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Posts posted by Pangloss

  1. If we leave out the brain (which presents a very different kind of discussion, both technically and metaphysically), what would be immoral or evil about growing organs for use in transplantation?

  2. It looks as if Obama for the moment is correctly trying to buy time without alienating either side before events develop to the point where he knows who is going to win, so he opts for the fatuous advice (because he has to say something), that he hopes neither side uses violence and of course the U.S. supports democratic and liberal reforms -- which everyone already knew.


    Yes, but I would remove the word "fatuous" and replace it with "sage".


    And just to add a bit of political dimension to the discussion, IMO conservative pundits and the right side of popular news outlets (e.g. Fox News) are playing a very dangerous game on this issue in criticizing the Obama administration. If John McCain were president right now he'd be in exactly the same position, and saying exactly the same thing.


    That said, it's a mistake to suggest (as many are) that this is an effort for democratic reform. This is about economics. Unemployment is the motivator here, and the correct comparison is Paris in 2010, not Tienanmen Square in 1989. This is nothing more (or less) than the dark underbelly of the 21st century global economy.

  3. Things are a bit slow at the moment, so I thought this might be fun. Politico has a piece up about all the long-shots who have already registered with the FEC for the 2012 election.




    Rutherford B. Hayes — the “B” stands for Bert — is a 42-year-old Navy veteran who owns a gutter-installation business in Seattle.


    Hayes is an independent, and his campaign is about maintaining “America’s sovereignty and the way we live,” he told the newspaper. He’s also involved in running the Miss Liberty America beauty pageant, which is for “elite feminine patriots” and will be held for the first time next year.


    Might be fun to track some of the fringies through the cycle.

  4. I think what you're failing to recognize is that a big selling point for many voters is that a politician should not be a pragmatist and compromise with what they believe is wrong just to maximize their popularity. People consider this somewhat spineless and like politicians that have a strong vision of what's right and work to resolve issues of the opposition. I.e. they think that if the president is right, that s/he should be able to convince the opposition. The problem is that the opposition is just as convinced that they're right and they're willing to scrap as many presidents as it takes to dominate with their prerogative (this is my impression anyway).


    Yah that happens, but I think that's the old public trend. The new public trend is recognizing spin and rejecting it. I could be wrong here, but let me lay out my case.


    Palin's flagging poll numbers are just the most recent example of public rejection of pundit mind control. I think people are gradually realizing that the media-driven "war" between liberals and conservatives is really relatively minor disputes over current problems. And I think that's the way most people are coming to see it, both left and right.


    There's a reason registered independents now outnumber both parties. There's a reason Obama is more popular when he crosses ideological/party lines. There's a reason Fox News skews conservative-populist instead of completely pro-GOP. There's a reason GOP congressionals have almost as low approval ratings as Democratic congressionals. There's a reason the country "turned against Democrats" so quickly between 2008 and 2010, and it wasn't a sudden love afair with the GOP. There's a reason both Jon Stewart and Glen Beck drew so many people to their rallies, and it's not partisanship.


    People are sick of it. And they're starting to come around to the fact that being led by the nose by a different pundit on a different station is still just being led by the nose. Sarah Palin cannot thrive in that environment. The media may portray that as "lack of appeal to moderates", but what I think is that at the very same time that she's been learning how to be a partisan hack, people have been learning how to recognize partisan hacks, and they don't like what they're seeing. (Ironic, isn't it?)


    But maybe I'm just being an optimist. :)

  5. I mentioned in the Giffords Shooting thread that a recent opinion poll showed that most Americans disagreed that inflammatory language was behind the shooting, but felt that it is a problem in general. Well, more polls have been coming out, and what looked initially like bright news for the Sarah Palin camp is turning into something else entirely.


    In short, the public doesn't approve of her reaction any more than it approves of liberals blaming her. People simply aren't buying what she's selling. I've seen several stories along these lines, which we can basically summarize as a rapidly-falling, lowest-yet approval rating for Palin.




