Weekend Open Thread

Hope y'all are enjoying the summer as best you can.


Can summer evening chill jazz increase your enjoyment? Only one way to find out:

(This is an early "fusion jazz" album from '69 -- overshadowed by Miles's other fusion albums around the time, "Miles Ahead" ('68) and "Bitches Brew" ('70). It's my fav. among the 3.)

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Old Hat

M Scott Eiland's picture

Zach Greinke of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacted to striking out four batters in the bottom of the third inning while facing the Giants tonight as if he'd been there before--probably because he actually had been, by striking out four Seattle Mariners in the fourth inning on September 25, 2012 while a member of the Los Angeles Angels. He's the third pitcher to perform the feat at least twice in his career, joining Chuck Finley (three times) and A.J. Burnett (twice).

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Corpse of man that risked the lives of hundreds for profit,

brutusettu's picture

Most Mockable Job Title Of The Day

M Scott Eiland's picture

"Chief Diversity Officer and interim vice provost for Diversity and Climate." And no, that's not a link to the Onion or another mock news site.

Pro-tip to all you planners of organizational charts--if the overwhelming reaction of ordinary people upon reading a job title you have devised is to either start giggling uncontrollably, or to start mocking it with an intensity that would make a Marine drill sargeant burst into tears if it was directed at him, you might want to come up with a less ridiculous verbal construct to describe the position. Just my two cents.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Things have changed


It's not a new trend but this one caught my attention:


Woman arrested for letting her 9-year old play "alone" at a park.


"Alone" apparently meant with dozens of other kids and adults around,  but without her mother there.   Don't know about the rest of you,  but I can't remember ever playing in a park with a parent present,  and I can remember back to about 5 or so.



Conor Friedersdorf is such a ninny.


He would stop by to put up no-comment posts on Ordinary Gentlemen while I was writing there.  Sanctimonious libertarian weenie.


Now if that child had gone missing, we'd never hear the end of it.  Anyone who allows their children to run around alone and unsupervised is an exceedingly stupid parent. 

Perhaps He Is In General

M Scott Eiland's picture

But he's correct that seeking *criminal* charges against that mother is the height of Bubble Wrap Idiocy/the Wussification of our society. If busybodies who know the mother want to tsk-tsk at her behind their hands, that's their choice (though I would think less of any of her acquaintances who chose to do so). The authorities are cordially invited to have a nice cup of STFU on the matter.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Yes, yes. I'm sure you were a brave child and your mother wise


and good.  I was often sent out in the company of my younger brother, to keep an eye on each other.  None of my children ever went out alone until they were substantially older and even then were cautioned to do so only when they had told someone where they were going.  You may call it the Wussification of Society.  A nine year old child is not exactly a big and brave member of our species.  

Rather Timid, Actually

M Scott Eiland's picture

I got the "don't talk to strangers" speech from both my parents, and--when I showed a tendency between the ages of four and five to run out into the street without heed of what might be going by--my mother staged a demonstration with a large, ripe tomato placed out into the small residential street where we lived, where passing traffic quickly reduced it to unrecognizable pulp. I got the message and was scrupulous about crossing at corners and obeying traffic signals from that point on.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Speaking of You in Guatemala...a Serious Question...


...I have pretty much avoided the child-immigrant-central-America issue because, on occasion actually being part of the system I have very strong positions and don't particularly want to make enemies, but why can't, or why hasn't, Guatemala turned out more like Costa Rica....I understand that Panama has the Canal, but Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador really have gone bad...for reason's I don't understand....geographically they are about the same, have great potentials...


So what are your opinions...not the past of US invasions (blah blah blah), but how to fix and repair now...what is wrong?!?






Edit: or Belize for that matter....I entered Guatemala through Belize, as I think about it.

Sigh. I could write a book on this subject....


Guatemala is the terminus of capitalism.  If you have money, it's a paradise, provided you're willing to live behind high walls and run the risks associated with a large, poor and relatively alienated population, segregated into ladino and indio cultures.  The wealthy move in their own circles, enmeshed in their culture of bribery and nepotism. Nobody respects the government and really, nobody should.  The government officials are just another parasitic class, a cost of doing business.  The military is another parasitic class, much more dangerous. 


Costa Rica's native populations are almost nonexistent.  What few there were have been fully absorbed into the bulk.  Costa Rica never had a civil war until the 20th century, when the victors simply abolished the military entirely in 1949.  But they did so with the help of Guatemala and the USA.   Guatemala never made the jump to full democracy because its ruling class had too much to lose.  Costa Rica's politics were different:  they didn't have a large native population to suppress or large finca plantations exploiting the people.  People at those latitudes hear the phrase "Land Reform" and call it "Communism".   It isn't communism but it sure sounds like it to a ruling class where two percent of the nation owns over 90 percent of the land, as in Guatemala.


And Costa Rica was largely isolated.  That helps. Guatemala was always up against the southern edge of Mexico, which has never really controlled its southern states with any authority.  Many people only speak Spanish as a second language in southern Mexico and Guatemala.  The language divide tended to enforce the class distinction.


Costa Rica was lucky.  The winner of its one war was wise enough to demilitarise the nation.  Costa Rica has plenty of problems, no doubt about that.  Every time I've been there, it always seemed to be on a par with Guatemala, never any better. San José is kind of a dump.  Unemployment is high and lumber poaching is a problem.  Costa Rica has turned its remoteness into a benefit:  it had the luxury of establishing biological reserves. That helped tourism quite a bit.   


Guatemala... sh*t.  I really don't want to go back again.  I don't have a solution.  In the immortal words of the Joker in Batman, "what this town needs is an enema!"   That whole country needs deworming, literally and metaphorically.


