jts

Is freedom to breed a right?

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Someone took control of my mind and keyboard and veered off on a tangent. 

54 minutes ago, anthony said:
6 hours ago, william.scherk said:
7 hours ago, anthony said:

I claim there is a commonality among atheists - "determined", logically - by their mechanist/materialist view of the brain ("meat", biology, DNA, genes, evolution, species, society, religion, etc.).

I am atheist. I am guessing that you feel you described my views with your "commonalities" ...

Are you atheist, Tony?

What an odd question, after what you have read from me. Do I not fit the usual "atheist" profile?

If one could have a conversation we would pause to consider and answer questions, and say things like, "getting back to what you said about blah ..."  We'd sometimes be pointed and challenging, and sometimes be chin-on-fist listening.

I see the beginnings of a useful or fruitful examination of difference, disagreement, disjunct and etcetera -- and so here I was trying to tease, to tease out a more personal reckoning.  Here is what I would have stepped in with, if I felt you might have misinterpreted intent or focus:

"I am more interested in how you think you and I would fit into the 'commonality' [community] of atheists, logically, given your generalization." 

The thing about my atheism is that it is so boring. I cannot claim a faith in any supernatural realm. Big deal. I might be among the so-called "reasonable atheists" because I find it not too difficult to have interchanges with believers. Without making them feel I disdain them personally, helping them to understand the function of a minority opinion, a dissent. But mostly to underline a shared humanity if possible.  Sometimes this lets them see an objective angle on morality, that it sure enough arises in non-believers, that you do not need established religion to be fully moral and upright.

Quote

If so, I can take credit for never accepting (in mankind or myself)  physical, biological "meaty" stuff in explanation of the mind, which is evidently integrated with the body. As for you seeing commonality in what I described, only you can be the judge of that. I wasn't thinking initially of you, but mainly from my reading of secular philosophers, and from talking with atheists I've known face to face - enough to detect the constant of their materialism (btw, they largely moved into Left politics). Yes, I was an atheist quite early, almost drifted into, as I slowly realized I hadn't any place for a "God" in the universe nor my mind. It was an easy breakup, as I recall. No hard feelings on either side.

I still see or feel a mystery at the emergence of mind in the earthly creatures.  The seeming paradox of consciousness, the problem of qualia, the lessons and temptations of neuroscience and more generally, empirical psychology (absent the whoopee of unprovable Freudianism still infecting psychological inquiry) -- all of this tells me how relatively ignorant I am. I don't have the keys to the kingdom of full knowledge.

I think also that it pays me personally to read 'dissenting' thought through its gestation and through a kind of dialectic/exchange. That is why I found the disagreement between Dennett and Harris so compelling (and followed on to other dissenters such as Massimo Pigliucci). It evolved. Or I evolved some new thoughts.  Not only did I better understand the "nits" being picked, but I could compare to my own fitful ability to express some conceptual relationships between morals, mind, will, matter/energy and Humanity.

Sometimes we cannot help but be tribal or moralistic.  The "meaty mind" in us responds to ancient triggers. 

PS -- Peter, though your copy and pastes from OWL may be ugly and overlong, I always read them. They are valuable to me. I wish I had access to the raw material, so I could figure out how to refashion them into a database, searchable and shareable.  I was a silent subscriber to OWL in its terminal months.

Edited by william.scherk
Chicago style editing

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Why bother with the question?  People will make babies or not as they can and as the please.  Short of forced sterilization there is nothing that can be done to stop breeding.  

 

\\//  L.L.A.P.

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31 minutes ago, BaalChatzaf said:

Why bother with the question?  People will make babies or not as they can and as the please.  Short of forced sterilization there is nothing that can be done to stop breeding.  

Bob,

I think the essence is whether a person belongs to himself or herself, or whether a person belongs to the state.

Another similar question arises when certain idiot governments outlaw suicide. How the hell do they expect to punish a dead person? Yet these idiots want ownership for the state.

:) 

Michael

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For a person in horrible, irreversible physical pain, I think a prescription for opioids not specified as "lethal" is a very moral thing.

Peter

'Just don't smoke." Yul Brenner 

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1 hour ago, BaalChatzaf said:

Why bother with the question?  People will make babies or not as they can and as the please.  Short of forced sterilization there is nothing that can be done to stop breeding.  