    I don't think the woman is stupid and I do think she's unfairly trashed sometimes, but my problem with her is that she's a walking two-wrongs-make-a-right argument. She dwells in the most partisan territory possible, not only condemning progressive policies, but actively engaged in declaring progressives/liberals to be stupid, detrimental, unpatriotic, and having no common ground whatsoever with conservatives. Can anyone even remotely imagine her sitting down at a table with Democrats and hammering out a compromise? Seriously?


    In a nutshell, she's exactly the opposite of what I think mainstream conservatism should be about. Her partisanship undermines absolutely everything that I believe in.


    My two bits, anyway. What do you think?

  6. Just wanted to post a quick heads-up that this week's episode of the PBS series "American Experience" is a fascinating look at the feud between 19th century paleontologists Edward Cope and O.C. Marsh. The entire episode is available for viewing online, and runs about an hour. It's quite well done, with the main focus on the personal and professional consequences of their conflict, but also looking at how their discoveries provided some of the earliest critical evidence supporting Darwin's Theory of Evolution, as well as putting American science on the map. It also includes a look at the founding of the US Geological Survey and the political ramifications of funding in that era.


    Interviews include Ted Daeschler of the Academy of Natural Sciences and the always-colorful Bob Bakker of the Houston Museum of Natural Sciences. The Web site also includes a photo gallery of the famous collection of dinosaur paintings by Charles R. Knight.



  7. I favor gun ownership, but I wonder sometimes if licensing would actually solve problems for both sides in the debate. For gun opponents it improves safety. For gun owners it keeps the guns and answers the opposition's argument.


    I learned recently that purchasing restrictions only apply to gun stores -- private sales aren't affected. This is usually reported in the media with a focus on gun shows, but if you look at a typical community discussion forum for gun owners you can usually find a trading section with people posting their firearms along with prices, arranging meetings to sell the items, etc. At that point, of course, the buyer hops in their state-licensed, state-registered piece of steel and drives across town to purchase another equally dangerous piece of steel free and clear of any government notice whatsoever.


    As inconvenient as gun laws can be, it ultimately just doesn't make a whole lot of sense to have it that way. Not when we can have our cake and eat it too. We can have gun ownership AND improve safety through regulation, registration and licensing.


    My two bits, anyway.

  8. Research can simply be defined as a search for knowledge, which is exactly what I did


    You used past tense above. This is what's gotten you into trouble. Here's another example:


    I will have to do more reading about Al Qaeda, as I mostly focus on how the WTC was destroyed, although that article I posted about Al Qaeda (previous post) basically explains my stand on that as well.


    Responding to sourced evidence with a "stand" is not the action of an open mind seeking truth. It's the action of a determined advocate, evangelist, or salesman. But I'm glad you're going to read further on the matter.


    I'm definitely not questioning your search for truth. Simply suggesting that it seems to have stopped, leading you to raise questions that have answers that you simply haven't encountered yet and to draw conclusions too soon. But maybe your hackles are just up because of some rough treatment in the thread. That would be understandable. It's also fun to talk about things that you haven't fully learned about yet, it's just risky to state facts about them because they could be incorrect. Better to go in with an open mind and asking questions rather than drawing conclusions. (And "suspicious", by the way, is a conclusion.)



    in fact, some people did not even post any sources whatsoever.


    Quite right to point that out, btw. Always correct to ask for sources here. That doesn't mean they're wrong, though, it just means they didn't support their statements.

  9. No Evidence that Al-Qaeda Carried Out the 9/11 Attacks.


    Evidence against Al Qaeda is extensive and well documented. The Wikipedia has an excellent starting-point for a thorough reading on the subject, complete with thorough and probative references.





    I've done some research on the internet


    Therein lies the problem. Although I would say that reading Web sites that peddle conspiracy theories is not "research".


    But I think many people come to objective research from an earlier error in judgment -- that's just human nature. I would wager that almost everyone on this forum has an "I believed in ...." item somewhere in their past. (For me it was Tarot cards. Open your eyes, people!) As painful as these discussions can sometimes be to read, I've always liked the fact that we welcome speculative subjects like this, and I like to think that our tolerance and empathy convinces a lot more people than the ridicule they can so easily find elsewhere.

  10. Getting someone mad based on a lie is intellectually dishonest and unethical, and I am opposed to that, but it's still not the same as advocating violence.


