OPEN DISCUSSION JULY 2020

Jul 1, 2020

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69 comments on “OPEN DISCUSSION JULY 2020

  • Welcome to the July 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.

    Thank you.

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  • Well, here’s a good (long) read to kick things off.

    Stephen Law is an English philosopher and author of Humanism: A Very Short Introduction (OUP). In this blog post from 2012 he forensically dissects the arguments for the existence of Jesus as a historical figure. I’m sharing it because it provides a masterclass in the art of rational argumentation, as well as being (I suspect) a useful resource for the future, even on unrelated topics.

     

    EVIDENCE, MIRACLES AND THE EXISTENCE OF JESUS 
    Stephen Law
    Abstract
    The vast majority of Biblical historians believe there is evidence sufficient to place Jesus’ existence beyond reasonable doubt. Many believe the New Testament documents alone suffice firmly to establish Jesus as an actual, historical figure. I question these views. In particular, I argue (i) that the three most popular criteria by which various non-miraculous New Testament claims made about Jesus are supposedly corroborated are not sufficient, either singly or jointly, to place his existence beyond reasonable doubt, and (ii) that a prima facie plausible principle concerning how evidence should be assessed – a principle I call the contamination principle – entails that, given the large proportion of uncorroborated miracle claims made about Jesus in the New Testament documents, we should, in the absence of independent evidence for an historical Jesus, remain sceptical about his existence.

    Full post:
    https://stephenlaw.blogspot.com/2012/04/published-in-faith-and-philosophy-2011.html 

  • Alan

    Yes, there are numerous arguments, expressed in many different ways. What impresses me about the blog I linked to is its thoroughness and objectivity. The way it presents a method for exploring such questions (which is why I said it could be a good resource on other subjects too). And the way (an intrinsic part of that method, of course) he avoids letting emotion creep in and does not indulge any irritation he may feel or any temptation to smack anyone down. It is quite simply a thorough, forensic, objective investigation of the arguments. Which is no more than you’d expect from a former Philosophy professor, of course, but I do find it both more interesting and more impressive than much of the argumentation to be found online.


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  • 5
    Cairsley says:

    Marco  #2

    Many thanks for that hyperlink to Dr Stephen Law’s essay on assessing the historicity of a certain Jesus. I enjoyed reading it, and I agree it presents a useful set of ideas for treating the question of whether Jesus (worshipped by Christians) was ever a real, historical man. Dr Law’s argument is philosophical, as he plainly states, and it makes a strong case for skepticism regarding a historical Jesus. Dr Law takes the principled stance of skepticism regarding a mythical Jesus as well; so his purpose in writing this essay seems to have been to challenge what he saw as biblical scholars’ unwarranted confidence in the New Testament as a source of evidence for the historical existence of Jesus. In that, he did well.

    Dr Law suggests that there is no evidence for Jesus having originated as a figure of myth, but I, following Dr Richard Carrier, would disagree with him on that. Indeed, Dr Law himself might be pleased to learn that, for example, the letters of St Paul in the New Testament provide strong evidence of the mythicism of the original Christianity, which Paul himself took up and later began preaching to Gentiles. Nowhere in Paul’s letters is Jesus referred to as a historical person, but always as heavenly being, and this is especially significant, because Paul’s letters are the earliest Christian writings we have.

    I am no expert myself in this subject, so I hesitate to say more here; but the argument that Dr Law sets out on the questionable rigor of biblical scholars’ shoddy methods of assessing the reliability of evidence and the probabilities of historical claims is a welcome contribution from a philosopher. Dr Richard Carrier, an expert in ancient history, has written at length on this subject, motivated in part by concern about biblical scholars’ chaotic treatment of evidence. He has proposed the use of Bayes’s theorem to inject much-needed methodological rigor to history arguments and render the assessment of their probabilities less subjective and much clearer. There does seem to be hope that biblical scholars will eventually be able to progress beyond the commendable skepticism that Dr Law favors regarding both a historical and a mythical Jesus to a position where a mythicist interpretation of the available evidence of the beginnings of Christianity is found to be the most probable.

    See Richard Carrier: “On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt”, and
    “Proving History: Bayes’s Theorem and the Quest for the Historical Jesus”.


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  • Hi Cairsley,

    It’s a long piece, so I might have missed something, but I didn’t read it as suggesting there is no evidence for Jesus having originated as a figure of myth: just that he doesn’t find the evidence for that convincing either. Here in Scotland juries have a 3rd option in addition to Guilty and Not Guilty: Not Proven. As I read him, Stephen Law finds both cases Not Proven.

    Several years ago, when I was much more into this whole subject area than I am now, I did read a book by Earl Doherty that, from your description, covered much the same ground as Richard Carrier’s work (Jesus: Neither God Nor Man: The Case for a Mythical Jesus, if you’re interested), and I did find his arguments persuasive. But to be honest, it’s not a subject that particularly exercises me any more: I’m absolutely clear that I don’t believe any of the supernatural claims made about the character of Jesus, so whether that character was mythical or historical doesn’t really seem to matter all that much – in terms of my own beliefs, anyway: obviously it would be of huge significance academically, historically, etc, if it could be demonstrated beyond doubt one way or the other.

    I do very much appreciate seeing intellectual rigour at work, though, so it was the approach and method and argumentation of the piece that got me excited, rather than the subject matter as such.


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  • 7
    Cairsley says:

    Marco  #6

    On second thoughts, my wording “Dr Law suggests that there is no evidence for Jesus having originated as a figure of myth” is too strong, because Dr Law does mention a couple of things that are in fact evidence for a mythical Jesus, although he does not note that they are. Since his focus in this essay is on the assessment of the evidence for a historical Jesus, he is content to state as a counterpoint his skepticism about a mythical Jesus.

    Like you, I like his approach and method and intellectual rigor in discussing what biblical scholarship has come up with concerning a supposedly historical Jesus. His argument on contamination is new to me and he uses it here very persuasively. From his philosophical perspective, Dr Law concludes that belief in a historical Jesus is not supported by the evidence.

    Earl Doherty’s work on Jesus as a mythical figure was the first serious attempt to have this view of Jesus discussed by biblical scholars, with little success. Richard Carrier’s work, which takes up Doherty’s banner with more effective methods, is another attempt to prompt biblical scholars to face up to the shambles in their discipline, the inadequacy of the evidence for a historical Jesus and the greater likelihood, on the basis of that evidence more rigorously examined, that Christianity arose out of a Jewish mystery cult.

    In ancient history, the best one can usually hope for is high probability, and often one has to be content with a more modest degree of probability, even where reasonable doubt remains. The courtcase simile does not fit here. It is a question of making the best of what evidence is available. So, although I accept Dr Law’s stance of skepticism regarding both a historical and a mythical Jesus, I would go on to argue, with Dr Carrier, that the evidence actually supports the view that the latter Jesus is the more probable.


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  • His argument on contamination is new to me and he uses it here very persuasively.

    It was new to me too, and struck me as a very useful concept.

