Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Condoms - A Short Story With A Long Commentary

[Note:  This post tries to pull together ideas from different places to make sense of things that seem not to make sense.  I've been tinkering with it for several days now, and while I'm still not satisfied, it's time to move on to other things.  Consider this post as working notes.]

"You can go on the internet, you can order these things by mail, . . . make phone calls, and you can get it delivered by mail, you all know that Alaska Airlines will do Goldstreak and you can get things even quickly that way if you need to.  So I don’t think access is a problem, I don’t think that finance, that economics is, and my own view is that by and large sexual activity is recreation. Now if you're doing the activity for procreation, obviously birth control is counter-indicated."
- Eagle River's Sen. Fred Dyson from the Legislative 360 North via the Anchorage Daily News  has already received plenty of attention for this statement (plus the rest of it which you can view at the ADN link above.)

I'd like to play out a little story I imagined when I heard about it and then also talk a little history and use Jonathan Haidt's ideas about moral traits to try to understand the mental gap here.
The Condom - A Short Story

The wind whistled through the poorly insulated wooden home in a rural village off the Alaska road system.  He'd come knocking a couple of hours ago, knowing her mother was away.  She was excited about having a boyfriend, yet a little fearful of what it all meant.  He'd brought some beer and they'd both had too much.  She had refused the beer at first, but she didn't want to appear just a child.  Her body responded to his hands, yet she could hear her mom warning her about getting pregnant.   "We can't do this," she cried out.  "We don't have any condoms." 
He looked down on her and smiled.  He pulled out his cell phone and called Alaska Airlines.  "Goldstream me a dozen condoms," he said into the phone.  Then he looked back at her, "Problem solved."

Fred Dyson can rightfully claim that wasn't what he meant when he said "you can get things even quickly"  but it's what came to mind.

His Alaska Senate page says that Fred Dyson was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, January 16, 1939.  That means he's just had his 75th birthday.   He went to high school in Seattle and has been married since 1966. He would have been 27.  In 1966 the US was just starting to emerge from an era in which pre-marital sex was roundly condemned in mainstream culture. People didn't "live together," they "shacked up" and it was not accepted at all as it is today.  The summer of love in San Francisco was a year away. 

But nature has a way of overcoming social norms and sex was certainly part of many people's high school lives.  But condoms were not sold over the counter.  You had to ask the pharmacist for prophylactics. Birth control pills were approved only six years earlier and were still illegal in some states.  For girls, pregnancy changed everything. (It still does, of course.)  I remember when straight A student XX suddenly vanished from school, no explanations offered.  You were disgraced, and many a young couple were quickly forced to get married.  And as in XX's case, more often than not, these marriages didn't last.   Roe v. Wade was still seven years off, though a couple of states were beginning to legalize abortions. Illegal abortion was a risky endeavor which hundreds of thousands of women a year undertook.

And the happy American family portrayed on shows like Ozzie and Harriet weren't exactly how things were.  From Digital History:
  • It was only in the 1920s that, for the first time, a majority of American families consisted of a breadwinner-husband, a home-maker wife, and children attending school.
  • The most rapid increase in unwed pregnancies took place between 1940 and 1958, not in the libertine sixties.
  • The defining characteristics of the 1950s family--a rising birth rate, a stable divorce rate, and declining age of marriage--were historical aberrations, out of line with long term historical trends.
  • Throughout American history, most families have needed more than one breadwinner to support themselves.
[Note:  I haven't independently verified this, but it appears to be a solid source, put up by the College of Education at the University of Houston.  The quote is just a small part of a long piece titled, "Does the American Family Have a History? Family Images and Realities."]

Jonathan Haidt

I've recently become aware of the work of Jonathan Haidt who's written on morality and the human mind.  

