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  1. I agree with you on healthcare. I think we're finally moving in the right direction. On education, I agree that we have much to learn from other countries. It seems to me that the biggest opponents of innovation and choice in education are members of the entrenched bureaucracy. The only change they're in favor of is increased funding. Yet, we already spend much more per pupil than the places you mentioned (Finland and China). Education at a Glance As with healthcare, whatever we're doing wrong doesn't appear to be a lack of spending. I'd like to see schools compete to better serve their students instead of 'owning' them, regardless of how awful the school might be. Sweden, for example, uses a voucher system where schools are funded based on attendance. Germany allows students to enroll in any school they want instead of confining them to districts. The Netherlands has a voucher system that allows student choice, including public or private schools.
  2. Renegade

    Notre Dame Rebuild

    Maybe they did. The two are not mutually exclusive. Everyone wants someone else to do it. I saw Notre Dame in 2007 or 2008 after visiting several of the cathedrals in France, Germany and Italy. Although Notre Dame was indeed impressive, my favorite was the tower in Ulm. My wife and I climbed the stairs to the very top and it was absolutely awe inspiring. It's so much taller than the surrounding buildings, I felt like I was in an airplane. As you get to the top, the heavy walls give way to open air, fragile-looking arches and narrow spiral stairs with deeply worn depressions where countless feet have traveled before. I can't imagine the courage it took to actually build something like that with the tools and technology available at the time. Maybe it took sincere belief just to attempt something like that. (not my pic) One person buys a new cell phone while someone else donates to rebuild Notre Dame. Which is more worthy? Yet the cell phone upgrader faces no disapproval. If ten thousand (or a million) people skipped a cell phone upgrade (or stopped using cosmetics or bought a less expensive car or donated 10 hours of time), just think of what we could do to "save the future". Everyone wants an easy solution that only requires someone else to do something. So why haven't you? Is there no cause worthy of your $20? Homeless? Cancer research? Prosthetic purchases for crippled children? I don't mean to pick on you. My point is that we could all do more or differently. We should celebrate and encourage the donations that are made, not criticize the donors for not doing more or differently. Yes, we all get to make our own choices. To me, that's the beauty of private donations. Like you, I would also donate to many other causes before I'd donate to rebuild Notre Dame. But at the same time, I'm also glad someone is doing it.
  3. Renegade

    Notre Dame Rebuild

    It's been slow here lately, so I'm going to get this off my chest. I've seen several instances where people are upset with those who donated funds to rebuild the Notre Dame Cathedral. They're angry that the funds weren't spent on something more worthy. One comment said "a single human life is worth more than any building". I haven't seen any of that here on LO, and I'm glad for that because I think the criticism is misplaced for a couple of reasons. First, consider what the money would have been used for if it hadn't been donated. Is there any evidence that this money was pulled from other other donations? Or, was it additional? My understanding is that this money represents new donations. In other words, this money would have been spent on yachts and jewelry (or sat in a bank account) if it hadn't been donated. If that's the case, this is a better use and should not be criticized. In fact, this criticism can discourage further donations. No matter what cause you give to, someone will believe you should have given to theirs instead. I think many donate as a way to assuage any guilt they may have. They want to feel better about themselves. But, when they're faced with public criticism for having given away money, they're less likely to do it again. This sort of criticism does nothing to encourage philanthropy overall. Another point is that we all (almost all) have disposable income. I could tell these Notre Dame critics that they should be donating their money to fight starvation in Africa instead of buying whatever it is that they buy (cell phones, makeup, entertainment, dining out, etc.). Surely 'a single human life is worth more than eye shadow'? The point is that we have no room to criticize others for making the same decision we make ourselves. We all prioritize our own comfort ahead of the lives of others. That may indeed be wrong. But, how can I criticize you for something I do myself? Finally, do we really believe "a single human life is worth more than any building"? How much is a human life worth? They're perishable, normally lasting less than a century, no matter how much you spend on them. We have quite a lot of them already, maybe even more than the planet can properly support. If you answer the question honestly, it sort of depends on whose life we're talking about. For me, if you're talking about my daughter's life, then I'd sacrifice every building in Paris. If you're talking about some person I've never met and know nothing about...it might be a different answer. I might value the pain and suffering of the 2 million people who live in Paris above that single anonymous life. How long would this person live anyway? What is their net impact on the world? Maybe they're a bad person? It's easy to devalue an unknown life. Maybe I should rethink this? Maybe every life on Earth is as precious as my own daughter's? That's extremely difficult to wrap my head around...maybe even impossible. And, if my priorities are wrong, I'm not alone. By their actions, I see everyone else making the same decisions.
  4. For historians, I doubt if the overall focus of history will be any different. The proletariat will continue to primarily be studied as a group while those who accomplish something extraordinary will be singled out for detailed individual analysis. It's more about what a person does, rather than their wealth. How much focus will future historians spend on people who live ordinary, mundane, and let's face it...boring...lives? Homeless people will be studied as a group while Elon Musk will be studied as a person. No historian will ever care what I did, but Donald Trump will be studied for a very long time. No number of Facebook posts about my "wants needs and desires" will change that. Which is cause and which is effect? Maybe liberalism has caused the shift instead of the other way around? Even when writing about their contemporaries, artists and historians of the past focused on rich and powerful people. How much of Shakespeare's work is about kings, queens, and noblemen? Surely writers have had plenty of information about the lives of everyday people, yet they chose to focus elsewhere. Viewpoints do change. Even the facts change. To paraphrase Yogi Berra, history ain't what it used to be. The history my grandkids learn is not the history I learned. I suspect that their grandchildren will learn yet another history. Who knows how our lives will be interpreted by the future? Even with all the information we leave behind, I deeply doubt they'll understand what it was like to live in this time. We will be judged by standards that have not yet been written.
  5. Renegade

