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Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Bill says:
  2. Bill says:
  3. Kylopod says:

    I’ve done an updated analysis of the race using 538’s polling averages. Biden’s lead has shrunk a little ( 6.6 nationally), but the good news is that the general contours of the race look somewhat less crazy and more rational than last week. Minnesota, while not quite out of the woods ( 7.4), at least is now showing a stronger Biden lead than in any 2016 Trump state. PA is now clearly the tipping-point state in the averages. AZ and FL appear to be declining in importance, though I’d say they’re both must-wins for Trump.

    If Biden wins all the states where he’s currently ahead–that would include MI, WI, PA, AZ, FL, and NC–the final tally will be 333-205, almost identical to Obama’s 2012 results (332-206). I suspect that if this map holds he’ll also pick up NE-02 while losing ME-02–but as I’ve said there’s not much polling in either.

    If he wins all the states where Trump is within a 2-point lead, that would give him OH, TX, GA, and IA, placing his total at 411, making him the first candidate to break 400 EVs since Bush Sr. in 1988, and the first Democrat to do so since LBJ.

    The likeliest map for a narrow Biden loss would involve him winning CO, MN, MI, WI, NH, and NV, but losing PA, AZ, FL, NC, OH, and IA–basically the 2016 map minus WI and MI, or 280-258 in the electoral college. So it does appear at this moment that WI, MI, and PA are still the most crucial states.

    Here are all the states where either candidate is below a 10-point lead, ranked from Biden’s strongest to Trump’s strongest:

    CO: B 9.7
    MN: B 8.8
    MI: B 7.4
    WI: B 6.8
    NH: B 6.5
    NV: B 5.3
    PA: B 4.8
    AZ: B 4.3
    FL: B 2.0
    NC: B 1.2
    OH: T 1.4
    TX: T 1.4
    GA: T 1.5
    IA: T 2.0
    MO: T 6.9
    SC: T 7.2
    MT: T 8.7
    KS: T 9.7

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  4. MarkedMan says:

    One of yesterday’s discussion threads got me thinking again about the need for yet another word. We have atheists, who firmly believe there is no god. We have agnostics, who either believe in god in a general way but haven’t identified with a specific religion or, more commonly, is unsure as to whether there is a god at all. But I feel neither quite describes my belief: I just don’t think it’s an interesting question. To me, virtually all organized religion is just a social group used to define in group vs out group, and therefore serves the exact same function as dozens of other kinds of semi-voluntary social groupings. As for individual belief in god or not, I just have no compulsion to think that much about it. If there is some kind of entity, it’s never communicated to me, nor would I expect it too. In any case, such an entity can’t have any effect on my own actions. I guess I would put it in the same category as any other science fiction-y claim like, say, that we are all living in a computer simulation. It might be interesting to think about once or twice but absent any concrete evidence it’s not going to affect my behavior.

    What to call someone like me? An indifferentist?

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  5. CSK says:

    @MarkedMan:
    I think we occupy the same category: religiously indifferent.

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  6. Kylopod says:

    @MarkedMan:

    We have atheists, who firmly believe there is no god. We have agnostics, who either believe in god in a general way but haven’t identified with a specific religion or, more commonly, is unsure as to whether there is a god at all.

    One problem I’ve noticed is that there’s a certain respectability factor that affects people’s self-identification. A lot of people call themselves agnostics because they find “atheist” a bit pejorative, or because they think it carries undertones of militance they don’t share (that was definitely the sense I got from Neil DeGrasse Tyson, who actually got upset when he was identified as an atheist by Wikipedia). This is quite different from people who actually feel they are uncertain about the issue.

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  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: @CSK: You guys are members of The Church of God the Almighty and the Utterly Indifferent. Founded on the belief that He created the world in 6 days and on the 7th She said, “It’s your problem now.”

    For my ownself, I’m an atheist, some would say hard core as my belief in the nonexistence of a God is absolute, but I have no problem with any religious belief that helps one get thru this vale of tears as long as it does not include forcing me to live by it’s tenets.

    ETA Kylopod reminds me, those who, “believe in god in a general way but haven’t identified with a specific religion” are in my experience referred to as Deists.

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  8. de stijl says:

    I never think about religion unless it is brought up.

    I am an atheist: I do not believe in Wotan nor Baal nor any of the thousands of others.

    I am tolerant of others’ beliefs so long as it does not impact me materially or if it punches down on people they have othered. Especially under cover of law. Then I get pissed and righteous.

    Atheist is not a pejorative. I literally do not believe in any god – it is descriptive.

    “Atheist” became loaded, but I ignore the loadedness because I do not care myself with what others think.

    Social scientists are now using “none” as a descriptor. That works too.

    Call yourself whatever you want.

    I go by atheist.

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  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    QAnon conspiracy theorist to feel warm embrace of Republicans in Congress

    Members of Congress like the Wyoming congresswoman Liz Cheney, House minority whip Steve Scalise, Illinois congressman Adam Kinzinger and South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham, have strongly warned about letting the QAnon movement spread through the government. Congressman Jody Hice withdrew his endorsement of her. At one point during the campaign, the GOP consulting firm WPA Intelligence was working with Greene, but has since cut ties with her. A bipartisan resolution was introduced in the House condemning QAnon. House majority whip Steve Scalise initially denounced Greene but has since signaled more openesss to her. He told CNN he would like to sit down with her soon.

    Kinzinger said in an interview: “I think it really seeks to undermine representative democracy, and if you get to the point where you believe … if you start to think that all these decisions and everything is being thrust by a group that is really not accountable to your vote, such as satanist pedophiles, eventually it leads to people feeling disaffected, and that can lead to disintegration of democracies.

    “You’ve seen it all around the world.”

    But other top Republicans, such as Donald Trump and the House majority leader, Kevin McCarthy, have welcomed Greene’s presence and the QAnon movement in American politics. Trump called Greene a “future Republican star”. McCarthy, through a spokesperson to CNN, said he looked forward to Greene and other Republicans winning in November. Separately, a McCarthy spokesperson denounced some of Greene’s past comments. The House Republican leader has also said he has had discussions with Greene and is convinced she does not believe QAnon conspiracies any more. Georgia senator Kelly Loeffler said she supports Greene. Other Republicans have said they have had positive conversations with her recently.

    Other top Republicans are undeterred from associating with believers in the QAnon movement. Vice-President Mike Pence was slated to attend a fundraiser hosted by QAnon supporters, but that fundraiser was canceled. The Iowa senator Joni Ernst recently pushed a QAnon theory about the coronavirus.

    So despite the opposition by some Republicans, Greene is poised to come into Congress with supporters and allies.

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  10. Jon says:

    @MarkedMan:

    To me, virtually all organized religion is just a social group used to define in group vs out group, and therefore serves the exact same function as dozens of other kinds of semi-voluntary social groupings.

    Religion was science, before we had the scientific method; a way to describe and understand the world around us and, potentially, exert some form of control over it. As our scientific understanding grew our need for religion to fill that role receded, and religion became more and more of a social construct.

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  11. wr says:

    @MarkedMan: “We have agnostics, who either believe in god in a general way but haven’t identified with a specific religion or, more commonly, is unsure as to whether there is a god at all.”

    I like the definition of a Unitarian as one who believes there is at most one God.

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  12. CSK says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    I, too, have no problem with any religious belief held by others, as long as they don’t try to force it on me.

    I’ve met people who were raised religious, abandoned that religion, and then returned to it in their later years. That’s never going to happen to me, since I had no religion even as a small child. I don’t know if it’s possible to acquire faith as an adult if you didn’t have it as when very young. Not, it would seem, in my case.

    But I certainly have far less hatred for religion than some lapsed Catholics do.

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  13. MarkedMan says:

    @Jon:

    As our scientific understanding grew our need for religion to fill that role receded, and religion became more and more of a social construct.

