Discussion thread

Exhausted from weeks—nay, months—with very little sleep, I’m gonna punt on any more substantive posts today and throw this one to the readers.  Here’s one possible topic that was inspired by the “atheist death column” I mentioned this morning, which included this old saw:

[George] Yancy: I agree with you that atheists don’t have a monopoly on not committing egregious wrongs, but I don’t think that there are atheists who commit such wrongs in the name of atheism. What is your view of that?

[Todd] May: Whether atheists have committed wrongs in the name of atheism is a tricky question. The Soviet Union, for instance, persecuted Jews and other believers in the name of a doctrine that they at least saw as tied to atheism, and today the Chinese government is committing genocidal acts against the Uighurs for related reasons. Even if we lay those aside, the condescension that some prominent atheists display toward religious believers, although not nearly as grievous, is nothing to be particularly proud of. (Of course, historically we atheists haven’t fared too well at the hands of organized religion, either.)

The question: Do prominent atheists really display offensive condescension towards believers, and, if so, has it worked against the cause of antitheism? Or, in other words, has Richard Dawkins’s atheism been counterproductive to the movement to rid the world of religious delusion?

But you needn’t talk about that, as there are surely a lot of things you want to discuss or beef about.

Here’s another: is anything particularly bothering you about America now?

Or another: What are you having for dinner (include beverage, especially if it’s wine)?

Have at it. I’ll be back with an animal post later this afternoon.

181 Comments

  1. Posted October 21, 2020 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    Subscribe

  2. GBJames
    Posted October 21, 2020 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    Dinner is a mystery to me at this moment because tonight is Michele’s night to cook. But I’ll have a pint of beer, one from Broken Bat Brewery. Ether “Mr. Octoberfest” or “Beach Ball”. The latter sounds awful but is really quite good. (“Pineapple milkshake IPA”!)

    • Posted October 21, 2020 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

      Oh man, I want a pint at the Broken Bat. That place looks great!

      • GBJames
        Posted October 21, 2020 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

        Funny thing is that I’ve never been inside. They moved to this new location just before the pandemic hit. Before, I would join friends at a different micro brewery every Thursday evening. Broken Bat was in the “on deck circle”, so to speak. Since Covid, however, I only do curbside pickup.

    • darrelle
      Posted October 21, 2020 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

      The “PISTACHIO PUDDING PASTRY STOUT” sounds like it might be good.

      • EdwardM
        Posted October 21, 2020 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

        ewww.

        Can you get a beer from them? You know, malted barley, hops and water -almost any combination will do but…. No pudding! No pistachios and for godssake no pineapple.

        • darrelle
          Posted October 21, 2020 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

          🙂 To each their own.

          I like a wide variety of beers, everything from stuff that would meet the approval of the most radical Reinheitsgebot fanatic to crazy stuff like Sweet Baby Jesus! Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter.

          To paraphrase Paul from The Floaters epic soul classic Float On,

          “My name is Paul,
          You see, I like all the beers of the world!
          You see to me all beers are wild flowers
          And if you understand what I’m sayin’
          I want you to . . .

          Mmmm, shake my hand
          Come with me, bro, to Beer Land
          Let me show you how sweet it could be
          Sharing a pint (or 2) (of crazy flavor beer) with me, I want you to . . .”

          • GBJames
            Posted October 21, 2020 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

            The curious thing about the Reinheitsgebot “purity” law is that it wasn’t created in the interest of beer quality. It was purely a taxing scheme to line the pockets of the powerful. And to have a “purity” law that limits ingredients to a tiny list, and leave off the most important one, YEAST, makes mockery of the whole endeavor.

        • GBJames
          Posted October 21, 2020 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

          The pineapple hints are delivered gratis of the yeast used in the beer. There are hundreds of types of yeast in use these days and a great many of them introduce interesting fruit-ish flavors.

          I used to think of beer as you do, being what I thought was a purist. Then I began to learn about the history (and prehistory) of brewing and the world opened up.

          • EdwardM
            Posted October 21, 2020 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

            Yeah, I know. I’m no purist but I really can’t abide flavored beer. Or coffee; not even milk or sugar. I don’t like mixed drinks either.

            Sometimes it’s fun to poke aficionados, including those who love beer. I am certain that brewery makes superb beer. So many do these days.

            • Posted October 21, 2020 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

              Have you tried Lindemans Kriek or Framboise? The “Champagne of the North”. I love the Belgian Lambeek-style beers.

              In general I agree. No coffee in my beer, thanks. No chocolate. No fruit on the glass, no, no, no. No hot peppers. Etc.

              And, no, I don’t want to drink it from the bottle. A glass, please, thanks. Don’t glug it down the middle; I want beer, not foam.

              • GBJames
                Posted October 21, 2020 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

                A glass is critical. Seeing someone drink from a bottle (or can!!) makes me cringe.

              • darrelle
                Posted October 22, 2020 at 8:49 am | Permalink

                Love a good cherry or raspberry Lambic. And yeah, Lindemans makes very good ones. Might have to get some this weekend. I’ve got the perfect glasses.

          • Posted October 21, 2020 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

            Yep, yeast is critical. Malt type is critical. (Too many people think of IBUs and hop level only.)

            Most of the interesting flavors come from the yeast and the malt. 🙂

            Current favorite beers:
            Old Speckled Hen (nitro can) (UK)
            Saison Dupont (Belgium)
            La Chouffe (Belgium)
            Mc Chouffe (Belgium)
            Delirium Tremens (Belgium)
            Organic Pale Ale, Sam Smith (UK)
            MacEwan’s Scottish (UK)
            Pilsner Urquell (Czech)

            • GBJames
              Posted October 21, 2020 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

              Those are all good beers although I haven’t had any of them for years. (Actually, I’ve never had three of those Belgium brews). I’m on a mission from God to support small local brewers. There are so many of them that the variety is never exhausted and I get the satisfaction of helping “the little guy”.

              • Alexander
                Posted October 21, 2020 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

                I haven’t been in a pub here in Belgiun since March, and haven’t had a beer since then. (I’m more of a wine person.) But I have never had any of the Belgian beers listed above. I agree that the only good aspect of Catholicism is that many of the excellent beers here are brewed by monks, and I prefer those.

              • GBJames
                Posted October 21, 2020 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

                Yeah. Their religion is absurd. But they can make some really good beer.

              • Posted October 21, 2020 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

                GB, I really, really want to like local micros; but they just aren’t hitting the flavors I want. I keep trying.

                I like Ommegang. I like Unibroue. But they cost the same as “the real thing”.

                I have been in the micro/home brew movement from its very beginning in 1976. I have home-brewed since then (with my Dad to start with!). I used to come close to that 200-gallon limit per year. I watched the whole microbrew thing come on. I loved many of them. I still love a few.

                Then I went to Europe and drank beer and wine and ate cheese, charcouterie, bread, etc., etc.

                I am very encouraged by all the artisanal products now being made in the US: Wine, beer, cheese, bread, charcuterie, etc., etc. I keep trying things and buying things. But I keep going back to the European products, even with the Trump surcharges. (And his “tax cut” of 2017 was the biggest tax increase in my life. I’m about 60 years old.)

              • GBJames
                Posted October 21, 2020 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

                Well, I’m not dissing European beer, although Germans are stuck in a very narrow range of expressions compared to elsewhere. I’ve always been particularly fond of British ales and a fan of their “real ale” movement. On our last trip to Scotland I was impressed with how the micro brewing movement had taken hold there. It is a good thing all around when people spend time and money expanding the industry. The alternative is to be frozen with a handful of “styles” some of which are good and some of which are just boring. (Remember the days when beer drinkers had favorite brands… Schlitz, Hamms, Blatz, Bud, etc…. all of which were pretty much identical!(

              • Posted October 21, 2020 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

                Yes, I remember times when European beer pretty much meant Heineken at most places. Speaking of that beer, I once had Heineken from a keg at a party. The provider was a friend of the host so guaranteed us that it was fresh. So much better than from the bottles! Obviously, keg beer is pretty much always better than bottled but this was like a totally different beer.

              • darrelle
                Posted October 22, 2020 at 9:00 am | Permalink

                RE German beers, they are definitely less adventurous than others, but I do love me some German beers. I think Bocks and Dunkels might be my favorite styles. But there are so many.

                Rogue here in the US makes a darn good Bock, Dead Guy Ale.

              • Posted October 23, 2020 at 7:00 am | Permalink

                Hi Darrell,

                I can’t really drink Rogue (or my local here, Surly). Very over-hopped for my taste.

