It’s easy if you try

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“If you had to quickly flee both your home and country, what one possession would you make sure you take with you?”

“If you want an easy life, indulge yourself in despair.”

“It’s also a wildly presumptuous leap to project my own apathy onto God.”

“Be anything you like, be madmen, drunks, and bastards of every shape and form, but at all costs avoid one thing: success.”

“People mainly leave the church for one of two reasons: it’s either the assholes or the problem of suffering.”

Motivational Megafauna (click through for more encouragement from the extinct).

“The real question is, what does ‘Jesus’ symbolize?

“The universe appears to be slightly lopsided, and even rather cold in one part.”

Dinosaurs are changing so fast that the monstrous creatures we imagine in our youth become strangers as scientific discovery continues to tweak what we know about them.”

“The apparent apathy of the public and the enthusiasm of government has allowed sites like Facebook to get away with degrees of surveillance that are increasingly Orwellian.”

“Let’s get out of Afganistan, and stop making up wars to fight.”

“Imagine if Germany had a society in which Jewish citizens were imprisoned twice as frequently and then disproportionately executed.”

“You were on the wrong side of legality, morality and history, and lost. Get the f— over it, and be thankful you got representation in our government again so soon after violently rebelling against it.”

“I can’t really remember the last time I saw a public figure do something racist and say, ‘Yes. I am racist. I am sorry and I intend to do something about it.'”

I’m Your Basic, Small-Government, Obama-Is-the-Antichrist Conservative

“And don’t worry. You’ll get your turn in the center ring. You can count on that.” (via Jay Lake)

Things We Do Not Say in Outlook

Church Sign Epic Fails: ‘Old Testament Sex'”

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He's got the biggest King James you've ever seen
Secret conversions and the celebrity double-standard
James Dobson is reliably untrustworthy
NRA: How not to evangelize, Step 1
  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Heh… the reason I lost my faith in Christianity was because of the problem of suffering. It just had to pierce my APD bubble by happening to someone I cared about. A pity the author didn’t even try to address that. Actually, I’m not entirely sure what point the author had, as they seem to be praising people for abandoning the church/their faith, yet talking about the importance of evangelism…

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    On my way to the bus stop this morning, I walked by my town’s only abortion clinic. A pair of older women stood outside its driveway, bundled up in cold weather cloths that suggested they planned to be outside for a while. One held a sign that said “God forgives all”, the other a sign that said “God loves you and your baby”.

    It made me think, “Does God want women to suffer unwanted children? Is that the kind of love they think he shows?”

  • Wednesday

    Given that clinic protestors have been known to picket clinics that provide prenatal care but not abortions, I think that whatever they think their god’s love is, it’s completely alien to us and more along the lines of “Big Brother is Love”

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    In fairness, this clinic actually is one of the few in the area which provides abortion services. It is small, discrete and at the end of a long driveway off the main street, with no signs advertising what kind of services it offers, people go there on referral when they consult a doctor.

    If they wanted to protest something more obvious, we have a fairly large and obvious Planned Parenthood clinic closer to the more densely populated areas of Seattle than this small facility here in a suburb.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam
  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    “Church Sign Epic Fails: ‘Old Testament Sex’”

    Judging from the stories being related some of it is astonishingly… er, kinky.

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    “If you had to quickly flee both your home and country, what one possession would you make sure you take with you?”

    That depends on a lot of things, including what you count as possessions. Do pets count? For one boy photographed they did, in which case you’d find me carrying a gecko in some kind of container, keeping it close to me to give it warmth, and hoping like hell the dog and cat would follow on their own.

    If not, will there be power where I’m going to? A computer? Probably the external hard drive currently across the room from me. It’d be hard losing everything –stories, pictures, correspondences, so forth– on this laptop, but the hard drive has more of that sort of stuff.

    No power/computer/both? Either a stack of notebooks, which is sort of a crapshoot because they’re not at all organized so I might end up lugging them to another country only to discover they have nothing I care about (I want the stories I wrote in notebooks) but instead are filled with trigonometry notes, or this.

    It’s not the first puzzle I made, or the only puzzle I made, but of the successes it’s the best looking, it’s the one that I intended to make for the longest, it’s the only one of its kind because (look at the price) no one else is willing to spend that much to get one. Even as the puzzle’s creator I had difficulty affording it and it dented my finances enough that I haven’t been able to make a puzzle since.

    It’s within reach of me now. I could grab it and be out the door in the same speed as I could be out the door without grabbing it.

    I have no family heirlooms, no great symbolic things. The closest I have to a sentimental link to my parents (both still alive, by the way) in this house would be the encyclopedia sets in the next room. There’s no way in hell I could move those as a refugee.

    I love the house, I love the stuff in it, but I think that basically covers my priorities:
    1 My pets.
    2 My stories.
    3 My puzzle.

    I cannot imagine a situation in which I would not be able to take the puzzle with me but would be able to take something else, so that’s the end of the answer. If I can’t take one move to two. If I can’t take two move to three. If I can’t take three that basically means I can’t take anything, so there’s nothing to move to.

    [Added:] As for tools, which were what some of the actual refugees pictured showed as most important, I’m afraid I don’t have much of use there either. I’d have to hope to meet up with someone with resources, or that resources presented themselves along the way, because I wouldn’t be starting with them.

  • other lori

    I was really confused when my youngest was little and we started reading dinosaur books, and there were no brontosauruses. And then I learned that there were no brontosauruses, and my whole life had been a lie.

    Why do we spend so much time teaching kids about dinosaurs, anyway? It’s weird. I mean, sure, dinosaurs are strange and interesting, but it’s not like kids are innately curious about dinos. Adults and cartoons teach them to be interested in them. But, as an adult, I’ve never found myself thinking, “My life would be better if I knew more about dinosaurs.” I can identify probably two dozen dinosaurs, but I’m not sure I could correctly identify any of the trees growing in my neighborhood.

    It just seems like, in the whole world of science things we could teach little kids about, they might be better served if we picked something a little more relevant to inundate them with books and cartoons about.

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    I do think that something about dinosaurs is inherently interesting.

    Even as far back as ancient Greece wee see people finding dinosaur bones and letting their imaginations run wild. (See for example the gryphon nesting site that was actually a place with fosilized protoceratops eggs and bones.)

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Heck, dinosaur bones were the reason many cultures have dragon myths.

  • Lori

    Dinosaurs would be a lot more interesting to me if they were actually dragons. I never cared much about dinos, but I was really disappointed as a child when I realized that dragons aren’t real.

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    I agree, if science could get us dragons that would be awesome. I was going to say something to that effect.

    Until then dinosaurs and pterosaurs are the best we’ve got.

  • Lori

    The only prehistoric creatures that ever captured my imagination were megalodon and the wooly mammoth. Really freakin’ gigantic shark–how cool is that? Fuzzy elephant—so cute. I want both of those things to still be alive. The fact that they’re not is almost as much of a disappointment as the lack of dragons.

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    There are efforts to restore the mammoth the megalodon is gone for good. Even if DNA could be harvested (pretty sure it can’t) it’s extremely doubtful one could live in captivity and there’s no way in hell anyone would release one into the ocean.

  • Lori

    I have mixed feelings about trying to bring back extinct things. I’d love some mammoth’s, but my gut instinct is that trying to bring back one animal, absent it’s natural environment, is not likely to end well. What I want is for them to not have gone extinct in the first place.

    And I do know why we can’t have megalodons, no matter what. Aside from the obvious, our oceans wouldn’t support them for any length of time. Still, they must have been amazing. In that last moment before it ate you, you’d get an up close & personal view of something really awesome.

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    Personally I’m all for something like the passenger pigeon or the dodo, but anything much further back than that I have my doubts about.

  • Lori

    Yeah, I think the more recently extinct things could work and I’m in favor of trying. Older stuff, not so much.

  • P J Evans

    Dodos might actually be useful. It seems that some of the trees in the dodo’s former range require that their seeds go through a dodo’s digestive system before they can sprout.

  • LL

    Don’t worry, nobody is bringing back an extinct species. Or at least not one that’s been extinct as long as the mammoth. Mammoth DNA is too degraded. “Jurassic Park” can’t actually happen. As cool as it is to think about.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam
  • Trixie_Belden

    Thanks for that link. That is awesome news! I mean, creatures that became extinct because of a massive meteor hitting the earth, or because the Tectonic Plates shifted a certain way; well, whaddya gonna do? But reading about the Passenger Pigeon and the Dodo can actually depress me. Their extinction was brought about by stupid people saying, “Wow, these creatures are really easy to kill! Let’s kill a lot of them!”. I’d be thrilled if we could actually do something to reverse that, someday.

  • Jenny Islander

    Apparently the mammoth tended to create its own natural environment. The Pleistocene Park nature reserve in Siberia was founded on the observation that the moss-and-forb-dominated tundra became widespread only after the large herds of herbivores were gone. So the park imported herds of Yakut ponies (the closest analogue to the Ice Age horse), European bison (suspected to be forest dwellers today only because that was where the relict populations ended up hiding), and muskox. And lo and behold, wherever these animals go, something resembling the ancient mammoth steppe is springing up! This is the basic environment needed for a woolly mammoth: not too hot, plenty of space, lots of water, and lots and lots of grass.

    But if they can rebreed a mammoth, or at any rate a very hairy mammoth/Asiatic elephant hybrid, then they’ll see a lot more change. Elephants are humongous belching bulldozers. They push over trees. They dig water holes. They trample down riverbanks. And they drop giant piles of poo that is almost compost already, plus it’s full of seeds.