    You put this very well. I am often frustrated by both non-religious scientists and the religious general public in how often they frame things as “science vs. religion” construct. Science describes the world. When religion conflicts with science, it is merely another way to say that someones religious beliefs don’t match observable reality. When the SDA founder predicted the world would end on a date certain, and everyone on earth observed the sun rise the next day, they were all scientists conducting an observation that conflicted with that prediction.

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  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: I have said before that I had the religion beaten out of me by a nun in the 5th and 6th grades. Didn’t put much thought into it, it just stopped making sense. I do have hatred for the Catholic Church but it does not extend to Catholics in general. I liked way too many of the ones I grew up with.

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  15. Mikey says:

    @MarkedMan:

    We have agnostics, who either believe in god in a general way but haven’t identified with a specific religion or, more commonly, is unsure as to whether there is a god at all. But I feel neither quite describes my belief: I just don’t think it’s an interesting question.

    I believe the word you seek is apatheism.

    Apathy towards the existence of a god; belief that the question of the existence of a god is unimportant.

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  16. de stijl says:

    @wr:

    A healthy portion of folks who claim agnostic are doing so because it is less loaded and less confrontational than atheist. Some are truly agnostic, but many are not.

    Own up. Be who you are. These folks you are trying to placate hate you.

    I get not being a dick, but in what way is stating truly who you are is considered dickish? What I am does not affect you. Chill.

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  17. Jon says:

    @Mikey:

    I believe the word you seek is apatheism.

    Wow, I had never encountered that word before. Today I Learned.

    Thanks!

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  18. MarkedMan says:

    @de stijl: I think there is a broad, broad spectrum of atheism, although I suspect most atheists think they are the same. There are atheists that believe the stories told by Christian evangelicals or Hindi mystics are absolutely false. By that criteria I’m close enough to an atheist that it’s not worth troubling the difference. But if you extend it to “there is no creator” I’m very definitely not an atheist. We simply don’t have enough information. Our universe could have been an assignment given to a cosmic college student, who set it in motion, got its grade, and then abandoned it to run on its own.

    In the end though, it doesn’t much matter. There is no-one speaking in my head but me. Others Mileage May Vary.

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  19. CSK says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    I understand that perfectly.
    But, like a lot of former Catholics, you hate Catholicism. What intrigues me is the reason for the hatred. (I guess being beaten by nuns would do it; it probably would for me.) You don’t see this very often with other denominations: lapsed Lutherans, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Methodists, etc. don’t hate their former faiths with the heat of a thousand suns.

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  20. Jon says:

    @de stijl:

    A healthy portion of folks who claim agnostic are doing so because it is less loaded and less confrontational than atheist. Some are truly agnostic, but many are not.

    Absolutely. I know for sure that I change which word I use to describe myself, agnostic or atheist, depending both on with whom I’m talking and my level of energy for a discussion about religion.

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  21. de stijl says:

    Have I noted recently how cool Andrew W.K. is?

    Party Hard will make your day better.

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  22. sam says:

    @MarkedMan:

    And then there was George Santayana, whose religious creed was: There is no God, and Mary is his mother.

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  23. de stijl says:

    @Mikey:

    Apatheism is a genius construct.

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  24. gVOR08 says:

    @MarkedMan: Apatheism is good, but I describe myself as an Ignostic. Technically one who thinks the concept of God is not well defined enough to be deniable, but I just think it’s a question not worth adult attention. Smart people have argued it for thousands of years without reaching any compelling answer, I’m unlikely to settle it.

    As Darwin observed to the Parson who said belief would comfort him after the death of his young daughter, I can’t believe a thing just because it would be comfortable.

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  25. Jon says:

    @CSK:

    You don’t see this very often with other denominations: lapsed Lutherans, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Methodists, etc. don’t hate their former faiths with the heat of a thousand suns.

    You see it with lapsed evangelicals too. I’ve always assumed it was proportional to how much that person’s identity was tied up with their religious beliefs.

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  26. Scott says:

    I think this is a great discussion. As I wrote in yesterday’s thread, I am a practicing Episcopalian. I go to church regularly, participate, and donate not an insignificant amount of money. The kicker is, I don’t believe there is a supernatural being called God.

    So how do I reconcile my actions? One, my wife believes. I support her. Two, I am a cultural Christian with all that entails (Christmas, music, etc.). Three, I have a need for a space to think and feel, for want of a better term, spirituality. Going to church services (liturgical for me) provides a respite from the materialism of everyday life. Four, there is a social space to enjoy being with people I like. Five, my children. I think bringing them up with a broad religious education inoculates them from the worst of fundamentalist religious practices. It gives them the education and discernment to think for themselves. Youth groups can provide a smaller and less toxic space for kids to be in. My children are grown now and it seems as though this approach worked.

    Fundamentally, everybody has their own needs and reconciles that with their faith and practices.

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  27. de stijl says:

    Religion shapes culture. In the US we are shaped by Christian religion and subvariants.

    Blue laws. Weird restrictions on divorce that were valid while I have been alive. Truly evil laws on non het orientation and sexuality. That a woman’s body is not hers to decide.

    We are predominantly Christian in culture.

    Secular (supposedly) in government. (That memo got lost often, didn’t it?)

    I have a strong morals clash with state sponsored Christianity.

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  28. CSK says:

    @Jon:
    Indeed. I was thinking more of the so-called mainstream denominations. But I can see how lapsed evangelicals would feel the same toward their former faith as do lapsed Catholics. And yes, the identification factor would be a powerful one.

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  29. JohnMcC says:

    Subject of lapsed faith and one’s attitude toward the former belief: Haven’t seen anyone with my particular issue. Was brought up in fundamentalist-adjacent southern Presbyterian/”reformed” church. Was taught Westminster Catechism. It all seemed so intricately and perfectly logical. And I had a place in it! How great is that!

    Had a tour in Vietnam. Discovered that actually life is cruel and random and that any meaning is completely hidden. Saw my religion disintegrate. Like a house you’ve lived your whole life in becomes sawdust and there you are — alone and naked.

    Never recovered a faith. Tried and tried. If one could become a Christian with willpower, I would be Saint John today. Still miss it acutely.

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  30. MarkedMan says:

    @Jon: Raised a Catholic, so pretty up on the church structure, and it is incredible how well designed it is to take over your life. There are seven sacraments, and all but one correspond to major events in most everyones lifetime. In other words, they have insinuated as the gatekeeper at the birth of a new child (Baptism), at the onset of that child’s genesis into an individual (First Communion, which also serves as a iron clad regulator mandating a weekly return to be lectured to by church officials), at the onset of that child’s journey into adolescence (Confirmation), into traditional adulthood (Marriage), whenever there is life threatening injury or illness (Extreme Unction). Funerals are not a listed sacrament in the church’s eyes, but it serves the same function as all the others: you must approach a church official and arrange his (always “his”) approval and blessing in order to have your life event recognized. Further, that official, not you, decides what is proper and correct and performs the ceremonies as he deems fit. He also has the power to pass judgement as to your worthiness for these and can reject your supplication.

    The most ingenious is “Penance”. An absolute requirement that you tell a priest your most horrible actions and even thoughts. Many catholics walk around with life changing secrets known only to one other person, a priest.

    So, yeah, when it comes time to question, a lot of people get pretty angry.

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  31. de stijl says:

    @Scott:

    For me, spiritualism is two grams of shrooms ang goggling at the stars in the Boundary Waters.

    Areas where there is no light pollution and you can see it all in all its glory.

    The immensity. The age.

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  32. Kathy says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Some “atheists” reject organized religion, but are into other types of mysticism that use some of the same elements), like reincarnation, various types of traditional “medicine”, social Darwinism, etc.

    Also people who believe that “everything happens for a reason.”

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  33. de stijl says:

    @MarkedMan:

    That was bas ass.