    Thanks for the additional info on Doherty & Carrier.

     


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  • Question: If what we are is a result of evolution, why do we have intelligences which would seem to be beyond what would have come about to give primitive people a survival advantage?
    This youtube video, tour of a space station, blows me away.   http://www.youtube.com/embed/doN4t5NKW-k
    How does evolution explain our ability to do science on this level (vs “God did it”) and write symphonies, come up with lasers and quantum mechanics?
    If you do a Google search “where did human intelligence come from” you get articles on how the brain changed, brain size in relation to body size, number of neurons etc., but nothing answering the question regarding our super intelligence via evolution.
    Has any evolutionary biologist addressed this issue?

  • Timothy says:

    How does evolution explain our ability to do science on this level (vs “God did it”) and write symphonies, come up with lasers and quantum mechanics?

     

    Evolution of life on Earth covers about 3 billion years as single celled organisms, followed by about 750 million years as multicellular organisms.

    Brains have evolved from simple notochords. into spinal-cords, brain stems, and various areas and lobes which have been added at each evolutionary stage of development.

    Each of these lobes controls specific functions and has cross wiring connecting it to other areas of the brain.

    Neuroscience is complex, but “I can’t understand this, so god-did-it-by-magic” is just a cop-put by those who pretend to know but fail to study.

    There is a simple explanation the mechanisms of synapses, neurotransmitters, and the  functions of various lobes of the human brain, here:-

    https://www.quora.com/How-does-science-explain-consciousness-and-the-states-of-consciousness/answer/Alan-Appleby-4 

     


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  • 11
    Cairsley says:

    Timonthy #9: “If what we are is a result of evolution, why do we have intelligences which would seem to be beyond what would have come about to give primitive people a survival advantage?”

    Timothy, when our hunter-gatherer ancestors acquired the brains to study the habits and movements of animals, to read tracks left by those animals, to calculate how far away an animal worth hunting must be and in which direction, and to track and pursue that animal over long distances, what could be seen in action was the survival advantage of having such a complex brain capable of sophisticated pattern- and sequence-recognition, estimation of speeds and distances, calculations of time needed to overtake the prey, organizing and planning a hunt with several other kinsmen, and the long-legged, relatively hairless physiques well suited to jogging long distances where the prey would overheat and become exhausted. In other words we see our ancestors’ outstanding survival advantages, both physical and mental. The planning of such a hunt included the preparation of the weapons and utensils required, and so on. Other tribes, who lived near the sea or a river, were able to supplement their diet first by spearing fish and the by devising nets and cages. They too studied the habits and movements of the fish and knew when and where to fish for the best catches. When brains become large and complex enough to give rise to such abilities to grasp the kind of concepts needed to understand how a particular implement can be fashioned to a particular use or a particular procedure can attain a particular outcome, there is no telling what those industrious, brainy apes will eventually get up to. Thus it was at least on the African savannas where our ancestors came into their own as Homo sapiens roughly 200 000 years ago, and our brains today are pretty much the same as theirs. Obviously, such a complex brain, capable of thinking with abstract concepts, is able to be put to work on different sorts of problems from those of the prehistoric hunting-party; so that, when groups of early humans needed to move into different lands with different terrains and climates, they were able to understand the new requirements facing them and devise new ways to adapt to them. I will not bore you further, for the rest, as is said, is history.


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  • Timothy,

    My explanation of the sudden jump in apparent brain power is that a number of things came together to facilitate rich culture and that culture is key. Among these things are-

    Brains too big for the birth canal forcing a premature birth with a mostly unwired brain with many parts not even formed (humans 28% of adult brain mass at birth, chimps 50%)

    The brain wiring happens in a cultural flux in the first seven years creating brains that are firm wired by experience. Brain wiring has a new fast track mode of evolution through cultural evolution.

    Big brains are more diverse and a few genetic events exclusive to humans in the last million or two years have landed us with notable mental problems for a few but useful cognitive diversity for the many, giving us diverse skills, from a tendency to either schizophrenically invent, autistically systematise, cautiously check things with OCD tendencies, lead others with a psychopathic disregard for individual feelings, etc. etc..

    I contend cognitive diversity and adaptable premature brains forced the need for a sophisticated language if social cohesion was to play a role. We each saw things somewhat differently and mediation needed something far more detailed than identifying calls.

    Our premature brains have a mad scramble of wiring in the first 18 months of life wiring everything to pretty much everything else, leading to the unique human experience of the terrible twos where over stimulation by the senses becomes distressing. Over the next five years particularly these connections are pruned back based on cultural experience creating a lifetime legacy of skills and cultural thinking tools. Perhaps best of all, much cross coupling remains (even more in synaesthes) making connections that allow us to form metaphorical and analogous connections. New, rich language now contains vocabulary for feelings based on body metaphors and action metaphors (forward and up is good, brave fearless, down and back, bad fearful). Our capacity for analogy allows us to understand things in terms of earlier experience and better predict and plan a future.

    Our brains haven’t a single strictly logical neuron (like say a computer boolean logic gate). But culture using cultural evolution, with big iterations, at every generation soon created these stand alone thinking and sharing tools, clever apps that can run on ape infrastructure.

    We are not clever. Our culture is clever. It, evolving over only a few hundred cycles, invented rich language, boolean logic and mathematics, history and love sonnets,  etc. etc., astonishing mental prosthetics. It bred and equipped the premature ape with its bounty.


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  •  Cairsley #11

    brain, capable of thinking with abstract concepts, is able to be put to work on different sorts of problems from those of the prehistoric hunting-party

    I suspect that, after they had solved the problem of dealing with other animals, as is the case with all species, the main evolutionary engine driving the brain development of our primitive ancestors, was the nefarious desire to get the better of rival groups and to achieve high status within their own group, in the competition for resources and breedable females.  Brain bests brawn!


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  • Timothy

    why do we have intelligences which would seem to be beyond what would have come about to give primitive people a survival advantage?

    How does evolution explain our ability to do science on this level (vs “God did it”) and write symphonies, come up with lasers and quantum mechanics?

    Proceed with caution;

    You have presented two groups on the extreme ends of the range of intelligence in humans. Remember that the vast majority fall in the center of that range. When we compare the outliers on any range we could get a false impression.

    “Primitive” people aren’t necessarily low IQ. This is a lesson I learned the hard way. They present the same range of IQ that we see here in the developed countries of the West. Drop a nuclear physicist into the Sahara and that person will appear to be profoundly stupid.


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  • On the cleverness of us, let me just add that the key transformative moment came I believe in the Upper Neolithic and specifically the Aurignacian when I suspect a truly sophisticated language tumbled into existence, in effect catalysing itself. Probably with the addition of tenses, past and future marking an ability to analyse and plan, probably with the addition of abstract concepts like good and bad, hope and fear, love, need.

    This was when there was an explosion in the fossil record of art and artifacts, of grandparents even, suddenly valuable and kept alive, taking over child rearing and training them, telling them stories, shaping their brains.

