Links 9/23/13

Eerie beauty of the squid: Underwater photographs which capture spectacular colours of sea creature usually thought of as ugly Daily Mail

Nairobi Westgate attack: Gunfire heard inside complex BBC (live updates).

Election Triumph: Merkel Victorious But Faces Tough Talks Der Speigel

Bernanke’s Head Fake Sends Stocks Soaring Counterpunch (CB)

Billions of dollars wasted on investment advice FT

Matt Yglesias just wants to believe… LBO News

Was This Whistle-Blower Muzzled? Times (LucyLulu)


The Logic Behind Assad’s Use of Chemical Weapons Political Violence @ a Glance

Why Is Syria Under Attack? Truthout

Kissinger: ‘Good outcome’ in Syria possible Politico

Rebels View Coalition Leadership Outside Syria as Detached From the Suffering Times

Plight of Syrian refugees now visible in İstanbul parks Today’s Zaman

Trans-Pacific Partnership: Ocean’s Twelve FT

Do we hug? Kiss? Shake hands? Bow? We need to be told FT

Big Brother Is Watching Watch

Close ties between White House, NSA spying review AP

Bruce Schneier: NSA Spying Is Making Us Less Safe MIT Technology Review. Of course. NSA spying is a self-licking ice cream cone.

The readers’ editor on… the Guardian’s coverage of government surveillance Guardian

Are NYPD on the Apple payroll? Cops hand out flyers urging people to upgrade their devices to iOS7 because it is ‘safer’ Daily Mail

Government shutdown depends on a three-way battle McClatchy

Hillary in Midair New York. “Revealing the polarizing figure who saw vast right-wing conspiracies.” Of course, she was right; back then it was Richard Mellon Scaife funding sleazy bait shop operators from Arkansas; now it’s the Koch Brothers; but Bill Clinton hangs out with Pete Peterson, so I guess it’s a conspiracy so vast that everybody’s in on it, eh? Everybody who’s anybody, I mean.

Grayson on Benghazi: The Scandal That Never Was YouTube

Obscure New Jersey Election Law Could Deprive Republican Party of a Party Column in Special U.S. Senate Election Ballot Access News. Shades of Jack Ryan. Because no skid left ungreased for Cory!

Harper’s Magazine: Progressive Dupes NSFW (mookie). You guessed it. Cory Booker.

In Mississippi, America’s most revolutionary mayor Al Jazeera America

Criminal: How Lockup Quotas and “Low-Crime Taxes” Guarantee Profits for Private Prison Corporations In the Public Interest

How to stop a coal train in its tracks Waging Nonviolence

City Incomes Are Growing Demo Memo

Superman’s Shop Floor: An Inquiry into Charter School Labor in Philadelphia Viewpoint

Voldemort Comes to CUNY Crooked Timber

Small Fowls Screaming over the Yet Yawning Gulf Jacob Bacharach

Observations From A Tipless Restaurant, Part 1: Overview Jay Porter (part 2).

Intimacy on the Web, With a Crowd Times. More on tips, the service economy, and emotional labor.

The art of the fugue Stop Me Before I Vote Again

Changing brains: why neuroscience is ending the Prozac era Guardian

Atheism starts its megachurch: Is it a religion now? Salon

Dying for Control (II): An Exhausted Culture, Founded on Psychological Manipulation Power of Narrative

Antidote du jour (furzy mouse):


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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Manofsteel11

    Why is Syria under Attack?
    Is Syria under attack?
    And if it is under considerable pressure coupled by power projection, is Truthout offering the truth?!:

    1. “Russia is eyeing the situation with astonishment.”- It cannot believe what has transpired given the vast amounts of weapons it has provided the enlightened Assad dictatorship. It is astounded by the reaction to its veto of any diplomatic intervention for over two years. It is surprised that people actually know it does all of this to keep its only Mid East navy base in place, secure its good arms customer in hope of being repaid the debt he owes it and have access to the the same gas the evil West is chasing.

    2. ‘U.S. intelligence officials are not so certain that the suspected chemical attack was carried out on Assad’s orders.’ Oops, we forgot to mention that the UN found that in the large scale chemical attack that triggered Western action after two years of brutal oppression of the sunni overwhelming MAJORITY, the inspectors found clear evidence (presented on maps, for the selective readers) showing the attack originated from a nearby military base ran by Assad.

    3. Blame Qatar, the Saudis and Israelis – sure, the Iranians never intervened in Syria, or Iraq, or Gaza, or the Gulf States. Of course, the Syrian never intervened in Lebanon. Hezbollah and Iran are not working in Sudan. One could go on, but of course, this is an unbiased analysis.

    4. Let’s focus on Saddam, since Assad the father never murdered anybody with chemical weapons, Saddam was great, the Ayatollahs are not leading a theocracy against the wishes of the majority in their country – it is all about the evil US looking to harm liberal peace-loving regimes that will help globalization and progress.

    5. No mention of Syrian-Israeli peace negotiations? (Were Assad Sr. and Assad Jr. too afraid of normalization that would mean socio-ecolomic mobility and open borders with the Israeli democracy leading the Sunni majority to take power?). Where is Truthout’s analysis of Turkey’s former alliance with the Assad? (One must wonder, what made the current Turkish government lose hope in its former partner?). Did Truthout note the nuclear Syrian program? How is it related to the long-range missiles given to Hezbollah and, of course, the Iranian underground peaceful-usage and research-dedicated nuclear program? Hell, let’s give Assad a few nuclear warheads and thus bring peace to the world and harmony to the Syrian people.
    PS I am against war, but would love to read more balanced truthful texts.

      1. Synopticist

        It worked though, there’s no other mention of Syria on the whole thread. That’s the thing, even though we recognise these tecniques of manipulation, it doesn’t necessarily prevent them from being effective.

          1. Roland

            Problem with the “Logic Behind…” article is that it basically tries to argue that Bashar has been playing eleven-dimensional chess.

          2. F. Beard

            Might have been wasted anyway. My eyes glaze over with the Middle East. I’m disgusted with the whole area and the people in it and our pathetic need for its oil.

            But otoh, the Bible does predict that the Middle East will be heavily involved with the End Times so it does bolster my faith to see it’s still the world’s premier hot spot.

            1. Roland

              I’ve spent time in four countries in the region (Egypt, Jordan, Syria, & Lebanon).

              The people are fine.

              Many of the political problems are due to a lack of effective sovereignty possessed by peoples in the region. Too many outsiders for too long have had the liberty of interfering too much in their affairs.

              The indicators of the region’s history are the like the indicators in a shallow and distorted market. Rigidities have been maintained through the intervention of actors who are not accountable for the effects of such intervention. For example, the aristocracy in many of the Gulf states would have long ago undergone a correction, but foreign support maintains the rigidity.

              Mission Number One in the Middle East must be the estabishment of autonomy by the peoples there.

              Once peoples in the Middle East become autonomous, the world might finally see just how much cultural, political, and economic dynamism and creativity are latent there.

  2. sd


    I really don’t understand the purpose of tipping anymore. The cooks in the kitchen who actually prepare the food don’t generally get to share in the tips.

    And if you think they make up for it with salary, too often the better the restaurant, the lower the pay, barely over minimum wage. The idea being that a cook is supposed to feel grateful for the experience – essentially a paid internship.

    1. ambrit

      Dear sd;
      While I was toiling away at university, in a large Southern City, I worked as a busboy and then waiter at an ‘upscale’ restaurant. If you were at all smart, you, as waiter, peeled ten percent of your nightly take off and plonked it down on the head chefs desk. (Yes, a good chef has a desk, and uses it a lot.) He or she then divides that up for his or her minions. This granular version of trickle down greases the wheels of your, as waiter, production, and thus, tip revenue. Getting hot food to the table quickly, or really well cooked as versus mediocre viands, does wonders for ones tip results. I speak from experience. An older waiter took pity on my callow self and pulled me aside one afternoon as we were cleaning the silverware and explained the system to me. I listened, took the appropriate steps, and never looked back. The eventual increase in my income more than made up for the initial sacrifices. Plus, everyone benefited. Win, win, all the way around.

      1. F. Beard

        Of course you know the Bible beat you to it :)

        Proverbs 11:25
        The generous man will be prosperous, and he who waters will himself be watered.

        Proverbs 19:6
        Many will seek the favor of a generous man, and every man is a friend to him who gives gifts.

        1. ambrit

          Dear Beard;
          By about 3500 years, give or take a century. (All you Talmudic scholars give this old goy a break now. I know the dates are ‘fluid.’)
          How’s this cool front treating you? Get out and about Beard. Nature is grand!

          1. F. Beard

            Btw, I could give a flying flip for the Talmud since it is not Scripture; it’s the Torah that’s Scripture.

            Everyone it seems – Jews, Catholics, Calvinists and Baptists in my experience – want to nullify Scripture with their own traditions. Screw that. What’s the point?

            1. ambrit

              Dear Beard;
              Your exhortation to inerrancy made me stop and do some further study. I was wrong about the age of the Torah. Most scholars date it to the Babylonian Exile, about 2600 years ago. As for the Talmud, it shares authority with the Midrash as the Oral Torah, which is ascribed to Moses. Since the more Orthodox of Hebrews only count the first five books of the Bible as divinely inspired; where does that leave the rest of the Old Testament?
              I comfort myself with the fact that I am merely mortal. Arete I can attempt, perfection not.
              Tradition seems to be a cultural coping mechanism. It has its’ uses.

              1. F. Beard

                Jesus refers to the Law AND the Prophets and criticized Jewish tradition.

                Also, what can you say about the judgement of people who can read Isaiah 53 and NOT realize that’s it was talking about Jesus?!! (Except, like Paul says, that they have been judicially blinded for a while.)