Haidt argues, in the Ted Talk video below, that to a certain extent, our minds are pre-programmed.   Our environments will have an impact too, but we aren't blank slates.  He argues humans come pre-programmed with five basic moral traits:
  • (Keeping the vulnerable from harm)
  • Fairness/reciprocity (Do onto others . . .)
  • In-group loyalty 
  • Authority/respect (and the need to keep order in groups)
  • Purity/sanctity
We all have these values, but, he says, liberals are higher on the first two (Harm/care and Fairness) and conservatives on the last three (Group Loyalty, Authority/Respect, and Purity/Sanctity).  In the Ted Talk he also says there is a constant tension between change and stability.  He looks to Asian religious traditions which look for balance.  The Yin and Yang aren't enemies, he tells us and cites Seng ts'an:
“If you want the truth to stand clear before you, never be for or against.  The struggle between ‘for’ and ‘against’ is the mind’s worst disease”
[Looking at the link above the quote, I suspect this is like offering "light is speedy" to represent  Einstein's theories.  Here's a link to the poem that this quote seems to come from.]

Haidt tells us more in an interview on Social Science Space.  He’d been studying morality across countries and was bummed that GWB won in 2000 and 2004.
 “So when I was invited to give a talk to the Charlottesville Democrats in 2004, right after the election, I said ‘Alright, well let me take this cross-cultural theory that I’ve got, and apply it to Left and Right, as though they’re different cultures.’ And boy, it worked well! I expected to get eaten alive: I was basically telling this room full of Democrats that the reason they lost is not because of Karl Rove, and sorcery and trickery, it’s because Democrats, or liberals, have a narrower set of moral foundations: they focus on fairness and care, and they don’t get the more groupish or visceral, patriotic, religious, hierarchical values that most Americans have.
In the split between conservatives and liberals (that the media's reporting of both reinforces and aggravates) both sides move to group loyalty and attack those in their groups who would talk about cooperation with outsiders.  We can see Tea Party candidates doing this with establishment Republicans.  But liberals also play this game.  I'm regularly chastised for not thoroughly condemning 'the enemy' as in this post. 
Back to Dyson

I believe that Dyson is wrong in his argument, but I think knowing the world he was raised in and knowing about Haidt's moral traits, we can at least understand how he came to say what he said.  Dyson’s argument has an internal logic if you buy his basic assumptions.  His respect for authority and  for purity and sanctity are reinforced by group loyalty.   The basis of his argument is about personal responsibility and the unfairness of having to pay for other people's birth control.

In the Social Science Space interview, Haidt describes Dyson's comments years before Dyson said them.  Haidt talks about how he watched a lot of Fox news, like an ethnographic study, to understand how conservatives think.  What he found back then, I think helps describe Dyson’s thinking:
"I would watch Fox News shows, and at first it was kind of offensive to me, but once I began to get it, to see ‘Oh I see how this interconnects’ and ‘Oh, you know if you really care about personal responsibility, and if you’re really offended by leeches and mooches and people who do foolish things, then want others to bail them out, yeah, I can see how that’s really offensive, and if you believe that, I can see how the welfare state is one of the most offensive things ever created’. So, I started actually seeing, you know, what both sides are really right about: certain threats and problems. And once you are part of a moral team that binds together, but it blinds you to alternate realities, it blinds you to facts that don’t fit your reality."
So, where Dyson sees people who haven’t taking personal responsibility for their lives and doesn’t see why the tax payer should pay for them to have sex with state funded contraceptives, Senator Berta Gardner (who responded to Dyson in the Senate committee) sees poor women as unfairly treated, in a society that structurally disadvantages them.  It’s not that poor people are lazy and don’t take responsibility, it’s that society’s structure has doomed most of them to low paying jobs where they work long and hard, yet still earn too little to live even the most basic American Dream life. 

My point here is not to debate Dyson. but to point out that he AND his detractors would achieve more success in the legislature for the people of Alaska, if they both acknowledged that they probably don't know everything and probably are not right about everything.  (And if they did, their next election opponents would quote them in attack ads.)  Dyson, I believe, strongly believes what he says and probably is just as perplexed by those attacking him as they are by what he proposed.  Understanding his logic AND the values that underlie it, are the first steps to real communication and potential resolution that doesn't violate anyone's values. (No, I don't think we're as far apart as the extremists say and the media echo. Yes, I know that there will always be some people who won't be satisfied.)   

Without recognizing and acknowledging that the other side probably has valid points, we deny their humanity and they ours.  They aren't the enemy, and certainly not agents of Satan. Rather, each side places greater weight on different values and thus each side sees different ‘facts’ and interprets what they see differently.