     

    The universe suddenly became hugely reified, possibly by orders of magnitude, populated with distinct things with distinct qualities. Reality blossomed.


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  • eejit wrote, “I suspect that, after they had solved the problem of dealing with other animals, as is the case with all species, the main evolutionary engine driving the brain development of our primitive ancestors, was the nefarious desire to get the better of rival groups and to achieve high status within their own group, in the competition for resources and breedable females.” “status withing the group” relates to my hypothesis:

     
    At one time we called humans the tool making animal then realized other animals make and use tools.
    We are the storytelling animal. We love stories. It is how we pass on knowledge, values, identity and culture, and our hopes for the future. Note our literature, movies, TV, religion and our adoration of the “stars” of these media. We seek news, novelty, fantasy, tells of adventure and excitement, puzzles and explanations that help us figure things out and make life better.
    After we “discovered” fire, imagine primitive peoples sitting around campfires for thousands of years telling stories. Anyone with a talent for invention and presentation in storytelling, or could sing, or beat out a rhythm gained status giving their offspring a survival advantage.


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  • @Timothy

    …relates to my hypothesis…

    If I understand you correctly, you’re saying the human brain evolved because of language?

    I think it is just the opposite: the value of complex language developed as a result of an evolved brain.

    Of course, I could be completely misunderstanding your hypothesis.


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  • Vicki  #17the value of complex language developed as a result of an evolved brain

    It’s what Uncle Karl would have called Dialectical Materialism.  Those with the best brains used language the best, got sexual partners with the best language (or more probably got most of the  females) who in turn bred offspring with the best mental hardware, who were thus in a position to develop more sophisticated language software…and so on, until the brilliant collection of Timoythies, Vikis, Alan4s, LaurieBs, PhilRimmers, Carisleys…sorry if I left you out, modesty forced my omission


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  • @eejit #18

    It’s what Uncle Karl would have called Dialectical Materialism.

    I would need more convincing to plop Timothy’s hypothesis in with dialectical materialism, but I can definitely get on board with the idea of a combination of social and biological evolution advancing the human brain.


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  • For me, Vicki, Timothy is closest. Sure, language is too recent to have affected the genetic configuration of brains, but it is exactly what caused our spectacular  differentiation from the other apes and mammals.

     

    Long ago I coined the term, that we were not essentially homo sapiens but Homo Memorator (Man/Woman the Narrator). Given brains evolved like so and being born way too early for ape-like characteristics, and now able to entrain a rich culture, leveraged by rich metaphorical language and given a social disposition with neuro-cognitive differences to bridge, reasoning needed to emerge.

    In The Enigma of Reason, Sperber and Mercier, we see how Reason, in its origins, does not necessitate rationality (or for that matter evidence) it merely constitutes a persuading, a rhetorical, narrative to facilitate cultural traction and cultural creation. Of course, as with all cultural inventions, it too can evolve, and did so into rationality as reasons were seen to be either more or less congruent with reality and outcomes.


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  • Does anyone know of any useful resources on the psychology of organized religion—particularly Christianity as that is the religious background I came out of? It seems to me to be a well-crafted or well-evolved system wherein the follower is entrapped by his own religious views and is stuck in a feedback loop wherein the individual has to show deference to his own delusions in order to successfully avoid eternal suffering. Organized religion seems to be primarily undergirded by blind faith, dogma, fear, and intimidation. If one starts asking questions, those that are stuck in this seemingly neverending cycle of mental entrapment react out of discomfort, anxiety, and anger because you’re touching a soft spot of theirs that truly frightens them. I feel sorry for individuals who are indoctrinated in this way from childhood. Their way of thinking makes recognizeable sense insofar as it’s a flight or fight response out of a percieved threat that is quite literally a life or death situation. It’s traumatic to them. Fear is a powerful motivator. Others want it to be true to have a sense of meaning in life or so that the world can preserve temperance and civility through the system of morals that are presented as authoritative on the grounds that they are God’s word. But how do we actually know that that assertion is true? It can’t be demonstrated (though religious adherents seek to employ sophistry and a priori leaps of reasoning). Truth does not depend upon personal preference.


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  • Hi JD Hendricks #22,

    You might want to look into the basis of some of the fallacies that they rely on and how that applies to religion.

    I noticed when going to my father in laws church (to be polite) a few times that not only were sermons usually very boring but there was also a lot of standing up sitting down, followed by kneeling down then standing then sitting.  I wondered if this was about breaking up the service, stopping people getting sleepy (the seats were almost always terribly uncomfortable).  However I came up with another hypothesis – they are promoting the sunk cost fallacy.  If they can get you to go for long enough you feel more of a fool for having left it.  How many Sunday’s did I waste being bloody uncomfortable, being bored out of my brain!

    Others want it to be true to have a sense of meaning in life or so that the world can preserve temperance and civility through the system of morals that are presented as authoritative on the grounds that they are God’s word.

    Yes, people will do almost anything to avoid discomfort and I think for many they will bend over backwards to not think too deeply.  Moral people, people who want to live in a moral world of kindness and care will often latch to that aspect of religious indoctrination but its still fundamentally based on ignorance of the texts.  This is why I think if this is what you notice pointing out the indisputable facts on slavery is a very useful strategy.  Their goal is to deflect, don’t let them, make them confront the obvious contradiction between a loving god and support of slavery in the Law of the OT and the failure to modify it in the new.  Force them into the cognitive dissonance.

    But how do we actually know that that assertion is true? It can’t be demonstrated (though religious adherents seek to employ sophistry and a priori leaps of reasoning). Truth does not depend upon personal preference.

    I think you are making the mistake that their beliefs need to be true.  Look at the strategies they use as you have pointed out their reactions are telling.  Anyone interested in the truth or really confident in their own beliefs doesn’t need to get mad. If you really know something is true you don’t get angry with someone who disagrees with you,  I’m astonished that flat earthers are a thing but they don’t make me doubt the earth is an oblate spheroid because I can see the Southern Cross from my backyard and have have use equatorial mounts on telescopes and much more.  So I have a teacher aid at school who I had a happy argument about this with.  He was getting defensive but I was perfectly happy to explain why he was wrong.  People get angry because they need a cheer squad to back them up, by asking questions you risk breaking the spell.

    Can I ask, how did you make the transition to asking questions?  What separated you from the people around you who didn’t wouldn’t?

     

     

     

     

     

     


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  • 24
    Cairsley says:

    Reckless Monkey #23:
    Anyone interested in the truth or really confident in their own beliefs doesn’t need to get mad. If you really know something is true you don’t get angry with someone who disagrees with you …

    Rational skepticism is certainly better for one’s health and enjoyment of life. The difference between a religionist and a skeptic when faced with someone who contradicts something that he or she believes is that the religionist’s belief is founded on an authoritatively imposed, unsubstantiated and emotionally binding proposition, which he or she is subconsciously conditioned to accept as absolutely true for fear of rejection from future happiness; whereas the skeptic’s belief is founded on evidence considered for and against a proposition and provisionally found to withstand negation. Although the skeptic too, being human, also forms an emotional bond with evidentially well-supported propositions and may still have to make an effort to overcome some form of egoism to consider a competing proposition fairly, his or her basic identity and happiness as a person are not at stake if he or she finds that the competing proposition is shown to be even better supported and accounted-for by evidence and argument. Many a skeptic in fact finds it quite exciting to learn that a long-accepted proposition has been overturned by new and convincing evidence. Indeed, the relative serenity of a skeptic’s life in an age of scientific enterprise and progress is seldom, if ever, boring.


