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MightyPen last won the day on January 13 2016

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  1. Yeah, the Brexit vote was known to be very close in the weeks leading up to the referendum, with the "Leave" vote trending upward. Then a Leave advocate murdered a young Stay politician in the street. Immediately the polling showed the Leave side way down. Polls showed it staying low right up until the referendum day, and bookies put the Stay side way ahead. It's in that context that Farage predicted the Leave side would lose. But when the votes were counted, the Leave side had won anyway; it seems like after the murder, people just stopped *saying* they were voting Leave so they wouldn't be associated with it. But their vote didn't change; just their willingness to declare it.
  2. I actually agree with this. (Though I carefully excised the diversity part and stopped short before the economic bits, on which we part ways.) The Brexit vote is a disaster for Britain whose pain is just beginning, but it's the result of honest British citizens voting their frustration at social and economic change that has been handled badly by the same government that brought it about. People have suffered economic hardship from EU decisions (though less overall than they would have without the EU), and Britain is losing strategic industries and expertise that are sometimes worth preserving in the national interest even if they require subsidy, or simply higher prices. I think the lesson to be drawn from the Brexit vote is that we must more actively support those who are hurt by globalism's economic impacts, and better address the fears of citizens who recoil at neighbours who don't look like they do. These aren't petty concerns; they're real issues that, if left to fester, will result in people lashing out with calamitous political decisions. The electorate will cut off its nose to spite its face; precisely the kind of acting-out that could get Trump elected.
  3. Yup. I don't think Trump himself is hateful; he's just the opportunist he's always been, and he's riding a useful wave of hate. He's an advocate of naked prejudice ("All Muslims keep out!"), an advocate of war crimes ("We've got to go after their families!", and his waterboarding thumb-up), and now he has solicited domestic espionage from a foreign power to topple his political opponent ("But I was just being sarcastic!"). Trump's rise represents the desperate, primal scream of the terrified white conservatives who cannot believe or accept that their traditional monopoly on social postures has eroded. You're far from the only one to see the similarities with 1930s Germany. The fellow conservatives who supported Hitler's rise to legitimate political power thought he, too, would be "not so bad" and that they could control him once he was in charge. But it turned out he actually meant what he'd said. No reason it can't happen again, if people let it.
  4. Trump has hit a vein, but it's a vein consisting almost exclusively of bitter, resentful, and frightened white people who think they owned the country once and badly want it back. Thankfully they're just a minority, and one that's shrinking all the time. Trump is thin-skinned, egomaniacal, petulant child and an incompetent, serial bankrupt. And if he gets the presidency he'd run the country just like he's run his businesses: he'd surround himself with toadies and sycophants, try to bully his way through problems, and lash out obsessively at anyone who offends him. For now, he just uses Twitter; if he wins, just wait 'til January. There is no greater calamity that could befall the U.S. than to put a sociopathic, egomaniacal demagogue like Trump in charge. It's already a black spot on the nation that they've let him come this close.
  5. If I could vote in the upcoming American election then yes, I would absolutely vote for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. Both of the candidates have troubling personalities and backgrounds. But it seems to me that Hilary's issues fall within the usual set of generic politician's liabilities (phony, plastic, hypocritical, dishonest). Trump, on the other hand, is infused with a whole new level of crazy and doesn't belong anywhere near real power. Someone I know described Trump as "that politician that Martin Sheen played in the Dead Zone", and I think that summed it up pretty well. No matter how intense one's distaste might be for Hillary Clinton, it's hard for me to imagine that the glee from seeing her denied the presidency could possibly warrant enabling the disaster Trump would represent for the American nation and for the world.
  6. Despite his public posturing, I think that Ted Cruz has only ever acknowledged one god in his entire life, and that god is Ted Cruz. And to the same degree that he loves himself, he loathes all other human beings. I think he'd do far, far more harm in office than Donald Trump ever could. Donald Trump strikes me as smarter than his current public persona, but not as much smarter as he thinks. His success comes from waving the angry flag of all those who bitterly resent that they once held the cultural center stage, but now find themselves marginalized by new demographics and the erosion of the unearned privilege they took for granted. But the support of a bitter and resentful minority isn't enough to win a general election. Hillary Clinton is too scheming and calculating a candidate for me to get excited about, but she's the best of a bad lot, by a long stretch. Sanders would have been interesting (though I had some reservations), but I think that ship has now sailed. All in all, I'm glad I'm Canadian.