    I agree, and I'm sure you would also agree that it's intellectually dishonest and unethical no matter who does it, not just when it's Fox News Channel, a Republican, or a conservative who's doing the lying.

  11. So you're fine with most of what Fox News does, then?

    Yeah, it's fine to completely fabricate false stories.


    I doubt you can make a case that that's most of what Fox News does.


    Are you fine with Fox News getting people mad and "moving them to action" so long as they don't advocate violence?

  12. This may sound complicated, but what it comes down to is that no individual should be dominated by another (hence the reference to Swanson's post.


    Your conclusion of "domination" is not explained by your rationale of individual ownership versus collectivism. The modern economic model stops ownership from being zero sum.

  13. Well, if nothing else this gives plenty more people a great opportunity to say things that are contradictory, "my team's speech doesn't rile people up but their side's does".




    "Riled up" is a strawman, IMO. You can move someone to action, or just get them mad, without suggesting they do violence to or kill someone. It's not the same thing.


    So you're fine with most of what Fox News does, then?

  14. This is sad to see:



    A man who was wounded in last week's shooting rampage in Tucson was apprehended by authorities Saturday after he allegedly threatened a "tea party" activist at a town hall meeting of victims and eyewitnesses of the attack.


    James Eric Fuller, a 63-year-old Democratic activist, was arrested after shouting "You're dead!" at Tucson Tea Party spokesman Trent Humphries, said Pima County Sheriff's Department spokesman Jason Ogan.


    And here's where it stems from -- a famously partisan Web site.


    In an interview with Democracy Now on Thursday, Fuller linked the shooting to conservative leaders associated with the tea party, including Sarah Palin, Fox News commentator Glenn Beck and Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle. "It looks like Palin, Beck, Sharron Angle and the rest got their first target," Fuller said.


    Democracy Now has been pushing a second-tier narrative (reacting to reactions) over the past week, revolving around the concept that liberals are under attack from conservatives and leveraging the Giffords shooting. Pretty much the same thing Fox News does in reverse. They got some attention earlier in the week when they had a CUNY professor on who has been singled out by Glenn Beck recently as an overly provocative example from the left. They don't advocate violence, of course. What they do is typically ignore the accusation and defend the accused on various unrelated grounds, e.g. "I've been donating to charity for years, so the idea that I would advocate violence is ridiculous!" A fairly standard tactic that's extremely common in partisan punditry (Fox News pundits excel at this).


    But if Fox News is riling people up, isn't it possible that Democracy Now! riled up this guy and contributed to him going over the top? I know we can't know exactly what happened with this guy, and of course he didn't shoot anybody, but it seems like a comparable situation to me, albeit at lesser scale.

  15. That's fine. The South did rely upon foreign exports which were easily stopped by the Navy when the war did break out, but that's really about the ruling elite rather than the common Southerner. There really is no possibility that something like that would have been tried, given the socio-political climate, but if you want to stay in the realm of what-ifs, I suppose that's valid.

  16. Some historians have argued that if everyone in the Southern states had simply refused to obey federal authority as soon as Lincoln was elected President, the South would have won its independence from the North because it would have been beyond the capacity of the North to enforce its laws south of the Mason-Dixon line with everyone resisting. Instead, by raising a conentional army and staking southern independence on the success of a traditional military campaign against the North, the South condemned its fight for independence to ultimate defeat.


    Which historians would those be? I'm unfamiliar with this argument.


    What you suggest regarding refusal to obey was actually tried. It's called the Nullification Crisis. South Carolina refused to implement import tariffs that they felt protected industry in the North but harmed industry in the South. Obviously this tactic didn't resolve anything.


    There are many points in the Civil War at which the South might have won independence had things gone a bit differently, but it's a mistake to blame their lack of success on Southern aggression. The only shots fired by the South prior to Northern invasion of the South were at Fort Sumter, at which there were no deaths. In fact, a Southern "traditional military campaign against the North" only came following two massive campaigns by the North deep into Southern territory -- the Peninsula Campaign and the Northern Virginia Campaign.

  17. "Second Amendment remedies." <--------- Is not a metaphor and is not rhetoric.