    I hope they can manage it within my lifetime. It’ll be awesome.

  • Jenny Islander

    Ooooooo I love to tell this story!

    For many centuries, all over Europe, people have been stumbling over caves filled with bizarre bones. The bones are massive. The high-peaked heads have long muzzles with rows of great big teeth and enormous nostril-holes, and mandibles with attachments for huge muscles. Keratinous curved shapes found with the bones resembled nothing known in Europe besides the claws of a carnivorous beast, although their size was unbelievable.

    Around 1590, in Klagenfurt, Austria, a sculptor named Vogelsang was commissioned to carve a dragon. He wanted to make it true to life. So he sent for some of the bones from a cave he knew of, and used what he knew of anatomy to clothe the skull with flesh. He added claws, although he had to guess at the proportions because nobody had ever found claws articulated to the paw-bones of these extinct monsters. Since nobody was quite sure how many vertebrae the things had had, and they were spoken of as serpentine in the old legends, he gave it a long trailing tail.

    And that is how the ancient woolly rhinoceros, whose curved, keratinous horns drop off after the animal dies and rots, became a dragon.

    Bonus: The head of Vogelsang’s dragon looks an awful lot like the dragon heads in Scandinavian art. Same inspiration, perhaps?

  • Fusina

    That…that is an awesome story! Yay for the woolly rhinocerous, inspiration for thousands of other stories.

  • Carstonio

    Not only are dinosaurs interesting, as Chris noted, they also educate kids in basic zoology and natural selection. I think there’s a psychological value as well – just as planets help kids begin to understand the size of the universe, dinosaurs help kids being to understand the scope of time.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    You know, pretty much everyone has that brontosaurus moment.
    And it’s always presented as “Actually, scientists now know that there was no such thing as a brontosaurus,” as if it’s a recent discovery, like the feathers on raptors.

    The discovery that Brontosaurus was actually an Apatosaurus was made in 1903.

    Apatosaurus was identified in 1877, and Brontosaurus in 1879. The Brontosaurus only “existed” for twenty-four years.

    There is seriously no good reason anyone young enough to care one way or the other should have grown up thinking there was such a thing as a brontosaurus.

    Frakkin’ Flintstones.

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    Ah, you beat me to it. (And I probably should have said “great-grandparents’ generation”.)

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    I was really confused when my youngest was little and we started reading
    dinosaur books, and there were no brontosauruses. And then I learned
    that there were no brontosauruses, and my whole life had been a lie.

    The brontosaurus held on in the popular consciousness a lot longer than it had any right to. I didn’t even know the name “apatosaurus” until a couple of years ago, during a visit to the Chicago Field Museum. I learned “brontosaurus” in the early 1980s. And yet it was during my grandparents’ generation that most palaeontologists had reclassified the brontosaurus as just an apatosaurus someone had mistaken for a different species.

    In other dinosaur news: If I’d known during my childhood that T Rex had feathers, I would have been ectstatic! My favorite big lizard was always the archeopterix.

    Why do we spend so much time teaching kids about dinosaurs, anyway? It’s weird. I mean, sure, dinosaurs are strange and interesting, but it’s not like kids are innately curious about dinos.

    I couldn’t disagree more. It always seemed to me that kids adored dinosaurs from the moment they were introduced to ’em. Dinosaurs are pretty much dragons that actually existed — how cool is that!? And since they’re so attractive to kids, they’re a really effective “gateway drug”; they in turn encourage excitement about the science of discovering how our planet developed, which I think is really important for all humans to learn.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Yeah, but why do dinosaurs get so much more love than the other various weird extinct critters?

    You know who needs more love? Crocodylomorpha. Back in the mesozoic, crocodylomorpha were almost as numerous and as diverse as the dinosaurs, while today, it’s down to crocodiles, alligators, caimans and gharials. Also, the yacarerani totally looks like the closest known ancestor of the Sleestak.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I couldn’t disagree more. It always seemed to me that kids adored dinosaurs from the moment they were introduced to ’em.

    This. I remember being just fascinated by them! I even just now got hit with a memory of having made a clay model of a stegosaurus! :D

  • P J Evans

    When I wa in grade school, like 5th or 6th grade, I got a booklet about dinosaurs from the American Museum of Natural History, with photos of skeletons. (I might still have it somewhere.)

    I’ve also got a copy of Robert Bakker’s book ‘The Dinosaur Heresies’, which I recommend.

  • The_L1985

    Not even mistaken–the “Brontosaurus” skull came from a site several miles away from the rest of the skeleton, and somehow it took 25 years for anyone to find that suspicious.

  • stardreamer42

    Clarification: It is not the case that “there were no brontosauruses”. What happened is that the same creature had somehow received both the label “brontosaurus” and the label “apatosaurus”; one label or the other had to go, and “brontosaurus” was the one which was abandoned. So every time you read about an apatosaurus, you can think “brontosaurus” and you’ll be fine.

  • The_L1985

    No, “brontosaurus” was actually “something Marsh tried to claim as a different species by putting the wrong head on an Apatosaurus.” Brontosaurus is a distinct species that never actually existed; no sauropod with that particular head had that particular body.

    http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/brontosaurus-never-existed-tale-bone-wars-185524946.html (Gets it backwards, because it’s Yahoo, but the Cope/Marsh “bone wars” are pretty-well documented.)

  • Maniraptor

    Brontosaurus is the most worked up I’ve ever seen people get over a junior synonym. I have to say I’ve never understood it. (Although the “no such thing” phrasing always seems weird to me too. Sure there was. Marsh was just over-splitting relative to the current paleontological consensus, so we use the older name because that’s the way we made the naming rules to avoid confusion. Except for when everybody likes “Tyrannosaurus” better than “Manospondylus” because rules are made to be broken…)

    At least there’s Brontomerus for the people with that nostalgia. (And I always hear rumors of a re-evaluation of Apatosaurus waiting to be published that splits Bronto back out, but you didn’t hear it from me…)

    I, uh, am the kind of person who often says that her life would be better if she knew more about dinosaurs.

  • Jamoche

    Thanks to James Nicoll, who uses this all the time: google ngram apatosaurus vs brontosaurus:

    http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=apatosaurus%2C+brontosaurus&year_start=1800&year_end=2000&corpus=15&smoothing=3&share=

    Nobody was using apatosaurus in any significant frequency until around 1985, whereas brontosaurus climbed steadily from 1900 on. So if it was supposed to be the right word from early times, they really should’ve made it more clear at the start.

  • http://www.paulmdelaney.com/ Paul Delaney

    Ya know…

    When I do pick up scripture from time to time, characters like Moses and even Jesus seem card board and one-dimensional. I wonder if that might be why stuff like History’s The Bible tends toward the awful. I’ve been thinking more and more over the years that we have to be kidding ourselves if we really think all of scripture is great literature.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    “All” of scripture, definitely not. Fred did one awhile back on 1 Kings 22 about how it seems to be building up to a great story, and then… it just stops, with no resolution.

    There are some parts of scripture I adore. And then there’s the many, many frustrating, incomplete, or even terrible parts of it where it seems like the main point is to highlight that God is a jerkass and so is everyone he loves (fuck you, Jacob).

  • Carstonio

    Fabricius seems to be one of those who see only two options, Christianity or atheism, as though other religions didn’t exist. I’ve written before that I see the problem of suffering as artificial, because its premise is that a god exists that is omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good, and it’s not obvious why one would start from that premise and not a different one. But I also wonder if I sound like Epicurus and the atheists who followed in claiming that the existence of suffering disproves the existence of such a being – that’s not my position at all. It’s worth asking why writers like Dawkins don’t attempt to refute the existence of the Greek or Norse or Hindu gods, or the Shinto kami. By focusing only on the Christian construct, they’re effectively letting their opponents set the terms of the debate, elevating one religion over the others. Ironic that both Fabricius and Dawkins start from the same premise.

  • Gotchaye

    But their opponents should get to set the terms of the debate. New Atheists typically understand their project as something like getting people to abandon their religious beliefs. To do this they have to grapple with the actual religious beliefs of the people they’re talking at. The Greek and Norse gods are useful to them as entities that almost everyone now takes to be fictional, and serve the same purpose that Santa Claus or Tooth Fairy analogies do, but I don’t see why anyone would bother taking the time to specifically refute the existence of these entities when no one who believes in them is taken seriously, except perhaps as an instructive example (and I’ve seen this).

    New Atheists are often fond of that quote that goes something like “I just believe in one less God than you”. For almost all of the New Atheists and almost all of the people New Atheists are talking at, it really is the case that something like the typical US/UK/AUS understanding of what’s meant by ‘God’ and atheism are the only available options. Almost everyone involved already agrees that the other options are just plain silly. The relatively small number of devout Hindus in a position to take New Atheists seriously are going to encounter plenty of “what you believe is ridiculous and obviously false” objections without the New Atheists lifting a finger.

    Put another way, Dawkins doesn’t see himself as trying to build an objective case for atheism as a theory of metaphysics. He figures that reasonable people have been atheists for a long time now and that this work has been done already (or maybe that it’s just obvious). He’s attempting to get people to be reasonable, and that requires dealing with their particular sort of unreasonableness.

  • Carstonio

    Neither the New Atheists nor their opponents should get to set the terms of the debate. I’m really suggesting that the claims made by all religions past and present get equal consideration and scrutiny, and I say that knowing full well that it appears I’m dictating the terms of the debate.

  • Gotchaye

    I imagine those are basically the terms the New Atheists would choose if they were allowed to pick. This is the rhetorical purpose of pointing at Santa Claus and the Norse Gods, after all – the idea is that all beliefs “like these” deserve equal respect. But it’s very hard to set these terms without basically ruling out exclusivist religious belief (probably the most common sort, at least in the US) from the get-go. If you’re going to give equal scrutiny to all past and present religious beliefs, the argument from religious disagreement as applied to everything is going to be stronger than even the argument from evil applied to an omni- God.

    If the believers of a small number of religions aren’t privileged in their access to Truth, then it’s almost certainly the case that any particular believer is wrong (because the vast majority of believers throughout history have been wrong and believers of a particular thing right now aren’t special). So by setting those terms you’ve essentially ruled out most people’s religious beliefs as false, taken as a whole. The legitimate positions are “many different religious beliefs are true (in some sense, and excluding exclusivist claims)”, “there is no true-for-everyone truth about religion (it is subjective, or similar)”, “we don’t/can’t know what’s true about religion”, and perhaps atheism to the extent that it’s different from the second and third positions.

    I’m pretty sympathetic to this framing, and I expect the New Atheists would be as well – it gets them at least half of what they want – but it’s a non-starter. You’re not going to get people to abandon exclusivist religious claims by telling them that it’s improper for them to hold one religion to a different standard than others. People like pointing to the Bible’s assertion that the Bible is true as a justification for believing it.

  • Carstonio

    If you’re going to give equal scrutiny to all past and present religious beliefs, the argument from religious disagreement as applied to everything is going to be stronger than even the argument from evil applied to an omni- God.

    Are you saying that the mere fact that the religions disagree in their supernatural claims proves that none of these clams are factual?

    All religions are exclusivist in the sense that they make completing claims, and they can’t all logically be factually accurate. But at least some of them could be accurate. New Atheists assume that only the monotheistic claims are worth refuting, so they implicitly endorse the premises of monotheism.

  • Gotchaye

    No, I’m not saying that religious disagreement proves that no supernatural claims are factual. But it does make it extremely hard to have a justified belief in some exclusivist claim. If we both look out the same window and I think I see a dog and nothing else, while you swear up and down that you see a cat and nothing else, it’s really hard for me to persist in believing that there’s a dog outside unless I have some good reasons for thinking you’re lying or that you don’t know what dogs look like. I need reasons for thinking that I’m just better than you are at distinguishing dogs and cats. That doesn’t mean I can’t be right, but it’d be weird for me to believe that my perception is reliable and yours isn’t. This gets even clearer if we throw more people into the room and everybody sees some different animal when they look out the window. Once you’ve got three or four people disagreeing the obvious conclusion to draw is that something funny’s going on. This is the position that many believers find themselves in if they stop dismissing followers of other exclusivist faiths as silly and superstitious. If you grant that they’re in pretty much the same epistemic position that you are, everything crumbles. It doesn’t mean any particular faith is incorrect, but it destroys justifications. The obvious place to end up is agnosticism (my third position).

    And lots of religious beliefs aren’t exclusivist, and many religions can be made non-exclusivist pretty easily. You can construct a sort of super-polytheistic framework that fits in everyone’s gods without doing a whole lot of modification. This seems to be where some gods in actual polytheistic religions came from, historically – they were originally part of separate religions and were incorporated. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen lots of people in Slacktivist threads asserting that the sorts of spiritual entities they believe in don’t necessarily crowd out the entities other people believe in, or that religious truth is a personal thing such that religious disagreement is only illusory. Lots of liberal believers of various traditions are happy to apply a sort of “through a glass darkly” defense of religious disagreement, where the idea is that everyone is mostly right, in some sense. So it’s actually pretty easy to jettison exclusivity. But yeah, when one person is saying “my holy book says X and so your holy book is wrong” while the other person is saying exactly the same thing about a different holy book and Y, that is in itself a reason to think that there’s a huge problem with the method they’re using to come to their conclusions.

    It’s possible that there’s a religion out there which is much more clearly backed up by the evidence than others, but this really doesn’t seem to be the case. I think it’s obvious to any outside observer that when an apologist starts defending the rationality of believing in their religion as opposed to others that their thinking is strongly influenced by their preexisting biases. And to go to a meta- argument from disagreement: if a particular apologist isn’t much more qualified to judge evidence than the rest of humanity, then the fact that the rest of humanity doesn’t find his or her argument persuasive is a reason to think that it’s actually not.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    Do note that every time someone’s tried the old “You’d think someone worshipping the Norse or Greek gods was pretty silly, wouldn’t you?” line, they get pushback from the board’s neo-pagans.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Yeah. I still find that weird.

  • The_L1985

    “no one who believes in them is taken seriously”

    Hi! Neo-Pagan schoolteacher. Thank you for ridding me of the delusion that I am taken seriously. ^_^

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    That was an implied “taken seriously in the relevant matters by the general public”.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    It’s worth asking why writers like Dawkins don’t attempt to refute the existence of the Greek or Norse or Hindu gods, or the Shinto kami.

    -‘Cause nobody of note worships these beings in civilized English-speaking society.

  • Carstonio

    “Civilized English-speaking society”? I feel like I’m reading Kipling. That’s just racist arrogance.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    How?

  • http://redwoodr.tumblr.com Redwood Rhiadra

    It could be read as “only English-speakers are civilized”. (And Kipling used similar phrases frequently and meant exactly that).

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    It shouldn’t be read that way. There exist non-English-speaking civilized societies (e.g., the Netherlands). There exist barely-civilized English-speaking societies (e.g., Nigeria). There exist civilized English-speaking societies (e.g., Australia).

  • Carstonio

    Because you’re wrongly equating Christianity with civilization.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Nonsense. Western Europe in the ninth century AD was very much uncivilized. Japan is very much civilized. I didn’t even mention Christianity in my comment.

  • Carstonio

    My core objection to the phrase is that “civilized” is not just subjective but also euphemistic, a rationalization of ethnocentrism. And since the issue is whether the supernatural claims of any religions are true or false, there’s no reason to limit the scope of the inquiry to only the majority religions in English-speaking countries – that’s the cultural equivalent of ethnocentrism.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    The Three Horsemen of New Atheism criticize largely the nonsensical beliefs found in civilized English-speaking societies because that’s where they grew up in their teen years and where they continue to live. Besides, both Dawkins and Harris have been very critical of the Muslim religion.

  • Carstonio

    But their criticisms are still limited to monotheism, even though they claim to be criticizing religion in general. That’s like praising or criticizing all sitcoms based on watching only Frasier. They sound just like fundamentalists who equate rejection of Christianity with atheism, as if there aren’t folks who leave Christianity for other religions. Anyone who argues that believing in gods is wrong and misguided should, as a matter of intellectual honesty, apply the argument to all religions that have gods and not just the religions that are most familiar to him or her. At least the fundamentalists have the excuse of partisanship.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    No, the Three Horsemen are not at all like fundamentalists, except for the facts that they are humans and think there exists an external reality. Most of their criticisms are directed at monotheism. However, as Dawkins makes clear, the enemies of reason are not just monotheists. They include New Agers and alt-medders. All gods are equally nonexistent.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0CyMglakWoo
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCJoOJlP8PI

  • Gotchaye

    I think there’s a distinction between New Atheists acting as New Atheists and New Atheists acting as skeptics. Bill Maher (who’s got plenty of kooky beliefs) got the Richard Dawkins Award from some atheist group for his promotion of atheism, although I don’t think that Dawkins himself had anything to do with picking the winner. There’s a lot of overlap in values and membership between the groups, but they do prioritize different things.

    New Atheism is a political movement and not a philosophical one. Carstonio’s right that they’re not very interested in constructing the fairest or most respectful possible arguments. I wouldn’t say that that’s not intellectually honest because they’re pretty open about being about advocacy rather than discovery, but they’re definitely more interested in more useful and relevant arguments. I expect political philosophers to have thought about the space of all possible politics and to have explanations for why their proposals are the best of all possible policies, but it’s not dishonest for Democrats to only argue that their proposals are better than the status quo and whatever the Republicans are offering. However, that /is/ what Democrats do, and it’s sometimes unsatisfying and/or frustrating when they refuse to grapple with criticism from the left.

  • The_L1985

    ….I am a neo-Pagan mathematics teacher. Please explain how teaching a logical system such as mathematics fails to prevent me from being an “enemy of reason,” because I take umbrage to that particular comment.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Nice argument from authority there. [facepalm]. Take all the umbrage you wish, just don’t try to use a blatant logical fallacy on me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dpolicar David Policar

    If you chose to interpret it as the articulation of salient evidence rather than an argument from authority, would you still consider this a rational reply?

  • http://www.facebook.com/dpolicar David Policar

    There are lots of beliefs people assert or adopt without evidence or in defiance of available evidence. I live in Boston and know many people who assert that the Red Sox are the best baseball team ever, for example, despite having no significant evidence for that claim.

    In principle, all such assertions mark one as an outsider to the rationalist tribe. That said, religious beliefs are a particular shibboleth (or, I suppose, sibbolet) for a particular subset of that tribe, which mark one as an outsider in a particularly salient way.

    It’s not hard for a particular kind of mind to go from “salient outsider to my tribe” to “enemy of my tribe” to “enemy of the universal principle through which my tribe defines itself.” Humans have been doing this for a long, long time.

  • KevinC

    I think it has a lot to do with “Deep Christianity” (illustrated very well here). Most people in the West, including atheists, have a lot of Christian/monotheistic thought-patterns running in their heads. The common “Pascal’s Wager” argument depends entirely on it. So does the “Intelligent Design” movement, which posits “an intelligent Designer” for life and the Cosmos. Oh, sure, it sounds all secular and generic, but we all know Who that is, snap, snap, wink, wink, grin, grin, knowhatImean? The very word “God,” big-G (as opposed to a name like “Yahweh” or “Isis”) carries and conveys the unspoken assumption that there’s only one of them to be concerned with, just like “the Sun” or “the Moon.” Of course there are countless suns and moons in the Cosmos, but our language still treats Earth’s as though they are unique. Likewise for the Abrahamic “God.”

    In addition, Christianity and Islam tend to be more “in your face” than other religions. We don’t have Asatruar demanding that the Eddas be taught as science, Wiccans demanding that stone monuments carved with the Wiccan Rede be posted in front of courthouses, Hindus proclaiming that America is (or ought to be) a Krishna-ian nation, or Ceremonial Magicians demanding that school functions be opened with a Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram. I think most New Atheists would probably consider Neo-Pagan and other non-Abrahamic religions to be less harmful, at least in America, Europe, and the Anglosphere, if only because they don’t have the kind of political power and capacity for violence (e.g. the Danish cartoon controversy) the Abrahamics do.

  • Carstonio

    Yes, I’m really arguing against privilege for any religion, against a religion being the default or the norm in a society. While one or more gods could exist, the culturally dominant religion in a society isn’t automatically correct about what those gods may be like.

    And that cultural dominance could happen with any religion that has numerical superiority.

  • Fusina

    Um, I think the objection was to the “English Speaking” part of your comment. If you had just said, “Civilized societies”, but on the other hand, I know some very civilized people from India, and they have a shrine to Ganesh in their home (I visit them).

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    [Grumbles with annoyance].
    Why does no one try to read my comments?
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2013/04/12/its-easy-if-you-try/#comment-861269070

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    You know, if different members of an extremely varied commentariat keep getting irritated with you, you ought to consider that the common factor is you. I suggest less complaining that “no one” reads your comments, and more work on stating your arguments clearly.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    My arguments are as clear as they can get. Am I to pre-emptively argue against every possible misreading of my comments?

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    I’m sure they sound perfectly clear to you inside your own head.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Is that a “yes” or a “no”?

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    Stop being obtuse. Everyone thinks that their own arguments are perfectly clear and logical, at least when they’re in the process of thinking them. So you saying, “My arguments are as clear as they can get” does not prove anything about the phrasing or content of your actual arguments.

    If one person has a problem with the stuff you say, that could just be them. If several people — especially people who have very different views and backgrounds — have problems with the stuff you say, it is logical to conclude that the real source of the problem is you.

    You’ve heard the old saw, “If you have one bad relationship, the problem is them; if you have a string of bad relationships, the problem is you”? It’s like that.

    Perhaps you should find a smart, no-bullshit friend and discuss this recurring problem with them before you come back.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Argumentum ad populum is not an argument.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    Please learn the difference between “common factor” and “ad populum”. And go find that friend I talked about.

  • Kubricks_Rube

    I’ll give you an example of where I find you unclear. In the Jim Wallis thread and here you have presented a number of extreme positions. Then in later comments you explain that you do not actually hold these positions. (“I disagree with his idea […] Neither am I an advocate of child abuse. Rather, I argue that one can justify child abuse using libertarian reasoning,” being one example.) This is confusing because 1) you give the impression that you do hold these positions, 2) then when you deny holding them you continue to bring them into the discussion anyway, 3) including continuing to use those who do hold these outlandish positions as relevant experts/sources for the topic at hand 4) rendering many of your comments as at best non sequiturs and at worst straight-up trolling, either way derailing the whole thread.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Firstly, it wasn’t I that first brought up Gary North’s positions on the Biblically-mandated execution of disobedient adult children. Secondly, I am undecided on many issues and often do not want to present an appearance of partiality or bias on these issues, as I do not want to be unnecessarily painted into corners. Sometimes, those who hold these outlandish positions are relevant sources for the topic at hand. Where have I derailed threads?

  • Kubricks_Rube

    You were the one who added Gary North’s understanding of the Bible as a counterpoint to that of Jim Wallis. This despite North’s understanding of the Bible being not just an extreme fringe position but one you don’t even agree with.*

    As for derailing threads, it seems that often when you add something to a conversation on a current political or religious issue, everyone ends up arguing over why exactly slavery is wrong or who exactly would and wouldn’t be stoned to death under a Reconstructionist theocracy or whether killing adult children in such a situation can properly be called murder. With the new Disqus system perhaps derail is too strong a word for this, but don’t you think it odd how often your comments bring us so far from the original topic?

    *Perhaps you agree with North on what the Bible says without agreeing with him that the Bible should be the basis of our laws? Still, while you agree with North on Jubilee as public policy, as an atheist you come to that conclusion for completely different reasons than North does. Why not present a source for your viewpoint that better matches your own and doesn’t tie those views directly to such problematic ideas?

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Perhaps you agree with North on what the Bible says without agreeing with him that the Bible should be the basis of our laws?

    -Yes.

    Still, while you agree with North on Jubilee as public policy, as an atheist you come to that conclusion for completely different reasons than North does.

    -Yes. This is because we do not live in a predominantly agricultural society, live in a society with a widespread wage system, and, unlike land, capital (at least as important as land today) is constantly growing and being liquidated. Are we to return the plastic in our keyboards to the oil companies during the year of Jubilee? Would not the institution of Jubilee in land sales keep business chains like Wal-Mart from continuing to expand throughout America?

  • The_L1985

    Er…why does Wal-Mart need to keep expanding? It’s in damn-near every town in the US, it earns more than the GDP of several small countries every year, and it deliberately pays its average worker so little money that government assistance is necessary for these people to afford to eat.

    Wal-Mart accepts food stamps, though, so Wal-Mart workers can spend their food stamps at work, thus causing the US government to indirectly provide welfare to Wal-Mart. Even though Wal-Mart can easily afford to pay its employees a living wage without losing any business.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    This is why I oppose the existence of food stamps.

  • EllieMurasaki

    How do you propose to ensure that everyone is fed in a world without food stamps?

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    1. Why should “everyone” be fed?

    2. Food is so cheap in the U.S. that there is no reason for any sane adult to begin starving, even without any government programs.

    Edit: To make food prices even cheaper, I propose there should be no tariffs on food grown in foreign lands.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Because EVERYONE FUCKING DESERVES ENOUGH FOOD TO LIVE ON.

    And some people’s only food budget is food stamps, which are meant to supplement food budgets. That’s how shitty wages are in this country. Take food stamps away and people go hungry.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Hunger and starvation aren’t the same thing. Nearly everyone in the U.S. has some weight they can lose.

  • EllieMurasaki

    What the actual fuck.

  • JustoneK

    Are you sure you aren’t a republican? Because they are arguing exactly this in some bills lately.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Heh, one of the things I’ve thought of recently is that a lot of libertarians say they aren’t for either party, but in practice, wind up spouting a lot of the same talking points as a lot of the GOP. Enopoletus strikes me as “ex-libertarian” the same way Santorum thinks the GOP has too many liberals in the party.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Are you sure you aren’t a republican?

    -Yup. Too many homophobes, forced-birth-after pregnancy proponents, creationists, theocrats, bailout proponents, farmers’ subsidies proponents, Bush-lovers, fundamentalist Christians, AGW denialists, and Atheist/Islamic Obama believers within that party.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Hm. I thought everyone only deserved to have their rights of life, liberty, and property not violated by humans.

  • EllieMurasaki

    So it would be okay, in a world without food stamps, for Walmart to violate its employees’ right to life by paying them exactly what they pay them in this world where so many of their employees need food stamps–that is, paying them not enough to be sure they can eat? Walmart is not, after all, a person.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Businesses are human institutions and cannot act outside of the actions of humans. In your scenario, Walmart would not be violating its employees’ right to life by not paying them a “living wage”, but would merely be allowing nature to violate its employees’ right to life.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Yeah, I’m telling Gmail to delete all the emails with your name in, because it is not my job to inflict empathy or clear thinking on someone who so obviously wants nothing to do with either.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Since when was the support for perverse incentives by the forcible confiscation of the wealth of one’s betters “empathy”?

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    1. Why should “everyone” be fed?

    What else ‘ya gonna do?

    That is my first, best answer to pretty much all questions that begin “But why should the government/I/we/society have to pay for…”*

    Because What else ya gonna do?

    Everyone should be fed because if everyone is not fed, some people will stare to death. The alternative to “everyone gets fed” is “some people starve to death”. If you oppose feeding everyone, you are of necessity arguing that some people should starve to death.

    This is very simple: there is a “people shouldn’t starve to death” position and a “some people should starve to death” position.

    It should be reasonably self-evident which of those positions is the evil one.

    (* “But why should I pay for those stupid poor people who bought more house than they could afford?” “What else ya gonna do? Lose your own financial security when the housing market collapses under the weight of all those foreclosures?”

    “But why should I pay for socialized medicine for those people?” “What else ya gonna do? Continue to watch people die of treatable illnesses?”

    Etc.)

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    What’s wrong with one who is not working not eating?
    As I have already stated,

    Food is so cheap in the U.S. that there is no reason for any sane adult to begin starving, even without any government programs.

    Edit: To make food prices even cheaper, I propose there should be no tariffs on food grown in foreign lands.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    What’s wrong with one who is not working not eating?

    Because then they die.

    That’s it. That’s the end. It is wrong because it kills people.

    Arguing “What’s wrong with people not eating” is the same as arguing “What’s wrong with killing people?”

    If you need “What’s wrong with killing people?” explained for you, then you are not a being whose sapience is sufficiently similar to my own that meaningful communication is even possible.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    Everyone should be fed because if everyone is not fed, some people will starve to death.

    Or they’ll turn to dangerous and/or criminal activities in a desperate attempt to prevent themselves (and their children, if they have them) from starving. An increase in crime makes everyone more miserable and desperate. So, if we want increased social stability, we should try to keep everyone fed.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    That is why I, unlike the anarcho-capitalists, support reliable government-funded law enforcement.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    Law enforcement deals with the symptoms, not the causes.

  • The_L1985

    So…it would be better for those workers to starve, then?

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Read my comments.

  • The_L1985

    I have read your comments. You oppose food stamps, but you don’t seem to oppose Wal-Mart’s paying its workers starvation wages. Ergo, since you seem to have no complaints about those low wages, you must want Wal-Mart and other companies to continue paying their workers too little, but without the government to pick up the slack. This would cause millions of American workers to starve.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    [citation needed].

  • reynard61

    Your problem reminds me of the current navel-gazing that the Reince Prebus-wing of the Republican Party is going through. The RP-wing knows that *something* is wrong — having lost what *they* believe *should* have been a slam-dunk Presidential election — and even conducted an “autopsy” to try to figure out what went wrong. Unfortunately, the report said that what went wrong was *the message itself*; not how they were championing and implementing policies that were alienating women, gays, blacks, immigrants, etc. It seems to me that that’s pretty much *your* problem as well. You seem more concerned with *how* you’re presenting your message than the message itself. And, let’s face it; sometimes your message reads a bit like something out of a Republican/Tea Party platform, or a Libertarian anti-government screed — or, yes, a Kipling-esque essay on how Western, English-speaking Christianity is the best thing ever.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    See http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2013/04/10/jim-wallis-sounds-an-uncertain-trumpet-on-marriage-equality/#comment-860206769

    Romney lost because he was indecisive, inconsistent, and had a history of advocating policies abhorrent to modern conservatives while not giving any minority individuals a single reason to vote for him. In fact, even in late 2011, I both predicted Obama would win and wanted Romney to lose the presidential election. I do think Ron Paul would have been a better president than Obama, but he was unelectable due to him having too much integrity.
    I agree that it is the Republican message of cutting government services for the poor and restoring the “Christian values that shaped America” (note: this is a quote from actual Christians, not a statement I agree with) that makes Republicans less appealing to minorities (especially those disproportionately reliant on government services) and to minority individuals that aren’t Christian. As the great H. L. Mencken said, “Such is the price we pay for the great boon of democracy: the man of native integrity is either barred from the public service altogether, or subjected to almost irresistible temptations after the gets in.” (note: I’m Enopoletus Harding and I approve Mencken’s message).

    Where do I “seem more concerned with *how* [I’m] presenting your message than the message itself”?

    I support the message of the Three Horsemen of New Atheism. I am no advocate of Christianity. Again, see http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2013/04/12/its-easy-if-you-try/#comment-861269070

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I do think Ron Paul would have been a better president than Obama, but he was unelectable due to him having too much integrity.

    (emphasis mine)

    Bull. Fucking. Shit.

  • EllieMurasaki

    That.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Elaborate.

  • P J Evans

    ‘Ron Paul’ and ‘integrity’ can only be in the same sentence if one is preceded by a negation.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Elaborate, please.

  • Kubricks_Rube

    There’s the way Paul’s explanation of his racist newsletters evolved from a defense of the content in the 1990s to a denial a decade later that he even knew what was published in his name.

    http://reason.com/blog/2008/01/11/old-news-rehashed-for-over-a-d

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    1. Were the newsletters a crucial issue for even a single person thinking of voting for Ron Paul?

    My answer: no.

    2. Would the reality behind the composition of the newsletters have had any influence at all on how Ron Paul would have acted as President?

    My answer: no.

    And that’s all that matters.

  • Kubricks_Rube

    You asked for an elaboration on PJ Evans’s assertion that Ron Paul does not have integrity so I gave you an example of Ron Paul’s lack of integrity.

    By the way, the reason the newsletters were not a factor for me as a voter was because I already thought Paul would be a terrible President long before I learned about them. But I assure you that if I did weigh Paul’s few positives over his plethora of negatives, those newsletters and his weaselly explanation would likely have been enough for me to vote against him in the end.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    PJ’s assertion was

    ‘Ron Paul’ and ‘integrity’ can only be in the same sentence if one is preceded by a negation.

    ,
    i.e., that Ron Paul totally lacks integrity. I deny this. However, I also agree that “Such is the price we pay for the great boon of democracy: the man of native integrity is either barred from the public service altogether, or subjected to almost irresistible temptations after the gets in.”. Thus, Ron Paul could not, as a Representative, have been a “man of native integrity” (he was known to use earmarks to benefit his district). I also think it undeniable that the reason Ron Paul lost the Republican presidential nomination twice was because he had too much integrity; e.g., he opposed farmers’ subsidies, opposed bailouts for the auto and banking industries, opposed expanded wars (and, thus, expanded war profiteering), and supported gutting the Department of Education.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Ron Paul could not, as a Representative, have been a “man of native integrity” (he was known to use earmarks to benefit his district).
    Uh, actually, there’s no contradiction there. Benefiting one’s district is one of the things congresscritters are there for. Benefiting one’s district at the expense of other districts is bad, but earmarks don’t do that because everywhere gets them–and you don’t want to contemplate the number of projects that need to be done that won’t be done if they have no federal funding.

    I also think it undeniable that the reason Ron Paul lost the Republican presidential nomination twice was because he had too much integrity; e.g., he […] oppose d bailou ts for the auto […] industr[y], […] and supported gutting the Department of Education.

    Yeah, supporting capital over labor and supporting measures to ensure that people in poor school districts and/or districts controlled by conservative Christians get shitty educations, those are definitely marks of integrity.
    Oh shit, it’s Enopoletus, I wasn’t going to respond to Enopoletus anymore. I SAID NOTHING.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Though you’re right on the first point, it does seem kind of strange that someone who warned of dependency on Federal money supported such dependency in his district.
    How is opposing bailouts for capital “supporting capital over labor”? Supporting gutting the Department of Education is a sign of principled support for a balanced Federal budget and is, thus, a mark of integrity.

  • EllieMurasaki

    How is opposing the utter destruction of the auto industry supportive of the people employed by it?

    Principled support for an appalling principle is not a good thing.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    You said “supporting capital over labor”, not “opposing labor”. Answer your own question or edit it.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Does someone want to explain the distinction this person seems to think exists?

  • Kubricks_Rube

    I agree that by sticking with positions that put him on the outside of GOP consensus, Paul made it very difficult for himself to get the party’s nomination. Just to be clear though, is this what you mean? Or are you suggesting that anyone who holds different positions on some or all of these issues lacks integrity?

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    I think by “native integrity” Mencken meant something like “opposition to special privilege” or, possibly, “support for libertarian policies”.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    1. Were the newsletters a crucial issue for even a single person thinking of voting for Ron Paul?

    My answer: no.

    So… Your argument is “The newsletters don’t matter because Ron Paul supporters are giant assholes who don’t give a damn if their candidate is a reprehensible human being as long as he gives them the tax cuts they want and lets them smoke weed”?

    Um. Touche?

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/BunnyEarsLawyer
    If tax cuts and weed were all Ron Paul offered, he would never have the support of more than a dozen or so people.

  • Lori

    2. Would the reality behind the composition of the newsletters have
    had any influence at all on how Ron Paul would have acted as President?

    My answer: no.

    You’re going to need to justify this “no”. Here’s what the newsletters tell us about Ron Paul: he’s either a reprehensible racist himself or he’s willing to pander to reprehensible racists for money. Either of those seem like things that would influence how Paul would have acted as president.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    How would the latter have influenced how Paul would have acted as president?

  • Lori

    For the record, I think the former is true, but for the sake of answering your question I’ll go with the idea that he is not a racist, he just presented himself as a racist in order to get money from racists.

    Setting aside that fact that such behavior makes him a liar, you honestly don’t see how a willingness to stoop that low for money might effect his behavior in office? You don’t think that a man who would metaphorically fellate racists for money would pander to other unscrupulous people when he has more power and therefore more people willing to throw cash at him for that pandering? We have enough problems with influence peddling with presidents who never stooped as low as Paul did. How does that translate to Paul being the last honest man once he moves into 1600 Pennsylvania Ave?

  • The_L1985

    Does the word “bribery” exist in your vocabulary?

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Yes, though I don’t think it’s relevant in this context. Paul has not been known to have been bribed by anyone, as far as I know.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    I don’t know that I’d pick on him for his integrity or lack thereof. The fact that he believes the United Nations is going to strip America of its first and second rights and eventually its sovereignty in entirety is somewhat more pertinent. Or returning to the gold standard, removing all taxes and giving corporations the right to mint currency. Opposition to climate change and wanting to dissolve the EPA. Wanting to cut PEPFAR for being “unconstitutional.”

