered, yet each time you fail to engage with the information you are given – not a single question, not a single comment – and then pop back up again a month or so later, right back where you started.

    There are people here who are really knowledgeable about evolution and have already answered your questions, and will doubtless be happy to do so again if you genuinely want to learn, but you need to do your bit too. You need to read the replies and try to understand them, and ask if there’s anything you can’t follow. It is clear from your questions that you have no understanding of evolution at all, despite the replies you have already been given. There is no shame in not knowing things, or not understanding them, but if you’re just going to post basically the same question every few weeks, without ever attempting to engage with or learn from the replies, then you’re wasting your own time as well as ours.  Did you even read the replies to your earlier questions? Is there the slightest point anyone engaging with you this time?


  • Chrystyna,

    Why is everything so thought out?

    Wrong question. Why is everything so optimised for survival?

    Well it would be, or else the organism would have died out, out-competed by better optimised organisms, as 99% actually did die out.

    Its that simple. Its that simple.

    More than 99 percent of all species, amounting to over five billion species,[1] that ever lived on Earth are estimated to have died out.

    “Your Inner Fish” Neil Shubin.

    Come on! Read a book, why don’t you?

  • 69
    Michael 100 says:

    A headline this morning reads:  “Pope Francis, in Christmas Message, Says Church Must Adapt to Post-Christian West”.

    I submit that the West, indeed the entire world, is close to becoming post-theist, not only post-Christian. I think the only question is how long it will take before the church withers away and fades into distant memory.  The world no longer needs to look to supernaturalism for explanations of scientific, legal, or moral problems.  We constantly see data supporting the idea that people are abandoning churches. Hopefully they are not doing so because they are too lazy to get up on Sunday morning, but because they have truly outgrown the old ideas.  This is why it’s important to be openly secular, and challenge the “oh, I don’t go to church, but I believe in god” comment one often hears.  Everyone needs to understand that god does not exist.

    It seems like Christianity has been around a long time, but in a historic timeframe, isn’t a couple thousand years just a blip?  I would hope that within one or two hundred years (the blink of an eye) religion of any kind is such an outdated idea that very few, if any, will take it seriously.  

    In my opinion, the Pope, by trying to “adopt to a Post-Christian West,” is fighting a battle that was lost some time ago.

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  • Ah! Good News, Michael.

    People must become freer to follow their consciences. Religion poisons the well of morality, seeking to intercede with its often bogus and self-serving and manipulative claims.

    Morality is much simpler once gods are retired to history.

    Morality is the mechanism for mutuality. It is found/fabricated best in a daily due diligence of collective discussion for all with honestly engaged individuals.

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  • Michael100

    We constantly see data supporting the idea that people are abandoning churches. Hopefully they are not doing so because they are too lazy to get up on Sunday morning

    Actually, I think I can work with not wanting to get up early on a Sunday morning. In fact, I can think of 100 better things to do on a Sunday morning than getting dressed up in uncomfortable formal clothing, treking to the church a mile away, sitting in uncomfortable pews, face forward and imitating a person who is enthralled with the extremely boring and irrelevant sermon. The hymns that are chosen for everyone to sing are either groveling praise for an entity that doesn’t exist or they are horrific cruelty threatening those who don’t believe the party line.

    Instead, why not read a good book? A walk in the woods? Visit family, visit a shut in elderly person, plant flowers, putter around in a library, do charity work,…the list is endless.

    Once the fence sitters and those who are attending as a matter of habit realize that there are so many better things to do on a Sunday morning then little by little the habit will fade away.

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  • Reckless Monkey says:

    Hey guys, been a while since I was on.  How’s it going?

    I’m curious about what people on this site feel about the Boris Johnston election.  Why did he win?  Brits?

    BoJo the clown,  had a set of headline chants that were simplistic enough for the headline readers of the gutter press who have been swallowing the scapegoating of Europe for the failures of Tory governments for decades.

    Like the other brexiteers he had no plan for the country, but a clear plant to drive off the cliff, and then blame other people for the disasters.

    The choice was him or Corbyn the Clueless, who has spent 3 years fence sitting and waffling, as the failed leader of the opposition, who has consistently given the impression that brexit is quite acceptable to him.

