A Weird and Petty Beauty

September 11, 2015
 A Weird and Petty Beauty

               There is something I do once in a while which is a little bit weird, but I can tell you about it (and risk the ridicule that may follow) because I know that I’m really NOT that weird, that everybody does weird little stuff on their own time and this is just one of mine.  Occasionally I like to take a Hall’s cough drop wrapper, and restore it to a perfectly flat piece of paper.   I take the waxy, crumpled-up wrapper from a Hall’s Cough Drop, and wash it.   Washing it causes it to flatten out, lose most of its wrinkles, and then I let it dry for a half hour or so, then place it (still damp) on top of a piece of paper on a flat surface, with another piece of paper on top of it and a heavy book on top of that.   After a day or so the little crumpled-up piece of waxy paper becomes a flat, crisp square of waxy paper.   I have a stack or 20 or 30 of these on a bookcase behind me.   I do the same with currency sometimes.

               I could say that I don’t know why I enjoy doing this, but actually I think I do.    Why do we comb our hair—and, more importantly, why do we expect that other people should comb their hair?  Because we like order, and disorder offends us.   A colleague’s messy work area offends us.   We all like, on some level, to take something which is out of order, and make order out of it.   I like to find an old, tarnished penny dropped in a parking lot, and see if I can clean it off and restore it to a bright and shiny finish.  Beauty is a form of order; a rose or an orchid has a very strong sense of order about it, whereas grass and weeds are disorderly.   Taking a crumpled piece of paper and restoring it to a flat, crisp piece of paper is creating order, and thus, on a very low level, creating beauty. 

 

Medicine and Philosophy

               Many years ago I observed that everything which is a medicine is also a poison, and everything which is a poison is also a medicine.   I would be surprised if there is any exception to the rule that every medicine is poisonous in large doses and poisonous in the wrong applications.   For the opposite rule, that everything which is a poison is also a medicine, I do not know of any exception, but I am certain that there must be poisons which have no known medical use.  But in those cases, I would suspect that this is merely that the medical use of the poison has not yet been found.  

               It occurred to me recently that the same is also true in philosophy:  that everything which is a curative in philosophy is also a poison, and that every poisonous idea has its safe and appropriate use.   By the "thing" in "everything" I mean things like a belief in order and a belief in the power of chaos or freedom, a belief in self-reliance and an openness to asking for help, a belief in the power of logic and a faith in intuition, a belief in the power of the will and an acceptance of the powerlessness of the will to overcome that which we do not understand, a belief in nature and a belief in what must be created, a belief in community values and a belief in rebelliousness, a faith in courage and a commitment to caution, a belief in altruism and a belief in self-interest, a belief in God and a belief that there is no God, a belief in humility and a willingness to act out of ego, a belief in kindness and a willingness to do what seems harsh, a belief in respect and a willingness to say and do what others may see as disrespectful, a belief in loyalty and a belief in practicality, a belief in sanity and a recognition that sanity is not happiness, a belief in the lessons of experience and an openness to new ideas, a belief in peace and a willingness to resist evil, a belief in hard work and an understanding that work is not the purpose of life, a belief in intelligence and an understanding that intelligence is not virtue, a belief in honesty and a belief in good manners.     

               I have listed twenty-some "scales" there, twenty medicines and poisons, and let us say that there are 100 more like that that I have not listed, and there are two virtuous ends to each scale.  

 

My Own Poisons, and Yours

               A world in which there are 150 or 200 scales of philosophy, with virtues on each end of each spectrum, is beyond the capacity of the human mind to manage faithfully.   Overpowered by the options of practical philosophy, each person chooses certain cornerstones to their philosophy, which I would say were usually three to five for each of us.  

               There is a comic scene you have seen several times in media, in which a person is asked to name their faults, and the person says that his biggest problem is that he is a workaholic, or that she is too much of a people person, or that she is too enthusiastic, or whatever.    I would suggest that these are honest answers, unartfully stated—that our faults are merely our virtues, carried to the ends of the spectrum, as medicine taken too far becomes poison.   If we assume that there are 200 lines of philosophy and that each of us chooses four cornerstones to our personal philosophy, then there would be 1.55 billion philosophical variations, but reality is more complicated than that, I think.   I would think that on each of the 200 philosophical scales there might be (about) 10 discernable stopping points; that is, that a person might believe 70% in honesty and 30% in good manners, whereas another person who had the same four cornerstones might believe 60% in honesty and 40% in good manners.  Thus, the varieties of personal philosophies that we select is effectively infinite. 

               I was trying to suggest for you what my own failings were, but, like the job applicant who is just too enthusiastic and too much of a people person, I cannot really claim my failings without claiming the virtues which are on the opposite ends of the spectrum.    Whatever one believes in too much, too strongly, is the poison that will ultimately undermine one’s comprehension.   To mix metaphors so that a building becomes alive, a cornerstone is the Achilles heel of each philosophy.   But I would say this, that my poisons have been along these scales:   a belief in the power of logic as opposed to a respect for what is intuitively obvious, an undue amount of caution versus bold and courageous decisions, a belief is humility vs. a respect for the power of the ego, and the use of good manners as opposed to a recognition of the importance of speaking the truth.  

 

Politics and Practical Philosophy

               A few weeks ago Donald Trump shocked the political establishment when he mocked John McCain’s claims to be a war hero, and called a McCain a loser.    The immediate reaction of commentators across the map was that this was an intolerable breach of manners, and that the backlash would sink his political ship.    At the time, this was what I thought, too—but we were all wrong.   In fact, there seemed to be no negative consequences at all for Trump. 

               In retrospect, I think I understand that.   John McCain for many years now has been trumpeting his claims to military heroism.   That is putting too fine a point on it; John McCain is a self-important ass.   He was standing on his soap box to tell others in his party what they could say and what they could not say.   Donald Trump simply walked up to him and kicked the soap box out from under him.   Good for him for doing that (although he may yet pay a price for it, who knows.)  

               It is manners against honesty.  It is entirely appropriate to respect war heroes—unless and until those heroes take advantage of that respect to regulate the political debate.   When they do that, they’re asking for a smack down.  Disrespect becomes appropriate when respect becomes a commandment.  

               A few weeks ago I was trying to explain the generation gap of the 1960s to those who are too young to understand it.   You remember, in the first segment here, that I was talking about Order, and Hair.   The generation before us believed in order, and in haircuts that reflected good order.   Men got crewcuts and buzz cuts; women piled up long hair in complicated designs.    In rebellion we just let our hair flow—men and women—as a way of saying that on the spectrum of order vs. freedom, we were choosing more freedom.   

               Is hair political?   Sure it is.   Look at Mitt Romney’s hair.   Mitt Romney’s hair was a symbol of his absolute commitment to good order—and people were uncomfortable with that.   There was too much order there.   I’m not saying that Mitt Romney lost the election because of his hair, but he lost the election because of concerns about him that were related to that.   

               Bernie Sanders a year ago had wild and carefree hair that spun off of his head like sagebrush.   When he started running for President, though, he cut his hair so that he looks like your Grandpa.   He’s got mainstream hair. 

               One could say in general that in seeking a mate, or in choosing our friends, or in seeking people that we want to work with, that we tend to choose those who have philosophical cornerstones which are like our own, except to the extent that we recognize our failings.   When we recognize our failings then we tend, as much as we can, to choose those who complement our failings and offset them, rather than those who are like ourselves. 

               In politics, however, this is less true; in politics people tend to claim all virtues as if to claim each virtue did not also tug on the rope to claim a failing.   In the list of philosophical tenets that I gave in the second segment, in almost every case one end of the spectrum is claimed by one political party, and the other end by the other.    Republicans believe in self-reliance; Democrats believe in the interdependence of success.     Republicans believe in the creed of Invictus;  I am the captain of my ship, I am the master of my soul.   Democrats were instructed by their college professors that this is nonsense.   Democrats believe in altruism; Republicans in self-interest.   Republicans believe in the lessons of experience; Democrats believe in being open to new ideas.   Democrats believe in the direct pursuit of peace; Republicans believe in the need to resist evil.  

               Whenever I state this more or less directly, I am confronted with the offended yelps of those who want to claim every virtue on both ends of the spectrum.   How dare you say that only Republicans believe in the need to resist evil, they will squeal. . .why, I am a Democrat and I believe in the need to resist evil as much as any Goddamned Republican does.    How dare you say that only Democrats believe in altruism, squeaks the offended conservative; don’t you know that studies show that Republicans give 40% more to charity than Democrats do?    I am a Republican, but I believe every bit as much in altruism as any damned Democrat does.

               Yes, of course you do, Dear.    The people who say these things are like the job applicants whose only faults are that they are too enthusiastic and they try too hard to please others. What I think. . .well, first of all, what I think is that those of you who want to claim every virtue on both ends of every scale are full of shit.   But this is what I think about politics:   that about 35% of Americans are Democrats, about 30% are Republicans, and about 35% recognize on some level that what is needed is balance.   Those in the latter category will ultimately vote for whoever offers us no medicine so strong that it may be toxic. 

                

 
 

COMMENTS (92 Comments, most recent shown first)

gejerz
Thank you MarisFan61.