    So Who Are We Going To Support In 2020?

    Here's an example of what I consider to be a Biden apology from 2008 (emphasis added): "Many have argued that this 100-to-1 disparity is arbitrary, unnecessary, and unjust, and I agree. And I might say at the outset in full disclosure, I am the guy that drafted this legislation years ago with a guy named Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who was the senator from New York at the time. And crack was new. It was a new “epidemic” that we were facing. And we had at that time extensive medical testimony talking about the particularly addictive nature of crack versus powder cocaine. And the school of thought was that we had to do everything we could to dissuade the use of crack cocaine. And so I am part of the problem that I have been trying to solve since then, because I think the disparity is way out of line." Senate Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs I don't have a clue about Fred Upton. Was he a "champion in the fight against cancer"? If he was, is it wrong to say so? This is a quote from the article you linked: I may not be typical, but this sort of independence and willingness to work across party lines actually increases Biden's appeal to me. I'm not attracted to partisans or ideologues of any stripe. Governing a nation (properly) requires cooperation, compromise, and practical decisions. I'm not saying I'm committed to Biden. It's too early and I don't know enough about the others. But, if I had to vote today...
  6. Renegade

    So Who Are We Going To Support In 2020?

    Now that I'm getting...more experienced...I have a better appreciation for politicians with long track records. In '89 when Biden was calling for tougher enforcement of drug laws, what was Buttigieg's position? He was 7 at the time! It's not a fair criticism for 2019 newcomers to compare their 2019 positions to the Biden of 30 years ago. I accept his apologies for past mistakes. It's easy to point fingers at what people did back in the 20th century, but I believe his positions have evolved and, over the last decade, he's shown himself as a more progressive person. After 4 years of craziness, I'd be fine with Biden. I like safe and predictable.
  7. Renegade

    Are we more different than similar?