                I am looking for balance (or if it leans in any direction, I want it to lean malty, not hoppy). I will drink Starbucks; but I don’t really care for it: Over roasted, IMO. I don’t like wines that taste more like a barrel than a grape.

                Not that I have strong opinions! 🙂

            • Mark R.
              Posted October 21, 2020 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

              I pretty much only drink Pilsner Urquell and Northwest hard ciders. Old Speckled Hen is a great beer though, as well as your Belgium picks. (I’ve only had the first two Belgiums you listed.)

              • J Cook
                Posted October 21, 2020 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

                Try Trumer Pils brewed in Berkeley.

            • Steve Pollard
              Posted October 21, 2020 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

              I have to say that if you’ve drunk OSH only from a nitro can, you’re missing an awful lot!

              I drink the local specialities wherever I am. I live in SE England, so I go for beers from micro-breweries such as Long Man, Cellarhead, Westerham and Larkins; or the bigger locals like Shepherd Neame or Harvey’s.

              In better times, we have spent many holidays or long weekends in different places across the UK, and sampling the local brews is one of the highlights. Damn and blast Covid!

              • Posted October 21, 2020 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

                I have had OSH in bottle (but never in the UK — next time I’m in the UK!). I much prefer the nitro can to the bottle. Tastes much more unique to me.

                Rub it in, rub it in! 🙂

            • darrelle
              Posted October 22, 2020 at 6:47 am | Permalink

              I am most partial to Belgian abbey ales. I’ve only come across 2 or 3 of that style from US micro-brewery’s that could hang with a decent example of the real thing.

              Micro-brewery’s are definitely hit or miss. The one closest to me is actually pretty bad. I’ve had probably a dozen of their brews and all but one were not worth trying again. The one exception was anomalously excellent. They called it a French Country Saison, and it really was a very good Saison.

              But some micro-brews are quite good. Another one a town away from me rarely makes a beer I’d not have again. I pretty much agree with you that hot peppers in beer is a no no, and yet this place brewed a Imperial Stout IPA with Jalapeno, and damned if it wasn’t good. I fully expected to not like it because I am sick unto death of IPAs and I was sure that the jalapeno would be either undetectable or smack you in the face. But somehow they made it work and I actually really liked it.

              • Alexander
                Posted October 22, 2020 at 7:35 am | Permalink

                When I lived in New York during the early 1980s an early microbrewery appeared on Canal Street, downtown Manhatten. It was built inside a previous power station. This building proved perfect for this endeavor. The brewing vessel, which was bought from a German brewery, was in the middle of the building. The central pipe was about 40 feet high, and the cafe-restaurant was built on terraces surrounding the central brewing device. Since the brewery was at walking distance, we used to spend a lot of time in there.

              • darrelle
                Posted October 22, 2020 at 8:38 am | Permalink

                That sounds like a very cool venue. There is a micro-brewery in my town that is similar. They bought an old brick building that used to be the town’s power plant. They did a very nice job converting it to a brewery.

                One of three of the original diesel engines that the power plant used was still in the building when they bought it, and they fixed it up and built the main bar around it.

                https://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/b41ee26076f3a01af352204c41d7c32411f8fd99/c=0-111-1200-789/local/-/media/2017/10/17/TreasureCoast/TreasureCoast/636438468448883190-inside-american-icon–blandford.jpg

              • GBJames
                Posted October 22, 2020 at 8:30 am | Permalink

                “sick unto death of IPAs”

                I can relate to this. I avoided IPAs for years because… well, you know. Subsequently I found that it was “west coast” IPAs that were offending my pallet. Along came “hazy”, “juicy”, and “Northeast” IPAs, completely different animals despite the three letters they share. I quite like many of them.

                I think that one of the big errors we make is imagining that beer categories actually exist. Styles sort-of exist, but not really, because there are an infinite number of ways one can make beer. Some is bad. But not experiencing the great variety out of fear that you might not like something is a great mistake.

                That said, I don’t really like sour beers much at all.

              • darrelle
                Posted October 22, 2020 at 8:46 am | Permalink

                Yes, I actually do like many IPAs, but, well . . . you know. There are other styles!

                I’m with you on sours. I keep trying new ones but I’ve yet to come across one that I like. The problem might be at a basic enough level that I’ll just never care for any example of a sour style beer. I can’t quite put my finger on it. It isn’t just the sourness. There are plenty of styles that have some sourness to them that I love. Saisons and Lambics for example.

              • Posted October 23, 2020 at 7:13 am | Permalink

                I am tired of USian IPAs. Please, please, use some different hope, some different yeasts, some different malts, guys! They taste uniform, dull, and almost always seriously over-hopped (out of balance) to me.

                My marker for bottled Pale Ale in the US: Sam Smith’s Organic Pale Ale

                My marker for bottled India Pale Ale in the US: Sam Smith’s India Ale

                I can occasionally get draft or even Real Ale from the UK in pubs/bars in the US and I almost always take advantage of that. But I’m not really much of a bar person. I prefer to drink at home, in my easy chair, good book in hand (or on our back deck overlooking the pond).

              • Posted October 23, 2020 at 7:15 am | Permalink

                Sour beers:

                I can enjoy genuine red beers from Belgium. I love fruit-flavored Lambeek beers from Belgium.

                Otherwise, sour in a beer tastes like a flaw — because it is one.

  3. BobTerrace
    Posted October 21, 2020 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    Sub

    No, Dawkins is not hurting the atheist cause of ridding the world of delusions.

    Bothering me about America:
    Trump
    Racism
    Climate change denial
    Anti science
    Healthcare
    Economist fairness

    So many others, but those are the big ones

    Dinner tonight is boring: baked chicken, potatoes, string beans. Last night was crab stuffed tilapia, rice with tomatoes, basil, garlic, oregano and snow pea pods. Every dinner is washed down with unsweetened ice tea.

    • Posted October 21, 2020 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

      Good summary on the US issues.

    • Historian
      Posted October 21, 2020 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

      I will add one more item to your list: the anti-democratic nature of the American political system. In a New York Review of Books article, political scientist Corey Robins notes that Republican control of government has rested on a three-legged stool of the Electoral College, the way senators are elected, and the judiciary. Robin notes: ‘There’s a considerable irony in the fact that this is now the three-legged stool of American conservatism. However dubious their democratic credentials, the Electoral College, the Senate, and the judiciary are impeccably constitutional institutions. In the American mind, the Constitution is associated with all things good and democratic, but a central purpose of the document is to check majoritarian government, giving a small group of elites the power to thwart the will of the democratic majority. That is precisely what the Republicans now are doing.” He goes on: “The unsettling fact of the current regime is that it depends, ultimately, not upon these bogeymen of democracy—not on demagoguery, populism, or the masses—but upon the constitutional mainstays we learned about in high-school civics.” Finally: ”If the Democrats win the White House and the Senate in November, and if they hope to implement the merest plank of their platform, it will be they, and not the Republicans, who will have to engage in a major project of norm erosion. It will be they who will have to abolish the filibuster. It will be they who will have to pack the Supreme Court or limit the courts’ jurisdiction. It will be they, after the longest period of stability in American history in terms of the number of states in the union and seats in the Senate, who will have to admit more states in order to increase the number of Democratic senators.”

      What Robin is saying is that the American political system is so dysfunctional that it will take radical change to transform it into anything resembling democracy. If the Democrats win control of the presidency and the Senate, will they be willing to do this? I doubt it. Although the Democratic Party is made up of many different interest groups, often differing and bickering amongst themselves, at heart it is quite middle-of-the-road, at least by European standards. It is hard to imagine that Biden would support any significant change in the operation of the American system. Hence, the country will limp along with a system created almost a quarter of a millennium ago, opening the way for another Trump-like character to emerge.

      https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2020/10/21/the-gonzo-constitutionalism-of-the-american-right/

      • Posted October 21, 2020 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

        In Wisconsin, after the 2010 census and election, the GOP was in charge of the Assembly. They gerrymandered the state districts such that in 2018, ~45% of the WI voters elected ~63% of the State Assembly members. Despite losing every statewide race.

        Now, the GOP are seriously talking about making some sort of electoral college system in WI for statewide offices (especially governor). In other words, making rural voters’ votes worth more than urban voters’ votes.

        In the Trumpian Era, they can propose this with a straight face.

    • Dick Veldkamp
      Posted October 21, 2020 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

      Bothering:

      The increasingly weird practice of trying to find out what “the framers meant” to decide modern qustions, by studying a document written 200+ years ago (SCOTUS and the Constitution).

      And even if you could by some miracle find out exactly “what the framers meant”, how relevant is that in the modern age? For the ACA? For campaign financing?

