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Links With Your Coffee - Tuesday

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There are few more powerful forces in nature than Henry Waxman in righteous fury. The California Democrat, scourge of the tobacco industry, the pharmaceutical business, the oil lobby and other malefactors of great wealth, is trying to adjust to his new role in the minority in the House. It is not going well.

As a cultural Jew, I'm especially embarrassed when someone of my "faith tradition" (there, Dr. Ecklund, you can count me among the religious!) makes stupid arguments. Evangelical Christians can be as moronic as they want, but when a rabbi says something dumb, well, that sets my DNA on edge.



re:"smackdown"- whoa, ANOTHER jew weighs in on this. sorry, "cultural" jew, whatever that means. seems like he missed most of the hour and a half and focused on 2 quotes taken out of context to make his point. lame. (the quotes were pretty lame, too, even IN context, but come on, that's what you get out of an hour and a half debate?)

i think my shorter take at the original thread is more accurate as far as the overall outcome, this guy is grabbing at straws- these "rabbis" were far from "taken apart". hitch was dogmatic and not addressing the issues (the existence of an afterlife, as opposed to the christian dogma of what "the" afterlife might be like) and harris was obviously nervous since he not only admits the possibility, but appears to lean in it's direction. maybe this was all skewed by all the cancer onstage, i don't know. but i know what i saw, and i didn't see any rabbis getting "taken apart". this is pure bullshit.

for those of you who want to see a rabbi get "taken apart", i refer you to the hichens/boteach debates. but i warn you, boteach is an idiot. it's kind of like seeing a kid with polio getting beaten up by a weightlifter.

I just rewatched some of it and found both his take and the link to a first hand account seems pretty on the nose.

The Rabbi seem to have no patience for defending anyone elses beliefs and completely unwilling to define their own beliefs.

Then they act defensive and angry when they are reapeatedly asked to either defend the ideas of others or assert their own.

They were asked to come to a debate, but they weren't willing to come with an arguement other than, we don't know. Maybe they should have been the moderators.

Wolpe even jokes about there being a universe somewhere where they were winning.

wait, are we talking about the same debate? isn't this the one norm linked to on the last "links with your tea?"? maybe we're not, i'll go check.

wolpe always sounds kind of angry, even when he isn't, which is one reason i'm not a fan. the other one, sharvit, seemed completely serene at all times. from what i saw i couldn't even imagine him getting angry. and defensive? perhaps, just a little bit, if you look hard enough, but probably a lot less so than you or i would be if we were on the other end of a hitchens verbal carpetbombing.

and why would you expect anyone up there to defend other people's beliefs? as far as defining their own, you have a point. is that what they were there for? i don't know if i could stand watching it again but maybe i should.

and why would you expect anyone up there to defend other people's beliefs? as far as defining their own, you have a point. is that what they were there for?

Well, they were there to have a debate. So I think they were there to take one side of an arguement. Certainly they aren't required to defend every imagining of an afterlife, but at least they could have chosen some general assumptions about the afterlife that they see as possible. or give some potential version that are believeable and believed by some people.

getting angry. and defensive? perhaps, just a little bit, if you look hard enough

Admittedly they weren't all that angry but their frustrations in their repeated "but WE don't believe that" statements wasn't that hard to spot.

Norm = Coffee

Red = Tea

I would second the notion that I don't think the rabbis necessarily got 'taken apart', but that's only because they didn't have the conviction to actually argue anything; instead shifting the goalposts every time they were in danger of being taken apart. It seems like all they were concerned with was Harris and Hitchens conceding that their beliefs were 'better'(less wrong) than the crazy-folk (the 50% of Americans who believe they will see their pets in heaven).

It seems like all they were concerned with was Harris and Hitchens conceding that their beliefs were 'better'(less wrong) than the crazy-folk (the 50% of Americans who believe they will see their pets in heaven).

That seems to be the trend. JB does that sometimes too.

I would argue that bending your beliefs in the supernatural to fit reason is perhaps less crazy, but every bit as insane as believing your pets are all in puppy and kitty heaven.

Really if you aren't comming close to what it says in any holy books then you are pretty much believing in something that you personally made up. My point on the post from late last week.


Just wondering...was the misspelling of "langauge" in the Guest post by Mr. Lange intentional?

The Sarah Palin censorship list doesn't list any sources - do we have some reassurance it's legitimate?

I sent the list to Norm as I knew he is a bibliophile, and any list of such things is interesting. A check with Snopes will indicate that they think this is a fraudulent list.

Don't wanna be the pedant here, but "Meyers" is usually creationist spelling for "Myers". Same way as "athiest" usually is. Not simple typos.

So anyway, I followed a couple of the Kurzweil threads there, it really seems this guy has a cult going on there.

Then don't be.

I feel like I must be.

Henry Waxman is also the asshole that killed public transit in LA in the 80s. He finally changed his mind, but I wouldn't idolize his environmental record...

Then proudly be.

I don't really want to, though.

Just in case, I'm not sure if you follow PZ's blog regularly, but it just jumped at me cause when someone shows up there (or elsewhere on the nets) misspelling his name like that, it's a good chance it's a kook. It's some kind of trope I guess, the same as since many kooks emailed him or make their websites in Comic Sans, now all the kook quotes are done in that font.

It's not wrong to misspell it of course, I was just saying that special misspelling has its history there.

See some examples here.

As a language stickler myself, I can attest that the concern isn't simply that "change must be bad." It's that uneducated change is bad. Here's an example that always bugs me: "Till," which is defined this way at

–preposition 1. up to the time of; until: to fight till death. 2. before (used in negative constructions): He did not come till today. 3. near or at a specified time: till evening. 4. Chiefly Midland, Southern, and Western U.S. before; to: It's ten till four on my watch.

Obviously, what they really mean is 'til, since 'til is an obvious abbreviation of "until." You see? You drop the U and the N, insert an apostrophe (as Truss notes, the bugaboo of semi-literates) and you've got 'til. "Till" adds an extra L that isn't even in the word being abbreviated. Now, the wrong spelling is so commonplace that it has become correct spelling. I don't mind the addition of new words, but the process should be governed by some kind of system. I'm also not complaining about "text speak" or common errors found in informal correspondence like e-mails between friends. I once had a co-worker who was writing a letter to a client that contained the phrase, "I was trying to get ahold of you."

"Ahold" isn't even a word. It doesn't belong in formal correspondence on company letterhead. When I was in high school, I had at least one class in which we were instructed how to compose a business letter. Do they still do that? I think the main complaint of people like Lynne Truss is that the barrier between informal language and formal language has disappeared. This is why Sarah Palin can say "refudiate" and get away with it. And anyone who makes fun of her is some kind of fancy pants librul elitist.

I think the "English only" movement has its roots in this sub-literate (or is it post-literate?) class. After all, how can they be expected to learn a few Spanish phrases if they haven't even mastered English yet? The children in most other "developed" nations graduate from high school knowing at least one foreign language. Our high school graduates barely know one.


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