  7. Thing is though, I don't think it's been a case of people growing disenchanted with CERB; it's the environment that changed. Apple pies are delicious. But if apples were declared illegal and proclaimed to be the diet of "perverts", you'd probably see a lot fewer people eating apple pies or hanging out on apple pie forums. And those who were still there might adopt guarded language that badly hampered meaningful and spontaneous conversation: - "Hello! I enjoy baked goods that include the flesh of certain types of fruit." - "Hello back! I too sometimes partake of oven-exposed pastries inclusive of fruit-based fillings." Changes to the laws forced limits on free expression, and together those two things changed the nature of the community. But it hasn't died; maybe it's just sleeping. Let's see what happens when the law changes again.
  8. I remember as a little kid, the events of 1930s Germany seemed inconceivable. "How could the do that? How could they elect someone like that?" There must have been something dark and brutal buried in the nature of Germans that the rest of us didn't have. That was me in the 1970s. I don't want to jump all the way over to "Trump is Hitler!" because truly, there are too many enormous and critical differences between the men to even get into here. But it's true that Trump's brand of pandering demagoguery has appealed to, and brought out into the open, a huge and frightening crowd of people who have rallied to his banner. A crowd that really has begun to resemble the mobs from that former time. I can now say that, in the course of my roughly 50 years, I have seen the rise of a familiar brand of hysterical, xenophobic, bitterly resentful and nationalistic politics, and the emergence of an American society that maybe *could* elect a Hitlereque leader. 2016 U.S. has hardly gone all the way over to become 1930s Germany. But with a few more nudges nudges to better replicate the social conditions of those times -- uncontrollable inflation? A war or major social struggle bitterly lost to a "stab in the back"? -- I think it's entirely capable of getting there. So before I die (hopefully a long time from now), I get to see demonstrated before my eyes something I was assured by political science and sociology textbooks decades ago -- there was nothing unique about Germany. With the right social context, that kind of political tragedy really can happen again, somewhere else.
  9. Donald Trump appeals to a large swathe of conservative white Americans who feel angry and marginalized due to social, political, and global changes that have eroded their once-unassailable privilege. His appeal is purely emotional, build entirely on resentment. It's funny because the Republicans have stoked those flames for 30 years, convinced they would harvest all the votes it brought to the polls. But they've been outflanked by an egotistical showman who pursued the same cause, but abandoned any restraint. Still, it could be worse. Trump (Drumpf?) is loud and obnoxious, but I think he's less stupid (but no less egotistical) than he appears and we might glimpse a new variant after the primaries are over. Ted Cruz, on the other hand, is more like Damien running for President.
  10. It's really cool! Gravity waves are teeny tiny pulses in space/time. Think of the fabric of the universe itself expanding and shrinking ever so slightly, in a pulsing rhythm, as energy surges past from some incredibly powerful distant event. That's a gravitational wave. The idea isn't new, and that kind of erodes the astonishment; there's a temptation to say "yeah, whatever, didn't we know there were gravitational waves already?". But though we were pretty sure, now we really do know for certain, with real experimental evidence. Unfortunately no, this doesn't really help with travel through time or space. But it gives us a new way to measure the universe, like opening your eyes for the first time and discovering the sense of sight. (Headlines prefer to call it "hearing" for the first time... since it touches on "vibrations" in a medium, I guess I can see why.) And with a new source of information, we're bound to learn new things. That's why this new capability that our species just gained holds continuing promise for the future, beyond this one detection. I'm super happy that I've lived to see several rovers cruise around on the surface of Mars, our species' first good look at Pluto, and now gravitational waves. And a probe landed on Titan, and things orbiting asteroids... It's a pretty cool time to be alive.
