Feb 1, 2020

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160 comments on “OPEN DISCUSSION FEBRUARY 2020

  • Welcome to the February 2020 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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  • Just watched this on France24…

    Trumps evangelicals – the full size ark featured in the middle of the report is scary! First time I have seen that.

    I never understand how these Christians are able to square their beliefs with Trump’s behaviour and  environment stance – the pollution of “God’s creation”.

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  • 3
    Michael 100 says:

    The only word that leaps to mind is “irrational”.  I’m convinced the Tuumpists don’t have beliefs — They have prejudices which Trump validates.  They are a frightening group of people.  And, they don’t realize they are being played for suckers.  Trump is the master con man.

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  • The Ark Encounter is very well known amongst atheists who follow the well known batshit crazy religious apologists like Ken Ham who is responsible for this particular monstrosity.

    It was built with a shit ton of taxpayer grants which is a disgrace and rather ironically is held together with massive amounts of steel, which wasn’t actually available in the bronze age of course, because wood alone isn’t strong enough to hold together in structures that size as shipbuilders know very well. Its very construction proves that Noah’s Ark couldn’t possibly have existed. It’s just a con job designed to fleece the gullible i.e. a pretty good description of all of religion.

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  • 5
    Cairsley says:

    WalsallBoy #2

    You are too reasonable, too rational, to make sense of those American evangelicals. Their basic principle is Faith in the Word of God, coupled with the Sadducaic notion found in the Old Testament that the righteous person, obedient to the will of God (as revealed through his Word), is blessed and rewarded with health and wealth (the Sadducees did not believe in an afterlife). The plutocrats who like to control the political system in the USA may not be particularly religious, but they find that Sadducaic notion inherent in evangelical Christianity (which does promote belief in an afterlife and also favors thisworldly health and wealth for its adherents) to be politically useful in finding common political cause with them. Michael’s point at #3 about these evangelicals is spot on. One would pity them if they were not such a danger to the USA.

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  • One would pity them if they were not such a danger to the USA.

    I fear it might be worse than that.

    One would pity them if they were not such a danger to the planet.

    Its our problem now, folks…

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  • Arkrid Sandwich says:

    The Ark Encounter is very well known amongst atheists who follow the well known batshit crazy religious apologists like Ken Ham who is responsible for this particular monstrosity.

    In fact Noah’s gopher steel brackets, laminate ply constructions  of Ham’s petting zoo, animatronic dinosaur shed,  and insurance claims for rain damage, would be comical,  if not for the waste of taxpayers’ money and de-education of children.



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  • 8
    Michael 100 says:

    All eyes were on Iowa yesterday to see the results of the Democratic Party Precinct Caucuses, and the party dropped the ball. To understand what happened, you need to know a bit of history.  In my opinion, the problem is that the Party is trying to adapt an antique system to the computer age, and it just doesn’t work well.

    The caucus system was designed decades ago so that Party activists could choose delegates to the county convention, which in turn would choose delegates to the congressional district convention, which would choose delegates to the State Convention, which would choose delegates to the national Convention where the presidential candidate would be chosen.  Because Iowa used such a convoluted system of choosing delegates, they had to begin the process early in the year so that the state party had time to choose delegates to the national convention.  It just happened that nobody else went first.
    In those days, there were a handful of people in each precinct who took an active interest in the workings of the Party.  Most caucuses were held in very small venues, often in the home of the precinct committee person.  He/she would have their fellow party members over and they would sit around the kitchen table drinking coffee (sure, coffee!!).  The people would debate a proposal or two to submit to the County Platform Committee.  They would select the precinct’s representatives for the various county central committee offices, and finally they would decide who would appear at the county convention.  When the business of the caucus was completed, the results would be recorded on paper signed by the precinct captain and the caucus secretary.  The captain drove the envelope to the party’s county headquarters, where the results would be recorded and reported to the congressional district party headquarters and finally reported to the state party headquarters.  The only people who had an interest were the people who belonged to and were active in the Party.  That was Iowa — other states chose the delegates to the national convention in other ways.  But finally, the delegates from all the states would meet in a national convention, usually in the heat of the summer, and fight over who the nominee of the party would be, it would be the decision of the delegates guided by the party bosses who hammered things out in the proverbial cigar smoke filled back rooms.  The last such convention I remember was when John F. Kennedy ran against the majority leader of the Senate, Lyndon B. Johnson.  The favorite was LBJ because Kennedy was a Catholic and the conventual wisdom was that a Catholic could not be elected, and LBJ was a very well known and very powerful Senator.  The convention went on for several days, with the delegates voting numerous times without producing the required number of votes to nominate a candidate.  Finally, the party bosses twisted enough arms, and Kennedy was the nominee.
    After the Watergate scandal it was decided that the nomination process would be open to the general public.  In 1976, Jimmy Carter, a relatively unknown governor from the State of Georgia, came to Iowa to launch his presidential bid.  That year, the United Auto Workers labor union wanted to have a significant presence on the floor of the Democratic Party national convention.  By this time, the Iowa delegates were chosen on the basis of presidential preference.  The Union, decided to send its members to the caucuses and to support Carter – not because they though he could win the nomination, but because he didn’t have a lot of other support and therefore, it would be the union members who would be elected delegates.  The union was more successful than they realized they would be, Carter won the Iowa Caucuses and the next thing you know he was in the White House – remember Nixon had resigned, Ford had pardoned Nixon, and the economy was in the tank partly because we were paying the bill for the Viet Nam war.  It didn’t take a political genius to win that year.
    Thereafter, because of Carter’s victory, the Iowa Caucuses took on a more important role in the nomination process, mostly because it demonstrates the ability to organize large numbers of people.  Those candidates who could organize enough people to come in in the top three could thereafter compete in other states.  Those who come in at the bottom of the list usually drop out of the race because their money dries up.  By late spring or early summer, it becomes clear who the nominee will be and before the convention everyone has pledged their support to the presumed nominee.
    The problem is that the framework of the caucuses has remined unchanged.  We have a horse and buggy system being used in a computer age – a system designed for a few friends and neighbors is now being used by hundreds of people multiplied by more than a thousand precincts in 99 counties.
    If the Party is going to invite the public to participate in the nomination process, why not simply have a primary election and conduct Party business at a different time?  The only reason Iowa has its importance is because it is the first event in the nation to test candidate strength.  Traditionally, New Hampshire holds the first primary election.  If the Iowa Democratic Party decided to hold a Primary, it would have to be later in the season.   Because of the small number of delegates Iowa sends to the national convention, the candidates would spend very little time trapesing around Iowa for months before the first-in-the-nation caucuses.  I heard this morning that Fifty Million Dollars has been spent in Iowa this campaign season.  Iowa is not going to give that up without a fight.  It’s not only the candidates who come to Iowa, but their staffs, the world and national press, film crews all stay in hotels and eat in restaurants and buy gas for their cars and buses.  Print shops make a fortune printing fliers and other campaign ads.  TV and radio stations operate for months on the revenue generated during the caucuses.  In addition, Iowans like the attention they receive, and being able to meet and talk to as many candidates at they desire.  Lots of Iowans have photos of themselves with Presidents and first ladies.  Iowa doesn’t want to give all that up.  But how to make the caucuses relevant without becoming a primary election.  That’s the problem that has escaped a solution.  In the meantime, the Iowa Democrats have a lot of explaining to do.        

  • My view, as an outsider, is that there aren’t any strong candidates for the Democrats.

    Apart from maybe Bernie Sanders, there aren’t any memorable characters. It is sad to say, but I can’t see any of them beating Trump.


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  • 10
    Michael 100 says:

    WalsallBoy #9.  I can understand your view that none of the Democrats are strong enough to defeat Trump.  Most, other than Bernie are relatively unknown.  However, as I write this, I’m thinking of an unknown guy from Chicago who decided to make a run for the presidency.  The cautious voices said that he was not well known enough to be successful.  As the campaign progressed, however, he caught fire, was elected, and turned out to be one of the most successful and most popular presidents in the history of the country.  Likewise, Jimmy Carter began with no one knowing who he was.  Although the differences between Carter and Obama are legion, the point is that being unknown at the beginning of the campaign season is not necessarily an insurmountable hurdle.  Interestingly enough, both Carter and Obama got their initial shot out of the cannon by the people who went to the Iowa caucuses.  This time, it looks like Pete is the one being shot out of the Iowa cannon.    

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  • Michael100: I hope you are right and Pete steps up to the role.

    The Democrats have shot themselves in the foot with the impeachment attempt though. It just plays into Trump’s narrative.

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  • That only makes sense from Trump’s narrative.  To anyone not inside the bubble the impeachment was necessary as a result of his conduct.  Thankfully, the majority of Americans seem to agree.


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  • 13
    Michael 100 says:

    Sean, I agree that the impeachment was necessary.  We all knew what the outcome would be, but if it had not been undertaken, the Democrats would have breached their duty to history and to the Constitution.  Trump must continue to be exposed for the criminal he is.  Last night’s State of the Union speech was a carpet of lies.  Pelosi spoke for all thinking people when she tore the speech and threw it on the floor.

    Along these lines, If you search YouTube for Andrea Bernstein Commonwealth Club, you can hear a fascinating in depth summary of Bernstein’s book, American Oligarchs.  Just when you think you know how rotten Trump is, you learn that you don’t know the half of it. Bernstein’s book is on my short list of must-reads.

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  • You have to hand it to Nancy Pelosi. Trump gets crushed every time he tries to face up to her. She treats him like a bad little boy and he obligingly behaves like one every time. He came across like a petty little jerk when he refused to shake her hand and then she stole every bit of oxygen from the room when she tore up his speech behind him as he preened and gloated. Then the final knife in the gut, “It was the courteous thing to do” she told a reporter, “considering the alternative”. I imagine the alternative was to go on camera and say what a disgusting turdblossom Trump is.

    David Pakman on Youtube has a new video showing the two times that Trump’s brain glitched during the SOTU. Not quite as violent as some of the other recent glitches but it’s happening so often now that one wonders if he’ll even be able to speak come November. The more it happens the more afraid he’ll become of it happening again each time he speaks in public and soon he’ll be in a flop sweat every time he has to go on camera, even before his adoring sycophants at rallies.

    Well for those of us who had any doubt, the full extent of the corruption and sycophancy of the Republican party has been laid bare for all to see. Every senator voted for acquital except for Mitt Romney. Prior to the vote, Romney gave a tearful speech to show the world how incredibly brave he was going to be and even then couldn’t quite bring himself to vote guilty on both counts. Zombie lizard witches Collins and Murkowski, who occasionally grumble mildly but always vote for Trump in the end, contorted themselves into knots to reporters to try and explain how Trump shouldn’t be found guilty.

    The electorate have their choice now. Vote Democrat or vote Corruption.

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  • WalsallBoy

    If you’re so concerned about Trump’s approval rating then how do you think this should’ve played out? Just let him go his merry way with harmful policies inspired by his base? No consequences?

    There are consequences for actions in this life but there are also consequences for NOT acting too.


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  • LaurieB

    Having looked a parts of the televised hearings, what is obvious outside of the Trump and Republican political bubble, is that with a very  small number of exceptions. the Republican Party and its elected representatives, have deeply implicated themselves  in the corruption of the Trump regime, and the rest of the world is taking note!