    2. Skeptic

      Wow, if the economics of restaurants are this complicated, what hope for the rest of the economy? Why can’t a restaurant just run its business and pay its employees according to what they contribute to the gross? Why tipping at all? There is no tipping at the auto garage, at the shoe store, at the bakery, etc. Why at restaurants?

      One of the reasons for tipping, I suspect, is psychological so the waited upon can lord it over the waiters. Same for hotels. A lot of the service is about privilege and class and better-than-thou. I can only imagine how a 1% sociopath behaves at a restaurant; there must be lots of grovelling, bowing and scraping to get that tip.

      One thing I never do is put the tip as part of the credit card bill if one is used. I give the tip directly to the server to make sure they get it. If you put it as part of the cc bill, there is no assurance the ownership will give the server the tip.

    3. Skeptic

      As I suspected tipping a class issue:

      “Tipping is at root a feudal concept: a system of economic carrots and sticks used by people of higher social status to reinforce their authority over people of lower social status. Grovel to me and I will make it worth your while. Get uppity and I will hit you where it hurts. The subtext could hardly be more blatant – or more objectionable. For the true odiousness of tipping is that it is a one-way street. If the diner thinks the waiter has been lazy, slovenly or incompetent, he has instant financial redress. If the waiter thinks the diner has been arrogant, condescending, discourteous, He has no such redress – short of tipping a bowl of French onion soup on to the diner’s lap.

      It is no accident that, historically, the country which has been the most enthusiastic about tipping, the United States, is also the one where the economic gulf between the haves and have-nots is particularly stark. Tipping is the guilt money with which the Wall Street banker pays his dues to the poor Latino immigrant.”

      1. anon y'mouse

        I was reading a very old etiquette guide once, and it said that tipping was frowned on in that time (20’s? forget) in America, because the workers viewed it as some kind of class-based Big Man largesse. the attitude conveyed was “I don’t want your handouts. i’m doing my job here.”

        it was difficult to really believe this book at the time, and I’ve always wondered if that were really true.

        1. ambrit

          Dear anon y’mouse;
          That book looks to be yet another attempt to push the old “rugged individualist” Social Darwinism concept. Why feel guilty about undeserved preference when those ‘beneath’ you have bought into the fiction? It presupposes a divinely inspired ‘order’ to the world. “Yes, we’re filthy rich, but that’s because God (or Allah or Kali etc.) wants us to be.”
          “Gott Mit Uns” and all that.

        2. Yves Smith

          I sometimes had cab drivers in Australia get mad if I tried to tip them.

          And in Oz, if you are a single person hailing a cab, you are expected to get in the front seat. Sitting in the rear seat by yourself say you regard the driver as a servant.

  3. from Mexico

    @ “Atheism starts its megachurch: Is it a religion now?”

    Did anybody else pick up on the cognitive dissonance between this statement:

    Like any attempt at organized non-belief, the Sunday Assemblies will attract their fair share of derision from critics.

    And this one?

    Eventually, Jones and Evans hope their Assemblies will offer more church-like services: Sunday school, weddings, funerals. Nicole Steeves, a 36-year-old librarian who is launching Sunday Assembly Chicago, told me that since becoming a mother, “I have keenly felt the absence of what I think are the best parts of a church: friendships built on common beliefs….

    Atheists are not non-beleivers. That role falls to the agnostics and skeptics, whose motto might be: “I don’t know, and you don’t either.”

    Of course with some raher creative epistemological sleights-of-hand, atheists claim they don’t believe there is no god, they know there is no god. This allows these true believers to masquerade as non-believers, to pass their faith off as sure truth.

    1. craazyman

      whoever has the best coffee and donuts will draw the crowds.

      And if God sees the atheists winning, He might switch sides.

      1. from Mexico


        But with guys (the New Atheist priestly caste is, after all, as some feminists have pointed out, an “all boys” club) like Richard Dawkins being annointed its high priests, what do you expect?

        Take at the following interview of Dawkins, for instance. The guy is so blissfully ignorant that he doesn’t even know the difference between atheism and humanism, and can’t see that he’s fallen into the same antimony that the early Christian humanists did:

        1. Propertius

          I believe (!) your spellchecker got the better of you. You did mean “antinomy” rather than “antimony”, didn’t you?

    2. FlimFlamMan

      I’m an atheist, and I can tell you that you could barely be more wrong if you tried. Wrong about me; wrong about every other atheist I know personally; wrong about (at a minimum: most) big name ‘media atheists’. Even Dawkins allows for the possibility of gods.

      We’re atheists; we don’t believe in gods.

      Some of us are also agnostic; the position that it is impossible to know whether or not gods, or a particular god, exist[s].

      Much may follow from this lack of belief, but that’s another discussion.

      1. craazyman

        It Might Be a Miracle!

        what if God appeared to you and said “You know, you’re right.”

        Would you believe him?


      2. from Mexico

        Well not even Englehardt, the author of the article, descends into the defactualized atheist panegyric that you do. To wit:

        As the atheist church becomes more church-like, however, it seems to be deliberately downplaying its atheism. Where the Assembly once stridently rejected theism (at April’s Assembly, Jones poked fun at the crucifixion), it is now far more equivocal. “How atheist should our Assembly be?”, Jones wrote in a recent blog post. “The short answer to that is: not very.”

        “‘Atheist Church’ as a phrase has been good to us. It has got us publicity,” Evans elaborated. “But the term ‘atheist’ does hold negative connotations. Atheists are often thought to be aggressive, loud and damning of all religion, where actually most atheists, in the UK anyway, are not defined by their non-belief.” At a recent assembly, Jones opined: “I think atheism is boring. Why are we defining ourselves by something we don’t believe in?”

        … Because that’s what atheism is?

        Evans and Jones must clearly tread softly. Their model is not about de-converting the religious, or bashing theists, or decrying the lunacy of faithfulness. And indeed, their “radically inclusive” model was always going to appeal to atheism’s cagier cousins: humanism, unitarianism and agnosticism.

        Yet I wonder if the Assembly risks diluting its brand if it continues to shed its muscular non-belief. Might it become McAtheism: a Secular Lite version of its former self?

        1. Yves Smith

          Why form a new church when there is a perfectly good church for atheists already? It’s the Unitarians, who as they joke, believe in at most one god. They go through the motions of being really washed out Protestants (hymns with the “father son and Holy Ghost” stuff rewritten) and are super duper tolerant. Think that what Christ said was good stuff without believing he was the son of God. But they are perfectly OK with atheists, agnostics, Hindus, Jews, Zoroastrians, you name it, as long as they aren’t the fundamentalist variants.

          1. F. Beard

            You’ve nailed it in my opinion. But at least they like Jesus so He may be floating their boats anyway: Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.
            John 14:23

        2. FlimFlamMan

          And the section of text you’ve quoted relates to my points, how exactly? You made some statements about atheists which, as an atheist, I know to be false, and I said as much. In response you might have asked me what I, an atheist, actually thinks. Or perhaps stated that your own experiences with atheists are different. You could have just called me a liar. Instead I get a long piece of irrelevant text flung in my direction. Lazy.

          Now, calling you lazy might seem unfriendly, or just downright rude, but here’s the thing: do you ever get annoyed by people commenting on greasy/lazy(that word again)/job stealing(but I thought they were lazy)/drug smuggling Mexicans? I’m assuming your nick in some way reflects your nationality and/or location. Having our thoughts as atheists ‘explained’ to us is pretty annoying.

          Being an open member of a group which is subject to regular suspicion, discrimination, and outright hatred is actually rather more than annoying, and I only experience this relatively minor example. I can’t begin to imagine what it is like to be a darker shade of brown, or gay, or a woman.

    3. Expat

      I agree with Flim Flam Man. What about those people who are atheists because they have never seen, observed, or experienced the slightest evidence for a god, gods, or anything supernatural? None, zip, zero. I am not an agnostic, because neither the beliefs of others nor ontological questions are of much concern to me. Nor am I a skeptic, whatever that means in the context of a secular society in which many of us doubt the word of any authority, including religious authority.

      I am an atheist and always have been. No explanation of the world to date has had to rely on the supernatural, and I would hardly be the only surprised person were science to invoke some magical formulation to explain any particular phenomenon.

      I have an open mind, but my standard of proof is “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

      And the older I get, and the more about the world’s religions I learn, the more I am disposed to think that some of religion’s most powerful ideas, like the underlying unity explained in the Bagavadgita, are more likely artifacts of our own minds than any reflection of a greater reality.

      As I see it, those of us who are genuine a-theists, as opposed to anti-theists, live, comfortably or not, with a level of uncertainty. We are part of a world, solar system and universe that provide exciting opportunities for learning and study and our findings, however tentative, are some of the satisfying work that a species with cognitive power and consciousness can do.

      1. real

        i was an atheist but few experiences convinced me otherwise…in fact becoming atheist is first step in getting knowledge..
        finding god is personal mission and should not be done through organized religions on earth,no other person can help you in it

        1. diptherio

          I think some people are more inclined to have “spiritual” experiences than others. The Zen monk who wrote Zen Mind, Beginners Mind, Shunryu Suzuki, never personally experienced satori, despite decades of meditative practice.

          1. from Mexico

            V.S. Ramachandran cites evidence here which indicates the propensity to have spiritual or relgious experiences has something to do with our hard-wiring (beginning at minute 38:00), and of course not all people are hard-wired the same:


            I think the problem comes when those who are able to have religous experiences, or conversely those who are not able to, start to believing that this ability or inability conveys some sort of moral superiority upon them.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              That hard wiring – do we have it and chimps don’t?

