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One of the things children want to know is if their pets will go to Heaven when they die.  As a bachelor, I am not sure what I would have said if I had had a child who asked me that question, but my guess is that I would have told a bald-faced lie and said, “Yes.”  I suspect many parents do the same, regardless of their religious beliefs.  And thus it was a big story for a while last year when it was reported that Pope Francis said, in response to that question, “Heaven is open to all creatures.”

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In the penultimate episode of Mad Men, we found out that Betty is going to die.  The internal reason for her death is lung cancer, but what is the external reason, the motive of Matthew Weiner, the director and principal writer of this show, for putting this in the story?

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One of the arguments against the theory of evolution is that the theory cannot account for the existence of consciousness.  No mere essay such as this one could possibly do justice to the mind/body problem, and it must be that extra cup of coffee I had this morning that has led me to this presumption.  However, there is one feature of the debate over the nature of consciousness that I believe is worth calling attention to, even if only in an oversimplified manner, as necessitated by the limitations of space.

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Thu Apr 30, 2015 at 11:14 AM PDT

Motives of Corruption

by disinterested spectator

When we think of corruption in politics, money and sex immediately come to mind.  Indeed, most corruption can be explained in terms of these two motives.  In particular, when we think of the Clintons, money and sex certainly have been prominent elements in the various scandals surrounding them.

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Mon Apr 27, 2015 at 12:57 PM PDT

Of Human Bondage

by disinterested spectator

While the United States government will continue to maintain its policy of refusing to pay ransom for hostages held by terrorists, it is considering allowing family members to communicate with such kidnappers, and to raise money and pay ransom for their release, without being subjected to the threat of prosecution.  That we are even considering such a thing is a sign of weakness.

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Wed Apr 22, 2015 at 05:31 PM PDT

To Have and to Hold

by disinterested spectator

Every now and then I will click on a link and find myself on Alex Jones’ website inforwars.com.  I regard Alex Jones as so far to the right as to be an unreliable source of information.  And so it was that when I found myself there today, I started to leave as quickly as I had arrived.  But then I figured it wouldn’t hurt just to look.  The article reports that JPMorgan Chase is sending out letters to those who have safe deposit boxes with that institution that they will no longer be allowed to keep cash or gold coins with no numismatic value in the box.

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It doesn’t get any better than this.  Chris Christie unveiled his entitlement reform plan this week.  First, he wants to means test Social Security and Medicare.  Second, the earliest age at which one could start taking Social Security would be raised from 62 to 64, with the full retirement age being raised to 69.  Medicare eligibility would also be raised to 69.  Third, to make sure that people who want to retire earlier don’t simply apply for disability, Christie would make workers create a rehabilitation plan.  Fourth, he wants to “simplify” Medicaid so that states would receive fixed amounts per enrollee.  All of this would be phased in gradually, with Christie promising that his proposals “would not affect seniors currently in these programs or seniors approaching retirement.”

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As is often the case around the time of Easter, a lot of Jesus movies are shown on television, and I decided to binge-watch a bunch of them.  I like to compare the story of Jesus as told in the movies, comparing one with another, and all of them with the Bible.  My reasons for doing so are various.

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Sat Apr 11, 2015 at 12:10 PM PDT

Hillary’s Hormones

by disinterested spectator

Last week, an article appeared on Time.com by Dr. Julie Holland entitled “Hillary Clinton Is the Perfect Age to Be President.”  But in idealizing the particulars of Hillary Clinton’s age, Dr. Holland calls into question the qualifications of younger women.

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Mon Mar 23, 2015 at 06:35 PM PDT

Man versus the Robot

by disinterested spectator

A lot of people are becoming concerned about the development of ever more sophisticated robots.  In the near term, the worry is that as robots take over tasks presently performed by humans, people will become unemployed in overwhelming numbers, with no prospect of finding other forms of employment in the future.  Unlike the past, where new kinds of work were eventually found to replace those jobs made unnecessary by technology, the future may displace people forever.  Even if those without work are fed and housed by those robots, so that the basic needs of life are met for those unemployed millions, it is not clear what the psychological impact will be once people are forced to accept the fact that they are useless. Looking further ahead, some worry that robots will take over and eliminate mankind, either as the result of neglecting man’s welfare through indifference on their part, or by deciding that man is a nuisance that needs to be destroyed.

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Sat Mar 21, 2015 at 01:54 PM PDT

An Unfair Conversation

by disinterested spectator

For some time now, people have been saying that there is a need to have a conversation about race in this country.  Starbucks is the latest to do so, and they have pushed the idea to the point that people are making jokes about it.  Most of the time, the need for such a conversation is expressed in a general way, it being left to our imagination about when, where, and with whom that conversation would take place.  By filling in the specific details, Starbucks has provided us with more of an occasion for laughter than conversation.

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I have been known to be a little insensitive from time to time, a little too willing to indulge in politically-incorrect humor.  I have the hide-ratings to prove it.  I will go further and confess to having laughed at many a sick joke, and told a couple too.  I am hardly one to complain about insensitivity or to take offense.  And indeed, regarding what I heard on the CBS Evening News, I cannot say that I am unduly overwrought.  But I am dismayed.

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