Saturday, February 6, 2016

This Is My Ideal Presidential Candidate

I'm a realist, I know that Bernie Sanders isn't going to be president, anyone who believes he is is either stupid of delusional.   He's not going to get the nomination, barring some drastic and catastrophic occurrence.  I say that as someone who would love to have Bernie Sanders as president.  But while we're wishing, I can only wish that our political system could produce a Reverend Tommy Douglas of Saskatchewan,  the most successful leftist  politician in American history.

Hate Mail - Simpemantus

I am persuaded that it was the greatest of unambiguously identified figures in English literature, the acknowledged genius of the time, Francis Bacon, who wrote the plays and poems* by the case that is made by the so-called "Baconians".   

Whereas the champions of the Stratford money-lender and hoarder Shaksper (more likely one of Timon's host of villains) have only fictitious narrative and conjecture to back up their claims, the Baconians have evidence and rational arguments. The champions of Shaksper* have tradition and a financial establishment behind them, not to mention the coercion of conventional and ignorant orthodoxy, they don't have a case.   People have to invent a case in the form of fiction out of nothing for their candidate which stupid people and conventional academics mistake and replace for actual biography.  

I wasn't aware until the other day that there had been extensive writing about how Timon of Athens - unknown before 1623,  seven years after the death of Shaksper - so closely mirrored the contemporary events in Francis Bacon's downfall.  Reading that I'm more convinced than ever that he's the guy who wrote the plays and poems and that he had an extremely good reason to keep his identity as the author of the plays concealed as he was under attack from those close to James I.  

And I know saying it bugs that unread champion of  mid-brow orthodoxy who likes to lie about what I write.   I like to annoy him and his fellow boobs. 

*   Two Inns of Court lawyer-poets, Joseph Hall and John Marston, in an exchange of  Satires published between 1597-1598, identify Francis Bacon as the author of the 
Shakespeare poems, Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece.

And that's only one small piece of the evidence. 

**  Who can't be documented to have ever owned or read a book and who couldn't even spell his own name in the only samples of his illiterate letter scrawling we have, a man who would have had to hand-write more than 900,000 words to have produced the plays but who couldn't even spell his own name in legal documents with reliability.  He scrawled his own name in different ways on different pages of his will, for crying out loud. 

I've looked at photographs of the signatures of other authors of the period and haven't found any with such an erratic signature or one other prominent writer whose verified signatures are so uniformly unrelated to anything having to do with literature.  

Update:  Stupy thinks I'm going to get worked up by a Republicanfascist-atheist hack, Susan Jacoby, whining about the rote repetition of the command "God bless America" at the end of speeches given by Republicanfascist politicians.   While I could go into Jacoby's misrepresentation of the Pew measure of that fictitious group, "Nones" a misrepresentation that is both ubiquitious in the media and the clear intention of both the guy who invented "Nones", the atheist ideologue, Barry Kosmin, and the folks at Pew who intentionally use it to get in the media, I'll not bother to repeat that point, yet again.

I can point out that I have openly opposed not only the imperative "God bless America" as used in politics, I've pointed out that Edward Elgar made the same point about "God Save The King," it's blasphemous to command God to do anything  and it is certainly in violation of the commandment to not take the Lord's name in vain.   I've also, repeatedly, said how much I hate the song Irving Berlin wrote on that command. 

Bad Times And What I'm Reading

We've got our hands full with taking care of our brother, he's too well for the hospital to have to take back but too bad to take care of himself.  If I didn't know it was futile I'd propose a steep tax on cheap liquor to pay for taking care of people who kill themselves with it before they die.   I can't see but that problem is going to get worse.

There isn't much time to write and, from what you can see, I'm in a pretty bad mood so I probably shouldn't  It's going to be re-posts and posts of other things.

On the other hand, I have decided to read what I can manage of Walter Brueggemann's work, working up to his most scholarly books on the Old Testament.  I've begun with a book from the mid 1970s, The Bible Makes Sense, which was written as an introduction for the general audience - the short introduction in the edition I have calls it a "how-to book",  but which I'm sure I'll have to read several times to make any good progress in.  His discussions of various models of reality, industrial-scientific, existentialist, transcendentalist and comparing them to what he makes a persuasive case for as being the Biblical, covenental-historical model, is short but quite profound.  The depth and breath of his reading of scriptures which are easily mocked when read on a superficial level or at the level of fundamentalism, is a revelation.   In the forty years separating the book and today, his understanding of the scriptures and their relevance in life are remarkably stable, from what I can tell.  Here is a video On Idolatry posted a month ago.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Hate Mail

Ah, no, Stupy is just making that stuff up, his audience doesn't care if it's true or not.   February 9, that's the cut off date, no more about them till after Easter.  In honor of this year's abstinence I'm thinking of it as "fathead Tuesday". 

"Let's You and Her Fight" No

A while back, in relation to my ongoing war with Duncan Black and his blog, someone pointed out that another blogger, who I respect very highly, frequents his blog and, occasionally, posts the odd filler thread while Duncan is off doing whatever he does with the large stretches of time he doesn't write material for his blog.   If she reads this she knows who she is.   I think there couldn't be a more marked difference between her blog and his.   I can't, for the life of me understand why she hasn't been picked up to write for pay by a magazine, I can understand why he hasn't.  She writes English better as a second language than most people do as a first language and her thinking is far more logical and disciplined than the large majority of the big time blogger-"journalists".  In regard to her and Eschaton, she's old enough to make her own bad friends, she can do what she chooses to.  An adult would understand that one of their friends doesn't need their approval for what they choose to do, some people do grow up.  

I still respect her work and wish she wrote more, though we have some major differences in our view of things.  

That doesn't mean I have to overlook that Eschaton has become a place where people lie about what other people have said with the obvious approval of its owner.   He has gone past the point of mere tacit acceptance in that matter.  Nor am I required to ignore that I'm one of those people who is attacked there.  

Update:  Let me guess, someone did some research for you, Simps.  

Reading The Bad Plays - Timon of Athens

Timon of Athens is what happens when a fairy tale dies on stage and goes to hell.  I actually don't think it's a bad play, though it has its problems.

The story is simple, Timon, an Athenian aristocrat gives away is fortune to people who he wants to be his friends, to people who flatter him.   In fact he give more than that away and builds up huge debts.  When the rainy day comes and his creditors come a calling, en masse, he asks those who he gave it all away to to bail him out, only to be refused.  At first he tries to blame his steward but he's able to point out that he was warning Timon that he was giving more than he had to give.  Timon, of course, loses it all and takes it on the lam and the last act is one, long misanthropic tirade by the former philanthropist.   He's such a misanthrope that the town cynic, Apemantus goes looking for him, accusing him of stealing his shtick and finds that the former philanthropist has outdone him with his disdain and hatred of humanity.   There is a side plot Alcibiades, "an Athenian captain" who is done dirty by the "Senate" and banished raising an army of mercenaries to attack the city he had once given service to.  He finds Timon in the woods outside of Athens and finds that even though Timon supports his attack he hates Alcibiades even as he tries to commiserate with him.   Of course such things as the infamous name, Alcibiades being some kind of patriot when the real guy was a back stabbing creep and there being a "senate" in Athens and other such things show this is not exactly historically informed drama, it's a fairy tale.  As such I wouldn't hold it to the same standards as even a play like King John should be.