Reading Bill's Commentary, and the notes below they just doubled into thoughts of my trip that I was trying to get my arms around. They gave me a framework, and I ran with it. Eventually, I had to run and posted what came out. Should have edited it more. Sorry if it got too long.

Being peaceful as we enter the playoffs, is better than being all foamin' and yellin', I think. Save that yellin' for later, after a victory. Peaceful is better to enjoy, observe, and think about baseball. Until your team wins, that is.

Hope that's what you meant by a trance. Peaceful.


11:27 AM Sep 28th
 
MarisFan61
Gejerz: Thanks for that beautiful article (which is really what it is).
It put me in a nice little trance.
8:41 PM Sep 27th
 
gejerz
Bill, thank you for your thoughtful commentary. I am entering the response stream late, having just returned from travel and not having taken my laptop. You see I was in NYC and well didn't want to risk it. NYC was my home away from home for several days as I was completing my MLB circle of current stadiums. Had not yet been to either stadium and they were for me (Citifield) 29 & (Yankee Stadium) 30. Well actually more because over the year I went to games in places that no longer exist like Candlestick Park or County Stadium.

As I have traveled over the years through these cities, initially not intentional on checking a stadium list, I have enjoyed the experiences of meeting not only stadiums, but also cities, fans, people, and cultures. I have also the colors displayed even demanded in the (red) crowd. I have seen entire stadiums demanded to applaud in respect, too. There can be ugly versions of cheer at times, of that I am certain.

This adventure has included times when I approached it demanding advance order, planning the trip to a minute, I am sure. Because I have been taught to seek order, in our American way. And at times I have sought simply comfort in my planning, or relief from a connected business trip. Say sitting in the sun before a flight home. And other trips when I wantonly was seeking risk and avoiding order in the hopes of a .... different experience, seeking letting the experience come to me.

America (and Toronto), or perhaps 'Murika for some, is a strange and unique geographical gathering of sapien souls. And MLB baseball of course dices the geography in a specific manner. And when viewing that geography with a baseball lense, one can observe similarities and differences on varying scales.

One can rank stadiums, yes, certainly. Rankings can even be done by available food, or views, or values, or neighborhoods, or fan... 'fan-ness.' Stadiums, fans, and food can be spectrumed (a word?) too, just as philosophies can be spectrumed along a line to one end or another. Or one end of a hemisphere or another. Whenever a person hears you are trying to experience '30', they almost unanimously ask, 'Which is your favorite?' How do you sum up years and cities and people into one choice, or even a simple list?

Oh yeah, and then there is the baseball being played, too. The baseball you see in person is usually different than the baseball you see on TV. The baseball, that is after all the underlying purpose of the stadiums. In my view, I can state as simply and directly as possible, it is more fun to watch a home team win. It is palpable, it can be felt in the air. So, the stadiums are about the baseball, right?

It could be argued, Or I will at least, that many stadiums today are not necessarily about the sport contest, the game, but instead it is about the experience. Or more appropriately, 'The Experience.' Heck, if a restaurant can make a big deal about yelling, "Hot Bagels" as if that makes the bagel you eat taste better, then The Experience is perhaps as important as anything else today.

My travels suggest it seems in different geographies, the objective experience that is sought still has some, less every year perhaps, but they still have some uniqueness. Oh, I am not talking just about a hill in center field, a short porch in Right Field, the Pesky Pole, or even an expected fog blowing in over the left field wall. I am talking about all of those things combined into one place. And not necessarily all designed as such.

And so, a Manager that has wild hair may dissuade some fans from liking a team just by its singular event, while others may see the wild hair combined with the fog blowing in as the whole experience. And then they may decide the experience was enough to encourage them to return, or in current terms, enough to 'post it' as a worthy experience that others should seek.

So let me put ME out there in my own weird and petty way. What I found in my journeys were people, some I liked, some I didn't. Stadiums and cities, some I liked and some I didn't. In the end, the people I didn't like, say because ... they were spending their energy loudly flipping off AJ Pierzynski and getting thrown out of the stadium, thus disrespecting my experience sitting near them, those people were not The whole Citifield experience, nor the whole NYC experience. A few days later, i can see that. And although it annoyed me greatly at that moment, their acts would not prevent me from going back to see another game at Citifield someday. And those several fans poisonous acts which may have been medicine to their Met's fan soul, may cause me to initially cheer for the Met's opposition in the first round of the playoffs. Eventually, if they survive, I will judge that team on its own merits, not my experience at their park.

I am weird in that I like to watch good baseball, and I will cheer for teams (in the playoffs) that may not be my favorite but are GOOD baseball teams. Well, as long as they are not trying to beat 'my team' in that series. Last season's Royal's come to mind. They were fun to watch. So, I think us sapiens can have abstract ideas to cheer-on, ideas like 'good baseball' that may distinct from a uniform of colors or shapes, and may differ from our own geography. We humans can hold complex ideas and even be able to change our minds along the way.

I do have to say that as i traveled, I was reminded that in the 60's and perhaps even the 70's, fans did not routinely wear only their team's colors into the stadium, at least not in Chicago. Maybe you wore a team hat, sure, or a lucky hat that was different. But fans did not typically own a whole suit of clothes for their team. And in fact, growing up in Chicago, it was a place where the gangs demanded its members to wear specifically colored sweaters (think a letterman sweater with buttons) and it seems that this current demand of unity in display is a bit scary at times.

My travels to reach 30 were fun, I met people, good, bad, and mostly in between. I ate some good food, I learned things about places, even about baseball!!! And not all I learned was about me. At least not about the 'me' that existed before I started this journey.

Again, thanks Bill for prompting the discussion amongst different people, from different places but with at least one think in common, that we enjoy reading your thoughts and the thoughts of other writers on this site.

Happy Playoffs.

May we see some great games next month.











What joy it has been to experience these 30 places and the people


6:06 PM Sep 27th
 
SkeptiSys
"SkeptiSys - You have captured, perfectly, the spirit that will drive a future U.S. civil war.

"Moderate doesn't even EXIST. And anybody who pleads for a reasonable meeting on the 50-yard line is by definition closed-minded and unfair. Let's get back to real intelligence and pragmatism, which understands that there is no such thing as moderate."

Good thinking. And thanks guys.

- Jeff"

You have strangely twisted my words to where the meaning is unrecognizable. Pacifism will start a war? Asking for a reasonable meeting is by definition closed-minded and unfair? Nonsense.

To have a reasonable exchange of ideas, you need to take the time to understand others' ideas.
11:37 AM Sep 23rd
 
steve161
Glad to hear it, Mike. I've always found it to be one of life's true satisfactions: sharing a really good book and the response to it.
9:12 AM Sep 23rd
 
mauimike
Steve, about half way through, I'm really enjoying it. Don't know what I'll think at the end, but "Sapiens," is a keeper. One of the best books I've read in a long time. Thanks. Here's another great quote from the book. "It's relatively easy to agree that only Homo sapiens can speak about things that don't really exist, and believe six impossible things before breakfast. You could never convince a monkey to give you a banana by promising him limitless bananas after death in monkey heaven."​
1:34 AM Sep 22nd
 
jdw
"Since invitro asked in a civil manner, I'll respond for his benefit, but will need a 2nd motion before responding to jdw again :- )

1. jaw put on the searchlights, Googled far and wide, and found one crank who wants to jail homosexuals. I and 99.98% of Christians reject his rantings decisively. I leave it to you Invitro whether this Holmes guy is *representative* of your own *experience* interacting with Christians."


Are you really being serious? I didn't use the Google to find that. It simply popped up on my Facebook feed shortly before I brought it over here. There are plenty of other things that pop up on my feed on any given day that touch on anti-gay intolerance. I simply thought that was a good for what we're talking about.

No one wants me to bring over 100 different examples, certainly not in a Comments section. Anyone who follows the issue knows there are plenty out there. But if you really want me to drop 100+, we can take this to the Readers Board.


"2. I am not searching far and wide for liberal scorn of conservatives."

When did this turn to Liberal vs Conservative?

The topic was about Gay Intolerance of Christians vs Christian Intolerance of Gays. That's not a Liberal vs Conservative thingy.

My father is a Conservative going back to the Truman Administration. But he is also pro marriage equality, not just in the current issue of making sure that the right included gays, but also back in the 60s when certain conservatives did want Blacks and Whites to get married. So... this isn't a Conservative vs Liberal thingy. It's always been focused on what you and Bill initially brought to the table:

Gays are every bit as intolerant of Christians as Christians are of Gays

Now a fair number of us called bullsh1t on that and asked for equivalent examples. Which not only have to refused to do that, but now you've attempted to shift the discussion.

Well done.


"I'm pointing my finger right at jdw. Charity begins at home."

You're pointing a different finger than the one you started with. So it's a wasted finger.


"It's one thing to point a thousand miles away and say "that guy needs to get into the 21st century. It's another thing to BEHAVE in a tolerant manner. BE THE CHANGE!"

I've spent several decades pointing to people and things that aren't a thousand miles away. Ones that are in my own community, and among my own friends and family. I've been working on "be the change" my entire adult life, and even before I was an adult.

