Weekend Open Thread

Lots of information out there saying Hillary has it in the bag, lots of information out there saying that things might not be as they seem. Not least of which is the GOP’s still-solid shot at retaining the Senate; with 24 seats to defend in a Presidential election year, that shouldn’t really be in the realm of possibility. Given that Trump has not caused a complete down-ballot melt-down, I’m suspecting that a lot of rock-solid predictions are mere wish-casting. It could well be a Hillary landslide, but it could also be a Trump landslide. At this point in 1980 there was no solid indication of a Reagan landslide. I think we’re going to have to vote and then just see what happens. But I am planning at least some CNN/MSNBC watching for election night…

It ain’t crazy talk to discuss Trump’s chances of winning.

I said years ago that the Age of Science is ended – we are entering a new Dark Age. The Progressives who read that article didn’t understand it in the least…but that is mostly because Progressives abandoned Reason many years ago. We religious people with our weird beliefs have retained Reason, however. Long article here on how “science” is getting it flat wrong – but that is because it isn’t really science. The scientific method traces itself back to monks in the Middle Ages who, believing in Catholic theology, understood the world to be the deliberate creation of a rational Being, and thus it could be understood by observation and experiment. If you ever wondered why it was Europeans who first developed practical applications for a steam engine (a concept well known to people for a very long time), then look no further than this – Reason being applied to the natural world. But, take away the Reason – start to believe that there is no absolute truth, that is – and you cut the cord which allows you to understand the natural world. And, so, absurdities like assertions that eggs – which human beings have eaten since the dawn of humanity – are bad for you. Lot of other nonsense like that, too.

Everyone realizes that we’re currently engaged in five wars, right? And not really winning any of them. I doubt that 1 in 10 Americans could identify them – and this is precisely because the MSM, in service of Hillary and the Democrats, has decided not to talk about them…because talking about them cuts against Hillary and the Democrats. There never has been unbiased media – but used to be, we had media for all sides of the political spectrum. It was the professionalization of media which killed media variety – once colleges started to churn out people with degrees in journalism, the game was up…because the media would naturally just become what the journalism professors wanted it to be…and, as it turns out, almost all of them were Progressive. This does need to be brought to an end – but it will take billions of dollars and the creation of entirely new, parallel media.

Dilbert creator Scott Adams endorses Trump – mostly because he’s nauseated with Team Clinton. If you don’t mind a Catholic homily, here is what is decisive in my 2016 vote. You might not be Catholic – but give it a listen.

A bunch of redneck, kook ranchers defied the Federal Government, got arrested and taken to trial…and the jury acquitted them all.

Arizona gets a 116% Obamacare premium increase…but, yeah, Trump’s vulgar so let’s give it all to Hillary.

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26 thoughts on “Weekend Open Thread

  1. Cluster October 28, 2016 / 11:09 am

    Quite the give and take yesterday with Travesty & Satakar, sorry I missed it. One thing I have found to be very ironic in this election cycle is how these “progressives” have simply become defenders of the State. A failed State at that. But that movement has now officially morphed from those who use to challenge the status quo, into those who now simply defend it and have become the failed status quo themselves. Quite the “fundamental transformation”.

    I think the cumulative effect of Hillary’s emails detailing the corruption is beginning to have an impact. And I think the worse is yet to come.

    Yesterday Hillary spoke about the disastrous ACA and promised to fix it. What in the world would lead anyone to believe that she is even remotely capable of that?? Does Hillary have experience in the insurance industry?? How about the health care industry?? Has Hillary ever managed a private sector business?? Has she ever balanced a budget?? Please someone tell me why she has any credibility when she speaks of “fixing the ACA”.

    I heard one of our superstar TV political pundits the other day opine on what a great POTUS candidate Michelle Obama would make. OK, in God’s name what in the world would lead anyone to believe that?? What “experience” does Michelle bring to the table?? We can not let the Presidency be turned into a TMZ/American Idol popularity contest.

