OPEN DISCUSSION OCTOBER 2020

Oct 1, 2020

This thread has been created for discussion on themes relevant to Reason and Science for which there are not currently any dedicated threads.

Please note it is NOT for general chat, and that our Comment Policy applies as usual. There is a link to this at the foot of the page.

If you would like to refer back to previous open discussion threads, the three most recent ones can be accessed via the links below (but please continue any discussions from them here rather than on the original threads):

 

OPEN DISCUSSION JULY 2020

OPEN DISCUSSION AUGUST 2020

OPEN DISCUSSION SEPTEMBER 2020

The Book Club can be found at:

BOOK CLUB

 

89 comments on “OPEN DISCUSSION OCTOBER 2020

  • Welcome to the October 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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  • Sean_W
    Open Discussion Sept 2020 / #66 (Sep 30, 2020 at 1:32 pm) 

    Hi Sean

    I’ve been thinking a lot about your comment about the rightness of Biden biting back at Trump in the presidential debate and on reflection I think you’re right. He really didn’t have any choice: the Trump campaign is trying to portray him as sleepy, dozy, weak, ineffectual, lacking the energy (physical or mental) for the job. If he’d just stood back and folded his arms and let Trump get on with it, he’d just have played into that portrayal. His own supporters would have been screaming at their TV screams in frustration.

    I’ve just been watching Rachel Maddow’s segment on the debacle, and she’s absolutely spot-on, as ever: the debate was a complete and utter turn-off to anyone decent, and that was exactly what Trump intended, because what authoritarian leader wants the electorate to be turned on to the political process? (It can be viewed, too, in the light of the recent revelations about his campaign’s 2016 attempt to actively deter like Democrat-voters from voting at all.)

    Ok, it’s true that Biden got sucked into the maelstrom to some extent, and that wasn’t edifying either, but if not even the Democrat candidate for the presidency stands up to Trump, who on earth will? He’d have come across as incredibly weak if he’d just let Trump roll all over him without biting back. Nothing wrong is showing a bit of anger when it’s so patently justified.

    Post-debate polls seem to suggest that Biden’s approach worked reasonably well, in any case: according to the polls I’ve seen, significantly more people thought he performed the better of the two and was the more truthful. I gather record donations were made to the Biden campaign during the debate too.

    Cults gonna cult, so Trump’s devotees were never going to be put off by Trump or swayed to Biden, whatever happened at the debate. But I doubt very much that Trump will have won many waverers over to his side with that performance.

    I do recommend the Rachel Maddow segment, though, if anyone hasn’t seen it: it’s powerful stuff.

  •  He’d have come across as incredibly weak if he’d just let Trump roll all over him without biting back

    Nothing works like standing on your dig, folding our arms,  letting him rant, waiting for the chair to do his job, or for Donald to draw breath, then saying something like: “Why don’t you say what you really think?  or “Feel better now Don?”

    Biting back is the worst thing you can do.  Hoist the bastard with his own petard.


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  • @eejit #4

    That tactic in real time is harder than it seems. On national television, and with so much at stake, I am certain I couldn’t do it. Being witty on your feet is a honed skill that requires good timing and delivery for it to be effective.

    It would be great if Biden had that skill, and I agree that response would have made Trump look even dumber than he was already making himself look, but it is unreasonable to expect Biden to have a skill outside of his area of expertise.

    Granted, some politicians can and do use that tactic effectively. I just don’t think Biden is one of them.


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  • Vicki #2

    I’ve read about half of that article in detail, and skimmed the rest (as you said, it’s long). Thanks for posting it. An appalling, frightening read, but such an important one. Main takeaway for me: how fragile democracy is, even in countries (like the US and UK) that think of themselves as its inventors, practically. How dependent it is on those seeking power complying with the rules and the conventions. How limited even the US Constitution is when it comes to preventing such abuses. And how dramatically the danger posed by an authoritarian, shameless, lying president is compounded by an authoritarian, shameless, lying – and unelected, unaccountable – media.

    Seriously scary times.


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  • eejit #4

    Nothing works like standing on your dig, folding our arms,  letting him rant, waiting for the chair to do his job, or for Donald to draw breath, then saying something like: “Why don’t you say what you really think?  or “Feel better now Don?”

    That might be effective with an opponent who has the capacity to feel shame or embarrassment. But Trump isn’t that opponent. Trump was going to go on interrupting, steamrollering, whatever Biden did or didn’t say. It’s just not realistic to think this would have stopped him in his tracks. He’d just have carried on exactly as before. Interrupting and steamrollering was the entirety of his game plan for the debate: NOTHING was going to stop him doing it. So Biden would still have had to decide between actually trying to get some of his own points across at some point and just standing there in dumbshow and letting Trump get away with his antics. It appears from the polling and the feedback from undecideds that, on the whole, non-Trumpians thought Biden had done pretty well, all things considered.

    I do agree it was horrible to watch: embarrassing, degrading, depressing. But it was a choice between embarrassing, degrading and depressing while also getting some key points across and embarrassing, degrading and depressing while failing to get any points across at all. It’s disgraceful that that should have been the choice, but that’s Trump for you.


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  • Me #3

    screaming at their TV screams in frustration

    That should have been “TV screens“, obviously. Altogether too many screams around just now. And I contributed yet another when I spotted my typo and it was too late to edit it 🙂

     


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  • It’s just not realistic to think this would have stopped him in his tracks. He’d just have carried on exactly as before.

    That’s just the point.  This wasn’t a political discussion, I doubt that anyone can remember much of what was said, it was a display of a psychopath in full flight.  Best to stand calm, arms folded (at rest) with maybe a ghost of a quizzical smile playing around, eyes sparkling with amusement, and let Trump go for all he’s worth (not much, according to current accounting!).  What you’re dealing with is image, not policy.  There’s plenty of paid time and expert assistants to expound policy, this was a great time to stand presidential and leave the current President free to expose his vile personality.


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  • It would be great if Biden had that skill  Vicki 5

    I didn’t notice this comment Vicki, sorry no offence meant.  The US Congress must be an odd sort of parliament.  In the countries I have lived in – UK, Australia, Ireland – A Member who didn’t have a high level of quick thinking, wit and guile, wouldn’t last five minutes!


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  • eejit #13

    Ah, those were the days, eejit. All it takes to survive on the government benches of the House of Commons these days is blind loyalty to Boris Johnson (sorry: I mean Dominic Cummings, of course) and a total absence of spine.


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  • In the debate that Hillary had with Trump in that election, we all remember the shocking display of stalking intimidation that he perpetrated on her. Since then every time I see that clip I could just vomit. Why didn’t she tell him off? Demand that he get back to his place and stay there? Why didn’t the moderator stop the proceedings and deliver a scathing rebuke? Why not shut down the debate? Is any debate really worth the misogyny displayed by that revolting creep? I know she took what she thought was the high road and ignored psycho Trump but since then I feel a wisp of resentment that she didn’t put him in his place. I feel that she was too passive. It’s no surprise that I’m glad Biden retaliated.

    Here is Hillary discussing the dilemma she faced:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_F_OSBAP8w 


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  • Laurie #15

    Oh yes, I remember that. Creepy as hell. Really sinister.

    But personally I think Hillary did the right thing there. Trump’s aim on that occasion was to intimidate her, put her off her stroke, make her visibly nervous and therefore, in his supporters’ eyes, look weak. And she didn’t give him that satisfaction. She remained outwardly cool, calm and focused, and it was without question Trump who came out of that looking the idiot.