So again, you're pointing the wrong finger. This is a bit like you rolled out the gay brother spot: you're better off not trying to put me into a box created in your own mind.


"3. Gay intolerance of Christians ... we also do not have to search far and wide to find people who want to media-lynch Phil Robertson for merely saying that he believes in "one man one woman" marriage. The GENERAL CONSENSUS is that Phil Robertson needs to be suppressed, not debated."

The one man, one woman thing wasn't the problem, Jeff. It was the AIDS = God's Penalty For Being Gay spot that people has an issue with. Along with the Bestiality comment the year before.

So what's the equiv of Gays saying X is God's Punishment for Being Christian?

And Christians = Bestiality?

Let's get some real equivalents.


7:58 PM Sep 21st
 
jemanji
SkeptiSys - You have captured, perfectly, the spirit that will drive a future U.S. civil war.

"Moderate doesn't even EXIST. And anybody who pleads for a reasonable meeting on the 50-yard line is by definition closed-minded and unfair. Let's get back to real intelligence and pragmatism, which understands that there is no such thing as moderate."

Good thinking. And thanks guys.

- Jeff
12:38 AM Sep 21st
 
steve161
Mike: hope you're still enjoying Sapiens. I've now finished it and stand by the description 'thought-provoking'. I don't agree with everything in it, but that's not the point, is it?
6:45 PM Sep 20th
 
SkeptiSys
"Those - Absolutely not. I'm not asking for any help whatsoever in "throwing stones at" jdw, as you characterize it.

I'm asking whether there is anybody yet unconvinced, somebody moderate and considering the situation, who might benefit from an exchange of ideas. If there is, I'll be happy to try to explain the minority position.

Clear that time?"

'Moderate' is a useless term when describing complex ideas like politics. It is only useful as a term used to control a debate by describing any issue as linear and further restricting the conversation by limiting that scale to 2 distinct points. The idea is that if you control both sides of the debate, any idea off the scale is considered radical, no matter how true or logical that idea is, and it appears like an open discussion is taking place.

Example: Iraq war. Both sides of the debate deliberately ignored the fact that we had no legal right to invade another country, it is a war crime. That true, uncontroversial, well known popular fact is considered radical when the few media outlets define the entire debate.

Another example: Clinton and Bush or the 2 political parties owned by the ruling class are defined as the 2 sides of the debate. Both pro-war, so anti war is considered radical. Both sides anti-workers, so worker rights are considered radical. Both sides for giving our public money to banks and other giant corporations for nothing in return, so any candidate who wants to provide for the majority of Americans is considered radical, even if his ideas align with the public's.

When you ignore others' opinions and request a 'moderate' opinion, you are dismissing their opinions as radical and useless - the exact opposite of an open exchange of ideas.

12:58 PM Sep 20th
 
jemanji
:: shrug :: No "qualifications," obviously. As I've said many times now, I'd love to participate in a *discussion.*

Discussion: "the action or process of talking about something, typically in order to reach a decision or to exchange ideas."

Flinging angry retorts back and forth, spitting into the wind, that is not what BJOL is about.

Cheers,
Jeff


11:59 PM Sep 19th
 
337
Sorry --hadn't realized your strict qualifications for being able to second the motion. I thought anyone here could second, jemanji.
10:16 PM Sep 19th
 
those
And the idea that you are showing more willingness toward an exchange of ideas than jdw is frankly ridiculous. There's you saying you want that, and then there's all of your other insulting, baiting posts. You're right down there with him, no matter where you think you are.
4:55 PM Sep 19th
 
those
I was talking about this post, not the one you're talking about:

"Half-a-dozen unmoderated responses since my last proposition, and you guys tell me which one of them has a tolerant spirit.

The subject here is, "Who is intolerant." I believe any objective observer can discern, in a few seconds, the insufferably self-righteous tone of the militant left."





4:52 PM Sep 19th
 
jemanji
Those - Absolutely not. I'm not asking for any help whatsoever in "throwing stones at" jdw, as you characterize it.

I'm asking whether there is anybody yet unconvinced, somebody moderate and considering the situation, who might benefit from an exchange of ideas. If there is, I'll be happy to try to explain the minority position.

Clear that time?


4:22 PM Sep 19th
 
jemanji
337 - if I remember your posts right, you share jdw's position, correct?
4:20 PM Sep 19th
 
337
I second the motion that you respond to jdw.
12:45 PM Sep 19th
 
mauimike
"Yet none of these things exist outside the stories that people invent and tell one another. There are no gods in the universe, no nations, no money, no human rights, no laws, and no justice outside the common imagination of human beings."

"Just try to imagine how difficult it would have been to create states, or churches, or legal systems if we could speak only about things that really exist, such as rivers, trees and lions."

"As time went by, the imagined reality became ever more powerful, so that today the very survival of rivers, trees and lions depends on the grace of imagined entities such as the United States and Google."

Thank you Mr. Steve for your recommendation of "Sapiens, A Brief History of Humankind," by Yuval Noah Harari. One of the best non-fiction books I've read in a long time and I'm only 40 pages in.


1:34 AM Sep 19th
 
those
Interesting to read this conversation. I think this is what Bill was talking about when he said both sides want to claim every virtue on each side of the spectrum. Read through them, and you don't see an argument about Christianity -- you see an argument about who is a better person. Both jemanji and jdw say that they are perfectly tolerant, and it's just the other side is the bad guy. Read through the posts, and neither of them gives any strong indication that they could be doing anything better -- yet they have no shortage of advice on how the other person should behave. Not satisfied with that, jemanji even appealed several times for other readers to join in and throw imaginary stones at jdw for being intolerant (unlike jemanji, according to jemanji). But of course, jemanji says he is very kind (like every Christian, according to jemanji) and really tries to listen to his two gay brothers, as though "really trying" to listen to an opposing point of view is an amazing virtue.
8:59 PM Sep 18th
 
jemanji
Since invitro asked in a civil manner, I'll respond for his benefit, but will need a 2nd motion before responding to jdw again :- )

1. jaw put on the searchlights, Googled far and wide, and found one crank who wants to jail homosexuals. I and 99.98% of Christians reject his rantings decisively. I leave it to you Invitro whether this Holmes guy is *representative* of your own *experience* interacting with Christians.

2. I am not searching far and wide for liberal scorn of conservatives. I'm pointing my finger right at jdw. Charity begins at home.

It's one thing to point a thousand miles away and say "that guy needs to get into the 21st century. It's another thing to BEHAVE in a tolerant manner. BE THE CHANGE!

3. Gay intolerance of Christians ... we also do not have to search far and wide to find people who want to media-lynch Phil Robertson for merely saying that he believes in "one man one woman" marriage. The GENERAL CONSENSUS is that Phil Robertson needs to be suppressed, not debated.

Invitro, or others who are more moderate, I'd be happy to follow up on your reaction to that.

Cheers,
Jeff​
6:58 PM Sep 18th
 
jdw
Again, I'd love Jeff to give us examples of Gays with this type of Intolerance towards Christians:

kmherald.com/holmes-pushes-antigay-message-p8687-144.htm

"I would get the D.A. to swear out a warrant on any man who says he’s gay. Sodomy is a crime, a felony in the state of North Carolina."

"What’s wrong with eradicating homosexuals? We should jail them, throw them all in jail!"

"You would probably classify me as someone needing help. I’m not a rocket scientist. But I do believe in holiness, in the Bible."

So there are a lot of gays running around saying that straight sex is a crime, that Christians should be eradicated, that they should be in jail simply for being Christian?

Seriously? That just happened while we were in this discussion - the article is from Wednesday.

What are the equivalents to that from Gays, Jeff?
3:29 PM Sep 18th
 
jdw
So Slasher asks the same thing that I have several times: give equivalent examples of major Gay intolerance towards Christians.

Not surprisingly, Jeff ducks it yet again and wanders off.

“I have here in my hand a list of 205 intolerances that Tuh Gayz have shown Christians..."
-Jeff McManji
1:25 PM Sep 18th
 
invitro
jemanji: I'm interested in your replies and theirs. (I don't know if I'm politicially neutral, though.)​
1:13 AM Sep 18th
 
jemanji
jdw, slasher & co. - I think we've easily passed the point at which we're spitting into the wind. Which of us is doing the spitting, I'll leave to you. ;- )

If there are folks here who are politically neutral and interested in my replies to all the other commenters here, *and* in theirs to mine, just let me know. Otherwise, we're chasing our tails and I'm happy to let slasher et al have the last word below.

Cheers,
Jeff
12:40 AM Sep 18th
 
the_slasher14
jemanji: I would be grateful if you would address the issue I raised rather than retreating to one you feel more comfortable with. My point is that intolerance comes in two varieties -- I don't like you and won't have anything to do with you, or I don't like you and am going to DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT, like take away your rights and, in more than a few instances, your life.

The left can be very intolerant of Christian conservatives, sure, but it doesn't drive into New York to beat up Christians, as Christians did to gays for years. It doesn't beat Christians senseless and leave them to freeze to death tied to a post, as Christians did to Matthew Shepard. And it doesn't pass laws or argue in court that gays should be thrown in jail for things they do with consenting adults in the privacy of their own homes.

