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Everything posted by Peterkin

  1. I guess we all have our little projects.
  2. How does a law get passed? Unless it's imposed by a conqueror or dictator, it's usually in response to a majority of voters' opinion. In this case, acceptance in the entertainment media and support from the straight community long preceded legal action - which was damn slow. That there are regressive elements in every society is obvious. There are still idjits running around making speeches against women's suffrage and the banning of hate speech. The history of the US and slavery is a politico-economic one. That practice of human bondage is deeply embedded in patriarchal systems. That made it possible - and expedient - to half-accept slavery into the fresh new baby constitution. It didn't work out so well and blew up in a politico-economic disaster of a civil war. Nothing to do with culture. The federation never had a single coherent culture and doesn't now. Nah, it's just one of several. The really biggest is the followers' willingness to follow. He tells them what they want to hear. It doesn't have to be about God or hell; it can be anything that that makes them feel important and powerful: they're the super-race who have been hard done by, and he will lead them back to the greatness that's rightfully theirs. Whether it's in the name of poor or old turn-cheek Jesus or the Fatherland or Workers' Solidarity or the Glory of the Empire. The human brain is big and full of ideas; it has vast storage capacity for experience, imagination and the reasoning capacity to recombine data and justify its own fantasies. Human will indulge in wishful thinking, in optimistic bias; they will believe in luck and fate, omens, talismans, demons and guardian angels; they will make magic symbols and invent rituals. These things can serve as social cohesives and positive reinforcement, and they can be perverted and exploited. People also love novelty, upheaval, excitement, violence, watching shit explode and blood flow. You don't think so? Look at the ten most popular movies and video games. Three hundred years ago, it was public executions and bull-baiting. That's another strong drive in humans: the desire for control. Of the environment, the elements, of other species and people. That's what also makes it easy for a leader - chosen, imposed or self-appointed - to persuade large numbers of people to attack another group that's got the wrong god, the wrong pigmentation, the wrong ideology, the wrong uniform, the wrong economic arrangement, and is therefore a threat to our correct way of life. Change it if you can. Good luck!
  3. No. Altered cultures write new laws. And in some other countries, defacing the Grand Leader's image is equally serious. Dictators are dictators, under whatever flag or symbol they oppress people, or whatever ideology they profess. I get that you're angry at the dictators, but there is no gain in pointing at one of their many tools of manipulation and coercion, and pretending that if only that one were taken away, we would no longer be the fucked-up species that invented these tools in the first place. Well, you'd better go tell 'em all what they need and don't need, as they are evidently incapable of of deciding for themselves. What do you think they'll answer?
  4. So does every other system of law that predates 1995AD. Laws get changed and updated all the time without fundamentally altering the culture of the nation in which they're practiced. It's usually too gradual to notice, but try comparing any modern Western nation's laws in 1900 and 2000. Not everyone who declares as Muslim follows every aspect of the ancient rules, any more than does every Jew or Christian. That's easy for an atheist to say - people who still adhere to a religion don't see it the same way. And there is a very large number of them - something like 92% of the population. Obviously, your "we" is not everyone's "we".
  5. It is impossible for a single 'thing' to be contradictory. No; there are several major differences. In the first version, God creates humans, like other animals, in two sexes and gives them dominion over the earth. There is no question of obedience or sin or freedom of will. In the second, he creates man, tells him everything in the closed garden is at his disposal except the one forbidden tree; only then does he create the woman. This is the excuse for original sin, and the expulsion of Adam and Eve into a harsh world that's nothing like the earth depicted in the first version. These two versions of the same story indicate that the original comes from a tolerant, prosperous culture, presumably one that developed in a fertile region, and has been adopted and altered by a stern, punitive culture developed by people whose experience is of a difficult environment. If the rest of your gobbledegook is as inaccurate as this observation, it's just as well I won't bother to read it. PS If your hope is to reunite science and religion, this approach is unlikely to succeed.
