Sunday Sermonette: True and False Prophets
Like most of the chapters of this sermon of Moses, this one has multiple components. The first  repeats for what must be the fourth time (I haven't been keeping track) the assertion that Levites have " no inheritance " but are entitled to a portion of the sacrifice. The idea of their having no inheritance does not have the literal meaning it would in our society. They can indeed own real estate and there is even land set aside on the outskirts of the towns for their agricultural use. And as this very chapter says, they can own and sell ancestral property, although they can give it up and enter the service of...
Source: Stayin' Alive - January 17, 2021 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

More on property
As I wrote recently, the concept of private property is a social construct. It isn't a fact of nature, " out there " to be discovered. It's an invention. The social conventions about what can and cannot be property, and what rights inhere in various kinds of property, and who can own what property, vary from time to time and place to place. And possession of property is not inevitably or inherently just.In the United States, for example -- as in many other times and places -- people could be property. The people who were owned, of course, had no property rights. Slave owners maintained that depriving the of the r...
Source: Stayin' Alive - January 16, 2021 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

The Capitol
As a youth, I worked for about a year for Congress Watch, which was Ralph Nader's lobbying arm. (It isn't clear that it still exists in any meaningful form.) That meant I spent a lot of time in the congressional office buildings and the Capitol, doing the menial task of distributing position papers. Believe it or not, back in those days they were mimeographed. When I lived in D.C. I also became a demonstration organizer. I did non-violence training, trained and supervised demonstration marshals. I participated in the anti-nuclear demonstration after the Three Mile Island meltdown, which was held at the Capitol.  So I ...
Source: Stayin' Alive - January 14, 2021 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Wednesday Bible Study: Three things
As it is so often, the division into chapters is fairly arbitrary. Deuteronomy 17 has four pieces, the first of which is just a fragment repeating for the 14th time that sacrificial animals must be unblemished. Why this is so important to the Big Guy, who knows?The second calls yet again for the execution of apostates. You know what I think of that, I and all my friends would be dead. Fortunately, this law is no longer in effect. I don't know if the Rabbis addressed this at all in the Talmud, or if it just quietly faded away.  The third is about jurisprudence, but it's awfully vague. It first refers to " you...
Source: Stayin' Alive - January 13, 2021 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Continuing the Great Transformation: Property
For libertarians, property rights are the most sacred value. They will often make arguments to the effect that taxation is theft, as are any laws or regulations that constrain their ability to do with their property as they wish, or reduce its value. Obviously, when pressed, they will agree that there are limits. Just because you own a gun doesn't mean you're allowed to shoot me. Sometimes you'll see a formulation to the effect that you should be able to do whatever you like with your property as long as you don't harm others.It shouldn't take a profound thinker to see that as soon as you concede this, you have created a v...
Source: Stayin' Alive - January 12, 2021 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Some true facts about the First Amendment
Here's it is. I may talk about the religion part later, but now I'm just going to deal with the rest of it.Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. This is some of what the First Amendment doesnot require: It does not require Simon and Schuster to publish your book.It does not require the New York Times to publish your editorial.It does not require any person, corporation, university o...
Source: Stayin' Alive - January 11, 2021 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Theological Interlude
 Katherine Stewart, a reporter who covers the religious right,has an essay in the NYT to which I commend your attention. If you can't access it because of the paywall,Paul Campos excerpts and discusses it here. Stewart explains what Josh Hawley's project really is. Why did he try to get Congress to overturn the results of the November election?Yesterday, a comment on my Sunday Bible post, I quoted from Matthew 25, and I noted that most Christians do not actually believe what it clearly, literally says: that salvation is dependent on good deeds. As Hawley explains:In multiple speeches, an interview ...
Source: Stayin' Alive - January 11, 2021 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Sunday Sermonette: The pilgrimage festivals
Most of Deuteronomy 16 simply reiterates the commandments in Exodus 23, repeated in Exodus 34, to keep the so-called pilgrimage festivals. In Hebrew these are called Pesach, the Passover; Shavuot, the Festival of Weeks; and Succot, the Festival of Tabernacles (or booths). The Torah puts these festivals in future tense, because it pretends to have been written in an imaginary past before the building of the Temple in Jerusalem, but of course the Torah was actually written in the Second Temple period so the pilgrimages had been occurring for some 300 years, before being interrupted by the Babylonian captivity and destruction...
Source: Stayin' Alive - January 10, 2021 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Flushing the Orange Excrescence
Once the White House is sufficiently sanitized for Joe Biden to move in, he will face a daunting list of tasks to fix the damage done in the past four years to public health and health care. I'll address the public health issues anon -- a lot of it to do with the EPA, but much else also. Today, however,Larry Levitt writing for the JAMA Health Forum provides us with a list of items Biden has already promised in his campaign platform, and other initiatives he could pursue with a Democratically controlled congress.Because of the absurd complexity of health care financing in the U.S. -- which gets us less for our money than an...
Source: Stayin' Alive - January 8, 2021 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