    He was the idiot who had opposition MPs endorse passing the article 50 timetable of exit, with no coherent plan or explanation of what brexit was supposed to be.

    He then decided going into the election to sideline brexit and focus on his far-left strategies.

    BoJo had no DISCLOSED plan of what brexit would do to the country, and held back the government’s own report, until after the election, so having extended deadlines  on exiting to avoid no-deal, we are back on course for a no-deal cliff edge next December, unless Europe agrees to BoJo’s undisclosed fanciful new trade deals to replace the existing arrangements with the EU and 40 odd other countries with deals via the EU.
    BoJo was very clear on leaving at all costs attracting the “Leave” voters who had bought into the propagandist lies.

    Nobody knows what Corbyn’s position was going to be , and very few trusted him to act in the national interest. 

    Remain  voters dis not trust Corbyn, and Leave voters clearly backed BoJo the habitual liar, who had promised them a wonderful reversal of the Tory austerity policies he had been backing for the last 9 years and marvellous new post brexit trade deals.

    He does have his motley collection of failed Tory minister “negotiators”  who (unlike the rest of us) have deeply held (Dunning-Kruger) views on their own “superior” capabilities.

    Reese-Mogg and the ERG just want chaos which their hedge fund speculators can exploit!

    Some of the gullibles actually think they “Have got brexit done”!  when in fact replacement trade negotiations have not even started.



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  • Oh and Thanks Alan too.

    Alan you might be able to help me with this.  I’ve been arguing with another on a discussion about Galileo’s trial.  My interlocutor has brought up Tyco’s model as a viable alternative at the time.  Tyco I think was trying to patch up geocentrism by adding Mercury and Venus’s orbits to the Sun and leaving the rest and the Sun orbiting Earth.  Now in the context of the conversation this seemed a deflection, and it was and I’ve treated it as such.  My problem is not that Galileo proved helicentrism it was that he had disproved Ptolemaic system on the basis of the phases of Venus. In addition to that I obviously object to the Catholic Church threatening people with torture and tortuous death over idea.

    However its got me thinking but I need someone with a little more knowledge of physics to be certain about this.  Tyco’s model has Mercury and Venus orbiting the Sun and the Sun and Venus and Mercury orbiting Earth.  Now given at the time Galileo could see the phase change of Venus over the months.  Both Tyco and Galileo’s models would show phases of Venus but I’m thinking that as you can see Venus (depending on where in its orbit of the Sun it is) If it was orbiting the Earth every 24 hours then would you not see a slight change in phase its relative position to Earth changed as well?  Or are both geometrically equivalent?  Shouldn’t Venus and Mercury seem to shift in relation to the Sun and therefore shouldn’t we see a change of phase as it’s moving at distance around the Earth.


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  • @Chrystyna Zawinska

    Why is everything so thought out? It’s not like the “hands” of evolution!

    A better question would be…

    Why would a designer do this with the recurrent laryngeal nerve

    This simple video would be a good primer for you after that I can suggest many books on evolution if you really want to understand the arguements  Richards books are in my opinion the best on this.  Greatest Show on Earth is a good start but Blind Watchmaker is also excellent.



  • 76
    Michael 100 says:

    Reckless Monkey # 74. Might I recommend Tycho & Kepler, by Kitty Ferguson (2002).  It’s been several years since I read the book, but if I remember correctly, Ferguson argues that Brahe wanted to make his mark by proving that Copernicus got it wrong. Tycho was of the opinion that while the earth remained at the center, everything else revolved around the sun and that group revolved around the earth.  What neither Tycho, nor anyone else, could figure out was why the planets seemed to stop and reverse course.  Tycho’s real contribution, was his extensively detailed observations of Mars.  You mention Mercury and Venus, but I seem to remember Mars as his focus.   Kepler couldn’t see well enough to make his own observations, but after Brahe died, Kepler was able to get his hands on Tycho’s journals, and while studying them, he discovered the laws of planetary motion.  Kepler was a Court mathematician, but part of his work was making calendars and astrological charts for the Holy Roman Emperor, Rudolph II, so astronomical observations were very important to him.  Remember too that astrology was important to Copernicus both as a church official and as a physician.  If I remember right, Kepler and Galileo corresponded, but they never met in person.

