Link roundup, 12/15/15

From the Washington Post: This is what happens when the Arctic warms twice as fast as the rest of the plant

From the Basic Income Network: A detailed look at Finland’s plans to experiment with a basic income

From CNN: Could Trump run as an independent? Lots of maybes

From ScienceDaily: Old, but evergreen research result shows that terrorism makes us stupid

From the GOPLifer archives: Just in time for your Christmas Eve nativity scene, finding meaning in the contradictions between the two Christmas stories in the Bible

Chris Ladd is a Texan living in the Chicago area. He has been involved in grassroots Republican politics for most of his life. He was a Republican precinct committeeman in suburban Chicago until he resigned from the party and his position after the 2016 Republican Convention. He can be reached at gopliferchicago at gmail dot com.

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145 comments on “Link roundup, 12/15/15
  1. 1mime says:

    Everyone is busy with Christmas preparations, or, have you merely been standing in line or camping out to get in to Star Wars VII! Regardless, Merry Christmas and may the force be with you in 2016!

  2. 1mime says:

    The combined leadership of both parties will result in passage of the appropriations bill which will take the U.S. through September, 2016. As America continues to claw its way back to economic stability, this is a good thing. There were trade-offs for both parties. It is important to note that Speaker Paul Ryan honored Boehner’s budget cap agreement with the president (he had worked this out with the President before resigning), but, in the future, Ryan will not be held to any agreement with the Democrats and will be more beholden to his own party’s dictates. For now, we can all breathe more easily until round two of Ryan’s budget negotiations.

    It is significant that the export ban on domestic oil will be lifted under this bill. Given the current economic importance of the fossil fuel industry to America’s economy and the abundance of supply, I think this is a wise step. I am a proponent of alternative fuels and would prefer to see less fossil fuel use in order to reduce CO2 emissions but this should be a gradual shift. The concessions won in exchange for eliminating the ban buy more time for renewable fuels/alternative energy sources to become viable partners in our domestic energy market and contribute towards a healthier environment. This is an important “win” for the GOP and extended renewable/alternative energy support is a “win” for our environment.

    A “loser” in the bill was the two-year delay in taxes on Cadillac Health insurance plans (big for unions) and the taxes on medical devices. The ACA needs a funding mechanism (SCOTUS upheld its ability to “tax” to provide a revenue stream) and therefore this a a problem that will have to be revisited. Most people seek broader access to affordable coverage and hope that the two parties will work towards improving rather than eliminating the Act. Time will tell.

  3. Rob Ambrose says:

    Interesting read re: Biblical Inaccuracies.

    5 reasons Jesus probably didn’t exist.

  4. 1mime says:

    This analysis by Larry Sabato’s group, is excellent. Note that the concensus is for a GOP win, albeit narrow, and fragile, given the ten point scenario he outlines. Good reading.

    If anybody’s out there (haven’t finished your Christmas shopping, have ya!)……and still thinking about politics (-:

    • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

      Yes, yes, yes….a thousand times yes.

      Blue Wall/Red Fortress, lots of smart folks who break this down piece by piece are not seeing the Democrat dominance in the 2016 election, and many are nodding to a slight lean for the GOP.

      Regale me stories of changing demographics and alienation of minority voters by the GOP, but be sure to remind me of all those elections where Hispanic voter turnout got within 20 percentage points of White voter turnout and when Black voter turnout was within 10 points of White voter turnout in a non-Obama election.

      Also, be sure to point out all those times when a non-incumbent candidate following a relatively unpopular incumbent president easily breezed through an election during a time when the economy has anemic growth.

      You can tell me that historical patterns are only accurate until they aren’t accurate any longer, and I get that sentiment, but I sure would like to see the Democrats actually do well (for anyone other than Obama) in an election or two before we start writing the GOP obituaries.

      • 1mime says:

        On the money, as usual, Homer. In reading through the appropriations budget I couldn’t help but notice the applaud most of the Democratic contributions – (except for the delay on the ACA Cadillac tax and tax on medical devices….in the first case, it’s purely largesse which is wrong, in the second, it should be absorbed by these expensive device companies or passed on)…but it was the budget proposals relating to the environment that I found most worthwhile. Democrats are pulling all of the weight regarding environmental protection. One can surely argue for or against specific proposals, but they are getting this basically right. They are failing in their development of a strong bench which is really hurting them now and going forward.

        Follow Sabato. Good research and pretty good record on predictions.

      • 1mime says:

        “and applaud”

    • vikinghou says:

      With regard to the black vote, I’m wondering if Hillary will rely on the Obama’s to campaign on her behalf. Barack and Michelle could help stimulate black turnout, but it would further galvanize the virulent anti-Obama white vote. It’s a question of which effect would be larger.

    • Ryan Ashfyre says:

      As fascinating as all that is, and with all due respect to Larry Sabato, one can’t help but notice that, as far as I could tell, he doesn’t go into any specific details on how the GOP could overcome the Democrats’ Electoral College advantage save for some ruminating on their potentially doing better with minority groups.

      Oh right, the same Republicans who killed immigration reform and who are now inextricably tied to Trump’s “Mexicans are all rapists” and “let’s ban all Muslims” are somehow, magically, going to do better with minorities just in time for them to win in 2016. Pardon me while I take a hearty laugh at the little nugget.

      And, please, let’s get past this notion of the GOP increasing white voter turnout on their end. If Republicans couldn’t do it in two elections against President Obama, what are the chances that happens against Hillary Clinton, particularly with a demographic that is, quite literally, dying out? You do the math.

      With that all said, of course anything can still happen between now and November 2016. A Democratic victory is far from a sure thing at this point, but it’s one thing to theorize about “what-ifs” and “if Republicans can just manage to to do a little better with minority groups and if some Democrats stay home…” but you have to look at things in the context of what’s happening right now.

      Republicans’ standing among minority groups is abysmal right now, and that does not show any sign of improving in the immediate future. Lose the Hispanic vote and you’ve lost the presidency. Talk about African-American turnout until you turn blue in the face if you so wish, but that’s reality. Mitt “The Political Chameleon” Romney learned that in 2012 the hard way.

      You want to talk about how Republicans win in 2016? Tell me how they start actively competing in states like Illinois, Wisconsin, California, New York, and others that, for many presidential election cycles now, have been terminally blue.

      • 1mime says:

        Ryan, all of us here who are Democrats would love Lifer’s Blue Wall to hold. Without Obama on the ticket, and given the unpredictability of Black and Hispanic voting turnout, along with a pretty stable White turnout for the GOP, you and Sabato are both correct: anything is possible. The evangelical turnout will be pivotal, and Cruz (and to a degree, Trump) will certainly get them out…I hear you and believe me, I know how important this 2016 election is (hold President, re-take Senate, SCOTUS appointee). I have read Sabato for a few election cycles and his work has been pretty solid, although Lifer may have a different opinion. What is true is that it is far too early to predict any outcome with certainty. I hope you are correct in your analysis of the final outcome.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Ryan, I love your tendency to describe historical trends as “what ifs” while you predict an unprecedented event of a Democrat win that goes against most historical trends.

        Be sure to tell John Kerry (+18%) and Al Gore (+27%) about how you can’t win the presidency without winning the Hispanic vote.

        Math, actually kinda is my strong suit, so I’ll happily do the math. The White folks you say are literally dying out will represent 70% of the electorate in 2016. They ain’t dead yet.