If my kids acted like adults, thus they were treated.


I told them, "I tell people where I'm going.  That's what responsible people do: they inform others.  Independence is a fine thing and you will have as much of it as you can stomach, and more.  But running off, alone, is simple stupidity."


Good on your mother, by the way.  I spanked my son, once, for running out into the street.  Never spanked him again.  I guess he was three at the time.  Scared the wits out me, suppose it scared the wits out of him, too.  I still get hyper-vigilant driving on suburban streets, just dreading the appearance of some child running out after a ball or a pet or some damned thing or other.  It's happened to me, six or seven times.  Ages me five years every time it happens.


No, I don't hold with children running around alone.  In the company of others, different story.  But in a park, alone, unsupervised, I wouldn't allow my own children to do it.  I do wish the authorities hadn't come down so hard on this woman but - damn.  

I Likewise Never Had a Parent With Me...When Out & About...


....we went everywhere, with friends and alone. I can't conceive of having a parent watch over me in such a fashion.


But I saw the story earlier...and I get both sides of this issue, the child is a latch key kid....but how is the mother to work and support the child?


I'll go out on a limb here....maybe the perverts were better when I was growing up...I and a friend got flashed one bike ride down into the "wino," section of Los Angeles...no big, literally....lol...we saw it as funny.


It was not a horrific or even very noteworthy event.


Today, very young females are flashing everything all over social media and having fun at it, though the boys as receivers are in deep trouble.


The world changes...maybe this is their version of playing doctor.


Who knows?



We used to disappear for hours on end.


Summer days began at 8, we'd land at someone's house for lunch, and then we'd be gone again until 8 pm when it was time for dinner. We needed permission to leave the "neighborhood", which was probably 20 square blocks, although we often went off reservation anyway. BMX bikes, skateboards, ramps, parks, construction sites, we'd climb trees, rooftops, fences, we played with toy guns, bb guns, hand tools, fireworks, trampolines (there was a guy a few blocks over who was a professional trampoline performer who taught us some tricks).  


Life was dangerous, and nobody paid it much mind.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Us too. Almost exactly your list


except for the bb guns and trampolines. Impossible to get at the time.  We used catapults. Got to be quite an art procuring the correct materials to make a good one. 


There was a pack of dogs we used to taunt. Dare each other to see who could get over the fence and get farthest into the yard before turning and running. 


When they started to build houses on the wasteland opposite us we went out on a  sunday and dug foundations, mixed concrete and built a 3 foot wall across the entry road. There were about 10 of us aged from 6 to 12. 


We dug a system of tunnells into the earth mounds they dug up. After halloween we'd gather all the dud fireworks, dismantle and rework them. 


It's kind of a miracle we survived but I think it gave me a lot of confidence and the attitude that you just get on with things, figure it out. It didn't work out for everyone though - one of the group, out covering the same ground on his own had a bad experience and never really recovered.


I think Blaise's advice - do not go out alone is good. A group of children do look out for each other and are good protection against abusers who are typically alone. 

Whoa, you were some industrious little bastards.


Closest we ever got to your tunnel system was a warren of connected forts under about three acres of clearcut trees. Today when I think about crawling around under all that deadwood with the ants and worms and chiggers and ticks, I find myself scratching involuntarily.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

My children needed bodyguards in Guatemala.


Kidnapping was a risk, you see.  In the States, I put it to my children in this wise:  "What do you think I should tell the detectives when you go missing? Children do disappear in this wicked world.  That you were just outside playing?"  


No, all this Misty Watercoloured Memories stuff (cue violin section here) is for the naifs.  Can't manage your children?  You shouldn't have them.  


M Scott Eiland's picture

I was walking on my own to a library almost a mile away with absolutely no supervision--crossing a major highway in the process--before I was eight, with absolutely no supervision (though my mother was at home and could have been reached there) for the trip and only whatever library personnel were present once there. And that was Torrance, California, not some one general store town where everyone knew everyone else. No one even suggested that it was somehow improper. That mother is owed a serious apology and those officials deserve a swift KITA for persecuting her.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Even as a huge fan of everything German

mmghosh's picture

I hadn't noticed this

A new nation won the World Cup. It was the first victory for a unified Germany, or a reunified Germany if you prefer. That country was more than a generation in the making. Germans do not believe in quick fixes.


Formal reunification occurred on Oct. 3, 1990, a few months after the previous 1-0 German victory over Argentina in a World Cup final, an ugly affair in Rome. But it has taken a quarter-century, and untold billions, to knit the post-Cold War nation together. When I lived in Berlin between 1998 and 2001, it was not just the countless cranes hovering over the city that told of a work in progress. It was the different mind-sets of Ossi and Wessi, Easterners and Westerners eyeing each other with resentment.


No matter, Germany had decided. It would pay the price to achieve reunification. It would work on the problem. It would move in the appointed direction, come what may.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency



What of Alsace and Lorraine? Danzig? Silesia? Neumark? Pommerania? What of East Prussia?


Wow. That was much too easy to do.


Thanks for the article by the way. I was expecting an excruciating "narrative" but it was a good assesement I think. But the Eastern German cities are still struggling in many ways. Places like Cottbus.


There is still an east/west mentality in people 40 and older.


I don't see it much in the younger generation, not that I talk to them much. I also do not see quite as much national humility there either. They are a little tired of being the totem for the ultimate evil and a little tired of American war movies. 


Anyway, just impressions.

