Thursday, March 15, 2012


Aside from the obvious need to revise this blog every 200 comments, I also have a small thing to say.

Tonight I was pondering why I take Pliny seriously.

No, that's not meant the way it sounds.

When he speaks, I tend to take him, above many others, very seriously.

When I realized the reason why, it rather appalled me.  Or rather, my ego.  Which hey, is me.

I tend to listen to Pliny because every time he says something important to *anyone,* he always says it with an incredible amount of humility. 

That got me to thinking.

I preach a lot about humility, don't I?

I just never saw the ability of real humility to pierce barriers before.


I need some work.

Okay, that's all for now.  Go on with the usual stuff.

Oh, and I'm sorry I tend to be a jerk sometimes.  I'll work on it.


Oh, and Pboy, wtf is wrong with you?  Or is that me?  Anyhow, prodigal son, come home and I'll slay the fatted calf and you can have your sister if you can get her drunk enough.

(Just wanted to keep this Biblically accurate and all)  


  1. Astute observation. I think you nailed it.

  2. Brian:
    AS usual, Pliny finds a way to express the important crux of every discussion with very few words. Since I am a surgeon myself, still daily teaching residents, his aphorism strikes home.
    It would be dishonest for me (and I suspect everyone) to claim that I have never lied, but, as Pliny points out, there are times and places wherein any deviation from the truth, no matter how well-meaning, will defeat the whole purpose. In a sense, Brian, your recent suggestion that misleading a Christian as to your own religious identity in an effort to let them "see the light" is a good example of this. Once again, ethics (morality) rears its ugly head. Eric, our sometimes resident teacher of pilosophy, has referred to the Nazi conundrum. Is it ethical to lie to the SS to protect the Jew hiding in your attic? The purist says, No! The intelligent ethicist says, Maybe! It depends on a balance of good versus evil outcomes.
    To the Fundy, awareness that you are not one prevents him/her from even considering the good that might come from listening to you. Therefore, if you don't mislead him about your orientation, you will deprive him/her of an opportunity to perhaps improve his own search for truth, but.... What does your deviation from the truth imply for your own search? Does the negative effect on your ethical life outweigh the possible benefit to the Fundy you are misleading? Just such tangled problems have plagued philosophers over the millennia. In the end, it seems to me, it is always the individual with a choice as to how to proceed in any situation whose ehtical health will be put to the test, regardless of the outcome for others.

  3. Gee thanks Mike it always helps when someone vehemently agrees with you when you confess something embarrassing... lol.

    Thanks Harvey for the input as well.

  4. Harvey, I think for now my personal choice is to work on actually being humble as opposed to a false christian. Like I said, it hadn't hit me how much better the communication is when you're not sounding proud. Perhaps if I can do that I might get more across even to one of the 'faithful.'

    As to eric though, while I can still consider him an exercise in me being humble in the face of blatant untruth and pride, I know of course that no amount of humility would work, since he is unreachable by conscious choice.

  5. I should mention in the light of my last statement that my goal is not to sound humble, but to be humble. You can't really fake it.
    Right now, I definitely *feel* humble. Or maybe humbled. Either way I think it's a positive.

  6. Brian:

    I guess that the real issue is whether or not it is important to for you to "make headway" with people like Eric, MI, Observant, etc, or simply to better understand and, perhaps, chrystalize your own progress towards understanding this life. Unless their eventual agreement with any of your ideas, let alone actual understanding thereof, is important to your own intellectual satisfaction that you "have it right", it seems to me that they can simply serve as sounding boards. Any of their counterposts can stimulate even clearer understanding of your own positions and, perhaps, help others who "observe", but only occasionally take active part in these discussions, to make progress in their own search for truth. Certainly some of the comments that have been made around the recent "departure" (which I sincerely doubt will be permanent) of Pboy from this blog should point out the secondary benefits to many of us who "lurk", even when we are actively involved in repartee.

  7. Brian: many of us who "lurk", even when we are NOT actively involved in repartee

  8. Thanks and I agree. I already knew that I can't change many minds, especially those set in stone. Better to use them as sounding boards. Maybe ask more intelligent questions of them.

    And I do wish pboy would return, if I hadn't made that clear.

    I think I over-reacted. I mean, so did he, but I did it first, didn't I?

  9. "Oh, and I'm sorry I tend to be a jerk sometimes. I'll work on it."

    I forgive you, Brian. ;)

  10. And I forgive you Eric.

    After all, it's not as if you can help yourself.

  11. Change is hard, and often slow in coming.

    Look at oneblood. I always liked him and thought he was open minded. He was a deist. Now, look at Harry. He's kooky and witty, and leans to atheism.

  12. Not too long ago I got a bit incensed at Pliny using a derogatory term for the mentally ill, and let him know in no uncertain terms that 'Harry did not approve.'

    He replied in such a respectful, gentle manner I just crumbled. Crumbled. That's when the internal dialectic kicked in. The long and short of it was, 'Who's being the real dick here?' Answer was of course no one.

  13. About you and peeb,

    Since I started affectionately bickering with you two on Dynamic Douche's blog, you've had at least three knock down brawls (probably more). The most intense was the BB post one.

    In his defense, he treats everybody the same, you just don't often get the same treatment Eric does. Also in his defense, your standards for his discourse go up exponentially after you get angry.

  14. "No, it was you Harry...

    (Just kidding)"

    Well yes, in a sense :-) I was coming from a place of ignorance though, so perhaps I was being a little dick, but certainly not a giant cock.

  15. Also in his defense, your standards for his discourse go up exponentially after you get angry.
    And that's pride.

  16. Brian I am sure you still have no idea just how big a shit you really are.
    You exhibit no empathy to speak of and your ego is so huge a 50 gallon hat would not do.
    Your words are as a sharp sword cutting both ways as you attack your adversaries slicing and dicing them to pieces so to satisfy your twisted lust and you ego starved personality.
    But hey no offence.

  17. I have hurt you Mike.

    I'm sorry.

    I have an ego, this is true, and it's worse than I thought it was.

    However, you do too. Sorry, but you do. My ego blinded me to what I was. I can see it now.

    I wish the same for you. It would be a good thing, trust me, even though it hurts. You're more blinded than I ever was. My blindness was not as absolute. At least I had an idea of what to work on, ego and empathy. I just thought my own levels of both, were in the 'safe' zone.

    So I guess my question to you is, do you have the courage to face yours, as I am facing mine?

    I know you pretty well by now, and you've never had that courage before. You deny it to me, and to yourself. (That's how ego works, btw)
    I can hope that you discover it someday. If you ever SEE it (as I just did) you'll want to get rid of it.
    I say ego, but everybody has an ego and that's okay, as long is it doesn't progress to excessive pride. I had pride, and still do.
    How's about you, my friend?

  18. My pride blinded me to my own behavior, but yours Mike, is blinding you to a lot more than just your behavior.
    It's blinding you to the world.
    You will disagree, but hey, you can't say you're not blind if you're not seeing that you are, can you?

    There's so much more to this world than what your religion allows you to see, Mike. If I prayed, I'd pray for you to see this world clearly someday.

  19. In the past I allowed myself to get so frustrated with not being able to get through to you Mike, that I became abusive. That was a mistake.

    I will try to not let that happen again.

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  21. "The real question here is how dose one concur self."

    RCA dog posture. Consternated look.

  22. I suspect that the key is something like, learning to imagine that you are other people in other situations in their lives, even ones that you've never been in. Especially those.
    And when I say to imagine it, it takes effort because the temptation is to imagine us in their skin, not actually what it might like to face their problems as them.
    Trying to understand those whose lives are very different, takes practice and effort. The goal is to learn empathy for all.

    Unless you really believe that all you need to be a good person that goes to heaven is mere belief alone. Many seem to think that, and to those, all I can say is 'did you really think it would be that easy?'

  23. You seem to have been, and maybe still are, upset over your words with pboy. While some of the words from the three of us is regrettable that is not the point here. The ego and pride, not the point. The idea that is behind the passion , that is the point. I think if you take a serious look you will find lurking in the back ground, a philosophy of unrealistic expectations. No one can live up to unrealistic expectations, including the self. So when the proverbial hits the fan one finds oneself the main target. I would bet you suffered a lot more ass chewing by yourself than you gave pboy.

  24. If pboy wants to hold a grudge, I can't stop him.
    I was hoping that he wouldn't.

    To be honest, I have mixed feelings. I regret my response, but I can't see why he had to just leave forever, either.
    So I'm disappointed in me, and in him, for different reasons.
    So, life goes on.

  25. I guess its like someone said recently here... on the internet, we're "friends," but we can't be actual friends.

  26. It is a different type of friendship than we are used to.

  27. I should leave for the weekend more often it appears ;)

    Ste B, you know as well as anyone, that blog personas are theater for the masses at best.

