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11-11-2016, 11:22 AM
RE: Recommend an Op-Ed piece
What can we learn from the election? Here is a composite list of our human biases and how they played out that applies not just to politics but just about anything else. While the piece singled out the election and investing it really is about our human foibles.

“One of the best things to do when confronted by a major surprise is to see what there is to be learned from the experience. I always try to identify what sorts of lessons can be gleaned from nonmarket events.”

“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man’s reasoning powers are not above the monkey’s.”~Mark Twain
“Ocean: A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man - who has no gills.”~ Ambrose Bierce
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11-11-2016, 12:02 PM
RE: Recommend an Op-Ed piece
Trump - an American Tragedy

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein It is objectively immoral to kill innocent babies. Please stick to the guilty babies.
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20-11-2016, 09:23 AM
RE: Recommend an Op-Ed piece
In essence The Butterfly Effect and all the what ifs that got us here and not there, fascinating stuff with links to sources.

Frozen Accidents: Why the Future Is So Unpredictable


"This idea of fundamental laws plus accidents, and the non-linear second order effects they produce, became the science of complexity and chaos theory. Gell-Mann discussed the fascinating idea further in a 1996 essay on Edge:

Each of us human beings, for example, is the product of an enormously long sequence of accidents, any of which could have turned out differently. Think of the fluctuations that produced our galaxy, the accidents that led to the formation of the solar system, including the condensation of dust and gas that produced Earth, the accidents that helped to determine the particular way that life began to evolve on Earth, and the accidents that contributed to the evolution of particular species with particular characteristics, including the special features of the human species. Each of us individuals has genes that result from a long sequence of accidental mutations and chance matings, as well as natural selection.

Now, most single accidents make very little difference to the future, but others may have widespread ramifications, many diverse consequences all traceable to one chance event that could have turned out differently. Those we call frozen accidents."

“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man’s reasoning powers are not above the monkey’s.”~Mark Twain
“Ocean: A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man - who has no gills.”~ Ambrose Bierce
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15-12-2016, 03:18 PM
RE: Recommend an Op-Ed piece
"What is the precise moment, in the life of a country, when tyranny takes hold? It rarely happens in an instant; it arrives like twilight, and, at first, the eyes adjust."

Mostly - for the punch that the first line packs. Oof.

And it's not just tyranny, really. I guess habituation cuts both ways Undecided

"E se non passa la tristezza con altri occhi la guarderò."
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23-01-2017, 08:04 AM
RE: Recommend an Op-Ed piece
Obama by the Numbers:

(easier to read on original site)