        Your sleeping giant of the Hispanic vote is going to account for 11%, with Blacks about 13%. It is going to take over 2% of the non-White vote to account for every 1% of the White vote, and I don’t think anyone should need to remind you which group really, really likes to vote.

        Blacks and young folks turned out in unprecedented numbers for Obama. Sure, you could argue that Hillary, at age 69, will seem as energetic, charismatic, and transcendent to these groups as 47 year old Obama did in 2008, but you would be wrong.

        The expanding non-White percentages really are not enough to flip any red states blue (e.g., Georgia or Arizona) unless you are envisioning some miracle (a “what if” maybe) from a candidate that could not manage to defeat the junior senator from Illinois with a funny name. While there are certainly more electoral college votes leaning to the Democrats, there is no chance that Hillary picks up any state the Romney won in 2012.

        Your sleeping giant of Hispanic voters are primarily in California, Texas, and NY. None of those states are in play, so it really doesn’t take a “magic number” of Hispanics for the GOP. Hispanics will make up less than 7% of the voters in swing states, and underperforming with Hispanics just will not hurt the GOP nearly as much as you seem to imagine (at least until 2020/2024).

      • Doug says:

        “a candidate that could not manage to defeat the junior senator from Illinois with a funny name”

        This needs to be repeated. And since then she’s just gotten older, less likable, and has added a few more scandals to her resume. For the life of me I don’t understand why the Dems decided she would be the anointed one.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Doug, she’s the anointed one because the Democrats have an incredibly shallow bench after a decade and a half of getting blitzed at the House, Senate, and Governor level.

        The Democrats are so weak, there is a moderately sizeable chunk of folks who view Bernie as a viable candidate (he’s not).

        Hillary should have beaten Obama in 2008, with a more seasoned Obama coming in now.

        Another reasons she is anointed is that she is very well qualified. Even ignoring the years as First Lady, she has enough Senate and State experience to be the most qualified Democrat available.

      • 1mime says:

        Hillary’s experience: Don’t forget her years as Sec of State….one can find fault with aspects of her tenure, but cannot ignore or argue that this experience will not be beneficial to a president in these turbulent times. It really all comes down to choices. Who on the Republican side has Hillary’s experience and breadth of qualifications? It will be very interesting to see how a female will function as POTUS. I’m betting with my vote that Hillary will acquit herself quite well, if elected.

  5. “…Bronze Age commandments…”

    Hmm. Dad always said, “The only difference between us and the Cro-Magnons is that we build a better nut and bolt.” Human nature being what it is, I suspect my old man has the better of Chris on this topic. I’ll stick with my Bronze Age wisdom, thank you very much.

    Merry Christmas, all!

    • objv says:

      Merry Christmas, Tracy!

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      The ten commandments are just common sense (mostly), and are pretty much necessary for ANY advanced civilization to flourish. Similar ones exist in the majority of human civilizations throighout all of recorded history, in all eras, although perhaps not codified with such dramatics as references in the OT.

      There’s nothing at all “Christian” about the overall thrust of the ten commandments. They’re very humanist.

      • Well, Rob, although it is true that religionists have been slaughtering each other for millienia, despite codified behavioral rules, it’s hard to argue that our secular humanist progressive brethren are doing any better. For instance, secular “humanists” in just the last century have gifted us with eugenics, forced mass sterilization, starvation camps and internment centers, all in the name of bettering the species and/or saving the planet. Such goofy Malthusian “cruel to be kind” schemes persist in secular humanist circles to this very day, albeit somewhat dialed down. So much for “advanced” civilization.

      • fiftyohm says:

        “The ten commandments are just common sense (mostly), and are pretty much necessary for ANY advanced civilization to flourish.” RobA

        Really? Let’s see:

        1. False gods and all that? Scratch that one.
        2. Graven images? Y’mean like those Charlie Hebdo people? Scratch that one.
        3. Swearing? Really? Scratch that one.
        4. Sabbath Day? Blue Laws and all that? Gone.
        5. Parents? What if they’re abusive? Exceptions? Plenty of them. Gone.
        6. Murder. OK, that’s a good one.
        7. Adultery? Necessary for the flourishing of Civilization? Don’t think so.
        8. Theft? That’s a good one.
        9. Lying? Another good one..
        10 “Coveting another’s stuff? Wife? Ah nope. Thought crime.

        So I count three of ten that aren’t total bullshit wrt civilizations flourishing. I think you overstated substantially your case, Rob.

      • vikinghou says:

        I wonder what the other five were? 😉

      • fiftyohm says:

        Heh-heh. Loved that movie!

      • 1mime says:

        Cute, Viking!

  6. Haionous says:

    OT But this article just came out. Sounds like some really good ideas and fits in really well with some of the main themes you talk about on here Chris.

    Basic summary – make welfare benefits portable and provide incentives and security so that people can move from depressed regions to places with better opportunities.

    • Bobo Amerigo says:

      Haionous, your link is quite interesting. I’ve never read these proposals before.


    • Crogged says:

      It would seem technological advances will also impact the jobs of the incredibly skilled, innovative workers, such as myself.

      The concept of a ‘minimum’ income has value beyond eliminating all the government workers with sociology degrees. Technology is increasing the rate at which former traditional jobs with high skills become obsolete or automated. Everyone will be impacted, even us smart dudes and dudettes.

    • unarmedandunafraid says:

      Haionous – Making benefits portable and such would probably make it easier for some to move on to greener pastures. But people already do so without these changes. I am not arguing against these changes but just saying that the Rust Belt cities did empty of young people in the 70’s. With some exceptions this situation is righting itself. The rust belt is starting to regain (small changes) populations which again would be young people.

      I can think of reasons why people don’t move. First if you are at the end of your career and near or at retirement there is no reason to go and many reasons to stay. Secondly, if you have a parent that needs someone close to watch after them, you stay.

      Another group that would stay would be a group that traditionally had problems getting worthwhile jobs in any situation. Lets say a group that was discriminated against. Maybe with criminal record and poor education. With some exceptions, why move to the same non-opportunities.

      So, again making it easier for the workforce chase the jobs available as the jobs chase the lowest paying areas is worthwhile but we still have to consider those left behind.

  7. Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

    I’m kind of curious, so show of hands (check all that apply):

    A. Jesus – probably existed, cool dude, did good things, not supernatural
    B. Jesus – supernatural son of god, rose from the dead, walked on water, etc
    C. Jesus – Homer’s accountant

    I’m going with A and C.

    • duncancairncross says:

      Hi Houston
      Can I add D & E

      D. Jesus never actually existed – he was was an amalgam of various characters from around that time
      (This is what the “Dead Sea Scrolls appears to say)

      E. Jesus never existed he was “created” by the Roman equivalent of the CIA because the Jews at that time were into violent rebellion and a peaceful messiah was a better alternative from Rome’s POV

      I tend towards “D” but I find “E” fascinating

      • MassDem says:

        Reach out and touch faith

        Your own personal Jesus
        Someone to hear your prayers
        Someone who cares
        Your own personal Jesus
        Someone to hear your prayers
        Someone who’s there

      • duncancairncross says:

        “Your own personal Jesus
        Someone to hear your prayers
        Someone who cares
        Your own personal Jesus
        Someone to hear your prayers
        Someone who’s there”

        That me all right I’m my own personal Jesus

      • fiftyohm says:

        Duncan – There is some vague bit of historicity to the Jesus myth, given it’s widespread promulgation. At best though, he was a peace-loving hippie. Mohammed was an illiterate pedophile and a violent warlord. The distinction is important in the modern context.