      • Historian
        Posted October 21, 2020 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

        For a good critique of originalism see this NYT op-ed by the dean of the Berkeley law school.

        https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/21/opinion/supreme-court-amy-coney-barrett.html

        • Dick Veldkamp
          Posted October 22, 2020 at 1:50 am | Permalink

          Nice article, my point exactly (but much better written).

      • EdwardM
        Posted October 21, 2020 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

        You know what the framers wanted? That only white males could vote. Black people could not even become full citizens and Native Americans were excluded from citizenship entirely. They got so many things wrong that the sacred document has been amended twenty seven times, some of the changes, realizing their mistakes, were made by the framers themselves.

        Original intent is I am sure an important legal concept (IANAL) but it seems to me sometimes a cover for reactionary rather than analytical thinking.

        • Posted October 21, 2020 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

          I agree. Surely the most useful thing the “framers” intended was to create a document that could be altered and improved as its failings, and those of the nation, came to light – as you noted. I don’t see much else that matters about framers’ intent. It’s just the “argument from authority/ad hominem coin” being put into circulation, despite the fact that it is and always has been counterfeit.

      • darrelle
        Posted October 21, 2020 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

        In general I very much agree, but it depends on what you are arguing about, or rather against. Many of the people arguing we should do X because that’s what / how the framers said it should be are often demonstrably wrong about what they are claiming the framers wanted. Demonstrable by the framers own writings, for example. I think that sort of argument is worth making. Similar to arguing about religion, how effective it might be in changing the specific arguer’s mind is only part of it.

      • Posted October 21, 2020 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

        Or for digital security, deep fakes, etc., etc.

      • Posted October 21, 2020 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

        And even if you could by some miracle find out exactly “what the framers meant”,

        –then you would get 55 different answers. Because there were 55 delegates at the original Constitutional convention.

  4. alan
    Posted October 21, 2020 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    I really like Richard Dawkins, he made me fall in love with evolution during my undergrad, initially, I admit, with documentaries, then with his books. I think his approach to religion works for some people (worked for me, raised catholic until I moved to Canada) but many others are turned off. I think it’s similar to the vegan movement. I agree with the vegan’s ethical arguments (watch the cosmic skeptic’s youtube video: VEGAN vs HUNTER | Steven Rinella Meat Eater) but find the approach of many of them counterproductive. I guess this is what many people feel of Dawkins’ approach.

  5. davidintoronto
    Posted October 21, 2020 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    Bored with isolation? Do you have 11 ½ hours to spare? I’d recommend Brian Greene’s course on Special Relativity.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XFV2feKDK9E

    🙂

    • Posted October 21, 2020 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

      Has anyone read Greene’s new book Until the End of Time? Is it any good?

      • Posted October 21, 2020 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

        I listened to the audio book (which Professor Greene narrates himself, always a plus), and I liked it, as I have liked all of his books so far. He’s very clear about the fact that all of his projections are based on our best understanding, and may (WILL) be changed as we learn more. I particularly liked his use of the “Empire State Building” as illustration in powers of 10 of years since the Big Bang, in which each floor you go up is a tenfold greater amount of time…and we’re just on the tenth floor right now.

        It’s fun. He’s a good explainer of complex subjects using metaphors and the like.

        I just bought a book in a similar vein, which I haven’t started, “The End of Everything (Astrophysically Speaking)” by Katie Mack, which is also supposed to be good.

        • Posted October 21, 2020 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

          Thanks for your review. I think I’ll buy it. The reviews on Amazon were a bit mixed with some complaining that, unlike his earlier books, there was “too much philosophizing”, but that shouldn’t bother me.

  6. alan
    Posted October 21, 2020 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    What’s bothering me about America (and Canada): the trend of fanny packs worn diagonally.

    • Posted October 21, 2020 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

      That’s ancient: Messenger bag. That’s been around for a couple of decades. I prefer to wear my small bag this way.

      • alan
        Posted October 21, 2020 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

        Messenger bags and laptop bags are fine, I wear my little bag I bought in Zihuatanejo like that also. It’s the fanny pack trend I could do without. Then again, I wore baggy jeans in the late 90s early 2000s.

        • EdwardM
          Posted October 21, 2020 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

          The advantage of a messenger bag (as opposed to a backpack) is that you don’t have to take it off to get into it. Very helpful when on a bicycle.

        • Posted October 21, 2020 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

          😀

    • Janet
      Posted October 21, 2020 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

      Well, thank you, Alan, that is a refreshing issue to worry about. I do believe I will substitute it for all the others on my list!

    • David Harper
      Posted October 21, 2020 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

      As a Brit, I’ll just giggle at “fanny pack”.

      Two nations divided by a common language, and all that.

      • EdwardM
        Posted October 21, 2020 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

        An old colleague from Oz used to giggle whenever she heard someone say that they “root” for their team.

      • Posted October 21, 2020 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

        That does call up…interesting imagery.

      • C.
        Posted October 21, 2020 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

        Like “bum bag” is any better?

        Face it, no matter what one calls it, the thing is an abomination!

        I had one when I was 10. 😬

        And if you liked the “fanny pack”, may I tempt you with a copy of the Fanny Farmer Cookbook? I think there used to be Fanny Farmer candy as well…

        • Posted October 22, 2020 at 4:43 am | Permalink

          Fanny used to be quite a popular girl’s name in Britain even though it’s also a colloquialism for female genitalia. I suppose it’s a bit like being called Richard and shortening it to Dick.

    • eric
      Posted October 21, 2020 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

      You would probably be really bothered by my use of a diaper bag as repurposed diagonally worn shoulder carryall then. 🙂

  7. Posted October 21, 2020 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    Asparagus and mushroom pasta with a Washington State Chardonnay.

  8. Posted October 21, 2020 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    Do prominent atheists really display offensive condescension towards believers, …

    No, it’s just that the religious are acustomed to (and think they are entitled to) undue deference and respect for their beliefs.

    • Posted October 21, 2020 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

      Hear hear. If he weren’t speaking about religion, I find it hard to imagine anyone in the modern world (in which we have the likes of The Donald as president) thinking that Dawkins of all people was offensive, for instance. He’s about as polite as he can be without lying. Sam Harris is practically a Vulcan. PCC(E) is likewise very mild-mannered even when the substance of his arguments is fairly pointed.

      Hitch could sometimes be deliberately provocative, in a sense, but he was Hitch. Still, he was also always generous of spirit, and was even good friends with some of his most constant debate opponents.

    • Jim Danielson
      Posted October 21, 2020 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

      I recall an episode of the Atheist Experience, an atheist called in and said (paraphrasing) “Atheists who are nasty, like Sam Harris, give us a bad name.”

      I thought, WHAT? I’ve listened to or watched practically everything Sam Harris has said or written, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him be nasty or rude, even when people were being rude and hostile to him. (Looking at you Affleck)

      No push back from the hosts, there was a general agreement.

  9. Randall Schenck
    Posted October 21, 2020 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    I think atheists, including Dawkins and Harris are attacked for putting truth to power. The power of course is religion. Atheists do not use any of the normal tools that religion uses to shut people up or take away freedom of speech. On the other hand, religion in it’s nastiest form uses intimidation and fear to makes it’s argument and to obtain the behavior it wants. When other religions attack Jews or any other group what do we call it. Generally it is simple bigotry and ignorance. So if so-called atheists in communist Russia do the same it is for the same reason and being atheist really has nothing to do with it.

    I would go so far as to call atheistic intimidation as mostly nonexistent. However, if you use the term Islamic intimidation, everyone knows exactly what you are talking about. When intimidation is backed up by violence it works. The last posting about the killing in France is just another act of the same. Another form of intimidation might be political such as our current republican congress in Trump world. We can talk about lack of free speech but the correct word is intimidation.

  10. Posted October 21, 2020 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    I choose to answer the dinner question!
    I’m having Assamese style pork with bamboo shoots, it’s cooked in a stovetop pressure cooker. It calls for Ghost Peppers but even though I like considerable heat that’s too much for me so I will use habanero. The Assam region of India is where the ghost pepper was developed, at least according to my friend who is from there and who gave me the traditional recipe; she can eat spicy foods that would make me simply wither from pain. I will have basmati rice, and also will cook some spinach pakoras, perhaps a few samosas as well, and will enjoy those with either mint or coconut chutney. Naan will also be on the table. I will have water while eating but will probably make a rye old fashioned after dinner.

