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Rocky's Revival (World of Avernum Factional RP Revival Discussion) in General
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quote:
Originally written by Ephesos:

quote:
Originally written by Najosz Thjsza Kjras:

awakening and resting in twenty-year cycles is a little strange to me and I don't abide nonsense
Not quite what I meant... the game simply said that the Olgai clan was beginning preparations for another Resting, which must be a rather long and drawn-out process. But I understand and respect your position, even though I would defend A5 as deserving of merit (far, far more so than A4).

The position I outlined is certainly less against A5 as it is against A4. And as I said, what you say is more or less coherent with what I've described of the Vahnatai - that is, as a massive group without any coherent nationality whose relationship to humanity has been completely crystallized by a single group. 90% of what we say about 'the Vahnatai' - more than 99.9% before Vogel made it explicit outside of the decent VODT and kind of marginal ZKR (both of which I'm still more willing to accept as canon sources than A4) - was completely restricted to observation of the Olgai tribe. (The endonym is almost certainly different; c.f. Chapterhouse Dune describing the US as 'the house of Washington'.)

And incidentally, it's dubious the Vahnatai speak a single language or even share a single specific identity - remember, human monospecifity was largely restricted to philosophy and theology before the early 20th century. I've always wanted to include a scene in a scenario in which a character, listing 'the races', outlines a list like 'Humans, Nephilim, Trogolodytes, Vantanasmen, Nepharim, Vahnatai, Abyssmen, Sliths, Moors, Giants, and the Minor Fae.' The modern (henceforth referring to almost exactly contemporary to the Surrender of Krizsan) relationship with Imperial race policy is probably as cold and distant as the Enlightenment's relationship with Catholic monogenesis; similarly, there are probably a lot of Vahnatai who harbor an immovable belief that they're cut from different cloth than the lazy, filthy, stupid tribe a few meters down.

[ Friday, December 28, 2007 04:49: Message edited by: Najosz Thjsza Kjras ]
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Rocky's Revival (World of Avernum Factional RP Revival Discussion) in General
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quote:
Originally written by Spiritoftherain:

and the way they interacted with humans, who they supposedly created.
Just so you know, Vahnatai Creationism is silly and so is anyone who believes in it. It only happened because not even Vahnatai Week lasting all year and involving a conlang without the vaguest color of actual canonicity (I'll admit I'm guilty on that front, but I was eleven) could get certain people hard any more. I'm looking at you here, Mr. Thompson.

There's little to no support for it in the games; the closest anyone gets to support is supposing that the Vahnatai are really powerful and awesome and claim to have created cave fungus and so on, but (a) claiming to have created the glowing fungus seems to be a common bit of propaganda among politically powerful Avernite mages and (b) Rentar is by all evidence the strongest specimen the Vahnatai have ever produced and everything she's created seems to be resurrected from dead plagues - that is, her own act of 'creation' is closer in nature to Jurassic Park than the wholesale creation of sapient life.

The fact that the Trogs and Giants were 'born' into direct competition says a lot about her methods. Considering how few ethnic feuds tend to be genetic, it could well be that she just had some kind of powerful revival magic for the sapient plagues, and the closest she got to creating advanced life was the Golems - something well within the purview of modern magic, and not exactly indicative of abiogenesis capabilities if that's the best the Vahnatai can do.
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Rocky's Revival (World of Avernum Factional RP Revival Discussion) in General
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By the time I go to sleep today, should I be arsed to do so, I will have made a crude Avernum map.

Once again, I'm going to warn you that it's going to be based on A1-A3. The deal with A4 and A5 isn't just that I don't know them; I didn't like Avernum a great deal and never registered E1, and was never really compelled to do the kind of exploring most of E/A3's fans did, but critically, I've always been OK with searching out a knowledge base on them.

On the other hand, I hold A4 and A5 in active contempt. The basic concept for A4 was one of the most sickening things I had ever read about a game, and after hearing about the single-level map I was convinced Vogel was going to go for a hat trick by having the party fight in the name of the long-abused, plucky little Empire against an evil statist with a wheelchair and a cigarette holder. It's not even like Geneforge, where the game is simply so unappealing and the plot so trivial that I've resolved never to devote more than sixty consecutive seconds' attention to either. The later Avernums are just so damned rotten that I'm powerfully tempted to regard anyone who's played them as a worse person for it.

Seriously. While I'm OK with what you're throwing out about the Vahnatai (although awakening and resting in twenty-year cycles is a little strange to me and I don't abide nonsense), I'm seriously not accepting the later Avernums as part of the canon. A lot of the personal investment I have in the 'canon' itself is admitted fanwank, and you cannot imagine how difficult it is just dealing with what JV chose to do with the remakes. It's sacrifice enough that I have to suffer additional canon-base from a series of games that took the most awesome part of my adolescence and added a Goddamn reference to Survivor to it. I'm just not prepared to address A4 or A5 with anything except contempt.