      • Griffin says:

        “But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them – bring them here and kill them in front of me.” – Jesus

        “I came not to bring peace, but to bring a sword” -Jesus

        We’ve played this game before fifty…

      • fiftyohm says:

        You’re right, Griffin – Jesus was, (if he “was” at all), a violent, pedophile warlord.

    • Bobo Amerigo says:

      Eons ago, in a overview of Greek and Roman history, the professor said in the era of Christianity’s origins, there were several Roman religions featuring mother and son, like Mary and Jesus.

      Christianity stuck, he said, and the others are merely mentioned in old documents.

      (As a woman, I point how Mary has been demoted from co-equal to that nice lady who smiles at you from church windows.)

      So I vote for D., although there have been times in my life I sought information on the historical Jesus and was a little surprised at how little there is/was.

    • Pascal had it right, so if has to be in writing, I’ll go with B. 😉

      All kidding aside, ponder this: I’m trained as a scientist, steeped in the scientific method from early childhood. If it ain’t reproducible, it just doesn’t register with me; I’ll discount it. This set of cognitive blinders renders me (and I’ll wager the same applies to most modern, developed world humans) congenitally incapable of processing, or even recognizing, miracles. I have little doubt that I could *witness* a miracle and not credit it for what it was.

      As for Christianity, Islam, and the like, my main issue with them is the pedagogical insistence on the part of the clergy on the primacy of the founder of the given faith. We’ve slaughtered an awful lot of human beings over such nitpicking. Honestly, if there *is* an all-powerful, all-knowing, loving Creator (and I believe there is), would He be so niggardly as to send only one? Methinks not.

      • texan5142 says:

        Niggardly? Really Tracy, you are better than that I thought.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Whoa there, Tex! I hope you’re joking. The two words are not even etymologically you know. I hope political correctness hasn’t stretched all the way to the boundaries of “sounds like”.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Did I omit the word “related” after the word “even”? arg…

      • texan5142 says:

        Forgot the snark symbol…sorry.

      • texan5142 says:

        I have had people roll their eyes at me when I have used “niggardly” in a sentence, I never explain, it is a good way to gauge people sometimes. No offence Tracy, and Merry Christmas.

      • fiftyohm says:

        My apologies to you too, Tex. And a Merry Christmas to you both!

    • objv says:

      Homer, buddy, I’m going to have to have some proof that Jesus, your accountant, exists. The last time you mentioned a Jesus was in relation to a guy you knew who wrote code.

      The glaring inconsistencies in your comments make it hard for me to believe in YOUR Jesus.

      As you’ve probably guessed, I’m going with B since there is more documented evidence of my Jesus than your Jesus (choice C).

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      D – composite of many hisotircal (fictional) characters.

      He scores very high on the Mythic Hero Archetype checklist, with 20 out of 22 (things such as “born of a virgin”, ” unusual death”, “royal lineage”, ” no kids”, “death on a hill” etc).

      Only Oedipus and Thesius scored higher, but our boy Jesus scores higher then ither Mythic Heros such Romulus, Zeus, and Hercules.

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      Obvj – The Bible is more if a reference to confirm/crosscheck other, more credible historical documents. The authors are not really known (I.e. none of the Bibles authors are references in other, secular documents of the time, nor was Jesus the Messiah for that matter).

      The Bible cannot be proof of its own accuracy. I.e. the statement “the Bible is true. I know this because the Bible says so” does not hold any water.

      • I think, therefore I am? Hmm.

      • Rob, I refer you, in general, to Mssrs Gödel and Hilbert, viz. Gödel’s incompleteness theorems. Recursion is a bitch. With apologies to Lucretius and his intellectual heirs, ultimately all systems of belief (or logic) resort to a leap of faith. To pretend otherwise is to fall victim to particular species of hubris all too common to the modern progressive.

        One suspects our Creator is providing us with an object lesson here regarding the fundamental nature of the fabric of Creation, if only we’d have the wit to grok it. I lump it in with a variety of other well known and a well documented, but very poorly understood phenomena including gravity, time, turbulence, and the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

    • 1mime says:

      Because I am such a faithful follower of “Homer’s posts”, I’ll check A & C.

  8. objv says:

    The Christmas Story according to Chris Ladd?

    Here’s an explanation of the apparent contradictions between the gospels of Matthew and Luke:

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      Its not a bad explanation, the logic is at least plausible.

      But still, bit entirely convincing. Hes basically saying if you squint your eyes, and make a few leaps of faith (I.e. Luke using Hegemon instead if Legatus means he’s referring to Quiniruius as a high ranking official, not a governor. And who knows? Maybe in that role, Quiniruius was tasked with running the census – even though there is nothing whatsoever to suggest this – and if so, then Luke was kind of correct in saying Jesus was born during Quiniruius census) then sure, the stories could be consistent.

      But why would we do that? Isn’t it more accurate to use the words as written, instead of jumping through a number of convoluted hoops in order to land at the conclusion we want?

      • objv says:

        Rob, by the same token, wouldn’t it be a leap of faith to say that there could have been only one census?

        Scholars now agree that the gospels were written in the first century. The odds are that any discrepancies would have been flagged during the decades after Christ’s death. Here we are two thousand years later trying to piece together information from various sources that may be less reliable than the biblical account.

        I’m no expert in biblical history, and I think that it is a positive thing for the Bible to be challenged, but in this case there doesn’t seem to be a compelling reason to doubt Luke’s account.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Unarmed – the Bubble Deep Field is truly an awesome, humbling, profound image, and should out to rest any idea of our (natural, i should add) anthropomorphic self centeredness.

        If there is a creator, hes more like a scientist creating a bacteria culture in a petei dish. He may admire/be proud of his work, the entirety of those billions or trillions of living organisms.

        But he does not know each bacteria individually. He doesn’t care which decide to premaritally replicate. He doesn’t even care if one bacteria swallows another one (these hypothetical bacteria are a vicious lot).

        We are utterly insignificant in the cosmic sense, and the scope and scale shown in the HDF image drives that home better then anything else I can think of.

        I’m sure a child would find this frightening (“what?! There isn’t a loving God out there to protect and watch over us?! What will we do?!”). A more mature mind should find it liberating and exciting, and a little humbling. They should not spend their life on this Earth pining for another one (that will never come). They should do everything they can to live THIS life. To live it as large as possible. To fill our days with laughter and surround ourselves with people we love. Treat people with kindness because its the rifht tjing to do, not because were trying to acore points with the Big Man so we can get in the VIP room after we leave this mortal coil. To try to leave this world in just a little better shape then we found it.

        There is a peace and a beauty in the realization that we really are here all by ourselves. When we look to the sky and all we see is an incomprehensiblely huge expense of lifelessness, it makes you realize We’ve only got each other to make the loneliness bearable.

        And when you put it in that perspective, doesn’t it seem incredibly stupid that we fight wars, or hate each other based on something as simple as what we believe, or the color of our skin, or what gender we are etc?

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        This was meant to be a response to unarmed re: the Hubble deep field. Not sure how intended up here

    • goplifer says:

      Um.. no. Josephus is pretty clear about what happened and his explanation, unlike efforts to wave a hand over this contradictions and explain them away, actually makes sense.

      When the Romans assumed control of a new territory they conducted a census. Why? Because a census was critical for assessing taxes and taxes were central to a Roman administration.