 

\\//  L.L.A.P.

Chris Langan has a plan to prevent unfit people from making babies. You might ask who would judge who is fit to make babies. Chris Langan would be willing to do that job.

 

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8 minutes ago, jts said:

Chris Langan would be willing to do that job.

And I'd be willing to be Emperor of the Universe.  Langan is a crank, IMHO.

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33 minutes ago, william.scherk said:

Langan is a crank, IMHO.

Indeed. He's apparently superhuman in the area of absorbing and memorizing information, yet way below average at putting that information together and doing anything intelligent, original and useful with it.

J

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I didn't know that Chris Langan had his own page at the quite snarky Rationalwiki.  I also didn't know about his views on G.O.D. -- "Global Operator Definor (or Designer)." Yeesh.

A sample from the snarkfest, lightly redacted for readability:

Quote

Beliefs

Langan accepts the theory of evolution, but believes it could not be responsible for the specified complexity of the biodiversity that we see today. He believes on various levels that intelligence is responsible for the evolution of life, the ultimate level being "GOD" or the Global Operator Definor (or Designer), which is compatible with the monotheism found in the God of the Bible. He even believes there is a logico-mathematical explanation for the phenomenon of a "messiah", which suggests Jesus wasn't the only one; however, he describes his personal approach as "logical theology" in his words,

What does this say about God? First, if God is real, then God inheres in the comprehensive reality syntax, and this syntax inheres in matter. Ergo, God inheres in matter, and indeed in its space-time substrate as defined on material and supramaterial levels. This amounts to pantheism, the thesis that God is omnipresent with respect to the material universe. Now, if the universe were pluralistic or reducible to its parts, this would make God, who coincides with the universe itself, a pluralistic entity with no internal cohesion. But because the mutual syntactic consistency of parts is enforced by a unitary holistic manifold with logical ascendancy over the parts themselves — because the universe is a dual-aspected monic entity consisting of essentially homogeneous, self-consistent infocognition — God retains monotheistic unity despite being distributed over reality at large. Thus, we have a new kind of theology that might be called mono-pantheism, or even more descriptively, holo-pantheism. Second, God is indeed real, for a coherent entity identified with a self-perceptual universe is self-perceptual in nature, and this endows it with various levels of self-awareness and sentience, or constructive, creative intelligence. Indeed, without a guiding Entity whose Self-awareness equates to the coherence of self-perceptual space-time, a self-perceptual universe could not coherently self-configure. Holo-pantheism is the logical, meta-theological umbrella beneath which the great religions of mankind are unknowingly situated. Why, if there exists a spiritual metalanguage in which to establish the brotherhood of man through the unity of sentience, are men perpetually at each others' throats? Unfortunately, most human brains, which comprise a particular highly-evolved subset of the set of all reality-subsystems, do not fire in strict S-isomorphism much above the object level. Where we define one aspect of "intelligence" as the amount of global structure functionally represented by a given sÎS, brains of low intelligence are generally out of accord with the global syntax D(S). This limits their capacity to form true representations of S (global reality) by syntactic autology [d(S) Éd d(S)] and make rational ethical calculations. In this sense, the vast majority of men are not well-enough equipped, conceptually speaking, to form perfectly rational worldviews and societies; they are deficient in education and intellect, albeit remediably so in most cases. This is why force has ruled in the world of man…why might has always made right, despite its marked tendency to violate the optimization of global utility derived by summing over the sentient agents of S with respect to space and time."[4]

Well! There you go, a spruit of woozy woo, refreshingly opaque.

See also this respectfully insolent analytic article, "Another Crank Comes to Visit."  Langan drops in, and the comments go on for the equivalent of three hundred pages or five football fields.  

Edited by william.scherk
The missing '"'

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1 hour ago, william.scherk said:

I didn't know that Chris Langan had his own page at the quite snarky Rationalwiki.  I also didn't know about his views on G.O.D. -- "Global Operator Definor (or Designer)." Yeesh.

A sample from the snarkfest, lightly redacted for readability:

Well! There you go, a spruit of woozy woo, refreshingly opaque.

See also this respectfully insolent analytic article, "Another Crank Comes to Visit."  Langan drops in, and the comments go on for the equivalent of three hundred pages or five football fields.  