As always, there is some good poetry in the play, if you were hard up for fancy insults the fifth act is a really good place to go looking for them.  If I were directing it I'd cut a lot of that act, even reading it on the page fast the pace sags after a few minutes.  The scene where Apemantus goes to tell off his rival misanthrope only to get back better than he gives could be rather funny.  I can think of a number of contemporary pop culture figures he could be made up as, a conceited jerk whose act is to be a smart guy on TV.    Unlike the truly awful Pericles, I would probably pay to see it acted.  

One really nice scene is where Timon's servants are losing their position, their work and their homes and wondering what's to become of them, they show more concern for each other than the aristocrats do, Flavius, the steward, shares his little money with them, presenting them as more noble than the nobility.  If I were interested in trying to identify who wrote the plays, I'd look for something like that in his other writing.  It certainly isn't in keeping with that stingy creep. the illiterate most people were taught wrote them.

Update:  I'm Definitely Going To Have To Re-read it Now

We're having a snow day here and my brother is mostly sleeping so I've got time to play online.  I just found this article about Timon of Athens


The "Shakespeare" Play, Timon of Athens, was never printed in quarto and, so far as is known, never produced on any stage, previously to its appearance in the First Folio of 1623. Contemporary literature gives no hint of its existence prior to 1623. The question may therefore be asked ''If this play was written by Will Shaksper, where was the manuscript during the period between Shaksper's death in 1616 and its appearance seven years afterwards in the Folio?"

If it was sent by Shaksper to Heminge and Condell, then it is remarkably strange that they did not inform the literary coterie in London that they had in their possession a brand-new play by Shaksper which had never been heard of before! If for some unknown reason they wished to keep this fact secret, then surely when they were gathering together the plays for publication in the Folio they would have been only too delighted to have informed the Reader that they were printing for the first time a Shakespeare play which had never been performed on any stage.

On the other hand, they give the reader the impression that all the plays printed in the Folio were known to the public, because in their preface

"To the Great Variety of Readers'' they state that ''these Plaies have had their triall alreadie and stood out all applause" and "before you were abused with diverse stolne and surreptitious copies."

They also say 'What he thought, he uttered with that easinesse, that we have scarce received from him a blot in his papers,'' which implies that they had received the manuscripts of the plays direct from the author's hands.

Will Shaksper having died seven years before the publication of the Folio, this must mean that Shaksper had handed over this play of Timon of Athens to Heminge and Condell in his lifetime, and if this was so it is certainly extraordinary that Heminge and Condell never mentioned this fact to anybody.

Ulrici referring to this play, writes that ''no one could have painted misanthropy with such truth and force without having experienced its bitter agony." Yet Sir Sidney Lee writes that "Shakspere's career shows an unbroken progress of prosperity and there is no support for the suggestion of a prolonged personal experience of tragic suffering."

On the other hand, the experiences of Francis Bacon after his fall from power are precisely similar to those of Timon in this play, because he suffered from the ingratitude of a great number of his so-called friends who deserted him, as witness his letters to Buckingham and King James. It must be remembered that Bacon fell from power in 1621, and the play of Timon is first heard of two years afterwards, in 1623.

If that's the case then I'm betting that a lot of what was said in Timon's long diatribes and in the way that his "friends" brushed him off, perhaps the noble character of Timon's steward, Flavius might carry clues about Francis Bacon's own experience.   It might make it a whole other play from what a surface reading of it would show.  I wonder if the name of the cynic who accuses Timon of stealing his act only to be upstaged by him, "Apemantus" (ape man to us?) might have some relation to the famous poem by Ben Jonson "Poet ape"

On Poet-Ape
Ben Jonson, 1572 - 1637

 Poor Poet-Ape, that would be thought our chief, 
   Whose works are e’en the frippery of wit, 
From brokage is become so bold a thief, 
   As we, the robb’d, leave rage, and pity it. 
At first he made low shifts, would pick and glean, 
   Buy the reversion of old plays;  now grown 
To a little wealth, and credit in the scene, 
   He takes up all, makes each man’s wit his own: 
And, told of this, he slights it.  Tut, such crimes 
   The sluggish gaping auditor devours; 
He marks not whose ‘twas first: and after-times 
   May judge it to be his, as well as ours. 
Fool!  as if half eyes will not know a fleece 
   From locks of wool, or shreds from the whole piece? 

I seem to recall reading that Jonson was staying with  Bacon when he wrote his gushy and only mention of William Shakespeare.   As I recall the person who mentioned that noted that Jonson was one of the most sarcastic writers who ever lived.   As I also recall the (in)famous effigy bust of Shakespeare is known to have been altered, it originally had him holding a sack of what is presumed to be wool, only later altered to have him holding a pen.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

And More on HIV In The News

I can't help myself, I hope that Martin Shkreli ends up in the general population of one of our horror movie prisons, I want to see the smug grin wiped permanently off of his face that badly. 

Though, really, the science deniers and liars at booby blue are as bad.  I mean you Simps and Friki and your even stupider Eschatots.   Spreading infection is just as bad, maybe worse than what he did. 

I'm Told That This News Is Supposed To Make Me Upset

"They just knighted Van Morrison"

They also knighted Ronald Reagan, in 1989.   Though he probably thought he was on a sound stage and expected to gun down a dragon with his six gun as he liberated a concentration camp. 

Update:  And I just looked it up, they also knighted George H.W. Bush, Don of the Bush Crime Family, in 1993.  

Update 2:  And this season's #1 favorite dead rocker, David Bowie turned down a knighthood. 

A few rock stars have been knighted, including Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Elton John and Sir Mick Jagger – much to the anger of his fellow Rolling Stone, Keith Richards, who felt that Jagger should have declined … like another of Sir Mick’s friends, David Bowie. Bowie turned down a knighthood in 2003. “I would never have any intention of accepting anything like that,” he said. “I seriously don't know what it's for. It's not what I spent my life working for.”

It's ever so much classier to have been offered the meaningless title and turned it down than to have allowed yourself to become a fixture in the stinking British class system. 

Update 3:  I don't think I'll ever be able to think of Steve Simels without thinking of  Hyacinth  Bucket from now on.  Who knew he was the kind of guy who was impressed with the Queen's Honors List.  He's just a star struck teeny-bopper at heart. 

Hate Mail

Um, I know he's officially been declared a scientist and all, but someone should point out to the dolt that prostate cancer isn't a sexually transmitted disease.   Apparently he didn't catch that nuance in his attempt at ridicule.   Apparently he thinks the CDC has it wrong and that promiscuity isn't a cause of sexually transmitted disease infection.  Reminds me of the kind of math that Richard Dawkins does with aviary "altruism".    I swear, if the comments at Duncan's get stupider it'll be called the booby blue blog. 

Apparently you can catch senility there.  Which might account for the writing production over the years.   

Behind The Pose of Sciencyness Is Just Pose

I have got a few minutes to address the adolescent-senescent set who went hysterical over my blog post.

The scientists at the Center for Disease Control have been trying to come up with strategies for reducing the rate of infections with sexually transmitted disease, probably since it was formed seventy years ago.  That would cover the lifetimes of most of the idiots who babble on blogs, even the Geritol and Cialis set sponsored at Eschaton.   Being a gay man who witnessed the AIDS epidemic among gay men, first hand, I've read quite a bit of their published science over the past three decades and longer.  Every single thing that they have ever put out carries the entirely unsurprising and logically unavoidable fact that promiscuity spreads infection with sexually transmitted diseases.