When you're ready to own the difference between the intolerance of the left and the intolerance of the Christian right, I'll listen to you. Until then, you're just ducking responsibility.
8:41 PM Sep 17th
 
jdw
In response to the poster Those:

I seem to recall the comment Bill made, as it looks like at least one post in addition to Jeff does as well.

The site's search engine is pretty poor, as if all the articles don't index properly. I've at times looked for easy and unique names and failed to find articles that I know exist. The best example that I can think of is the name Yastrzemski. Do a search for it, narrow the results down to Bill's articles, and see if this one pops up:

www.billjamesonline.com/yaz_and_billy

It's strange that it doesn't.

FWIW, I also had no luck finding Bill's comments on tolerance. I was trying to recall the context of how he said them.​
8:12 PM Sep 17th
 
jdw
I want to go back to this earlier sentence by further down the thread in response yesterday:

"As far as [Gays] demanding "affirmation," I would ask you how often you have affirmed Christianity."

I would like to be clear that I used the words "open and affirming" in this way:

"... the open and affirming nature of his church..."

Specifically in referencing Bill's church. I used the terms Open and Affirming because Bill's own church uses it in their About Us page:

plymouthlawrence.com/about-us

As far as your question on how often I've affirmed Christianity, you'll have to be more specific since that covers a wide range of possibilities. So offer up 10 questions in your mind that you wonder if I affirm them related to Christianity.

Here's an example, with answers:

Do you affirm that think that Christians can openly be Christians in public?

I affirm that I believe that's perfectly fine and good.

Do you affirm that Christians can get married?

I affirm that I believe that's perfectly fine and good.

Do you affirm that Christians can adopt?

I affirm that I believe that's perfectly fine and good.

Do you affirm that Christians can serve in the military?

I affirm that I believe that's perfectly fine and good.

Do you affirm that Christians can lead a Boy Scout troop?

I affirm that I believe that's perfectly fine and good.

Do you affirm that Christians can be a K-12 teacher?

I affirm that I believe that's perfectly fine and good.

Do you affirm that Christians can hold hands walking down the street?

I affirm that I believe that's perfectly fine and good.

Do you affirm that Christians can kiss on TV?

I affirm that I believe that's perfectly fine and good.

Do you affirm that can advertise sites like Christian Mingle?

I affirm that I believe that's perfectly fine and good.

We could go on with a hundred more public and private things. We'd run across some that I wouldn't affirm, such as a teacher leading a class in prayer in a public school, or any level of Government enacting a law that Christianity is the official religion of an area and all other religions are prohibited. For the most part, the things that I wouldn't affirm are illegal.

But fire away, Jeff. I'd be interested in seeing what of Christianity you'd think it's important for me to affirm to be tolerant.​
7:53 PM Sep 17th
 
jdw
"JDW - yeah, one of mine has passed too. He, like you, blamed everybody but himself for his self-destructive tendencies. Drugs, gambling, dangerous associates, irresponsible promiscuity, and he was the poster boy for his sermons on "America is killing gays.""

I don't blame anyone for my own self destructive behavior in the 80s. Took responsibility for my actions, sobered up, and cop to my stupidity in the era. It's rather hard for me to be a poster boy for "America is killing gays" since I'm not dead, nor gay.

As far as my brother, he didn't deal with your wonderful list of "self-destructive tendencies" such as "drugs, gambling, dangerous associates, irresponsible promiscuity". A ruptured pancreatic cyst that led to a rather horrific and painful death. That after 30+ years of fighting kidney disease which wrecked his body. That also wasn't caused by "self-destructive tendencies" such as "drugs, gambling, dangerous associates, irresponsible promiscuity", unless you think he was a rather active and ambitious 4 year old when it was discovered he had kidney disease.

So no, neither my brother or myself are your brother. It's probably best not to paint with broad brushes people you don't know.


"I loved him dearly, and unfortunately financed/enabled his escape from problems, but it didn't work out in the end."

It's odd. I've helped a number of people over the decades since my sobriety try to deal with their own demons. Some have walked the line as I have, some of hit bumps but got back up to move forward, and some were eventually unable to beat their demons. I don't think I would term any of those who failed as flippantly as "but it didn't work out in the end".


"At least I get a viciously sarcastic slow clap from you. Makes it worthwhile."

It was, admittedly. Your dropping your brothers in a "I have some X friends/family so I'm okay" fashion was an eye rolling thing that warranted sarcasm.


"Half-a-dozen unmoderated responses since my last proposition, and you guys tell me which one of them has a tolerant spirit."

Perhaps it's better to ask "you guys" / objective observers which person keeps ducking the question of what intolerant actions he sees from a mass of gays that is on par with the ones I listed.

I'm not the only one who has touched on that issues, as others have have talked about equivalencies.

So will you list you're examples of major anti-Christian intolerances by gays that are on par with the anti-Gay intolerances by Christians? Or cop to having nothing?

FWIW, I also enjoy your "unmoderated responses" spot looking to look for the moderator to clean up things for you.


"The subject here is, "Who is intolerant." I believe any objective observer can discern, in a few seconds, the insufferably self-righteous tone of the militant left."

I think the objective observers might find some irony between that first sentence and the second one.


"Christians may get it wrong, that's for sure. But they indoctrinate themselves to be kind to those who oppose them, and do it on a weekly basis. Where and when do individuals on the militant far left, such as the last five commenters, work on their self-awareness?"

Do they indoctrinate themselves to claim intolerance then run for the hills when asked for examples? Or wave their fists at "the militant far left" as another way to avoid presenting facts?

To pull this slightly onto topic, this would be like Bill claiming Roy White was underrated, Jim Rice was overrated, White was better than Rice... and then not offering up any information on why.

I would hope that you don't think that objective observers will just take on faith your claims.​
7:37 PM Sep 17th
 
jemanji
Steve - I am talking about YOU.


5:25 PM Sep 17th
 
jemanji
Steve - "nausea combined with contempt." That would be your visceral reaction to those who differ with you intellectually, then?

Because Bill wrote that mildly, politely, and as an honest observation of what had occurred in his own experience. It was *testimony.* And the live element was a plea: Can't we apply the plea for tolerance to ALL parties?

If you guys are still viewing such genteel observations with "nausea" and "contempt," it's hard to imagine how the country is going to find middle ground on real issues.

It's hard to think when you're sneering, bro.


5:22 PM Sep 17th
 
steve161
Who's intolerant? How about Kim Davis, who puts her religiously motivated bigotry above her professional and constitutional responsibility? Kareem Abdul-Jabbar says it much better than I can:
time.com/4024556/kareem-abdul-jabbar-kim-davis/
5:21 PM Sep 17th
 
jemanji
JDW - yeah, one of mine has passed too. He, like you, blamed everybody but himself for his self-destructive tendencies. Drugs, gambling, dangerous associates, irresponsible promiscuity, and he was the poster boy for his sermons on "America is killing gays."

I loved him dearly, and unfortunately financed/enabled his escape from problems, but it didn't work out in the end. At least I get a viciously sarcastic slow clap from you. Makes it worthwhile.

Half-a-dozen unmoderated responses since my last proposition, and you guys tell me which one of them has a tolerant spirit.

The subject here is, "Who is intolerant." I believe any objective observer can discern, in a few seconds, the insufferably self-righteous tone of the militant left.

Christians may get it wrong, that's for sure. But they indoctrinate themselves to be kind to those who oppose them, and do it on a weekly basis. Where and when do individuals on the militant far left, such as the last five commenters, work on their self-awareness?

Respectfully,
Jeff


5:14 PM Sep 17th
 
steve161
Oh, he wrote it, all right. I distinctly remember the feeling of nausea combined with contempt.

As an expatriate American, I point with pride to the fact that the US is the first country to establish, as a matter of law, that nobody may be denied civil rights simply because of who they are. That's codified in the 14th Amendment, of course, but it's taken a long time to make it a reality. Still: no other nation has done it.

I admit (not without shame) to a visceral discomfort when confronted with the fact of homosexuality, especially male, and don't doubt that feelings like that are the reason for centuries of persecution and for the hateful passages in both testaments that are used to justify it. I'm glad so much progress has been made in overcoming them and understanding that granting the state's recognition of the union of two people who love each other hurts absolutely nobody and is an unalloyed good.
1:21 PM Sep 17th
 
those
For what it's worth, I searched the site for "gays", "Christians", and "picnic" and couldn't find anything like the quote Jemanji is attributing to Bill.
6:47 PM Sep 16th
 
337
That's my issue with Bill's even-handed, they-all-do-it, Democrats-and-Republicans-are-equally-self-righteous stance. Really? If you don't distinguish between gross differences in levels of self-righteousness, you must be trying pretty hard to see equivalence where there's very little.
4:52 PM Sep 16th
 
the_slasher14
"Just a few months ago, Bill mused about a family picnic he attended in which the Christians were "much more tolerant of the gays than the gays were of the Christians."

Did Bill really say that? I mean, I have no doubt it's true if he did, but it's an incredibly stupid thing to say because it implies that there's somehow an equivalence in intolerance between all gays and all Christians. I know Bill didn't SAY that, exactly, but the implication is clear, or else why did he say it at all?