    Speaking of “superstar political pundits”, I think this is a huge problem. Our 24 hour news cycle and celebrity culture has turned “reporters” into celebrities with over inflated egos who think they control the narratives, and often do. Rush will often play a montage of “political pundits” who are most definitely reading from the same script, using the same rhetoric to describe daily events and of whom are all so proud of themselves. What happened to independent, objective reporting? In the third debate when Trump questioned the validity of the election, the next day I heard one pundit say that that ” was what everyone was talking about”, and I thought to myself – no it wasn’t. It is what everyone in the media was talking about, but out here in the real world, I heard people talking about the litmus test Hillary had for the Supreme Court.

  2. Retired Spook October 28, 2016 / 2:35 pm

    This is why early voting is a bad idea.

  3. rustybrown2014 October 28, 2016 / 3:19 pm

    Mark,

    I disagree with your take on science. I think we’ve batted this around a while ago and I must confess at the outset to have just skimmed your article. My take is whatever follies of science that may have occurred over the years, which seems to be a major theme if not the thesis of your article, should not be met with a rejection of science and a turning to religion but with a concerted effort to renew the rigors of the scientific method and educate the public on how to interpret results.

    Consider this: since the scientific method is a self-correcting process and it’s findings are in a perpetual state of revision, how could you expect to not have the past littered with abandoned errors? To be able to point out how many times scientists have been wrong in the past is exactly what you would expect with a system that is constantly gaining knowledge and improving upon itself.

    A big part of the problem is the way the press sensationalizes and distorts scientific studies. I think that many of the examples from the article of what has proven to be “bad science” were never widely accepted as “settled science” at the time–they were just compelling scientific arguments. So, as a hypothetical, Newsweek and Time run cover stories on say, the hazards of eggs and that becomes the national meme and everyone is under the impression that the scientific community is lock step on the issue. But that was never actually the case. In reality the “egg results” were just based on a scientific study or two that the media ran with to sell magazines. Meanwhile, there were plenty of dissenters and they went about studying the issue further and producing contrary results, etc. etc.

    And that’s where public education comes in. If people better understood the process of the scientific method they would be less likely to leap to conclusions. People must understand that a study is just a study, that not all studies are created equal, and that all results are provisional.

    Finally, the track record of tangible results for science remains very good. You would need months to compile a list of scientific accomplishments just from the last decade. Religion is an entirely different ball of wax. What advancements has religion given to the world in the last couple centuries? Reason rests with the scientists, not the theologians.

    • Retired Spook October 28, 2016 / 3:37 pm

      Reason rests with the scientists, not the theologians.

      I don’t disagree with your premise, but much of the current problem lies with the corruption of reason by politics, especially in areas like climate change.

      • rustybrown2014 October 28, 2016 / 4:16 pm

        Well, no doubt the issue of climate change is highly politicized but I’ve always seen the global warming issue separated into two parts: Is global warming (or more specifically anthropogenic gm) real and if so, what do we do about it. My answer to the first is yes, my answer to the second is that’s something we need to talk about.

        So yeah, I basically agree with you that reason can be easily corrupted by politics. I’m afraid it will take better men and women than our current crop to make things better.

      • Bob Eisenhower October 28, 2016 / 7:19 pm

        Rusty

        How on Earth can you believe the hoax of AGW?

      • rustybrown2014 October 28, 2016 / 7:23 pm

        You haven’t noticed a recorded warming trend?

      • Amazona October 28, 2016 / 7:58 pm

        I have been listening to an audio book on a subject totally unrelated to AGW or anything to do with the climate, but it does touch on bad scientific analysis in another field. One comment stood out—In the American justice system, one is innocent until proven guilty, but in science a theory is considered incorrect until it is proved correct.

        As Spook has often queried, what is the ideal or even just “normal” temperature? On a planet where the temperature has fluctuated so wildly, from ice age to warm to Little Ice Age to near tropical in the same part of the world, over a very short time span in geological terms, how can we look at the scale of fluctuations and point at any point on that scale and say “That’s it. That is what it is supposed to be.”

        Speaking for myself, I have several questions about the supposition that any rise in planetary temperatures is man-made.

        When I see lies, which compose a lot of the published theory on AGW, I tend to doubt the conclusion—-because if the conclusion is accurate, why fudge the data? The entire “scientific” approach to AGW has been to start with a conclusion and then look for ways to support it, which is simply not accepted scientific procedure.

        When the AGW people refuse to acknowledge the many benefits of a slight rise in planetary temperature, it makes me question their honesty, agenda and honor. Longer life spans, more food, less need to burn fossil fuels to stay warm, ease of living—these are all ignored.