Here is what just one of their publications have to say about Sexual Risk Behaviors: HIV, STD, & Teen Pregnancy Prevention

Many young people engage in sexual risk behaviors that can result in unintended health outcomes. For example, among U.S. high school students surveyed in 20131
  • 47% had ever had sexual intercourse.
  • 34% had had sexual intercourse during the previous 3 months, and, of these
    • 41% did not use a condom the last time they had sex.
  • 15% had had sex with four or more people during their life.
  • Only 22% of sexually experienced students have ever been tested for HIV.*
Sexual risk behaviors place adolescents at risk for HIV infection, other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and unintended pregnancy:
  • Nearly 10,000 young people (aged 13-24) were diagnosed with HIV infection in the United States in 2013.2
  • Young gay and bisexual men (aged 13-24) accounted for an estimated 19% (8,800) of all new HIV infections in the United States, and 72% of new HIV infections among youth in 2010.3
  • Nearly half of the 20 million new STDs each year were among young people, between the ages of 15 to 24.4
  • Approximately 273,000 babies were born to teen girls aged 15–19 years in 2013.5
To reduce sexual risk behaviors and related health problems among youth, schools and other youth-serving organizations can help young people adopt lifelong attitudes and behaviors that support their health and well-being—including behaviors that reduce their risk for HIV, other STDs, and unintended pregnancy. The National HIV/AIDS Strategy calls for all Americans to be educated about HIV. This includes knowing how HIV is transmitted and prevented, and knowing which behaviors place individuals at greatest risk for infection. HIV awareness and education should be universally integrated into all educational environments.

The ability of people who have been to college - or so they tell us - to deny that is an important issue in the matter of new infections, people in their late middle age, people who lived during the time that the AIDS epidemic killed massive numbers of Americans - even as it still kills massive numbers of people in poor countries is something that would have once staggered me.  I have to say that reading the juvenile babbling of the soon to be senile going on like that in 2016 is something that doesn't surprise me any more than listening to Sarah Palin's lunatic ranting blaming her son's criminal activity on Barack Obama.  Being exposed to such stupidity for years has inured me to reading it among the arrogant, conceited, supposedly educated class in the United States.   And those are the same guys who wonder at the stupidity of other people.

One other thing, I don't call myself a "progressive" I am a traditional American liberal in the original sense of that word.  I am not a late 18th century style liberal which is a totally different thing.   My folks are the ones who ended slavery and tried to establish universal enfranchisement and economic justice and the moral obligation to other people, being responsible.  They're the ones who figured irresponsibility and self-centered thinking should be promoted as freedom.

And People Wonder Why I Don't Like Duncan Black And His Baby Blue Blog Bunch

Here is the reaction that my post on sexually transmitted disease got at what is passed off as a major blog of the left.  

Steve Simels, blog malignancy • 11 hours ago

And Now We Find Out That Zika Virus Can Be Transmitted Sexually

Jeebus, dude, you're practically wetting yourself in excitement.

Freki  Steve Simels, blog malignancy • 11 hours ago
women must be punished for having sex

Steve Simels, blog malignancy  Freki • 11 hours ago
Hell, yeah!!!

Freki  Steve Simels, blog malignancy • 11 hours ago
Holy fuckballs!

the commercial sex industry is given free reign to flood any scientific advice on not hooking up and sleeping around with the promotion of sexual irresponsibility and, so, immorality. The sci-guys who can be counted on to howl at anti-vaxxers are the same people, by and large, who tell scientific medicine to take shut up when it comes to sex as a vector of infection and disease.

Steve Simels, blog malignancy  Freki • 11 hours ago
Atheism. It's always atheism.

MsInformed  Steve Simels, blog malignancy • 11 hours ago
and sex/pleasure is immoral

Freki  Steve Simels, blog malignancy • 11 hours ago
and remember, this waffleiron calls himself a "progressive"
Steve Simels, blog malignancy  Freki • 11 hours ago
A real one.

Freki  Steve Simels, blog malignancy • 10 hours ago
so long as the only progress made is for old gay prudes

Thurb  Freki • 10 hours ago
Just out of curiosity, does anyone know if the guy has ever been abstinent out of choice (there were women or men interested but he had to stay safe/pure/whatever)? I'm always amazed at how it is almost all about how women are the evil ones for having sex, but we have to understand when males just can't keep their purity promises - if they made them to begin with. 
I recognize that so many of our patriarchal societies have really nasty punishments for women who fail because it is really about property not sex. But to ignore that it takes two to do anything more than masturbate really does make it clear unless you are a friggin' idiot.

Freki  Thurb • 10 hours ago
he's irish catholic. does that explain a bunch?

Thurb  Freki • 10 hours ago
Some. Most of the ones I know would know that was bull shit. ;-)

Freki  Thurb • 10 hours ago
think of it this way... he's an old irish catholic gay misogynist... and a progressive who supports terrorism. terminally confused is his natural state

Thurb  Freki • 10 hours ago
Yeah, that is tough bunch of guilt, hatred and anger to keep juggling and justifying.
Freki  Thurb • 10 hours ago
well, he doesn't logic good

Thurb  Freki • 10 hours ago
and recognizing reality also appears to be difficult for him from the various reports.

Freki  Thurb • 10 hours ago
weren't you here when he said that murder was OK, so long as the victim was british?

Thurb  Freki • 10 hours ago
No, I missed that stellar bit of logic.

Needless to say none of what they said was true.  As anyone who read what I wrote could easily see. For example, "women must be punished for having sex", the fact is, the word "woman" appears nowhere in the text of the piece, not that Duncan's brain trusters would have let them stop them from claiming that.  A good percentage of them are habitual liars and, as I've pointed out, at Duncan's blog, they provide the content.   From what I understand, the one case of sexual transmission of Zika that was reported on OCCURRED WHEN A WOMAN WAS INFECTED BY A MAN WHO HAD HAD SEX WITH SOMEONE ELSE, for all I know he was the only man she ever had sex with in her entire life.  I have no idea of the gender of that someone else was, for all you could tell from the news report, it might have been another man.  Certainly no women were involved in the discussion of gay men having sex with multiple partners, which most of what I wrote was about since it was based on my experience of watching large numbers of gay men dying as a result of having sex with lots of men.

Needless to say I never endorsed the murder of anyone, especially Brits.  Probably more Brits have been murdered by the British class system than by anyone else and it's gotten especially strong criticism from me.  The British poor, especially as treated by Darwin and his followers, marked with biological inferiority and marked for elimination when not useful for their labor, are the ones whose killing was OKed but it certainly wasn't by me.

More generally, I suppose I should be grateful for the Eschaton Brain Trusters for demonstrating my point about how the champions of science go completely stupid when it comes to applying scientific knowledge to sexual activity.  Anyone who doesn't get that if you have sex with a lot of different people you increase your chances of contracting STDs AND THAT THAT IS ABOUT AS SIMPLE AND HARD A FACT OF BOTH SCIENCE AND MATH AS YOU COULD FIND, is just too stupid to be told that they're smart.