Memo To Death Row Inmates

M Scott Eiland's picture

After this fool's ode to chutzpah is reversed by the higher federal courts, if you genuinely believe that the delay in your sentence being carried out--caused by the judicial process to review your sentence that you consented to be part of--is genuinely unbearable, then I would suggest that you emulate Gary Gilmore's approach to appeals. Have a nice day.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

I wish the people who are for the Death Penalty


would get the opportunity to actually kill someone.  Sure enough cure a whole lot of bluff and bluster to watch someone die and know you did it.  The death penalty is barbaric.  How many Woopsies do we need, executing innocent people?

Non Sequitur

M Scott Eiland's picture

The particular challenge in question is claiming that the *length of time that the process to review their sentence to make sure it is justified and constitutional is cruel and unusual*. This is frivolous, and can be dealt with by self help if desired. It also shows the value of the death penalty even if no one is actually ever executed--no one gets paroled while awaiting a death sentence. The simple fact that Richard Ramirez died in prison without ever having had any prospect of being released by some soft headed idiot of a governor is a big win for the death penalty.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Actually that's a non sequitur


as the morality and effectiveness (which is part of the morality) of actually killing people is the only point at issue. That our system is only able to make "life without parole" stick when it's backed by the death penalty is an aberration of our system, but is completely irrelevant to the primary question.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes


M Scott Eiland's picture

"It's cruel and unusual punishment that my throwing everything including the kitchen sink to stop from being executed has delayed my sentence for decades" is the equivalent of a man murdering his parents and throwing himself on the mercy of the court because he's an orphan; in other words, the classic definition of chutzpah. Challenge it on other grounds, certainly--though some of those are certainly frivolous as well and should be santioned as such--but that particular argument is most definitely frivolous and deserves nothing but contempt (and should result in draconian sanctions for the attorneys offering it).

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

I disagree. It is cruel and unusual by any definition


to first sentence someone to death, which initiates an expensive appeals process which drags on for decades, many times resulting in the execution of subsequently-exonerated convicts.  Calling this a non-sequitur isn't going to cut it.  Does anyone Win in this scenario?  Even you won't go that far, I'll bet.

Again, Non Sequitur

M Scott Eiland's picture

Arguing that the death penalty is inherently cruel and unusual is fine, even though the courts have ruled that it isn't time and again while prohibiting certain applications of it and approaches to trying the cases. Arguing that the defendant's own efforts to prevent the sentence from being carried out make it cruel and unusual even if the courts aren't buying that it's inherently cruel and unusual is per se frivolous.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

I tend to think "Non-sequitur" is an excuse to not pay attention


The process is both cruel and unusual - insofar as some jamoke defendant gets a public defender at trial on a capital murder case, then gets to waste decades and a million dollars of the state's time and money appealing on the basis of worthless representation at trial, which is usually true.  Nobody said a goddamn thing about the defendant's own efforts to prevent the sentence from being carried out - where did I say that?  Where did anyone say that?  Arguing for a man's life - you're the one who dragged Gary Gilmore in here.  All those arguments come up in the appeals process, which is pretty much automatic unless we argue - as you seem to do - the Gary Gilmore route is the way to go.  Two can play at this game of putting words in mouths.  Not happy with you, just telling you that now. 

Not Really Caring

M Scott Eiland's picture

My original comment was about the defendant's claim--made through appellate counsel--that the process of appealing a death sentence is inherently cruel and unusual even if the death penalty itself is not. This is an inherently frivolous claim, and believe that anyone who genuinely believes it as a capital defendant should emulate Gary Gilmore (or simply stop raising frivolous arguments and continue the process as it exists). I'm not really interested here in any comments that aren't responsive to that argument, though I might respond to another thread that raises other issues with capital punishment.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Judge Carney is stating the obvious.


On April 7, 1995, Petitioner Ernest Dewayne Jones was condemned to death by the State of California. Nearly two decades later, Mr. Jones remains on California’s Death Row, awaiting his execution, but with complete uncertainty as to when, or even whether, it will ever come. Mr. Jones is not alone. Since 1978, when the current death penalty system was adopted by California voters, over 900 people have been sentenced to death for their crimes. Of them, only 13 have been executed. For the rest, the dysfunctional administration of California’s death penalty system has resulted, and will continue to result, in an inordinate and unpredictable period of delay preceding their actual execution.



Pretty surprised by how many people like the death penalty

mmghosh's picture

on a survey I once did.  Like, not just support/rationalise.


People actually like watching executions.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

Oh, sure, prurient bastards, Death and the Voyeur.


Little boys playing at soldiers and cops, killin' the Bad Guys, the Stanford Prison Experiment oh mankind is sure enough a mean-spirited creature.  All those meat-eating teeth in the front half of his mouth, the vegetarian teeth in the back.  The angels weep to see our miserable species at war with itself.


But the act of killing another human being is the ultimate purgative for all that Support and Rationalising.  The Bad Guy is still a guy and when you let the blood out of his arteries he's just another corpse, no different than any of the others. 


The houses are all gone under the sea.

The dancers are all gone under the hill.


O dark dark dark. They all go into the dark,
The vacant interstellar spaces, the vacant into the vacant,
The captains, merchant bankers, eminent men of letters,
The generous patrons of art, the statesmen and the rulers,
Distinguished civil servants, chairmen of many committees,
Industrial lords and petty contractors, all go into the dark,
And dark the Sun and Moon, and the Almanach de Gotha
And the Stock Exchange Gazette, the Directory of Directors,
And cold the sense and lost the motive of action.
And we all go with them, into the silent funeral,
Nobody's funeral, for there is no one to bury.


How I'd love to corner these goddamn Death Penalty advocates and give them the IV and tell 'em to get up close and shove that needle in.  Doesn't matter what you did in life, how bad or good you were, whether or not anyone weeps over your mortal remains.  But you will die, as surely as the guy you're executing. And those little boys playing at soldiers and cops have no goddamn idea what they're in for when the Gun Goes Bang and someone's dead.  Give those little swine a pretend IV and have them execute each other.  