        When we have no idea of what the temperatures of the planet “should” be, there is no way to tell if any direction those temperatures are moving is the right direction or the wrong one. What if the rise in planetary temperatures is just a correction and we still need to go up another degree or two to get where we “should” be? Who gets to determine what is “normal” and upon what information and data would that conclusion be based?

        It was just a few years ago that a group of Japanese scientists was warning us about an impeding Ice Age, as the Earth moves away from the sun. There was a consensus of scientific thought that supported this concern, based on historical data relating Earth temperatures to the position of the Earth relative to the sun.

        There was a brief warming trend, and then it seemed to level off. It was minor, and has not continued or increased. Acknowledging this trend does not mean believing that it was bad, that it was moving the Earth out of a normal temperature range, or that it was anything more than the natural fluctuations in temperature we have seen for ourselves and been able to document through historical writings, fossils and so on.

        If you are not invested in the concept of AGW and can stand back a look at it objectively, the first thing you see is the politicization of the subject, and the second thing you see is that many of those who promote it stand to make vast fortunes if it is accepted and we try to act on it. The third is the demonization of those who do not agree, now reaching a stage where the government is trying to criminalize failure to agree. That is a chilling commentary on the politicization of the subject and lengths to which its advocates will go, and the fact that they can use the government to try to force unanimity of thought. When you study the history of Leftist regimes, one of the most alarming aspects is the imposition of penalties for “thinking the wrong thing”.

      • rustybrown2014 October 28, 2016 / 10:13 pm

        Ama,

        I think you’re concerned with an irrelevant question here. Nobody’s talking about an “ideal” temp or what earth’s temp “should be”. The issue is a significant rise in temperature that coincides with the industrial revolution and the future projections.

        I disagree with you that there was a scientific consensus of an impending ice age a few years ago; that misconception is a perfect example of what I was talking about in my last post–people jumping to conclusions over one or two studies.

        The warming trend has not leveled off as you say. I really haven’t look at this issue much lately, but my understanding is there was a slowing in the warming projections for a time but warming nevertheless continues all the same, as evidenced by record-breaking recorded temps month after month, year after year. These are recorded by multiple international scientific bodies with divergent funding and interests; do you think they’re all a part of some grand conspiracy? If so, why? And what is your evidence?

        As I told Spook, I recognize that this issue can be politicized and certain people might gain from certain schemes to address it but that doesn’t negate the hard data we have. That’s why I say this is two separate issues: one of fact and one of what people want to do about those facts.

        I totally agree with you about the demonizing of dissenters though. Really scary stuff there. I’ve heard about it mostly in Canada, where they can’t seem to resist swerving toward legislating speech. They actually had legislation where scientists had to present their findings to government bureaucrats for approval before publishing. The bureaucrats could then decide whether said findings were suitable for the public. Talk about politicization! I think that process has now recently been overturned, but holy cow.

        Writing this while watching the game. Tight one at the friendly confines. Go Cubs!

      • Amazona October 28, 2016 / 11:45 pm

        We’ve got Attorneys General in some states threatening criminal action against “deniers”.

        I agree that the recent rise in temperatures has coincided with industrial activity, but that doesn’t change the fact that we have also seen steep and rapid rises in temperatures in periods long before industry could have been blamed.

        Now there is concern about a rapid and potentially disastrous cooling period, which shows a cyclical aspect to warming and cooling, not just AGW.

        A new model that predicts the solar cycles more accurately than ever before has suggested that solar magnetic activity will drop by 60 percent between 2030 and 2040, which means in just 15 years’ time, Earth could sink into what researchers are calling a mini ice age.

        Such low solar activity has not been seen since the last mini ice age, called the Maunder Minimum, which plunged the northern hemisphere in particular into a series of bitterly cold winters between 1645 and 1715.

        The prediction is based on what’s known as the Sun’s ’11-year heartbeat’. The Sun’s magnetic activity is not the same year in year out, it fluctuates over a cycle that lasts between 10 and 12 years. Ever since this was discovered 172 years ago, scientists have struggled to predict what each cycle will look like.

        http://www.sciencealert.com/a-mini-ice-age-is-coming-in-the-next-15-years

        Astronomers from India, China and Japan have found evidence from sunspots showing that Earth may be heading into a “little ice age.”