[ Thursday, December 27, 2007 22:49: Message edited by: Najosz Thjsza Kjras ]
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Who Killed General? in General
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quote:
Originally written by Jeran Korak:

Also, may I ask if UBB is so unstable [i]Why the hell stay on it??[/i]
Man, I've always wanted to meet someone who only knows one question.

[ Thursday, December 27, 2007 22:35: Message edited by: Najosz Thjsza Kjras ]
Posts: 794 | Registered: Tuesday, October 11 2005 07:00
Rocky's Revival (World of Avernum Factional RP Revival Discussion) in General
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spiritoftherain: I'm a little edgy about people playing nonhumans (and the Vahnatai... have issues, as Ephesos points out - although as I said, I'm not counting the stuff after A3 because it's horrible); the main reason is that a lot of the time they become a bit of a handwave. While with a lot of the nonhuman races in Exile that isn't really a problem, the Vahnatai are one of those races TM gravitated to.

And pretty much anything TM liked wound up becoming god-modey and tedious (the other major one was the Rakshasi). In general, playing the Vahnatai in a balanced fashion would require taking some crippling disadvantages that would probably get in the way of your good time - that is, while each individual member of your faction would be much stronger than average, there'd be far fewer of them and they'd be more or less incapable of dealing with conditions on the surface for any substantial period of time. If the RP stays permanent this time, both of those are just gonna get worse and worse as time goes on - because the Vahnatai have an extremely, deliberately slow population growth rate (and mature very slowly too) and they'll be limited to Avernum.

What's even worse, the Vahnatai also have a balanced economy - good for long-term thriving in a hostile environment, bad for this sort of thing.

If you wanna do the Vahnatai it's your call. I'm just warning you up front that it's gonna be tough to make it so that it's not either shooting fish in a barrel or completely lethargic; I'd go with someone else.

(Of course, this is just a gentle suggestion and carries no weight besides my own experience. You could be Pope of the Haakai and I wouldn't do anything but squawk indignanly.)

And you're absolutely right about the other guy - the WC storyline does what it's supposed to and that's that, and I don't get people elaborating on it, but what can you do.
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Six locked topics on page #14 in General
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I think there's something in the CoC about me opening my mouth now.

Let's have a look.
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The Third Rail in General
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The third rail, in case you didn't know, is the rail that carries electricity in a subway. In a more common, metaphorical sense, it's used to describe something that is not to be trod upon - or else. That is, some particular issue that will immediately alienate everyone but a few nutjobs from someone.

So, a few questions:

1) On a political level, what issue/issues comprise the third rail for you? That is to say - not just an issue you feel strongly about, but an issue that a candidate could not take the opposing stance on without unconditionally losing your vote.

2) What's the personal third rail for you? What would it take to immediately - and, again, unconditionally - destroy your opinion of and relationship with a person?
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ARABS ARE GOING TO KILL MY SON in General
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ARABS ARE GOING TO KILL MY SON

WHAT DO YOU MEAN NOT A THREAT? THEY'RE CLEARLY TERRORISTS

LOOK, THEY'RE SPEAKING ARABIC

I'M A MOM - AND MY SON IS IN DANGER

NOW COME ON SHOOT THE TERRORISTS

WHAT DO YOU THINK THEY SPEAK ENGLISH

OKAY IF YOU'RE GOING TO BE SO DIFFICULT HOW ABOUT WE SEE IF THE MARSHALS IN 12A, 46B, OR 70A CAN HELP ME SAVE MY PRECIOUS BABY BOY

WHAT
Posts: 794 | Registered: Tuesday, October 11 2005 07:00
Omaha Mall Shooting in General
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quote:
Originally written by Kelandon:

[QUOTE]Originally written by Stillness:
[qb]The two points are (1) prejudice against homosexual people and (2) denying gay marriage. Homosexuals are entitled by law to equal protection. That does not mean they are entitled to do something that no one is entitled to do, namely, marry someone of the same sex.

Fun fact: the case I cited - Loving v. Virginia, a landmark of civil rights law and the domain of high-school textbooks actually directly dismantled a precedent stating just that. As you would have found out last week if you were actually here to think instead of screaming at people you've been taught are evil, in Loving the jurisprudential precedent was that as long as miscegenation laws weren't unduly punishing the man or the woman, there was no foul involved. Considering the court's substantial resistance to changing the status quo, it says a lot that Loving overturned this.

In short, this makes about as much sense as making the equivalent argument about Jews - namely, that Jews are entitled by law to equal protection, but are not entitled to do something no one else can do, e.g. interfaith marriage. The result would be unduly restrictive, just as it is to homosexuals, and would be discriminatory by its very nature.

