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  1. emptc12 commented on Matt Bors 3 days ago

    Reminds me of THE KING MUST DIE, by Mary Renault.

  2. emptc12 commented on Pat Oliphant 6 days ago

    Not to make an issue of it, except you asked:
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    Reverse engineer the message, not having read the Old and New Testament, from the way Christians behave today and have behaved on average in history and what would you say? Haven’t the lessons of the Sermon on the Mount been followed more in the breach than in the observance?
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    It was a phrase in the early Church that pagans and non-believers supposedly said, “See how those Christians love one another,” and be favorably impressed enough, perhaps to convert.
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    How could a non-believer — let alone an alien — look at human religions and not be confused? I would like to think that evil-doers will be punished in the afterlife, but meanwhile the fear of it hasn’t stopped them much from badly misbehaving.
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    No offense intended, not to be sarcastic, but I often think of this matter: Christianity has been around less than 2000 years. In another 2000 years, will it still be around other than an historical curiosity with scattered groups of adherents?
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    “Time, like an ever-rolling stream,
    Bears all its sons away;
    They fly forgotten, as a dream
    Dies at the opening day.”
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    This, too, shall pass.

  3. emptc12 commented on Mike Luckovich 8 days ago

    Racist nitwittery isn’t what it used to be. No doubt some very famous men and women of the past were racist nitwits, even psycho nutcases, and history honors them today. They consolidated tribes, even nations, at great blood cost. You wouldn’t have wanted to live next door to them in any which way.

  4. emptc12 commented on Pat Oliphant 8 days ago

    I spent a few weeks one summer listening to the U.N. hearings during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, when Israel took a lot of territory quickly and humiliated the other side.
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    There was a hefty U.N. official involved at that time that sat hunched over, and Oliphant portrayed him in a cartoon (I’m trying to access rapidly failing memory, here). I clipped that cartoon and had it, along with a whole folder of others, for many years.
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    No doubt all this can be found somewhere on the Internet. That whole area has been in conflict and changed hands back and forth among empires for thousands of years. It’s such a small area, by modern standards.
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    How much progress we have made since then — spreading our human squabbles over the entire planet!

  5. emptc12 commented on Tom Toles 8 days ago

    “Most plutocrats want to stay in the background.”
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    You’re right. And I doubt most plutocrats would consider themselves as such. Still, we could designate some that way and then broadcast “America’s Most Eligible Plutocrat”?

  6. emptc12 commented on Clay Jones 8 days ago

    Territorial disputes and xenophobia pertain to and serve many creatures. It’s a part of “Nonmoral Nature.” Humans are part of nature, and many of our basic actions and reactions are non-moral, although we elaborately justify them as moral. National boundaries may be somewhat analogous to the blue-footed booby’s guano ring. (see Gould, HEN’S TEETH AND HORSE’S TOES, “The Guano Ring.”)
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    http://www1.umn.edu/ships/evolutionofmorality/images/12-1.htm
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    http://www.sjgouldessays.com/content/nh_essay_summaries_content/03%20Hens%20Teeth%20and%20Horses%20Toes.pdf

  7. emptc12 commented on Jerry Holbert 8 days ago

    There’s an old legend (I just made up) that the first intelligent being to die on a planet becomes the guiding spirit of that world. You’d think the Republicans would want to send one of their own to Mars — after all, it is the Red Planet.

  8. emptc12 commented on Tom Toles 8 days ago

    Rich Uncle Pennybags (“Mr. Monopoly,” these days) as the stereotypical Plutocrat is out of date. We need a modern representative. I suggest we have a contest among the super rich for the honor: Plutocrats on Parade. No doubt Donald Trump would be one of the first in line.

  9. emptc12 commented on Jim Morin 9 days ago

    Stalin — what a guy. The dictator epitome to which all tyrants aspire.

  10. emptc12 commented on Pat Oliphant 9 days ago

    I finally had the time and patience to read “Asimov’s Guide to the Bible.” In it he explains the historical, geographical, and biographical details of the Old and New Testaments. The frank admissions of slaughters, genocides, betrayals, and greed are amazing, interspersed as they are with the words that most consider holy. (Yes, I know Asimov was an atheist.)
    .
    Judaism and Christianity, as Asimov portrays them through the Bible’s own words, developed from selected elements of the religions of previous and contemporaneous civilizations that occupied the Mideast and surrounding areas of Asia and Europe. According to Asimov, the concepts of God, the Devil, heaven, hell, justice, and honor appeared gradually to what they are today. World concepts that seem solid now were often far different in the past. We probably would consider people from that time rather frightening.
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    I’ve come to realize that the Bible is sometimes history muddled, self-serving, and often inaccurate; it is mythology meant to imitate that of other cultures; and it is an attempt to preserve old ideas and justify new ones. Different personalities of its contributors can often be discerned. It is literature, both blunt and beautiful.
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    It is a collection of cultural artifacts that scholars and ancient historians compromised to gather in one place to both include themselves with and differentiate themselves from others in their area of the world.
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    That cultures attempt to model their present-day politics on old scriptures, with their misconceptions and prejudices is, I think, the cause of so much conflict. If blood did not dry, the soil of the Middle East would be oozing with it; if bones did not crumble to dust, that of the multitudes slaughtered would crunch with every step.