        A recent, lower than average, sunspot count by the Physical Research Laboratory in India indicates Earth could enter a period of low solar activity by 2020, according to a report published Wednesday in The Times of India. Sunspot activity is currently approaching a 200 year low.

        There has been a drastic decline in the number of sunspots and a corresponding decrease in solar wind microturbulence during the Sun’s last two 11-year solar cycles, according to research published online last August.

        The scientists openly worry about a repeat of the period between 1645 and 1715 AD when the sun was almost completely spotless, which coincided with most of Earth witnessing extremely harsh winters. The scientists believe that the sun has been growing less active and that sunspots have become rarer over the last two decades.

        http://dailycaller.com/2016/04/06/astronomers-say-new-little-ice-age-could-trump-global-warming/

        At this meeting Profs. H. Flohn of Germany, H.H. Lamb of the United Kingdom and Reid Bryson of the United States developed a highly persuasive demonstration that there has been a steady cooling of northern hemisphere temperatures during the last 30 years, with the strongest cooling at the higher latitudes. The average cooling has been only about 0.3°C, but this appears to be sufficient to cut about one week from the mid-latitude growing season, a highly significant matter agriculturally. Even more important, however, such a cooling appears, these climatologists believe, to be accompanied by a more variable climate, with agriculturally adverse droughts, abnormally cold spells, heat waves, and other extremes becoming more common. The workshop, sponsored by the newly created International Federation of Institutes for Advanced Study (IFIAS), was primarily focussed on the social, economic, political and ethical consequences of the climate changes. The participants, from 11 countries, included climatologists, agricultural economists, geographers, lawyers, oceanographers, political scientists, as well as representatives from the World Council of Churches and the League of Red Cross Societies. Their unanimously adopted conclusions are sobering. They expect anomalies like 1972 to recur, and consider the world ill-equipped to deal with them.

        (Sorry, but I forgot to copy the date of this meeting, though it was clearly after 1972, and by 1972 there was not only a lot of industry, it was dirty industry, before things like the EPA. However, no matter when it was held, it shows a serious concern by serious scientists about global cooling.)

        https://www.iaea.org/sites/default/files/16505796265.pd

    • M. Noonan October 28, 2016 / 10:56 pm

      Reason needs a theology – you can’t get on very well without dogmas.

      If you don’t have a dogma that the world was created by a rational Being, then what you’ve got is an irrational world – a world incapable of being understood by observation and experiment. A world where the truth is contingent upon desires…a world, point blank, where people are asserting that the differences between men and women are mere social constructs.

      God is Reason – when we reason things out, we are in a sense “borrowing” it from God…take away God, and you’ll really get nowhere…off into cobweb spinning arguments and/or ideologies which hold that matter is evil, or that matter doesn’t really exist. Hold fast to God…and then go out and observe and experiment; you’ll get it right.

      • rustybrown2014 October 29, 2016 / 2:14 am

        I’m sorry Mark, you’ve completely lost me. What you’re saying here is complete jabberwoky to me, and I don’t understand how it couldn’t be to anyone outside of your faith. I’m afraid I see your words there as mere tautologies and justified reasoning. Anytime you can switch around nouns and have your sentence make just as much sense you’re on shaky ground.

        From the start you say:

        “Reason needs a theology – you can’t get on very well without dogmas

        This makes zero sense at face value. You attempt to explain it with:

        “If you don’t have a dogma that the world was created by a rational Being, then what you’ve got is an irrational world”

        But that’s wrong. What’s correct is: If you don’t have a dogma that the world was created by a rational Being, then what you’ve got is a WORLD, not necessarily an irrational world. No need to make any further assumptions Mark.

        For the rest of it, completely meaningless after such a shaky foundation.

      • M. Noonan October 29, 2016 / 11:05 pm

        Let me try again, then.

        There are two main schools of thought on this:

        1. The world – the universe – is the result of a series of blind, accidental events which by infinite action eventually produced a rational being.

        2 The world – the universe – is the result of a specific plan by an uncreated Being who is outside the universe.

        If the universe is the result of random chance then the fact that you can think is merely the result of random chance – this ultimately means that you had absolutely no choice in what you think, it all being the mere reaction to previous events. You were, in a sense, programmed to believe as you do by the total series of events which happened prior to the thought arising in your heard. The trouble with this is that this means your view of the world is not the result of rational thought, but of blind chance. And, in fact, if the world is that, then there is no rationality…no ability for a person to act; all you can do is do the next effect which as invariably dictated by the previous causes. You can’t think because you have nothing to think about and no ability to determine if you are actually thinking. Believing in God means that you have that connection to absolute Being – and absolute Reason. Tapping into that Reason you, yourself, can then think entirely independent thoughts and come to conclusions which you can then test against observation and experiment. You can arrive at truth – and with those truths you can construct entirely new thoughts which hadn’t occurred before.

        Fundamentally, if you don’t believe in God then you destroy any ability to think of there not being a God – you can’t think; you can only react to what went before.

      • rustybrown2014 October 30, 2016 / 3:52 pm

        Let me clarify my position based on what you wrote: I agree with the first school of thought you mention: the world – the universe – is the result of a series of blind, accidental events which by infinite action eventually produced a rational being.

        I don’t believe in free will in the common understanding of the term. Everything about us is of the natural world and constrained by the laws of physics, even our consciousness, although the nature of consciousness remains mysterious (for the record, I believe that consciousness is what they call an “emergent property”, it just arises as a result of neural complexity). Therefore, every choice we make is instructed by an infinite ocean of prior causes from genes to environment.

        As an example, take any choice you have, even an insignificant one like choosing your lunch. After that choice has been made if you were to rewind the tape and have the choice before you again with everything in the universe being 100% the same you would make the same choice every time. So even though you’re picking the tuna fish seemed like a free choice, in actuality you could not have picked anything else. I realize that this is anathema to you as your faith is largely dependent on the concept of free will, so I doubt we’ll reach an agreement on this!

        So, for a couple of your arguments specifically:

        (with my deterministic understanding of the mind) ”You can’t think because you have nothing to think about and no ability to determine if you are actually thinking”

        This is covered under the emergent property conception of consciousness, although, as I’ve said, at this point consciousness is ultimately mysterious. Neither you nor I can claim certainty about it.

        “Believing in God means that you have that connection to absolute Being – and absolute Reason”

        For this and the rest of what you say you’re simply appealing to an inscrutable, unproven (and in my opinion highly unlikely) entity. You are straying outside of the valley of fact and into the valley of speculation–that’s why what you’re doing is called “faith” rather than “reason”. Believing in God means nothing more than believing in God–no connections are evident, no reason is being gained. Btw, this is not to say that believing in God is a bad thing.

        If believing in God is necessary for reason and thinking to occur, how can we possibly have had so many great atheistic thinkers throughout our history? By your argument, wouldn’t they have been cut off from the crucial God link?

        Good conversation.

      • M. Noonan October 31, 2016 / 12:40 am

        Everyone concedes that God is “unproven” in the sense that we can’t do an experiment and prove such existence – but, for me, the bottom line is either an illogical infinite regression of causes, or a First Cause. To me, there’s no other way to explain existence – and it easily follows for me that, if thus, then this Creator could well make something like Himself – ie, a being with free will.

      • Amazona October 30, 2016 / 9:28 pm

        But what it comes down to is that people of faith simply cannot understand how anyone can not realize the existence of God, and people who don’t believe in God simply cannot understand how or why anyone does.

        People of faith usually consider faith a gift from God, and from this position it is foolish to try to convince someone else of the rightness of their position because the unbeliever simply has not received this gift. People of faith also believe that God guides us all, including those who do not believe.

        I do note that many atheists, firm in their non-belief, have come to a belief in God on their own, including scientists.

      • M. Noonan October 31, 2016 / 12:42 am

        The one thing I don’t actually believe in is Atheism – to have to walk around always denying something seems exhausting; and as C S Lewis pointed out, an Atheist can’t be too careful in what he or she reads.

      • rustybrown2014 October 31, 2016 / 1:54 am

        Well Mark, the question I was asking was not rhetorical but of good faith. Following from your arguments, do you have an answer to this:

        If believing in God is necessary for reason and thinking to occur, how can we possibly have had so many great atheistic thinkers throughout our history? By your argument, wouldn’t they have been cut off from the crucial God link?