    In a nutshell, that’s how I remember Ferguson’s book as it relates to this question.  If I have it wrong, or if the information is incorrect, please correct me.

  • 77
    Cairsley says:

    Steve #97 on September discussion-board:

    Richard do you think it’s a correlation, let people who love the Lord are so helpful. How do you explain that correlation

    I know religion does not train one how to think rationally, so I will make the effort to be patient with you. I have noticed that putting the cart before the horse is a tendency that runs strong among the religious. In this case, you would need to establish that there is a correlation between people’s loving the Lord and their being helpful. Before that could be done, however, it is necessary to define ‘love’, ‘the Lord’ and ‘helpful’, if any correlation is to be at all measurable and shown either to be the case or not.

    First, let us define ‘love’. We may begin by noting that it is a verb, so it denotes some kind of action, mental or physical. In the Collins English Dictionary two of the definitions of ‘love’ given are: 1. to have a great attachment to and affection for2. to have passionate desire, longing, and feelings for. Notable is the subjective character of what is denoted by this verb, namely an emotional disposition experienced in favor of something or someone.

    Second, we define ‘the Lord’. This is a common and ancient manner among Jews and Christians of referring to God, the supposed preternatural entity that is believed to have created the cosmos, us humans included. Since no evidence has ever been presented for the existence of such an entity, there is no justification for asserting its existence. On the contrary, reference to this entity under various guises, some intensely personal and some quite rationally philosophical, has always served to fill the gaps in our knowledge of reality. The most important factor here, however, is the emotional bond formed within the religionist and this putative entity believed to be the God who saves the faithful from harm. Since love is itself entirely subjective, it is easy enough to love the putative entity believed to be one’s savior from harm. Until only a few centuries ago, the gaps in our knowledge were much greater than the areas covered by our knowledge; so it should not surprise one to find that belief in such an entity or entities was pervasive and quite normal in former times.

    Third, we define ‘helpful’, and again the Collins English Dictionary gives the definition: serving a useful function.

    Fourth, we can now attempt to clarify what a correlation between loving the Lord and being helpful might look like. As has already been noted, the entity named God in various mythological traditions and often referred to in accord with Jewish and Christian piety as the Lord, is believed to exist as the basic ground and cause underlying the world in which humans find themselves, because natural human reason demands an understanding of the world, even when knowledge about the same world is absent. That is to say, putting the cart before the horse goes to the very heart and foundation of religion. The Lord, in other words, is an imaginary entity that occupies a metaphysical place in believers’ minds, where knowledge needed for understanding of reality is not available.

    If the Lord is an imaginary, subjectively objectified entity in the minds of a community of people who share the same idea for their understanding of the world and their place in it, then the foremost manner of their being helpful that comes to mind is the useful function of bolstering coreligionists’ belief in the love of the Lord to shore up their collective gladness and joy at being beneficiaries of the Lord’s good graces. That this belief is entirely delusional in no way diminishes its felicific efficacy among those who hold it.

    Religious people are also taught to practise love for others, even for their enemies, but such precepts are not distinctive of religious culture but are recognized and practised by people in any society where mutual responsibility for the common good animates their relations with each other. And one has to note that, in the case of religious people, there is the great harm done by religious people who use political influence or power to impose the requirements of their delusional beliefs on others in society who do not belong to their religion, to suppress the teaching of well-established scientific knowledge and ethical principles and so on that happen to conflict with or contradict items of their religious beliefs. Further examples of such harm done by religionists to the civil rights of fellow citizens include attempts to deprive women of their right, to criminalize homosexual acts and to insinuate religion into the political system. Hence, although religious people can be very helpful to society (despite their delusional beliefs), they can also be very unhelpful to society (on account of their delusional beliefs).