    • Posted October 21, 2020 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

      Would you be willing to share the recipe? Sounds wonderful! 🙂

    • Mark R.
      Posted October 21, 2020 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

      Sounds like a great recipe, I’d be interested too. We actually had Indian food last night: Chicken Kabuli with a morel mushroom bismati pilaf, mysore rasam, sautéed beets with mustard seeds and cucumber/tomato raita. The beets/cuke/tomato came from the garden so it was extra good.
      I’m sure your dinner tonight will be delicious…samosas with mint chutney is to die for…and enjoy the old fashioned.

      • Posted October 21, 2020 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

        Here is the base recipe, I use a ginger-garlic paste thats pre-made, I add a tablespoon of garam masala when I add the peppers. Oh, and I take out the cooked fat pieces before adding the onion. And of course instead of Bhot Jolokiya I use the habanero.

        http://www.assaminfo.com/recipes/26/pork-with-bamboo-shoot-or-baah-gajor-gahori.htm

        • Mark R.
          Posted October 21, 2020 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

          Thanks a million, I just printed it out. I’ll add your additions- I love garam masala. I actually have dried Bhot Jolokiya and will probably use them as I’m a heat seeker.

  11. Posted October 21, 2020 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    Atheists: No.

    The religious are just so used to having their imaginary friend being accepted (and fawned over) that asking them to support their contentions or questioning their validity is perceived as offensive. Especially in these days of Victimhood Olympics.

    Dinner: Leftover brat (1) and chipotle cheddar salad (a salad mix that I enjoy). At lunch, we also had fried cauliflower drizzled with Balsamic vinegar. (I really like the Culinary Circle Balsamic. Real Modena vinegar, very reasonably priced, tastes very good, readily available.)

    Concerns with America:
    – – Trump
    – Trump
    – Trump
    – Trump’s family
    – Trump’s minions
    (Vote. Him. Out.)
    – The SCOTUS, post-RBG
    – COVID-19 and the second (and third?) wave(s) I want to live and have a long healthy retirement. (I’ve already voted 😉 ).
    – The economy, longer-term
    – Health care
    – Civil unrest on both ends of the political spectrum
    – Anti-science on both ends of the political spectrum

    • revelator60
      Posted October 21, 2020 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

      “Dinner: Leftover brat (1)”

      I understand the child was misbehaving, but isn’t this a rather drastic punishment?

      • GBJames
        Posted October 21, 2020 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

        LOL

      • Posted October 21, 2020 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

        It also implies they had their brats at least two nights running. Must have a large number of offspring, at the moment anyway.

      • Posted October 23, 2020 at 7:22 am | Permalink

        Ha! Love it. I assume everyone knows the Middle West expression for Bratwurst (which you can get excellent local examples of around here).

  12. Posted October 21, 2020 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    One result of Calvin’s ideas is that active atheism becomes less offensive because God may be working in them compared to those in the pews who agree with everything from the pulpit while being far from a loving relationship.

  13. Jon Gallant
    Posted October 21, 2020 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    What bothers me particularly about America today is the telephone. My landline often receives as many as 41(!!!) calls a day, most from promoters, scammers, and swindlers, and many with fake telephone numbers. This is not only a public nuisance (and in regard to the caller IDs straight-up fraud), it is also
    a public safety danger. Those of us with disabled family members, about whom there are sometimes emergency calls, cannot simply disregard all phone calls because of the
    preponderance of frauds. I am tempted to conclude that a swindler chief executive is just right for a swindler society.

    • darrelle
      Posted October 21, 2020 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

      For just that reason we got rid of our land-line phone about 5 years ago. Used to drive me nuts.

      As cell phone ownership increased no one I cared to talk to on a phone was calling me on the land-line anyway. But every day there would be a dozen calls on the answering machine. All solicitors.

    • Derek Freyberg
      Posted October 21, 2020 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

      Jon:
      If your landline is a VOIP line, say from AT&T U-verse or from your cable company, try NoMoRobo (nomorobo.com). It’s a free system that intercepts many scam calls: the phone rings once, then the call goes away. We’ve used it for several years and are happy, though it doesn’t stop everything – but then nothing other than disconnecting the phone does. Regrettably it does not work on plain old phone lines; and it’s a subscription service for cell phones, which we don’t bother with because the number of scam calls is small enough not to justify it.
      Anyone else please speak up if you know of a good blocking service.

      • Mark R.
        Posted October 21, 2020 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for the advice…I have a VOIP line and get way too many calls…especially now with the election. I’ll check out nomorobo.

    • Posted October 21, 2020 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

      I would add this recommendation: While you may not be able to disregard all calls, that doesn’t mean you have to answer them. Use voicemail to screen; important callers can leave a quick message (one would think) asking you to call right back. My voicemail makes it clear that I never answer calls from numbers I don’t recognize, but if they leave a message (and it’s interesting enough) I’ll get back to them.

      Sometimes I even do.

      • Posted October 21, 2020 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

        This is what we do. I tell everyone: LEAVE A MESSAGE; I will either pickup or call you back.

        • GBJames
          Posted October 21, 2020 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

          Wait…. not responding is off the table?

          • Posted October 21, 2020 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

            Of course, to those 99+% that are sales people.

            “We are calling you about the extended warranty on your car, which is about to end., This is the last time we will call you to extend your warranty …”

            Oh, PLEASE, make the last call! 🙂

            • Posted October 21, 2020 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

              Of course not I should have said.

              • Posted October 21, 2020 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

                Nobody uses the phone anymore. Phones are so 20th century.
                D.A., NYC

              • Posted October 23, 2020 at 7:24 am | Permalink

                DA NYC: Please tell all those telemarketers for me! 🙂

    • Alexander
      Posted October 21, 2020 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

      I get sometimes a call by somebody saying he is from Microsoft and that he has detected some virus in my computer. So I ask him where he is calling from. They answer: “from California.” I then ask, what time is it there? This usually results in the caller hanging up.

  14. Barry Lyons
    Posted October 21, 2020 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    I want to comment on the idea on “Whether atheists have committed wrongs in the name of atheism.” I’m unable to attach a meme (only URLs, I guess) but one that crossed my path on Twitter is perfect:

    “‘Prepare to die in the name of atheism,’ said no one ever.”

    • Posted October 21, 2020 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

      In some of my darker moods, I wish someone would. Then maybe the Woke would start making excuses not to offend atheist sensibilities.

  15. TJR
    Posted October 21, 2020 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    What worries me about America?

    Pretty much all of it?

    Just when the world really needs the US to step up to its Leader Of The Free World position, it, erm, isn’t.

    US films, TV and news usually make the US look like some sort of dystopian hellhole full of nutters with guns, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t really.

  16. Mark
    Posted October 21, 2020 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    Was anyone ever murdered because they didn’t believe in Zeus?

    • Rud Moe
      Posted October 21, 2020 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

      Socrates

  17. notsecurelyanchored
    Posted October 21, 2020 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Does this mean there’s hope?
    https://www.thejournal.ie/opponents-utah-civility-video-5240210-Oct2020/

    • EdwardM
      Posted October 21, 2020 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

      I was looking for the Onion masthead when I saw that. A nice gesture. I hope it spreads.

  18. KD33
    Posted October 21, 2020 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think the atheist “thought leaders” (whether they are “new Atheists” or not) have been strident or unreasonable. The claims of the believing world that they have is just a reaction to having their beliefs questioned in such a straightforward way, and coming to the realization that they are losing on rational grounds.

    What worries me about America: the willingness of 40% of us to believe blatantly false information: that Dems are pedophiles, that climate change isn’t caused by humans, that Obama spied on the Trump campaign, that Trump rallies draw 40,000 people, that Fauci is a “complete failure,” that any information that doesn’t comport with someone’s worldview is Fake News. The arguments over free speech seem quaint in the face of this.

  19. anthonyherbert2014
    Posted October 21, 2020 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think atheists are offensive at all to believers of any religion.
    I do think that some of the reaction to Richard Dawkins by so called Christians is very offensive towards him.

    The U.S.
    As an Englishman I do not have any right to say what bothers me about the country. I will just say I think Trump is awful.

    For dinner this evening it is tinned tuna (in olive oil), mashed potatoes and broccoli.
    Dessert is a pear tart from a local French patisserie.
    Wine is a 60% cabernet franc 40% cabernet sauvignon, vin bio, inexpensive but very nice.

  20. Nicolaas Stempels
    Posted October 21, 2020 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    Atheist question: No, and a small yes.
    I think his (and Hitches) frontal approach has helped many to take the step to leave the nonsense. A small yes, because it has entrenched those that are not very open to reason to close the door completely. But on the whole: No it did not harm, but helped.

