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About laripu

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    Beer and mead brewing. Making sausages, fresh cheese, lox, limoncello, Scotch eggs, Atholl Brose.

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  1. I've heard Bloomberg speak on TV many times, but I haven't heard FDR speak much; I don't have much to go on. There's something called the Flynn effect that indicates that people are on average getting smarter over time. If I had to guess to save my life I'd probably say Bloomberg. I'd say that for most historical political figures because of the Flynn effect. The exception would be Lincoln, an autodidact of great ability. Hmmm, probably Jefferson too. I agree that they both have charisma. I also think that FDR had more, but that's just my personal opinion and charisma can only really be measured by its effect on great numbers of people. SO my single opinion counts for nothing. Clearly though, FDR had a much greater range of accomplishments, so I'd say FDR was probably more savvy with respect to his own cohort in the 1930s and 40s than Sanders is with respect to his. (Sanders may be absolutely smarter than FDR because of the Flynn effect, which is why I'm expressing it with respect to their respective cohorts. This shows a dependence on expertise above dogma, a good quality in a person. (Orange pretzeldents lack it, I'm told. ) My personal opinion is that neither of them are in that mold. Bloomberg is a technocrat and only an ok communicator, better than average, but not nearly as good as the best. Bernie Sanders' is a better communicator than Bloomberg, but his appeal is mainly to the left; he often loses the center. Sanders' main virtues are: Wanting to get money out of politics , which is a very hard slog without a change in SCOTUS, given Citizens United. So he would likely have been unable to accomplish that to any significant degree. (Except that he'd have nominated judges that would help in that regard.) A deep and lasting desire to help the poor to rise. Had he been elected I think he would have worked himself to death to accomplish that, and would likely have made great gains for the poor, especially in health care and education. These would last just until the next Republican majority in both houses. Bloomberg's main virtues are: A profound understanding of what is shaping this world, namely technology. He would have been a better person to sort out the electoral problems arising from Russian involvement. I think he'd have made practical improvements in states' gerrymandering, improvements stemming from IT, insofar as SCOTUS would allow. (But we may get that anyway.) He would have been a better person to sort out the problems that are going to arise out of IT and genetic engineering. I think he'd also have been better at creating lasting structures that would benefit people after his term was over. These are all impressions. Mere opinions.
  2. The word sophist is applied to the distraction and/or trick of using an unrelated far-right conservative (Mercer) to discredit arguments about Bloomberg. Reduced to bare bones, the logical form of this is: Larry: Bloomberg is smarter than Sanders, and morally not bad, so I prefer him. Craig: Mercer is also smarter than Sanders, so according to your reasoning, you therefore prefer him too even though he's far right. That was a sophist trick because it leaves out the important part of the reasoning namely "and morally not bad". Note that I'm not saying that Craig is a sophist/evil/Nazi etc. I'm saying that the argument he used was a sophist trick. Yes it was a trick. But I'm not accusing you of trying to trick me. I'm saying you used a rhetorical trick; the trick is to equate two disparate things (Bloomberg, Mercer) based on a particular similarity (both smarter than Sanders). You're correct that I'm not accusing you of being far right. Mercer is far right; you're probably to the left of me. I'm also not saying you're a bad guy. I've never met you and all I have to work with are the arguments we put forward. What I am saying is that the argument that equates two disparate things (Bloomberg, Mercer) based on a particular similarity (both smarter than Sanders) is a fallacious argument; a rhetorical trick.
  3. The linguistic problem with theism

    Yup. If everything requires a creator, what created the creator? The infinite regress argument. For an entity to be indistinguishable from a god, it would have to get around the speed limit c (speed of light), creating simultaneity, and find a way to reverse time. (In case it's not obvious, that's for omnipresence.)
  4. I agree that Sanders is competent enough. I also think Bloomberg is moral enough. Both of these are mere opinions of mine. If either were the Democratic nominee, I'd vote for them. And neither will be the Democratic nominee.
  5. Craig, Your post is too long to quote, but I never said Bloomberg was more capable because of his business ability. I said I thought he was smarter than Sanders because I've listened to both of them talk. It's my impression, and that of my wife, and supported by his early academic choice, and Sanders own estimation of his academic ability. The word 'sophist' was chosen on purpose, because the introduction of a completely different far right creep into the discussion was a trick. As to political revolutions, I'm against them because the gains of any revolution don't stick, and often have unintended consequences. What I'm for is slow improvement with widespread approval. To be fair, both Sanders and Bloomberg would get that, because without that they couldn't proceed. (Any president or administration only succeeds with concensus.) Look at this administration: they can't get anything done because there isn't concensus. Even the ACA, President Obama's great and unique accomplishment, is in trouble because there wasn't enough consensus.
  6. The linguistic problem with theism