      The census which occurred after Rome assumed direct administration of Judea was not a minor event (nor was it, as Luke described, an empire-wide event). Unlike some random North African or European territory, the Jews had a lot of deep sensitivities to a census. The Roman census of 6 CE sparked a brutal revolt that would take almost a decade to put down. Luke mentioned it because it featured prominently in the memories of the earliest Christians and shaped Jesus’ life. Josephus made it the centerpiece of his history, describing it as the beginning of organized Jewish rebellion that would culminate decades later in the two great revolts.

      Matthew sets his story in a completely different setting under Herod the Great more than a decade prior. The census Luke describes could not have happened under Herod. The Romans did not rule that territory at that time and could not have imposed a census. And if they had tried, then the rebellion Josephus describes would have started more than a decade prior under Herod. It did not.

      Again, for those who are determined to hold to their literalist assumptions, there are no facts which can intervene. Anything inconsistent can be explained away. However, if you start from an impulse to discover what happened, then place the Biblical sources in that context, conflicts in the Biblical sources become impossible to ignore. Those conflicts can inspire a richer, more complex, and more humble approach to religion. Or they can inspire efforts to shut down inquiry and close off dissonance.

      Everybody makes their choices.

      • objv says:

        You never know, Josephus could have been the one who was wrong.

        Click to access JETS_54-1_65-87_Rhoads.pdf

        Lifer, there is also a presumption among those who want to dismiss the Bible as a fairy tale that incidents are automatically unreliable historically.

        Well, as I’ve said, I’m no expert here. Good luck with my link. All this thinking is making my poor, little blond head ache. I’ve got a luncheon to get to. Bye.

      • Griffin says:

        Fundamentalists are to Christianity what paint-by-numbers is to art. -Robin Tyler

        I would say “religion” in general instead of just Christianity but you get the gist.

      • BigWilly says:

        I found modern biblical criticism to a bit more than critical and then also not at the same time. Modern biblical criticism seems, at least to me, to be primarily subversive in nature seeking to destroy those of the faith who are unprepared for such an attack on their belief system. Because these attacks are not intended to form a more perfect faith believers will have to shut them off in the short term in order to catch up.

        It’s not that the criticism isn’t worth investigating, it just that it’s not all that critical to having a healthy faith life. Rather than studying the Scripture for meaning we’re on a wild goose chase trying to prove the historicity of the argument instead.

        Was Josephus Paul? Was Moses Akhenaton? How would I know. Ask the Pope, he’s the one sitting on the records. If it is the Apocalypse he needs to get up of them and share the truth with us.

        I noticed a teleplay of Childhood’s End started Sun. I loved that book when I was a lad, but how many variations can you have on the same theme (which is Biblical, by the way).

        I’ll stick with my fundamentals.

      • Crogged says:

        The Bible and Macbeth are always true.

      • objv says:

        Griffin, perhaps you’re right in saying that fundamentalists are paint-by-numbers types.

        However, they are still superior to atheists who can’t even connect the dots (or even believe that dots exist.)

      • duncancairncross says:

        Hi Objv
        You should see a doctor – seeing dots that don’t exist is one of the symptoms of a degenerative vision problem

      • fiftyohm says:

        objv – Is it safe to assume you are an atheist wrt Poseidon? Or Zeus? How exactly, is your current god different from those that have come before, or are still around? Or are you really just a deist? If so, that’s OK – you’re in good historical and intellectual company with that.

      • objv says:

        Big W wrote: It’s not that the criticism isn’t worth investigating, it just that it’s not all that critical to having a healthy faith life.

        True, Big W. Scholars have devoted their lives to studying every nuance in Bible passages, but for most Christians, all that is really necessary is faith in Christ’s redemption. I admire people who try to love God with all their heart and their neighbor as much as themselves. They are better than those who may have lots of Biblical knowledge but harbor bitterness towards others.

        Thanks for the reminder that being a Christian entails more than being doctrinally correct. 🙂

      • objv says:

        Fifty, there’s not enough room here to explain. I would have to write a book.

        Fortunately, it’s already been done.

      • objv says:

        Ha, Duncan! (-:

        I see dots.

        I’ve been to a doctor and he has verified that they exist. (They are called floaters and unfortunately are a sign that I’m getting older.)

        Note: I have not tried to connect these particular dots.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Stroebel didn’t answer that question either.

      • goplifer says:

        ***but for most Christians, all that is really necessary is faith in Christ’s redemption.***

        If that were an accurate statement of belief then we wouldn’t be arguing over whether every piece of the Bible is literally true because you wouldn’t care – and neither would anyone else. Somewhere along the way, Protestants, and particularly the ones with a Baptist and/or Southern tradition, got caught on this notion of literalism and just can’t let it go. The depths of delusion around this stuff are endless – and utterly pointless.

        Exposing the Bible to reality does absolutely nothing to reduce it. Literalism is a cultural, not a religious phenomenon. And that culture is fighting hard against its inevitable obsolescence on this and many other fronts.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        @objv: >] “Griffin, perhaps you’re right in saying that fundamentalists are paint-by-numbers types.

        However, they are still superior to atheists who can’t even connect the dots (or even believe that dots exist.)”

        I know I shouldn’t be surprised to see religion come up in a political blog, even one as well-mannered as this one, but still…

        >] “True, Big W. Scholars have devoted their lives to studying every nuance in Bible passages, but for most Christians, all that is really necessary is faith in Christ’s redemption. I admire people who try to love God with all their heart and their neighbor as much as themselves. They are better than those who may have lots of Biblical knowledge but harbor bitterness towards others.”

        I’ve no particular bone with the sentiment of Christ sacrificing himself for all of humanity, but the question inevitably comes up as to whether or not that supposed sacrifice was genuine. Hear me out for a moment, okay?

        Long story short, the Original Sin effectively branded all of humanity (I have my own personal problems with the idea of punishing an entire race for someone else’s mistakes, but that’s another argument entirely) from here until the end of time or until humankind ceases to be. However, according to Christian doctrine, if one professes faith in Jesus Christ and, one would assume, live a life in accordance with what Christ would have wanted, your eternal soul still has a chance to be saved from otherwise eternal torment in hell and live on forever in paradise. The End.

        Now, one of the more… let’s say, simplistic atheistic arguments in this case would be that God, supposedly, is all-knowing about all things, hence he would’ve known about the Original Sin branding all of humanity, hence making him complicit in its occurrence and not having done anything to stop it. Fast forward a little bit and, if you buy this line of reasoning (I don’t, necessarily), then you come to the conclusion that Christ was nothing more than a convenient martyr so as to have the people swear allegiance to God lest their souls suffer forevermore.

        To be clear, I don’t readily take that as my position. My thoughts on the matter center more along the idea of sin being, frankly, insignificant so as not even to merit consideration. I mean, if the actions of just two people could brand all of humanity forever with the taint of sin and the actions of another man – Son of God or not – could bear its entire weight on his shoulders alone, I couldn’t even begin to contemplate how a race as mightily complex and varied as humanity rounds it all out in the end. The only answer I can give to that is to say that I’ll live my life as best as I know how; and if some higher deity decides that’s not good enough in the end, well then that’s that. I did the best I could and I have no regrets one way or the other.

        Getting back onto Christ’s sacrifice though, my problem stems from really one central issue, and it’s the big kahuna in this case. How does one merit that as a true sacrifice in the sense that the man dies and then is magically resurrected three days later? Really, and I ask that in all seriousness.

