Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A political countdown

== Boundaries, borders and political miscellany ==

One of the hottest issues in the U.S. presidential campaign was Donald Trump’s pledge to build a wall with Mexico. Writing from Mexico City, Homero Aridjis and James Ramey offer a highly innovative proposal: Instead of Trump’s wall, they want to build a border of solar panels. “It would have a civilizing effect in a dangerous area,” they contend. “Since solar plants use security measures to keep intruders out, the solar border would serve as a de facto virtual fence, reducing porousness of the border while producing major economic, environmental and security benefits on both sides.”

The latest Wisconsin legislative map has been ruled illegally partisan. Please, get this to the Court before Donald can appoint Phil Robertson to the bench?  

One of the netizens of my blog community recently made a petition on Change.Org that I think some of you may find interesting: Statehood for Native American tribal lands administered by the Federal Government.

Petition Text:  “Native American peoples have historically been disenfranchised with the states where their reservations have been located. Even today, the more than 5 million Native Americans lack even modest representation in DC, often due to the machinations of the Red State governments surrounding them. I propose that all reservations lands that are administered by the Federal Government be designated as an American State, with 2 seats in the US Senate and an proportionate congressional delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives. This American State would not be contiguous, but neither is Michigan, Virginia nor Alaska. Designation of a state capital and congressional districts will be entirely up to them. Issues arising between residence in this State and the racial qualifications for tribal membership must be resolved in full accordance with the US Constitution.”

Huh!  I like the idea of giving all Native American reservations a collective statehood!  Kinda hard on New Mexico. Turns it into a smaller state that’s kind of lily white, so no gain for the dems!

How about this alternative idea. Let reservations across the U.S. declare themselves to be part of New Mexico or Dakota? You’d accomplish the same thing. In fact, W.E.B. DuBois once suggested a reverse Great Migration of African Americans to either Mississippi or South Carolina.  It would only take a few hundred thousand to turn either of them into a black republic. What a delicious thought... worth reviving?

Oh, in Existence you see much the same thing.  The Senators from both North & South Dakota are Native Americans… because so many whites moved out after the Yellowstone volcano burped.

== Twin pillars of a cult ==

Republicans are in a tight spot, since Obamacare was originally their own damned plan. 

Why am I the only one mentioning this? All of their alternatives are variations on it.  Not surprisingly since Obama's Affordable Care Act was based upon the outline developed for Republicans by the Heritage Foundation, that was the GOP platform plank on health for a decade and then became “RomneyCare” in Massachusetts. 

Watch this clip of Rep. Brendan Boyle explaining the origins of Obamacare in the GOP's marketplace plan for healthcare.

So why did Obama present their own plan to them, in 2009. He did it in the sappy and forlorn hope that Republicans would actually negotiate, just that once, if offered their own… damn… plan.  

Instead, since Obama touched it, the plan suddenly had cooties. And was deemed satanic by all loyal dittohead Fox watchers! 

Only now, what to do? What, after 6 years screeching that Obamacare - which insured 20 million Americans and steeply lowered the rate of increase of health costs in America - was devil spawn, you still don't have a replacement ready?

 Expect extensive tweaking and cosmetic changes, especially in nomenclature! Lots of symbolic re-namings. And "health savings plans" that no one will buy. Oh, and a new law requiring drug companies to negotiate with Medicare on costs... something democrats have long advocated and that Republicans, by law, specifically forbade.

Later news seems to confirm all that. Paul Ryan’s plan and Trump’s are both looking like Obamacare with Obama’s name and wording scratched out and a couple of tweaks that could have been negotiated 6 years ago, if any Republicans once showed up at the negotiating table. See where I predicted this. 

To reiterate a core point about American political life: Democratic Congresses always negotiate with and compromise with Republican presidents, in order to get some business done. They yell and fight, but always pass budgets, usually based on the budget presented by the administration. 

In contrast, GOP Congresses (with the sole exception of 1995) never, ever negotiate with a democratic president, even over vital national needs. And only seldom do they even pass budgets.

See this pattern playing out again. As it will, especially, if the dems retake Congress in 2018, the Year of the Colonels.

== Cheaters redux ==

North Carolina is not only the worst state in the USA for unfair districting but the worst entity in the world ever analyzed by the Electoral Integrity Project. Of course the same thing applies to all but two red states. (In fairness, two blue states also do this wretched cheating.) They do this because if gerrymandering and other cheats fail, the entire neo-feudal design collapses. 

More on cheating: The U.S. is the only democracy in the world that allows its voting machines to be made – mostly unsupervised – by private, for-profit, partisan companies. "Companies that make political contributions as did Dominion, the remnants of Diebold that went out of business for worldwide fraud following the 2004 election, and Hart Intercivic. So we allow these private, for-profit partisan companies to count our vote, to set our databases with secret proprietary software that nobody can look at. It violates every principle of transparency. And the only person on a high level willing to talk about this is Jimmy Carter, who says to Der Spiegel that America has a dysfunctional democracy and that we don't meet minimum standards of transparency."

Apropos of voting machines: this article mentions Black Box Voting the outfit that has probably done the most work to explore and educate about the shift to electronic voting. With a donation, you can download a PDF of the book: Black Box Voting: Ballot Tampering in the 21st century.

== And irksome cavils ==

Someone I know pointed out an interesting hypocrisy: those who would proclaim that human life begins at conception rage against morning-after pills - the simplest form of abortion... yet say nothing about fertilization clinics that create scores of fertilized embryos for every successful birth. Many are flushed.  Some are "stored" without any chance of ever being implanted... and are eventually flushed. Why no outrage?

Perhaps because it's often poor women who need abortions, and those who can afford to could always go to New York or California. But it's mostly rich women who use in vitro fertility clinics. 

Alas, it's likely even simpler than that. The abortion frenzy serves a political purpose, as a way to take the uber moral high-ground, based on a single, grand declaration that proclaims your enemies to be baby-killers. It allows fundies to get around the quandary they faced, called the Jesus Effect. (See my earlier posting: Abortion and the Jesus Effect.) For despite all of his other, beaded, bearded, socialist hippie and broadly democratic values, Jesus would have to be a Republican based on the one, simple issue of saving murdered babies. With that one declaration, they can then safely ignore everything else that Jesus stood for, and help elect a man who is his diametric opposite.

 This is not a stance that can bear much scrutiny.  So never scrutinize.

Oh, final rant-item: Even the CATO Institute, after decades whoring for the Kochs, seems to be gathering some guts, publishing articles like this one -- The Right has its own version of Political Correctness. It's just as stifling -- calling out conservatism for being just as wording and symbolism obsessed as their left-wing “PC bully” adversaries. 

“Just as?” Oh, much, much more so. Vastly more so. See here.  
                                                                       

104 comments:

Laurence said...

There seems to be at least one distinction between the right-wing and left-wing bubbles. In general the left run away from those aspecs of reality they don't like (and label them traumatizing, "triggering" or even "acts of violence") The right however, prefer to invent a brand new reality of their own design.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin in the last post:

Just bought the new Macbook Pro with the touch bar. They eliminated right-click! Sigh.


Technology is really becoming like the Newspeak dictionary in "1984", where words are eliminated every year.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin in the main post:

Republicans are in a tight spot, since Obamacare was originally their own damned plan.

Why am I the only one mentioning this?


You're not. I saw those very words (including the expletive) in a recent online news article. Probably the New York Times, and possibly Paul Krugman himself. It wouldn't surprise me if the writer reads this blog, though.

Stefan Jones said...

Reasons for hope:

Public outrage, in the form of calls to congresspeople, convinced the GOP not to neuter house ethics body.

Public outrage, in the form of calls to congresspeople, convinced the senate not to rush through vetting of Trump's nominees before their ethics paperwork was submitted and reviewed.

Public outrage is giving the GOP congress pause in how fast they will repeal the ACA.

In other words:

Calling and emailing your representative and senators WORKS.

You look up their contact information here:

https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials

And if you want to get involved in organized resistance, you read the Indivisible guide and join one of their local groups:

https://www.indivisibleguide.com/

I went to a preliminary meeting of one of these on Sunday. Mostly older people. Desperately need young people. We split up into groups, came up with lists of things we were concerned about, brainstormed strategies.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin in the main post:

Later news seems to confirm all that. Paul Ryan’s plan and Trump’s are both looking like Obamacare with Obama’s name and wording scratched out and a couple of tweaks that could have been negotiated 6 years ago, if any Republicans once showed up at the negotiating table.


As Monty Python would have it, "That's Obamacare with the word 'Obamacare' scratched out and 'Trumpcare' written in in crayon! Maybe we could refer to it as CatLicenseCare.

I presume many of us have seen Alec Baldwin's SNL version of Trump's press conference? "I have a replacement for Obamacare. I just read about it last weekend. It's called the Affordable Care Act!"

Oh, and when Trump tweets that SNL isn't funny? That's one more lie. Whoever recommended the comic book "Saga" to me, what we need is for "Lying Cat" to be present at all Trump communications.

David Brin said...

Laurence your equivalence of denial is true at one level, in that we are all self-righteously subjective. But it is disproved at another level, when you look at the FLOW of political affiliation on the part of knowledge and fact and skill based professions. Those who are trained to seek factual confirmation or accept factual refutation of subjective concepts, at least some of the time. All but two such professions have fled the GOP in arterial gushers.

yes, the FAR left CONTAINS some delusionals. The ENTIRE right now CONSISTS of such. Parse the difference in those four words, sir.

David Brin said...

Actually, by the definition I just gave, the GOP has ZERO such professions. Their last two zones of brainpower - doctors of divinity and Wall Street parasites - do not accept "refutaion."

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin in the main post:

Even the CATO Institute, after decades whoring for the Kochs, seems to be gathering some guts, publishing articles like this one -- The Right has its own version of Political Correctness. It's just as stifling -- calling out conservatism for being just as wording and symbolism obsessed as their left-wing “PC bully” adversaries.


How come I was the only one mentioning this? :)

A.F. Rey said...

Do you think it's too late to help Trump out in getting some acts for the Inauguration? I bet we could still convince some top artists to perform.