Dyson sees lazy people doing frivolous things and thinks they should pay for it themselves, not using taxpayer money.  Gardner sees state funded birth control as an act of compassion to poor people struggling to get by in a society tilted against them.  Furthermore she believes that easy access to, and use of, birth control would lead to fewer unwanted babies and more ability for women to get an education and keep a job.  She sees the immediate costs to taxpayers of supplying the birth control as cheap compared to the long term costs of dealing with kids whose parents didn’t want them and aren’t capable of responsibly raising them.

I should probably mention that my personal interactions with Sen. Dyson occurred at Alaska's political corruption trials.  It turned out he was attending the trials and also reading my blog posts which he said he liked.   He was polite and respectful.  Another time I had to call him to ask him about a mistake he'd made when introducing Joe Miller at a political rally.  He again was cordial and acknowledged he'd made an error and had confused Miller with (current Senate candidate) Dan Sullivan.  These were intersections of our lives where we had some common ground.   Situations where what we saw in each other was positive, despite our strong differences in other areas.  And I think these intersections would allow us to converse civilly on issues where our personal values would lead us to conflicting conclusions.

I'd strongly recommend Jonathan Haidt's Ted Talk on the moral mind.  It supports my approach here which some of my readers find too sympathetic to the 'bad guys.' It does what is essential to break an impasse - it changes the discussion by focusing on the process rather than the content of the impasse.  It asks people to look at their underlying values and to become conscious of their behavior.  [I don't see this video in my preview, so if it doesn't work, you can find it (The Moral Roots of Liberals and Conservatives) here.]

Responsibility of Politicians

I would add another aspect to this.  I believe that Fred Dyson is certain that he's right. And in the United States, everyone is entitled to his opinion.  But once you take the responsibility of political office, you have an obligation to represent fairly the views of as many as possible.  (I know that not everyone can be satisfied.)  You have a responsibility to listen to others and to seek 'the truth' rather than to simply seek a victory over those who disagree with you.

I believe that Dyson's missing a lot of the picture. Our understanding and practice of sex is very different from what it was when he was young. (And our belief of what it was when he was young is also probably flawed as the citations from digital history above suggest.)
Our differences have, perhaps, more to do with the moral standards Jonathan Haidt says we came pre-programmed with.    The challenge is to test our truths, to find common ground with those who give more weight to other moral traits.   Rigid, moralistic stances on either side won't lead to good legislation.

Of course, cooperating with 'the other' requires that the other is willing to also cooperate.  My take on the Tea Party is that they are certain they are right as reflected in their refusal to compromise.    Human history is littered with tragic stories of the suffering caused by those who believed they owned the truth and  who had the political or physical power to enforce their truth.


  1. Oh please. It's not that complicated and it certainly needs no amount of befuddled searching for a justification to give rise to any kind of moral equivalence.

    Haidt is a hack. Yes, he's gotten himself a TEDtalk, so have many other 'diverse' viewpoints. That doesn't automatically grant legitimacy to Haidt's theoretical folderol.

    Haidt maintains that he 'watched him some Fox News' and from that he's able to wholly change his political mindset, yet read his own words and you see him inject qualifiers all along the way. Qualifiers such as, if you wish to believe in false assumptions, if you decide to adopt lies and unreality, then yes, you too can become a 'tribe member' of the groupthink which is the deluded ditto heads miasma of brainwaves on the right.

    Haidt explains only the ease by which some fall for and attempt to justify their adoption of falsehoods and lies as a basis for personal belief and their subsequent adherence to unrealistic dogmatic ideological constraints which deny them the ability to ever learn or break out of the cycle of asinine mythology they willingly adopt.

    History is littered with so-called psychologists who construct some measurement of their own construct, (let's call it 'research'), they label it, and then they go on to attempt to rectify it into some kind of all encompassing actuality or existence. No. I'm not buying into quackery.

    Haidt wishes to sell this ludicrous idiocy? Just watch Fox News long enough and you can suddenly attach a valid argument for foundational moral equivalency? No, it doesn't work that way. Is he a psychologist or an otherworldly high priest of chimeric illusion?