    I'm with Harvey on this. A blog can be a form of therapy. For better or for worse, we now all have a voice that can carry across the globe. The tone and content is up to us.

    The signal to noise ratio is very very low in the blogosphere.

    Blogs, like am talk radio seem to have a greater audience the more polarizing the content. And like am radio, you don't ever learn anything there or hope to accomplish anything other than to vent on these vitriolic sites. The participants play their well-rehearsed roles and it's best to pop some corn and watch the fireworks.

    Relationships amongst the participants are like those at work. You may meet some people you want to know better but if so, you do it in another venue. Like work relationships people move on and the sea closes in behind our short lived wakes.

    We're like to Ham radio operators of the past. Listening for a signal that takes us somewhere else and exposes us to other ideas. It's a lot cheaper and the ugly antennas are history...

  28. Hi Pliny; yes, I guess you didn't realize the impact of your self-effacing and relaxed way of speaking. It did get through to me, and when I thought about *why* it did, and always did for that matter, well, you've read what happened.

    I want to be *that.* I hadn't realized what the goal was. But I had to see it when I really thought about it. Oddly, my chemical romance, as it were, helped me in that self-reflection. For whatever bad it may do, it does open doors in the mind that sometimes we didn't know were even there to be opened. But enough about my substance abuse...

    As to your 'workplace' analogy, I agree, but that saddens me even though I can see that such is unavoidable. You see, I've always hated those sort of superficial relationships that occur between co-workers out of necessity. I am not one for superficial friendships, and I never have been.

    In the real world, I once had a best friend named Rick. We did everything together. I felt toward him as I would have a brother. Then I got this girlfriend, and was going out with her for about six months when she tearfully confessed to me that she'd recently been seduced by Rick. My very best friend in the world, fucked my girl behind my back.

    So it's a sore spot in my psyche, is my point.

  29. Not that I felt toward pboy anything like I had felt toward Rick. That can't happen online, and I had no illusions to the contrary.
    But I certainly thought it more durable, even within the limits of this very insulating medium. That's a bit of a wake-up for me, I guess. Online, we're all throw-away friends.


  30. A complete tangent coming...

    Here it is.

    I was thinking about irony last night and earlier today.

    Many people do not 'get' irony.

    Those who do, for them, it's their favorite form of humor.

    Why do all people not get irony? Is it intelligence? I used to think so, but I have changed my mind. There are some very intelligent people that don't 'get' irony.

    It must be because in order to understand ironic humor, you have to have a clear view of what reality *is.* And it must be holistic, understanding reality in some detail in order to see those subtle elements of irony that stand out from equally subtle aspects of actual reality and thus tell us, signal us that do get it, that it *is* irony in the first place. If you do not have a good and inclusive map of reality in your head, then irony cannot stand out to you from that map, because your version lacks all the fine detail that would allow you to understand that the thing you're looking at, is humor and not a news report or hate speech or whatever.

  31. Well B, it seems as if you are getting something valuable out of your blog - greater self awareness (even without the salvia ;)). That's a hard thing. Most of us prefer to think we're already perfect.

    Maybe that's a good thing that can come out of blogging. (certainly not a given as is easy to see on the Web) Exposure to a greater number of people who can help us become the best versions of ourselves.

  32. Most of us prefer to think we're already perfect.
    Most of us pay lip service to the phrase 'nobody's perfect' as an excuse not to try to be. Striving is what matters, not attaining. In my case it's a matter of degree. I could see that I was still proud, but thought that I had a handle on it, and even derived some *pride* from that! And that was enough to blind me to the fact that I was under the illusion of having *enough* genuine empathy and humility, just because I had *some.*
    It was the communication factor that got to me. When I asked myself 'why is it that I tend to take pliny very seriously and listen to him' and while your education was in the mix, by far the main reason was your ability to communicate your humility in your spoken (typewritten) word. I saw then, that I wasn't like that. That I lacked it. And that pissed me off enough to open my eyes just a crack. You can't even 'fake it till you make it.' You have to 'BE' it. And I wasn't. Nor am I now. (I'd like to think that is not permanent though)

  33. I've said before that 'the proud man believes himself to be humble but the truly humble man knows that he is proud' but didn't see that I was writing it to myself. I preached humility as if I was a dispenser of it. I'm not.

  34. Being really hard on yourself is a form of pride.

  35. Hey B - "My Dark Place" a new short will cheer you up - or maybe not.

  36. Being really hard on yourself is a form of pride.
    I'm not being as hard on myself as you might think from my recent posts. Just that I've been set back on my heels a bit, and need to re-assess some things.

    I'm not proud of some of my past actions, but I can't go back and change them; all I can do is try to have more forethought in the future, and such little thorns in reality as these are set on our paths to remind us when we stray. It's not supposed to feel good when you realize that you're not who you wanted to be.

  37. I looked for your 'Dark Place' and couldn't find it. Still in the works? Or was it just too dark to see?

  38. It's under the section on short stories on the right

  39. My take on irony is to some degree that it is an issue of compartmentalization.

    Many people are able to create these little subcompartments in their brain (like the various sections of a ship) that are isolated from the other sections. So when something consistent with one area is at complete odds with another, the subcompartments prevent any flood of ideas from one section to the next.

    People who get irony have no such barriers. Absurdity has free rein.


    Well well, apparently the dutch roman catholic church used to castrate boys they thought were homosexual.

    Such dark evil masquerading as good... The church should be dissolved. Abolished. It's time now. The horrors must come to a close, finally.

  41. Our lives are each a series of micro-choices, some perhaps as randomly 'chosen' as virtual particles popping in and out of a vacuum(getting all 'quantum' on you there), others rooted in our feedback loops or over-ridden for some 'greater purpose'.(I rarely crap in my pants these days, thank goodness!)

    I was reading something about Aristotle saying that pride is fine, you ought to have self-respect, and it's somewhere this side of arrogance and that side of 'humility', touted as 'good' by 'values' folks; so don't beat yourself up Brian.

    I have been at a loss for words the past few days, and at one point I thought that you were demonstrating your 'free will'. If you recall, I was saying that the last BB Theory row(argument?) we had, I did say that it came to an end as if it were on rails, since we were friends.

    After your ultimatum, you 'not knowing if you wanted to even talk to me', there seemed little point in prattling away in my usual idiom since it seemed to me that that would further inflame you.

    This would have been hilarious if I had intended to inflame you, but I just felt that I was being wrongly accused of something by you and wrongly accused of 'projection' by Jerry.

    Oh yea, I did some wikying and found out that I am most definitely not a socialist, since I wouldn't trust an elected politician's word that he'd look after my cockatiel while I was away. Best I could come up with is a social democrat or democratic socialist.

  42. Oh yea, BTW, I am not Mojo Mantra and Mojo Mantra isn't me.

  43. After your ultimatum, you 'not knowing if you wanted to even talk to me',
    My 'not knowing' comment was hyperbolic. I never intended it to come across as a dismissal of you or telling you to go away. Sorry. Glad you're back.

  44. What I perceived, I think wrongly, was you attacking me when I was defending you to someone else. Turns out I'm a sensitive freak apparently.

  45. I think one can divide 'ego' and 'pride.' In my opinion, ego is what's okay to have, what Aristotle meant by pride, but real pride is the love of one's own ego, and that's where it seems (to me) to get problematic. Oh, and if the 'social values folk' say something I'm doing is okay, I'm running in the opposite direction as fast as I can. Because mostly, that type is ruled by pride. That's why they feel competent to preach about social values in the first place.

  46. Well, it's like my old pappy used to say, "It's all fun and games until somebody gets a stick in the eye."

  47. When pride blinds us to other people and their lives, to their realities, and we only see (and care about) our own, then it's the Deadly Sin that certain religions label it.
    This is what I see as the core error of organized religion. It produces pride instead of curbing it, and uses it to hold onto it's believers. It is the cause of much of the error in the world. The rest of the error in the world is still caused by pride IMHO, but not of the religiously induced kind. Pride is the great smokescreen we create for ourselves so we can't see how stupid we actually are.

  48. Pliny, do you agree that religion creates and utilizes pride in its believers rather than curbing it, thus never allowing the believer to grow up to a mature, empathetic and humble person? That the religion needs its believers to remain as little children?
    Christian dogma even specifically tells us to 'be as little children' and that's how the religion tends to interpret it, not open-minded as a normal child is, but the opposite, closed-minded like the proud child becomes.

  49. If ego is a healthy self-image, then pride is loving that image more than you can love anything else. Loving it to the exclusion of any other people. Being so wrapped up in it, that you're not even aware that you are.

  50. Religion inculcates in its believers, the sense that God Himself is behind them, and that they are God's representatives here on earth.

    That alone is enough of a mindfuck.

    No wonder they have no difficulty with the enormous amount of pride necessary in a person to feel qualified to dictate morality to all other people. To legislate it even. Even to the point in some cases, of killing others who break what they see as their God's Commandments and rules. Interpreted wrongly due to their pride which blinds them to anything that might tell them they're being assholes instead of holy men.

