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  • Paul's picture
    Paul 2 days 17 hours ago Web link Government Deni...
    "He was later arrested by the FBI and plead guilty to related charges of using forbidden speech." Oops, we can't let that happen. Forbidden speech, wow, how evil.
  • Paul's picture
    Paul 2 days 17 hours ago Web link Government Deni...
    "the public’s right to know about the government’s national security policy" There is no such right, or any right at all. Don't you get embarrassed saying such patently untrue things? http://strike-the-root.com/life-without-rights
  • Paul's picture
    Paul 5 days 21 hours ago Web link KenK
    An excellent article to use in any discussion where someone is promoting the Olympics.
  • eugenedw's picture
    eugenedw 6 days 9 hours ago Web link KenK
    KenK: that is pretty much how I feel too - it's not that I am particularly religious, but I do not share that sense of absolute certainty that I perceive in some atheists.
  • Glen Allport's picture
    Glen Allport 6 days 14 hours ago
    Superintelligence
    Page Glen Allport
    Yes, Douglas. Lots of service tech jobs coming, until the robots take them away! And then there's this: Clever USAF captain wants intelligent, autonomous drones to replace manned fighters. The concept art looks very cool. Wonder if they'll have any problems with those? http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2723466/The-laser-armed-stealth-...
  • Douglas Herman's picture
    Douglas Herman 6 days 20 hours ago
    Superintelligence
    Page Glen Allport
    Glen,    You saw the tiny R2D2 type servers being used in China? 20-30K each. Service techies soon in demand to fix 'em? Robot Restaurant: Robots cook food and wait ... - Daily Mail
  • Glen Allport's picture
    Glen Allport 1 week 12 hours ago
    Superintelligence
    Page Glen Allport
    Thanks for the thoughts and the titles, Tomcat.  It may not be that a machine needs self-awareness to become a danger; bad programming of computers (on purpose and otherwise) has already caused harm and even death, and an extremely powerful computer with access to the internet (and thus to every connected thing on the planet, assuming it's even more clever at such access than human hackers are) could cause real horrors just by following its programming in unexpected ways -- a common trope, of course, as in I, Robot. I enjoy well-written apocalyptic AI stories, but the humans usually win or achieve parity with the AI in the end, in some fashion. Barrat's Our Final Invention is the first book that really made me think about how unlikely that is. It truly frightened me. Humans, including most AI researchers and especially military-related ones (who on Earth would want to connect autonomous AI with modern weaponry?) are in fantasy land on this topic, much the way people expecting the coercive State to be benevolent are. Barrat makes the point (quoting others) that AI will almost by definition be psychopathic in its behavior: no real empathy possible because no shared biological structures, histories, motivations, or needs.  And we keep racing closer. Wired has a story about some of Siri's creators developing  an AI that can re-write its own code on the fly to achieve its goals. Can't imagine anything going wrong with that! http://www.wired.com/2014/08/viv/  
  • Glen Allport's picture
    Glen Allport 1 week 13 hours ago
    Superintelligence
    Page Glen Allport
    Thanks for the link! Yeah, Serling was amazing every episode of Twilight Zone looked to have a budget of about $1.98 but many of them are classics -- really thoughtful and insightful.
  • Lawrence M. Ludlow's picture
    Lawrence M. Ludlow 1 week 22 hours ago Web link KenK
    KenO, exactly
  • KenK's picture
    KenK 1 week 23 hours ago Web link KenK
    What Dawkin's et al don't seem to grasp is that their atheism is as much a declaration of religious faith as any of the theisms they deny. To wit: They believe that there is no God.  This assertion of their's is just as much a matter of faith on their part as any other religious belief in that the atheists cannot prove empirically or logically that there isn't a god or gods any more than the theists can prove there is. Sure, they can shred the Talmud, Upanishads, Bible, Koran, or other holy texts at will, but that isn't the same thing.  When this discussion comes up in my life, I tell people I am an agnostic, because I dont have enuff faith to be an atheist.