This is a stupid argument and you're making it in the face of direct citations against it. Congratulations; somehow you've outdone even your own stunning idiocy on this thread. I bet your mother is proud.

quote:
For the .018% that can’t be classified I don’t know that any relationship they have could be classified as homo or heterosexual by nature so as to have any real bearing on this discussion. Let’s not confuse these issues.
OK, so let's hear it for you: even if you've got this one right (which you don't; outside of the very narrow definition you're using, the actual intersexed population is far larger; you could credibly stretch it to 10% or more, and the smallest number you could reasonably use is %.5) you're positing that, under your ruthlessly discriminatory gender schematization, that roughly 54,000 American adults are born without any right whatsoever to marriage, partnership, parenthood, or any of the other myriad things you wish to restrict by gender. And because you seem to believe that one remains whatever sex one is 'born as' no matter what, there's no legal or physical remedy for that. And that's taking your own numbers at face value. I suppose it'd be some consolation to the people who seem to believe they were bereaved by every war and terrorist action since 1945 - and Pearl Harbor, incidentally - that technically groups smaller than 100,000 don't count towards anything. Hooray!

[ Tuesday, December 25, 2007 23:05: Message edited by: Najosz Thjsza Kjras ]
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My parents are terrible about believing in mysticist garbage, largely because of a typical staunch liberal Catholic middle-American background for both. But they do have one major caveat attached to that: there is in fact a rationale behind whatever it is that goes on in their world.

I've only recently disabused them of a couple of old canards, like the 21 grams one - but at heart, the scientific method is the way to understand the world. Where you are at variance with it, you're almost certainly wrong - and the only even vaguely acceptable way to salvage that is through deference to it.

In short, while my parents may believe in ghosts and demons and 'energy' and crap, they believe all of that (a) on the basis of a fairly active imagination and vivid experience and (b) doesn't conflict in any serious way with the laws of nature, and any apparent discrepancies will be mended by a further scientific understanding.

They're not professional scienticians. My mother's an artist and my father's a surgeon; he's closer than she is, but he's not in a research position (mostly). But even then, they're not about to try and gainsay every human being with a solid brain between his or her ears between Galileo and the present. That'd just be stupid.
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Why is attempted murder illegal? in General
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Another reason, of course, is BHHHHHH
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Den Haag in General
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I'd honestly be happier impeaching Cheney than Bush. He's more openly contemptuous of the law; Bush at least tries to pretend he's not violating it, or he has some special license to. Cheney's excuse is go to Hell.
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Why is attempted murder illegal? in General
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quote:
Originally written by SGT. POCKY:

1. A free and just society is one in which a person is able to live their life however they wish as long as they don't hurt anyone else.
Attempted murder entails a menace to the victim and to society at large. So it does hurt people.

quote:
2. We already have laws on the books for murder, manslaughter, and causing damage to other people's property.
It wouldn't be fair to try someone for the actual act of murder if they only intended to do it, right?

quote:
3. Victimless crimes are not crimes.
I agree with you so far. On the other hand, attempted murder isn't victimless.

quote:
4. Arresting people for "thought crimes" or "pre-crimes" would not exist in a free and just society.
Mens rea - you may have heard this phrase before. It translates to 'guilty mind', and is a fundamental part of modern justice - and Western justice since time immemorial. 'Thought crime' is only an Orwellism if actually used that way - that is, being uncompliant to an Orwellian society. There are in fact thoughts that are inherently destructive and inappropriate and if followed through with action require response from a just state.

quote:
Attempted murder should be legal. If you hurt someone it should be considered assault with a deadly weapon, if you kill someone it should be considered murder, but if no harm is done then there should be no reason you should be arrested and have your life ruined over an attempted murder charge.
If no harm is done, the plaintiff won't file charges. If the plaintiff is aggrieved enough to file criminal suit, harm has clearly been caused by an attempt on her or his life. But even that is on sketchy territory, because of the social disruption, on which more in a bit.

quote:
Attempted murder is a victimless "crime". These are the facts, and I find the argument for keeping attempted murder illegal to be illogical and based solely on emotional appeals.
Emotion is important. The appeals themselves aren't to emotion, but logically based on the consequences of extreme negative emotion. A simple cost-benefit analysis of physical or property damage is inappropriate in light of the severe trauma attempts on life and limb tend to entail. I mean, by the same logic extortion would be victimless - after all, it only involved the threat of violence, right? I mean, we have laws for theft and we have laws for assault...

Now that's the individual. (And, again: these are logical appeals based on the effects of emotions, not appeals to emotion itself. Trauma is undesirable and should be avoided.) On a social level, two things:

a) The justice system does not exist to behave in a punitive fashion. While that's more or less what our current justice system amounts to, it's not appropriate and when it becomes politically feasible it will require EXTREME reform. The justice system exists for four interacting purposes:

a) Sequestration - keeping someone liable to commit a crime away from the general population. This is the basic function served by everything from drunk tanks to maximum security prisons - to keep dangerous people out of society. Until -
b) Rehabilitation - reducing criminal behavior and producing in an individual who has decided to engage in criminal deviance a meaningful engagement with society. This is what our prisons are worst at, and what they should be best at. All the modern American prison is designed for is violent sodomy, which is awful; the work programs are essentially regimentalized slavery with little rehabilitatory function (unlike chain-gangs, which often performed work that would at least be marginally transferrable to roving work in a rural community, modern prison work is largely stuff that is done by robots outside of the pen). Which is why, when it comes time to justify the massive prison-industrial complex, our politicians talk about
c) Deterrence. This function works well for some crimes, poorly for others, and not at all for most. But people - that is, people outside of sociology and statistics, who should be in charge of these things - believe in it, so a lot of criminal policy is designed around it. This includes three-strike programmes, which put juvenile delinquents in the damned pen for half of their adult life for stealing liquor one time too many. Only a belief in deterrence could produce such a perverse, draconian system - or support for it. Although, in the end, there is some recourse there to
d) Retribution. The dog's penal system. This is what dicks think about when they think about law: fascists, idiots, people living in the 2nd millennium BC. An eye for an eye is an improvement over absolute lex talonis war-of-all-against-all - just ask the Inuit, who have long spates of murderous feuding simmering for centuries instead of open warfare, and having committed murder is considered less shameful than stealing - but not by a whole lot. Retribution hinges on the pretense that somehow justice requires that human beings be deprived of certain things as a natural consequence of wrongdoing; it's contrary to basic modern theory on learning, social function, law, or justice, and appeals to retribution are usually how you get the jackals riled up - often enough, to constitute a lynch mob.

Now, consider those: what you describe, a system in which attempted murder represents an undue imposition for a non-actual crime - even discarding the trauma on the behalf of the victim (and yes, there IS always a victim - if nobody finds out about it, nobody presses charges) - only satisfies D, which supposes that no harm has been done and therefore no 'justice' need be satisfied by bloodying your claws. On the other hand, it's unsettling on the deterrence front - that is, it's letting people who have attempted to end another human being's life off the hook. On the rehabilitation front, it does nothing: someone apprehended and let loose because the victim wasn't actually hurt bad enough to press for assault leaves with the same basic personal flaws that lead them to murderous intent. And as sequestration goes: if someone's going to try and murder you once, what's to stop them doing it again? There's no satisfactory answer to this, and while self-defense is OK and all, it's usually far preferable to have a system in which the state is prepared to provide security and mete out justice of its own accord.

In other words, someone who attempts to commit murder has attempted a grievous enough act that there's something seriously wrong with them, and it's impossible to prove to any satisfaction without further detainment that they won't go out and try to do it again.

Add that to the psychological trauma incurred by someone attempting to off you, and attempted murder is on the books on very solid grounds.

I applaud your initiative in coming up with this, though. (Unless you came to this line of inquiry while claiming that hate crimes were a thought crime - if that's the case, then shame on you; what, minority members don't have it hard enough?)
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My favorite story, one that I like to relate in cases like these, is Baby Adam.

A team of sociology researchers gave two sets of people an infant each. One got a female infant, one got a male infant. Both groups generally swore up and down they wanted to treat boys and girls basically the same, that they disliked the idea of discrimination by sex, that girls were in almost every regard as capable as boys.

They handled the babies for a while and were asked to describe each. They described Adam as a tough little guy, collicky, stubborn, smart. They described Eve, the girl, as tender, sweet, fussy. The only thing they had in common was the way you describe babies in general - cute, little - and even then, only to some extent. Obviously 'pretty' would more likely describe Eve and 'handsome' Adam.

The catch? They were the same baby. They dressed up the baby used in the experiment in pink clothes and called him/her (I forget which) 'Eve', and with blue swaddlings he/she was 'Adam'.

It's incredible, really, that the basic assumptions we are encouraged to adopt towards gender are so rigidly enforced that all it takes is a slightly different colored shirt to decide that a baby isn't sweet or clever. There's stereotypes for you; and it tells you a lot about all the 'men are from Mars, women are from Venus' stuff that's been so popular in the last two decades. We find the differences we're looking for.

(Incidentally, there's a scattering of very interesting scholarship on early accounts of gender change. The earliest narratives in particular are rife with ridiculously rigid gender assumptions, such as the first successful sex-change surgery in the West - I forget who - deciding that he was suddenly attracted exclusively to men when he had an orchidectomy. It's really interesting to consider that stuff like that used to be more or less boilerplate for accounts of transgenderism - and what's more, from the 50s to the 80s admitting 'inappropriate' sexual desire or failure to cohere strictly with certain female norms closed any above-board channels existing for the transgendered. Society is really defensive about gender roles, and everything that challenges them has to be channeled into a defense of them at some level.)
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Rocky's Revival (World of Avernum Factional RP Revival Discussion) in General
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quote:
Originally written by Lt. Sullust:

I don't mind; but I think one of the moderators might want to edit out part of Alec's quick update...
What, just because Alorael and Imban are Jewish you think they hate Christmas? Not cool, Sully. :(
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quote:
Originally written by Synergy:

I do have magnificent abilities...as do you. I have yet to experience mine being either recognized or appreciated here.