My two cents
I don't know that I have anything useful to add to what many others are saying, probably better than I can. But I want to unpack a few essential points.First and foremost, we must be very clear about the nature of the Republican party. Reporters must be clear about it, as must Democratic politicians and people in leadership positions who are not members of the cult. The institutional party -- the Republican National Committee, it's various campaign finance arms, the Senate and House leadership, governors, associated mass media (notably Fox News, also others) and the major donors -- have one purpose only. That is to wield p...
Source: Stayin' Alive - January 7, 2021 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Wednesday Bible Study: Odds and Ends
 Deuteronomy 15 consists of three pieces. Two of them echo ideas from Leviticus but with important differences -- in fact quite major contradictions. One, as far as I can recall, is essentially novel.15 At the end of every seven years you must cancel debts.2 This is how it is to be done: Every creditor shall cancel any loan they have made to a fellow Israelite. They shall not require payment from anyone among their own people, because theLord’s time for canceling debts has been proclaimed.3 You may require payment from a foreigner, but you must cancel any debt your fellow Israelite owes you.4 ...
Source: Stayin' Alive - January 6, 2021 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Alice in Nutcaseland
People have always been subject to elaborate false belief systems, from believing the Oracle at Delphi to the resurrection of Jesus to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. It's nothing new. All three of the above, have done a lot of harm, along with countless other hoaxes.* But are we in a particularly deranged period of history?  The big difference from the past, or at least we thought so up until recently, is that we had the Scientific Revolution and developed rules of evidence, along with the technological means to evaluate reality and the communicative infrastructure to converge on a consensus about what is t...
Source: Stayin' Alive - January 5, 2021 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