  51. I'm not sure. I think some sects or movements within religion use the 'fer us or agin us' pride shctick. I think many use the opposite - they try to break down people's egos and make them feel inadequate. Kind of like an abusive spouse.

  52. Anyway, I wonder what the odds are of using the word 'micro-choices' then going to a site a couple of hours later, and in that site there be a reference to 'micro-choices'?!

    An odd word like that sticks out, no?

    The thing I was getting at regarding free will(or lack thereof) was the idea of doing something mundane like deciding to close one eye just to prove to yourself that you it.

    You'd likely consider it some kind of 'bridge too far' to deliberately defecate and urinate in your bed, or in your cornflakes, say, just to try to demonstrate the point, but I'd consider it that one would be likely to come up with odd things to do, given that specific motivation.

    Point is that you cannot prove free will by thinking of a thing you wouldn't normally do since 'thinking of a thing you wouldn't normally do' is something that people normally do when thinking of ways to prove free will.

    This seems to me to be the opposite of what we usually go around doing, which would be rationalizing away the stuff we did, give reasons for past actions.

    It would do no good to come to the conclusion that you did something for no reason at all and somehow expect that to back up the point that you have free will, right?

    On the other hand, I am fairly forgetful so the more planned my day is, the more likely my will isn't going to go as I planned, which in an oddly apologetics kind of way disproves free will from both ends. If there's a plan, what's free about that? If there's a plan and you're likely to fuck it up in some way by forgetting part of it, say an ingredient in tonight's supper, Dubbya-tee-eff is up with that??

    So, to sum up, I guess your definition of free will is so broad, wide and perhaps even contradictory that you automatically assume it, 'cos that's just what you do, or you can to a simple, yet completely unexpected test on yourself(LMAO), or, you plan to think up a good definition that is going to completely stump me, shutting me the hell up about it once and for all.

  53. Oh yea, BTW, I am not Mojo Mantra and Mojo Mantra isn't me.

    Who knew?

    I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together. —JL

    FYI: the walrus was Paul.

  54. Pboy, is that how christians think of free will? Because to me, your definition is too narrowly defined. But maybe that's what the christians do? I'm trying to see why you define it so narrowly that it can't exist.

    I have to take a dump, but I waited, to type this. It hurts now, but that's my free will.

    Now there's two ways to look at it. You can define it so that it wasn't my free will to delay defecation for communication by claiming that it's all a product of who I am and my environment and so forth, but those factors are a part of that which is defined as me in the first place.

    What I want to know, is why do I have it so wrong? To me, free will means nobody's got a gun to my head, least of all my mythic 'creator.' When we have choices, sometimes there's no clear reason why we chose one option over the other. I mean, of course it's my free will not to jump into fire. But it's also my free will to turn left instead of right at a fork in paths in the woods when I've never been there before and am just exploring... in that scenario, I randomly chose from two equally available options, and even if it's just that I like to turn left when I have an equal choice, that's me and who I am and one of the choices that I like to make.... So no coercion, it's my choice.

    I guess I don't see the value of negating the idea of free choice. Sure christians use it in their argumentation so it's tempting to defeat it as you do, but I don't see the need. I mean, they don't have the monopoly on it. I have free choice because either god lets me have it, or I have it all on my own because god doesn't exist. I pick the second one.

  55. All the thoughts that I bought into when I was a child, from 6 thur 16, I still have to stay locked into those thoughts all ,my life, and cannot under any circumstances change my mind? I think not.

  56. Plus, isn't the whole idea (among christians) about free will or free choice, that we are 'free' (god's not forcing us) to SIN or not to. It's our choice to sin or not to sin. Isn't that the christian excuse why god doesn't tell us what to do, doesn't make it so we can only choose not to sin?
    You seem to see the answer to that, as 'given our genetics, the complexities of our social structure and environment, and how we were conditioned by that, along with other factors, the choices aren't really free' whereas my answer is 'yeah, so what? Proves nothing.'

  57. Free will argument =

    Another of the many, many excuses that christians give for the fact that their god acts just exactly and precisely like he doesn't exist at all.

    So better watch out! He's a up there, watchin'... He just likes to keep real quiet-like.

  58. So, it is in the above context that I was asking Pliny about AI, which is likely unfair to Pliny's project.

    Free will isn't something that could be added to the kind of program that he was talking about.

    Might be some crossover in our meaning when it comes to Artificial Awareness though.

    I can picture expert systems, written on cards the size that hold your photos but with gigs of mem.(or terras, if that's what it takes) being something to add to an aware system, your computer already being aware of, in a very primitive way of course, keyboard input, mouse input, internet dialogue, printer output.

    Can't 'get to' the point where this artificial awareness gets 'up' in the morning with, "I woke up in love this morning, I woke up in love this morning, went to sleep with you on my mind.", stuck in it's head though, and of course why the hell would it, unless that's part of being sentient, mulling over silly things in loops, but that's getting ahead of the game there.

    Seems to me that SNG is covering that topic with Data, except their technology is a deus-ex-machina dropped in from a mad scientist's secret work and NOT the all pervasive, from the ground up, interactive toys like sympathetic teddy bears and who knows where that leads?

    Blather blather blather, "I woke up in love this morning...who the hell sings that anyways?"

  59. The fucking Partridge Family, that's who!

    David Cassidy fan?

  60. Perhaps real consciousness is a feedback loop.
    There's data, facts.
    Then there's awareness, intelligence of some sort, able to examine and process said facts.
    Then there's consciousness, when awareness examines itself.
    If awareness examines itself, consciousness is born from the feedback whine...

  61. Many 'schools' of mystical thought, theosophy for instance, consider the evolution of the primal consciousness, 'god' if you will.
    The One, as others call it. The monad.

    They claim it's like numbers.

    First of course, there's only the One. But then the One examines itself, and a difference is formed, the part that is examining, and the part that is examined. So we have Two. The Point becomes the Line. Then when a duality is established, said consciousness considers a point outside itself, and Three, or the Triangle is formed, the idea of plane geometry. And so on. The fourth point causes the geometric solid to come into 'being...'
    It's pretty hairy, but makes a certain sort of sense, in a way.

  62. On a related mystical note...

    Food for thought. Jerry might appreciate this:

    Think of your basic sense of identity. Not the 'I AM PBOY' or 'I AM JERRY' but simpler than even that, just the sense of 'I AM (something)'

    'I AM.' (Many translations of the hebrew name of god are variations on the verb 'to be' like this.

    Now, let's say that you pare your consciousness down to just that, take away all the other things till that's all that is left.

    How is your sense of 'I AM' different from anybody else's? It isn't. It's identical to everybody else's.

    And if it's identical, in that it's no different, then it might be identical in truth, as in, there's only one 'sense of I AM' in the entire universe. We're all variations on that one theme.

    It's either incredibly deep, or incredibly wrong. Not sure yet... lol...

  63. I get the STRONG sense, when on salvia, that my personal sense of I AM is the product of the combination of many millions of smaller 'senses of I AM' all the way down to my atoms. That, as the levels of complexity increase as we proceed upward from my constituent atoms to my molecules and thence to my cells and so forth, that at each level the combined sense of I AM increases in magnitude or strength, until by the time it gets to my conscious mind and whole body, it's so very strong that I can't help myself but think that it's ME, it's MINE and MINE ALONE.

  64. Seems to me as if you Brian, and Jerry, are sort of mirroring back what I said.

    "What I want to know, is why do I have it so wrong?"

    I'm not saying anyone is wrong.

    " To me, free will means nobody's got a gun to my head, least of all my mythic 'creator.'"

    Right! We could forget the whole 'what the hell is that free will thing about', and most do except when it comes to the religious stuff.

    I'm not 'freely choosing' to not believe that there is a supernatural realm, that there are no sentient beings who dwell in that realm, and so forth, no, just the same as you, hiking in the woods would choose the path on the left if you saw that the path on the right led to a cliff.

    That 'choice' I'm supposed to have isn't there for me, so there's something wrong with the loose definition of it.

    " When we have choices, sometimes there's no clear reason why we chose one option over the other."

    Okay, I 'get' that, but what if we compare you and I lost in the woods. You start a fire, set some traps, eat some berries and roots an so on, free will for you under your circumstances. I, on the other hand, have no clue how to start a fire, don't know which plants are poison and wait for starvation, or more likely hypothermia to.. well the icy hand of death thing.

    WTF? We were both armed with free will!

    " I mean, of course it's my free will not to jump into fire."

    Guess that's why theists give you a choice of Heaven or Hell, salvation or damnation, with us or against us.

    But we see that as childish, they get mad as hell at us and project their anger onto us, "Those angry atheists HATE GOD!", the pastor fairly roars from the pulpit, "They ought to GET OUT of our country if they don't like it!"