    For there to be any actual or legitimate equivalency, moral foundations have to share a basis in evident reality, else there is no coherence at all, let alone can there be any equivalence, moral or otherwise.

    Just as those who are delusional or superstitious, or both, should never be allowed to dictate public policy, they shouldn't be granted legitimacy or equivalency when they actually possess not a shred of either one.

    Dyson attempts to force his false beliefs and ideological misconstructions on others, there isn't anything to respect, or anything to justify an attempt to lend credence to, those actions.

    Follow his false notions to their logical end and there can be no taxpayer funded recreation at all, no parks, no schoolyard athletic fields, no arts funding, no cultural preservation, et al.

    No, Dyson is wrong, it's not up for debate. He's offered up nonsense, grasping at straws to justify his odious erroneous dogmatism.

    There's no utile meaning or need to attempt to misalign or discombobulate the quackery of Haidt's sublimated enshrinement of simple emotionality in order to attempt to lend legitimacy to Dyson's arguments. Dyson is simply wrong and his thoughts and arguments are without substance, unreal in essence. (.as is the vast majority of what passes for conservative thought and argument of late, it simply deserves no defense or respect)

  2. JB, What exactly did Haidt say that you found objectionable? Did you watch the video? Really, no one said anything about moral equivalence except you. No one said anything about right or wrong. Well, actually I did say I thought Dyson was wrong.

    I don't think that Haidt's work solves the world's problems (no one's does), but it offers a way of understanding the value and logic assumptions of people we totally disagree with. It doesn't mean we agree with their conclusions, but once we see how they got to them, then you can start to make your pitch based on what they think is important.

    Again, what specifically did you hear from Haidt that you disagree with?

    1. Haidt has a much much larger body of work than just his TEDtalk speech. Delve into that body of work and you will find the underpinning of his quackery, and distorted moral equivalency is his watermark. (I won't be providing links because I can't bring myself to be the direct cause behind exposing anyone to his quackery.

      Suffice it to say, Haigt isn't and can't be used as justification to excuse the abject wrongheadedness of Dyson. Nothing excuses or justifies that kind of wrongheadedness.

      Oh, and someone else did speak to right and wrong, I did.

  3. I step into this discussion, lightly. I am a human bound by the genetic inheritance of millenia of warriors (Nordic and Germanic tribes). I admit I am wired to fight and I struggle with my own path to seeking peace through justice.

    I met again, yesterday, a young man from Bulgaria who I have become friends with these past months. We are different. He is convinced of the necessity of force, of the use of male agression to right wrongs.

    His friends are much like himself, photo-reflections of Putin's infamous 'buff' pose -- he is telling me, and I have little reason to doubt him, that Ukraine, Russia, the Balkans, his home country of Bulgaria -- many of the countries of Eastern Europe respect force and its utility. The whole-scale, rampant corruption he and so many others see is that of past rulers taking up crime to enforce rule with a parliament of priviledge -- this is how he might see his home country's situation.

    In light of this comparison, it makes your situation far from hopeless.

    However, this culture of power colours his view of women as well. On the other hand he's aetheist as many are where he comes from, and quite willing to reason as he's a law student. I would say talking with me is evidence of his willingness to engage difference and reason together.

    I'm glad to know him. He forces me to think as I do him. Our world views are separated in so many ways, not to mention I would be of his grandparent's generation in the years that separate our view of the world.

    To move things to your post, I know Sen. Dyson personally. I have known him to make disparaging comments about people I care about. He has said regrettable things about me as well. Yet I wouldn't shut him out of a conversation -- (let me quickly add this isn't a post to sing my ego's moral superiority -- god, how I hate that). Rather, he is precisely the person I need to talk with.

    I am not coming at this as an academic as is our good host. I am not coming at this as an adversary as I see Mr Blow. I come at this as someone who is confusingly drawn to a friendship with a fellow I would never have had as a friend until I came to a new country and began to see things more widely, to question what my convictions and life is about.

    I don't mean this at all in a disparaging way, but I see so many people engaged in politics as a substitute for warfare. We can do better. I know we must for just as this young man believes in force to settle conflict, I see the futility of arguing without listening to the person in the conflct.