Life imprisonment is probably a more severe penalty than death

mmghosh's picture

it probably also works out cheaper if you factor in the costs of an appeals process.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

Discussing a penalty is nonsense outside of the context of


the crime for which the penalty is applied.  Is the penalty just?  Usually defined as being in proportion to the crime for which it applies. For those crimes for which execution is a penalty it's proportional, in fact its exceptionally so.

Personally, I'm against the death penalty due to probability for error in determining guilt, unfairness in the system and your comment here, but not because it isn't a just punishment for the crimes to which it currently applies in the US.

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

Social context, rather. The death penalty for killing cattle

mmghosh's picture

was prevalent here at one time (cattle were/are considered holy).  Whether the punishment is proportional to the crime depends entirely on what a society considers just.  


There is no objective moral guidance on this issue.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

Social context? I'd assumed this was a given in that...


before we get to punishment we've had to determine what acts are criminal/punishable.  Then move on to what punishments are appropriate.  When I wrote 'context of the crime...' social context is implicit. I provided the caveat 'currently applies in the US', and stand by my assertion that the DP is proportional and about as close to perfectly proportional as one can get.  If you feel that just punishment should be based on some form of proportionality then the DP is a just punishment as codified.  'Codified' being the sticking point.  As codified I have no issue with the DP, as practiced, I think there are enough flaws in our system that we should look at alternatives.

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

Impressions of religious affiliations, by political affiliation



If asked, how would you have scored these on a 0-100 scale?

Holy Flying Spagheti Monsters


Atheists really are dirt over there. I should probably reassess how open I am about my atheism with my American colleagues. 


I'm having a hard time putting numbers on these religions though. Jews for example - like the religion, love the (I guess) 30 or 40 Jews I've worked with, but their extremists can be pretty ugly. Pretty much the same for Muslims. 


Hindus - love all those temples and colourful oddball gods - religion as it should be - found them  to be a miserable pack of gits when I was in India.


I guess we're looking at these things not as religions but as brands. This is kind of market research. I could assign scores based on that approach.

Interesting, but ultimately based on a flawed premise.


Religions can be sorted out on several axes: conservative strains, reform strains, cultishness, do they proselytise, does it provide a useful ethical framework - and how do they view other religions.


Judaism:  as the old joke goes, "two Jews, three opinions".  

Conservative:  Are we talking about the Satmar or the Lubovitschers, who heartily despise each other?  Or the Sephardim?  Or the Haredim / Hasidim debate?  Sorting out which sects adhere to the Shulchan Aruch and to what degree gets terribly complicated.    Terribly cultish.  Some proselytise to other Jews, others not at all, others reject anyone who approaches.  As for how they view others, they genially despise everyone who isn't of their sect.


Reform: Nice enough bunch, some even have women rabbis.  Good people to know, easy to approach, a bit iffy about conversion but they're quite tolerant of others.  High marks all round.


Evangelical Protestants:


Conservative:  All sorts of denominations, trending either towards Pentecostalism, a Dionysian sort of ecstatic relationship with God - or towards a hidebound, intellectually-rigorous parsing of doctrinal statements.  Generally believe the Bible is the inerrant word of God, that issue divides the Conservative evangelicals from their more Liberal brethren.  I grew up in this tradition and rejected it.


Reform Evangelicals: My school.  When science speaks to an issue, the best scientific evidence takes precedence over nebulous articles of faith.   We take the Bible seriously but we also take it in the light of the scientific facts and what the original manuscripts have to say, which isn't always what appears in translation.  A creation myth is no substitute for Lyell's geological theories.  We're religious nerds:  we resort to the Greek and Hebrew as necessary to discuss a point.  A bit cultish, yeah.  We like Reform Judaism and some of us secretly think the Catholics and the Smells and Bells crowd run a prettier and holier service.  We vary along the lines of music.  Some churches sing these idiotic songs projected onto screens with PowerPoint (which greatly annoys me) with everyone mooing along, with drums and suchlike on stage, all quite horrible.  Other churches have Bach and Mozart and choirs singing in four and five part harmonies.  My style.  Can't stand Evangelical politics, especially their hatred of Muslims.


LDS:  Too cultish for my tastes.  Live and let live: if they would stay out of politics, I would find them less objectionable.


Buddhism:  Hardly a religion at all, it's more a philosophy than anything else.  Highly admirable.  A bit too fatalistic for me to embrace it myself - but generally far superior to anything else going, including my own faith, which clearly has some Buddhist influences in it, especially in the Sermon on the Mount.  I feel certain the Buddha would be horrified to see how the Buddhists have made him into an idol.  All that encrustation which has come to surround the Buddha's teachings are a bit off-putting - but quite beautiful.  


Hindus:  The great thing about Hinduism, there's a god for everything.  Doesn't demand much in the way of theology, just a fascinating collection of stories, usually several versions of the same story.  Terribly ancient, though to truly understand Hindutva you must first realise the great debt it owes to Jainism, which preceded Hinduism by many centuries.  The Jains are so ancient they've lost two complete sets of scriptures.  Hinduism is bit cultish, sure.  Lots of extremists.  But it's not really one religion, especially the worship of Shiva, who enters the Hindu pantheon very late.


Hindutva is hugely political, also harbours a great fund of unscientific bollox, astrology and quack medicine. Objectionable persons seem to flock to it, looking to get wealthy by fleecing the faithful and ginning up trouble with the Muslims.  But when it comes to fleecing the faithful and fighting with Muslims, nobody outdoes the Christians.  Christians are probably the worst, all round, historically - though the somewhat younger Muslim faith seem to be well on the way to outdoing us by repeating all our errors.  Centuries of warfare, Catholic versus Protestant, is being replaced by another few centuries of Sunni versus Shia.