Like getting REM to play, "It's the End of the World as We Know It." (It even has the word "trump" in it!)

Or Jewel could sing, "Who's Going to Save Your Soul?"

I bet the Doobie Brothers would love to play "Takin' It to the Streets."

And the Rolling Stones could probably be talked into playing "Sympathy for the Devil."

And if Chris Rea is still around, I bet he'd play "The Road to Hell, Part 1" (http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/chrisrea/theroadtohellparti.html) and "Part 2" (http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/chrisrea/theroadtohellpartii.html).

I'm sure Trump would appreciate the help. :)

Robert said...

BTW, Dr. Brin, keeping up on my tradition of going off on tangents, what are your thoughts of theoretical physicist Erik Verlinde's theory of gravity (entropic gravity) that eliminates the need for Dark Matter and passed an initial test?

http://www.universetoday.com/131901/new-theory-of-gravity-does-away-with-need-for-dark-matter/

Rob H.

LarryHart said...

Only 1464 days until inauguration day 2021.

And in case Robert is correct, only 103 days until the Cheetolini's first 100 days are up.

TCB said...

Re: Trump versus Baldwin et al, I invoke my favorite George Bernard Shaw quote:

"When a thing is funny, search it carefully for a hidden truth."

This is why all the best political humor is done by liberals (or, at least, people who are considered liberals in our time of amok 'conservatism'.) They are trying to tell the truth and use humor to do it.

When the far right attempt to do humor, they fail miserably. 'Conservative' humor SUCKS. Simple reason: it is either based on bullying (only funny to bullies) or it is based on a lie. So we might see comedy sketches on "welfare queens driving Cadillacs" or "Pizzagate" or "Obama buying a fake birth certificate", i.e. the whole sketch is attempting to humorously illustrate a lie.

When attempts at humor depend on lies there can be no hidden truth. Thus according the Shaw's Law, there is no internal mainspring with which to drive the humor. Without this hidden truth it falls flat as a mud pie.

A fair example of this is my local newspaper which has all the comics in the comics section, except for Doonesbury, which it places on the editorial page; and then for balance, beside Doonesbury, we see Mallard Fillmore.

If anyone actually finds Mallard Fillmore amusing, it has to be because they believe the lies its jokes are often built on, or approve of bullying attitudes it embraces. I'll leave it to those interested to google it and see if they can find an actually funny one.

TCB said...

By the way, the only good surprise I've seen in a while: President Obama commuted Chelsea Manning's sentence.

You don't have to agree with what Manning did... but if Scooter Libby deserves a commutation, then gimme a fuckin' break, so does Manning.

Jumper said...

Ahem. I proposed the Solar Border 7 years ago.
http://jumpersbloghouse.blogspot.com/2009/03/solar-border.html

Tacitus2 said...


Hello all.

I have wandered by occasionally in recent weeks. Just visiting, didn't think I had anything usefull to add to the mix.

But...where does 8 years go?

Behold, my post here the morning after the 2008 election....

------------

tacitus2 said...

I likely spend more time around the right of center blogosphere than most posters here, and the general mood mirrors McCain-congratulations on a well run campaign, recognition of the historic nature of his election, and a sincere desire to treat the new president better than the last one. We conservatives do revere our institutions, while acknowleging the imperfections of the men and women who populate them.

I will personally add my support to President Obama in all matters in which I see him acting for collective rather than partisan good. And I will give him considerable benefit of the doubt, especially in matters relating to foreign policy.

I do not share David's opinions on the inherent honesty of the donkeycrats as opposed to the repubs, so I think it will be an important civic duty to watch the new administration's policies very closely. If all these new mortgages that I understand the US government is picking up start being sold to Rezko types on the cheap we need to know about it.

But quibbling can wait for another day. We conservatives actually like the idea of a charismatic black man being elected to our highest office. What a great example to the rest of the world.

Of course, we thought it was going to be Colin Powell.

My prayers, literally, are with the new president.

Tacitus2

---------

Looking back to those days to pull this up I noticed that comments were fewer. Even the morning after the election post only had 85 comments. There are a few names from back then that are still "live": Ililith Dragon, Tony Fisk, Robert.

And so another electoral cycle turns.

I thought, still think, that John McCain would have been a better president than Barack Obama. But the time was not right for him. And sometimes there is that disconnect between being a good, or even great, campaigner versus a good President. Obama was an amazing campaigner and, in my opinion, a mediocre President. McCain, the opposite perhaps.

Hillary Clinton would surely have been a better Pres than Candidate, if only because in the latter role she was abysmal.

Well, enough I think. Life is going to go on. Be vigilent and active in advocating your beliefs but have a care not to damage the political infrastructure in the process. Democrats will have their day again and the institutions they will be handed should be intact for them.

Tacitus

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2:

There are a few names from back then that are still "live": Ililith Dragon, Tony Fisk, Robert.


I'll have to look, but I'll bet I was around too. Maybe only as a lurker, though. I don't remember when I started posting in earnest.


I thought, still think, that John McCain would have been a better president than Barack Obama. But the time was not right for him.


My dad was still alive in 2008, but was already suffering dementia, and McCain reminded me too often of him in that condition. I didn't dislike the guy personally the way I do with many Republican politicians, but I would have been nervous with him as president at that age. Of course, I'd gladly see him being inaugurated three days hence in place of that guy.


Be vigilent and active in advocating your beliefs but have a care not to damage the political infrastructure in the process. Democrats will have their day again and the institutions they will be handed should be intact for them.


I'm not sure you understand how much some of us fear that the next administration will damage those very institutions--that the McConnell Senate and the Roberts Court have already done such damage, and that another Republican administration at this time might be the straw that breaks America. It doesn't help either that democracy seems to be dying to thunderous applause. On election day 2008, Michelle Obama made a comment which was thrown against her by Republicans that she had never been so proud of her country as she was that night. On election day 2016, I had never been so opposite-of-proud of my country as I felt on that night.

That doesn't mean I'm not personally glad to "see" you "here" again, though.



LarryHart said...

TCB:

When the far right attempt to do humor, they fail miserably. 'Conservative' humor SUCKS. Simple reason: it is either based on bullying (only funny to bullies) or it is based on a lie.


Which proves definitely that Nazis are right-wing, not left-wing.

Conservative humor may fall flat, but "Nazi humor" is an oxymoron.

Slim Moldie said...

I had something serious to say but...
@ A.F. Rey (on inaugural music)

#1 CNN cuts live audio and synchronizes their usual broadcast coverage to the audio from Pink Floyd's "The Wall."
#2 Mike Love and company perform a cover of "Back in the USSR" after "Kokomo."
#3 The Morman Tabernacle Choir performs "Every Sperm is Sacred"

I don't have the time to crunch the data, but my hunch is that if you looked at record sales amongst songs written after 1950, those recorded during Republican dominated administrations sold more to date than those recorded under Democrat administrations. People buy regardless, but my hunch is that you'd see a difference in longevity.

LarryHart said...

Slim Moldie:

I don't have the time to crunch the data, but my hunch is that if you looked at record sales amongst songs written after 1950, those recorded during Republican dominated administrations sold more to date than those recorded under Democrat administrations. People buy regardless, but my hunch is that you'd see a difference in longevity.


I'm not agreeing or disagreeing, just curious as to why you think so.


LarryHart said...

@Slim Moldie,

As to inaugural music, I'll bet Lin-Manuel Miranda could find an appropriate stanza or two.

Like this one from "In the Heights" (rather than Hamilton), and note that I am not changing any names here. The highlighted bit is verbatim from the musical itself:


Benny:
If I won the lotto tomorrow...
Well, I know I wouldn’t bother goin’ on no spendin’ spree.
I pick a business school and pay the entrance fee.
Then maybe if you’re lucky, you’ll stay friends with me!

I’ll be a businessman, richer than Nina’s daddy!
Donald Trump and I on the links, and he’s my caddy.
My money’s making money, I’m going from po’ to mo’ dough.
Keep the bling, I want the brass ring, like Frodo.

Usnavi:
Oh no, here goes Mr. Braggadocio.
Next thing you know, you’re lying like Pinocchio.
...


sgs said...

The "morning after" pill is a form of abortion only in the fevered imagination of pro-lifers. It works by preventing ovulation.

The pro-lifers have their own theories on how human reproductive biology works. They don't match up too well with anybody else's.

Tony Fisk said...

I hope that is so, Tacitus. Other astute observers (eg Sarah Kendzior) worry that you won't be having meaningful elections, even by 2018. Still, Stefan's call to arms mirrors Franklin's opinion of the newly minted US system of government:
"...A republic, if *you* can keep it!"

@A.F Rey: a few more class acts to add to your collection.

Genesis and "Age of Confusion" (get the folks from 'Spitting Image' on it, fast!)

Pink Floyd movie "The Wall" has a sequence which mirrors Trump's triumph in exc..quisite detail.

Herzog's version of "Nosferatu" has a scene in the town square that provides a suitable degree of soft, sensuousness. (also more horrific than any number of bucket of blood)

If Mr. Trump is seeking material for his speech, there's the memorial service from Alien 3 (a little modified, but the cut scenes say it all)

Finally, if this all seems a bit serious, perhaps he could lift spirits a little with a rousing rendition of "Share and Enjoy".

David Brin said...

Tacitus, thanks for checking in, reassuring us you are still with us. And yes, your 8year old missive was moving. Indeed, I do pray that Trump will find the moral and ego strength to reach out to the large majority who voted against him and find him disturbing. He could drop the Koch-Murdoch thing, if he wanted to.

If he ever does, and decides to be an actual - rather than pretend - "negotiator" - I will be among those urging a restrained willingness to sit down with him.

Given that he has chosen to do zero reaching out, even a scintilla, and has packed his cabinet with billionaires, Koch factotums and members of Blackwater... well... I do not feel obligated to stick my neck out toward him.

The level by which I will judge the intensity of my reaction will be determined by what he does toward the Civil Service and the intel and military officer corps. While others focus on his war against journalism, I see that getting enough attention. But those three are the true canaries in out Koch Nightmare.