    I don’t think he was trying to intimidate Biden the other night: I think he was trying first and foremost to ensure he couldn’t be heard; and over and above that to make him look weak and lacking in energy. But Biden didn’t give him that satisfaction either. The responses on the two occasions were different because the nature of the provocation was different.

    I honestly get where eejit is coming from on this – in 99.9% of head-to-heads between potential presidents, prime ministers or whatever in the past, the approach eejit is advocating would have been entirely right (in fact, in 99.9% of them, anything else would have been virtually unthinkable). These events are a crucial part of US (and increasingly UK) democracy and really should be conducted in a spirit of dignity and gravitas. I just don’t think that’s the political world we’re living in right now. I sometimes see clips from British TV discussion programmes or political interviews from the 1970s, even 1980s, and I’m almost always struck by the earnestness and courtesy with which politicians put their respective cases. The substantiveness of their arguments. The way they did the audience the courtesy of assuming them to be capable of actually grappling with the issues, and entitled to do so. That world has been in decline for quite some time now, but it’s been actively demolished over the last 4 years, on your side of the Atlantic and mine. That’s the nature of populism and authoritarianism. It’s all about sides, and rage, and personalities, and emotion over reason. Increasingly it’s also about tearing up all the rule books.

    The question of how best to respond to that, counter it, cut through it is a really important one. Personally, I think if Biden had simply relied on the moral high ground the other night, for every swing voter who’d have been won over by his dignity, there’d have been 3 more who were alienated by his passivity. But that’s just my hunch: none of us has any way of knowing for sure.

    If I’d been posting this yesterday, I’d have said it would be very interesting to see how Biden handles their next debate: what, if anything, he changes, whether he has been advised to up the aggression or tone it down. But today’s news obviously puts other question marks over the remaining debates.

    By the way, on that subject, just a note of caution: when the UK prime minister Boris Johnson got covid earlier this year, his approval ratings went UP in sympathy. And even more so when he was put in intensive care.


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  • By the way, on that subject, just a note of caution: when the UK prime minister Boris Johnson got covid earlier this year, his approval ratings went UP in sympathy. And even more so when he was put in intensive care

    What if…what if?   Then Pence will be the candidate, probably worse.


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  • I was never a member of the Hist – though I attended the odd debate there.  Gerry Fitt, who was then a lone Republican Labour Party voice, crying out in the repressive political slum of Northern Ireland, made a wonderful speech there, when I was a first year student.  He was howled down by the northern loyalists, but made a tremendous impression on me, which was the beginning of my conversion to all things Irish and socialistic.

    The Hist always had a reputation for being to the right of politics and a training ground for those with conservative political ambitions.  In my day it was full of English Tories and Northern Ireland Unionists.  Senator Ivana Bacik, who is one of the good guys, was once a member, so perhaps it  has moved to the left since then.

    Otherwise the story is a fairly ordinary piece of cancel culture – everyone’s doing that these days, and above all, everyone must be made comfortable and not have their feelings bruised.


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  • gerry fitt was a very brave man

    He certainly was that, and deserved better from his career and his country than the lack lustre, centre-right political company he kept, in the second half of his career in the SDLP.  The man who had fought sectarianism with such commitment and passion, and who sought working class solidarity and socialism – with some success and at considerable risk to his life – ended up as a Lord in the British parliament playing no discernable role in the fate of Northern Ireland, or of the island as a whole.  Pity.


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  • Pissed off by a troll using the term Wu Flu I proposed a far more pertinent name given the wildly greater threat posed by negligence and its new vector,

     

    Trump Flu.

     

    If “SARS Cov2” is the virus, “Covid 19” its medical expression, I would suggest “Trump Flu” is its full Extended Phenotype, the whole morbid cultural state that aids its viability.


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  • https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/05/us/trump-biden-election-pennsylvania.html

    Voters Dread Election: ‘It’s Going to Be Hell No Matter What’

    Sad, worrying, scary, depressing article in the New York Times today.

    All the talk of civil war is appalling, of course, but that aside, one thing in particular stood out for me:

    Many of them see a Biden win, he said, as the acceleration of a slow-moving “Marxist, socialist” coup that is being kept alive by left-wing protesters. “It’s scary,” he said, “it really is.”

    Where on earth does this idea come from that Joe Biden, or the Democrats as a whole, are remotely socialist, much less Marxist?

    Do they have the first idea what either of those terms actually mean?

    Biden and the Democrats may not be as rabidly right wing as the Republicans, but they’d barely even be considered centrist in European terms.

    So what exactly is so “scary” about them? I mean, I accept that Trump supporters would be unhappy with a Biden/Democrat win (in a democracy, substantial numbers of voters are always going to be unhappy, whatever the outcome). But “scared”? One of them says “We are absolutely terrified should Biden win”. But why? What does he think would happen? Is it the Biden policy agenda he finds so terrifying (and if so: what specifically? And why?) Or do these Trump supporters think the protests and riots will intensify if Biden wins? Because if so, they haven’t begun to understand that protests and riots about racial injustice and social exclusion don’t increase when those concerns start being taken seriously. It’s ignoring them or worse, doubling down on them, treating the protesters as criminals, that inflames matters even further.

    As a European, I just find it quite bizarre. Insane, even. It’s like watching an alien species.

     

     

  • Marco

    Where on earth does this idea come from that Joe Biden, or the Democrats as a whole, are remotely socialist, much less Marxist?
    Do they have the first idea what either of those terms actually mean?

    No they do NOT!

    To understand our position on this issue relative to that of Europe they’d have to get outside their self-induced media bubble and talk to actual Europeans about their experience with their system and listen to their opinions on the benefits and the criticisms of all that. It’s not gonna happen. This is so convenient for the powers that be. We’re sitting ducks for their agenda. They create false dichotomies to increase fear and loathing. They’re good at what they do.

    Socialism is conflated with Communism here and conversations on the topic consist of fear based rants on the evils of Socialism -taxed to death and state sponsored societal laziness, with nary a concession that we do have a few important “socialistic” programs here – public education, libraries, social security retirement assistance, etc. For God’s sake – never mention our food stamps assistance or disability insurance! “Lazy cheats sponging off our hard earned tax dollars.”

    The food stamp program, including the fraud, is insignificant when compared to white collar tax fraud, offshore mega cash dumps and the monetary and ethical consequences of big business corruption but try to get that point across because that ain’t gonna happen either.

    Add this to the American admiration of rugged, pull yourself up by your bootstraps independence and you get an abhorrence of mutualism and then asking for help is a shameful admission of failure.

    What a mess.


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  • I see that following on from a similar ban in Ealing in previous years, there is now another  ban on busy-body, delusional biology illiterates with their mumbo jumbo “prayers for clumps of human tissue”, harassing those seeking abortions outside family planning clinics.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-54441648

    A zone around an abortion clinic which bans protesters from standing outside it has been approved.

    Staff and patients at the Marie Stopes clinic, in Fallowfield, Manchester, said they had suffered harassment from anti-abortion protesters for 10 years.

    Pro-choice campaigners Sister Supporter Manchester said the public space protection order, which will be in effect for three years, came as a “great relief”.



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  • Demonstrations after terrorists attacks !