    These hearings are on video record, with copies likely to be retained and preserved for future reference, outside of America.


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  • That’s just life.  Sometimes when you call someone out you take a hit.  You become less popular, and they become more likable.   I’ve been in both positions.  🙂  What I’ve learned is that it’s better not to focus entirely on trying to manipulate that dynamic.  Instead, try to find some independent purpose.

    Romney’s speech yesterday is a perfect example of a man doing just that.

    This is not a recipe for success. –I know, if you’ve got the experience you didn’t need to hear that; still…

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  • Sean

    Sometimes when you call someone out you take a hit.

    It’s an important point. I don’t know how some people sleep at night with the positions they defend in the daylight. I may disagree with just about everything about Romney but he did stand up and take a position that he believes is the morally right thing to do. Probably politically expedient too but whatever. There’s always a calculation somewhere in the background.

    It’s not easy to stand up and take a position in an environment of overwhelming negativity. There’s a price to pay as many of us here are well aware of.

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  • Alan

    I do hope other countries are speaking out against  our lurching to the hard right and all of the toxic policies that come with that. The toxicity isn’t limited to the US. The effect on other places is so regrettable. I feel like the Middle East is doomed.

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  • LaurieB says:

    I do hope other countries are speaking out against  our lurching to the hard right and all of the toxic policies that come with that.

    Some in Europe are. but in the UK we are stuck with the mini-Trumpoid BoJo the Clown for the next five years.

    He is still full of lies and rhetoric, but does not look any nearer to acquiring any negotiating skills, or putting together a coherent plan on the future of international trade with the UK.

    The brain-dad brexiteer base THINKS they have achieved their precious brexit, but many are too stupid to realise that BoJo has not even started to arrange any of the fanciful “wonderful” new trade deals he promised them!

    The EU has told him of the rules the other 27  members operate and the terms which are likely to be offered , but as a non-member (applying for a trade deal), egged on by the right-wing gutter press, he is going to stand up to them and tell them (in his dreams) what HE is going to accept!

    EU trade is about 45% of UK exports, but that trade is only about 8% of the EU’s export business!

    So a deadlocked no-deal mess will hurt 45% of UK business and 8% of the EU’s trade.

    The Australians have also pretty much said they are not interested in any fancy free trade deals with him!

    Like Trump BoJo is full of bombastic noise, but appears clueless about dealing with real government issues.


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  • Laurie B. You have got me wrong, I dislike Trump as much as you, but why are his approval ratings going up?

    Somebody on here commented that most Americans agree with the impeachment attempt. The polls say something different. America is split down the middle.

    Look at the the UK election. Labour wiped out because they were seen to be frustrating Brexit. The UK voters had enough of politicians telling them they were wrong. Labour were seen to be just frustrating the process with no alternative answers and people were bored of the whole farce going through parliament last year.  Now the UK has no effective opposition to the Conservative PM – it’s a mess.

    I just think the Democrats have got to get past “get Trump out” as their main focus.

    Don’t think I am some right winger, because I am not. I despair at the thought of Boris Johnson in power for the next 5 years. Conservative party immigration policy affects my family a lot

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  • WalsallBoy says:
    Look at the the UK election. Labour wiped out because they were seen to be frustrating Brexit.

    I don’t think so!
    Labour were wiped out because BoJo promised the air-head brexiteers  what the brexiteers and the gutter press had told them they wanted.
    The majority Remain section did not trust Corbyn the closet brexiteer, fence sitter, to deliver any useful decisions or forms of government.
     Corbyn had messed up on every major decision along the line.
    An indecisive weak campaign before the referendum.
    Whipping his MPs to vote for article 50 with the plan he should have been demanding, missing.
    3 years of  fudge and fiddle with stupid comments like  “having A customs union”, rather than “THE customs union”, – as if the EU 27 were all going to change their rules to suit him!
    The sheer stupidity of suggesting a second referendum would be between “Remain” and some “unspecified deal HE would negotiate”, instead of Theresa May’s deal v Remain!
    When there were enough Tory Remain rebels, he threw the chance to fix the problem away, by refusing to stand down and have a temporary government under someone else

    The UK voters had enough of politicians telling them they were wrong

    Again Corbyn should have been hammering the point that the referendum was advisory for 3 Years, and challenging the lies from the  brexiteers and the gutter press! Instead he just played to the brexit gallery to try and win a few ‘Kipper votes, hence giving credibility to ‘Kipper objectives.

    Labour were seen to be just frustrating the process with no alternative answers and people were bored of the whole farce going through parliament last year.

    You are right there! but various people in the Labour Party – Tom Watson for one, and other MPs who left, gave up trying to get sense out of Corbyn.
    It wasn’t just the voters who were fed up with him or fed up with  the workers brexiteer foot-shooter in chief! – moron McClusky!

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  • Somebody on here commented that most Americans agree with the impeachment attempt.

    That was me, and it’s true.  FiveThirtyEight’s tracking of the issue shows that since October support for impeachment has been greater than non-support.

    But it is the Senate’s job to impeach in situations like this regardless of public opinion.  The Republicans are lying when they say that we can replace impeachment with an election.

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  • Marco says:

    A survey of 500 people who had voted Labour in 2017 but did not do so in December 2019 found that the overwhelming issue was Corbyn himself, and his overall leadership.

    That comes as no surprise to me.

    I was actively campaigning, and numerous people including active Labour Party members identified Corbyn as an electoral liability!

    Unfortunately voters were given the choice of BoJo the Clown or Corbyn the Clueless, so they chose the one who actually stated a position on the issues.

    Having refused to make a coalition temporary government, to fix the problem of indecision, Corbyn  actually sidelined brexit in the list of Labour’s campaign priorities!

    I think he was hoping to negotiate a soft leave plan to put to a second referendum and split the remain vote to shuffle through his personal version of brexit.

    It’s not just that Corbyn lost, but he lost to the worst bunch of split Tory incompetents and rogues that we have seen for quite some time!

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  • WalsallBoy

    There are plenty of Trump haters who were opposed to impeachment. I’m married to one. But when I ask what in the world we should do about him and all the damage he has done and is doing every day to this place they respond in a blithely passive way. “Oh we need to get everyone out there for the vote!” Sure! We do need to vote him out but that doesn’t mean that we retreat from his very blatant corruption and destruction of everything that anyone in the political center and to the left of that hold dear. This is really dire. I don’t even know if a new administration can fix everything him and his entourage have screwed up here and abroad. I doubt it.

    Whining about impeachment at this point is pretty much concern trolling.

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  • Alan

    We get very little coverage of Brexit here but I watch BBC news every night and that bizarre state of affairs does translate into the 10-15 minutes I get every night about it.

    We see your BoJo blustering in a remarkably Trumpian fashion about how tremendous new deals will be made by him followed by EU people who appear to be completely unconcerned and going about their business with no apparent emotions about the situation.

    As an outsider, this does not bode well…They’re going to punish you.  🙁

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  • 29
    Cairsley says:

    LaurieB says:

    As an outsider, this does not bode well…They’re going to punish you.

    Watching from the other side of the planet, I agree with your perception, Laurie, that the UK is cruising for a bruising. But I would caution against lending weight to one of the Tories’ tricks, namely blaming the EU for bad things happening in the UK because of Tory policies. The punishment that the UK will be getting will be entirely self-induced, but we can expect the Tory leaders in the UK once again to blame the EU for it.

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  • Unfortunately voters were given the choice of BoJo the Clown or Corbyn the Clueless, so they chose the one who actually stated a position on the issues.

    UK voters also rejected the Liberal Democrats, with their remain policy, though. I think everyone just wanted Brexit over and done with.

    I agree Corbyn and the Labour manifesto was a disaster. The fact Corbyn hasn’t resigned as leader shows how delusional he is. If Labour go for another Corbynite hard-left leader, the Conservatives will be in power for another decade.





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  • WalsallBoy

     I think everyone just wanted Brexit over and done with.

    Except that they didn’t.

    If you look at the vote shares, more people voted for for parties advocating a 2nd referendum than for those pushing for Brexit without one.

    Pro 2nd ref:                                  Pro Brexit without 2nd ref:
    LAB        32.2%                           CON     43.6%
    LD         11.5%                         BRX       2.0%
    SNP          3.9%
    GRN         2.7%
    _________                                  ________
                    50.3%                                          45.6%


    You’ll see that this table doesn’t include the much smaller parties with vote shares under 1%, but you can expand the results for those and see that, even if you include all of them, more people still voted for parties advocating a 2nd referendum than for those saying “just get it done”.

    First Past The Post skews everything: just because a party wins an enormous majority of seats, it doesn’t necessarily follow that it also won a majority of the votes.

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  • LaurieB says:

    As an outsider, this does not bode well…They’re going to punish you.

    Despite the headline ranting of the “Daily Fail” and the “Daily HExpress”, the EU has calmly stated their treaty and constitutional position, while BoJo the Clown insists that if they don’t change the entire system to let brexiteers “have their cake and eat it” as self proclaimed “privileged non-members”, –  (applying cap in hand to the EU for  deal), he will “threaten to walk away” with no deal!

    This is pretty much a threat of: “I have shot myself in the foot, by  deliberately jumping off the cliff with no plan, and if you don’t catch me in a padded blanket and treat me as a celebrity, I will shoot myself in the other foot” – but with airs of Dunning-Kruger superiority and no idea about the implications of WTO rules!

    Any “punishment”, will be self inflicted, – not that that will make any difference to the brexiteer scapegoating of the EU or the fantasy propaganda stories in the gutter press!

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  • Cairsley

    But I would caution against lending weight to one of the Tories’ tricks, namely blaming the EU for bad things happening in the UK because of Tory policies.

    That trick is to be expected, I suppose, but if EU had anything to do with this I’m unaware of it. Why in the world would they want to dump UK in the first place?! Britain brought so much to the union. Hard to imagine the EU without it now.

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  • Laurie

    Britain brought so much to the union. Hard to imagine the EU without it now.

    The EU will do just fine without us. They have come through this whole Brexit process with their integrity, their sanity and their unity intact, which is more than I can say of the UK. Yes, of course there’ll be an economic hit for them as well as us but, as Alan has pointed out, EU-UK trade forms a far smaller proportion of EU GDP than UK GDP, so the pain to them won’t be on anything like the scale of the pain to us.

    What’s more, opinion polls across the remaining 27 EU members show that support for remaining in the EU has risen in every single one of them in the wake of the Brexit fiasco, and there isn’t a single one of them where support for ongoing EU membership is less than 71%, and in most it is comfortably in the 80s.

    I think the EU is sad at our departure, because it really is based on the notion of partnership and co-operation, and our exit flies in the face of that. But I actually suspect they will come to feel quite relieved that we are no longer able to block any more ambitious plans. In the face of climate change and the shifting geopolitical situation now all of us in Europe are caught between a hostile Putin and a hostile Trump, they really need to start flexing their economic and geopolitical muscle, and there is no doubt that we would have blocked that all the way.

    In fact, for me it is one of the very few consolations of Brexit that I genuinely think the EU will get on better without us, once the immediate hit is behind them. I even know of one passionately pro-EU Brit who voted Leave for that very reason, and I don’t suppose they were the only one.