    Whatever scientific knowledge may come, it will be inherently within the universe. Any knowledge gained about aspects of the universe can't be about something eternal, omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent. That doesn't mean that there can't be powerful entities beyond our knowledge; ones so powerful that we would not be competent enough nor have sufficient capability to distinguish them from gods. But they would not be gods as we want gods to be; they would merely be good enough. As the flight of a jet plane is good enough as a substitute for our inability to fly like a bird. They might not even exist yet, but come some time in the far future. (As laid out by physicist Frank Tipler, who I don't pretend to understand at all.) Anyway, I'm counting on it... any entity that can bring back my dead loved ones (human and animal) and make them whole and happy, gets my "good enough" seal of approval. That's my bottom line. But that existence will be multiplicitous, not unique.
  7. You're incorrectly characterizing what I'm saying. Remember the first thing I wrote, with new boldface now so you don't miss it: "While I think B. Sanders heart is in a better place than M. Bloomberg's, in my estimation Bloomberg is a more intelligent person, better capable at handling large amounts of data and multiple conflicting interests." Probably Robert Mercer is also smarter than Bernie Sanders. Just like Michael Bloomberg he would probably be more able. But able at what? Robert Mercer isn't the moral equivalent to Michael Bloomberg, because not all people who are smarter than Bernie are the same in every other respect. In particular a person can be smarter and more able than Bernie Sanders and also not a moral nightmare like Robert Mercer. So the real questions aren't about a sophist distraction like Mercer... (Oh look... a squirrel!) The real questions are: Does Michael Bloomberg's greater ability compensate for his not having the same moral scope as Bernie Sanders? ... and... Does Sanders' better moral status compensate for his not having the same intelligence/ability as Michael Bloomberg? In my view (and in the view of SWMBO) I answer yes to the first and no to the second. Why? Because this is a very complicated country with thousands of competing and deeply coupled interests, and Bloomberg seems to me to be a good-enough person, albeit not so focused on the well-being of the poor as Sanders is. This is a completely theoretical argument because I would not support either in the next Democratic primary because they're both too old. Sanders will be 79 in 2020, Bloomberg 78. Geez Louise... if either was prez, we'd get his veep before the end of term. How about Sally Yates? How about Adam Schiff? How about Amy Klobuchar or Kirsten Gillibrand or Cory Booker or Andrew Cuomo or Al Franken?
  8. The Theft of our Values

    I'm at work now. I'll watch the video later, from home. In the mean time I posted something in another thread for a few linguistic laughs. Discourse diversion. Palaver pleasure. Prose play. Word whoopee. Click on this and enjoy.
  9. The way we learn a word as children is a process, one in which the word is used in multiple instances in the same context. Whatever the "meaning" is, that arrangement of firings of neurons is an abstraction of the instances we've seen. For example, I clearly remember as a child referring to something pink as 'red'. My mother corrected me, telling me it was 'rosa' (the Yiddish word for pink). I had not yet seen enough instances of red and pink to correctly abstract out the meaning of the word red. So how do we learn the meanings of the word "exists" in different contexts? In particular, in the context of the sentence “god exists”? We use the word “exists” in two main contexts: Sentences of the form “that chair exists”, i.e. “X exists”, where X is a physical object, one that is finite in space and time, will eventually crumble and be no more. Clearly, when we say “god exists”, we don't mean it in that context, since believers expect god to be omnipresent and eternal, not finite in space and time. Sentences of the form “the square root of two exists”, i.e. X exists”, where X is an abstract object in a theoretical framework. Clearly, when we say “god exists”, we don't mean it in that context, since the expectation is that god ought to be more than just an abstract notion in a theoretical framework. The common understanding of god is of something objective, omnipresent, eternal, omniscient, and omnipotent, not merely an abstract notion that's part of a theory. The claim I'm making is that any context in which the word “exists” is used is different than how it's used when people use it for god. (That's as it should be, even for believers: any god in a monotheistic tradition would perforce be a unique entity with a unique existence. God, as people want to understand it, doesn't exist in the same way other things do.) And that's also the problem. To understand a word, we need to use it for different instances in the same context. That's how we abstract out meaning, how we understand things. But for “god”, there is only a single instance in that context. We have no multiple instances of that usage from which to abstract out meaning. But that means: in that context, there is no way to understand the word “exists”. The sentence “god exists” is meaningless. That's not satisfying, but it has the virtue of being true. So when believers argue that god exists and atheists argue that god doesn't exist, both are using meaningless sentences. Both resemble "a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing". (Thanks, Will. )
  10. A bit more evidence to add to the intelligence debate. Sanders has a BA in political science from University of Chicago, and has called himself a mediocre student. Bloomberg has a BSc in Electrical Engineering from Johns Hopkins, and an MBA from Harvard. There's no question in my mind that a BSc in elec eng is a much more intellectually demanding degree than a BA in poly sci.
  11. I'm basing it on my having listened to them talk for some number of years. I don't give a rat's ass for Bloomberg's money, and I'm not romanticizing; I never do that. But he was involved with information technology and that takes considerable intelligence. I'm not saying Sanders is stupid - far from it. Plus he'd be a much better president than any Republican president in my lifetime. But he is sort of one-note, and always has been. Edit to add: they're both too old. We need fresh younger liberals to run. We don't need a repetition of Reagan's Alzheimer's.
  12. Thus is possibly true, but not necessarily true. Reasons: 1. While I think B. Sanders heart is in a better place than M. Bloomberg's, in my estimation Bloomberg is a more intelligent person, better capable at handling large amounts of data and multiple conflicting interests. 2. Bloomberg is more likely to be less doctrinaire, and therefore better able to negotiate and persuade. 3. I posed this question to my wife: right now as they stand, which would you choose for president. She chose Bloomberg, for the two reasons above, without prompting. When my wife and I agree on people, we're usually right. Edit to add: Franken seems to combine good qualities of both.
  13. Yeah, fantastic rant. No one rants like Olbermann. Too bad he was fired. Apparently he violated an MSNBC policy of not donating to politicians, got suspended for it, and then continued to piss off management. He's a huge talent, but steps on toes whenever he feels like it. Rachel Maddow is just as effective, but seems to get along with people better.
  14. So I take it that you think a lower minimum wage is a good thing. So I'll ask? If a lower minimum wage is a good thing, why not make it half of what it is? Or one quarter of what it is? Or make it zero... no minimum at all? So you'll probably say that's ok, that the federal government has no business setting a minimum wage anyway. I'll call it what it really is: legalized slavery.