Yup, he's good at memorizing shitpiles of info, but terrible at thinking. 

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On 6/3/2018 at 7:54 AM, slightly redacted anthony said:

Altruism flies in the face of all this, it is artificial, a made-up fantasy by religions and philosophers of morality who had little comprehension or concern of man's nature. Because, with the best will in the world, no parent can see into child's mind, handle their intake of reality, appreciate their specific values, or think-reason for them, or feel emotions on their behalf - nor, actually "do good" for them, in anything but a superficial, transitory manner.

I am going to switch to using "seemingly altruistic behaviour in humans and other animals," and "seemingly altruistic" institutions, rules, guidelines, precepts, instructions, suggestions, commands and "so-called instincts."

Because if Rand closed the book on Altruism, saw a clear conceptual truth, then studying the 'so-called' behaviour -- and behavioural suggestions from religion, law, philosophy in human history, we can prove Rand right in all the jots and tottles of a full theory of human behaviour.

That's where I think the genetic analyses of evolutionary biology could potentially buttress objectivist approaches:  by showing value-transactional aspects of the 'so-called' behaviour and behavioural patterns of reciprocity, reasonable explanations for why such behaviours recur, controlling for intervening variables of culture, time, moral zeitgeist and such.

This was sort of X-Ray's one angle, which suggested that altruism as a reified thing or type of behaviour could be better explained by 'self-interest' ... in the genetic sense for the insects and naked mole rats, in the social-intelligence sense for humans.  "Moral reckoning" as a module of the wet matter of the mind, an evolved sense capable of much more precision than any other animal with a conscious mind.

I did think that X-Ray's angle couldn't always explain individual acts nor religious and secular precepts, though she kept the door open to pre-human concepts of 'fairness' -- as if it evolved as a detection "module" -- and since burgeoned during our evolution into symbolic thought, language and "law."

Read the top quote from Tony again and see if you can figure out which two words I changed, and how they affect the arguments given.

Edited by william.scherk
Breadcrumb/s

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3 hours ago, william.scherk said:

See also this respectfully insolent analytic article, "Another Crank Comes to Visit."  Langan drops in, and the comments go on for the equivalent of three hundred pages or five football fields.  

This is from the five yard line of that wonderful, absorbing encounter between Chris Langan and reality. The opening remarks are from the author at the website, Marc Chu-Carroll (and to go direct to this hashmark on the field of dispute, permalink here):

 

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23 hours ago, william.scherk said:

I am going to switch to using "seemingly altruistic behaviour in humans and other animals," and "seemingly altruistic" institutions, rules, guidelines, precepts, instructions, suggestions, commands and "so-called instincts."

Because if Rand closed the book on Altruism, saw a clear conceptual truth, then studying the 'so-called' behaviour -- and behavioural suggestions from religion, law, philosophy in human history, we can prove Rand right in all the jots and tottles of a full theory of human behaviour.

That's where I think the genetic analyses of evolutionary biology could potentially buttress objectivist approaches:  by showing value-transactional aspects of the 'so-called' behaviour and behavioural patterns of reciprocity, reasonable explanations for why such behaviours recur, controlling for intervening variables of culture, time, moral zeitgeist and such.

This was sort of X-Ray's one angle, which suggested that altruism as a reified thing or type of behaviour could be better explained by 'self-interest' ... in the genetic sense for the insects and naked mole rats, in the social-intelligence sense for humans.  "Moral reckoning" as a module of the wet matter of the mind, an evolved sense capable of much more precision than any other animal with a conscious mind.

I did think that X-Ray's angle couldn't always explain individual acts nor religious and secular precepts, though she kept the door open to pre-human concepts of 'fairness' -- as if it evolved as a detection "module" -- and since burgeoned during our evolution into symbolic thought, language and "law."

Read the top quote from Tony again and see if you can figure out which two words I changed, and how they affect the arguments given.

You substituted "parent" and "child", thereby trying to demonstrate some point. (My quote: Nobody can see into another's mind...or think-reason for them).

From what I can tell, William, simply, you and many other thinkers lately are trying to narrow the gap between animal and man. Why anyone should want to do so, I can't tell. But that is wishful thinking, shall I say, "feeling"?