I think I'm going to have to just stop reading my e-mail for Lent.  It's just too tempting to post the stupidity of these guys when it's brought to my attention.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

And Now We Find Out That Zika Virus Can Be Transmitted Sexually

The news that the Zika virus can be transmitted sexually is worrisome.  Considering the possibility perhaps the likelihood that the known cases of that happening are, as of yet, largely unknown it could turn into a far more serious pandemic than it has already been called.   If that mode of transmission will overtake transmission by mosquitoes or become a major concern in the pandemic is worth wondering about.  Promiscuity and anonymous sex have been promoted in the past several decades, especially with the use of the internet to an extent which used to be confined to certain populations, those who used prostitutes, gay men, etc.   Some of us have long worried that the experience of the AIDS epidemic might be repeated with another, yet unknown, sexually transmitted virus, there being no guarantee that the next one might not be worse and even harder to contain and treat than HIV infection.   One of the things which the hysteria over HIV infections was the suspicion that you could get it through a mosquito bite, something which, as far as I recall, was never actually observed.  Zika is certainly known to be spread by some species of mosquito, making what was merely an overreaction among ignorant people in regard to HIV a real possibility.  I remember when West Nile Virus was first detected in the United States, one of the suspicions was that some tourist who went to the middle-east might have brought it back here in their body, though no one could know how it got here.  It could have been mosquitoes hitch hiking on some import or other.  The Zika virus is, I am told, related to West Nile and a series of other dangerous viruses.

I have come to be extremely pessimistic about the prospect of people learning from the hardest of experiences, certainly not when the commercial sex industry is given free reign to flood any scientific advice on not hooking up and sleeping around with the promotion of sexual irresponsibility and, so, immorality.   The sci-guys who can be counted on to howl at anti-vaxxers are the same people, by and large, who tell scientific medicine to take shut up when it comes to sex as a vector of infection and disease.  There is no reason except for the idiocy promoted by the PR campaign of the sex industry, associating sexual irresponsibility and stupidity with some asinine concept of freedom and civic virtue.  Yes, the commercial media and journalists were in the fore front of that.

It could go on, and on.... Here is a more detailed piece I wrote on this topic which got little traction. I don't think I can say it any better.

There Is Nothing Scientific About Encouraging Anonymous And Promiscuous Sexual Activity Doing That Isn't A Liberal Act
Yesterday I had someone answer a comment I made about the fact that having sex with someone you don't know is a risk factor in catching STDs with a rather too breezy dismissal of the seriousness and danger of having the HIV virus.

was assured that HIV was "easily tested for" and " if present is "a manageable disease" which is a pretty insane response to a virus which can lie dormant for years, with which a large number of those infected don't know they're infected and the treatment for which is expensive.,

Being a gay man who knew many dozens of people who died horrible deaths form HIV and who saw the unmistakable horror that it means for those who develop a host of secondary infections and diseases from it in hundreds of other people and knowing that around the world, for poor folk, here and elsewhere, I'm appalled that such a statement can be made by anyone with the ability to read and type.  And I'm even more appalled that it has become the common wisdom of such a large percentage of those who are alleged to have an education and who consider themselves intelligent and sophisticated.

HIV, only one of the STDs I alluded to in my comment is not easily tested for nor an easily manageable disease.  That is proved by the failures of testing and management to prevent new infections.  In the United States, today, every year,  more than 40,000 new infections are reported.   According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control,

About 1.2 million people in the United States were living with HIV at the end of 2012, the most recent year this information was available. Of those people, about 12.8% do not know they are infected.

That would make more than 150,000 in the United States who are 1. untested, 2. untreated, 3. unknowingly putting those who they have sex with, share needles with, etc. at risk of infection by someone who won't be able to tell them they were at risk.

And the CDC also says that significant numbers of people die from HIV now, more than a decade after the New York Times declared "The Plague is Over"

... about 13,712 people diagnosed with AIDS died in 2012. HIV disease remains a significant cause of death for certain populations. To date, an estimated 658,507 people diagnosed with AIDS in the United States have died.

Nor is the treatment an easily managed thing in the lives of many of those people, a large number of whom are poor, without resources and not able to afford the treatment they need.

You don't have to take my word for that, either,  here is what the CDC said about that five years ago.

The average annual cost of HIV care in the ART [anti-retroviral treatment ]era was estimated to be $19,912 (in 2006 dollars; $23,000 in 2010 dollars).3 The most recent published estimate of lifetime HIV treatment costs was $367,134 (in 2009 dollars; $379,668 in 2010 dollars).

I don't know if the increase of more than ten thousand dollars over four years would continue till today but it's obvious that we're talking about a seriously expensive disease to treat, especially if you don't have insurance that covers most of the cost, which many of us still don't.

And the "manageability" of the infection as a matter of medical treatment is somewhat oversold. From the same study by the CDC

Using US national HIV surveillance data, another study estimated that average life expectancy after an HIV diagnosis increased from 10.5 to 22.5 years from 1996 to 2005.

HIV survival data have been reported slightly differently in the literature because of various definitions of timeframe, e.g., time from HIV seroconversion to AIDS, time from seroconversion to death, and time from HIV diagnoses to death. Survival also varies by gender, age at infection, mode of infection, and the timing of initiation of antiretroviral therapy.

As wonderful as gain of a theoretical average of twelve years of life gained is,  even with treatment a large number of people die at a younger age due to the virus and the numbers are hardly reliable in defining what you can expect to happen under treatment.  Treatments have effects of their own and drug regimens don't insure perpetual reliability.

The insane declaration made by people like Andrew Sullivan 19 years ago that, in effect, "AIDS is over" was always far more true for affluent men who have access to the finest of care, it is hardly the case for most people, world-wide, who are infected.

The insanity and complete irresponsibility of that declaration by the likes of Sullivan and the Wall Street Journal editor, David Sanford, among those who should have known more than anybody how dangerous the virus was, has led to people figuring that being infected was no big deal.  Which, in turn, led to people, especially children and young adults, engaging in risky behaviors who had suspended that, especially younger people who didn't see people dying from the virus.  The insanity and idiocy of sex pos pseudo-feminism, of hooking up culture and the insanely immature attitude towards having sex with lots of people you don't know is a product of irresponsible journalism and the extension of immaturity into senescence, not science.

There is no guarantee that strains of HIV which resist all treatments aren't going to arise in the wild populations of the virus that are being spread.  If you think it's not possible that such a thing as untreatable HIV will come up, consider that in 1980 no one was expecting gay men to start getting rare cancers and other exotic diseases in large numbers and dying from it in very large numbers, not to mention the members of racial and ethnic groups, members of other populations of people on who the burden of the infection fell most heavily.  It came from out of nowhere.  Once there I would imagine there would be no better means of aiding its evolution than by having large numbers of new infections, new infections which are largely the result of having sex with lots of people, especially those who you don't know.

And what you can say about HIV you can say about other life threatening diseases which can be spread through sex.  Those are real and some of them are wide spread and killing people.  I've mentioned before how in the early 1970s, years before AIDS became known, a gay man I knew made a joke about having hepatitis as a "rite of passage" for young gay men.  Even if it is treated the effects of having some strains of hepatitis can lead to death, not infrequently through cancer of the liver, an especially horrible way to go and a particularly hard cancer to treat.

