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Profile Information

Gender: Male
Hometown: Venice, California
Current location: St. Petersburg, Florida
Member since: Fri Jul 2, 2004, 04:55 PM
Number of posts: 12,760

Journal Archives

DU needs a national election, pretty damned quick

before we eat each other raw. Or not...

Is DU a place where liberals of every stripe can be a family, tangle with each other respectfully, share our thoughts and inspirations, and learn from others who share as well, or is it not?

I've been here - in one incarnation or another - since 2002-ish. I've seen some pretty nasty infighting, but the great majority of it was always couched in a "my candidate is better than your candidate" context. In the end, we were always able to unite under the common goal of defeating Republicans. Even our worst conflicts were based on who we thought was best able to achieve that goal.

Today, not so much. We can't even agree on women's rights anymore, or on what the definition of a Democrat should be. Much worse than that (or perhaps, "because" of that), we can't seem to keep ourselves from being disgustingly insensitive to each other, sometimes over amazingly innocents posts.

I don't want to spend any time reliving the Top 10 Worst Moments of DU, that's not what this post is about. Beside, if you visit DU regularly, you've seen the types of posts I'm referring to. They are characterized as trollish, mean spirited, completely devoid of empathy and compassion, and insidiously on the increase. These posts are not yet in the majority, but if we come to see them as normal, or as the standard behavior for a liberal internet forum, then these posts will one day define DU.

In my opinion, the jury system has contributed to the spread of such behavior, and has done more to hurt DU than it has to help DU. Today I alerted a post. The alert failed, and one of the responses I got back from a juror dismissed the offending post as a mere generalization, and reflected that if we hid every such generalization, there wouldn't anything left to read.

Should DU be a place where seekers find posts of a high quality (even if the post count is low), or merely a place where you find a high quantity of a trash?

Let's be clear - if you want to read volumes of negative crap, go check out Yahoo News Comments. There's plenty to read there so you'll never be bored, and there's much opportunity for incendiary bullshit.

Maybe DU does need an election pretty damned quick. It helps us focus on our real opponents - the Republicans, Tea Partyists, and Economic Libertarians. In other words, conservatives of every stripe. The problem is that we just had such an election, and the subsequent glow of DU unity faded too quickly. Can we rely on national elections every 2 years to get us through? Not when we're back to reflecting our anger inward in just a few months.

What DU really needs is a little reform. Perhaps a way to hold jurors accountable for upholding the DU terms of service? I'm not sure what the answer is, but the current process just doesn't seem to be making this place a better place.

The slow, advancing creep of the asshats will kill DU eventually, unless DUers do something to stop it.

Happy President's Day DUers!

Dated (No Bush 2 or Obama), but still fun


Charlie Crist will be at Haslam's Books in St. Petersburg

Saturday, February 22nd, at noon. He'll be signing copies of his book "The Party's Over."

This will probably be a small, low security, low media event, so if anyone wants to ask Charlie a question up-close and personal, this is the time to do it!

I've Recently Been Diagnosed with Dyshidrotic Eczema

A non-contagious rash that affects my hands and feet. Had it since I was about 15, but it has come and gone over the years - mostly in extremely brief outbreaks that last a few days then go away for several months.

Last July, a particularly bad flare up hit, and never went away. I've seen a dermatologist (who finally gave me the correct name of the condition), but his only advise was to use a topical steroid to reduce the itching.

I asked him how to prevent it, and he said, bluntly, "This is you, it's permanent, there's no cure. Try not to sweat."

Wonderful. I'll try to not sweat....in Florida

DUers, have any of you had success preventing outbreaks of Eczema?

There has to be a better preventative measure than not perspiring...

I have a feature request

If I have a DUer on ignore, and they respond to one of my posts, all I see is a message saying some anonymous user is being ignored. Why tell us there is a response without telling us the DUer's name? Bit of a tease, isn't it?

Is it possible for the software to block the message, but still show the name of the poster? Alternatively, how about a simplified interface for the Ignore List, so we can temporarily turn the entire list off and on without having to individually "un-ignore" each name till the correct one is identified?