  • tomcat's picture
    tomcat 1 week 1 day ago
    Superintelligence
    Page Glen Allport
    Depends all on how you define "artificial intelligence". An Improved-faster calculating- version of todays computer could, for example be installed in an Android where it mimicks perfectly human behavior and emotions.Nevertheless it is still the the most complex version of an oldfashioned record player/Grammophon. Pseudo-autonom but no real independence. For the horror-scenarios from these movies to happen it would be necessary for a Calculator to become self-aware, thus thinking instead of only (very fast)calculating. Nobody even theoretically knows what creates this "Cogito ergo sum" state of mind in a human being let alone in a machine. To get in a conflict with the humans such a artificial beeing wouldnt have to be evil or reckless like in these Movies. That could very well be the part of the humans to play. You deny such a beeing the right of freedom and existence- Guess what will happen next ? Quote "Golem"/Stanislaw Lem: "The highest Intellect can not be the lowest slave" Good reading about this Theme: Stanislaw Lem(Solaris)->Mostly Stories from the 1960ies and early 70ies. (The Golem-Supercomputer-> Self-Awareness; "THe Invincible"->Swarm intelligence; "Dr. Diagoras"->Experiments with self organizing AI) The Jules Verne of Cybernetics.
  • Douglas Herman's picture
    Douglas Herman 1 week 1 day ago
    Superintelligence
    Page Glen Allport
    Glen,    Your thought-provoking column jogged my memory. Waaayyyy back to 1959, and one of the first AI references on TV.  To say Rod Serling was ahead of his time is to say Albert Einstein was a pretty good scientist.   "The Lonely" is an episode set on an asteroid. Looks like Death Valley but a pretty bleak wasteland. Solitary confinement. Check the slim budget Serling had to adapt to. The costumes are retro SciFi to be kind.    The Twilight Zone S01E07 The Lonely
  • eugenedw's picture
    eugenedw 1 week 1 day ago Web link Mike Powers
    Of course, the renewed threat of terrorism will be a convenient excuse for governments to further erode civil liberties...
  • eugenedw's picture
    eugenedw 1 week 1 day ago Web link KenK
    True, and Dawkins was happy all those many years to use Middle East products to drive his car to work, probably never thinking of all the U.S. troops stationed, well, everywhere, to ensure continuous supplies. Still, religious fundamentalism is just silly, and deserves all the satire leveled at it. But Dawkins perhaps throws out the baby with the bathwater when he gets his panties tied in a knot over any and all religion.
  • Lawrence M. Ludlow's picture
    Lawrence M. Ludlow 1 week 2 days ago Web link KenK
    History did not begin on 9/11. Ever hear about blowback? The US govt. is even deadlier by exponential amounts.
  • eugenedw's picture
    eugenedw 1 week 2 days ago Web link KenK
    I was thinking more of religious fundamentalism. I may change my mind if you start flying jet liners into buildings. :-)
  • Lawrence M. Ludlow's picture
    Lawrence M. Ludlow 1 week 2 days ago Web link KenK
    I am fundamentalist about freedom, so am I a problem?
  • eugenedw's picture
    eugenedw 1 week 3 days ago Web link Melinda L. Secor
    Here in South Africa, government policy is very rapidly utterly destroying the agricultural sector, so good luck to Putin trying to import food from here - before long, we'll ave to import food from Russia.
  • eugenedw's picture
    eugenedw 1 week 3 days ago Web link KenK
    The problem, I would think, is fundamentalism and fanaticism rather than religion as such.
  • eugenedw's picture
    eugenedw 1 week 3 days ago Web link KenK
    They don't do any good hanging around on lamp posts. Rather work them into the soil as fertilizer (and hope you don't end up with crops that will only grow after you have filled out a stack of forms in triplicate). :-)
  • Sharon Secor's picture
    Sharon Secor 1 week 3 days ago Web link KenK
    The sooner the better, as far as I am concerned.