    In summary, (1) religious people can be very helpful in maintaining the happiness of a faith-community by supporting the common beliefs of that community, however delusional those beliefs may be. (2) religious people can be very helpful in the wider society by supporting the common civil culture and doing good works for the benefit of others, especially those in need; but this activity is not specifically religious and does not in fact spring from religious principles but from principles of practical reason. (3) the helpfulness of religious people in society is offset by their unhelpfulness in society whenever they seek to impose their religious requirements on people outside their faith-communities. (4) although members of faith-communities can be happy insofar as they are deluded by beliefs in the good graces of the Lord, they are in fact also thereby denied access to real knowledge of themselves and the world and the real benefits that flow therefrom. On balance, (2) and (3) cancel each other out, and (1) is outweighed by (4), leaving a deficit of helpfulness on the part of the religious.

    Glæd Geol eallum!

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  • 75
    Reckless Monkey says:

    Both Tyco and Galileo’s models would show phases of Venus but I’m thinking that as you can see Venus (depending on where in its orbit of the Sun it is) If it was orbiting the Earth every 24 hours then would you not see a slight change in phase its relative position to Earth changed as well?  Or are both geometrically equivalent?  Shouldn’t Venus and Mercury seem to shift in relation to the Sun and therefore shouldn’t we see a change of phase as it’s moving at distance around the Earth.

    I’ m not familiar with the specifics of Tycho’s model, but the problem the ancients had with the inner an outer planets, was that while Mercury and Venus overtake Earth inside its orbit, Mars and the outer planets are overtaken by Earth inside their orbits. This makes Mars appear to travel backwards across the sky in part of its orbit as Earth  approaches it, and overtakes it on the inside of its orbit.

    The ancients in Egypt and Greece, did know a great deal more about astronomy than the Catholics of the dark ages.

    I would suggest this link on an Ancient Greek astronomical computer, is very informative.

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  • Hi Alan Tyco had Mecury and Venus travelling around the sun and the rest around the Earth.  This would give from earth Venus phases as Galileo witnessed.  My question was around if there would be a shift as the sun orbiting around the earth in one day but I ended up making a model in a 3D animation program and Tyco’s would have been consistent with Galileo’s observations (I think).  At least in the animation I could detect no difference over a couple of hours of observing.

    Regardless my model was not to scale so there could still be some issues.  However either way the Catholics support of the Ptolemaic system is blown away by Galileo’s observations period.

    After Galileo’s trial many shifted to Tyco’s model as it was not expressly forbidden so even if you could make the argument that Galileo’s position did not prove the Copernican model correct and let’s face it the Copernican model did no include elliptical orbits or understand the sun was also in orbit around the Earth but with a small wobble etc with each planet etc.  Anyway Tyco’s model probably gained more support because it aligned with the catholic position (certainly he used biblical authority to argue for it). A

    Anyway thanks for thinking about it and I’ll check out the link now.


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  • Michael 100 #76

    Thanks for that Michael.  All good stuff please have a look at my reply to Alan as well.  I ended up modelling Tyco’s model for Venus and Mercury both would I think give the same appearance of Venus phases as Galileo observed.  Galileo definitely blew Ptolemaic model out of the water with the phases of Venus but confirmation that the Earth was moving would have to wait for Stellar parallax to be measured.

    The retrograde motion of Mars is explained by Copernicus easily and by Ptolemy but the objection the to Ptolemaic model is it’s really really complicated and Copernicus is neater.  Of course this doesn’t mean its correct just because its parsimonious but Occam’s razor?

    Nice representation of Mar’s retrograde motion under the Copernican system



  • I see the Australian climate change denying prime minister, has returned from holidaying in Hawaii while his country burned.

    Did anyone welcome him with choruses of “Keep the Home Fires Burning”, and “Throw another log on the fire”? ☺

    Australian PM Scott Morrison says he will not make “reckless” cuts to the nation’s coal industry, despite criticism of his response to climate change and a deadly bushfire crisis.

    The nation has steadfastly backed coal-fired power for its economic value, despite the recommendations of a major report on climate change. The coal industry employs some 38,000 people, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

    While carbon emissions within Australia are relatively low, its fossil fuel exports account for an estimated 7% of world emissions.

    I saw a report where ironically and comically, he announced that decisions should be taken “on facts not sentiment”! He clearly lives in a well sponsored fantasy political bubble!