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  34. JohnMcC says:

    On the boring subject of politics: Daily Beast has a story up just now describing a British court hearing the Assange extradition case in which Congressman Rohrabacher (and the well known troll Charles Johnson) met with Mr Assange and offered him a presidential pardon if he would testify that it was not Russia that hacked Ms Clinton’s campaign and transferred the product to the Trump organization. They assured Mr Assange that they were representing Mr Trump.

    (Best Gomer Pyle voice: Surprise! Surprise!)

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  35. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @de stijl: Living where I do, I learned early on that saying that I am an atheist is the quickest way to get people to leave me alone.

    @CSK: @Jon: I won’t speak for others but my identity was never very much tied up in religion. No matter what happened to me in school, I sincerely believe I would have ended up an atheist. I say the nun “beat it out of me,” but I think that is only true of the timing. As I said, it just stopped making sense. It would have eventually no matter what, but this “servant of God” abusing her charges on a daily basis just illuminated to me that either God had nothing to do with it or he was a real son of a bitch that I would spit in his face if I ever met.

    My hatred for the Catholic Church speaks to the fact that for 2 years my classmates and I were abused by this woman and most every one in that school knew of it tho I rather doubt any knew how bad it was. Regardless, they all turned a blind eye to it just as they did with the sexual abuses by priests. And when she finally crossed a line by slapping a girl across the face while her keys were in her hand? 80 stitches finally got their attention and they shipped her off to Colombia. Or so I heard.

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  36. de stijl says:

    Some good advice from Rage Against The Machine:

    Fuck you. I won’t do what you tell me.

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  37. de stijl says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Leave Me Alone is a Joy Division song that speaks to me super hard. Transformative.

    For these last few days, leave me alone.

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  38. Jon says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Sure, I didn’t mean it as a singular explanation, rather more as generalizations as to why some religions seem to engender more antipathy amongst their ex-adherents than others.

    And I’d also put forth the proposition that going to a Catholic school is, in some ways, a mechanism through which Catholicism becomes part of one’s identity. You don’t hear near as many folks complain about “When I was back there in Methodist school …” as you do Catholic school.

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  39. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: The most ingenious is “Penance”. An absolute requirement that you tell a priest your most horrible actions and even thoughts. Many catholics walk around with life changing secrets known only to one other person, a priest.

    Ah yes, penance. I remember making up sins in the confessional because I couldn’t think of any actual sins I had committed at the moment. Which was in fact a sin and one I never confessed to. Don’t remember how old I was when I realized the absolute absurdity of it. Surely the omniscient god already knew my sins, right?

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  40. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jon: Yep, Parochial schools are all part and parcel of “the church structure, and it is incredible how well designed it is to take over your life.” that @MarkedMan: was referring to. It’s indoctrination, “Hook ’em while their young!” as George Carlin said.

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  41. Kingdaddy says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Some Republican politicians in the 1980s and 1990s tried playing footsie with the religious right, calculating that, since they were incredibly smart people, they’d be able to get the rubes’ support without having to actually pay attention to them past the election. That didn’t work out well. It looks like the same dynamic is now playing out with QAnon.

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  42. Kathy says:

    Patrick Wyman’s latest on the American Gentry

    Call it “le petit aristocratie.” It certainly is worth thinking about when discussing tax policies.

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  43. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kingdaddy: Agreed. I don’t like where I think this ends.

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  44. de stijl says:

    @de stijl:

    NF does his own unrelated version of Leave Me Alone which is scary good.

    That is one talented dude.

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  45. CSK says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    The story about the keys is horrific. That poor girl.
    You didn’t explicitly say whether you and your classmates ever complained about this abuse. I assume not. But if you had, what would have happened? A few years ago I read some accounts of boys and girls who’d been sexually abused by priests. To a person, they claimed that when they tried to tell their parents about this, their fathers beat them for inventing lies about the clergy.

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  46. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: I never did, not even in later years, can’t say as to my classmates. When I was in my 30’s, my Southern Baptist raised mother apologized to me. She said, “I knew something was wrong. None of you kids ever talked much, but you just shut up.”

    I bring up he her SB background because she was truly ignorant of Catholic schools and what went on in them. My Catholic born and bred father was on the road all the time and when he came home, my mother didn’t want to saddle him with the problems any more than necessary.

    I’d like to say that if he had been around he’d have picked up on it but I doubt it. As #4 of 6 I was always an afterthought to him. He was much more focused on my older brother.

    ETA: A buddy of mine who also went to parochial schools was once tied to his desk during lunch because he had been misbehaving. He escaped and went home. After telling his parents his father went to the school and laid down the law in no uncertain terms.

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  47. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    So despite the opposition by some Republicans, Greene is poised to come into Congress with supporters and allies.

    But remember, once Trump is gone, everything will be peachy again because he’s the aberration.

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  48. Monala says:

    @de stijl: I think the category “none” also includes those with no affiliation with any religion, regardless of belief or lack there of. Some nones have strong beliefs in a god or gods, just no affiliations.

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  49. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Eggzactly.

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  50. de stijl says:

    NF is worthy of your attention. The Search.

    We are fucked. The collapse is immanent. Enjoy a super talented dude on the way out.

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  51. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Jimi Hendrix died 50 years ago today. Dawg, I feel old.

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  52. de stijl says:

    @Monala:

    I am not sure I get the distinction.

    “None” is not religious affiliated; Atheist is not religious affiliated.

    The loaded version of “atheist” is anti-religion. It is not. It is I believe in no god. That’s it.

    I don’t ever think about it until someone brings it up.

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  53. Kathy says:

    I think I need to find a good history of religion in the Roman Empire.

    Ancient pagan religions were very much transactional. One made sacrifices and offerings to the gods in exchange for having one’s prayers granted. There was little notion of salvation, or even of a world beyond the temporal realm (Egypt being a BIG exception*).

    The usual narrative about Christianity in Rome is that it gained a foothold among disadvantaged people, who might have gained comfort in the belief they’d be rewarded in the next world for their virtues. Indeed it was often derided as a “religion for women and slaves.”

    But religions don’t take over a major power from the bottom rungs of the economic ladder. They need support at the top. Rome gained this with Constantine I. But this just pushes the question: why did Constantine convert to Christianity? I think there’s a gap in my knowledge of the period.

    There’s the famous story of how Jesus offered Constantine a bargain which would not be out of place in pagan belief and ritual: honor me by adopting my sign, and you will conquer. Yes, sure. and Alexander made himself out to be the son of Zeus (and of Syncretic Zeus-Ammun in Egypt). Marius claimed Jupiter (aka Zeus) ordained he be Consul of Rome nine times. Samuel claimed God commanded him to anoint Saul and then David as king. Claims are a dime a dozen, and people will believe you if you succeed.

    *Egyptians did have notions of a moral life being necessary to advance to an afterlife. One’s heart was weighed against a feather, and it had to be lighter. Else one’s heart was consumed by a monster and one just ceased to be.

    Egyptian gods tended to be more amicable towards mortals, and far less capricious. Not always, but more often than their greco-roman counterparts.

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  54. gVOR08 says:

    @Kathy: Good read. Besides Koch there seem to be a nearly unlimited supply of car dealers and construction contractors eager to fund the Republican Party.

    Piketty talks about inherited wealth becoming dominant in economics and politics. People point to hedge fund managers and internet entrepreneurs who didn’t inherit as a counterargument. Your petit aristocratie demonstrate Piketty’s point. And the hedge fund managers have children.

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  55. Jon says:

    @Kathy: They were also very much communally, rather than individual, focused. Christianity came about at a time where many of the established religions in the Mediterranean world were experiencing a shift towards a more personal relationship with the divine, including gnosticism and the mystery religions as well as Judaism. So it got in on the ground floor, in many respects.