    And an entire church full of adults sit there agreeing with him, actually enraged that we are, supposedly doing all this 'hating'.

    Can you not picture Hitler standing at the podium ranting about Jews, and loathing the hateful Jew, we already made our choice, just. like. the. Christian. congregation. did.

    This is hate speech! "Wonderful sermon, I for one was ready to grab the pitchfork, light the torches and march on the atheist-down-the-road's house!"

    But it just seemed a tad drastic. It's okay for us to hate their God-hating ways, for us to listen to someone stirring the hate-pot, ramping up our hatred of their god-hate, no cheek-turning, no live and let live, no do unto others here.

    The message is clear, be one of us or we will hate you!

  65. A disturbing salvia vision:

    I was recently asking myself about the nature of this reality and all the suffering and death and so forth.

    The resultant vision was interesting.

    I saw reality as incredibly vast, an infinite consciousness. With many different parts or 'areas' in which different types of individual consciousnesses form and so forth.

    Then I saw this reality, my reality, as like, the scum on the sides of the barrel, so to speak. As if it were unintentional, a side-effect of the whole.

    And I heard words. This never has happened to me, by the way. Intelligible words. It seemed that the whole of it all, was speaking to me about my little layer of surface scum that I call home.

    The words rang with inevitability. And sadness.

    The words were, "What a shame..."

    As if it were unavoidable that in our layer of scum, a lot of suffering has to happen, due (perhaps?) to the un-connected nature of it.

  66. I'm not 'freely choosing' to not believe that there is a supernatural realm, that there are no sentient beings who dwell in that realm, and so forth, no, just the same as you, hiking in the woods would choose the path on the left if you saw that the path on the right led to a cliff.

    That 'choice' I'm supposed to have isn't there for me, so there's something wrong with the loose definition of it
    Or you *could* say that your free choice was to listen to facts rather than stories, and so to choose atheism. Just saying. That's what 'they'd' say...

    Hey, I see your point and it's right of course, but it can be interpreted in different ways. My point is, why argue on their terms? *They* (christians) WANT us to argue about how we really don't have free will, because that's not a powerful argument in simple minds, so they win. (A win for them doesn't necessarily mean they actually won the argument over us, remember. A win for them, is for their faithful to *believe* they've won over us.) To me, that's ceding the argument to them, when their entire argument is a fabrication to explain their non-god's non-involvement in our lives when some bright doubter asks 'so why doesn't god tell us what to do' or 'so why didn't god make us so that we always choose the right thing?' It's an argument designed to show why god acts just like he's not really real, not really there watching us, not really seeming to give a shit. But it misses the point that the far simpler answer remains 'there is no god.' So that's my response, not to deny free will, but to accept it and say 'but of course we do (have it)!' Of course we do, since there's no god in the first place to potentially deny it to us.

  67. I should note that lest I sound like a True Salvia Believer, I'm just not. I do not believe that reality is actually like I perceive it while on the drug. It may be, but just as likely not, is my point. I do consider the input, though. Perhaps something to draw insights from. It feels real, but I'm not that stupid, really.

  68. I remember when the 'Free Will' argument was first used against me. By my mother.

    "Mommy, why doesn't god make us so that we don't sin?" (some variation on that)

    See? I was thinking that the fact that god didn't make us that way, or at least show up now and then to tell us personally what he wanted of us, was a good sign that god wasn't real. But hey, she had this answer that, at the time, shut me up rather nicely. So that's how I see the argument now. As 'shut up, silly boy.' Only now that I'm not a boy anymore, I see it as the lie it is.

  69. I read a book a couple of decades ago (maybe three) about the origin of consciousness in the bi-cameral mind. Written by a psychologist whose theory was that before human consciousness developed (evolved?) man did not have self-awareness. The two hemispheres of the brain communicated differently than now; one side "commanded" the other side to act. People actually "heard" voices in their head instructing them. The voices fell silent when consciousness began to emerge and humans attributed this to God forsaking them. This is (according to the theory) why people began to visit oracles. As more and more people lost the voice the oracles were the last people to hear the commands. God or gods still resided in their heads.

  70. He claims that ancient writings before a certain time had no reference to “I”, “me” or “you”. Everything was written in third person. Also there was no mention of a person’s thought processes or even a mention of thoughts, ideas or perceptions by an individual. Instead there were commands and voices.
    He thinks the concept of God was very natural because God was literally inside our heads. Modern man (so his theory goes) experiences this throwback condition as schizophrenia with its’ auditory hallucinations. People with schizophrenia do “hear” commands.

  71. The rise of reason, has always been god's enemy.

  72. Here's my earliest (and I still think valid) objection to the 'free will' thing:

    Why would god give us free will? What possible reason?

    There can be no other reason other than to see what we'd do with it. An experiment.

    An unnecessary one, if god is omniscient. What needs an omniscient being with experimentation?

  73. I was reading up on abusive relationships.

    I came to the conclusion that we are all potential abusers since everything we do by way of interacting with each other, is a negotiation.

    Weird thing about this was the explanation of how a healthy relationship was supposed to be, sometimes you poke at her and sometimes she pokes at you.(somehow everyone is happy with this state of affairs)

    The cure for being the victim of an abusive relationship was not seen as the victim standing up to the abuser, but the victim realizing that he/she was being victimized.

    I see these outraged pastors as abusers, the congregation as victims who are just happy to not be in the abuser's line of fire.

    That whole Christians versus abortionist thing, with the names and addresses, them basically praying that someone will go ahead see the need to sacrifice him/herself to the law, by killing the abortionist and/or burning him/her out.

    But as potential abusers ourselves, where is the free will, if we go ahead and poke(as the counsellor puts it) and poke, not consciously, just interacting, and the poke-backs stop coming, and your partner(other person you are 'negotiating with') continually gives ground?

    One would likely slip into the role of an abuser with a codependent 'other' because that is our nature, to take control if the other is willing to give it up, to take up the slack.

    An abuser, faced with his/her abuse, would likely deny it, casting it more as just assuming command of the weaker party, filling the control gap, and in part that would be right!

    But if we're all simply role playing the roles we've learned, like the more aggressive puppy becoming the alpha male, where does that leave free will?

    Down the shit-hole, that's where.

  74. So then I'd say that the pastor-flock relationship is one that is abusive toward the non-flock, and this is made very apparent to the flock. So they have a choice of the PRIDE of being in the flock, or the SHAME of leaving it.

  75. I see pride and shame as two sides of the same coin, really. The proud feel shame most keenly. When they feel it at all, of course.

  76. Exactly like a school bully's gang, the gang members are bullies by association, but they are actually just defending themselves from the bully by being his/her flock.

    It really does explain a lot of things, like how many branches of Christianity there are, how they rival each other, persecute each other. I grew up in Aberdeen and although I was non-religious, I grew up knowing that Catholic was a dirty word.

    D'Souza turned tables by claiming it was all about land, as if war is always the solution for leader's greed. What happened to subjugating your own people, that's pretty common?

    No, the IRA terrorized Northern Ireland for years because they were not Catholic. If the Northern Irish all decided that they were now Catholic and there was a united Ireland, no change of ownership of land at all, there would have been no fighting.

    Apparently it's standard operating procedure for an abuser to claim to be the abused/persecuted one when called on his/her abuse.

    Entire sections of the community trying to force their will on the rest while claiming that they are the ones being persecuted? Kind of makes it really clear that it's all about relationships and who is controlling who, doesn't it?

    But in that kind of 'battle' there's no standing up to them, it just makes them more abusive, more radical, seeking more control indirectly, through political office and/or deliberately over-representing themselves in the civil services.

    If the churches are emptying, that's not going to stop them, they'll fill school boards, elect State governors that'll squish abortion rights and so on.

    Don't forget that these are the people who hail free will as a gift from their God for each of us to stand or fall on that measure alone, while skulk behind the scenes pulling strings, stacking the deck, being typical abusers.

  77. So true, the lot of it.

    My wife asks, did they still have the milk wagons that come by in the morning? She apparently visited Sterling, which she thinks may be near to Aberdeen.... She loved it there.

    Hey, truth to be told, my son got the name 'Connor' because of that movie, The Highlander. No, it's not that I loved the movie so very much, although I did like it a lot. But I really loved that name. So when it was time to pick a name for my new son, the choice was easy for me.

    I almost bought a lowland claymore last year. Huge sword, over five feet long, razor sharp on both edges... but it was too much money for something I'd only look at and maybe hack down a sapling with for fun.

  78. Yes, when the right wing is called out on their agenda, the first thing they say is 'look at the democrat agenda! They have one too, see!'
    ...glossing over the fact that the democratic 'agenda' is a lot about nullifying the draconian changes caused by the republican agenda. So 'no, we aren't waging a war on women, no, that's just a way for democrats to attack our policies that hurt women, er, I mean, create jobs!'

