Posting History for disinterested spectator
|Popes, Pets, and Petting
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 ...
|Mad Men: Why Betty Must Die!
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 ...
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 ...
|Motives of Corruption
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,
|Of Human Bondage
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 ...
|To Have and to Hold
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 ...
|Why We Should Welcome Chris Christie’s Entitlement Reform Plan
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 ...
|On the Rehabilitation of Judas
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 ...
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. ...
|Man versus the Robot
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 ...
|An Unfair Conversation
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 ...
|An Unseemly Bit of Humor Regarding the Death of a Dog
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 ...
A great paradox has fallen upon the Democratic Party. We are going to nominate a candidate for President of the United States who cannot win the election: Hillary Clinton. Regarding the nomination,
|On the Similarities and Differences between Vladimir Putin and Frank Underwood
Everyone suspects that Vladimir Putin is responsible for the murder of Boris Nemtsov, who was about to publish evidence of Russia’s involvement in Ukraine’s separatist conflict. This was not ...
|Fantasies for Male Baby Boomers
It is well-known that since they started being born, owing to their numbers, the baby boomers have shaped our culture. And because of their role as consumers, their tastes have naturally been ...
|The Final Judgment of Atheism
The unacknowledged but implicit standard about the true and the good belongs to us atheists. All statements about physical reality and moral worth must meet with our approval. And that means we are ...
|On the Etiquette of Touching
Joe Biden's touching of Stephanie Carter, which reminded a lot of people of George W. Bush's touching of Angela Merkel, has struck some people as creepy, while others say it is no big deal. Alfred ...
|My Kind of Cowboy President
In a recent editorial for Fox Nation, Joe Bilello expresses the wish that President Obama were a cowboy instead of a community organizer. The idea of a cowboy foreign policy has been around so long ...
|Iran Isn’t Evil. They’ve Just Been Misunderstood.
Today on Morning Joe, Joe Scarborough said, “Iran [is] a country that has promised to get a nuclear weapon, and then has promised to use that nuclear weapon to annihilate Israel.” Shortly after ...
The outbreak of measles recently has stirred a debate in this country over whether parents should be forced to vaccinate their children for measles and other diseases, or whether they should have ...
|White Saviors in the Movies
About forty years ago I saw the movie Conrack (1974). It was a heart-warming story based on Pat Conroy’s experiences teaching a bunch of poorly educated African American children that lived on an ...
|On the Failure of New Year's Resolutions
Celebrating on New Year’s Eve is just harmless fun, even if what is being celebrated is the mere passage of time. All our other holidays honor something or someone that is important in some way. ...
|How Old Do You Feel?
Some British researchers have discovered that how old you feel relative to your actual age is a predictor of longevity. About 6,500 adults, whose average age was 66, were asked how old they felt ...
|Rape and Race
The movie To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) is, along with a few subplots, a story about a black man who is accused of raping a white woman in Alabama in the 1930s. Most of the white people in the town ...
|Codes, Coincidence, and Confusion
Once upon a time I had a dancing partner named Sally. Our usual routine was for me to drive over to her place, pick her up, and drive to the dance studio for lessons or to one of our favorite ...
|On Separating the Artist from His Work
Bill Cosby has become the latest celebrity to be accused of sexual assault , by over a dozen different women in his case. Apparently these accusations have been around for quite some time, but it ...
|Why We Should Praise the Farmer and the Entrepreneur
When I was young, a woman that I dated, who had a good job working for a large bank, said, “Someday I’d like to have a farm in Maine.” Now, I know nothing about farming, except what people ...
|On the Disturbing Nature of Sex
There is a crime wave sweeping through Sumter County, Florida. In June, a 69-year-old woman and her 49-year-old boyfriend were sentenced for having sex in a town square. And last month, Charm ...
|The Implications of Violence in Ferguson
When I watch the local news and see a segment about a robbery and the arrest of a suspect, I say to myself, “Good, they caught the guy,” ignoring the obligatory word “alleged” used by the ...
|On the Morality of Death
One of the problems with the Wallendas is that they are always falling down on the job. So, why do we keep hiring them? In particular, why is the city of Chicago allowing Nik Wallenda to perform ...
|Deconstructing the Castration of Hogs
When I first saw Joni Ernst’s ad about her growing up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm, I simply saw it as a clever way to make a point about fighting pork in Washington. It certainly proved to be ...