        We honor our soldiers and our fallen heroes on the fields of war because, when you get right down to it, they laid down their lives for their country and their loved ones knowing full well that there was a chance that they would never see them again. That choice is what makes them so admirable and deserving of our respect and honoring their memories.

        However, that’s not the case with Christ. He died and came back to life. So why, exactly, should I dignify such figure by treating his death as a true sacrifice with my life when he, with all respect, perverted the entire idea of life and death with his resurrection.

        Again, and just to be clear, I don’t have any personal vendetta against any of what I’ve said, but I do think these evident contradictions bear a rational and well-thought out response.

      • unarmedandunafraid says:

        I spent a lot of time reading the bible, reading books about the bible, I have a book by Josephus around here somewhere. That is what happens when you instil these thoughts in a child’s head. There must be something that I’m missing in there somewhere! What is it that causes millions of people to build temples and cathedrals. I don’t believe but again, millions of people can’t be wrong. And there is a certain beauty in some of the writings. So I read, dig, read more, ponder.

        Time passes, and then I see the extreme deep field photo from the Hubble telescope. I realize that if there is a God he isn’t the meddling one described in any of the religious texts. He is not going to have someone rasslin the devil through the night. Or making the enemies of the Israelites make gold replicas of their hemorrhoids.(1Samuel 6:4)

        All that time investigating religion could have been spent asking a bigger question. Why did the people on Gilligan’s Island always have hope that they would be rescued even after they were not in the previous 90 some episodes?

        If you get solace from your faith, then more power to you. But if you don’t, give a child a headstart in life. Point out the Hubble photos.

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      BTW, sorry for all the typos. I comment from my phone and I’ve got really fat thumbs. Rereading it is a little painful at times, but rest assured, I wouldn’t make such hideous spelling errors if I were writing lol.

      Also want to post a link forbthe HDF just in case anyone hadn’t seen it, and to explain the story.

      Back in the 90’s they pointed the Hubble at an empty (with the naked eye), insignificant tiny piece of sky for 10 days, just to see what they’d see (they expected nothing, of course).

      For a sense of scale, this entire image is approximately a piece of sky the size of a dime if you held it up at arms length. Its that tiny.

      The results were astonishing. Each one of these bits of light is a GALAXY not a star. Each galaxy contains (like our own Milky Way) approx 100 billion stars. There are about 10,000 galaxies in the HDF. Let that sink in, as you consider how such a tiny piece of sky can hold such a massive amount of “stuff”. Then extrapolate that over the entire sky.

      • 1mime says:

        I find this reality (thousands of galaxies) to be the major challenge to atheism. How does one explain the creation of the universe?

      • For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. – Romans 1:20

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        We don’t Mime. That’s the fundamental difference between science and religion. Science is not afraid to say, we simply don’t know.

        For example, we know beyond a reasonable doubt that the universe is around 13.7 billion years based reverse engineering the expansion rate ofbthe universe (which we can measure very accurately). We can even SEE (as in, physically see) as recently as far back as 300,000 years after the big bang in the cosmic microwave radiation (can be seen here

        The CMB is basically a snapshot taken by equipment that can see thermal energy (heat). The pattern is the same everywhere we look in the universe. Most convincingly, the pattern was predicted and described to an almost spooky accuracy by Ralph Alpherin in the 40’s using our mathematics before it was observed in the 60’s.

        The actual CMB lined up so accurately with Alpherins prediction its eerie. When his prediction is plotted on a graph on the actual observed CMB, they are almost identical.

        So we know the big bang happened and we know when it happened. Beyond that, we just don’t know, and you’ll never hear any serious scientist (yet) SAY they know. And no one has a problem with that.

        Is it possible that the big bang was “created” by a sentient being? Sure it is. In fact, that’s just as plausible as any other explanation. But since we have no evidence of such yet, its simply a dead zone.

        “Atheism” by most atheists (such as myself) isn’t so much as saying we don’t believe in a creator. Its saying that we reject all explanations put forward so far.

        I have no inherent aversion to a creator. If the evidence eventually leads us down that path, i would go that route. I just think it’s irresponsible (and wrong) to speculate about something we have absolutely no evdidence to support. If/when the evidence leads SCIENCE (I.e. falsifiable evidence) then science will not hesitate to follow that path.

        Science isn’t “anti” anything. Its simply pro truth. And making statements without evidence is not truth. Full stop.

        Quantime mechanics tells us that the world around us is far more inherently “weird” then we percieve. Our perception of “reality” is likely what our brain filters in allowing us to process only the information around usbthat we need to survive. The ACTUAL information that surrounds us at all times is exponentially larger then what we actually percieve.

        As an example, take light: light exists on a spectrum far beyond what we can see with our eyes. Our eyes can percieve only about 1 to the 34th power of the light spectrum. All the other types of light on the spectrum (xrays, microwaves, gamma rays, to name a few) are simply invisible to us. Its as if it doesn’t exist.

        So what else is our brains filtering out for us that we don’t even know about?

        My point is, whatever the overall answer to the question “What are we doing here and how did we get here?” Is likely to be so bizarre and counterintuitive that ANY explanation is likely to seem impossible, including that of a creator.

        But without proof of what the answer is, we simply cannot just guess and hope its correct.

      • 1mime says:

        The older you get, Rob, (and may you live a long, healthy life), the less important it is to have answers for everything. It is enough to accept certain truths and channel one’s intellectual and physical energy to those areas about which we have passionate feelings or those in which we can impact change. It’s great, marvelous, in fact, that there are people out there who are delving into these wondrous unknowns. I have great respect and admiration for our scientists even when I don’t understand what they are trying to prove or have proved. I also have the greatest respect for ordinary people who get up each and every day and do their jobs, however humble. It truly does take a village to make this great planet work.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        The tl;Dr version of all that Mime is this:

        Atheism (not the etymological sense if the word, but the practical sense that most people mean when they use it) doesn’t have a “problem” and can’t be disproved because its not a belief system.

        Its simply a refusal to believe in a belief system that has zero scientific evidence to back it up and is almost certainly wrong.

        Most atheists don’t “hate” religion. They hate dogma. If verifiable, falsifiable evidence was somehow discovered that supported the Christian worldview, most scientifically literate people would accept that as a likely truth.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Tracy, not only is that so vague as to be almost meaningless, I’m quite certain one could find the same or similar passages in almost every religious text from the Koran tonthe Torah. Even Nostradamus probably has a few quatrains that are the same.

        And again, something written by someone that provides no supporting no proof or data is not evidence. Its simply a guy saying something.

      • “‘Atheism’ by most atheists (such as myself) isn’t so much as saying we don’t believe in a creator. Its saying that we reject all explanations put forward so far.”

        That’s perfectly legit, Rob. Although it’s worth noting that “belief” isn’t a matter of “explanations,” it’s a matter of faith.

  9. fiftyohm says:

    I think we need to be very careful about extrapolating the experiences with social programs in tiny, monocultural, and geopolitically isolated nations like Finland to the US.

    (BTW, I’ve been there a few times, and other than the price of beer, found it most pleasant.)

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      I’ve heard this argument a lot, but what does it really mean? Does the fact that America has more brown and black people mean poverty has a fundamentally different character in America then Finland?

      I’m not sure how, specifically, an anti poverty program like a basic income (basically streamlining the existing social services structure) would be fundamentally different for a country like Finland then the US?

      It seems more like a conservative talking point designed to shut down the conversation about it then a valid criticism of the policy.