Catholicism:  A faith in serious trouble.  The current Pope is a good man, perhaps a great man.  It remains to be seen how much he can reform his Church.  Catholicism is running up onto the reef of modern times and has shown itself incapable of adapting quickly enough to provide the aforementioned ethical framework for a good life.  At its heart, Catholicism holds true to the most ancient traditions of Christianity and is not to be despised, however despicable its leadership has become, covering up its sins.


Islam:  Rewind Christianity six, seven centuries, Islam has all the problems which faced the Christian religion.  Too much politics, too little holiness.  It's a thin and un-nutritious gruel, philosophically and ethically.  Once it was a deeply intellectual faith, a great foundation for science of all sorts.  This is no longer true.  Low marks for intolerance and cultishness.


Atheism:  See Buddhism.  Subtract all the complaints about idolatry.  Why anyone hates the Atheists is beyond me.  They just don't submit to this Faith Business.  They're the canaries in the coal mine of a pluralistic society.  A bit new to the scene, a few lessons to learn about why others believe as they do, but otherwise entirely acceptable.  

We need some numbers here


Put these babies on a 0-100 scale.

Oh, I dunno, faith is the evidence of things not seen


we are told by the apostle Paul to the Hebrews.  Conversely, the only way to rate a faith would be in terms of how I see it expressed in someone who actually believes and acts upon that faith.  Every individual would therefore need his own number.  

Perhaps ideally that would be so


but in practice I have negative emotions towards some religious affiliations in the aggregate.


I would probably rank Evangelical, Muslim and Mormon at or below where Republicans rate Muslim and atheist, b/c I have negative affect toward what I perceive as religious fundamentalism.


Isn't it interesting how much more of an emotional range Republicans generally have toward different religious affiliations? I wish we could get them to emotionally link atheism to Randianism/libertarianism.

My approach is much more practical.


All religions are ultimately just frameworks.  Over time, people have hung all sorts of doctrines upon those frameworks, adding and removing those doctrines over time.  Fundamentalists don't want to add or remove things from those frameworks, reformers do.


What do you know about Evangelicals, specifically me as an Evangelical Protestant?  How many of us do you actually know?  How many Muslims or LDS or Hindus do you know?  Soon enough we run into the Fallacy of My Neighbour Hassan, wherein those Muslims are just awful people - except for my neighbour Hassan, who's a great guy and so is his wife Fatima, oh they're just great people, trust 'em with my life, they babysit our kids, oh if only all Muslims were like Hassan and Fatima then I wouldn't hate them so much.


Same goes for any label of this sort.  In OO design we call these relationships Is-A and Has-A, composition, aggregation and inheritance.  I reject all such lumping-together and categorisation of human beings as bad design based on fallacious assertions.

Cue VoxDerp. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .about how the only reason Republicans are polled as liking Jews more than Democrats is that those eeeevillll evangelicals want Jews around as a harbinger of the apocalypse.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

"Only a Sith deals in absolutes" (but isn't that an absolute?)

brutusettu's picture

People not liking how Jews were treated, but not wanting them to be their neighbor, helping them have Israel seems like a great idea, because they didn't care all too much about other people living there in great numbers.




"The Jews should live there, because they're supposed."  Is that not a reason for much of Christian Zionism?    That and Israel ain't Red.

Or are we supposed to believe that all YEC that think the entire universe is roughly 10,000 years old etc, that they don't want the Bible to be truly true and try to act accordingly???

There's a bit of misunderstanding about this issue.


Conservative Evangelicals, who comprise the bulk of the Moral Majority crowd, aren't motivated by some obscure messianic doctrine about Harbingers of the Apocalypse.  Fact is, the Evangelical Conservatives are bitterly divided on the eschatology of Israel and the rebuilding of the Temple.   Without getting too far into the doctrinal considerations, the reason Protestants have backed the Jews is based on the notion of Jews as People of the Covenant.  That's the message of the entire Bible, that to believe is to believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, none other.  


Though Judaism has rejected Jesus as the Messiah, today's Protestants understand Jesus Christ was himself a Jew and never really set about to form up a religion.  Jesus of Nazareth wanted to reform Judaism.  That's clear all through the Gospels and the rest of the New Testament.  Christianity as a separate religion is an artifact of Constantine the Great, who set about regularising this variant of Judaism.  Judaism has seen would-be Messiahs come and go, none fit the bill.  Jesus doesn't fit the bill because he hasn't come in triumph.  Christians have this wrinkle which recasts all those statements about the Messiah in terms of some future return of Christ.


Protestants weren't always so tolerant of Judaism.  For centuries, they hated the Jews.  Martin Luther did.  Calvin hated them.  It isn't until the 1930s, and well into the 1950s, before Protestants changed their minds about Jews.  The dirty little secret of American Christianity is its condescending attitude towards the Jews.  

Do you rate Vox above or below Mormons?



Given That Mormons. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .don't spend their time trying to force moonbat derp down our throats with a condescending smirk on their faces, I'm going to have to say "below." Hell, I'd put them below Bill Plaschke, who tends to at least limit his condescending, infuriating ignorance to a narrow range of topics.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

You're joking of course. LDS backed Prop 8


in California.  That is Grade A Moonbat Derp.  Do you think backing civil rights for homosexuals is Derpish?

I got a feeling

brutusettu's picture

that the top 2 are the right are linked heavily...