Would he say that Jews, in 1945, were more intolerant of the Germans at a party than vice versa? I'm sure that would have been the case -- I know Jews of that generation who cannot ABIDE hearing a German accent to this day, even from a Holocaust survivor. But the implication is that tolerance is a matter of manners, rather than how it often plays out in the real world -- in matters of discrimination, terrorist violence, and occasionally murder. And on THAT scorecard, Christians have no right to complain of intolerance because gays are sometimes impolite to them.

You can talk about the equivalence of tolerance when the price exacted by intolerance is even. A Jew TODAY should be polite to today's Germans because Germany is a very different country than in 1945. But the price exacted from gays by Christian intolerance is not over and done with. And Bill's statement is evidence that he thinks it is, or why else would he say it?

Pat Buchanan once said, of affirmative action for blacks, "well, 20 years should have been enough time for them to catch up." (He said this around 1980, but never mind...) Bill's statement implies that two or three months are enough for gays to get that chip off their shoulder. If I were gay, I'd take it as blaming the victim.
4:33 PM Sep 16th
 
jdw
As far as you having gay brothers, I think this is where I slow clap.

My gay brother is dead.

He passed when Baehr v. Lewin/Mike was in its infancy. He missed out on watching DOMA pass, signed by a President he not only voted for also supported on a grass roots level including knocking on doors for him. He missed watching 30 states pass amendments banning marriage equality, including his own "liberal" state which yo-yo'd the right back and forth.

On the other hand, he missed being able to read Judge Walker's findings of fact and opinion in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, which no doubt would have brought a smile to his face. Same goes to the slew of other opinions he would have enjoyed reading, from Windsor to Obergefell.

Most of all, he missed out on being able to marry his long term partner. Something that both his conservative Republican father and his DFH liberal Democratic brother would have both happily stood next to him as a groom and his best man if is rights were recognized at the time.

So when I hear "I try to really listen" and "they haven't yet convinced me"...

*clap*

*clap*

*clap*
2:34 AM Sep 16th
 
jdw
Since you ducked the question, I'll ask it once again and eliminated everything else from this post so it's clear:

Do you think there are many gays who think that Christians can't openly be Christians, can't get married, can't adopt, can't serve in the military, can't lead a Boy Scout troop, can't be a K-12 teacher, can't hold hands walking down the street, can't kiss on TV, or can't advertise sites like Christian Mingle?

What exactly are the true equivalences of intolerance as opposed to likely false equivs?
2:02 AM Sep 16th
 
jemanji
Last post was by phone. Sorry. "Gays" rather than "Giza," "a genteel fashion" rather than "agent he'll fashion."

.....

You have the institution here, the heritage of Washington and Jefferson, saying "Let's sit down and discuss this calmly. Let's go point-by-point as to whether gay marriage is healthy in the long term."

You've got the counterculture saying, "We bitterly resent the need to discuss anything. Your job is to affirm our position and affirm it now. Sign here or suffer the consequences."

So, yes, we leave it to the reader which side is coming from an authentically "tolerant" heart. When I hear my gay brothers out, I try to really listen. It's just that they haven't yet convinced me.

Best,
Jeff


9:31 PM Sep 15th
 
jemanji
JDW - I have two gay brothers, whom I love, Who reason exactly as you do. Their worldview stands or falls with the assumption that sexual taboos are evil, and that there is exactly nothing for Christians to "tolerate".

Christianity did not invent sexual taboos. 95% of world cultures have had them in some form or another, so there debate does indeed require tolerance from both sides.

As far as Giza demanding "affirmation," I would ask you how often you have affirmed Christianity.

Back on topic my experience is that one side is much more civil towards the arguments of the other. One debates, usually in agent he'll fashion, one gets angry and suppresses in "Fire Phil" style. What I am calling for is an intelligent debate of the pros and cons on sexual taboos. Nothing more.

Peace,
Jeff
9:22 PM Sep 15th
 
jdw
The "tolerant" almost certainly revolves around what one is asking the other to be tolerant about.

Do you think there are many gays who think that Christians can't openly be Christians, can't get married, can't adopt, can't serve in the military, can't lead a Boy Scout troop, can't be a K-12 teacher, can't hold hands walking down the street, can't kiss on TV, or can't advertise sites like Christian Mingle?

Not a single state in the country allowed same sex marriage. When exactly did the states not allow Christian marriage, unless it was an interracial Christian marriage or a same sex Christian marriage?

What exactly are the true equivalences of intolerance as opposed to likely false equivs?

I suspect that Bill knows that his Church, and the ones its affiliated, are a rather small % of the Christian churches in the country. Over time, more will line up with the open and affirming nature of his church. But he's not likely to say that the majority of regular church going Christians, and Christian churches, in this country are there yet.​
4:56 PM Sep 15th
 
337
And I am a professional editor, Mike, but I don't get paid to edit your stuff so I'm just pointing out places where you crack me up without trying. I do see it as my Christian duty now to kill as many infields as I can, given the vast number of infields out there and my limited resources, but I'll try. By the way, have you seen Noam Chomsky's latest response to the 9-11 truthers? Basically, he tells them that if they had any useful information, they would have published it in an academic journal. Seriously, that's his recommendation. I'll find the link for you.
4:55 PM Sep 15th
 
steve161
It's not often that Mike and I are on the same side, but on this one we're at least uneasy allies.

Let me recommend a book I'm in the middle of: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. Descriptive rather than prescriptive, skeptical of all our myths and paradigms, thought provoking.
7:10 AM Sep 15th
 
mauimike
I think the great line is, "He'd be at least taken out by a drone."
3:14 AM Sep 15th
 
mauimike
And there's one too many, 'are' in there, but once you post, you can't edit. It's like asking Mr. James a question, it disappears into the, vapor, or something. About the tolerance of Christians for Gays, were you thinking about Kim Davis? Yes, Mao and Stalin killed more people than Hitler ever dreamed about. (And remember, Stalin was our ally and checkout, Operation Keelhaul.) They didn't really kill the enemy, as in the other, they killed their own. Stalin mostly killed Russian's. Mao mostly killed Chinese. It was a government killing their own people. It had little to do with God or lack of God. It had more to do with Muammar al Gaddafi, famous line, "I rule you or I kill you." Soon coming to a country you hold dear. A government can buy your vote and then if it can't, "I rule you or I kill you." Doubt me? Look at history.
3:08 AM Sep 15th
 
jemanji
++ when are Christians are gonna follow Jesus. ++

Catchy line, Mike. It doesn't hold up to scrutiny.

Just a few months ago, Bill mused about a family picnic he attended in which the Christians were "much more tolerant of the gays than the gays were of the Christians." Or, taking America as an example of Judeo-Christian philosophy, you could compare its genteel attitude toward "enemy" civilians to the attitude of Mao's China, Stalin's Russia, or any other dominant power in history.

Great line, though. Says everything and says nothing.


1:29 AM Sep 15th
 
mauimike
Good for you, skeptisys, we are a tad controversial, especially around 9/11.

I was the worlds worst speller. After a life time of reading, I've gotten better and with spell check, I'm usually pretty good, but I still screw up. If I was getting paid the big bucks, I could afford an editor, but I'm not, so I can't. Anyway I would probably ignore the editor and just let him correct the spelling. And I'm always happy to amuse you all.

Reverend, with all due respect, our exchange is an example why I haven't paid much attention to religion for many a year. I'm a big fan of Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Henry David Thoreau, civil disobedience and the pacifism of Jesus Christ. I just wonder when are Christians are gonna follow Jesus. You know like take to heart the words of the Sermon on the Mount. I think if He came back again, he'd be crucified again. He'd at least be taken out by a drone. So it goes.

I began this all with a quote from Robert Anton Wilson, I'll leave you folks with another. "The Bible tells us to be like God and then on page after page, it describes God as a mass murder. This may be the single most important key to the political behavior of Western Civilization."
1:18 AM Sep 15th
 
jemanji
It occurs that there will be lurkers who are honestly interested in the nature of humility. So we'll skip past the grievous insults toward Christ and Gandhi and suggest a few principles.

When Christ rejected a political crown, when George Washington rejected U.S. Kingship for himself, when Gandhi rejected physical rewards, they did it because they regarded the Mission to be more important than themselves as individuals.

None of the three were greedy for praise. None of them were touchy about criticism. None of the three walked around life trying to justify their own feelings of self-superiority. They walked around life trying to push their agendas: Love, Self-Discipline, Freedom, Betterment of the Human Race.

When you get to the point to where you sneer at ANYONE (among 7 billion people) as being CAPABLE of self-sacrifice, I'd say you're in trouble.

Without any exaggeration, Christ invented humility, in the sense that He popularized it. Before His birth, the idea of "a low opinion of your own importance" was considered a character flaw -- the self-view of a groveling slave.

In his work, Bill James has been much more interested in baseball than he has been in bleeding, savoring, and licking the maximum amount of glory for himself. It's one of the reasons that his material is so compelling and readable.

If we'll reflect on it, meditate upon it, give it a chance, I think we'll find "self-forgetfulness" to be among the most important human virtues.