    Like so many industry political stooges, we have to ask; “How many more symptoms of climate change, can they pretend are one-off natural events, as excuses for inaction”?

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  • Hi Alan,

    I see the Australian climate change denying prime minister, has returned from holidaying in Hawaii while his country burned.

    Indeed, the man can go on holidays but they were so cagey about it, it was like playing where’s wally.  What you need to understand about Scomo is he’s a former advertising man and full of lies and spin.

    I think they should erect a giant statue of him and others in his party like the repellent Barnaby Joyce made out of only our finest coal 50 m high with them holding a chunk of coal up in the air and the rest of the climate skeptics in this country bowing down to the coal.  If the org anise it right they can have a viewing areas where at the solstice at dusk and dawn the coal is backlit by the sun giving corpuscular rays.  In my dreams there would be a list for people killed by flood and fires contributed by global warming.  A shame statue.  And a much better use for our coal than bloodly burning the stuff.

    I was listening to the excellent ABC radio National the science show a few weeks ago and our Newcastle University is developing a coal battery.,-not-one-that-is-bur/11594284

    Big and inefficient but very very cheap about $1 AU / kg but for grid storage small isn’t an issue.  This is what we should be doing with our coal.

    It’s interesting Scomo is either pandering to the right of the party or is more right leaning or at least in this issue is siding with the conservative climate denying part of the party.  However the new South Australian state premier is continuing the work of the Labor premier he ousted and continuing to build more and more renewable’s, in fact they have decided to make SA better than 100% renewable by 2030 they want in fact to be a net exporter or green power by then.

    Our CSIRO is working on a method to turn hydrogen to ammonia and back again efficiently (which they claimed to have cracked in the lab).  If they can then they can transport hydrogen anywhere without the complication of highly pressurized cylinders etc. We could even export it overseas.  So we could given the amount of desert in this country do massive and interesting things with green energy if we could get our federal politicians off their collective arses.

    Some interesting stuff happening in agriculture too.  Check out Sun drop farms in the desert in SA.  All my tomatoes come from there.

    Cheers and happy Christmas without the Christ.  Happy Mas (sounds a bit catholic need to work on that).





  • 83
    Michael 100 says:

    Reckless Monkey #80.  Another book I read some years ago is  SEQ CHAPTER \h \r 1Copernicus’ Secret, How The Scientific Revolution Began, Jack Repcheck (2007).  I just found some notes that I made right after reading the book.  The rest of this post is largely from those notes.  Repcheck argues that the Ptolemaic model had been under scrutiny for some time.    

    Copernicus studied astronomy, at the University of Bologna, with the leading astronomer-astrologer in Italy, Domenico Maria Novara.  It is thought that Novara had been a student of Regiomontanus, known as the greatest astronomer of the fifteenth century, who in turn had been a student of Georg Peurbach.  Both Puerbach and Regiomontanus had serious questions about Ptolemy’s model and recognized the need for reform, but neither attempted a complete rethinking – that task waited for Copernicus who provided the data and mathematics. 
    Another interesting thing is that as he was doing his work, Copernicus communicated his hypothesis with numerous scholars, including Nicholas Cardinal Schönberg, who requested permission to publish the ideas, but Copernicus hesitated until he could complete the data to support his work.  At some point, Joachim Rheticus arrived and assisted Copernicus in the arduous task of preparing the work for publication.  After Rheticus arrived, it took the two of them two years to organize and finish the manuscript, On the Revolutions.  When Rheticus arrived, he gave Copernicus a copy of a book by Regiomontanus, On Triangles of Every Kind, which Copernicus used to go back through his trigonometry section and make substantive revisions.  Finally, after decades of work:
    “When On the Revolutions rolled of [the] press, the canon was lying in his house in Frombork, paralyzed and dying.  He may have been sufficiently alert to realize that he would not live to enjoy the acclaim that was likely to greet the first book in nearly 1,400 years to rival Ptolemy’s Almagest. There must have been many times while he was actively working on the manuscript that he dreamed of the recognition that the book would bring.  And he certainly must have felt excitement while preparing it for publication in 1540, and 1541.  Now, knowing that the end was near, what despair he must have felt.”