-S-

You're very good at purporting to be informed on things you're wildly ignorant about, although those familiar with your peculiarly fetishistic worldview can pretty quickly take you apart.

So far, you've claimed that neurochemical drugs are a sledgehammer compared to the surgical power of counseling; that scientists are soulless automata that lack the imagination necessary to understand the world, that physicians are hidebound and unwilling to accept the value of procedure that, mysteriously, occur routinely at hospitals; and now you're trying to extricate yourself from a particularly impolitic situation: being caught claiming that woman scientists are pretending to be stereotypical men by a woman in the natural sciences.

So there's your magnificent abilities, Synergy: claiming to know what you're talking about, swinging wide at every big slow soft ball thrown your way by way of proof, and then getting petulant - and condescending and offensive - when you get corrected.

When it was just you and me, you were much less worried about being misunderstood. I guess it's a lot easier to pretend to be a free-thinking explorer pressed to the wall by an intellectual fascist when that plays to a comfortable stereotype, eh? But I guess it's your abilities being appreciated that matters.

I'd like you to either admit you've whiffed this one or try and defend your ridiculous position, Synergy. To do otherwise'd be pretty damned disrespectful.

[ Saturday, December 22, 2007 18:33: Message edited by: Najosz Thjsza Kjras ]
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Rocky's Revival (World of Avernum Factional RP Revival Discussion) in General
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No, but a certain degree of size is important. Factions that are small with overpowered members get annoying after a while, because it makes beating them up unfeasible.

Rule #1 of factional RPing: never justify an overpowered faction with any weakness... if the weakness really balances it out, chances are you'll get bored of it and try to work around it.
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Rocky's Revival (World of Avernum Factional RP Revival Discussion) in General
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Whoever's updating that: mind starring whoever has confirmed they're still in? It'd help both the newbs and me, because I'm busy being lazy.
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Happy Birthday, Drakey! in General
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Several people on SW think saying 'mangos' makes them silly. That's the punchline! Ha ha ha.
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quote:
Originally written by Stillness:

quote:
Originally written by Kelandon:

Marriage exists entirely to facilitate family law…
Thank you. That simple and succinct statement and your explanation is helpful (I’m assuming that by “marriage” you mean “official recognition of marriage”). I think my view was not quite right until I read this.

So the government is saying that this is a legal matter because of the intrinsic connection to society and the abundance of the institution. There are concerns with efficiency and fairness. They don’t want to have to rework the same case over and over, so the classification “married” allows them to apply the best and most equitable decision to many family cases.

If you say it makes sense for the government to extend the classification “married” to unions beside hetero pairs (e.g. polygamous marriage; homosexual pairs; group marriage; members of the immediate family that don’t reproduce) for the same reasons, that seems logical to me. What I don’t see is how this has anything to do with rights or the Constitution.

So, just so we're clear, you're saying that heterosexual couples = children. So if a man and a woman are infertile, that makes them gay. Is that right?

quote:
quote:
Originally written by Jumpin' Salmon:

Now Mary gets pregnant, and suddenly the income is cut to 35000, with 8,750 in taxes removed, leaving 26,250. This is a 15,000 reduction, and that 26,250 has to feed, shelter, and cloth at least 2 people. The taxation change let Joe and Mary keep more of that 35,000, which in turn put more food on the table, kept money circulating in the economy, and reduced stress on the family. Not worrying about every penny allowed Joe and Mary to better themselves education, gave them free time to maintain relationships in the community, and created happier people.
This was along the lines of what I was thinking, except that you seem to be attributing it to political and self-interest, not societal interest.

I'd like to know if you share that concern about 'societal interest' when it comes time to pay your taxes.
quote:
Let’s say you’re right. Was it unconstitutional or a violation of rights beforehand? It doesn’t seem so to me in your example of what might have been. It seems some people didn’t like something and put pressure on their representatives and got action.
Uh, the constitution actually prohibits that 'action'. No matter how much pressure people put on their representatives, it's not sufficient to take an action the constitution forbids; that requires an amendment, which was intentionally designed to require such massive support that passing one requires something close to the unanimous support of the whole electorate. Statues take a plurality of representatives. Can you tell me, Stillness, what you believe the difference between a statute and an amendment is? I want to make sure you're clear on it.

quote:
quote:
Originally written by Drew:

Why shouldn't they be entitled to the same, uniform government benefits that hetero couples enjoy?

For that matter, what sort of behaviors do you think the government should be trying to promote through providing legal benefits to married couples? Why would these benefits be bad for monogamous, married same-sex couples? THe only reason they wouldn't be is because it's blasphemy in your eyes.

Please take this argument and aim it at the nearest right-wing evangelical. Nothing in your last post applies to me or my argument here.

The problem is that you're making an argument that is only coherent for a right-wing evangelical, or someone else who starts from the assumption that gay marriage is harmful to society.

quote:
quote:
Originally written by Thuryl:

quote:
Originally written by Drew:

It strikes me that you're actually trying to justify the laws by demeaning the nature of same sex relationships, as if those relationships are "lesser" than hetero ones. Your justifications, however, are based purely on your personal (religious) prejudices. I'd like to see you rise above that.
I think the problems we're having with him run even deeper than that.

No, the problems here are quite shallow. It’s lack of ability to understand the topic of the discussion, let alone stick to it. After a zillion pages of discussion some people are still attacking my faith and what they suppose is my position on whether or not the government should recognize same-sex marriage. This only illustrates the point in my original posts on this thread regarding the lack of logic, emotionalism, and close-mindedness of the brand of secularism sweeping the West. At least the right knows they’re religious.

Pfft. I suppose next you're going to tell us that if we don't discard our puerile emotions, we're all going to suffer under the iron heel of the hated Islamofascist.

Except for your appeals to 'reproduction', which fall apart unless you're prepared to specifically condemn infertile heterosexual marriage - which is every bit as 'reproductive' as a gay one (they have the same options, e.g. surrogate/artificial insemination and adoption, and generally seem to do about the same job of raising a child) - everything you've said so far would apply seamlessly to interracial marriage; it's bad for society, and even if it's not necessarily bad for society society has a right to forbid it for its own welfare, and also marriage is an enduring institution within certain boundaries, and etc and etc. The problem is, and this is where constitutionality comes up, every argument you've made so far is specifically defeated in the unanimous opinion in Loving v. Virginia. Without an amendment to the US constitution, a gay marriage ban is unconstitutional on the same grounds as miscegenation statutes.

Marriage is one of the "basic civil rights of man," fundamental to our very existence and survival.... To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the [sexual orientation] classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious [gender] discrimination. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of [the same gender] resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.

Again, your aggressive disdain for gay marriage has no place in the American system of government. And if it is indeed a secular fervor that drives you to disdain it, I assure you that the People's Republic of China seems to hold the same opinion - and has fairly liberal immigration laws.

America is a country founded on certain basic rights, entitlements, and protections; gay rights fall as squarely within them as other civil rights, and if you want to be empowered to deny your neighbors the protection the state affords you, this isn't the right country for you. This isn't a case of 'like it or leave it', it's a case of 'work with it or leave it'. Asking America to prohibit gay marriage is like asking a dolphin to fly. It's just not built to do it, plain and simple. The basic laws constituting its government would be so fundamentally warped by a gay marriage ban that it would defeat the purpose of having a Constitution at all.
Posts: 794 | Registered: Tuesday, October 11 2005 07:00
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quote:
Originally written by Jumpin' Salmon:

This notion of ultimate executive power has certainly backfired. It used to be that people automatically respected authority, and with good reason. Those in charge commanded respect through their demeanor and actions. But Bush screwed that up. I have to say that my default reaction is now one of suspicion, rather than respect. I suspect police, armed forces, public officials. They have suffered due to the abuses that start at the top of the pyramid. Now, I wouldn't so hastily condemn by association, except that Bush's faults have been seen as assets by other "authority" figures and emulated to some degree.
Two words: My Lai.

I won't disagree with your basic premise - that Bush and company are horrible examples and even worse excuses - but I do have to argue that even in the height of responsible technocracy in America - before Nixon had buried the Great Society all the way, and Reagan pissed on its grave - we were still being compelled to carpet-bomb Asian villages by 'authority', or sometimes just given open-ended orders by authority and explicitly expected to carry them out in a fashion that reduced whatever village to smoldering ruins. Saved the money on clusterbombs, see.

And, unfortunately, it isn't like this is new. Low-rankers' initiative didn't cause Fort Pillow, and the best single way to predict the prevalence of police brutality seems to be the prevalence of police. It's gotten worse, but the sad thing is that I don't think it's ever been close to good.

quote:
I watched on the news tonight about some woman that got tasered by a cop. Apparently the woman's was called by her estranged husband for a good argue. While she was yelling into the phone, she wandered away from the checkout counter, leaving her card behind. The clerk assumed the woman was scared because her card was stolen, so alerted a uniformed cop on the situation. The cop attempted to question her, but the woman tried to move away so she could continue exchanging yells, and was then dropped like a sack of potatoes. When interviewed, the chief of police was very angry, and said that people need to respect police and always do what they are told. It turned out that the credit card was fine, it just had to be run through again. The woman was arrested and charged with... resisting arrest.

Buncha winnahs out there.

Anyway Alec. Yeah.

Lordy.

I hear about the occasional really dire case from my dad in trauma. He had one guy come in with a taser electrode through his nuts: he was the loser in a fight (police procedure is to pin down the loser; actual police officers do this because pinning down the winner is likely to end in the loser going over and kicking his teeth in, and Dirty Harry wannabes do this because it allows them to get their rocks off on a minimally dangerous target), and the other guy had evidently beat him bad enough that he was in some kind of convulsive episode.

So he didn't stop shaking around after an officer of the peace told him to. So they tased him.

He had six or seven sets of darts in him, because tasers aren't a particularly good treatment for grand mal seizures and the officers evidently felt it incumbent to keep tasing him until he stopped moving. And once he regained consciousness and the shocks stopped, it was similarly difficult to get him to stop thrashing and screaming, because one of the darts penetrated his scrotum. By all indications, one of the first.

I think the blame in both cases rests partially on a magic-bullet attitude that's become prevalent in law enforcement regarding tasers. The unsettling thing is that that kind of excessive, physically and psychologically destructive response has pretty much always been par for the course - it's just that we're hearing about it now because uniformed sadists butchering an innocent civilian with tiny electric darts is far more novel than those same sadists crushing his bones against the wall in a crude pantomime of a submission hold. The former, you see, requires progress.
Posts: 794 | Registered: Tuesday, October 11 2005 07:00
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With the direct consent of the President and without an even cursory effort to justify it with statute, emergency powers, or coherent philosophy of government, the US executive branch has engaged in a number of basically unacceptable behaviors. By the Geneva Convention - which we've signed into law - our abetting torture makes anyone in the Executive Branch without an alibi answerable to the UN, any ad hoc international court formed of the right constituent states, or any country with universal jurisdiction. In 1997, for example, Augusto Pinochet was arrested in London on an indictment by a Spanish judge for crimes against humanity alleged and documented by the Catholic Church and other human rights organizations; even an extremely narrow indictment - that is, one examining only severe and self-evident torture taking place after Chile's 1989 accession to human rights conventions - was sufficient to demand that Pinochet weasel out of the trial. (And his absence, and an audience being given to his accusers internationally, caused him to wither away as a steely force for evil in his own country - to the point that, within a few years, even the Christian Democrats who had found him questionable but basically a force for good regarded him as a national shame.)

In short, Bush and any other member of the Cabinet with executive power is answerable to every human rights treaty the US has subjected itself to, including the Geneva Convention. While the US claims immunity to ICJ jurisdiction, the US expressly acknowledges universal jurisdiction: the Subsequent Nuremburg Trials, in which Allied, not German, judges tried members of a then-sovereign government whose law was at their personal command, form a major precedent.

Technically, for some insane reason, the bodies responsible for it have taken impeachment off of the table. And never mind that, had you told any person from ten years ago that a future President would have an approval rating remaining below 30% for over two years, they would consider you a liar.

The question is, with the US executive making an official - or 'official' - policy of contempt for the rights of its own citizens {violating even the unconstitutionally generous statute a Republican congress offered them on wiretapping}, for human rights in general {torture}, and for the constituent principles of its own state {indefinite detainment without charge, censorship and intimidation in domestic and foreign journalism}... is there any reason the government, more or less from the postmaster-general up, shouldn't be hauled in before an international court and tried for crimes against humanity?
Posts: 794 | Registered: Tuesday, October 11 2005 07:00
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quote:
Originally written by Thuryl:

We, on the other hand, think that a government can be a real force for good as long as it meets certain prerequisites, and that one of the prerequisites is that everyone is treated equally unless there's good reason -- not just a presumptive, theoretical reason, but an actual, concrete reason backed by solid, relevant and specific evidence -- to treat them otherwise.
Which is why we can't give the Arabs** habeas corpus, or they'd be innocent until proven guilty.

And then, naturally, they will have won.

{**Sometimes, just brown people.}
Posts: 794 | Registered: Tuesday, October 11 2005 07:00
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quote:
Originally written by Student of Trinity:

quote:
Originally written by Mr. Blave:

Minds are piles of neurochemistry.
FYT.

'Just' just does more harm than good in sentences like this. It's intended to exclude the dualist or anti-reductionist notion that there is some extra ghostly substance, beside matter, making up minds. But what is wrong with that naive view is not that it overcomplicates mind, but that it oversimplifies it. It is less, not more, than the truth. So 'just' is mostly firing in the wrong direction to be against it.

And on the other hand, the substance dualist view is really only wrong as physics. That is, it's almost certainly wrong as a theory of the brain. As a theory of the mind it is almost certainly quite correct, in the following sense.

Spirit may not be a rival substance to matter, but it almost certainly makes sense as an alternative category. Mind is not an extra substance in the brain, in the same way that the plot of Hamlet is not an extra kind of ink smeared between First Folio pages. But one can definitely distinguish between story and ink, and the plot of the play is real in a way that is arguably much more important than the reality of any individual spot of ink. Plot is a different category, not an alternative substance, but not an error or illusion either. Similarly mind and brain.

And the distinction between category and substance is really only important on the level of physics; in philosophy of mind as such, it's just a shibboleth. I can insist that a dualist find-and-replace 'substance' with 'category' in all their statements. If that's all it takes to make me happy, though, then in an important sense I'm not really disagreeing with them. So just as saying that Hamlet is just ink and paper may be right in one sense, but is not a useful contribution to literary criticism, so insisting on substance monism in psychology is in my view a mistake in emphasis.

Of course, insisting on substance dualism is the same mistake, plus a mistake in physics. The substance monists are right. They should just get over it.

The problem is that outside of the sciences nobody actually agrees with us on this. That is to say, a good majority of people strongly and with instinctive hostility reject the idea that they are 'just' neurochemical processes.

I'll admit that 'we're just chemicals' has a pop sensibility to it that is perhaps too needlessly provocative. But my opposite number in this discussion is trafficking in the banal and the impossible, glued together by a paste of outmoded metaphysics and dualist precepts. I do hope that explains why I've been using the language I have.

I'd also like to emphasize that all of this is the product of an education outside of the sciences, so if my metaphors or descriptions miss their mark I do sincerely apologize. It's something I think everyone owes it to society, their loved ones, and themselves to learn, and in whatever respect I've failed to do so mea culpa. My field is people in the aggregate, not the individual - and let alone her neurons - although the prospects suggested by 'the neurochemical is political' have always intrigued me. (There were, incidentally, some tantalizingly good ground-level psych studies done on right-wing authoritarians . . . just before they became part of the Republican mainstream, and any deeper studies became basically impolitic. Freaking Goldwater.)

[ Friday, December 21, 2007 21:59: Message edited by: Najosz Thjsza Kjras ]
Posts: 794 | Registered: Tuesday, October 11 2005 07:00
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quote:
Originally written by Fernication:

quote:
your entire line of work is allowing people whose experience has made them miserable to hide from it in some selective way. Medication changes the experience. That's why it is ideal, in the long run - it doesn't involve trying to reconcile contradictory experience, or trying to file away what one experiences as irrelevant when under certain conditions.
While I agree with many of your statements in this topic, Alec, this one is baloney and you know it. I'm sure there are therapists who try to hide from experience and sweep things under the rug for a quick fix. Those people are quacks, and they are not practicing psychotherapy. The whole point of psychotherapy is to face experience.

In a fashion that your own original experience is at variance with, yes.

It's a contrived way of putting it, and I'm not aiming to put down counseling, talk therapy, or psychology; I find all of them very useful and for many (e.g. non-pathological) cases they're of primary importance. But that's how it is.

quote:
From your last sentence above I wonder if you were thinking specifically of the treatment of deep psychoses. For those you are right: talk therapy can't help you face experience because there is not enough organizable experience to face, and drugs are essential. But where regular demoralization is concerned, you're way off.
Take the caveat above into account - that is, when you're dealing with non-pathological demoralization the demoralization is generally the product of personal experience. The phrase I used was extreme and misleading but basically correct - counseling towards facing experience might find a new way to interpret it or find a way to reject experiences that don't mesh with reality, but on some level that is in fact what it involves.

I'm really not arguing it's a bad thing, but it's not all truth and light. In particular I think counseling gets billed in a white-knight fashion a whole lot when compared and contrasted with psychiatry and neurochemistry, but that's just a product of it being longer-entrenched and more familiar. (And, at present, more lucrative.) Both of them involve tinkering with personal experience and memory, as can be readily displayed by some of psychology's darker turns - for instance, the fad for memory retrieval in the 80s and 90s, which lead to a lot of false accusasions of Satanic ritual abuse and widespread disruption of families and distrust - and, in the long run, the worst victims are those who wound up believing in the delusions planted by coercive therapy.

If you want to talk side-effects, going through your life being unable to shake the belief that your eminently decent and loving parents routinely secretly (or, worse, with the assent and complicity of the community) molested and abused you in the service of the Devil - well, that one is a doozy, and one that neither required nor usually involved the employment of drugs. Talk therapy, counseling, and psychology in general are part of the same continuum as psychiatry and neurochemistry - not even two sides of the same coin, or an alternative. And they are by no means safer nor more delicate.
Posts: 794 | Registered: Tuesday, October 11 2005 07:00

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