    Then… yes, a few comments on black people being lazy welfare moochers and criminals, a few on how the United States shouldn’t have had anything to do with World War II or saving the Jews…

    But his integrity, that deserves praise. :D

  • EllieMurasaki

    Oh, I oppose climate change too. It’s just that unlike Paul, I know it’s happening.

    PEPFAR?

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. It was a program under GWB to reduce AIDS in Africa through education, antiretroviral drug distribution, resources for financial stability, services for orphans and rape victims… it ran a cost of $15B over five years and saved 1.1M lives, reducing the death toll from AIDS by 10%.

  • EllieMurasaki

    And he opposed that? Who with any shred of human decency…

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    *Coughs* I did just mention he opposed any action to save the Jews in World War II, yes?

    Paul was happy to jump on the “FEMA death camps!” scare rhetoric in politics, but he was just fine with actual death camps in Nazi Germany.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I didn’t process that line, I think. Too absurd.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    [citation needed].

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam
  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Thanks for the references. This doesn’t mean Paul was supportive of death camps or opposed to any action to save the Jews in WWII. As Bastiat said,

    As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by
    government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at
    all.

    Note: I am not calling you a socialist, though I am saying you are perpetuating a logical fallacy once used by socialists.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Right, so Ron Paul didn’t want Hitler to win the war, he just wanted private business to fight against fascism instead of the US.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Apparently.

  • Lori

    When the inevitable outcome of your preferred course of action is that Hitler wins the war there is no meaningful distinction between those preferences and wanting Hitler to win the war.

    Never mind that, our current contractor addiction aside, war is not supposed to be the job of the private sector. The entire idea is just mind-boggling.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    It’s a tribal marker. Opposition to programs not found in the constitution makes him more clearly identifiable with the “constitutionalist” tribe.

  • EllieMurasaki

    By that logic, ‘all men are created equal’ refers only to straight cisgender white men, since that’s the only kind Thomas Jefferson was thinking of.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    The Declaration of Independence is a declaration of independence, not a law.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Mm-hm. “Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.”

    Also “The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States”.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    How does helping Africans “provide for the general Welfare of the United States”? Indeed, it can be argued that helping Africans hurts the “general Welfare of the United States” by potentially helping to further the destruction of American jobs.

  • EllieMurasaki

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Would you like to clarify your statement before we all taken it as a given that you just declared that helping Africans not catch AIDS is bad for America because job competition?

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Yes. I do not view job loss as a bad thing in and of itself. Rather, I think each nation should specialize in its own areas of comparative advantage. Foreigners would not be hurting us if they gave us their goods for free, as real incomes would be raised. Rather, these hypothetical foreigners would force the U.S. economy to greatly re-adjust. However, though the absolute prosperity of Americans would be raised if other regions of the world accelerated economic development, America’s relative importance in the world would decline. As I have not done thorough research in this area, I cannot be sure whether America’s relative importance in the world is more important than its absolute prosperity, though I suspect the latter is more important.

    Also, helping fight AIDS in Africa may be helpful in reducing the spread of AIDS at home, as AIDS is a contagious disease that can be spread by African visitors or immigrants.

    In short, though “it can be argued that helping Africans hurts the “general Welfare of the United States” by potentially helping to further the destruction of American jobs”, I do not think “it can be argued” well.

    I deny that the General Welfare clause should be a justification of every act of Federal spending; rather, I think it should be interpreted in light of the list of Congressional powers in Section 8.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Because there’s only one world, and we are all connected and lines on maps only exist on maps.

    Helping others doesn’t “further the destruction of American jobs”, helping others doesn’t hurt us. Helping others is a kind of selfishness unless you’re a short-sighted moron. Every person in africa who benefits from US foreign aid is on the way to becoming a new customer for US-made products, whereas every country that suffers in poverty and privation for want of foreign aid becomes a hotbed for anti-american sentiment.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Helping others doesn’t “further the destruction of American jobs”,

    Yeah, it does. Look at Detroit.

    helping others doesn’t hurt us.

    -Agreed.

    Every person in africa who benefits from US foreign aid is on the way to becoming a new customer for US-made products,

    -Not necessarily. I don’t see why that person would not be on the way to becoming a new customer for Japan-made products or China-made products or Nicaragua-made products, rather than American-made products.

    whereas every country that suffers in poverty and privation for want of foreign aid becomes a hotbed for anti-american sentiment.

    -Perhaps, but [citation needed], nevertheless.

  • P J Evans

    So poverty is good, as long as it’s foreigners who are poor?
    War is good, as long as we win and it’s fought somewhere out of sight, and the heck with the people who get in the way?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Debt: The First 5,000 Years argues that it’s NECESSARY to capitalism that most folk be poor.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I’m sorry, which third-world country destroyed the US auto industry due to US foreign aid again?

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    I’m sorry, where did I ever say that a third-world country destroyed the US auto industry due to US foreign aid again?

  • http://www.facebook.com/dpolicar David Policar

    I suspect Ross was responding to

    Helping others doesn’t “further the destruction of American jobs”,

    Yeah, it does. Look at Detroit.

    …and was understanding “helping others” in this context to refer to providing foreign aid to third-world countries, and “Detroit” to refer to the US auto industry.

  • Kubricks_Rube

    Good points. These examples and more are why I said below, “I already thought Paul would be a terrible President long before I learned about the[ newsletters].”

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Before the newsletter thing, I probably would have agreed that Paul was a man of “integrity”: he seemed to be utterly steadfast in upholding his morally reprehensible ideals.

  • P J Evans

    The newsletters are a counterexample. If he wrote them, then his name should have been on them. If he didn’t, it was his newsletter and he’s responsible for the content.

  • The_L1985

    The guy who thought a fence across the entire U.S.-Mexico border was possible, let alone a good idea; made no attempt to stop racist material from being published in a newsletter with his name on it; and thinks that the gold standard is possible to return to at this point, has too much integrity?

    Is that really the word you want to use?

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    1. Three/four words: Great Walls of China
    2. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2013/04/12/its-easy-if-you-try/#comment-863642188
    3. Why not try to return to the gold standard?

  • P J Evans

    The Great Walls didn’t prevent China being invaded, and going back to the gold standard isn’t possible.
    Have you ever considered using the space between your ears for something more useful than right-wing talking points?

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    The Great Walls didn’t prevent China being invaded

    -True, but they were built.

    and going back to the gold standard isn’t possible.

    -Elaborate, please.

    Have you ever considered using the space between your ears for something more useful than right-wing talking points?

    -Why yes, Mr. Evans, I have, if you haven’t noticed.
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2013/03/25/michele-bachmann-rick-warren-telling-lies-for-jesus-that-hurt-poor-women/#comment-842006800
    http://chronicle.com/article/Egyptologist-Fuels/138457/
    -Also, see my blog.

  • The_L1985

    1. And both the Great Wall of China and the later Berlin Wall failed miserably at their goal of preventing people from crossing the wall. It’s pretty clear by now that walls and fences of that size aren’t any good at keeping people in or out. Thus, it is a very bad idea to even suggest a wall across the US-Mexico border.

    2. OK, so what about the fact that Ron Paul defended those racist writings in the 90’s? Are we just going to forget that ever happened?

    3. Because US currency hasn’t been based on gold for far too long, and enough countries base their own currency on the US dollar that an attempt to return to the gold standard would result in global financial chaos.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    an attempt to return to the gold standard would result in global financial chaos.

    -That may be a good reason.
    2. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2013/04/12/its-easy-if-you-try/#comment-863520792

  • stardreamer42

    We do read your comments. That’s the problem.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    You mean there isn’t a good way to read “parents own their children and thus it’s okay if they kill them, just as long as we don’t call it ‘murder’ “? :O I am shocked, I tell you, shocked! I thought the problem was entirely mine!

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    You are misreading my comment. According to Block,
    “The only way to attain homestead rights to the child after giving birth to it is to bring it up in a reasonable manner. Were the parents to instead abuse their child, this would not at all be compatible with homesteading it. If so, they would lose all rights to
    continue to keep the child.”

    -I disagree with his idea of his, but let us not imagine Block to be an advocate of child abuse. Neither am I an advocate of child abuse. Rather, I argue that one can justify child abuse using libertarian reasoning. I do not describe myself as a libertarian.

  • AnonaMiss

    If one member of the intended audience reads something and comes away with a mistaken sense of what the writer was on about, you can reasonably assume a client-side misunderstanding. When many members of the intended audience come away with a mistaken sense of what the writer was on about, that points to a need for increased clarity on the writer’s part.

    Even when what you wrote is perfect, it’s still a lot more effective when correcting an incorrect perception about what you have written to say something like, “I’m sorry I wasn’t clear, this is what I meant” instead of “You are misreading me, this is what I meant.” Even if they add up to the same thing, they are interpreted very differently by the reader.

    In face to face conversation, we have lots of little nonverbal or tone cues which convey the protocol bits. In writing, we need to go out of our way to express the mood and tone of our statements in words.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Understood and liked.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Elaborate, please.

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    I get really tired of being excluded from civilized society, English-speaking or not, by virtue of not worshipping the God of Abraham.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    If you’re responding to me, @%$#@%&%^&#%#! If you’re responding to other Christians, continue. I am an atheist, as many here know.