|The Fear of God
The expression “love of God” is ambiguous: it can refer to God’s love of man or to man’s love of God. The expression “fear of God,” therefore, suffers from the same ambiguity, but not ...
|Consensual Sex and the Double Standard
A couple of weeks ago, California enacted a law requiring college students to get consent before they have sex. The language is couched in gender-neutral terms, so that technically the law applies ...
|Idle Musings on Ebola
Since the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, several things have occurred to me, no single one of which was sufficient to warrant an essay, and taken together do not form a coherent whole. But I ...
|Denying the Obvious Child
The following movie review contains spoilers.
|On the Different Types of Agnosticism
The first time I found out that there was such a thing as atheism, I was in high school. From a strictly logical point of view, that made things pretty simple. There were two kinds of people: ...
|A Good Time to Die
In a recent article in The Atlantic, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel says that he wants to live until he is 75 years old and no longer. There are a lot of ways in which one might take issue with the arguments ...
|Blaming the Victim
Blaming the victim is an old story. One old story in particular is that of Job. In order to test Job’s righteousness, God allows Satan to inflict great misery upon him. Satan begins by killing ...
|Books That Changed My Life—The Organization Man
Recently, David Brooks wrote an opinion piece bemoaning the disappearance of the organization man. His point was that there are a lot of things that can be accomplished only by large organizations: ...
|The Terrible Thing
Well, that worm sure turned. It was only last year that public opinion kept us from going to war with Syria, and now the polls tell us that a substantial majority favor war with ISIS.
|When Is a Religion Not a Religion?
During President Obama’s address to the nation explaining the need to go to war against ISIL (to use his preferred acronym), he made a point of declaring that ISIL was not Islamic: “No religion ...
|Domestic Violence in the Movies
The story about Ray Rice striking his then girlfriend, now wife, has brought domestic abuse to the forefront of our attention. Owing to my love of movies, cinematic representations of life readily ...
A few weeks ago it was reported that scientists had discovered that we would all be healthier if we started using the fist bump instead of the handshake to greet or say goodbye to one another. Such ...
|It Matters a Lot
It matters because it spoiled the story.
|On the Aptness of a Middle-Eastern Western
In an interview with Brian Williams, concerning the war between Israel and Gaza, Netanyahu referred to the expression, “A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.” This is a line we associate ...
|On the Effective Use of Guns in Movies
In many ways, the use of guns in movies is merely a function of the way guns are used in reality. Sometimes art reflects life. In some cases, however, the reality is debatable. In those cases, a ...
|On the Optics of Going to the Border
President Obama was criticized and defended this week for not going to the border where children from Central America have been crossing into this country illegally and are being held in overcrowded ...
|On the Need for Clarity Regarding Immigration
One of the exasperating things about the debate over immigration is that the positions are elusive and the arguments elliptical. By way of contrast, other debates between the left and right are ...
|An Opportunity to Vent
When I was in college, I used to go to parties, carouse around, and stay out late. Looked at objectively, I did these things in moderation, for I still managed to get plenty of sleep, eat ...
|The Way We Were and the Way We Are
We have made a lot of social progress over the years. Sometimes progress has consisted of our becoming more tolerant, so that certain behaviors are no longer deemed immoral (e.g., premarital sex), ...
|On the Value of Advice from Successful People
Because women are at a disadvantage in the workplace regarding compensation and promotion, it is not surprising that several books have been written advising women on how to succeed and to be paid ...
|The Perfect War for an Antiwar Movie
I didn’t raise my boy to be a soldier, I brought him up to be my pride and joy, Who dares to place a musket on his shoulder, To shoot some other mother’s darling boy?
|A Karma Fantasy
In a diary by theskepticarena, the author speculates as to what will happen to Cliven Bundy. He imagines that Bundy and his minions will gloat over how they stood up for their rights and beat the ...