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  • Hi Cairsley #24,

    I’ve been guilty of finding it hard to give up an idea or two but after religion I decided it was a virtue and as you say more exciting to live on the edge, understanding I could be wrong.

    It does make me sometimes step on toes because as I have used argument to float ideas with people they often get very angry.  I’ve noticed even angrier if I turn around and agree with some aspect of their point.  They think I’m playing with them.  I do enjoy a good argument but I find I can disagree and still like the person fine.  I think much of this comes from liking and respecting yourself.  Actually there a lot of areas I’m flawed in but as I’ve gotten older I’ve somewhat accepted my imperfections and just try to whittle away at them rather than hide them and deny them outright.  Thus again you feel free to explore.  When I was religious I was desperate to fit into a cookie cutter mold.

    cheers.

     

     

     


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  • A 30-year-old patient died after attending a “Covid party”, believing the virus to be a hoax, a Texas medical official has said.
    “Just before the patient died, they looked at their nurse and said ‘I think I made a mistake, I thought this was a hoax, but it’s not,’” said Dr Jane Appleby, the chief medical officer at Methodist hospital in San Antonio.

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jul/13/30-year-old-dies-covid-party-texas

    Without for one moment wishing to downplay the horror of it, the pandemic has been interesting from a psychology point of view. People being so reluctant to look unpleasant truths in the eye that they will literally put their lives at risk to deny them.

     


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  • @Marco  #26

    Without for one moment wishing to downplay the horror of it, the pandemic has been interesting from a psychology point of view. People being so reluctant to look unpleasant truths in the eye that they will literally put their lives at risk to deny them.

    Indeed and why governments and institutions can’t understand or sustain understanding of risk.  Our country just about had it licked and now after one stupid bunch of idiots in a hotel in lock down ignoring the protocols we’re off again.  This time in Victoria seemingly exploding.  Of course my State Queensland was down to single digits with only new cases being people coming back from overseas and being in lock down.  NSW (below us) had borders opened to Victoria (below it).  So given the situation it would have been logical to keep the boarders with NSW closed until we saw how many cases Victoria passed up to NSW, but no we’ve opened them up and now NSW is experiencing a spike from Victoria and it’s likely just a matter of time before we get hit again.

    My school is doing full school assemblies again imagine if you will 950 students all packed together in a hall and then the teachers around the edge being told to ensure they maintain 1.5m distance.

    In Israel I heard they are protesting due to some areas not receiving proper help from the government during the crisis.  That may well be true but these people seem to not really understand irony.

    It will be very interesting to analyze.

     

     


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  • Reckless

    I think in a lot of countries – certainly the ones with the worst outbreaks – the covid response is being driven at government level by the economy and not by public health. It’s pretty clear what countries need to do in order to get on top of the virus: lock down early, stay locked down as long as it takes to get the R rate well below 1, impose social distancing measures, limit contacts, impose a requirement for masks in public spaces etc. But all those things come at very high cost, in terms of both the economy and public mood. Right-wing governments, especially, don’t feel a responsibility towards anything much beyond the economy, and disapprove of state intervention and health-and-welfare-promoting measures as a matter of political principle. By inclination, they prefer to leave people and markets – especially markets – to just work things out for themselves. So they’re wholly unsuited, psychologically, politically, mentally, for this kind of situation that absolutely demands a huge degree of state intervention, both in terms of the economy and people’s behaviours.

    Our Tory government in London isn’t hating the pandemic because of the nearly 45,000 deaths it’s caused: it’s hating it because of the actions they’re being forced to take to counter it. So what’s been happening at every stage is that they’ve resisted taking any action at all until it’s been too late for maximum effect, and then blurred their communications in the hope people didn’t follow the economy-busting rules too punctiliously, and then come out of lockdown too early (while the R rate is still well above 1 in many places), while sending out mixed messages about optimal social distancing and the requirement for face coverings. England is now, finally, imposing a requirement for face coverings in shops, but not before a weekend of conflicting messages on the subject (with Johnson saying they may need to be compulsory, and Gove saying it should be left to people’s common sense) and even now … not until 24th July. Why the 10-day delay, I hear you ask. And the only possible answer (masks are, after all, widely available now) is that they’re afraid people will be put off shopping if they’re forced to wear masks, and want to give the shops a clear 10-day run first. It’s all been half-hearted, reluctant – petulant, even. You just know that if they’d thought they could get away with doing nothing, they’d have done nothing.

    I didn’t get your point about the protests in Israel, I’m afraid. Can you explain for my tired old brain?


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  • Hi Marco,

    on the Israel protest, what confuses me is not the inclination to protest but that given the protest was about government not doing enough to help with the Covid crisis (a very good reason to protest) it seems an odd thing to hold a mass crowed event to protest government not doing enough to stop it.

    My heart bleeds for you in England.  I have a few English mates down here and they have family they are very worried about.  45 000 deaths??  Horrifying.  And yes it seems we’ve all got governments that are trying to put the money before all, of course any logical reasoning of the situation would work out that failure to contain it will cost much more.  Virus’s do not care if your cause is just, hope they were wearing masks.

    It seems to me we need an effective method of protest in pandemics that gets the same attention as marches but maintains distance.

    Even just from the economic standpoint imagine the cost of 45 000 people being taken out of the economy – true most will be elderly but not all and many of those grandparents would have been baby sitting while parents work etc.  The human cost alone is staggering.

    regards

     

     


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  • Reckless #29

    Oh, I seeeee. Sorry, I hadn’t automatically thought “demo” when I read “protest”. I get it now! And yes, I entirely see your point. You also make a great point about the need to find effective but pandemic-safe forms of protest. That’s going to be essential: there’s so much going on right now that really shouldn’t go unprotested. Hard to think of anything (anything legal, at least) that’s as hard to ignore as masses of people marching through the streets though.

    I’m not in England, thank goodness: I’m safely in Scotland where, after a wobbly start (caused by the attempt to stick as closely as possible to a 4-nations approach to tackling the pandemic – until it became clear the Conservative govt in London wasn’t really all that serious about tackling it in England in any case), the Scottish govt has won plaudits even from outside its usual support base for its consistency, clarity and caution. And compassion too. Wales and Northern Ireland have also been far more professional and rigorous and consistent in their approach to the virus than England has, and are all also showing far better results now as a consequence. The thing about the current government in London is that it believes Englishness alone confers immunity against all life’s inconveniences, pandemics included. Also: it can’t really be bothered with detail. And at heart, it simply doesn’t care.