    There is a lot bothering me in the USA today.
    – First it is your inequitable and sometimes fraudulent electoral system that saw an ignorant clown (and probably a hostile foreign asset) become president, while still pretending to be the world’s greatest democracy.
    – related: USA ‘exceptionalism’. Parochiality.
    – Mr Trump himself, and Mr McConnell, and Mr Graham and… the list is long.
    – A profoundly undemocratic (a vote in Wyoming weighs 70 times one in NY) body, the Senate, being about the most powerful in government.
    – Denialism: science and Global Warming.
    – The obsession with fire arms, and the blatant (obvious to any non-USian and luckily many USians too) and wilful misreading of the 2nd Amendment in it’s defense.
    – Tucker Carlson
    The list is incomplete, just starters. Note there is a lot I like about the US, but that was not the question (modest hint, nudge, nudge, wink, wink).

    I’m having a very traditional Cape dish, vetkoek with curried mince. All from fresh ingredients, so really very nice. It is accompanied by a local Pinotage (a local South African hybrid grape), simple but succulent and satisfying meal. The kids love my curried mince with vetkoek, and that weighs with me.

  21. Posted October 21, 2020 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    Richard Dawkins and those with a similar anti-theistic views should keep it up. People are still too nice to religious beliefs, which should be laughed out and derided at every opportunity. However, I have the suspicion that activism is often coming with social developments, and is rather a public rationalization than pushing society in new directions.

    Nassim Nicholas Taleb wrote on “Religion, Violence, Tolerance & Progress: Nothing to do with Theology” today, making the case once more that it’s all about the social group.

    He says in the headline that it got “nothing to do with theology”, which I find far too strong. However, I do agree that social orientation of believers towards each other plays a major role and that New Atheists have ignored that a bit too much.

    People generally associate themselves with groups or tribes somehow (“identities”), and those social tribes and their dynamics then determine the degree and nature of their beliefs and how strictly they follow one doctrine or another. An individual will then further draw from the social group, that identity, as well as aspects of the theology to meet their (emotional) needs.

    For this, I find the idea of hyper- and hypocognition useful. If you don’t have a word, or concept for something, you have nothing to latch onto. If the religion however glorifies matyrs and violence against blasphemers, and that’s a “a thing” in their community, then certain demographics (young men without perspective etc) may see this as a way out, to meet certain emotional needs. If the theology for this doesn’t exist, such expression won’t exist in that religious community, it won’t be “a thing”.

  22. David Harper
    Posted October 21, 2020 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    As a Brit with an American wife, living in the UK, my problem with the U.S. is mainly the abominable way that it treats its ex-pat citizens, notably the assumption by the federal government that it can pry into their financial affairs in ways that would not be tolerated by Americans living in the 50 states. A growing number of ex-pat Americans are choosing to renounce their citizenship over this, and for once, Tr*mp cannot be blamed, because the most egregious intrusions are made under the FATCA law passed in 2010 during the Obama presidency.

    • Posted October 21, 2020 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

      Perhaps Trump can’t be blamed but I’m guessing he would be fine with the “abominable” policy. It was Trumpish before Trump.

  23. Posted October 21, 2020 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    What bothers me about the USA…

    As a European I feel that your nation is too divided. It takes at least two sides to make a democracy. You would never go to a ball-game if only one side showed-up. So, it requires a great effort to try to listen and to understand your political opposite. When I lived in The States (12 years) I tried to do just that. After just a little practise I fell into the habit of talking with political sides with a genuine and enquiring attitude, and was delighted to find that there was a lot to understand, and much to agree with. So, please be a little more interested in those open-carriers, and Trump supporters and Southern old boys. Find areas of agreement rather than ride upon familiar insults. To be honest I even found time for Southern racists, and religious extremists. I guess they found it easier to accept me on account of my English accent. And, in learning about their lives and their beliefs, they become much more human to me…

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted October 21, 2020 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

      The thing you have to remember about us Yanks is that it started out this way. It is not something brand new, this big divide. Jefferson and Madison started it not long after the first president (Washington) took office. They became the anti-Washington party you might say. And Jefferson was still a cabinet member when he did it. It was dirty and underhanded and before it was over, Washington wrote off both of them. So this is how we started politics in this country although many never heard of it.

      Certainly Trump takes it to a new low, so if our party does not get rid of him, this democratic experiment will likely be over.

    • Alexander
      Posted October 21, 2020 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

      I think the two-party system of the US government is a big problem. A two-party system in practice is a one-party system, every member of senate and congress votes according to their party line, so the party with the largest party rules. The same problem exists in the UK, which explains the Brexit, something every Brit with any common sense regrets.

  24. Posted October 21, 2020 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    Here is what worries me about the US as an Australian and student of US politics and history since high school

    • Posted October 21, 2020 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

      US Exceptionalism. The US has thought itself exceptional and in many ways it has been. The world has benefited from Pax Americana. The hubris arising from that fact has led though to a nation which thinks itself as the perfect model by which other nations should model themselves. However we have universal healthcare single payer system, gun control a functioning democracy, free press and wildlife that always wants to kill you. Much of that comes from the role the US played post 1945 but the ideas were there before WW1. You have blown your credibility as a democracy and place as a world leader because of your hubris

      Gun control. Enough said. We did it in 1996 inside three months and haven’t had a mass killing since and homicide and suicide rates are now lower as a result

      Health care. Enough said

      Religion’s role in politics.

      You are killing the world, not saving it. So that is what annoys me about the US at the moment

      • Posted October 21, 2020 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

        I’d be careful when you use phrases like “you are killing the world.” Many of us–probably most readers here–don’t sign on to the policies you deplore. The readers of this website are not “killing the world.”

        Try to have some civility, please, and try not to tar all Americans with these sins.

      • Posted October 21, 2020 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

        Health care: Agreed. Stupid.

        Religion: Agreed. We’re getting there — slowly, very slowly

        Gun control: The 2nd amendment (and every SCOTUS) will prevent a general roundup as in Oz (and 330M people vs. 17M? people). I support sensible gun control; but don’t have an interest in giving up my guns, given the number of guns out there and who is holding them (including a large slice who are law-abiding citizens but display terrible judgement). I agree with Sam Harris on guns (in the USA).

        US Exceptionalism. The US has been exceptional in many ways. You correctly identify the hubris (and the tribalism/nationalism, a la Trump) that it engenders. A USian can see the exceptional history and features of the USA without being an ass about it.

        • GBJames
          Posted October 21, 2020 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

          I think you and Sam are wrong on the gun issue. I’d give my gun up in a heartbeat if there was a general program of removing guns from civilian hands.

          Of course, my gun is a 1848 Garibaldi rifle of Civil War vintage. It is rusted and couldn’t shoot a bullet of any kind. The bayonet, however, could do damage. It will help fend off the tyrannical government when the black helocopters start flying in.
          🙃

          • kathy
            Posted October 21, 2020 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

            When I opened my office here in very rural Southern Oregon, many people told me I needed a gun, “obviously”.
            So, I knit one out of a lovely grey Angora/wool blend. It has been very effective, and our sheriff gave me the OK to open-carry.

            • GBJames
              Posted October 21, 2020 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

              Ha!

          • Posted October 23, 2020 at 7:34 am | Permalink

            “I’d give my gun up in a heartbeat if there was a general program of removing guns from civilian hands.”

            Well, yes. But that is a mighty big if.

            My wife’s ex. is a little … weird, and he has guns. Hence my perceived need.

            No one has ever seen me carrying a gun, except on my brother’s property in wooded, extremely rural Minnesota, for practice and sighting in scopes. I do not have a concealed-carry permit and don’t plan to get one. (I find that the people who most want to carry are middle class, middle aged, white men in the US: Perhaps the least threatened large group of people to ever have walked the earth. This would be hilarious if it weren’t so sad. Or should I say?: Unfair! Sad! 🙂 ))

            As I said, I am strongly in favor of sensible gun control laws. They just seem to be impossible to achieve, in the USA. I do write my elected officials asking for this.

            I’d be (genuinely) curious to hear a point-by-point critique of Sam Harris’s essay on guns (in the USA). I find his logic very solid (I’m being Captain Obvious here).

            I grew up with guns all around (no: safes, trigger-locks, hearing protection, safety glasses, etc.) Mine are all locked. I enjoy shooting as a sport (I don’t do that much of it; but I like to maintain proficiency).

            I am teaching my son how to shoot and, especially, how to handle firearms safely and range etiquette. He’s going to encounter others with firearms in his life; and I want him to know what safe handling looks like (and to get the heck out of there if people are being unsafe; I have had to do that).

        • Posted October 22, 2020 at 4:50 am | Permalink

          Given the statistics on suicide and accidental homicides, the person most likely to be killed by one of your guns is you and the second most likely person to be killed by one of your guns is somebody near you when you discharge it negligently.