  • A quote from a youth-group rally this weekend:

    “We’ll have an economy based on wind. I never understood wind. You know, I know windmills very much. I’ve studied it better than anybody. I know it’s very expensive. They’re made in China and Germany mostly — very few made here, almost none. But they’re manufactured tremendous — if you’re into this — tremendous fumes. Gases are spewing into the atmosphere. You know we have a world, right? So the world is tiny compared to the universe. So tremendous, tremendous amount of fumes and everything. You talk about the carbon footprint — fumes are spewing into the air. Right? Spewing. Whether it’s in China, Germany, it’s going into the air. It’s our air, their air, everything — right? So they make these things and then they put them up.”  Donald Trump

    Jesus god in heaven!!!

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  • Demented lying fool, Vicki.

    The Energy Yield Ratio of wind turbines in 2007 was over 20 times on the basis of a 20 year life span. That is, it displaces the burning of 20 times more fossil fuel than would be burned to make it in Trump’s Steampunk America.

    Of course as we make these things we would increasingly not use fossil fuel in their production. CO2 would still be produced in making calcium-based cement for parts of the assembly as carbonates are reduced by heat, but not as much as goes into making his Trump Towers, I’ll wager. (Magnesium cements may come to replace this kind of cement, releasing no CO2 but rather absorbing it over its life time.)

    Interestingly the most efficient turbines will lift this EYR as they scale up. The USA company GE leads the pack with their 12MW 260m high Haliade X. Better still anti-vibration damper technology and better surface finishes look to increase unit lifespans up to 50 years. The oldest wind turbine above 1MW is 41 years old and still going strong. Finally the elimination of gear boxes and other mechanical complexities, now that the electrical conversion implementation issues have been solved, make for very low maintenance systems.

    Not replacing them because they last a long time is no longer shutting us out from much better technology. With the latest big units we are already approaching the physics limit of energy extraction.

    So EYRs of 50 fold, and once cement makers and iron foundries buy renewable energy,…

  • What ho matey peeps? It’s been a while I admit. Covering Trump on a regular basis drained me somewhat. I needed a break from it. I hope all the old regulars are still ok and hopefully some new names.

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  • Michael 100 says:

    Yeah thanks for that Michael.

    I heard the Copernicus had gotten inspiration for his ideas from the Greek Aristarchus? and had spoken of his ideas in an earlier draft then discarded them (possibly as they might have been considered heretical).  Can’t remember where I heard it so would take with a grain of salt.

    hope you had a good Christmas.



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  • I will eventually get onto discussing some of the things I’ve missed in the 10 months I’ve been away but I would like to briefly say one thing. Trump depresses me more than I can explain. That’s why I had to go dark for a bit. There is no low he will not sink to. He’s hateful, stupid, vindictive, and clearly mentally ill. Just following what he does saps my will to live. The bright spot that cheers me back up again is the amazing Greta Thunberg. She is the ray of sunshine that blasts away Trump’s dark shadow. I adore her, her energy, her spirit, her resolve. I smile every time I see her on a Youtube clip or a news feed. Actually she affects me so much I usually end up crying as well as smiling. She just had a video call with Sir David Attenborough, another hero of mine, so I’m a bit emotional at present. She is the future of our planet, long after Trump is a rotting corpse. She is a weird little thing. Tiny, childlike, looks more like 12 than 16 but she has the spirit of a thousand Klingon warriors. Qapla little princess.

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  • Welcome back, Arkrid. I think your commentaries will be needed even more in the coming year.

    I am a big fan of Svante Arrhenius. I use his “equation” to predict aging in my designs pretty well everyday. They help me design products/solutions that are uber-eco and last several lifetimes cutting manufacturing volume by an order of magnitude.

    More importantly he discovered the principle of global warming.

    Greta Thunberg is related to him.

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  • Let us hope sanity returns to the fore in 2020, that we might recognize our true reflection and attempt to calm the primitive impulse to take more than we need.  

    Wishful thinking but it is a new year and I hope that we can see a new path forward that strengthens the bonds of humanity, that we might reject the banter seeking to divide us.  

    Happy New Year, one and all.

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