      I would say with regards to a basic income, the similarities of the two (both modern, rich, industrialized nations with strong institutions and rule of law) are more relevent then the differences (more people of color and cuktural diversity in America then Finland).

      • fiftyohm says:

        First Rob, I’ve been thinking about the merits of the concept since Chris mentioned here some time ago, and am not at this time, hard on one side or the other. But, to answer your questions:

        Cultures evolve based on experience. Some groups have never had any sort of surplus wealth. Neither did their parents, their relatives, their friends, or their neighbors. If you live from hand to mouth, you spend the money when you have it. If you lack education, you buy lottery tickets, or dope, or whatever because that might be the only pleasure you get. If your only metric of success is possessing fancy cars or big TVs, and that’s how you’re judged by your peers, you buy those when you can. There’s no ‘shame’ in it. Everyone you know, or have ever known, sees the world the same way.

        Other groups within a diverse society might be on the other side. Children of the depression saw the world through a different lens. They learned that saving and deferring gratification was the best course, and they taught that behavior to their children, and so on. (That’s why your grandma left the plastic on her couch and lamp shades.) Our physiology evolved in the same way, and that’s the main reason we get fat! (Look it up if necessary.)

        The US is a fascinating mix of these positions, from one extreme to the other. It’s part of the fabric of this place, like it or not. (Of course, I do!) This is absolutely *not* the case in Finland. There are no subcultures in the former group. Their social structures and safety net need not account for such diversity in behavior. Everyone is the same in this regard. Finland’s public spending is nearly 60% of GDP! Their public social expenditures exceed 30% of GDP, exceeded only by France.

        Finland is indeed a very, very different place. As I said, extrapolation of social experience from a country so vastly different has pitfalls. That’s not a “talking point”. That’s a fact.

      • Doug says:

        “That’s why your grandma left the plastic on her couch and lamp shades”

        If only.
        Grandma had a ball of soap made of tiny slivers from used bars. I don’t think she could ever bring herself to use it. Just kept saving.
        Grampa had boxes in the attic labelled “Pieces of string too short to use (right now)”. 🙂 Kidding. Sort of.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Doug – I’m too frugal to toss the last bit of soap as well. Y’know how it is when you have this *wafer thin* sliver, you’re using it in the shower, and poof! – it’s gone? And you find it later in your butt crack? I hate that! So here’s whatcha do: get it wet, and stick it to the top of the new bar at the end of your shower. By the next day it’ll be fused to the new bar, and you never waste a bit! (And you don’t find it …well…y’know.)

      • Crogged says:

        Fitty, I need a really sharp stick to poke in my mind’s eye regarding your ‘finding’ the soap…………………

        And we also have states with populations less than Finland. Some things, like insurance, work better collectively and without regard to the religious beliefs of the individuals involved in the risk pool.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Crogged – True. (Unless buying insurance in the first place is against their “religion”.)

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Not that the opportunity necessarily presents itself to me on a regular basis, but I’m currently scratching “Shower with Fifty” off any and all to-do lists.

        And, isn’t it a little scary that it was even on a to-do list to begin with?

      • fiftyohm says:

        “And, isn’t it a little scary that it was even on a to-do list to begin with?” HT

        A *little scary*? It freaks me out! (Not that there’s anything wrong with that, mind you…) 😉

      • 1mime says:

        Homer, you have my permission to shower with Fifty any time you want. Just don’t use soap (-:

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Or….at the very least, bring my own soap.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Would you two just stop?!?

    • The population of Houston is 2.1 million; that of Texas, 26.5 million. Finland’s population is 5.5 million, with cultural and ethnic variation that can’t compare to Houston’s. ‘Nuf said.

  10. WX Wall says:

    I’m really intrigued by the basic income idea. I’m a liberal, but I come at it from a conservative (Friedman conservative) POV. If we can get rid of the huge govt infrastructure that’s needed to administer the current welfare state, and allow poor people to make the same financial choices that non-poor people do, then overall we’ll be better. I would support a plan that preserves medicaid (since health insurance may not be affordable on a basic income if you have pre-existing conditions), but replaces everything else (public housing, food stamps, etc.) with a basic income.

    The question, though, is what happens if/when people *don’t* use their money wisely? The conservative angle to poverty is that it’s due to bad behavior (laziness, stupidity, lack of initiative, etc.). The liberal angle is that it’s due to bad social structures (lack of jobs, educational opportunities, etc.). My own opinion is that it’s a mix: poor people often lack adequate financial planning / goal setting abilities, but they’re also dealt a bad hand with poor social infrastructure. While providing a basic income can improve the social infrastructure (by allowing the poor to buy into the infrastructure that the rest of use enjoy), it doesn’t remove the behavioral aspects.

    This is a long-winded way of saying that while plenty of poor people will use the basic income to lift themselves out of poverty, there will be *some* people who won’t move out of the inner city, will let their kids starve, drop out of school, etc. while spending their basic income on drugs, alcohol, lottery tickets, and fast food (the modern-day sin :-). Do we abandon those kids to pay for the sins of their fathers?

    Note that today, plenty of people not on welfare neglect their kids this way too. But we have built specific welfare programs targeted to kids. Plenty of kids in supposedly middle-class communities qualify for free school lunches. Lots of them are insured through SCHIP (States Children’s Health Insurance Program). And they qualify for Pell grants if their parents never saved anything for college.

    Indeed, *most* of our welfare society is dedicated to helping kids, because the American ethos is that while adults should face the consequences of their actions, kids shouldn’t be punished for having bad parents. It’s even in the programs’ names: WIC stands for Women, Infants, & Children; TANF stands for Temporary cash Assistance for Needy Families. And they are structured specifically to shield kids from the presumed bad decisions of their parents. Lunch menus, for example, aren’t decided by parents, they’re regulated to provide adequate nutrition, at least in theory :-). And food stamps belie an assumption that just giving cash wouldn’t guarantee that the money is used on food (and specific foods at that i.e. no fast food, no restaurants).

    So, as a society, if we implement a basic income, and there are still children suffering (even if basic income succeeds and the number of suffering children is decreased from today) will we now say that children are no longer our collective responsibility? That we’ve given enough money to their parents to provide them a basic upbringing and if they’re not getting it, it’s not our problem? IMHO, that is a remarkably cruel position, and one which we Americans have traditionally rejected. OTOH, if after providing a basic income we then setup another safety net to protect children from the poor decisions of their families (poor, middle class, whatever), then we might as well just keep our current system.

    So in the end, I’m not sure if a basic income will eliminate the need for a more structured and closely administered social welfare infrastructure, which means the primary advantage of a basic income will eventually be nullified. On the plus side, it would be a nationwide experiment to see whether conservatives or liberals are correct about the origins of poverty, even if our kids have to be the guinea pigs…

    • Griffin says:

      I consider myself a left-libertarian and I’m not sure I back the basic income (yet) just because I don’t think it’s enough money for someone in poverty. That’s why I back a negative income tax instead, because it’s more redistributive and gets more money into the hands of poorer people while cutting back on the bureaucracy and letting the poor get the money without having to go through the bureacratic crap. It should go hand in hand with other services though, such as a job guarentee, childcare centers, universal healthcare, etc.

      • Doug says:

        Griffin, can you explain what exactly left-libertarian means?

      • Griffin says:

        Basically a liberal/social democrat but with more emphasis on civil liberty issues and trying to reduce bureacracy while increasing welfare. Also reguation of large corporations obviously.