Sixty-Seven Numbers That Define the Obama Era

Below, a brief rundown of the Obama era’s highs and lows, by the numbers:
1,800,000: People who attended Obama’s first inaugural.
7.8: The unemployment rate when Obama is sworn into office in January of 2009.
4.7: The unemployment rate as of December of 2016.
179,650: The number of American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq combined when Obama becomes commander-in-chief.
17,000: Additional troops authorized in a February of 2009 surge in Afghanistan.
12,280: The number of American troops in both countries as of December of 2016, per New York magazine.
528: The number of drone strikes authorized by the Obama administration (at least).
4,189: Persons killed by American drones abroad.
474: Civilians killed, estimated.
50,000: The number of military “advisers” left behind in Iraq after Obama announces the end of combat operations in August of 2010.
Obama’s Tree-Hugging Presidency, by the Numbers
24: Kobe Bryant’s jersey number, which is only relevant because of this unfortunate January 2014 analogy deployed by Obama on ISIS: “The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a JV team puts on Lakers uniforms, that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant.”
275: Armed Forces personnel sent back to Iraq in June of 2014 to deal with ISIS.
68,300: Territory, in square kilometers, controlled by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria as of June of 2016.
242: The number of prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay when Obama takes office.
45: The current population of Guantanamo Bay.
0: Campaign promises to close Guantanamo Bay fulfilled.
77: Cents on the dollar American women made compared to men when Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act, his first piece of legislation.
80: Cents on the dollar American women make compared to men as of 2017.
787: Dollars, in billions, authorized by Obama to stave off a major economic depression following the financial crisis of 2007–08.
61: The percent stake the United States government acquired in General Motors in July of 2009 in an unprecedented auto bailout.
250,000: Manufacturing jobs created by said bailout as of 2012.
9,034: The Dow Jones Industrial Index when Obama took office.
19,732: The Dow on January 19th, 2017.
1,200,000,000,000: Student loan debt owed by Americans as of January of 2016.
3: Supreme Court nominees put forth by Obama.
2: The number actually confirmed by the Senate.
28: Pages in Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion striking down the federal government’s same-sex marriage ban.
5: Words in the phrase “the Cambridge police acted stupidly,” Obama’s first national foot-in-mouth moment.
2: Words in “You lie!,” Representative Joe Wilson’s retort to Obama during the president’s first address to a joint session of Congress in September of 2009.
15.7: The percentage of Americans who were uninsured before the Affordable Care Act was signed into law.
8.6: The percentage of Americans uninsured as of January of 2017.
20,000: Deaths from opioid abuse in 2009.
33,000: Deaths from opioid abuse in 2015.
1,000,000,000: Super PAC spending since the Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United v. FEC in January of 2010, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.
39: Minutes in “Collateral Murder,” the footage released by WikiLeaks showing a U.S. Army helicopter gunning down civilians in Iraq in 2007.
35: Years in the prison sentence for Chelsea Manning for leaking classified documents to Wikileaks. Obama commuted her sentence in January of 2017.
1,715: Commutations granted by Obama overall, more than any other president.
8: Thanksgiving turkeys pardoned.
535: Millions in federal loan guarantees bestowed upon solar panel company Solyndra by the Obama administration in 2010.
2011: The year Solyndra went bankrupt.
130,000,000: Gallons leaked into the Gulf of Mexico following an explosion on BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig.
19: People shot by Jared Lee Loughner, including Representative Gabby Gifford, in Tucson, Arizona, in January of 2011, the first major mass shooting of the Obama era.
2,000: Guns linked to the botched Fast and Furious scandal, in which Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents distributed weapons to known criminals.
6: The Seal Team that took out Osama bin Laden in May of 2011.
14,200,000,000,000: Value of the U.S. government’s debt ceiling, reached in May of 2011.
3: Months until Obama and the Republican Congress reach a deal on the federal budget with the Budget Control Act.
250: Average number of people sleeping in New York’s Zuccotti Park each night starting in September of 2011 as part of the Occupy Wall Street movement
1928: As of 2013, the last time income inequality in the U.S. was so high.
12,000: The number of people who showed up to protest the Keystone XL oil pipeline at the White House.
17: Age of Trayvon Martin when he’s shot and killed by George Zimmerman in Florida in February of 2012. Obama will wade into the issue of race and policing over the rest of his time in office.
2,500,000: People deported by the Obama administration between 2009 and 2015, more than any other previous president.
5: The number of Supreme Court Justices who votes to save Obamacare as a “tax” in June of 2012.
51.1: Percent of the popular vote won by Obama against Republican challenger Mitt Romney in 2012.
47.2: Popular vote won by Romney—a figure that is conspicuously close to the name of the hidden camera video that helped to sink his campaign.
5,100,000: Barrels of oil a day produced by the U.S. when Obama took office.
8,900,000: Barrels a day produced as of April of 2016.
43: Years ago the U.S. produced that much oil.
267: Casualties in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, including three fatalities.
1.7: The number of documents, in millions, former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden stole from the U.S. government before leaking them to Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras in June of 2013.
4: Section of the Voting Rights Act struck down by the Supreme Court in June of 2013.
1: Fatalities during the 2014–15 Ebola epidemic that put the entire country on edge.
1961: The year the U.S. broke off diplomatic relations with Cuba before Obama re-established them in 2015.
16: Months of formal negotiations for the U.S. and Iran to reach a compromise on nuclear weapons in July of 2015.
1: Nobel Peace Prizes awarded to Obama in 2009 to encourage the president’s vow to work against nuclear proliferation.
1,800,000,000: Increase in U.S. nuclear arms spending proposed by Obama in his 2017 defense budget.
67: The approval rating upon taking office in January of 2009, per Gallup.
57: The approval rating upon leaving office.

“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man’s reasoning powers are not above the monkey’s.”~Mark Twain
“Ocean: A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man - who has no gills.”~ Ambrose Bierce
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24-01-2017, 02:59 PM
RE: Recommend an Op-Ed piece
Donald Trump and the post-truth era.

The point is that we lie and don’t feel ashamed about ourselves, we lie with a very little sense of there being any reasons not to – this is what I called a post-truth era.

The first revolt is against the supreme tyranny of theology, of the phantom of God. As long as we have a master in heaven, we will be slaves on earth.

Mikhail Bakunin.
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24-01-2017, 03:14 PM
RE: Recommend an Op-Ed piece

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein It is objectively immoral to kill innocent babies. Please stick to the guilty babies.
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24-01-2017, 03:25 PM (This post was last modified: 24-01-2017 03:29 PM by Banjo.)
RE: Recommend an Op-Ed piece
Here's an old letter from the past regarding thoughts on suicide. I would consider this an Op Ed piece from the 1st century.

LXXVII. On Taking One's Own Life (edited)

Suddenly there came into our view to-day the "Alexandrian" ships, – I mean those which are usually sent ahead to announce the coming of the fleet; they are called "mail-boats." The Campanians are glad to see them; all the rabble of Puteoli stand on the docks, and can recognize the "Alexandrian" boats, no matter how great the crowd of vessels, by the very trim of their sails. For they alone may keep spread their topsails, which all ships use when out at sea, because nothing sends a ship along so well as its upper canvas; that is where most of the speed is obtained. So when the breeze has stiffened and becomes stronger than is comfortable, they set their yards lower; for the wind has less force near the surface of the water. Accordingly, when they have made Capreae and the headland whence
Tall Pallas watches on the stormy peak,all other vessels are bidden to be content with the mainsail, and the topsail stands out conspicuously on the "Alexandrian" mail-boats.

While everybody was bustling about and hurrying to the water-front, I felt great pleasure in my laziness, because, although I was soon to receive letters from my friends, I was in no hurry to know how my affairs were progressing abroad, or what news the letters were bringing; for some time now I have had no losses, nor gains either. Even if I were not an old man, I could not have helped feeling pleasure at this; but as it is, my pleasure was far greater. For, however small my possessions might be, I should still have left over more travelling-money than journey to travel, especially since this journey upon which we have set out is one which need not be followed to the end. 4. An expedition will be incomplete if one stops half-way, or anywhere on this side of one's destination; but life is not incomplete if it is honourable. At whatever point you leave off living, provided you leave off nobly, your life is a whole. Often, however, one must leave off bravely, and our reasons therefore need not be momentous; for neither are the reasons momentous which hold us here.
End preamble

5. Tullius Marcellinus, a man whom you knew very well, who in youth was a quiet soul and became old prematurely, fell ill of a disease which was by no means hopeless; but it was protracted and troublesome, and it demanded much attention; hence he began to think about dying. He called many of his friends together. Each one of them gave Marcellinus advice, – the timid friend urging him to do what he had made up his mind to do; the flattering and wheedling friend giving counsel which he supposed would be more pleasing to Marcellinus when he came to think the matter over; but our Stoic friend, a rare man, and, to praise him in language which he deserves, a man of courage and vigour admonished him best of all, as it seems to me. For he began as follows:

"Do not torment yourself, my dear Marcellinus, as if the question which you are weighing were a matter of importance. It is not an important matter to live; all your slaves live, and so do all animals; but it is important to die honourably, sensibly, bravely. Reflect how long you have been doing the same thing: food, sleep, lust, – this is one's daily round. The desire to die may be felt, not only by the sensible man or the brave or unhappy man, but even by the man who is merely surfeited."