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  56. wr says:

    @de stijl: Is that really meant for me? I was just repeating an old Unitarian joke…

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  57. Kathy says:

    @gVOR08:

    Not necessarily just the GOP. They could be funding the Democrats as well.

    But some of these are the people we may think of as small business owners who create jobs, and are hurt by “high” taxes.

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  58. Kathy says:

    @Jon:

    Yeah, I didn’t mention it, but I’m partially aware of the mystery religions. Hadrian, in the 2nd Century CE, was a big fan of them as part of his love of all things Greek, and was initiated in one ro more of them.

    But what I’ve read of the period treats them superficially, not in depth. Most Roman histories are very biased towards power, governance, and war.

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  59. Dmichael says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: You are and so am I. Do you have a clear memory of where you were when you read or heard the news?

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  60. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Raised a Catholic, so pretty up on the church structure, and it is incredible how well designed it is to take over your life. There are seven sacraments, and all but one correspond to major events in most everyones lifetime.

    To the extent that Christianity probably ought to be considered as a lifestyle concept rather than a cultural phenomenon, that seems perfectly reasonable to me. The disconnect seems to me to revolve around how cultural norms have so captivated the lifestyle. If (and it seems to me like a pretty big if) one is going to adopt a lifestyle centered on trying to use the example of Jesus as representation of how to live in service to God (whatever you perceive him to be–stormy thunderer or cosmic muffin), it follows naturally that such an adoption is highly personalized and shouldn’t be turned into some sort of a cultural norm thing. The fact that turning the belief/practice into a cultural requirement over and over (and not, I will note, just within the confines of Christianity) simply demonstrates that humans are not as strong on the virtues of self-determination as some of us would like to believe. This is particularly sad in a situation where the basic political philosophy is based on the concept of an inalienable right to pursue life and happiness on one’s own terms–i.e. with liberty/freedom from as much social constraint as is reasonable in a societal setting.

    tl/dr: Religion is a lifestyle. When it turns into a culture, it loses its transformational ability. Catholicism show both sides of the question in stark relief.

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  61. Kurtz says:

    @HarvardLaw92

    I came to the open thread late so I didn’t get to properly respond to your initial post yesterday. Nor your bellyaching about people “attacking the source.”

    After reading your link, I came away with the impression that you didn’t read the article. If you did read it, it’s pretty clear you didn’t put any effort to it.

    There’s no mention of police actually being defunded in your link. Oh, wait, there was:

    In June, this same body unanimously voted to eliminate the city’s police department, advocating for a holistic approach to public safety that included stripping $1 million from the police budget to hire “violence interrupters.”

    Hmm… Well, did you not wonder about the total 2020 budget for police services?

    When they approved the 2020 budget last fall, the city’s elected leaders included $193 million for the Minneapolis Police Department.

    Source–Star-Tribune

    Cutting less than 1% of the budget is “gutting?” I also read 100 or so officers quit the force. It’s pretty clear that the police department responded to the movement to defund the police by not doing their jobs. Exactly the argument made by the poster (Ozark, I think) who criticized your source.

    It should interest you that many of the articles I read, mostly from Right-leaning sources used the same kind of manipulation. You also argued it was reported by MPB. But the article I found was quite different. So why not link to the one that doesn’t use loaded words?

    You have a blindspot. Or is it willful?

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  62. Monala says:

    @de stijl: someone who is a none might still believe in God, or have other religious beliefs.

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  63. Jon says:

    @Kathy: I’d have to go digging through closets to find my old books on the matter, and I’m a little too lazy to do so at the moment. But the Cult of Isis was pretty well established in Italy in the 1st century BCE, with some pretty interesting related finds in Pompeii. And Mithraism was very popular right around the same time Christianity arrived on the scene, and shared many elements with early Christianity including ritual shared meals and baptism. And Mithra was believed to have died and risen. Lot’s of crossovers and syncretism. Christianity is much more a product of its specific environment than a lot of people understand.

    It’s been a good, long, while since I’ve thought about all this so my memory may be a tad fuzzy on the particulars.

    ETA: Villa of the Mysteries in Pompeii, for example, has some spectacular frescoes depicting cultic activities from the Cult of Dionysus.

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  64. Mister Bluster says:

    Hey Joe

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  65. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @de stijl: Yes, but you’re not seeking converts/disciples. I’m inclined to think that there’s a subset of atheists who are every bit as “evangelical” as their opposites.

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  66. Kathy says:

    @Jon:

    Ancient religions were far more fluid than people realize, or than modern religions are. Here and there, ancient synagogues in Israel have mosaics of pagan gods. There’s that commandment not to place other gods before Jehovah. Pagans were amenable to make sacrifices to foreign gods, and syncretism was rampant (one can argue Rome adopted Greece’s gods in a mass fit of syncretism with their own deities). For that mater, the whole cult of the saints, and of Mary, in some branches of Christianity, seems to me like a carryover from polytheistic times.

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  67. Mu Yixiao says:
  68. CSK says:

    @Monala:
    That’s very true. I had an acquaintance who is deeply religious in the sense that she prays daily and reads and studies the Bible conscientiously, but affiliates with no church as far as I know.

    I use the past tense in describing our acquaintance because I had to cut off contact with her after it became clear that she harbored an intense hostility toward non-believers, and it became alarming to listen to her talk.

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  69. Gustopher says:

    @MarkedMan:

    We have atheists, who firmly believe there is no god. We have agnostics, who either believe in god in a general way but haven’t identified with a specific religion or, more commonly, is unsure as to whether there is a god at all.

    You’re lumping deists in with agnostics. Deists believe in some god, but not any religion.

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  70. Jon says:

    @Kathy: Yup, and the language used in the Pentateuch has numerous hints of assumed or understood polytheism as well as some rather surprising limits on god’s powers, especially when you use translations from the original Hebrew texts rather than the more modern Greek or KJ interpretations (or similar). And the ancient Hebrews wouldn’t have needed so many pissed off prophets if they hadn’t kept backsliding in to polytheism.

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  71. Gustopher says:

    @wr: I like Unitarians.

    They start with the notion that God’s grace is infinite, and that therefore everyone is saved, even people who don’t believe in God. And then about half of them put that in practice by not believing in God.

    There’s something charming about that. It’s like finding a tax loophole, but for religion.

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  72. Kathy says:

    On political developments Scientific American has endorsed Joe Biden (no paywall).

    This is the first time in the magazine’s 175 year history they’ve endorsed a candidate. They lay out a clear, concise timeline of how, and how badly, Trump bungled the response to the pandemic. And then they move on to other of Trump’s failings. And that’s just in areas of scientific interest.

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  73. de stijl says:

    @Monala:

    A “none” does not believe in any. Hence the “none”.

    It is a created neologism for “atheist” sans baggage.

    I have zero beef with that, but none means none.

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  74. de stijl says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Bully for evengelist atheists. Nothing to do with me.

    They are on a foolish path in my mind, but not my business.

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  75. de stijl says:

    @wr:

    No. Sorry!

    Not at you all. I was riffing off what you said.

    I apologize for being unclear. If I react, I hit the reply button. It was not intended to be a criticism. I was riffing off you is all.

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  76. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy:

    There’s that commandment not to place other gods before Jehovah.

    I remember reading someone (the author of “A History of God”?) who pointed out the phrasing of that commandment. It wasn’t, “I am the only God, there are no others”. Instead, it accepted that there were other gods and just said, “Me First”.

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  77. gVOR08 says:

    It has emerged in testimony in Assange’s extradition that Rep. Dana Rohrabacher offered Assange a Presidential pardon in return for saying someone not Russian hacked the DNC emails. Rohrabacher is quoted,

    At no time did I offer Julian Assange anything from the president because I had not spoken with the president about this issue at all. However, when speaking with Julian Assange, I told him that if he could provide me information and evidence about who actually gave him the DNC emails, I would then call on President Trump to pardon him,

    Is, “I lied to Assange” a defense against suborning perjury? Is there a bullshit Office of Legal Counsel opinion that a sitting congressman cannot be charged? I guess Rohrabacher would claim he wasn’t asking Assange to make a statement under oath, so not perjury. But it almost certainly would have led to a deposition somewhere or lying to Congress.