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  • Marco

    In the face of climate change and the shifting geopolitical situation now all of us in Europe are caught between a hostile Putin and a hostile Trump, they really need to start flexing their economic and geopolitical muscle, and there is no doubt that we would have blocked that all the way.

    Very interesting indeed! I’ll be watching for further developments on that front.

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  • @ Marco  #31


    If you look at the vote shares, more people voted for for parties advocating a 2nd referendum than for those pushing for Brexit without one.

    Pro 2nd ref:                                  Pro Brexit without 2nd ref:
    LAB        32.2%                           CON     43.6%
    LD         11.5%                         BRX       2.0%
    SNP          3.9%
    GRN         2.7%
    _________                                  ________
                    50.3%                                          45.6%


    This is  p**ing in the wind.  General elections are not single-issue decisions, so you can’t naively totalise voter support for a specfic policy proposal from the information given there.

    The facts are these :  a majority of the UK voted for Brexit,  and a majority of the UK voted for a Conservative Government to implement it.

    Fiddling with some figures might make you feel better but it makes no difference to the outcome.

  • If you look at the vote shares, more people voted for for parties advocating a 2nd referendum than for those pushing for Brexit without one.

    Sorry, yes I can see that the Lib Dems actually increased their vote share but didn’t translate it to seats.

  • A change of subject…

    Do people on here think the Coronavirus outbreak is something to be worried about?

    I am based in Asia, so I am seeing the effect it is having.

  • This horrible little sketch encapsulates everything that I think is wrong with America.

    Fat, ugly, bigotted, stupid, homophobic, bible thumping woman votes for Pete Buttigieg in Iowa then gets interviewed afterwards during the course of which she finds out for the first time that Pete is gay. It does not seem even slightly credible that after 9 months of campaigning, the single most headline worthy piece of information about Mayor Pete which is mentioned in the first sentence of every article about him could actually not be known by now by any American voter. However as Bill Maher has reminded us constantly for the whole of the 20 years I’ve been watching his shows, the American electorate is the stupidest, lowest information electorate in the history of this planet.

    “You mean he has a same sex partner?” she gasps in shock as if she’s still slightly unclear on the whole concept of gay. “I never heard that before”. Then she starts babbling about the bible and demands her voting card back to change her vote which she eventually does to Elizabeth Warren who is presumably heterosexual enough for her delicate sensibilities.

    So why did this whackaloon vote for Pete in the first place? Who knows. She probably saw a quick clip of him once on tv between the soaps and reality shows which is all she watches and thought there’s a nice clean cut young man in a smart suit and tie. She can’t possibly have known anything about his policies and still not know he’s gay. It seems unlikely that she’s ever read a newspaper, or an online media source or even watched a news program on tv to be able to remain so catastrophically uninformed.

    There should be a test for eligibility to vote like there is for driving, diving or becoming an American citizen if you weren’t born there. However if you were born there you can be as dumb fuck stupid and ignorant as you like and you still get to reproduce and vote. If you can’t at least score your age on an IQ test you don’t get to vote IMO. I doubt this one could score her shoe size.

    And of course lurking under the bigotry and homophobia as usual is religion. The poisoner of all things.

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  • Rogeroney #38

    Sigh. I realise that every evangelical Leave voter has been programmed to pop up like a jack-in-the-box with some variant of “You lost, get over it” every time Brexit is mentioned online, but #31 was not about the outcome of the referendum or, indeed, of the general election. It was about how people actually voted, in response to WB’s contention (at #30) that the drop in Labour’s support at the election had been primarily due to “… everyone just want[ing] Brexit over and done with”. Neither an analysis of former Labour voters who did not vote Labour this time (see #24) nor of how people cast their votes in the election as a whole (#31) bears out the contention that it was primarily about wanting to “get Brexit done”.

    And while it is true that elections are usually multi-issue affairs, to suggest this means that votes for parties advocating a 2nd referendum cannot be taken as support for a 2nd referendum, while votes for parties advocating “getting Brexit done” can be taken as support for “getting Brexit done” smacks of attempting to have your cake and eat it. Not an unprecedented stance among Leavers, I know, but hardly a sign of intellectual honesty.

    Nor did “a majority of the UK” vote for Brexit. Ever. Not even a majority of the UK electorate voted for Brexit. 2 of the 4 countries that make up the UK did not vote for Brexit. None of the 3 devolved parliaments in the UK approved the Withdrawal Agreement.

    What actually happened is that 17,410,742 people in the UK who were entitled to vote in the referendum, voted for Brexit; 16,141,241 voted against it; 12,949,258 did not vote, and 18,604,470 people in the UK were not given a say in it at all. The most you could say with any intellectual integrity is that Leave won the largest share of the votes in the referendum. And fine: that’s how referendums work. But to extrapolate from that to claim that “the majority of the UK” voted for Brexit is just plain dishonest.

    Furthermore, no major opinion poll in the last 12+ months has put Leave ahead of Remain. All the available data from the last 12+ months suggests that the UK remains deeply divided on the issue, with, if anything, a small preference now for Remain. FWIW, I’m not claiming Remain would have won a 2nd referendum: I think it would have been extremely close and could have gone either way.

    Funnily enough, as someone who follows the ins and outs of current affairs rather closely, I had in fact noticed that Leave won the referendum and that the Conservatives won the general election. But election outcomes are at least as dependent on systems as they are on votes and, as I have already pointed out, under First Past The Post, it is possible to achieve massive majorities in the Commons without coming anywhere near to getting even half the votes. If the UK had PR, we would now have a small pro-2nd referendum majority in the Commons.

    In the 2019 election, 46.5% of those who voted, voted for pro-Brexit parties (43.6% for the Conservatives, 2.0% for the Brexit Party, 0.8% for the DUP, and 0.1% for UKIP) – an increase of just 1.4% over 2017.

    Yet, under our FPTP system, they (in the form of the Conservatives + DUP) got 57.4% of the seats in the Commons in 2019, compared with 50.5% in 2017. That’s 6.9% more seats, a huge majority, and consequently vastly more power than in 2017 – all on the back of a mere 1.4% increase in vote share that still only totalled 46.5%. (Source: and

    So if you really want to know what people in the UK think, simply looking at seat allocations in the House of Commons is a terrible way of trying to find out.

    And the thing is, Rogeroney, you know that perfectly well yourself.

    There is now, in any case, another one for your list of outcomes: Leave won the referendum, the Conservatives won the election, and … wait for it … Brexit has now actually happened (even if the transition period means it will be 2021 before the reality of that really begins to bite).

    What actually happens once the transition period has ended will depend very much on the approach taken by the UK government this year, but already it seems to have abandoned any idea of the frictionless trade with the EU that it used to promise us and, with international trade deals generally taking years rather than months to negotiate and ratify, the chances of significant amounts of trade with more than a tiny proportion of the rest of the world being ready to roll by then are practically zero. And if we get a trade deal with the US that quickly, then it will be entirely on Trump’s terms. (Speaking after the collapse of the TTIP talks between the US and the EU a few years ago, one US trade negotiator spoke of the US’s shock at having found itself in the unprecedented position of having to negotiate with a bloc of similar economic clout to itself: “Normally we just fax the other side our terms and say ‘Sign here'”.)

    So what happens then will be on you and all the other Leave and/or Conservative voters now, Rogeroney. Every company that relocates because of Brexit; every job lost because of Brexit; every doctor, nurse, midwife, vet, abattoir inspector, agricultural labourer, plumber, lecturer, carer …. who leaves because of Brexit; every scientific research project from which UK scientists are excluded because of Brexit; every UK musician who cannot perform because bands and orchestras need them to have freedom of movement across the EU; every half-empty supermarket shelf because of Brexit; every family that can no longer afford European holidays because of Brexit; every young person who can no longer study abroad because of Brexit; every patient who can’t get their medication because of Brexit; every £ that ends up feeding the profits of US healthcare corporations rather than sustaining our NHS, every case of food poisoning due to the US’s abysmal food safety standards, every workers’ right lost, every environmental protection discarded, every £ stripped from supporting the disabled and the unemployed and the poor under the pretext of the economic downturn that will follow Brexit; every assault on our human rights that follows now you’ve voted to jettison our EU protections … I could go on … they’ll all be down to you.

    So god help you and god help all of us. Time to put your tired slogans back in the box and get on with holding the government to account to damn well make sure the Brexit you voted for doesn’t turn out to be the absolute bloody disaster it’s currently headed for.

    It’s on you, Rogeroney. You won. Get over it.

  • Marco:

    Just thought I should mention my view on the EU as Brit and just to clarify my previous comments in context.

    As mentioned, I am living in Asia and the Tory immigration rules affect me and my family.

    The EU rules allow for any member state citizen to bring in a non-EU spouse to their EU country of residence.

    This in effect, means that another EU citizen in the UK can bring in non-EU family members without having to comply with the normal UK rules for non-EU family visas.

    So, say a French person living in the UK can easily bring a non-EU spouse. Whereas I, as a Brit, have to comply with the very strict visa rules to be able to do so.

    It is a very small part of the argument, but I do feel it is unfair to Brits.

    I know you will say I have the same freedom in other EU member countries, and Tory party immigration policy is not the fault of the EU but it is a problem for many UK expat with family outside the EU. As I am sure you know, UK non-EU spouse visa rules are very tough – cruel in many ways.

    It is something that is hard for me to accept.

    I guess you will also think I am naive if I think things will get any easier for people in my situation post Brexit.

    One can only hope…

  • WB, nothing in the EU rules ever prevented the UK from offering more generous immigration terms to non-EU citizens, had it wished to do so. It didn’t do so because it didn’t wish to do so. Period.

    Given the Windrush scandal, with the Tory govt deporting huge numbers of people with Caribbean backgrounds on a “deport now, ask questions later” basis, even though many of them had lived here since childhood, and even though large numbers of them have subsequently been found to have been wrongly deported even under this govt’s own draconian rules, it would indeed be extremely naive to think immigrants of any nationality are going to have it any easier now we have left the EU. Indeed, the UK has set a £30,000 minimum earnings requirement for migrants to the UK, which will leave even many nurses, carers and teachers unable to move here. Average salaries are well below that figure in much of the UK.

    Brexit was won on the back of a surge of English nationalism and xenophobia. There is no way it is going to lead to an improvement in the immigrant’s lot.

  • Brexit was won on the back of a surge of English nationalism and xenophobia

    The Asian country I am in is equally xenophobic to foreigners. Not much fun being stuck in the middle – between a rock and a hard place.

  • @WalsallBoy

    The Asian country I am in is equally xenophobic to foreigners. Not much fun being stuck in the middle – between a rock and a hard place.

    The tragic consequences of the rise of nationalism, and it isn’t unique to one country or region.

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  • No, indeed, WB. I can well imagine. Ethnic nationalism and xenophobia are scourges on humanity and have never brought anything but misery in their wake.