In another diary , commonmass dares us to write an essay mocking Passover. I will respond to that challenge by declining it.
|Religious Movies for Atheists
The movie Noah has just been released, but as I intend to wait until I can get the DVD from Netflix, I have not seen it yet. Quite frankly, I do not have much enthusiasm for the prospect of ...
|An Ominous Trend in Union Movies
During the last presidential Republican primary, Rick Santorum spoke glowingly of his grandfather’s “big hands,” which he got from working as a coal miner. Not to be outdone, Mitt Romney’s ...
|On the Spiritual Value of Sleep
I will never murder anyone. This is probably for the best, seeing as how murder is wrong and all, not to mention the possibility that I might be arrested, and it would cost me a fortune to hire a ...
|On the Aesthetics of the Presidency
When the American people go to the polls to vote in the presidential primaries and caucuses in 2016, and then again in the general election, they will take into account many substantive ...
|Books That Changed My Life—Scarne on Cards
I can’t say that I was ever really serious about becoming a gambler, but I did fantasize along those lines when I was young. As a child in the late 1950s, I watched Maverick , a television ...
|A Curious Circumlocution
In the world of investing, we often hear it said that people are putting their money into stocks, bonds, gold, land, and so forth. The use of the expression “putting into” is clearly a dead ...
|On the Etiquette of Touching Food
We have all heard of pizzagate, wherein Bill de Blasio was caught eating pizza with a knife and fork. Considering all the wrath that was heaped upon Donald Trump and Sarah Palin for doing the same ...
|Work, Wages, and Welfare
There is a much beloved story about Henry Ford that in 1914 he started paying his workers $5 a day, because that way they would be able to buy the cars they were producing, which would in turn lead ...
Marijuana is on its way to legalization. Polls indicate a widespread acceptance of medical marijuana and, to a lesser extent, its use for plain old recreation. Politicians and even presidents do ...
|Why I Hate Quantum Mechanics
In the movie Duck Soup , Chico and Harpo are spies. As they confer with the ambassador of Sylvania about spying on Groucho, a secretary rushes in with an important telegram. Before she can hand it ...
|Why We Don’t Care About Benghazi
I had a girlfriend once who told me that when she was a little girl, about seven or eight years old, she and her older brother would sometimes get into an argument, and he would hit her, typically ...
|We’re Better Than We’ve Ever Been
I am halfway through Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined , in which he argues that through various cultural influences, violence has been undergoing a ...
|Hollywood vs. Abortion
The recent gains made by the pro-life movement in their effort to prevent women from having abortions are dismaying, perplexing, and surprising. Undoubtedly, there are many reasons for this. There ...
|A Call to Arms
In a recent diary , angelajean discusses the impact that the budget deal will have on military pensions. For those under the age of 62, military pensions will have their cost-of-living adjustments ...
|Learning from Experience
There has been a lot of talk lately about the young invincibles, those adults between the ages of 18 and 29 that believe they will never get sick. It is feared that they will merely pay the $95 ...
|The Philosophy of Doing Nothing
There is much to be said for doing nothing. Pascal remarked that “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” And when you absolutely have to do ...
|Blaming the Patient
Whenever there is a discussion of superbugs, bacteria that have become resistant to all our antibiotics, they round up the usual suspects.
|Robots, Leisure, and the Dismal Science
A diary written recently by RobLewis calls our attention to a prediction made by Gartner, as enunciated by Daryl Plummer, that as technology reduces the need for labor, social unrest will be the ...
|Rape Is About Sex
A recent diary discussed the well-known theory that rape is not about sex. I started to make a comment to that diary, but its length became unwieldy, and thus I have decided to address the issue ...
|Books That Changed My Life—Gone with the Wind
There is something a little embarrassing about saying that a book like Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind changed my life. This is a sweeping epic about people with Olympian passions, and my ...
|The Debt Ceiling Compromise
I have been making predictions long enough to know that I am not any good at it. The first time I heard rap music a little more than 30 years ago, I said, “That will last about six months.” ...
|Books That Changed My Life—Anna Karenina
A woman commits adultery, dies in the end. That is the plot of Anna Karenina , a novel by Leo Tolstoy. There is also this other story about a man named Levin, but nobody cares about him. To a ...
|Santayana Was Wrong
Those who don’t remember Santayana’s remark about the past need not be concerned, because someone is bound to repeat it. From that well-known saying, we draw the inference that those who do ...
|Books That Changed My Life—Don Quixote
As this is my first diary entry under the category of Books That Changed My Life, it is perhaps fitting that I begin with a book that acts as a cautionary tale about books that can change your life.
|IQ and the Childfree Life
According to Satoshi Kanazawa, in his new book, The Intelligence Paradox , smart women have fewer babies: the higher the IQ, the less inclined a woman is to give birth. Well, I always knew a woman��
|Stand by Your Man
Last week, Huma Abedin stood by her man, as so many politicians’ wives have done before. Arising from that news conference, some have praised Huma for having the strength and courage required to ...