Marcellinus did not need someone to urge him, but rather someone to help him; his slaves refused to do his bidding. The Stoic therefore removed their fears, showing them that there was no risk involved for the household except when it was uncertain whether the master's death was self-sought or not; besides, it was as bad a practice to kill one's master as it was to prevent him forcibly from killing himself. 8. Then he suggested to Marcellinus himself that it would be a kindly act to distribute gifts to those who had attended him throughout his whole life, when that life was finished, just as, when a banquet is finished, the remaining portion is divided among the attendants who stand about the table. Marcellinus was of a compliant and generous disposition, even when it was a question of his own property; so he distributed little sums among his sorrowing slaves, and comforted them besides.

9. No need had he of sword or of bloodshed; for three days he fasted and had a tent put up in his very bedroom. Then a tub was brought in; he lay in it for a long time, and, as the hot water was continually poured over him, he gradually passed away, not without a feeling of pleasure, as he himself remarked, – such a feeling as a slow dissolution is wont to give. Those of us who have ever fainted know from experience what this feeling is.

10. This little anecdote into which I have digressed will not be displeasing to you. For you will see that your friend departed neither with difficulty nor with suffering. Though he committed suicide, yet he withdrew most gently, gliding out of life. The anecdote may also be of some use; for often a crisis demands just such examples. There are times when we ought to die and are unwilling; sometimes we die and are unwilling. 11. No one is so ignorant as not to know that we must at some time die; nevertheless, when one draws near death, one turns to flight, trembles, and laments. Would you not think him an utter fool who wept because he was not alive a thousand years ago? And is he not just as much of a fool who weeps because he will not be alive a thousand years from now? It is all the same; you will not be, and you were not. Neither of these periods of time belongs to you.

12. You have been cast upon this point of time; if you would make it longer, how much longer shall you make it? Why weep? Why pray? You are taking pains to no purpose. Give over thinking that your prayers can bend
Divine decrees from their predestined end.

These decrees are unalterable and fixed; they are governed by a mighty and everlasting compulsion. Your goal will be the goal of all things. What is there strange in this to you? You were born to be subject to this law; this fate befell your father, your mother, your ancestors, all who came before you; and it will befall all who shall come after you. A sequence which cannot be broken or altered by any power binds all things together and draws all things in its course.

13. Think of the multitudes of men doomed to death who will come after you, of the multitudes who will go with you! You would die more bravely, I suppose, in the company of many thousands; and yet there are many thousands, both of men and of animals, who at this very moment, while you are irresolute about death, are breathing their last, in their several ways. But you, – did you believe that you would not some day reach the goal towards which you have always been travelling? No journey but has its end.

14. You think, I suppose, that it is now in order for me to cite some examples of great men. No, I shall cite rather the case of a boy. The story of the Spartan lad has been preserved: taken captive while still a stripling, he kept crying in his Doric dialect, "I will not be a slave!" and he made good his word; for the very first time he was ordered to perform a menial and degrading service, – and the command was to fetch a chamber-pot, – he dashed out his brains against the wall.

15. So near at hand is freedom, and is anyone still a slave? Would you not rather have your own son die thus than reach old age by weakly yielding? Why therefore are you distressed, when even a boy can die so bravely? Suppose that you refuse to follow him; you will be led. Take into your own control that which is now under the control of another. Will you not borrow that boy's courage, and say: "I am no slave!"? Unhappy fellow, you are a slave to men, you are a slave to your business, you are a slave to life. For life, if courage to die be lacking, is slavery.