The Development of Classical Liberal Ideology: Next installment
 By way of introduction,here is a word from Paul Campos:Sociopathy can even be transformed into a political ideology: It ’s called “libertarianism,” and its votaries labor mightily to escape the natural implications of their views, by inventing elaborate and subtle arguments about how self-interested defection from social norms will not actually be self-interested in the long run, for Reasons. A common source of confusion is that the term " liberal " has come to mean something rather different than it did in the 19th Century. The so-called " neoliberalism " that we endured be...
Source: Stayin' Alive - January 3, 2021 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Sunday Sermonette: Yadda yadda yadda
Deuteronomy 14 is mostly a rehash of material from Exodus and Leviticus. Not much to say about it except to point out some contradictions and absurdities. 14 You are the children of theLord your God. Do not cut yourselves or shave the front of your heads for the dead,2 for you are a people holy to theLord your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, theLord has chosen you to be his treasured possession.I'm not sure how this follows. 3 Do not eat any detestable thing.4 These are the animals you may eat: the ox, the sheep, the goat,5 the deer, the gazelle, the roe deer, the wi...
Source: Stayin' Alive - January 3, 2021 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Liberalism
I'm not going to provide any links today, but you're all welcome to propose some if there are sources you like. My purpose today is to offer my own perspective on the economic history we've started to discuss with the help of The Communist Manifesto, Karl Polanyi, and Bret Devereaux. By the mid-18th Century the economy of manors and cottage industry and local reciprocity was dissolving into into capitalism. This was sufficiently well underway in England by that Adam Smith's famous treatise, the Wealth of Nations, was published in 1776. Smith had a particular understanding of the present in that era which was not well ...
Source: Stayin' Alive - December 31, 2020 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Wednesday Bible Study: Not exactly the First Amendment
Deuteronomy 13 is a strong reminder that we are immersed in a very different theological context from modern Judaism or the other so-called Abrahamic religions -- Christianity and Islam. One could also include Mormonism (I know they've decided they don't like that term) and various other offshoots from the Big Three. These are all monotheistic, and the mainstream view is that they are all trying to understand and worship the same God, albeit with different rituals and different though overlapping mythology. That's why we can have interfaith councils and ecumenical prayer services. That's not to say that there aren't some t...
Source: Stayin' Alive - December 30, 2020 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Abnormal Psychology
I'm always intrigued by the ways in which the human wetware can go dramatically haywire. At this point the investigators are saying they don't know the motive for the Nashville bombing, but that may be a category error. Here's what I mean. The action was meticulously planned, carried out to perfection, and constituted elaborate theater that clearly appeared designed to send a message. The perpetrator evidently wanted to minimize human casualties, although he was willing to accept a substantial risk that there would be some. But he also wanted to cause immense property damage. He played the iconic song Downtown, perfor...
Source: Stayin' Alive - December 28, 2020 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Technical Difficulties
All of my bookmarks suddenly disappeared from Firefox, and I found myself locked out of my Blogger account. I finally managed to sign in, but I may have difficulty posting if my Google accounts continue to behave oddly. I think this was sabotage from Microsoft that wants me to use their browsers. Anyway, I'm working to restore my bookmarks and get my accounts straightened out. Might cause a pause in posting, just so you know. (Source: Stayin' Alive)
Source: Stayin' Alive - December 28, 2020 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Sunday Sermonette: Be thou intolerant
Deuteronomy 12 has three basic commandments. Two of them are straightforward enough, but one of them is extremely puzzling. First, the Israelites are commanded to destroy all the shrines of other religions in the land they will enter. Not very nice, but that's Yahweh for you. Second, the establishment of the Temple is foreordained. No problem there. The third, however, is plain weird: the dietary laws are explicitly revoked. As long as they aren't at the Temple, the people are given permission to eat unclean animals. I haven't found any explanation for this, and it is evidently ignored. In fact, the prohibition against eat...
Source: Stayin' Alive - December 27, 2020 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Just to make it clear about the Covid-19 relief bill
It was combined with the omnibus spending bill. There's nothing nefarious or inappropriate about there being a lot of stuff in there that isn't specifically about pandemic relief. The omnibus bill was developed and negotiated separately, then congress combined them.And the stuff that Dump complained about, like foreign aid?Those were all items he specifically asked for. They were in the White House budget. Herequested the aid for Egypt and other countries. Just so we're clear. Also,they found the electoral fraud! The claim that a vote was fraudulently cast using Elizabeth Bartman ’s name and that it was emb...
Source: Stayin' Alive - December 25, 2020 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

The Great Transformation, cont.
So in our last installment,  I showed a bit of the Communist Manifesto and how Marx and Engels viewed the emergence of capitalism. Polaynyi, writing 100 years later, had a longer and somewhat different perspective. A central point, to him, which Marx and Engels don't much note, is that in pre-modern societies, most people had limited interaction with markets as we understand them -- systems of capital accumulation and exchange facilitated by money. To be sure, money and markets have existed since ancient times, and while they were of varying importance at different times and places for the most part they were secondar...
Source: Stayin' Alive - December 23, 2020 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Wednesday Bible Study: More redundancy and repetitiveness
Deuteronomy 11 is just more of the same: recapitulation of events of Exodus and Numbers and exhortation to obey Yahweh, or else. So I'll just repeat myself as well. I think the function of these sermons by Moses was exactly that: they were read aloud to congregations in some form of regular observance. Other than the various prescribed sacrifices, the regular observances such as Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we don't really get any information about how the law and lore were transmitted to the illiterate masses. So I suspect there was some sort of regular gathering at which these sermons of Moses were read, and that's why ...
Source: Stayin' Alive - December 23, 2020 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

