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Thread: Oh my God!

  1. #181
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    Fung, resent of people who make comments that you haven't yet rephrased.

    Sorry, my bad.

    Don't misunderstand me. I seriously enjoy all of your posts! They're always informed and inspiring.

    But you do jump from abhoring generalizations to making them. And the inconsistency there frustrates me. It weakens your arguments.

  2. #182
    Just Another Philistine Hereford Eye's Avatar
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    a=b
    a squared = a x b
    a squared - bsquared = (a x b) - bsquared
    (a+b)(a-b) = b(a-b)
    a+b = b
    My algebra's wrong, huh? Those operations seem to be based on the stuff I learned as a junior in high school.
    Given
    =x=
    =-=
    Laws of factoring
    =/=

    And certainly the answer is wrong. That's not my point.
    I am wodering the about the physical basis for the manipulation of the data. I concede the data was in memory but that does not explain how the data was manipulated.
    I am still mired in the notion that until we understand how we think, we cannot claim understanding of the process as a mphysical operation.

  3. #183
    >:|Angry Beaver|:< Fung Koo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Wassner View Post
    Sorry, my bad.
    No worries.

    But you do jump from abhoring generalizations to making them. And the inconsistency there frustrates me. It weakens your arguments.
    I treat generalizations as hypotheses. If they don't stand up to scrutiny, then they are invalid and I abhor them. If they stand up to scrutiny, then they are allowable and I dance about with them gleefully!

    The problem is, knowledge itself is in tension between specifics and generalities. Stereotyping, which is a process of generalization, is a fundamental process to learning. We transcribe knowledge of one situation over to another. Only when the generalization fails to hold true do we discriminate, and the generalization breaks down. So generalizations are perfectly valid, up to the point that they fail. As such, if you have knowledge of something that burst the balloon of a generalization, then by applying scrutiny to that generalization you're promoting disillusionment and thereby enhancing overall knowledge.

    The above may also seem to be a generalization, and it is. But it stands up quite well to scrutiny -- better, I think, than most counter theories -- and as such I find it allowable. You may not, and you are welcome to scrutinize this generalization as any other.

    Generalizations should be attacked, but they are extremely important to the process of learning, debate, theorizing, etc. The old "forest for trees, trees for the forest" issue. And if you think its frustrating on the outside of me, I invite you to imagine what its like inside my own head! My goal is to break down every single generalization I have into specifics upon specifics upon specifics. That's probably why there's a streak of zealotry that comes out of me, and it is frequently paralyzing. Of course, the more we get into specifics, the more we lose the big picture (generality). The big picture frequently fails to comply with the specifics that make up that picture, and in such situations specifics must be re-evaluated -- such is the nature of relationship between generalities and specifics. It's bloody exhausting, but it keeps me interested in life and (more or less) sane. Hence my diatribes on the application of the uncertainty principle to... well, pretty much everything. The more me know, the less me know. Y'know?

    But, all that being said, I will make more of an effort to elucidate amongst the pontification.

    And now back our show...

  4. #184
    Again, it's been awhile. Sorry for the delay, but I've been busy and it's been a pain trying to put together a fairly succinct answer that meets your challenge.

    You seem to be basing the external validity of the system on its perceived internal validity. In other words, you're giving your well-socialized opinion

    Wrong track. My opinion isn't well-socialized, I've thought about the kinds of societies that exist and I came to the conclusion that a Western model (not necessarily an American model) based on Enlightenment principles is best if you value individual rights. And I'm not judging the West and the US by its perceived internal validity. I realize that when a more powerful country meets a less powerful one, exploitation is usually the result. I can list the crimes of the West as quickly as the next guy, from colonialism to the trans-Atlantic slave trade, to the super-cheap clothes you buy at Wal Mart that were most likely made by children in sweat shops.

    But I also realize that the West offers the best hope to stop those things.

    More, it works both ways: terrorists can will and have used the West's freedoms of speech and assembly to plan and finance attacks.

    Nationalism is one of the primary components that led to both World Wars.

    One cause. There were others, and the nationalism was itself partly a response to the turbulent times.

    RAD has generalized that all forms of government that do not comply with the American belief system (as he sees it) are not only invalid, but should ideally be supplanted.

    I would say that dictatorships and theocracies are invalid. Even if a dictator is friendly to US interests.

