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Shall we dance? in General
Member # 6388
Profile #23
I'd imagine getting stabbed is generally preferable to being shot, in terms of fatalities and permanent injury.
Posts: 794 | Registered: Tuesday, October 11 2005 07:00
Shall we dance? in General
Member # 6388
Profile #18
I think where it's at is pretty irresponsibly lax, mind you - you can pick up some pretty needlessly deadly stuff at a gun show, for instance, and allowing civilians to get their hands on automatic weapons makes no sense.
Posts: 794 | Registered: Tuesday, October 11 2005 07:00
Shall we dance? in General
Member # 6388
Profile #12
The statistics make the 'gun control only disables people with legitimate business having guns' argument moot.

Home defense is the most typical example given, and the most defensible. (The 'crazed madman' argument is usually reserved for NRA hardliners, because that sort of thing almost never happens and when it does people are generally powerless until the police arrive, guns or no.)
However, casualties - deaths and injuries - inflicted by home defense are in the minority, even discouting out-and-out felonies:

- home invasions are generally committed for the purposes of theft during a time the occupants are known or strongly suspected to be either asleep or gone; there is very little opportunity for the owner of a home to intercede under normal circumstances

- in the brief time in which a home owner and home invader are able to interact, chances are not particularly good that the owner will be able to retrieve and load a properly secured gun and then locate the intruder before he leaves the premises

- even considering all of that, most people who own guns for self-defense seem to labor under the delusion that simply owning a firearm is enough to protect them, and they have no actual need to learn how the damn thing works

All of these factors lead to all kinds of lovely stuff: people leaving guns partially secured or unsecured altogether, leaving ready access for juveniles or enabling any domestic quarrel to become fatally violent within seconds; a well-meaning attempt at home defense turning into involuntary manslaughter, or destruction of property or pets; and finally, the lovely prospect of actually arming someone who has no business in your house in the first place, being as how a significant amount of home invasions are perpetrated by those who know the target well enough to locate a firearm in his/her house.

The general consensus is that you are more likely to kill or maim one of your family members with a firearm purchased for home defense than you are any invader. And that's only considering LEGITIMATE uses for purchasing a handgun - right now they're also instrumental in escalating quarrels between friends and lovers.

I'm not of the opinion that any private citizen has any business owning a weapon whose overall intent is to kill or maim a human being. I'm not arguing we should ban handguns - simply that arguments for less stringent regulations are specious and alarmist.

The first and last word in home defense is the community, plain and simple. Giving everyone guns and telling them good luck gets a lot of people killed for no good reason.
Posts: 794 | Registered: Tuesday, October 11 2005 07:00
A Hypothetical Conceived Whilst Drunk in General
Member # 6388
Profile #57
Originally written by Thralni, emperor of Riverrod:

Um, No. Not really. It wasn't taken from then, and certainly not given to somebody by the one who took it from the Dutch. it actually was a trade between the newfound US (if it was already called like that back then), and Holland. We gave up New Amsterdam, but got Surinam back for it (A really stupid thing to do, if you ask me, but what can I do about it? :rolleyes: ).

No, England seized the New Amsterdam colony in the Anglo-Dutch wars, much as the Netherlands seized Suriname in the same, and the overall result was legitimized by treaty at Breda.
Posts: 794 | Registered: Tuesday, October 11 2005 07:00
dumb question - what exactly do weaopn "bonuses" work? in The Exile Trilogy
Member # 6388
Profile #7
Bows have an accuracy based on level and enhanced by bonuses. Arrows have a damage based on level and enhanced by bonuses (ALONG WITH ACCURACY, which means if the choice is between an OK bow with a good bonus and good arrows with an OK bonus, the latter are probably the better bet).

None of this applies to slings, which behave like normal melee weapons, or thrown missiles, which do as well (in addition to being drained per shot, I mean).