    I am James and live in France, where a teacher has been assassinated by a fundamentalist. Yesterday, 17 October, I demonstrated with thousands of peoples as a homage. I wore a Charlie Hebdo (a magazine and other victims), a sign saying in French “Atheists against all hate” and a pins saying in English “God you’re a criminal, say sorry !”. I had real success, plenty of photos of me were taken. I even got interviewed my a media. I told them that God should be blamed, because atheists create a political tension with fundamentalists, and if they don’t stop, they will kill their God. God if he exists would be accomplice by omission to the crimes done in his name.


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  • James the Lynx #31, congratulations on your successful effort to raise the banner of atheism at the demonstration!! Congratulations too to the large number of French people who expressed their anger at the horrible crime committed in the name of a nonexistent god.


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  • As a retired adult education teacher, who used to cover all the issues like freedom of expression, logic, philosophy, culture gender and truth in my classes, I had a shudder when I heard of the assassination.   Over the years I taught the odd fundamentalist Muslim, but it never got nasty, though you never know.

    Poor man, horribly murdered by a teenager, for trying to explain to his students, some of the basic concepts of French society.  And what an ingrate little bastard, who had been sheltered from his own people by France, which is one of the pillars of liberal democracy, then pays the country back by attacking a teacher for exploring the meaning of one of its basic concepts.

    I would like to congratulate James the lynx for his excellent English, I wish my French were half as good!


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  • Is it appropriate for me to text an RIP for James Randi on this site, because I do not know of him he appears to have a “good press” within this site, but it does seem a little un-secular to use Rest in Peace (RIP)  because for my money, once your dead your brain is dead, so you cannot receive good wishes to help you be comfy in a nonexistent “after life”? I know and just smile at our use of the RIP in a non-secular.

    Any suggestions for a secular phrase instead, but presumably be directed to us still favoured with life?

    Perhaps in saying or writing RIP we are reminding and comforting ourselves and knowing we are mortal, we perhaps are praying for our own and living friends, immortality.


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  • @Dunal Munro #37

    Hi Dunal–personally, I like the idea of ‘RIP’ not for the deceased, but in the hope of love and respect by the living for his or her memory. When someone dies, there is a coming together by those who feel the loss, and there are social rituals that may not be practical, but I find them comforting.

    For the record, I use the word ‘god’ a lot pretty freely and irreverently, but I don’t look skyward for any retributive bolts of lighting.


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  • Donal/Vicki

    I agree, Vicki. I don’t think we need to get too hung up on these things. It’s in the nature of language that meanings evolve, and that words and phrases often assume a cultural meaning either in addition to or instead of their original literal one. 

    Like you, I quite often use phrases that include “god” in wholly non-religious ways (God! For god’s sake! etc.). I’m also perfectly comfortable with “soul”, to mean a capacity for human empathy and emotion, and can often be heard complaining that Tory politicians “are utterly soulless”, for instance. It in no way diminishes my conviction that we are ALL “soulless” in the religious sense. I will also perfectly happily wish people a Happy Christmas, in the full knowledge that, while for Christians Christmas is a Christian occasion, for the rest of us it just isn’t and is quite simply a part of the wider culture. I’d hazard a guess that for a good 80% of UK households, religion simply doesn’t enter into Christmas at all

    I don’t think I’d use “RIP” myself, but that doesn’t mean I don’t recognise that – in addition to its original, religious sense – it has become a kind of shorthand to express the respect and goodwill we felt for the deceased person while they were still alive, and sorrow that they are now dead: a loving way of saying goodbye for the last time.

    These are not things that any of us need to get our knickers in a twist about, in my view. They’re just words. And words are often used in non-literal senses, and our language is the richer for it.


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  • The phrase “Rest in Peace” (RIP), undoubtedly has Christian origins. It was originally a prayer requesting that the soul of the deceased is to be granted eternal rest, and it often still means that. However, over time, “RIP” has also taken on a more secular meaning. The phrase doesn’t actually contain the word “soul”, and this omission has led many people to suppose that “Rest In Peace” was an expression of hope that the body would always lie peacefully (i.e. undisturbed) in the grave.

    I use the phrase “RIP” myself sometimes, but I feel a little uncomfortable about doing that, and I think it would be good if we could think of an alternative.


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  • Didn’t think my earlier post would be dissected over the use of RIP but I will take the time to clarify my point and meaning.  Personally, being an atheist possessing mostly misanthropic tendencies, my use of the abbreviation of Rest In Peace was intended to denote the ability of the selected honored departed individual to finally have eternal rest from the slings and arrows of “one” life lived among humans.

    In my opinion, the single most consistent trait of humans is greed and tying to avoid that disposition is largely impossible to obtain.  Climate change comes readily to mind as an example.  You can care deeply for the mess we’ve created but the powers that be could not have less of a care due to the love of money and there are countless other examples I could provide, but I will spare you the dissertation on our collective failures.

    James Randi spent most of his life fighting against deceit and illogical propositions in an effort to free a populace that was susceptible to being hoodwinked.  Let us hope that others continue the “real good works” of trying to remove the blindfolds that people wear, just as James would have appreciated.

    I post pretty rarely due to my ability to agitate and distract from the conversation but I wanted to say goodbye to a good man who died, a man who took the path less traveled to help us to see clearly.

     

     


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  • Aroundtown #41

    Good post. Well, apart from this bit:

    I post pretty rarely due to my ability to agitate and distract from the conversation

    I don’t remember you doing either of those things. And even if you had, nothing wrong with livening things up from time to time 🙂

     


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  • I post pretty rarely due to my ability to agitate and distract from the conversation but I wanted to say goodbye to a good man who died, a man who took the path less traveled to help us to see clearly.

    Whatever’s wrong with misanthropy?  In one way or another we’re all agitators here, and they tolerate me, sometimes even give me likes although I am more consistently irrelevant than anyone.

    Unfortunately the contributors to this site are declining in number, so we need everyone we can get, and the more diverse opinions the better.


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  • I would even go so far as to welcome the occasional talented troll from time to time. Perhaps RD would be so kind as to send us one for Christmas!
    I am waiting patiently. 🙂


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  • I’m not part of the inner crowd here and some of my posts are probably agitative, but who cares because I love science and I care about what’s true and what’s decent, and the best moment of my life was meeting Richard Dawkins and shaking his hand and telling him about the difference he made to my life. So, onward and upward we go.


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  • There isn’t really an “inner crowd”, Centauri. Just people who post comments from time to time. I don’t suppose there are any of us who wouldn’t welcome more people joining in more often if they’d like to.


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  • ONLINE EVENT WITH RICHARD DAWKINS AND JAVED AKHTAR TODAY

    The ceremony for the 2020 Richard Dawkins Award begins at 11 a.m. U.S. Eastern Time (EDT), 4 p.m. London (BST), and 8:30 p.m. Mumbai (IST).

    You’re invited to see two champions of science and secularism come together for the first time, as evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins presents writer, poet, and lyricist Javed Akhtar with the 2020 Richard Dawkins Award in a live online event on Saturday, October 24.

    This special virtual ceremony will be streamed live over Zoom, and hosted by Richard Dawkins himself. Javed Akhtar will formally accept the Richard Dawkins Award remotely from India, and join Richard for what is certain to be an enlightening and thought-provoking conversation.

    This ninety-minute event takes place October 24, 2020, at 11 a.m. U.S. Eastern Time (EDT), 4 p.m. London (BST), and 8:30 p.m. Mumbai (IST).