    (For clarity: health is a devolved issue in the UK, so the UK govt only manages it for England, not the rest of the UK. Though the lines become more blurred when it comes to the economic aspects of the covid response, such as govt funding of furlough schemes, and also international border control, so the devolved govts don’t have full control of everything that would be required, even so.)

    The human cost is indeed staggering. People are going to remain traumatised by this for a very long time to come. 

    As for what’s going on the US right now – you couldn’t hope for a better illustration of what happens when an obsession with individualism and an antipathy to government intervention snowballs out of control. It’s been quiet on here the last couple of weeks. Hope all our US friends are safe and well.   


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  • @Marco #30

    about the need to find effective but pandemic-safe forms of protest. That’s going to be essential: there’s so much going on right now that really shouldn’t go unprotested. Hard to think of anything (anything legal, at least) that’s as hard to ignore as masses of people marching through the streets though.

    Agree.  We had an ANZAC ceremony after Covid hit (Australia and New Zealand Army Corps) to commemorate the dead at Gallipoli that has become a general all wars ceremony.  It’s very moving.  We all stood in our driveways and lit candles and had it over the radio.  Something like that.  The other thing would be say the sort of thing that happens when someone famous dies like Princess Dianna and flowers etc. get plastered at a location.  Well the location might be problematic but this could be distributed.  Perhaps if every telegraph pole in the country was plastered with posters or something.  Something visible but low risk.

    Keep safe up there!

     

     


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  • Hi Reckless Monkey #23

    Sorry for taking so long to respond. Thank you for the recommendations.

    Can I ask, how did you make the transition to asking questions?  What separated you from the people around you who didn’t wouldn’t?

    In short, religion failed to deliver the sense of equanimity that it promised. “The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” was an elusive carrot on a stick, endlessly outside of my reach. So I suppose I wasn’t motivated on purely rational grounds.


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  • Ta for that JD Hendricks,

    For me it was being made aware of the very brittle and flawed nature of my particular faith (Mormonism).  The more extreme and insistent your religion is that it has all the answers the more susceptible to being shown to be completely fraudulent.  What was amazing was the speed of conversion about 60 seconds of blinking and mind racing before I realized it was all bullshit. Then an enormous sense of relief as I realized I could let go of my guilt.  Ironically the closest thing to a profound religious experience was only experienced leaving the faith.

    cheers

     

     


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  • Good one Reckless!  I only wish that Catholicism was so easy to escape.  I got away from it in my early twenties, but kept relapsing for the next twenty years.  Thankfully I’m long past that now, but the puzzle is, how does RCism do it?  Better people than me have fought the same attenuated fight – James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist gives the best account of it that I know of.

    Maybe it’s because Mormonism was developed over a couple of hundred years based on the work of an obvious fraudster and the efforts of a bunch of dirt farmers, whereas the RCs had 2000 years, near absolute power for a thousand of them, control of education, and therefore the best minds of the ages, to refine and mystify their doctrines.


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  • Hi eejit,

    but the puzzle is, how does RCism do it?

    Interesting isn’t it.  There seems to be much more fear pumped about in the RC.  Even just a causal walk around the churches seems like heavy metal album covers.  I remember staying with a Catholic friend as a boy on a sleep over.  I was horrified as the nightlight still illuminated Christ in all the bloody glory of of his crucifixion and holding onto his heart outside his chest.  I was aware of the crucifixion of course but Mormons believe worship of the cross is like worshiping an electric chair it’s sort of considered vulgar.  So while there were pictures and stuff in the White long haired hippy Jesus that was so saccharine being crucified it didn’t look like the chest bursting scene with Jesus’s eyes rolling up in his head.  Of course the Catholic church so fond of torture probably had significant time to nail these looks of pain in their artwork.

    So perhaps the guilt and pain was driven home a bit more.  Also Mormons believe they are going to become gods themselves although this isn’t revealed until you are 12 and frankly this may have sewn the seeds for me. I was 15 when I left but I remember being shocked that that was the doctrine and then thinking, can I opt out?  I can barely keep on top of my homework let alone run a whole planet?  Of course the more narcissistic peers loved this idea.

    Mormonism is very much like Amway.

    The other factor is the doctrine was very much based on Smith getting the gold plates translated absolutely accurately.  Catholicism seems infinitely elastic point out an obvious flaw and Catholics will bend over backwards to forgive or try to explain things away.  Mormons effective put the fingers in their ears and say “I can’t hear you! Nah! Nah! Nah!”.

    So yeah I suspect you are right.  I was very glad to leave it.

    However Mormonism did have the doctrine that to think of a sin was as bad as doing it.  So the amount of mental acts of adultery I found myself unable to control as a teenager left me going quite close to mental breakdown for a time there.  (edit) this is what it was like in my head “she looks nice (looking at a nice looking girl in my class), Oh I’m looking at her boobs, don’t look at her boobs, oh there’s someone elses boobs, fuck! fuck I said fuck! shit! fuck! fuck! Ah I’m looking at her legs now nice bum, No! look up! Boobs! Fuck! don’t say fuck! Truck fuck! truck truck Fuck truck I said fuck! Fuck! look somewhere else Ah! More Boobs!” That was my average day.

    Catholics seem to hate sin but have a built in mechanism for absolving themselves.  So do something really sinful and nasty but confess and its all good. Ready to begin another week of casual sin until guilt forces you to confess.

    Strange what we believe.

     

    regards

     

     

     

     

     


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  • Matthew 5:27, 28

    27 Ye have heard that it was said by them ofold time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:28 But I say unto you, That whosoever lookethon a woman to lust after her hath committedadultery with her already in his heart.

    The Mormons didn’t think of this on their own – it’s bog standard Christian teaching.  What enjoyment we missed as dirty little boys thinking about girls in the way you so vividly describe! I don’t know what the girls thought about it, but I imagine that they were rather more circumspect, at least when boys were listening.

    The end result is that if you were brought up in a seriously Christian home, the residue is that you enjoy things most when they make you feel guilty, a benefit that those educated secularly  don’t enjoy.

  • eejit #34

    but the puzzle is, how does RCism do it?

    Having talked to quite a few lapsed Roman Catholics over the years, I’m convinced that drumming the notion of eternal hellfire into children before they’re properly out of nappies plays a huge part in it. The RC church isn’t alone in this, but it does seem to dwell on it more than many other churches do these days and, being a highly visual version of Christianity, it has all sorts of terrifying depictions to reinforce the message. I think that creates the kind of trauma it’s extremely difficult to recover from altogether – I’ve met several, entirely rational former RCs who will admit to having a residual (though mostly suppressed) terror of hell, even though reason tells them it’s nonsense. It really is a form of psychological abuse. 

    Then there’s the fact that most RC churches – the older ones, anyway – were designed to be overwhelming. Cavernous, echoing, filled with stuff that engulfs the senses – huge dark paintings, statuettes, an enormous and gory cross, stained glass, candles, gold, velvet, highly polished wood, flowers, pulpits towering above the congregation, the chancel that you as a mere believer may never set foot in, the booming organ. They were all designed to be imposing and convince you of the church’s power and might and glory – and your own insignificance and powerlessness. It’s a classic trick: every despot, monarch and emperor throughout history has done the same. This stuff works on a subliminal level, bypassing the reasoning process – especially if you can get ’em young enough, which is something of an RCC speciality.

    But there’s something else, I think, too, though this isn’t remotely limited to the RCC. Everything about church services is designed to make you passive and compliant. You are not in any real sense an active participant. You are required to sit quietly, reverently, humbly. Your role is to hear the priestly caste speaking … to see the priestly caste acting … to speak the responses and sing the hymns the priestly caste has written … to say Amen to prayers the priestly caste has created … to kneel when the priest tells you to and stand when the priest tells you to. You are the passive consumer, the compliant follower. There’s a reason why there’s never a Q&A session after the sermon: your role is not to think. The repetition, too – the same ritual week after week after week after week – actively encourages you to switch off your critical faculties: it has an almost hypnotic effect. As an ex-Christian myself, I know that almost no one really listens to the sermon – they sit there with their “Aren’t I good?” look on their faces and just let it wash over them. Ask them afterwards what it was about, and there’s every chance they won’t be able to tell you. Ask them what’s in verse 2 of the hymns they sang, and they won’t have a clue: they will have sung them a hundred times without even noticing the words. And from the church’s point of view, that’s absolutely fine: they don’t need you to understand, they need you to obey, and everything about the church service has been designed to that end.
     

     


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  • reckless monkey

    Mormonism is very much like Amway.

    most christian sects are like amway?

    betty devos of christian reform church

    and sec of education in trump’s admin

    is married to dick devos former ceo of amway


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  • @quarecuss  #38

    most christian sects are like amway?

    Yeah many are.  Mormonism compared to Catholic and Protestant masses seems more like Amway to me and a great many in the church used to be in Amway.  Mormons at least where I lived were all into get rich quick schemes and very money centered.  I think this was driven in part that they had no formal training required to become a bishop or elder in the church.  So most people who chose to take on a Bishop position or one of the Quorum of 12 lesser elders were often doing so because they were businessmen often doggy accountants using the position to gain trust and a pool of clients from the saps sitting in the audience.  Quite a number over the years got up to all sorts of illegal and immoral nonsense.

    But I’m sure there is plenty of that in other younger churches.  The RC for example seems to have built up a large exclusive enterprise an empire and wouldn’t tolerate such shallow and crass greed.  Instead their greed, and power is displayed on a much grander scale and seems to allow them to get away with rape of children, influence over governments etc.  Thankfully less every year.

     

    cheers

     

     

     



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  •  # marco37 I’m convinced that drumming the notion of eternal hellfire into children before they’re properly out of nappies plays a huge part in it

    A bloke died and fronted up at the Pearly gates where St Peter quite correctly sent him packing.  He didn’t actually like the look of the place, all white robes, silver harps, white clouds and soft pop music.

    So he went down to where he deserved.  An extraordinarily attractive fella met him at the gates – behind him was a hall entry, which resembled the foyer of a high class international resort, through the open sides could be seen golf courses, beaches, coves, bars, restaurants, casinos… the women and men were all stunning, walking around in the warm sun nine tenths naked, in an environment obviously solely dedicated to hedonism and high-class debauchery.

    “Hi! said the fella, I’m Satan, and it’s my pleasure to welcome you to Pandemonia.  Let’s have some Champers to celebrate your arrival.”  So they went to one of the many bars, and a bottle of

    Bollengier was ordered.  The guest put his hand in his pocket, but Satan said that was against the spirit of the place, everything was free.  After a pleasant chat Satan said that he had to welcome another guest, but to look around and play a round of golf, or go for a swim (skinnydipping) or just have a meal and something to drink.  They arranged to meet again, at the bar in an hour.  As he was leaving, Satan said that there was a very high wall behind the  Follies theatre, he implored his guest not to look over it.

    Anyway walking around Pandemonia was like the best dream the guest had ever had.  The restaurants, theatres, streets of amazing houses, wonderful parks, until he came to the Follies.  Idle curiosity got the better of him, he found an empty barrel, put it against the wall, climbed onto it and looked over.

    The site horrified him – a boiling lake of sewage, floating dead carcasses of animals, sulphurous fumes, millions of screaming, tortured human beings, endlessly prodded with tridents by  vicious demons.  The guest went white with terror, and with sick horror vomited, thus adding to the filth below.

    Shaken he made his way back to the bar, where Satan was waiting with the new arrival.  He took one look at the guest and immediately knew what had happened.  “You’ve been looking over the wall haven’t you?  It’s disgusting, but we have to provide that facility, it’s part of our Guests’ Charter.  It’s for the Catholics…its what they want and demand.  Don’t worry about it, have a double Bushmills 12 Year Old, that’ll cheer you up!”


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  • Satan chose 12 Year Old.  Black Bush is 7yo, still good stuff though.  Satan would not be wasting his best Tasmanian whiskey on the Guest, who was a low-life from Balmain.


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  • van demon’s land best uisce bheatha?

    sullivan’s cove or dan murphy’s?

    the low life guest from balmain?

    wasn’t cardinal pell from ballarat?

    sorry mods this is getting out of hand


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  • sullivan’s cove or dan murphy’s

    don’t know, both beyond my price range

    OAP y’ know

    balmain boys don’t cry

    nev was nifty

    the don was from bowral

    sorry mods

    he started it

     

     


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  • I have to say I am repeatedly hugely impressed with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Astonishing eloquence, dignity, courage, integrity and conviction. The speech she gave this week in the wake of Ted Yoho’s abuse was hair-raisingly powerful.

    As it happens, I agree with most of her politics (so far as I’ve been able to tell, they’re comfortably within the range of normal political values by Western European standards), but it’s not her politics I’m talking about here: it’s her, as a person, as a woman, as a campaigner, as an orator. She is such a powerful defender of humanity and empathy, and as an interested outsider it seems to me that American politics and American society is desperately in need of both. And even if she’s further to the Left than many Americans are (yet) ready for, she’s playing a hugely important role in shifting the Overton window back towards a less abominable region of the political spectrum.

    I expect everyone’s heard the speech I’m referring to by now, but here’s a link just in case:

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jul/23/aoc-speech-video-ted-yoho 

     

  • By the way, what reminded me of the speech today was reading the news that Ted Boho has been asked to resign from the board of a Christian charity in consequence of his behaviour.

    No way would that have happened if AOC had done what too many of us women do in similar circumstances and just quietly put up with it (and maybe cried into her pillow later). So for that reason too: good for her.


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  • Marco,

    I agree with your view of the incident. I thought she endured the very public insult with dignity and defended herself admirably by taking the high road. It’s interesting to watch the young people rally around her and Bernie with their more liberal (US) ideas and goals.  Just the fact that their ideas are getting airtime is encouraging to me. The people can’t consider ideas if they aren’t put out there in front of them.