[ Thursday, October 13, 2005 01:34: Message edited by: Belisarius ]
Posts: 794 | Registered: Tuesday, October 11 2005 07:00
Politics and Beliefs in General
Member # 6388
Profile #132
Originally written by Synergy67:

Originally written by Belisarius:
Faith is the belief in something in spite of any material evidence.
I'd like to offer a slighty different view of faith. What you are describing I would call "blind faith" without merit. Faith operating correctly is actually based upon experience.

For instance, I believe in God and certain qualities of God because of what I have experienced in pursuit of knowing Who God is. He has given me sufficient personal experiences (evidence) to convince me He is worthy of my faith. I believe and trust because of what has already been given me and shown trustworthy to me in the past. Just as with a human being who wishes to establish trust. You have to prove yourself trustworthy. Is my experience something I can give as proof to someone else? Mostly not, or it will not be believed if I tell it. But that's not the point of the evidence or of the faith. It's just for me.

Expecting faith in something or someone who offers no personally compelling or reliable reason to place the faith is foolishness. Even God does not expect that of anyone...blind faith based on hearsay evidence.

Here's where I run into a problem with that: plenty of people will swear up and down they have never had that experience. That's firm evidence that, if there is a God, experiencing that God is not a universal human trait.

I really have no problem with faith being irrational, so please don't get defensive. Faith is basically irrational, because it's based on subjective experience. There's no God-o-meter someone can hook you up to to test your claims, and even if they're true there's no way to tell if they have any meaning for anyone or anything besides your personal sense of fulfillment.

If you were to expose your beliefs to the full rigor of the scientific method, they would not hold up. There's honestly too little compelling objective evidence for the presence of God to establish a theistic belief system on a rational basis.

Faith and science are two mutually incompatible lenses through which aspects of human life can be seen. Trying to marry the two is impossible in earnest and most often undertaken as a disingenious mincing of words.

In short, your belief is valid and well-established as an article of faith, but as viewed through the eye of the scientific method it is deficient. I'd say that if you're unwilling to consistently apply reason - up to and including discarding your beliefs if they fail under scrutiny - attempting to rationalize personal beliefs is pointless at best and demeaning at worst.

[ Wednesday, October 12, 2005 23:48: Message edited by: Belisarius ]
Posts: 794 | Registered: Tuesday, October 11 2005 07:00
Politics and Beliefs in General
Member # 6388
Profile #128
*i says science is not faith under any traditional definition.

Science is the process of understanding from direct observation, reasonable inference, trial and error.

Faith is the process of belief in something in spite of any interfering observation, inference, or experiment.

Science and faith are definitionally the opposite of one another. Logic has no place in faith, or it isn't faith. Maybe there are scientific factors to a belief system, but its premise is not subject to questioning or disproof.

Faith is the belief in something in spite of any material evidence. Science is accepting properly understood evidence without reservation.

Science cannot be faith, period. Faith cannot be science, period. A belief system can incorporate science, or current scientific understanding can be taken as an article of faith - the Catholic stance on the hypothetical tribesman is logical assuming its axioms are true, and one could perhaps stick dogmatically to a pre-quantum understanding of the universe despite all experimental evidence otherwise - but faith cannot be science and vice-versa.

Specifically on ID: Intelligent design is a ridiculous parlor game, and is beneath the contempt of thinking people. At heart, it has no genuine intention except to deceive, and introducing it into our schools is the most damnedable fraud I can think of in the entire history of pedagogy in this country.

Think about any other faith-based precept like this introduced into the curriculum!

Anthropology? Racialist plurality! Given the diverse range of achievements and characteristics in the human race, it is disingenious to claim there can't be a master race! And we're not necessarily saying the Aryans. It could be any race!

Social studies? Class-aware education! Given the historical level of class mobility, an understanding of the potential for an inborn caste system, the violation of which can be understood as an affront against humanity, is critical for young students!

I could go on, but I'll spare you. You want to teach creationism - fine. Do it on your own time, and if you want the government to do it for you, don't try and dress it up like science to fool people. It's a belief; notwithstanding its validity, it has no place in a fact-based curriculum until it has been put through the rigor of scientific investigation and emerged successful.
Posts: 794 | Registered: Tuesday, October 11 2005 07:00
First Kiss in General
Member # 6388
Profile #46
Originally written by Marlenny:

I was going to quote Belisarius, but that's a large post right there.

Belisarius- That was such a romantic story. You're still together. right? What's her name?

A gentleman never kisses and tells.

(I'm sorry, I'm a little dicey about names - I've had some weeeird experiences on the Internet.)

As for your other question, yes.

[ Wednesday, October 12, 2005 21:02: Message edited by: Belisarius ]
Posts: 794 | Registered: Tuesday, October 11 2005 07:00
Kissing a girl in General
Member # 6388
Profile #153
re. Alex: I want to say the usual words, that that's certainly not what I meant, but I have to be honest: it is.

You are enslaving yourself to your religion. And that's wrong. Jesus never asked you to torture yourself; you're forcing yourself, outside any religious necessity, to do something beyond the basic pale of the human experience. Abandoning your sexuality to focus on religion makes as little sense as abandoning your church to focus on sex.

Has it occurred to you that neither of these are the preferable option here? That it's possible to be a homosexual and a good Christian at the same time?

(And I don't know about couching it in terms of 'overcoming' homosexuality - seems to be begging the question a little, doesn't it?)

[ Wednesday, October 12, 2005 18:39: Message edited by: Belisarius ]
Posts: 794 | Registered: Tuesday, October 11 2005 07:00
Kissing a girl in General
Member # 6388
Profile #144
Alex, I think you are telling yourself a number of lovely and profound truths that together comprise a deadly lie, and I think that is the same primrose path followed by a thousand well-meaning Christians.

Conversion is, at best, a factor of bisexuality; at worst, a horrible myth. Conversion tactics are usually cruel, psychologically abusive, and superficial. The same techniques could be used to convince you you are a space alien or from the future.

That you dance around that, saying there is evidence to the contrary and yet never supplying any - never having any - is telling. You want to believe it will work, that you have made a bad choice somehow and it can be undone.

That's not how it works. I could choose to pursue homosexual relationships, but I could not choose to enjoy the prospect, because I find the homosexual act revolting in an aesthetic and tactile sense, and that is an intrinsic part of such a relationship. That could be a choice. I could choose to live as if I were gay. I could never choose to be gay. You could choose to have relationships with women. Perhaps you can turn it into a twisted enough version of a platonic friendship that the deep-seated shame and disgust with the idea of the heterosexual act won't become an immediate problem. But you won't be happy, and neither will she.

You have told us your faith's story. You have played its advocate, you have taken pains to let us know it is not beyond the pale of reason. I have attempted, in a certainly meager and insufficient way, to do the same for your sexuality; it and your faith are in conflict, and I don't know how you can reconcile that amocably, but I certainly don't think the situation merits setting fire to one or the other.
Posts: 794 | Registered: Tuesday, October 11 2005 07:00
The Abominable Photo Thread 3.6 in General
Member # 6388
Profile #31
I invented !!1.
Posts: 794 | Registered: Tuesday, October 11 2005 07:00
Ethical Survey in General
Member # 6388
Profile #20

1) What is your gender?

I am male.

2) How religious would you say that you are: Not at all, somewhat, or very?

Tricky. Not at all in the theistic sense - I think people basically have complete control over their lives and destinies, and all the responsibilities thereof - but very in terms of how much impact the idea has on my life.

3) Are you vegetarian or vegan?

I eat meat.

4) A trolley is running out of control down a track. In its path are 5 people who have been tied to the track. Fortunately, you can flip a switch that will lead the trolley down a different track. Unfortunately, there is a single person tied to that track. Should you flip the switch?

If this represents perfect knowledge of the situation, yes.

5) As before, a trolley is hurtling down a track towards five people. You are on a bridge under which it will pass, and you can stop it by dropping a heavy weight in front of it. As it happens, there is a very fat man next to you - your only way to stop the trolley is to push him over the bridge and onto the track, killing him to save five. Should you proceed?

If I know for certain that the death of the fat man will preserve the lives of the other five, and I am not fat enough myself to stop the train, yes.

6) As before, a trolley is hurtling down a track towards five people, all children under 10. You can divert its path by flipping a switch, but if you do, the trolley will continue down an alternate track towards five senior citizens. Do you flip the switch?

If they were simply adults, I would say no: both basically have the same chance of living another generation and making the same connections and such, and as such, action would be morally ambiguous at best. As stands, yes; it would be unusual to allow five deaths in order to preserve five lives for a relatively minimal period of time, and the friends and relatives of the elderly should be relatively reconciled to the idea of their passing - that being an integral part of life, after all, and their being close in biological terms to it naturally. This is the more difficult of the three questions, because there's no direct ethical calculus.


For those of you who answered 'yes' to #4 and 'no' to #5: Both of these questions ask you to, by direct action, sacrifice a single human life in order to save five. They are not fundamentally different: if you act, one person will die; if you do not act, five will die. How do you explain differing answers to what amounts to the same moral question?

[ Tuesday, October 11, 2005 02:05: Message edited by: Belisarius ]
Posts: 794 | Registered: Tuesday, October 11 2005 07:00
First Kiss in General
Member # 6388
Profile #41
As a youth, I was portly and continue to this day to have a naggingly poor self-image. I was bearded, scruffy, a joker in public but an intensely shy and private young man. I had crushes on many women, never reciprocated or even expressed. Given how I form crushes, at least half of them have to have been reciprocal. By the time I had realized this, I was already in a relationship; by the time I was out of it, they had been scattered to disparate ends of the nation by their various college paths, and I will probably never see any of them again.

I met a girl at a party. Forensics-team-sponsored. A little withdrawn, didn't really enjoy the happy dancing of the other kids there. I didn't either. We talked and talked. She told me she planned to stay here. I planned to go to college in Oregon. I left the party feeling more lonely and alone than ever.

Over a Forensics trip, she and I had a few bonding experiences. We talked. She sat next to me. She was after me, but I was basically blind to that sort of thing: I thought of myself as a grotesque who would only wind up in a relationship as the product of someone else's magnanamity.

I got her screen-name. I didn't remember it. She got mine. She misspelled it. We went some months without contacting one another.

April: the prom was approaching, and naturally I had no plans. We had recently established AIM contact. She asked me out, and I told her she could probably go out with anyone she wanted. (It was germane at the time.) She said she wanted to go out with me. She didn't know if we were just friends or a couple yet.
The resulting tizzy was all-consuming. She tried without much success to teach me to dance. I got a tux, we got matching flowers. The day of the big event - we were with another couple, the girl a friend of hers - we ate dinner, got horribly lost on the way to the dance, and had to duck out after two minutes of mingling to go to the Blue Man show. The show was over and we went to her place to hang out, the four of us. Then out into her backyard.

It had been May Day for half an hour. We were relaxing on a swing-seat, the other couple on the nearby ground. Beautiful night. I don't remember who kissed who.
'You're the first girl I've ever kissed, you know.'
'Wow. Yeah.' Something like pity and contempt, softened by veiled lust. 'I suppose so.' I could tell, she meant. Maybe that's what she said; my memory wasn't what it was.

It was short, inexpert, and lead to more, less short and less awkward, as first kisses often do. I wasn't a social animal; this was the closest I had ever been to a woman. The early morning of May Day progressed as such early mornings are wont, me half-tuxed and her changed into pajamas that only remained half-worn. 'I guess this is a first for you too, huh?' She realized after a moment how strikingly impolite a thing this is to say to someone engaged in pawing at you. She regretted it. I am blessed with a thick skin, so I took it in stride. More a harbinger of things to come to me now.

The evening was lovely, and I remembered it for a while. We explained away my absence into the early hours to my parents as 'playing Halo'. This became a running euphemism.

We didn't get far enough to escape 'making out' for a couple of weeks. Never came to the beast of two backs, but passably close.

There was something ingenuine about the entire affair. She shied away from any physical affection in public. She hated almost everything about the way I arranged my life when left to my own devices: that I did not take the initiative in working on necessities, in dressing nice, in hanging out with people for no reason. The fruit of that languid evening became a series of bitter fights punctuated by ingenuine make-ups and passive-aggressive avoidance. She would not answer my calls.

On my birthday, she invited me to hang out at her house. I had very nearly cancelled my dinner plans with my family in expectations of her planning something earlier. We watched Saturday Night Live and then she ejected me. It was an empty house. She promised me we'd so something more entertaining next week when she got back from her summer job in the mountains. She kissed me. An empty promise. That was the last time. Then came the dark times of August.

There is another woman I met before this one. Sister of a friend, member in good standing of the high-school poetry club. Nice, sweet as one could ask for. I found her attractive. That seemed to be a rare opinion. Beautiful eyes and a constant warm smile, short, a little pudgy. She was a year older than me, and went to college a year before me. After the breakup I was inconsolable, but I had a plan.

I asked her out. It was the 27th. We went to some relatively expensive restaurant in an upscale commercial center. After that, we walked. Walked through a casino. Talked like old friends, although we hadn't exchanged words but once all of the last year. It slowly dawned on me that she wasn't who I remembered. Shyer, possessed of a beautiful personality and dancing eyes. I was in love again.

We wound up behind a dark window in a part of the casino where the only activity was passing limousines. We talked more, about everything. We took a photograph with her camera. There was about half an hour left before we were to be picked up. I asked her what she was thinking. From what I remember of my internal monologue on May Day, it must have been difficult. Like showing the first thing you ever wrote to your most vicious critic, your heart and soul to a stranger.
'Do you want to kiss me?'
'Sure.' Automatic. I kissed her. Short, with the lips. A little awkward, but leading to more and less awkward. The tongue, she later told me, was a surprise. There were teeth: took getting used to, but not uncomfortable much. Smaller mouth. Took adapting.

'Wow.' We chuckled the sort of happy chuckle this situation calls for. We continued kissing for some time. When we were done - with a few minutes left in what was then, I suppose, officially a date, she told me that I was her first kiss. I could tell.

You can always tell if it's theirs. She was shy, new to the idea of a relationship. Maybe I could have said, 'I suppose so', simultaneously honored to be her first and in contempt of her for not starting sooner.
Maybe I could have said nothing at all - left it hanging there, so she could supply whatever she wanted to come next.


In a just world, neither of us would have been alone as long as we were. Surprise should have been the only reasonable response. Maybe that isn't how it is in practice; maybe it's perfectly reasonable to assume someone so shy and so completely wondrous has spent her life alone - and someone who is shallow and vindictive but has been taught early the gospel of self-advancement had her first kiss in the sixth grade.
But for me, that was a first. Some affection could overcome the dark mumblings of the pragmatic.

'How was it?'

And we've been together since then. Maybe someday we'll be separated. Maybe someday I'll hate her or she'll hate me like me and the first one do. Maybe we'll look back at this time in our lives and hate every moment we now take as fond and happy.

Could happen. It's happened to me before. If it does, I hope she gets out of it what I got out of mine: you aren't born to be alone. People like you, and they're not doing you a favor by going out with you. She deserves it. So do we all. Sometimes I'm afraid I'm hurting her, because I don't know if going out or breaking up taught me that I was worth having. I really hope it's the former. I don't want her to have what I had before we came together that August day.

And that's me and kissing. I hope the subject treats you as well as it does me, or maybe better. The world needs more of it. Just remember not to get jaded, I guess.
Posts: 794 | Registered: Tuesday, October 11 2005 07:00