    Registration is just $5.00.

    Javed Akhtar has written some of India’s most popular and acclaimed films, and for decades he has been a fearless advocate for the rejection of religious fundamentalism and superstition.

    The Richard Dawkins Award is presented annually by the Center for Inquiry, home to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, and given to a distinguished individual from the worlds of science, scholarship, education, or entertainment who publicly proclaims the values of secularism and rationalism, upholding scientific truth wherever it may lead. Previous winners include philosopher and cognitive scientist Daniel DennettCosmos co-creator Ann Druyan, and actor and writer Stephen Fry. In 2019 the award was given to comedian and actor Ricky Gervais. The selection of Javed Akhtar as the recipient of this year’s Richard Dawkins Award was first announced in June.

    REGISTER HERE: https://centerforinquiry.org/store/product/richard-dawkins-award-ticket/ 

     


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  • Unfortunately I’ve been busy for a couple of days. I hope I haven’t left it too late to say this.

    My post wasn’t intended to undermine Aroundtown. I thought his tributes to James Randi were very good actually, and were much better than mine.

    I would point out though that lively discussion was always one of the best things about this website. I think it would be sad if it disappeared completely.

    I, too, post rarely and I used to post much more often in the past than I do now, I think for reasons quite similar to Aroundtown’s.

    Incidentally, I think we have debated the use of the phrase “RIP” by atheists on this website before, just after we lost the remarkable and much missed Christopher Hitchens. We still haven’t come up with an alternative in almost nine years. What a disgrace 🙂


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  • Honestly, HardNosedSkeptic, there’ll be far less lively discussion here if people like you and Aroundtown and Centauri and anyone else who feels the same way don’t discuss … livelily (*cough* Whaddya mean, that isn’t a word?)

    Go for it! 🙂


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  • Most of my posts have, and will continue to be, essays about something with which I either agree or disagree.  Frequently I read something, either on this site or somewhere else and feel inclined to reduce my thoughts and experiences to writing and share them here.  While I enjoy positive feedback as much as the next guy, its also important to be corrected when something incorrect has been asserted.  If the proffered  correction is wrong, then more can be said (I once heard a respected judge advise a young lawyer about oral argument — “you have to hit those balls back” — using an American baseball analogy).  However, an incorrect statement is not evidence of intellectual deficiency — and I want to remember not to give that impression with by posting a less than fully thought out comment.

    For me, its much more fun to add my two cents’ worth to a post with which I agree; to begin a new discussion topic; or, to comment on something I’ve read especially in our Book Club.  When, however, I want to post about something with which I disagree, I need to remember that it was posted, more like than not in good faith, by a human being who has feelings the same as I do.  I want to disagree without being disagreeably dismissive of the other individual’s thoughts and opinions, such that they think they have just uttered the most stupid thing to come out of someone’s mouth since the beginning of time.  I want to strive to exhibit good manners when I respond to someone with whom I disagree, whether from the occasional theist who thinks they can show us the error of our ways, or those who post regularly who I respect as comrades in the pursuit of knowledge.  Furthermore, I need to remember that when something seemingly offensive has been posted, more likely than not, when the l’esprit de l’escalier (thank you Steven Pinker) manifests itself, there will be enough regret to go around.  I’ll do my best to respond to others in the same manner I want to be answered.  Verbum Domini — LOL!!


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  • I did not expect a roundtable on my post honoring James Randi, but I should have.  After all that is what we do here on RDFRS and I thank you all for your input.  I believe James would have enjoyed that we are having a discussion about meanings used regarding death.

    I’ve already outed my misanthropic leanings and it is somewhat ironic and oxymoronic but I have deep sympathy for humans as well.  Here we are discussing death in the open discussion forum, and in another thread as well, and it brings about two opposing positions for me.  I’ll explain briefly.  I have a term that I use quite often called playing the long game, I use it to signify the ultimate death of individual’s who I would love to see removed from the living, and that is the only way to get rid of them.  I have a few in mind – Rupert Murdoch, Mitch McConnell, most certainly Donald Trump and there are others.  The thought of their demise brings about joy and I’ll dance an exuberant Irish jig when they are gone.  With that in mind there is an equally competing proposition where the loss of others brings about sadness and hurt.  It has not escaped me that Vicky recently experienced great loss and my heart aches in those situations for their loss.  I hurt when we lose good people.  We all go eventually, that much is certain, but for me it can be appreciated, but can also cut deeply.

    Don’t want to get into this much deeper but I’ll throw my hat into the ring on the proposition that new terms are needed for paying tributes to the departed, and with my competing positions in mind  I’ll provide a couple for each

    YOOHA – Your out of here asshole

    GRS – Good riddance scumbag

    Alternately,

    LYD – Loved you deeply

    YWBM- You will be missed

    YWL – You were loved

    It will be interesting to hear others ideas, of both persuasions.


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  • @Aroundtown #51

    …new terms are needed for paying tributes to the departed…

    I’ll take a stab at it. Since RIP is an abbreviation of the Latin phrase requiescat in pace,  my suggestion would also be of Latin origin: Sit tibi terra levis, and actually predates the mainstream use of RIP.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sit_tibi_terra_levis

     

    As to the less savory of our fellow humans, well…

    Personally, I have no wish to expend any thought or energy towards adequately phrasing my feelings at their departures, but I do admit I will not miss them.

  • I must do better here. I’m posting elsewhere more because I can post shorter pieces. Here deserves more consideration but I feel always short of time. (I’m avoiding work even now.)

    I can’t wish anyone dead. I just can’t extricate myself from those more innocent around the “hit” who will suffer. BUT, if I can wish them dead, I can also wish them changed and that is quite an interesting daydream to have. How might they be changed/change that begins a repairing process in the toxic culture they have most likely fomented?

     

    Taking out Trump could lead to horrors of backlash. I was always against impeachment because it would not win over the bamboozled and the hateful, who still need to be “defused”. Electoral defeat is the minimum needed. What change, however, might happen realistically to Trump that could begin a process of defusing the cranked up hatred?

    Electing Biden will save much grief but it might not so quickly repair the insane polarisation that the country has seen.

    There is a documentary from some ten or more years ago where a man, devoid of empathy, for some neurological reason, appeared to have that capacity suddenly turned back on. He cried a lot, its true, but this was mostly gratitude and the life fulfilling experience it brought.

    My return to empathy was much much slower, helped by patient partners and art and my kids, and yes I cry at Meg Ryan rom coms for all the wrong reasons, but I’ve never felt so alive.

    I wonder if psychopaths are in some sense, robots? I wonder if they experience happiness in any way more than flat, monochrome, dopamine rewards, rather than, say, the richness of many feelings rooted in our mindfulness of others resultant from what has happened? Might Trump usefully discover drugs?

     

    I never use RIP. I dislike anything that trivialises death. There is no state after death. I like the “Babe” last line. It could be the inbound benediction of grateful, living loved ones:-

    “That’ll do, Pig, That’ll do.”

    And Mervyn Peake’s outbound benediction, grateful to living loved ones:-

    “To Live at all is Miracle Enough.”


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  • Marco #49 :

    Thanks Marco. I’ll think about it. As I said, I used to post quite often in the past (around ten years ago). I stopped posting for a long time for various reasons which I won’t go into right now. These days I post rarely. Perhaps I should post more often, but finding the time to do it would be a major problem for me.

    Aroundtown #51 : I like YWBM.


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  • Phil

    I can’t wish anyone dead. I just can’t extricate myself from those more innocent around the “hit” who will suffer.

    I don’t have a problem wishing certain people dead. I know what you’re thinking…Who’s the low empathy person now?!!

    I don’t think I’m low empathy or even a cruel person for saying that. In fact, when the sum total of suffering and misery in this world inches up to an intolerable level then I believe that basic ethics grants us permission to take someone out if that is the last resort. Everything else should be tried first.

    those more innocent around the “hit” who will suffer.

    I would feel sorry for that if it happens but in our current situation in US with Trump, there are a multitude of sycophants and enablers who would be taken down a peg or two as a service to the citizens. Who are the innocent who would suffer? Trump’s youngest son would qualify, I suppose. He was dragged into a life with his parents and other family members and had no choice in the matter. Yes, he would be a victim and it’s sad. Is there anyone else?

    I can also wish them changed and that is quite an interesting daydream to have. How might they be changed/change that begins a repairing process in the toxic culture they have most likely fomented?

    It’s a wonderful daydream but one that I can’t find a single molecule of evidence that would allow me to invest in the possibility. There is some experimental work with empathy training  for psychopaths that has gone disastrously wrong. Even if I could dredge up some hope for this type of change, sometimes, with the low empathy bunch, when they maneuver themselves into positions of authority, they can do so much damage in a short amount of time. We just don’t have time for empathy training even if it worked at all. If the harm is bad enough, might we consider cutting them off at the knees?

    At this point, Trump has done substantial damage in several categories. One example that’s on our news cycle this week is the report that at least 500 undocumented children who were brought across our border with Mexico have been separated from their parents and now the government has admitted that there is no way to find their parents and reunite them.  If they admit to 500 then it’s probably the tip of the iceberg with those liars.

    500 children! 1000 parents who have had their children torn away from them screaming and crying. Who knows the suffering they’ve all endured because the psychopath in chief and his revolting entourage gave a simple policy directive just to please the worst jingoist bigots in America and all for a bunch of votes so our piece of shit President can grab another four years in office.

    They are not remorseful.

    This is only one evil policy perpetrated by President Psycho and his family and buddies. Not to mention abandonment of the environment, blatant voter suppression, installation of judges who can be counted on to put women back in their places, etc.

    Taking out Trump could lead to horrors of backlash.

    I think you’re right. There will be horrors of backlash and it’s not just a worrisome fear because Trump supporters freely admit that they would welcome such a backlash and Trump has stated that this will come to pass if he is not reelected. (I’ll search for the video if you’d like me to.)

    How far can we bend over backwards for the avoidance of the backlash that we’re threatened with? The very threat that is put out there in the public discourse is an abomination already! Phil, these people have arsenals at their disposal. Liberals have guns here too but I’m not aware of any liberal militias that train on a regular basis with semiautomatic weapons…maybe I should start one up myself…I’m a citizen in good standing with no police record and can be the proud owner of a boatload of military weaponry by this time next week. This is so screwed up and hopeless to fix.

    It was a cringeworthy moment when Hillary let the word “deplorables” see the light of day and the use of the word offended my belief that the simple under educated working class folk of America are just doing the best they can with what they got and don’t deserve the shitty judgement of those of us who are beneficiaries of white privilege with its inherited wealth, elite educations and good old boy networks and yes, I am one of them. Four years later I’m shocked at the damage those deplorables have done here. It’s been a devastating disappointment but even so, I only want to increase the pressure to provide the best education we can to them, the best free healthcare, and I want to pay more taxes to drag them up into the middle class kicking and screaming.

    Four more years of the Psychopath in chief?  Let’s all dig out our undergraduate ethics textbooks and review the chapter on Utilitarianism where you will find those uncomfortable trolley scenarios. I say let’s shove that fat guy onto the tracks with no further ado.

    There’s an ear-worm running through my frontal lobe way too often these days:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPIdRJlzERo


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  • It’s very comforting and reaffirming to rest in the knowledge of the level of commentary and discourse on hand here at RDFRS, it can feel like an old friend nudging you past stubborn inner inflection that is in need of a course correction.  To be enlightened with a reminder of our better nature is refreshing, I feel like Ebenezer Scrooge who has been invited to dinner by his nephew regardless of poor behavior.

    Enjoyed your post Vicki, your suggestion has never appeared on my radar, what a wonderful term they used back then, makes one wonder why it lost favor.  “May the earth rest lightly upon you” is to my way of thinking much more apropos than “RIP”.

    Phil, your post made me smile.  It made me think of that line in the Harry Potter movie where Harry tells Hagrid that it wouldn’t be Hogwarts without him.  Your posts always illuminate and your presence and input always push my desire to be better.  Your ability with the English language has always inspired me.  I have often thought of how many times people might have been jarred by my English abilities, being largely self taught my grammar and punctuation can be deplorable.

    It is a strange coincidence but lately I have been pondering our Universe and our position within it.  That Space expanded so rapidly with the Big Bang and positioned all the eventual matter far beyond their neighbors.  Expansion and Contraction being the mental theme of interest, not only in our space time continuum, but also as it relates to our social fabric.  The UK has experienced the trauma of Brexit and a pulling away from a banding together with their neighbors.  All around the world, but more significantly for myself, the United States has become entrenched in a Nationalistic fervor that I scarcely could not have imagined.  Our predilection to take one step forward and three steps back is frightening, with one Supreme Court appointment we will travel back to an age I thought dead, but here we go down the rabbit hole.  Much of the prior common cause between the UK and America has suffered as well under the same process and I feel we lose sight of our bond with the passing of time.  Hopefully you can look past our stumbles and falls.

    In closing I will side with Centauri’s opinion “So, onward and upward we go.” But I will add, with a bit of a tilt and wobble.  Cheers


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  • LaurieB #56

    It’s a wonderful daydream but one that I can’t find a single molecule of evidence that would allow me to invest in the possibility.

    Made me think of the author Terry Pratchett in his book Hogswatch.

    “All right,” said Susan. “I’m not stupid. You’re saying humans need… fantasies to make life bearable.”

    REALLY? AS IF IT WAS SOME KIND OF PINK PILL? NO. HUMANS NEED FANTASY TO BE HUMAN. TO BE THE PLACE WHERE THE FALLING ANGEL MEETS THE RISING APE.

    “Tooth fairies? Hogfathers? Little—”

    YES. AS PRACTICE. YOU HAVE TO START OUT LEARNING TO BELIEVE THE LITTLE LIES.

    “So we can believe the big ones?”

    YES. JUSTICE. MERCY. DUTY. THAT SORT OF THING.

    “They’re not the same at all!”

    YOU THINK SO? THEN TAKE THE UNIVERSE AND GRIND IT DOWN TO THE FINEST POWDER AND SIEVE IT THROUGH THE FINEST SIEVE AND THEN SHOW ME ONE ATOM OF JUSTICE, ONE MOLECULE OF MERCY. AND YET—Death waved a hand. AND YET YOU ACT AS IF THERE IS SOME IDEAL ORDER IN THE WORLD, AS IF THERE IS SOME…SOME RIGHTNESS IN THE UNIVERSE BY WHICH IT MAY BE JUDGED.