  11. I watched "The Sessions" quite a while ago and really liked it. I think that the script portrays its client/provider interaction as a clinical one on purpose, to make it more palatable to mainstream audiences. Helen Hunt's character, when asked "what makes you different from a prostitute," says (I think twice) "a prostitute wants to see you more; I only ever see you six times." I think that's a pretty weak distinction, but the script has everyone satisfied by it. The most generous interpretation I can come up with for what the writer intended by this is "a prostitute is in this for her own profit; the sex surrogate is in this for your health." But the sex surrogate still charges for her six sessions, which weakens even this distinction. The movie also seems to insist that sexual encounters create an unavoidable intimacy that is unhealthy for both parties because of the boundaries built into the relationship. John Hawkes' character falls in love despite the agreement up front, and it causes issues. Helen Hunt's character has feelings for her client that cause her to struggle too (there's some sobbing and distress on her part as they part the last time, and as I recall later when she's at home alone). While it's true that there's a balance to maintain in such encounters, in my experience two adults who know the terms up front are perfectly capable of enjoy the benefits of this relationship, and avoiding the pitfalls. But hey... a provider and client just getting along well wouldn't really be good fodder for a dramatic film. In the end: I give the movie a good score for trying to show that intimacy can occur outside of the tired and familiar situations we're trained to expect from stories we're told, read, and watch in popular culture. It shows two people sharing and enjoying intimacy as a series of encounters with built-in personal boundaries. It acknowledges that sexual intimacy doesn't have to be "magical", some undefined elixir only found in the depths of True Love. It can also be something that can be sampled, learned about, and enjoyed. The movie trips, though, whenever it can't escape conventional sexual scripts as I described above (sticking with a palatable "sex surrogate" vs. pop culture's unease with plain old prostitution; and showing intimacy with boundaries as harmful as well as joyful). But that's the kind of compromise you need to make when you're trying to entice a mainstream audience into the theatre seats. EDIT: Huh. The censor turned every instance of the P-word into "escort". As a result, there's some grammar weirdness in my post.
  12. Good list. But I also have to say I found that text very difficult to read on that background. I had to highlight it to be able to read it at all.
  13. It can't be a surprise, though, that when a guy posts a sign at his business that says in essence "all women are idiots," people take offense. Happily the market is speaking, and a female owner of a Toronto garage has put up a better sign: "My Canada includes respect for women." Let's see how things shake out now. It's a great counterstroke; and I suspect the public's attention helped prompt it, showing that the social media response to a public insult can actually achieve a constructive end. I don't know why the original guy thought it was a smart move to put up a sign calling women idiots. And though he said he put it up because he thought it was funny... maybe he should think very carefully about why he thought that. EDIT: Damn! I misread the article the first time and thought it was a nearby competitor. Oh, well.
  14. Please stop that. It doesn't help. No. Just religion. Let people choose how they want to make sense of the world. If they go on to harm someone, then punish the offenders for that harm. As many people have been saying here, people who do harm were pretty much predisposed to do harm anyway, and the reasons they proclaim are just handy excuses. Lots of twisted people have done really terrible things in the supposed name of perfectly good ideas. I think this betrays a misunderstanding of how people work, and what purpose religion serves for the vast majority of people in the modern world. People are social creatures, and for most people our primary day to day preoccupations are social and emotional -- NOT intellectual. We want to love, be loved, and live in a world that makes emotional sense and assures us of purpose and belonging. For a lot of people, this is the need that religion meets. Most people aren't concerned with religion for its dogma, but for the community and shared sense of meaning that it provides. Science isn't intended to meet social or emotional needs; it's an intellectual pursuit that's only concerned with identifying the (comprehensible) mechanisms of the external world. And for that purpose, it's the most effective tool that the species has ever come up with. But if you approach human experience and understanding from an exclusively intellectual and scientific viewpoint, you will miss an enormous range of experience that's derived from being not just a mind, but a whole organism, and just one member of the whole, often irrational human community. Most people take bits and pieces from many different viewpoints to serve their various needs. They end up with something that isn't always logically consistent; but it lets them the live fulfilling, fully engaged lives that were their goal in the first place. But some people -- let's call them fanatics -- wall themselves off from such lives and cling to just one viewpoint. Sometimes it's religious and emotional; sometimes scientific and intellectual. We should feel badly for both cases.
  15. That Trump is still being talked about seriously, let alone that he's in the lead, both horrifies and amuses me to no end. This is the ugly end-game that the Republicans didn't foresee they were creating by courting the rightmost fringe of their base. Trump is riding a wave that is simpleminded and racist; a white base now deeply bitter that they've lost the center of the cultural stage. I think people will probably see through Trump's dim-witted demagoguery in time for someone else to win the Republican primary. But maybe not. No worries; unless Hillary unzips her skin and reveals herself to be a lizard-person bent on conquering the planet, there's no way in hell Trump as a candidate wins the election. He can fool the Republicans who might pick him as a candidate when it's just them voting in the primaries; but he can't fool the majority of the nation as a whole, once Democrats and independents get to cast a vote too. It's kind of fun to watch, because it's so clearly a case of the Republicans being, as they say, hoist with their own petard.
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