16. Have you anything worth waiting for? Your very pleasures, which cause you to tarry and hold you back, have already been exhausted by you. None of them is a novelty to you, and there is none that has not already become hateful because you are cloyed with it. You know the taste of wine and cordials. It makes no difference whether a hundred or a thousand measures pass through your bladder; you are nothing but a wine-strainer. You are a connoisseur in the flavour of the oyster and of the mullet; your luxury has not left you anything untasted for the years that are to come; and yet these are the things from which you are torn away unwillingly.

17. What else is there which you would regret to have taken from you? Friends? But who can be a friend to you? Country? What? Do you think enough of your country to be late to dinner? The light of the sun? You would extinguish it, if you could; for what have you ever done that was fit to be seen in the light? Confess the truth; it is not because you long for the senate chamber or the forum, or even for the world of nature, that you would fain put off dying; it is because you are loth to leave the fish-market, though you have exhausted its stores.

18. You are afraid of death; but how can you scorn it in the midst of a mushroom supper? You wish to live; well, do you know how to live? You are afraid to die. But come now: is this life of yours anything but death?

Gaius Caesar (Caligula. My edit.) was passing along the Via Latina, when a man stepped out from the ranks of the prisoners, his grey beard hanging down even to his breast, and begged to be put to death. "What!" said Caesar, "are you alive now?" That is the answer which should be given to men to whom death would come as a relief. "You are afraid to die; what! are you alive now?"

19. "But," says one, "I wish to live, for I am engaged in many honourable pursuits. I am loth to leave life's duties, which I am fulfilling with loyalty and zeal." Surely you are aware that dying is also one of life's duties? You are deserting no duty; for there is no definite number established which you are bound to complete.

20. There is no life that is not short. Compared with the world of nature, even Nestor's life was a short one, or Sattia's, the woman who bade carve on her tombstone that she had lived ninety and nine years. Some persons, you see, boast of their long lives; but who could have endured the old lady if she had had the luck to complete her hundredth year? It is with life as it is with a play, – it matters not how long the action is spun out, but how good the acting is. It makes no difference at what point you stop. Stop whenever you choose; only see to it that the closing period is well turned. Farewell.


NOTE: Member, Tomasia uses this site to slander other individuals. He then later proclaims it a joke, but not in public.
I will call him a liar and a dog here and now.
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25-01-2017, 11:57 PM
RE: Recommend an Op-Ed piece
In a Swirl of ‘Untruths’ and ‘Falsehoods,’ Calling a Lie a Lie

"Amid the verbal deluge, President Trump this week repeated an assertion he made shortly after his election: that millions of ballots cast illegally by undocumented immigrants cost him the popular vote. If true, this would suggest the wholesale corruption of American democracy.

Not to worry: As far as anyone knows, the president’s assertion is akin to saying that millions of unicorns also voted illegally.”

Laugh out load

“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man’s reasoning powers are not above the monkey’s.”~Mark Twain
“Ocean: A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man - who has no gills.”~ Ambrose Bierce
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09-02-2017, 09:06 AM
RE: Recommend an Op-Ed piece
Donald Trump: a man so obnoxious that karma may see him reincarnated as himself

It's long-ish, but there are some brilliant turns of phrase.

"America has gone from the Obama Years to the Trump Years, like going from the West Wing to a sitcom where the incidental music involves a tuba. I actually think Donald Trump is going to prove a lot of people wrong, but sadly not George Orwell, Margaret Atwood, or whoever wrote the Book of Revelation. It says a lot about the man that building a giant wall isn’t even in the top five most Game of Thrones things about him. Of course, presidents always enter office with something to prove, it’s just rarely their sanity.

You look into Trump’s eyes and you see the fear and confusion of a man who has just been told he’s got stage-four cervical cancer. He is a super-villain in a world without heroes, a man so obnoxious and unhappy that karma may see him reincarnated as himself. You kind of wish he’d get therapy, but at this stage it’s like hiring a window cleaner for a burning building. It’s still difficult to classify him exactly: he’s not a classic Nazi, but would burn books if his supporters knew how to read.