  79. When I was 9 or 10, I was at my grand-mother's, still in the city, and heard this 'clomp clomp clomp'. I guess that was the last horse powered milk wagon in the city. In our part of town we had electric milk carts or wagons or whatever they called them.

    That was a long time ago now so I wouldn't be surprised at all if they'd given up the door to door delivery of milk.

  80. Yeah, funny, the wife, standing nearby, said to your last comment 'tell him that they were still there as of the eighties...' You should have seen her face when I reminded her, 'Honey, that was thirty years ago...'

  81. LOL.. yea time sure has a way of slipping by.

  82. Is your youngster old enough to be read to yet ste B? If so, I just posted a children's story - right up your alley ;)

  83. "Here's my earliest (and I still think valid) objection to the 'free will' thing:
    Why would god give us free will? What possible reason?
    There can be no other reason other than to see what we'd do with it. An experiment."

    Brian, you became a father relatively recently, so let me ask you a question: Suppose before your child had been born, you could've chosen the 'free-will' model, or the 'automaton' model -- which would you have chosen, and why?

    I suspect, like most people, you would have chosen the child with free-will. Why? Not as part of some 'experiment,' but because you love your child. Now we know, from our first hand experience (assuming, of course, you believe that you are free), that free-will is a good, even if it can be abused. So, naturally, we want that good for our children. Further, we know that virtue and nobility are possible (in a meaningful sense) only if we are free; hence, we naturally want our children to experience what we, as human beings, most value. Finally, we want to love our children, and we want them to love us. I take it you'd think someone who loved a robot would be a bit strange; so would I. And a robot could not love us, for love must be freely accepted and given if it is to be love in any meaningful sense.

    So, there are at least three good reasons god would want us to be free: freedom is a good in itself; freedom is a necessary condition of virtue; and freedom is a necessary condition of love.

  84. I think free will is more of a service than a good.

  85. Here's a similar question Brian. You recently had a child, why didn't you choose to be a multi-millionaire?

    Oh, that's right, you don't get to choose such things, do you?

  86. "Here's a similar question Brian. You recently had a child, why didn't you choose to be a multi-millionaire?
    Oh, that's right, you don't get to choose such things, do you?'

    That has nothing to do with free-will, Floyd, just as my inability to choose to use the Star Trek transporter over my Superman flying powers to reach Atlantis, or my inability to choose whether to co-star with Katherine Heigl or Jennifer Aniston in my first movie has nothing to do with free will.

  87. I suspect, like most people, you would have chosen the child with free-will. Why? Not as part of some 'experiment,' but because you love your child.
    Choice A. Free will, but eternity in hell for many of my children who choose wrongly...


    Choice B. Guide them.

    The sheer silliness of your response, belies your pretense of honesty. Honesty perhaps, even with yourself. The father you insist on believing in, is an evil sadist. Sad you can't see that. It's not like it's well hidden

  88. Well, you guys can believe that you act according to your free will, applauding a pastor who is infuriated with non-Christians, getting caught up in his fury, calling atheists god-haters, pure projection of his own hate towards those who simply do not believe that there is a supernatural realm and sentient actors in that realm.

    Do you Eric, honestly believe that you'd be freely deciding that atheists are, in fact, all being god-haters, agreeing with a man standing up in front of you screaming about angry god-hating atheists???

    Now you might argue the point that you freely chose to be there, similar to a felon who had chosen to be at the scene of a crime where someone was killed, you might say that, sure, you chose to be there and chose to listen and chose to believe the angry pastor's rhetoric.

    But I don't imagine that you're going to tell us now that all atheists are angry with god, no. I'm thinking that you might imply that may well be some atheists who are indeed angry with god, perhaps ex-Christians, for not living up to their hopes or expectations, or some weak-sauce drivel like this, yes?

    In short, anger at God(god-hating), a real phenomenon or rhetorical projection by angry clergymen?

  89. Ah haha hahaha, Scott Walker, poor Scott Walker, only tried a bit of union busting disguised as a budget bill, while slashing taxes for the wealthy, in collusion with the Koch brothers, but now he is the victim of the viscious elite left, bussing and 'private planing' in to demonstrations against him.

    Poor Scott, a typical abuser who is being held to account, busy blaming everyone but himself for his actions and the results.

  90. Floyd, think about it:

    You're trying to *reason* with me about free will.

    Reasoning is a process of *evaluation*.

    To evaluate, you have to make *judgments*.

    To make judgments, you have to make *decisions*.

    To decide (in any meaningful sense), you have to be *free*.

    Hence, your attempts to reason with me about free will presuppose free will! If we're not free, then we're not reasoning here; rather, you're doing what you must, and I'm doing what I must. And, since we're both acting in accord with the same laws, there's no sense in which we can say that the conclusion you've necessarily reached is 'right' and the one I've necessarily reached is 'wrong.' In other words, your position refutes itself.

    Brian, you asked why god would give us free will, aside from the 'experiment' explanation, and I gave you three good reasons, none of which you interacted with.

  91. 'To decide (in any meaningful sense), you have to be *free*.'

    This from a guy who believes in an immaterial, invisible entity which exists outside of time.

    Meaningful sense?

    You've got some nerve Eric. Meaningful nerve!

    We need freedom, or to be free, to judge, you say?

    Tell me Eric, is a corporation a person?

  92. Anyways, if we're being honest here Eric, our language is like that, pre-evaluated to agree with itself when it comes to a subject like free will.

    As I recall, we couldn't agree what the word freedom means a bit back.

    Imagine a sieve is a simple evaluation machine. It evaluates the small bits and lets them through, also the big bits, not letting those through.

    Who is to say that our reasoning minds, our evaluating minds aren't some kind 'brain' version of that, in your case letting the notion of God through, in mine, well, I take the sensible(eyes, ears, nose..) view.

  93. LMAO "Meaningful nerve!"

    That pboyfloyd guy is halarious sometimes!

  94. Floyd, when a stone rolls down a hill, moving here and there until it reaches the bottom, does it decide when to go to the left or to the right, or does it move as it must, given what it is, the terrain, and the laws of physics? And on your view, what are we but more complex versions of that stone?

  95. Eric, when you get elected Cardinal, will you love the red robe enough to replace your formal bows with curtsies?

    If you're a Bishop, will you be sensitive around your Bishopric?

    These and other questions, absurd as they are, still make more sense than your endless transparent contortions. C'mon man! We're not in grade school anymore! Let's stop with the silly word games! Can't we be grownups here, is that too much to ask?


  96. I mean, you don't want my pity, do you Eric?

    If you really believe all the things that you say here, you surely have it sir. And if you do not, you have no honor. So either way.....

  97. Roll a stone down a hill Eric. If you listen carefully, you'll hear it, "Ouch, ouchouch, ouchouchouch, ow, oh fer pete's sake, OW!"

    Just for starters there, if we amputated your arms and legs or even tied you up in a ball then rolled you down a hill, would you decide which way to go?

    How about a spider, does it decide where it's going? If it doesn't decide, in the sense that you're meaning that we decide, is it instinct, meaning like a robotic kind of 'deciding'?

    For all your "Big fail Ian, we reason therefore we must have free will", you can either give an account of why you reason this way or that, therefore no free will, or you can't, therefore no free will.

    It's like Christian apologetics in that way, heads you lose tales I win.

  98. I think George Carlin sums up our freedom of choice nicely at the end of this video.

    Paper or plastic?

  99. And you know what they say. 'A rolling stone gathers no moss...'

    So there's that.

  100. All praise to Saint George the Carlin.

    I saw that on Bill Maher last week. He was so good.

    I had all his albums as a kid. That's where I got my snark. Too bad I'm not as funny about it though.

  101. ".. the big red, white and blue dick that's being jammed up their ass.."

  102. " People actually "heard" voices in their head instructing them."

    I vaguely recall something about that too.

    At the very least it was a 'magical' time with many fearsome wonders, both awesome, rainbows, Northern lights and nasty, disease, beasts in the darkness, other people with red, white and blue dicks, in the darkness.

  103. Eric:
    Not to be overly obvious, but this argument about so-called "free will" requires that one posits some "higher power" who has granted it. If there is no Deity, free-will is simply any individual's "choices" made based upon evolution, heredity, and accumulated life experiences in those limited situations wherein he/she has time to consider alternatives and accurate information upon which to base those choices. If one believes in a Deity, often those choices are predetermined (hence not really "free") partly by accumulated religious indoctrination as to "what God wants". To the atheist and, I think, most agnostics, it is obvious that there is no argument as to how we make our "choices", since there is no price to be paid for making the "wrong" ones, other than any ill effects that may accrue to the chooser or other sentient entities whose well-being may matter to him/her.

  104. Harvey, those who defend the notion that we have libertarian free will need not presuppose that there's a god.

    Floyd, I'm sure there's a response to what I said somewhere in all those comments, but I can't seem to find it...

  105. Excellent point Harvey, and so obvious as to be the proverbial elephant in the room that we're so used to pretending it's not there we don't see it anymore.