    “Yes, but people have got to believe that, or what’s the point—”

    MY POINT EXACTLY.” 
    ― Terry Pratchett, Hogfather

  • So, Aroundtown,

    Are you hinting around that I’m the dream crusher that has cast Phil into the pit of hopelessness? Grinding him down in a spiral of depression? Kicked him into a whirling vortex of hellish nihilism?

     


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  • Certainly nothing implied or proposed in regards to your conversation with Phil.  I have a lot of respect for both of you.  This gives me an additional opportunity to reflect on my ability to agitate the conversation without my even being aware of it.  I guess it is an unwanted talent that emanates from my disposition without my being cognizant of it.

    I think I may have been influenced by your comments on the thread about death.  You stated a fondness for science fiction.  I also share that fondness.  I was only referencing the single molecule mention and it made me think about the same reference in the Hogswatch book, also a work of fiction.  I see a need to be more careful with my flights of fancy but I’m sure I’ll likely flounder again, it seems to be in my nature.

    Presently I’m more focused on the next 9 days to see if reason and truth can be restored here in the USA, or whether I need to begin planning for my departure.  Don’t think I could survive 4 more years of Trump.  Just saying.


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  • Aroundtown

    my ability to agitate the conversation without my even being aware of it.  I guess it is an unwanted talent that emanates from my disposition without my being cognizant of it.

    😀

    Don’t take it so seriously! I was baiting you.

    Is it so terrible to be challenged over a mere internet comment? I wasn’t challenging you but just saying, it does happen from time to time.

    Yes, we need the next 9 days to fly by.
    Have you read any Sci Fi by Jemesin? Her creativity is astounding.


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  • LaurieB,

    Thank you for the referral on N.K. Jemesin, looked her up and she is a very accomplished writer.  I noticed she is also a clinical psychologist so maybe I can get a twofer by subliminal mental impression/implant as an assist to my psyche : )

    Its all good on the other front, although I can appear overly depreciative by way of avoiding conflict I am pretty thick skinned for the most part, just saying.  I was thinking about that on my walk earlier and I believe some of it is attributable to being raised in the 60’s youth culture, peace, love and all the rest of those bygone days.

    Nothing of Jemesin’s stature but for a fun read Karen Marie Moning can be a diversionary read.  I was very impressionable with the early works of Sir Conan Doyle and Jules Verne and that set the tone I believe with an appreciation for fantasy/fiction.  Loved Star Trek Voyager too, something about the duel themes of discovery enmeshed with their stranded situation.  I often think that James Roddenberry was a visionary in seeking to portray a united populace who have discovered social harmony, if you bring up that proposition here in the USA of late you would be called a Socialist.  We have a long road ahead I think before we’re all on the same page.


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  • Laurie,

    Heh, yes maybe there is only one person to be concerned about on Trump’s  timely demise from the waves of justified hate, and its the kid. Its always the kids who wished us none of this. Before the abused turn abusers in adulthood they are to be shown compassion.

    I know the daydream is a hopeless one, but they mostly all are and the interest is not in their potential realisation but the analytic potential they bring. Perhaps its the inventor in me? What if we used skyhooks here? The big problem to solve is not Trump per se, other despots are available, but turning back the dehumanising tide from its continued flow to a polarising peak. How might the malign gravity of this despot be used to effect such a turn?

    I know full well working with adult psychopaths is a thankless task, though I do believe that very early detection of it with strong socialising habit forming can better fit psychopaths into society. I say this having had two dear friends from this very site that were psychopaths (one clinical the other diagnosed as such by me. *) They were strongly socialised as children. Sociopathy, too, can be ameliorated by early interventions between the ages of two and ten to relieve their condition forming abuse. So no, there is no realistic route out for President Psycho, hence my rather hopeless throw of drugs. But the practicality of the change or the specificness of the change is not the issue, but how might a change of heart (I know, if he only had one) in the man start to undo the horrors? Even after his loss of the presidency a change in him could be really helpful.

    So not drugs. But near enough, what if he actually found Jesus? My nicely, nicely Quaker God example say, good for goodness sake?

    Heh! Crush my dreams? Let me help you. I got plenty more where they came from. And we must daily seek to render them back to their constituents and let them rebuild better, stronger more need-solving.

    Aroundtown.
    Kind words. I would say your posts and style are effortless and perfectly fine. I just faff overmuch, fiddling with the detail. I try and write in ways that would save me from my childhood affliction of stammering. I need it to flow. Utterly needless for the written word but my brain makes me do it.

    *As an aside, a group of us from this site met up and considered a site of our own. It seemed significant that there were only two of us I would give a clean mental bill of health to. (Certainly not me!) All were great brains and original thinkers, and its when I started to suspect that all mental health is a spectral issue and that human culture possibly got started by this very cognitive diversity.


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  •  a group of us from this site met up

    How did you manage to arrange that?  I’ve always thought that it would be good to have some opportunity for social meetings,  or it would have been in the days when travel was allowed.


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  • Hi Eejit.

    Having described us as mentally er… eccentric I’d better plead Fight Club rules over any further identifying details, if only to protect me from the lawsuits.

    We organised courtesy of a private messaging service added on to the original forum. Whilst this could be abused facilitating collective pile-ons to disliked posters, it was also used to explain and apologise for misunderstandings that kept the posts more, well, academic. It also allowed those with such a desire to organise ourselves into (at least one) social group. “Fight Club’s” first meetup was at Richard Dawkin’s farewell lecture and we took it from there, with a separate Groups based email. It was international and had Group meets in few different countries over the years. It faded over the years but some of us are still in touch variously and on other forums.


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  • Any suggestions for a secular phrase instead, but presumably be directed to us still favoured with life?
    Perhaps in saying or writing RIP we are reminding and comforting ourselves and knowing we are mortal, we perhaps are praying for our own and living friends, immortality.

    Hebrew has a saying זיכרונה לברכה , which sound like zichrona livracha and translates roughly to “May her memory be a blessing.”


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  • Thx, Phil.

    Interesting insight on the mental stability/acuity question, well grounded consistent mental balance has become more akin to the lunar tide cycles these days.  I believe we are all susceptible to the prevailing social winds which change dramatically on a whim as of late.

    The gathering you mentioned must have been very interesting.  I had thought about that prospect in the past but never thought it would actually happen.  I hope some of the members from the old RD forum site were there.  I still miss the banter that could become so spontaneous and often times combustible, but also deeply informative and expanding.  I received a lot from participating in those battles but I must say my blood pressure has improved since.  Many posters are most likely unaware of the gifts/liberation they provided to me, it’s no stretch in saying I miss them.

    My focus today has centered on the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett and I do wonder how many people would be aware of the decades of progress we lost today here in the USA.  I was young when the civil rights battles were going down and I remember the formation of NOW (National Organization of Women) organization being launched.  Those here heady days and hard fought battles were fought and I had assumed were won.  How wrong I was to make that assumption.  When people ask how Democracy can be lost…all they need to do is take a look at how quickly America is losing its foundation when the moral compass is discarded and thrown in the trash.  This has been a tough day, just saying.


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  • I wanted to provide some clarity on a portion of my previous post as regards perceived intelligence.

    Interesting insight on the mental stability/acuity question, well grounded consistent mental balance has become more akin to the lunar tide cycles these days.  I believe we are all susceptible to the prevailing social winds which change dramatically on a whim as of late.