    Let me pause here and ask myself the inevitable question: Does force win over reason? Yes, it most certainly can -- look at how we resolve debate in politics by majority 'rule'. It's very nature is tactical: gaining an edge. I get it. And still I demand more and a better way against our very natural inclination. After all, can I be satisfied with the ways things are?

    I do believe we can do better as people and we must do better as nations. To me, there is an insight I can take from Haidt's research: We can unwittingly be constrained by profound moral constructs in how we know and act within the world, each 'side' right in its convictions -- or we can choose to see what and who we are because of our moral constructs.

    There is a comment attributed to Indira Gandhi who said "You can't shake hands with a clenched fist". She speaks for me. I'm tired of war. Perhaps that is potential wisdom we acquire from time on this earth. My work is to face my youth and talk with it and open my hand to its raised fist.

    I will talk with Fred. Our species is worth that effort.

  4. Thanks Jacob. There are so many factors that can change the equation and what behavior will elicit what outcome. But research suggests that our evolved behavior has the instinctual fight or flight reaction come to play well before our logic and rationality even wake up.

  5. Silly me. I had entered a response and then, wanting to add a hyperlink, I remembered you didn't want to see the code. So, I clicked (without thinking) on your instructions to find I had lost my nearly-finished reply.

    I was discussing Marc Hauser's book 'Moral Mind' and his research presenting public-good morality as hard-wired in to our species by co-evolutionary processes across our global dispersion. He asks how did we all then wind up with similar moral grounding?

    Emotional intelligence is quite different from morality with its implicit/explicit agreements around an agent’s chosen harm or good. EI more-or-less looks at social congruence and its consequents.

    I see this difference in our commenter’s sparring with you. I experienced its anger but I don’t know its moral thought. It’s important to note the human condition here isn’t binary: regardless of how or why we act, we likely do so meeting a most basic need to ‘get along’. This dictates balancing selfish needs against others and is largely outside our discussion of moral traits.

    Haidt discusses his problem as one that exists when groups differ because they don’t hold to the same five moral traits. If I may simplify my ramble, emotional intelligence considers I be civil with Mr Dyson; moral traits that we could agree.

    After all this, Steve, I must remind all your readers that politics is fundamentally better than armed conflict: it is here we can win, lose or make peace – agreeing on moral traits or no – without killing those we disagree with.

    1. For crying out loud, save me the misapprehensions, there is no analogy, however tenuous, to 'armed conflict', let alone the 'killing' of those we disagree with.

      You want to let your imagination run to ludicrous ends, that's your choice, but don't attempt to conflate or construe or apply your own lay psychobabble in order to pass judgement on others.

      The antonym of politic is unwise, that antonym cannot better be applied than to assign it to Dyson's idiocy. Rejecting idiocy isn't some gateway to anger and violence, shunning idiocy leads only to a saner grasp of reality. (something anyone considering practicing politics would find particularly beneficial to their constituents)

      There's no human condition or imperative, not of any description, nor by any conjuring, to 'get along' with those who would propose idiocy, especially when they somehow get elected to public office.

      Politics is the art of conflict. If we all 'cooperated', there'd be no clear line between right and wrong, just and unjust. You want to work to that end? Do it somewhere it won't impact anyone else please.

  6. Joe Blow, I believe that Jacob's comments on killing referred not to you, but to his Bulgarian friend, who "is convinced of the necessity of force, of the use of male agression to right wrongs."

    My sense is that you are displaying some of the traits I mentioned in the original post. Instinctual response before rationality kicks in - something that is very common in humans - and group loyalty. If anyone writes anything that appears to support a perceived enemy of the group, you attack. Not so much with why someone is wrong, but with epithets (quackery, idiocy) that indicate your disapproval. How, for example, did you get from unwise (which I'm comfortable with) to idiocy (which I'm not)?

    People (except those who act randomly) say and do things based on their factual and value premises (not necessarily consciously.) To the extent that you can understand another person's premises you can attempt to change them, and thus change their conclusions. What I do here is try to understand how those, whose conclusions are different from mine, think. Haidt offers one filter with which to do that. In doing this, I'm first trying to simply describe behavior without moral judgment.

    I don't have time right now to address your last paragraph about politics, conflict, cooperation, and right or wrong.