    There are so many connections to the different aspects of 'what is wrong with Judeo/Christo/Islamic theism'.

    The hypnotism/confusion technique bit. "And all-loving God said unto Joshua, GO YE AND FUCK UP THE AMALEKITES, FUCK 'EM UP GOOD!",

    "Now boys and girls we can see the importance of having made good choices. Can you see how the unChosen Amalakites should have known to not be in the Hebrews way? Can we see how the Amalekite's children chose badly when they chose to be born to non-Hebrews?"

    And they CAN see how their all-loving God chose to love one tribe and supernaturally influence them to genocide.

    Then there is the abuser/abused mentality, systemic denial of their bad intent. "Not all Christians try to take control of their local education system, not all Christians infiltrate political positions to push a pro-life/anti-woman agenda."

    What do you say Eric, is it 'okay' for Santorum to run for president with every intention of changing the law to force every woman, whether Catholic, Protestant or secular, to be 'better Catholics'? To paraphrase him, ", it's not okay for women to be secular.. to use chemistry for birth control, it's just not."

    Can you not see how that is bullying, it's abusive? Non so blind as those who refuse to see.

  106. Let me ask a different question of the skeptics clutch:

    Do you think that argument alone is sufficient for belief in anything?

    Or are the only arguments of measure those that can be shown to have relevance to an empirical set of data? I.e., are all arguments absent evidence irrelevant? (ignoring those arguments that may be used to stimulate empirical investigation).

  107. While we're waiting for Eric to change’s my take on the Republican Show:

    Santorum: “I’m crazy for conservatism. And I’m hardly at all hypocritical about it. What you see is almost what you get.”

    Romney: “Don’t worry, fellow Republicans, I’m not crazy. I am a conservative though. I’m even more conservative than that crazy Santorum. And hey, all you independents, you don’t have to worry either. I’m not really very conservative. You’ll see; I’m like an Etch-a-Sketch. I’ll look completely different after I nail this primary.”

    Gingrich: “I’m the smart one. I’m also mostly irrelevant, now. Did I mention that I am a sociopath?

    Paul: “I am most definitely not the walrus!”

    Romney’s Dog: “Roof! Roof!”

  108. Romney's aide has set a new low for political contempt for the electorate.

    "We will say anything to the people in front of us to get elected."

    That's the essence of what was said.

    In a world with an intelligent electorate (Universe 549782133-223 in the Multiverse registry) that might get Romney in hot water.

    Here, not so much.

  109. "Romney's aide has set a new low for political contempt for the electorate."

    Yeah, is he a complete moron?

    In your intelligent universe he would obviously be trying to sabotage Romney's campaign.

    Are the Republicans really going to take this crap?

  110. Something like 98% of Catholic women have had in their minds that 'yes, crackers do turn to Jesus under the right circumstances', and 'yes my religion forbids contraception, but I'm going to take it anyways'.

    They're just being pragmatic. No eight to twelve kids for them.

    Praying to God or Jesus or Mary isn't going to work for them under these circumstances, we all know that, don't we Eric? God may indeed, in their minds, turn crackers into Jesus every time they go to Mass(if that's how it works), but they KNOW that no amount of praying is going to unpregnant them.

    Now the guys all know this too, so there must either be a LOT of Catholic men in total denial, OR, your women are out humping non-Catholics.

    Is the hypocrisy complete? It's as if the pews are the elephant in the room and you all skirt around to become it as you focus on whatever it is that they get up to on the stage.

    reSacrificing a Jew baby, as is my understanding!


  111. Are they going to take it? Of course - never under estimate the power of he scary man in the White House.

  112. No, Harvey was exactly right. Without presupposing a deity, the free will argument becomes silly and meaningless. Like I said, and Harvey found a better way to say, the whole argument only has one potential use, to attempt to prove god still exists even though he doesn't interact with us in any way. If god did not exist, how would our 'free will' be different? It would not be any different at all. So in order to still maintain that god exists, we have to invent him giving us the 'free will' so that it looks like he's just not involved, rather than not there at all.
    Now Eric, be a man and admit when you're beaten. It's not pretty to be so egotistical as to continue to argue your sophistries when you've been so soundly defeated by logic.

  113. Pliny: Do you think that argument alone is sufficient for belief in anything?

    No. Sometimes a "good" argument may seem to be sufficient but the evidence can sometimes blow the good (and god) right out of it.

    To illustrate I will offer a riddle. It’s a true riddle. And yes, I know the answer.
    Sometime last year I read a news article about a guy from Virginia that committed suicide by attaching a steel cable (like you would use to tow heavy machinery) around a tree; the other end of the cable was wrapped around his neck. He was inside his car in the driver’s seat. He mashed down on the accelerator and there was a short but decisive tug-of-war between the tree and his head.
    At any rate, this happened in Yorktown, Virginia. Minutes after I had read the news article a co-employee from another department (IT) walked into my office. I told him about the decapitation.
    He asked where in Virginia this happened. I told him Williamsburg. Why did I say Williamsburg instead of Yorktown?
    (Hint: I was not trying to deceive him.)

  114. Something like 98% of Catholic women have had in their minds that 'yes, crackers do turn to Jesus under the right circumstances',
    Crackers always turn to Jesus.

    I had to re-read that to take it the right way... the first two times I saw crackers, as in southern racist morons, turning to Jesus, not actual crackers (host wafers0 turning INto Jesus.

  115. Okaaaaaaaaaaaaaay then Mojomantra, I'm stumpped. Why DID you tell your IT guy that the decapitation event took place in Williamsburg yet you weren't trying to deceive him?

    Did Yorktown change it's name and you knew that your IT guy knew it as Williamsburg?(or vice versa)

  116. Eric:
    "Harvey, those who defend the notion that we have libertarian free will need not presuppose that there's a god."

    True, but beside the point. If there is no God, it doesn't matter whether we are "free" to make our choices (where any choice exists)or whether we make all of our "choices" as a result of nature/nurture. I guess I'm not certain what you mean by "libertarian" free will. To me, absent any "higher being" to set rules, we are all free to make these decisions to the extent our intelligence and accumulated life experiences/societal pressure may allow us. I see nothing "bad" about recognizing that we are animals (albeit perhaps somewhat more self aware) like all others and that we are equally subject to instinct/perceived necessity or outcomes when we react to environmental challlenges.

  117. Pboy: Why DID you tell your IT guy that the decapitation event took place in Williamsburg yet you weren't trying to deceive him?

    I’m sure everyone here is aware of the bias errors that people make when they are arguing, speculating, wondering, supposing and well, just plain old thinking. I believe Pliny has pointed out numerous times on this blog and/or his that we cannot accept an analysis of data not sufficiently probed and tested for empirical accuracy, especially if we have an investment in that analysis. If we want to see a certain result we might overlook the data that is not useful or damaging to our theories and arguments; we over emphasize the data that helps our cause. We connect the dots. Sometimes the picture we get from connecting the dots is wrong. We can’t help ourselves. Sometimes we even lie to ourselves; and worse, most of the time we don’t even know that we are lying to ourselves.

    I would have bet someone $100 that Williamsburg was what was written in the newspaper account. I had no doubt of it. I “knew” that Williamsburg was where it took place. It wasn’t like I’d forgotten the location. I had just read the article minutes before.

  118. The Republican Show(contd.)

    Republican mantra, "The free market will decide, we don't need big government in the way, get out of our way big government!!"

    Gingrich, "I will make gasoline be $2.50 a gallon 'when' you make me president!"

    Any non-hypocrite anywhere, "Wait, what? You can do that? You can get out of the free market's way as president AND control prices as president at the exact same time???"

    Generic Republican, "They all lie anyway and I choose the lesser of two evils!"

    Is Republicanland Upsidedownland? Do they hear, 'we are total control freaks' when their leaders say, 'smaller goverment, less control'?

    I suppose in Upsidedownland or Reverseland, when Obama says, "I want to help the poor, the old and the sick.", they must hear him say, "I DON'T ever want to help the poor, the old and the sick."

    Maybe if Obama sarcastically ended his 'help the poor, old and sick' comments with, '..cos we DON'T want to help the poor, the old and the sick, DO WE?', the right would be thinking 'cool, now if only he wasn't black.'

  119. Generic Republican, "They all lie anyway and I choose the lesser of two evils!"

    When I read this back to myself I couldn't help noticing the similarity to, "We're all sinners anyway!", when the hypocrisy of Christians are pointed out.

    Seems to me that a hypocrite is someone in power, someone powerless maintaining a hypocritical position against the will of the powerful, are just liars, cheats and thieves.

    Imagine standing in front of a judge and saying, "Well, we're all sinners anyways, right?"

    I'm thinking that that just would not do.