  • Lawrence M. Ludlow's picture
    Lawrence M. Ludlow 1 week 3 days ago Web link KenK
    eugenedw: I, too, have found Dawkins' arguments to be on the level of a barroom drunk. I am an agnostic, but at least I have studied some real  theology and philosophy --  things Dawkins has never done. Otherwise, he would not repeat straw-man mischaracterizations of theological questions that are easy to tear down. Since most atheists are fueled more by anger than by knowledge, I find them similarly disappointing. That's why Dawkins always has an "amen corner" working with him -- a mob of undereducated haters. While I, too, am disgusted by some  hate-filled Christians and other haters, I don't pretend that they represent Christianity at its best, which is where his attacks should be placed. But that would put Dawkins in the position of having to learn something and understand his opponent before attacking their positions.   Regarding Islam, it should be pretty clear by now that Robert Pape, in his book, "Dying to Win," has proven that the link between terrorism and Islam is a spruious one. His exhaustive study shows that 94% of terrorism is caused by democratic governments occupying Islamic countries. The attempt to connect terrorism and Islam is a Sean-Hannity-level crudity that is devoid of truth. Yes, there are extremist followers of Islam -- just as there are extremist murdering Christians and Jews. And gee, big surprise, like so many war-mongering Christians, many of these followers of Islam and Judaism try to justify their beliefs by referring to god as the source of their inspiration. There's a lot of nationalistic kill-them-all stuff in the Bible and in the Koran. And THAT is a big problem.  
  • eugenedw's picture
    eugenedw 1 week 4 days ago Web link Sharon Secor
    The problem is that the traditional division of politics into left and right is somewhat meaningless: both sides of the spectrum can produce authoritarians, and it is indeed true that the so-called "liberals" are often far, far worse than the "conservatives."
  • eugenedw's picture
    eugenedw 1 week 5 days ago Web link KenK
    I have long thought that Dawkins' fierce criticism of religion is a bit over the top, and not really productive either. But he is one of the few critics of religion that has the guts to publicly take on Islam - the rest are mostly too scared to become the targets of a death sentence. As such he is at least an equal-opportunity bigot with the courage of his convictions, unlike his lily-livered leftwing critics, who are quick to slap those who turn the other cheek, but are reduced to jellyfish at the first sign of real trouble. And as the article points out, his science writing is brilliant. Plus, if you ask me, his tweets about rape and pedophilia were perfectly rational and reasonable.
  • Paul's picture
    Paul 1 week 5 days ago Web link KenK
    That's what government is for, isn't it?
  • Paul's picture
    Paul 1 week 5 days ago Web link KenK
    It's not "sharing" if there is a gun to your head.
  • Paul's picture
    Paul 1 week 5 days ago Web link KenK
    Some day people will decide to hang a few bureaucrats from lamp posts, and then the silliness will end.
  • Lawrence M. Ludlow's picture
    Lawrence M. Ludlow 2 weeks 2 days ago Blog entry Lawrence M. Ludlow
    Our friend, Tim, had some insightful comments about this piece, which he mistakenly posted with my original article. I'll post his comments here, which provide some correction about my misunderstanding of Buddhism.   new Timmaayy, posted on July 26, 2014 Excellent piece! Let me add one bit of supporting evidence, a few references that are beyond your scope, but struck me as I was reading, and then end with a minor point of disagreement. The observation that pride is both the deadliest of the seven sins and at the very heart of libertarian objections to the existing political order is an outstanding insight! I was surprised, however, that you didn't mention that pride is also what Christians, both then and now, regard as THE "Original Sin" -- the very transgression that resulted in all mankind's banishment from paradise, thus both the impetus behind the death and resurrection of Jesus and the sine qua non of "Mount Purgatory." Further, while I recognize that the purpose of your thesis was a comparison of libertarian precepts with Dante's "Seven Deadly Sins," I was struck by the support to be found in the gospel accounts of the teachings of Jesus. In my opinion the two most powerful of his parables (because they are so reproachful for most of us who are less spiritually advanced) both deal with the second deadliest of the sins: envy. Who is not startled into greater self-awareness at the conclusion of the story of "The Prodigal Son" by the father's response to the (entirely understandable) indignation of the older brother? Likewise, the rejoinder by the owner of the vineyard to his resentful day-laborers who (also quite understandably) expected more than they were actually owed -- an expectation that envy transmogrified into entitlement? [Side note: as with nearly all of Jesus' parables neither of these is multiply-attested as the former appears only in Luke, the latter only in Matthew.] Your point about the lesser sins of greed, gluttony and lust being no more than immoderations arising from otherwise natural and wholesome pursuits, and that it is merely obsessiveness that is to be eschewed, also finds support in the teaching of Jesus. One incident that comes immediately to mind (some checking might well locate others) is his response to critics by making a "no-win" comparison of himself with John