September 23, 2020

Saturday Brunch, December 7, 2019

Hello, friends, and welcome to the weekend. Ready for some brunch? Image result for brunch memes

The Apostrophe Protection Society shuts down. “We, and our many supporters worldwide, have done our best but the ignorance and laziness present in modern times have won.” No idea’ what me meant: 

His name is Bond. James Bond. The trailer for the next Bond movie dropped this week, and prompted wondering about the name’s origins.

The writer behind the super spy, Ian Fleming, was also an avid bird watcher. On a trip to Jamaica after World War II, he spotted a book, “Birds of the West Indies,” by an ornithologist from Philadelphia, who happened to be named James Bond.

“It struck me that this brief, unromantic, Anglo-Saxon and yet very masculine name was just what I needed,” Mr. Fleming once wrote in a letter to the ornithologist’s wife.

But as in any good spy story, there’s a twist: Last year, the BBC reported that newly released records showed that an intelligence officer named James Bond had served under Fleming in a secret elite unit that led a guerrilla war against Hitler.

That Bond, a metal worker from Wales, had taken his spy past to the grave, his family said — and they suspected that Fleming had used the bird-watching Bond as a “classic red herring” to keep his identity a secret.

The anonymous 16th-century translator of a selection of Tacitus has been identified: Queen Elizabeth I.

Michelangelo’s dome: “Michelangelo became chief architect at St Peter’s in 1546, following the death of Antonio da Sangallo, who had served for twenty years in the same position. Sangallo had not been the first to occupy that role: the project was already decades old when he took over. In the early years of the 16th century, Pope Julius II had initiated renovations when it became clear that the ancient basilica, completed around AD 360 on the site believed to be St Peter’s tomb, was at serious risk of collapse. At first, almost no one proposed remaking it entirely. The new St Peter’s took shape slowly, and for all its spiritual symbolism it was the architectural project from hell. Imagine a century of Grand Designs specials with one pope after another playing the despairing client and you get the picture. Michelangelo’s appointment at the age of seventy-one proved controversial.”

Put yourself in the following scenario: You’re cruising down the road in your nice BMW in the Russian city of Samara. Suddenly the engine bay of your car has caught fire. You quickly pull off to the side of the road. Your mind races for a way to douse the flames. You can’t bear to do nothing while (this is a BMW!) you wait for the fire department to arrive. There’s a big truck nearby — and hey, it’s got a tank! But what’s that say on the side … oh, it’s a septic hauler?

I guess some people don’t know when to just let something burn. Oh, well; at least YouTube videos aren’t scratch and sniff…

Unrelated note: Low mileage BMW for sale, minor fire damage, runs well.

Neuroscience has tried and failed to explain consciousness for over 50 years. Why? “If you simply rule in advance that the mind must be physical and assume that an understanding of consciousness must be a materialist understanding, because scientific materialism is obviously correct, you end up looking for your keys under the streetlamp because that’s where the light is.”

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China maps faces using DNA. It sounds like science fiction, but it isn’t. Chinese scientists are working on a way to create an image of a person’s face from a genetic sample, using blood collected from ethnic Uighurs swept up in mass detentions in China’s Xinjiang region.

At least two Chinese researchers working on the technology have ties to institutions in Europe, and critics say Beijing is exploiting the openness of the international scientific community for questionable purposes. The Chinese have said that they followed international norms that would require research subjects’ consent, but many in Xinjiang have no choice.

In the long term, it may be possible to add DNA-produced images into the mass surveillance systems that China is building, tightening the government’s grip on society.

Don’t you love heart-warming stories of heroic dogs saving their owners from house fires and other tragedies?

This isn’t one of those stories.

A husky started a house fire after turning on a microwave with food inside it, according to fire services in England. The Microwave had a packet of bread rolls inside.

The dog was left alone at home and starts house fire in Essex by turning on the microwave

The owner, who was out of the property at the time, saw smoke coming from the kitchen through a camera feed on his mobile phone, the fire service said in a statement. Geoff Wheal, watch manager at Corringham Fire Station, warned that the “very strange incident” could have been “more serious.”
The Husky was unhurt. 