My $0.02,
Jeff


5:03 PM Sep 12th
 
jemanji
To discuss and understand humility might be a life's work. This thread is clearly not the place in which to make fast progress.

I didn't put Bill James in "company with" Jesus, Gandhi and George Washington. I held them up as *reductio ad absurdums*, extreme examples by which a simple principle could be understood.

These extreme examples provided us zero movement toward understanding what humility is about. Instead, the thread held those Three up as extreme examples of people who got their way.

In other comments, readers held up the U.S. Army as --- > no place from which once could source Courage, Honesty, and Integrity (though those are three of their seven Core Virtues). Skepticism characterizes the U.S. military as "a con game" by which millions are murdered.

Honestly, I think you guys are better off talking to each other in your echo chamber. I'll maybe join some other conversation. Consider yourselves humbly victorious. :- )

Best,
Jeff


4:51 PM Sep 12th
 
the_slasher14
jumanji: I'm confused -- is Bill humble or not? You argue both sides of the issue in your response to me -- read it carefully and you'll see it.

Bill stated that his "poisons" were, among others, on the scale of a belief in humility vs. a respect for the power of the ego. I don't think there is anything in the totality of Bill's career that can be described as humble. He may be PERSONALLY humble -- I don't know the man but people I know who have worked with him describe him as unfailingly polite. Not at all the kind of person who would, as he did in response to a post of mine, attribute a radically incorrect interpretation to it and then beat me over the head with it at great length.

As far as my remarks about the Abstracts are concerned, your analogy to Jesus, Gandhi and Washington (how do you like THAT company, Bill?) tries to pretend that there can be a total separation between what one does in one's professional and personal lives. The men you cite put themselves and their followers at extreme risks. That they were humble in their personal lives is irrelevant to the totality of what they were. We don't remember these men because they were modest about themselves. We remember them because they took on the most powerful armed forces in the world of their times and, in the end, got their way. Bill's un-humble actions are on a smaller scale, but it's the same thing. It takes a powerful ego to tell the people who dominate the portion of the world you spend your time working in that they're wrong and are going to have to get out of the way. Bill's movement along that scale is FAR from the humble end of it, for which I say "thank God."
1:24 PM Sep 12th
 
Gfletch
jemanji, who the hell argued against "Courage and Honesty and Loyalty"? Nobody did. maumike was gentle in his response to you. For which I thank him.
11:36 AM Sep 12th
 
flyingfish
well, the comments continue to be interesting,even though some of them have interesting spellings and they seem to be at cross purposes. What I take from mauimike is that we should not see the Army--maybe the military as a whole--as a source of honesty, courage, and integrity in our society. My Lai and Abu Ghraib are the names of places where atrocities were done by members of the United States armed forces. I don't believe that the people who did those things would have done them as members of the general public before they became members of the armed forces, although of course I cannot know. War is an activity that must be mind-numbing, soul-breaking, and utterly terrible to take part in, at least for those who see action. As a college teacher, I encountered students who seemed to have suffered from the experience. As one more senior colleague who I went to for advice on one particular student said, "the military did not take him in this condition." So, to get back to Senator John McCain once again, I do find it puzzling and troubling that as someone who has seen war and its effects firsthand, he is so ready to do it all over again.
11:35 AM Sep 12th
 
SkeptiSys
@mauimike
Your opinion should not be controversial, over a million people were killed in Vietnam, and millions more in Iraq/Afghanistan. Republicans and former Republican Hillary Clinton have pledged to attack Iran. It's so bad that Obama, the man who bragged about the 7 countries he bombed including the illegal F-up in Libya, is considered "too weak" to kill Iranians.

The more we kill, the more trillions in dollars we need to attack those we piss off. A big dangerous con game.
10:42 AM Sep 12th
 
337
I always learn things reading BJOL. Today, I learned from reading mauimike, that "infields" is a perfect anagram for "infidels."
5:05 AM Sep 12th
 
mauimike
Reverend, I think honesty, courage and loyalty are fine virtues. I don't think the Military instills them. Their job is to break things and kill people. We're seeing the results. Folks risking everything to get to somewhere safe, where their children might live in peace. People don't get in a boat and leave everything on a whim. America, has been bombing and destroying things in the Middle East for 20 plus years now. Maybe we should stop and save our soldiers, though I fear Syria and Iran are next to be invaded. I hope I'm wrong.
4:41 AM Sep 12th
 
jemanji
I dunno; it seems like we're talking past each other too much here in order to find a place to start.

1. Why do combat veterans tend to come out broken men? I don't know that this syndrome isn't exaggerated. But suppose it wasn't. It would be bad form for me, in safety and comfort, to download 15 college credits at the UW, play ping-pong at the HUB, throw beer parties and then point over at a Navy SEAL with all he's been through and say "Hey! Why isn't that guy as peaceful and contented as me?"

I doubt that's what you're even asking, so, pass on.

2. How do we know a thing is true? Whether we are sure of ourselves or not in setting A or B or C, it doesn't affect our philosophical dilemmas.

Is America going to hold up Courage and Honesty and Loyalty as American ideals? Are we going to teach 4-year-olds that telling the truth is good, or are we going to teach them that taking the expedient way out is cool, since that's what everybody else does?

Over the last 40 years, we've seen Courage and Honestly and Loyalty argued against, argued against inexactly the ways that MauiMike and GFletch have done. Fine in the abstract, a fool's errand in the real world. And the country has changed for it.

Careful. Because the next generation will absolutely take this thing several steps past where you intended it to go.

- Jeff


3:32 AM Sep 12th
 
Gfletch
"The young Soliders who come through are, as a group, an organized, disciplined, and orderly group of men with great attitudes."

I am sure such things exist. I also believe that we live in a world on truth buried in lies. How do we know a thing is true, except that it appears to be so. It is dressed well, it's hair is neat, it speaks respectfully. But I have seen that same thing drunk and violent and in despair. Everything teaches you something; I don't know if I want the lessons imparted by the military if perhaps the best lessons can be gained in some other way.
1:53 AM Sep 12th
 
mauimike
Reverend, I was in the Army 40 years ago. Maybe things have changed, but I doubt it. The "Iliad," still rings true. A few years ago I was driving through Oklahoma and I drove past Ft. Sill, where my grandson is doing Basic Training, as we write, after joining the Indiana National Guard, dummy. As I drove past a gate of the Fort I saw a strip mall. In the mall was a topless bar, a regular bar, there might have been a nude bar, but I not sure, a liquor store, a pawn shop and I'm sure there were ladies who could be bought, but they weren't advertising as such. Not that there's anything wrong with any of those things. I believe in free markets.

I remember serveing mass on Sundays as a teenager and as I put the eucharist plate under their chins to receive the Body of Christ, dressed so prettily in their Sunday, going to church dresses, I knew how many of those girls had been rolling around on the back seats of their boy friends cars the night before. Me, I had a 1956 Chevy station wagon with fold down backs seats. It was a 2 door station wagon and I didn't know it at the time, but it was a predictor of my future. The wagon was called, 'the handyman.' I quit being an altar boy and never looked back. That's a lie, I enjoy looking back.

You could be right, the Army could be producing fine upstanding Christian men, killing the infields in the name of the Lord, doing God's work, you know like turning the other cheek and loving your neighbor and stuff like that. If that's so, why are they killing themselves so much Why do so many come out of that experience broken men?
1:24 AM Sep 12th
 
jemanji
... but let's take MauiMike's premise at its own face: that juvenile delinquents join the Army and actually wind up thinking even less of themselves, and others, than they did before they went in.

The main question still remains: is the virtue of (say) Honesty, Search for Truth, capable of being taken *too far* and becoming a poison, or if Honesty seems to lead to a problem, is it more the case that *the absence of a complementary virtue* (say compassion) is too blame?

I'm thinking of (say) Jesus, who never told a lie, who thought of the search for Truth as inherently good in ALL circumstances, as the test case for this thought experiment.

Is Love, in the classical definition of it -- a mom's search for the best interests of her baby -- ever a "poison" in itself? Or do we have to bring in a second virtue/attribute, say "Lack of Caution Towards Instilling Wisdom," in order to become contraproductive?

My own thesis would be that certain human virtues --- > are absolutely good and right on their own merits. Nobody can be "too honest" with me. But it *is* true the life is complex, and at times a 2nd or 3rd virtue (say, tact) has to be blended via good intentions.

Cheers,
Jeff


12:10 AM Sep 12th
 
jemanji
I wasn't in the Army, but minister near a military base. The young Soliders who come through are, as a group, an organized, disciplined, and orderly group of men with great attitudes.

I'm trying to extract what your essential point seems to be. Are you saying, you don't think much of the accomplishment of attaining the rank of Private First Class?

Or are you saying the Army has a dubious process which it applies to its recruits?

Or are you calling into question the merits of values such as Courage, Honesty, and Loyalty?

I'm not sure where you're going here. Certainly my own observation is that in 10-13 weeks (depending on branch of service) the Army achieves results that are quite remarkable when compared to that of private organizations.

Jeff


11:51 PM Sep 11th
 
mauimike
jemanji, you have a navie view of the Army. I bet you were never in. Basic training is 10 weeks long not 12. When I was in it was 8 weeks. If you think that the Army is going to instill, "honesty, integrity, loyalty, respect, duty, courage and selfless service," in an 18 year old drug addicted punk, I don't think so. He could easily wash out. The lifers I dealt with when I was in, were some of the best men I ever met, most were mediocre, and a large number were pretty sorry excuses for human beings. It's easy to get drugs in the Army and drinking is highly encouraged. And your soldier might become one of those 22 who commit suicide daily after their selfless serve.
11:26 PM Sep 11th
 
mauimike
Your right, jdw, my number of 12 million, was 3 million to high. So about 9,000,000 served during the Vietnam Era, 8/5/64 to 5/7/75. About 9.7% of age eligible men served. A pretty small number When they instituted the lottery and more than half the guys didn't have to worry about being drafted, the draft protests and Vietnam War protests died down. They're not dumb.

Here's something to think about, 2,709, 918 served in Vietnam. About 850,000 are still alive today.
11:01 PM Sep 11th
 
steve161
Congratulations, Bill, you have rediscovered Aristotle's Golden Mean and found a completely new and original way of expressing it. Quite an accomplishment (and I suppose I should add, to avoid being misunderstood, that I say this without a hint of irony).
7:49 PM Sep 11th
 
jemanji
Taking the (wonderful) paradigm presented in the article ... I wonder about taking these 200 continuums, laying them out as if on a stereo EQ, and then adding a Z-axis to what we're talking about ...

You take (e.g.) an 18-year-old punk on drugs, never done anything productive, and you put him in the U.S. Army. Twelve weeks later he is functional as it pertains to Honesty, Integrity, Loyalty, Respect, Duty, Courage, and Selfless Service. He's a changed man and, quibbles aside, he is headed for a much more blessed life than he was.

Without a doubt, too much "Courage" (willingness to face pain and fear) can bite you IFF YOU DON'T SYNCH it with other qualities, such as Wisdom and Foresight. Is this a failing of Courage as such, or is it a failing of "medicines" that should be associated with Courage? Like Pepcid should be associated with chemotherapy?

Fascinating convo in philosophy. Thanks yet again, Bill :- )


5:35 PM Sep 11th
 
jemanji
Slasher - ++ There's nothing humble about the Baseball Abstracts. They were a gauntlet across the chops of the pundits who defended practices which they showed were absolutely wrong. That's why we loved them -- for their LACK of humility in the face of baseball's bigshots whose response was "this is how it's always been." ++

I'll take the other side of this one Slasher. The Baseball Abstracts were not about Bill James the Person; they were about truth and science vs. intuition, baloney and tradition. At one point after another, then and now, Bill emphasizes the importance of the subject at hand, rather than his own importance.

To contrast it, take a Kobe Bryant, who wants to win but desperately wants to win *because he was important.*

Aggressiveness in pushing a cause, we believe, does not run counter to humility. History's most famous humble characters (Jesus, Gandhi, George Washington, etc.) might have been self-forgetful but relentless in their determination.

There are things you could criticize Bill James for, but humility would not be one of them. It's one of the reasons that the Boston Red Sox like having him around, as opposed to having the average sabermetrician around :- )

My $0.02,
Jeff


5:30 PM Sep 11th
 
hotstatrat
"One could say in general that in seeking a mate, or in choosing our friends, or in seeking people that we want to work with, that we tend to choose those who have philosophical cornerstones which are like our own, except to the extent that we recognize our failings. When we recognize our failings then we tend, as much as we can, to choose those who complement our failings and offset them, rather than those who are like ourselves."

I love this part. My wife and I can be very particular - not your average Joe's. I think our friends are quietly suprised we have been together for over three decades. I've always said we have similar tastes and philosophies and what not, but we are very different in the ways that it is good being complimentary. This excerpt of Bill's essay here largely explains how those ways exist - and how people could have a better idea of what they are for themselves.​
4:03 PM Sep 11th
 
kimchi
The 2000 edition of the BJ Historical Abstract, p439, in a discussion of the embarrassing selection of Palmeiro for the Gold Glove in '99, when he had only played 28 games at 1b:
"A voting structure like this is an open invitation to an eccentric outcome. If we were to use a system like this to elect President, the absolute certain result would be that, within a few elections, someone like...Donald Trump...would be elected President. An unconstrained plurality vote gives an opening to someone...who has a strong appeal to a limited number of people."
Remember that, Bill? Comments?​
3:52 PM Sep 11th
 
jdw
The comment on McCain's "integrity and honesty" is pretty funny. It's not really what McCain has been about in his life.
3:17 PM Sep 11th
 
jdw
And yeah, I understand Mike said "served", which still was 3M too high. There are also degrees of getting a sniff of Viet Nam. Serving in Texas running a base warehouse isn't really sniffing Viet Nam. Bill being based in South Korea is a much stronger sniff, though I don't want to put any words in Bill's mouth on what he felt or was thinking about in terms of how close he was.

I have friends who fall across the spectrum. Easy duty in the US, relatively easy duty warehouse within Viet Nam, and grunt. They have wildly different experiences and points of view on it.
2:50 PM Sep 11th
 
jdw
Mike's Viet Nam number is high.

3,403,100 (Including 514,300 Offshore) Personnel served in the Southeast Asia Theater (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Flight Crews based in Thailand, and sailors in adjacent South China Sea Waters.)

2,594,000 Personnel served within the borders of South Vietnam. Jan. 1, 1965 - Mar. 28, 1973

www.veteranshour.com/vietnam_war_statistics.htm

I've seen elsewhere the number prior to Jan 1965 as being in the 50K range.

So the number of people who avoided Nam is even high than Mike stated.
2:39 PM Sep 11th
 
the_slasher14
I think most sabermetricians would agree that a sac bunt is not counter-productive in certain circumstances. I've seen it said that men on first and second, none out, in certain score situations overcomes the loss of the out. And I believe Bill said something similar in one of the Baseball Abstracts, noting that since a sac bunt isn't ALWAYS an out (the batter might beat it out, the fielder might throw the ball away), just using the base-out percentages isn't accurate enough.
2:37 PM Sep 11th
 
MarisFan61
re Rtallia, "Thus: great actors can be shy people, murderers can be sweet to their moms, and otherwise rational managers can still sacrifice bunt in the early innings":
Can we add that sabermetricians are capable of seeing that it might occasionally be rational to order a sacrifice bunt in the early innings?

(No? OK, I tried.) :-)

When I see someone like Buck Showalter doing it, and more than once, I figure it's likely that it's rational and sound, notwithstanding what any formal analysis might show.
12:58 PM Sep 11th
 
StatsGuru
I believe Marijuana is a medicine with no poisonous side effects. I have heard that no one ever died from smoking too much Mary Jane.

I suppose it has non-lethal poisonous effects, but I don't think that's what you meant.

To a great extent, antibiotics are non-poisonous medicines. The reason they work is that they target elements of the bacterial cell that are not shared by eukaryotic cells.
11:02 AM Sep 11th
 
rtallia
I really do love this piece. It essentially provides a framework for all human behavior--the 200 lines of philosophy, and the 10 discernable stopping points for each line. Extreme positions/philosophies tend to get more ink in the press, and people who are always on one end or the other of their continuums are generally a) fun to be around at parties and, b) a nightmare to live with. And with the fickle nature of human behavior, even if someone is *generally* extreme in one of their positions, or cornerstones, they can--and will--in a specific instance go against their "nature," due to any number of factors. I think the most discerning individuals are the ones that can, even though it might be against their natural tendencies, look at a particular issue and, after thought and research, come to a different conclusion than their knee-jerk reaction (which we all have). Thus: great actors can be shy people, murderers can be sweet to their moms, and otherwise rational managers can still sacrifice bunt in the early innings.
10:47 AM Sep 11th
 
packbringley
This is great, Bill, up until the self-congratulatory last couple sentences. It's a fallacy to think "balance" falls at about the middle of wherever the two political parties have staked their territory. It could, or it could not. There's no particular reason to look down on partisans or assume the wisdom of independents.
10:40 AM Sep 11th
 
mrbryan
"All things are poison and nothing is without poison; only the dose makes a thing not a poison." - Paracelsus (1493-1541)
9:54 AM Sep 11th
 
bjames
I can't imagine how anyone thought I was suggesting that I might be too polite. I've never really had that problem. . . .
9:38 AM Sep 11th
 
flyingfish
Strange comments on a strange article but all are interesting, and I thank you all for writing them. Bill's article is a strange mix of insight and assertions based on nothing--at least nothing that I can see. Bill's political writing differs from his baseball writing in that the baseball writing starts with a question and then seeks evidence that might shed insight, and then (sometimes, if the evidence is good enough) provides an answer. Bill's tendency to rudeness seems more noticeable in political discussions, as when in a Hey Bill answer he said that committed voters don't understand issues, or something like that. My favorite part of this article was Bill's characterization of Democrats and Republicans and how their views really aren't completely dichotomous, even if they often seem to be; they are different places on continuums. As for McCain, although I often wasn't in agreement with his political positions, I always was a huge admirer of his integrity and honesty. Seems to me McCain changed after George W Bush so disgustingly trashed him in the South Carolina primary in 2000.
9:17 AM Sep 11th
 
MarisFan61
re Gfletch, "These are the strangest comments I've seen connected to an article yet":
This isn't a very usual article. :-)
12:59 AM Sep 11th
 
337
And of course it serves a useful function because now Scott Walker can never claim (legitimately) "Hey, I would have answered that question, I was just never asked, so it's your fault, reporters, for not doing your jobs properly." We know he dodged it, and we know when and where he dodged it.
10:48 AM Sep 10th
 
OldBackstop
McCain is getting old and dotty, and when he decided to run maybe he slightly morphed into that braggy candidate jerk model that America created. But prior to that, I spent time with him on a number of occasions, and I found him to be thoughtful, honest, self-deprecating...a non-politician.