To remind you, man has a volitional, conceptual consciousness - animals have senses and instinct. Man has (conscious, learned)"value", animals have instinct. To repeat, let's see anyone try to exist for a day on instinct; further, to what is your probable point, let parents try to nurture, bring up, etc. a child on their 'instincts' or the child's 'instincts' - and see what happens! It is rationality and value which the parents volitionally dedicate to their child, not instinct.

What the biologist assures us about animal, insect, and so on, behavior is not "altruism". Check out again that passage I put up on "Biological Altruism", which neutrally specifies this is not conscious behavior. I think at best "altruism" is a metaphor, but conveniently misleading. The "selfish" gene - or a vampire bat acting for the 'good' of other bats are not acting on chosen selfishness nor altruism, which are man-made concepts, applicable only to man. Animals are programmed by their DNA, and can only act the way of their particular species. (I have yet to hear of, say, a mother impala offering her body to a hunting leopard to save her offspring's life).

But a non-philosophical biologist borrows or hijacks the concepts, then applies them to non-volitional and non-rational animals. And it doesn't end there, since the corruputed concepts are re-applied back to man, and the moral take-out by people and scientists is: "Why cannot egotistical humans be as unselfish and altruistic as are animals?! We can learn from them".

So we get a double fallacy, package-dealing a quasi-mystical myth, named "altruism of animals".

Seeing that naturalist philosophers, biologists and most scientists are reductive materialists concerning man's consciousness, I believe the broad thinking is that mankind is ~almost~ the same as other mammals (only with a bigger, human brain). Simply put, when brain matter is all only "meat", and they have already downgraded man's consciousness, they can elevate animal consciousness, thereby closing the "gap".

(This has certainly partially come about by the hugely expanding public interest in animal behavior in recent decades by waves of greatly more biologists, zoologists and botanists discovering an incredible wealth of new knowledge, and by popular programmes filmed and produced with marvelous new technologies and techniques. The viewing public follows the animal kingdom intimately and upclose, and 'relates' to individual animals in 'families', packs, pods and herds etc., so anthropomorphically and emotionally identifying with their tribulations of survival. Look, they are just like us! They are not. In the ways that count. We are not "like" them, either. Our physicality and locomotion is the common base, up to and including the perceptual ability, and in higher mammals, a simple emotional faculty - but our survival and thriving depends on far more).

Biologists, etc., who claim 'altruism' among (some few species of) animals are the worse culprits, in destroying a rational ethics for men, though.

 

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Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy ... on Altruism.  Some good sorting out of some of the puzzles noted by Tony and I:

Quote

Altruism

First published Thu Aug 25, 2016

Behavior is normally described as altruistic when it is motivated by a desire to benefit someone other than oneself for that person’s sake. The term is used as the contrary of “self-interested” or “selfish” or “egoistic”—words applied to behavior that is motivated solely by the desire to benefit oneself. “Malicious” designates an even greater contrast: it applies to behavior that expresses a desire to harm others simply for the sake of harming them.

Sometimes, however, the word is used more broadly to refer to behavior that benefits others, regardless of its motive. Altruism in this broad sense might be attributed to certain kinds of non-human animals—mother bears, for example, who protect their cubs from attack, and in doing so put their own lives in danger. So used, there is no implication that such adult bears act “for the sake” of their young (Sober and Wilson 1998: 6).

This essay will discuss altruism in the former sense, as behavior undertaken deliberately to help someone other than the agent for that other individual’s sake. There is a large and growing empirical literature on altruism, which asks whether there is an evolutionary or biological basis for humanaltruism, and whether non-human species exhibit it or something similar to it. These issues are addressed by the entries on empirical approaches to moral psychology and biological altruism.

It is commonly assumed that we ought to be altruistic at least to some extent. But to what extent? And is altruism necessarily admirable? Why should one act for the sake of others and not only for one’s own sake? For that matter, do people in fact [act] out of altruism, or is all behavior ultimately self-interested?

1. What is altruism?

Before proceeding, further clarification of the term “altruism” is called for.

... recursion:

Spoiler
20 hours ago, william.scherk said:

I am going to switch to using "seemingly altruistic behaviour in humans and other animals," and "seemingly altruistic" institutions, rules, guidelines, precepts, instructions, suggestions, commands and "so-called instincts."