  • AnonaMiss

    A non-judgmental way of expressing this would have been, “Because the societies in which they live are predominantly monotheist/most of Western society is controlled by monotheists” Either of these would have been totally OK.

    The word “civilized” has a lot of baggage left on it from the colonial/imperial era, which is not so far behind us (is arguably still ongoing!) that one should be surprised when people react negatively to them.

    Also, lots of (East) Indians speak English, especially as a lingua franca in government, so your comment implies that India isn’t civilized. Which, yeah. Kipling.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Hm. You’re right. India is, after all, a 1st/2nd/3rd world country (mostly 3rd). India is, thus, mostly uncivilized, but not entirely. I shall replace “society” with “countries” in my comment right away.

  • The_L1985

    What makes a person noteworthy, then? Surely I am noteworthy to my students (gods willing).

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    A person becomes noteworthy by being mentioned numerous times by national newspapers and by having his/her name spoken in at least a quarter of America’s households.

  • P J Evans

    That’s YOUR standard. It isn’t the only one available.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Yes, but it was my comment, so it’s my standard that counts.

  • JustoneK

    I am one of a handful of folks reading yer comment. Our standards matter more than yours in this majority, and we have a degree of agreement on them in the first place.

    But then this would make you a martyr, ehwot.

  • The_L1985

    So, Kim Kardashian is more important than the prime minister of Germany, because she’s spoken about by more Americans. Gotcha.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Notice what I said in my original comment: “‘Cause nobody of note worships these beings in civilized English-speaking countries.” (changed from “civilized English-speaking society”).
    Thus, “noteworthy” in my comment refers to being noteworthy in civilized English-speaking countries.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Marc-Mielke/100001114326969 Marc Mielke

    I mistook someone’s “Call of Cthulhu” session cinema for an RL right-wing theory I thought was pretty awesome: OBAMA IS NYARLATHOTEP!

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I would guess a lot of the RW fringe theorists are not big Lovecraft fans.

    Mythos cults are so much more interesting than the more “mundane” Satanic ones, and in the end both are equally likely to occur in real life.

  • TheBrett

    Considering that birds came out of the dinosaur lineage and have many of the same features that proved advantageous in getting big, it’s interesting that they never got that big again after the extinction event 65 million years ago. The biggest land bird since then was the Elephant Bird of Madagascar, who was tiny compared to a hadrosaur (for example).

    Mammals must have been faster to take all the “large mammal” niches.

  • Carstonio

    Gastornis topped 9 feet, but still small compared to the big sauropods and theropods.

  • Jenny Islander

    I suspect that gigantic dinosaurs will not be seen again unless a modern bird lineage reacquires four-legged walking. Light, strong bones plus air sacs plus quadrupedality (plus, of course, a food source) would allow for gigantic herbivores once again. If they laid huge quantities of eggs every year and abandoned them, or built smaller nests in colonies and defended their young, mammals shouldn’t be a problem as they expanded their territory (and of course they would have evolved somewhere where mammals weren’t an all-devouring menace to a ground-dwelling bird in the first place).

    Gigantic flightless avian predators seem to be at a disadvantage compared to mammalian predators that have frequent litters, so I wouldn’t expect to see them reevolve unless something in their body plan made them more efficient predators of four-legged avians in the same habitat. The two lineages could get huge together in an evolutionary arms race.

    WARNING: EVOLUTIONARY GEEKERY AHEAD. Imagine the hoatzin lineage persisting through changes in the landscape that produce mangrove-covered islands far enough offshore from its range that cats, coatis, or raccoons couldn’t survive the trip over the ocean. Some hoatzins end up on the islands. Without any danger on the ground, they spend more time clambering around, looking for fallen fruit. Hoatzins that spend a lot of time flying tend to get swept away from the islands by the wind, so the less flying a bird does, the more it reproduces. And birds that are bad at flying have a use for wing claws. So when a hoatzin chick does not lose its wing claws as it grows up, it does very well. Eventually what you have on the islands is a flightless herbivorous bipedal monkeybird with funny-looking clawed “hands” on feathery arms.

    Meanwhile, the local geology is raising the islands and making them bigger. New habitats develop on these larger islands. The monkeybirds venture out of the mangroves and try new plant foods. Some of them turn out to be able to live on, say, cactus paddles, or what have you, and their descendants stay on the ground full time, becoming semi-bipedal, like prosauropods. The biggest of these rivals the long-gone elephant bird in size.

    The islands keep changing. They are now united with the mainland, but the big cactus munchers are in little danger from the mammals of the savanna. They can outrun many of them, and their claws and vicious beaks protect them from the others. In fact, whole new habitats open up. The cactus munchers go back to the trees again–to the edges of the trees this time, browsing leaves from the forest edge. They get bigger and bigger, and eventually they are too big to make bipedality practical even on a part-time basis. Their necks get longer, their barrel-shaped bodies become even bigger to accommodate enormous guts where their leafy meals slowly ferment, and their ancient wing-claws become little hooves sticking out from short toes on column-like forelegs.

    And then you have long-tailed long-necked quadrupeds that look a lot like sauropods–except, of course, for the beaks and the feathers.

  • TheBrett

    Considering what we’re learning about dinosaurs, they may have had the feathers if not the beaks.

  • Jenny Islander

    So far, no evidence of feathers has been found in sauropods; other structures such as bony studs, but not feathers. And my hypothetical gargantuan quadrupedal hoatzin would be sporting vestigial flight feathers, to boot!

  • P J Evans

    One of my friends wonders what T rex looked like in breeding season. They’re imagining pink plumage…

  • storiteller

    Very cool. I just saw hoatzis in person this summer and they are some funny looking birds. But to think of them evolving into sauropods…fascinating.

  • Fusina

    Just went to the wikipedia page and looked at the pictures. Funny looking, I’ll grant you, but also glorious and gorgeous. Granted, lots of birds are funny looking on the ground, but, like the vulture/buzzard, in flight are poetry, magic at its most elemental.

  • christopher_y

    I suspect that gigantic dinosaurs will not be seen again unless a modern bird lineage reacquires four-legged walking.

    WARNING: COUNTER_GEEKERY. I like your hypothetical as a way to get sauropod sized birds, but unless you’re restricting “gigantic” to things on quite that scale, you can get there more easily than that. Big tyrannosaurs and abelisaurs probably weighed in at heavier than a modern elephant, and they were obligate bipeds. To create an opening for a flightless predatory bird of that size, you need only stipulate first, an environment in which the top mammalian predators have been wiped out, probably by people, and second, that dear old Homo sapiens has also been wiped out (probably by people). Sadly, that doesn’t seem all that unlikely at the moment.

  • Jenny Islander

    AFAICT, the problem with “trying” to evolve into a flightless avian predator with any predatory mammals around is that the most common mammalian predator lineages can get really big without dramatic changes in their body plans. Mustelids, felids, and canids all have, or once had, species easily able to take on something like a phorusrhacid. While the flightless avian/dinosaur can produce vicious kicks and powerful bites, the sheer bulk of bones and muscle of a big mammalian carnivore can overpower an avian of comparable size. Plus, mustelids, felids, and canids tend to reach sexual maturity early and have annual litters thereafter, providing a large pool of individuals for natural selection.

    The environment would have to provide habitat for a breeding population of gargantuan predatory flightless bird and enough large animals for it to eat, but contain not a single weasel, cat, or dog, and furthermore be too isolated from the rest of the world to allow island-hopping by weasels, cats, or dogs. This is possible, but highly unlikely. Continental drift could re-isolate South America, but a disaster bad enough to drive all small carnivorous mammals extinct would probably do for the birds too, and South America would become the birthplace of the Squamozoic.

  • Jenny Islander

    Forgot to mention: I still contend that a sauropod-like avian could evolve and survive in the presence of mammals in my scenario because, in the safety of a relatively cramped oceanic island habitat, a vegetarian could get really really big–not needing to have a big range for big prey, just enough dirt around for big plants. By the time my hypothetical island group rode its terrane into the coast of wherever, the semi-bipedal herbivorous avian could be so humongous that its size, combined with its beak and claws, would make it prey of last resort for mainland mammals, like an elephant. So it could continue to evolve in the presence of mammals, producing a fully quadrupedal Bronto-Bird.

  • P J Evans

    Ostriches. Don’t mess with them.

  • Jenny Islander

    EVOLUTIONARY GEEKERY AND ARMCHAIR PALEONTOLOGY CONTINUE BELOW

    But ostriches don’t run up and kill large animals for food. They live in country with clear line of sight and run away very fast from things that want to eat them. Ditto for emus and rheas. Cassowaries live in tangled forests where they can hide; kiwis live in forests or on alpine slopes; both of them can defend themselves against attackers, but they don’t run up and kill large animals for food either. Elephant birds and moas appear to have depended on size for defense against local predators that didn’t include anything big that attacked them on the ground (except maybe crocodiles taking the occasional elephant bird); then they met humans. The same fate befell smaller island birds, from dodos to flightless sparrows; humans, or their commensals–dogs, cats, pigs, rodents–ate them up.