    Going forward we can’t make scum bag Republicans better people, but could we find a way to subject them to the law?

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  78. MarkedMan says:

    @Gustopher:

    You’re lumping deists in with agnostics. Deists believe in some god, but not any religion.

    On one hand, of course you are right. But on the other hand, I haven’t ever heard anyone call themselves a Deist, at least this side of Thomas Jefferson, but I have heard people who are Deists call themselves agnostic. Usage is everything in language.

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  79. Jon says:

    @MarkedMan: And in the story of the exodus, Pharoah’s magicians were also able to turn their staffs into serpents (wow, that sounds … creepy when I read it back to myself). It was just that Aaron’s staff was more powerful and swallowed theirs.

    And now I’m starting to see where Freud was coming from.

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  80. de stijl says:

    @wr:

    No way would I dirty dog a Haim fan.

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  81. gVOR08 says:

    @Kathy:

    Not necessarily just the GOP. They could be funding the Democrats as well.

    They could be, but do you think it likely more than a tiny fraction are? Or am I missing an implied /s? I’m sure they all see themselves as entrepreneurs and job creators, especially the third generation plus, and are eager to reduce the unfair tax burden on makers such as themselves.

    There’s a rule of thumb that the third generation will kill a family business. IIRC Trump and Kushner are third generation.

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  82. de stijl says:

    @gVOR08:

    Rohrbacher is a Russian stooge?

    Color me shocked.

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  83. Kurtz says:

    @Kathy:

    Ancient religions were far more fluid than people realize, or than modern religions are. Here and there, ancient synagogues in Israel have mosaics of pagan gods. There’s that commandment not to place other gods before Jehovah. Pagans were amenable to make sacrifices to foreign gods, and syncretism was rampant (one can argue Rome adopted Greece’s gods in a mass fit of syncretism with their own deities). For that mater, the whole cult of the saints, and of Mary, in some branches of Christianity, seems to me like a carryover from polytheistic times.

    Yes. This. Kingdaddy’s post yesterday was pretty good about highlighting how fluid the text of the Bible has been throughout history.

    We live in the most documented time in history, records created increasingly in real-time, and our knowledge of events is clearly incomplete. Looking backward to ancient times, when documentation was much sketchier, and much of the records that did exist have been lost to time, presents a nearly intractable problem for those who wish to take rigid views.

    It’s also nearly impossible to lose modern framing.

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  84. Kingdaddy says:

    @Jon: On the subject of whether the Old Testament was saying that Jehovah was (1) the only god in existence, or (2) the god of the Israelites…

    https://www.haaretz.com/archaeology/.premium.MAGAZINE-when-the-jews-believed-in-other-gods-1.6315810?v=1600446871034

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  85. Kingdaddy says:

    Since we’re talking about Hendrix, I’ve always been a fan. When I was in college, “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)” was my wake-up tune. However, I’ve always like his Band Of Gypsys album best, which is really a collection of blues songs, not his trademark psychedelic rock. Go figure.

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  86. Mister Bluster says:

    I am a Sun Worshiper.
    Sagan’s tome The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark is my holy book.
    The enabling scripture is the footnote on page 18:

    …it’s hard for me to see a more profound cosmic connection than the astonishing findings of modern nuclear astrophysics: except for hydrogen, all the atoms that make each of us up – the iron in our blood, the calcium in our bones, the carbon in our brains – were manufactured in red giant stars thousands of light years away in space and billions of years ago in time. We are, as I like to say, starstuff.

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  87. MarkedMan says:

    @Kingdaddy:

    “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)”

    I can honestly say that decades after I first heard it, every single time I listen to it again I come away newly impressed. And though there are other good versions of the song (See Vaughan, Stevie Ray for one), there are none that display such technical tour de force coupled with seemingly effortless innovation musically and sonically.

    There are very, very few songs I would put in the same category.

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  88. dazedandconfused says:

    @Kingdaddy:

    On the take-over of the party by the religious right in the 80’s and 90’s:

    Reminds of this Barry Goldwater quote:

    “Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise. I know, I’ve tried to deal with them.”

    The power of fanatics in a political landscape wherein the candidates are chosen by at tiny percentage of the population is a big problem. The Evangelicals won this fight when party polling became “elections”. We would be better off with the old smoke-filled rooms.
    I strongly advocate the Aussie semi-mandatory voting system. So much BS is created by a need for politicians here to goad people to vote in primaries and at all, as fanatics are the easiest targets.

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  89. Kathy says:

    @gVOR08:

    They could be, but do you think it likely more than a tiny fraction are?

    I don’t know. But not all self-interested economic policy support is about taxes and/or regulations. If we take Wyman’s agricultural example at Yakima, Washington, wouldn’t Democrats be more likely to grant subsidies to, say, apple growers?

    I know Democrats have their own wealthy donors and fund-raisers. Some are bound to be the Gentry class.

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  90. gVOR08 says:

    @de stijl:

    Rohrbacher is a Russian stooge?
    Color me shocked.

    I take it you’re referring to this from 2016,

    “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump,” Kevin McCarthy, the second-ranking House Republican, told his colleagues during the meeting. Some of those colleagues then laughed, and McCarthy added: “Swear to God.” – NYT

    I can’t imagine why the FBI thought maybe there was something to this Russia stuff.

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  91. Gustopher says:

    @de stijl:

    A “none” does not believe in any. Hence the “none”.

    It is a created neologism for “atheist” sans baggage.

    Nope. It is a created neologism for “no strong religion” with fuzzy boundaries and depending on self-identification rather than a strict definition.

    Does the Christmas-and-Easter Christian qualify a Christian or None? Depends on how the person identifies.

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  92. de stijl says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    I get that. What is the Sagan meme? We are all made of stardust.

    I get it, but give me an unobstructed view of the stars. The full view absent light pollution. Seeing it all at once connects me.

    Sun worship and star worship are the same except for distance.

    Babylonians, Egyptians, Mayans had strong star worship elements. Primal.

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  93. Kurtz says:

    @dazedandconfused:

    There is another issue that gets discussed a little less, but is a large piece of the puzzle. The cottage industry of ‘historians’ willing to write books on American History that support the views of White Evangelicals. They mimic scholarship, but don’t follow academic standards. This deception is quite valuable for leverage against the middle.

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  94. Kathy says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Monotheism is a rather rare occurrence, or was.

    In Egypt, the pharaoh Akhenaten (formerly Amenhotep IV), c.1350s BCE, instituted a monotheistic cult of the god Aten, often referred to as The Aten, which represents the Sun’s disk. There’s much speculation as to the reason, but it was an early form of monotheism.

    Some scholars have tied this to the founding of Judaism as an outgrowth of the Aten cult.

    I don’t know enough to comment on this, but I find it curious the Torah has all the Jews at the time of Joseph moving to Egypt, being relatively few people, possibly under 200, namely Jacob, his wives, his 12 sons, and whatever daughters, spouses, and grandchildren there were. But come out of Egypt and back to Canaan years later in great numbers.

    Maybe. It’s not a popular notion. besides, even low-probability developments have happened independently, like the invention of writing. One could as easily argue that a small kingdom (or two), with a small population and not much luck in military adventurism, nor great renowned works of architecture or engineering, might find a sense of superiority by making their favorite god into the One True God, who created everything and is more powerful than all other gods combined.

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  95. de stijl says:

    @Gustopher:

    I disagree.

    If you are between Orthodox and Baptist, you still self identify as Christian.

    “None” is a non-loaded euphemism.

    Would some theists identify as “none”? Perhaps.