And there is no guarantee that another, entirely new, STD won't evolve in the opportunity rich environment that people who have sex with lots of folks present to infections organisms.  Another HIV-like virus could arise for which science won't produce any kind of treatment and for which a vaccine will elude scientists as well.

Even a lot of us who were revolted by and chose to not participate in the insane irresponsibility of massive promiscuity and the obvious and known health dangers of anal and other forms of sex popularized in the late 1970s didn't really expect such a horrifying thing as the AIDs epidemic. And a lot of that sex in which names and addresses were not exchanged, nevermind health profiles, was expected to exchange infections.  It was common wisdom that you should expect to get anything from crabs to syphilis to hepatitis from it.  We didn't have the AIDs phenomenon to inform us of how bad it could get, no one among the allegedly educated class of the United States, Europe and other places has that excuse today.  Penicillin and its related drugs were depended on to take care of those supposed minor inconveniences of having lots of sex with lots of people you barely or didn't know at all.  It didn't prevent what we and science hadn't known before from happening.

It is a symptom of the decay of liberalism today that it is considered a greater violation of liberalism to take seriously the observations about the dangers of promiscuous and anonymous sex made by those with the most scientific expertise than it is to promote the sexual practices that carry those dangers.  It is especially telling that the journalistic venues that endlessly promote irresponsible sexual activities in 2015 are the first to mock other people for their anti-scientific beliefs, such as the anti-vaccination crowd.

If it's irresponsible to refuse to have your children vaccinated against communicable diseases which they could get through chance encounters, which it is, it is ever so more irresponsible to promote practices that carry the danger of being exposed to communicable diseases for which there is no vaccine.  

What is common in journalism and on blogs today is worse than something like encouraging people, especially children, to play chicken with cars on a busy street.  That it is a matter of sex instead of running into traffic doesn't make doing that any more rational, sophisticated, or a statement of scientific enlightenment.  It makes it worse because we are ever so much more likely to delude ourselves when it is something which will give us pleasure which will kill us.  The people who promote promiscuity online and in the media are today's equivalent to tobacco advertisers and the murderers who knew they were selling addiction and death.  Salon, Alternet, all kinds of blogs that do that show that their pose of liberal enlightenment informed by science is an empty pose and a total lie.

Jonathan Edwards - Sermon Against Slavery

Jonathan Edwards, D.D.

The Injustice and Impolicy of the Slave Trade and of the Slavery of Africans . . . A Sermon. New Haven, Connecticut: Thomas and Samuel Green, 1791.

Connecticut theologian Jonathan Edwards, born 1745, echoes Benezet's use of the Golden Rule as well as the natural rights arguments of the Revolutionary era to justify the abolition of slavery.

was reminded a while back of the furor of the new atheists about nine years ago, when that movie about about the abolition movement in Britain pointed out the historical fact that virtually all of the abolitionists cited religion as their motivation.

Anyone who has bothered to have read any of the writings and narratives of former slaves and African-American abolitionists and those who freed themselves and others from slavery, writing about their motivations were nearly unanimous on their religious motivation and justification.  Anyone who did that essential reading on the topic could hardly have missed that aspect of their thinking.  Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman were both absolutely clear on that point, though I've noticed that in a lot of recent writing about Harriet Tubman, care is taken to imply that her religious thinking is attributable to the injury she sustained to her head when a slave owner almost killed her.  It is funny, thought, I haven't seen her thinking on any other topic related to that injury, which certainly did nothing to lessen the highest intelligence, planning, and bravery that her many successful exploits as a conductor on the underground rail road demonstrate.   No one I have read who met her had anything but the highest regard for both her intelligence and her magnificent character, see this note by Susan B. Anthony, for example.   That any thinking she did on any other topic was with the same and only head doesn't seem to impinge on that effort to discredit her religious thinking.

I was quite aware of the early Quaker and Methodist literature of abolitionism, especially that of the Quaker saint John Woolman and the early pamphlet of
Samuel Sewall, The Selling of Joseph,  so I've decided to link to a lot of these primary documents this month.  The relationship of the mass movement of abolitionism to the Second Awakening is especially interesting and something I don't know much about so I'm starting with this sermon by the (in)famous Jonathan Edwards.   Despite his and others' modern characterization as  right-wing, fundamentalist nut cases, their relationship with American liberalism is far more extensive and far more complex than the history as if written in Colorforms and play blocks which is the common received wisdom of even our educated class, today.   That so many of them are entirely misinformed about such an important part of our history is pretty disturbing.  That there has been a clear attempt to falsify that history shows how successfully propaganda can be inserted into the culture of a quasi-democratic society.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Andrew Hill - Judgement

Yokada Yokada

Andrew Hill, piano
Bobby Hutcherson, vibraphone
Richard Davis, acoustic bass
Elvin Jones, drums

Hate Mail

I don't care what the ever shrinking numbers at Duncan's say, and neither does much of anyone else. 

And now, excuse me while I put a new filter on my e-mail. 

The Early Christian Abolitionism of St. Gregory of Nyssa (335-294 AD)

Trust in Material Objects Leads to the Highest Form of Vanity

In his Fourth Sermon on Ecclesiastes, St. Gregory of Nyssa sets the evil of slavery into a wider pattern based in the motives that lead to it and a larger series of economic sins, including the worst of those, in which people become objects of utility and commerce.   Today, even where official slavery is abolished, it merely continues under other legal pretenses, sometimes with an pathetically inadequate wage paid to cover it up, sometimes even that much is stolen with official, if tacit, permission. 

His description of the lifestyles of the rich and powerful as the generator of evil and the motives that lead to it is unusual, even within the abolitionist literature.  I doubt he was under any illusion that the wealthy and powerful were going to immediately give up what led them to enslave other people, slavery was such an entrenched practice that it must have seemed almost hopeless that it could be ended, universally.   When he delivered this sermon, some say on Easter, some say during Holy Week, he must have known that he was leading with what would be a radically strange idea to most of the people who would be hearing it.  He must have felt the need to go into unusual detail, getting into the motives of those who kept slaves to try to pry their consciences loose from that convention, following the structure of the verses he took as his text.  

To the extent that we follow the kind of life he describes is the extent to which someone else is ground down and enslaved.  For most of us the bling might not be gold but a new I-phone or something else.  The relevant mineral might not be gold but one of those rare earth elements contained in our technology and produced by the misery of people in the countries where that is found, their environment destroyed and the government corrupted in the ways commonly practiced by extraction industries.   Gregory of Nyssa's insights were sharp and took into account the wider context of the motives of people who do evil things. They are as relevant today as they were in the late Roman Empire.  

As a way of locating him in conceptual time, his maternal Grandfather was martyred under Maximinus II, during the last imperial Roman persecutions of Christians, his parents had their property confiscated due to their Christianity.  His own group of Christians hadn't established themselves in control, he was deposed at one point in his life.  Being a bishop at that time, in that place,  was not a particularly secure position.  Constantine may have ended the official persecution of Christians but they weren't part of a secure establishment until later. 

There was no guarantee that an emperor might not come to power who would mount another brutal period of oppression, enslavement, confiscation and killing. Apart from outright murder, the descriptions of the punishments under Maximinus include the worst kinds of enslavement, including in mines and sexual slavery.   Exactly the same thing that happens today under international trade, which includes blood diamonds, prison sweatshops, people enslaved to produce gold and other minerals and the destruction of the environment in countries around the world to the total oppression of those who live there. 


The Fourth Sermon on Ecclesiastes continued. 

We now observe many wealthy persons living pitiful lives; if it were not for people capable of healing them, they would not deem life worth living. If neither body nor soul benefits from [J.341] our opinion of gold's abundance, then how much more futile is it to prove gold's value to persons who possess it! For what material advantage is our lack of taste, smell, hearing or the sense of touch? As for me, let no one offer food or clothing in exchange for gold. The person who gives bread or clothing for gold exchanges a benefit for something useless in order to live, whereas anyone who takes nourishing food instead of gold lives. What profit, advise, lesson, warning or consolation for bodily pains can we derive from such material aggrandizement? A greedy person counts money, stores it up, signs documents, seals them, denies requests and swears falsely to another unfaithful person. Such is his happiness, the goal of his efforts and pleasure, as long as prosperity fuels his false oaths. However, this person claims that gold's appearance is lovely; it is more beautiful than the color of fire, the star's beauty and the sun's rays. Who hinders your enjoyment so that [J.342] you must provide pleasure for your eyes through gold's beautiful color? Yet Ecclesiastes says that fire goes out, the sun sets and our pleasure derived from such beauty is transitory. Tell me, how does gold differ from lead when it becomes dark? But Ecclesiastes says that necklaces, buckles, girdles, armlets, crowns and such adornments come neither from fire nor the stars. Trust in material objects leads to the highest form of vanity. With this in mind I now ask what type of person craves gold decorations, earrings, skins which adorn the neck or any other bodily limb? The body assumes the gleam of gold's splendor when we adorn ourselves with it. Anyone who sees a person wearing gold thinks it were for sale as in a market, but the person wearing it [J.343] is more concerned about its nature. If gold is well-wrought or carved, even though its color is green or has fiery gems, it does not assume any of these accretions; rather, if we suffer any kind of mutilation, or if our eyes exude pus [M.672], or if a scar horribly marks our cheek, such deformity belongs to appearance only and gold's gleam cannot cover it over; also, if the body suffers any calamity, gold cannot relieve its distress.

Is there any beautiful object worth pursuing which brings neither health to the body nor relief to pain? And what about deceived persons who cling to gold with their whole heart even though such possessions trouble their consciences? What do they promise themselves when they have something of so great a value? If they could change gold's substance, would they also desire to change their humanity into gold, a substance which lacks reason, intelligence and sensation as well as being pale in color, heavy, speechless and without soul and feeling? I do not think they would choose these things nor crave after [J.344] gold. If people of sound mind curse the properties of inanimate nature, what insanity makes them commit murder and steal to possess such a useless object? Not only do they carry this out, but they fail to see how it differs from the fruit [tokos] of evil thoughts, robbery or murder. How does a burglar differ from other robbers when he establishes himself as lord by committing murder or when he possesses what does not belong to him through usury [tokos]? Oh, how terrible is this usury, the name of a thief! Oh, what a bitter marriage and evil wedlock of which our human nature is ignorant while the disease of avarice has begun anew in lifeless persons! How grievous is that conception which gives birth to such usury!  

It shouldn't ever be forgotten that slavery is always, in every case, accomplished by a threat of violence and death.  One way or another, and always with the permission, explicit or unstated, of judges, politicians, police and military establishments.  Whenever those are successfully resisted and people are freed, the force doing that has to be sufficiently powerful and I think religion has proved to be the only force capable of doing that.   And, historically, it hasn't been all religion that makes that claim, the religion, itself, has to contain the demand of equal justice and any self-deprivation required to produce that justice.  Without that, selfishness has practiced enormous ingenuity to find ways to accommodate slavery.   That icon of the enlightenment, Thomas Jefferson, even as he was intensifying the regime of slavery at Monticello and his properties, arranged his house and life so he and his guests would see as little of it as possible.   Our ruling elite does the same thing through international trade agreements, to their benefit, placating the ever falling middle class with cheap junk produced by foreign wage slaves. We're no better than the people addressed by this sermon, we just like to pretend we are. 

Cruz Is The Candidate of The Antichrist And a Servant of Mammon

That Ted Cruz, with some of the most obviously Antichrist of policies was able to gull enough evangelical voters in Iowa to support him shows that there is something massively wrong with a large part of that movement.  That is if the actual teachings of Jesus are important to them.   That a hate-spouting, war-mongering son of a preacher man can be passed off to such voters as the Christian in the race shows as much about the sad state of Christianity in the United States as it does anything.

American Christians have been as seduced by Mammon as non-religious Americans have.  The idolatry of money, of power, the exclusiveness of racism, and other kinds of bigotry, the oppressive misogynistic form of masculinity that is as much of it as anything is all about as opposed to the Gospel of Jesus as could be, yet that is what is identified as Christianity by the media and by large numbers of people who falsely claim allegiance to that Gospel.  

Perhaps some of the problem has been the passive non-resistance to that "christianity" by those who take the radical economic justice of the Gospels and the Jewish prophetic tradition the most seriously.  That the person in the Iowa race who is closest to that is Bernie Sanders isn't really any great mystery.  Hillary Clinton comes in a second on that count.   That Sanders is often presented as a "secular Jew" - which many people interpret as "atheist" - is interesting, though in decades of Sanders watching I don't remember him ever declaring his religious belief.

If the often touted "evangelical vote" were really influenced by their reading of the words of Jesus, they would have stood up for Sanders yesterday, or perhaps Hillary Clinton.   And, you know, I would bet that more than a few Christian evangelicals DID support either of those candidates, not that you're going to hear about them.  That so many of them stood up for the Antichristian candidates, most of all Ted Cruz makes me think of the predictions that Jesus made of those who would find his Gospel too hard, to much of a personal sacrifice.

The tests of authenticity in those who claim to be followers of Jesus are laid out in the Gospel, those who follow the teachings of Jesus and his exposition of the Jewish Law are the rock bottom foundation of it.  He said that doing to others what you would have them do to you was "The Law and the prophets".   He also said that what we do to the least among us we do to God.  He also said that those who serve Mammon cannot serve God.   There is no way to intuit those requirements from the politics of Ted Cruz or Donald Trump or any of the Republican candidates, in every single case their policies are the direct opposite of the Gospel of Jesus, it is anti-Jesus, their "christianity" is, in fact, Antichristianity.

We need a real religious fight in this country, against the Antichrist that flourishes among us.  At the very least those who take the Gospel seriously, who think that it is the truth have to loudly and constantly call out those who promote the opposite of that, lying about its identity.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Andrew Hill - Not So

Andrew Hill, piano
Richard Davis, Eddie Khan, basses
Roy Haynes, drums

I wish I knew who was playing the bass solos, the only downside of having two basses playing.  I love the texture and feel it gives to this album, one of the greatest of all.   I'd love to have the music to these pieces, apparently I'd have to go to the Library of Congress to see them.  They aren't in the 21 Piano Pieces book that was published.   He was such a great composer that more of his music should be published.

Andrew Hill - Smoke Stack

Here's the original

Andrew Hill, piano
Richard Davis, Eddie Khan, basses
Roy Haynes, drums

The genius starts with the composition and is matched through the instrumentation and personnel - the two basses - and the powerful playing of all, Roy Haynes not least of all.