The Great Transformation
This is the title of a  book published in 1944 by the Hungarian-American political economist Karl Polanyi. It is widely considered to be an important work in political economy, so read it if you can.But the Wikipedia summary actually isn't bad. Polanyi addresses many of the problems and issues that concerned Karl Marx, but with 100 years of added perspective, including of course the experience of actually existing Communism. I'm going to run a trick play here and quote from the Communist Manifesto, which was first published in 1848. (The wordsmithing was actually mostly by Friedrich Engels, who was a better communicat...
Source: Stayin' Alive - December 21, 2020 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Sunday Sermonette: More redundancy and repetitiveness
Moses resumes recapitulating events in Exodus and Numbers, and again, he gets some details wrong. As I've said, I think the reason for this is simply to put the highlights of the story in a more compact package. It was probably read aloud on some specific occasions -- remember that very few people were literate -- but as far as I know there isn't any record of how these stories and laws were conveyed to the people in these times. In any case Deuteronomy would have been more convenient, and memorable, than reading the whole thing. I've noted some of the errors and contradictions.10 “At that time theLord said to m...
Source: Stayin' Alive - December 20, 2020 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

For what it's worth . . .
 Garrett Jones:Reminder: Income per person in China is about one-third that of the Taiwan. And about 1/4 that of the US. China is, to a first approximation, a scaled up, less successful, late-arriving Taiwan. If the other team had won the civil war, China today would likely be better off.Weird to see anyone treating the China model as outright appealing. Aside from the impressive scale, China's total performance is weak by the standards of countries with high test scores, high ancestral experience with technology. A bias toward changes over levels I guess.A gloss on this is that China has been catching up lately, but ...
Source: Stayin' Alive - December 19, 2020 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

A word about mRNA vaccines
I note that many people are concerned that mRNA vaccine technology has never before been approved for use in humans. They worry about unknown risks and nasty surprises, and are reluctant to accept the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.I am actually not worried about it, and I'll try to explain why. First I'll just note that this technology has been under development for decades, and has been tested extensively in animal models and experimentally in humans before the large-scale clinical trials that have led to Emergency Use Authorization. So there is a lot of evidence for safety, although it is true that the follow-up time for t...
Source: Stayin' Alive - December 18, 2020 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Paleolithic War
As I say, we don't actually know, but here's the Wikipedia article, for what it's worth.Their conclusion is that systematic warfare was exceedingly rare prior to the neolithic and associated sedentism. Could be wrong. Raymond believes that this period of " Paleolithic warlessness " persisted until well after the appearance ofHomo sapiens some 315,000 years ago, ending only at the occurrence of economic and social shifts associated withsedentism, when new conditions incentivized organized raiding of settlements.[5][6]Of the manycave paintings of the Upper Paleolithic, none depicts people attacking other peopl...
Source: Stayin' Alive - December 17, 2020 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

The History of Stayin' Alive
 No, not this blog, the actual fact of stayin'alive. I mentioned in a previous installment that human life expectancy fell after the agricultural revolution and didn't recover until the 20th Century. Here's a look at the last 250 years.  Something happened toward the end of the 19th Century.  What was it? It wasn't medical advances -- physicians couldn't do us more good than harm until maybe 1930 or so, at the earliest, and they still don't actually contribute all that much to life expectancy. Just concentrating on Europe and its settler outposts in North America, society had mostly completed its evolut...
Source: Stayin' Alive - December 17, 2020 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Wednesday Bible Study: Mo's rant
Deuteronomy 9 does read as though Moses is speaking extemporaneously. He roams around over future and past events, and actually gets some details wrong. But there is a main point. Yahweh didn't choose the Israelites because they are deserving. In fact they aren't, and he nearly wiped them out and chose some other people on more than one occasion. For unspecified reasons the people he's going to have the Israelites massacre are even worse, however. Anyway, being the chosen people isn't an honor. In fact it's a burden, although it can pay off if you're abjectly subservient and unquestionably and unfailingly obedient. I'm not...
Source: Stayin' Alive - December 16, 2020 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