    1. How many times have you substantially changed someone's conclusions in those instances where their conclusions were based on wholly unfounded premises?

      My experience, and my prolonged and generous observations of others attempting a similar feat, has provided a large amount of empirical evidence to conclude that it's exceedingly rare. So rare as to have prompted a rejection of that sort of failure-prone action, and so rare as to have spurred a change to more successful avenues of action.

      Given the circumstance of two reasoned and objective individuals grounded in reality, sure, it's often times possible to alter another's conclusions.

      Given the circumstance of one participant who bases their conclusions on wholly unfounded premises, your chance of even experiencing a short lived figment of reasonable or objective dialog is then very rare indeed, let alone substantially altering their conclusions which they've based on false premises.

      If it's some esoteric idle thought experimentation you wish to simulate, sure, knock yourself out. However, if there's an actual goal involved, say, like affecting meaningful social change, it's imperative not to waste time in ineffectual attempts at re-inventing the wheel.

      All viable cultures/societies, in some way and/or by some means, have developed a traditional response in order to reject idiocy, there's no reason not to take a lesson from that extensive empirical evidence.

    2. You didn't address me, but as I am somone who's in the room I must say, thank you, for reducing the number of adectival attack-words and giving us your ideas more clearly. I can hear you now.

      And as Steve knows I've asked of others, can you tell me why you choose to be anonymous? I like to know who I'm talking to when the conversation is valued as it is here.

    3. You are correct, I did not, …as to the rest, given the nature of the internet, any number of people can be expected to be 'in the room'. I'm not here to cater to any of their indulgences. As to anonymity, validity of thought isn't dependent on identifying the speaker. Besides, no one on the internet is necessarily who they, or anyone else, think they are.

    4. Yeah, right... I didn't realise we were in a 1970s gay bar.

      Figure it out. Go well, Mr Blow.

    5. 'We' aren't in a gay bar, not from any era. If you're trapped in some perspective not shared by others, your projections are bound to cause you problems I won't be sharing with you. Whatever your hangups are, those are yours, and yours alone, and you are welcome to them. You can leave me out of your projections.

    6. Joe Blow, Your 1:59pm comment had substantive content that I can address, rather than having to deal with style. You ask about having changed anyone's conclusions. As a teacher, I have been able to get students to change the way they think, so that they broadened their inquiry, used more logic, and began to see that situations were more complicated than their original, rote response. On the blog there have been a few times where people backed off their initial angry responses and in one case even apologized. And one person told me that a post he read had really changed his life and caused him to deal with some personal issues. And as I've mentioned in such comments in the past, there are cases of people making significant life changes based on such an approach like the former skinhead who became an advocate for tolerance.
      A second question you raise is whether asking these questions is just an intellectual game we play instead of making real change. This blog is only part of my life. But I do believe that real significant change happens when people change how they think, not when they are forced by a hostile majority to change. Gay rights advanced in part, because people began to think differently about what homosexuality is.

      On to your response to Jacob on anonymity. There are legitimate reasons for anonymity in a forum like this. The key one is real fear of physical harm. People who inform on drug dealers legitimately have this fear, as do victims of domestic violence. Or someone might fear loss of their job. But for most people it seems to be just an easy way to attack others without others knowing who they are or why they are attacking.

      In your response, you don't really cite any particular reason except to say "others do it." The other two people in this discussion so far have not hidden our identity. While mine isn't advertised, it isn't hidden either. Jacob uses his full name.

      In some cases 'validity of thought' is related to identity. When the CEO of Whole Foods blogged anonymously about the health food industry and slammed his competitors, his identity was relevant. I had a commenter recently who argued in detail that someone not involved in the case shouldn't have known. When I said that, he stopped commenting and I believe that he had been involved in it but was acting on the blog like an objective observer. I don't think that's an issue in your case. But it could be on some issues for some anonymous commenters.

    7. And perhaps, finally, my hubby asked if this "Joe Blow" may be the same unidentified commenter on ADN -- there, that anon often personalizes the subject and borrowing his word, "projects" his anger on others.

      Having been guilty of this myself, I can say It's not a particularly helpful trait when talking with people. In fact, it leaves a trail of scorched earth relationships. I know we can do better here.

      Be well.