It's not just Obamacare that pisses them off

the teabaggers are also not really 100% on this whole "Democratic Process" thingy...

Sorry if its a dupe!

iGoogle Alternative

So Google is killing iGoogle at the end of the month, and those who use the page need an alternative.

Here's a great selection of alts: http://www.techsupportalert.com/content/6-great-alternatives-igoogle.htm

But I wanted to toss in a page called uStart (http://www.ustart.org/). It can import your iGoogle settings, has a look and feel very familiar to iGoogle fans, and is portable between systems.

Compare the two - here's my old iGoogle page:

and my new uStart page:

Pretty close, right. Hope it works for you!

Natural Born Idiots

How the Tea Party see Obama's Birth Certificate:

How the Tea Party see Cruz's Birth Certificate:

"I believe I have the authority to carry out this military action..."

"...without specific congressional authorization"

The President's move to seek Congressional approval is appropriate, but he did not tie himself to limiting his actions based on such approval. In a bit of foreshadowing, he even noted :

"I'm comfortable going forward without the approval of a United Nations Security Council that, so far, has been completely paralyzed and unwilling to hold Assad accountable."

and later reminded Congress:

"I am looking forward to the debate. And in doing so, I ask you, members of Congress, to consider that some things are more important than partisan differences or the politics of the moment."

If Congress were similarly "paralyzed," would Obama be similarly comfortable? He's acted without congressional approval on lesser matters, why would he not also act on matters of life and death? Certainly, such matters would be more important than the politics of the moment.

Obama is telling us straight up that he's ready to act. He's invited Congress to join him, but is he tying himself to that partnership?

How do Spiders Learn to Spin Webs?

I understand that weaving silk is a biological function for the spider, maybe comparable to growing hair, but spinning a web takes a bit of engineering. Some choices have to be made on whether a line is lateral, orbital, sticky, not sticky, etc. Yet spiders do not need to be taught this skill, they act on instinct.

Many animals act on instinct. Birds build nests, newly hatched sea turtles run toward the ocean, bees build well engineered hives, and so on. Perhaps all animal behavior is (or is triggered by) instinct.

So what is this power called "instinct"? Where is it located? What is it's source? Is it biological? Do we come pre-programmed, like some computer purchased with a version of the operating system already installed? It it related to intelligence at all?

Maybe spiders that spin webs--or use thread as a tool--are the smarter spiders, and maybe spiders that do not spin are the dull, dim relatives at the low end of the DNA ladder?

If instinct is not linked to intelligence, what is it? Merriam-Webster.com tells us that instinct is "behavior that is mediated by reactions below the conscious level."

Fire has behavior...and since there's no possibility that fire is conscious, can it be said that the behavior of fire is instinctive? What about weather patterns? What about the big-bang contraction and expansion of the Universe?

No? Then what is it about the behavior of systems that is different then then reflexive or instinctive behavior of life forms? Again, the dictionary tells us it consciousness. If learned behavior requires consciousness, what then creates consciousness? Life?

We really don't know what life is, or consciousness. Perhaps life is just a state of existence for an organic system that has reached a certain level of complexity. Perhaps consciousness is the act of such a system identifying itself as such as system.

We can't point to a spot in space where consciousness is (or is not), even though we recognize that consciousness is a real thing, and exists as a prerequisite for non-instinctive behavior, and though we can't point to it, touch it, or even measure it, we accept consciousness as self evident -- we think, therefore we are.

That doesn't mean we start a cult around the power of instinct, or open a worship hall, put on robes, get a special haircut, and start passing the collection plate.

It also doesn't mean that "God" taught spiders how to spin webs.

It means that if life can be reduced to "the behaviors of a complex system" then we might want to ask whether the most complex system we know of - the Universe - is alive, and is aware of itself. If life and consciousness happened on a small scale, it would not be terribly surprising to find that it happened on a large scale as well.

If the Universe is alive, and conscious, does it also possess intelligence? If not intelligence, does the Universe possess instinct?

Universal instinct, or Universal intelligence. Either sounds like a suitable explanation for what some people have called God.
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