Essay of the Week: Lionel Shiver writes in Harper’s about the abuse of [the word] privilege.

“Front and center in overused progressive vocabulary is, of course, ‘privilege.’ From Lyndon Johnson onward, we’ve expressed concern for the ‘underprivileged.’ Shining a spotlight instead on the ‘privileged’ fosters resentment in people who feel shafted and an impotent guilt in people at whom the label is hurled. The word functions something like a rotten tomato without the mess. I myself have been decried in the Independent as ‘dripping with privilege,’ while the writer Ariel Levy was portrayed in The New Republic as ‘swaddled in privilege.’ This is a shape-shifting substance in which one can bathe or nestle.

“Whereas a privilege can be acquired through merit—e.g., students with good grades got to go bowling with our teacher in sixth grade—privilege, sans the article, is implicitly unearned and undeserved. The designation neatly dispossesses those so stigmatized of any credit for their achievements while discounting as immaterial those hurdles an individual with a perceived leg up might still have had to overcome (an alcoholic parent, a stutter, even poverty). For privilege is a static state into which you are born, stained by original sin. Just as you can’t earn yourself into privilege, you can’t earn yourself out of it, either.

“Even taken on its face, the concept is elusive. ‘Privilege is an unbelievably hard thing to define,’ the British journalist Douglas Murray observes in The Madness of Crowds: ‘It is also very nearly impossible to quantify. . . . Is a person with inherited wealth but who has a natural disability more privileged or less privileged than a person without any inherited wealth who is able-bodied? Who can work this out?’ Not I, although I confess I’m under-motivated.

“Yet in practice, while ‘privileged’ may also mean ‘straight and male,’ it almost always means ‘white.’ In The Tyranny of Virtue, the academic Robert Boyers observes that these days the label is deployed in a way that ‘makes it acceptable to target groups or persons not because of what they have done but because of what they are.’ That sounds awfully like a workable definition of racism.”

Interesting headline in WaPo this week: Man crashes van with $140 million worth of meth into parked police cars in ‘easiest drug bust’ ever, police say.

Late night humor:

“It’s pretty dark that Trump would offer to send ISIS fighters to Macron as a gift, but I guess, on the other hand, we have found the one gift that’s worse than a Peloton.” — TREVOR NOAH

“And what a turn this relationship has taken. I mean, just last year Trump and Macron were giving each other friendship trees, remember that? And now Trump is offering to send him ISIS.” — TREVOR NOAH

“That’s right. After opening an inquiry into the possibility of impeachment, then reading the impeachment report, and considering the impeachment options, we’ve finally made it to the beginning of the end of the starting — and we’re about to start the beginning of the middle.” — STEPHEN COLBERT

“The House will now file articles of impeachment, then it will go to a full vote, then it could go to the Senate. I mean, how many steps are there in this? Are we impeaching a president or assembling a futon from Ikea?” — JAMES CORDEN

“Today Nancy Pelosi said she doesn’t hate the president because she’s a Catholic and Catholics don’t hate people. I just want to say as a lifelong Catholic, I thought that was the funniest [expletive] thing I’ve ever heard in my life. What is she talking about? We hate everybody.” — CONAN O’BRIEN

“We Catholics don’t hate anyone, O.K.? We are not allowed to. We don’t hate anyone. That’s why we waged 11 crusades: to remind those people how much we love them. The Inquisition was just a tickle fight that got out of control.” — STEPHEN COLBERT

Well, that’s it for this Saturday. Have a great weekend.