      • rustybrown2014 October 31, 2016 / 2:22 am

        “The one thing I don’t actually believe in is Atheism – to have to walk around always denying something seems exhausting; and as C S Lewis pointed out, an Atheist can’t be too careful in what he or she reads.”

        You don’t really think this, do you? Personally, as a philosophically inclined atheist prone to debate I’ll admit to denying religion as a form of intellectual rigor but in everyday practice an atheist has nothing to deny at all. It’s the Catholic who must deny the nearly endless list of Gods that contradict the faith, from antiquity to the present day. That must be be truly exhausting.

        An atheist simply has to accept his or her own existence. Every child is born an atheist.

    • Retired Spook October 29, 2016 / 8:03 am

      Well, no doubt the issue of climate change is highly politicized but I’ve always seen the global warming issue separated into two parts: Is global warming (or more specifically anthropogenic gm) real and if so, what do we do about it.

      That is pretty much the way I look at it as well except that I would change the last part to “CAN we do anything about it”, and I believe it’s the greatest hoax to ever be foisted on mankind. Other than that we’re on the same page. It is nice, though, to have a discussion with someone who believes differently without resorting to name calling or suggesting that I be prosecuted for my beliefs.

      • Amazona October 29, 2016 / 9:54 am

        I might add, to your “CAN we do anything about it?” the question “SHOULD we do anything about it?” Certainly a steep and increasing rise in world temperatures could be a crisis, but what we have seen so far has not been. And as I pointed out, a slight rise means a longer growing season, less pollution due to fuels being burned to keep warm, and myriad other benefits.

  4. Retired Spook October 28, 2016 / 3:28 pm

    How deliciously ironic!

    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/29/us/politics/fbi-hillary-clinton-email.html?_r=0

    WASHINGTON — Federal law enforcement officials said Friday that the new emails uncovered in the closed investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server were discovered after the F.B.I. seized electronic devices belonging to Huma Abedin, a top aide to Mrs. Clinton, and her husband, Anthony Weiner.

    The F.B.I. is investigating illicit text messages that Mr. Weiner sent to a 15-year-old girl in North Carolina. The bureau told Congress on Friday that it had uncovered new emails related to the Clinton case — one federal official said they numbered in the thousands — potentially reigniting an issue that has weighed on the presidential campaign and offering a lifeline to Donald J. Trump less than two weeks before the election.

  5. Retired Spook October 29, 2016 / 8:42 am

    This appeared in my inbox yesterday. It’s an analysis of modern Liberalism, a little deep at times, but two paragraphs stood out to me:

    An assessment of modern liberalism should begin with some definitions. What, exactly, do we mean when we speak of liberalism? The fact that liberalism’s modern proponents are not able to answer this question in a consistent manner reinforces a critique of their philosophical problems. If liberty is the animating theme, then what are we to make of individual expressions of autonomy that impinge upon the liberty of others? If rights are the key, where do they come from, which are to be included in the canon, and how do we mediate conflicts among them? If equality, by what benchmark should it be measured, and how should inequality be remedied? And if dignity, what is the measure of humanity by which dignity is assessed?

    That self-professed liberals offer conflicting and unsatisfying answers to these questions is not surprising. That liberalism persists as a predominant ideology in spite of these problems suggests other insights into its true nature. According to Dr. Safranek, “Liberalism is not a coherent philosophy but a collection of causes advanced under the rubric of personal liberty by powerful social and political interests.” As myth, liberalism is designed to conceal and mislead, not to reveal and illuminate its true end, which is undermining the traditional ethos of the Western world.

    • Amazona October 29, 2016 / 9:50 am

      “Liberalism is not a coherent philosophy but a collection of causes advanced under the rubric of personal liberty by powerful social and political interests.” As myth, liberalism is designed to conceal and mislead, not to reveal and illuminate its true end, which is undermining the traditional ethos of the Western world.

      My only quibble with this is that it uses the lower-case letter to begin the word, which I think is much more accurately written as Liberalism. As a political system antithetical to the traditional meaning of the word “liberal” and as a hijacking of the word “liberal” when used in its original classical liberal sense, I think that it has to be identified as what it is. It is Liberalism, and well described by Dr. Safranek.

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