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How the have-it-both-ways "moderate" can begin to break out of the armchair

Writing in 1939, Max Lerner wrote this indictment of the typical "liberal." It would be a mistake to read this term using the 2020 American understanding of "liberal" vs. "conservative." It may refer to those who believe in liberal democracy (rather than any of its alternatives), but in context the best substitute term seems to be "moderate." The "liberal," here, is an armchair "moderate" who wants to have it both ways when it comes to judging others yet never taking firm action.For to the public the liberal has become the caricature of the way he has presented himself. He is Mr. Janus Facing-Both-Ways. He sees two sides to every question (why only two?). He is Hamlet-like in his indecisiveness at a time when victory comes to those who can make up their minds. He is generous in his judgment of others and tolerant of their way of life. His principle is one of inclusiveness – not in the democratic sense of including his fellow-…
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Quotes: Is the world an illusion, and what do we know about it?

Upton Sinclair:In college, when they were teaching me the theories of the world's leading philosophers, I said to the stout and jolly professor: "Why doesn't someone make a philosophy based on common sense?" Said he: "What do you mean by common sense?" I replied: "The things we all really know are true." That was more than forty years ago; the philosophers called "pragmatists" were already at work, but nobody appeared to know about them in the College of the City of New York, nor later in Columbia University.Rene Descartes:Common sense is the best distributed thing in the whole world. Everyone thinks that they are well endowed with it, so that even those who are most difficult to please in every other respect do not usually wish to have more than they already possess.Clive James:I am showing them [young people] the way to a necessary failure: the grim but edifying realization that a complete picture of reality is not to be had.Fernando …

Twitter allows bots to spread false information about COVID-19

Here's an example of a Twitter bot sharing false information.What people?
Name them.
What better way to lead people to slaughter than to tell them the "experts" say we need this.
HOW MANY DIED UNDER OBAMA? (H1N1) pic.twitter.com/t9AyfXm8DA— 154,552 Sealed Indictments ⭐⭐⭐ (@Theresa78375601) March 23, 2020What looks wrong about this? First of all, I personally remember the H1N1 flu. People were initially concerned about it, but it turned out to be a regular flu. At least one of my close family members eventually was diagnosed with it, had only mild symptoms, and was told not to worry. I don't even remember if I had it. The idea that H1N1 killed one of out every five sufferers is simply not plausible to me; it does not track with my own memory.How do I check the data in this image? Conveniently for me, the fakers left the news outlet's logo, "Business Insider," in the image of the chart. Perhaps this was intentional, to make the chart appear more official. Ho…

Throat symptoms: 'Flu' or air pollution?

On self-diagnosis in time of plague.On 6 March 2020, I felt a slight tickle in my throat. I wasn't coughing, nor did I have any other symptoms of cold. It was barely identifiable as a "symptom" of anything whatsoever, not even a small cold. It happened to arise the same day that Colombia confirmed its first coronavirus diagnosis, so, regardless of whatever symptoms anyone might have had that day, it seemed highly unlikely that any given person in Colombia would also have that virus. So I didn't think it was worth mentioning to anyone as a complaint on any level about anything since it was so minor and barely noticeable.Over two weeks later, the tickle in my throat was still present. It cannot possibly be coronavirus (symptoms of which peak around day 7 or 8, I hear). Suddenly, I realize what it is.The air quality in Bogotá has been poor for several weeks. This is a known problem. According to scientific measurements, my neighborhood is affected to a medium degree com…

Two brief thoughts about planning and trust

Laurie Penny wrote for Wired in March 2020:You can’t fight an epidemic just by being aggressively right about it...Shaming and blaming people...sometimes works in the long term, when people have had time to go away and think about it and calm down. We don't have that time right now. We have to be gentle with each other. We have to practice trust. Because right now and in the decades to come, our biggest problems as a species are going to be the problems we can't solve without trusting each other to do the right thing.Years ago, Henri J. M. Nouwen wrote:Along with trust there must be gratitude — the opposite of resentment. Resentment and gratitude cannot coexist, since resentment blocks the perception ad experience of life as a gift. My resentment tells me that I don’t receive what I deserve. It always manifests itself in envy.

Gratitude, however, goes beyond the 'mine' and 'thine' and claims the truth that all of life is a pure gift. In the past I always though…

10 failed arguments in 1,000 words: The latest anti-transgender screed

In a 2 March 2020 opinion piece, "Women must have the right to organise. We will not be silenced" — distressingly categorized by The Guardian under the theme "Transgender," when it is really anti-transgender — Suzanne Moore puts forth some remarks to which I strongly object. [Image: Juliet does a massive eyeroll.]Before getting started, I wish to acknowledge this statement in Moore's opinion piece: "I know from personal experience the consequences of being deemed transphobic by an invisible committee on social media. It has meant death and rape threats for me and my children, and police involvement." She gives no further details. While I am unfamiliar with the situation to which she is referring and I am ignorant of whom she might be accusing, no one should ever receive violent threats, full stop.I also wish to acknowledge her statement at the end of her article: "Women have the right to call out the violent men who rape." Again, of course th…

What the Republican senator has asked Americans to do

The data at the Trump Twitter Archive show that President Trump tweeted: “no collusion” five times in 2017, fifty-three times in 2018, and ninety-five times in 2019.“no obstruction” once in 2017, twelve times in 2018, and fifty-two times in 2019.“no quid pro quo” eighteen times between Sept 24 and Dec 12, 2019.“no bribery” and “no extortion” four times each in late 2019.Nixon said "I am not a crook" only once on television, and everyone immediately knew he was a crook.Trump's repetition wears down people's skepticism. It shouldn't. It's the same kind of transparently false defense as Nixon's. Trump denies committing these offenses because he knows he committed them, and he knows we know he committed them, and he knows that a lie can replace the truth if he repeats it enough. The disinformation has taken root, but we mustn't let it grow any further.Sen. Lamar Alexander, a Republican who isn't seeking reelection, said he would vote against calling…