Because if Rand closed the book on Altruism, saw a clear conceptual truth, then studying the 'so-called' behaviour -- and behavioural suggestions from religion, law, philosophy in human history, we can prove Rand right in all the jots and tottles of a full theory of human behaviour.

That's where I think the genetic analyses of evolutionary biology could potentially buttress objectivist approaches:  by showing value-transactional aspects of the 'so-called' behaviour and behavioural patterns of reciprocity, reasonable explanations for why such behaviours recur, controlling for intervening variables of culture, time, moral zeitgeist and such.

From the Biological Altruism essay at Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, first posted by Tony:

Quote

5. But is it ‘Real’ Altruism?

The evolutionary theories described above, in particular kin selection, go a long way towards reconciling the existence of altruism in nature with Darwinian principles. However, some people have felt these theories in a way devalue altruism, and that the behaviours they explain are not ‘really’ altruistic. The grounds for this view are easy to see. Ordinarily we think of altruistic actions as disinterested, done with the interests of the recipient, rather than our own interests, in mind. But kin selection theory explains altruistic behaviour as a clever strategy devised by selfish genes as a way of increasing their representation in the gene-pool, at the expense of other genes. Surely this means that the behaviours in question are only ‘apparently’ altruistic, for they are ultimately the result of genic self-interest? Reciprocal altruism theory also seems to ‘take the altruism out of altruism’. Behaving nicely to someone in order to procure return benefits from them in the future seems in a way the antithesis of ‘real’ altruism—it is just delayed self-interest.

This is a tempting line of argument. Indeed Trivers (1971) and, arguably, Dawkins (1976) were themselves tempted by it. But it should not convince. The key point to remember is that biological altruism cannot be equated with altruism in the everyday vernacular sense. Biological altruism is defined in terms of fitness consequences, not motivating intentions. If by ‘real’ altruism we mean altruism done with the conscious intention to help, then the vast majority of living creatures are not capable of ‘real’ altruism nor therefore of ‘real’ selfishness either. Ants and termites, for example, presumably do not have conscious intentions, hence their behaviour cannot be done with the intention of promoting their own self-interest, nor the interests of others. Thus the assertion that the evolutionary theories reviewed above show that the altruism in nature is only apparent makes little sense. The contrast between ‘real’ altruism and merely apparent altruism simply does not apply to most animal species.

 

 

Edited by william.scherk
Snuck in another quote from the go-to essay collection

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I am not sure where the following mention of “altruism” is from. Peter

 

. . . . Rand quote from Atlas Shrugged: Francisco d'Anconia, reacting with surprise that Jim Taggart was upset that his investment in the San Sebastian Mines was lost with the collapse of the mines, explained that he had set the mines up with Taggart's own moral principle of altruism guiding the venture ("the San Sebastian Mines were the most eminently successful venture in industrial history: they produced no copper, but they provided a livelihood for thousands of men who could not have achieved, in a lifetime, the equivalent of what they got for one day's work, which they could not do.").

Francisco concludes: "I have carried out every moral precept of our age. I expected gratitude and a citation of honor. I do not understand why I am being damned."

Taggart responds: "You don't expect me to take this seriously?"

Francisco replies: "There was a time when I did not believe that anyone could take it seriously. I was wrong."

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5 hours ago, Peter said:

I am not sure where the following mention of “altruism” is from.

I think it's from Atlas Shrugged, chapter six,  The Non-Commercial.  Dagny had already learned of the worthlessness of the San Sebastian mine properties after their nationalization in Mexico, and had had a puzzling meeting with D'Anconia in chapter five, set up by chapter four's reminiscence of their affair.  

It's a kind of shitty party for Hank Rearden ...

Spoiler

James Taggart had approached the group and was waiting to be noticed. 
"Hello, Francisco." 
"Good evening, James." 

"What a wonderful coincidence, seeing you here! I've been very anxious to 
speak to you." 

"That's new. You haven't always been." 

"Now you're joking, just like in the old days." Taggart was moving slowly, 
as if casually, away from the group, hoping to draw Francisco after him. "You 
know that there's not a person in this room who wouldn't love to talk to 
you . " 

"Really? I ' d be inclined to suspect the opposite." Francisco had followed 
obediently, but stopped within hearing distance of the others. 

"I have tried in every possible way to get in touch with you, " said 
Taggart, "but . . . but circumstances didn't permit me to succeed." 