    But so few as to be noise. How many pantheists in America?

    Seriously, we’ve been shat on for centuries and you won’t even allow us “none”?

    We had to pretend with Deism and Universalism to skate beneath social approbation for centuries.

    Believers are such a pushy lot. Grant us “none” at least.

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  96. de stijl says:

    @gVOR08:

    In his defense, Rohrbacher is what is called a useful idiot.

    He lacks the capability to know he is a stooge.

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  97. Monala says:

    @de stijl: you’re wrong there. You mentioned that social scientists started using the term. They specifically started using it to have a category that would include people who have religious beliefs but don’t affiliate with any religion, in addition to atheists and agnostics. Otherwise the latter terms would have been adequate.

    See for example: Link or Link

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  98. Dutchgirl says:

    I am an atheist, and joined the Unitarian church in 2016. I’m one of the Sunday school teachers now. My friends still raise an eyebrow at that.

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  99. grumpy realist says:

    @Kathy: It would be nice to know more about the Greek mystery religions. Unfortunately we don’t have much, unless you believe that there’s a link between those and Neoplatonism and Hermes Trismegistus. And of course this meant that anyone in the 19th century who wanted to provide a good solid “history” for whatever mumbo-jumbo esoteric “studies” they were peddling to the public could immediately yowl “Masonic!” “The Emerald Tablet!” “Egyptian!” and find a gullible public willing to lap it up.

    I’m not saying I don’t appreciate occult studies or think that they aren’t useful for a lot of people, but after seeing how people in the medieval period totally misinterpreted a purely innocent, ordinary type of Greek memory training as “magical occult arts” I’m highly suspicious of anything that claims to have descended from the Ancient World unchanging.

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  100. Gustopher says:

    @de stijl: If you want to be “none”, be “none”. I’m just telling you how it is used, and that it’s not as exclusionary as you think it is.

    I’m not going to tell you that you’re not “none” — you certainly qualify under the definitions, and I generally don’t want to label-police people anyway.

    (There’s a lot of label policing in the queer communities, and arguments over demisexual, pansexual, bisexual, omnisexual, asexual, aromantic, nonbinary, nonbinary-male, transexual nonbinary homoromantic pansexual female, and countless other tiny variations that get to the point where I think they are made up.

    My concerns with other people’s sexual orientation and preferences boils down to this: would they prefer to have sex with me or watch tv? And even then, I only really care about the people I would rather have sex with than watch tv… But apparently kids these days need to find just the right label to identify with. If labels make them happy, then they should go for it.

    Also, not great tv, just mediocre tv. No one can compete with great tv.)

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  101. Lynn says:

    @MarkedMan: “I just don’t think it’s an interesting question.”

    My husband sometimes says he’d be an ashiest if he cared.

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  102. Gustopher says:

    Trump is banning downloads of TikTok and WeChat starting sunday, allegedly on privacy and national security grounds.

    WhatsApp, used by Jared Kushner to chat with his buddy MBS, is unaffected.

    This is so clearly because TikTok Teens made him look like a fool by ordering countless tickets to the Tulsa Covidpalooza so he was speaking to a mostly empty arena (but not empty enough for Herman Cain… TikTok Teens tried to save his life, but failed).

    I expect that the ban will get thrown out by a court on first amendment grounds, but I haven’t been following it much.

    Without actual privacy laws in this country, I don’t think any of the arguments for banning the apps hold any water. And restricting use by military and government employees on work provided phones seems to be as far as national security would go.

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  103. Bob@Youngstown says:

    On Existence of God:

    Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) offers a pragmatic reason for believing in God: even under the assumption that God’s existence is unlikely, the potential benefits of believing are so vast as to make betting on theism rational.

    Generally referred to as The Wager or Pascal’s Wager

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  104. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Bob@Youngstown:

    Or as Sean Connery’s character in Finding Forester says:

    Forrester: In some cultures, its good luck to wear something inside out.
    Jamal: You believe that?
    Forrester: No, but its like praying–What do you risk?

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  105. Monala says:

    @Bob@Youngstown: The problem with that wager is that, IIRC, it refers to the Christian belief system and the prospect of salvation from hell. But the Christian belief system is not the only religious belief system. Should one follow multiple belief systems to gain their potential benefits?

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  106. Kurtz says:

    @Gustopher:

    My concerns with other people’s sexual orientation and preferences boils down to this: would they prefer to have sex with me or watch tv? And even then, I only really care about the people I would rather have sex with than watch tv…

    Why not both?

    I was with a woman one time who seemed a little put out that I was watching TV during coitus. My thought was, “you said you wanted to f___ all night? You think I can do that without spending half the time distracted by The Simpsons?”

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  107. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @Monala:
    Whatever floats your boat. Believe in God or not, it’s your choice.
    Live out a life that injured no one, and there might be a reward.

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  108. Joe says:

    Recalling the admonition that, in polite conversation, one should never discuss politics or religion, I find it amusing that, if there is single thing the participants in this blog will discuss more than politics, it’s apparently religion.

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  109. Kathy says:

    @Gustopher:

    The ban should be thrown out on the grounds that it’s a fool’s errand.

    I’m no expert, but wouldn’t a VPN skirt the ban? How about a SIM chip from an overseas provider? You can order them online easily.

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  110. MarkedMan says:

    @Lynn: Hah! I’m interested in people and so am interested in people’s relationships with their religion or lack of it, but that’s as far as it goes.

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  111. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Lynn: I’m curious; is that pronounced a SHE ist or ASHY ist?

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  112. Kurtz says:

    @Joe:

    I get the religion thing, I suppose. But politics? A functioning democracy requires engagement.

    I recall a quote from GWB during a speech leading up to the Iraq War warning against becoming a “debating society.” It chapped my ass.

    I’d gladly never discuss religion if believers would separate the two.

    I’m curious about the origin of the admonition.

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  113. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Monala: True, but Pascal’s wager was also predicated on the notion (false, I would say) that Christianity was the only exclusionary faith and that other faiths sought almost entirely the same or similar conduct/lifestyle. He was seeing redemption from sin as an admixture that any practitioner of any faith could simply adopt into their current beliefs. It’s a cute evangelistic gimmick, but represents poor understanding of various faiths themselves.

    I suppose that’s why evangelicals try to work it as much as they do. Pascal may have been the first proponent of salvation as a product/service.

    ETA:

    Should one follow multiple belief systems to gain their potential benefits?

    It would appear so.

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  114. gVOR08 says:

    @Kathy:

    I don’t know. But not all self-interested economic policy support is about taxes and/or regulations. If we take Wyman’s agricultural example at Yakima, Washington, wouldn’t Democrats be more likely to grant subsidies to, say, apple growers?
    I know Democrats have their own wealthy donors and fund-raisers. Some are bound to be the Gentry class.

    There are bound to be some “gentry class” Dem donors. And there are billionaire Dem donors, Soros, Bloomberg, and Steyer come quickly to mind. They have lofty goals, popular with the public. They can and do discuss and promote them openly. There are far more Kochs, Mercers, Adelsons, etc., and they have goals that would be very unpopular if widely known. They keep quiet. Billionaire donors are like an iceberg, mostly hidden, but with a small, visible, liberal tip.

    Yes, Democrats are historically better for business than Republicans. But they also raise taxes, support unions, and do things like restricting the insecticides you can use in your orchard. The local gentry is pretty much the country club set, who are stereotypically Republican. I don’t recall seeing data on the party lean of small business owners, but I suspect it’s heavily Republican.

    I’m in the middle of reading Hacker and Pierson Let Them Eat Tweets, per Amazon:

    Today’s Republicans have shown the way, doubling down on a truly radical, elite-benefiting economic agenda while at the same time making increasingly incendiary racial and cultural appeals to their almost entirely white base. Telling a forty-year story, Hacker and Pierson demonstrate that since the early 1980s, when inequality started spiking, extreme tax cutting, union busting, and deregulation have gone hand in hand with extreme race-baiting, outrage stoking, and disinformation. Instead of responding to the real challenges facing voters, the Republican Party offers division and distraction—most prominently, in the racist, nativist bile of the president’s Twitter feed.