    And though I honor the Constitution and all the people who fought for it, I don't believe in the validity of any government, creed, culture or abstraction for its own sake, but only to the point that it protects the rights of individuals.

    Because, as I've said before, only individuals are real.

    And I don't think any particular people are inherently superior, and I don't believe a nation has any special destiny. I don't believe my country is always right. When I hear the likes of Sean Hannity say America is the greatest country "God gave man" I want to throw furniture around.

    So that's my nationalism. But I wouldn't call it dangerous nationalism. More of Christopher Hitchenesque nationalism.

    But as Hitchens said: these are dangerous times, and if we don't stand up, enunciate our values and defend them, then we leave the field to those dangerous nationalists you're worried about.

    And now, America is again leading a charge of ideologically fueled international war,

    Funny, I coulda sworn it was radical Islam leading the charge. Or perhaps I'm not seeing clearly. Maybe the dust from those fallen towers is still in my eyes.

    spreading "freedom" and "democracy." It's little different than the Crusades -- the only thing that's changed is that the bible has been substituted with a constitution to excuse tyranny, hatred, and injustice.

    I think I can safely say that the ongoing fighting in Iraq qualifies as the saddest excuse for a Crusade I've ever seen because of the simple fact that the USA is not a brutal, colonizing power. At least not anymore. I'm no fan of George W. Bush, but a man threw two shoes at him and he (the thrower) is still alive. Try doing that with Saddam when he was in power.

    I thought the decision to invade Iraq was a tactical mistake, and a lot of opportunistic interests have tried and succeeded to turn a profit off it, but we've also trying to protect the people of Iraq from one predatory faction or another.

    "For, say, an American radical whose only version of a legitimate society is a pseudo-secular democracy that gets its authority from its constitution and exists to carry out the will of the same, then from their perspective the destruction of all offending societies is in order."

    Don't think I haven't heard that argument before. Most often it's the sort of rhetoric that's easily dismissed, but Lee Harris made the most eloquent case I've ever read in the conclusion of The Suicide of Reason, and even he acknowledged it would be a feasible near-impossibility. I'm more concerned about defending individual rights without losing them.

    You know a Canadian was the primary author of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, right?

    Hey thanks!

    Do you think it should be enforced?
    Last edited by RAD; January 20th, 2009 at 04:01 AM. Reason: spelling

  5. #185
    Ranke Lidyek
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    RAD:

    Nice response. I think the knee-jerk self-loathing or anti-american sentiment is a product of emotion more than reason.

    Individual freedom needs to be the dominant consideration because it is the most easily taken (and most likely target) of any government regime (even "democracies" who begin to look at the populace as burdens rather than resources). The natural extension and function of any government, even the most democratic, is to expand and control for the "good" of it's people until it becomes a tyranny. Most tyranny begins with the promise of "change", if you look at history. People need to guard against loss of individual freedoms just as they need to take responsibility in their own lives.

    The constitution as intended (rather than as subverted in recent years) promotes individual freedom, and, as a result, enables a better quality of life for its citizens. Nationalism exists in every country, but America is the only country required to apologize for its culture and solidarity.

    For those who want to see America hurting, remember: Anything rooted in greed, envy, or hatred bears rotten fruit. It may seem emotionally satisfying and promising from the start--until we have to taste what's grown out of those motivations. And that fruit will be the collapse of democracy worldwide, the encroachment of oligarchy and totalitarian socialist regimes. For more details, read Orwell.

  6. #186
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    Rad, that was well said.

    And I couldn't agree more that the radicals aren't us. It's an odd view of our society. There's been considerable backlash in the US against the radical right, as is most obvious in the support for our new President. We are a society that can correct itself as part of its process.

  7. #187
    >:|Angry Beaver|:< Fung Koo's Avatar
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    I've thought about the kinds of societies that exist and I came to the conclusion that a Western model (not necessarily an American model) based on Enlightenment principles is best if you value individual rights.
    See this statement is much less objectionable when you phrase it in this way. There is a conditional in the statement, rather than an absolute. Previously, I found your message hard to swallow because the wording suggested that if you consider individual rights not to be paramount, then you are also invalid.

    However, I can't help but feel that this proves my point -- this is an internally organized, self-referential, self-reinforcing, cyclical argument. If your highest value is individual rights, then the best way to organize society is exemplified by those societies that already value individual rights.