    That's a good question. If you ask Democrats (apparently that would include over 90% of black women) they'll tell you black women are rejecting the racist and misogynistic policies of the Republican party. Of course, a Republican will tell you something else. Although I couldn't tell you exactly what those racist and misogynistic policies are, until I have a better theory I'll tend to believe the people who are casting the votes when they tell me why they cast them. The social pressure you mention must also have an effect. I wonder how many people say they voted a certain way in exit polls just because they don't want anyone to know they voted otherwise. In some areas, you might not want anyone to know you voted against expectations. I agree. But, I don't know how to make that happen. Any ideas? This is a digression, but I think it's an example of the division you're talking about. When the NFL players were kneeling during the national anthem, it made me angry that they were dividing America instead of uniting it. The nation isn't perfect. There's not a person alive who doesn't have some issue or grievance. Should we all be making gestures during the anthem? Global warming, deforestation, abortion, guns, free speech, taxes, inequality...the list is endless. Instead of 50 different gestures for 50 different issues, why don't we all make a gesture together for making America better together? Oh, yeah, we already had that: Stand, take your hat off, and place your right hand over your heart. The anthem should be a symbol of what we all aspire for our nation to be, not an opportunity to call attention to particular issues. A politician's time with any particular voter is severely limited. The voter will lose interest quickly, especially if the politician is talking about things that the voter doesn't care about, or worse, if it's something the voter disagrees with. For the politician, it's only sensible to start with your best topic (for that particular voter). If the voter's #1 issue is abortion and you just happen to have a position on abortion that the voter will like, then that's where you start. If they only hear you say one thing, this is the one you want them to hear. First impressions set the tone for everything that follows. Then, the voter will be more likely to listen to, and respond favorably to, your second position. As you go along, you build momentum. Maybe you never get to the points the voter doesn't like. But if you do, the voter is more likely to listen to your argument with an open mind because they know you have other points of agreement. If you have to address a huge group of voters all at once, where do you start? If you pick abortion, that's not what some want to hear. Some won't agree with you on the economy. Some won't agree with you on foreign policy. No matter where you start, you're going to put someone off right from the beginning. The beauty of targeted advertising is that it lets you put your best foot forward more often. I agree. Politicians have been infamous for this since before computers even existed. In some ways, targeted advertising enables this behavior. But, there are risks. If you send advertisements with opposing messages, it can hurt when you're found out. Doesn't modern technology makes it more likely that pandering will be exposed?
  8. Renegade

    We Are Indivisible

    What about Biden's record with women? Biden & Sanders' age? Harris' criminal justice record? Booker's ties to the pharmaceutical industry? I'm sure every candidate has something in their history (or else they can be criticized as inexperienced, untested, and unproven). These types of criticism are not positive. They don't inspire anyone. But, maybe we need to talk about the dirty issues before we get to the general election? Maybe they're relevant in deciding who we want to get the nomination? Those who get hit with even the mildest criticism will point to the pledge and say: "You promised..." And then they'll launch their own attacks. I just don't think that first pledge point is realistic, desirable, or precise enough to be meaningful. But, it doesn't hurt anything. Maybe they'll be a bit more positive and uplifting in their messages. That would be a good thing.
  9. Renegade

    We Are Indivisible

    The last two seem like obvious requirements. But, that first one, "make the primary constructive", seems awfully subjective. Does that mean no criticism of the other candidates? I can see how some of the candidates (front-runners with long track records) would appreciate this protection more than others (challengers). If there's a valid reason not to select someone as the candidate, shouldn't the other candidates bring that up? Shouldn't we hear their response? Or, do we pretend the issue doesn't exist and wait for the Republicans to bring it up? I'm thinking this pledge allows for some reasonable challenges, but opinions on what's 'reasonable' will vary widely.
  10. Renegade

    Are we more different than similar?