One of his first acts as president was an executive order to ban federal money going to international groups that perform or provide information on abortions. Making it clear that he’ll only provide billion-dollar funding to terminate young lives overseas if some kind of US-made drone is involved. [...] There’s probably business pressure behind this bill, too. Maybe American corporations are worried that fewer kids in the developing world means no one to do the detailed stitching on their clothing lines. I suppose everybody’s politics are shaped by the particular bubble they live in. Trump sees anti-choice arguments all the time; the only time he sees an argument for abortion is in a mirror.

Trump cares about the same things a member of noughties rap outfit G Unit cares about: women, money and vengeance. Yet, random though it seems, his fight with the judiciary could well be tactical. He will blame them for the next act of terrorism that occurs then declare a state of emergency where everybody has to stay indoors while his tweets are read out over a Tannoy.

I’m in an unusual position in that I don’t support Trump being invited to Britain, but I do hope he comes. [...] If the Queen ever has to shake Trump’s hand, she will put on so many gloves she’ll look like Mickey Mouse.

My best guess at the great man’s next move is the hoisting of an enormous burning eye above Trump Tower. It’s a building for which the words tacky and gaudy somehow seem too jolly and frivolous. Close up, it looks like the memory stick where some giant alien sex-killer stores his worst atrocities, or a version of the black slab in 2001: A Space Odyssey, sent to restore our consciousness to the level of chimpanzees. Trapped inside, Melania Trump has a look that I’ve never seen before, the eyes of someone waiting with increasing impatience for Stockholm syndrome to set in. The look of a woman frantically trying to unlearn English, appalled to find that this only makes her understand her husband more clearly. Perhaps women trapped in marriages with monsters resort to plastic surgery so that it becomes easier to leave a wax head in their bed while they work on their tunnel at night. Perhaps the manicures are to hide the endless digging. Perhaps it’s the secret of their figures. They’re not dieting, they’re eating those peanut butter and fried egg sandwiches Michael Phelps used to train on and spending their nights burrowing like a fucking gopher.

You have to say it’s surprising that, with so much to work with, the response from the Democratic establishment has been to suggest that Trump is a Russian spy. How could he possibly keep a secret? He almost never stops talking, seemingly delivering a live feed of his internal monologue, using national television appearances to ramble about murdering terrorists’ families and blurt out fantasies about torture.

[...] That’s not to say Trump won’t plumb profound new depths of awfulness, like the disbanding of the environmental protection agency set up by hippy, libtard snowflake Richard Nixon.

Obviously, the most important issue here is why America hasn’t done as well as in the past at capitalising on these horrors to create good music about the political turmoil. I mean, where is their Bob Dylan? Where are their anthems about drone warfare killing innocent civilians? Instead we’ve got Drake begging women via song to text him back after a fight at the Cheesecake Factory. Britain seems to be in an even deeper cultural torpor. Everything from Teen Vogue to young adult fiction has a more radical take than our press, and the Trump administration is satirised by American television with a venom that the British television industry, for its own government, does its best to avoid.

Trump is at war with Saturday Night Live. He thinks it’s horrible and yet he can’t stop watching. Pretty much the same as how the world feels about him. How can he expect to escape ridicule? Being on reality TV is the closest he ever got to reality. His children look like a teen movie about Wall Street vampires directed by Uday Hussein. He has cultivated a square face that’s the shade of a banned food colouring and the muscle tone of a coma patient. He looks like aliens came to Earth and made a human costume after seeing one commercial for a car dealership. Really, he seems like the sort of person that a competent leftwinger with a humane alternative offer should be able to beat at the next election. Sad, really, that the only way Bernie Sanders could return in 2020 is as a glass sliding about a ouija board.

During the campaign, Trump said he wanted to stop America from making foreign military interventions, possibly because he realised he would need the army for suppressing the domestic population.

We face a brief political period that, unchecked, will bring at least irreversible climate change and, at worst, nuclear war."

"E se non passa la tristezza con altri occhi la guarderò."
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