And when your father was a four star admiral in charge of all US forces in Vietnam, and your grandfather was a four star admiral, and you spend five and a half years as a POW getting your ass kicked by the North Vietnamese, and you come out with snow white hair unable to ever lift your arms over your head....well...it must be annoying to have to politely listen to all the braying an elected official has to hear about patriotism.

That said, I would like to hear where you think McCain has been "trumpeting his claims to military heroism." I've always found him to be well under both trumpeting and proof of claim levels.
2:14 PM Sep 9th
 
Gfletch
Slasher, I agree with you. But, you see, I don't think tough questions are rude. I agree that some questions are impertinent, some questions are dishonest in their intentions, some questions are irrelevant or irreverent.

All good so far. Scott Walker has every opportunity to give a great answer to a tough question. He has every right to refuse to answer. And we have every right to make our own judgements. What the hell does rudeness have to do with it? People make judgements about whether questions are rude, too.
1:23 PM Sep 9th
 
the_slasher14
About six months or so ago I posted a "Hey Bill" screed in response to Bill's defense of Scott Walker refusing to answer a reporter's question whether or not he believed in evolution. Bill thought this was great -- the reporter was asking a "gotcha" question and Walker had blown him off. I hope Bill has noticed by now that Walker ducks pretty much ANY question whose answer might offend some of the electorate, which has a lot to do with why he's getting no traction in the polls. But that's not the point.

The point is that Bill replied with a very lengthy diatribe which stated that I was saying that it was a reporter's job to be rude, and that this was somehow wrong. I was somewhat shocked by the vehemence of his statement. He went on forever about it.

I was a reporter, long ago, and was schooled by veterans of the profession that it's not rude to ask questions somebody doesn't want to answer, it's your JOB. Reporters have access to the powerful; the rest of us don't. If they don't ask tough questions, who will? And of course the powerful think it's rude to be asked a question they don't want to answer. Since when do we defend them from that? So when Bill talks about his faults being too much humility and being too polite, frankly I think he's full of it. I think he's opinionated and can be very impolite when he feels the occasion calls for it.

And as a reader of Bill's since 1984, humility and politesse are the least qualities of his that I value. There's nothing humble about the Baseball Abstracts. They were a gauntlet across the chops of the pundits who defended practices which they showed were absolutely wrong. That's why we loved them -- for their LACK of humility in the face of baseball's bigshots whose response was "this is how it's always been." And in "Whatever Happened to the Hall of Fame," Bill's voice became even more acerbic. We loved that, too. Skewering the establishment is un-humble almost by definition.

But Bill has had an advantage here that reporters do not: he has the numbers to speak for him. Your leadoff hitter has a .280 OBP -- here's why you're going to lose a lot of ballgames. The 1961 Yankees weren't even close to the best team ever. He has had FACTS to marshal. In political reporting, these are not always available.

We don't KNOW how Scott Walker's opinion on evolution will relate to his actions in office, so all we can do is ask him and proceed from that answer. John Kennedy was asked in 1960, over and over, how his religion would affect his governance if elected. He didn't duck that question, because he understood it was legitimately relevant to how he would be perceived. Bill would have us believe that Walker's opinion on evolution -- which has been a hot button issue for a century in this country and which is an obvious indicator to which constituencies a politician favor if elected -- doesn't matter. And he said, at considerable and acerbic length, that the question should never have been asked because it was rude to do so. It was also rude to point out that the sacrifice bunt is a losing strategy, when almost the entire baseball world thought otherwise. Bill had the facts to prove it. Reporters do not, because they don't have numbers to help them out.

I've continued to follow this site because politics is politics and baseball is baseball, and I love Bill's writing precisely because he's NOT humble and he's NOT polite in the face of mindless resistance to the facts. And while it's true that every medicine is a poison and vice versa, SOMEBODY -- be it curanderos with foxglove or Salk with polio vaccine -- went into the trenches and made the right call. In his sphere of interest, thank God Bill was UN-humble enough to do that.​
12:31 PM Sep 9th
 
ventboys
I think your analysis of the Trump/McCain controversy is a little results-driven, but who cares? I love the balance metaphor, and the perfect little bow tied on the end of the article with your last sentence is as insightful as it is artistic.
12:23 PM Sep 9th
 
evanecurb
Donald Trump has figured out how to get attention. He's really good at that. He'll say some more stuff that will get more attention. People won't get tired of it, either. The media spotlight will remain on him for quite a while. Trump is a symptom of one aspect of the country. The masses want to be entertained.

There is a more toxic problem than the masses needing to be entertained. Those idealogues on the right and those on the left are more interested in having their beliefs validated than they are in running the country. At some point, the politicians need to stop pontificating and start governing. Show me a politician who's interested in the nuts and bolts of governing and that's the person I'll vote for.
11:13 AM Sep 9th
 
Gfletch
These are the strangest comments I've seen connected to an article yet. Including my own.
9:50 AM Sep 9th
 
MarisFan61
("gotte"??) :ha:

Took me a second to remember how it's really spelled, once you put gotte in my head....
8:32 AM Sep 9th
 
mauimike
A couple of weeks ago I was gonna ask you, Mr. James about your beard. You've had it for awhile and it seems to be very popular in baseball. I'm not being critical, I had long hair for most of my life. I hate to shave. I had a gotte for a number of years. Then I thought, why should I keep growing more grey hair, when my head is full of it. And then I keep looking at old farts with long hair and thinking, "they really look dumb." And I thought I must look dumb. So as you look in the mirror each day, do you think, "Yeah, that's how I wanna look." Or do you seldom look at the mirror, because you don't have to shave, which is my philosophy and if the wife says nothing, I'm good to go. Do you have a philosophy about beards or did it just grow on you.
3:38 AM Sep 9th
 
mauimike
About McCain and the Vietnam War. There are about 79 million of us baby boomers. Let's say 40 million women. Off the 39 million males about 30% served during the Vietnam Era. Perhaps 12 millions males. Most of us never sniffed Vietnam. How many of the men who were in the shit are still around. How many care. How many young people, know when Vietnam happened? Knocking Vietnam is a good stradegy. It was a stupid war and so many lives were wasted. Those who didn't go were lucky or smart. Clinton didn't go. Elected twice. W, played in the National Guard, for awhile. Elected twice. No one cares.
3:14 AM Sep 9th
 
mauimike
I'll just quote my MVP, (Most Valuable Philosopher) Robert Anton Wilson, though he claims that George Carlin owns that award. Just so you know where I'm coming from. Mr. Wilson, "I DO NOT BELIEVE ANYTHING. Most people, even the educated, think that everybody must "believe" something or other, that if one is not a theist, one must be a dogmatic atheist, and if one does not think capitalism is perfect, one must believe fervently in socialism, and if one does not have blind faith in X, one must have blind faith in not X, or the reverse of X. My own opinion is that belief is the death of intelligence." Robert Anton Wilson.

There were folks like that and they were called Sabermetricians.

My own take, "Beliefs are opinions. Let's not force our opinions on each other and to try not kill each other over opinions and things could work out."

But probably not. So it goes.
2:12 AM Sep 9th
 
MarisFan61
Classical musicians spend much if not most of their time doing essentially what you like to do with the cough drop wrappers. It's probably the case also for other activities, but that's what I know about, although I'm not a professional -- and maybe it's only the non-professionals who'd say it or admit it. I'm sure that many musicians would argue against this, and sure, there are higher things that we musicians are doing when we practice and prepare our performances, but I think it's not far off to say that we're mostly straightening out crumpled cough drop wrappers. I can imagine that 500 years from now, or maybe 20, just as we laugh or shake our heads at some things that people did 500 years ago (or 20).....as everyone in town is creating beautiful and perfect music with their smart-watches and i-Orchestras, they'll be laughing at how people used to sit at those archaic instruments, slaving away for hundreds of hours to be able to play stuff just-so.

And I pity them a little, because they'll need to find other ways to ply their drive toward working hard for order and beauty, which may be hard-wired into us. If they don't find other ways, they might need medications or poisons to treat the symptoms of this unexpressed drive. :-)
1:22 AM Sep 9th
 
Gfletch
Okay. Yes. Not just a new viewpoint, perhaps, but a new tool that I can use...specifically to assess the motivations of those people and institutions around me. We got a federal election going on here in the Great White North. Maybe this will help.
12:41 AM Sep 9th
 
 
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