----everything near between 40-60 maybe.  There's some big differences between what is in those groups.




It's fairly safe to say that a lot of people are very cold to non-theist and some of their God of Abraham followers.


 41% in the poll game gave Muslims and/or atheist a 33 or lower ranking.


For the rankings given by some groups, the margin of error is quite large.  11.2% is the largest margin of error.

What about a list of well known Conservative Atheists? nt

mmghosh's picture


freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

Booting Rahm and pushing back against education "reform"


It's good to see, but a sad reminder that in 2014 targeting centrists in the D party is still just as important as targeting Republicans to achieve progressive aims.

"the Singularity is the Rapture for nerds"


I never thought about it that way before.

Sturgill Simpson, a breath of fresh air from country music.


Why do folks hate country music these days?  Because it's all plastic people, all hat and no horse, singing dumb songs about Being Country and even dumber songs about Country Music.  I especially hate songs about playing some mountain music / Like grandma and grandpa used to play / Then I'll float on down the river / To a Cajun hideaway.  Cajuns don't live in the mountains.  They live on land so flat a marble won't roll on it.  You'd have to stay up late into the night and part of the next morning to write a song that stupid.


But there was a day when country music had guts, brains too.  Gram Parsons.  Waylon Jennings.  Johnny Cash.  Wasn't really so much country as something substantial.  Quintessentially American music.  When Garth Brooks got tired of playing the outlaw, country degenerated into something just awful, started flirting with the worst aspects of pop music. A few of of these knuckleheads like Tim McGraw and Florida Georgia Line have tried to dump a bit of hip-hop into the mix.  Horrid stuff, let me tell you.


From out of the American heartland by way of Radiohead and Gram Parsons and Teilhard de Chardin comes Sturgill Simpson.  


As Ulysses Everett McGill's wife said in Oh Brother Where Art Thou:  Sturgill's got prospects. He's bona fide. What are you?


The Cajun Mountains


You set me off.   Street/subdivision names that pi$$ me off:


Impossible:  "Valleyridge",  "Ridgedale"

Redundant:  "Ridgecrest",  "Valleydale"

Fake Frontier:  "Smith's Crossing"  when there is nothing to cross

Lies: "Crestview", "Lakeview"  when you can't see anything;  "Loop" that does not form a closed curve.



Forest Glen


I'm still waiting to see "Puppy Mill Road."


They couldn't hit an elephant at this dist...
-- General John B. Sedgwick, 1864

What could be better than seeing a guy play ACDC with...

Bird Dog's picture

...flaming bagpipes? Nothing!


"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

Same song with cellos.


This video is sadly lacking in pyrotechnics, however the scandalized 18th century audience partially makes up for the oversight. 

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes


Bird Dog's picture

I wish I had a Bic lighter while watching that.

"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

Sounds like someone torturing some smallish ungulate.


A donkey, perhaps...

HR Contest Delayed By Rain

M Scott Eiland's picture

Meanwhile, Bill "Single Sentence Paragraph" Plaschke has column titles ready for all contingencies:

Home Run Contest Rainout Is What Is Wrong With Baseball And All Puig's Fault

Puig's Zero Home Runs In The Home Run Contest Is Proof That He's What's Wrong With Baseball

Puig Fails To Win Home Run Contest, Proves He's What's Wrong With Baseball By Flipping Bat In Losing Effort

Puig Winning The Home Run Contest And Finishing With A Six Hundred Foot Shot To Dead Center Is Proof That He's What's Wrong With Baseball :-P

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Apologies for inflicting this on the USA.

mmghosh's picture


freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

Well, Bharat gave us Gandhi-ji


and the world will never be the same.  His star will shine in the constellation of saints and sages forever.

He was a pretty bizarre guy, though. nt

mmghosh's picture


freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

To understand Gandhi would take a lifetime


but I've always been struck by how extraordinarily English he was.  So were his influences.  Tolstoy, Ruskin, the Bible - do you know Gandhi first read the Bhagavad Gita in English translation?  Gandhi-ji was bizarre because he wasn't your garden variety Hindu or Buddhist or Christian or Muslim - all of which you'll find in India in great numbers, none of them particularly weird, all being themselves in an Indian context.   Gandhi's oddness was mostly manifested when he tried to act like an Indian - he just had real trouble managing the stunt.  

Yes, an oddball. My main gripe with Gandhi was how he treated

mmghosh's picture

his children.


I'm enough of a desi to consider family first and last, and above all...you really do have to be a screwball to mess with your own family.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

Gandhi viewed his life as an experiment.


Some while back, in May, I wrote about Naoroji, the political mentor of both M. Gandhi and A. Jinnah.  I should have mentioned Gopal Krishna Gokhale, another political mentor to both Gandhi and Jinnah.  


Gokhale was another strange bird who didn't raise his own children.  Both Gandhi and Jinnah thought the world of Gokhale.  Gokhale was another English Indian:  an intelligent man who didn't play by Indian rules or conventions.  

You will actually be surprised by how many of us don't play

mmghosh's picture

by rules or conventions.


Actually, cross that, any "nation" with so many languages, scripts, religions - real and invented - has very little rule and convention.  Its just that there are so many of us that there seem to be stereotypes.


Even among a nation of oddballs though, Gandhi was a special oddball.


Since you are interested in our general nuttiness, I should introduce you to my especial favourite among our various bizarro religions - the Lingayat.



freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

Can't get enough of that deshi pagal...


Ecch, there's a part of learning any language, the last part, the finish line, where you start understanding and laughing at the jokes.  Always a nice place to arrive.  I'm nowhere near there with Hindi, though I've often thought I'd want to learn Gujarati.  Always more to learn....