====
BTW... as for Obama, I'd welcome specifics on what made him a bad president. His failure to do even one of the bad things conservatives claimed he would try to do? Even one? At all.

raito said...

Music?

The Blasters - Friend of the Common Man

As for Presidents, it's a bit of a shame that in my lifetime there's only 2 that I wouldn't mind knowing personally. Carter, Obama, and possibly Ford.

Daisyworld said...

"... if the dems retake Congress in 2018, the Year of the Colonels."

As much as I'd like to see that, after this past election season, I'm thinking hope is becoming an endangered species.

Slim Moldie said...

@LarryHeart. Damn me, time and curiosity. So I’m not going to vouch that my addition and sources are error free, but here goes...

Going back to JFK we’ve got 28 years under each party. I looked only at albums that claimed more than 20 million in US sales and counted work that came out in the first year an administration was in office as work created during the previous administration’s tenure.

769.2 million during Johnson, Carter, Clinton and Obama
vs
1.2 billion during Nixon, Ford, Regan, Bush I and Bush II

So my hunch was that for music artists--themes and emotions run strong when government is oppressive. This resonates with the masses and people buy music to lift them up even when times are bad. I’d also be curious to see what administrations were running things during the formative childhood years for artists hitting stride in their later twenties. Are we going to start seeing more top-selling albums coming out as the children of the Clinton reach the sweet spot?

Plenty of convincing counter arguments be made. The industry. The listening medium...

Here are numbers just by president.

Johnson: 62 million
Carter: 173 million
Clinton: 499.2 million
Obama: 35 million via Adelle

Nixon: 132 million
Ford: 217 million
Regan: 536 million (181 in 1987—around the time my old man lost his job when the steel mill went under.)
Bush I: 270 million (with 49 of that million coming from Clapton’s and ABBA’s greatest hits made more than a decade earlier.)
Bush II: 45 million


Tony Fisk said...

I agree it depends on what Trump actually *does*, David, but the signs are ominous.

Why did his transition team ask for specific names of people who advised on climate in the Energy Department? Why did congress then reinstate an obscure bit of vindictive legislation allowing them to limit the salary of named civil servants to $1/year? By all means, call your Congress People. I think they're still hesitant, unsure of their new-found power. For now.

We'll have a much better feel of the picture this time next week.

TCB said...

Dr. Brin, I feel that Barack Obama was a bad president by way of not being as good as he needed to be: by not seeing the danger in the radical right until it was too late. He had a chance to be something much closer to an FDR in 2009, to punish banksters and torturers and push back the far-right propaganda machine.

Instead he followed his centrist instincts at a time when the center meant standing on the edge of a lava flow and reaching out.

In sum, he was the sort of leader who'd do well when the republic was not on the verge of self-destruction. If Lincoln had spent two years negotiating with the Confederacy instead of crushing it, that's Obama for you.

And I LIKE him. But he was a centrist when that was a liability. He wanted to be an Eisenhower when nobody would let him. He needed to be a Roosevelt, Franklin or Teddy.

LarryHart said...

@TCB:

In sum, [Obama] was the sort of leader who'd do well when the republic was not on the verge of self-destruction. If Lincoln had spent two years negotiating with the Confederacy instead of crushing it, that's Obama for you.


Spock's description of Edith Keeler applies to President Obama. He was right, but at the wrong time. He gave the Republicans time to complete their heavy water experiments.

LarryHart said...

@Tony Fisk:

Other astute observers (eg Sarah Kendzior) worry that you won't be having meaningful elections, even by 2018.


I'd say we already crossed that line and didn't notice when it happened.

LarryHart said...

From today's www.electoral-vote.com :


Also noteworthy about the CNN poll is that 53% of the respondents said that Trump's statements and actions since the election mke them less confident of his ability to handle the job.


In other words, 53% of the respondents weren't paying attention before the election.

Paul SB said...

All this talk of music during oppressive administrations reminded me of a book I read a bit of back when I was in grad school, called "Weapons of the Weak: Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance." It's on the old side - 1987 - but it might give us some ideas on how best to deal with the Grope Administration.

https://www.amazon.com/Weapons-Weak-Everyday-Peasant-Resistance-ebook/dp/B00HE0ZR7K

Slim, Abbaa's Greatest Hits doesn't exactly count as resistance music. Disco doesn't hit on subjects of oppression and protest, but it does represent a stress reaction. People focus on stuff like that to mentally escape from situations that seem hopeless. Just a thought. Who was president when Bob Marley was at his peak sales height? Get up, stand up! Stand up for your rights!

Tacitus2 said...

LarryHart

You misquote Michelle Obama, and by doing so miss the reason for a negative perception of what she said. It was not, as you put it, that she had never been so proud of her country. Here it is verbatim:

"For the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback,"

So saying that this was the first time she had been proud of her country was a bit different and offputting. What had she been thinking about America for the last couple of decades?

But I think we should make allowances for people stumbling over words. Tired, excited, distracted people do this all the time.

Tacitus

Still only gonna meander through, way too much going on in RealWorld.

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2:


Still only gonna meander through, way too much going on in RealWorld.


Heh. As I always expected, the image of the bored retiree is overstated.

:)


You misquote Michelle Obama, and by doing so miss the reason for a negative perception of what she said. It was not, as you put it, that she had never been so proud of her country. Here it is verbatim:

"For the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback,"


That's even more appropriate, though. Myself, I've always been a booster of America, even when critical of the particular actions of particular government entities. On November 8, 2016, I could have truly said "For the first time in my adult life, I am really ashamed of my country, because it feels like authoritarianism is finally making a comeback."

The only question seems to be whether we're talking George W Bush-level authoritarianism or Axis Powers-level authoritarianism or maybe Caligula-level authoritarianism. I mean that as a compliment to Bush.

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2 (reprise) :

You misquote Michelle Obama, and by doing so miss the reason for a negative perception of what she said. It was not, as you put it, that she had never been so proud of her country. Here it is verbatim:

"For the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback,"


Your (understandably) negative assessment comes from mentally putting the main pause after the word "country" rather than how you actually punctuated it, after "adult life".

You perceive her as expanding on why she is proud of America for the first time. I give her the benefit of the doubt that she is expressing pride for a certain thing for the first time.

Let me try to paraphrase the difference:

"For the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country. That's because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback,"

vs.

"For the first time in my adult life, it feels like hope is finally making a comeback, and for that, I am really proud of my country."

Cesar A. Santos said...

I'll never understand how you guys willfully ignore the slippery slope of abortion. The religious right may be bunch of hypocrites but the left is the same or even worse.

You simply deem a class of human beings as less than human and legalize their slaughter. Yes, to accept embryos as human is a belief. But what isn't? What stops the big majority of labeling any smaller class as subhuman and slaughtering them? Certainly not the universe who couldn't care less. It's just a belief, a social construct that we deem all human lives worthy and even that changes in times of war when killing is liberated.

Why killing embryos is OK but newborns aren't? Why asking adults to accept responsibility for their actions is asking too much? The Left wants a huge free for all that will end up in a global Battle Royale. The Left simply doesn't accept a simple, little thing called standards. Standards of behavior and adult responsibility. That's what leads to adults behaving like children, completely irresponsible, worshiping drugs and booze. Truly pathetic.

LarryHart said...

Ceasar A Santos:

Why killing embryos is OK but newborns aren't?


Because the one is using another human being as a life-support system and the other isn't.

The abortion debate is never about which side's stance is a moral absolute. It is about managing the conflict between two competing interests, both of which seem absolute.


The Left simply doesn't accept a simple, little thing called standards. Standards of behavior and adult responsibility. That's what leads to adults behaving like children, completely irresponsible


Have you seen the guy you non-Lefties just elected to the White House?


Truly pathetic.


Well, instead of tweeting like Trump, why don't you address Dr Brin's question on the subject, which was...


those who would proclaim that human life begins at conception rage against morning-after pills - the simplest form of abortion... yet say nothing about fertilization clinics that create scores of fertilized embryos for every successful birth. Many are flushed. Some are "stored" without any chance of ever being implanted... and are eventually flushed. Why no outrage?

JLambert said...

Thank you Dr. Bring for keeping focus on the chronic problems of the Republican machine when others have become spellbound by the acute problem of President Trump.

Cesar A. Santos said...

Larry Hart

Except I do. And others do so. Many couples refuse to not use all embryos. Or endure the expense and trouble to fertilize more than 2 or 3 and try again if that one attempt fail.

Like I said, responsibility and standards.

About Trump... It was he or Hillary. Personally I would have voted for Harambe.

LarryHart said...

Cesar A. Santos:

Except I do. And others do so. Many couples refuse to not use all embryos. Or endure the expense and trouble to fertilize more than 2 or 3 and try again if that one attempt fail.


Fair enough. Please note that you didn't mention that before, and none of us are mind-readers.


Like I said, responsibility and standards.

About Trump... It was he or Hillary. Personally I would have voted for Harambe.


I think you're saying that Hillary was so bad that Trump was preferable despite his shortcomings. Even so, the fact remains that Trump is a living embodiment of a lack of responsibility and standards. My point is that you can't blame that characteristic on liberals.

Tim H. said...

Oddly enough, if HRC had been elected, and was able to implement her policies, the nation would be a better environment for raising children, therefore reducing the demand for morning after pills. I suppose it would've been too much like the right thing to do.

Joseph Discenza said...

those who would proclaim that human life begins at conception rage against morning-after pills - the simplest form of abortion... yet say nothing about fertilization clinics that create scores of fertilized embryos for every successful birth. Many are flushed. Some are "stored" without any chance of ever being implanted... and are eventually flushed. Why no outrage?

Some of us are concerned. My wife and I, when we initially had trouble conceiving, were offered IVF, preferring to adopt if we couldn't manage.

In any case, the problem with these types of contraception is that the pharma companies themselves advertised them as preventing implantation (i.e., abortion of the fertilized egg, a "person" with a complete set of human DNA) in the event they don't prevent ovulation. Subsequent science has shown that just doesn't happen, but nobody's listening.

Paul451 said...