    In other words -- it's preaching to the converted. If you take this message into a well-organized and reasonably liberal collectivist culture (like, say, Japan), you'll get a range of responses, and one of which, no doubt, will be "are you saying that we don't value the rights of individuals? And are you saying that you value them more than we do?"

    It's an absolutely unprovable argument. There is no litmus test, nor any objective measure, and no value to cling to that definitively champions one method of individualism over another (beyond socialization and nationalism and, perhaps, the monopoly on violence that characterizes most non-liberal political organizations).

    Personally, I believe that any sufficiently advanced democracy will necessarily become socialist, and this includes the de-emphasis of individual rights.

    When I hear the likes of Sean Hannity say America is the greatest country "God gave man" I want to throw furniture around.
    Rage on, brother!

    Maybe the dust from those fallen towers is still in my eyes.
    *sigh* Yes, I think there might be. And there's probably some left over dust from Pearl Harbour in there, too.

    I don't see how any sane, rational person alive today can honestly believe that the attacks of September 11 were unprovoked. Sure, it was a bit of a long, slow, delayed reaction and so lost context and therefore seemed unprovoked... but c'mon. There's nearly 60 years of serious, serious issues for which The West is accountable, and are the frankly valid reasoning behind an act of retaliation against The West.

    I know it was you guys who got hit, but we all felt it, and we all deserved it.

    And the greatest error of all, and one we're going to have to live with now for a good chunk of the upcoming future, is that the response to the attacks was completely disproportional and dismissive of the validity of the rationale behind them. It's clearly a hugely complicated issue, and some retaliation was certainly in order, so I'm not going to claim that the whole thing was out of order. But to pretend (even for the sake of getting this one Canadian riled up!) that we are "innocent" and didn't deserve to get hit back is utterly foolish.

    If you keep beating a dog, it will eventually bite back. You're a moron if you're genuinely surprised when it does, and a sycophant if you just act that way.

    Do you think it should be enforced?
    For the record, I was just being snide

    But actually, no, of course not. Enforcing freedom is fundamentally contradictory to the entire notion of freedom itself. It's much like the difference between Witnessing and Evangelism in Christianity. The Witness embodies faith and makes it seem respectable (even desirable) to others, and explains when asked. The Evangelist wears faith and tries to convince you that its the best fashion, and lectures you until you submit.

    The declaration was meant to be a document to Witness. We have to come to it on our own, or it's only a fashion.

  8. #188
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    Fung, you shock me sometimes. Honestly.

    Provoked? My friends who worked in the twin towers provoked this? The person I rode the subway with every morning who headed the maitenance crew on Tower 1 and watched the sunrise from the roof each morning as he sipped his coffee, provoked this? He died slowly.

    Wow.

    Tell me next time a friend or relative of yours dies in a random attack, someone not in the military, not fighting a war, whose values and religion and race could have been anything, how easy it is to say that it was deserved (as provoked seems to infer).

    Wow.

  9. #189
    (Counts to ten)

    Fung Koo, I tell you what. I'll grant you half your argument. I'll grant that the USA has installed thugs and worked with thugs friendly to US interests, and that those interests have often turned a profit by looting undeveloped countries, with torture and oppression as a corollary.

    I'll go you further: I would dearly love to see the individual perpetrators - those who gave the orders, carried them out and profited by them - punished.

    But here's the thing: the 9/11 attack was not a blow for all the poor oppressed peoples of the world. Al-Quaeda has a specific ideology with specific tenants and an overall goal that should terrify any sane individual who values freedom. They may adopt the language of political correctness and appeals to multiculturalism when it suits them, but f you're worried about rapture politics, creationism and nuts full of the Holy Spirit running the show, look up these terms and think about what motivated that attack:

    Jihad

    Dhimmi (hint: the 'protected' people who must 'know themselves subdued')

    Jizra

    Kuffar

    Sharia

    Dar al Islam

    Dar al Harb

    And here's something else to consider: if the USA is so terrible that no was other way to fight back, why is it that the hijackers were all educated, wealthy, and able to plan and carry out the attack on our own soil?

    Non-Western doesn't automatically mean good.