              If so, assuming evolution by mutation, is it due to, as I hypothesized before, some sort of gene mutation then that causes humans to worship, among other things, the smart phone, personality cults and the unrestrained power to print money?

            2. Lambert Strether Post author

              Presuming that an all-powerful, all-knowing supernatural being (shorthand: “God”) wrote the blueprint for the wiring, and that the wiring as implemented predisposes some to belief in that being, and others to unbelief, and that a belief in that being is a pre-requisite for being “saved,” or “eternal life,” or some such construct… The actions of that God strike me as evil.

              I’m always surprised how God advocates never take the idea that God might be evil seriously.

                1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  With sufficient rest, anyone can be good.

                  Then there are people who so enjoy their work, they never take time out to rest. They seem so, um, ungodly.

                2. craazyboy

                  Reminds me of a short film I saw back in college. God is a Puerto Rican janitor. The main, and only other character in the film meets the janitor and slowly realizes he is talking to God. He starts talking to God about all the bad things, natural and manmade, that happen in the world and asked God why doesn’t he intervene.

                  God finally answers, in exasperation, “Not my job, mon!”

                  It was a cool movie when you’re 20 and had a few bong hits.

              1. Kurt Sperry

                Marketing a monotheistic religious system headed by an evil god would probably be a tough slog. Vengeful is obviously frequently a go to so some degree of sociopathy seems acceptable. A polytheistic ecosystem with “good” and “evil” gods certainly has greater narrative potential.

              2. F. Beard

                God is certainly not evil but He is not infinite either, according to the Bible. We should give Him a break and sympathize with Him – considering He wants to save us all.

                  1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                    Joseph Campbell told Bill Moyers that being infinite was not the same as everlasting.

                    Everlasting, I hope I get this correct, is inside time; whereas infinite is outside time.

                    It could be the other way around. If that’s the case, then, He is outside time, i.e. he’s everlasting but not infinite.

                    Something like that…or a translation error in going from Greek to Latin to English or just one more transcribing error by medieval monks. At this time, the painting has been copied and copied so many times, it’s hard to see the original picture.

                  2. F. Beard

                    Example: God does not completely know the future:

                    The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. The Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. Genesis 6:6-9 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

                    Then the word of the Lord came to Samuel, saying, “I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following Me and has not carried out My commands.” And Samuel was distressed and cried out to the Lord all night. 1 Samuel 15:10-11 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

                    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                      Lambert, you probably want to look up these words: incompetent, not-omnipotent and not-infinite.

                    2. Walter Map

                      Just mix and match various godlike properties until you get the kind of deity you want.

                      The gods are a human invention. It would seem you’ve come up with a selection of them yourself.

                    3. F. Beard


                      You might want to look up eternal, torment, Hell, the Lake of Fire, etc.

                      While you still live there is hope and if you get started I’m sure the Lord will give you space to repent so long as you continue.

                    4. craazyman

                      You know Beard that’s just what the Nordics told the dude they abducted up into the saucer down in Alabama a while back — which I heard about on the radio the other night. if I recall that’s your home state, Alabama that is.

                      But the story is just a little difffernt than your version. The Watchers made man from the ape through genetic engineering a million or so years ago in an attempt to create a new species in their image. Genesis got that correct, probably because whoever wrote Genesis, and there were probly a number of writers, were very skilled channelers.

                      But since the experiment wasn’t a perfect success the Watchers started to argue among themselves. Some wanted to wipe man off the face of the earth but the others said “Give it time”. I suspect the flood happened when one side got the other in a headlock.

                      They are fighting right now in another dimension. Every once in a while a chair comes flying through the dimensional window and you get a hint something weird is happening, but most people just ignore this stuff andn pretend it isn’t real.

                      the Bible is full of stuff like this, but most people just pretend it isn’t there or, if they acknowledge it, they say somebody just made it up.

                    5. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                      Craazy, it is not to craaaazy for an atheist lawyer to take these ever regretting, give-me-a-break, abducting gene-modifiers to court for product liability.

                      What, no recall? How about a warranty?

                    6. F. Beard

                      . if I recall that’s your home state, Alabama that is.

                      I live here now and it’s nice enough here in Auburn but I left my heart in Amarillo, TX at age 6.

                      But the question is: Who made the Watchers? And so forth.

                    7. ambrit

                      Dear craazyman;
                      I’m not sure if it is the same group, but I worked with a nephew of one of the two men who claimed abduction by saucer while fishing in the Pascagoula River. The nephew described his uncle as “one of those people who doesn’t read fiction.” He did mention that even recounting the experience to family members a year later, his uncle was visibly frightened.
                      Can I assume that you’re advocating Jungs’ hypothesis concerning saucer phenomena in general?

              3. Propertius

                I’m always surprised how God advocates never take the idea that God might be evil seriously.

                Which God? The αἰών τέλεος or the δημιουργός?

                That aside, consider Isaiah 45:7:

                וּבֹ֣ורֵא רָ֑ע

                “And I create evil”. How could it be any clearer than that?

                1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  Evil + good = zero?

                  Is evil created from nothing?

                  Or is evil like anti-good and each pair springs from thin air?

                2. F. Beard

                  Evil is not necessarily wicked. For example, if you were beaten with 39 lashes then evil would have befallen you but if you deserved it then your punishment would not be wicked.

                  But hey, if you want any excuse to hate God, there’s enough rope in the Bible to hang yourself with.

                    1. F. Beard


                      Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. 2 Peter 3:14-18 (New American Standard Bible)

                    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                      People shouldn’t do it then or at the very least, the whole thing should be regulated by the FDA or some government agency.

                    3. F. Beard

                      You think just like a Roman Catholic.

                      Nevertheless, NOT seeking God is dangerous too.

                      You’re trapped but that should not be surprising since life in no pleasure cruise but a test.

              4. Roland

                Innumerable religions posit the gods as cruel, jealous, fickle and insatiable, beings born of chaos, who must be regularly appeased through blood sacrifice.

                1. Lambert Strether Post author

                  It’s true i’m thinking of the gods of the people of the book, due to lack of expertise. Supernatural beings don’t interest me much, except in works of fiction, of course.

          2. Optimader

            “I think some people are more inclined to have “spiritual” experiences than others.”

            and some are more inclinded to have a “spirit” experience, they are called alcoholics.

      2. from Mexico

        • Expat says:

        What about those people who are atheists because they have never seen, observed, or experienced the slightest evidence for a god, gods, or anything supernatural? None, zip, zero.

        What you are falling back on here is the metaphysics of William of Ockham. Oddly enough, it would never have occurred to Ockham to consider revelation as anything other than that which is “seen, observed, or experienced.”

        • Expat says:

        No explanation of the world to date has had to rely on the supernatural…

        That’s what Richard Dawkins says here:

        The whole point — the whole beauty of the Darwinian explanation for life is that it’s self-sufficient.

        Of course then he turns right around and contradicts himself when he says this:

        I am very comfortable with the idea that we can override biology with free will.


        Moreover, this is now a quite different point — when brains became sufficiently big they took off in other directions, which no longer have really any connection with gene survival at all…. And this really gets me back to what I was saying before, about free will and the fact that we can deliberately take the decision to emancipate ourselves from the world of natural selection in which genes were naturally selected, and make a new world for ourselves to live in, which is an anti-Darwinian world.

        So what is it? Is the Darwinian explanation for life self-sufficient? Or isn’t it? Dawkins can’t have it both ways. If the Darwinian explanation is self-sufficient, then it has to explain where human free will came from, using the materialistic mechanisms identified by Darwinian theory. Dawkins can’t just wave his magic wand and say “when brains became sufficiently big they took off in other directions, which no longer have really any connection with gene survival at all.”

        Sometimes the cognigive dissonance is deafening.

        1. Expat

          Far be it for me to defend Dawkins, whom I’ve read only in excerpts, when he strays into the realm of the liberal arts. His arrogance masks his ignorance, as you point out.

          Dawkins’s evolutionary biology is more about explanation than experiment, since terms like “the selfish gene,” while possibly accounting for the phenomenon of evolution cannot purport to be the mechanism or force without some form of scientific proof that would eliminate other possibilities. As with most explanations in economics, we can say correlation is not causation. It’s interesting that he rejects the similarly based explanation of “god” or “gods”; again, how would one devise an experiment or series of experiments to test the proposition?

          I had no idea until I started reading scientists’ and economists’ excursions into the liberal arts, which excursions I have found to be shallow however sincerely intended, that the liberal arts was such a specialty. I would never limit the right of scientists to speak on matters outside of their specialities, but their knowledge typically is no greater in those areas than that of any other nonspecialist. The brief heyday of the school of evolutionary biology is, I hope, over, without having added much to our understanding of ourselves, living things or the planet.

          And I quite agree with your point about Ockham. In our secular age, which I grew up in without a concept of revelation, the questions about the nature of reality are same whether you are seeking a religious or a, what’s the word, scientific explanation. This aspect of truth-seeking is part of organized religion at the highest levels, but what we call religious tends to be behaviours around prophets, folklore and rituals. Faith is something I know nothing about; my feeling as a being in time is uncertainty. I think Satre called this “existentialism.”

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Free will.

          Do we really have it? If so, can a tree have it as well?

          How do we know if a tree has it?

          If trees don’t have it and other animals don’t have it, are we ‘exceptional’ to the rest of Nature?

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              If we don’t know, it would be arrogant of us not to pass over in silence and speak no more the free will of trees.

              Maybe we are exceptional at all…

              1. ambrit

                Dear MLTPB;
                Wait, wait! You’re not postulating a doctrine of “Tree Will” are you?
                If we take into account the discoveries arising from Kirilian photography, we can do no more than echo the poet Whitman: “Leaves of Gauss.”
                If there is anything to the Gaian Hypothesis, said entity would be too subtle for our apperception.