    Yoho has revealed himself to be the sexist bully that he is. I don’t have a clear picture of how the American public received the incident. I can’t bear to watch FOX network for even five minutes to get their take on the matter. Hard core American conservatives (Fascists) might just be celebrating his brazen verbal attack on A.O.C, a “girl” who has stepped out of her “place” in this life and disrupted the patriarchal good ole boys. One man’s attack is another man’s well deserved comeuppance.

    Let’s see if there is further fall out to come.


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  • I agree, Laurie. So important to change the narrative, so important to fight back. And so important that other people – young people especially – see someone taking a stand. For so long women and other discriminated groups have just accepted abuse as part of some kind of package, ‘just the way things are’. On my more cheerful days I’m hugely encouraged by the fightback that’s happening now on so many fronts.

    Don’t blame you for not being able to bear FOX – I wouldn’t be able to either. I don’t doubt that hardcore – yes, you’re right: fascists – will have reacted as you suggest, but even the fact it’s something they now feel the need to defend is better than when it was just accepted as some kind of unassailable norm.

    Good to see you back, by the way. Given the covid situation, I’d begun to get a bit worried … How are things where you are?


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  • Marco

    And so important that other people – young people especially – see someone taking a stand.

    This is important to me. If there’s one liberal oddball kid in a family of reactionary thugs, A.O.C.’s statement is a beacon in a storm for them. If they could only have one single adult who blazes a trail and makes it known that their ideas are good and worthy of attention, it makes a huge difference. In the seventies it was the second wave feminists and various  outspoken hippies who filled that role for me. On the Atheist front, it was Richard’s book The God Delusion that left me stunned, saying “I’m not alone in this!”

    I do hope that A.O.C.’s statement drags our devoutly religious young people into a state of substantial cognitive dissonance. Here we have a God fearing patriarchal political leader who treated a duly elected representative of her people like she was an ignorant toxic bitchy girl.

    Conflicted people – Process that one!

    How are things where you are?

    Oh, yes, just under the same Covid malaise as everyone else. Lack of inertia. Political situation completely depressing. Counting down the days till election comes around. I’ve registered to vote by mail so that I can be part of the most massive voting fraud ever perpetrated…eye roll. The Covid response in US and four years of Trump Presidency will go down in history as the most appalling crash and burn of America that seemed to most of us to have come out of nowhere. It’s psychologically jarring and I was far from a jingoist or even nationalist mindset. How that other bunch is dealing with it is a mystery to me. Cue the Freudian defense mechanisms.

    Ignorant brainwashed incompetent political leaders are acting in their own self interest here and that is having  murderous consequences for the people that they represent. Where’s the justice?


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  • Laurie #49

    In the seventies it was the second wave feminists and various  outspoken hippies who filled that role for me. On the Atheist front, it was Richard’s book The God Delusion that left me stunned, saying “I’m not alone in this!”

    I must confess, I was late to the party in truly understanding the importance of role models. Role models didn’t seem particularly important to me growing up because I’ve always been a bit of an awkward cuss who prided myself on treading my own path and resisted all attempts to influence me … but it’s so obvious to me now that only ever seeing one category of person in positions of power and influence makes it so much harder for those in all the other categories to understand that positions of power and influence are potentially within their grasp at all. The status quo is like wallpaper: unless we actively scrutinise it, we don’t see it for what it really is. AOC is powerfully drawing attention to the wallpaper and helping others to see that it’s well past time to replace it.

    The Covid response in US and four years of Trump Presidency will go down in history as the most appalling crash and burn of America that seemed to most of us to have come out of nowhere. 

    Let’s just hope it really is just four years of Trump Presidency. I’m counting the days till the election too, but my anticipation is mingled with great big dollops of fear. If he gets in again … it just doesn’t bear thinking about, yet I find the thought constantly lurking at the back of my mind. I’m terrified for all you decent people in the US, of course, but I’m also terrified for us here: the UK’s Brexit government is so intent on turning us into the de facto 51st state that whether it’s Biden or Trump in the White House is going to matter enormously to us too. And not just to us. The whole world needs the US to start seeing itself as a global player again: there’s no way the world will be able to effectively tackle climate change – to take just one example – while the US is still opting out of anything that smacks of internationalism, negotiation and compromise.


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  • q #50

    This one, I assume? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ihd7ofrwQX0

    I hadn’t seen it before but have just watched the first 5 minutes. You’re right, she really does eviscerate him. It’s a cracking speech and I am definitely cheering her on. For my money, though, AOC is the better orator: it’s the whole way she carries herself, her quiet dignity, a certain quality in her voice. Her charisma. She’s not just right: she’s impressive. No wonder the Republicans hate her so much!


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  • @Laurie #49

    I’ve registered to vote by mail so that I can be part of the most massive voting fraud ever perpetrated…eye roll.

    I voted by mail once, and it left a bad feeling for me. Dropping my ballot into a mailbox felt like tossing it into a black hole–there was no feeling of closure.

    I plan on voting by mail this time around because of the pandemic, but my plan is to take it to the drop box at the local Board of Elections. I’m hoping it will feel a little more complete.


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  • Vicki

    there was no feeling of closure.

    It’s a valid point. Filing through the voting lines, taking the ballot, reading through it, marking off our choices and proceeding out the designated exit gives us a feeling of purpose and camaraderie that mailing this ballot just can’t achieve. Still though, I’ll imagine Trump all red in the face, steam coming out of his ears as I drop my ballot in the mail. I’m neither old not disabled. I live a mile from my town hall, not out in the boondocks some where. I have no hardship at all. I just got up one day and thought, so hey! I’m gonna get me a mail in voter ballot. That’s right, it’s just a feeling Mr. President! I. Just. Felt. Like. It! There’s plenty of satisfaction to be had there and it’ll have to do for now. 🙂


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  • (Disclaimer: I’m not from the USA…)

    I’m more afraid of what might happen if Trump doesn’t get back in.

    Most of the gun nuts & other angry violent types are Trump supporters. Should he lose the election, you can bet he will be crying “rigged!”, and his angry supporters will fall in behind him. He’s been trying to start a war through-out his whole term (both international and civil); after the election, he might unfortunately get his wish.


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  • my anticipation is mingled with great big dollops of fear. If he gets in again …

    I’m also afraid, really afraid, that the fear might be greater if he doesn’t get in again…

     the gun nuts & other angry violent types are Trump supporter

    The gun nuts are Trump supporters, and since they are strongly connected to the under class, the sans coulottes; those left behind by globalisation, poor education, neglect, ultra capitalism and by successive American Governments. they are desperate, angry and irrational.  Add to this the fact that very many of them have seen service, and thus have military training, and that the US armed forces are full of people from the same demographic and thus will be reluctant to fire at their peers, particularly given the less-than-committed attitude to democracy exhibited by some of their officers, and you have the  makings of a perfect storm.  Interesting times.


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  • ShadowMind #55
    I share your concern, ShadowMind, I really do. I’ve thought for a long time that there’ll be no violence-free route out of the Trump presidency.