    I thought an example/opinion concerning supporters of Donald Trump would suffice.  You might expect a large fraction of these people would possess adequate mental acuity to discern right from wrong but I am at a loss as to how they can compartmentalize the man’s actions and character.  President Obama was a bridge to far for them but Trump’ criminality, misogyny, narcissistic bent, accused rapist, liar, history of stiffing workers and I could go on and on, but there are still millions of these people who intend to vote for him.  It would seem to me there is more than enough verifiable information to reject him but they could not care less.  Clearly there is something going on with their grey matter not being up to the task.  Maybe somebody else can shed some light of this phenomenon.  Cheers


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  • Trump’ criminality, misogyny, narcissistic bent, accused rapist, liar, history of stiffing workers and I could go on and on, but there are still millions of these people who intend to vote for him.

    It’s a strange phenomenon, but not unique in history.  Trump always reminds me of Nero who had all the characteristics which Aroundtown lists, but in addition liked depraved violence, which does not seem to be one of Trump’s foibles.  Then there is Ferdinand Marcos and his vile wife, Peron and Eva, Henry V111…all capricious,  narcissistic bullies, who somehow managed to hold the loyalty of a large part of their populations.  Don’t know how it works, but it seems to!


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  • eejit  #70

    eejit,

    Thanks for pulling me up to speed on the adornment of despots in the past.  Hadn’t thought of those people but you made a perfect case.  Gives me a shudder to know humanity is so vulnerable in being persuaded to follow these people but I also missed the herd of Elephants in the room that is religion.  Jim Jones comes to mind, and pretty much all the rest of the religiously affected to one degree or another.

    My fear is two fold really as regards this phenomenon, it’s frightening that populations can be so easily divided along idealistic lines but it also brings about my other grand frustration concerning climate change.  When challenges like Covid-19, or the need to take action on global warming come along, it highlights our collective failure to act on these bigger issues.  That old adage comes to mind, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.  Same goes for trying to get people to wear the damn mask, I’m thinking.  Bottom line, this does not bode well for us overall.


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  • The historical figure that Trump has always reminded me of is Benito Mussolini.  Whether or not there is a political connection between the two it almost looks to me like trump tries to channel Il Duce’s swagger.
     
    What worries me a great deal about a possible 2nd term – and I know there is much to worry about – is Trump’s pledge to repeal the payroll tax which is the revenue source of the Social Security and Medicare trust funds.  Those programs are so ubiquitous in American life that most people take them for granted, as though we have always had them and always will have them.  In a Forbes article dated November 2, 2018 (https://www.forbes.com/sites/teresaghilarducci/2018/11/02/republican-public-opposition-to-social-security-and-medicare/#29be0c934e71), Teresa Ghilarducci points out that Republicans have always been opposed to both Social Security and Medicare.  Recently, Trump suspended collection of the payroll tax and pledged that if reelected he would work to repeal the tax altogether – a move that would end the programs and pave the road to poverty for a working people, whether blue collar or white collar.  Although it would take an act of congress to actually repeal the Social Security Act, that has been the goal of the Republicans since the days of the New Deal.  A couple thousand dollars a month probably doesn’t seem like much to the billionaire class, but it’s the difference between financial dignity and humiliation for the vast majority of Americans.  If Il Duce can convince his ignorant supporters that it would be nice to have that extra money in their pay check each week, then they can look forward to a miserable old age; no disability if they get hurt or sick; and no survivors benefits for their kids if they should die.  And, no Medicare health insurance.  Other New Deal programs like unemployment insurance and worker’s compensation would most likely be on the chopping block too.
     
    By the time the American workers learn what Il Duce has in mind for them, it will be too late.  The Judicial branch (the Supreme Court, Courts of Appeal and District Courts) will be reactionary for a generation at least.  If the Senate and the White House are not returned to the Democrats, then I fear that we’ll go back to a pre-New Deal time – when America was great for the Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, Morgans, Carnegies, etc., and was miserable for the very people who are taken in by Trump’s Il Duce impersonation.  The real Il Duce kept an appointment with a lamp post.  Let’s hope Trump meets his Waterloo, in a more peaceful manner, next Tuesday.

  • There was a post that was supposed to be #72 by another poster with a comparison of Trump to Mussolini and it was gone before I could comment on it..  It was very accurate to my way of thinking and the observations on the social security program were spot on.  It made me think of my hero George Carlin and his input on our collective condition.  I’ll post a link.  All of it combined reminds me of the slippery slope and shifting sands we ordinary folks have to deal with.  Be aware that the link is adult content that would be considered an R rating on the viewing scale.  George’s observations have a ring of truth that is hard to deny.

    P.S. I was premature, the post by Michael 100 is there thankfully. My bad for missing it.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nyvxt1svxso

  • Aroundtown #73.  I think what happens is that when we put links into our posts, the system kicks them out for moderator approval. Mine was gone for a while and yours is gone as I type this.  Fortunately, the moderators are very good at their job and they get the posts back up quickly.  Hopefully this will be #74 after your 73.  And by the way, thanks for your remarks.


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  • Recently I was thinking of the interaction dark matter & dark energy have on black holes and I ran across an interesting theory that I had not expected, the proposal was very intriguing.  I will attach a link for others to consider the study.  The ideas forwarded touched on a few principles that were tested in discovering a new thinking on universe interaction theory.  The possibility of an alternate black hole composition was also forwarded.  I won’t blather on with a distracting introduction so I’ll direct you to the attached link below that provides a short summation for your perusal/enlightenment.  Enjoy.

    https://phys.org/news/2019-09-black-holes-dark-energy.html


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  • I watched a special on PBS tonight entitled… Climate Change – The Facts.  It was narrated by Sir David Attenborough, contains Greta Thunberg’s input as well. When I see these climate change presentations I’m always floored that this is not our primary mission to address, but others here know this frustration of inaction just as keenly..  Its a good good presentation worth seeing.

  • Aroundtown #71

    Thanks for pulling me up to speed on the adornment of despots in the past.

    Ah!  The advantages which accrue from being too dumb to get into science, and having to be content with an arts education.

     Gives me a shudder to know humanity is so vulnerable in being persuaded to follow these people but I also missed the herd of Elephants in the room that is religion.

    Arthur Koestler stresses the aberrant behaviour of our species and ties it to the dichotomy between reason and belief, stressing  the  role that language plays in the generation of fanaticism.  He traces it to poorly developed communication between our reptilian and mammalian brains and the neocortex.  But that’s one for the evolutionary biologists, psychologists and philosophers to argue about.  The upshot of his thesis is that people die for tribalism based on and subverted by belief, not for the protection of land and family.


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  • Climate Change.
    I am always frustrated by discussions of this. Yes, yes it is a huge problem, but this elephant misses the woolly mammoth in the room. We need sustainable everything. And it may be far easier to fix everything than to fix a this specific problem (the loss of the Commons) that isn’t even well addressed in neo-classical economic theory.

    Legislating and taxing to create circular economies, that leave the place in the same or better state for our kids, don’t steal from their heritage by squandering use-once resources, not only puts us in much better control of the climate but frees us from most geo-political manipulations that require us to support despots and oppress others in the hunt for use once resources.

    Demanding businesses must not be singular and open ended but plural, symbiotic and closed we create much greater long term viability. By demanding modularity of products and processes we can creating paths for greater innovation and much greater overall product life span coupled with cleaner waste streams and resell-able parts. We open up big complex technology like transport to small innovators. So many materials will soon run out but our products demand less and less stuff and more and more cleverness which will never run out. We have all the tools and smarts to do this now, but we will have to fix our financial institutions to turn them from short term gambling houses into long term investors in stable very long-term businesses. And we’ll need government much more to cater for our kids.