Comments

  1. more news about China . . . . and my youngest nephew just married a girl from mainland China.
    They were architecture students in Ohio and recently graduated, and they married so she could stay with him here in this country; but now the whole fam damily is traveling to China for a traditional Chinese wedding, and ever since I found out, there has been nothing but bad news about China, like really bad news

    well, I hope they are happy and yes, they will live here and work here, but every year, they will go ‘home’ to visit in China because ‘family’, and I get that because I’m ethnic and when you’re ethnic, it’s all about ‘family’ . . . and food, lots of food.

    maybe the bad news is ‘fake news’? (sigh)
    in any case, what’s done is done and they are happy and that’s what matters most

    the world is getting smaller, isn’t it?

  2. senecagriggs says

    The Lakers are rolling

  3. What is the thinking behind Trump offering to “gift” ISIS fighters to Macron? Really, I don’t get it.

    • I don’t quite get it, either. Maybe something to do with Trump’s (RIP, apostrophe society — we shall try to carry on bravely without you) withdrawal of American troops from Syria resulting in escape of ISIS fighters who may have headed north to Europe?

    • Never mind. I looked it up. I didn’t realize that Trump actually made that offer….facetiously, one would suppose. But we seem to live in an era when facetious is the new serious.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      Trump feels his buddy Macron is getting fat. So he’ll send some Fighters over there to chase him back and forth across the halls of Buckingham Palace; it is all about weight loss, staying trim and sexy.

      • They haven’t held hands in a long time — from the aggregate of such small relational omissions estrangement is born.

        • thatotherjean says

          Congratulations to your nephew and his new bride! I have a pretty international family, through my sister–two of her sons married Japanese girls, and one married a girl from Ethiopia; so there’s a lot of traveling back and forth, but without the particular worries about conditions in China. Although there were some long days before my Japanese nieces heard from their parents when the last really bad hurricane hit Japan, and Ethiopia has periodic troubles.

          • thatotherjean says

            What is this doing here? It’s a reply to Christiane, at the beginning of the thread. Sigh. My computer hates me.

            • Christiane says

              “Hi” says Christiane

              I found you. 🙂
              Yes, we also have an international family big time. But through a great, great grandmother named Lavinia Gray, I also descend from one of the ‘Ancient Planters’, a Thomas Gray of Jamestown, Va Colony, and also from my maternal grandfather, from a William Stafford who came over to Virginia from England on the ship ‘Furtherance’ under the guardianship of a Mr. Mason.

              So my father, of blessed memory came from St. Armand, Canada. My husband’s brothers married, one to a Japanese lady, Toshiko by name, and one to an Italian/Austrian lady named Nelda, and one to a Spanish lady named Carmen, but nicknamed ‘Nancy’, and then my own brother’s son just married the Chinese girl who speaks Mandarin Chinese, and my youngest son is engaged to be married to a girl from Latvia, who speaks three languages, including Russian. . . . so you see, you and I are just a typical American family . . . oh then there’s the Swedish aunts, and the crazy grand aunt down in Alabama, and every so many characters from strange hill towns in West by-God Virginia and a whole group of Scots who settled in North Carolina . . . . very American, a little Indian blood thrown in amongst the Asbjorn clan also. I also know of some skeletons in the closet, but I will spare you that mess. . . . one, though, I’m proud of for his bravery: William Ausbon, a private in 17th NC troops (Confederate), one of the six heroes of the Siege of Petersburg. He saved many lives and his own through his bravery by throwing a mortar shell over the works where it exploded harmlessly. . . . . . there’s so much more, and endless gossip, but some distinguished folk also. That great great grandmother was an Iredell Gray so we also are connected to the Iredell clan (American legal history).

              Whew. Enough already. Thanks for sharing about your family, Jean. I don’t feel so much like a strange duck when I hear other people’s stories. I think our diversity has made us stronger, and that’s why I think we may have a chance to survive the current political crises. Thanks again.

  4. “The designation neatly dispossesses those so stigmatized of any credit for their achievements while discounting as immaterial those hurdles an individual with a perceived leg up might still have had to overcome (an alcoholic parent, a stutter, even poverty)”

    Yes, if you are in a 100-meter dash, you probably still have to run it. But it can make a huge difference whether you start with a 25-meter bonus (white male), at the “official* start line (white women), or start 25 meters further back (everybody else).