Here is a far too rare cover by the Vijay Iyer Trio

Vijay Iyer, piano
Stephan Crump, bass
Marcus Gilmore, drums

While nothing can compare with Andrew Hill's recording, this is pretty good and a welcome and way too rare cover of an Andrew Hill composition.   Andrew Hill is certainly one of the greatest composers of the past half-century whose music can match anyone's in quality and creative genius.

Last February I posted a month-long series laying out some of the documentation of the very long Christian struggle against slavery, beginning with the very early figures such as Saint Macrina the Younger and her brother, the great theologian Gregory of Nyssa and into the period of official abolition of slavery.   

I don't have the time to do that, this year so I will repost some of the posts I did last year.   I think that buried and suppressed history and the documents that support it stand a second reading.   I might supplement that with other material I haven't posted before. 

Break Out The Cottage Cheese, Sci-Guys, Your Head's Too Fat For Your Favorite Ideology

Yesterday a guy who I'm told has been something of a professional scientist made some snarky remarks about my post, it just might have been short enough to have not taxed his attention span so I will assume he may have read it, though I doubt that.

Having mentioned the often proudly declared philosophical ignorance that science majors so often, perhaps typically, maintain as they are granted degrees and advanced degrees, I wonder if scientific materialists aren't some of the ideologues who hold their ideology in greatest ignorance of its most basic holdings.

Materialism is, inescapably, a monist ideology, it holds that EVERYTHING, IN EVERY FACET OF ITS EXISTENCE is material in nature, EVERYTHING, INEVITABLY IS A RESULT OF CHAINS OF MATERIAL CAUSATION, you know, something hits and interacts with something else according to the "laws of nature" which are inevitable and invariable in their effects.    Despite that, today, as physics has pretty much destroyed the basic assumption of materialism,  some materialists who like to call themselves,  "naturalists" - perhaps appropriate as their emperor definitely has no clothes - or "physicalists"  who like to express the same old materialism with slight twists, elevating "natural law" or "the laws of physics" to the top position instead of the matter and energy which generate "natural law" or "the laws of physics" it's all just plain old materialism in the end.  That means that science, everything in science, every idea that a scientist has or publishes or that you learned from your favorite old prof at the good old U.  just as those ideas you scoff at jocularly with the other sci jocks, IS EQUALLY THE MERE PRODUCT OF THE MATERIAL COMPONENTS OF YOUR BRAIN DOING WHAT THEY ARE PREORDAINED TO DO BY THOSE SAME CHAINS OF CAUSATION.   Your own ideology inescapably holds that to be the case, held there by chains of logic and the definition of your own beloved ideology. What I pointed out is logically necessary in order for materialism to be self-consistent.  That's what you don't like, you don't want to have to abide by the limits you insist everyone else does.   It's just like when your guys attack free will, misrepresenting the study of Benjamin Libet,  because free will cannot be made compatible with material causation but then grant themselves an exemption because they don't want to be the automatons they hold everyone is.

By the way, that a sophisticated sci-guy like yourself doesn't even know that much about his ideology and its logical necessities wouldn't surprise me.  You boys are some of the most self-unaware of rigid ideologues.  Something some rigorous courses in the bottom foundations in philosophy might have prevented.

That was all I was pointing out to the dialectal materialist, Richard Seymour who is, admittedly brilliant as a critic of capitalism but who certainly didn't like it when that inevitable and inescapable result of his ideology was brought up in answer to his assertion that ideology is a material substance.   He, I believe, probably had enough philosophy to get the point, you sci-guys seldom seem to be able to deal with the problem at more than a 12-year-old level of thought.   Perhaps if you'd had more of the right kinds of humanities prerequisites you might have come to understand that when you adopt a monist ideology, you're its servant and you have to squeeze your late-middle age girth into its girdle. And if you bulge out above or below, someone who does understand that is entirely within their rights to point out that you are in violation of the ideology you insist on.   Perhaps those 16 desires addressed in my earlier post apply to materialism in ways that religion really doesn't fit.   You guys tend to get really emotional when your pet ideology's logical requirements are applied to you and your beliefs.

Psychology Fails To Get It

When last this blog mentioned psychology it was to look at just a few of the huge problems with studying the human mind as a topic of science as laid out by one of it's pioneers, the brilliant American philosopher, William James.  The time before that it was the mention of the article on Nature  online which said that a rigorous review of published psychological studies were done so badly that as many as two-thirds of them were unreliable even granted the extremely indulgent standards that psychology sets for itself.  I don't believe I mentioned the other study discussed in the article, that of John Ioannidis which used more rigorous criteria and said that the number of invalid published, reviewed psychological studies is probably more than 80%.   The article in Nature, I will repeat, noted that was a problem for ALL psychological studies because you don't know without rigorously looking at the methodology, the performance, and analysis of the claims made in it if the study fell into the small minority of psychological studies that could be considered scientifically valid or not.

Last night I read an interview with an author of one of the myriad of psychological studies that purports to discover the psychological nature of religion.   The short version of the study is given as:

Enter psychologist Steven Reiss’ new book: The 16 Strivings for God: The New Psychology of Religious Experiences. There isn’t just one fundamental desire behind religion, Reiss argues, there are sixteen of them. According to Reiss, all humans have the following innate desires:

– Acceptance: the desire for positive self-regard
– Curiosity: the desire for understanding
– Eating: the desire for food
– Family: the desire to raise children and spend time with siblings
– Honor: the desire for upright character
– Idealism: the desire for social justice
– Independence: the desire for self-reliance
– Order: the desire for structure
– Physical Activity: the desire for muscle exercise
– Power: the desire for influence or leadership
– Romance: the desire for beauty and sex
– Saving: the desire to collect
– Social Contact: the desire to have fun with peers
– Status: the desire for respect based on social standing
– Tranquility: the desire for safety
– Vengeance: the desire to confront provocations

Religion, he argues, is successful when it serves all of these needs.

The methodology and, though not called that, the assumptions of those conducting the study are given in the interview.

How does your theory differ from those of past authors that posit just one or two motivations for religion?

Ours is based on scientific research, so we ask people what motivates them. At this point, we’ve assessed the motives of 100,000 people throughout the world, from many cultures in Europe, Asia, and North America. We asked them about every possible thing that could motivate them, and then we take their answers and analyze them statistically. The results show that there are 16 psychological forces that motivate people. All human motives are a combination of these 16 psychological forces. Nothing important is left out. It’s a comprehensive list.

The others, like Freud—he didn’t do any research, and neither did most of the others. They just did armchair speculation and philosophically suggested the fundamental forces. Then they would take one or two and say that was the most important. There was no scientific basis.

Could you walk me through your methodology?

We started off with every goal I could think of [with help from my students]. And then we asked other people to add to the list and think of additional ones. We went through books and the index of psychology to come up with more. The first list had 550+ goals. Then we looked at it, and we thought how many of these are really the same? We wanted to eliminate duplicates. That cut it down to around 300 different goals.

We would show these goals to somebody and ask, “How important is each one in motivating you?” We would get data from a couple hundred people and put that into a computer [to] determine which [goals] were very similar. We would reduce the list further, and then start over with the reduced list, repeating the process until we came up with the 16 desires. From that 16, we can generate almost any goal.