    I think Sam Harris put it best:

    http://www.samharris.org/site/full_t...of-liberalism/

    I'll deal with your other topics in a separate post.
    Last edited by RAD; January 22nd, 2009 at 02:16 PM. Reason: Clarification

  10. #190
    Oh, and just to keep this thread on track (God can revive the dying)

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/21/us/21faith.html?_r=2

  11. #191
    >:|Angry Beaver|:< Fung Koo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Wassner View Post
    Provoked?
    My uncle worked in Tower 7. He escaped and lived, but his entire life was irrevocably changed. He lost his business, business partners, and friends. One of my best friend's siblings was on the street blocks away and was killed by a chunk of flying debris. Don't play the incredulous sympathy card with me. Many people, not all of whom were American, died. My interpretation of the situation as I struggled to understand this may be different than yours, but is no less valid, and no less based on a sense of personal loss. We are all connected to this event.

    Can we talk about this with any critical distance yet? Is it still too early?

    ---

    The items on the list for why the attacks of September 11 occurred start a long, long time ago. But for those living in the so-called 'Islamic Fundamentalist' nations, it goes back at least to the Palestine Mandate following WWI.

    "The West," under the moniker "League of Nations," hell bent on protecting itself, shredded the former Ottoman Empire into administrative zones. It built countries out of nothing, removed others, reorganized entire cultures. This produced a lot of bad blood.

    In the interim years, the Brits (primarily) dicked around even more with the region, and thus began the establishment of Israel.

    Then comes WWII. All the stuff with Israel gets put on hold for a little while, then the war ends. The West, now operating under the moniker "United Nations," again splits up huge portions of other countries and reorganizes entire cultures. In 1948, the Palestine Mandate officially runs out, and Israel Declaration of Independence comes out. Under UN mandate, Israel gets sectioned off of the Palestinian region, much to the chagrin of the local Arabs and Muslims.

    Chief proponents of the creation of Israel included the Brits and the US. (You might note that the nations the "terrorists" seem to hate most are those with veto power in the UN, and of those the Brits and the Yanks are most reviled.) (And Canada only gets to seem innocent in this because we were effectively Brits until 1982.)

    The comes the Cold War, and the entire region (comprising most of the Islamic World) is a staging ground for the hot conflicts funded and fueled by the US and Russia in particular.

    A haughty western attitude about progress, fairness, and RIGHTS effectively belittled the people of the entire region (just look at the media portrayals of these people at the time). The West (generally) propped up western-friendly dictators, overthrew governments willy-nilly, funded revolutionary groups, all in an effort to destabilize the region while testing out toys of destruction. Iran, Iraq, Sudan, and Afghanistan are three of the most prominent examples, the latter of which included a US funded terrorist offensive, employing the services of one Osama Bin Laden, to wage a seditionary ground war against the Russian occupiers. Iran gets a US-supported pseudo-democratic liberal government, which promptly falls to bits.

    Baaaaaaaad bad blood.

    Next stop, Vietnam. The continual opposition of communism worldwide, almost all American and British led operations to destabilize these government, to the massive detriment of the people. This results in the deaths of thousands and thousands (admittedly, many on the West's side, too). These people mostly died trying enact the change that they wanted to see in the world for themselves and their own people.

    Did any of these operations work? Nary a one. More bad blood.

    In the meantime, Western Europe falls into disarray as the artificial nations created by the UN all fall to pieces, one after the other, and long civil wars ensue. Yugo, Slavs, Czechs, Bosnians... Oh my! East and West Germany? What a debacle that was.

    Still more bad blood spattering everywhere, and none of it ever seems to hit the Brits or the Americans.

    Then we get Libya. Somalia. Onwards to Rwanda (that one we can at least blame on the Belgians).

    The only one that seems to have ended without too much horror (and that's debatable) is South Africa's British apartheid system. The slow collapse of the commonwealth giving rise to, frankly, the only temperate and civil post-colonial democratic nations.

    In this period of distraction, as The West itself began to feel the wrath of her own history, all those people carrying all that bad blood for conflicts they had little to do with but to act as cannon fodder for other peoples ideals began to rally together under a united cry against their oppressor for the last 60+ years.

    The focus of their ire becomes what they regard at the starting point -- the post-Palestinian Mandate state of Israel. Israel's army is almost entirely supplied with equipment by the US. Smart leaders, many of whom were trained by American and British operatives, realize that you have to go to the source.

    They've been watching power coalesce into semi-political entities like the WTO for years and years, so they start trying to destroy its edifices.

    Eventually, in 2001, they succeed. And we all act shocked, because in the almost 100 years now that this issue has been developing, our governments have kept us delightfully ignorant of the horrors that have been inflicted on innocent people by us.

    Yes, innocent.