  120. The answer to the riddle (WARNING! BORING PART AHEAD!)

    The IT guy wanted to know other details; I pulled the article up online. As I reread the news account I was stunned to see that it actually took place in Yorktown and not Williamsburg. I was just wrong. I felt a cold shiver run through me. Why, you might ask… Who cares? I just mistook the city, right? No, I didn’t.
    Here’s what happened.
    My son Pete lived in Williamsburg several years earlier; Yorktown is located right next to Williamsburg. As I reread the news article I realized that when my eyes read the word “Yorktown” I immediately replaced it with “Williamsburg”. I was not aware of my “switcheroo” on first read but on second read I realized that something like this took place in my subconscious: “Yorktown? That’s next to Williamsburg. Pete lived in Williamsburg. I identify more with Williamsburg. I know Williamsburg. This happened in Williamsburg. Williamsburg it is then.”
    Still, who cares, right? No big deaI.
    Right, it was no big deal which is why it was a big deal. If I can trick myself over something so trivial, so meaningless in my life, if I can so easily and wrongly connect the dots behind the scene, so to speak, what do I do about the real big deals in my life? Look what I did: I changed the name of the city because I was more comfortable with Williamsburg than Yorktown. What error biases do I routinely make with “important” issues?

    So that’s why when Pliny asks, “Do you think that argument alone is sufficient for belief in anything?” my reply is “no.”

  121. Every time I see the name Eric, I think of a hedgehog.

  122. Because he hedges? and is hog-like?

    Damn! Now, everytime I see the word hedgehog I will think of Pboy thinking "Eric".

  123. Yussss, yes you will. muhahaHaHAHAHA!

    (tenty fingers)

    'My evil plan is working.'

  124. Do not THINK of ERIC as a HEDGEHOG, for HE IS not A HEDGEHOG! It would RIDICULOUS to think of ERIC as A HEDGEHOG, of course. As you are not THINKing OF ERIC AS A HEDGEHOG, try to relax and not THINK of ERIC as A HEDGEHOG even more.

    (and so on, I think you have to have a couple of pages of it to work)

  125. Well, that's cute. Hedgehogs are cute. Little beady eyes, pointy nose...



  127. Whoa... Not cool. What did hedgehogs ever do to you all

    - Ryan

  128. It's HIM! Just like I picture him.

  129. It occurs to me that if I always think of him as a cute little hedgehog, I'll never get mad at him again.

    So, it's a go, is the point.

  130. "No, Harvey was exactly right. Without presupposing a deity, the free will argument becomes silly and meaningless."

    Um, Brian, have you ever read any of the famous atheistic existentialists like Sartre or Camus? What is the fundamental tension existentialists constantly struggle with: Human freedom, and hence the necessity of *choice*, in a world without teleology. This is what the well known phrase "condemned to be free" means: we're free -- "absolutely free" -- but we must choose, and the universe neither cares nor provides us with any guidance. This is the cause of the 'angst' the existentialists all talk about. And note, this strain of existentialists is composed of atheists through and through! You need to brush up on some of the basics, Brian.

    "True, but beside the point. If there is no God, it doesn't matter whether we are "free" to make our choices (where any choice exists)or whether we make all of our "choices" as a result of nature/nurture."

    Harvey, see my response to Brian above.

    I still see nothing resembling a cogent response from Floyd...though he does seem a bit, well, *friggin' insane*! I mean come one, just read his posts! Something's not quite right there...

  131. "Brian, have you ever read any of the famous atheistic existentialists like Sartre or Camus?"

    And if Brian hasn't, or disagrees?

    What are you implying here Eric? I don't want to suggest pure, undiluted snobbery here without giving you a chance to explain why your statement, above, is not pure, undiluted snobbery.

  132. BTW, 'insane' you call me, harrumph!

    Picture me looking like Steven Colbert, mascara smeared, nose blubbering. Picture it NOW!

    Eric hurt my foofoo! (wipes smeared mascara across cheek and a big suck, snot disappears back up nose)

    But wait!

    Obviously you have not read, The Confusion Technique by Milton H. Erickson.

    Now Eric look in the mirror and picture me with that exact smug superior look on my face.

  133. "Do you think that argument alone is sufficient for belief in anything?"

    What do you mean by 'sufficient?'

  134. Hmm, yes, I think that I am a hedgehog!

    Isaiah Berlin, quoting (misquoting?) Archilochus: "The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing." Very perceptive, fellas!

  135. Well done, Eric! Now all you have to do is use the hedgehog Brian pointed as as your pic!

    Works for me.

  136. Sorry, Mojomantra points at the pic.

    Wow though, I didn't think that Confusion Technique worked so fast!

  137. Eric:
    The fact that Sartre/Camus/ other existentialists were atheists and struggled with choice without teleology changes none of my contention, which, simply, is that humans always make choices(when choice is possible) which they perceive will either result in the most positive results (for them or others they care about) or avoid the most negative results. Since you are so well read in philosophy, you will recognize this as egoistic hedonism. I am further certain that you will not need to enter a long discourse to point out that the main argument against this as a philosophical/moral construct is that if man always acts so as to maximize his own benefit or to avoid the most negative outcomes, there are no ethics or morality here, since he really has no choice but to react as evolution and life experience direct him. As long as one does not posit a Deity who has 1)dictated the moral acts He wants and/or 2) provided some sort of punishment for deviating from his directives, the entire question is moot.I am forced to agree with the viewpoint that the ongoing question of "free will" is only important because of the logical disconnect imposed by God's all knowing/all powerful/ perfect knowledge of his every creation while allowing us to "choose" to ignore His orders on pain of eternal damnation.

  138. Eric:
    (contintued) And....
    Let's not even start on an all powerful/ omniscient God's relationship with Satan!

  139. "Brian, have you ever read any of the famous atheistic existentialists like Sartre or Camus?"
    No, I don't read silent letters.

    You silly little hedgehog.

  140. I guess it takes a lot of help to be so silly while sounding erudite.

  141. Eric,
    What happens when the many things combine to prove the one big thing, dead wrong and even a bit, well, backwards?

    Christians in denial, that's what! It's funny, 'cause it's true! LOL!

  142. You don't need to be an existentialist philosopher to not believe in god. You only need to be sensible and awake to the world.

    I get it, you can't respect a simple truth without sullying it with complex falsehoods. That's your game. That's what turns you on. So you can keep Albert and Jean Paul, I'll take George Carlin for the win.

  143. You know why they need atheist existential philosophers?
    Because of the perceived need to fight back against christian ones using the same techniques, when the simple truth and a slap on the head will do.


  144. Not to be a downer, but isn't it rather obvious that the kind of people that would love that story about the fox and the hedgehog, are the kind of people that concentrate all their minds on one thing, rather than a myriad of them and thus knowing the world rather than their Bibles and dogma and empty beliefs?

    And that kind of person, without the knowledge of that myriad of things, can't see any problem with their one big thing.


  145. Not trying to be insulting to any believer out there, but let's face it. When there's a whole group of people that are largely ignorant of the realities of the world and are undereducated and lack critical thinking ability, said group of people must find some way in which to make themselves feel good about who they actually are. So what more natural and predictable way than making up legends and stories and bible parables that show ignorance as 'common sense' or 'holy' and smart and right and preferable to all good people, and real intellect as suspect and egotistical and shallow, meager by comparison with their own more 'wholesome' lack of refinement and sophistication?
    Would I rather know one big thing rather than many things? How would I be able to compare and contrast my one big thing to anything else and thereby know the truth of it, if I do not have the knowledge of many other things with which to compare it to?

  146. There's a problem with knowing the one big thing. If that's all you really know, you have no way to tell if it's true or not, big as it may seem. Then also, it can never occur to you that the reason the 'fox' knows so many things but not your one big thing, is that he's already discarded it as useless and false. So you'll continue to be a proud, cute little hedgehog who never realizes that his one big thing, is not really anything at all but a construct of his own pride.

  147. Wow... I sure told him, huh?

    Anyhow Eric, you're pretty smart... I sure hate to see it go to the use you put it to, but I guess we all walk our own paths. May you derive happiness and satisfaction from whatever it is that you believe that you're doing with your life. ;-)

  148. Brian the hedgehog slayer?







  149. How is Eric a hedgehog?

    He has all those 'points'.(metaphorical)

    He studies things very, very closely.

    Likely very 'careful' with the girls, if you know what I mean, wink, wink. Eric would have to verify that one.

    Bit of a loner?


  150. Eric: I still see nothing resembling a cogent response from Floyd...though he does seem a bit, well, *friggin' insane*! I mean come one, just read his posts! Something's not quite right there...

    Pboy is the Poet here on this blog. The Dark Poet perhaps but Poet nonetheless. And Dark Poets do and should appear insane at times. Mostly, I think you’re not reading his posts correctly; you two speak and write in completely different languages. Try drinking a glass of wine before reading his posts or maybe two or three glasses.

  151. Yes, floyd speaks english with perhaps a bit of a scottish accent, and eric speaks egonese, which as we all know is a prideful patois.