I've heard of the Lingayats.  They seem a bit like the devotees of Vishnu, with their own route down the stupa.  India's always coming up with some new variant faith.  I rather like the Sikhs.  Everyone comes away from India with a favourite god(dess).  Mine is the Mahishasuramardini/Durga.  Armed with all the weapons of the gods, she slays the demon who trumped the gods at their own game.  My problems are always changing shape, as the demon changed shape, requiring all those weapons - hence my choice.


I can't quite work out why Buddhism doesn't have a larger following in India, though it does the farther north one goes.  And there's Sri Lanka, lots of Buddhists there, too.

Is there a godess for


getting the f*^k out of Dehli? Because if so, she's my girl.

Old Delhi reminds me of Africa. An incomprehensibly old ethos


to the place, with a bizarre veneer of the New here and there.  Hinduism has a god for everything, the god you seek is Ganesha, the god of journeys.

My wife spoke favourably


of Lagos when compared to Dehli. 

I know Lagos reasonably well, the comparison is good.


They're both strange cities, some areas substantially worse than others.  


But Delhi's more than Old Delhi.  The area I was working in, Gurgaon, is chock full of bright young things and shiny new buildings.  

Hey, you should come here in October!

mmghosh's picture

Big time Durga festival this year.


I was doing some research and bookings for friends this year, and I've forgotten how inexpensive hotels are here. You can get large rooms, HW, AC and so forth for about $25.  Which is pretty low for a big city.  And food is very low priced too - you can feast over several cuisines for $15, with drinks and dessert, even including excellent pizza.  $50 a day is really all you need, although Traveller will probably need more.


Air B&B can be a little more expensive, but then you can stay with a traditional family.


Buddhists aren't bizarre enough.  Did you know that, apart from language and scripts, almost every community has its own era and calendar?  Including solar and lunar months.  And then the Muslims have their own.  And then there's the melas when everyone becomes collectively lunatic.  I'll probably do a photo diary from this mela next year.



freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

I hear Durga Puja is really quite something in Bengal.


Though it's become a big festival all over India.  There's an unfinished mandir, really it's a set of caves, I've always had my heart set upon seeing, the Mahishasuramardi Caves in Mahabalipuram, though it's not really about Sri Durga.  One image in particular has always fascinated me, this Pallava era bas-relief.  There's the demon Mahisha with his buffalo head and his club, like a great minotaur.  Great art is everywhere in India.  Makes me wince, to see the cheezy representations of these deities in modern times.  

What a Great Compare and Contrast...Art-Wise...


...working in stone must be infinitely more difficult...but as I was typing this as a n/t (no text response), it struck me that stone is at least 3-D and so maybe easier than a flat, Euclidean Surface...I get your point for sure, but is sculpture inherently better...for producing there.ness?


I mean painting is great and all...but there is no artificiality to the depth of sculpture, no faking the eye.


Best Wishes, Traveller

Can't blame you for sending him


Wish we could regift him to some other country. 


But anyway,  I think you can get off on a technicality.  He was born to Goans several months before India took over.   Let's blame the Portuguese for this.



Republican evil, in graph form


In this graph, Republican evil is represented by the difference in the slopes between the top and bottom lines.

My Answer To The Last Question In #321167. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .is "Not on this subject, based on available evidence." Including the captioning of this chart.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Is this about me trolling?


The above comment is supposed to be a slightly humorous if also slightly provocative way of expressing the immorality of Republicans blocking the medicaid expansion. I sincerely believe it's immoral, so this ain't trolling, there's nothing untrustworthy here, and you still haven't explained why you called the Senate majority leader a racist.


M Scott Eiland's picture

But in the name of comity, I will post this reminder that we've discussed this issue in depth before, and that there's no real reason to be confused by the issues raised by Reid being Reid.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

"No real reason to be confused"


Other than that you're leaping to a conclusion about Reid deliberately calling Thomas "white" to signal he believes Thomas is a race traitor.


If a liberal tendentiously interpreted some conservative's words like you're doing we'd probably see a comment calling the interpretation "race hucksterism," i.e., calling someone a racist on flimsy grounds for political purposes, since that's what your comments are doing.

Reid's Past History With Thomas Denies Him. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .any presumption of good faith. Plus him being a pathological liar and all.

Anyway, I've done my comity, and the response has not given me any reason to change my conclusions.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Fact is, Clarence Thomas' mission in life


is to burn the ladders of Equal Opportunity he climbed, lest anyone else have to suffer his abiding sense of inadequacy as he walked across the Memorial Quadrangle at Yale - am I here because I was qualified or just because I'm black?


Let history show the latter was true.  Clarence Thomas is surely the most ignorant justice on the bench at present.  Harry Reid's many problems are not the issue here:  even a worthless, corrupt old blind pig like Harry Reid can find an acorn from time to time.  

The Prosecution Rests

M Scott Eiland's picture

I'm going to assume that any comments saying "I don't know what you're talking about" on this issue from here on in are trolls.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Time for a plea bargain?


It looks like the team of defense attorneys here isn't even trying to contest "Senile Moron",  so maybe the prosecution could settle for a guilty plea on that one.

As part of any plea bargain


I would like the following to be part of the record:


Provocative language toward Republicans (e.g., "evil") seems to occur when Rs are perceived to harm populations, e.g. millions of Americans deprived of health insurance.


Provocative language toward Democrats (e.g., "racist," "douchebag," all manner of cursing) seems to occur when Ds are perceived to ... insult a conservative, e.g. lie about Romney or impugn Clarence Thomas. 


This makes sense if conservatism but not progressivism is mostly an emotion-based exercise in tribalism.

Your comment is highly insensitive and hurtful.