    • My father came from Italy to the US at a time when there was definitely widespread ethnic bias against Italians in this country. But, because our family fit the currently developing models of whiteness and were able to fold into it, within a generation we were profiting from the advantages that whiteness confers on white Americans, while black Americans whose families have been here hundreds of years continued to labor under the group disadvantages of not being designated white by American society. It’s as plain to see as the Italianate nose on my face. Call it white privilege, call it white advantage, it’s a working fact on the ground.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      Yeah, what people mean by “Privilege” is only a challenging concept if you don’t want to understand it.

      “””… that these days the label is deployed in a way that ‘makes it acceptable to target groups or persons not because of what they have done but because of what they are.’ That sounds awfully like a workable definition of racism.””””

      No, it doesn’t. Of course, there is are always people who use a term sloppily. And “target”? Really? As a straight white English speaking upper-middle class male – nobody is targeting me. I have the power; THAT is the point. I’ve done stupid, disrespectful, gross stuff and it didn’t matter. I’ve been stopped by the police, always walked away, and in one instance I told them to go away – and they did. I got a SLU (Special Land Use) waiver from the Planning Dept and built a dual-use building, meanwhile getting complaints about another family on the block renovating their entirely normal single family home [cause, yeah, I’m the guy those complaints end up at].

      It ain’t rocket science.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        But, from the article: “””That tired injunction “Check your privilege” translates simply to “S.T.F.U.”—and it’s telling that “Shut the f___ up” “”” — yes, this is true. I feel that frustration; probably everyone who has sat through a meeting with DSA types present. They can be downright infuriating – – – but I recall the meetings at church where Bible verses came out when discussing a lease – for desperately needed money – to let a cell tower be erected.

        There may be no corner of the world without gassbagging dipsh__s.

    • Call it what you will but White privilege is another way to stereotype individuals and not see/judge them as individuals. Always has been and always will be some sort of privilege or disadvantage born into the social class and economic class you are born into to. President Obama’s children and his heirs, Kanye West, Jay Z etc. all have children now who are privileged. No country , no society , no culture in the world or history of the world has done more and achieved more to treat all as equal as intended by their creator. Adam T.W. , can you help or change the fact you were born white or into a certain economic class? What about the white person born into a poor white family attending inferior schools with no status to get special racial/ethnic assistance? Is that person privileged compared to Jennifer Lopez children or Ben Carson. Was Ben Carson privileged and how did he do what he did? Again, I agree, this is just another form of racial stereotyping. T.W. What if everything you describe was the same except you were a minority , would you be where you are, assuming you have the same advantages other than race. There was an old Eddie Murphy SNL routine where he passed as white and got free money from the bank, did not have to pay for his home, could break laws and get away with it because he we “white”. That comedy sketch has become reality.
      in the viewpoint of most progressives.

      White guilt has taken over the Democratic Party as demonstrated by the very astute Democratic Presidential candidates, who somehow are all privileged according to their own viewpoint but that is ok because they get it. It is the rest of America with the problem. Corey Booker, privileged ? I would say so, K. Harris privileged, I would say so, etc. Senator Warren has blazed the trail for Native American women and usurped the “privilege” of being Native American.

      • Well said Dan.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        > White privilege is another way to stereotype individuals

        No, it is not. Privilege, like Racism, is a Systemic issue, not a personal one. Calling out Privilege is not shaming, as it is a call to recognize something That Is, not something about oneself or a person. My Privilege is an attribute of my environment and context, not about my person. I have it because of who The System identifies me as, and who It favors. There is no Guilt associated with it. Any Guilt would come from not recognizing the obvious truth of it. Privilege is no different than any kind of Power, if you have it, your are judged – rightly – by what you do with it.

        There are few things more – rightly – obnoxious than someone who can do something and insists they cannot.