        Before you say “NO TRUE SCOTSMAN/LIBERTARIAN” it’s worth noting that the term “libertarian” orginally (and outside the US still does) refer to radical leftists who wanted to overthrow capitalism using unions sooooo… nobody exactly has a trademark on it 🙂

        Nonetheless it’s a common enough self-described political position.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Griffin, quite right. The American style Libertarianism is the exception rather then the rule when compared to what most people globally would consider Libertarian.

        Rand Paul, while being dovish compared to the other GOP nominees, would be considered far too hawkish by the majority of non American libertarians. His policies on issues such as abortion and same sex marriage would be utterly bizarre to the same group.

        Not many more significant examples of “big government” intruding on the liberty of the people then deciding which people citizens are or are not allowed to marry, or deciding which medical procedures citizens are allowed to have access too.

      • 1mime says:

        And, your arguments, WxWall and Griffin, are the best I’ve seen to counter the possibility of a universal basic income.

    • Creigh says:

      A big part of poverty is is learned behavior, picked up the way language is picked up and about the same time. Rich kids have a huge advantage beginning with modeled behavior; it’s not just elite schools and contacts, it starts much earlier.

      I’d like to see someone try the guaranteed income idea, and I think it would stimulate the economy and boost employment. I remain convinced, however, that for many people only a job will fulfill some of their needs. I’d like to see someone try the job guarantee idea too. A job gives people not only money, it gives them many social benefits, and can easily be a leg up to a better job.

      It would probably end up being an easier lift than many might think, because each person with a job is also a consumer, and every additional consumer helps support another worker with their spending.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        I think Finland is actually talking basic income from the perspective NOT if relieving poverty (the lefts approach) but more from the perspective of decreasing unemployment (the rights approach).

        The basic concept being that most social programs, by necessity, have clawback functions which severely disincentives work. If I’m making, lets say, $800/mo on welfare, and I get a full time job that pays me $1000/mo, I’m basically working a full time job for $200/mo. When you figure out how much per hour you’re making, the math just won’t add up for many ppl. They would likely make more money hybstaying in welfare and perhaps earning money under the table or otherwise off book.

        The basic income is not at all touched by other income, and so any income you earn is IN ADDITION to the BI, and not IN PLACE OF traditional welfare.

        Which basically takes a pretty big disincentive to work and immediately turns it in to a pretty big incentive to work.

    • Hi WX
      There is a simple solution to most of what you re worried about
      First – get everybody a bank account – Post office?
      It’s not hard everybody here has a bank account (NZ)
      Second have the basic income paid into the account accessible by a debit card on a daily basis

      No matter how screwed up you get tomorrow there is some more money

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Good solution Duncan. And intuitively, I feel like it would work.

        Its one thing to blow all your money on drugs (or whatever) when your belly is full because you just got paid 2 weeks of your BI and you’re feeling flush. Its another when your hungry because you haven’t eaten in days.

    • “The question, though, is what happens if/when people *don’t* use their money wisely?”

      Um, is this a trick question? Obviously, you get democrats. 😉

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        Aw man, and here I thought it was George W. Bush. 😦

      • 1mime says:

        Ah, not “all” Democrats, TThor. I fall into the “child of depression-era parents” (not grandparents like most here), and though I don’t keep plastic on the sofa/lampshades, I do confess to saving small pieces of soap and re-use many of my disposable plastic goods (-: however, I don’t seem to have Fifty’s problem…… Fiscally, personally, I am pretty conservative….meaning, save, live within means, think before spending…but I also support social programs to help those who need help, which takes money – mine and yours – vis a vis “taxes”, thus my “fiscal conservatism” is selective. Bottom line, we live responsibly but believe more in a re-distributive society, albeit one that helps appropriately and cost-effectively….which sometimes are at cross-purposes, I admit.

        As for the universal basic income, that seems most fair, but I don’t think it is possible given America’s fiscal challenges. If the trade off is to eliminate all existing social support programs in order to finance a universal basic income, I don’t know if it is feasible…Of course, the devil will be in the details. Alaska’s governor is presently proposing a personal income tax to offset losses in the royalty re-distribution that has functioned pretty much as a universal income. So, economic dips happen, personal health and other crises happen, and then you have the whole aging population thing.

        It’s complicated, which doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be seriously explored, but it will have consequences.

      • Sorry, you two. I couldn’t resist; I suffer the imp of the perverse.

        Ryan, point taken!

        1mime, wouldn’t you rather direct your benevolence personally? That is, after all, what Agape is all about. In my view it’s a perversion of charity to have money taken from those who may or may not agree with how those dollars are spent, and then have those dollars dispensed by faceless bureaucrats beholden to the directives of politicians who are ultimately fishing for votes to remain in power.

        As for a universal basic income, I don’t think the progressive left would ever go for it. The underlying conceit of progressivism is that the common man is just too damn stupid to direct his own life, and must therefore submit to the tender mercies of benevolent central planners (“experts”) who know so much better what’s good for him. Isn’t that, after all, exactly how our welfare pogroms, er, programs, are constructed now? Surely you don’t expect the Leviathan to give up its control over the minutiae of people’s lives?

      • 1mime says:

        TThor, we have totally different understandings of “charity”. I don’t need to know each and every recipient of “our” charity. It is enough to know, as an example, that people in an area devastated through the force of nature, need help, and that the agency/party that administers that help will get it to those in greatest need. Of course, it is nice to have a direct personal link between one’s gift and those in need, but for me, it isn’t necessary. It is enough to know you can offer help. Of course, we participate in both ways, as I am certain you do as well (-:

        As for: “The underlying conceit of progressivism is that the common man is just too damn stupid to direct his own life, and must therefore submit to the tender mercies of benevolent central planners (“experts”) who know so much better what’s good for him…” So, that’s why we want to block grant all programs to the states? So that the “state” can decide? Or, better yet, we do it the conservative way, don’t give anyone needing charity anything, because they didn’t work hard enough. Be careful what you ask for, TThor!

      • 1mime, you misunderstand. I don’t need to know the individual recipients of my charitable giving; I just want to *control* the direction of that giving. If I want to devote all my charitable giving to saving Gambel’s Quail habitat, or to supporting the Mendies Haven in Kathmandu, that should be my business, not the government’s. It’s complete anathema to the very concept of charity that somebody else should decide how much, and to whom, I shall give. That’s not charity, by definition. By definition, it’s nothing more than glorified, organized theft. So don’t pretend to call it anything else.

        With respect to block grant programs, see above. In any event, I am unaware of any federal block grant programs that don’t come with strings attached. Enlighten me.

  11. Rob Ambrose says:

    There’s also two different and contradictory stories of creation in Genesis.

    • Pseudoperson Randomian says:

      Honestly, the Bible’s full of contradictions.

      But then again, many Christians don’t really take the bible literally.

      You know.

      Religion is adapting in general. Even the Catholic church.

      I’d say that the most scripturally bound and fundamentalist groups are evangelicals, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons (I’d also place salafi and similar sects of Muslims in the same group).

      Adding those up presents a giant number – but overall it’s a positive picture.

      Disclaimer: I’m an atheist, and an antitheist to the extent that religious indoctrination can be used to justify violence.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        I grew up in a Pentwcostal family and we were very much taught that the Bible was literal truth. I think lots of ppl still are, but as you say, most do not.

        Looking back, I’m shocked at how many ppl who are Bible literalists also don’t really study it to even know what it says. Sure, they all know the cool stories, like Samson and Deliliah or Daniel and the lions Den, but actually study the Bible and what it says? None of these ppl do.