David and Larry,

It's worth pointing out that the Catholic Church does officially object to IVF (and the death penalty.) I know in my country they created a fake "Institute of Bioethics" to lobby against legalising and funding IVF. (And later against euthanasia, morning-after pills, etc.)

Most average Catholics ignore the official dictates of the church. But the Church's right-wing does what right-wings do.

--

Slim Moldie,

Your numbers sorted back by chronology and averaged over time:

Johnson: 10m/yr
Nixon: 24m/yr
Ford: 86m/yr
Carter: 43m/yr
Reagan: 67m/yr
Bush I: 67m/yr
Clinton: 62m/yr
Bush II: 5m/yr
Obama: 4m/yr

I'm not really seeing your pattern. Other than sales increasing with population until the millennium and then holy-crap-the-industry-is-screwed.

--

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8IfmiKnZi3E

Zepp Jamieson said...

"Probably the New York Times, and possibly Paul Krugman himself. It wouldn't surprise me if the writer reads this blog, though."

Plausible. The two have roughly congruent political views, and it's not as if either would be unaware of the other.

Krugman, to his credit, is not wasting anyone's time pretending Trump is a legitimate president, or that GOP moves to destroy Obamacare are to the benefit of anyone other than insurance companies.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"Other astute observers (eg Sarah Kendzior) worry that you won't be having meaningful elections, even by 2018."

We didn't have one in 2016, and probably not since 1998, if then.
Crosscheck eliminated three million voters without cause, the vast majority of which were poor or minority.
A court just ruled Wisconsin will illegally gerrymandered. That makes five states in the past year--all of them in favour of Republicans.
And that's without even factoring Comey, lies from right wing think tanks, the Russians and religions seeking to impose their will.

Antonym said...

Thanks for the shoutout on my petition. Folding the Reservations into an already existing state is probably a better and easier idea, Oklahoma (AKA Indian Territory) would be my first pick.
I too have though about how wonderful if several hundred thousand African-Americans were to vote with their feet and strategically move in such a way to guarantee several states of the Old Confederacy to have black-voter majorities. Say a liberal billionaire funded a transplant plan that helped Blacks from Alabama move to Mississippi and from South Carolina to Georgia. With two or three Old Confederate states suddenly Minority-Majority places, the number of Black representatives in Congress would shoot up quickly. Plus it would burn, burn so hard, in the guts of the Traitorous Flag wavers.

-AtomicZeppelinMan

Zepp Jamieson said...

When I wrote "Krugman, to his credit, is not wasting anyone's time pretending Trump is a legitimate president, or that GOP moves to destroy Obamacare are to the benefit of anyone other than insurance companies." I belatedly realized that might be read as an implication that Doctor Brin DID waste people's time in such manner. Um, not, that wasn't my intent. Please, nobody, read it that way.

Jumper said...

I wonder why people think an embryo with no real brain, not even any functional neurons, under 3 months old in the womb, is worth moral and legal protection, at least in the minds of busybody men who don't have to even do much but ejaculate, but murdering a fully grown elephant, who has a fully formed brain, perception, mind, and at minimum some form of active intellect, is considered fine and dandy. I don't see what right a bunch of busybody men, who are too chickenshit to even consider what awakening to a spontaneous abortion next to them is like, nor that it happens all the time and the womenfolk are not mentioning it because of the men's inability to deal with reality, have to try to boss around the other sex. I don't see why they would be aghast if the same so-called moral logic were applied to their own masturbation.

I suggest these interfering busybodies spend their time making sure civilians stop getting fried in war, no one gets tortured anymore, anywhere, and actual children who have been born are fed breakfast every day.

Alfred Differ said...

@TCB: President Obama commuted Chelsea Manning's sentence.

I agree, but not because of Scooter Libby. There is an excellent argument against disproportionate sentences, but what gets my attention is the ease with which some use the word ‘treason’ for Manning’s actions. Treason is a rare crime defined at the constitutional level, so I don’t like it when people get fast and loose with it. History shows what all too often comes next. Commuting the sentence makes a clear the President doesn’t see it as treason.

Jonathan Sills said...

Caesar, why is protecting embryos all-important, but protecting actual living children (from, say, malnutrition, abusive parents, or gun-toting lunatics in schools and malls) not even a consideration?

So far as I can tell, the right-wing Right to Life begins at conception and ends shortly after birth.

Jonathan Sills said...

And Alfred is correct in that interpretation. What Manning did may have been a violation of federal law and the UCMJ, but it hardly rises to the level of treason.

Cesar A. Santos said...

"Caesar, why is protecting embryos all-important, but protecting actual living children (from, say, malnutrition, abusive parents, or gun-toting lunatics in schools and malls) not even a consideration?"

Who said that? I can't understand why people can't believe we can do more than one thing at a time. In fact embryos only need ONE thing: to keep living. Children need a lot more and should be our priority. I just can't understand how some people rationalize one group needs care but the other can be killed willy-nilly.

And Jumper seems to think only men are anti-abortion, completely ignoring that more women than men despise it. In fact, most men ignore the issue. "Not my problem" they think.

BTW I believe all sentient lives deserves life and dignity. Including elephants. The only living things I could see going away without bothering me are parasites and viruses.

Alfred Differ said...

@Rob H: I don’t know if David will respond to your tangent, but I will. 8)

If you have any physics background, it is worth delving deeper than what the journalists are printing. Entropic gravity is an odd duck. Hit up arXiv and get a few of the papers arguing both sides. It’s fun.

I had the pleasure of presenting a competing theory for gravity at a conference in Corvalis in the early 90’s. My advisor and his group had a way of getting Mercury’s orbit precession and the bending of starlight correct without curvature. We treated momentum instead of mass as the ‘charge’ for gravity and then followed the consequences. Kip Thorne was there and politely asked me why he should learn our version and I gave him my best, honest answer that he shouldn’t until he had issues with his own preferred theory. Most heads in the audience nodded in agreement and I went my way. Well… he as some issues now. Beautiful, thought provoking issues. Physicists live for these things.

I never would have thought to imagine gravity as an entropic force, though. Really odd. I tend to see geometry as fundamental. A lot of old school physicists do, but not all apparently. After reading Verlinde’s Jan 2010 paper I had to start learning about a dualism the string theory people found between some of their theories and field theories. It’s important because when two different theories produce the same predictable universe, there is good reason to believe the universe doesn’t care about the distinctions being made between the theories. Both are right and wrong at the same time. Think of the wave/particle duality in quantum theories as an example. As a result, whether gravity is entropic or not might not matter in the long run. What will matter is whether dark matter and dark energy survive in the models. If the entropic version works better, we should be able to find a dual field theory and it won’t be the old General Relativity. That means we live in exciting times.

LarryHart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

Krugman, to his credit, is not wasting anyone's time pretending Trump is a legitimate president, or that GOP moves to destroy Obamacare are to the benefit of anyone other than insurance companies.


I think you're mistaken there. The insurance companies like Obamacare, or at least they did at the start. That's one reason Obamacare looks like Romneycare instead of single-payer. Obama had to have the insurance companies on board so "Harry and Louise" didn't reappear to campaign against it. Obamacare gives them millions of new subsidized customers. Even some young healthy ones.

On the corporate side, I'm not exactly sure who is actually pushing the Republican party toward repeal, but it's not the insurance or pharmacutical industries. I doubt the financial industry will be happy with the result either. I don't see who stands to gain monetarily. The only "winners" will be ideologues who hate the idea of a government program which actually helps people.

Alfred Differ said...

@Tacitus: There are lots of ways to interpret Michelle Obama’s phrase. Try changing the stressing a little and you’ll see completely different meanings.

"For the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback,"

"For the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback,"

"For the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback,"

If you focus your attention on the last one, she’s proud for the first time because hope is making a comeback. She might have been proud at other times. If you focus on the second version, it leaves room for her being proud, but not really proud until then. There are many other variations to consider besides these three and we have to decide from context what she really meant.

My suspicion is that she was previously proud of certain groups of people, but grimly tolerant of others. Thus, she wasn’t proud of the nation as a whole until then. The people who reacted badly to her words were (probably) EXACTLY the people she learned to tolerate to some degree and they all KNEW IT from her words even though they weren’t called out by name. Since I don’t think of myself as one of those people, I just smirked when she said it. It’s pretty clear to me why she wouldn’t be proud of the nation earlier. We have an ugly underside to our history and I can’t blame her for not being proud of it. If she had said otherwise, I would have heard it as a political ‘white’ lie.

Twominds said...

@Cesar A. Santos 11:27 AM

"Caesar, why is protecting embryos all-important, but protecting actual living children (from, say, malnutrition, abusive parents, or gun-toting lunatics in schools and malls) not even a consideration?" (Jonathan Sills' question)

Who said that? I can't understand why people can't believe we can do more than one thing at a time. In fact embryos only need ONE thing: to keep living. Children need a lot more and should be our priority.

Problem that many see is that at the one hand a lot of energy (and noise so everybody will notice) goes into making not only abortion impossible, but also restricting access to anticonception, and at the other hand, very little energy seems to go into assistance for born children and their families if they struggle. To the contrary, it seems. Action speaks very loudly here.

"Maya Angelou — 'When someone shows you who they are believe them the first time.'"

And even more if they keep showing it.

LarryHart said...

Cesar A. Santos:

In fact embryos only need ONE thing: to keep living. Children need a lot more and should be our priority. I just can't understand how some people rationalize one group needs care but the other can be killed willy-nilly.


Who is talking about "willy-nilly"? I suspect that most decisions to have an abortion are true dilemmas, where either choice is a bad one. Most here are merely arguing that those who know nothing about it should stay out of the decision-making.

The only legal question I see in play is "Why is an embryo denied the same legal rights as a fully born person?" And again, I think the answer is that the embryo encumbers another human being. In order to legislate the absolute right to life of an embryo, you would have to legally enslave the mother.

I have related here on this blog that I once foolishly jumped into Lake Michigan in order to play superhero to save a kid who was stuck in the current. I was not trained in lifesaving or anything like that, and ended up stuck out there with him until God saved us by causing a canoe to magically appear. Point being, had a deux-ex-machina not occured, I was left with the choice to stay out there with the kid, holding his head above water but making no headway, or else going "Sorry, kid. It's you or me" and saving myself. Had I chose the second option, I would have hated looking at my face in the mirror, but I don't think any court in the land would have convicted me for murder.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

There are lots of ways to interpret Michelle Obama’s phrase. Try changing the stressing a little and you’ll see completely different meanings.


Channeling Spock to Captain Kirk: What did you think of my solution?

Also, any thoughts on "Hamilton"? Have I been over-hyping it, or is it the real thing?

A.F. Rey said...

Except I do. And others do so. Many couples refuse to not use all embryos. Or endure the expense and trouble to fertilize more than 2 or 3 and try again if that one attempt fail.

What puzzles me, Santos, is if people like you are concerned with blastocysts (they are hardly embryos yet) wasted in fertilization clinics, why they show no concern for the hundreds of thousands of lives lost each year from natural abortions.

It has been estimated that between 60 and 80 percent of fertilized human eggs do not come to term, most of them from simply not implanting in the womb. Which means that, for every birth we see, there are 2 or 3 that are lost. This is a problem orders of magnitude larger than human-induced abortions.

http://reason.com/archives/2004/12/22/is-heaven-populated-chiefly-by

So why are there no calls for research to combat this horrific lost of life? Money spent opposing abortions would be much better spent in trying to find ways to make sure more blastocysts implant. At least an equal amount of money should be spent on this much bigger problem, don't you think?

I mean, after all, it's all about saving babies, right?

Berial said...

I don't have any desire to debate anyone about abortion, and I will try my best to step away from it after this post, but I do want to point out some things about this debate.

1) To steal one from the NRA, if you outlaw abortion you haven't stopped abortion just LEGAL ones. Illegal and much less safe ones WILL still be happening just like they did BEFORE we made them legal. How many ACTUAL women are going to be maimed, scarred and die if you outlaw this procedure. Why are they less important than an embryo? And don't forget that MOST of the women that will be affected by this will be POOR. The rich will still have access to abortion via travel.

2) We believe in bodily autonomy here in the states. We can't harvest organs from a dead person to save a living person unless the dead signed an organ donation card. Yet somehow we can force that same decision on a woman when an embryo is involved.

The whole 'argument' is muddled and both sides have places where they are right, but so are their opponents. We've got a pretty good compromise solution right now, even if one side of the debate doesn't like it much. An even better solution is good sex education and healthcare for women, yet the same political coalition that is dead set AGAINST abortion is also against all that education and healthcare that would help PREVENT abortion even being needed in the first place.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"BTW I believe all sentient lives deserves life and dignity. Including elephants. The only living things I could see going away without bothering me are parasites and viruses."

Few foetuses could be considered 'sentient' prior to the fifth month.

And without parasites and viruses you would be dead in short order. That's without even considering that they are the main driving forces for evolution.

Zepp Jamieson said...

I would like to thing Republicans had at least a rationale, if vile reason for destroying Obamacare. And insurance companies, even as they continued to make money hand over fist, chaffed over the "20% rule" which limited them to 20% of revenues from preminum on non-medical outlays.
Greed I can understand. Ideology is always stupid and dangerous.

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart: Your solution changed the words around and correctly shows the different ways to paraphrase her. I wanted to show how different stresses would lead to different interpretations. Basically, I was trying to point out the usual 55%/38%/7% issue when people pay too much attention to one communication channel. Body Language, Intonation, and The Words all contribute to the complete message. We have to pay attention to all three or face higher risk of being entangled by unintended meanings WE find in ambiguity.

Your solution emerges from mine, though, and is part of what we do when validating intent. One should be able to paraphrase/translate a message and then do it again trying to reverse the process without actually reversing it and NOT destroy fundamental meanings. This two-step process might alter connotations and low level abstractions, but the surface meaning should remain intact.

I think your interpretation of her words is more faithful to her intent that the one Tacitus points out, but I suspect she was also implying what I heard below the surface. If I had to put up with half of what many African-Americans put up with through their lives, I might not be proud of my nation either. I would respect those who were trying to help and I’d grimly tolerate people who tried to make it worse. I’d probably lump the willfully blind into another group I tolerated too, but I like to think I wouldn’t be so grim with them.

(The soundtrack is out of the shrink wrap now, but I haven't played it yet.)

Antonym said...

"I mean, after all, it's all about saving babies, right?"

No, it was always about punishing sluts for being dirty sluts. Opposition to abortion is, was, will always be, opposition to contraceptives. If a woman has sex, she must "suffer" the consequences, especially if she had dirty, slutty unmarried sex. The goal is not to lower the number of abortions, but to increase births and punish anyone who thinks otherwise.

Alfred Differ said...

The abortion debate is messy here in the US, but I would like to point one thing out about how a certain message is heard.

Many pro-lifers don’t like it when we use the scientific terms. Consider ‘blastocyst’ as a good example. In their ears, this sounds like an attempt to dehumanize the child-to-be. The term is scientifically accurate, but its use makes opponents of people who might not otherwise get involved. The same applies to ‘embryo’ and ‘fetus’ for human procreation, though they are safe for chickens and pigs.

I’m NOT suggesting pro-choice advocates change their language, though. I’m pointing this out only as an aid to their side of the debate. Beware of the impact certain terms have in minds using foreign thinking processes. Dehumanization produces swift and dramatic results.

For the record, I choose not to enslave women.
I also trust their powerful dislike of abortion to limit the practice.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

If you have any physics background, it is worth delving deeper than what the journalists are printing. Entropic gravity is an odd duck. Hit up arXiv and get a few of the papers arguing both sides. It’s fun.

I had the pleasure of presenting a competing theory for gravity at a conference in Corvalis in the early 90’s.


Well, then I once again refer you to James Blish's "Cities in Flight" collection for something that may go into the predictions registry. This is from memory, but is as close as I can get to a direct quote:

Gravity was discovered in 2018, having been postulated for millennia before.

Jumper said...

Zepp, don't confuse "sentient" with "sapient." Sapient is exactly what I mean, sentient is exactly the word Cesar meant. A snail is sentient, not sapient. So far as we use the word.

I too can claim to "be against" abortion. But not by force of punitive law. And I will stand by my suggestion that observation of the discrepancy - in one's efforts to protect non-sapient groups of cells versus the efforts spent in the protection of the sapient - does indeed provide a clue to motives. I don't believe in heavy handed models of spiritual assembly-line manufacture of souls by God. I do believe in fighting human misery.

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart: Heh. I used to have a copy of that book. I might still, but I haven't seen it in years. I've occasionally thought of Cities in Flight and many other anti-gravity ideas authors put forward, but almost all of them have trouble with destroying something that we know to be conserved/continuous. Conservation laws in 3D theories turn into continuity rules for current densities in 4D theories, so anti-gravity isn't something to be invented whole cloth. For example, if my advisor's model is accurate, currents flowing backward in time relative to us would be repelled by 'gravity', so that kind of anti-gravity isn't anti-anything. It would be explained using the same model with an observation analogous to 'not all swans are white'. Believers in curvature need negative energy as their black swans, so we all know what to look for. 8)

Robert said...

Okay. I am going to speak up about Michelle Obama.

Tacitus, I am afraid I am going to be ruling against you on this.

The reason why is an odd one but is quite genuine: I am a writer.

There is a very true story where an author once refuted a college professor's teachings about a message in a story the author had written. The author turned around and said "no, I didn't mean that at all" and the college professor turned around and told the author, who conceived of the story, nursed it into life, wrote it down, and set it loose in the world, the PARENT of this story... was wrong.

You and so many people who dismiss Michelle Obama for what she said here are acting like that college professor. You are imparting meaning and thought for what Michelle Obama said, no matter what she actually meant and was feeling. And what's worse, you are saying this to comments which essentially were unedited and unrevised. You are judging Michelle Obama on her rough draft of speaking.

No. There is one person who knows what Michelle Obama meant when she spoke those words and that is Michelle Obama herself. All the psychologists and political analysts in the world can claim all that they want, but there is only one person who knows. And yet everyone who insists on seeing the worse in those comments ignores what she has to say because they want to judge her negatively.

You are acting as that overbearing elitist college professor. You are better than that.

Robert A. Howard

David Brin said...

Thank you Cesar for standing up for those who are sincere in their mystical belief that human life begings at conception. As it happens, there are many sources for this belief and not all of them as low as needing to “control women” or the Jesus Effect.

(TJE = “ If Jesus were here now, the bearded hippie would side with Democrats. I need an on-off-switch moral position that’d force him to be on our side, despite hating every other republican position. Baby killers! Right! That’s it! Who could side with baby killers?”)

Another reason may be “moral inflation.” When you seek to avoid sin, you will draw the line assertively. Jews were told not to boil a calf in its mother’s milk. That inflated to never mixing dairy products with meat in any way. Likewise, setting humanity at conception saves you from ambiguity. Despite the obvious fact that God made an analog, not a digital world. Moral murkiness is part of his design.

Then there’s who is making abortion less common? Democrats. Hence, the purist stance must be “even one must be banned!” And yet every measure taken in Red America to make Abortion harder to get for poor women only aims to reduce incrementally. Hence they are hypocrites.

“why they show no concern for the hundreds of thousands of lives lost each year from natural abortions.” Exactly, AFR. He (the controller above) is doing it all the time, apparently.

Jumper yes! I avoid “sentient.” I use Sapient.

Catfish N. Cod said...

@A.F. Rey:

The problem with your argument is that we don't know how many of those blastocysts were, in fact, viable. Most miscarriages of all types happen due to genetic or developmental malformations incompatible with life.

The problem with your disputant's argument is that according to their theory, each of this miscarriages was also a human life tragically cut short, and therefore we should be devoting massive amounts of research to ensuring that every human zygote ever conceived is perfectly viable, since otherwise we are letting the vast majority of the species die before they can ever get out of the womb. I leave the degree of intervention and massive alterations to the entire process of reproduction as an exercise for the reader.

......or else, we can abandon this philosophically-maximalist nonsense that personhood (as opposed to genetic individuality) begins at the moment sperm meets egg. Medievalists will be happy to explain to anyone who has ears to hear: jurisdictions differed at the time of personhood from 45 days [the six-week time set by modern 'heartbeat bills'] to quickening, i.e., the intentional movements of the baby in the womb sensible to the outside, approx. 20 weeks. The notion that 'life begins at conception' and therefore is imbued with all the rights of a minor child from that moment is not only logically scrambled, but incoherent as a practical doctrine in the face of actual human physiology.

It sounds great as long as you keep your mind firmly locked in an ivory tower, though.

Can we please dispense with the argument that this is 100% about the welfare of a potential human life -- despite the crucially important ethics of such matters -- and recognize that this is about the one thing even more certain to bring about dispute in a human society? That is it also about the means, methods, modes, times, places, and arrangements by which such zygotes come into being?

That debates about abortion are often, perhaps even primarily, about how to regulate relationships? Social arrangements for children? The structure of the family? And -- yes, I dare say it -- intrusion of outsiders, via the government, into the bedroom?

That it's about trying to indirectly regulate sex?

Catfish N. Cod said...

....and while I am writing that, Dr. Brin comes up with a two-word description: "moral inflation". That's it exactly. Since we can't agree on the right setting on the "personhood" dial, the only safe thing to do is turn the dial to 11 -- "life begins at conception".

It solves the debate, but at the cost of shorting out the entire system. Which doesn't sound like a good solution at all.

Meanwhile, the slow but steady spread of inexpensive, safe, and effective IUDs incrementally continues to make the entire debate moot.

LarryHart said...

@Robert,

I actually think Tacitus was being quite even-handed relative to Michelle Obama. He clarified what her exact words were (which is factual, not opinion), and then pointed out why certain people jumped on her for it. I don't believe he was doing so himself. The worst he suggested was that after months of campaigning, Michelle might have been so tired and irritable that she made a gaffe.

I wouldn't tar Tac with the Michelle-hater brush.

A.F. Rey said...

Many pro-lifers don’t like it when we use the scientific terms. Consider ‘blastocyst’ as a good example. In their ears, this sounds like an attempt to dehumanize the child-to-be. The term is scientifically accurate, but its use makes opponents of people who might not otherwise get involved. The same applies to ‘embryo’ and ‘fetus’ for human procreation, though they are safe for chickens and pigs.

It's all part of the language battle over abortion. Similar to one side being "pro-life" and the other "pro-choice." Makes the opposite sides sound like they are "anti-life" and "anti-choice." :)

Using the general terms of "child" or "newborn" makes people think that the blastocyst, embryo and fetus are all basically like a child, which brings to mind images of gurgling little babies with beatific smiles, rather than half-dozen cells you can't even seen under a cheap microscope. Thus they can equate the needs of these cells with the needs of a fully-functioning adult, or even have the cells' needs supersede the person's needs.

Certainly a human blastocyst can form, over time and in the correct conditions, into a fully-formed baby. But to state that everyone must give these cells all the rights and protections of a baby loses credulity when one imagines the way a blastocyst really looks, resembling an amoeba more than a newborn. :)

LarryHart said...

@Robert:

There is a very true story where an author once refuted a college professor's teachings about a message in a story the author had written. The author turned around and said "no, I didn't mean that at all" and the college professor turned around and told the author, who conceived of the story, nursed it into life, wrote it down, and set it loose in the world, the PARENT of this story... was wrong.


On the one hand, that's the scene from "Annie Hall" where Woody Allen's character, sick of hearing some pretentious types discussing Marshall McLuhan, pulls McLuhan himself from behind a poster to tell the guys that they no nothing about his work. The scene ends with Woody asking the audience, "Don't you wish life was like that?"

On the other hand (and I know you're familiar with comics, so...)

After Dave Sim "came out" an an opponent of feminism, he liked to describe how he used to have to pretend to be a feminist in order for readers to pay attention to him while he got his message out. In part of the Cerebus storyline, "Jaka's Story" to be precise, he had the Lord Julius character (A Groucho Marx avatar) dressed in women's clothes in order to sneak out of the territory that had been invaded by a martiarchal army. He called himself "Aunt Victoria", which didn't make a lot of sense, and caused me to think way too much about why Dave had his character use that name.

Dave's self-referential character in a later part of the book was named Viktor Davis. Dave also liked to draw himself wearing the Groucho Marx disguise. Therefore, I thought, "Aunt Victoria" was really Viktor Davis sneaking out of Cirinist territory while disguised as one of them. Just as Dave himself was metaphorically doing at the same time. It was so brilliant, it had to be true!

I wrote this to Dave, and he responded by saying that he wasn't thinking about that at all when he wrote the story. But...he conceded that my interpretation was so appropriate that it must be true even though he, the author himself, didn't realize that's what he was writing. I mean he, the author himself, told me that.

Now that we know that, what do we know?


LarryHart said...

Catfish N. Cod:

Since we can't agree on the right setting on the "personhood" dial, the only safe thing to do is turn the dial to 11 -- "life begins at conception".


It's even worse than that. The same factions that are so anti-abortion are also against contraception, masturbation, homosexuality--basically any non-procreative means of releasing sexual tension.

You've heard the expression "Before you were even a twinkle in your daddy's eye," right? The anti-abortion fanatics seem be belief that life begins with the parents' sexual attraction. They won't stop with defending the rights of aborted babies--they will fight to (your) death to defend the rights of any children which might have been conceived had nature taken its course.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Sentience is "the capacity to feel, perceive, or experience subjectively." Cytoblasts cannot do that. And sapience is a development that comes after sentience.
One of the most sensible things Bill Clinton ever said was "We need to make abortion safe, available--and rare." His point was we need to encourage universal access to birth control, and do what we can to avoid unwanted pregnancies in the first place.
No woman has an abortion for trivial reasons (and no, I'm not suggesting you said such a thing). It's an agonizing decision. Taking away that choice doesn't make it better; it makes it worse.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Dr. Brin said, "Baby killers! Right! That’s it! Who could side with baby killers?”

It's entirely possible that a man in Jesus' time would side with baby killing. While abortion was fairly common in those days (every midwife had herbs and crude instruments at hand for the restoration of virginity), a common practice with unwanted children, especially females, was to simply dash the newborn's brains out against a convenient rock. Jewish scripture sternly forbade the practice, but it was common amongst non-Jews, especially the poor, which was nearly everyone who wasn't Roman. And if the scriptures are to be believed, the Romans often indulged in ex post facto birth control amongst the plebs. If Jesus had any opinion on all this, nobody bothered to write it down.

TCB said...

Ooooh, yeah, there's something very Hannibal Lecter-ish about boiling a calf in its own mother's milk. Yikes.

But, anyway, I got no patience for the "pro-life" crowd. Why are they not handing out condoms? Oh, right, they LIE about condoms. "Condoms don't prevent disease!" (Yeah they do. Especially the ones with spermicidal lubricant. Ramses represent!)

But, no. Lie, lie, lie, lie, lie. They're not pro-life, or maybe they'd be out protesting against global warming and nuclear weapons. No, they're really just anti-nookie.

Here's the way I see it. I believe it is very, VERY possible that overpopulation, and all its concomitant environmental stressors, could really actually make Homo Sapiens extinct. Humor me for a little, here...

Consider philosopher Nick Bostrom's Doomsday Argument (I had links here but had to strip them out). In it, he invokes the 'mediocrity principle', i.e. the idea that a randomly selected thing is likely to be an average thing. For example, there was a study that looked at how long restaurants in a city had been open, and predicted how long they would stay in business based only on that. If a restaurant had opened six months earlier it was likely to fold in another six months; a restaurant that had been founded a hundred years earlier would likely continue another hundred years; the predictions proved surprisingly accurate when revisited later.

In Bostrom's argument, if there have been about 108 billion humans who have ever lived, and about 7 billion of them are here right now. If we assume, on the mediocrity principle, that we are 'average', then most likely only 108 billion more humans will ever exist.

So, how many humans can the Earth even support? Answers vary. In terms of food, maybe ten billion. In terms of sustainability, two billion is more like (and maybe still excessive, really). Let us assume we reach ten billion and stick there.

About 130 million people are born each year, and let's assume that many die too. That seems to indicate that in just 830 more years we will have run through our likely allotment of total humans.

(Caveat: not everybody buys the Doomsday argument! I just want you to think on it.)

Notwithstanding what I just said, I find the Doomsday argument reasonably convincing, simply in terms of environmental damage. Does anyone really suppose that the environmental systems that keep us alive can function over eight more centuries like this last one? Jesus H. Christ no.

I've heard that world population is expected to level off. That's comforting, right?

Imagine you leap from an aircraft four miles above the ground. NO parachute. Your body will fall faster until, owing to air drag, it achieves terminal velocity. That's a bit more than 120 miles per hour. You may still have another mile or two before you hit the ground, but at least you're not going faster, right?

So. What. 120 miles per hour will still kill you. Stabilizing is not good enough!

Continued:

TCB said...

Part 2:

Now we're getting at the meat of my argument: suppose, then, that humanity will go extinct once we've run through another 108 billion souls. Let that work out to about 10 trillion years of human aggregated life.

Suppose we could beat that? Suppose we limit our numbers to a truly sustainable population, with condoms and abortions for all. Let's say we peg the planet's population at one billion, once we've manged to get it down that far (humanely but firmly, which means not everyone gets to reproduce).

One billion people living a hundred years (good medicine) means 100 billion human aggregate years per cohort in a healthy planet which is not in danger of ecological collapse. How many cohorts do we need to reach ten trillion human aggregate years? I get 100 cohorts, which means if you can keep human society running for another 10,000 years on those terms, you begin to come out ahead of what the Simulation argument suggests is likely.

If instead we follow the pro-life argument to its reductio ad absurdum, the best thing would be to cover the planet with ice and just cram it with countless trillions of fertilized eggs, in storage until whenever... which just serves as an illustration that there's something more to human life that just human cells that are also still alive.

David Brin said...

TCB... a flaw. Once you get 50 cohorts into your 100 cohort allotment of future generations, you will have a problem. at that point there are behind them (108 billion plus 54 billion=) 162billion ancestors but only 54 billion expected descendants till Bostrom's expiration date. But from THEIR perspective, that is a violation of Bostrom's assumption of a mediocrity average, which would demand there be 162 billion ahead of them, not 54.

It's an utterly preposterous mess. And Bostrom doesn't speak to me, anymore.

TCB said...

I see what you're saying, Dr. Brin, but what I was getting at is that some sort of Doomsday argument math seems much more applicable with unprecedentedly high population and environmental stress, so that (in practice) we might be courting extinction much sooner than even the Simulation argument suggests; at lower numbers, the odds seem higher that we could go on much longer. After all, it's a probabilistic argument, not an iron rule... and I agree it has a lot of ragged edges and has no predictive power unless applied to a large number of 'discrete objects', the human species being just one such object.

So, after fifty cohorts, people might argue about whether the Bostrom argument had failed to predict their situation or not; but as long as humans still had no other data on how well or poorly other technological species had fared, it would still be impossible to say. If they had comparative data on a thousand other technological species, then clear (albeit still probabilistic) trends would emerge.

Seen this way, the simulation argument connects with the Fermi paradox, to a degree.

[Having trouble finding that restaurant study on Google, where DID I see that... in any case the simulation argument is based on the Allies' usage of serial numbers to get a very good estimate of German tank production, because the Germans had simply used consecutive serial numbers instead of randomizing them.]

Anyway, I get worked up over this whole topic because I am acquainted with a few too many Evangelical Christians, who seem to think it's somehow important to bring lots of fresh humans into the world before Armageddon, which they await rather too eagerly. Doesn't seem to occur to them that, ethically/morally, their agenda is fine if they are right about Jesus coming back and all that, but profoundly, unsurpassably evil if they're wrong.

Can't let it go. It's like a chicken bone in my throat.

Jonathan Sills said...

Who's saying that, Caesar?

Well, Texas State Rep. Tony Tinderholt (R-Arlington), for one. Earlier this week, he filed House Bill 948, the "Abolition of Abortion Act". Let's quote from the act itself, as cited in the Austin :

HB 948 prohibits abortion and recognizes “the rights, powers, and privileges of all unborn children at every stage of gestation from fertilization until birth.”

After you're born, you're on your own.

Jonathan Sills said...

That's supposed to say, "...as cited in the Austin Chronicle". Don't know why that one word vanished.

Robert said...

And now things get more interesting.

Anonymous has declared war against Donald Trump. They promise to air out all of his secrets. His connections to Russian mob bosses, child molestation, the works.

100 days.

Rob H.

Duncan Cairncross said...

To the abortion argument
If you treat the fetus as a complete human being with all of the rights of an adult citizen then it still would NOT have the right to use another persons body and expose that other person to a risk to their life (Women still die in childbirth)

I am NOT required by any laws to give my food to somebody who needs to be fed or to go into a burning building to save somebody

Paul SB said...

TCB,

You wrote: "Doesn't seem to occur to them that, ethically/morally, their agenda is fine if they are right about Jesus coming back and all that, but profoundly, unsurpassably evil if they're wrong."

To which I say, Therein lies the rub! Religious extremists of all varieties (I knew a whole lot of fundies growing up, but also a lot of very conservative Catholics and some ultra-orthodox Jews) do not doubt that they might be wrong. It's one of the chief flaws of the conservative mindset (and I do not claim that the liberal mindset has no flaws) that they so rarely entertain the possibility that anything they believe could be wrong. This is exactly the opposite of the scientific mindset, which in theory is supposed to allow for error correction (if Paul451 is reading - yes, scientists are human, have human egos and often fail to live up to their vaunted ideals, as seen in the lack of reporting negative results - but they do a hell of a lot better than just about any other group we could name).

That hubris is taught by religious institutions pretty much everywhere. The mindset they create is very politically useful and always has been, but if religious institutions were not considered traditional, and whole lot of their adherents would be diagnosed with any of several psychological disorders ranging from OCD to schizophrenia.

I'm not going to weigh in on the abortion issue, but look at what Mr. Santos' big argument was - we must have standards! The obvious question is: whose standards? To a conservative thinker, that question means either high standards or low standards, and obvious MY standards are high standards and anyone else's must be low standards.

E.g. "That's what leads to adults behaving like children, completely irresponsible, worshiping drugs and booze."

Paul SB said...

Clearly he assumes that if you don't share his standards you are no more than a mere animal, slave to your instincts and oh-so shameful. That horse pucker was taught at every church I set foot in. I have known tons of "liberals" who don't touch alcohol or drugs, who are faithful to their spouses and have very high moral standards generally - but their standards are not based on blind obedience to some Bronze Age law-maker. Their moral principles center around fairness, justice and sympathy. You know, that Golden Rule thing that is honored by these people so often in the breech.

The idea that people might see this in different terms is unthinkable. They don't even have the vocabulary for it, no meme structure in their minds because in their minds it's pure black or pure white. The idea that it is a contradiction to defend the rights of the unborn, but you're on your own and screw you once you emerge from the womb doesn't even register. The idea that there could even be such thing as a population/resource imbalance is beyond them, because they have been suckled on the idea that miracles will happen to save the righteous and punish the sinner. History proves otherwise, but evidence doesn't mean anything. The stories they hear repeated over and over, and that they rehearse in their minds from the creche, is all they need. Logic, rationality, sympathy for your fellow human being - none of these things mean anything. Their standards are not about making sense, or doing the most good, or helping people. Their standards are all about blind conformity, plain and simple.

I hold as one of my key standards that there are different people in the world who have different needs, and you cannot always judge their lives based on your own. I see this as having a much higher standard than people who think that there is one right way for everyone, and that way is their way. The idea that there are different people in the world who have different needs than they have is beyond them. And this is a key struggle for our time. Biology amply demonstrates that diversity is the nature of life and necessary for survival, but Bronze Age belief systems claim that diversity is evil and must be destroyed. One way leads to extinction. If they want to follow that path, I would say let them. The problem is, they are dragging everyone else down with them.

Sorry if this comes across as a bit of an angry rant.

David Brin said...

" their agenda is fine if they are right about Jesus coming back and all that, but profoundly, unsurpassably evil if they're wrong.


Sorry, but if ANY of the Book of Revelation is a true plan then I oppose the plan's enactor. It is vicious, petty nastiness and sadism, top to bottom, and after consigning 99% of humanity to earthly torment and then eternal hell, the "paradise on Earth" will banish all freedom, democracy, ambition, art, argument and every single thing that makes us interesting and human. Oh and it will end the United States of America.

Now I am comfortable knowing with certainty that John of Patmos was just a sick whacko, whose screech got voted into the canon by one vote, over the objections of the finest churchmen. But suppose it was an actual threat from the Holy Seat in Heaven? He had made other threats, before and carried some of them out!

Only that's the thing. He carried out SOME of them! But, as the Book of Jonah (whose tomb was just yesterday liberated from ISIS) clearly shows HE CAN CHANGE HIS MIND! He can throw a snit, make threats and not carry them out. And since he never waited more athan a year or so to decide, before, why should we assume this grudge lasted 2000 years?

None of that sadistic Patmos crap happened, because even if He did mean it, when he sent Patmos that dream, he changed his mind! Jonah (and several other places) absolutely discredits Revelation. Thank God.

Alfred Differ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alfred Differ said...

@A.F. Rey: Certainly a human blastocyst can form, over time and in the correct conditions, into a fully-formed baby.

I suspect a lot of this boils down to overactive pre-frontal lobes. If I can imagine my infant son as a grown man, I should defend his life as I would my brother who already is, right? I consider myself reasonably imaginative, so how far back before birth can I reasonably go? Also, no matter what guide I use, should I care that others prefer something different? This wonderfully murky, philosophical stuff that gets down to the particulars of what we mean by personhood. I suspect we will NEVER reach consensus.

When my son's autism diagnosis arrived he was a few months past his fourth birthday. I went through a grieving period from which I've largely emerged. It is interesting to ask what I was grieving for, though, because he was alive and healthy. Each parent who passes through this knows the answer, though we rarely want to reflect upon it. When I did, my ability to tolerate zealous abortion opponents improved. I still disagree with them, but I can see what they might grieve for.

Keeping it legal, safe, and rare is the only way out of this emotional mess for us all.

Alfred Differ said...

@Paul SB: Sorry if this comes across as a bit of an angry rant.

Heh. Tell it Brother!

They don't even have the vocabulary for it, no meme structure in their minds because in their minds it's pure black or pure white.

Seriously, though, I suspect they DO have the meme structure. I've been working on this for years and I think it is there and there are useful analogies we can employ to reach them. They won't like it, though. The folks already addicted to their indignation drugs won't listen, but not all of them are.

I think the trick to this is to realize that they believe in a set of Transcendents with their God being a limiting/asymptotic element. Take Commandment #1 seriously for a moment. It wouldn't be possible to violate it if one believed in only one. If the sequence converges upon an element in the set, they can argue all moral lessons descend back down the sequence of Transcendents to the profane world. Unbelievers, therefore, can't be moral. I'm sure you've heard this conclusion, but it is connected to a sequence with a limit assumed to exist.

Where we can connect, though, is by pointing out that we accept the rest of the sequence even if we reject the belief in the existence of the asymptotic Transcendent. The others in the set include a large number of cultural constructs that most of us DO accept. Liberty, Justice, Prudence, etc. If they can see this overlap, THEN we can argue about the way the moral lessons descend into the profane world from common ground. Indignation might be avoided.

Matthew 5:16 is the lynch pin to reach Christians. 'Glorifying Our Father' can pass through the lesser Transcendents because 'see your Good Works' is included in the same line. No violation of Commandent #1 occurs that way and my rejection of the asymptotic element as a member of the set can be cast as ignorance that can be overcome later.

I've used this argument and an earlier version twice with very devout friends. It worked wonders. They weren't convinced to see things my way, but they DID want to talk more about it. I had to do some hand waving translations to deal with the math terms and I've only recently named the set, but the experiences taught me they CAN be reached.