So long as this kind of intemperate invective and frankly insulting manner is considered acceptable, I'm not listening to another word about millions of people being intentionally deprived of Medicaid benefits for naked political gain.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Submitted without comment:


You know I hate Harry Reid. He's such a crook.


But let's face a few facts here:  Clarence Thomas has the jurisprudential fortitude and perspicacity of an brain-damaged pug dog.  Look at his opinions, especially his dissents.  The man is an unlettered idiot.  Completely divorced from reality.  If Harry Reid makes the Freudian Slip of lumping him in with the White Guys,  there is a sour note of truth to the allegation, as obvious as a whiskey fart in an elevator.

Big Gasping LOL..."his abiding sense of inadequacy..."


...it is hard to know what to think about Clarence Thomas.


I dislike his wife, but he is apparently known to be "affable," in private and generally likable.


I'd say I don't like his SC opinions...but I haven't read enough of him...or any SCJ to know one way or another. Even if I disagreed with him, if he was a good writer that would go a long way with me.


But I suspect he isn't a good writer either...but I don't know.


Best Wishes, Traveller

If anyone ever needs an argument against Racial Quotas


the best one is that smelly lump, Clarence Thomas.  He's the Poster Boy for why Equal Opportunity doesn't work.  Give that man the Congressional Medal of Stupid.

I disagree, Thomas is not stupid


he's idiosyncratic and has an unfortunate ideology for some of the reasons you mention, but the guy has a systematic and sometimes interesting jurisprudence which is not the product of a stupid person.

Clarence Thomas is as I have said, a stupid man.


This is a man who says, without a trace of irony:  "The absolute worst I have ever been treated, the worst things that have been done to me, the worst things that have been said about me, are by northern liberal elites, not by the people of Savannah, Georgia."

The guy was accused by especially New England Senators


of being an outrageous pervert during his confirmation hearings.


Unless you have info. that people in Savannah GA said similar things to Thomas, that statement probably isn't stupid but true.


Anyway, I probably agree with you overall about Thomas's collection of unfortunate resentments, but he has this high profile career in which he shows himself to have intellectual if not emotional intelligence.

4 witnesses backed Anita Hill's assertions and were not called.


That rather begs the question of Do I Have Info.  Clarence Thomas was a sleaze.

The problem is still your inadequate defense


I see what you're talking about now, but the more viable interpretation (which popped to my mind) is that Reid was sloppy in trying to say SCOTUS's conservatives are unrepresentative of the populace.


Since one feature of what you call "race hucksterism" is charges of racism based on nothing more than "I don't like this politician, so I'll interpret his comments to be racist on thin evidence," your comments are functionally equivalent to "race hucksterism."

Such as these hunt about for reasons to be offended.


Walmart ought to stock up on Fainting Couches.  Better make 'em robust enough for these Republican lard-asses to collapse upon or the resulting crashes will be a bigger disaster than Tracy Morgan getting walloped by that truck.

Catchy, sometimes you have to do evil things


so that you can win elections and solidify your control of the government, and then maybe do some good things later.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Good map of what's on the other side of the ocean


No matter how many times


I see it,  I have trouble believing that the UK and Ireland are that far north.   The areas of Labrador facing Scotland have permafrost.

gulf stream


does wonders for europe.


but get your visits in soon:




“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

Gulf waters


I'd be more concerned about living in Miami given climate change to the gulf waters than a 5 degree farenheit drop in the UK's temperature.


But London is also near sea level, so I wonder how that city's going to deal with climate change going forward.

miami can suck it.



“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

It's The Gulf Stream

Jay C's picture

(or so I've always heard) that keeps the climate of Northern Europe from resembling its Western-Hemisphere counterparts for the given latitudes. What we think of as "North", by European standards, is just "Middle", while "South" is out of Europe altogether: some North-latitude comparisons:


Seattle             47'30"       Tours, France


New York City:  40'42"        Madrid, Spain


Los Angeles:      34'03"       Rabat, Morocco



Here's a fascinating site for explaining some of this


earth:: an animated map


Hint: it's draggable/rotatable

Almost Literally

brutusettu's picture

Something about this cover song screams "Catchy!


But more importantly, something completely different.

And in the annals of "Government Efficiency"....

Jay C's picture

The Selective Service System takes the (booby) prize this week, for sending the usual sternly-worded reminders to register for the draft to over 14,000 Pennsylvania men born in the '90s.


The 1890's, that is....




Y2K'll getcha: one way or another...

I am sad to report Charlie Haden has passed away.


Transparence, a song very close to my heart.

In the spirit of In a Silent Way


Weather Report, Mysterious Traveller


Joe Zawinul, Miles Davis' keyboard player on In a Silent Way, would form the seminal group, Weather Report with another Miles Davis alum, Wayne Shorter.


Mysterious Traveller broke jazz free from its American roots, though jazz has always been justly proud of its African roots.  In their turn, others would ape Zawinul and Shorter: jazz fusion would degenerate into ever-faster and more-technical scales and riffs, as straight ahead jazz had before it.  But for a few years, in the early 1970s, something baroquely strange and lovely was heard as jazz reinvented itself, with the synth and African polyrhythms.

I hadn't heard that one, but I like it


better than Bitches Brew. Very, very cool without being boring in the slightest.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

My feeling too


Bitches Brew is great to have on at a gathering where you can zone in and out, but listening to it sober for 90+ minutes doesn't always hold my attention.


I still enjoy it, but would enjoy it more if it'd been boiled down to In a Silent Way's 39 minutes, which I'm vaguely aware was done by a producer from long Bitches Brew-like sessions and who some people say should be given more credit on the album.


Anyway, glad you liked it!