The lamest loser
I've got to say, Hugo Chavez, George Soros and Joe Biden have got to be the cleverest and most powerful people in world history. Even while out of power, and up against the most brilliant and winningest president of all time, they were able to  perpetrate the mother of all fraudulent elections. The evidence was invisible to Trump's toady AG William Barr, the Republican governors of Georgia and Arizona, hundreds of judges including ones the loser president appointed himself, all 9 Supreme Court judges, and Fox News.  Like I say, the lamest loser and most feckless fool of all time. I guess he got tired of winn...
Source: Stayin' Alive - December 15, 2020 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Honorifics
No doubt you are aware of this tempest in a teapot over a Wall Street Journal op-ed writer condescendingly attacking Jill Biden for calling herself " Dr. Biden. " Regardless of anything one may feel about the merits of who gets to be called " Doctor, "  it is idiotic to be dismissive about the value of pedagogical research in general or the specific issue of retention of students in community college. The conceit that there are higher and lower scholarly disciplines is fatuous.But while we're here we might as well talk about the whole concept of honorifics.  In the first place, I am a doc...
Source: Stayin' Alive - December 14, 2020 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Sunday Sermonette: Mo rambles on
Deuteronomy 8 doesn't say a whole lot that's new -- it's just more of the endless exhortation to worship YHWH and not to stray, and more recapitulation of events of Exodus and Numbers. The book generally is very turgid and this chapter is pretty much filler. There are a couple of items worth noting, however.8 “All the commandment which I command you this day you shall be careful to do, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land which theLord swore to give to your fathers.2 And you shall remember all the way which theLord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he m...
Source: Stayin' Alive - December 13, 2020 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

A puzzling phenomenon
For well over a year now -- maybe two years -- I've been getting three or four robocalls on my cell phone every day, from the Ronald T. Dump for president campaign up until November 4, and now from the Committee to Establish a Fascist Dictatorship. Obviously I never answer these calls and they go to my voicemail, where I am forced to erase them. About half the time the voice is the harsh, grating, overloud spew of the Great Pumpkin itself, the other half someone speaking for it. These come from various spoofed numbers, the vast majority from area codes where I don't know anybody, although occasionally they spoof a loc...
Source: Stayin' Alive - December 11, 2020 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Assigned reading
This blog post by Paul Campos is background to our ongoing discussion of economic and social history. The global human population grew very slowly from 8,000 BC until the 18th Century, while per capita income remained essentially stagnant. As I noted, people did not recover their pre-agricultural stature until the 20th Century. But the explosion in wealth since the 18th Century has been staggering, although we take our present circumstances for granted:Consider that, to the extent such things can be measured, it appears that the per person economic output of the United States today is nearlysixty times greater than it was ...
Source: Stayin' Alive - December 10, 2020 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Wednesday Bible Study: How to commit genocide
Deuteronomy 7 makes it crystal clear what the Torah is all about, and the nature of Yahweh. He is not a universal God, nor is he a God of mercy and compassion. Furthermore the commandments about not murdering and not coveting they neighbor's wife and stuff and so on apply only to the Israelites. God chose them for inscrutable reasons as his instrument of conquest, pillage and mass murder. And here he so commands. This needs little comment: res ipsa loquitur. But I have made a couple of notes.7 “When theLord your God brings you into the land which you are entering to take possession of it, and clears away many na...
Source: Stayin' Alive - December 9, 2020 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

This is not " conservative "
Let me digress from the discussion of what conservatism is and why it's not good for people, and talk a little bit about the Republican party. The party doesn't actually have a platform at the moment -- as you may recall they voted to make the platform be " whatever Dear Leader says " -- but we do know that generally they stand for rich people not paying taxes, eliminating environmental, workplace safety and consumer protection regulations, not letting non-white people vote, and other stuff that probably does fit the definition of conservative.However, they also have room for stuff that's just loony tunes. There'...
Source: Stayin' Alive - December 8, 2020 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

The worst mistake in human history
I believe it was Jared Diamond who applied the title of this post to the so-called neolithic revolution. Beginning about 12,000 years ago in the Levant - the region where the Bible stories we are reading are set -- and occurring at various later times around the world, people started cultivating crops. This meant abandoning the nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle, and living in permanent settlements. Exactly why this happened, and why it happened so universally even in very distant places, is a matter of much dispute, and I won't get into that here. Now you might think this happened because agriculture makes people heal...
Source: Stayin' Alive - December 7, 2020 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Sunday Sermonette: Yahweh's Greatest Hits
Deuteronomy 6 is extremely important -- in fact central -- to Jewish religious observance, and contains some of the most quoted lines in the Bible, including one that is quoted by Jesus in two of the gospels. At the same time, it contains its fair share of depravity. This is still the RSV. Here goes. 6 “Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the ordinances which theLord your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it;2 that you may fear theLord your God, you and your son and your son ’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his...
Source: Stayin' Alive - December 6, 2020 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Ancient history
To help us think more systematically about the present issues, I want to review how we got here, beginning at what is for these purposes the beginning. Anatomically modern humans -- people whose skeletons are essentially indistinguishable from ours -- appeared around 250,000 years ago, maybe a bit sooner. We can't be entirely sure because there could be older fossils we haven't found, but probably close enough. Genus Homo culture had changed very slowly before then. Homo erectus had pretty much the same tool kit for 1 million years.  But shortly after the appearance of H. sapiens -- apparently not immediately but...
Source: Stayin' Alive - December 5, 2020 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Presented without comment
This is a (somewhat) famous essay by one Philip E. Agre. He was a UCLA professor at the time he wrote this, in 2004.He was highly prolific in his time, but apparently grew tired of academia and retired into obscurity.I may have something to say about this but it will reward reading the whole thing. (Source: Stayin' Alive)
Source: Stayin' Alive - December 4, 2020 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

On conservatism
Continuing my self-revelation, as it were, I will discuss my personal feelings about " conservatism. " That means different things to different people, and exactly what conservatives believe or espouse necessarily varies somewhat by time and place. Here's how Wikipedia defines it (which is quite consistent with dictionary definitions.)Conservatism is a political and social philosophy promoting traditional social institutions in the context of culture and civilization. The central tenets of conservatism include tradition, hierarchy, and authority, as established in respective cultures, as well as property rights.&...
Source: Stayin' Alive - December 2, 2020 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Wednesday Bible Study: Deja vu
Well, that's why it's called Deuteronomy. The first part of Ch. 5 is basically transcribed from Exodus 20, then we get a recap of the events by which these commandments were delivered. BTW, it's merely a convention that there are ten of them. They aren't numbered in the Hebrew text and people disagree about where to divide them.As I have said before, I can only presume that D's motive in producing this book was to hit the high points of Exodus and Numbers while sneaking in some new laws and stories, in order to provide a single document as the basis for the new orthodoxy of the Second Temple regime. But as far as this part...
Source: Stayin' Alive - December 2, 2020 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Critical thinking, lesson the bazzilionth
I keep trying to get through to people with the basic principles of argumentation and logic, and I keep failing. If I propound and argument, it is not an intellectually respectable response to say something like " People who manage businesses know more about economics than people with graduate degrees in social policy who study economics for a living. " This proposition is ridiculous on its face. People who drive cars don't know more about how cars work than automotive engineers. But, even if it were credible* it's not an argument. If you want to refute something I write, you need to engage with it specifica...
Source: Stayin' Alive - November 29, 2020 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Sunday Sermonette: Sculpt not!
With Deuteronomy 4, Moses begins a long spell of hectoring. There's a lot of scolding in general about following the law exactly, but there's also a particular emphasis on not making graven images. The New International Version, which I've been using, translates the word as " idols, " which would seem to imply that it's only bad if you're planning to worship the thing, but most translations just have " images, " including the Revised Standard Version I present here. This is evidently consistent with the Hebrew because over the millennia rabbinical authorities have interpreted the prohibition as restrict...
Source: Stayin' Alive - November 29, 2020 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Opinion about opinions
A very silly taunt I get a lot from the peanut gallery is basically " You think you're right and I'm wrong and that makes you intolerant. " Sheesh. A) Everybody thinks they're right, that's what it means to think something. It's tautological. B) I could say exactly the same thing to you.But let's try to unpack disagreeing with somebody with disrespecting them. Here's what I think.1. There is a certain measure of respect and consideration that is due to every human. It gets complicated -- we can argue about exactly what that consists of and how to honor it in the case of people who transgress boundaries. An implic...
Source: Stayin' Alive - November 28, 2020 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

