Michael Stuart Kelly

LOL... Virginia Governor Northam had a Train Wreck Week

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23 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

. . . I believe any formulation of government has to emerge from human nature, not be imposed on it in an attempt to stamp out the bad in human nature. What's more, I don't believe this in just moral terms, I believe this already exists and cannot be otherwise . . .

Michael,

That's why the governmental and societal system of the United States is sometimes called the "American experiment." No one knows whether it will last or how long it will last. It has lasted longer than most governments in the modern era, but most of the long history of humanity has seen autocratic rulers. Arguably, that is the natural condition of man: A king, a dictator, a tyrant, a despot.

Of course, the founders knew this, which is why they attempted to create a system of checks and balances that would prevent any one person from becoming too powerful. Unfortunately, that system has been eroded to some degree over the years due to attacks from various quarters: German idealism and progressivism, the Sicilian mafia and organized crime, Marxism and neo-Marxist political correctness, and external threats like Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union which have placed stress upon our society and governmental systems.

That's why I am just as interested in the form of government as in the theory of individual rights. Are there ways that we can strengthen the system? Can we convince people to try them?

That brings up another point. We can't just cynically say that such systems must be "natural." People have the capacity to reason and can be convinced by arguments using facts and logic. People can also be led astray, of course. But, that is why the pendulum sometimes swings wildly from one extreme to another. Other animals don't experience the cataclysms to which the human race is subjected. Herds of elk are always the same, generation after generation. They collect together, migrate together, eat the same food, fight for dominance in the same stylized way, are eaten or starve in the same way year after year.

Humans swing from glorious success to abject failure to glorious success. Great civilizations are created and fall and every story is unique. There is no way to guarantee success, but an appeal to reason, whether through logical argument or story telling must take place if our civilization is to be preserved and thrive. Part of human nature is the ability to reason and that factor makes the human experience unique and perhaps unnatural.

Darrell

P.S. If I don't see your response before Monday, have a great weekend!

 

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11 hours ago, Darrell Hougen said:

A late term fetus is not just a little clump of cells and an early term embryo is not the same as an adult human being.

Darrell,

Does the early term make it any less human?

That is root at the whole issue.

What is reality, one's opinion or real reality?

Today, people want to have it both ways so they can fudge reality and still feel good.

Note, I am not legally against abortion. But I am not going to call it anything except slaughter, killing and so on. I'm not going to let people pretend reality is not reality when I talk to them about this.

Michael

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11 hours ago, Darrell Hougen said:

The state does not exist within a person's body, but a person exists within the dominion of the state.

You could say that a person should have sovereignty over the inside of his or her body. Then it would be seen that the question of sovereignty over ones innards is a question of individual rights. It doesn't precede questions of individual rights.

Darrell,

I still disagree.

If a person wants to commit suicide, the state can outlaw it (like it has done in some places), but it does not have the sovereignty to enforce that. Not for the general population. If a state cannot enforce its laws, what sovereignty does it have?

The person has sovereignty over that issue. That's just one small area where there is a precedent and accompanying reality to go in my direction.

Michael

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11 hours ago, Darrell Hougen said:

I'm not trying to side step the question. That's why I spent a few sentences describing what zygote-blastocyst-embryo-fetus is before launching into a discussion of what I think the rights of the woman and zygote-blastocyst-embryo-fetus are.

Darrell,

Then why did you leave out the concept of individual human being?

Making a list of stages as if each stage represents a different entity does not replace the entity. Not in reality.

Michael

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11 hours ago, Darrell Hougen said:

That's why I am just as interested in the form of government as in the theory of individual rights. Are there ways that we can strengthen the system? Can we convince people to try them?

Darrell,

I am equally interested.

And there are ways to strengthen the system.

President Trump is doing just that. Right now. As we write to each other.

Apropos, the Founding Fathers started with human nature, not with principles. They started with correct identification, then went on to what should be. They started with the human urge to take power that is in all of us, so they instituted checks and balances on power as one of the foundational organizing principles of the whole system of government.

If they had started with principle only (say freedom) and not derived the founding documents from reality (human nature), there is no way they could have allowed slavery to exist. But they started with reality, then built on that doing the best they could to align reality with principle (or rights) and offering a way for the founding documents to be changed slowly and with a great deal of difficulty.

That is the most magnificent way of setting up an abstract system to rule reality (human conduct) without denying reality I know of. The Founding Fathers were not hypocrites, as the left likes to say these days. They were geniuses and marvelous human beings.

And the most important practical part for establishing authority in the system they devised is that citizens and especially government officials have to swear allegiance to the document, not to a king or God. Each person's oath becomes part of the checks and balances on the urge to take power.

President Trump's MAGA and America First policies are restoring that foundation, starting with the judges he is appointing. (He is checking the excess power they have assumed for themselves and maintained by referencing each other. How? By putting judges who disagree with them and want only the power granted by the constitution in the mix.)

On a completely different vein, I feel we are both basically on the same page in almost everything, but we have semantic differences.

:) 

Michael

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11 hours ago, Darrell Hougen said:

That's why I have problems with both extreme positions. A late term fetus is not just a little clump of cells and an early term embryo is not the same as an adult human being. A fetus is what it is and our policies should reflect that fact, in my opinion

Who claims that a fetus is the same as an adult?! I've never heard anyone say anything like that.

I have head people take the position that a fetus may have rights, just as a child or adult does, and that those rights are the same that all humans have regardless of age.

Why not cut to the chase? The only relevant issue at hand is the question of when individual rights obtain, and why. When does the developing entity become rights-bearing, and is therefore considered sovereign, and therefore neither the state nor the woman in whom he temporarily resides may intrude upon that sovereignty by crushing his skull, sucking his brains out, and dismembering him, but must instead resolve the issue of his violating his host's sovereignty -- through no fault of his own -- in a manner which respects his rights, and which is reasonable and proportionate?

J

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On 2/8/2019 at 2:06 PM, Jonathan said:

Uh huh. But that's not what I asked.

The question was, does the larger person have the right to kill the smaller person.

J

I have tried to think of some realistic scenarios and I have a few that might clarify moral ambiguity. You are in a disaster like a plane crash and struggling to get out of the wreckage. You knock to the floor everyone in your way. Or you have invested in a commodity and learn the price is about to plummet. Without “sounding the alarm,” you sell your shares. There is a case to say those two are in your rational self-interest.

But you are insisting on the most extreme result as the only option. Is there only one option in your scenario? Kill or be killed? Be infringed upon, or kill the other victim? A morally just alternative might be to first kill “Doctor Evil” who did the dastardly deed and then using reason, consider the alternatives for the victims, you and the other person.

If the only alternative is kill or be killed then it would depend on who the other victim is and what they mean to you. Are they worth dying for? Are they worth you being irked for the rest of your life? Peter    

On the Fine Art of Thawing out Frozen Abstractions: an Essay in Mental Economics by Roger E. Bissell  . . . In other words, this fallacy entails the refusal to include certain members of a class in the wider class to which they belong, and instead limiting the class to one or a select few of its members . . . The example used by Rand in introducing this fallacy is that of many people who have been taught to view morality strictly from the altruist standpoint. They have learned to equate altruism--which is one specific ethic--with the wider, more general abstraction of "ethics." . . .  As a consequence, they refuse to regard egoism, hedonism, etc., as being alternative ethical systems or theories. Their concept of "morality," in other words, is frozen on the level of one of the species of morality, rather than being integrated to the higher, genus level, so as to include all of the species of morality. end quote

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Remember the Twilight Zones town of Willoughby? “Next stop Willoughby.” Someone attempts to illegally enter your country or town. It matters which places you are considering, as with North Korea, Mexico or Willoughby. Someone trespasses on your property. They could be a neighbor’s kid or a thief at midnight dressed like a ninja. Those are easy ones to adjudicate. If the person infringing on you was forced to do so, that matters. Perhaps someone is placed on your property against their will, and they are made to wear a suicide vest that will detonate if they change their coordinates? Or someone is starving and they raid your apple orchard. Those are different and under what some would call “emergency situations.” So is the transplanted person moral to defend themselves against the “host” and vice versa? That’s a tough nut to crack.  Peter

From: "George H. Smith" To: "Atlantis" Subject: ATL: Re: Checking Premises Date: Sat, 3 Feb 2001 23:13:37 -0600. I wrote: "Moral principles, as Rand emphasizes, are *guides* to actions; they are not categorical imperatives that must be obeyed unconditionally, apart from context."

Gayle wrote: "Right, but in any given context, principles cannot conflict and if an action is the moral action to take (in a particular context), then it must be taken.  Rand held that any action that is not in one's self-interests (i.e., moral) is against one's interests (i.e., immoral.)"

Exactly where does Rand say "that any action that is not in one's self-interests (i.e., moral) is against one's interests (i.e., immoral.)" -- or am I once again out of line in asking for textual corroboration of Gayle's arbitrary assertions? Rand's analysis was far from being this simplistic.

In any case, Bill previously agreed with me (or at least I think he did) that the starving man in an emergency scenario is not faced with one, and only one, legitimate moral alternative. He *may* choose to steal, but he also may choose *not* to steal, and in either case his choice would be morally justified.

Now these two options conflict in the sense that they may lead to incompatible consequences. The man would survive with the first option, but possibly not with the second. But if *either* of these two conflicting results may be morally justified, then each must be based on the application of a moral principle that "conflicts" with the other. It's quite simple, really, for those who are not trapped in a dogmatic and unduly narrow view of "obligation."

Or does Gayle contend that the starving man has the moral *duty*  to steal food, that this is morally *mandatory,* and that no other option is even morally *permissible*? If so, then Gayle is even more of Kantian than I previously imagined.

But if this is not Gayle's position, if she agrees that the starving man is faced with legitimate moral options, and that stealing food is not his *sole* moral alternative, then where do these legitimate options come from, if not from different moral principles, not all of which can be applied *simultaneously* to this situation?

In short, if various options with incompatible results can be justified in an emergency situation, then those legitimate options can be justified only by appealing to different (and "conflicting") moral principle which will generate those incompatible results. If, when deciding whether to sacrifice myself or the life of a close friend in a "lifeboat" emergency, an egoistic ethics cannot proclaim that one alternative alone is my moral "duty" (as Bill conceded) -- i.e., if either option can be justified -- then we are indeed dealing with the conflicting *application* of  moral principles, since the application of one principle will lead to one justifiable result, while the application of the other principle will lead to another justifiable result. (Note that I said conflicting *applications,* rather than conflicting principles per se.)

I eagerly await Gayle's defense of the view that the starving man has only one moral option, and that he is "immoral" if he chooses *not* to steal -- for this duty-based view of egoism is the only way she will be able to support her otherwise untenable view of moral principles. I eagerly await, in other words, Gayle's version of Kantian egoism.

Gayle wrote: "George is still missing the argument.  While it's true that one can (morally) choose to lie in contextual circumstance #A, it is not the case that in circumstance #A the moral course can be --either to lie or to not lie.  And this is what George is saying, in essence. George himself is dropping the very context he is advocating. Bill and I are not saying that one must NEVER lie as a categorical imperative.  We are saying that in *each case* the moral action is to either lie or to not lie.  It cannot be both and it cannot be either/or. It must be *only one* of the two options.  There cannot be conflicting principles."

I have stated before that I agree that there should not be any conflict in one's theoretical ethics. But we are here discussing the *application* of highly abstract principles to complex real-life situations. And since an emergency situation, by definition, is one in which there is a legitimate conflict of interests, it stands to reason that the *application* of moral principles, which were *not* formulated with emergencies in mind, might easily compel us to choose among conflicting values. This, after all, is the purpose of moral deliberation and judgment -- concepts that would be unnecessary if moral choices consisted of nothing more than the mechanical application of imperatives to particular situations, including emergencies. Ghs

From: Ellen Stuttle To: atlantis Subject: Re: ATL: what's wrong with 'solipsistic' egoism? Date: Sun, 04 Feb 2001 00:28:51 -0500. Then it seems that what you're asking is the question "Why be moral?" No one *does* have to "live any type of life that he doesn't want for himself."  To use the example of a Mafia gangster, very possibly nothing I or anyone else could say to a person who wants the life of a Mafia gangster would dent the desire.  But would it be a good life by the standard of a rational ethics?  No, it wouldn't, any more than consuming a quart of alcohol a day would be a healthy life. Or, to make this personal:  If you yourself don't want to live according to a rational code of values, then you don't gotta do it. But if you want to, then you need to know what a rational code of values is, and that's what ethics can tell you. Ellen S.

From: Ellen Stuttle To: atlantis Subject: ATL: Question for Gayle (or: Lies and Rights in Gayle's Language) Date: Sun, 04 Feb 2001 01:19:46 -0500. Gayle, In a circumstance where you think it would be advisable to lie (for whatever reason), does the lie become not a lie? If a lie is a lie, why ever told, then why would you claim that in a circumstance where you think a rights violation is justifiable, rights become not rights?  How do *you* define rights such that you consider them to disappear when their violation is justified?  Or maybe you don't think the concept of rights has any validity at all, period? Ellen S. 

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On 2/9/2019 at 3:31 PM, Peter said:

I have tried to think of some realistic scenarios and I have a few that might clarify moral ambiguity. You are in a disaster like a plane crash and struggling to get out of the wreckage. You knock to the floor everyone in your way. Or you have invested in a commodity and learn the price is about to plummet. Without “sounding the alarm,” you sell your shares. There is a case to say those two are in your rational self-interest.

 

But you are insisting on the most extreme result as the only option. Is there only one option in your scenario? Kill or be killed? Be infringed upon, or kill the other victim? A morally just alternative might be to first kill “Doctor Evil” who did the dastardly deed and then using reason, consider the alternatives for the victims, you and the other person.

 

If the only alternative is kill or be killed then it would depend on who the other victim is and what they mean to you. Are they worth dying for? Are they worth you being irked for the rest of your life? Peter    

 

On the Fine Art of Thawing out Frozen Abstractions: an Essay in Mental Economics by Roger E. Bissell  . . . In other words, this fallacy entails the refusal to include certain members of a class in the wider class to which they belong, and instead limiting the class to one or a select few of its members . . . The example used by Rand in introducing this fallacy is that of many people who have been taught to view morality strictly from the altruist standpoint. They have learned to equate altruism--which is one specific ethic--with the wider, more general abstraction of "ethics." . . .  As a consequence, they refuse to regard egoism, hedonism, etc., as being alternative ethical systems or theories. Their concept of "morality," in other words, is frozen on the level of one of the species of morality, rather than being integrated to the higher, genus level, so as to include all of the species of morality. end quote

 

I have often wondered why Rand called Objectvism " a philosophy for living on earth".  I mean. where else were we supposed to live? She certainly did not believe in heaven, and even she was not up to priming us philosophically for living on the moon, or other gravity-challenged environments.

I found it a bad guide for living on my own patch of earth, but perhaps it was my discipleship that was at fault.I just got so tired of seeing life as a series of moral tests of my own character, which I could never pass.

 

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1 hour ago, caroljane said:

I have often wondered why Rand called Objectvism " a philosophy for living on earth".  I mean. where else were we supposed to live? She certainly did not believe in heaven, and even she was not up to priming us philosophically for living on the moon, or other gravity-challenged environments.

I found it a bad guide for living on my own patch of earth, but perhaps it was my discipleship that was at fault.I just got so tired of seeing life as a series of moral tests of my own character, which I could never pas.

It just meant it was designed for that in contradistinction to other philosophies which weren't.

This isn't even Objectivism 101.

--Brant

how did you try to use the "guide"?

I do note if you took Objectivism through Rand's eyes--inside out instead of outside in---there could  be serious problems, problems she herself ran into reducible to "human, all too human"

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Objectivism can be/should be a philosophy for living on earth, but needs work.

First it should replace atheism with pantheism.

Second, the morality needs more work

--Brant

Rand never wrote an essay on Objectivist Morality, but she was a moralizer par excellence 

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9 hours ago, caroljane said:

I have often wondered why Rand called Objectvism " a philosophy for living on earth".  I mean. where else were we supposed to live? She certainly did not believe in heaven, and even she was not up to priming us philosophically for living on the moon, or other gravity-challenged environments.

I found it a bad guide for living on my own patch of earth, but perhaps it was my discipleship that was at fault.I just got so tired of seeing life as a series of moral tests of my own character, which I could never pass.

 

Yeah, so you opted instead for an easy philosophy which didn't require any work or moral actions on your part, but which granted you virtue status for just having opinions about how others should be forced to pay for things that you want.

J

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8 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:

Objectivism can be/should be a philosophy for living on earth, but needs work.

First it should replace atheism with pantheism.

Second, the morality needs more work

--Brant

Rand never wrote an essay on Objectivist Morality, but she was a moralizer par excellence 

We're a long way from there being any philosophy which doesn't need a whole lot of work.

J

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14 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:

Objectivism can be/should be a philosophy for living on earth, but needs work.

First it should replace atheism with pantheism.

Second, the morality needs more work

--Brant

Rand never wrote an essay on Objectivist Morality, but she was a moralizer par excellence 

Pantheism? No way. Now Deism was just dandy for our Founding Fathers who lived in a violently Christian era.

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6 hours ago, Jonathan said:

We're a long way from there being any philosophy which doesn't need a whole lot of work.

J

Though Rand was a severe critic of libertarianism I could make a case that it was only about the "official' version and a bunch of individuals she despised. Laissez-faire in MIND and economics, and letting people be true to themselves, is the little 'o' way to go. When the truth is found on your smart phone the despots have lost the battle for the human mind and soul. What's next? Certainly not any ideal, but humanity will reach ever higher plateaus. First World War, 2nd, Korean, Vietnam war, War on terroristic Islam and ISIS. How many of those wars were aggressive and not retaliatory? If America keeps electing people like Donald Trump, then the world will prosper physically and spiritually.  I have heard the critics of precision military strikes and I think they are wrong. With better surveillance and more precision we will morally control the use of retaliatory force in a very objective way.

The downside is better personal snooping with those little cams for $25 and drones outside your window. Now the market is pressured to sell devices that shoot down, or nullify drones and surveillance devices. Beware! Escalation is eminent.    

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2 hours ago, Peter said:

Pantheism? No way. Now Deism was just dandy for our Founding Fathers who lived in a violently Christian era.

Tell us about pantheism.

--Brant

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23 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:

Tell us about pantheism.

--Brant

Einstein was a pantheist. Oy vey. Who knew, Brant? Now you tell me what the lyric, "Love is in the air," means.  

From Wikipedia: Baruch Spinoza The philosophy of Baruch Spinoza is often regarded as pantheism. In the West, pantheism was formalized as a separate theology and philosophy based on the work of the 17th-century philosopher Baruch Spinoza. Spinoza was a Dutch philosopher of Portuguese descent raised in the Sephardi Jewish community in Amsterdam. He developed highly controversial ideas regarding the authenticity of the Hebrew Bible and the nature of the Divine, and was effectively excluded from Jewish society at age 23, when the local synagogue issued a herem against him.  A number of his books were published posthumously, and shortly thereafter included in the Catholic Church's Index of Forbidden Books. The breadth and importance of Spinoza's work would not be realized for many years - as the groundwork for the 18th-century Enlightenment and modern biblical criticism, including modern conceptions of the self and the universe.

In the posthumous Ethics, "Spinoza wrote the last indisputable Latin masterpiece, and one in which the refined conceptions of medieval philosophy are finally turned against themselves and destroyed entirely." In particular, he opposed René Descartes' famous mind–body dualism, the theory that the body and spirit are separate. Spinoza held the monist view that the two are the same, and monism is a fundamental part of his philosophy. He was described as a "God-intoxicated man," and used the word God to describe the unity of all substance. This view influenced philosophers such as Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, who said, "You are either a Spinozist or not a philosopher at all." Spinoza earned praise as one of the great rationalists of 17th-century philosophy[28] and one of Western philosophy's most important thinkers. Although the term "pantheism" was not coined until after his death, he is regarded as the most celebrated advocate of the concept. Ethics was the major source from which Western pantheism spread.

In George Henry Lewes's words (1846), "Pantheism is as old as philosophy. It was taught in the old Greek schools — by Plato, by St. Augustine, and by the Jews. Indeed, one may say that Pantheism, under one of its various shapes, is the necessary consequence of all metaphysical inquiry, when pushed to its logical limits; and from this reason do we find it in every age and nation. The dreamy contemplative Indian, the quick versatile Greek, the practical Roman, the quibbling Scholastic, the ardent Italian, the lively Frenchman, and the bold Englishman, have all pronounced it as the final truth of philosophy. Wherein consists Spinoza's originality? — what is his merit? — are natural questions, when we see him only lead to the same result as others had before proclaimed. His merit and originality consist in the systematic exposition and development of that doctrine — in his hands, for the first time, it assumes the aspect of a science. The Greek and Indian Pantheism is a vague fanciful doctrine, carrying with it no scientific conviction; it may be true — it looks true — but the proof is wanting. But with Spinoza there is no choice: if you understand his terms, admit the possibility of his science, and seize his meaning; you can no more doubt his conclusions than you can doubt Euclid; no mere opinion is possible, conviction only is possible." As S. M. Melamed (1933) noted, "It may be observed, however, that Spinoza was not the first prominent monist and pantheist in modern Europe. A generation before him Bruno conveyed a similar message to humanity. Yet Bruno is merely a beautiful episode in the history of the human mind, while Spinoza is one of its most potent forces. Bruno was a rhapsodist and a poet, who was overwhelmed with artistic emotions; Spinoza, however, was spiritus purus and in his method the prototype of the philosopher." And it is important to note that many prominent modern pantheists are also fervent Spinozists, including Goethe, Flaubert, and Einstein.

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The only thing you have said about pantheism in all those words is It's monism. And what is that?

For me it's very simple: reality generally and in every particular is God.

---Brant

to be respected, not worshipped, but if you want worship so right ahead

atheism is an ugly word which excludes people who aren't while pantheism draws them in but rips them off their irrational foundation

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On 2/7/2019 at 5:31 PM, 9thdoctor said:

Now that both 1st and 2nd in line are tainted, the occupant of 3rd place, the Speaker of the House, who is a Republican, is being thrust into the spotlight.  His name is Kirk Cox, and he came to office after beating John Dicks. 

This remake of Sophie's Choice is going to be a slasher movie.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kirk_Cox

Dyw1xKXX4AI8AG9.jpg

 

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I don't think the Guv should resign but it may not be wise for him to continue to seek public office. Perhaps Virginia should ban Halloween and all those potentially hurtful costumes. If a person of mixed African American ancestry were to imitate Michael Jackson they might to "lighten up."  Remember that episode of Seinfeld where "the little people" are intolerant of any dwarf or midget who tries to look taller? I think that sin was called, "heightening."

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5 hours ago, Peter said:

Brant wrote: did you know I'm an environmentalist?

I would have guessed your environment extended from the bed to the fridge to the table to the computer to the bathroom like mine.   

If it did I'd post a lot more a lot more often.

---Brant

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6 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:

If it did I'd post a lot more a lot more often.

---Brant

Ah, the little engine who could. Where have you been, Honey? I went to the grocery store and you know what? There were a lot of Hispanic people there shopping but no Latins worked there. It was all whites, and mostly female. And they didn't look poor. They had fancy jewelry on and decent shoes. So, why were they working? 

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