Your model offers some new conceptual resources, particularly for thinking about how people’s “strong” and “weak” strivings inform how they participate in religion.

The 16 desires are shared by everybody. We all want the same things from life. We would all rather understand than be confused. We would all rather be praised than criticized. We would all rather have safety than feel anxious. While we all want the same things, we don’t value them to the same degree. Some people value safety above all else, and they’re going to be looking for God to protect them. That’s going to be the most important thing to them, the most meaningful thing. Somebody else might value understanding even more than their safety, and [for them] the most meaningful thing in religion [might be] understanding where we come from and who we are. For others, religious fellowship may be the most important thing because they place an unusually high value on social contact.

It becomes possible to gain insight into your desires, your values, and how that is expressed in your religion. For most psychologists, the motivations and forces that drive people, they call them “energy.” I’m talking about values. As a species, we’re motivated to assert our values. When we come to understand how we value the 16 desires, you gain insight into why some aspects of religion resonate more with you than others.

The first thing that jumped out at me was that they left something about religious belief out of their study and that is the obvious question of whether people who have religious beliefs have them BECAUSE THEY BELIEVE THEY ARE TRUE.

There are many aspects of religion that certainly fall outside of their list of desires, for example, in the three major monotheistic religions, you are required to do justice to even your enemies, those who give you every reason to hate, those who have harmed and still have the potential to harm you.  You have an obligation to give to people who you don't know and who you certainly have no emotional attachment to, even those you never will see or know about.  There are all kinds of requirements in religions that are not only not covered by any of those "desires" there are huge swaths of religious requirements that we forego our desires, things which we desire very much.

This study reveals nothing so much as that the authors of the study not only have not got the first clue as to what religion is all about, they don't seem to imagine that it can be more than a series of egotistically emotional choices and desires fed.  It certainly doesn't seem to get that you can believe in a religion on the basis of your believing it is the truth, never mind the way to getting beyond self-centered desires for yourself and those attached to you, that religion can be a means of escaping the narrow confines imagined by psychologists into a wider and even an ultimate expansion of consideration that is universal.   In Buddhism, the real thing, not the Western boutique, Brit logical positivist and Hollywood schools of Buddhism, one of the practices is to expand the range of loving concern, not only to all people but to all sentient creatures on Earth and those speculated to be in the entire universe.  Christianity contains similar prayers and, arguably, scripture passages that assert that every creature's ultimate welfare is an active concern of God and, so, us.

I won't go so far as to make the accusation that the people who conducted this study did so as an attack on religion, though it could certainly be used that way.   I do think they know that anything that diminishes or calls into question religious belief is going to get media attention, attacking religion is definitely an active program of the media, perhaps even that highest of all priorities, a fashion statement.  I do think that they demonstrate that they don't really respect that religion can be believed in at a higher intellectual level than mere satisfaction of desires, which is definitely to diminish it.  While there are those who certainly seem to operate at that level, even they will encounter aspects of the religion they may follow which encourages consideration of the negative aspect of some of their desires and even the command to abandon the pursuit of their satisfaction.

I will say that I doubt the thing could stand up to any kind of rigorous analysis.  As I commented at Religion Dispatches, since they don't seem to consider that people believe in a religion because they believe its true, they don't have very much respect for the thinking of the people whose self-reports of their mental states are the basis of their study.  If they can't be trusted to believe something because they believe it's true, how could anyone trust their self-reporting of their desires?

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Bud Powell - Cherokee

Strictly Confidential

Bud Powell, piano
Ray Brown, bass
Max Roach, drums

Bud Powell was incredible.

After A Bad Night An Old Argument

Caught In The Sealed Maze of Materialism

Ever since I first found out how capitalism worked, seeing how it institutionalized greed and exploitation, I've been a socialist.   That would be a socialist, not a Marxist.   And, due to the utter confusion of the term "socialist" I've got to point out I'm definitely not a Fabian*.   I'm a socialist who believes that the workers should own the means of production and that that ownership should never be allowed to leave the hands of the workers who use those means to produce what is produced.   My friend at my former blog pointed out that my socialism was more in line with some branches of anarchism, though I'm anything but an anarchist.   As I mentioned, neither am I a Marxist.   And here, just for fun, I'll mention that Marx declared he wasn't a Marxist either.   Howard Zinn's guess at why he said that sounds plausible to me.

This morning, following up links on lefty blogs, I came to this rather dismal post  at Lenin's Tomb giving a wonderfully baroque exposition of why ideology is a material substance.   If you want to peruse it in all its tortured citations and reasoning, go ahead.   I doubt you'll profit from it, you'd probably get more of use from picking through the dry bones of the Abhidhamma  on some esoteric  point of Buddhist dogma more profitably gotten from some simple statement of the Dharmapada.   It's absolutely nothing.  I wouldn't insult the Golden Rule by involving it in a hands down comparison in its favor on the basis of the observation of actual life as compared to the vanity of  ideological romance. 

Here's the comment I left there after reading through it.  

If this is true, there isn't any difference between one ideology and another, they're merely different products of different chance factors of material causation.  There isn't even any reason to adopt one over the other because whatever decision is made is merely another product of material causation.   You may as well be a Republican-fascist as anything else.   Even the idea that your conclusion carries anything like truth or is anything like an objective picture of material reality is illusory.   

Why would you think your conclusions could escape the materialist substrate that you conclude your ideological opponents are a victim of?   No, that's silly, if your materialist ideology is the product of your peculiar line of causation, as you say your opponents' ideologies are, its being materialist isn't any reason to assume it's any more accurate.  Materialist ideologies aren't uniform and there wouldn't be any way to judge one as being more realistic than another one.

You've only sealed up any escape from a maze with no center and no goal.   There isn't any more reason to live in that one than there is to spend your life playing a video game.    I'd rather take a chance on your materialism being an academic delusion, even if what you're saying has some chance of being true. 

* Fabianism is a rich snob's idea of "socialism" from above, preserving upper class belief in their own virtue and the depravity of the poor.   It's among the more putrid uses of the word.   I'd be in favor of coming up with a different word to name my kind of socialism but that's not in my hands. 

First posted April 19, 2012

Update:  If you would like to refute what I said why didn't you?  Atheists online are pretty much uniformly restricted to parroting ideological dogmas in lieu of making arguments and you boys and gals are only on the mid-brow level of even doing that. 

So, do tell me how, if ideas and even ideologies are a material substance, why doesn't that mean that none of them can except, perhaps by the most vanishingly slender of random chances, arrive at anything like an objective truth.   Only, as I said, I'll neither hold my breath nor wait up nights.   When I made that argument to him, Richard Seymour couldn't argue his way out of it and I doubt you're any Richard Seymour

I will make a prediction that the practice of allowing people granted science degrees, like you apparently hold, to not know how to argue their way out of a wet paper bag is going to be found to have harmed science.    I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't involved in the replication crisis, not to mention the file-drawer crisis and other massive lapses of methodology that are being discussed in Nature and other venues.  But, in the end, it's scientists feeling that they have some kind of exemption from the need admit the truth. 

Update 2:   I'll let you in on a little secret, when someone says something so stupid in response to what I said it's only encouraging to me.   It's why I have to filter you out, I don't want to get smug.