"Are you trying to hide from me the fact that I refused to see you?" 

"Well . . . that is . , .1 mean, why did you refuse?" 

"I couldn't imagine what you wanted to speak to me about." 

"The San Sebastian Mines, of course!" Taggart's voice rose a little. 

"Why, what about them?" 

"But . . . Now, look, Francisco, this is serious. It's a disaster, an 
unprecedented disaster— and nobody can make any sense out of it. I don't know 
what to think. I don't understand it at all. I have a right to know." 

"A right? Aren't you being old-fashioned, James? But what is it you want 
to know?" 

"Well, first of all, that nationalization— what are you going to do about 
it?" 

"Nothing. " 
"Nothing? ! " 



"But surely you don't want me to do anything about it. My mines and your 
railroad were seized by the will of the people. You wouldn't want me to 
oppose the will of the people, would you?" 

"Francisco, this is not a laughing matter!" 

"I never thought it was." 

"I'm entitled to an explanation! You owe your stockholders an account of 
the whole disgraceful affair! Why did you pick a worthless mine? Why did you 
waste all those millions? What sort of rotten swindle was It?" 

Francisco stood looking at him in polite astonishment. "Why, James," 

he said, "I thought you would approve of it." 

"Approve? ! " 

"I thought you would consider the San Sebastian Mines as the practical 
realization of an ideal of the highest moral order. Remembering that you and 
I have disagreed so often in the past, I thought you would be gratified to 
see me acting in accordance with your principles." 

"What are you talking about?" 

Francisco shook his head regretfully. "I don't know why you should call my 
behavior rotten. I thought you would recognize it as an honest effort to 
practice what the whole world is preaching. Doesn't everyone believe that it 
is evil to be selfish? I was totally selfless in regard to the San Sebastian 
project. Isn't it evil to pursue a personal interest? I had no personal 
interest in it whatever. Isn't it evil to work for profit? I did not work for 
profit— I took a loss. Doesn't everyone agree that the purpose and 
justification of an industrial enterprise are not production, but the 
livelihood of its employees? The San Sebastian Mines were the most eminently 
successful venture in industrial history: they produced no copper, but they 
provided a livelihood for thousands of men who could not have achieved, in a 
lifetime, the equivalent of what they got for one day's work, which they 
could not do. Isn't it generally agreed that an owner is a parasite and an 
exploiter, that it is the employees who do all the work and make the product 
possible? I did not exploit anyone. I did not burden the San Sebastian Mines 
with my useless presence; I left them in the hands of the men who count. I 
did not pass judgment on the value of that property. I turned it over to a 
mining specialist. He was not a very good specialist, but he needed the job 
very badly. Isn't it generally conceded that when you hire a man for a job, 
it is his need that counts, not his ability? Doesn't everyone believe that in 
order to get the goods, all you have to do is need them? I have carried out 
every moral precept of our age. I expected gratitude and a citation of honor. 
I do not understand why I am being damned." 

In the silence of those who had listened, the sole comment was the shrill, 
sudden giggle of Betty Pope: she had understood nothing, but she saw the look 
of helpless fury on James Taggart ' s face. 

People were looking at Taggart, expecting an answer. They were indifferent 
to the issue, they were merely amused by the spectacle of someone's 
embarrassment. Taggart achieved a patronizing smile. 

"You don't expect me to take this seriously?" he asked. 

"There was a time, " Francisco answered, "when I did not believe that 
anyone could take it seriously. I was wrong." 

"This is outrageous!" Taggart's voice started to rise. "It's perfectly 
outrageous to treat your public responsibilities with such thoughtless 
levity!" He turned to hurry away. 

Francisco shrugged, spreading his hands. "You see? I didn't think you 
wanted to speak to me." 

 

Edited by william.scherk
Mexican-American-Canadian-Chinese "Trade War"

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Thanks William. I like the line, “Taggart achieved a patronizing smile.”

Jokes from the AARP Bulletin.

Jamie: Why so glum today?

Mamie: Just thinking about getting older, and all the people I have lost along the way.

Jamie: Maybe a career as tour guide wasn’t for you.


Sue: My brother can’t afford to pay his water bill. What should I do?

Lou: Send him a “get well soon” card.

 

Q: What do you say to a crying grammar teacher?

A; There, they’re, their.

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