    I am closer to an ergot argot, meself.

  152. Eric, drunk.

    I'd pay to see that. And his arguments.

    "Ahhh, fuggit, theresh no fugging god... whadafug wash I thinkin?'

  153. From a site about what you want from life:-

    Seems we're a bunch of muddy minded, off kilter, sad, burdened, purposeless, ditzy, left out people both searching for 'answers' and trying not to search for the unanswerable.

    Spirituality have some clarity of mind; feel each day more nearer to my inner self, be centered; know myself; have a greater level of spiritual joy that raises me above our human burdens; live with intention and purpose; be in the ocean of love and wisdom; get a meaningful glimpse of the spiritual good side of everyone I come in contact with; learn how to meditate when you do not have a lot of time to do so; know how to abandon the shallower world around us to reach greater levels of peace; really feel alive. I know that feeling. It doesn’t matter if you feel sad or happy there is a richness to it that is sometimes missing and I feel a dullness; feel connected and not separated and lost would change my life; stop searching answers to unanswerable questions and just live;

    Upshot of this, seems to me that we want to be, essentially, someone other than we are, or at least to know that we're on the right track to feeling that we've had a successful life, since we have little clue at the moment.

    (Sucks for anyone with the potential to be the town's very best whore, I'm thinking!)

    Point is I don't think this bodes well for free-will if the majority of us feel somehow lost and overcome by trivial details.

    Life, for most of us, is a river of trivial details that we're not very happy with. What's 'free' about that?

    This one, "to get a meaningful glimpse of the spiritual good side of everyone I come in contact with" seems to be contructed to avoid being asked WTF? by having the word 'meaningful' in it.

  154. stop searching answers to unanswerable questions and just live;
    They were all silly, but this one really goes against my grain.
    Settle for stupid and happy? No thanks.

  155. There may be differences in what we think we want from life and what we need from life.
    I think it's mostly chemical. What do you guys think?
    I think what we need in life is to get that seratonin pumpin’. And whatever you have to do to trigger it is the answer. It could be anything from the contemplation of a life well spent or the company of family and friends to the anticipation of the next kill (if you happen to be a serial killer...yeah, I'm talkin' to you, Dexter!).

    Sometimes for me it's the simple pleasure of smoking a cigarette.

  156. Dark poet? What are you doing to me?Now I feel as if I have to rhyme.

    Shadowy wordsmith, I aspire to be?
    more likely committing some grammatical crime.

    This rhyming thing blows. Plus, I suppose I could be doing something constructive, but I do this instead, in order to not do that other thing, I guess. Perhaps I keep my motives hidden from myself, not wanting to open that can of worms or something.

    Optional response:-

    Dark poet eh? Now I feel like a spy!

  157. Tell me about Texas radio and the big beat!

  158. Nah, poets don't need to rhyme all the time.

    Rhymin' is Brian's game. Think back to his Thomas Gassett thing. Brian, that was your magnum opus.

    Wonder whatever happened to that raving looney.
    Do you guys remember how Gassett sometimes had a different personality.
    I forget what it was that would trigger the change into the "good" Gassett but I think it had something to do with a particular science that he was interested in.
    Anyway, intead of insulting and cursing everyone he would turn into a shining, fountain of information that poured forth benevolent knowledge on his readers.

    Didn't happen a whole lot.

  159. I don't remember much about Gassbag. Some fun nasty back and forths.

    The Knight of BAWAA or whatever, atheist, libertarian, that was kind of fun to bash him too.

  160. Yes, dear Mr Gasset was the trigger for my very first internet limerick.

    He never did get the joke. I used to sign in as Mr Hankey and tell him that mom wanted him to come home...

    Nice sophomoric stuff like that.

  161. "and eric speaks egonese, which as we all know is a prideful patois."

    Brian, we're fellow native Rhode Islanders, so you know how strong and thick the RI accent is. We sound the same, I'm afraid.

  162. Picturing both of them with the straw hats and overalls, straw in the mouth, foot on the bottom rung of the fence, "Yah kint gaat thar froom hey-yer!"

  163. "Yah kint gaat thar froom hey-yer!"

    I think your Scottish heritage is showing here ;)

  164. LOL.. oh we know you can get there from here alright, but we'd sound more like, "Ye canna shove yer gramma aff a bus."

  165. shove yer gramma aff a bus! What's tha owl aboot!

  166. It's an old song about how you can't shove your grandmother off off the bus, because she is your mother's mother.

    The second verse explains that you can shove your other grandma off the bus because she is your daddy's mother.

    Needless to say my grandmother on my father's side hated that song because she had three sons and no daubhters.

    Some people are a little sensitive about possible ejection from omnibuses due to lineage, I suppose.

  167. Rhymin' is Brian's game
    I used to think so, but Pliny's got me beat by a mile in that area. He's also great at spinning a good yarn.

    That guy needs to wrote a book more than anyone I've ever met.

  168. Brian, we're fellow native Rhode Islanders, so you know how strong and thick the RI accent is. We sound the same, I'm afraid.
    Well, I was being facetious.

    And oddly enough, even though I was born and raised in RI, I seem to have avoided the accent for the most part. Even when I was a kid, I thought it sounded off somehow. So I listened more to newscasters and TV personalities. I'm fairly accent-free, unless I get really relaxed and then I often don't filter it out as much. So doing may become 'doin' and so forth.

  169. Would a conservative have a preference for the blank slate idea?

  170. Brian,

    Will you please take a whack at Pliny's challenge? Without search engine shenanigans to help me, I've failed.

  171. okay, Psycho.. Day the Earth Stood still....

    Who the hell is Pegman?

    So that's how far I get without the internet.

  172. The pegman thing? Too tough for me. I think I haven't even seen some of the films. I got like five. Then noticed someone else had gotten four of mine plus three others.

  173. Pegman who is Pegman!

    Didn't you guys ever play MB's Life?

    Remember the little guys that came in pink and blue - pegmen.

    Ok I amuse myself if no one else...

  174. I bet you've seen every one B.

    hint - one is an Ed Wood classc

  175. I'm guessing that no.3 is 'Ghost'

  176. 6 is King Kong?

    The Woman who wouldn't stop growing?

    Elephant man?

    Jesus Christ Superstar! ??

  177. Good job pboy! you got 3 and 6

    Broke back mountain Harry?

  178. Pliny, I like them! I thought it was very cool, and so did the wife.

    Rather creative of you. Not to sound like a total sycophant...

  179. Would a conservative have a preference for the blank slate idea?
    It's been a while... blank slate idea?

    Ya know though, when I get pissed at conservatives, it's not real actual conservatives I'm pissed at, it's at the ones that call themselves conservatives when they're just assholes.
    A real conservative wouldn't have gotten us into so many foreign wars, for instance... And so forth. The ideologues are running the rep party now, so there aren't too many real conservatives left in power anymore.

  180. here's Prettyboy Floyd in the bathtub with Emma.

  181. Aww.............

    You guys love that bird, don't you?

    That's something I can relate to.

  182. You have to click on the pic then go to 400% to see it half decent. What a cheeky bugger he is. Can you imagine, an hour ago. It's like he's looking at me thinking, "WTF are you up to?"

  183. We just lost our crested gecko two days ago. New terrarium, wrong substrate as it turned out. He apparently ate a piece of it, coconut husk. It wasn't pretty.

    It was like losing a cat or a dog. It was brutal.

    We have no cats, one pug, two anoles, one green treefrog, two 'neon tree dragons,' which are tropical arboreal agamid lizards with fairly bright colors, one african walking frog, also arboreal, and a 96 gallon tank full of cool tropical fish. Some of the fish, are like puppies, come to the front to greet you and beg for food, follow you around the room, that sort of thing. I love nature and always have, used to work in an aquarium store when I was sixteen, and want to bring my son up to love it too, hence the mini-menagerie.

  184. I can only imagine the love you have for Walter.. what a handsome dog. I betcha he's the smartest dog on the planet!

  185. In the news.

    Zimmerman gives fair warning that, if they keep harrassing him, he plans to come out guns blazing, as per Stand-your-ground law!

  186. Walter's a genius in every subject that involves him getting food. He takes anything else I say as a 'suggestion under advisement.'

    What actually IS unusual about him, is that he's an emotional basket-case. He cries REAL TEARS. I've seen them, dripping down his face onto the couch. He gets jealous, really jealous, when we can't pay attention to him as he feels is his due, and goes into a corner with his face pressed against the wall. I have to go over and basically kiss his ass... (not literally)... tell him how good a boy he is, rough up his fur... then his little tail will come up (tailrection) and he's happy again, until the next time in maybe ten minutes.

  187. He's needier than a Moluccan cockatoo. And if you're a bird person, you'll know that that's incredibly needy.

  188. So it's getting close to that 200 comment mark...

    Hence, NEW POST is up.