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No particular topic to start this off.  I want to open a space where doubt is okay -- to have disquieting anticipation, to have issues and questions and even fierce criticism. OK to roll.  

I will also act as a moderator. The rules that are in place are the same general OL rules, but I intend to be a tight-ass.  Please do not overdo 'personalizing' discussion. Do not attack the character of discussants or otherwise be a  conversational oaf.  There is only one level of appeal.

So ... anybody got a nice safe space topic? I have thought about it for a while now, and all I can come up with is a vague theme ...







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"Do not attack the character of discussants or otherwise be a  conversational oaf."  

Trump supporters must have serious psychological problems.  Likely diagnosis: Bed wetters all.

Testing testing...moderator on duty?

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1 hour ago, 9thdoctor said:

"Do not attack the character of discussants or otherwise be a  conversational oaf."  

It sounds stupid, doesn't it?  

Oh well -- who exactly are you in-jest suggesting has 'serious' psychological problems?  I am thinking more along the lines of parallel lines, parallel lines of interest, parallel dimensions almost -- where heretofore shared bodies of opinion have drawn away from each other in a kind of fission. Parallel planes or zones of analysis, something divergent, anyway. It it too bad as always to see reason get sidelined for hoopla. But that is why I bow out of the thread. It just isn't fair to attack Michael for stumping.  And he pretty much sees what he does as political work, so. It is not fruitful, it doesn't trigger the best in.

Point, William?

I don't think doubt or analysis or frank political talk should be moralized as unthinking hate or blindness.  And I guess I don't think irrationalism should be cozied. But what do I know?  

Sometimes I have a lot to say, and some of those times are the perfect times to shut up. 

You are banned for another full extra twenty minutes. Next time the penalty will be doubled.  As for making fun of me, you are pretty good at it, so bombs away. You are probably a good guy to have around in difficult social situations involving music, film, literature and alcohol appreciation.

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Oh well, as they say. Here is a cut-and-paste from the political newshound media sampler site, Memeorandum.com, which I recommend for those who can disengage from the rest of the world outside US politics. Whole lotta hoopla this moment over a bowl of ground chuck and other Main Street muck in a fried bowl, about 6000 calories.  I love America for many reasons, but one of the top is 'authentic Mexican food.' I have to drive many many miles for that in Surrey, but it is but 2 miles away across the line -- a place with the most seats of anything outside a banquet hall within thirty miles. I kid you not. So I almost kinda get the need for the media to suddenly engorge with interest about things Taco. One could talk about the intersection of American and Mexican food for hours.  Hours.  Maybe days.  There isn't so much hard news in the GOP race all of a sudden ... if you except the volte-face on the tax-plan, or the sucking sounds of craven 'elitists' leaving their Old Profession cards at Trump Tower. 


That's a lotta hoopla.

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There is really no Cinco de Mayo holiday. It's just to get the gringos to buy stuff, mostly within the US.

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Thanks to Ninth for triggering thought about safe space. Here is a buffet of OL guidelines and interpretation collated by the Hate Club:


Of course, the whole field is also pre-churned by previous rockem-sockem disputes over civility, as with the Phil "C-word' Coates chunder back in the day here.

I moderated the Syria Comment forum for a few months. That was a tough and rewarding experience -- in the pit of great emotion, it was still possible to enforce(!) a certain basic dignity of the 'household.'   I mean a baseline of behaviour expected by the host. It all came down to central general things, like not personalizing discussion.

-- those Syria Comment guidelines have been updated and added-to since my day. They are pretty specific to Syria's tragedy, meant to offer cautions to implacably-opposed factions and individuals. For those with the time, those guides, pleas, cautions, interpretations and bottom-lines should be interesting. How to manage harsh environments?  How to help people to communicate more fairly in time of savage war?

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Of note ... a fair bit of veiled communication here. The 'Guidelines' are often mentioned, but almost never cited or accompanied by a URL to the dang things. Emphasis added.