    • goplifer says:

      Oh, it gets better. The pronoun used for God in those very early (and probably extremely ancient) verses is plural. And in verse 26 when describing God’s “likeness” God uses the word in its feminine plural form.

      There are some very solid reasons why religious literalists don’t read the Bible very closely…

      • BigWilly says:

        You need to state Genesis 1:26 “And God H430 said, H559 Let us make H6213 man H120 in our image, H6754 after our likeness H1823”

        Unfortunately the links are cold so you’ll have to slog it out on your own with Strong’s. The KJV is beautifully written, but the translation just doesn’t do justice to the original Hebrew, or for that matter the source materials from which the OT was derived.

        Tselem , rendered into our word “image” renders means shade in Hebrew. I’m not a Hebrew grammarian, so I don’t really understand (yet) how tselem and demuwth combine. In any event, I don’t think faithful Christians need to lose any sleep while we parse the Bible, though it be my favorite sport.

      • 1mime says:

        They can read?

      • 1mime says:

        Hey, Lifer – I’m cool with God being a female!

  12. Rob Ambrose says:

    Not sure the accuracy of this, but it sounds about right lol

    • 1mime says:

      Wow! That’s a telling demographic, Rob! I haven’t weighed in on the Bible and Jesus discussion, so here’s my simple (some would say “simplistic”) personal view. I view the Bible as a historical parable, which means it is given to inconsistencies that are natural to any recounting that evolves over time. I do not support literal belief in the Bible. I do support those who find it an inspiring guide that offers meaning to their lives. As for original sin, if God is, in fact, infallible and all-knowing, why did he put a man and a woman in the garden, naked? Seems like he could have made procreation possible with a tweak of his original plan and just put two girls in the garden. (guys, you would come later….much later…) That probably wouldn’t have eliminated all sin, but it would have taken care of the first “big” one.

      I respect all religions regardless of “who” their god is, as a personal relationship with one’s spirituality. My personal belief is aligned with the “do unto others” philosophy, so I don’t get hung up or inspired by theology or doctrine. Keeps things simple and understandable for me. I do find offensive the concept of martyrdom, especially if the reward is 100 virgins….why wait to enjoy one of life’s most basic instincts and pleasures, especially if it means you have to die for it or kill someone else? So, this type of religion doesn’t ring true for me. I also don’t believe in a religion that requires one to deny oneself of simple pleasures – dancing, imbibing, and “R” movies (-: Again, everything in moderation except when it’s ridiculous. I have great respect for all who profess to be Christians or God-fearing but more respect for those who “live” a kind life. There is a difference……

      Anyway, that’s my point of view…secular as it is, grounded in respect for those people, beliefs, and practices that reinforce my simple belief to live life fully and kindly. If it takes a book, or a church to make it real for each person, that is up to them. I also recognize that I can be completely wrong in my understanding of this important subject. I’m ok with that as well.

    • The same distribution pattern would apply to the concentration of southern democrats up to the Reagan era. My, that’s quite a legacy… 😉

      • 1mime says:

        I guess we who live in the southern gene pool area can be very grateful to the Thorleifson family for its dilution contribution….helping advance the area and such…May your children have many children, TThor, and marry locals….The South’s only hope…….

      • Well, 1mime, honestly, if I had known being a grandpa was going to be so much fun, I certainly would have had grand kids first. And, hey, the little guy is a native Texan, so he doesn’t even have to worry about the “got here as fast I could” stigma that so traumatizes we transplants. (I don’t suppose I dare use the term, “immigrant.”) 😉

      • 1mime says:

        Yes, grandchildren bring out the best in us, and they make Christmas more fun, too! However, the price we pay to enjoy having grandchildren is to have their parents, first (-: A little less work than grandchildren, but part of the natural order of life, n’est pas?

  13. Pseudoperson Randomian says:

    Ah, Lifer

    At the risk of sounding condescending, you’re either a
    1. Jeffersonian Christan
    2. Deist/Pantheist
    3. Atheist/agnostic
    4. “not religious” or “no particular established religious”

    Careful there – if you ever feel like running for office, you gotta be careful. The largest minority is too varied and too disinterested to be of any use to you…

    • goplifer says:

      I am pretty isolated in religious/political terms, only sharing a religious profile with virtually every US president up to about 1980.

      • Pseudoperson Randomian says:

        As in “I care about my religion and am religious but I don’t let it interfere in real world choices”, I suppose.

        But then again, I should be considerate of the fact that I’m about 12 drinks down and not be a jerk about touchy faith topics…so, uh, sorry in advance, for whatever uneditable regret I’ll have tomorrow.

        Also, yes. I have this Tuesday off.

      • goplifer says:

        Ha. If you’re that hammered and this comment is the only thing you have to regret from it you’ve done quite well.

    • Pseudoperson Randomian says:

      This is utterly depressing.

      You know, a part of me wonders if a direct democracy (or at least a more direct democracy) is simply making the problem worse.

      A part of me wonders if partly shielding congress from the “whims of the mob” was one of the greatest decisions the founders made. A part of me also wonders if not shielding congress from the influence of money was the greatest mistake the founders made.

      I would like to think, that elections serve to send the smartest version of yourself as your representative to congress, and that, once there, they act honorably in everyone’s best interests.

      Or at least, that’s the goal we should be aiming for, beyond the mundane political squabbling…

      • 1mime says:

        Pseudo, you write so well and think up so many interesting possibilities when you’re imbibing, that I suggest you only post on those days. The rest of the time, when you’re being P.C., will be so boring (-:

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      A former science teacher said this.

      This is insane.

    • lomamonster says:

      Considering how we boomers soaked up the sun, there should be nothing left for anyone else anyway! And I guess we can all regret not having the presence of mind not to enter the field of dermatology as a profession…

    • vikinghou says:

      I am incredulous. Scientific illiteracy in the US is a national security threat.

  14. 1mime says:

    This is what happens when one of the world’s top scientists, astronauts and explorer fight back on global warming. What is so sad is that she has to.


    • Doug says:

      mime, have you read the Karl study and its criticism from both sides of the debate? Some people find it…ummm…interesting that after a decade of excuses and explanations for the “pause” and why the temperature doesn’t match the models, Karl comes along, tortures the data, and claims there never was a pause. Here’s a pretty decent summary of the problems with the paper. There are many others.

      The thing I find most interesting in the Karl paper is that, in order to show that there is no “pause” in the warming trend he had to adjust past temperatures, too, and ended up with a steady, non-frightening, 65 year trend of just over 1 degree C per century.

      But regardless of which side you’re on, or whether you believe the paper is valid or not, I see no valid reason that a government employee, working on government computers, should have any expectation of privacy regarding emails related to work they are performing.

  15. Rob Ambrose says:

    Re: Trump. I think there are only two possibilities. Either he wins the GOP nomination, or he runs as an independent.

    I just cannot imagine he has the ability to lose gracefully if it comes to that. When he says he “just wants to be treated fairly” he means he just wants to win. If he doesn’t win, that will be in itself hard evidence of unfair treatment.

    Both outcomes would be disastrous for the GOP.

    • 1mime says:

      Here’s another possibility, Rob. Trump has definitively stated he will not run an independent campaign if he fails to be the GOP nominee. I think he means it. (I just hope he makes his move on 4/1/16 as that is my “Trump drop out date” on Lifer’s board. Who else might conceivably might mount an independent run “with” the blessing of the GOP establishment?
      Bush? Rubio?

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