          The case for gun ownership for safety doesn’t stack up. If you own guns because you are a collector or because you enjoy shooting them for sport, that’s another matter.

          • Alexander
            Posted October 22, 2020 at 6:52 am | Permalink

            “you enjoy shooting them for sport, that’s another matter.”

            Have you ever served in the army? I had to, as well as any other young person who is healthy. How you enjoy shooting a gun is to me a mystery.

            • Posted October 22, 2020 at 8:04 am | Permalink

              I’m British so my contact with guns is limited. The only shooting I’ve done with them is clay pigeon shooting one. I didn’t find it very exciting.

              However, I find the mechanics of how they work and the history to be quite interesting, so I do watch quite a lot of gun channels on Youtube. People who enjoy shooting guns do exist.

            • GBJames
              Posted October 22, 2020 at 8:45 am | Permalink

              I used to shoot bow and arrow at target ranges. It was for me a kind of mental and physical discipline. I suppose one can approach guns in a similar way although for me it is not appealing. In any case, most gun owners, to my knowledge, aren’t in it for the target shooting.

              • Posted October 22, 2020 at 10:10 am | Permalink

                Interestingly, the same day I did the clay pigeon shooting was also the day I did some archery. I found that a much more engaging pastime.

              • Posted October 23, 2020 at 7:51 am | Permalink

                Most gun owners I know are into target shooting. It’s the only way to gain and maintain competence. Like anything else (especially dangerous things), practice makes you better and safer, assuming you are practicing safe procedures. (And I surely know some who don’t!)

                The end purpose for most is either hunting or protection. In the US, there is, in my opinion, a legitimate case for home protection.

                I find the (relatively recent) craze for concealed carry ridiculous. Very, very few people have a legitimate need for CC, in my opinion. Far, far fewer than have a permit.

                I am truly more concerned about most CC people than the people they are supposedly seeking protection from.

                Recently, we were staying at a hotel in northeastern WI. In the breakfast room, a (white, middle aged, male) came in with a large automatic pistol stuck in his waistband, very obvious. I immediately got up and took my family back to our room.

                Anyone who has such bad judgement that they thought they were threatened in that breakfast room — and had a gun on them — was someone I wanted to be very far away from.

            • Posted October 23, 2020 at 7:44 am | Permalink

              How anyone can enjoy golf, for instance, or NASCAR racing is a mystery to me. Or riding around on snowmobiles.

              Chacun à son goût.

              • Alexander
                Posted October 23, 2020 at 8:29 am | Permalink

                Guns are tools for killing people or animals. That spoils the fun for me totally, just like a toy guillotine would if I were a kid. I don’t know if snowmobiles are much fun. As a kid I used to slide down from hills with a sled during winter, but I don’t think I would get a kik out of it now.

          • savage
            Posted October 22, 2020 at 10:06 am | Permalink

            The case for gun ownership is the staggering crime rate in some parts of the US. The knowledge that some of the potential prey are armed can deter criminals. What should the Roof Koreans have done in your opinion, when blacks were out to massacre them with the police nowhere to be seen?

            • Posted October 22, 2020 at 10:11 am | Permalink

              The old “the solution to the gun problem is more guns” trope. Yeah, right.

              • savage
                Posted October 22, 2020 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

                With more confidence in the government’s ability and willingness to uphold law and order (unlike what occurred this summer), fewer people would care to own guns.

                Yet every time there are riots, gun sales soar. They also tend to increase whenever there is talk of restricting gun rights, for what it’s worth.

              • GBJames
                Posted October 22, 2020 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

                They do soar under those conditions, fueled mostly by purchases by people building their personal armory. Overall family gun ownership has declined over the decades while the right wing nuts amass ever larger stockpiles. To keep the peace, of course.

            • Posted October 22, 2020 at 10:20 am | Permalink

              If your neighbourhood is too dangerous to live in without owning a gun, you need a different neighbourhood.

              I’m not at all sure why you were bringing up the roof Koreans when their situation pertains to a riot, not normal day to day living.People died because of their actions. How many looted shops is a human life worth?

              • savage
                Posted October 22, 2020 at 11:08 am | Permalink

                Riots are a somewhat regular occurrence in America. This year they were particularly common. In day to day living, there are quarters in many major cities which a liberal-minded person would not dare to enter unless mentally handicapped or suicidal. The UK does not have them, at least not yet.

                I find it callous how you dismiss the safety concerns of ordinary people, as though crime was their deserved punishment for moral failings like not being able to afford a fancy neighborhood with private schools or private security. Let them eat cake!

              • Posted October 22, 2020 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

                Riots are a somewhat regular occurrence in America.

                If that’s the case, it seems a somewhat stupid idea to make guns easily available in America.

                I find it callous how you dismiss the safety concerns of ordinary people

                Not as callous as putting the protection of property over people’s lives. The statistics show that guns do not save ordinary people, even in the USA.

              • Posted October 23, 2020 at 8:19 am | Permalink

                The legal standard is that you can use deadly force if there is a reasonable belief that you or someone else is under threat of death (or serious injury).

                It’s not legal to use deadly force to only prevent property damage or theft.

                If someone breaks into your building (home or business), knowing you are in the building, they are very likely not planning only property damage or theft.

                As Sam Harris says, actually using a gun against someone is going to change your life and may well be the biggest mistake you ever make, even if you are not shot.

                The BLM protests of 2020 have had a pretty mixed bag of injuries and deaths:

                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Violence_and_controversies_during_the_George_Floyd_protests

                Who is to blame?

                Can you defend against someone burning your home with you in it? At least one person died in the arson fires in Minneapolis in late May.

              • Posted October 23, 2020 at 10:17 am | Permalink

                What is the statistical likelihood of somebody burning your home down with you in it? Can we compare the number of times that has happened in the USA with the number of people killed or seriously injured by negligent discharges of firearms?

            • Posted October 23, 2020 at 7:58 am | Permalink

              I just keep pointing people to Sam Harris’s essay. It’s the most sensible thing I’ve seen written on the subject.

              GB James, above disagrees with Sam. I have asked him for a critique of the essay. Not that he’s obligated to provide one. But I would like to see one.

              • GBJames
                Posted October 23, 2020 at 9:35 am | Permalink

                I think Sam just ignores the massive negative consequences of easy access to guns. He thinks that the fact that he personally takes the weapons seriously (in terms of training, etc.) means that public policy should allow the country to be awash in guns. I don’t buy the argument because far more people are maimed and killed than are protected. When you balance the costs and benefits the matter is really quite simple.

              • Posted October 23, 2020 at 10:26 am | Permalink

                +1 especially the 1st sentence. Every gun owner thinks they handle guns safely and, therefore, there’s not a gun problem. Some might be right but not all of them.

          • Posted October 23, 2020 at 7:42 am | Permalink

            Yes, this is statistically true. But then most gun owners in the US are probably incompetent, just like most US drivers.

            I predict a zero percent chance of either of those happening in my case.

            My guns are locked at all times, except on the range, and then only one is unlocked at a time. They are all stored unloaded. I am the only person with access to the keys, codes, (and one lock reads my fingerprint).

            I practice safe handling of guns and have never had any type of mishap in 50 years of shooting and hundreds of hours. I am extremely diligent and focused on safety around guns: I do not treat them casually at all. (Much as I am focused on safety around the large power tools (powerful saws and sanders) I use almost every day.)

            • Posted October 23, 2020 at 8:24 am | Permalink

              And I can consistently hit what I shoot at.

            • Posted October 23, 2020 at 10:18 am | Permalink

              Right, but those incompetent gun owners all say the same thing. That’s the problem in a nutshell.

              • Posted October 26, 2020 at 8:51 am | Permalink

                Can they say the same things about how they handle guns? Obviously they can’t, given the stats.

              • Posted October 26, 2020 at 9:52 am | Permalink

                But I’m pretty sure they do. It would be hard to find a gun owner willing to admit that they handle guns unsafely. Then there’s the ones that handle guns unsafely but think they are being safe.

  25. Stephen Barnard
    Posted October 21, 2020 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    As much as I admired Christopher Hitchens (I named my dog after him), his default debating style was offensive condescension, and he was very good at it.

    • Posted October 21, 2020 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

      He never pretended otherwise, though (as you know, of course, being his admirer), and even referred to himself as an “anti-theist” not merely an atheist. Anyone who couldn’t handle his style could take a number, get in line, and kiss his a*s, as I think he put it. It’s still a long way from cutting people’s heads off or threatening to do so. I think his style actually helped convince more people than it turned off…being too conciliatory (like Mr. DeBakey in the argument clinic), or even simply too polite, can make some people feel that the speaker lacks the courage of her or his convictions. Would that it were not the case, but humans are suckers for primate dominance displays.

    • savage
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 10:24 am | Permalink

      His flaws became apparent to me once I found yourself on the other side.

      When being against the Iraq War meant getting labeled a fascist by him, I became more sympathetic to Christians who did not like being called admirers of a celestial North Korea. Throughout his work, disagreements are usually presented in terms of a struggle between good and evil people. His failure to distinguish between factual claims and moral judgment ultimately ended my admiration for him. Then there is the issue that for all his erudition, Hitchens was a lousy factchecker and seldom bothered to do research before writing on a subject, preferring clever-sounding phrases and anecdotes while eschewing any quantitative arguments.

  26. Jonathan Dore
    Posted October 21, 2020 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    Atheist “stridency”: on the whole I think it’s been remarkably productive: the decisive and sustained upswing since 2006 in the number of avowed unbelievers in the US (particularly) is clear evidence that the “four horsemen” (and many others less famous) opened up the conversation, and people’s thoughts about what they could say out loud, in a way that had simply not happened before. The background of genuine, informed assent to theological propositions may have been hollowing out gradually in the previous decades, but the social reluctance to voice disbelief openly was still very powerful in the United States, which meant that the power of organized religion was still very hard to confront. Dawkins and the others changed all that. About those who claimed to be offended we can ask a very simple question: would a “kinder, gentler” atheism have made them any more likely to become atheists? In the vast majority of cases, they aren’t people open to that possibility in any case.

  27. eric
    Posted October 21, 2020 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    What are you having for dinner (include beverage, especially if it’s wine)?

    Tonight’s menu for the kid and I:
    -Choice of broccoli or bell peppers for veg. (I’ll be having the bells)
    -Choice of fish sticks, meatballs, or apple chicken sausage for meat (sausage for me).
    -Fruit will be mango or baked pineapple, depending on whether I get off my butt here in a few minutes and make the baked pineapple or not.
    -Choice of orange juice, lemonade, milk, almond milk, or sparkling water for the drink (sparkling water for me).

    Possible beer after kid goes to bed. I have four left of a six-pack of Saisons in the fridge, but frankly they were a bit disappointing so they may sit in my fridge for another few days…or possibly not.

  28. C.
    Posted October 21, 2020 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    It appears as though everyone here eats and drinks better than I.

    The only things I miss about city life is the food and drink. I think the only Belgian beer I can get out in the tRumpistan boondocks is Stella Artois. Restaurants are limited to the usual franchises. I do so miss Indian food, good Mexican food (I.e. not Taco Bell) and especially Belgian ales…doubles, triples, quads, blondes, brun, all the Trappist delights (the only good thing that ever came out of monasteries), funky farmhouse saison, gueuze, lambic..,

  29. Mark R.
    Posted October 21, 2020 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    I’m harvesting all the garden vegetables before the frost comes, so I have a plethora of tomatoes, beets, carrots, delicata squash and chard.
    So tonight I’m making Russian borscht and will use up a lot of beets and carrots. I usually do the cold vegetarian “New York deli” borscht, but the Russian version is hot, has chuck roast, tomatoes and is a better/heartier cold-weather soup. It also freezes well. While cooking the borscht and eating it, I’ll be drinking Pilsner Urquell.

    From reading responses to this post, I conclude many readers will be eating well tonight.

    • GBJames
      Posted October 21, 2020 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

      I’ve since learned that tonight’s dinner will be soup made from some of the same ingredients you mention. It is a good time of the year for soup.

      • Mark R.
        Posted October 21, 2020 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

        My theory (mine) is that soup is the best food humans ever invented and might even be the answer to our divisions. Appropriation BE Damned! Soup Unites! Where’s that T-shirt?

    • Posted October 21, 2020 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

      I’m envious. I love both kinds of borscht and your choice of beer. Bon appetit! Or Приятного аппетита!

  30. Posted October 21, 2020 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    Although a bit late to this discussion, I’ll put two cents in the jar.

    “Do prominent atheists really display offensive condescension towards believers, and, if so, has it worked against the cause of antitheism?”

    Probably, but it is hard to avoid. They are trying to repudiate strongly held belief in fantasy. Telling others that their imaginary rabbit isn’t real is bound to be seen as condescending or, at a minimum, not taken well.

    Ok, here’s my complaint of the day. It has recently come to light that “the parents of 545 children separated at the border still haven’t been found.”

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/10/21/family-separation-parents-border-covid/

    This, coupled with the history of how Trump’s child separating policy got implemented is riling up people. Here are some really pissed off political commentators talking about it. As they say, these people should be held accountable:

    https://thenextlevel.thebulwark.com/p/these-people-should-be-held-accountable

  31. Leigh
    Posted October 21, 2020 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    I do not think we are critical enough or public enough in our criticism of religion. I also think we are too defensive of secular ideas. It is not my job to defend atheism. It is my job to ask that religious people defend their ideas. They are the ones bringing religion into public space and demanding that I tolerate it; they go beyond tolerance and demand that I participate and accept their ideas as true and good and adopt them as my own. Further they characterize me as evil and demonic. And you all dare ask if atheism is too condescending? You have got to be pulling my leg — sorry I didn’t see the joke.

    Religion is only defensible as private
    belief.

    • darrelle
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 7:10 am | Permalink

      Right on.

    • Blue
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 9:54 am | Permalink

      Yes. Yes, Ms Leigh.

      Now ? Now IF attacked for my gods’ – less –
      ness, I calmly come back at my attacker with,
      ” I am offended that you ‘ld think me,
      a reasonist, a realist and one trained in
      the sciences, … … that you would think
      that I mollycoddle such wrong and stupid
      thinkings. Do you truly believe me that
      dumb, So – and – So ? ”

      That shuts them up. They, with dropped jaw,

      ‘ust walk the ‘ell away from me.

      Blue

  32. Smith T Powell
    Posted October 21, 2020 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    I sent this to a friend who couldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton for the reasons quoted below.

    Three things have concerned me about the election. First of all, I think we have elected someone singularly unsuited for the job. He is a pathological liar, an extreme narcissist, horribly ignorant and incurious, a racist, and misogynistic Any one of these is a disqualifier. In sum, they are a horrendous indictment. Secondly, I am very concerned about the kind of people that will gain power under his administration. Steve Bannon, Mitch McConnell, Mike Flynn, Paul Ryan, and the list goes on. I do not think they have the best interests of the nation or of the world in mind. Thirdly, and most profoundly, I am deeply disappointed in the electorate. You stated, “As you know I lean conservative and could not in good conscience consider a corrupt lying hypocrite with ties to the isis world through huge donations and promises not in the best interest of our country’s security.” I heard that statement and similar ones from other friends and family members. At heart, I think such sentiments reflect an inability to distinguish fact from fiction, or to use the current terminology, news from fake news. This development bodes ill for the country. As you know, I have been railing against this dumbing down of America for some time. For example, reread my recent post to you on global warming. Unless we can reliably ascertain fact and act on it, we have no hope as a democracy or as a country.–STP 15 December 2016

    • Jim Danielson
      Posted October 21, 2020 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

      I believe the entrenchment of the right in an information bubble is the greatest danger facing America. Yes, the left has it’s own bubble but it’s just beginning and has a way to go before they are at the level of the right.

      If a society can not tell fact from fiction and not be bothered to determine which it is with a sixty second search, then we are in serious trouble.

      The GOP and some very wealthy right wingers deliberately created the right wing bubble to further their own interests. Now it’s a mixture between the dog wagging the tail and the tail wagging the dog.

      I don’t see a way out of it when a large number are convinced all media except the ones they watch are fake news. QAnon is gaining traction on the right remarkably fast.

      A Forbes article states:
      “When “QAnon” is removed from the question and respondents are asked solely about the conspiracy theory’s underlying myth—that Trump is valiantly fighting child sex-trafficking rings run by Democrats—half of Trump’s supporters believe that’s what he’s doing.”

      A Washington Post article:
      “About six-in-ten (61%) of the Republicans whose only major sources of election news (among the eight asked about) are those with right-leaning audiences – talk radio and/or Fox News – say mail-in voter fraud is a major problem. But that figure falls to 23% among Republicans whose major news sources do not include talk radio or Fox News.”

      I think Trump losing the election will further break their brains. Republicans losing the Senate and Trump will make their heads explode.

      I’ll also note, for the record, that in previous comments I worried about violence should the election go against Trump and the Republicans and some said Trump supporters were too cowardly. That was before the arrest of fourteen suspects from a militia for a conspiracy to kidnap a Democrat governor and kill police.

      I’m also very concerned about the damage Trump will do between the election and swearing in of Joe Biden. I believe losing to Biden will make Trump behave like a cornered animal. An animal with a case of rabies.
      Trump has been making very poor decisions all along. Losing, and the prospect of prison, losing his business will push him to act out more than usual and Republicans, even with a few suddenly remorseful ones, will not be a bulwark against Trump.

      OTOH, Trump and Republicans winning, by hook or by crook, will be even worse for the long term.

      • Posted October 21, 2020 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

        Trump looks to be retreating to his own bubble. His campaign is supposedly out of money. He’s doing his rallies in places he’ll win easily so it is only ego-stroking at this point. If he loses, perhaps he’ll lose even more interest and just go away.

        The voters are the bigger problem. The GOP will be looking at taking advantage of their lack of information and are bound to be more competent at pursuing a Trumpist policy than Trump himself. It’s going to be a scary time.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted October 21, 2020 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

      He is a pathological liar, an extreme narcissist, horribly ignorant and incurious, a racist, and misogynistic

      Sorry, I lost track. Are we talking Johnson or Trump here?

  33. Ken Kukec
    Posted October 21, 2020 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    I see Pope Frankie the First has come out in favor of civil unions for same-sex couples, saying LGBT folk should be made to feel welcome in the Church.

    Puts His Holiness a decade or so behind the rest of liberal society, but a few centuries ahead of his predecessor, Ratzie.

  34. amyt
    Posted October 21, 2020 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    DearPCCE. Here’s the deal. You do not have to post multiple times a day. Or everyday for that matter. I am always amazed at the number of times/day that you post and often wondered “Dog, does that man ever sleep?” So many of your posts are well researched and I often can’t brain them; so I can’t imagine writing them. My best advice: Do what you can. Sleep when you can. Your readers will certainly understand. I do. It’s going to be a long and stressful 2 weeks+ Most importantly, take care of yourself.

  35. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted October 21, 2020 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

    Whether atheists have committed wrongs in the name of atheism is a tricky question. The Soviet Union, for instance, persecuted Jews and other believers in the name of a doctrine that they at least saw as tied to atheism, and today the Chinese government is committing genocidal acts against the Uighurs for related reasons. Even if we lay those aside, the condescension that some prominent atheists display toward religious believers, although not nearly as grievous, is nothing to be particularly proud of. (Of course, historically we atheists haven’t fared too well at the hands of organized religion, either.)

    Those parties were not using “atheist” ideologies, they were communist. Atheism was an afterthought to concentrate and solidify power.

    An analogy could be how highways are not “night ways” but may have lights to ease traffic.

    Also, May is – of course – accepting the religious method of confusing criticism of subject with criticism of person.

    • savage
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

      > Those parties were not using “atheist” ideologies, they were communist. Atheism was an afterthought to concentrate and solidify power.

      One might as well say that 9/11 had nothing to do with Islam. Yet the persecution of religion under Communism is a historical fact (perhaps harder for me to deny because I have relatives who experienced it). There was also anti-clerical violence during various conflicts that involved socialists/communists, e.g. the Spanish Civil War.

      Sometimes it was as absurd as banning ghosts in movies, but it also involved wholesale bans of religious activity and murders of religious figures. You can imagine that some religious people remember these atrocities and even revere some of their victims as martyrs.

  36. tjeales
    Posted October 21, 2020 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

    So how about the New Zealand and Bolivian elections? Pretty good stuff. Maybe 2020 is starting to soften its apocalypse

  37. ladyatheist
    Posted October 21, 2020 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

    Bothering me about America right now – death threats and plots and attempts on the lives of women politicians.

    Someone threatened both Biden & Harris, but his threat against Harris was more gruesome and included rape.

    WTH?

    And it’s not new this year. It’s just worse this year.

    https://www.google.com/search?q=death+threats+against+women+politiians&oq=death+threats+against+women+politiians&aqs=chrome..69i57.5944j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

  38. Blue
    Posted October 21, 2020 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

    What absolutely frosts me: cherry – picking
    religionists. Of any frickin’ stripe.

    But, say, in re those of christianity, for an
    example. We atheists get toasted cuz we are
    said to be condescending to these believers
    of superstitious myths ? I am expected
    to NOT be offended when I am called out
    … … which has just very recently occurred
    and we are no longer, because of it, with
    a friendship … … for my mocking the
    UNscience, the f i c t i o n, the lies and
    the sexism that is rampant within christianity’s
    bible. I am expected to NOT be offended by
    that person’s y2020 / 21st Century upholding
    of such a piece of UNevidenced, UNscientific
    muck. As a person trained in science within
    the 20th Century, I am OFFENDED when I am
    come at, from such cherry – pickin’ nutz,
    for my NOT being ” gracious ” and for my
    not ” forbearing ” wrong and stupid beliefs.
    ¡ Ones often violently acted upon, for that
    matter !

    Said person and christianity’s very many,
    many others just p i c k out what they wanna
    have as their beliefs and leave out / walk
    away from ALL of the other freakin’ nonsense
    that is within its tenets. It truly angers
    me that IF one ‘wants’ to call themselves
    a christian, say a catholic christian, THEN
    does not that person, by that want of his or
    hers, HAVE TO HOLD AS TRUE … … ALL of
    its tenets ? !

    c u z, if NOT, t h e n in order to NOT become
    a hypocrite, one canNOT call oneself such a
    catholic ? INCLUDING holding as TRUE … …
    ALL of its tenets WITHIN ONE’S JOB … …
    as well as within one’s personal and family
    life.

    WHICH GETS ME TO Ms Amy Coney Barrett. That
    person is lying. She lies when she says she
    CAN and WILL separate her SCOTUS job from
    her private life. She canNOT and, yet,
    call herself ANY kind of a christian.

    And, squat for supper save for tart cherry concentrate, two tablespoons within five ounces
    of blueberry kefir.

    But for lunch ? Thus, … … rotisseried
    chicken breast, carmelized brussels sprouts
    and a Mendozan Malbec.

    Blue

  39. Posted October 22, 2020 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    “Do prominent atheists really display offensive condescension towards believers, and, if so, has it worked against the cause of antitheism?”

    I don’t think there’s much question that some prominent atheists display offensive condescension toward “goddies.” What I find interesting is that the follow-up question is whether such condescension has worked against the cause of antitheism. The implication seems to be that offensive condescension is OK as long as it isn’t counterproductive to the movement. Is that really a position you want to endorse?

    • Posted October 22, 2020 at 10:58 am | Permalink

      No, that is not the implication, I was acting about simple tactics. I also think one should be civil in one’s discourse.

      It’s time for you to leave this website. Your comments are repeatedly obtuse, and I am not endorsing being condescending or offensive. I’m tired of this kind of distortion.

  40. Posted October 22, 2020 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    I would like to bring up the supernatural. Todd May says all varieties of atheism “have in common the denial of a supernatural deity.” May goes on to say, “ My own atheism involves a denial of the supernatural in all its forms,…”. I whole heartedly agree with May’s feelings about the supernatural in all its forms, whatever in hell he means by “all its forms”.
    It’s not just about denial of supernatural deities, it is about denial of the supernatural realm where the immaterial divine are said to reside. Children are taught the delusion of the supernatural with stories of fairies, ghosts, Santa and a heavenly father and then come to believe that heaven really is out there, somewhere.
    Of course, evidence cannot be found for non-existence, but for the not completely convinced, what more does one need to know about how the supernatural realm was created, and which makes more sense, one life or two?
    GROG

    • GBJames
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

      “…Children are taught the delusion of the supernatural with stories of fairies, ghosts, Santa…”

      I don’t think it is useful to conflate make-believe stories about fairies and Santa with religious indoctrination. The former are commonly recognized by everyone over age eight to be fantasy. Fun for playing with but make-believe none-the-less. Only when it comes to religion do adults block the similar understanding that gods, saints, and holy spirits are also just fiction.

  41. Alexander
    Posted October 22, 2020 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    Since we can be off topic here:

    Trump’s Twitter account has been hacked.

    And it cannot be proven.

    TWITTER SAYS ‘NO EVIDENCE’ OF TRUMP HACK AFTER PRESIDENT ACCUSED OF USING ‘MAGA2020!’ PASSWORD

    https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/donald-trump-twitter-password-maga2020-b1227823.html

    This is interesting! Trump is lucky! Someone could have hacked his twitter account and made him say “Biden is… “and here follows a list of expletives Trump often uses. And he will not be able to deny it! Everybody won’t believe him. And this is just one example.


Post a Comment

Required fields are marked *
*
*

%d bloggers like this: