HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Silent3 » Journal
Page: « Prev 1 2 3 4 5 Next »


Profile Information

Gender: Male
Hometown: New Hampshire
Home country: USA
Member since: Sun Oct 3, 2004, 04:16 PM
Number of posts: 11,450

Journal Archives

I had this thought of Trump viewing other people the way most of us view vending machines

This is just a bit of very amateur psychological speculation, so take it for what it's worth.

It's a given that Trump is a narcissist, and almost certainly a psychopath too. He's completely transactional in his behaviors, and people only have value to Trump insofar as they provide for Trump's needs.

So I'm imagining people to Trump as vending machines, and the words he says -- be they true or false -- are the coins he drops into these vending machines, and the buttons he pushes.

Particular coins and particular buttons are supposed to result in particular items being dispensed. "Truth" isn't a consideration, nor is consistency. If something doesn't work, try something else.

Saying "I will protect Social Security, and Biden will destroy it" is the input that's supposed to produce senior votes for Trump as an output. "I'm the least racist person in the room, and Biden backed that terrible crime bill" is the input that is supposed to produce more black votes, or at least more white votes from white people who want to believe they aren't racists.

And just like you or I might get annoyed or angry when a machine eats our coins, but doesn't drop the candy bar we wanted, or the bag of chips gets stuck behind the glass, or the cup lands upside down and our drink pours around it and down the drain, Trump is genuinely angry when his words and gestures don't produce the results he wants.

It's not our job to worry or care about the truth or consistency of what Trump says. As far as he sees it, he's saying what he's supposed to say for us to do what we're supposed to do for him. If we don't respond correctly, he'll get angry, he'll shake us, he'll pound on us, he'll kick us, and he'll wonder out loud what's the matter with us.

If we don't "work", we're useless junk.

"People are not fat. They HAVE fat."

I get the idea of not shaming people for their weight.

I get the idea of valuing people for who they are, what they do, not what they look like.

Absurd language games offend me, however. "Fat" is both an adjective and a noun. It is perfectly valid English to use the word both to denote the substance that is fat and the condition of bearing excess fat.

I hadn't heard the phrase "People are not fat. They HAVE fat." until I saw a Facebook posting of an Upworthy video featuring obese people dancing, showing they weren't ashamed of their bodies. The phrase appeared several times in the comments, making me wonder if this was some new trend I'd somehow missed.

All the more power to the dancers in the video, and anyone else content with their body as it is, so long as they're healthy. Hell, more power to them even if they've made a conscious decision that losing weight, whether necessary for their health or not, isn't their most pressing concern. That's their right.

But they are fat. They both have fat and are fat. This Newspeak attempt to deny the adjectival use of the word "fat" doesn't strike me as a useful consciousness raising tool, but as something more likely to produce an eye-rolling reaction to the absurd denial built into the phrase.

For what it's worth, I've been overweight most of my adult life. I lost weight for one span of about 7-8 years, fell out of my fitness regime for over a decade, and I've been fit and trim again for the past two years now.

I was fat. I actually wish more people had described me as fat because I had too easily convinced myself "I'm just a little overweight" until I'd gained so much that it seemed like a very daunting challenge to do anything about it.

I have to disagree with Bill Maher about boycotts and free speech

I consider myself a very strong advocate of free speech and free expression in general, in that I don't want government interference in free expression. Beyond the usual exceptions against "yelling 'fire!' in a crowded theater", libel, slander, and very clear and direct incitement to violence, there's little or nothing in the category of personal expression for which I accept restrictions or penalties enforced via the power of the state.

For the most part, in fact, I think I'd generally be more likely to piss people off for what I wouldn't want banned by government authority (like "hate speech" than for stifling free expression.

Further, I certainly don't accept private citizen's interfering with free expression through violence or intimidation.

But what about boycotts or other economic pressure against what is perceived as offensive, stupid or hateful free expression, protest by purely lawful and non-violent decisions not buy products, watch TV shows, participate in events, etc.?

Bill Maher's example was boycotts against Rush Limbaugh and his sponsors. He equated participating in such boycotts as being a poor defender of free expression.

Bullshit, I say.

The way I see it Rush Limbaugh's right to free expression, or my right or your right, doesn't include the right to large audience, it doesn't include a right to having other people facilitate, economically or otherwise, the dissemination of anyone else's message.

I support the right to this form of protest by private citizens even when it goes after free expression that I support. If people refuse, say, to go to Disney World or watch a Disney movie because Disney promotes gay rights, so be it. I consider such people to be flaming assholes, but flaming assholes acting well within their rights, not enemies of free expression unless, in addition to their boycott, they champion laws that would forbid Disney from expressing a pro-gay rights position.

The right of free expression certainly doesn't come with a right to a warm, friendly reception for your message something frequently forgotten on the internet, including by many who post on DU.

Other people are not infringing upon your right of free expression by using their own right of free expression to vigorously and loudly disagree with what you say. While it might be a violation in some cases of posting guidelines or other forum-specific rules of conduct, it is not a violation of the principle of freedom of expression for one person to disagree with another in a very disagreeable way, including saying things intended to make a person feel stupid or ashamed for what they've said.

That's why no one ever heard the story of The Lord of the Rings!

Because J.R.R Tolkien only imagined the story, and because it wasn't revelation, he had to keep it to himself!

You really want to make a big deal about whether someone keeps something to themselves or they spread it around as some sort of key difference between imagination, fantasy, and revelation?

Revelation comes from outside the individual. And historically has spread quite rapidly from that individual. Why do you think this is? Mass delusion?

Maybe by definition "Revelation comes from outside the individual", but by definition invisible pink unicorns are pink. Claiming revelation comes from outside the individual doesn't make actual revelation exist. Reality is not obligated to provide us with real incidents of all of the imagined phenomena we can define.

It takes no more than misplaced trust and a desire to believe, not mass delusion, for something one person imagines (or lies about) to be spread around as fact. Fox News works like that. The reason bullshit can spread is the same in both cases -- it spreads because the target audience wants to believe what is being said is true.

As for making anything out of the speed at which information spreads, to quote Churchill, "A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on."

What you call an appeal to authority is instead a recounting of religious experiences. They have no inherent authority to appeal to.

When one person takes someone else's "recounting" as real information about an external influence like a god, and doesn't take it as merely the other's vivid imagination, that person is treating the other as an authoritative source of information. In fact, I can't think of a more pure form of appeal to authority -- the supposed authority doesn't need to document a reproducible methodology, doesn't need to provide references, doesn't need to provide credentials, etc.

As to appeal to consequences, well that's just silly.

When you earlier said "And the basic message is not bad. Quite the contrary." that hinted at the idea that people should be more generous in their criticism of religion because a supposedly good message comes along for the ride. I'd call that an appeal to consequences, if I read the intent correctly. It's a minor point I'm willing to conceded if I missed the mark.

Which brings us back to the starting point. Your measure of God is the scientific method.

Very well. Design the experiment.

Which brings you back to trying to foist the burden of proof on others to whom it does not belong.

Besides, I take that challenge, though not formed as a question, in much the same way I would take a rhetorical question. You only offer the challenge because you've ruled experiment impossible. You would only counter each offered experiment with reasons why that experiment was inadequate or misdirected. You expect others to treat it as a crowning feature, not a flaw, not a reason for doubt, that God and other religious concepts are founded on vague, fluid definitions and slippery accountability.

I realize that high infant mortality played a part...

...in those shorter average lifespans, but even those who lived to adulthood still often died young by modern standards.

From https://www.sciencenews.org/article/living-longer-comes-easier:

Despite what the fashion magazines tell you, 40 isnt the new 30. Seventy is.

A new study finds that humans are living so much longer today compared with the rest of human history that the probability of dying at 72 is similar to the death odds our ancestors likely faced at 30.

A few people in our "all natural" past did indeed live into their sixties, seventies, occasionally beyond, but even from a standard of mortality as measured during adulthood (rather than from birth) this was a far more rare thing.

And yes, the better sanitation that comes along with understanding the germ theory of disease, and other medical advances, are a big part of where we get our current lifespans. Further, also as you mention, there's the modern availability of food that makes starvation and large calorie deficits (at least in wealthier countries) much less common.

Yet still, even given all of that, how large an advantage could an "all natural" diet be, and how truly terrible could today's processed food and preservatives and artificial flavors be, if such great increases in lifespan came along at the same time those things came along?

Is there solid evidence that we'd be living on average into our late nineties if we ate like a well-supplied non-starving cave man ate? Is there any evidence that if cavemen ate at McDonald's they'd have had average lifespans only in the teens instead of the twenties?

Don't get me wrong. I think there's a lot to be gained by being more careful about what we eat, not just in longevity but in quality of life. All I object to is taking far too seriously grand oversimplifications like "Natural GOOD! Artificial BAD!". A long, healthy life as a commonplace phenomenin is itself one of the most unnatural things there can be, and I'm all for it.

Hiking up Pack Monadnock after the snowstorm

This is my first mountain hike with substantial snow on the ground, three days after a Thanksgiving Eve snowstorm dropped 12 inches or so around here (southern New Hampshire). This was the kind of snow that clung to tree branches, brought down a lot of limbs and a few whole trees, knocking out power to many people in the area.

This is Route 101, about half way from home to Pack Monadnock. I was surprised to see so much snow still up in the trees three days after most of it fell.

Obviously several people have been up the Marion-Davis Trail ahead of me since the storm, making my passage a good bit easier.

The auto road to the summit doesn't get plowed, so everyone up here has either climbed or (going by some of the tracks I see) ridden up on a snowmobile. Fortunately no roaring snowmobiles ruined the peaceful quiet at the summit for me.

A snow-topped Monadnock in the distance.

Full panorama here: http://www.dermandar.com/p/adpDzK/pack-monadnock-2014-11-29 (click the 2048p option for best results)

Not anywhere near as much foot traffic out this way.

There are no footprints in the snow leading out to this outlook, so it looks like I'll be the first one out here since the storm.

Full panorama here: http://www.dermandar.com/p/dKwvUB/pack-monadnock-2014-11-29-jbb-outlook (click the 2048p option for best results)

The trail I left behind me coming down from the outlook.

On my return to the summit of Pack, I'm now all alone up here. It's very quiet and calm. I break out my new thermos and have some nice hot green tea, along with a protein bar that's as hard and chewy as if it had been stored in a freezer.

The temperature up here is in the low to mid 20's (F).

Moon above the tree.

Coming back down from the summit, I took the auto road. This is the only place I ran into other hikers hiking. Even though the Marion-Davis Trail had been moderately traversed the past few days, it's clear that the auto road has been the most popular route going both up and down.

My fear: Because huge numbers of Americans don't even know who's in charge of Congress...

either the House or the Senate, don't understand a thing about how the filibuster has blocked things in Senate up until now, but the one thing they are dimly aware of is that Obama is a Democrat, all of the gridlock, brinksmanship with shutdowns and the debt ceiling, all of the horrible compromises when the gridlock occasionally breaks, the continuing languishing economy because no substantial stimulus or jobs program has been possible, or will be anytime soon -- all of that has been, and will continue to be for next two even worse years -- considered the fault of Democrats in the uniformed/Fox News misinformed minds of way too many voters.

This is just what the Republicans have counted on and are counting on, and so far, it has largely paid off for them. It didn't work to get Romney elected, but that's only because Romney was such a terrible candidate. Apart from not winning the presidency in 2012, the Republicans have found a winning strategy, not caring one bit how destructive for the American people this strategy has been.

As far as I'm concerned, the biggest hope for a Democratic win in 2016 is that the Republican primary process will once again produce a horrible candidate for the general election, and only the huge spotlight of being in the presidential race will highlight that candidate's flaws, perhaps for a brief moment reminding voters with terrible memories how bad Republican policies and proposals are for the 99%.

The next Democratic presidential candidate, if he or she wins, will probably do so with some gains in the Senate and the House, but while regaining the Senate is probable in combination with a Democratic presidential victory, the House will still be badly gerrymandered and very tough to regain.

The mess that the country will be in by 2016 will take a long time to fix, even with full Democratic control of Congress. Things will be even worse with a Senate that's still unlikely to be safe from filibuster and a Republican House.

So, rinse and repeat in 2018 -- the dimly aware/deliberately misled populace punishes Democrats for not fixing the mess in two short years, paying little or no attention to Republican obstructionism, and once again hands the Republicans the power to obstruct even more.

Hiking Mt. Washington, NH

In a General Discussion thread that I'd started...

A year and a half after "70 lbs. down. Now I can rant about obnoxious fitness fanatics"...

...I'd posted some pictures, and ended up getting a few requests for more. So here are several shots from my two times hiking Mt. Washington in New Hampshire, last fall and this past summer.

September 2013

This is the Cog Railway. I didn't use it to go up the mountain, but I did use it for the return trip, as the weather turned cold, foggy, and very windy soon after I reached the summit.

I got called a noob for doing this hike wearing jeans. Well, I was noob, so fair call! The problem with jeans is you don't want to get caught in damp cotton if the weather turns cold and wet. Mt. Washington's famously unpredictable weather means you should be prepared no matter how nice the weather seems to be.

June 2014

This was the first time I could officially (by AMC rules) claim to have climbed Mt. Washington, because I went both up and down, not just up, under my own power. I still think of it as my second climb, however.

This is outside the hotel where I stayed overnight to get an early start for my climb.

No jeans this time! My backpack contained a fleece jacket, a hooded shell jacket, and pullover hiking pants in case the weather took a turn for the worse.

A year and a half after "70 lbs. down. Now I can rant about obnoxious fitness fanatics"...

...time for a less ranty rant.

Back in February of last year, I posted this:


About six months after that post, I was down 85 lbs, and I've been holding steady at that weight ever since, while building more strength and endurance.

One positive thing I can add to what I said before: I've finally found something to do for exercise that I really enjoy doing, and something that for the first time has let me occasionally experience the "runner's high" that long eluded me.

Hiking mountain trails.

Hiking is not, however, by itself, enough to be all the exercise I need. Not by far. It's a weekend/vacation activity when the weather's good for it. I still have to keep up with the stuff I consider drudgery most the time to give myself the fitness and endurance I need to do well at the hiking.

But it's fun to be 51 years old and to be leaving the teens and twenty-somethings in the dust. I can reach the top of NH's Mount Monadnock in just a hair under 50 minutes, when most people take one and a half to two hours for the same hike, and then I can listen to people half my age groaning about how they'll never, ever put themselves through that climb again -- the same one I've done five times this past summer and several times last year. I've also climbed NH's Mount Washington twice now, once last year and once this year. If you subtract the time I took to eat lunch at the summit, I did my last Mount Washington climb in better than an hour under "book time".

There's a down side to trying to do this for speed, however -- risk of injury. These aren't technical trails I'm climbing -- no need for ropes or pitons or any of that stuff -- good sturdy hiking boots and very optionally some trek poles will do. But the footing can be tricky enough in some places that slipping, tripping, and falling are easy if you aren't careful, and the jagged, rocky terrain doesn't provide a soft landing.

Without going into the details, I've suffered a few injuries, and have had to learn to be a bit more careful -- no more trying to go back down Monadnock, for example, even faster than I went up, not after spraining my ankle badly last summer while going back down in under 40 minutes.

I hope I don't have to get so careful, however, that it takes all the fun and exhilaration out of my hikes. I'll always, of course, love the scenery and the views and the feeling of being out among the trees and the rocks and wildlife -- you can enjoy all that without speed. But the "runner's high" feeling comes from really pushing myself, keeping moving at a steady pace with little or no rest.

I miss the feeling of heedlessly bounding downhill like a mountain goat, but at least uphill is still good for me for speed. (It's much, much easier to remain stable while ascending rather than descending.) I have to remind myself even then, however, that uphill isn't 100% safe either, and if I screw up badly it won't be just the mountain trails, but 90% of everything else I do for burning calories that will be tabled for weeks or months.

I do wonder how long I'll be able to keep up my current level of fitness. I think I've developed good habits of both eating and exercise that will keep me from getting way out of control again, but I'm currently spending an hour and a half to two hours each day, six days a week, on exercise. I usually burn at least 1000 calories/day, often more. My continuing short commute, flexible schedule, and gym at work help make that level of activity possible, but I realize that for most people that's a thoroughly impractical amount of time to devote to exercise. Maybe at some point it will no longer be practical for me.

I've gotten used to eating 3000-3500 calories a day. I actually had to make myself snack more because I started losing more weight than I wanted to lose. Now I've gotten used to grazing all evening (on yogurt, fruit, peanut butter, jerky, air-popped popcorn, dark chocolate, etc.). If I ever have to cut back on my exercise, and thus cut back on the eating that balances out that exercise, it'll be tough to go back to eating more like I did when I was actively trying to lose weight.

At any rate, this last weekend was one of those hikes that really gave me a great high, a high that lingered right on into today. Here's a panorama taken from the Cliff Trail on North Pack Monadnock.

Go to Page: « Prev 1 2 3 4 5 Next »