What is more important, the laws of the gods or the laws of man? Or, as we might express it today, individual morality or the demands of the state? Or, once more, doing what is morally right or ...
|The Arrogance of Atheism
It was my sophomore year in college, in the late 1960s, when I quit believing in God. So, the next semester, when I was filling out the usual form for something or other, I came across the question ...
|In Defense of Skepticism
Though it would be natural enough to infer from the title of this essay that it will be a polemic against religion, yet it is really not religion that concerns me, even if it is inevitable that the ...
|On the Utilitarian and Retributive Justifications of Punishment
A discussion on punishment in a recent diary started me thinking about the subject in general, and as some remarks I wanted to make became too unwieldy for the comment section, I decided to express ...
|On the Role of Vainglory in Space and War
“We will not return to the Moon in my lifetime,” declares Charles Bolden, the head of NASA. To do so, he says , would send the agency “back to square one.” But while there is no enthusiasm ...
|The End of Mad Men
I watched Mad Men last night. I will watch Mad Men next week, and so on until the end. But it should have ended a long time ago. To be precise, it should have ended with the final episode of ...
|Reflections on The Forsyte Saga
When I finally set out to read The Forsyte Saga , I expected it to be entertaining and mildly thought-provoking, but something easily forgotten as soon as the last page is read and the book is ...
|A Moral and Metaphysical Discourse on the Nature of Euthanasia
Vermont has just passed a “death with dignity” law, making it the fourth state to legalize euthanasia. This is certainly welcome news, even if I am unlikely to benefit from it personally. ...
|The Age of Consent
The question concerning the proper age of consent, which is to say, the age at which a man can legally have sex with a young girl, is an issue that has recently been raised by Barbara Hewson ...
|The Hero and the Reporter
Tonight, on the CBS Evening News , John Miller interviewed the Chinese immigrant who escaped from the Tsarnaev brothers after he had been carjacked. One cannot help but admire the man for his ...
|Once Upon an Overtime
There has been much discussion lately about Eric Cantor’s attempt to pass the Working Families Flexibility Act, which would allow employers to offer comp time instead of paying time-and-a-half for ...
|American Terrorism: Well-Mannered and Polite
When I first heard about the explosions during the Boston Marathon, I was concerned. There was something about the whole episode that struck me as crude and uncouth. And thus it came as a great ...
|The Final Phase of Feminism
I didn’t know anything about feminism when I was in high school, back in the early sixties, nor, apparently, did any of the girls I dated. At least, it never came up in the conversation. Mostly, ...
|Man versus the Gadget
You know that there are too many gadgets in our lives when even James Bond is sick of them. Yesterday, when I received the Skyfall DVD from Netflix, and watched it on my widescreen TV, I figured I ...
|On the Distinction Between Temporary and Permanent Substitutions
There have been many diaries and comments attacking the chain-weighted CPI, but one argument occurred to me that I have not seen elsewhere. In the example below, I have made some simplifying ...
|Bosses Have Feelings Too
Marissa Mayer, the CEO of Yahoo, has decided that her employees will no longer be allowed to work at home. At first, this seems paradoxical. Yahoo is a company that epitomizes computers, the ...
|The Return of the Draft
Charlie Rangel wants to bring back the draft. Whew! That takes me back 45 years. We had the draft back then, all right. I ought to know. I dodged it. You see, the way I figured it, if they ...
|Caveats for Caretakers (8)
As may be inferred from the title to this diary entry, this is my eighth essay in this series about the problems I had to deal with when my mother went into a nursing home, along with some advice ...
|Caveats for Caretakers (7)
After my mother died last September, I wrote what I thought would be my final essay in this series, discussing palliative care and hospice. I remember thinking at the time that there were one or ...
|How Same-Sex Marriage Would Have Resolved a $22,222.22 Moral Dilemma
Did you ever wish you had a rich uncle? Well, I once did. Unfortunately, because he was straight, he married a woman, and they had two children. So, even when I was just a lad, some sixty years ...
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