    Then we went and clouded the issue. Israel wants Jerusalem. The Arabs and Muslims -- rightfully -- say "Hell No!" and the one right thing we've done is concede that Israel has no claim on Jerusalem. But as soon as we allowed this thing to become a religious issue, the crazies came out.

    Now, we lambaste 'Islamic Fundamentalists' -- but they're only a symptom. They are not the cause. We've all but outlawed the right of these nations to have armies, and we've labeled their West-unfriendly political parties as terrorist organizations (because, well, many of them are!). But are we actually righteous enough to provide equal support, even to those who would rather do without us?


    So now I must ask... what did they ever do to us to deserve what we've done to them? What did they do to provoke us?

    In WWI, the problem was that they had the Suez, and we needed it. Does that justify a hundred years of screwed up foreign policy? Does it?

    These people have every right to be pissed off at us. We've been provoking them for a century, and particularly for the last 60-odd years. In the meantime, us Western Citizens claim that we're innocent because we have given up our Individual Right to control our own governments to some vague, pointless organization that gives lip service to its championship of "Individual Rights."

    I think, for the most part, all these people want is for us to acknowledge that we have been selfish, our people have been in part voluntarily and part encouraged to be ignorant, and in the process have royally screwed them over. We've tampered with their cultures and insulted their heritage. We say we want freedom for all, then we oppress them by disregarding them. We continue to prop up Israel while they relentlessly act as the aggressor in a region where they really aught to be trying to make friends.

    So you tell me what constitutes provocation, and whether or not their actions were retaliatory.

    It's not that simple. It's not Red White and Blue. We are at fault.

    And there's no shame in admitting it.

  12. #192
    Just Another Philistine Hereford Eye's Avatar
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    At what point does an individual assume/bear responsibility for the actions of his/her government? Is it not like the couple in RAD's link? They didn't kill their child; god did. They prayed and god didn't do anything.
    The people who died 9/11/01 = whether in NY, Pennsyvania or Wash, D.C., -didn't do anything; their government/country/leaders/busineses/religions did something - over at least one hundred years. The attack was motivated behavior, not a random act; therefore there was a rationale. No law requires you to accept the rationale but denying that it exists seems like a good way to guarantee another.

    FK beat me to the response. So, accept his and ignore mine.
    Last edited by Hereford Eye; January 22nd, 2009 at 02:43 PM.

  13. #193
    >:|Angry Beaver|:< Fung Koo's Avatar
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    What a bunch of doom and gloom propaganda.

    There's hardly a shred of intelligent discourse in this article.

    I particularly enjoyed this line: "In their analyses of U.S. and Israeli foreign policy, liberals can be relied on to overlook the most basic moral distinctions. For instance, they ignore the fact that Muslims intentionally murder noncombatants, while we and the Israelis (as a rule) seek to avoid doing so."

    I'd say the actions of Israel over the past month are sufficient evidence to destroy the validity of that statement. And I can think of more than a few examples of American noncombatant massacre-cum-collateral damage. I know if I say it will cause someone's rage to spike, but I'll give you a hint... 250,000 died right away, and a million more in the month than followed...

    I'll deal with your other topics in a separate post.

  14. #194
    >:|Angry Beaver|:< Fung Koo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hereford Eye View Post
    FK beat me to the response. So, accept his and ignore mine.
    Yeah, but yours beats mine in clarity and succinctness by FAR!

    And that is precisely the question I'm asking. How do we define "innocence" in a democratic society? We are responsible, and culpable, for the past and present actions of our respective democratically elected governments.

    Of us, by us, for us.

    How do we define innocence in a democracy?

  15. #195
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    I kind of think of myself as belonging to the human race. I've never been particularly nationalistic. But genocide is genocide, on whatever scale. Hate for a race is blind.

    I can't measure the fear of Israelis for their safety and well being. I wasn't a holocaust victim. I'm a fourth generation american. I'm not surrounded by people who want to kill me and my family.

    I can't measure the fear of Palestinians for their safety and well being. I'm not imprisioned in a strip of land, the ingress an egress to which is controlled by a nation that never wanted me there.

    These aren't easy issues, and you simplify them and reduce them in a way that assumes there is a right and a wrong side to this.

    Killing innocents is inhuman.

    I raised this question in another thread: How do we make moral choices?

    What justified 9/11 really? It's nice to be open minded, but my sons could have just as easily been downtown on that morning.

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