    I agree.



    So concealed carry laws are an implied promise to stop every gun crime?


    That seems to be what the "let's arm everyone!" side is saying. After Va Tech, there was a lot of discussion about how if people could carry firearms, such things wouldn't happen. What I'm saying is that basically everyone who wanted to carry a gun was doing so in this situation. You can't make it easier to carry a gun, since you're already there. (short of buying them for people. OMG Socialism). That ability didn't prevent this or limit the damage.


    Well, I think I know you well enough to know that you don't really think that everyone on that side of the debate is incapable of drawing a distinction between improvement and perfection, so in that context I don't really have a problem with what you're saying. I agree that there's a lot of extrapolation and exaggeration that takes place in the gun debate.

  18. No, but why isn't this used as a reason to subdivide existing regional territories then? Also, why do political allies such as NATO members need migratory restrictions among them?


    Like I said, you and your fellow utopian residents can argue that point with the next Taliban soldier who points an AK-47 your way after waltzing across an open border and shoving Sharia Law in your face. Good luck.



    Utopias and dystopias are types of societies. They are types of ideologies/visions for the future. You mentioned "idyllic utopias," which means an optimistic vision for future life. Since you said you didn't like "idyllic utopias," I asked if you preferred "oppressive dystopias," i.e. visions of a future in which oppression increases and intensifies.


    Ok, we're cool, and if you want to tilt at windmills you go right ahead, I'm just letting you know that my interest here is limited. I'm sure there are some here who will be happy to go there with you.



    I note that you haven't responded to my point that there are no mainstream political groups in the United States that are opposed to immigration.

    It is simply social realism to many people that nations and borders exist and that it's natural for people to live within the national borders of their citizenship. Personally, this seems inconsistent with US ideologies of freedom, which should naturally refer to global freedom, imo, but many people do exactly the opposite and assume that US ideologies of freedom only refer to citizens and to the bounded regionalities of the 50 domestic states.


    Look, there's no reason to debate the realism of nationalism. For people who take it for granted, it is unthinkable to question it. It just so happens that I have an anthropological perspective that views nationalism and national institutions the same way I would view any tribal ideology practiced throughout history. It's as hard to get national-naturalists to view nationhood as merely an institution as it would be to get cavemen to recognize that their cave paintings of hunting game are just a ritual to validate their hunting and not the supernatural reason that the gods send animals to them in the first place.


    That's fine, I understand where you're coming from and appreciate your addressing my question. I think you're in denial a bit about why those borders exist, but hey, more power to you.


    Lemur, since you and Dr. Skeptical have denounced me as being uncooprative and disrespectful, how should I go about kissing your backsides to make you feel better? Are either of you American citizens?!!! If not, then shut it up. If so, then grow a pair and identify yourself as someone with a cause. What we don't need are interlopers from the outside dictating our problems. We have enough as it is. C'mon! Come out and identify your 'sneaky" displeasures. As long as people like me live, people like you will have to eventually bring your problems to the floor. Cowards hide. The brave persevere.


    Tone it down, please. There's no reason to be rude here. You can make your point without being that way. He has a right to his opinion too.

  19. I don't think that's a reasonable argument. You can certainly make the case on a statistical level -- arguing whether or not it has reduced crime. But I don't think that extrapolating the arguments of your ideological opponents to obvious extremes is a good way to win a debate.


    At the very least, the statistical arguments that I've seen that suggest no reduction in crime due to mandatory ownership laws are more compelling and better reasoned.

  20. The answer to your question is that it's necessary to prevent abuse of temporary assistance by people who aren't disabled.


    I'm not familiar with your local laws or your friend's problem, but it sounds like she shouldn't be living off a temporary assistance program. But I have no problem with carrying people who aren't capable of carrying themselves, I have a problem with carrying people who ARE capable of carrying themselves. I favor some permanent welfare for permanently disabled (including psychological) cases.


    And those of you who support permanent social welfare programs shouldn't hide your ideological preferences behind loopholes and emotional manipulations. If society doesn't want a thing, don't sell it as something else. Manipulation is manipulation; it's not justified by circumstance.

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