        • To put it another way, when I blow past a cop car yet don’t get pulled over, or when I am pulled over but only get a warning, I don’t feel guilty about this. That would be silly. But I am aware that were I a black man, the chances of it going differently would have been higher. How do I know this? I know black men whom I know to be trustworthy, and who in turn trust me enough to talk honestly. I believe them when they tell me about their lived experiences. See also: women.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        > White guilt has taken over the Democratic Party

        Nah. I have ll be at a meeting of the Democratic Party this week. This won’t come up, nobody will talk about it. In the four campaigns I have been involved in in the past couple of years it never came up

    • I only read the excerpt, but what I read was deeply disingenuous.

      I’ll make it easy: I am a white middle-class male. If I am pulled over by a policeman, the worst thing I have to worry about is getting a ticket and being briefly delayed in my trip. But I don’t have to worry much. I probably won’t be pulled over (and not because I adhere strictly to the speed limit), if I am pulled over I probably won’t get a ticket (I haven’t had a moving violation since the 1990s, and not because I haven’t been pulled over since then). If I do get a ticket, it is merely a annoyance (the fine won’t kill my middle class budget). You know what I don’t have to worry about? I don’t worry about getting shot if I don’t carefully keep my hands visible. I don’t worry about being kept by the side of the road for a half hour waiting for a K-9 unit to arrive. I don’t worry about being arrested if the cop decides I am insufficiently deferential. I don’t worry about being sexually harassed, or worse. None of these things enter my mind. Why not? Because I am a white middle-class male.

      If you don’t believe that any of this stuff happens to someone who is not white and middle-class and male, try talking to such a person, if there are any who trust you enough to speak honestly.

      Or, to put this more succinctly, when a policeman calls me “Sir” he very nearly means it.

      • The scenario of being pulled over by the police seems to be the go to illustration for everyone talking about privilege. But there is more than one way to be privileged. I’ve known white men whose experience with getting pulled over is probably very much like what you just described, but who couldn’t get hired at a company, even though they were qualified, because they were white men. So in that scenario who is privileged. The guy who gets pulled over for driving while black, but can get the job, or the white guy who can drive through the neighborhood without being bothered, but can’t get the job.

        • “I’ve known white men whose experience with getting pulled over is probably very much like what you just described, but who couldn’t get hired at a company, even though they were qualified, because they were white men.”

          Do you know that from what the companies in question said… Or what those men told you?

          • “Do you know that from what the companies in question said… Or what those men told you?”

            Precisely. “I was totally qualified, but they hired this black dude instead!” tells us more about the complainer than it does about the company, much less the guy who got hired.

          • I know it from both. I know it from people who couldn’t get a job and from managers who said they just couldn’t hire a white man if there was a minority also applying. I’m sure you guys are skeptical because it goes against your narrative. And I can tell you from personal experience that there are government programs that are either easier for women and minorities to get, or that only apply to them. Whether you think that is right or not it is still a form of privilege that a rich white man doesn’t need, and a poor white man can’t get.

        • It is the go-to scenario because it is widely familiar. Most people have been pulled over at some point in their lives, and can relate to it.

          As for white men being refused jobs because they are white men. I am…. skeptical. It may be possible to find isolated instances, but any claim that being a white male is a net liability in the job market should be met with, um…, skepticism. There are numerous studies where otherwise identical resumes are sent out, but one set with stereotypically white names and the other with stereotypically black names. Guess which set gets called in for interviews more?

          • Adam Tauno Williams says

            Also: an exception bieng exceptional does prove the rule.

            That one has to go looking long and hard for those exceptions answers the question.

            • Not really. I (white American female) was hired to inspect tires in a tire factory. My knowledge about tires ended with my insight that they were round and rubber. The manager told me, not angrily but quietly, that there was a superbly qualified man in line for the job, but they had to hire a female to make their government quotas work. I believed him. Just sayin’

    • Privilege has a lot more to do with wealth and connections than anything else. Being a white male doesn’t give you a 25 meter bonus unless you come from a family that is at least middle class or connected to people who can help you move ahead. In fact programs exist to help women and minorities (whether they know about them or not), that a white man can never benefit from no matter how poor he is.