    (The book actually has little to do with his tweets.) The faux populist face of the Party hides it’s real nature.

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  115. de stijl says:

    @Monala: @Gustopher:

    I got a bit pissy.

    I apologize.

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  116. de stijl says:

    If you take Pascal’s wager seriously you have to simultaneously honor and practice all faiths for a maybe benefit.

    Too much work.

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  117. flat earth luddite says:

    Finally got to start reading my email for the morning. Sub-head from this morning’s The New Republic.

    The White House’s most cynical opportunist can’t even get amorality right.

    As Inspector Gadget used to say, “Wowsers, Penny!”

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  118. DrDaveT says:

    @gVOR08:

    And the hedge fund managers have children.

    This.

    The proportion of wealth that is self-made is vanishingly small, and that first self-made generation is a tiny head on the ongoing branching kraken tentacles of inherited wealth.

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  119. Gustopher says:

    @gVOR08:

    And the hedge fund managers have children.

    Clearly, we need a spay and neuter program for hedge fund managers. If it works to keep feral cat populations in check, it should work for hedge fund managers.

    Trap and release, and dock the ears so we know whether we got this one?

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  120. grumpy realist says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Terry Pratchett had his equivalent of Pascal in the Discworld coming up with the same argument, then dying, and waking up surrounded by a large number of very pissed off gods with clubs saying “Let’s see how Mr. Clever Dick likes our interpretation of his wager….”

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  121. JohnSF says:

    @sam:
    Or Nietzche.
    Who was bloody irritating.

    “And if you gaze long enough into an abyss…”

    you’ll come over all giddy, and need to go for a long lie down, you mark my words young man…

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  122. Michael Cain says:

    @Gustopher:

    Trap and release, and dock the ears so we know whether we got this one?

    On a complete tangent, my son’s girlfriend’s house backs to an alley that a relatively large feral cat colony uses as a highway. Apparently connects the abandoned but largely intact building two blocks in one direction used by the cats for shelter with a string of greenbelt parks two blocks in the other direction used by the cats as a hunting ground. They have done trap and release any time the charities can come up with the money to pay the vets. For some reasons the cats have decided that her back yard is the public urinal. They have tried every method suggested online for discouraging the cats, to no avail.

    So, I have been charged with developing a cat chaser: some sort of robot, with the necessary computer vision components, that will roll out of its shelter and chase the cats off the grass. The robot approach was chosen after long discussions about how much of the year we have nights with below-freezing temperatures, that kinetic-energy systems have to be reloaded regularly, and that I’m not allowed to actually hurt the cats. OTOH, if the computer vision is good enough, there are no limits on delivered kinetic energy for raccoons.

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  123. JohnSF says:

    @grumpy realist:
    Ah! Someone else thinking of Sir P’Terry.
    I was about to post this; the best ever explication of the uses of theology and mythology:

    HUMANS NEED FANTASY TO BE HUMAN. TO BE THE PLACE WHERE THE FALLING ANGEL MEETS THE RISING APE.

    “Tooth fairies? Hogfathers? Little—”

    YES. AS PRACTICE. YOU HAVE TO START OUT LEARNING TO BELIEVE THE LITTLE LIES.

    “So we can believe the big ones?”

    YES. JUSTICE. MERCY. DUTY. THAT SORT OF THING.

    “They’re not the same at all!”

    YOU THINK SO? THEN TAKE THE UNIVERSE AND GRIND IT DOWN TO THE FINEST POWDER AND SIEVE IT THROUGH THE FINEST SIEVE AND THEN SHOW ME ONE ATOM OF JUSTICE, ONE MOLECULE OF MERCY. AND YET—Death waved a hand. AND YET YOU ACT AS IF THERE IS SOME IDEAL ORDER IN THE WORLD, AS IF THERE IS SOME…SOME RIGHTNESS IN THE UNIVERSE BY WHICH IT MAY BE JUDGED.

    “Yes, but people have got to believe that, or what’s the point—”

    MY POINT EXACTLY.”

    Also, Granny Weatherwax, who knew there were gods in her world, but was an atheist on principle nonetheless:
    “That’s no call to go around believing in them. It only encourages ‘em.”

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  124. Kathy says:

    @Michael Cain:

    Don’t know if this will help. Two things repelled my cat: water aimed at her, and the smell of vinegar.

    Maybe you could put in sprinklers activated by motion sensors?

    Or maybe one of those big, automated, self-cleaning litter boxes? If they’re going to go, they may as well keep it neat.

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  125. JohnSF says:

    @Gustopher:
    This may fit in with my plans for marketing executives.
    Corporate branding; with a special emphasis on the usage of red hot irons.

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  126. DrDaveT says:

    @Gustopher:

    Clearly, we need a spay and neuter program for hedge fund managers.

    Nah, it’s not the spawning that’s the problem — it’s the inheriting. Put some teeth in the inheritance laws, and they can have all the kids they want…

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  127. JohnSF says:

    @Joe:
    It was a traditional adage in Britain, certainly.
    IIRC taken from the “rules” for conversation among officers from 19th century.
    Usual formulation was “No politics, religion, or shop” (shop = job related)

    There was good reason for this.
    Unlike the US the UK had very emphatically established churches.
    And a lot of English politics related to the three cornered fight between Anglicans, dissenting Protestants, and Catholics.

    Plus a political system where a lot of conservatives AND liberals were at best dubious of democratic arrangements, while not a few Radicals thought that upper classes should be taxed out of existence.
    Best keep the knives out of reach…

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  128. Gustopher says:

    @DrDaveT: The spay and neuter program (with docked ears) for hedge fund managers would serve the following purposes:

    1. Reduce the inherited wealth problem
    2. Reduce the propagation of any genes that might leave one predisposed to become a hedge fund manager
    3. Alert one to the presence of a hedge fund manager (just check for the docked ear)
    4. Serve as a deterrent to prevent people from becoming a hedge fund manager.

    Inheritance taxes only solve one of those.

    If you think a trap and release program is too cruel, we could switch to spiking their cocaine with some form of nasally delivered birth control, but that would only address 1 and 2.

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  129. Michael Cain says:

    @Kathy:

    Maybe you could put in sprinklers activated by motion sensors?

    Front Range Colorado. For nine months of the year, it is possible that the overnight temperature will drop below freezing. This year we had a hard freeze in May, and a borderline freeze (with a bit of snow!) the second week in September. Back to forest fires now. Technically ten months, since the only months Denver hasn’t had a freeze looking at the entire historical record are July and August.

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  130. Paine says:

    Hearing RBG died.

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  131. Monala says:

    Ruth Bader Ginsberg has died. I’m heartbroken.

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  132. MarkedMan says:

    Ginsburg is dead. Biden better fucking pack the court. We can’t let these Republican pieces of shit get away with installing rapists and other scumbags to the court.

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  133. Gustopher says:

    Oh shit.

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  134. JohnSF says:

    Oh dear.

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  135. CSK says:

    I’m in shock.

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  136. Kathy says:

    Expect the worst.

    Trump the Moron will want to confirm his pick before the election.

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  137. keef says:

    RBG – Rest in Peace.

    Now, Trump appoint an originalist.

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  138. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Dmichael: Sad to say, nope. I remember only the sense of a hole in my life…. And it was 2 or 3 years later before I knew it was there (born in ’58).

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  139. Bill says:

    @Kathy:

    Trump the Moron will want to confirm his pick before the election.

    I’ve said this multiple times here. The Gorsuch nomination is one thing Trump did right.