An interesting thought
We see a lot of musing about the reason for the urban/rural divide in U.S. politics. Yes, those depopulous rural states have disproportionate political power thanks to the undemocratic constitution; and within states liberals and Democrats are concentrated in urban centers while exurban and rural areas tend to be Republican, which gives Republicans the ability to win majorities in state legislatures and congressional delegations with a minority of the vote. It's true that people vote, and dirt doesn't, but the way our system is structured, having a lot of dirt does give you an advantage.The challenging question iswhy rural...
Source: Stayin' Alive - November 27, 2020 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Economics 101
Every year I " do " Columbus Day, and I have often " done " Thanksgiving, but I think I'll skip it this year. I'm not going to burden people with having to think too much about what the occasion really symbolizes, and obscures. Maybe I'll get around to it later.*Today, however, I want to seize the occasion of coming across thisessay by Neil Fligstein and Steven Vogel in Boston Review. They say exactly what I have said, repeatedly, about economics and the economy. They explain, at least as well as I can, thatthere is no such thing as the Free Market(tm). There never has been, there never will be, there n...
Source: Stayin' Alive - November 26, 2020 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

The Demarcation Problem
" Demarcation " is the fancy term used by philosophers of science for making the distinction between science and basically every other kind of belief or kind of statement. Since science claims to be about distinguishing what is true, it also comes down to what is basically another word for epistemology, the branch of philosophy which deals with how we decide what is true. But by reframing epistemology as the effort to define science, philosophers have essentially made the word " science " a synonym for epistemological validity. I'm going to be very careful not to get too deep into the weeds here. P...
Source: Stayin' Alive - November 25, 2020 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Wednesday Bible Study: Mister big stuff
Deuteronomy 3 retells the story of the defeat of Og told earlier in Numbers, but with more detailed and specific slaughter. Also, the obsession with giants continues, Og apparently having been the biggest of them all. I repeat myself, but I would ask you again to reflect on the concept of " Biblical morality " and what it means to be " pro-life. "3 Next we turned and went up along the road toward Bashan, and Og king of Bashan with his whole army marched out to meet us in battle at Edrei.2 TheLord said to me, “Do not be afraid of him, for I have delivered him into your hands, along with h...
Source: Stayin' Alive - November 25, 2020 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

President Biden's biggest challenge?
He'll have plenty, to be sure. He'll need to rebuild the hollowed-out cabinet departments; reverse the gutting of environmental, workplace safety, and consumer protection regulations; repair relations with allies around the world; fix immigration policy; and get the vaccine distributed quickly and fairly. The latter will happen eventually, and most of those items can be accomplished by executive order. However, the biggest challenges facing the country are the interconnected, if not essentially contiguous problems of repairing, rebuilding, and modernizing the nation's infrastructure and eliminating carbon emissions, and ac...
Source: Stayin' Alive - November 23, 2020 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs