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Posts posted by Judith

  1. I just found out about Nathaniel's death yesterday and I am still in shock.

    I attended some of his small-group intensives when I was in my early- and mid-20s, after having read his books. Having come from a severely dysfunctional family, I was still working through what my life could and should be. Nathaniel had a profound influence on me, not only by what he said, but by his way of being. I learned what was possible from him.

    A line from one of Ursula LeGuin's books (perhaps not precisely quoted here) comes to mind: "I give you the gift of yourself."

    Thank you, Nathaniel, for my life.

  2. Hmmm -- Ed, if you're in your 50s, I think you mean you're well into your SIXTH decade...

    Ah, fathers and daughters. No one will ever, ever love you the way that your daughters will during their pre-adolescent years. You are the king of their world. Enjoy it -- and remember that you are the most important man in their lives and will influence how they see men (and themselves as women) for the rest of their lives. (And try to keep perspective when you get demoted from king to tyrant-dictator when they turn into teenagers! :-) )

  3. That girl better cover her ears when she goes shooting.

    She's wearing in-ear protection. It provides better protection, if properly worn (which she's not doing, since they're not all the way in her ears), than the more sophisticated over-the-ear muffs. The best of all, of course, is to wear both.

    Man can that lady shoot. The first clip she fired at the back targets with the 9mm (? ) was excellent form and accuracy.

    Ack! Semiautomatics hold MAGAZINES, not CLIPS!


  4. I subscribe to every premise Ayn Rand puts forth in this video -- including her statement that substituting faith for reason is psychologically destructive and that faith-based religion is damaging to human self-esteem and reliance on reason.

    Nowhere does she assert that God can not exist. She only says it is irrational to accept the existence of God on faith without proof.

    Now, Rand did say no one can prove the existence of God. She was half correct. No one can prove the existence of God to someone else.

    I do not accept the existence of God based on faith. I accept it from personal experience which I've tested with my reason and found impossible to negate as unreal. Having done so, to deny it would be exactly what Rand condemned: the denial of reality of someone without the confidence in his own individual reason.

    Neil, would you then say that the vast majority of people in the world cannot, rationally speaking, have any basis for believing in any god, since the vast majority of people have no direct experience of god, never have, and never will?


  5. If the eight-hour event of 2/18/1997 had happened in isolation I might have been able to negate its reality by reducing it to a ketosis/dehydration-caused waking dream, albeit one which had the remarkable feature of allowing me to function normally while overlaying the perception of imagined features. But both prior and subsequent events gave me benchmarks for testing the experience as real or unreal; and a long period of my attempting to negate it as real, and failing to do so, finally convinced me it was real.

    Neil, forgive me if this question has been asked and answered previously in this thread; the sheer volume of material is such that information is easily buried.

    When you say that "prior events" gave you benchmarks for testing the experience as real or unreal, are you referring to the experience in which God manifested to you and told you to stop praying so hard or he would take your life, and the dream in which you were on trial, and the experiences regarding Simpson? Or are you referring to other experiences, and if so, can you say what they were?

    When you say that "subsequent events" gave you benchmarks for testing the experience as real or unreal, can you say exactly what events these were and why they supported your conclusion?


  6. May I suggest a good story once in a while?

    Michael, that's an excellent idea, and I agree with it wholeheartedly.

    My observation on OL, unfortunately, has been that when people try to illustrate their points by analogy or by references to stories, films, or the like, others refuse to get the point and waste time nitpicking on details of whether the comparison is apt, whether the originator of the story used is a trustworthy source, etc. :(


  7. Good god. The confusion deepens. They report:

    The two groups of words merged by this rule are called the lexical sets NORTH (including horse) and the FORCE (including hoarse) by Wells (1982). Etymologically, the NORTH words had /ɒɹ/ and the FORCE words had /oːɹ/.

    The orthography of a word often signals whether it belongs in the NORTH set or the FORCE set. The spellings war, quar, aur, and word-final or indicate NORTH (e.g. quarter, war, warm, warn, aura, aural, Thor). The spellings oVr or orV (where V stands for a vowel) indicate FORCE (e.g. board, coarse, hoarse, door, floor, course, pour, oral, more, historian, moron, glory).

    As far as I'm concerned, North and Force are ENTIRELY the same vowel, along with board, coarse, hoarse, door, floor, course, pour, oral, more, historian, moron, glory, and Thor, but quarter, war, warm, warn, aura, and aural are in the "other" class.


  8. Try:

    "Along came a spied her and sat down be side her" ("ahy")


    "Along came a spiter and sat down be sighter." (uhy")

    All the same "ah-y" to my ear. Unless it's too subtle for my ear to pick up, which is entirely possible; I don't have much of an ear for accents, but I DO know what you mean in terms of diphthongs, etc.


  9. Okay, Judith, my best guess is you are from Connecticut outside of both the the Boston and the NYC regional dialects.


    So, you are a hard case, because all the evidence is negative in nature. My diagnosis is that you are from a large, semi-overlapping swath of the North East where the pairs marry and mary and cot and caught remain distinct, but outside the Baltimore, Philly, Pittsburgh, NYC, Finger Lakes, and Boston areas with their local diagnostic peculiarities. Since you rhyme water with daughter and not with hotter it is more likely that you are in the eastern area, rather than the midwest which, like the south, tends to rhyme water with hotter.

    Not bad! I'm from the Northeast, and the reason it's not more specific is that when I was a teenager I picked up variants from friends' speech that I preferred to that of my family's speech. That combined with television English and voice training have created my current accent.


  10. Then instead of using scholarship to determine the truth of Neil's stories, you conduct an Experiment in Consciousness to see if you can replicate something akin to the event for yourself. Or not. Only if it's actually important, after spending a lifetime writing on the subject, to find out.

    Neil, you suggested that George make use of you as a lab rat and examine you and your experiences. Can you suggest, beyond the experimental protocols you've already written, what kinds of experiments he or others of us might make that we might find useful, interesting, or helpful using you as a lab rat?


  11. As Hume points out, however, we are not obliged to consider the particular merits, the specific pros and cons, of every testimony that we come across. There are certain kinds of testimony that we should reject out of hand, without further consideration, because they report events that are impossible. And this brings us to Hume’s celebrated critique of miracles.

    “A miracle,” says Hume, “is a violation of the laws of nature; and as a firm and unalterable experience has established these laws, the proof against a miracle, from the very nature of the fact, is as entire as any argument from experience can possibly be imagined.” Hume is here referring to historical miracles, i.e., to reports of miraculous events that we receive from other people. His argument is a deceptively simple one. If a person claims to have witnessed a miracle, i.e., if he testifies to the violation of a natural law, then how am I to evaluate his account? Here, as in other conflicts pertaining to matters of fact, I should weigh one probability against the other. So I ask myself, Which is more probable – that what the witness says is false, or that nature did indeed take a vacation from its normal course?

    I have experienced many cases of being told something that is false, but I have never witnessed a violation of natural law. Thus, in evaluating the comparative probability of these events – a falsehood versus a miracle – I should decide in favor of the former. Upon being told of a miraculous event, I should always conclude that the “witness” has conveyed a falsehood.

    The biggest problem I see with Hume's approach is that our knowledge of natural laws is itself fallible and evolving. Too many things have been dismissed out of hand as being "impossible" because they appeared to defy conventional wisdom. Many of the most important breakthrough inventions have been made by people outside the field because these people didn't know which things were "impossible" and therefore proceeded to do them.

    By dismissing testimony of miracles out of hand as the testimony of people who were either lying or deceived, we might miss asking the question, "WTF really happened?" And the answer to that question might be one for science, not one for religion.


  12. The easiest way for me to explain this is to quote a section from Why Atheism? I apologize for the length of this passage, but, if I do say so myself, it is one of the better accounts of this classic argument.

    Thanks for the quote. That was beautifully written -- so much so that I just went to Amazon and ordered a copy of the book. ATCAG was, as I've said previously on OL, important in cementing my relatively new atheist beliefs when I was in my 20s, and I look forward to reading this book.


  13. There are certain inconsistencies, especially your denial that the first vowel in water rhymes with any of the four vowels given. I suspect, given your other answers, you either rhyme it with hotter or daughter. I'd like to know what vowel you rhyme the "a" of water with.

    Sorry -- mistake on my part. I rhyme "water" with "daughter".

    Also, do you really rhyme merry and mary? (Many American dialects do.) Or do you distinguish between berry, merry and ferry, versus hairy, Mary and scary?

    All of those words are indistinguishable for me. How might one make them different??

    Also, in your speech, does the first consonant of "thanks" sound like that of "then" or of "thin"?

    Thin. I've NEVER heard anyone say "thanks" using the other "th" sound, no matter where in the country (or the world) I've been.

    Please don't forget the questions in my previous post! :-)


  14. I would not go public with my experience (except, possibly, for telling a few friends) until I had developed a plausible version of the Argument from Religious Experience.

    Do you think there is such a thing? I am seriously questioning it at this point. Unless one has seen it for one's self, would NT-type personalities such as we tend to be here ever really be able to believe based on others' experiences?

    I would also comb the literature on religious experiences in search of common elements, instead of assuming that reported experiences that differ from mine are bogus.

    What would these similarities prove? We already know that religious experiences are not unanimously alike. If I were surrounded by people, 95 percent of whom repeated seeing almost exactly the same thing that I did not see, I would conclude that I lacked some faculty -- that I was in a sense color-blind. But in the absence of a large number of people seeing the same thing, what conclusions could we justifiably draw even if there were some similarities? And how many similarities would justify which conclusions? Sigh -- some of these questions are rhetorical, I suppose, although if you have interesting answers, please give them! :-)

    I'm just interested in what's really out there, if anything -- I don't have any vested interest in the argument coming out either way.


  15. Here is the list again, if you want, you can post your answers by adding a Y or N after each pair for whether you rhyme the vowels or not:

    hoarse and horse Y

    cot and caught N

    Dawn and Don N

    marry and Mary N

    merry and marry N

    merry and Mary Y

    Murray and merry N

    water and hotter N

    water and daughter N

    water and footer N

    water and butter N

    writer and rider vowels, yes; consonants, no.

    writer and spider vowels, yes; consonants, no.

    rider and spider Y

    dog and hog Y

    dog and log Y

    sinned and send N

    penny and any Y

    fletcher and catcher N

    Do I pass? :-) From whence do I hail?

    How would one pronounce "hoarse and horse", "merry and Mary", "rider and spider", and "penny and any" differently?

    In the case of almost all North American dialects, the actually pronounced consonant sounds of writer and rider will be identical, and what will distinguish them is how the first vowel is pronounced.

    Are you sure you have that right? As far as I can tell, the ONLY thing distinguishing the two words' sounds is the "t" versus the "d". How would the VOWELS differ?


  16. Third, if I had an experience similar to yours, one that again convinced me that God exists, I would handle how I related my experience to others much differently than you have.

    I've been looking back over the many contributions to this thread from the past several days and this one caught my eye.

    George, I'm curious what exactly you would do differently if you had a first-hand experience that convinced you of the existence of God. How would you handle reporting it?


  17. Do the following words rhyme in your speech?

    hoarse and horse

    cot and caught

    Dawn and Don

    marry and Mary

    merry and marry

    merry and Mary

    Murray and merry

    water and hotter

    water and daughter

    water and footer

    water and butter

    writer and rider

    writer and spider

    rider and spider

    So where can we take this test and get the answers? :)


  18. I just feel Blessed. And as far as use of that term, say, go on about it as much as you wish. This kind of state, or, maybe you might want to call it a state that one thinks is possible--it is acquirable.

    Um -- how? Other than to do what Ken Wilber suggests and dedicate my life to intense meditation for the next twenty or thirty years, with no guarantee that I'll live that long and no guarantee that I'll have any sort of transcendent experiences even if I do that...

    I'm inclined to think that those who have done research on temporal lobe epilepsy and its relationship to religious experiences may be on the right track. Some people's brains may be more likely hard-wired for these kinds of experiences than those of others, and if you ain't got it, you ain't gonna have a religious experience no matter how much time you spend in the lotus position.

    I'd LOVE to have a transcendent experience.


  19. But, most of the time I can't keep a straight face. I understand people get bored, I do, and whatever needs done to alleviate that, I am all about. With me, though, I simply can't get that serious game face on. You know, you've all got your little outfits on, your toolkit is open on the nightstand, and so on--Serious Business Is At Hand. And I just lose it, I start cracking up. This state can get particularly hyper-amplified post-coitus, when all the afterburners have been after-burned. Coming to this unfortunate moment of Great Clarity, looking around the room at all the stuff, perhaps catching a glimpse of the whole scene in a mirror . . .I'm like "what the $#^%. . .?" No shame, nothing like that--more like when you are just coming to after blacking out at a Goth Halloween party, or something--like the scene in "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" where Thompson comes to in the destroyed hotel room and he has a lizard tail strapped on--"What has gone on here?" So, my path has circled back to a more au naturale way of it.

    What a great image! :lol:

    I have never been able to read or look at porn without laughing hysterically. I'm firmly convinced that, to indulge in it, one absolutely has to put one's self in a mental state of fog. If you manage to come out of that fog and look at it with any sort of clarity at all, it's absolutely hilarious. And that clarity would, of course, destroy its intended purpose.


  20. The only even partly or fleetingly positive characters I found completely lacking in resonance were two that were deliberate amalgams of moral virtue and poor decisions: Eddie Willers and Robert Stadler. They moved the story, but I found them nearly impossible to believe as having any even remotely "real-life" analogues, even in part. Their contradictions tore them asunder on the page.

    I really liked Eddie. During the early parts of the novel where Dagny is walking forlornly around New York mourning her loneliness and the barren cultural landscape, I wanted to grab her and shake her and say, "You bloody fool! Why aren't you dating Eddie? Or at least engaging in a social friendship with him! Go out for coffee together! Listen to the music of Richard Halley together!"