    But there won’t be, whatever the election result in November. Look at events in Maryland, right now, with federal agents violently attacking peaceful protestors. See this link for just one account, of a peacefully protesting history professor being shot in the head.

    Trump has already declared war on his opponents, on protestors, on blacks, on Muslims, on the press. He has already (in effect) declared open season for Trumpy white nationalists. And he’s done it in his first term of office, when he still has the supposedly restraining prospect of an election ahead of him. Imagine how much freer he’ll feel, how much more unleashed, how much more entitled, if he wins a second term.

    And there’s no guarantee he or his supporters would go peacefully after another 4 years in any case. Constitutionally, he’s limited to two terms of office, but hey, constitutionally people are guaranteed the right to peaceful protest without getting shot in the head by federal agents, so there are no certainties here: there never are under a tyrannical ruler.

    The one thing we should have learned from 20th century history is that there’s only one thing to be done with would-be tyrannical, fanatical dictators, and that’s stop them. Sooner or later they have to be stopped. Appeasing them, or putting the moment off, only enables them and increases the number of people who suffer or even die as a result. America has a chance to stop him in November, and dog help us all if it doesn’t take it. I totally agree that we may well witness some terrible scenes if Trump loses. But we’ll witness worse ones before the next 4 years are out if he doesn’t.

    On a more optimistic note, I’m reading that polls are giving Biden a commanding lead over Trump just now. I realise there are no guarantees and there are still 100 days to go, but a convincing win would be less dangerous than a marginal one.

    And I’ve also read some commentators suggesting that Trump – having all the maturity and emotional resilience of a kindergarten kid – might actually just go off in a sulk if he didn’t win, declaring that it was America’s loss and America had never deserved him in the first place. That wouldn’t of itself stop his gun-toting supporters, but again, would be less dangerous than if he were actively egging them on.

    I don’t know, ShadowMind, my crystal ball is hazy on this point. The only thing it’s showing me with absolute clarity is that he needs to be stopped, and the November election provides the best possible opportunity to do just that.

  • From Marco’s comment 57 these are the lines that I’m operating on:
     
     Sooner or later they have to be stopped. Appeasing them, or putting the moment off, only enables them and increases the number of people who suffer or even die as a result.
     
    “Sooner or later…” As an American with a dog in this fight I vote for “Sooner.”
    Trumpists are using the threat of an all out civil war as a threat to centrists and leftists here. I’m sick and tired of hearing it. What a repulsive thing to say to a fellow citizen. “Vote the way I want you to or our country will be torn asunder!! We gunna blast your f****** hide off uh you ya f****** liberal” (deep sneer on the L word).
     
    I do heartily concur! Says I (with my distinctly 12th generation Boston  accent). A sound and definitive thrashing defeat was delivered unto you in the height of the American Victorian era, the repetition thereof to be duly performed at your earliest possible convenience! So there! Take that, I say!
     
    Ok, that’s my daily allotment of hyperbole. I’m from Boston so there are implicit psychological biases at work here when the topic of civil war rears its ugly head…Et-hem.
    Any-who…
     
    As for our American sans coulottes and their beloved guns, two points; guns are ubiquitous here whether we’ve got coulottes or not. Even though I’m an ANTI-gun nut, I can go to my parents house in the next town and walk out with three double barrel shotguns, a .22 rifle, and a box of ammo whenever I feel like it. Not sure what good that .22 would do. Dad only used it to blast the groundhogs out of his veg garden but the double barrel shotguns are frightening to behold.
    Point is; it’s not only the American rednecks who own guns. Many households have one or two hanging around.
     
    Ok, I was faking it with that brazen blustering. I’m actually petrified to touch those shotguns.
     
    Second point about guns is that from my observations, in regional conflicts, even in countries where all guns are strictly forbidden, guns have a way of floating in over the borders somehow. Lots of guns! In  North Africa and the Middle East the Muslim Fundamentalists of all stripes have been recipients of mass quantities of military grade weaponry. I have to think that if Trumpists declare a civil war over keeping that pea brain in office illegally, boatloads of military grade firepower would flood into the States by both long coasts and both of our long, porous borders.
     
    Mexico! Canada! Yellow alert! Please stand-by.
     
    eejit  does raise the important point of military loyalty and I’d like to know more precisely where those loyalties lie. It’s hard for me to get a reading on their intentions because of the stiff upper lip military culture and their requirement of obedience and respect for rank, but hasn’t Trump pissed them off time and time again? Hasn’t he run roughshod over the generals that he brought into the inner circle of the administration? As for the rank and file, I haven’t a clue. Do they perceive that their Commander in Chief is flying by the seat of his pants and will put them in harms way for no reason at all either by ignorance or malice or both?


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  • Laurie #59

    eejit  does raise the important point of military loyalty and I’d like to know more precisely where those loyalties lie

    Yes, it’s a very interesting question.

    Remember the Ramp Incident at West Point the other week? We’ve all known for years that Trump panics on slopes and steps – it’s why he reached for Theresa May’s hand when she visited the White House in 2017. It was very widely reported and commented on at the time.

    And yet when he goes to the West Point Military Academy just a few months before the election for a high-profile public event, they not only give him quite a long, fairly steep slope to walk down, but they don’t even provide a handrail for him. And predictably enough, the resulting pictures of him feeling his way down like a frail old man went round the world and kept the internet entertained for days if not weeks afterwards.

    Considering how choreographed these events are, I couldn’t help wondering if it had been a deliberate attempt to make him look weak and feeble. If I knew about his phobia, they must have known too. And it would have been such a simple matter to attach a handrail. I can’t believe a high-profile presidential visit wouldn’t have been planned down to the last detail.


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  • It would have had to be incompetence on a massive scale, Laurie. And at multiple levels within the Academy too: the plans would have been checked and double-checked, and would have had to be approved at a very senior level, I’m sure. This was the POTUS we were talking about, after all. Normally I’d go with cock-up over conspiracy every time, but I’ve organised lots of big events myself in the past and I really don’t see how this could have happened by accident. It’s the kind of thing you think about as an event organiser. Not humiliating your guest of honour is really quite high on your list of objectives for the day!


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  • Haaa. Quite right, Marco.

    It would have had to be incompetence on a massive scale,
    This was the POTUS we were talking about, after all. 

    Errr. Yes! The POTUS. OMG. I’m really trying hard to muster up some shock and awe but it does seem that indeed, I have revealed my complete lack of respect and lowest of the low bar for POTUS and his screw-up administration because I’m trying not to burst out laughing at the image of that lard ass NYC AH taking a freak out tumble down the ramp.

    Ok, ok. I know that was uncalled for and I’ll take my lumps. It’s only fair.

    Now you’ve got me wondering about that ramp. Was there a banana peel anywhere in sight?


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  • q #66

    Oh YES!!!! Thanks for that link. I hadn’t seen it, and it sets out really clearly just why her speech was as powerful as it was. She really is a force to be reckoned with.


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