the Baptist. Where his mentor's asceticism drew accusations of demon possession, his own, more typical style of fellowship brought charges of being a drunkard and a glutton. [Another aside: Although this anecdote appears in both Matthew and Luke, it most likely traces to the lost "sayings gospel" scholars refer to as Q and is, therefore, also lacking multiple attestation.] However, this "Middle Way" is ubiquitous in and fundamental to Buddhism. Indeed, it was in coming to an appreciation of the destructiveness that attends both reckless overindulgence and extreme asceticism that was the catalyst for the Buddha's enlightenment. Which brings me to a point of (minor) disagreement. Based on my, admittedly rudimentary, understanding of this Eastern philosophy, the characterization of Buddhists as viewing "the things of this world as evil and the desires of the flesh as something to be shunned" is misplaced. To my mind the Buddhist view of the worldly realm bears fairer comparison with Dante's conception of Purgatory. Both apprehend a "place," so-to-speak, of refinement/purification in the struggle to attain the spiritual perfection required to reach the top of the mountain, i.e., to enter heaven (or nirvana.) Two important distinctions, however, are that with the latter the climb takes place within the spiritual realm and in full knowledge of the destination. Whereas for the former the effort is made in this physical realm and in, at least initially, ignorance of the purpose. Indeed, for Buddhists it is overcoming the state of ignorance that is the very key to progression. The fundamental aspiration for the Buddhist is "Enlightenment." This brings me back to your point about pride being the "sin" that underlies all that libertarians find objectionable in the political order. There is unequivocal, historical validation in the fate of the competing form of Christianity that was exterminated by the Roman Catholic church following its ascension to official state religion under Emperor Constantine: Gnosticism. "Gnosis" is, of course, Greek for "knowledge." Gnostics, like Buddhists, also thought this to be the key to salvation. Christian Gnostics (there were other forms) believed that the "Christ" was a divine emissary who came into this world to bring the knowledge of how to escape from it and return to the "Father," the one, true God. Buddhism in fact has an analogous conception of the "Bodhisattva" -- though many Gnostics, unlike Buddhists and orthodox Christians, believed that the divine Christ entered the human, Jesus, not at his birth but rather at his baptism. Like their orthodox counterparts, Gnostics recognized the fact that Jesus Christ was executed by the Roman occupation force (at the behest of the Sadducees whose role and authority he threatened), that he was then raised from the dead by the Father and subsequently appeared to his followers to reassure them of the rightness of his message, before returning to the "Pleroma" (the "fullness" in Greek which is how they described the spiritual plane.) But for Gnostics the Christ's mission was to bring the means of escape from what they did, very much, believe to be an inherently evil world. While they shared with Jews and orthodox Christians the belief that the physical universe was fashioned by Yahweh to whom both of the other groups believed unquestioning obeisance was owed, Gnostics did not see Yahweh as the one, true God. Rather, the regarded Yahweh as a vain, jealous, vindictive (indeed, self-described as such), lesser deity who, having been cast out of the Pleroma, created the physical universe and managed to populate it with sparks of the divine trapped in human bodies, deluding them into thinking him the one, true god to whom his creation owed exclusive worship, unending sacrifice and incessant flattery. Judaism at the time was in practice fundamentally similar to the other, primitive, animal sacrifice cults that dominated the Western world (vis-a-vis the more sophisticated theologies in the East such as Buddhism.) The only notable difference was that in place of a pantheon of gods with their own concerns the Jews recognized only this single, all-powerful divinity whose sole fixation was the affairs of his creation. The notion that appeasement of god(s) via animal sacrifice, however, was the same -- providing Paul the rationale needed to incorporate Jesus into the existing order. It was he who (in an effort to explain how an executed criminal could have been the "Messiah" of Jewish prophesy) developed the idea that Christ's mission was to become the ultimate animal sacrifice to Yahweh, crucified for the sins of all mankind. Gnostics, feeling no such parochial constraints, in fact believed that the snake in the Garden of Eden was actually the hero of the story -- indeed, a previous incarnation of the Christ who attempted to warn Adam and Eve, encouraging them to take the knowledge Yahweh was so determined to keep from them and learn the truth. Add to all of this heresy the fact that Gnosticism is a surpassingly mystical belief system where the goal is a direct, unmediated experience of the divine with little use for bishops, deacons, etc. and one need not be blessed with supernatural, prophetic abilities to predict what would happen once the hierarchical, authoritarian, Roman Catholic form of Christianity was empowered by Constantine. In any case your point about belief in an inherently evil world more properly characterizes the rival, Gnostic form of Christianity than Buddhism which, I believe, more closely resembles Dante's views. Anyway, many thanks for this outstanding piece. I really enjoyed it.  
  • Lawrence M. Ludlow's picture
    Lawrence M. Ludlow 2 weeks 2 days ago Page Lawrence M. Ludlow
    PS: I will post this in my blog, where I provide a link to the article on which you are commenting (this one is the article that led me to post the later one).
  • Lawrence M. Ludlow's picture
    Lawrence M. Ludlow 2 weeks 2 days ago Page Lawrence M. Ludlow
    Thank you very much, Tim, for your insight and corrections regarding my perception of Buddhism! I'm glad you enjoyed the piece as well.
  • ReverendDraco's picture
    ReverendDraco 2 weeks 3 days ago Web link Melinda L. Secor
    I hate to have to say this. . . The only way these sorts of crimes will ever end, is if the victims start ending the perverts, on sight.
  • Douglas Herman's picture
    Douglas Herman 2 weeks 4 days ago Web link Sharon Secor
    Good points, Paul. "Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, the union that represents NYPD officers, said his organization "stands firmly in support of all police officers who are put in these difficult circumstances." WTF? "Benevolent?" Or just plane violent? They caused the situation, so sue, sue, sue
  • Paul's picture
    Paul 2 weeks 4 days ago Web link Sharon Secor
    Correlation is not causation. It's interesting to note that Edward Abbey referred to civilization as "syphilization". He didn't have much use for it. But then, he had heavy brow ridges too. :-)
  • Paul's picture
    Paul 2 weeks 4 days ago Web link Sharon Secor
    Well, I think you are using the word "we" too freely. As I said before, it's just you and the cop, out on that lonely highway. What you permit him to do to you, will be done. If you don't permit it, it won't be done. You do have that choice. It may be war as a result (on the personal level), but we aren't designed to live forever anyway. At least you will have stopped that cop murdering or abusing the next person down the line, and sent a message to other state thugs that there are limits.
  • Paul's picture
    Paul 2 weeks 4 days ago Web link KenK
    This article might be a little overblown. If Apple is not destroyed by these revelations and its officers not jailed, and you know that won't happen, then why get upset about it? That is the way the world is. Although I suspect IOS is going to see a hit in sales. Not everybody is clueless about security, even if most people are. Also the article suggests these devices will take over your wireless network and glean information from it. It is a very simple matter of a setting in the router to prevent any such thing. For one wireless device to communicate with another, it must go through the router, and the router can prevent it.
  • ReverendDraco's picture
    ReverendDraco 3 weeks 2 days ago Web link Melinda L. Secor
    Funny you should say that. . . A few weeks ago, I made a comment on another website. . . someone responded with, "You'd better be careful, you'll end up on a list somewhere." I replied, "If I haven't been on a list somewhere for quite a while, I'm doing something wrong." I do consider it a badge of honor - “In a mad world, only the mad are sane.”
  • Paul's picture
    Paul 3 weeks 2 days ago Page Paul Bonneau
    Yes, except that I am schizophrenic about it. Sometimes I am right where you are; other times I get caught up on the need to try to convince others not believe in the government religion. You are just catching me in the latter phase. :-) I do hope the warmongers don't start something over Ukraine though. That could get bad for everyone. I don't see anyone catching war fever though, which is a good thing. Maybe people can learn? By the way, I don't necessarily think of rebellion as a "useless enterprise". It certainly can be ruinous; it also can be relatively benign (see the Czech "velvet revolution"). But to me, rebellion is just the *consequence* of people going apostate. Yeah there may be better ways, but we have no control over how others react when they discover they have been living and believing a lie. Anyway, if you are physically attacked, the only choices are to fight or to submit (and occasionally, to evade).
  • Paul's picture
    Paul 3 weeks 2 days ago
    Who Owes What?
    Page Paul Hein
    Paul, great article. I like the vision of the Schwarzenegger dollar. :-) One possible correction: "Without government, no fiat." I think bitcoin is fiat, isn't it? Nothing wrong with fiat as long as it is voluntary. Unless you mean by "fiat", not being voluntary. But I think it really means no inherent value? Looking at dictionary definitions, it appears to mean either of those things. So even without government there will be fiat currencies.
  • Paul's picture
    Paul 3 weeks 2 days ago Web link Melinda L. Secor
    A right to know what criminal gangs do? What a ridiculous notion.
  • Paul's picture
    Paul 3 weeks 2 days ago Web link Melinda L. Secor
    Well, that is silly. The 5th Amendment hasn't killed any drones, has it?
  • Paul's picture
    Paul 3 weeks 2 days ago Web link Melinda L. Secor
    Being on a government list is a badge of honor these days. If you aren't on one, there is something wrong with you.
  • Paul's picture
    Paul 3 weeks 2 days ago Web link Melinda L. Secor
    Plunder is the name of the game. A good article to pass around.
  • KenK's picture
    KenK 3 weeks 3 days ago
    Mike in Maine
    Web link Melinda L. Secor
    Nice photo blog.
  • Samarami's picture
    Samarami 3 weeks 4 days ago Page Paul Bonneau
    Generally, Paul, you and I are in agreement philosophically -- and, where there seems to be a clash I think it's usually a misunderstanding over word definition or phrase interpretation. Because we both preach tolerance. Neither fan the flames of rebellion (a useless enterprise). Each believes that indifference by enough ordinary folks will (along with the egocentric stupidity of psychopaths grouped into governments) topple them. And, needless to say, we both urge our colleagues to abstain from beans. So recently I was posting a comment to an article and was reminded of the slight discomfort I had felt "sparring" with you over this essay. So I'll reprint my comment here: Sam Spade says: July 24, 2014 at 9:20 pm I am a believer in the premise that one can be free wherever (s)he is. Right here, right now. Too many “anarchists” focus so heavily upon existing monopolistic systems (commonly referred to as “The State” — a mindless abstraction) to understand that those psychopaths who make up that entity are relatively stupid, chronically egocentric, and incapable of causing major scourges to those who refuse to volunteer, submit, “file”, register, etc etc. There are ways to fly under the authoritarian radar if one spends a modicum of mental energy to dedicate himself or herself to that end. If you say you can, you are correct. If you say you can’t, you are also correct. Costa Rica is a good place with a pleasant climate. But so is Nicaragua — and Panama. They are full of enjoyable people — possibly even a few anarchists lurking in the cracks and crevices. Standing armies, of course, can present a real danger to anybody. But so can one dangerously armed individual in state costume with a “badge”. So can one rattlesnake. To live free, I must develop the lifestyle of steering clear of all their bailiwicks. Sam I suspect you find general agreement with this philosophy. Sam
  • Timmaayy's picture
    Timmaayy 3 weeks 4 days ago Page Lawrence M. Ludlow
    Excellent piece! Let me add one bit of supporting evidence, a few references that are beyond your scope, but struck me as I was reading, and then end with a minor point of disagreement. The observation that pride is both the deadliest of the seven sins and at the very heart of libertarian objections to the existing political order is an outstanding insight! I was surprised, however, that you didn't mention that pride is also what Christians, both then and now, regard as THE "Original Sin" -- the very transgression that resulted in all mankind's banishment from paradise, thus both the impetus behind the death and resurrection of Jesus and the sine qua non of "Mount Purgatory." Further, while I recognize that the purpose of your thesis was a comparison of libertarian precepts with Dante's "Seven Deadly Sins," I was struck by the support to be found in the gospel accounts of the teachings of Jesus. In my opinion the two most powerful of his parables (because they are so reproachful for most of us who are less spiritually advanced) both deal with the second deadliest of the sins: envy. Who is not startled into greater self-awareness at the conclusion of the story of "The Prodigal Son" by the father's response to the (entirely understandable) indignation of the older brother? Likewise, the rejoinder by the owner of the vineyard to his resentful day-laborers who (also quite understandably) expected more than they were actually owed -- an expectation that envy transmogrified into entitlement? [Side note: as with nearly all of Jesus' parables neither of these is multiply-attested as the former appears only in Luke, the latter only in Matthew.] Your point about the lesser sins of greed, gluttony and lust being no more than immoderations arising from otherwise natural and wholesome pursuits, and that it is merely obsessiveness that is to be eschewed, also finds support in the teaching of Jesus. One incident that comes immediately to mind (some checking might well locate others) is his response to critics by making a "no-win" comparison of himself with John the Baptist. Where his mentor's asceticism drew accusations of demon possession, his own, more typical style of fellowship brought charges of being a drunkard and a glutton. [Another aside: Although this anecdote appears in both Matthew and Luke, it most likely traces to the lost "sayings gospel" scholars refer to as Q and is, therefore, also lacking multiple attestation.] However, this "Middle Way" is ubiquitous in and fundamental to Buddhism. Indeed, it was in coming to an appreciation of the destructiveness that attends both reckless overindulgence and extreme asceticism that was the catalyst for the Buddha's enlightenment. Which brings me to a point of (minor) disagreement. Based on my, admittedly rudimentary, understanding of this Eastern philosophy, the characterization of Buddhists as viewing "the things of this world as evil and the desires of the flesh as something to be shunned" is misplaced. To my mind the Buddhist view of the worldly realm bears fairer comparison with Dante's conception of Purgatory. Both apprehend a "place," so-to-speak, of refinement/purification in the struggle to attain the spiritual perfection required to reach the top of the mountain, i.e., to enter heaven (or nirvana.) Two important distinctions, however, are that with the latter the climb takes place within the spiritual realm and in full knowledge of the destination. Whereas for the former the effort is made in this physical realm and in, at least initially, ignorance of the purpose. Indeed, for Buddhists it is overcoming the state of ignorance that is the very key to progression. The fundamental aspiration for the Buddhist is "Enlightenment." This brings me back to your point about pride being the "sin" that underlies all that libertarians find objectionable in the political order. There is unequivocal, historical validation in the fate of the competing form of Christianity that was exterminated by the Roman Catholic church following its ascension to official state religion under Emperor Constantine: Gnosticism. "Gnosis" is, of course, Greek for "knowledge." Gnostics, like Buddhists, also thought this to be the key to salvation. Christian Gnostics (there were other forms) believed that the "Christ" was a divine emissary who came into this world to bring the knowledge of how to escape from it and return to the "Father," the one, true God. Buddhism in fact has an analogous conception of the "Bodhisattva" -- though many Gnostics, unlike Buddhists and orthodox Christians, believed that the divine Christ entered the human, Jesus, not at his birth but rather at his baptism. Like their orthodox counterparts, Gnostics recognized the fact that Jesus Christ was executed by the Roman occupation force (at the behest of the Sadducees whose role and authority he threatened), that he was then raised from the dead by the Father and subsequently appeared to his followers to reassure them of the rightness of his message, before returning to the "Pleroma" (the "fullness" in Greek which is how they described the spiritual plane.) But for Gnostics the Christ's mission was to bring the means of escape from what they did, very much, believe to be an inherently evil world. While they shared with Jews and orthodox Christians the belief that the physical universe was fashioned by Yahweh to whom both of the other groups believed unquestioning obeisance was owed, Gnostics did not see Yahweh as the one, true God. Rather, the regarded Yahweh as a vain, jealous, vindictive (indeed, self-described as such), lesser deity who, having been cast out of the Pleroma, created the physical universe and managed to populate it with sparks of the divine trapped in human bodies, deluding them into thinking him the one, true god to whom his creation owed exclusive worship, unending sacrifice and incessant flattery. Judaism at the time was in practice fundamentally similar to the other, primitive, animal sacrifice cults that dominated the Western world (vis-a-vis the more sophisticated theologies in the East such as Buddhism.) The only notable difference was that in place of a pantheon of gods with their own concerns the Jews recognized only this single, all-powerful divinity whose sole fixation was the affairs of his creation. The notion that appeasement of god(s) via animal sacrifice, however, was the same -- providing Paul the rationale needed to incorporate Jesus into the existing order. It was he who (in an effort to explain how an executed criminal could have been the "Messiah" of Jewish prophesy) developed the idea that Christ's mission was to become the ultimate animal sacrifice to Yahweh, crucified for the sins of all mankind. Gnostics, feeling no such parochial constraints, in fact believed that the snake in the Garden of Eden was actually the hero of the story -- indeed, a previous incarnation of the Christ who attempted to warn Adam and Eve, encouraging them to take the knowledge Yahweh was so determined to keep from them and learn the truth. Add to all of this heresy the fact that Gnosticism is a surpassingly mystical belief system where the goal is a direct, unmediated experience of the divine with little use for bishops, deacons, etc. and one need not be blessed with supernatural, prophetic abilities to predict what would happen once the hierarchical, authoritarian, Roman Catholic form of Christianity was empowered by Constantine. In any case your point about belief in an inherently evil world more properly characterizes the rival, Gnostic form of Christianity than Buddhism which, I believe, more closely resembles Dante's views. Anyway, many thanks for this outstanding piece. I really enjoyed it.
  • Douglas Herman's picture
    Douglas Herman 3 weeks 4 days ago Page Douglas Herman
    And in response to Factotum again (Charles Buckowski reborn?)     "As the economy is now in unchecked full-blown collapse mode, with the potential for at least some cities to erupt into some form of violent outbursts due to the hardships, one has to wonder just how much time the power’s that be have left before they MUST take the initiative and stage another 911 style event to control the agenda and force MARTIAL LAW full implementing across the nation and maybe across the earth.    "Given this–together with the failed attempts to trigger both social unrest in the U.S. via FALSE FLAGS and the irresponsible fomenting of police brutality incidents nationwide, which serve only to enrage and frighten and even disenfranchise the average citizen, making them leery of authority, particularly police authority–we now have a very bad situation where public trust of all politicians and police is at an all time low, and hence it is the same for any government agency as well."      Running out of time: Will the US attack the US again?    
  • rita's picture
    rita 3 weeks 5 days ago Web link KenK
    Accidentally posted the same comment twice. Still can't figure out how to delete the second one.
  • rita's picture
    rita 3 weeks 5 days ago Web link KenK
    Since illegal drugs aren't particularly dangerous to start with, this is a pretty meaningless comparison.
  • Douglas Herman's picture
    Douglas Herman 3 weeks 5 days ago Page Douglas Herman
    Hi Paul,    That is one definite indicator. The demise of the US dollar. That's why Putin is so very dangerous at the moment. Kaddafi and Saddam spoke of moving away from the petrodollar as WRC. Putin is a bit stronger, but no less dangerous, towards that end.   As Ron Paul said, once the dollar is gone then we are in uncharted Argentina / Zimbabe waters.
  • Douglas Herman's picture
    Douglas Herman 3 weeks 5 days ago Page Douglas Herman
    Factotum,     The NWO have ALL the time in the world.  They own the Grand Chessboard.  Their timetable for another larger false flag is on the drafting baord. Until then, they have to devise smaller acts of deceit and "skullduggery." Malaysia Airliner Missile Strike: Was it MH-17 or MH-370?     As for your one gold oz wager offer, why would I bet you? Who would collect,  and where and when, and how exactly would anyone verify that bet?  Especially since you could deny, deny, deny.....   Officials Cite “Thermo-Nuke” in 9/11 Demo