    8. Steve, Since you're dealing with substance, (and not style), what I'll take away from your response is the substance ...that it has indeed been rare, those instances you've substantially altered someone's conclusions, conclusions which were based wholly on false premises.

      You see, I certainly did not ask if you had 'broadened' a student's range of enquiry. I didn't ask if anyone had or had not ever had occasion to change their mind over everyday snap judgements. What I did ask, was not confusing or speculatively open ended, the subject was the Dysons of this world, and I believe in your response, you confirm that it is indeed rare, it's the second time you've brought up the skinhead. As skinheads go, your boy's alleged reform is a bug, not a feature.

      I too believe in giving the benefit of doubt, …but I won't bother long with those who make it plain they wish to remain willfully deluded and/either/or rigidly inflexible dogmatics.

      I don't feel at all compelled to cite any particular reason for remaining anonymous. I may have one reason, I may have several, no matter, it's irrelevant in any case.

      You might wish to re-examine what I did say, there's no reference, certainly not relating to my decision to be anonymous, which in any way references a phrase even close to 'others do it'.

      What I did say is that no matter what tagline you might see, no one knows from one day to the next whether what you see is legitimate or the work of impostors. I could append a name, I could append several, one for each day of the week, who's to say one or all are not fraudulent? It takes nothing to create 'identities'.

      Because one or another, (or thousands of people) may act in an immoral or unethical manner isn't going to give me reason to think I should do anything different. Anonymous speech is a well respected right recognized by none other than the US Supreme Court and as such, I'm fine with the history of anonymous speech. The ideas either stand on their own or they don't. People who can't get past not having an 'identity' to hang the ideas upon, I can't be bothered with. Most often I find they're looking to confirm their imaginary suppositions as to some reference point or label they'd like to attach.

      Finally, as to the insecure projections and speculations, I have no need to project 'anger', …nor do I have a need to project anything else.

      I speak plainly enough that I should leave little doubt about my meaning. If anyone wants to read in something to do with their own personal hangups, that's not anything I'll be drawn into, I find it tedious, not to mention puerile and loathsome.

  7. Looks like you had some beautiful snow in Anchorage, Steve. I imagine it's good to have the ground cover again.

    These last few give-and-takes have colourfully illustrated our discussion. A sub-thread might be how do we engage those who are our 'moral traits' opposition when it's necessary or desirable we work together?

    Steve, I'm reminded how very difficult this is. Quakers here in Britain are reexaming the response of non-violence in relation to the first World War in Europe as we approach the centenary of what one author gave us as the 'Guns of August'.

    Politics failed us so badly then; we only need look at Ukraine and Crimea for evidence of its difficulties today. The Alaska Legislature could take lessons here on how to continue doing it poorly as could the Tea Party. The use of power alone, the majority vote, a court ruling, is no substitute for enjoining consent. It is often only expedient. Politics is a craft more than an art, actually. It's tinkering technicians have a grasp of their tools but not often insight. Art requires inspiration; combat politics does no such thing.

    I am SO glad I left Anchorage when I did because I had been invited to host a radio call-in "lefty" shock-jock program. I was seen as someone who could do it, and I was considering it because of my real anger toward those who had hijacked Alaska.

    Instead I came with my husband to London and that's helped me begin to take on board another way to see the world. Strangely enough, coalition politics here has been one part of working out difference in a better way. In a unitary government that parliaments provide, it truly is winner-takes-all. It is the definition of a politicans hands-on-power.

    Funny, it's hardly psychobabble that got me to reflect; don't really care for it. It was old-time religion as I came to study and grasp tenants of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Britain.

    Religion is the work of gathering a moral storyline, of plying this into lives I come in contact with daily. I would say to Mr Blow that I am guilty of something far worse than psuedo-science: I am guilty of being open to the ineffable and finding ways to make this life a better one for me, my loved ones and those who share it with me. Strange stuff, I guess. Hope.

    This hope includes Mr Dyson as it does Mr Blow. Much more easily for me, Steve, it includes you, in our writing friendship here. My thanks for your work, again. Let's not give up on it, even if we walk with our feet off the ground at times.

    I'm going out the door now, walking into an absolutely beautiful sunrise.


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