    That’s another reason I am so passionately pro-EU. It was built from the ashes of a continent that had literally been destroyed by ethnic nationalism and xenophobia, and from a group of countries that had for centuries pursued their own, conflicting nationalistic interests and had consequently been at war with one another more often, and more disastrously, than any other group of countries on the planet. And while not stripping us of those national identities, the EU allowed us to add another identity on top: our shared identity as Europeans. And by pursuing a policy of co-operation and partnership between countries that had formerly fought one war after another, it helped to bring real, lasting peace to a historically riven continent. Because the EU is based on the simple idea that, where nations can agree shared goals and values and interests, where they are deeply interconnected on the basis of those shared goals and values and interests and pull together in pursuit of them,  they will become peaceful partners rather than warring enemies. And Freedom of Movement has a huge part to play in that, since it means that all EU citizens have the right to move freely around the EU, to travel, live, work, study, marry, retire anywhere in the EU. What a hugely enriching idea that is, both for the individuals concerned and for the countries concerned. What a flourishing of relationships that allows, and what a huge boost to creativity as people encounter a whole host of ideas and traditions they’ve never encountered before.

    I am pro-immigration, WB, and would be happy to see that Freedom of Movement expanded to include far more countries as well. But that’s not a view you will find very widely in Brexit Britain, I’m afraid. On the contrary: Brexit Britain is so affronted at the idea of that kind of international openness that it would rather destroy its whole economy and standing in the world in order to escape it.

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  • Well, on a positive note, at least in the US and UK you can still say what you want – call Trump or BoJo clowns without getting into trouble for it.

    Out here you have to be very careful.

  • Marco says:

    But that’s not a view you will find very widely in Brexit Britain, I’m afraid. On the contrary: Brexit Britain is so affronted at the idea of that kind of international openness that it would rather destroy its whole economy and standing in the world in order to escape it.

    I have been thinking about the future of my family, and the possibilities of them regaining EU citizenship despite the nationalism of the “Little-Englanders”.

    Apart from the remote possibility of the UK rejoining the EU on worse terms than at present, it may be possible for my children and grandchildren  to regain EU citizenship through a nationalist back door!

    My wife is Scottish and Scotland really wants to be back in the EU!

    The Northern Irish may also do some rethinking of their position.

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  • Alan #48

    Happily, the independence movement in Scotland is pursuing civic, rather than ethnic, nationalism.  You’d be hard put to find a more open, welcoming or inclusive group of people. The independence movement here has undoubtedly been given a boost by the rejection of the kind of exceptionalism and ethnic, xenophobic nationalism driving Brexit in England and, to a lesser extent, Wales.

    You and your family would be very welcome!

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  • Marco says:

    You and your family would be very welcome!

    We aren’t very far south of the border, and cross to see some of my wife’s relatives from time to time.

    Or course what would happen to the border if Scotland became independent, is another question.

    Historically people used to bring back cattle as souvenirs from visits,  – in both directions! ☺


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  • Or course what would happen to the border if Scotland became independent, is another question.

    Once iScotland rejoins the EU, there’ll have to be border checks on goods because there’ll be different regulatory and customs regimes in Scotland and England. There’ll be no avoiding that.

    But there’s no reason why there shouldn’t be a Common Travel Area for people, just as there is currently between the UK and the Republic of Ireland, even after Brexit. So there’s no reason to think we’ll need passports to go to and fro.


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  • Marco says:

    Once Scotland rejoins the EU, there’ll have to be border checks on goods because there’ll be different regulatory and customs regimes in Scotland and England. There’ll be no avoiding that.

    I have some misgivings about that.

    As I was saying to my wife’s cousin in Glasgow, I would be more sympathetic to Scottish independence if we could also move the border! – Say from the Humber to the Mersey, or from the Wash to the Severn! ☺


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  • Alan may recall epeeist a long time poster here and still posting on Patheos Cross Examined.

    He has announced a departure for north of the border. Am jealous. I have some work with insects in Edinburgh, but not enough to allow the permanent move.

    Currently I mostly work in Wales in vertical farming, so my plan (after securing the launch of the United States of Canada) is the creation of the United Celtic Isles, formed by a conjoining of Brythonic and Gaelic Celts, maybe with a few aligned city states from Little England.

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  • Laurie. I wasn’t imagining you’d be signing up for the leftovers, The Confederacy of Dixie.

    I am pleased though. There are some senior roles in the administration that need an honest and wise pair of hands…

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  • Phil

    I know what position I want in the new administration.

    I want to run the division of the dept of education that will be concerned with development of our most important resource – our young people. I want an agency that has access to young people at least by the time they hit high school. In US now, our high school guidance counselors are overloaded and pretty much ineffective at giving students the amount of help they really need. Students who don’t have pro-active parents who are college graduates themselves are at a great disadvantage and fall through the cracks. This is a terrible waste of talent and the class discrepancy is tragic and unethical (because there is harm).

    I want the kids in the lowest economic areas. I want the people in prisons, foster care, military, special ed depts. We need a special group for the young entrepreneurs with protections in the system to give them the freedom to create.

    We will need access to a wide range of services including psych services, quality science based addiction treatment, educational tutoring, vocational training and a small army of advocate case workers. The community colleges and state universities must be made either free or much more affordable than they are now.

    We need decent practical housing for members of our program (I want it for everyone else too!). The housing will start off free while the student is in the program giving it their all but once they’re employed there will be a financial review and payment will be decided as part of a sensible budget. (The bean counters will deal with this. We will hire some of those too.)

    Medicare for all participants is a must. (I also want that for everyone, of course.) Gaining and losing health insurance based on the ups and downs of personal employment is a terrible insecurity and the amount of time wasted on scrambling to file paperwork and search for a solution (that often never appears) can’t be tolerated in an effective society.

    I’m not even close to qualified to lead a national dept of education, having no education or experience in teaching or designing curriculum, but I do have experience in grabbing hold of disadvantaged young people and giving them a forceful shove in the right direction. It’s a long road with many setbacks to be expected and it’s much more expensive than what many people might imagine but after seeing what wonderful, very smart and deserving kids we have here who are languishing by the wayside, I honestly can’t think of a better thing to do with my/our money. Not one single better thing.

    What a thrill it will be to design this very important department from the ground up with your help.

    Thank you for your consideration.

    References on request.



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  • Hi Laurie. You’re on. This…

    Not one single better thing.

    is your qualification.

    I believe this with a passion.

    The Invention of Childhood was utterly transformative for society. Time for Childhood II. I’m still determined to do this MSc in Neuro-Constructivism in Education (for 2 to 10 year olds) even if only to get some specific research projects into younger hands. Determined, also, to strong arm my innovative educationalist friend to commit his success story to a book, oh, and totally rewrite the political map of the western world, yeah, that.

    I see its time to prepare for the next pendulum swing. We must better ratchet the return swing to the good.


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  • ShadowMind

    Awe come on, Bean Counters are good people too. Some of my best friends are Bean Counters!

    Everyone has something to contribute to the United States of Canada.

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  • A pretty amazing result in Iowa for Mayor Pete who seemed to be heading for the bottom of the pile only a few weeks ago. Catastrophe for Biden though. 9 months ago when this process started up I’d have said Biden was a shoe in for the nomination. He had all the name recognition you could ever want, a reputation for honesty and the best possible connection to Saint Obama. It wasn’t long though before I realised there was actually a candidate who could crush Joe Biden’s chances and that candidate was also called Joe Biden. Joe’s main problem is that campaigning for president requires one to speak quite a lot and whenever Joe does that he says something really stupid. These have ranged from “poor kids can be just as smart as white kids”, “that’s a load of malarkey”, the record player gaffe, to calling Senator Kamala Harris “kid” during a debate. However the one that made me realise just how out of touch he is now was when he said that once Trump is gone the Republican congressmen will get back to being reasonable people and he’ll be able to work across the aisle with them. I have no idea where Joe was during the 8 years of the Obama administration but Trump wasn’t around then and still all that Republicans tried to do was block everything Obama wanted including refusing to vote on Merrick Garland and trying to repeal Obamacare over 50 times. With or without Trump the Republicans have no intention of ever working with Dems because in the religious cult that is what the Republican party became 30 years ago the Dems are the mortal enemy. I realised that Joe is hopelessly stuck in the 1950s in much of his outlook both political and personal. He’s never really realised that women politicians are serious about it rather than just having a break from cooking and changing nappies. That the cordiality of politics across the aisle of bygone days is never coming back. The primary motivation of modern republicans is not really in having many firm policies of their own other than perhaps being anti gay and giving tax cuts to the rich but rather just opposing anything Democrats want. Basically if Dems want it then they hate it on principle.

    Joe just hammered another nail into his political coffin. He just called a female democrat voter who asked him a civil question a “lying dog-faced pony soldier” whatever the hell that is.

    One has to conclude he’s completely lost it.

    So as Joe kept shooting himself in the foot Elizabeth Warren made a charge. Standing for 4 hours for selfies at a rally was a headline grabber as is sprinting around whenever a camera is on her to show how fit she is. Her weakness though was always the cost of her health care plan which she would never give a straight answer to. I saw her on Colbert and she dodged it completely when he asked too. Finally she had to come clean and very little stacks up on either that or her plan to tax the rich massively. Of course it’s a travesty that the USA has no universal health care system but the for-profit system is so entrenched that it will take a lot of digging out. Surgeons are not going to want to lose their million dollar salaries overnight. Warren might have lofty ideals but probably very little chance of being able to implement them.

    I’m not sure what to say about Bernie. I like him, I like his policies, I hate his nasal phlegmy voice which sounds like he has a permanent chest cold and I think he’s too old as frankly is Joe Biden.

    So Mayor Pete. He’s impressed me from the start. I think he’s the smartest of the lot in terms of raw IQ and generally the best and most polished speaker. He served in Afghanistan and knows the realities of combat. He’s young and not mired in out of date thinking. I think his policies represent what’s doable rather than what’s theoretically ideal but you need to get a foot under the table before changing all the rules. Very sensible basically. He’s getting no traction with black voters though which is going to be tricky in the south. He would be my choice if I had any skin in the game.

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  • Great analysis, Arkrid.

    I must confess I haven’t been following the Democrat race all that closely – there seems to be rather an over-abundance of politics right here at home just now, and I’m running out of political brain space.

    That said, I’m interested, of course. And like you, I thought Joe Biden would stand a good chance at first, though I was always half-hearted about him. His strongest point for me was his connection with Obama and the obvious respect and affection Obama had for him: that was some character reference. But for that, I suspect his campaign would never even have got going. He’s been a complete non-entity in the bits of the debates I’ve caught.

    I like a lot of Bernie’s ideas, but he’s never struck me as presidential. Substance is far more important than style, I know … but for all that, to me he neither looks nor sounds like a president, and there are some roles where looking and sounding the part really does matter.

    Elizabeth Warren has always impressed me, and I’d still like to see her as president, though I take your point about the possibly insurmountable difficulties facing her healthcare plans.

    I still wouldn’t know Pete Buttigieg if he was standing on my front doorstep, but I’m happy to accept that as my failing rather than his. Like I said: I haven’t really been paying all that much attention.

    It’s an interesting dilemma for progressives, though. Do you keep your plans modest and potentially achievable? Or do you go for bold, aim to really transform a society desperately in need of transformation and accept that, even though you inevitably won’t achieve it all, you might achieve more simply by having aimed more rather than less high, and that you’ve at least planted the idea of real transformation in people’s minds? Because right now, it seems that so many countries – not just the US – are closed to the idea of real transformation. Personally, I can feel myself bucking the demographic trend and becoming more, not less, radical as I get older, more, not less, willing to embrace real change, provided it’s in a more progressive direction. I have grown impatient with the tweak-round-the-edgers and steady-as-she-goers, because more often than not – in effect, at least – they simply prove to be conservatives with a smiley face.

    I have certainly grown weary of the most powerful positions around the world being in the hands of old white men. My apologies to any old white men reading, but c’mon, you can’t say you haven’t had your chances. Just carrying on as before while tweaking this and tweaking that isn’t going to change anything to speak of, and if there was ever a time when the world needed real change …

    I’m not saying any woman would automatically be better than any man, or any person of colour automatically better than someone who’s white. And in the past at least some women with real potential have tried to adopt a male persona in order to be taken seriously, which isn’t what I’m advocating at all. But looking around the world, there are some really impressive and inspiring female leaders now – the US could do worse than have a woman along those lines as president …

    So ideally I’d still really like to see Warren as next President. But at the same time, on this occasion the top priority for the Democrats really HAS to be to select the candidate who’ll stand the best chance of defeating Donald Trump. Compared with the horror of a second Trump term, any differences between the candidates really pale into insignificance, don’t they? I’d be happy to defer real change for the better until the 2024 election, in order to prevent real continued change for the worse in 2020.

    Is Mike Bloomberg still thinking of running? He’s another one I know very little about, but might he at least have the Big Name status that might be able to match Trump’s?

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  • Quarecuss #65

    Greta gives me a reason to smile in these dark Trump days. Seeing Trump’s image online makes me nauseous, or is that nauseated? Seeing Greta’s weird little face makes me grin like a mad loon. Hearing her passion when she speaks makes me cry. Happy tears though. I adore her.

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  • Half way through the NH results and it’s the Bernie and Pete show all over again. Bernie in the lead at 27% of the vote, Pete just behind at 24%. Joe Biden dead in the water at 9% behind both Klobuchar and Warren.

    Another couple of results like this and we may see the one time front runner Joe Biden dropping out of the race in abject defeat. It is an extraordinary contrast between Dems and Republican voters though. Trump lies continually and not just little lies but batshit crazy stuff like he only lost to Hillary in NH in 2016 because of hundreds of buses full of Massachusetts voters going up to NH to vote illegally – but his supporters don’t care at all about his deteriorating mental conditions, lies, narcissism or anything else. Just look at this awful video of Trump supporters nodding and applauding his lies.

    Joe Biden said a few mildly wacky and stupid/tactless things over the months and his campaign seems to be over. Everything Joe has said added together wouldn’t even make enough for the first five minutes of a Trump rally. It’s easy to blame Trump for everything that is wrong in the USA today but he had to be voted in by tens of millions of people as disgusting as himself and enabled in office by spineless and corrupt Republican congressmen. The corruption and insanity runs far deeper than Trump. He’s just the bottom feeder who exploits it. 50% of the American people are homophobic, racist bigots who actually want someone like this in charge. If you dig down under the racism and bigotry to find the root cause it’s primarily religion. That’s the real problem in America.

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  • All 4 prosecutors in the Roger Stone trial resigned yesterday after the DOJ under corrupt Bill Barr interfered to try and reduce Stone’s sentence at Trump’s behest. The entire government apparatus is now corrupted to Trump’s will and a tool to do his bidding. This IS the dictatorship so many said couldn’t possibly happen in the USA much as others said about Germany in the 1930s.

    There is talk of John Bolton being investigated now as retribution for what he wrote in his book about Trump and Ukraine and even possibly framed by the DOJ for something like revealing state secrets or whatever else they can pin on him.

    Meanwhile Trump has released a budget that slashes hundreds of billions of dollars off Medicare, Medicaid and other social safety nets to try and reduce the deficit caused by the massive tax cuts for the rich. Robbing Hood is now stealing from the poor to pay the rich as many knew he always would. The very people who voted him in are suffering the most and still refuse to see it. Rule 1 is never question the cult leader.

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  • @Arkrid #69

    All 4 prosecutors in the Roger Stone trial resigned yesterday…

    To be clear, one resigned from the Just Us Department, and the other three took themselves off the Stone case in protest to Barr’s actions.

    It seems that Trump has found his soulmate in Barr.

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  • If you dig down under the racism and bigotry to find the root cause it’s primarily religion. That’s the real problem in America.

    Personally, I’d say better education would take care of most of our issues, including religion.

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  • WalsallBoy #70

    Thanks for that link. Since posting my comment here, I’d seen comments/tweets etc flagging up some of his repugnant comments about minorities, but the article goes into more detail, which is helpful.

    No, the Dems need to find someone better than Bloomberg.

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  • (first time poster, so I hope this is the right place for this; apologies otherwise)

    “Blasphemy is no crime” (in France at least) but still: how easy it is to ignite so many people’s bad feelings, get hate and threats:

    Why do right-wing extremists like Le Pen have to be the loudest voices in rescuing a teenager? It’s sad that not much other support is given, independent of political colours…

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  • Every time I hear Dawkins debate a religious person they always say even if religion isn’t true it only helps people and it only tells you good things and Dawkins will say yeah but I prefer the truth. This article I just read from the Symbi Earth blog on blogger or blogspot called “How to defeat evil” explains the negative effects religion and religious belief has on society better than anything I’ve ever heard. I think Richard Dawkins should make these same points in his next book or his next debate since he has such a large following and a public platform that can help to educate people and spread these ideas. There’s another good article on there that goes into more detail on the same subject called “Free America”. Somebody read these articles and tell me if you think as I do that this is what we need moving forward to help the country to move toward science and away from superstition.

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  • Frank.


    It seems to me there is one person arguing for tolerance against two groups delighting in their intolerance. Why should we make any effort to live peaceably with others they both say.


    Mila, called a dirty lesbian and dirty whore, argued against religion when it is intolerant and for it when practised in peace. Keen to leverage some intolerance of their own the French fascists, disinterested in such tolerant niceties, wish to punch down any religious non-Christian as dirty foreigner.

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  • 77
    Michael 100 says:

    On this Darwin Day, I just read the most fascinating section in Professor Dawkins’, The Ancestor’s Tale —The Lamprey’s Tale.  I had to read it twice.  Although the point of the tale, namely that to understand evolution one must take a gene’s eye view of the process, is a theme of every page of all his books on evolution, I think it is beautifully illustrated here.  The section tells the story of Haemoglobin. Prof. Dawkins writes:

    “There is not just one evolutionary tree in which species divide and give rise to daughter species. Every gene has its own tree, its own chronicle of splits, its own catalogue of close and distant cousins.”  …  “Each one of our genes, if you go back far enough, owes its origin to the splitting of some ancient gene. Something like this entire book could be written for each gene.”  … “We could also write a backward pilgrimage for any gene.”  … “The gene’s eye view of evolution keeps forcing itself upon our attention”

    I know this is old news for long time students of the subject of evolution, but for new comers, like me, I recommend Professor Dawkins’ books (and I emphasize the plural “books” don’t stop with one), the thrill you get form each new nugget of understanding will rival anything induced by incense, bees wax candles, and Latin Georgian chant.

    Happy Darwin Day

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  • I hear often so many Christians claim, ‘ But we aren’t with the extremist, those people aren’t True Christians” etc, etc.  But really if one honestly looks at what the bible says the true Christians actually are the Fundamentalists.

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  • Michael 100,

    The Ancestors Tale is excellent. If you haven’t  already I recommend The Greatest Show On Earth.  Evolution is a key foundational  idea in all the sciences, vital for understanding. Was it taught in school, where you went? I didn’t learn about it formally until I got to University.

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  • Vicki,

    Better education or even just any education might work, but than one has to factor in parental and peer  influences.   Also  many religious people are reasonably to well educated. They’ve made the choice to compartmentalize their thinking and ignore evidence that doesn’t conform to their beliefs, Not sure what can be done about those.

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  • michael #77

    we are almost on the same page of the ancestor’s tale!

    what a fascinating book

    king henry the first died of a surfeit of lamprey eating!

    just finished a difficult section on ‘gene’s eye view’
    belated happy darwin day to all rdeffers!

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  • Once again it seems apropos to highlight the trajectory of the American landscape as of late.  George Carlin’s prescient observations are holding up well concerning our degradation with his assertion that we are “circling the drain”. The lawlessness is, as the youth profess, off the hook.  Seems we will be offered classes on how to offer accolades to the dear leader before much longer as mirrors events of antiquity.  One cannot escape the parallels with a quick comparison of the eras and dogma on offer.

    Take a quick look at the new EPA chief of staff that pushed our leaving the Paris accords and this is minuscule to the litany of offences that have collided with sanity as directed by the Orange one of destruction.  I would think the evangelicals might be thinking of a rewrite of their religious texts before much longer to include the one who glows Orange, can’t be far off I don’t think since they consider him the second coming.  Anyway I will leave you with George’s opinion for you to contemplate.  Oh how I miss his banter.

  • Laurie

    I fear you’re right.

    The US presidency: for sale to the highest bidder, it seems.

    The more I read about Bloomberg, the more appalled I become. Ok, I’d still rather have anyone but Trump, but honestly, if Bloomberg’s the best the Democrats can do, they’re suffering from a serious lack of vision and ambition.

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  • On the plus side, Bloomberg might be able to garner the Independent votes–the biggest voting demographic. Independents number more than Democrats, and more than Republicans (although, not combined). They claim that they tend to vote more right-of-center, but their voting record actually is more left-of-center.

    Another plus if Bloomberg is nominated, it is possible that there won’t be as big of a backlash in the mid-terms.


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  • There are some outcomes you can expect from a President Bloomberg.  I would say his affection for Israel will doom any positive prospects for the Palestinians and the embassy will not be relocated to its former location as it should be to unwind the giveaway that Trump instituted.  He is a buddy of Wall Street so expect that party to continue unabated.  You can expect little to nothing from him on the climate emergency for the obvious reasons, business will be his guiding principle and the concerns for the planets health will take a back seat.  

    Welcome to the new Oligarch party and Michael will be quite welcome since he is a member of that class.  To sum up: Business as usual but without the constant tweeting.  That’s my take off the cuff.

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  • The uncomfortable aspects of our effect on the planet are often swept to the sidelines but I still attempt to throw the condition out there for consideration.  I will include a link that has interesting data relating to populace at large.  In light of our smallish biomass percentage the effect we have is monumental.  There is scarcely a corner of the Earth we have not exploited/impacted.

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  • How adorable that corrupt attorney general Bill Barr thinks that anyone actually believes his little dog and pony show about how he can’t do his job with Trump tweeting all the time. I see he’s now even threatening to resign. To misquote Hamlet “the fat man doth protest too much, methinks”.

    If any of this were serious Barr wouldn’t have to resign. He’d already be under the bus. I have no doubt this sham has been cooked up by Barr and Trump so Barr can claim some measure of independence and Trump can claim he isn’t really influencing the DOJ adversely.

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  • aroundtown #89

    In light of our smallish biomass percentage the effect we have is monumental.

    it’s the 1-3 ton private carriages we use to get aroundtown

    and the power to move them

    that make our effect so monumental

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  • 1-3 ton private carriages

    In terms of its destructive effect on the planet, the internal combustion engine is by far the worst invention ever.  A machine developed and popularised by people who for the most part wanted to improve the human condition, ended up ruining cities, the countryside, the atmosphere…in addition to killing millions of people one way or another.  It has been a far greater disaster than all the malign instruments of war combined.  I do own one.

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  • good on ye eejit

    Thanks quarecuss for the vote of confidence.  But I’m a little confused: is it for my perceptive comments, for my usual ranting style, or for owning a car?

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  • I see another member of “Team Trump”, is heading for jail!
    A judge has expressed “disgust” at US President Donald Trump’s former adviser Roger Stone, as she sentenced him to 40 months in prison.
    Stone, 67, was found guilty in November on seven counts of lying to Congress, obstruction and witness tampering.

    The judge said Stone threatened her, but Mr Trump said he should be cleared.

    He is the sixth Trump aide convicted on charges linked to a justice department inquiry that found Russian attempts to boost Mr Trump’s 2016 campaign.

    Lying seems to be the team standard for this criminal bunch!

    Apparently Trump has been Twittering about a possible pardon!!

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  • Meanwhile in the English courts, while trying to extradite Julian Assange to the US, other dubious activities are coming to light!
    A former Republican congressman has denied he offered a pardon to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange on behalf of US President Donald Trump.
    Assange’s lawyer said Dana Rohrabacher claimed to be acting “on instructions” from Mr Trump in offering clemency.

    In return, the president was said to have wanted Assange to say Russia was not involved in leaking emails during the 2016 US election.

    The claim was made at a court hearing in London before a formal extradition request for Assange begins. He is wanted in the US on espionage charges.

    District Judge Vanessa Baraitser ruled the evidence admissible in court.

    The White House has responded with its usual, attempts to distance Trump from Rohrabacher just like those others  caught up earlier in criminal activities, but the repeat pattern is becoming more and more obvious!

    Assange is at present in Belmarsh prison for 50 weeks for breaching his bail conditions.


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  • Ok, so when I’m not pontificating in here or watching online porn I tend to be studying my hobbies which are mainly sciency things like cosmology and genetics. For most of my time since I got internet access I didn’t go to Youtube because I thought it was cats stuck in trees or selfy videos of people doing stupid things. About 2 years ago I realised it was a rich resource of amazing educational material and I now spend most of my online time watching this.

    Try the David Butler videos about cosmology which take you through everything from the big bang to planet and star formation.

    However when studying cosmology one is required to use really big numbers. Our own tiny galaxy which is barely a pinprick in the cosmic scheme of things has between 200 and 400 billion stars. The observable universe which is only a fraction of the whole universe has maybe 2 trillion galaxies. Now I can use those numbers but do I really have a gut feel for them?

    10 I get. 10 fingers, 10 toes, easy enough to visualise. 100 also not a problem. 1000 not too bad either but a million? If you start counting at the rate of one number per second and you count up to a million how long does it take? I have no gut conception of that. A week, a month, a year? It’s actually about 11.5 days but you have to calculate it. You have no inate sense of it. I really don’t think human beings can cope with numbers this big. Does anyone think they can actually internalise numbers as big as it takes to describe the universe we live in?

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  • Arkrid

    Now I can use those numbers but do I really have a gut feel for them?

    Does anyone think they can actually internalise numbers as big as it takes to describe the universe we live in?

    It’s an important question, especially when we interact with others who have no real science education. These timelines that we deal with on a regular basis take a lot of practice to understand. Good for you in tackling the cosmology timeline. I haven’t attempted that but even the timeline we deal with in the biology and anthropology fields are challenging enough for me.

    In my early education, schools didn’t emphasize memorization of historical dates and so later in life when I started reading anthropology I realized that I’d have to start learning that on my own or I’d never have any perspective on anything. Now, when I talk to people, especially young people on any aspect of history, I make them do the math at the beginning of the discussion.

    I find that just reading a date on a plaque or on Wiki doesn’t do the job. They don’t internalize the true depth of the history. I ask them to tell me How many years ago did this happen? Sadly, some of my interlocutors don’t know how to figure this out. Now with our phones, we can do that quick calculation on the calculator function. I know, I know, don’t get me started!

    When we run through a list of events and calculate how long ago they happened we see that some things are so long ago that they can’t take it in and other events cause surprise that they weren’t that long ago at all. But this process is the only way I know to build a familiarity with the numbers that people should hopefully be capable of understanding and utilizing on a daily basis. That would be several billion, several million, hundreds of thousands, tens of thousands, thousands, and hundreds. Even touring through an art museum we are presented with items from prehistory through Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Asian, European and the Americas. I ask young people to give examples of historical events that happened in each of the numerical categories. For example:

    13.8 billion – Age of universe

    4.5 billion – Age of Earth

    245 – 66 million – Age of dinosaurs

    3.2 million – Lucy, Australopithecus lived

    2.6 million – 11,700 – Pleistocene, including last ice age

    40,000 – last Neanderthal

    11,000 – agriculture in Near East

    3400-3100 – Otzi Tyrolean iceman lived

    1227 – Vikings invade Great Britain

    456-404 – Shakespeare lived

    237 – Great Britain recognized US independence

    155 – US Civil War ended

    57 – JFK shot

    *Dates from Wiki source. Some are arguable.


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  • I’d like to add a date to Laurie’s list. One of my absolute heroes, Giordano Bruno. 420 years ago he was murdered by the Catholic church by burning him alive at the stake in 1600. Bruno was an Italian astronomer, mathematician and philosopher who was fascinated by the cosmos. He spent many nights staring up at the stars trying to figure out what they were. Religious doctrine said they were painted on the black inner surface of the cosmic sphere. Bruno wasn’t so sure. What follows is entirely my own invention but maybe this is how Bruno reasoned. Stand near a candle. You can see every detail of the shape of the flame, the wisps of smoke coming off it, how it flickers in the currents of air. Walk away and it shrinks until eventually it’s just a flickering light against the black background. Imagine a bigger fire. A camp fire maybe. Walk away much further and eventually it too will become a flickering light. Imagine any size of fire and if you walk far enough away it will become a pinprick of flickering light. Bruno knew very well that the stars were very far away. In 270 BC Aristarchus determined that the moon was about 60 earth diameters or 240,000 miles away from the data he got during an eclipse. He was spot on. Bruno knew that the stars were many times further away than the moon as they demonstrated no measureable parallax. Maybe he thought they were millions of miles away. It’s hard to imagine he thought trillions but who knows. But one night he reasoned that if they looked like flickering points of light like a distant candle maybe they were much larger fires at a huge distance. But what could possibly be such a huge fire to be visible so far away? He stayed up all night that night and next morning a huge burning ball of hydrogen rose above the horizon and Bruno had his revelation. The stars were suns and if so maybe they had planets like our own sun and if so maybe some of those planets could support life and just maybe some of those planets had people looking up into their own night sky and wondering if they were alone as did he.

    It was an extraordinary deduction. A work of pure genius. It would be 200 years before telescopes were powerful enough to verify that the stars were indeed suns and 400 years before we could detect planets around those nearby suns. When we did we found that almost every sun has planets. Many of those must be capable of supporting life. Whether life has evolved on them is another matter. One day we might know. But Bruno’s deduction was hundreds of years ahead of its time. The font of all evil, the Catholic church was furious. The little black book of bronze age bullshit says nothing about alien races and other solar systems. So they charged Bruno with everything they could think of and burned him alive for being absolutely right.

    I wish I could go back and tell Bruno he was right in everything he surmised. I try to imagine the joy and awe he felt that night he worked out what the stars really were. If only I could let him know he didn’t die in vain or being wrong.

    The church has never even apologised for killing him. It took 300 years for a grudging apology on behalf of Galileo but not a peep for the genius Bruno. If anyone wants to know why I detest and hate religion with every fibre of my being then Bruno’s story encapsulates it. He was murdered on 17th February, 1600. I mourn his death.

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  • Nice one Arkrid.  We’ll never know how many geniuses the church tortured to death in their effort to hold the masses down in dark ignorance. They’re still at it even today and using every means that they can get away with depending on their location in the world.

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  • One interesting date on my timeline that I left off is the out of Africa date (range). I didn’t attempt it but will be happy if someone else will give it a go.

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  • My science knowledge is limited but reading about universe timelines fascinates me.

    What came before the big bang, are we one of many universes, does the universe expand and contract to start a new big bang…?

    I came across this book which theorises that the universe came into being from nothing…

    Not had chance to read it yet though.

    Another theory that interests me is that everything is a programmed simulation. If time is infinite, then a computer simulation has infinite time to compute and visualise a second of our reality.




  • Love the timeline list from LaurieB and appreciative of Akrid’s shoutout to Giordano Bruno, one of the pure visionary’s who would not bend.  The ability for a true telling of historical events is questionable in-light on mankind’s ability to bend facts for immediate favor and position but some figures of stature still standout regardless of efforts to obscure them.

    It will be interesting to see follow up to LaurieB’s proposal to the out of Africa date range question and any clarification on the number of excursions would be interesting as well.  I wonder what may become of the early Western Africa hominids theories and how they will be incorporated to the Rift Valley groups.

    I would like to add another individual/event for the list that expanded our horizon’s… Edwin Hubble who added affirmation to the expanded universe by clarifying Andromeda’s existence as a galaxy and not a nebula.  I’m aware that earlier postulations on Andromeda were available but he nailed it down conclusively, he additionally provided valuable confirmation of an accelerated expansion of the universe,  I would think a connected event would be the deep field picture taken by the Hubble telescope that verified the multitude of galaxies we are now aware of.


  • The out of Africa story is really complex and ever changing as more finds are made. Undoubtedly in reality migration was going on all the time rather than there being specific events at particular times. The oldest Homo Sapiens fossil found outside Africa so far is about 190,000 years old and Neanderthal man seems to have left Africa around 500,000 years ago. However the recent find of a 7.2 million year old hominim in Greece means that maybe the human lineage didn’t just evolve in Africa and that the common ancestor of chimps and humans was already living in Europe or elsewhere before splitting into different species. This fossil had human like teeth with fused roots unlike the separate roots of the great apes so it would seem the split from the chimp line had already taken place by then or was in process of taking place. The Mediterranean sea had dried up at this time so migration to Europe was easy across the land bridge. Northern Africa was becoming desert so maybe the human chimp common ancestor moved north to better feeding grounds at this time and then diverged into the two lineages. Maybe such a divergence took place at multiple locations both in and out of Africa.

    Fossilisation is such a rare event I doubt we’ll ever find enough early hominim and hominid fossils to be sure of the real story. It’s a fascinating area of study but I find it hard not to be reminded every time of how many xtians just refuse to believe any of the thousands of man years of expert research because their pathetic goat herders guide to the galaxy says something different.

    Homo Sapiens fossils from Morocco dating to 300,000 years old push back the 200-250,000 year date range that had been thought as our earliest evolution. Research on tooth shapes suggest that Homo Sapiens and Neanderthals might have diverged as much as 800,000 years ago but we’ve not yet found HS fossils that old. It’s hard to know just how old we really are as a species. We still have so few pieces of the jigsaw.

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  • Feb 23, 2020 at 12:31 am


    everything is a programmed simulation. If time is infinite, then a computer simulation has infinite time to compute and visualise a second of our reality.

    A good place to start with this is to get a solid understanding of the difference between an idea, a hypothesis and a theory. Here is a quick Wiki explanation of what the science community considers to be the definition of hypothesis. Notice that it is NOT the same as an idea.

    hypothesis (plural hypotheses) is a proposed explanation for a phenomenon. For a hypothesis to be a scientific hypothesis, the scientific method requires that one can test it. Scientists generally base scientific hypotheses on previous observations that cannot satisfactorily be explained with the available scientific theories. Even though the words “hypothesis” and “theory” are often used synonymously, a scientific hypothesis is not the same as a scientific theory. A working hypothesis is a provisionally accepted hypothesis proposed for further research,[1] in a process beginning with an educated guess or thought.[2]

    Now go back to your computer simulation idea. Is it TESTABLE? Is there any experimental design in the works now? Is there any data out there presently? If the answer to these questions is no then it’s not currently a working hypothesis. As far as I know at the present time, the computer simulation idea exists in the realm of science fiction and conspiracy theories.

    It’s important to be strict about the components of the scientific method. Read more about this. It’s the language of science, how we communicate with each other.

    I haven’t read the Lawrence Krauss book A Universe from Nothing but if you do read it I’m sure there are plenty of people happy to discuss it with you here on our book discussion thread.

    Also, I wonder if that’s the first book you should start with on that topic. Get advice on that. If you start off reading a book that is too advanced then you may get discouraged and that isn’t in your best interest. I can’t advise on that topic but someone else can.

    There aren’t enough hours in the day to digest all of the new advances in legitimate research so try not to waste time on far fetched nonstarters. It’s ok to hold these ideas in your mind but be realistic in sorting what is probable and what is not. Everything comes down to the numbers in the end.

    Data rules!

  • 112
    Michael 100 says:

    WalsallBoy #104, Dr. Krauss is a great source of information.  I highly recommend A Universe From Nothing.  You won’t be sorry you read it.

  • 113
    Michael 100 says:

    “Also, I wonder if that’s the first book you should start with on that topic. Get advice on that. If you start off reading a book that is too advanced then you may get discouraged and that isn’t in your best interest. I can’t advise on that topic but someone else can.”

    As a layman with relatively limited education, I would say that Krauss is as understandable as any of the physics books.  Brian Green is also a good choice, but don’t be afraid of Dr Krauss.  If you come to a difficult section, just keep reading, my experience was that it will become clear as you proceed.  Never again will you be baffled by the “first cause “ argument.

  • Thanks Laurie B for the info.

    Yes,  I guess I am crossing into sci-fi with those ideas, but I have seen NewScientist magazine dedicating issues and features to the concept of what reality is and what we perceive the universe to be. I have also seen interviews with Richard Dawkins where he discusses it.

    I can’t remember where I read it, but one thing that possibly disproves a simulated reality is the number Pi.

    The unexplained is the most fascinating stuff for me. Things like this…

  • WalsallBoy #104, Dr. Krauss is a great source of information.  I highly recommend A Universe From Nothing.  You won’t be sorry you read it.

    Thanks Michael100. I will give it a go. It would be interesting to know of other good books that discuss ideas for this subject. Pre big-bang

  • Arkrid Sandwich,

    The fossil evidence we do have makes for an interesting story of human origins even with all of the gaps and missing pieces. Considering how fossils are formed and the rarity of the process  count ourselves lucky we found as many as we have.  As for Christians refusal to look at or accept, nothing surprising there. Yes its baffling to me to no end, with topics like evolution, age of human species, our origins how anyone can dismiss the mountains of evidence accumulated   against any story out of a ‘holy book’. But then my mind hasn’t been blinkered by dogma. After all ‘religion poisons everything’. Most often the  mind.

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  • christopher Freemyers says:

    Considering how fossils are formed and the rarity of the process  count ourselves lucky we found as many as we have.

    Actually some are not rare at at all.  We have to laugh when creationists claim “missing links” disprove evolution.

    The Foraminifera are so abundant that they even have a database of them for dating rocks from 540 million years ago!

    Foraminifera (forams for short) are single-celled organisms (protists) with shells or tests (a technical term for internal shells).
    They are abundant as fossils for the last 540 million years.

    This World Database of all species of Foraminifera ever described (recent and fossil), is part of the World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS), a global initiative to provide a register of all marine organisms.


  • akrid #101

    government of the tongue

    At dawn on 17 February 1600, he was led out onto the Campo de’ Fiori. With a metal plate clamped over his tongue, Bruno was stripped, tied to a stake and, accompanied by the chants of the Confraternity of the Beheading of St John, burned alive.

    from stanford encyclopedia of philosophy

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  • Alan4Discussion,

    Indeed, or the other ridiculous Creationist chestnut, ‘ Show me the missing links’. Then when you do, Tiktaalik for example, they have some excuse or ‘explanation’ to dismiss it. But then with Creationist/ID crowd it’s about fitting in or ignoring facts that don’t shoehorn to preconceived dogma.

    Interesting article link to Foraminifera

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  • An interesting and frankly scary set of clips of Trump’s continued mental decline from David Pakman on Youtube.

    His supporters are scarier though. It is simply not possible to actually understand what Trump is saying because the words don’t make sense but they still cheer like crazies. Look at one of the first bits where he’s just reading a list of numbers with no explanation but the cretins still cheer madly. I think they basically just react to tone of voice like a dog does. When they hear an upbeat tone, usually when he’s speaking about himself, they cheer. When they hear a disparaging tone they boo. It’s Pavlovian. Who remembers Sheldon training Penny with Maltezers? I bet I could get every Trump supporter to dribble at the sound of a bell with a bag of sweets and five spare minutes.

    Agent orange is also in India this week and mispronounced almost every single Indian word he tried to say when he addressed them including the name of the town where they were staying. He called the ancient religious texts, the Vedas, “the vestas” and mangled the names of several famous cricketers. Of course we all know he would have put in zero practice beforehand because that would mean admitting there was something he wasn’t already brilliant at and his narcissism won’t allow that.

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  • I saw that clip.  As a man of peace and someone who strives to stay calm, reasonable and non -vindictive, I could forgive Trump almost anything – except mispronouncing the name of  such a sublime cricketer (note; not cricket player) as Sachin Tendulkar – scored 18,426 runs and took 154 wickets in his career.  Trump is also often referred to as The Don – an arrogant appropriation of a sobriquet which belonged to a much better man, Don Bradman (test match batting average 99.9).

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  • quarecuss  120

    I know – cars are terrible for health!  In Australia for 20 years I used to cycle to work – but here in Ireland it’s so cold, wet  and windy, so many hills, that I don’t cycle any more…getting older I suppose.

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  • Thanks for the suggestions.


    I have my copy of Ancestor’s Tale here but mine’s 2005 edition. Pages 455-470 are Jellyfish’s Tale and Polypifer’s Tale. Is that right? Not much cultural evolution going on with those two groups! What chapters do you have for those pages?

    Alan. Yes, I should’ve gone straight to that book in the first place. I just ordered a used copy of hardcover edition.

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  • 131
    Michael 100 says:

    LaurieB, check the prologue to the Farmer’s Tale et seq.

    By the way, I’m curious to know how many pages there are in the hard-copies of the book. I’m reading an electronic version on Apple books, and it has more than 1600 pages. I’m proud to report that I’m in the final chapters — I’m in the middle of Canterbury. I have to say that one gets a real sense of the enormity of geological time by reading this work. I’m sure that it will be a reference work to which I will return frequently.

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  • One of Trump’s standard riffs at his Maga rallies is that the “fake news media” never show images of the actual audiences so they can pretend his crowds are tiny. A massive lie of course. We’ve all seen plenty of footage of the morons who listen to his ramblings clapping like seals for a fish. However I wonder how much Trump wants the media to show the crowds at the cricket ground in India he just spoke at and mangled all the Indian words he tried to pronounce. Here’s David Pakman’s take on it all.

    As Trump thoroughly insults the 100,000 people who were there when his speech started by failing to pronounce any of their words properly and demonstrating that he didn’t bother to practice the speech even once beforehand they rise and leave the ground by the tens of thousands. The stampede to escape his incomprehensible ramblings leaves the stands half empty and the exits blocked.

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  • I wonder if some (many…) of those in the crowd were there with-out knowing exactly what/who was going on, hence the mass exodus when they realised? (Possibly even lured under false pretenses/bribes?)

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  • The cheese seems to be slipping off Joe Biden’s cracker at an increasing rate now. We all know he says some weird stuff like “lying dog-faced pony soldier” and a lot of outdated stuff but the following looks like real dementia stuff that you can’t explain away as a joke or a simple gaffe.

    His pitch to South Carolina voters was that his name is Joe Biden, he’s a candidate for the senate!! (not the presidency) and if you don’t like him you can vote for the other Joe Biden, whatever that means. It’s pretty bizarre. Joe had his chance in 2016 and would undoubtedly have saved us from Trump but it seems he’s past his sell-by date now. His performance in the polls and state votes so far would seem to indicate the voters think so too.

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  • Dear all,

    I hope this is the right place for my question.

    I have read the God Delusion I while ago and it got me thinking again on a very simplified view I have had for years on this topic. Mostly philosophical, less scientific. I would like to know what the arguments against this view would be and if there might be any literature on the subject.

    Here goes: I like to think that the concepts of ‘beginning’ and ‘end’ are mainly constructs of the human mind. We see beginnings and endings in many things, e.g. a day, a year, a human life. Within our own human context this makes sense and has a purpose, but I’m not sure if this is the case in other contexts or perspectives.

    Our mind is ‘trained’ to see or look for beginnings, and we naturally seek a beginning of ‘everything’ / the universe. For a lot of people religion is the result of this search, others use advancing science to be able to look for ‘the’ beginning, progressing beyond the Big Bang if I understand correctly.

    The God Delusion gave me the idea that there still is something to be explained (maybe I did not understand it completely), but religion just isn’t a good answer to this question. For now I’m wondering if no explanation is needed for ‘a beginning of everything’. It’s very counterintuitive to think there is no start, and it’s quite an easy way out, so I would like to hear your thoughts on this.



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  • Greta meeting Malala at Oxford Uni this week.

    By no stretch of the imagination could you call Greta Thunberg conventionally pretty, or remotely sexy. She has the body of a 12 year old and a curious little scrunched up face. So why do I think she’s absolutely beautiful and start grinning like a loon everytime I see her photo online? I guess we as a species are very affected by how we perceive a person rather than just their absolute looks. As a straight male I really have no idea if Trump has any degree of attractiveness to females but his image makes me want to vomit. I understand that’s just because I hate him with every fibre of my being. I don’t find Greta in any way physically attractive but I also find her beautiful. Is that cognitive dissonance at work? I try to avoid that whenever possible but can’t seem to avoid it in her case.

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  • @Take

    Tricky questions. Some basic principles of physics tell us we can’t ever know what happened before the Big Bang. It seems it was the start of the local universe we live in and have access to but that by no means says it was the start of everything or even that everything had a start. Maybe “everything” has existed forever. Maybe there is a multiverse with many or infinite universes of which ours is just one. Maybe black holes in one universe in the multiverse give rise to new universes. Matter and energy in one universe in the multiverse get sucked into black holes and then get spat out as new local universes from similar singularities as the matter and energy is compressed into. One thing I’m very sure of is that no gods were involved.

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  • Feb 27, 2020 at 1:13 am

    136 – Take says:

    I would like to know what the arguments against this view would be and if there might be any literature on the subject.

    There are not really any credible evidence-based arguments against the numerous and contradictory forms of geographically and historically separated gods of the world, being delusions in the brains of believers of those times and localities.