On 5/6/2016 at 11:12 AM, Michael Stuart Kelly said:
On 5/6/2016 at 11:08 AM, Roger Bissell said:

Meaning that the rules of civility and engagement on OL are not firm, objective rules, but subject to the Framer's whim.

Paraphrasing MSK's indictment of Jeb Bush:  OL's rules of civility and engagement are tools of power and persuasion, not commitments, and MSK need not honor and uphold and enforce them when he doesn't like it.

This is not an insult, any more than MSK's indictment of Jeb Bush was an insult. It's just a statement of fact.

Actually, Roger, that is an insult.

Feel free to insult me if that rings your ding-a-ling, but not here on OL.

You have the entire Internet to do it, so there is no reason I (and donors) should have to pay for it.




On 3/6/2016 at 3:07 PM, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

However, please check the posting guidelines if you have any doubts about our posting policies. I'm the traffic cop, so please keep it respectful. You don't have to like it. 

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On 5/8/2016 at 10:54 AM, william.scherk said:

Thanks to Ninth for triggering thought about safe space. Here is a buffet of OL guidelines and interpretation collated by the Hate Club:


Thought I should poke this in here ...



This is from a group blog, Less Wrong, which is said to be "devoted to refining the art of human rationality," in a 2011 article called Better Disagreement. The author is referring to a Disagreement Hierarchy, and explicitly notes Steelmanning:

DH0: Name-Calling. The lowest form of disagreement, this ranges from "u r fag!!!" to "Hes just a troll" to "The author is a self-important dilettante."

DH1: Ad Hominem. An ad hominem ('against the man') argument wont refute the original claim, but it might at least be relevant. If a senator says we should raise the salary of senators, you might reply: "Of course hed say that; hes a senator." That might be relevant, but it doesnt refute the original claim: "If theres something wrong with the senators argument, you should say what it is; and if there isnt, what difference does it make that hes a senator?"

DH2: Responding to Tone. At this level we actually respond to the writing rather than the writer, but we're responding to tone rather than substance. For example: "Its terrible how flippantly the author dimisses theology."

DH3: Contradiction. Graham writes: "In this stage we finally get responses to what was said, rather than how or by whom. The lowest form of response to an argument is simply to state the opposing case, with little or no supporting evidence." For example: "Its terrible how flippantly the author dismisses theology. Theology is a legitimate inquiry into truth."

DH4: Counterargument. Finally, a form of disagreement that might persuade! Counterargument is "contradiction plus reasoning and/or evidence." Still, counterargument is often directed at a minor point, or turns out to be an example of two people talking past each other, as in the parable about a tree falling in the forest.

DH5: Refutation. In refutation, you quote (or paraphrase) a precise claim or argument by the author and explain why the claim is false, or why the argument doesnt work. With refutation, you're sure to engage exactly what the author said, and offer a direct counterargument with evidence and reason.

DH6: Refuting the Central Point. Graham writes: "The force of a refutation depends on what you refute. The most powerful form of disagreement is to refute someones central point." A refutation of the central point may look like this: "The authors central point appears to be X. For example, he writes 'blah blah blah.' He also writes 'blah blah.' But this is wrong, because (1) argument one, (2) argument two, and (3) argument three."

DH7: Improve the Argument, then Refute Its Central Point. Black Belt Bayesian writes: "If youre interested in being on the right side of disputes, you will refute your opponents' arguments. But if you're interested in producing truth, you will fix your opponents' arguments for them. To win, you must fight not only the creature you encounter; you [also] must fight the most horrible thing that can be constructed from its corpse."


See also Michael's use of Steel and Straw: Great Conversation Starter "Because these are elections, dummy." It is interesting to think how my offerings here might score on the DH scale on a given day or a given hundred of posts. Combining Michael's jocular deconstruction of Fuzzy Chump versus Drumpf Supporter, I made a brief dialogue. Imagine how the pair's offerings might be scored on the DH scale, or how each claim was steel or straw, and how they might be improved:

The guy, I will call him Fuzzy Chump, talks with a Drumpf Supporter, briefly. He is coming from the point of view that Drumpf's 'drawing power' will be tested in elections. Not to be confused with Fuzzy saying "Drumpf won't bring out the voters" and not to be confused with WSS saying "Premature RubioGasm":



TS: Now, we are supposed to think that this drawing power will somehow evaporate when actual elections happen. Why?


FC: Because they are elections, dummy.


TS: But what's so different about elections in terms of drawing power?


FC: Well... They're elections, dummy. People vote.


TS: Don't people vote in a sense by tuning into a TV channel? Aren't they voting with their time against top entertainment shows?


FC: Man, you're such a dummy! That's different.


TS: You mean, according to you, elections have nothing to do with reality or the public?


FC: Now you're getting it...


Say what you mean, and mean what you say. In an election campaign, the Principle of Charity is abused with wild abandon. Just think how many people got all agitated about Drumpf's argument on China tariffs, on his plain words at the debate. And think about those who can't interpret these plain words charitably. Straw! Steel!






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It's a function of how much time you put in, I think, Brant. An OL blog can only be read by OL members.  So, it is kind of a semi-private space for me.  That indeed is a form of home.  My 'home' here is less-trafficked and has much less turnover than what I call the Front Porch. Our OL 'home' in the largest sense is a mansion/library/laboratory with many levels and rooms, and nooks and crannies. On balance, this is but a nook.

A small, experimental laboratory kind of nook/room/home.  At least I don't sleep here. 

What I hope to do over the next year is to further broaden my online activity -- in engaging face-to-face, one-on-one, small groups, "live" in my so-called real life. It has been great fun to engage directly with Robert and Roger, in real time. I hope to do more of that and sharpen my beginner's tools.

Some of the things I have done here at the blog, in my podcasts, videos and hundreds of text-to-speech recordings, is to understand my own participation on OL: what do I get out of it? How does it benefit me? How is it part of my intellectual life?  

Can I ask why you have walled-off your own blog from comments?  I also wonder what you might like to contribute here -- in the coming discussion with Jonathan, perhaps? 

One of the things l like about this nook is that I have the Power. If someone is interfering with my goals, I can more or less empty the room of distractions and irrelevancies.

By virtue of the light moderating touch at the Porch level, I really don't have to do anything. Anyone who has taken the time to register here and who takes the time to post in this nook -- they are encouraged to say what they wish.  I can then explain what I am looking for in comments and how or why their comment is helpful/against the gentle OL guidelines.

-- it is interesting to see what a bog the Why Religion thread has become.  At times the amount of personal griping and personalized discussion (that framed as a succession of statements of the "You" kind, not the "Your claim/argument/retort" kind) is staggering. I see you try to patrol the muck churned by Greg and Bob and I wonder if you knew you would be doing that with your life.  Volunteer discussion moderator at the Porch! "Go away. Do you want to kill the thread?"

I have half a mind to invite you to be my Moderator here.  Here at least you would have tools beyond telling people to go away. Like doors and coal-shutes.

All that aside, Brant, what are your impressions of that borrowed list above?  Would you find it useful?


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I don't think I use my blog here. I don't even understand blogging on OL.  My "Go away" comment was a joke. I'm no moderator. I just try to keep pointing things out. I like the list the way it finely grinds out it's categories. Dunno if I have a use for it.


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On 5/6/2016 at 8:48 PM, william.scherk said:

You are banned for another full extra twenty minutes. Next time the penalty will be doubled. 

So I'm allowed back now? 

P.G. Wodehouse once wrote a story featuring, as antagonist, a wicked tabby cat.  His introduction of this character suits the Drumpf to a tee:

"Orange of body, and inky black of soul"

Seems almost prophetic.

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2 hours ago, 9thdoctor said:

So I'm allowed back now? 

Oh yes. And due to the pithy character quote about the cat, I declare an amnesty. Your time in moderation has been transformed into credits, and trebled. Since Brant has turned down moderation volunteering, you are It.

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