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  140. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Oh yeah, and they sicken me every bit as much as every Christian proselytizer.

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  141. Gustopher says:

    @keef:

    appoint an originalist

    The originalists have been dead for several hundred years.

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  142. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Gustopher: A thumbs up just because I like the thought.

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  143. An Interested Party says:

    The Gorsuch nomination is one thing Trump did right.

    How’s that?

    With RBG’s passing, SCOTUS will become the most conservative it’s been since the 1930s…Democrats will have no choice but to pack SCOTUS when they have the opportunity…

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  144. gVOR08 says:

    @Kathy: There was a hope that Roberts would only support Trump in Bush v Gore II if the GOPs came up with some pretense of a respectable argument. If McConnell pushes through a Trump nominee, it’s 5-4 Trump even if Roberts finds a conscience. Crap.

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  145. Jax says:

    Between my horse dying suddenly today, the news of RBG’s passing, the double whammy anniversary of my best friend’s death AND my daughter’s Dad walking out on me on this date in 2008….

    I am getting fucking drunk tonight. I apologize in advance should I go off on a tangent.

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  146. Bill says:

    @An Interested Party:

    How’s that?

    With RBG’s passing, SCOTUS will become the most conservative it’s been since the 1930s…Democrats will have no choice but to pack SCOTUS when they have the opportunity…

    “Gorsuch has been fascinating to watch over the last two years. He has departed repeatedly from the right of the Supreme Court to do what he considers to be the right thing. He remains a conservative justice but, like his predecessor Antonin Scalia, he has shown a sense of his own “true north” judicial compass. In doing so, he has often made both the left and right of the Supreme Court seem shallow and predictable in their rigidity.”- Joseph Turley at The Hill

    “Conservatives are seething over Justice Neil Gorsuch’s opinion that cemented new protections for LGBTQ people.”- Politico

    “Gorsuch is, after all, a card-carrying member of the Federalist Society. But, at least early on, he’s making it clear that he’s neither a rabid ideologue nor a partisan hack. And that’s a very good thing for the integrity of the American judicial system.”

    Cite some cases to counter that. Oh who wrote the above? James Joyner here at OTB.

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  147. An Interested Party says:

    Cite some cases to counter that.

    I don’t need to as all I wanted was for you to justify your claim…

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  148. Northerner says:

    @MarkedMan:

    How about areligious — like apolitical?

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  149. JohnSF says:

    @Michael Cain:
    A dog?

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  150. Northerner says:

    I’m still always surprised by just how well known the American supreme court justices are. Probably not five percent of Canadians (even those who follow politics closely) could name even a single one of our justices (I can’t). The difference of course is how political (in terms of party politics) the supreme court is in the United States.

    RGB sounds like she was a brilliant and strong willed judge.

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  151. JohnSF says:

    @Kingdaddy:
    Now there’s coincidence.
    Been listening to some Hendrix on the headphones this evening (because neighbours): Electric Ladyland and Blues.
    Can’t decide which I prefer.
    Love them both.
    Love anything Hendrix (well, except some of the badly recorded live stuff, and some studio out-takes that should have stayed out-took)

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  152. Paine says:

    Right now I’m feeling like there are just some holes too deep to even bother trying to climb out of. JFC…

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  153. JohnSF says:

    @de stijl:

    two grams of shrooms ang goggling at the stars

    Ah. Yes.
    One evening by the side of the River Severn, while the drums thundered, and Orion hung over the Malvern Hills as the sunset faded.

    I had an interesting conversation with the avatar of Jim Morrison and a cow.
    As I recall, the cow had the better part of the trialogue.

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  154. de stijl says:

    @Joe:

    I think it is the disintermediation.

    We can frankly debate here. If you tried that with family or friends, it would be unpleasant and hurtful.

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  155. de stijl says:

    @JohnSF:

    You are shitting on the thing that connects me to the universe.

    Fuck you. Piss off.

    You are pissy and pompous.

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  156. de stijl says:

    @JohnSF:

    Seriously, fuck you you pratty little twat.

    ReplyReply
  157. de stijl says:

    @Jax:

    Go for it. I have two inches of a 1.75l bottle of Old Crow and that aint gonna be enough.

    Tomorrow will be sadness and chaos.

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  158. de stijl says:

    Had only only someone informed me of Dimash
    Kudabergen. @Kurtz totally did.

    I had assumed it was a cheeky kid doing a Sia song a la Eurovision tropes. (Sia is dope)

    I assumed he was Serbian / German Eurovision child prodigy doing Chandelier.

    Clickthru randomness.

    Definitely he is not. I clicked it to clear the notification and oh my golly not what I had expected at all.

    Next, he gonna tell me to listen to Jinjer. Fool.

    Oh?! Already did?

    I am a fool, then.

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  159. de stijl says:

    @JohnSF:

    Not going to forget your shit.

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  160. JohnSF says:

    @de stijl:

    You are shitting on the thing that connects me to the universe.

    What?
    That’s not how I meant it at all.
    I’m sorry, but you are taking what I said back to front.
    Maybe it’s a matter of my writing style.

    That evening was great, as were several others of psilocybin ingestion; watching a magnificent sunset under their influence to a background of tribal techno is worth doing IMO.
    And universal connection is what I felt; I just express it differently.

    I grant you a cow is an unusual pick for a spirit animal, but I just got what I got.

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  161. de stijl says:

    @JohnSF:

    I seriously thought you were mocking me.

    I so apologize. I read your thing as mocking my foolishness.

    I am so sorry!

    Man, I read it as mocking and made me pissed AF.

    I… Sorry!

    I was super ready to be permapissed at you, and you are a mensch.

    I read your comment as mocking mine. Wow!

    Written text absent human reaction is easily misconstrued. I apologize. I am truly sorry.

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  162. de stijl says:

    @JohnSF:

    We cool? I am.

    Legit, I read it as mocking. I am sorry I misread and came at you hard.

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  163. de stijl says:

    I cannot express how sorry I am.

    I thought you were dragging me for being cliche.

    Do it more and you will get a more varied experience.

    Last time Ryan Reynolds tutorialized me through an FPS sneaky shooter that does not exist on this plain and he spoke too loud when I was stealthing so I kept trying to shush him. There were goats with big ass horns as allies. I sank a Canadian submarine with a light machine gun. It was wild.

    At the time I was basically a few dozen miles from Canada.

    I am cool with you. Hope you feel the same.

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  164. JohnSF says:

    @de stijl:
    I’m cool.
    No harm done.
    As you say, text is easy to misunderstand.
    Also, I tend to use an British idiom that can come across to Americans as a bit supercilious, even when it’s not meant that way.
    (Anyway, pissy and pompous are pretty much my middle names 🙂 )

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  165. DrDaveT says:

    @de stijl:

    Had only only someone informed me of Dimash Kudaibergen. @Kurtz totally did.

    I think that was me. If @Kurtz beat me to it, I can’t find it through Google search.

    There are two kinds of singers on the planet: Dimash, and everyone else.

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  166. Kurtz says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Definitely you.

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  167. de stijl says:

    @DrDaveT:
    @Kurtz:

    Sorry, dudes!

    ReplyReply
  168. de stijl says:

    @JohnSF:

    Again, so sorry mate.

    ReplyReply
  169. de stijl says:

    @DrDaveT:

    You even corrected my misspelling of Kudaibergen.

    You are such a sweetie!

    Loving it, btw. Hat tip.

    ReplyReply
  170. de stijl says:

    I get pretty badass when I am pissed off.

    Thought someone was dragging me (he was not and I’m the fool) and I just immediately went hard core.

    Damn!

    ReplyReply
  171. de stijl says:

    When you have a punk background you can dial it up from 3.5 up to 10 bang fast.

    Being told you are a piece of shit for years hurts.

    And once you possess agency, you punch back as hard and as loud as is possible.

    ReplyReply

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