     


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  • Aroundtown #73:  I just watched the Carlin clip.  Carlin says it as well as anyone can when he says they’re coming for our Social Security and our pensions.  As he says, they (the billionaire class) want all the money and they know how to get it.    And the worst part is that the very people who depend on those benefits are the ones who will elect the politicians who will destroy the social safety net built by the New Deal and subsequent big government programs.  The MAGA folks will be happy to have the extra money in their pay checks when collection of the payroll tax is stopped. However, within a very short period of time that extra little bit of money will disappear, and the workers will be left holding an empty grocery bag.  Carlin hit the nail on the head.

    eejit #78:  To which Koestler work are you referring?  I’ve always enjoyed his writing, especially his earlier novels one or more of which I’ve written about in the Book Club.  I’ve kind of stayed away from his later work because I’ve been led to believe that toward the end of his life he began to explore – shall we call it – pseudoscience (probably a poor word – either it’s science or it’s nonsense).  Nevertheless, I very much enjoy his writing style in everything of his that I’ve read.


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  • Michael 100, #80

    That’s him, Arthur K.  He does go a bit loopy in The Summing Up, but there is some insight in it, about the possible application to social organisation of biological entities, the parts of which operate semi-autonomously, holons.  I used the idea when teaching industrial organisation (about which I knew very little, it was a tech ed college!), then Barings went bust because they allowed Nick Leeson to behave wholonically, and most manufacturing businesses gave up the idea and I gave up teaching it.  I still wonder if he was right about the neocortex being insufficiently  wired to the rest of the brain, it would explain a lot!


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  • eejit #78.  For sometime now I’ve held the belief that human interaction is much more pliable and void of friction with the absence of Nationalistic fervor or religious belief, when those are thrown in the mix all bets are of for cohesive cooperation across the board.  I wish that were not the case but it seems to be valid.   Our evolutionary journey has a lot of baggage but you’d be hard pressed in convincing the religiously inclined, they can’t comprehend the connections to our previous forms for obvious reasons, that whole 7 days thing, you know.  The trajectory of human awareness to our actual condition is improving but the clock is ticking and time is of the essence in securing a healthy collective to address our pressing challenges.

    Phil #79. Loved the elephant mammoth comparison and inference, made me smile.  Your insight on needed avenues of action are stellar.  I am aware that we come from different countries but were you in this arena you would have my vote,  If we can vault from mental speculation into action that is the hurdle presently, i do take into account that progress is underway with green energy programs and the like but I wish the rank and file could step up the pace, just saying.

    Michael 100 #80. Once again your observations are spot on.  The masses who have been hoodwinked into the Republican platform are in for one hell of an awakening should those Republicans politicians get the opportunity to advance their agenda unrestrained, the resulting consequences would devastate them but it would be to late at that point.  

    America has a bent to lumber along under false identity as concerns the classes of society, the early indoctrination to our supposed condition is a mirage unfortunately.  I will give a quick example –  I would suggest that were the Republican/Conservative groups in America to adopt their true intent and motto it would be this in my estimation “Hooray for the few at the expense of the many”. Going a bit farther I would suggest they have that inscribed in stone as an alternative to the Mt. Rushmore figures, it would be a more honest reminder for them, but I would add that the mountain does not belong to them in the first place, it is the property of the indigenous peoples but the conquerors could not care less about that circumstance irrespective of the Supreme Court siding with the Lakota Sioux.  Convoluted explanation I know but we have a myriad of conflicting identity and idealism that has gone unchallenged for far to long.  Okay, I’ll get off of my soap box now and rest.


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  • Phil Rimmer ~79

    the loss of the Commons

    A little jingle from the 18th Century – the time of the enclosures, with a cryptic message for today.

    The fault is great in man or woman

    Who steals a goose from off the common

    But what can plead that man’s excuse

    Who steals the common from the goose?


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  • Honest question. If the layers of the Grand Canyon (and other places) are ages of the Earth, 1) where did all that dirt come from, and 2) with every layer being perfectly level, how is it that, until now, there were no mountains, no valleys, not even a single hill?


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  • Shannon Peacock #85

    Hi Shannon,

    I’ll give it a go and I’ll try to be brief.  My propensity is to be long winded but I will hopefully include enough information for you to connect the dots.

    To answer your second question first, there were mountains in the area you describe but erosion has reduced them to nothing as it is prone to do.  I’ll explain and the dirt question will fall in-line accordingly

    Our planet was created by accretion of smaller material at the beginning of the creation of our solar system which was born on the fourth of arm of Orion of the Milky Way Galaxy, and other planets can be created in this fashion, gas planets are a different ball game but gravity is in play for both. Larger planetoids have a spherical shape due to gravity and pressure, with pressure comes heat and the molten core of our planet is a consequence of that process.  Most don’t feel it but everything on Earth, us included, have a constant force of 14.7 pounds at all time on our bodies, this is “one” atmosphere of pressure/weight and for every 33 feet under water this pressure doubles.  Gravity and  pressure is the theme I’m building on here.

    Our Planet has a crust called the mantle and this crust is divided into plates which move at extremely slow rates but they encounter other plates and the resultant collisions are largely responsible for the mountain ranges you see around the world.  The Himalayas were created by a collision of the India plate and the Eurasian plate and the massive pressure causes an uplifting and buckling of the adduction plate (plates are of two conditions, one slides under and eventually travels back into the stiffer molten mantle, this is subduction and the plate on top that buckles is the adduction plate) this pressure and buckling is what produces most mountains.  Other mountain can be created by volcanic eruption and that is an alternative form.

    Over the long stretch of “Geologic Time” these mountains can be reduced to nothing under the force of gravity and erosion (wind, water) and it is hard for a human to envision this process due to our short life spans as relates to geological time.  We look at something like the Himalayan mountains and think they could never be gone but their days are numbered and they will vanish.

    I should note that this erosion process which can be physical and chemical is what creates what you call dirt.  A good example is when you look at a mountain side you will often see what looks like fans (this is eroded material from the mountain called an alluvial fan and this can occur below water as well).  This material is eventually flattened by gravity, wind, and water forces and provides the resultant landscape you view on Earth.  Most of Earth’s mantle is constantly recycled over time but small amounts of ancient crust has survived, South Africa has some and their could be other areas that have escaped in my foggy brain.

    Anyway, hope this is helpful in answering your inquiry.  You can search for Earth system related material online and that will expand on these principles above.


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  • Shannon Peacock says:

    Honest question. If the layers of the Grand Canyon (and other places) are ages of the Earth,

    1) where did all that dirt come from, and

    2) with every layer being perfectly level, how is it that, until now, there were no mountains, no valleys, not even a single hill?

    The rock layers in the Grand Canyon were layers of sand and silt laid down on a flat  ancient sea bed over millions of years.

    The materials were washed to the sea by rivers, and swept into horizontal layers by moving currents and tides.

    About 100 million years ago North America had an inland sea running right through the middle of it!

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_Interior_Seaway

    The Earth’s crust in that part of the USA has been gradually uplifted with the Colorado River cutting deeper, as the land below it slowly rose far above sea-level to the present altitude of the rim mountains.


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