    The God Delusion gave me the idea that there still is something to be explained (maybe I did not understand it completely), but religion just isn’t a good answer to this question.

    There were no Inca gods in ancient Egypt, and no Greek or Roman gods in the Americas. They were all images in the brains of their followers in particular cultures.

    Here goes: I like to think that the concepts of ‘beginning’ and ‘end’ are mainly constructs of the human mind.

    The readily available explanations of the big-bang tell of the origins of the universe and the Earth, but gods of gaps will always be slotted into areas where their followers think they are hidden from scrutiny and debunking.

    Nobody knows the origins of the energy burst which triggered this although  those “gapologists” who claim god-did-it, pretend they do.

    God-delusions programmed into believer’s brains by indoctrination actually have no powers whatever in the material universe and no inputs into the physical world, except in their ability to impress and impress and manipulate the brains which they inhabit with grandiose claims of taking credit for natural events.

    I would suggest that this is one of the best explanations available:


    What sense does it make – a universe without humans living in it?
    It only needs to make sense to a believer whose mind is dominated by a self-aggrandising god-delusion which CLAIMS to have created the universe, and blocks out evidence to the contrary!
    Back in the real material universe, that little god-delusion, is in one human brain (Possibly with duplicated copies in others) on one little patch, of one small planet of billions, orbiting one star of billions, in one galaxy of billions, in a galactic cluster, which is too small to see on a map of the universe.

    Meanwhile the neuroscientists are making progress with brain-scanning technology in identifying the actual locations of god-delusions, – and those locations are nowhere near the distant places where gapologists would misdirect investigators to look!


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  • 141
    Cairsley says:

    Take  #136

    I have read the God Delusion I while ago and it got me thinking again on a very simplified view I have had for years on this topic. Mostly philosophical, less scientific. … we naturally seek a beginning of ‘everything’ / the universe. For a lot of people religion is the result of this search, others use advancing science to be able to look for ‘the’ beginning, … The God Delusion gave me the idea that there still is something to be explained (maybe I did not understand it completely), but religion just isn’t a good answer to this question. …

    The questions you are posing here are in fact more scientific than philosophic, simply because they concern empirical reality, the reality that we come to know by way of sense-experience. Hence it is not in philosophy that one will find answers to the questions you raise but in the appropriate science — in this case physics. I think you have understood Richard Dawkins’s book The God Delusion correctly in being left with the idea that there is still plenty to be explained and that religion is not (from a historical perspective I would say no longer) a credible or respectable answer to the question of the origin of everything. Unlike religionists, scientists readily admit what they do not know, in order to determine what they need to research, whereas religionists believe that they already know the answers (because their mamas or someone important told them so). As Alan points out at #140, religionists look for the gaps in what has been scientifically established in order to claim those to be where their imaginary gods or goblins work their magic. Arkrid at #139 mentions some hypotheses about possible reality beyond our universe. I wonder whether you have read the much-publicized book A Universe from Nothing by Lawrence M. Krauss. If you have not, I do recommend it, because it gives nonphysicists a peek into the evidence and reasoning whereby theoretical physicists (like Dr Krauss) are able to arrive at such fascinating insights into the origin of the universe as the quantum fluctuation out of which our universe arose. In the course of this exposition, the general reader is treated to an account of how the various major contributions to physics during the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries have enabled scientists to revolutionize our knowledge and understanding of the universe, its origin and its end (for, yes, even the universe is not for ever but must return to the nothing from whence it came).

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  • The Trump administration has announced that Pence will be spearheading the Coronavirus issue. Today, the NYT posted an article that Pence has declared all public announcements relating to the disease must first be approved by his office.

    I find that very troubling.

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  • Should come as no surprise that the Trump appointee, Betsy DeVos, is shown to be inept and clueless as she testifies before congress, her religious agenda is her main concern and has been from the starting gate.  Problem is we all suffer from the affliction of her inability to oversee education.  She is just one of the cogs of this untethered administration that is hellbent on pushing the religious agenda.

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  • Feb 27, 2020 at 3:33 pm
    Aroundtown says:

    Should come as no surprise that the Trump appointee, Betsy DeVos, is shown to be inept and clueless as she testifies before congress, her religious agenda is her main concern and has been from the starting gate.

    Given that the gapologist’s god-did-it, is an infilling patch over personal ignorance  – and the levels of ignorance of Trump appointees; –  is this really surprising?  With her level of job skills, what else would she have to offer??

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  • @Vicki

    The Trump administration has announced that Pence will be spearheading the Coronavirus issue. Today, the NYT posted an article that Pence has declared all public announcements relating to the disease must first be approved by his office.

    I find that very troubling.

    Trump is clearly spooked by the massive stock market falls which is what he had always been dreading in election year so he needs a scapegoat for the Coronavirus. Trump doesn’t care how many people die from the virus as long as he can blame someone else. Clearly the right choice would have been a medical expert, say from the CDC. Pence will be clueless and more people will die but he will be easier to blame.

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  • Feb 27, 2020 at 1:17 pm

    Vicki says:
    The Trump administration has announced that Pence will be spearheading the Coronavirus issue.

    But Pence has skills the medical experts do not have!

    He can call on HUGE evangelical prayer meetings to pray for deliverance from that evil virus! ☺  Who knows?  He could well have contacts with some faith healers who were Republican sponsors! ☺

    Besides – the Trump administration is seriously short of medically qualified advisors, since Trump closed various government agencies and replaced most of them with Trumpies or vacancies!

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  • I have been reading my usual online news sources today and rather strangely what I’m minded of at the moment is H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds. Aliens from Mars with weaponry and technology superior to ours invaded earth and started destroying everything in their path. Soon they had overcome all resistance thrown against them and humanity was doomed but at the eleventh hour the alien war machines started grinding to a halt. It turned out their pilots were dying from a disease caused by pathogens that they had no resistance to.

    I’m very much hopeful that the coronavirus might be the equivalent to Trump of those pathogens to the Martians. The dems have thrown everything in their armoury against Trump including impeachment but to no avail. Perhaps a virus can do what they could not. I am pretty certain that most of Trump’s supporters know full well that he’s an awful person, stupid, mendacious, narcissistic but they don’t care as long as he gives them what they want which is right wing judges to bring down Roe v Wade and as much pressure as possible on immigrants with the wrong skin colour, gays, transgender people and others they consider evil or subhuman because of their bronze age dogma. However one might ask if their support will extend to the point where they themselves are hurting, or even dying. I think not.

    Every time Trump claims that the coronavirus is no problem, he has it under control, it’ll go away when the weather gets warmer, the stock markets tank again because it’s obvious to everyone he has no clue how to deal with this, or indeed anything else. He defunded the CDC by 18% even as China was releasing casualty numbers from the virus which showed it had surpassed those from SARS. A warning from CDC doctor Nancy Messonier that an outbreak of the virus in the USA is now inevitable was ignored and even attacked as deep state subversion because Nancy is the sister of Rod Rosenstein who oversaw the Mueller investigation.

    Now Trump has tried to innoculate himself from the virus by hiding behind Pence who can carry the blame if things go badly. The same Pence who as governor of Indiana responded to an HIV outbreak by refusing to fund a needle exchange program.

    So let’s see how the Trumpkins like it when they start catching the virus and the administration is doing nothing constructive to solve the problem. We all surely know how Trump and Pence will deal with this. The same way as they deal with everything. Not by trying to control the problem but by trying to control the messaging. One other thing you can be sure of though. Measures to stop anyone infected from getting anywhere near Trump himself will be money no object. The rest of the population can burn.

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  • At a rally in SC last night Trump denounced the coronavirus as a liberal media hoax and instead touted his wall and immigration restrictions as the ways to keep people with nasty diseases out of the country. In terms of constructive medical measures very little is happening though. The UK has tested over 7,000 people for the coronavirus (CV) so far, South Korea has tested 65,000, China has facilities in place now to test 1.6 million people per week! The USA with 5 times the population of the UK and god knows how many more resources has tested…..wait for it……3 million people…no of course not, I’m kidding, the real number is 459. Yes 459, not a typo. 459 out of 320 million people have been tested in the last two months. Why such a pathetic response?

    Thousands of labs and hospitals across the USA have the ability to test patients for CV. It is done with a PCR test on a sample such as from a patient’s nose swab and the test looks for certain dna sequences which are present in the virus. However when the CV outbreak was declared a public health emergency on Jan 31 this kicked in a requirement that all testing for such an emergency could only be done with FDA approval and the CDC had no approved testing kits ready. So the declaration of an emergency actually stopped dead all testing for that very emergency, apart from at one approved lab in Atlanta GA. When the CDC finally started sending out test kits on Feb 5 they turned out to be faulty. The reagents in them were giving false positives against inert test substances as well as actual bodily samples. Not much point using a test kit which tells you that everything from your tap water to a can of coke has the coronavirus.

    You really couldn’t make any of this stuff up. The Trump administration has crippled so much of government infrastructure it’s no longer fit for purpose to cope with anything even slightly out of the ordinary. Because of the incompetence of the government and its regulations the situation would actually have been much better if the CDC hadn’t declared an emergency and tens or hundreds of thousand of people could have been tested by now by the thousands of labs and hospitals already perfectly capable of doing the tests.

    So in truth no one in the USA has a clue how many people are already infected, how the disease is spreading or how best to stop it because only a handful of people have actually been tested. Imagine the situation for real people on the ground. You get back from holiday abroad, you develop a runny nose and have difficulty breathing. You go to hospital to find out if you might have picked up CV only to be told they can’t test you for it except at one lab in Atlanta which is booked solid for weeks. So take these two aspirin and by all means get back to us if you stop breathing altogether. Have a nice day now y’all.

    Meanwhile Trump and Pence boast how great they’re doing, everything is under control and it’s all a hoax anyway. The stock market has fallen 15% now. I predict that will only be the start. When testing for CV finally starts up properly, if ever, and if the infection numbers turn out to be bad then full blown panic will set in. There’s even a good chance it will lead to another recession. On the bright side that will seal Trump’s fate for certain.

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  • Thank you all for your replies. I will get a copy of A Universe from Nothingto get more insight!

    I have just started reading it and managing to follow it so far. It is illustrated with diagrams and pictures which helps!

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  • Paul Krugman wrote a great editorial called, “When A Pandemic Meets A Personality Cult.”

    It summed up the bumbling marketing approach of this administration very well. The idiot declares a national health emergency, while at the same time calling it a hoax.

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  • Vicki

    marketing approach

    Yes, that’s it. Sums it up perfectly. It’s the same here in the UK, with Boris Johnson. He and Trump are alike in so many ways: in constant campaign mode, forever more interested in getting re-elected to govern, than in actually governing.

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  • On the bright side that will seal Trump’s fate for certain

    Not atall!  He will point out that it was the elite, liberal doctors who were part of a Democratic conspiracy to undermine him.  The health services, which were ruined by Obama, had been rendered inadequate for purpose, by squandering the vast amounts of money that the Republican Congress provided before the mid-term elections, in which  they lost their majority in the House of Representatives –  thus their munificence was cut off, by Nancy Pelosi’s malign plan, hatched with the Chinese, to create a pandemic, beat up its effects through the media, crash the stock exchange, put a Socialist government in power,  take American’s guns and leave China as the only superpower……

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