  6. And where would a merchant acquire these items? In the interior, where the tribal, semi-nomadic, non-affiliated Arabs lived. Plenty of opportunity to preach at them about a unified Arab nation as powerful as the empires to the west and south. And trade with Roman empire provides opportunity to observe their successful military organization and strategy, passing that information on to the Arabs.
  7. In the biography I read, he was assistant and protege to a trader who died. He stayed to take of the business and married the widow (and later, seven other women) and carried on representing her interests. Whether that was anywhere near the truth, we have some other evidence of his having moved around:
  8. And here was Jesus consigning a whole herd of some poor non-Jewish farmer's pigs to demon-infested death in chasm.... Yet both Christians and Muslims have mistreated animals since that time, and have also been kind and caring of them.
  9. We have to be aware, too, of the rise of extreme conservatism in both politics and religions, pretty much the world over. Islam is in the forefront of that trend, starting with the counterrevolution in Iran, bolstered in popular sentiment by reaction against the high-handed colonialist methods of the western powers in middle eastern affairs and the ascendancy of Israel. Conservative religious factions (as well as violent actions) were [are?] supported by the rich Arab kingdoms like Saudi Arabia... only, the current leadership seems more inclined to modern reform and liberalization. Even Iran has a radical faction which pulls toward Marxist ideology and a middle-of-the-road faction that is pragmatic and willing to share power with secular interests. Meanwhile, the religious right in christian, nominally secular countries is very concerning. Many people blame terrorism on the Quran, which is as reasonable as blaming all christian atrocities on the Bible. When people are hell-bent on doing something - whether it's war or charity - they'll find a passage in their holy writ to support that action.
  10. The original Abrahamic scripture has God putting man at the top of creation: All this is for you to enjoy. Then he punished the humans for developing a moral sense, by tossing them out into the wilderness, to live however they could. Unlike the origin stories of primitive religions, which were told by hunter-gatherers who live in and with nature, this story is borrowed from tiered culture with a clearly defined ruler. The only reference to nature is as a hardship to overcome. This story seems to have gained acceptance at a time when the tribe of Abraham was nomadic herders, who no doubt encountered much of that hardship. Muhammad had some education in that scripture, plus the Christian corollary - which was gaining popularity and military strength. You have to bear in mind that a large part of that territory is desert; the fertile bits were already occupied by powerful, sophisticated civilizations founded on farming and urban industries - nature is seen as an enemy, when it's seen at at all. The Arab peoples were urban remnants of older empires, engaged in seafaring trade along the coast, and nomadic herders, hunter-gatherers, seasonal farmers, traders and raiders in the interior. Some practiced a version of Christianity, some were polytheists. It was Muhammad's vision that they could be united for their mutual benefit, and live amicable alongside the other "people of the book". In the OT, women, children and slaves are chattels of the patriarch; servants and field workers, not much more. Jehovah doesn't cavil at commanding Abraham to sacrifice the son he waited and prayed for all his adult life - then says, "Just kidding! Here's a nice ram instead." No question that Abraham has a right to kill both. Jehovah kills off all Job's dependents for the sole purpose of testing his faith, then gives him new children and servants, as if they were interchangeable accoutrements. In the NT, there is no reform suggested to the status of women and children; in Christianity, men were allowed to beat their wives, own slaves, abuse or sell their children. Why should the third iteration have different values? Eventually, reformed versions of all three religions became less rigid, more tolerant and humane. They were influenced, too, by secular thinking in their various societies, as religion lost its death-grip on culture and governance. Where any of these religions is in sole power, the laws are far more harsh and biblical than in countries with multiple religions a strong secular faction.
  11. You can see it under the skin as well as in the denim. I admit to being at a loss how the artist achieved that fabric texture.
  12. It can't be the whole painting, since there is insufficient subject for one. Then, there is the canvas-like surface texture, in close-up, and the flatness of the image. The factor most indicative that it's a painting is the sort of tentative outline of the top surface of the shin: there are a couple of faint extra likes of lighter paint parallel to that surface, and a dry-brush trace at the edge itself. You can see the same thing along the leading edge of the hand, plus a little bit of blurring next to the ring finger and the edge of the jeans in the background. It is a lovely painting. Very fine detail. Simmer down. She's thirteen.
  13. I don't think it's a question of focus. It looks like a detail from a painting. With modern digital techniques, I can't tell whether it's an actual painting (meticulously detailed, I would say hyperrealist) or a photograph made to look like one.
  14. Sounds good. however, both propositions are rather nebulous. More concrete description and illustrations would be helpful.
  15. They seemed to have a pretty lively community. Lots of talk about how to raise children and where best to live. They had pot-luck parties and outings - no different from any group of people with something in common. It's not their fault my friend and I - both single and political - didn't fit in.
  16. Every society developed the religion that reflects its mores and lifestyle. Every deity represents an aspect of the rulership or cultural values of its society. What they all have in common is the human love of ritual: ceremonial display, hallowed places in which the community celebrates or mourns its significant events. Hindu rituals are very picturesque, and seem to me more life-affirming than the Abrahamic ones, even while the ultimate desire is supposed to be for non-being. I'm not that familiar with the intricacies of Judaism and Islam, but Christianity is a death-cult: it venerates sacrifice, obedience, self-denial in the service of eternal life... Feasting and fasting - it seems to me all organized religions have an internal contradiction. Like humans.
  17. Tea always contains some arsenic, even green tea. This is what the teacher was talking about: long soaking in cold water leaches out more of it. Three minutes in hot water is supposedly recommended; I generally do even less, since I drink it without sugar, lemon or (ugh!) milk.
  18. That's not the Mensa test I was given, sometime back in the bronze age. That took an hour and half, went on and on. One of my fellow inductees scored 152. She was a lively, interesting person, while the membership we encountered was mostly trendy young couples with whom we had nothing in common. We dropped out pretty soon - no loss.
  19. Of course it's possible. I don't know which particular test has a 160 ceiling, or how it's calculated. There are many to choose from. The most commonly used when I was in school was Stanford-Binet, which has a top score of 160, so that's probably the one on which you were measured; but I believe it's been supplanted since by the The Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, which tops at 155. The highest measured score I know of, back in 1968 or so, was 190 +/- (off the normal scale, it becomes less and less definitive). The young man in question had serious mental health issues, though perfectly lucid and articulate, he was in and out of hospital with severe depression from about age 17 to when I knew him at 25.
  20. Sure you can, even from a very little stream, as long as it keeps moving. But how much power it gives you depends on the equipment you use, the volume of water and speed of the current. Your biggest problem may be elevation: ideally, there should be a considerable fall. http://ergysaver/planning-microhydropower-system https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjEgFlngZ04
  21. The ones that are alive today survived: blue eyes have not been bred out of the human population. Nor are they restricted to northern latitudes: while less common in southern climates, they do occur and the odd pair still appears in Africans. Of course not! Nor have all brown-eyed people. My partner and I both have hazel eyes and no intention to reproduce. How, in light of all the recombinations that take over time in an ever-increasing gene-pool relevant to the continued existence of a non-harmful variant? I meant the trait was not filtered out. I can't remember what specifically prompted my response and don't consider it important enough to search for.
  22. They have survived. No filter sieved them out.
  23. i had mentioned that there are more light-skinned and light-eyed people in northern latitudes. Yet the de-pigmentation of irises still occurs in Africa and the affected individuals seem to manage all right. It's one of those genetic situations that prevail without making very much difference to survival ; it can be studied, recorded and quantified, but it's ultimately not significant.
  24. I doubt it would figure in that filter. Some other traits with which it is associated might but there is no evident survival drawback to eye colour. On the contrary, since it does appear to be sexually attractive, especially among people where it's uncommon, blue or grey eyes could well be an asset.
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