    Phorusrhacids themselves appear to have evolved from small flying birds (see Darren Naish’s Tetrapod Zoology articles for a summary of evidence and consensus) in a South America that had only small marsupials resembling possums as mammalian competition. Scaling up a possum doesn’t get you a lion, wolf, or Ekorus; it gets you Borhyaena, which occupied a different ecological niche. Reproduce the initial Cenozoic conditions over a big enough area and I’ll grant you a re-evolved giant predatory dinosaur that can run up and kill large animals. But run-up-and-kill-it placentals with widely scaleable body plans are so entrenched worldwide that it would take a Permian Event to eliminate them from an entire continent IMO.

  • P J Evans

    true – but ostriches are capable of killing attackers, including humans. They *kick* them to death.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    The story about symbols is one that carries a profound message: the teacher wasn’t trying to “stomp out Jesus,” he was trying to get his kids to think about the power of symbols. How is it that you can write almost any word on a piece of paper and crumble it up without a problem, but a word like “God” or “Jesus” changes everything, to the point that there’s at least one very significant group of people who refuse to write “God” on a piece of paper lest someone, even inadvertantly, destroy that paper?

    Yet like so many other things, the fact that he did this, of course, means he’s trying to destroy religion, foster atheism, and therefore we should ruthlessly murder him.

    Sigh…

  • mroge

    When I first heard this story I thought that it was a high school class. That would at least explain some of the hysteria. But no, this is college and in college you routinely are exposed to different ideas. These “kids” are not kids anymore. So why the fuss? This class was about examining different cultural ideas so no the exercise, which came from a textbook, was not designed to be taken as an assault on anyone’s religion. If this student chose to be that sensitive to a simple exercise then maybe he shouldn’t be in college in the first place. And shame on any person who would threaten someone’s life over this. I guess in some places the “Dark Ages” still exist.

  • Fusina

    My daughter is currently somewhat disgusted at the attitude of one of her aunts. This woman is very active with the pro-life groupies, and yet, she advocated killing all the North Koreans as a way to deal with Kim Jong Eun and his posturing.

    As my daughter said, “Way to be pro-life Aunt _____.”

    Which reminds me, who lent Eun a copy of “The Mouse that Roared”?

  • Lori

    Did you explain to your daughter that the bay-bees are innocent and the North Koreans are not? /sarcasm (Sort of. I mean that is what bloodthirsty “pro life” folks tend to say to justify their attitude, but any suggestion that I buy that argument is definitely sarcasm mixed with disgust.)

  • Fusina

    I realize that you are being sarcastic, she was not when she pointed out that the leaders may be idiots but that doesn’t mean that the rest of the North Koreans are. I just like to think that her “Bullshit Detector” is very finely tuned indeed. Considering how long I have worked at teaching her to use it, Yes, I am proud of her.

  • Lori

    As well you should be. She grasps a thing that ought to be obvious to adults, but all too often isn’t. Good for her.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I do not think that the citizenry of North Korea are… idiots, exactly, but I think that as a society they are “broken”. The way that they are educated, the way that they see their leadership, the way that they see the rest of the world. It has all been fundamentally and quite intentionally broken by the structures their leaders demanded. It is a society that has been deliberately made so dysfunctional that it can hardly interact with the rest of the world.

    A war with North Korea would be brief and quite lopsided, though there is the potential for horrible casualties in the opening moves, but what really holds my caution from such a thing is that occupying and reforming North Korea would be a colossal humanitarian crisis. Most of that will be on South Korea, but the U.S. will almost certainly be very heavily involved, as would many other nations, and this kind of commitment would take literally generations to undo the kind of damage the North Korean leadership has been able to spend decades forming.

  • Fusina

    Which brings up my question again, “Who lent Kim Jong Eun the copy of “The Mouse That Roared”?”

    And I don’t hate him, or the North Koreans either. You are correct, they have been twisted and made dysfunctional, and the least part of what I feel is pity. I sorrow that a people with an incredible history has taken that and made it something to be laughed at. And there are so many other peoples/societies that are also dysfunctional. I look at my daughter, and her boyfriend, and having talked with them, I am hopeful for the future of the world, because they are sensible, analytical, and empathetic. And they are the _norm_ for their age group.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Which brings up my question again, “Who lent Kim Jong Eun the copy of “The Mouse That Roared”?”

    Hell, who lent him a copy of “1984”?

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    I’m guessing it was Stalin that lent Il Sung a copy while Il Sung was at Habarovsk. Apparently, that copy was never returned.

  • stardreamer42

    You could substitute “America” for “North Korea” in your first paragraph and it would be equally true.

  • AnonaMiss

    I would quibble on the “hardly interact with the rest of the world.” It’s like America is a fundie who still goes to public school (screwed up in the head but at least aware of what’s going on in the outside world), and North Korea is a fundie homeschool victim (screwed up in the head and kept intentionally ignorant by megalomaniacs).

    Incidentally, I am curious what proportion of the North Korean citizenry believes the shit they’re fed, and what proportion just pretends to in order to stay un-disappeared. A lot of North Koreans have got to know that the reality they’re fed isn’t… complete, at the very least. It’d be sort of funny if, if Kim steps too far over the line and gets spanked by the international community, the populace went “For fuck’s sake what took you guys so long!?”

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Sort of. The kind of authoritarianism they are indoctrinated into means that when the government tells you that the red wall you are looking at is actually blue, you better tell them you see blue when they ask what color it is. They might know what they see with their eyes, but acting based on anything except what the government tells them is unthinkable, or at least the punishment would be inevitable. Like sticking one’s hand into a fire, you know you are going to get burned, that is just the nature of fire, so you avoid putting your hand there. When the government tells them something, they have to at least act like they believe it, because the government has more coercive power to affect them than their own senses.

    They are kept ignorant of any other kind of life, so there is no way that they can compare this to any other existence It is simple the way things are there. If the government tells them that all other people (including South Koreans but especially Americans) are disgusting degenerates who give offerings of food and energy to the Glorious Leader because they fear his god-like strength, then they better damn well act like they believe it is true, and since they have nothing that tells them otherwise, what reason do they have to doubt this?

    Heck, could they even know what to think or what to do unless their government tells them so? It has been telling them so with dire consequences for not following for so long, it would take either a lot of therapy or a generation born outside that system for them to otherwise adapt.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I mean that is what bloodthirsty “pro life” folks tend to say to justify their attitude, but any suggestion that I buy that argument is definitely sarcasm mixed with disgust.

    Compartmentalized thinking. It is what enables things like “the bubble” to continue to exist, and is damn hard to crack. Hell, it is so powerful it is what keeps most of the Phelps clan in line (look at the most recent defectors, they said that it was when they started to make connections in their head between some of the disparate ideas that they were taught that they went “Waitaminute, that doesn’t make sense when I put these two things together…”)

  • banancat

    This is exactly why so many of us refuse to call them pro-life at all.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    It’s not like they call us “pro-choice” anymore either (now it’s “pro-murder” and variations thereof), so I have no compunctions against call them “pro-forced birth.” It sums up their position in a manner which isn’t subjective at all. That is exactly what they want.

  • Wednesday

    >_< I've seen them try to co-opt the term "pro-choice". See, they're for a woman's right to choose what happens to her body, but (a) if she chooses to open her legs, the slut, she's made her choice! and (b) a fetus is totally separate from her body, it's like floating in a magic space uterus or something like in all the pro-life propaganda, so her body totes ends where the fetus begins and there's no issue of an overlap or it doing anything bad to her body.

    I distinguish between ordinary, on-the-street self-identified "pro lifers" and the activists. The former I call "anti-legal-abortion", because it's not offensive to them and opens the door for conversations about how banning abortion doesn't erase it.

    The activists who push legislation or harass people at clinics are, according to my lexicon, more correctly called "those f***ing a******s".

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    It’s not like they call us “pro-choice” anymore either (now it’s “pro-murder” and variations thereof)

    My response to them is something along the lines of “You are under some kind of misconception that I have trace amounts of guilt about the destruction of a clump of invasive self-replicating tissue. Should I feel guilty for removing a tumor or extracting an incubating guinea worm?”

  • Magic_Cracker

    Does anyone know that contempo-Christian rewrite of “Imagine” with the lyrics more or less asking John if he can imagine burning in Hell for all eternity for being a false prophet? The one and only time I was invited to a fundamentalist Bible study, the youth group leader gave me a ride home and played it for me when I told him I liked the Beatles.

  • Fusina

    I don’t know the song…and I don’t know that I like knowing it exists… Ewwww. I need some brain scrub.

  • Magic_Cracker

    I tried to youtube it, and there are apparently many Christian (TM) versions of “Imagine,” but none are the one I remember.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    Good fracking hell. I don’t even like “Imagine” (It reminds me of the “for this poem, think of nothing” bit from Patience, except that was supposed to be funny), but that’s beyond the pale.

  • Magic_Cracker

    Yeah, as far as inspirational songs go, I much prefer, say, “Working Class Hero” to “Imagine.”

  • Carstonio

    And here I was thinking that such outrage was merely a gag from “WKRP in Cincinnati.” A Falwell-style preacher accuses the station of playing obscene music and he drags out “Imagine,” accusing the lyrics of being not only anti-Christian but also communist.

  • Magic_Cracker

    Man, what is it with fundegelicals and communism that gets theirs collars in such a twist?

  • phranckeaufile

    I think I saw the Easter Bunny from the latest Church Sign Epic Fails post in an “Outer Limits” episode.

  • Trixie_Belden

    That Dohiyi Mir post (the link about being on the wrong side of legality, morality and history) is a thing of beauty. That stupid Brad Paisley song has been making me feel very stabby.


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