    Correlation isn't causation. Even if eye color correlated to candidate preference, that wouldn't be enough. There also needs to be some logical theory of how the two are related. Yes, gender, race, and income are useful because that data (unlike eye color) is available by zip code. But, it's the media that focus on gender, race, and income divisions. They want something that looks like analysis, but is simple enough for the average channel surfer to understand. Professional political analysts (e.g. Cambridge Analytica) are diving much deeper into the data. The Wikipedia page gives a small taste of what that's like: OK, I just saw your later post about Cambridge Analytica. Yes...that. Have you seen those 'sponsored' quizzes at the bottom of web pages? Yahoo is littered with them. Take a quiz and give big brother a a few more data points to predict how you will respond to their advertising/influencing. Let me argue the other side for a moment. How is targeted advertising worse than general advertising? It's all intended to influence voters. Every campaign speech is an attempt to influence voters. If I tell the AARP that I want to raise Social Security payouts and then I tell the Sierra Club that I want to reduce carbon emissions and then I tell my big donors that I want to eliminate red tape and simplify federal regulations (just making this up)...what wrong have I done? If I do this in private meetings, it's politics as usual. If I send computer-directed e-mails or if an algorithm makes certain ads pop up on specific computers...how is that worse? It's not like I'm telling one group I'll repeal NAFTA and another group that I won't. What minority is statistically insignificant? I'm not aware of any. The whole point of the targeted advertising is that ever smaller groups can be made to feel that they're not ignored. Either way, it doesn't reflect well on her. Either she hired bad analysts, or she hired good analysts and didn't listen to them. Repulsive, yes. But, I wouldn't say it's disqualifying. They all do it. I think it's just the nature of politics that, when speaking to a particular group, you emphasize your points of agreement. They're just getting better at it now. My biggest concern isn't that polling data might be manipulated (I already assume that it is). I still have hope that Americans don't vote a certain way based on a CNN poll. Instead, I worry more about the online foreign agent trolls who try to stir up hatred and mistrust between different groups (Thousands attended protest organized by Russians on Facebook). What happens when the Russians mobilize opposing groups to the same place at the same time? Throw in a few covert agitators and things could get violent in a hurry.
  11. Renegade

    Are we more different than similar?

    Yes, yes, and yes. I also like to believe I'm unique and my decisions are unrelated to my demographics. I get hostile when someone tries to categorize me like that. I'd be willing to bet that the vast majority of Americans feel the same way. Another thing that galls me is when these analysts say something like "the candidate needs to reach out to the XYZ community". That typically means talking to the self-appointed 'leaders' of these 'communities'. I often disagree with the political positions that the 'leaders' of my 'communities' put forward and I resent the assumption that they speak for me. This analysis is divisive because it leads to prejudice. People have always judged us by the way we look, the place we live, the car we drive, the clothes we wear...before they even say "hello". All this demographic statistical analysis just reinforces that tendency to stereotype. When the black lesbian social worker from Boston and the rural white Christian policeman from southern Alabama assume that they have no possibility of agreement, they're likely to approach any interaction with suspicion (at best) or maybe even hostility. Just as bad, either of these people may be treated as traitors to their 'own kind' if they don't conform to expectations. As much as I hate being put in a demographic bin, statistics show that people with similar demographic characteristics tend to make similar decisions. The science of statistics isn't such that it's proven wrong when twins vote against each other. The fact that I defy my demographic destiny on some issues does nothing to undermine the science. It's accurate with percentages and probabilities over a population when using adequate sample sizes. Statistical analysis of data comes with built-in measures of its own accuracy. People tend to misinterpret probabilities and tendencies as absolute predictions. Demographic data helps a candidate tailor their message to specific audiences. On the good side, it helps the candidate talk about what's important to that particular person. On the bad side, it lets the candidate tell different stories to different groups. Of course, candidates have always done that. Demographic analysis allows a data-driven campaign to efficiently target their campaigning, sending exactly the right message to exactly the right neighborhoods to tip the election.
  12. Renegade

    Once again, ignorance wins

    This does seem like an odd way to save money. This article (Science.org) says the contract that was allowed to expire only cost up to $45 million over 5 years. That's not much. For now, it looks like the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) will pick up Jason's funding until January. Maybe they'll find a new long-term sponsor.
  13. Renegade

    The Intercept_A Message From The Future

    That sounds like an excellent idea. If I had to guess whether it will be politics or science to get us out of this mess, science is the easy choice.
  14. I can't say never. Sometimes, it depends on who the choices are. But, even those who believe the best R is worse than the worst D should hope that the R's pick their least bad candidate. History shows that the R's win about half the time. If that happens again, we should all want the best (least bad?) possible President.
  15. Renegade

    who would support a ban on conservatives?

    Yes. NHB is popular and serves a purpose, but it's not for everyone. What I don't like is the lack of civility, courtesy, and respect. A person is entitled to their own opinions, but I don't have to listen if they're being hateful. Instead of a ban on conservatives, what we need is a place to civilly exchange thoughts and ideas with conservatives. Since we can't do that on NHB (too much trolling) or LO (no conservatives), we would need a 3rd forum with rules of behavior for all members. Do you think it would be too much work to moderate?