      • “Privilege has a lot more to do with wealth and connections than anything else. Being a white male doesn’t give you a 25 meter bonus unless you come from a family that is at least middle class or connected to people who can help you move ahead”

        That does not speak to the “negative presumptions” that accrue to people who are not white. A poor white man pulled over by the cops is still far less likely to be harassed or shot just because of his appearance.

        “In fact programs exist to help women and minorities (whether they know about them or not), that a white man can never benefit from no matter how poor he is.”

        I’d bet that the vast majority of those programs would help a white man if he was in need. As for those specifically for women and minorities… they exist because they are necessary.

      • Privilege is comparative. It isn’t a question of “This person has privilege and this person does not.” Being a working class white male gives you less privilege than does being a middle class white male, which gives you less than does being a wealthy white male. But being a working class white male gives you a heck of a lot more privilege than does being a working class black male.

        Part of the problem people have with the concept is that they think that “privilege” means they don’t have to work for a living. They have a job and a mortgage, so they conclude they don’t have any privilege. But someone lower down the privilege ladder will have a harder time getting that job and that mortgage. John Scalzi compares it to playing a video game. The more privilege you start with, the easier the game setting is. You still have to play the game, but you will have an easier time getting through it than will someone playing at a harder setting.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says

          This.

          Acknowledging my privilege doesn’t mean I did not work hard [I did], overcome obstacles [learning disability and physical issues], or trauma [violence and the related stress]. It does mean I had more opportunities to overcome these things, that my work was more readily rewarded, resources were more available, and VERY importantly: I was allowed to try again when I failed [and I definitely did that].

        • Iain Lovejoy says

          There seems to me two separate sets of “white privilege” going on.
          First off, statistically white people are more likely to have benefitted from a better education etc than black people because fewer grew up in poverty and more have gone to good schools and got parents who could pay for books and extra tuition and had homes where quite study was easier, and parents not juggling two jobs so available to help with homework etc. This is not that no white people have this disadvantage or no black people this advantage, but more white than black will have this privilege.
          Secondly, though is white privilege which is more accurately described as “non-white anti-privilege” as typified by the different outcomes with police pull overs etc. White people (like me) are unaware of this privilege because it is not something happening to us, or that we get directly because we are white. Rather, what it is is *not* experiencing a particular set of hassles and difficulties which come with being non-white: more likely to be noticed and singled out, more likely to have adverse inferences drawn about oneself, more likely to be treated guardedly by others, disadvantaged by others feeling you don’t quite fit in, or are more likely to be “trouble” etc. White people don’t experience the lack of these things happening as privilege because we are generally unaware that non-whites experience what we don’t. Cops, for example, aren’t thinking “Here, have some special treatment, favoured fellow white person!”: rather, they only notice the race of the person they are dealing with as a thing to react to at all when that person is non-white. White people’s “white privilege” is the (very real) privilege of having their race entirely ignored.

    • There’s a stage of mental development that people reach, at the earliest, in their mid-twenties, where both/and thinking and dealing with ambiguous and complex situations suddenly becomes possible. Up until then, people tend to have very either/or thinking. That’s why college kids tend to be on one political extreme or the other: you get conservative fundamentalist Christians, and liberal fundamentalist atheists, but not a lot of people in between.

      In the “privilege” conversation, it’s undeniable that “white” people have an advantage when interacting with anyone from a potential employer to a police officer to the court systems to a stranger on the street. The cultural biases in their favor are measurable and significant.

      It’s also true that some white people have *less* advantages in life than some black people. And it’s also true that some people use the concept of “privilege” just as a way to shut down a conversation or insult someone. But arguing that because of those particular examples white privilege is not a problem, is as silly as arguing that because some murders are committed by women male violence is not a problem. It’s possible to have a nuanced view of privilege without swinging all the way to the other extreme and denying its existence entirely.

    • Burro (Mule) says

      Ah hell.

      We all of us have had to deal with the kind of person who was born on third base and acted as if he had hit a triple. It’s irritating, and it’s worse than irritating when a basically decent black guy makes a couple of stupid moves early on and has to pay for it the rest of his life, loading outrage onto outrage until he ends up wandering around the streets hallucinating for lack of medication.

      Privilege exists because we aren’t born, or created equal. I’ll be honest with you. God doesn’t seem to me to be all that convulsed about fairness. Eeyore and Michael Z appear far more convulsed about “fairness” than God is. I remember a quote from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn who said that “when men are free, they are not equal. When men are equal, to the same degree they are not free.” And also that St. John Chrysostom posited that the poor exist so that the rich can attain salvation. A government program may take some money away from me and give it to someone who needs it, but it will never train me in the compassion and liberality necessary to save my soul.

      There is a Pentecostal pastor I support with a monthly donation who lives on the streets five weeks at a stretch twice a year. During this time, he suffers all the abuse and scorn you would imagine a homeless old man, not very well dressed, to suffer. My donation goes to support his family while he does this. He lives off what he can hustle as a homeless guy; working day jobs, begging, canning, etc. He befriends homeless guys on the street and at the end of his “exile” he goes into “rehab” and invariably takes one or two of his new friends in with him.

      I ain’t braggin’ (well, maybe, just a little). I know that if I gave all my goods to feed the poor yet had not love (which I don’t have, not really), it would avail me nothing. But I am proud to know this guy, I am proud to give to his foundation, and I am proud that he accepts my money. Twice a year he lays aside his privilege so that by some means he might help a few here and there. Maybe it’s a sham like some people say. After all, the pastor can go back to his comfortable life and family any time he wants. He’s being deceptive, his critics say, but wonder if our Lord was any less deceptive.

      • Christiane says

        loved reading this, Burro

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        A government program may take some money away from me and give it to someone who needs it, but it will never train me in the compassion and liberality necessary to save my soul.

        More than that, it has a side effect of breeding Resentment in the Peters who got robbed to pay the Pauls. As long as that stays at low-level grumbling, no problem. As long as it’s acknowledged, taken into account, and care taken not to push it too far. Because if that resentment ever builds to critical mass and boils over (as happened in November 2016), IT’S PAYBACK TIME and there is NO such thing as collateral damage. (“STICK IT TO THEM! STICK IT TO THEM! STICK IT TO THEM!”)

  5. Re: the linked article re: neuroscience and consciousness: This Manzotti, who says that consciousness resides in the perceived objects rather than in human perception, sound like a Zen master rather than a scientist…..only less sober.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      I’m a bit confused.

      “””We’re not going to accept the idea of some mysterious spirit or substance beyond our ken,…””” Neither do I, yet there is Information Theory and Quantum Mechanics. This critique doesn’t seem to acknowledge the true deep whackiness of the entirely-physical-no-magic universe.

      “””Apples aren’t conscious, but they are our experiences of them.”””

      The Apple isn’t; I am not entirely convinced the same is true of the Apple Tree. The expansive information networks established by trees, across species, exhibiting store-and-forward like behavior. This world is BONKERS more crazy then it first appears to be – and it appears as pretty darn bonkers.

      “””… and I wish Elon Musk were quoted zero times, ….”””

      Ok, never mind [pun!] I’m on board! Pelossi may not hate Donald Trump, but I cannot say the same about how I feel concerning Mr. Musk.

      [phantom limb syndrome]”””… What’s at stake here is, of course, the location of experience”””

      Eh? I’m lost again.

      • “””We’re not going to accept the idea of some mysterious spirit or substance beyond our ken,…””

        If it were beyond our ken we couldn’t perceive it. But something can be within our ken, yet not quantifiable or measurable.

        • Christiane says

          “If it were beyond our ken we couldn’t perceive it. But something can be within our ken, yet not quantifiable or measurable.”

          or we don’t have ‘words’ for ‘it’

          sometimes the poets come close, but still ‘it’ remains elusive when attempted to be ‘described’, and yet ‘it’ IS and we know this with a knowledge that abides and sustains and cannot be denied

          ‘only in silence, the Word’

    • The fact that scientists can’t currently explain consciousness is beside the point. There’s lots of things we can’t explain. If you assert that there is some non-material aspect to it you still have to demonstrate some compelling reason to think so.

      • Burro (Mule) says

        Actually, it’s matter I have my doubts about. It’s a lot like turtles all the way down, and at the edges of the scales we can comprehend, both large and small, it acts kinda “spiritual”

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        If you assert that there is some non-material aspect to it you still have to demonstrate some compelling reason to think so.

        Still sets you up for a “God of the Gaps” debunking in the future.

  6. Queen Elizabeth translating Tacitus is not inherently surprising. There was a brief period during the Renaissance when European royalty had a common ideal of being highly educated. The more common pattern throughout history is for royalty to hire highly educated people, whether as consultants or for prestige. The Renaissance moment didn’t last long. In the case of English history, once you hit the Georges of the Hanoverian dynasty, no one expects too much from them. (Though Caroline, George II’s queen, was extremely educated and possibly brilliant.)

    Sadly, a great education didn’t help as much as we might like to imagine. Look at monarchs from this period who are remembered as foolish or corrupt or downright villainous and they often are every bit as well educated as the good ones.

  7. senecagriggs says

    “White privilege” is a complex thing.
    ___
    1) I can’t give you mine. It’s not transferable.
    ___
    2) If, because of “white privilege” you get special consideration, you’ll NEVER have white privilege. It’s a troubling irony. [ Easiest person in the world to fire is a white male.]
    ___
    3) “White Privilege” in the male world translates to “Work hard and die.”

  8. Iain Lovejoy says

    “Easiest person in the world to fire is a white make.”
    Utterly, demonstrably false racist b******s. In the US, black employees are statistically twice as likely to be the one’s to lose their jobs in a downturn and slower to be re-hired, which is why black unemployment is twice that if white.
    The most charitable thing that can be said is you are shockingly ignorant and simply don’t care whether what you say is true or not, as long as you can whine about how “persecuted” you are by having to share the job market with non- white people. The least charitable is out-and-out lying.
    Actual statistics for anyone who cares about truth:
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3000014/

    • senecagriggs says

      I’m sorry Iain. There’s no blow-back if you fire a white guy. They got no where to turn.
      _____

      If you’re talking about people being laid off – that’s a whole different kettle of fish. I’m talking about people being FIRED.

      White guys are the easiest to fire. You’ll never hear back from the Equal Opportunity department if you fire a white guy. Just ain’t going to happen.

  9. A couple of small observations:

    Farewell, Apostrophe Protection Society! You made a valiant effort, but ignorance ultimately triumphed, as it often does. The grammar police will struggle on, nonetheless, to differentiate the possessive case from the subjective and objective cases.

    If I remember rightly, Macron’s gift of a friendship tree to the US died not too long after it was planted, dug up, quarantined, and re-planted. No wonder.

    • Interesting because you would think the tendency would be to leave out apostrophe’s (heh heh heh) rather than include them when they’re not needed. Maybe the sign painters of getting paid by the stroke?

      • thatotherjean says

        Someone on a blog I frequent described some people’s reaction to that final letter on a word as “Oh, ****, here comes an “s!” and they stick in an apostrophe, just to be safe.

  10. “Interesting headline in WaPo this week: Man crashes van with $140 million worth of meth into parked police cars in ‘easiest drug bust’ ever, police say.”

    The first comment on this story was priceless…

    “Braking Bad.”

  11. The CalvinClaus is funny on many levels…

    We need humor in the face (pun intended) of what’s going on in China.

    Dana

  12. some humor:

    “A husky started a house fire after turning on a microwave with food inside it, according to fire services in England. The Microwave had a packet of bread rolls inside.. . . . ”

    this reminds me of a Christmas ad by an British Candy company, with a rather wonderful ending, this:

    https://youtu.be/kuRn2S7iPNU