                1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  That ‘Tree Will’ is indeed beyond us. Yet, there is no denying that trees have a living force, like us.

                  And yet, to live is to kill. We live by mass-murdering vegetables. All we can do is be grateful and don’t over-murder than necessarily.

                  Of course, a brute would argue, then, since we are all murders, why try to be noble (whatever that is)?

                  1. ambrit

                    Dear MLTPB;
                    Yes, and the ancient hunters, indeed, the modern ones too, perform rituals to thank and appease the spirits of the animals they hunt. Rising up from the brute is hard work, and takes discipline. That’s why I like the idea of deferred gratification as a defining item of maturity.

          1. optimader

            Free Will
            the power of acting without the constraint of necessity or fate; the ability to act at one’s own discretion.

            I think you would need to be a sociopath to truly have free will.
            As far a “tree”? Maybe start w/ a brain stem at least.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              No brain stem, no tree free will.

              No tree free will, not sociopathic trees.

              Man, who copied his image from somewhere, remains the biggest threat to the world – is that the logical conclusion?

                1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  Good thing you ask. It would be if it had been a statement, instead of being a question.

                  And thanks to that your question, I should qualify that question further thusly: Should we conclude that we are the biggest threat, among plants and animals, to the world?

                  I should add that it will probably need further qualifying. But that’s where it stands right now.

                  1. optimader

                    “…Should we conclude that we are the biggest threat, among plants and animals, to the world?…”

                    Absolutely not!

                    These evil creatures are bad enough now. I can’t even plumb the depths of how much worse they would be w/ opposable thumbs?

                    Wait a minute.. they devildogs have two opposable thumbs on each hand! We are headed into a shit storm of Biblical proportion now!!!
                    Where is Beard when we need him??

          2. optimader

            The Scorpion and the Frog

            A scorpion and a frog meet on the bank of a stream and the
            scorpion asks the frog to carry him across on its back. The
            frog asks, “How do I know you won’t sting me?” The scorpion
            says, “Because if I do, I will die too.”

            The frog is satisfied, and they set out, but in midstream,
            the scorpion stings the frog. The frog feels the onset of
            paralysis and starts to sink, knowing they both will drown,
            but has just enough time to gasp “Why?”

            Replies the scorpion: “Its my nature…”


          3. Kurt Sperry

            “Physical determinism is related to the question of causal completeness of physics, which is synonymous with the weaker form of causal closure. This is the idea that every real event has a scientific explanation, that science need not search for explanations beyond itself.[26] If causal completeness does not apply to everything in the universe, then the door is open to events that are not subject to physical law.[27] For example, a relatively common view of mental events is that they are an epiphenomenon produced as a by-product of neurological activity, and without causal impact. In this case, only a failure of deterministic physical law would allow room for their causal significance.”


            Is quoting wiki louche? The clockwork universe has yet to be unambiguously refuted.

          1. F. Beard

            We certainly have free-will within limits but of course … Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. John 8:34

            I once tried to give up a very stubborn habit and I succeeded for about 6 months but I was becoming such an ass-hole that I decided it was the lesser evil, to be vanquished some other way.

          2. Walter Map

            The gods should never have given people free will. They should have made it an expensive option and charged for it.

        3. optimader


          you mistake
          “The whole point — the whole beauty of the Darwinian explanation for life is that it’s self-sufficient.”

          as a statement of exclusivity. The claim that Darwinism is a self sufficient process is not to claim that it is the only possible process.

      3. diptherio

        Not trying to change your mind or anything, but I will point out that the natural sciences have shown us that:

        1) particles, once in contact remain forever in contact, despite being separated by large distances (quantum entanglement); and
        2) all matter in the universe was, at one time, crunched up together and was subsequently scattered by the Big Bang.

        Taking these two together, one might argue that all particles in the universe were once in contact and so must remain somehow connected. Also, the study of ecology has shown us that all species in an environment are connected to and dependent on each other. We ARE part of one universal entity (the Earth’s biome) but we don’t realize it.

        IMHO, the perennial experience of universal oneness that is found in the Bhagavad Gita and other religious/spiritual texts, is the direct, a-rational, realization of what science seems to be moving towards rationally: the fact that we are all connected to each other and to every part of our environment.

        1. anon y'mouse

          thanks, dip (you know that’s a shortening of a hindu name, right?). that version of religion was also the only one that made sense to me and fit with evolving scientific beliefs.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          …reglious/spiritual texts.

          There is a living spiritual reality that renews itself continuously.

          Religions are like still photos or paintings of that living spiritual reality.

          We alone in Nature delude ourselves that we can live by a painting, by this or that painter, when everyone else immerses itself in that wordless reality.

      4. F. Beard

        No explanation of the world to date has had to rely on the supernatural, and I would hardly be the only surprised person were science to invoke some magical formulation to explain any particular phenomenon. Expat

        Your blissful ignorance annoys me. So …

        It’s come down to this: EITHER we are in an extremely well designed CREATED universe OR this universe is just one of an infinite number of universes and we just happen to be in one that allows life.

        The kicker is that those other universes may not be detectable even in principle so currently, at least, one requires FAITH to believe in them. Get the irony?

        So it’s 50-50 EXCEPT for the additional evidence the Bible adds of unprecedented miracles and fulfilled prophecy.

        So it appears you guys are betting against the odds. Mightn’t God ask you why you PREFERRED not to believe in Him?

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          The “ZOMG!!! Scientists believe in science!” card has always struck me as a debaters point of Junior High-level significance, but believers in The God(ess)(e)(s) Of Their Choice always seem to regard it as a trump, and love to deploy it. The world is very strange.

          1. F. Beard

            It comes down to currently known science and probability theory. Bet against the odds will you?

            Now, you can hope that future science will bolster your preferred beliefs and maybe it will but only temporarily if history is a guide since the Creator – no-Creator debate goes back and forth and has for a century or two. But seriously, I think it’s reached an impasse and your side has the short end of the stick UNLESS evidence of other universes can be detected in which case Occam’s Razor would trim away the need for a Creator leaving the Bible to stand more or less on its own.

            BTW, your reference to God as female is actually self-defeating since it necessarily implies sex while a “He” can be genderless. So who do you envision having sex with your Goddess? An equal? Then we’re back to a male God anyway. A lesser? Unthinkable!

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              There are certain worldviews in which “He” can be genderless, mine not among them. I thought we’d fought that battle out in the 70s, but I guess it’s ever green.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                It seems to be a never ending battle.

                Hope you don’t get too tired.

                With sufficient rest, anyone can be good…for the battle.

                You might even go more than six days.

              2. F. Beard

                Then gee wiz, I’d never want to share a hotel room with you!

                BTW, have you read “The Left Hand Of Darkness” by Ursula K LeGuin? I liked it.

        2. optimader

          oddly, a post went to bottom again


          “…It’s come down to this: EITHER we are in an extremely well designed CREATED universe OR this universe is just one of an infinite number of universes….”

          Only two possibilities?? How about a finite number of universes?
          Take a moment for “thirteen strikes of the clock”

          “..The kicker is that those other universes may not be detectable even in principle so currently, at least, one requires FAITH to believe in them. Get the irony?..”

          That is why multiverses are referred to as hypothesis. For consistency, do you refer to god as hypothesis? Get the irony?

          “…So it’s 50-50 EXCEPT for the additional evidence the Bible adds of unprecedented miracles and fulfilled prophecy….”
          Wrong out of the box on this , again a case of “thirteen strikes of the clock”??

          “…So it appears you guys are betting against the odds. Mightn’t God ask you why you PREFERRED not to believe in Him?…”

          Mightn’t this be great amusement for god, Why assume such an omnipotent entity is so vain about the triviality of some individual “believing” he exists or not? Lesser so, those having no opinion of his existence due to a lack of information?


          1. F. Beard

            Only two possibilities?? How about a finite number of universes? optimader

            That makes the case for Design even stronger! I’ll concede that if only one additional universe is detected that an infinite or at least an unbounded number of universes exist.

            Take a moment for “thirteen strikes of the clock” optimader

            So should I quit reading the rest of your comment? Since you’ve shot yourself in the foot?

            1. optimader

              “That makes the case for Design even stronger!”

              An interesting but not very robust debate strategy..
              Back on the point, Multiverse Theory is not constrained to a finite or infinite number of simultaneous universes..

              1. F. Beard

                Back on the point, Multiverse Theory is not constrained to a finite or infinite number of simultaneous universes.. optimader

                Oh yea, I read a theory that universes themselves reproduce and evolve so that ones that allow carbon are favored since they allow black holes which themselves are universes.

                But it’s no real improvement since I’ve generously allowed you an infinite number of other universes anyway if only ONE other universe can be detected.

                You’re still fighting the odds. Do you really hate the God of the Bible that much considering how many millions truly love Him?

          2. F. Beard

            “…So it’s 50-50 EXCEPT for the additional evidence the Bible adds of unprecedented miracles and fulfilled prophecy….” FB

            Wrong out of the box on this , again a case of “thirteen strikes of the clock”?? optimader

            How so? Am I not being generous in giving even odds? Since a finite number of universes would tilt the odds in my favor so that they would be as high as 2 out of 3 for a designed universe if the finite number were small?

            1. F. Beard

              Actually, the finite number need not be small. The odds are so greatly against a livable universe that the finite number could be very large without significantly denting the odds.

              1. optimader

                “…The odds are so greatly against a livable universe…”

                Any non-mumbo-jumbo link on,or did you just make that up?

                1. F. Beard

                  Fred Hoyle (British astrophysicist): “A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.” from

            2. optimader

              “…So it’s 50-50 EXCEPT for the additional evidence the Bible adds of unprecedented miracles and fulfilled prophecy….” FB

              Wrong out of the box on this , again a case of “thirteen strikes of the clock”?? optimader

              How so?…”

              Show me the math how you develop finite odds on what may be finite or infinite possibilities, re: Multiverse Theory.
              Til then, I call bllsht

              1. F. Beard


                Here Dr. Ross lists 42 things that must be fine-tuned for life to be able to exist. I’ll be ridiculously generous and posit that the only possibilities are “tuned” and “not tuned”; then, assuming no interdependencies, the odds are 2^42 = 4.39 trillion to one.

                You can search his site for more detailed calculations but those come up with even more ridiculously long odds. And that’s just to ALLOW life to exist. The odds for the Origin of Life itself dwarf even those odds.

                No, your only hope to remain a rational non-theist is that an infinite or exceedingly large number of other universes exist and that at least one of them can be detected; the battle for this universe is over.

          3. F. Beard

            Why assume such an omnipotent entity is so vain about the triviality of some individual “believing” he exists or not? optimader

            Because we are not trivial. SOMEONE has LAVISHED goodness on us and our planet:

            Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith! Luke 12:27-28 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

            Why such enormous investment if we are trivial?

            1. optimader

              Comparatively trivial… A man vs your construct of the singular impotance of god.

              So lets reframe to you’re inference, man is very significant compared to god. so the question stands, why should god have such vanity?.
              Consider, we are comparatively, mutually significant, should I care if you believe I exist?
              No offense, but whether you believe I exist is much less important (to me) than what’s for breakfast tomorrow.

              1. F. Beard

                why should god have such vanity?. optimader

                It’s not vanity! Has it ever pained you to see a loved one destroy her/his self? Think it’s any different with God?

                Maybe your own angle of deviation from the straight and narrow is small but given enough time without correction and you will end up in a ditch.

                Mark 2:17
                And hearing this, Jesus *said to them, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

            2. from Mexico

              The Fed very much reminds me of Seymour, the hapless florist shop worker who raises a plant that feeds on human blood and flesh.

              The plant, Audrey II, is the rentier-oligarchs who have gained such inordinate influence over the Fed.

              Together, they create “The Little Shop of Horrors,” the title of the Broadway muscial in which they are protagonists.

              Audrey II does not thrive in its new environment, the shop where Seymour works, and appears to be dying. Seymour questions why it should be doing poorly, since he takes such good care of it. He accidentally pricks his finger on a rose thorn, which draws blood, and Audrey II’s pod opens thirstily. Seymour realizes that Audrey II requires blood to survive and allows the plant to suckle from his finger (“Grow For Me”). As Audrey II grows, it becomes an attraction and starts generating brisk business for Mushnik. As the caretaker of the plant, Seymour has suddenly gone from loser to hero (“Ya Never Know”).

              Meanwhile, the employees at Mushnik’s are sprucing up the flower shop because of the popularity of the rapidly growing Audrey II and the revenue that it is bringing in (“Closed for Renovation”). Seymour is having difficulty providing enough blood to keep Audrey II healthy. When Seymour stops feeding the plant, Audrey II reveals that it can speak (in a demanding voice) and says that, if fed, it will make sure that all of Seymour’s dreams come true (“Feed Me (Git It)”).

              Here’s the song “Feed Me (Git It)” on YouTube:


              1. F. Beard

                Ha! Ha!

                Even better than when I first saw the movie.

                Yep, the money system is extremely corruptive, to coin a word.

        3. Walter Map

          Please, Mr. Beard, you’re so full of it your eyes are brown and you smell bad.

          You should have taken the hint when skippy started referring to you as Beardo. Rhymes with weirdo. Get it? Didn’t think so.

          Be that way. You’re the comic relief, just so you know. If you’re going to post something religious, cheesy, and fragrant, and somebody steps in it, well, at least we’ve got and bucket and a mop now.

          1. F. Beard

            Well, I see we’re making progress:

            1) first they ignore you.
            2) then they laugh at you.
            3) then they fight you.
            4) they you win. Ghandi

            Of course I got the Beardo reference but I should be insulted by an ex-mercenary? Besides, I enjoy a good pun.

    4. Tim Mason

      What the atheist generally means by declaring that they do not believe in God is that they do not believe in the Judaeo/Christian/Islamic God. It is from within that cultural tradition that modern atheism arose and in which its writings and utterances are situated. From that point of view, I have no problem with declaring myself an atheist, and see no reason to pick bones with others of a like mind. In fact, although I know it’s very naughty of me, I am thoroughly bemused by the fact that anyone can, today, subscribe to such a belief. The God of the Big Books is such an unpleasant and improbable personage as to figure most aptly as a bogeyman to scare children with. The Love that he is said to bestow upon the chosen can only be of a most sinister nature.

      However, elsewhere things can get more interesting. Leaving aside Buddhists, some of whom say there are no gods, and others who claim that there are many – or, if you want to follow the Zen road, that there are both none and many – the various forms of animism seem to have much going for them. As the Marxist anthropologist, Chris Knight, exclaims, the so-called Dream-Time of the Australian Aborigines captures truths about the world that our modern philosophers are only now catching up on.

      Talking of philosophers, several of them – well, at least one – argue for a rather rarefied form of animism. Galen Strawson, reawakening the Spinozist panpsychism, explains why he thinks it offers a way out of the impasse we’ve got ourselves into here :

      Many people have been offended by the stridency (and the immense sense of self-importance) of the so-called ‘four horsemen’. I find Dawkins quite tiresome myself, although I think much can be forgiven the biologists who have found themselves thrust into the intellectual trenches by the equally strident and self-important biblical literalists. And that’s where we find ourselves in the end: I was quite happy to think of myself as nothing at all, or as an interested agnostic (I find the religious thing as an object of contemplation and study quite fascinating, and of as much importance for understanding the world as economics, or sociobiology*) until the religious began throwing their weight around. Before that, I even felt some affection for the churches: all that has gone over the last fifteen years or so.

      And so, under present circumstances, I think it salutary to declare oneself an atheist. In the US, where atheists are still a persecuted minority in many, if not most, areas, it is almost a civic duty.

      1. Tim Mason

        *By the term ‘sociobiology’ I don’t mean the tradition that has morphed into evolutionary psychology, but rather the approach to sociality that places humanity alongside its companion species. Here’s Donna Haraway on why she moved on from Cyborgs to dogs – Be warned – some people think she’s a jargon-mongering post-modernist bullshit merchant. I think she’s very funny, and makes you think.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        I actually became an atheist during the Bush administration, having been an Episcopalian (some might say “And the difference would be?”).

        The Bush administration was the nearest we are likely to come to a theocracy, absent the breakup of the United States into smaller political units. Bush was openly Christian, made Christian churches part of his political machine (DiIulio), hired out of Christian schools, there were prayer circles in the White House as a social norm, etc.

        However, it finally occurred to me that if the God they believed in actually existed, He surely would have — hence should have* — struck down the Bushies for their sinfulness. I mean, there’s no way that faking the evidence for war and than slaughtering tens of thousands of Iraqis can be reconciled with Christian teaching.** Or torturing Iraqi prisoners with dogs. Then there’s the looting, the schools with sh*t dripping onto the students. Among other things, many other things.

        So the Christian God would have smote the Bushies, especially because they vociferously claimed to believe in Him and then violated His teachings. No smiting, no Christian God.

        NOTE * Assuming would and should are identical for an all-powerful, all-knowing supernatural being.

        NOTE ** And if it can, I want no part of the teaching.

        NOTE There’s the whole praying before men in order to be seen by them thing going on with the Bushies too, but so far as I can tell, that’s not a reason for smiting.

        1. F. Beard

          Re the Bush(s):

          “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’

          “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.”

          When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes. Matthew 7:21-29 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

          That, btw, is the scariest passage in the Bible and made it impossible for me to remain a Calvinist. I’d rather admit I might not be saved and try to do something about it than risk hearing those awful words!

            1. Garrett Pace

              I don’t intend to murder my children the first time they have an overdue library book, or cheat on their taxes, or dig a pit for their neighbor to fall in and die.

        2. optimader

          In the philosophical sense I don’t think Bush was a Christian. Frankly, I think this fellow Mr. J. Christ would be appalled by the giant ball of dung that has been rolled up in his name.

          “However, it finally occurred to me that if the God they believed in actually existed, He surely would have — hence should have* — struck down the Bushies for their sinfulness.”

          Yes, absolutely. I do know survivors of appalling circumstance during WW2, and the eastern European enslavement that followed who express EXACTLY that perspective.

          Acts in mysterious ways=a load of bllsht.

          Virulent religiosity I think can be a substitute for some other compulsive/addictive behavior. In Bush’s case, alcohol, although I would wager a large sum he is on the booze again (still). Helps make the voices/faces go away in the dark?

          1. F. Beard

            Yes, absolutely. I do know survivors of appalling circumstance during WW2, … optimader

            The Hebrews were warned by Moses of the curses that would follow their breaking the Covenant they made with God. Please read Deuteronomy 28 for the blessings and the appalling curses that would follow obedience and disobedience, respectively.

            The Jews are one talented and accomplished people but they also tend to be proud and stiff-necked too as a result and the Lord has had to humble them (ironically, with the Gentiles they so often despise).

      3. Walter Map

        What the atheist generally means by declaring that they do not believe in God is that they do not believe in the Judaeo/Christian/Islamic God.

        Actually, Krishna doesn’t do anything for me either. Same goes for forest deities, trolls, munchins, various members of the LOTR menagerie, naiads/sprites, and all those beastial Egyptian things. The double-wide dustbins of history are pretty loaded up but I think we can still pack in a few more.

        How about if we just chalk the lot of it up to superstitious twaddle, put in an order for a couple of dumpsters and a steam-cleaning crew, and call it a day?

    5. diptherio

      Actually, there already is a “Church for Atheists/Agnostics/Secular Humanists”…it’s called the Unitarian-Universalist Association (UUA). In the 1970s they decided to stop being Christians and instead adopted the Seven Principles and became a covenantal, not creedal, religion.

      “I belong to no organized religion…I’m a UU.”

      Q: Why are UUs so bad at singing hymns?
      A: They’re always reading ahead to see if they agree with the words.

      1. Expat

        As a descendent of many generations of Unitarians, and of the pre-1970s flavour, I can but agree with your Q&A. “This little liberal light of mine….”

        1. diptherio

          How do you know when you’ve pissed off a Unitarian-Universalist?

          They burn a question mark in your front lawn.

          (I’m still officially a UU, fwiw)

  4. Furzy Mouse

    Re: Changing Brains
    I think the pharms know that many suicides and murders are committed by people on these drugs…or newly off them…look at the latest casualty of guns plus derangement…Aaron Alexis….under “treatment”….almost always means on drugs, not therapy… well as the Aurora killer, James Holmes, Adam Lanza of Sandy Hook, and the Columbine killers, Klebold and Harris….all under “treatment”….but the pharms won’t let their drugs involved with these killers be revealed….citing privacy….fugedabout the public’s need to know…

      1. ambrit

        Dear Lambert;
        I wholeheartedly agree! I was prescribed Prozac way back when for depression. After three months and an automobile accident that was my fault I stopped taking those d—-d drugs. The best way I can describe the experience is to suggest that you imagine that the top half of your head is sawn off. You are trying to function with a big hole where a chunk of your critical faculties used to be. You know something is missing, but can’t quite remember what. It is a very disassociated feeling, indeed, a lack of feeling. It was probably one of the most frightening experiences of my life, after I stopped the experiment.
        People tend to forget that a lot of the presently demonized pharmaceuticals were once hailed as wonder working breakthroughs. Big Pharmas attitude reminds me of Chevrolets machinations regarding its’ Corvair automobile. A cost benefit analysis that ignores human suffering.

        1. F. Beard

          I hate the serotonin increasers. I like dopamine myself.

          But if you ever get desperate and want sure-fired relief from depression (and can tolerate a few diet and drug restrictions) the MAOIs like Nardil are DYNAMITE!

          That said, I eventually found the MAOIs unsatisfactory because I thought I was getting nowhere in life despite (because of?) feeling great all the time. They also made me fat because food suddenly tasted FABULOUS!

    1. Synopticist

      Wow. I was genuinely expecting that headline to take me to The Onion. Australia is the only country which exempted itself from some of the worst legal restraints in the TPP.

      Maybe this has something to do with it.

  5. from Mexico

    @ “Dying for Control (II): An Exhausted Culture, Founded on Psychological Manipulation”

    Arthur Silber said:

    There are, of course, those who thrive on manipulating others and who become unusually expert at it. These are the people who ascend to the higher levels of “success” in business, academia, journalism, and other fields — and these are the people who become politicians. I’ll turn to this category of individual in the next installment, when we will explore some of the methods of manipulation used by those in positions of power. And then I will explain why the State can be thought of as your nightmare lover.

    Well that certainly is the libertarian and/or Marxist view of the world.

    As Reinhold Niebuhr explains:

    The moral cynicsm of Marxism and proletarianism, which discounts all ethical pretensions and achievements in the field of politics, is particuarly apparent in its estimate of the democratic state. The true proletarian regards the democratic state as the instrument of the bourgeoisie for the oppression of the workers. His complete cynicism upon this point stands in striking antithesis to the sentimental overestimates of the achievements of political democracy which are current in the middle-class world. Lenin declared “In their sum, these restrictions (of middle-class democracy) exclude and thrust out the poor from politics and from active share in democracy. Marx splendidly grasped the essence of capitalistic democracy, when, in his analysis of the experience of the commune, he said the oppressed are allowed, once every few years, to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing classes are to represent and repress them in politics.” An unbiased analysis of the power of the owning classes in modern democracy, their dictation of legistion, the almost unvarying interpretation of ambiguous law in their favor, and their evasion of the law when it suits their purposes, will not find it easly to answer this charge of communism. The dictum of Lenin: “Freedom in capitalist society always remains more or less the same as it was in the ancient Greek republics, that is, freedom for the slave-owners,” can be answered only by qualifying it…. In the more orthodox Marxian view, the state is purely an instrument of oppression; and salvation for the worker requires its annihilation. The orthodox Marxian view of the state is not dissimilar from the conviction of Thomas Paine: “Society is the product of our wants and government of our wickedness.”


    We have seen how inevitably special privilege is associated with power, and how the ownership of the means of production is the significant power in modern society. The clear recognition of that fact is the greatest ethical contribution which Marxian thought has made to the problem of social life.

    –REINHOLD NEIBUHR, Moral Man & Immoral Society

    Niebuhr, however, doesn’t go the entire distance with the orthodox Marxists and libertarians:

    The most significant qualification upon this thesis has been made by that part of the proletarian world which hopes to use the instruments of democracy for a pacific transmutation of the present capatilist society. Whatever may be the justificaiton for such hopes, it is important for our immediate consideration to note that they also spring from the economic and political experiences of the more favored and less desperate proletarians.


    [Marxian thought] may at times not see with sufficient clarity, that a complex society will always centralise power, whether political or economic, in a dangerous degree; and that the coagulation of economic power can be prevented only by a vigilant and potent state which substitutes political power for economic power. The chief gain in such a substitution is that privilege is only a possible, and not an inevitable, concomitant of political power; and that it is not as easily transmitted by inheritance as economic power…. But that does not obviate the necessity of reducing power to a minimum, of bringing the remainder under the strongest measure of social control; and of destroying such types of of it as are least amenable to social control. For there is no ethical force strong enough to place inner checks upon the use of power if its quantity is inordinate.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      “the coagulation of economic power can be prevented only by a vigilant and potent state” So how’s that workin’ out for ya?

      Adding… “Marxian” … Man, this guy sure does like to invent his own vague grab bag categories, doesn’t he?

      1. Tim Mason

        I don’t know who coined the term ‘Marxian’, but I don’t think it was Neihbur. It dates from the 19thC (OED). The term englobes both Marxists – who can be thought of as subscribing to the doctrine – and the Marxistants (!) who rely heavily on Marx’s thinking but are not necessarily members of one or another of the Marxist parties. See ‘Marxian Economics’. It does seem a rather mealy mouthed term, I grant you.

          1. diptherio

            My econ advisor in school was a self-declared Marxian…not a Marxist. His distinction was that Marxians shared Marx’s critique of capitalism but not his recommendations for post-capitalist society. Seems like a fair distinction to me, although mention of the name “Marx” (unless immediately proceeded by “Groucho”) is definitely a “trigger-word” in our culture and so best avoided, imo.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              A trigger indeed, and its use in fact reinforces Silber’s point on manipulation. (Silber is, of course, not a Marxist, and not a Marxian, if citation may be taken as proxy for acceptance of Marxisant ideas.) I’ve got to tell you, the “Marxist* and/or libertarian” formulation nearly caused me to lose another keyboard to coffee, since, loosely defined, as indeed we see at least one of those terms is, the formulation could be made to apply, by a determined advocate, to say 30% of the population.

              “Silber belongs to 30% of the population! Avert!”

              NOTE * From Mexico says “Marxist” but quotes Neibuhr who says “Marxian,” so from your explanation of the large difference between the two, I’m assuming there’s an “any stick to beat a dog”-style point being made here, instead of something serious.

              1. Synopticist

                I would understand a “Marxian” analysis as an analysis that thinks in terms of class and class conflict, that is how I at least have always used the term. It’s quite helpful in looking at historical events and long term trends.

                In one fairly obscure example, the French wars of Religion in the 16th century had many elements of a class struggle. A marxian outlook is a frequently useful tool of historical analysis.

    2. real

      i have seen enough of Marxists ,frommexico
      The Marxists have intellectuals who sprout propaganda literature you quoted above while real work is done by armed thugs…
      Other intellectuals pay more attention to marxist philosophers while thugs keep on looting and killing…
      The same principle is used by many religions like Christianity and Islam..both profess to be true religions and want to bring salvation and peace to humankind but whatever they did in last 2000 year is proof of their real philosophy..
      The only thing is communism got defeated in very short time but their cruelty exceeded even Islam and Christianity…

      1. Patricia

        Yes, any ideology that doesn’t take thuggism into fundamental account is not worth its salt.

        Any healthier ideology that doesn’t take responsibility for the thugly extremists inside itself is inadequate or hypocritical.

  6. realguy

    From mexico

    on topic:
    Dying for Control (II): An Exhausted Culture, Founded on Psychological Manipulation

    I think we are manipulated..sometimes enlightened men see through manipulations and they start thinking..soemtimes tipping point is reached..we have seen few examples:fall of communism in USSR,retreat of english empire ,fall of Nazi germany…
    In every case a major philosophy which went unchallenged for some time and then propaganda stopped making difference…

    So when are modern enlightened humans going to see through manipulations through media,TV,books and stop believing in liberal secular heaven?BTW i don’t believe in religion..i am realist

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Psychological manipulation.

      Here, one sees many examples of the ugly side of non-violence. The carrot can do you in as well.

  7. realguy

    on topic
    How to stop a coal train in its tracks

    sorry to say but economics always triumphs common sense and environmental concerns
    There huge demand for coal and US must export something at this point apart from pricey software,weapons,dollars,bonds,financial frauds,feminism
    If i was in there place,i would start thinking about leaving that place…

  8. Savonarola

    I must admit, as a very close study of the extreme demands for conformity in society, I disagree with Silber. If you look at chimpanzees, you will see exactly the same very developed attention to very subtle approval/disapproval cues: this is not a product of modern society, it’s hardwired in primate brains because of primate social structures.

    And nonconformity has a strenuous cost. Not just in big things, but in the constant barrage of daily attacks and anger from menial personal interactions. It pisses people off when you don’t behave exactly as expected. I have an autistic son – I have watched very closely, and I know beyond a doubt that people respond with absolute rage to even very small acts of nonconformity. While that might support his theorum that this kind of social control creates rage, I cannot agree that it is either modern or unnatural. It is just possible that the layers and complexity of modern society make it impossible to feel comfortable in your niche in the pack, and therefore always afraid of losing it. I think that is indeed different, and creates a general atmosphere of anxiety and anger.

    1. Patricia

      I agree, and add that our society is structured for loneliness, which also increases the insecurity of creatures who are hardwired for herd/pack. In some ways, external conformity on its own and without broader meaning, is the only way that they can find belonging.

    2. anon y'mouse

      the conformity, or need-to-belong might be natural genetic hardwiring. but the society -to be conformed to- is mostly a construction of ours, over time, with its own competing logic systems and flaws.

      why conform to a faulty construction simply because everyone else is afraid to point out that the foundation has crumbled and the walls have mold?

    3. jrs

      Wanting to please is hardwired, but implement something like guaranteed income and are you sure the pressure wouldn’t ease? People would still want to please other people like they ever always have probably, but maybe not with the life and death urgency.

      Until then it probably varies in people some more than others and can be worked on to some degree with awareness and determination.

    4. tiebie66

      I suspect that non-conformity (and poor conformity) often triggers bullying. People (kids and adults) find non-conformity puzzling, worrisome, and possibly hostile. The ‘box’ needs to be tapped and shaken in an attempt to understand what’s inside.

  9. Montanamaven

    Congrats to the good people of Helena, Montana,who shut down the coal train even for a little bit. These trains are rumbling through our town every day and stretch for miles. What a mess! We need to burn less coal instead of “Cap and Trade” too. Stop making stuff we don’t need.

    1. optimader

      “Congrats to the good people of Helena, Montana,who shut down the coal train even for a little bit. These trains are rumbling through our town every day and stretch for miles”

      And replace it with what? when?

      The issue they/you perceive is the burning of coal or an inconvenience of the RR right of way?

  10. HotFlash

    Are NYPD on the Apple payroll?

    Probably not, just an exchange of services. The Mail, OTOH, should get a nice pmt for that blatant piece of apple promotion.

  11. diptherio

    We all know what GREAT Senator Max Baucus is, right? Well, it looks like we might have someone even BETTER up for his spot. [/snark]

    Meet Dirk Adams, former sub-prime mortgage banker and Democratic candidate for Senate:

    Surprise Contender ~Missoula Independent

    Since 1983, a year before he established his Lazy SR Ranch in Wilsall, Adams has held various positions with savings and loan banks across the country, mostly at the executive level. The failings of several of those banks in recent years has prompted some to question just how genuine his Montana image is.


    Adams’ longest banking stint, 13 years, came with Golden West Financial and World Savings, which specialized in option adjustable-rate mortgages. He left in 2000, and by 2002 had landed at the Santa Monica-based First Federal Savings Bank of California. First Federal failed in 2009 after an audit by the U.S. Treasury Department due to a “high-risk growth strategy executed in 2004 and 2005.” That strategy, according to the Treasury’s audit report, called for “excessive concentration in option adjustable-rate mortgages … without implementing adequate controls to manage the associated risks.” Adams left the bank in mid-2004.

    Option ARMs, a type of loan The New York Times dubbed the “Typhoid Mary” of America’s housing crisis, were also attributed to the failure of Home Savings of America in Little Falls, Minnesota, in 2012, just a few months after Adams left his position as chairman and CEO of the bank’s owner, Home Savings Bancorp. Adams moved on to Guaranteed Home Mortgage Company, which fired him eight months into his role as the company’s president, according to a subsequent legal dispute between Adams and the company. Adams declined to comment on the termination except to say that his work with GHMC “was done.”

    Also, he assures his supporters that they won’t find a Democrat “further right” than he is…oy…

  12. Jackrabbit

    Grayson on Benghazi:

    I like Grayson but this clip is very misleading.

    What made Benghazi a scandalous is:

    Inadequate security preparations
    Secretary Clinton may have been exonerated because she was not directly responsible for security but I believe that she was criticized. And one or more people lost their jobs or were reassigned (and one could well imagine that more should have but we have little accountability in D.C.).

    No response during an battle that lasted hours
    In the clip they say that the Ambassador died about an hour and a half after the attack started but they didn’t KNOW that he was dead until much later.

    Lying to the American Public for political gain
    They KNEW that it was not a spontaneous demonstration.

    Questionable practices (coverup?) that followed
    Minimal investigation. Using Susan Rices rumored nomination and the media to deflect blame. Stonewalling Congress. The firing of Petraeus. And Hilary’s infamous remark: “At this point… what difference does it make?”

    1. Hogan's Heroes

      The Benghazi site confined disappeared prisoners, a prima facie breach of the Convention Against Torture. Kerry is trying to stall obligatory scheduled review by the Committee Against Torture, so it’s kind of an awkward time to implicate Obama in torture, crimes against humanity, and crimes of concern to the international community. Paula Broadwell got the story through pillow talk. She leaked and Petraeus was shit through a goose.

      Grayson’s political stands are very canny and nuanced, and I presume he does only what’s mandatory to survive in the purulent Democratic party, but keeping to the official partisan dichotomy is a great help to the CIA’s torturers. It’s not the cock-up, it’s the crime.

    2. Jackrabbit

      It’s always been surprising to me how Progressives can rant and rave about Obama’s ties to Wall Street, the NSA, etc. but withhold criticism on certain other issues.

      The Obama Administration scandals all stem from the same arrogance. And the crafty way that they spin the media (and the willingness of the media to play along) is a big part of the problem.

      PS missed some other parts of the scandal:
      1) I’ve never seen an official explanation of why Stevens found it necessary to be in Benghazi on Sept 11. The ‘facts’ that Stevens choose to travel to Benghazi and that he didn’t need clearance to travel within the country do not explain WHY he choose to be in a much less secure place on the uber-sensitive date of Sept. 11.

      2) It appears that there was a concerted effort to suppress interviews with people who were in Benghazi or involved with Benghazi. Something like two dozen Americans were evacuated and those who testified before Congress (back in May, I think) described difficulties in being heard AND the Deputy Head of Mission (I believe) was demoted because he insisted on being heard.

    1. anon y'mouse

      and if he had been a typical ghetto child, his realization that a market niche needed filling would have gone unrealized. by virtue of his father’s longstanding business and familiarity with the industry, his dream has been realized.

      luck, opportunity, and preparation (of the previous generations) pays off. most of us don’t have any of this down here at this level.

      1. optimader


        I’m think’in, don’t take a corset company quite so seriously.

        And don’t hold your breath until life fulfills your own perception of “fair”. Never has been, isn’t and never will be.
        Work the system to the best of your ability, be helpful to other people.

        1. anon y'mouse

          just the framing as the typical bootstrap stuff is what I object to. not the man’s ability to make his knowledge (cultural, intellectual, serendipitous or otherwise) pay off.

          the culture we have been and are actively destroying, it seems. in favor of one of paid expert problem solvers who can milk all on a never-ending merrygoround that they ‘discovered’ in MBA class.

          1. optimader

            “the culture we have been and are actively destroying, it seems.

            Cultures are continuously destroyed. We perceive that we are doing an expeditious job of it right now but is that always the perception of the current observer?

            “…in favor of one of paid expert problem solvers who can milk all on a never-ending merrygoround that they ‘discovered’ in MBA class”

            And herein lay niches of opportunity for competence, on the premise the false experts bring no value and add cost.

            I left corporate engineering almost 20 yrs ago to pursue an entrepreneurial path with nothing more than a thermal fax machine, some practical knowledge and decent analytical skills. One can strike out at any level if you have something to really contribute in your local environment, are persistent and importantly understand the implications of scaleability (ie your initial business model is not necessarily recognizable over the course of time)

            I have many friends who clung on to the delusion of “job security”. I was actually considered very much an eccentric by many for punching out of a perfectly lucrative career in a big company, great benefits, cool travel blah, blah, blah (in fact I was a social pariah w/ many of the wives). In the due course of time, many of these friends ultimately have been “offed”, blind-sided in middle-age w/o contingency plans.

            One of the most important things I ever heard on the subject of employment/career, and I took to heart was from a head-hunter being interviewed on NPR ~ 20+yrs ago.
            It went along the lines of: “…The difference between Full Time Employees and Temp. Employees is that the former just don’t realize they are also the latter…” So true.

    1. Chauncey Gardiner

      Thanks for the artistic image, diptherio. Think I’ll have another cup, albeit not a talented barrista’s macchiato, which is far beyond my own coffee-brewing capabilities with my built-to-fail, drip coffee machine (expected life of 1.5 years).

      Btw, with respect to your 12:15 post, I watched Montana governor Brian Schweitzer in a PBS segment a couple years ago and liked what I saw. Interesting that he chose not to run for the U.S. Senate there.

        1. optimader

          Ultimately it comes down to a taste impression, but IMO a french press is the fully optimized brewing tool. You control brew time and no disposable elements. The one I use every day is at least 15yo and is in the same condition as the day I bought it.

          1. anon y'mouse

            to drip. to press. to moka pot.

            as you say, it is a taste thing. I still pull out my percolator as well.

            but what I NEVER pull out is one of those plastic-made water pump mechanical contraptions that will go into the landfill in less time than it took to coddle the constituent materials together.

            1. Chauncey Gardiner

              Thank you, Anon y’mouse. I’ll give your recommendation ‘a shot’. After all, your link is HQ’d in Coffee Capital, USA. So if they don’t know good coffee, who will?
              Btw, they took my last Chinese coffee maker in the recycling bin. It had the little triangle on it, so hopefully it will be made into another useful product.

              Thank you, too, optimader. A young family member has been pressing me also re French press. Her argument mirrors your own.

            2. optimader

              agreed on the plastic sh*t on several levels, horrified w/ the percolator comment! HAHAHA!

              From a chemical engineering perspective, a percolator is the last thing to do w/a coffee beans :oO

              Here anon, you may be eccentric enough to try this:

              Try roasting your own beans, this happens to be my bean broker of choice, there are others that may be closer to you. I started roasting my own coffee after spending time in Brazil and Hawaii many years ago and discovering what it “should” really taste like.

              1. anon y'mouse

                I am not a coffee geek, nor a coffee snob (is the one sufficient for the other? hrm…). in life, I have tasted many ways of making coffee that produced “good”, and yet all were different. it really depends, as you said, upon taste and how particular one is about what they are drinking. also, certain roasts are better for certain methods, etc.

                percolator coffee can be good, but you either have to watch it carefully or make sure your brewer is electric/automatic, and it goes without saying (but i’ll be pedantic) that it will not taste the same as if you brew the exact same bean with other methods (we have 3/4 coffee “makers” suggested above and try out beans using all of them). if you use a stovetop, you have to keep your eyeball on it and make sure that the coffee is not overbrewed. my partner, once a semi-professional barista, can make it by smell alone. naturally, the French press is easiest, and what I rely upon for most daily business.

                I can’t say a darned thing about the chemical engineering aspect. I go on flavor alone. although there have been people out there who have examined the issue and come to some similar conclusions.


                1. optimader

                  I am no doubt a coffee snob. Beer snob, vinegar snob, food and beverage snob in general.. love the stuff, why compromise when its not neccesary? Gosh, come to think of it, I am a high fidelity snob as well, if I ever have the opportunity I will perform a *.mp3 Global File Erase.

                  As for people’s tastes , they are what they are. That said, with coffee, the delicate high molecular weight pyrolytic oils that compose flavor/odor of roasted coffee are cracked (destroyed) by refluxing in a percolator. “Refluxing” in a percolator also extract acids, many people (me) do what we can to minimize acid extraction when brewing coffee.

                  This is basically what a percolator is doing (at atmospheric pressure) to all those delicate oils in your coffee:

            3. Lambert Strether Post author

              Amen. On a related note, I bought a flashy Braun coffee grinder. It failed in a year. So I went back to using the klunky French coffee grinder my Father bought in France in 1965. There’s a minor crack in the absurdly thick plastic, but otherwise OK. What was I thinking, to purchase a modern appliance? And don’t get me started on washing machines.

              1. F. Beard

                And don’t get me started on washing machines. Lambert Strether

                I’ve got washer/dryer connections at my apt but it’s so much nicer to have the cute laundry lady dry and fold my laundry (I load the washers same as I wipe my own butt).

                Ah, the neatness and order!

      1. diptherio

        I think Sweitzer has his eyes on a national office, maybe a cabinet position. He wants something bigger than the Senate (his first run for office was a failed senate race against Conrad Burns, so he might feel like the Senate would be a downgrade from Governor).

        Unfortunately, he’s a politician, so I wouldn’t get too excited, whatever he ends up doing. Also, he’s got oil industry ties from way back…

        1. Montanamaven

          Schweitzer will run for president as a populist (aka libertarian but with a national healthcare plan.) Yes, coal friendly but also doesn’t like outsourcing. In other words, he’ll mix it up. My dream battle is Schweitzer versus Christie just because it won’t be dull.
          Oh, and he knows the Middle East. Out of college went to Saudi Arabia to put in irrigation systems. Not a great idea for a desert country, but one way for them to spend those petro dollars. Wicked smart, but lets you know it.
          No way he would ever want to sit in the Senate with a bunch of go along to get along satraps. He has to run things.

  13. anon y'mouse

    Superman’s shop floor:

    over and over again you see the pattern.

    1. require the impossible=the schools to complete functions with few/no tools and a constantly diminishing budget and increasing demands and restrictions. also, requiring teachers to be all and do all for the students, and be in two places at once.

    2. make sure that the axe is constantly going to fall=your numbers are falling! your numbers are falling! productivity/test scores/–improvement measures–whatever THAT means. **disapproval and disgust, as well as public embarrassment are NOT optional

    3. be ready with the solution which will be doled out like a drug dealer’s wares=free or looow cost at first, the gradually ratchet up prices and down service. (see how efficient we are? those unions were only justifying highly paid slackers lurching on towards retirement. we can’t afford paper or photocopiers either, just like the public schools! we’ve been asking kids to bring their own toilet tissue, and for teachers to bring their own art supplies…just like the public schools! don’t worry. govt subsidies will pay for it. until you get the bill and it’s $49 bucks over the subsidy and you haven’t even bought those required textbooks or also-required school uniforms yet.))

    why do all of the articles here remind me of the old Warner Bros. cartoons, where the million mice shoot out of every hole and demolish that wheel of cheese while the housewife’s legs dance on the chair screaming?

  14. curlydan

    Geez Louise! The Social Democrats in Germany are as weak as the Democrats here. They’d rather form a “left-right” (?) government with Merkel than form a “left” government with the Greens and Left parties.

    “[The SDP] has ruled out forming a coalition with the Left Party, which there won’t be a three-way alliance of SPD, Greens and Left Party, even though it would have enough seats to govern.”

    Merkel’s great victory appears to come from voters switching to her party (up 7.7% election to election) from the pro-business party (down 9.8% election to election). That’s just libertards switching votes to conservatives…maybe I’m just used to stupid 2 party systems, but I don’t get the big deal.

  15. Hugh

    The German elections have shown that Germany’s political process is as bankrupt as our own. It is akin to the crew and passengers on the Titanic giving a ringing endorsement to the ship’s captain after he crashed it into the iceberg.

  16. Benedict@Large

    “Shades of Jack Ryan. Because no skid left ungreased for Cory!”

    That was exactly my first thought when I saw this link. I remembered Obama’s “Chicago connections”, and not only what they did to Ryan, but also how Obama never seemed to ever have to run against a credible opponent. EVER. Not even once.

    What always bothered me was why? Ryan really didn’t have a realistic chance of beating Obama, so why did they CRUSH him so viciously? Why the effort? What was the payoff? It’s only now that I’ve realized (just like with Cory) they don’t want their glory boy candidates to even get vetted by an open campaign. They want these guys as faceless as putty, and with no past. Two arms and two legs that some Madison Ave agency can spin into the White House unvetted.

  17. optimader

    “Man… remains the biggest threat to the world”

    Beefy, a little specie conceit?

    I’ll go with the Sun remains the biggest threat to the world. (fusion and finite fuel)

    We are again vaporized to Stardust as the Sun’s nuclear fire burns down to an Iron ball (element: Fe).
    Enjoy the rest of your day!

    1. F. Beard

      And let’s not forget gamma ray bursts, asteroid collisions and wandering planets.

      And Beefy, God respects and honors loyalty, I’d bet. You’ll earn no brownie points from Him by criticizing your own species. Rather, you should try to “stand in the gap before God” (look it up) to forestall judgement.

  18. optimader


    “…It’s come down to this: EITHER we are in an extremely well designed CREATED universe OR this universe is just one of an infinite number of universes….”

    Only two possibilities?? How about a finite number of universes?
    Take a moment for “thirteen strikes of the clock”

    “..The kicker is that those other universes may not be detectable even in principle so currently, at least, one requires FAITH to believe in them. Get the irony?..”

    That is why multiverses are referred to as hypothesis. For consistency, do you refer to god as hypothesis? Get the irony?

    “…So it’s 50-50 EXCEPT for the additional evidence the Bible adds of unprecedented miracles and fulfilled prophecy….”
    Wrong out of the box on this , again a case of “thirteen strikes of the clock”??

    “…So it appears you guys are betting against the odds. Mightn’t God ask you why you PREFERRED not to believe in Him?…”

    Mightn’t this be great amusement for god, Why assume such an omnipotent entity is so vain about the triviality of some individual “believing” he exists or not? Lesser so, those having no opinion of his existence due to a lack of information?

  19. Walter Map

    NO, Walter. I simple read Scripture and take it at its Word, which is what we are supposed to do.

    No, Beardo, you pick and choose what you want and make your god accordingly. You go the gamut in your posts: evil gods, almighty gods, infinite gods, finite gods, omniscient gods, aloof gods and gods that hold your hand when you pee. He knows when you’ve been sleeping, and he knows when you’re awake. It’s all in inventory. You’ve spent a career changing around the design specs and you’re still touching up the details.

    Now, if you were smart, not saying that you’re not, you’d introduce your best line of designer gods at the upcoming holiday fashion show in Milan and go into business. Or you could save yourself the trouble and just license the franchise to Ralph Lauren.

    Now, a proper monk would just drop the whole thing and flagellate himself until 2018 for atonement. You do believe in atonement, don’t you, Mr. Beard?

  20. Trisectangle

    Interesting article about authorship issues around an article claiming that Saudi Arabia provided the Syrian rebels with chemical weapons and the recent massacre was due to them mishandling it:

    The AP reporter who was put on the byline when the article was originally published on Mint Press alongside a relative unknown is trying to get her byline removed.

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