Alfred Differ said...

@TCB: I would encourage great care be taken with explaining the Doomsday Argument. It is trickier than what I think you are saying about it. The Bayesian interpretation for probability is rather important.

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

We've discussed overpopulation before, so I'll just point out that I suspect you are confirming a previous bias. The argument IS interesting, but it is easily mishandled.

LarryHart said...

Robert:

And now things get more interesting.

Anonymous has declared war against Donald Trump. They promise to air out all of his secrets. His connections to Russian mob bosses, child molestation, the works.


Why'd they wait so long?

Paul SB said...

Alfred & A.F.,

Any parent who has a child who is disabled in any way, has any kind of disfigurement, whether physical or mental, goes through grieving. We all want to our children to be healthy and happy, right? The same thing happens, of course, when a child dies before their parents, and this is even true with a natural miscarriage. The molecules of compassion are activated in our brains by any such tragedy, so i see what Alfred is saying about tolerating the pro-lifers, if their virulence comes from the personal experience of losing a child.

That's not the case with most of them. With the majority, their virulence is simple tribalism - my people are right and anyone who thinks differently from my tribe is an evil, baby-eating heathen.

Now I know that not all religious people are that bad. Many have the natural compassion instincts that their teachings so lack. They are, as Christopher Hitchens once said, decent people in spite of their religion, not because of their religion. I make exception for Mahayana Buddhists, because their religion actually teaches compassion as a major goal, unlike the Abrahamic faiths which teach obedience as the major goal. The problem with this Abrahamic worldview is that obedience is the central tenet. Or as Locates of Borg put it, "Your arcane cultures are authority driven."

But who becomes the authorities? Those people our host refer to as Indignation Junkies are just the people who rise to the top. They are the squeaky wheels that get the oil, they make the most noise and draw the most attention to themselves. I had a conversation more than 20 years ago with a Baptist who complained that no one talks about Jesus anymore, they just go on and on about God. The difference? Jesus is a figure of compassion, God represents blind obedience. We could talk about the morality of values enforced purely by the fear of punishment. The indignation junkies, stoked by their own dopamine highs, spread their poison through institutions like religion, politics, the media - anywhere they can get a platform.

Remember the parable of the Good Samaritan. Jesus did not defend the members of his own tribe for being his people, he condemned them. It was the Samaritan, a marginalized ethnic minority and not of his religion, who he praised for "good work."

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

I had a conversation more than 20 years ago with a Baptist who complained that no one talks about Jesus anymore, they just go on and on about God. The difference? Jesus is a figure of compassion, God represents blind obedience.


I noticed a long time ago that those most insistent about merging Christian church with state always want to display Old Testament passages at courthouses, never the Sermon on the Mount or anything like that.

You may recall that Dave Sim had a different take on Who exactly it is demanding blind obedience in the Old Testament. Rather than God, he would say that it was YHWH (an entity Who only believed Itself to be the equivalent of God) acting out that way. While I disagree with Dave on almost everything political, I do kinda like that interpretation on one sense--to me, if there is an omnipotent/omniscient God, He would be so much above that sort of emotional thing.

Tacitus2 said...

Paul SB

You opined:

"I have known tons of "liberals" who don't touch alcohol or drugs, who are faithful to their spouses and have very high moral standards generally"

Of course if we approximate 150 pounds each it only takes 13.3 liberals to make a ton.

Admittedly the stats on obesity by geographic region suggest that at least in Alabama you could make up a ton of (presumptive) conservatives with 10 or 11.

Tacitus

raito said...

Alfred Differ,

I also don't like the current trend in playing with the definition of 'treason'. Part of the problem is the definition of 'enemy'. Who is an enemy of the US? What determines that? One plausible definition is that we'd have to be at war, something that hasn't officially happened in a long time.

And most religious zealots have very strange notions of omniscience and omnipotence.

A.F. Rey,

You know and I know it has nothing to do with babies. Besides, miscarriages are God's Will (preferably a punishment).

LarryHart,

I had a similar episode in a science fiction class in high school. The teacher went on about some interpretations of a writer's work. I'd been to a con the previous summer and heard the author talk about her own work. The two views were pretty close to diametrically apart. Fortunately, the resulting conversation was interesting, though the teacher did ask for some proof, which I provided in the form of the con program and my attendance badge. So yes, life was like that, at least in one instance.

And Anonymous waited because they're both anarchists and addicted to media coverage.

Zepp Jamieson,

Of course someone from that time might side with baby killers. Pharaoh ordered the killing of children. God turns around with the 10th plague. OK, it's pre-Roman, but whatever side you're on, someone is killing children.

TCB,

Those dietary restrictions always read to me like a per-refrigeration health code, regardless of the religious rationale. Amusing how the Islamic and Jewish versions are quite close. I've also often wondered if the milk-and-meat thing was in response to the Maasai practices (which might have been around that place and time?).

Duncan Cairncross,

So, you're equating fetuses and corporations, right? :) Both fully persons under the law...

Dr. Brin,

I prefer the God from Holly Lisle's Sympathy For The Devil. A God who actively wants people to do well.

And have you ever played the card game Dogma? You're playing a faction at the Nicene Council trying to get your talking points into the creed. It could have been so much worse...

Paul SB,

I grieved every time my wife miscarried. I think I might be able to get along with your Baptist.



LarryHart said...

raito:

Besides, miscarriages are God's Will (preferably a punishment)


Which makes a point I used to argue frequently on another forum with a southern conservative who liked the slogan "God is pro-life!". I said that sounded nice, but going by the preponderance of evidence, it's simply not true. Left to its own natural course, every living thing dies, and those are the lucky ones which survive to any kind of maturity. There are many more metaphorical-miscarriages than metaphorical-live-births in the animal and plant kingdoms. And the ones that do survive do so by living off of the deaths of others.

God is apparently anything but "pro life" in the sense of "Every life is sacred."

A short time after I first had this discussion--it must be almost 10 years now--I took my young daughter to a July 4 parade, and we got our usual ice cream afterwards. She was all full of candy and happiness, and she let out with the statement, "Life is good!" Then, she clarified that she didn't mean good like when you do something special or anything like that. She meant good like her ice cream. She clarified, "Life tastes good!"

I decided then that, rather than "God is pro-life", "Life tastes good," is a much more accurate description of the way the world is.

Catfish N. Cod said...

Given that Anonymous is whoever says they are, and Anonymous' spokesperson is whoever they say they are, I find threats from Anonymous ephemeral at best. It might be real and it might be nothing. Show me results.

Lumping people in a broad movement is generally a bad idea. Are there people in the pro-life movement who are primarily anti-nookie? Who genuinely believe that the goal is some idealized 19th-20th century concept of women who never have sex before marriage, only sleep with one man at a time in their life, never use protection, and bear every baby so conceived (and damn all the negative consequences and suffering, for humanity and all creation, that result)? Sure there are.

And there are also those who genuinely believe it's all about the babies and protecting the concept that babies deserve a full chance at life instead of being struck down by a whim of their mother's.

I can have a more productive conversation, and perhaps have a better chance of coming to an agreement, with one of the latter sort than one of the former.

Jonathan Sills said...

It's that "whim of the mother" thing that really sticks in my craw.

When my then-fiancee (now wife) first learned she was pregnant with our daughter, she was terrified. Her parents were old-school evangelicals, and she was afraid of how they'd react to the fact that (for reasons too complex to go into here) her child would be born out of wedlock. We actually discussed, among other options, the idea of abortion. (I'm so glad we decided not to do that!)

It was not an easy discussion. There's a line from Frederica Mathewes-Green that I first read back in the '70s, and which came to mind frequently during the discussion: "A woman doesn't want an abortion the way she wants an ice-cream cone or a Porsche. A woman wants an abortion the way an animal caught in a trap wants to gnaw off its own leg."

David Brin said...

Very moving, Jonathan. I am glad things went so well.

now onward

onward

matthew said...

It's funny - some of the more vocal "followers" of Anonymous (the political group, not our local cowards) are / were huge supporters of the Trump. Stemming, most likely, from the same hatred of Clinton that Julian Assange most recently came to personify.
Depending on which Anonymous twitter account you follow you would hear threats against Clinton, threats against Trump, threats against Russia, threats against the US military - industrial complex.
It's almost like they are a group comprised of anyone that wants to claim membership :P
Oh, one thing they all seem to have in common? Idiots, utter idiots.
What a bunch of morons.

Alfred Differ said...

@Paul SB: That's not the case with most of them. With the majority, their virulence is simple tribalism - my people are right and anyone who thinks differently from my tribe is an evil, baby-eating heathen.

I don’t know about that. I suspect it depends a lot on when you catch them and what mood they are in. If they start with the perception that you are a threat, then you are obviously an evil, baby-eating heathen. If you meet them at work and they don’t know much about you, they might get to know you enough to block that perception later. I have a story I’ve told here before of me and a woman I knew about 10 years ago now. In the right setting, she was probably one of those tribal types you describe, but she knew me at work where we avoid talking about such things. Michael Newdow was pursuing his court case back then and she let slip in front of me what she thought of him. In return I let her know that I knew him well enough to know her assumptions about him were mistaken. She was shocked and avoided me in the future and I understand why. She couldn’t square the two possible mental models she had of me and she couldn’t reject one of them either.

I no longer think one has to suffer an actual loss to imitate the behavior of those who do. Suffering your own loss certainly helps with the accuracy of the imitation, but I don’t think it is strictly necessary. One can learn a lot by simply being around others who suffer. I suspect many who oppose abortion in principle have can activity imagine suffering enough to want to avoid it for themselves, their loved ones, and the child-to-be that exists only in their pre-frontal lobes. Since we are all children of people who cared just enough to have children instead of aborting them all, I suspect evolution has equipped us to be over imaginative and this is one of the consequences. Add on top of that our ability to become indignation junkies and we get a real mess. Add on top of that mess our inclination to dictate to each other and it is a wonder we haven’t all taken up guns and shot each other. We do seem to try to do that on occasion, but the wonder is that we haven’t succeeded.